So HBO’s adaptation of George RR Martin’s fantasy epic A Game of Thrones has finally come to an end in a rushed, haphazard final season that didn’t seem to please anybody.
Now I have neither the time or inclination to dive into the details of what went wrong/right, plenty of other places to get that on the internet. I always knew that landing this sucker was gonna be messy. Heck the creator himself can’t seem to wrap things up and at this point it’s likely Brandon Sanderson is waiting for the call from George’s estate begging him to write a finish that makes sense like he did for Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time epic.
It’s a bittersweet conclusion to a project that had so much promise, especially in comparison to the artful way the Russo’s closed the current chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame just a couple weeks earlier. I’m particularly melancholy because I was an early adopter, snagging my well worn and loved paperback of the first book way back in 1996 or so. I was an evangelist for Westeros, although it became clear that what I liked about the books, the subversion of tropes and the surprise (and sometimes brutal,) twists were not only off-putting to many, but also a crutch that was covering for the fact that Martin had gotten waaaaay out over his skis.
It was the most ambitious project of Martin’s career and the first three volumes are still some of the best examples of epic fantasy storytelling in the genre. But by the time the 4th and 5th books were finished, with five and six year gaps in between publishing, it became obvious to this reader at least that Martin had lost control of his story. And with the smash hit HBO show well under way, there was always a looming danger that the show runners might have to improvise a lot of the finish.
Which led me to this Tortured Shakespeare Analogy on Facebook, preserved and edited here for all time because I made myself laugh.
The primary person to blame for the mess that is the ending of Game of Thrones is George RR Martin.
The last two seasons have been as if Shakespeare had handed the first three acts of Hamlet off to the director and actors with the promise he’d have it finished by the time Hamlet kills Polonius.
But when Hamlet sets off for England, with the dictionary definition of extraneous characters Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in tow, all the Bard has is the rough draft of act 4. The directors and cast do their best with it and it’s not terrible, in fact they trim a few bits and get the story chugging towards an ending, but when they ask for act 5, how does the story end, Bill is all like…
“Here’s my outline… there’s a duel… everybody dies… it writes itself, you’ll be fine.”
Then he wanders off to write comedies.
“But who becomes king?”
“Oh… ummm Fortinbras… it’s a twist! They love my twists… it’ll be great!”