Last night I watched Game of Thrones due to the fact that I have HBO in my hotel room and I thought, what the hell, I’ll give it a shot; how bad could it be? It was beyond bad. It was quite simply the worst piece of television that I have ever seen.
The week before I had caught the previous two episodes. The one with the giant battle against the army of the undead in the frozen north made for bewildering viewing seeing as the lighting was so dark when they filmed it that for most of the battle I couldn’t make out anything at all. It turned out that they won because a very small girl killed the very bad undead dude. Okaaaaaaay …
Then last week’s episode had a dragon shot out of the sky by a flotilla of triremes sporting gigantic fixed crossbows. As I watched I thought to myself that the other dragon is going to make mincemeat of them seeing as the ships were all in a narrow body of water and couldn’t turn around. I mean, all the remaining dragon had to do was to fly quickly around behind them before they could swivel the crossbows and simply open its mouth.
Instead, helmed by the blonde with the very dark eyebrows it flew away in a panic leaving the crossbow triremes to effortlessly destroy the dragon’s allied navy. Makes sense, not.
So I tuned in with extreme dubiousness last night and I was rewarded by being very correct in my judgement that this show is beyond awful. It is the pits of degradation and as such it is a most fitting theatrical representation for our times. The episode had a few talky bits until it got down to the meat of the show which was the whole scale slaughter of an entire city that just went on and on and on. Individual battles between two opponents, and there were a few of them, made a point of being as drawn out as humanly, and in some cases inhumanly possible. I found the entire thing revolting, and I am an old D&D player and epic fantasy film buff from way back. There were moments when I simply got up and walked out of the room or I muted the sound just so I would not have to continue to suffer through the on-screen degradation. This was barbarity for its own sake, not to tell a story.
And that is the enormous problem with Game of Thrones as far as I can tell – there is no coherent story arc. The reason that George Martin can never finish the books is because he never planned out a beginning, a middle, and an end. You can’t wrap up something if there is no structure in place that underpins the narrative. No doubt when the HBO producers set out eight years ago to put this onto the screens they figured that eight years would be enough time for Martin to come up with something to end it. Not so, old bean, but frankly they should have known better. Like most epic fantasy there is no story arc. Tolkien wrote the high fantasy epic to end all epics but what his far too numerous imitators failed to understand is that The Lord of the Rings is classic storytelling because it carefully follows basic rules which were set in place by chaps such as Chaucer and Shakespeare and the guy who wrote Beowulf, perhaps you’ve heard of them.
Martin set out to write something but he obviously never planned things out. Instead he just went along at his own pace hoping that he’d stumble onto a worthy finish. So the HBO writers had to do it for him and that meant carnage on a massive scale and just kill everyone in sight.
Hardcore fans of the series who have blithely followed along in the assumption that the producers and writers knew what they were doing have been somewhat disappointed at the outcome. My favorite fan reaction has to be this one:
So much fail in one Tweet.