The Watchers On The Couch:Season 5, Part 1

The Episodes of Season 5-

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Game of Thrones- Season 5 (2015)

The 5th Season of Game of Thrones is the most divisive. I thought so at the time of airing but the anger it tapped within me perhaps blinded me to see clearly. Having rewatched the 10 episodes two years after they originally aired, I can confidently confirm that they were divisive but for different reasons than I originally believed. At the time of airing, I still believed in the professionalism and self-respect of George R. R. Martin and I blamed everything that was going wrong with my fantasy world escape on HBO and the two showrunners of the adaptation the premium cable network was making of my favorite novels. I was wrong to believe in Mr. Martin and I was wrong to be angry at HBO and the showrunners. In fact, even if I had been right, there was little that producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss could have done to prevent the divisiveness. The literary fandom, the television fandom, and the surrounding climate came together in an explosion of imagination horror to make season 5 the perfect storm for disagreement and argument, as well as the perfect target for frustration and the anger that continues to grow even now (though at a far slower rate than 2015).

To research or investigate the root cause of all the problems and ill-will that hovered like a heavy fog over Season 5 is completely unnecessary. It is George R. R. Martin and his (EDITORIAL) weak-ass, lazy, thoughtless work-ethic (END EDITORIAL) that created a spider-web of brand loyalty problems and heavy profit-loss for his publisher and employees; as well as unwarranted anger at two professionals that worked much harder than he (and continue to) and obviously had been more passionate about the material (his material) than he (and continue to be).

The readers that had spent years thinking about the world of Westeros and the intriguing characters that inhabited it before the sprawling saga became a bought and sold television property were no longer relevant with the airing of Season 5. All that pride and enjoyment they had those non-reader/show-watchers could never experience became meaningless. All the facts and side characters and background canon that readers knew so well literally became meaningless as the adaptation of the material they loved so well moved on from what was published and left behind those small details that readers clung too lovingly.

Even before The Wars To Come aired, those that had read A Song of Ice and Fire before the television adaptation came to be or because of seeing the HBO series had confirmed to them their fears that material of the second act of the series would be cut or condensed. While the first four seasons covered the first three books of the source material, the fifth would cover all the plotlines of the fourth and fifth book (and even some of the still unpublished sixth). These exclusions and condenses would mean little if they weren’t also spoiling yet-to-be-published material, but they were spoiling the final two books of Mr. Martin’s masterwork and there was no way around that.

Thus and so, the reader’s anger at Mr. Martin, the television viewers anger at the snobby readers who knew so much that ultimately meant nothing, any scene in any way imperfect considering all the passion on all sides of the material, and any plotline yet-to-be-resolved in the source material that appeared on screens would erupt across the internet and organic independently-owned hipster coffee shops. Benioff and Weiss are more than capable of handling any criticism, and it is doubtful that they even pay attention to any criticism; except for the criticism they give to each other during their “Weekly Critiquing Hour Circle of Trust” in which the two of them, possibly Bryan Cogman, and maybe the chick that played Roz, sit around in a small HBO office giving notes. But they are still undeserving of any criticism that involves moving the plot forward. They are undeserving of any criticism due to any characters excluded. The writer of the material Benioff and Weiss adapt for television has failed to publish any material to adapt since that writer sold the television rights and the television show began airing… over 7 years ago! They waited as long as they could considering EVERYONE in the world is watching Game of Thrones.

This is not an essay critiquing George R. R. Martin. That man will realize how foolish he is if he hasn’t already. His publishers will realize how foolish he is if they haven’t already, and how foolish they have been for nodding their heads when they should have been waving contracts in front of him. This all has to do with Season 5. For those hoping that Game of Thrones would be an exact visual adaptation, Seasons 2 and 3 hinted at possible major changes, and Season 4 waved a warning flag that Game of Thrones would be its own telling with major, MAJOR differences from ASoIaF. Season 5 was the vessel for these changes and it set up different cliffhangers with different characters and thus negated most of what readers had read and, in some cases, spent years considering and using their imagination on.

As far as a television program without a stack of best-sellers to call its source, the 5th Season is a success: there are iconic moments, there is a battle that rivals both Blackwater and Watchers On The Wall, there are betrayals and political intrigues, and there is the steady development of the big three character of Daenerys, Jon, and Tyrion. In fact, if it wasn’t easy to pick up in the preceding seasons- and it really wasn’t for first-time viewers- there is a mirroring of character growth and arcs between Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen that leaps forward at the same time narratively in Season 5. Tyrion’s role as the connection between the two and the balance between basically all sides currently warring with each other (that will ultimately end up warring against The White Walkers) is transitioned to the Hand to the Scion of House Targaryen.

There are weak moments, of course. There is a major side story that seems to go nowhere and ultimately does. There is a major player for the Iron Throne whose campaign comes to a truly inglorious ending. However, and most importantly, a whole lot of plot begins to moves at a whole lot of high speed.

The Three Act Structure can be applied to any narrative told through any medium, so long as that narrative is crafted in an intelligible and cohesive way (so David Lynch need not worry about this ‘silly’ structure, but Quentin Tarantino is fine no matter how much his narration zig-zags).

Act I: Introduction- This is the first part of the story that informs the audience of all the characters at play (ALL OF THE CHARACTERS) and displays all of the characters’ basic personalities, at the very least, and the motivations for the main characters in addition.

In Game of Thrones, Act I begins with Episode 1.1, Winter Is Coming, with the introduction of the major Houses to be vying for the Iron Throne and the paranormal White Walkers from beyond The Wall. It continues on through the next three seasons and, in my humble opinion, ends with the finale of Season 5, Mother’s Mercy. By Mother’s Mercy, we have met all the characters that will play into the Conflict (or Act II). I am assuming that the Conflict will be Westeros fighting for their life against The White Walkers. Where does the Introduction of the sides end and the actual Conflict begin? My belief is that the introduction ends with Mother’s Mercy and though it may not quite begin with The Red Woman (6.1), it has begun for Jon Snow by his (SPOILER) resurrection. I am confident placing the ‘END OF ACT I’ marker with Mother’s Mercy.


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