* There are no spoilers beyond the 2nd book/season in this post, but I make no such promises for the comments section.
I didn’t get too upset by most of the changes made by HBO’s Game of Thrones directors and writing staff. I completely understand a film adaptation cannot withstand the full complexity of a 700-900 page book, so I didn’t worry too much about the little stuff. For instance, Arya was Tywin Lannister’s cup bearer, instead of Lord Bolton’s. I understand they needed to show us Tywin’s intelligent and calculating side before (I assume) they show us his cruel side next season. Bolton’s bloodletting fetish can wait. But when the show started to miss key points in favor of pandering to the audience, I was a little let down. It reminded me of how, in Harry Potter III, the director thought it would be more important to show Harry’s burgeoning adolescence than the backstory of Voldemort and the teachers and Harry’s parents. (mistake) Did the films ever catch up after that?
It’s no big deal to get Danerys into the house of the undead in a completely different manner than the book, but it is a big deal to omit her visions of the past and the prophecy she receives there, in order to show sexy Kahl Drogo one last time. It’s no big deal (I think) to suspend the Bastard of Bolton’s entrance into Winterfell, but it’s really screwed-up not to even mention how and why and who burned the place to the ground. It’s the destruction of Winterfell, man! It’s as big as Ned Stark’s execution. There is no real shot of the complete devastation, no one mentions who did it and the the kids sort of wander off. A little anti-climatic, if you ask me. One other detail that they should have included, besides Tyrion’s awesome harbor chain: Arya should have killed one of the guards to escape Harenhal. I would think when one of your main characters crosses the line from sassy little lassie to cutting a motherfucker, it is worth noting.
I guess the last annoyance I had was the last scene when the wights start pouring over the fist of the first men. Come on, this isn’t Walking Dead. What really happened was it was nighttime… the tension of the horns blowing was palpable. All the guys were up on the rock, waiting for Halfhand and John to return. They hear one bellow. “They’re returning!” Then, a beat later, another. “Oh no, it’s Mance and the Wildling army!” They go rushing for their weapons, it gets ice cold and the frost sets in. The third bellow sounds. They look at one another in horror and confusion. Three bellows has not been heard in literal ages. Then the wights start pouring over the rocks. It’s super dark. Everyone is scrambling. Sam is on his own. He runs into the White Walker (that’s the evil, quasi-elven ice demon as opposed to the undead.) And.. well, I won’t tell you. I guess I was a little deflated because, to me, the wights were a step up from ambling, shambling zombies. They were a little more programmed and evil than a bunch of groaners shuffling for brains. Yet that’s how the show portrayed them. And in broad daylight, no less.
The Game of Thrones is a long game (It’s the Song of Ice and Fire.) Sure there’s dragons and ice zombies, beheadings, titties, evil homunculus shadow baby murderers, kings and swords, black magic, more titties, politics, direwolves, gods galore and faceless men. But there is a greater arc behind the mayhem, which includes secrets from the past, future destinies and (possibly) two great and terrible magic forces from the North and South, aligning against one another. (Oh yeah, and there’s greyscale. You don’t want that shit. ) Therefore, it would behoove the guys at HBO to start dropping some real hints, before it’s a series finale surprise that makes the viewers feel cheated. “Promise me, Ned!”
I’m still watching next season, albeit more skeptically.