Top Navigation

May 15, 2012

A Game of Groans: A Rant by Joe Esq

I tend not to consider myself the typical geek. I AM a geek, no question about it... I can quote Star Wars verbatim, I have an encylclopedic knowledge of 80's toys, TV, movies and music, and I love comic books and wrestling. But I tend to downplay that aspect of my personality to all but those who really know me. I try to stay well rounded and not let my geekiness dominate my personality. And lets face it, when I say I'm not typical, I mean I'm also in great shape, have an active, healthy social life, and girls absolutely ADORE me (no really, they DO). If you were casting the role of a geeky character in a movie, he certainly wouldn't look or act like me, that's for sue. And I admit, I do tend to keep my geeky tendencies a bit closeted sometimes on purpose, because other geeks freak me out a little. I'm also a lawyer, and sometimes, just for fun, I like to take a less popular stance just for the joy of arguing it (and also because being a nudge and pushing people's buttons amuses the hell outta me). So its with a great level of discomfort that I'm forced to say unequivocally that I HATE this season of Game of Thrones. And I hate that I do. I want to love this show. I want to keep giving it the benefit of the doubt because its presenting a genre I love in a medium where more people will see and appreciate it and most of all, I don't want to be the typical geek ranting abouthow STUPID HBO IS WRECKING EVERYTHING HOW DARE THEY CHANGE MY BELOVED NERD NOVELS ROOAAAARRHULKSMASH!! But the fact remains, the writers are just changing too much stuff from the source material and over the course of this season its had an absolutely jarring effect, tearing me right out watching the show and taking a wrecking ball to my ability to enjoy it.

Be forewarned, there are heavy spoilers ahead. Well, for the novels anyway. Lord knows what the producers of the show have planned, but its starting to become obvious to me that TV series is slowly becoming "based on the novels by George R R. Martin" the same way Ghostbusters was based on the 70's TV series with the gorilla.

Click after the jump for more...

Before I dive into this, let me just say that I thought the first season of the show was amazing. It was an absolutely incredible adaptation. Maybe the greatest adaptation from book to screen ever. It cut out a lot of the excess, pared down plot lines and characters where necessary, and told a story that stayed true to the spirit of the source material. And to the story too, for the most part. Sure, much was lost to the realities of shooting a live action TV show on a limited budget. Subtext, background information and in some cases even whole plotlines had to be sacrificed in order to make the show work. But even when stuff was changed, it was minimal, it made sense, and it furthered the story. The story Martin told in the novels. This was helped by the fact that the producers did a phenomenal job casting the show. The portrayals by everyone was pretty much spot-on, the level of performance by all the players was top notch, and nothing I say here should be considered a knock on any of the actors, because for the most part I think the cast has been superb. Unfortunately, no amount of scene stealing has been enough to distract me from the weird, nonsensical and largely unneccesary changes we've been subjected to in Season 2 thus far. I kept grinning and bearing it, but last night was the straw that broke the camel's back for me and no matter how much they reign it in, this story will never be the story Martin told in the novels, because the characters are now damaged.

The main focus of my geek rage is last night's Jamie portion of the story. They basically contrived a scene where Jamie kills Karstark's kid when that's something that happened "off screen" in the novels and could just as easily have been "off screen" on the show. In the books, Karstark's sons died protecting Robb from Jamie in Whispering Wood. This is mentioned offhand early on, and brought up again later when Karstark wants Robb to let him kill Jamie for it. Instead of doing this just as simply on the show, they invent a scene where Jamie kills Torhen Karstark (as well as his own distant cousin - but not before having a fun little heart to heart about tournaments and being sixteen again) while trying to escape captivity. The big problem with this is that at this point, they're supposed to be laying the groundwork to make Jamie more sympathetic. In the novels, Martin does the impossible, he makes you start to relate to the incestuous Kingslayer; almost against your will. The guy who chucked Bran Stark out the window and crippled him becomes almost likeable! One of the keys to this (the fact that he fucks his sister aside)  is we are shown that, in his head, Jamie has tried to act honorably while essentially being brought up as a pawn in a game of oneupsmanship between his father and Aerys. So when he killed the Karstark kids in battle, it wasn't a dishonorable thing. When he slew the mad king, it was to save King's Landing from Aerys planning to immolate everyone. In the show Jamie' s just a jokey, arrogant asshole. Incredibly well played, and one of my favorite characters on the show, but after last night Nikolaj Coster-Waldau isn't really playing the Jamie of the novels. And I'm not even saying the Jamie of the novel WOULDN'T have done just what he did in the show, but they're sacrificing important character beats with no upside to it.

Who will love me now?

Another thing that bothered me about the whole scene is that on a show where budget concerns are so crucial to everything they do (or so we're told everytime some internet nerd complains about some minor change they made) why change the story to a point where they now have to hire actors to play Torhen Karstark and the Lannister cousin Jamie kills when you could leave the story the same and accomplish the same result (dead Karstark kids, Caitlin deciding to free Jamie as an indirect result).
I was also really bothered by the ending because I have to wonder, did anyone who hasn't read the novels believe for a second that those two bodies at the end were Bran and Rickon? They couldn't have, when twenty minutes earlier the writers made sure to have Bran and Rickon hamfistedly point out that "look I know that farm! There are two orphan boys from Winterfell living there! They're our age and look just like us - especially if they're all burnt up!" I really hate it when the plot turns into a sledgehammer, and that's exactly what happened there.

So these two kids would make perfect body doubles for you two? Funny you should bring that up...

Jon Snow's character and his relationship with Ygritte has been pretty much massacred too. The most important part of their first encounter, and why she ends up falling for him, why she vouches for him with the Wildlings later, is HE SPARED HER LIFE AND LET HER GO. Not, she escaped, and then was comically pursued by Jon. Not, they somehow got lost and the other RANGERS of the Night's Watch were unable to TRACK THEM ACROSS SNOW uh, for some reason. And certainly not he got himself captured. Being forced to kill Halfhand and join the Wildlings and sleep with Ygritte as part of doing his duty are essential parts of Jon's character in the books. And that aspect, that depth, is just gone from the character in the show. Gone. And its not coming back. Not without more contrived, hamfisted changes anyway.
Finally, while I admit, the scenes between Tywin and Arya have been superbly acted by Charles Dance and Maise Williams (and were even entertaining when I was able to detach myself from the novels), the scenes also beg the question, WHY THE FUCK ARE THEY HUMANIZING TYWIN LANNISTER? The man is an an asshole! An irredeemable prick of an asshole. He shouldn't be having tender moments with Ned Stark's daughter, or anyone else!

Oh wait, that finally was premature, because I really kind of hate that they explicitly showed Stannis fucking Melisandre instead of keeping it vague, I hate that they replaced Jeyne Westerling with some made up chick from Volantis (even though the actress playing her is fucking stunning) and I hate that pretty much Danerys's entire storyline from the Red Waste and Qarth is nothing like the book. The Qarth in the books is like something out of a fairy tale. What the show gave us is fucking boring, up to and including the part where Emperor Palpatine and his clones kidnap the dragons. Oh yeah, and as Mike D pointed out, no Jojen and Meera Reed = Epic Fail.

So there you go, a geeky rant from a guy who likes to pretend he's not a geek. I'm interested to know what people think. Debate me even. Convince me I'm wrong. Please! I want to love this show again like I did last year. Oh, and just to end on a positive note, I will say that the dragons look pretty kick ass.

Also, Brienne is precisely this ugly. Good job guys.

JoeyEsq can be found regularly trying to convince you all he's not a geek on his own blog, Perpetual Dissatisfaction


  1. I really wish I could get into this show since everyone talks about it, but I just don't feel like watching it. Now I feel better. Thanks

  2. So it sucks becuase they are changing the books too much? You're a fucking idiot. How about this, GET THE FUCK OVER IT, and enjoy the show for what it is. A brilliantly acted, extremely well written beautiful looking SHOW. An adaptaiton. How come dorks like you always have to have it ONE WAY OR THE OTHER. You cant possibly fathom enjoying BOTH a book and it's adaptation, you gotta sit there and smack your dick around in a huff that things are being changed. Or am I just smarter than you cause I can manage to enjoy both the book and show? Maybe i'm just nowhere near as much of a fucking dipshit geek. That is certainly NOT a bad thing. Geeks like you are a total waste of time and space. "oh convince me to like the show again..." NO! The show is too good for you. The show is beyond you. i don't want stupid people watching the show. You ruin it for all those of us with brains. So wrap the pages of the book around your cock and stroke yourself, and please abandon the show as quickly as possible. It's fucking wasted on you.

    1. Ooh big talk from a guy who posts as "anonymous". I'm not gonna waste my time going through all the nonsense you wrote point by point. You've already demonstrated a severe comprehension deficiency since you obviously missed the part where I said I understand the need for changes, and how I thought Season 1 was brilliant.

      The whole point is once too many changes are made, once the story departs from the source material so drastically that the spirit of the original gets lost, it ceases to be an adaptation and turns into big budget fan fiction - in which case, if that's the story you want to tell, fine, tell that story and don't call it Game of Thrones.

      That''s the the intelligent, professional response from Joe the writer. Here's the response from Joe the person: Who's a bigger dipshit geek anonymous? Me for writing the article, offering an intelligently thought out critique? Or you for being a piece of shit dickgargling pussy who got so bent out of shape by what I wrote that you needed to respond with a multi-paragraph, obscenity-laced tirade? Let me break it down for you; liking the series doesn't make you smarter than people who don't. You don't "get it" while we're just clueless. You're not elite because you don't mind all the changes they're making. You're just an asshole with an opinion... Same as us! The only difference is we don't think our opinion makes us better than anyone else, and also we don't brush our teeth with men's dicks like you do.

      I'm tryin to put myself in your shoes. I'm trying to wonder what it must be like to be such a cockgobbling little cunt whose real life is so devoid of substance that the highlight of the week is masturbating to the changes in game of thrones, insulting people on the Internet from the safety of my computer and finding large men to savagely fuck my mouth. Unfortunately I can't. And, If you're gonna respond, at least be a man and use your real name, pussy.

  3. I did not write this article, but I have to weigh in on the last comment. 1st off, my friend Joe Esq wrote this article... says so right there in the title. So if you want to get at him & take him to task for his article, you know who are speaking with. Yet you call him a troll who is spewing hate. But YOU are the person who posted an ANONYMOUS comment. So who is the troll exactly? Stop being a sissy mary and give your name, or at least an alias, so your comments can be attributed to you. Oh, and before you cop a plea on how you don't have any of the accounts needed to leave a comment (Google, AIM, Yahoo, etc) all you had to do was start of by saying "My name is Mike and I think you are a dick....". Bash all you want, but own the comments and don't criticize someone for expressing opinions with their name on it.

    Second, lets be real. (SPOILERS TO FOLLOW)- The Battle for Kings Landing takes place over 200 pages in Clash of Kings. it is epic. Yet we are two episodes away from the season finale and the battle hasn't started yet. How is this possible? They can't possibly give such an important part of the overall story its proper due with only a few segments over the next two episodes. That's a fact.

    And how the fuck can you write out Jojen & Meera? Bran & rickon are traveling through the marshlands with Hoder & Osha as guides. Osha is a wilding from above the wall. She knows NOTHING about the lands south of the wall surrounding Winterfell. Jojen & Meera do... very well. Yet we are to believe this starnger in a strange land and the retard giant will keep the two young lords safe? Nah.... not buying it.

    How is Roose Balton still with Robb, and not at Harrenhall? When is Jon going to betray Halfhand if he is already with the Wildings? Robb still hasn't betrayed the Frey's and his vow of marriage? These are major issues...

    Finally, why not have the great chain being constructed by Tyrion's command? This is one of the greatest surprises of the book, and key to Stannis's Navy falling. A simple scene of Tyrion telling the smiths to make chain links ONCE would have set the stage. But nope....

    So in closing, I say this. Yeah, both can be good. But the 1st season was a mirror image of the 1st book. There are elements from books 3 & 4 being inserted and key points from book 2 being left out. If Joe wants to take them to task for it, cool. And if you wanted to defend the changes that is cool too... but you didn't defend the changes or say how they are making the show better. You just made generic trolling comments, told Joe to jerk himself off with the book, and then pussied out by signing your rant as ANONYMOUS. Instead of hiding your identity and trying to be witty, why not tell us exactly what GOOD these unnecessary changes have made in the flow of the show?

  4. I stopped reading your article after the first paragraph 'cause I didn't want to be sperled. I'm sure your argument was well thought out.

    That being said, I gave up hoping TV and Film would be closer to the source material once Bayformers drove the nail into that coffin. Every once in awhile something is true to it and that's...OK.

    From what I hear, season 1 was on level with the novels so I can see how some might start getting aggravated when season 2 veers off and is not. Maybe a ruse was afoot to get the novel readers on board than go their own way once they were.

    Seems like the best thing to do in all cases is just to never expect the film or show to be that close to the source material...especially since it's being told through a new having a friend tell you the story from memory...things are bound to change through their prism. I say if you've lost your faith in the show, maybe best to just go back and give the novels a second read instead of continuing on with the show any further but, it's a free country you can annoy yourself if you want to.

    Not having read the books, I continue to be as thrilled each week THIS season as I was with last season and can't wait for more!

  5. Changes are fine, and even expected. But when changes don't enhance an adaptation, what's the point?

    I haven't read the books, but being someone who HAS read many books (or other source materials) that have been adapted into film & movies, I could relate o the frustration that goes with it.

    Good article, Joey.

    Before I go, lemme say that that Anonymous guy should go drop dead. Dummy.

  6. A+ rant--the Tumblr Game of Thrones fans would flip over this. I don't post there much because my fellow GoT fangirls can get scary sometimes, but I know most of them have been annoyed at the changes too.

    Copying and pasting from a FB comment, but I'd also add that the slaughter of almost all the Dothraki in Dany's Khalasar is VERY problematic in terms of racism. It's like they're killing off or demonizing (see Xaro's character change) all of the People of Color on the show and painting Dany into the White Savior trope, which is NOT cool. I'd argue that Dany is more Dothraki than Westerosi until maybe the second or third book (I forget which book she decides to stay in Mereen so she can learn to rule instead of conquering cities like a Khal)--and if tv!Dany has no Khalasar, then she is no longer a Khaleesi. I don't mind them changing things from the source material, Peter Jackson did it too, but I wish they'd make it more canon-friendly the way PJ did. *sigh*

    I'm also annoyed at the lack of continuity with the direwolves-the CGI wolves don't have the same markings as the Northern Inuits used in season 1. Would it kill them to look back at the dogs' markings and include that in the CGI wolves? I would've preferred them keeping the Inuits and just CGI-ing them to make them look bigger/more ferocious but whatever. I feel like they're just being extremely lazy and sloppy this season, and the novels deserve a better adaptation then what we're currently seeing.

    1. Interesting take on the killing off of the Dothraki. I didn't pick up on that (I just assumed they made her Khalasar smaller for budgetary reasons) but a legitimate argumnt can definitely be made for what you're saying.

      The visual differences in the direwolves between seasons annoyed me too, but if that was the only problem we had to deal with, I'd be fine with it.

      I'm trying, HARD, to just enjoy the show for what it is, but I have too much attachment to the novels to do it. Like I said in my reply to that anonymous douche, once too many changes are made, it ceases to be an adaptation and turns into big budget fan fiction - in which case, if that's the story you want to tell, fine, tell that story and don't call it Game of Thrones. As it is I'm starting to feel like fans of the series got suckered in with a faithful first season.

  7. I read all the books. I have had no problems with any of the changes. It all feels to me like it's leading to the same places just taking a different route. I don't think any of that changes any of the characters, or changes them to a point where they can't still end up in the places they are meant to. I even appreciate many of the changes and think they are punching up some of the more lackluster moments in the books. AND it makes things more fun for me, cause I'm not EXACTLY sure of everything that's going to happen.

    The show is still an A program. Quality characters, actors, scenarios production etc. I don't envy the task of taking a source like that and trying to transfer it into a totally different medium. They have done an more than excellent job.

    It's still taking its inspiration from the books to an extreme degree. One of the most loyal ever, even with the instances you have mentioned. Something like True Blood bears very limited relation to its source material and Ghostbusters? That was just the name, which was pretty much just a coincidence. I would have killed to see Bill Murray working with a monkey.


    1. Rob,

      I agree completely. Compared to other adaptions G.O.T. is one of the best on staying close to the source material. But some of the changes can't be overlooked. They are not very egregious changes, but smaller fundamental ones. I thought Joe did a good job of picking out those points (Jaime never being made to be sympathetic, Jon meeting the Wildings, etc) and showing that these changes may very well effect the show greatly in the future since they changed the characters directions and tone.

      I am just finishing the 3rd book, so even I don't know if this is a sure thing. But I know they have ruined Jaime for me. I just fucking hate him, and wish that he gets nothing but pain and hurt in his life. But while I am reading Sword of Storms, I am rooting for him every single chapter that focuses on him & Brienne. I know he is the bad guy, but the books take the time to show us why.... the fact that he may be called an oathbreaker or 'The KingSlayer', yet his sworn duty & allegiance to protect the innocent as a knight is why he had to kill Aerys in the first place. The Targaryens made him a knight of the Kingsguard at 15 to hurt the Lannister family's future family tree, and he accepted with pure intentions. Yeah he is a fuck up... but a fuck up with certain moral compass. The Jaime of the book would never have killed a Lannister to 'Maybe' escape. He would have killed anybody else, sure, but not a Lannister.

  8. Yeah I mean. He killed that guy but, I actually think that was necessary. I disagree with the notion that at this point we're supposed to be starting to make Jaime sympathetic. There's a ways to go for that. I thought that was one of the few flaws in the first season actually. Jaime was way too likable. He chucked Bran out in the first episode, of course, but beyond that he was fucking awesome and totally charismatic. We never got a chance to hate him. Viewers loved him. He needed to be taken down, WAY down for the eventually payoff of his possible redemption.

    You saying that you want nothing but pain and hurt for him rings to me as mission accomplished. If they blow the upward swing for him in coming seasons as a result of that action, that's one thing. But if they pull it off, it will be all the more sweeter.