Tag Archives: HBO

“I want all the things”: Freedom is a Problem in Girls

Standard

“Do you like the poster?” Shoshanna asks Jessa, gesturing to a slightly obscured image featuring the principle cast of Sex and the City. Jessa reveals that she has never seen any form of SatC, an act which Shoshanna likens to “not being on Facebook”. “I’m not on Facebook,” Jessa replies.

As innovative and original as it is, the pilot of Girls sets the tone of a series that revisits social norms established in texts that have come before it. As the above sequence will attest, HBO’s focus can be more self-involved than outward-looking. Shoshanna aspires to be as free as the women in Sex and the City, yet Jessa finds solace in a spirituality that deems Shoshanna’s desires unworthy of any empathy. It’s freedom versus freedom.

A shot early in episode three shows Jessa looking utterly uncomfortable in Shoshanna’s clothes. What else could be a geographical barrier between them but an out-of-focus Sex and the City poster?

A shot early in episode three shows Jessa looking utterly uncomfortable in Shoshanna’s clothes. What else could be a geographical barrier between them but an out-of-focus Sex and the City poster?

In saying this, it was tempting to discuss how the show reflects the self-involved values and lifestyle of its creator and leading lady, Lena Dunham, but then that’s nothing I didn’t really look at with Steve Coogan last week.

But the topic of this week’s analysis does consider this idea – in its universally applicable standing within modern first-world communities.

Girls consciously plays up to its female protagonists, demonstrating just how different circumstances are between its world and that in Sex and the City. The most central figure of Girls does evoke Carrie Bradshaw, in that Hannah is following a writer’s aspirations, but it’s what Hannah fails to write that becomes the emphasis throughout the series. Sexual autonomy is a badge proudly worn by SatC’s Samantha Jones. But STIs, an abortion story-arc, and an innumerable amount of awkward sex scenes in Girls seem to attest to a reality not nearly as idyllic as the one Carrie’s crew would have us believe in. Yet HBO aren’t necessarily rectifying SatC’s claims to 21st-century living in America. The cultural landscapes are the same in Sex and the City and Girls, but the characters in the latter are struggling in their environment. Freedom is as ubiquitous as ever, the girls in Girls just don’t know what the fuck to do with it.
 
 
What You Don’t Own
Hannah is struggling to pay it. Her best friend, Marnie, says it’s the reason she moved to New York. Girls is saturated with references to it.

Ladies and gentlemen, ‘it’ is RENT.

RENT was a display of artistic individuals who had their creative expression limited by financial constraints and the mortal shadow of HIV/AIDS. If RENT showed a fight for freedom, then Sex and the City and Girls show the spoils of the people’s victory. But for the characters in Girls, freedom seems an overwhelming responsibility to handle.

“I just wish someone would tell me, like, ‘this is how the rest of your life should look'”
– Marnie Michaels, one of the four protagonists in Girls, played by Allison Williams

For Hannah and friends, the next best thing to do in the face of their inability to deal with freedom is to pretend that they, like the vagrants of RENT, are in a serious struggle to claim it.

At the conclusion of episode two (the aptly named ‘Vagina Panic’), Hannah is being tested for STDs by her gynaecologist when she claims the following:

“Maybe I’m actually not scared of AIDS. Maybe I thought I was scared of AIDS, but really what I am is… wanting AIDS.”

Aside from being a terrible thing to say, Hannah’s suggestion is, in the grander scheme of things, a plead to be faced with a real obstacle – she hopes that it will give her resolve or inspiration to write or, at the very least, a real excuse to flail in freedom. Writer’s block, becoming financially cut off from your parents, and everyday relationship problems, are Hannah’s menial issues that don’t lend themselves to advancing in any particular social or career direction.

But above all else, what Hannah spoke aloud was downright abhorrent, and the gynaecologist rightfully pulls her up on it. AIDS is suddenly discussed with the serious tone that it deserves, and we are reminded that Hannah’s head-space is constantly segregating her from others. This is an instance of Hannah’s absurd self-indulgence at its worst, and her life can only deteriorate for it.

girls-weirdos-need-girlfriends-too_article_story_mainBut it’s not all doom and gloom when it comes to RENT’s representation in Girls. One of the most lasting sequences in the series comes at the end of ‘Weirdos Need Girlfriends Too’, an episode that has seen Hannah’s boyfriend, Adam, suffer a burden to his creative expression at the hands of a pretty awful performer in their two-man theatre act. Despite his collaborator’s shortcomings, the whole production is completely aborted due to Adam’s temperament. By the episode’s conclusion, Adam means to make amends for his lack of care unto others, manifested in his epic display of apology to a driver he verbally blasted. At the street where he encountered the driver, Adam makes a ‘SORRY’ placard feature wall. Adam’s sublime creative expression, rendered in a RENT-like font, and meticulously composited embrace with Hannah, is a perfect unity of the bohemian values of freedom and love. But though Adam reveals his greatest potential for compassion and creativity yet, he is clinging to an unlikely chance that his victim will see and interpret his message of goodwill. Never before has there been a greater hope for redemption for one of the most self-imposed down-and-outers of Girls. It’s just a question of whether or not Adam will, like those around him, sacrifice too much along the way.
 
 
The American Dream
The season two finale of Girls sees romantically linked characters haphazardly reconcile with one another following conflicts established in its premiere season. One might think of this as an idyllic close to a fairly tumultuous set of events, but beneath the surface lies a tough reality to face. For starters, any conceived notion that the finale could be an elaborate dream is shattered with Shoshanna and Ray’s relationship coming to a grinding halt. The reunions of Hannah and Adam, as well as Marnie and Charlie, are a false ending. That’s not to say the craft of the show’s creators is poor. It’s anything but that when you consider these relationships as case studies in what happens when estranged yet lonely souls reach out to one another.

Marnie returned to Charlie upon learning of his successful sale of an iPhone app. As her lifelong aspiration to sing, and attraction to Booth Jonathan demonstrated, it’s career success that drives Marnie, and she’ll realise such ambitions vicariously if she has to.

Hannah and Adam reconnect at a time when both parties are in vulnerable states. Their intentions within the relationship become sporadic to the point that the relationship can’t settle down in the metaphorical or traditional sense of the phrase.

Still not convinced that Girls has a pessimistic outlook of its characters? Just look at Hannah, who has advanced no further than when we first met her. She’s blown every writing opportunity that has come her way and finds herself literally in the arms of the man she was attached to at the beginning of the series, without having really resolved what had separated them in the first place. What can be positively said of a girl who has experienced so much potential to develop and yet finds herself at square one?

Methinks we're looking at a consciously constructed cliché. This kind of look is just too good to last.

Methinks we’re looking at a consciously constructed cliché. This kind of look is just too good to last.

‘Together’ is a blunt season finale title to describe the circumstances that the characters of Girls find themselves in. There are physical bindings between people, but their self-infatuation often outweighs their love for their companions. The phrase ‘love conquers all’ traditionally refers to the notion that one’s love for another can overcome any obstacle. But in a world where achieving anything seems more possible than ever before, one can bear love for something (or, in other words, themselves), and such a love can come to conquer the things that, down the track, might be of greater importance than anything else in life.

HOUSEKEEPING EDIT: Music analyst Fletcher would like me to mention that I failed to mention him in my post two weeks ago. I’d like to mention that I didn’t mention Fletch because I wasn’t sure when to expect his first post. Welcome aboard, Fletch, you silly ass. Also, each of the contributors will take turns in having a week off from blogging; starting with me next week. See y’all next month.

“What do I have to do to die?”: Death (or lack thereof) in Band of Brothers

Standard

For those wondering, the quote featured in the title of this post reportedly belongs to WWII Easy Company veteran Joe Toye, who said the words within moments of losing his right leg to a bomb blast. This incident is portrayed in ‘The Breaking Point’, one of the more visceral episodes of the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers.

Death is ever present in BoB, but is manifest in ways largely unexplored by film and televisual works that have preceded it. For one thing, the series acknowledged and exploited my expectations in ways that would bring about from me a very introspective response – one that makes me believe that Band of Brothers stands as one of, if not, the most cultural and morally important texts of the twenty-first century.
 
 
Friendly Fire
The fifth episode of Band of Brothers, ‘Crossroads’ opens with and repeatedly revisits a sequence where protagonist Dick Winters shoots and kills an unarmed German soldier. It’s a moment which the rest of the episode – and our understanding of Winters – hinges on. Of all things to haunt Winters, it is the death of a German soldier that earns the series’ deepest scrutiny. It seems to suggest that, in war, even the best made plans incur loss to the victor – in the lives of the “enemy”.

"... they were doing what they were supposed to do, and I was trying to do what I was supposed to do... under different circumstances, we might've been good friends." - Darrell C. "Shifty" Powers

“… they were doing what they were supposed to do, and I was trying to do what I was supposed to do… under different circumstances, we might’ve been good friends.”
– Darrell C. “Shifty” Powers

At the start of each BoB episode, the intimate interviews with Easy Company veterans shape the major theme examined in the hour of television to follow. Ironically, the above extract from an interview with veteran “Shifty” Powers does not feature in ‘Crossroads’. The episode’s theme, as suggested by the interviews, is the leadership that Winters’ peers believe him to demonstrate through his consistently correct decisions or bravery on the frontlines. This is subterfuge for the episode to examine a kind of leadership that can’t be spoken of. In displaying a resilience that every one of his followers must adopt, Winters’ hides his emotions stemming from the incident with the unarmed soldier. Through the window into Dick Winters’ internal conflict, we see that the psychological damage dealt to the combatants of war is inevitable. However successful the men of Easy Company were in their missions, the tragic reality is that they suffered in any case. Most of the intertitles that close a BoB episode celebrate the achievements of an ‘E’ Company assault or tactical display. This comes on the back of a show that readily exposes the fatal cost to Germans unwillingly dragged into defending Hitler’s cause. I guess that, in rightfully praising the fight to prevent the slaughter of millions of innocent people, we have to justify some of the more deadly acts of the Allied Forces.
 
 
Fighting the War Genre
By the time I’d reached the halfway point of Band of Brothers, I reckon I’d become vicariously chummy with a host of ‘E’ Company soldiers. There were the witty quips of William “Wild Bill” Guarnere, the infinite number of impersonations from George Luz, and there was even something in observing the solace that quieter men like Lewis Nixon or Eugene Roe took in watching others. This mediated relationship I had developed with the soldiers of Easy Company had the makings to leave me soulless – should they meet their deaths in the battles to come.

So when the impending doom of the Battle of the Bulge rolled around at the end of episode five, I thought we were heading into a particularly emotionally trying bit of the miniseries. I wasn’t wrong, but the tragedy to come was not quite what I had expected. Amidst the wooded desolation on the outskirts of the town that the episode takes its name from, ‘Bastogne’ opens with the grating sound of boots crunching through brittle snow. This soundscape and other foreboding cues had me asking which character was going to die, particularly in an episode where the central character was a man most likely to witness the casualties of war: ‘E’ Company medic Eugene Roe. As it turned out, the first excruciating death of the episode came to John Julian; a soldier first introduced to the audience only minutes before he’s killed. Later on, Roe and a French nurse with whom he shares a special connection, fail to save the life of a nameless soldier. The weight of his death has profound an impact as any – and his anonymity is representative of the ever-growing number of lives lost in the war.

Reaching the end of this episode, I couldn’t help but feel guilty for having hoped for the survival of soldiers I’d grown attached to. A sprawling war drama depicting real events could easily draw a dichotomy in value between central characters and peripheral (or altogether off-screen) figures. Band of Brothers elicits such a perception but subsequently criticises it by focusing on the deaths of soldiers of less renown. We are forced to think of the thousands of other soldiers’ journeys just like (or worse than) those we are watching. By drawing attention to the dire circumstances that surround but don’t entirely implicate the central characters of Easy Company, the story tries to tell us that their experiences are one of an unimaginable many. We cannot comprehend the sheer brutality of war through watching, reading or listening to any number of texts.

In a way, this barrier to reality touches on how, in semiotics, the signifier betrays the signified by trying to replace its completely unmediated form. In other words, recalling the past produces a distortion of reality, because we can’t be 100% faithful to exactly how things have happened. In Alain Resnais’ Hiroshima mon amour (1959), the central male character’s recurring dialogue is intended for his female companion as much as it is a reminder for Resnais’ peers:

“You saw nothing in Hiroshima. Nothing.”

Dick Winters’ aforementioned encounter with the German soldier in ‘Crossroads’ has merit in this discussion. The episode’s opening sequence offers no context as to why Winters has run to the top of a hill and executed the trooper. It’s a rather abstract moment in the scheme of the show’s structure. One might think of it as a dream sequence or something entirely imagined. The search for the reality of this situation is intensified rather than resolved in the next two iterations of the same event.

Top:

The reality of this German soldier's final seconds is made unclear through contradicting recollections of the incident.The reality of this German soldier’s final seconds is made unclear through contradicting recollections of the incident.

The first of these plays out in real time when Easy Company execute an ambush on a small German contingent: Dick Winters is the first to enter the fray, running several seconds ahead of his assault team following a breakdown in communication between members of the latter. This time, when Winters finds the isolated German soldier, we see a slight sense of hesitation register on his face before he kills the man. As in the first instance, the victim shrugs at Winters moments before being killed, as if to ask ‘what are you waiting for?’ The whole sequence is over almost as quickly as it were at the start of the episode, and the gunfight to follow between the American and German forces leaves little room to reflect on what’s just happened. Later whilst aboard a train, Winters’ mind returns to the incident, where we see an entirely different response from the German soldier. A close-up of the soldier’s face reveals him to be a boy of roughly twenty years. The amicable and friendly expression that greets Winters degenerates into a look of horrified realisation just seconds before he is shot and killed. The pair’s exchange lasts several seconds longer than the earlier installments of the shooting. Which of these visions shows the true event? No one can be sure because the reality of it has been lost to time. The contradictory visions form a mise-en-abyme: with the two interpretations mirroring and yet destabilising each other to the point of deconstructing the reliability of any one person’s subjectivity. It’s a sad concept that ultimately justifies any event depicted in Band of Brothers. When we see the concentration camp in episode nine: ‘Why We Fight’, it forms a recollection belonging to the soldiers of ‘E’ Company rather than being classified as a completely unadulterated ‘reality’.
 
 
We Lucky Few
Joe Toye had experienced several brushes with death prior to the blast that claimed his leg. It’s insensitive to think that his words – given seemingly as a quip to fellow soldier Bill Guarnere – were a plead for a mortal release from the harshness of war. His words do, however, evoke a sentiment felt by all those ‘fortunate’ enough to return home from the war:

”… The real heroes are the fellas that are still buried over there and those that come home to be buried.”
– Babe Heffron

I get a sense of self-inadequacy from the veterans being interviewed in Band of Brothers. To have returned home from the war is a curse. The veterans seem to think that they would have best served their purpose in bringing about the Allied victory – or in at least saving the lives of some brothers in arms – if they had laid down their own lives in the battlefield of the Second World War.

“… you could do just about anything, and after the war was over… you lost a lot of that, or at least I did – I lost a lot of that confidence.”
– “Shifty” Powers

“I cherish the memories of a question my grandson asked me the other day, when he asked me: ‘Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?’ Grandpa said: ‘No, but I served in a company of heroes’.” - Mike Ranney, quoted by Dick Winters

“I cherish the memories of a question my grandson asked me the other day, when he asked me: ‘Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?’ Grandpa said: ‘No, but I served in a company of heroes’.”
– Mike Ranney, quoted by Dick Winters (pictured above)

The Game Within a Game: Handling Narrative Adaptations in Game of Thrones

Standard

Warning: For those up to date with the TV series who haven’t read the books, there are really minor spoilers ahead. Seriously, they’re so minor it’s probably not even worth having this disclaimer. I just write about some trivial differences between the books and TV series that you really won’t give two shits about. THAT’S NOT TO SAY YOU WON’T LIKE WHAT I’VE WRITTEN.

Oh God, please don’t leave.

Good, now that you’ve got past the bold font, I assume I’ll have your attention for the remainder of this: my first ‘No Post on Sundays’ article. It’s hard to say what you can expect to see in my weekly posts in terms of a consistent structure. I know I’ve got a tendency to ramble on if I love a television show enough, so I’ll be limiting myself to just the one overarching topic for each show per week.

And how could I possibly avoid Game of Thrones for my first post?
 
 
The Red Reception
In the wake of last week’s episode, it’s really tempting to write about the Red Wedding, but what’s to be written that hasn’t been seen by anyone who’s used the Internet in the past seven days? And honestly, the pain’s still too raw – even for this up-to-date A Song of Ice and Fire reader.

"N-no... not my paycheck".

“N-no… not my paycheck”.

That aside, I’d rather talk about the characters that are still alive (the few of them anyway), because the trend this week is to ask why we should keep watching Game of Thrones. Viewers are becoming attached to underdogs, altruists and well-meaning lords and ladies only to have them slaughtered while a gloating shit giggles from his Iron Throne. When Joff smirks, he’s really responding to the tens of millions people worldwide sitting slack-jawed in front of their screens. Fans aren’t ready for the constant emotional beating that GoT offers, as Twitter will have us believe. Will these affected viewers come back for season four?

The answer is yes, though it’s not as simple as saying, ‘if readers can stick with the novels then viewers can stay with the series’. In the case of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy world, it is the TV version that attracts the less involved consumer; using every bit of screen time to show something new, astounding or sexy (I’ll add that the show’s use of sex is NOT superfluous, though boobies do inform quite a few GoT conversations I’ve had). On the other hand, ASOIAF readers sign up for a denser narrative, enduring a Catelyn even more skeptical of her son’s war plans; and finding the answers to such mundane questions as ‘what were all the ingredients in Tyrion’s dinner?’ It’s safe to say that people who read through to the Red Wedding will generally prove to have a heightened investment in the fantasy world of Westeros, against someone who has reached the same point in the television series alone. Something else, then, must motivate the viewer to persist with Game of Thrones.

But I digress. The Red Wedding changes nothing for the single-text TV consumer. The motivation is the show’s hype, and that’s something they’ve always been caught in –more so now than ever. What’s really worth looking at is how ASOIAF fans can watch thirty hours of something they’ve already read about in excruciating detail.
 
 
A Tale of Two Texts
There were not many differences between the first entry in the A Song of Ice and Fire novels and the premiere season of Game of Thrones. Aside from adding Ros to the cast (who represents a number of prostitutes featured in the novels) and omitting an intriguing flashback of Ned Stark’s, the TV series remained very faithful to the narrative of its original text. This sat perfectly fine with Martin’s devoted readers; satisfied by the notion that their beloved fantasy could be adapted for the small screen with such flawless presentation. Deviating from the story’s origins at such an early stage would depict HBO as commercial fiends to the readers; distorting the reality of the story world and missing the point of the novel’s sprawling and often confusing narrative.

But everything changed with Ned Stark’s death. His beheading was a pointed statement from the show’s creators, who had held out against audience expectation and killed off the intrepid hero whom newcomers to Martin’s universe had pinned their support to. The brutal outcome of the first season, however, was reached with no debate:

“Commuting Ned’s sentence in the show would have been a betrayal of everything we love about the books. When people ask us, “Did you ever think about keeping Ned alive?” The answer is no.
The Lord of Winterfell had to die.”

– David Benioff, writer/episode director/executive producer/
co-creator of Game of Thrones

Ned Stark's death marked a massive turning point for all viewers - even those who knew it was coming.

Ned Stark’s death marked a massive turning point for all viewers – even those who knew it was coming.

Ned was dead and Martin’s readers now understood the TV series for what it was: a faithful companion piece to the novels. But for the adaptation to truly complement the original, it would need to tap into something the readers desired, but the novels could not deliver. By the end of the first season, ASOIAF readers were assured that the hands capable of tackling such a challenge were in control of Game of Thrones.

Season two saw the series take its first big step away from its parent. Plot points weren’t being omitted, they were being reimagined well within the boundaries of the original story world. No example of this is more pertinent than Arya’s chance encounter and subsequent interactions with Tywin Lannister (who substitutes somewhat for Roose Bolton in the adaptation). The conversations between this pair formed some of my favourite moments of season two before I’d even read the books but in retrospectively examining the scenes after reading A Clash of Kings, I loved them even more. An odd paradox was at play: The TV show was being unfaithful to the plot of the novel but utterly loyal to its story in that if this relationship had been struck between Arya and Tywin in A Clash of Kings, it would look a lot like what we were seeing on-screen.

Certain alterations to the storyline like the one above had the effect of appearing to omit important plot points. My own greatest concern was for Bolton’s absence from the storyline. To this day, I’m not entirely certain why he wasn’t introduced earlier in the series. I can only assume the show’s writers did not want to foreshadow his involvement in the Red Wedding any sooner than was necessarily done during his stay at Harrenhal. Delaying Bolton’s involvement in the plot altogether may have been the only solution to concealing his status as a traitor, as his character is downright creepy. Maybe tomorrow night’s episode will link him to a certain biological relation of his and thus justify his noted absence as being part of a nicely self-contained season arc.

By way of the novels, season three should have seen the first of one of the story’s central characters go off the radar in Theon Greyjoy. His torture scenes with He Who Must Not Be Named Just Yet were probably the show’s most squeamish, but they were some of my favourite sequences from the season. Game of Thrones was no longer just reworking bits of the plot here and there, it was filling out the blanks left by Martin’s books (the fancy word for these narrative gaps is hyperdiegeses. Mmm yeah). We don’t hear from Theon from either the third or the fourth novels in ASOIAF and when he finally does pop up in book five: A Dance With Dragons, he’s experienced an unbelievable amount of change. GoT is making an active audience out of readers, who try to interpret this season’s ‘origins’ sub-plot in relation to what’s become of Theon in the latest ASOIAF novel.

It seems each reimagined plot point tries to tell us something new about how GoT wants to separate itself from – but arguably accompany – the novels. Gendry’s involvement in the Dragonstone story arc doesn’t so much undermine the existence of Edric Storm in the novels as it suggests Gendry shouldn’t take a back seat in the television show plot (though it does help that the single-text consumers now have one less name and face to remember). Robb Stark’s wife, Talisa (experiencing a name change from Jeyne in the novels), who is much more involved in the adaptation’s events leading to the Red Wedding, can potentially be read as a response to fan theories concerning the novel version of herself. Book conspiracies about Robb’s unborn prince or Jeyne’s involvement in plotting the Red Wedding are pretty much rejected by Talisa – kind of, ya know, – getting stabbed in the belly.

Early edits of episode nine showed that Edmure's wedding was not ruined by the Frey/Bolton betrayal but by Talisa Stark's temper after jam was spilled on her dress.

Early edits of episode nine showed that Edmure’s wedding was not ruined by the Frey/Bolton betrayal but by Talisa Stark’s temper after jam was spilled on her dress.

The narrative adjustment with the biggest potential to once more shift the storytelling landscape concerns a trio you’d think unlikely of carrying such a responsibility: Osha, Rickon and Shaggydog (seriously, how hard is it to think of a good name for a direwolf? You’re probably better off naming it Glen or Steve than what Rickon came up with. Well, maybe not, but you get the point). These three separate from Bran, Hodor, Meera and Jojen at the end of A Clash of Kings, which translates to the second season in the TV series. I can think of no other reason for delaying their departure in Game of Thrones than to say we’ll see them again next season. If this is the case, then it’s vastly different from how Theon’s hyperdiegesis (there’s that sexy-ass word again) is treated in the show. We have Theon’s arc in A Dance with Dragons that we can refer to in interpreting what’s happening to him in the adaptation. With Osha, Rickon and Shaggydog, we’re less privileged – having only been told where they’re reportedly located at the end of A Dance with Dragons. Season four could see the first time the show sheds light on something the reader doesn’t know about, and that’s big. All in all, I’ll be pretty disappointed if I’m completely wrong with this prediction, but can there by any other reason why Osha and crew have hung around?

When it comes down to how it handles its characters, Game of Thrones models itself on a juggling act, with new balls being thrown into the mix all the time. When a character dies, it’s as if a ball enchantingly vanishes. If a living character were to go missing for too long, a ball would be dropped – and audiences don’t like their magic shows ruined.
 
 
A Feast for Dragons
Game of Thrones is certainly insured against losing viewers for one more season. Season four will cover more of the best moments from Martin’s series, taking its inspiration from Blood and Gold, the second volume of the third book: A Storm of Swords. In a way, season four will be one big stretched-out finale to the seasons that have come before it.

“We always envisioned season three as the place we needed to get. If we made it through season three and we could do season three right then it would be all worthwhile.”
– D.B. Weiss, writer/episode director/executive producer/
co-creator of Game of Thrones

Weiss seems to imply that the first three seasons are self-contained within the Game of Thrones universe in that they document the War of the Five Kings in its entirety. I would extend this idea to include the fourth season. While the war will have fizzled out by then, the second half of A Storm of Swords still retains the war’s aesthetic before everything seems to ‘restart’.

Come book four (A Feast for Crows) and the corresponding fifth season of GoT however, there’s some serious time to be spent at the drawing board. The storylines of A Feast for Crows and the first half of A Dance with Dragons occur simultaneously, with characters split between the two novels. I found Martin’s approach refreshing against the standard linear storytelling he’d been using, and thought he was able to control suspense at various points, with certain characters’ fates remaining ambiguous or unknown. But this is something the Game of Thrones writers must compromise in depicting the events of books four and five. This jumbled sort of storytelling just won’t translate well to TV and it goes against the show’s tendency to keep as many characters in the limelight as possible. I have every bit of faith that the GoT crew will handle the challenge admirably and still find ways to keep many viewers on their toes.

Game of Thrones has shifted A Song of Ice and Fire readers to no longer ask why the TV show continues to reflect the narrative of the novels less and less and instead wonder how it will formidably demonstrate what its medium can offer that the books can’t. The changes to ASOIAF made in GoT don’t present a strictly alternative universe but a faithful version that caters to the parameters of television and the needs of its varied audiences.
 
 
Predictions for ‘Mhysa’
Ahead of tomorrow’s season finale, I thought it might be a bit of fun to predict some of the things we might see:

1. ‘Mhysa’ – Valyrian for ‘mother’ – is the title for episode ten. Like the two season finales before it, resolving Daenarys’ season arc will form the basis of this episode.

2. It’s too soon for Joff and Margaery Tyrell’s wedding – we haven’t been introduced to one of its illustrious guests. The first Dornishman to feature prominently in ASOIAF arrives at King’s Landing before the Red Wedding and it’s high time he arrived for the royal matrimony. No sign of him in this promo, but Tyrion at 00:31 sets the scene nicely. This winteriscoming.net notice suggests I’m wrong.

3. There is however, a sign of Theon at 00:29. Methinks it’s time we found out the identity of his captor.

4. All corners of the realm seem involved in this ep; with Jon Snow, Ygritte, Yara Greyjoy, the King’s small council, the Baratheons, Bran and company, and a few others nabbing spots in the promo. Expect a lot of exposition to set up the next season, as has been the case with previous finales.

That just about wraps up my ramblings, I hope they’ve tickled you senseless. I don’t really want to adorn the start of every one of my future posts with spoiler alerts, so let this be a first and final blanket notice. You’ve been warned.

And now his post is ended.