Thursday, May 14, 2015

What Are the Stone Men? and Other Crazy Plot Changes in AGOT (SPOILERS)

I view film adaptations of books as creative works in their own right, separate from the books that inspired their creations. However, Game of Thrones Season 5 is deviating way too far from the books, especially Episode 5.

5.v Promo

To start with, nothing has been said thus far about Griff and Young Griff (who is actually Aegon Targaryen, Rhaegar's son). In the books, Griff and Aegon are the ones bringing Tyrion to Volantis/Meereen (at first), not Jorah; this set-up introduces the reader to Griff and Aegon while explaining how Tyrion is traveling to Volantis from Illyrio Mopatis's residence in Pentos.

This is another ridiculous deviation from the books. In the show, Varys travels with Tyrion from Westeros to Pentos, where Varys has a nice residence and supplies waiting for them. This plot change literally makes no sense. For starters, Varys would not have jeopardized his position in King's Landing this way. Yes, he does help Tyrion escape from King's Landing, but after he loads Tyrion on the ship, he stays in King's Landing. Leaving would have been an admission of guilt, which it clearly is in the show, as is evidenced by Cersei's reference to Varys as a "traitor." In addition, cutting out Illyrio Mopatis's role in Tyrion's escape also eliminates the introduction of Griff and Young Griff, Tyrion's opportunity to regain a place in Westeros, AND the connection and the unfolding of the secret plot Illyrio and Varys have had since Robert took the throne from the Mad King.

In Meereen, Ser Barristan has been murdered and Daenerys offers herself to Hizdhar zo Loraq and agrees to reopen the fighting pits. I admit, I like this change on a superficial level because Daenerys is standing up and making decisions as the ruler of Meereen, beginning to rely on her own thoughts and not just the suggestions of her council. However, this alteration of events also diminishes Dany's struggle between becoming the type of ruler she wants to be (generous, just, fair) and becoming the type of ruler her father was (brash, cruel, possessed a skewed sense of justice).

Jon Snow and Ghost, from Wikipedia Commons
The Wall is one giant mess. Jon is now Lord Commander, yes, but the election went nothing like it did in the book, which, again, diminishes the power of the plot. In the television show, we miss the opportunity of seeing Sam's devotion to Jon by rigging the election. Gilly's baby is referred to as "Little Sam." It may seem like a small, insignificant change, but the naming of Gilly's baby goes against the entire Free Folk culture we see established in the books. Because death is a very real thing in the North, women wait to name their young until they are outside of the "danger years" (approximately two-years-old). Once a child turns two, the mother gives the child a name, thus the origin of the term "name day" instead of "birthday." Also, Jon goes to retrieve the wildlings north of the Wall, which he does do in the books, but the show presents the situation as though Jon is going to get the full 100,000 of Mance's army. In addition, Jon has not begun to open any of the other castles along the Wall, which he does in the book to better defend the Wall against the White Walkers (exception: there is a very brief moment in the show where Jon sends Janos Slynt to Greyguard). Finally, Stannis is taking his ENTIRE FAMILY to Winterfell. I really cannot even justify this, even with an open mind. Yes, Stannis says he takes them because many of the Night's Watchmen are ex-thieves and rapers, but in the books he leaves a good many soldiers with Selyse and his daughter. And there are less than fifty watchmen at Castle Black, so . . . 

The bastard Ramsay Bolton has wed Sansa Stark, but unlike the books (where "Sansa" is really Jeyne Poole), RAMSEY ACTUALLY MARRIES THE REAL SANSA. Nope. Doesn't make sense. Why would Little Finger abandon Sansa, his chief prize, Catelyn incarnate? Also, Ramsay has the harem of beautiful women who flock about him. I assume the makers of the show made his hunting dogs (each named after a real woman he hunted and killed) into real women. It was an interesting take on Ramsay's prized "bitches," so I am pretty okay with the random women. For now.

Map of western Essos and the Rhoyne,
LAST BUT NOT LEAST: Jorah and Tyrion travel through Valyria to get to Meereen. Yeah, in terms of ASOIAF geography, traveling through Valyria makes sense. In terms of the world of ASOIAF, however, traveling through Valyria makes zero sense. Perhaps the biggest reason having Jorah and Tyrion travel through Valyria is ridiculous lies behind the sheer amount of danger such traveling entails. In the show, Tyrion and Jorah are on a small sailing boat, traveling through the Smoking Sea. The Smoking Sea is supposed to be filled with volcanoes, smoking heaps of rock, and boiling water, all remnants of the Doom. The only hint we have of this imagery is the mist rising off of the water in the show. Also, there are stone men in Valyria. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong, but there are no references to the stone men being in Valyria in the books. The only time we see the stone men in the books are when Griff and his party are sailing Tyrion down the Rhoyne. I especially didn't like that the show made it seem like the Doom was greyscale.
Basically, it seems like Weiss and Benioff took the imagery and events surrounding the Rhoyne and the ruined city Ny Sar and called it Valyria. This weird juxtaposition between origin and outcome colored my perception of this episode, a lot.

I hate when people say "That isn't the way it was in the book!" but the recent turns of the television series are driving me bananas.

Weiss and Benioff know what they are doing, though. I guess. At least that is what they say in this article about changes from the book and this article about how the show will spoil future books.

Update from YouTuber Alt Shift X on the newly revealed "stone men."

Game of Thrones, Season 5 Episode 5.

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