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Tag: D.B. Weiss

Jon Should Not Be King

[SPOILERS for the “Game of Thrones” Season Seven finale, “The Dragon and the Wolf”]

“It may seem that way from the outside.” – Jon Snow (or whoever)

There’s a scene in the Season Seven finale of “Game of Thrones” where Theon and Jon are talking about family. During this scene, Theon remarks that Jon always seems to do the right thing, that he always seems to make the right choice. In Theon’s eyes, Jon is the golden child. He can do no wrong. Then Jon says the above: “It may seem that way from the outside.”

Despite countless jokes about various sex organs in the season finale, I can safely say that this was the hardest I laughed the whole episode. Nope. Sorry, Jon. It does not seem that way at all from the outside. In fact, from the outside, you look like an idiot.

Pretty much every character did call him out for announcing his allegiance to Daenerys at the exact wrong time, so people are aware that he’s stupid. But this man is still the “King of the North.” And apparently, based on what we were told at the end of the episode, he may be much more than that, too. The same guy who led the dumbest expedition north of all-time could be the heir to the Iron Throne.

I apologize for harping on this, but we need to talk more about that expedition north. The events of the finale demand it. Two big things happened in this episode:

1) The Night King broke through The Wall using a dragon that died saving Jon and Co. from dying while they tried to get a White Walker to bring to Cersei.

2) Cersei is not interested in fighting in the North. She would like to continue plotting to kill her enemies instead.

I doubt the show will return to this, but this means the plan was a failure in literally every way. They brought the White Walker to Cersei. She didn’t care. (They might still think she did, but really, she didn’t.) This means they lost a dragon for nothing. Not only that, they lost a dragon that just one episode later helped burn down a wall that I’m pretty sure everyone was banking on keeping the living and the dead separated. So the plan didn’t work, and in fact, it made things much, much worse for the entire Westerosi race. I know the last two episodes have been cool and breathtaking and pretty entertaining, but I really don’t think this is something to gloss over as the show positions Jon as the rightful heir to the throne. The man is an idiot, and I don’t know if he could rule over a ham sandwich.

Some thoughts (because there was way too much going on in this episode to possibly process it all): 

  • The wall came down: I heard some whispers online in the last week that this might happen, so it wasn’t a total surprise (I really should stop reading the internet). But boy, did it look good. The visual effects on this show have become so good that you almost forget it’s TV. It’s almost like it’s not TV, it’s … just kidding.
  • No one died: Remember when “Game of Thrones” felt like a show where anybody could die? After this season, it’s starting to feel like that was a lie. Pretty much everyone of note survived this season. The ground has certainly become shakier beneath them, but it’s a bummer to have to wait years to make any significant plot movement with the way this show used to surprise.
  • Jon is King: Congrats, book readers. I’m sure this was a super fun moment for you.
  • Cersei + Tyrion 4ever: One thing “Thrones” can do like no other show is play on the deep, complex history of the characters when they share the screen together after years apart. This episode, we had Tyrion/Bronn, Hound/Brienne, Brienne/Jamie, Tyrion/Jamie, Jon/Theon, and I’m sure many more that I can’t remember. But putting Lena Headey and Peter Dinklage back in the same room might have been the best thing they’ve done all year. That scene was electric.
  • Cersei is not pregnant, right? This seems obvious. If she actually had a forthcoming heir, she might have honestly considered the truce. She certainly would have killed Jamie when he announced his intentions. She’s got plans, and I’m looking forward to seeing them end in her fiery death next season. (You can’t be wrong on a prediction if you just keep making it, right?) In all honesty, I’m glad she’s still on the board.
  • Theon back: [Insert joke about him not having balls here]
  • Littlefinger dead: The Winterfell stuff all kind of fell flat for me in the back half of this season. The Arya-Sansa stuff was tough to get through, even though (I guess?) most of it was intentionally contrived, and Littlefinger’s death seemed obvious a mile away. Also, the moment when Sansa called him out instead of Arya made me groan, which was probably not the desired reaction.
  • George R.R. Martin Up Arrow: This season was kind of a jumbled mess plot-wise, with a lot of things seeming to happen too quickly just so the writers could get to certain benchmarks. This gives the books a bright future if Martin ever finishes them, because he has a lot more room to explore (and possibly change) the events that led to this point. He can make the characters’ decisions sensible and consistent and make their plans much smarter.
  • Dany is Jon’s aunt: Ew. What is it with grand science fiction/fantasy epics and incest?
  • We are stupid: I mean … I’m still so in on this journey, you guys.

Does “Game of Thrones” Think We’re Stupid?

“We were thinking, how could you possibly survive that situation?” – D.B. Weiss (executive producer, “Game of Thrones”)

Stories can be written in different ways. You can improvise and come up with the plot as you go along, hoping to keep your characters tethered to the reality you’ve created. You can set up a track and know exactly where it’s heading and try to fit the plot points in like puzzle pieces. I’ve heard people say they can’t start writing a story without knowing how it ends, and I’ve heard people say they want to let their story unfold naturally. Ideally, the story creation process will involve a bit of each approach. Because as with many things in life, the right way to go about things often lies in the gray, blurry area in between the two extremes. If the story is going in a direction that doesn’t make sense, you have to be prepared to change direction. If it’s too loosey-goosey, it might never come together. There needs to be some sort of plan.

“Game of Thrones” is like the Titanic. It’s clearly heading toward a battle between the living and the dead, and the ship is much too large to change direction. Turning the ship and changing things would be exceedingly difficult and take far more time than the writers have left. Because of that, it’s become a show where solutions are looking for problems rather than the other way around. In this week’s episode, “Beyond The Wall,” that became incredibly distracting.

D.B. Weiss and co-showrunner David Benioff have a much shorter order of episodes to work with than usual as things wrap up on TV’s most-watched show. When this season comes to an end Sunday, there will have been seven episodes in 2017. There are expected to be six in the show’s final season. Given this compressed time frame, they seem to have given themselves markers to reach. Two stand out for this year: 1) Get Dany north of the wall so she can lose a dragon to the Army of the Dead and realize how real the threat is, and 2) Get all our main characters together in one place for the season finale.

They’ve accomplished those things now, but boy was it clumsy.

The quote at the top of this piece is referring to Jon Snow and Co.’s stupid plan to go north of the wall and bring back a living White Walker. Weiss is talking about an issue the writers apparently faced once they got there, face-to-face with the Army of the Dead: How do you get your important characters to survive an un-survivable situation so they can fight another day? Here’s what they came up with: The main characters will be surrounded by thousands of White Walkers, but they will find a spot in the frozen tundra perfectly surrounded by unstable ice so they can engage in a stand-off long enough for Dany to travel northward the distance of all of Westeros and save the day.


Putting aside the fact that there are literally no limits to how quickly people can travel places in “Game of Thrones” now, this wasn’t the only stupid contrivance that helped get the writers where they needed to go. The episode was full of them. The Actually Interesting Suicide Squad conveniently stumbles onto a group of White Walkers made up of like seven soldiers, enabling them to capture one. They are nearly eviscerated by a single evil polar bear thing but then somehow manage to fight off an insane number of White Walkers without anyone important dying. They are close enough to Eastwatch that Gendry can just run all the way back and hit up Danaerys real quick. Jon pretty much jumps on a grenade for everyone and doesn’t die. Benjen suuuuuper conveniently shows up to save the day. Did I mention Dany travels the length of the world in like five seconds? Also, think of the number of contrivances it took just to get us to this deus ex dragon. The plan to travel north of the wall to capture a White Walker was colossally stupid from the start. Dany and Jon could have taken out the Lannisters in a day, but because the writers were so tied to turning a dragon evil and having Dany see the Army of the Dead and having Jon and his aunt fall a little more in love and keeping Cersei on the board, they had to go through with it despite all logic and sense.

And that’s just north of the wall. Arya, consistently one of the most interesting and complex characters on the show, has rapidly devolved into a cartoonish villain over the course of like two episodes. And the drama manufactured between her and Sansa is just as transparently set up as the plan to go north. The writers want some friction so it will be interesting when things turn back around and they kill off Littlefinger. Unfortunately, they’re sacrificing character to get there. One of the great things about “Game of Thrones” was that it was always possible to empathize with, or at least understand, the show’s complicated characters. Now, for the sake of plot, they all seem to have become simple and stupid.

So now what? The writers wanted to get us to this point, and however ungraceful the execution, we’re here now. Perhaps with a longer season, the decisions of the characters could have been made to make a bit more sense, or at least seem a bit more justified. But with one week to go, we’re here. Everyone is coming together next week.

It’s frustrating that it took so much stupidity to get here, but there’s a chance it could be fine. They got through the BS and (here’s hoping) have set us up for the story they are prepared to tell. It was obvious what would happen when everyone went beyond the wall, but now things are a bit more unpredictable. I truly don’t know what will happen when all the great houses get together next week. Given the deep, complex history of this show, it’s going to be exciting. The thought of simply seeing Jon and Cersei and Daenerys and Tyrion and everyone in one place makes my heart jump. But thanks to the creaky bridge the show built to get us here, the expectations are higher than ever. They can still pull this off in a satisfying way, but the fireworks might have to be so bright that they blot out the past. Do Benioff and Weiss have it in them?

We shall see.

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