WASHINGTON, April 29, 2014 — There has been much anguish and turmoil within Nerdom this week following Sunday night’s airing of “Game of Thrones,” the show which is essentially a slightly more accurate portrayal of the War of the Roses than anything the History Channel has ever aired on the subject. The great betrayal, to many on a par with Lancelot’s betrayal of Arthur, or Benedict Arnold’s betrayal of America, came in the form of the most ghastly, and egregious sin any page to screen adaptation can make.
Yes, HBO deviated from the plot and sacred scripture of George RR Martin’s gospel, “A Song of Ice and Fire” books, and they did so with his blessing.
We can only assume that “with his blessing” means that they have George RR Martin tied up in a basement somewhere, or that they are holding his family hostage. Otherwise, he would never agree let alone participate in a deplorable action as disassociated from the plot of his own book to the screen adaptation as this one is. If they could do it for “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” they can do it for Game of Thrones.
Full disclosure: I am a nerd myself. I have carved a nice homestead for myself in Nerdom. I read more David Gemmell, SM Sterling, Brian Jacques, Veronica Roth, and Suzanne Collins than a cowboy boot wearing, whiskey drinking, cigar smoking, former high school wrestling captain was supposed to. I mean I still have my letterman jacket somewhere. I’m an avid gamer, I love Star Wars and Star Trek, and I have a masters in history, which is basically a piece of paper stating that I paid a college to let me read history books. I am however terrible with most math and computers, and I think anime is terrible.
I am Conor Higgins and I am a nerd, so I get to say the word. But it’s our word, we get to say it among each other. Doubt my nerdiness if you must, but remember this, I could not care less. Remember that, I cannot stress that enough.
That being said, stupid as it was, I am also a huge fan of the “A Song of Ice and Fire” books. I have read each one twice, which is difficult for me because reading is a terrible waste of multitasking time.
Which is why “Game of Thrones” on HBO is so amazing: you don’t have to read the book and you still get the same basic story line.
Except now you don’t, and your house of expectations and dreams which you thought were built upon a foundation of stone are crumbling before you, as you realize they are naught but bricks of dried silly putty and broken promises.
However as a fan of the books, and as a fan of the show, I have to say that I am extremely satisfied with the direction the show is taking. I believe in fact, that all readers of the books should be as happy, as I am.
We are on what, the third book? The fourth and fifth books are terrible and slow, and I hate them. Readers of the books would have had to endure for literally YEARS before the series caught up to the books. I say years because George RR Martin writes at the pace of a geriatric glacier. In addition, they would have known every twist and turn there was and is up until that point, which would have been nice if you’re a degenerate plot spoiler, but bad for people who have to suffer you. Now we are free.
Thus far, such an experience has been painful for this particular fan. I know what happens, I tell people what happens who ask, and I am not surprised when things happen. I have to watch, almost out of a sense of socially forced participation, every week, as things that I know will happen, happen in front of my eyes.
But not last Sunday. Last Sunday brought about unaccustomed curiosity and delightful surprise to my face like a lovable cockney chimney sweep seeing a pretty lady walking down the street. My head popped up, and I gave it a “what’s all this, then?” and continued to watch as something new happened.
For the love of Winterfell I thought I would have to wait years to see something new on the show, and I do not possess that level of focus and attention. I do not possess the ability to plant a seed and watch it grow into a beautiful tomato plant. I want tomatoes now.
It was breath of fresh air. Something unexpected was happening. Like a snow day or a drunken text from an old friend about an Asia song you used to sing all the time, it should have been both welcomed and accepted with loving arms.
But no, outrage.
The world burned, the Internet crashed, and with the amount of anger and resistance to this change you would think that cities was burning and the Northmen were coming to defile our plot lines.
This change should be embraced. Those of us who have read the books don’t have to sit there Sunday after Sunday and relive every single moment we have read and re-read like some stupid analogy to that movie “Groundhog Day” I could make.
It is like being lifted from the mind control spell of a wizard. We eventually came to and realized that we were in a trance, and now we are free.
The changes to the plot mean that the books and the show are going be developed along different lines, which is an interesting thought. The show and the books, both under Martin’s oversight, will be their own entities. We won’t see the same everything anymore, and perhaps the changes will grow more substantial overtime.
Perhaps HBO thought Martin’s “everyone dies all the time” and “life is terrible” attitude towards story telling was not what they wanted in a series. The books, after the third installment, are like a permanent cold, damp day with no end in sight. There is no real hope, and the characters that you loved are dying or are rendered irrelevant. It’s a miserable existence.
This could be the show saying, we don’t necessarily want to go in that direction, because you know, not everyone is a self-loathing, sadistic, cynical individual. Some people, most people, like to follow the traditional story line of “the good guy wins, bad guy dies.” And though Martin surely loves to buck this trend, this change may be a sign HBO has other plans. What do I base that off of? Nothing really, just a hunch.
So for now, cool your jets, kids. The changes they have made look somewhat promising. What was Bran supposed to do North of the Wall for so long? Following the plot line of a group that has quite literally no pressing impact on the main story is rather tiresome, and does not make for exciting viewing. The other changes, which I won’t mention–go somewhere else for that–are also welcome.
Embrace these changes, readers. They are a break from the monotony, a splendid reprieve from the show catching up to the fourth and fifth books which we were all dreading anyway.
Enjoy the ride. You have something new to be outraged over, you are still important and special, people will still come to you to find out how the books and show are different, or you will tell them anyway. You might as well get used to it. These deviations from the plot lines of the books are going to happen.
To paraphrase the Starks…Changes are coming.