Looks like I’m not going to end up getting much of a write weekend this year. Oh well. I’m trying not to let it send me into a tailspin but right now I just want to go back to bed.
There’s a lot of stuff on YouTube about the final season of Game of Thrones. I knew this, but like Star Wars I didn’t realise how intense it got. There’s mass pop psychology deconstruction of the mental issues Benioff has, and the abuse (for example) Emilia Clarke experienced … it’s all pretty hair-raising.
I’ve recently come around a bit on the stupidity of the ending of the TV series. I’m still fine with how it went because I sort of stopped caring very much, but my vehement support of how much sense Daenerys’s degeneration made is something I feel like I can walk back a little bit. I still think it tracked, because from season 1 onwards it was always part of her character, but that was by design. There was meant to be a risk of her going Viserys. Ultimately, it might have been better if she hadn’t.
I’ve been watching a few Lindsay Ellis videos about movies lately. A few years back her takes weren’t particularly relevant or interesting to me, but I’m looking at them in a new light. The video above is worth a watch (as I commented on the video itself), and I have definitely backed off from my (alt.fan.grrm online argument persona notwithstanding) aggressive stance on the ending of the TV series. I still think the crybabyism and gnashing of teeth is a bit painful, but there is definitely merit to it.
But then, quite aside from good analysis like Ellis’s, there is more evidence in the form of scripts and VFX tests and carefully-curated statements from the actors about how they didn’t have any idea what was going to happen in the show until it actually aired. Like, really weird and fascinating shit.
Again, it’s all a bit yeesh, but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense.
Benioff does seem like a bit of a fraud, but that’s fine. I think we’re all gradually getting our illusions peeled back about whether the deserving actually get recognition or fame or fortune in this world, but let’s not make this a bigger thing than it needs to be. Benioff is no more amazing than JJ Abrams, or indeed RR Martin. They make it up as they go along, and circumstances mess them around.
None of that really matters. It’s a shame, sincerely, if actors on the show were traumatised by the abuse and their characters were done dirty. That sucks. But the show started going off the rails more or less as it ran out of books and was forced to diverge from the plot of A Song of Ice and Fire. That wasn’t the only problem, but it was a problem.
And it didn’t need to be. With proper storytelling (not even from Martin) and scripting, it still could have been fine. But here’s where the very obvious theory comes in. It seems pretty clear by now that Martin does have some idea of where A Song of Ice and Fire is heading. There were glimmers in the last three seasons of Game of Thrones that were clearly Martin’s, stuff from the books that he was throwing in.
And I’ve said before, Martin is in a unique and really interesting position now. He’s had a test-screening of the end of A Song of Ice and Fire, and he knows a lot of people didn’t like it. It makes sense to me not only that he would change his books accordingly, but that he would have provided some other ending scenarios for all the characters and plot threads in the story, for the TV show to deliver.
So, is the “Daenerys attacks soldiers, kills some civilians in unavoidable crossfire because of Cersei’s human shield move, then accidentally ignites the wildfire” plot, mentioned above, closer to what’s going to happen in A Song of Ice and Fire (assuming Martin ever gets it done)? Shit, that makes way more sense to me. The books made a big deal of the wildfire under King’s Landing, even more so than the TV series. It’s the basis of Jaime’s backstory, the basis of the Targaryen history, a key part of Tyrion’s storyline, and (although it wasn’t in the books yet I’m sure this was one of Martin’s) a big plot point for Cersei’s reign and the disposal of her enemies (the Tyrells and the Sparrows) in the Sept of Baelor.
That Daenerys finally does what her father was killed to prevent, while Jaime again tries to prevent it and fails (to his death), and Daenerys is blamed for it by everyone and ends up being overthrown (by Jon, even) right on the brink of creating a unified Westeros and Easteros … yes. That’s a pretty fucking perfect ending to the books, isn’t it? Full circle. Jon does what Jaime did, becomes a Queenslayer, and the whole thing is just tragically futile.
My main concern about this is, it was all hinted at in some sort of leaked script or notes or something. Which I think means, Martin may have put it out there as the way the books are going to end, so they could work out a slightly crappier way for the TV series to end which still sort of held up to scrutiny.
The Internet being what it is, though, it’s come to light and now – fuck, who knows what he’ll do as a result? Hopefully he’ll stick to it. Game of Thrones is done. A Song of Ice and Fire can still be finished right.
I should comment here that it’s not actually fair (in my opinion) for me to put Martin in the same uncharitable pile as Benioff and Abrams. They definitely make shit up as they go along and are lazy charlatans. Martin, if anything, has the opposite problem.
I don’t think he’s lazy, although yes, the pressure of the series and the joys of being an authorial rock star have made him slow down – and more power to him for that. He gets one life to live, and he’s living the dream. Hopefully he wants to tell stories and he will get there in the end. In the meantime, part of what’s taking him so long is that he is planning it out. He’s getting it right, and that requires a lot of thinking and reworking and careful progress. Take it from someone who knows. If you only get one shot at it, you can lose yourself in rewriting and fucking around, for years and years.
Martin’s managed to get two shots at it. That’s an amazing opportunity and he’s right to approach it very carefully indeed.
FYI with that second video – the WGA thing vid? The guy who made it is known for grasping at straws and having a weird axe to grind. (A writer from Vanity Fair has publicly stated as much.)
I kind of suspected. I got a strong whiff of “Kathleen Kennedy must resign, Jon Favreau must remake the sequel trilogy and Rian Johnson must be actually killed on set during Episode VII, also I want an apology” from his video. And it went from that to a “part 1” of a “documentary” that was like two hours long and that’s when I checked out.
Still quite like the idea of this direction for the book series, though.
I’ve heard about this book series. It’s like, popular and stuff?
It was many countries ago.
For real, forget about the first book. The latest book came out in 2011. I’ve had cancer and written 15 novels in the time it’s taken him to not write one. That’s how much he’s lost his mojo, and that’s sad.
I had a whole wall of text here that I went and deleted cause life is short. I disagree with Ellis and her conclusions, especially with how she frames the argument that to dislike Daenery’s or condemn her actions could somehow be painted as inherently misogynistic. Also people reading out of context production drafts is just the *worst*, because drafts are exactly to explore options that change during filmmaking. Doesn’t make anyone a charlatan, and people wouldn’t have that opinion of anyone involved in the series if they’d have liked the ending. Everyone was happy for seven and a half years, and suddenly now it’s common knowledge that Benioff and Weiss are monsters? GTFO with that noise.
Was the ending clumsy and too short? Hell yes, don’t think anyone would argue against that. But was it exactly what the series was building up to? Yes, absolutely. But nobody could have seen this kind of rise in fandom, where people think that just because they like something they have ownership over it, and as a result we won’t have any clear view on the matter for years still. I personally think that when the tenth anniversary rolls around, we’ll get a bunch of “GOT is actually fine” articles, all pointing out how in retrospect things connect together. We’ve seen it happen before, and if GOT teaches us anything, it’s that there’s no breaking that wheel.
All fair to say. I really rather like the idea that Martin has seen this response and in fact planned a different ending for the books anyway, and that’s what the deviations from the books were all about. If he takes the books in another direction and Daenerys ends up more sympathetic as a result, that’s fine too.
I still think it’s an understandable escalation on her part, for the show. There are no slavers (sociocultural commentary on feudalism notwithstanding) in Westeros to make nice convenient non-sympathetic villains. She has to go somewhere, and “gentle, wise and nurturing leader” isn’t in her wheelhouse. It just isn’t. She never ran into a problem she didn’t burn the fuck out of. Like, for real, that’s her plan A, B and C. Those should have been her dragons’ names.
And as her dragons were killed and the grateful smallfolk she was promised turned out to be King’s Landing M
AWGA chuds of the lowest fucking quality, I can absolutely understand her snapping. They let the Sparrows take over. They let the Lannisters rule them. They are the epitome of Pratchett’s “the same people who cheer at your coronation will cheer at your execution”, and they fucking deserve to burn.
Still not saying Martin can’t pull a better ending out of the wreckage though. He’d be smart to do so.
And yeah, that other video about Benioff’s mental problems … yikes. I can see he seems like a shitbag to work with, but that seems to go with the territory. He’s no different to Abrams or Bay or any of these creators with massive popular support. See above, my point about the smallfolk who deserve to burn. It’s metaphorical, as Taserface once said.
Now I write this out, I’m not actually sure if it was Pratchett / Vimes saying this, or Martin / Cersei. Could go either way.
It was Pratchett.