Sunday, June 14, 2015

How Game of Thrones ends, books and HBO series (almost certainly)

In 1991, George R.R. Martin started work on A Song of Ice and Fire, which was inspired by the Wars of the Roses and Ivanhoe.  The first, A Game of Thrones, was published in 1996.  The series was very popular, and that’s putting it mildly.  The book series isn’t finished yet but HBO took a risk and licensed and started broadcasting a video adaption anyway.  To say the HBO series is successful would also be a big understatement.  Entire forums, wiki’s, blogs, etc. have developed over the years with dedicated book fans pooling their collective wisdom to analyzing Mr. Martin’s words and interviews in great detail to fit all the clues in the books into the big picture revealing the ending.  Mr. Martin has just sent the dedicated book base into a frenzy by acknowledging that at least one fan analyzer out there has nailed it.  He did not say who that fan was as you might imagine.  So now there is a sub frenzy on trying to figure out which fan analyzer nailed it.  I (and many other people) think the big puzzle solver is an analyzer on reddit.

So, we’re all consenting adults here right?  I’m going to put the link below and let you make your own decision.  If you like spoilers you are going to like reading his guess.  If you hate spoilers then there is no way you’ll click this link.  But seriously, if you think this is just idle speculation and can’t be an “official” spoiler because only Mr. Martin and the HBO show runners know the ending that is the WRONG mindset.  If you click this link then your mindset should be: I want to know how the book series ends and in so doing, I want to know how the HBO series ends as well.  That is the mind set you want to have when you click this link.  But if you want to read my insightful commentary about why so many people are pissed off at the HBO broadcast series then just skip past the link and keep reading! :)

Novels and TVs shows are different.  Mr. Martin keeps saying this every time there are howls of protest over the increasing violence of the HBO series but it’s futile.  His name is on everything.  It doesn’t matter if the rape was in, or out of the book, he is going to get the condemnation.  It is a problem, and it isn’t going away and here is why:  The HBO series is a video presentation of the novels.  Tons of electronic ink is used analyzing every little divergence but that just proves the point, this is a video adaptation so the HBO series hews very close to the book.  You know what a book on tape or an audio book is?  Well this is a video book being presented as an episodic TV series and that’s the problem and it’s a permanent problem.

Books can have “rocket plots” i.e. the plot is a straight 45 degree line sloping down.  Take Bright Lights Big City.  Classic rocket plot.  Hero starts out in a bad situation and ends the novel literally eating food off the street like an animal.  As the fighter pilots put it: controlled descent into terrain.  Books can do that and there are many variations.  The rocket plot is just one example of several book plots that can’t be used for true episodic TV.  Sorry.

Why do millions of TV viewers tune into a series week after week?  Very simple, they tune into the episode every week to see the stars (and I do mean stars, not “leading characters”) solve the problem of the week via his or her primary character attributes.  Capitan Kirk fights it or screws it.  Spock figures it out.  Bones heals it.  Scotty always gets more power.  Sulu will take you anywhere you want to go.  Ohura will open your channels (sure did mine growing up let me tell you).

(Minor, but necessary spoiler warning here)

Raping your sister is NOT solving the problem via your primary character attribute.  Raping your virgin bride is NOT solving the problem via your primary character attribute.  And let’s just say that one character on the show is definitely NOT getting a father’s day card this year.  That big stomping sound you may have heard during the last episode was the large number of women punching their boyfriends and yelling “you like watching this s***!?” and then stomping out of the room.

The HBO series is not episodic TV but that is the medium being used (effectively) to distribute it.  And it gets worse because the show runners had to greatly reduce the plotline of the somewhat rambling books so that increases the shock value even more.  It’s like the chile restaurants in mainland China’s Sichuan province.  The giant soup bowl is heated and as the water boils away the remaining juice just gets hotter and hotter until finally the people still managing to sit around the bowl look more like survivors than diners.  Boiled down, the shocking events are so concentrated that HBO viewers must feel like emotional punching bags.  And this isn’t going to change.  You are watching a book, NOT episodic television and viewers will have to make individual decisions as to the point the concentrated broth is just too much for them and they bail.