Well, we gave you Top 7: Best Story Changes, and in doing so also promised you the other side of the coin. Here is where the other side comes up. Let it be known this is not meant as a dig, a diss, or a dash of cold water across the faces of people who’ve worked hard on what turned out to be the best show of 2011. We here especially at Winter Is Coming understand the work that went into it. We appreciate it wholeheartedly.
(A wise man once said that anything preceding the word “But” doesn’t really matter…)
BUT… nothing is perfect. The Wire wasn’t perfect. Firefly wasn’t perfect. The Mary Tyler Moore show wasn’t perfect. Perfect is a myth; it’s the great white whale, and chasing it is like to drive you mad.
Amidst these battered and harried days of Yaragate and Slavegate, House Gatewatch thinks it prudent to once more step back within the trappings of season one, peer with discerning eyes into the past and see what did not precisely jive. Opinions, of course, will differ. Our intent here is to give our opinions on what was lacking. What went perhaps slightly awry. It is not to criticize; hell it’s not even to enact change in season two, which is (one hopes) pretty much already written and set in stone. Or at least in fast-drying concrete. But if we can give the powers-that-be the smallest glimpse into our minds and they see (miracle of miracles) one or two concerns agreed on by the masses, well…
Perhaps then we’ve done some good. We are the forefront of the fandom. I see this as our solemn (if grim) responsibility. This one’s for the whiners, the bitchers, the trolls and the dedicated contrarians.
Unlike the last Top 7 list, there will be no rules here. Complain about whatever you want. I strongly advise the loyalists and the stalwarts who tend to rise up and defend everything and anything—well, if you find you cannot participate, I advise you to simply take the day off. If Game of Thrones was, for you, the epitome of perfection… this may only be an exercise in painful futility.
Let’s try to remember this is intended to be about opinions. Let’s try to keep the suggestions civil, yes?
(Warning: there will be SPOILERS from the first season and the first book, A Game of Thrones.)
Here are my Top 7: Worst Story Changes:
1. Bad dogs! Sure, it couldn’t be helped. Yes, the pooches did almost nothing on cue, ate pieces of the set and shat wherever they damn well pleased. Never work with small kids or animals is the old axiom, and yet that was impossible to follow, what with direwolves being needed on set. Luckily, Maisie Williams and Art Parkinson did not try to bite anybody (we think). So yes, we’ve heard the tales of woe. It still doesn’t negate the fact that the direwolves were used far too sparingly. Even if they refused to behave on camera when people were around… surely they rested occasionally! A few inserted shots of Ghost sitting near the campfire would have made all the difference in the world. Seriously, a friend of mine thought Ghost snarling at Rast was a metaphor. And a few more shots of Grey Wind wouldn’t have hurt either. Run him through a field, use CGI to insert him next to the charging horses… voila. The wolves are a vital part that were missed far too often.
2. Curious omissions: Where Are They Now? No Blackfish, no Roose Bolton, no Mya Stone. The Blackfish, I fear (and I fear for Blackfish Blues) is in peril, but no more than Mya Stone, who would have been best served meeting Catelyn en route to the Eyrie. With her omission, it’s hard to see why she need be included at all. Without her connection to Catelyn she’s just another one of Robert’s bastards. Roose Bolton I’m not as worried about; you need him for certain scenes this season, right? Like who would replace him if not him? One could argue Ramsay Bolton is more important than Roose, so why not amalgamate them… but I just can’t see that happening. I think Roose is just a late-comer. I think we won’t get a Mya. And I think the Blackfish is starting to run out of breathing space. (Edit: and whither Pod? We need someone to blame. Get Tyrion his Pod in season two!)
3. Ros the Traveling Tart. Say what you will about the occasional added character (Kings Landing Butler was awesome), this is one we keep scratching our heads over. Apologies to Esmé Bianco, because she’s certainly within her element here, playing the sassy young woman we most oft see bereft of clothes. But we’re still trying hard to get the story significance. Unless Ros is garnering a swath of tales to one day tell—maybe she’s like a nude version of Forrest Gump, somehow present during many points of historical significance—wouldn’t it have been easier to stick to the wenches we already know and love? Kyra, maybe? Of course it could be that you all have something bigger up your sleeves for this young lady, and we simply don’t know all the details yet. But so far, all it’s been is an assload of ass.
4. King’s Landing, where are your people? Has there been an emptier looking capital city than King’s Landing? The book describes a roaring crowd, but the gathering at the Tourney of the Hand looked smaller than the jayvee football game crowds I used to go to in high school, and this is even after we’ve learned the crowd were digitally added. People, if a thousand look good, then five thousand would look great. And if you can’t fit them all into the small raised area you chose for your tourney grounds, well… maybe you chose the wrong area for your tourney grounds. We weren’t expecting A Knight’s Tale level of roaring masses (especially if accompanied by cheesy ’70’s rock anthems), but… something more, I guess. Across the sea we were missing out on Dothraki numbers as well. Now, one caveat I must voice is the fact that some people thought they were complaining about King’s Landing when in fact certain scenes were set in the Red Keep courtyard. Understandably, the Red Keep would have less people milling about. But in the end, K.L. needed to bolster its status of “crowded capital city.”
5. In brightest day, in blackest…. night? Scenes that happened in night during the book happened in broad daylight in the show losing some of their drama and suspense. The biggest offenders of these were Ned vs. Jaime in the streets of King’s Landing, which was still a cool scene, but would have been even cooler if it happened on a dark and stormy night. The other: Mirri Maz Duur working her blood magic. Creepy enough, but imagine the scene if it were dark in the camp while Drogo’s tent was lit up by magic as the shadows of demons danced on its walls. At least the birth of the dragons was still at night… although their reveal happened in the early light of dawn.
6. Season one sans San/San! The overall change in the Hound’s demeanor was disappointing enough (the show Sandor seemed more bored with the world rather than the book Sandor’s more cynical and bitter view). But then they went and cut his best scene, where he escorts Sansa back to her room and opens up about his past, losing out on an opportunity to provide the Hound with more depth. And it took away one of the San/San crowds’ cherished moments.
7. The Whispering Wood: blink and you miss it. Beyond the lack of any battle scenes whatsoever, which is understandable given the budget constraints, our biggest grudge was with the “change” in the battle of the Whispering Woods scene. It plays out similarly to the book, in that we don’t get to see the actual battle, but much of the suspense is lost. In the book, Robb leads a small contingent of cavalry against Jaime’s forces — a risky gamble and the outcome of the battle is hardly a sure thing. The battle itself is told through the sounds that Cat hears from afar; the suspense building as she worries her son may not return to her alive. Until finally we see Robb ride into view with the Kingslayer in tow. In the show, we have a large Northern force descending upon the smaller Lannister force and the audience barely has time to even process what this means before Robb emerges from the woods victorious. Just a bad change all around: Tywin is made to look dumber, Robb less bold and the suspense of the moment is lost on the TV viewing audience.
What say you, House Gatewatch faithful? Do you agree with our list? Were there other changes that rankled? Be vocal, be opinionated, but remember, be civil!