Unabashed Book Snobbery: GoT's 10 Worst Adaptational Decisions
Spoilers only through GoT S4.
Anonymous said: I recently discover your blog and I’m in love with it, I’m in full reading of all your posts! But at the risk of repeating something that someone you have already ask for you… I cannot resist the curiosity! Especially after your magnificent poll, cause I like how critical you are with Game of Thrones so… What would you say are the 10 worst decisions committed so far? Scenes, plots or characters. (btw, sorry, my english sucks)
Well, anon, at first when I saw this I smiled, jotted down a knee-jerk bulleted list, and sent it over to a friend of mine who also happens to be critical of the show. Then she and I began talking about it further, and suddenly it became a Google Doc with mini essays. The following is a collaboration between myself and the wonderfully talented Dornish enthusiast theculturalvacuum.
To quickly preface, we are not the types of people who will criticize every minor change when a book is being adapted to the visual medium. Even with GoT, there are times we even kind of like changes. But the fact is, with this series, we have very good reasons for our book snobbery. Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss (D&D) have, over time, demonstrated to us that they have a very limited understanding of the characterizations and themes at play in a series that is about so much more than twists and gasps. In the case of LOTR, it was clear that Peter Jackson, despite his changes, understood Tolkien’s vision. From our perspective, while D&D may know plot-wise where ASOIAF will end up, what they are giving us is a story that relies on overused tropes and trite interpretations, which ultimately misses “the point.”
So without further ado, the 10 worst adaptational changes, from least awful to most:
10. Masturbatory original dialogues:
Back when Season 1 was in production, D&D found themselves short in terms of run-time. It was a low-budget operation back then, so they added a lot of scenes of just two or three characters talking in one room as a way to pad their show. Originally, these scenes were thought of as the shining stars of the series (Varys vs. Littlefinger being almost like a spy vs. spy). Then they turned into…
Cersei gave power to gay bashers & pointed them into loras’ direction so she could have him arrested. And after months of torturing him mentally & physically for being gay, they made him confess to being gay. And to confess that he is wrong for being who he is.
Then after being mutilated, the woman responsible for all of this kills him anyway. And completely gets away with it. There have been zero consequences for what Cersei did to Loras and the other gay men tortured & killed by the sparrows.
It’s been completely brushed to the side as if it were nothing. So much so that you couldn’t tell it even happened. D&D just completely trivialised homophobia & gay bashing.
To add to that, there will never be justice for what Cersei did to Loras now that Olenna is gone. Because obviously people who get gay men tortured & beaten before killing them don’t deserve to be punished.
In fact, the victim deserves to have their family wiped out. Excellent job D&D for handling a real world issue so thoughtlessly & careless.
Anonymous said: your top 10 about the characters most OOC from the show?
Once again, anon, well done. As soon as I saw this ask, I sent it over to my friend, and between the two of us, we painstakingly crafted a list. One Google Doc session later, we have the second installment in our series: Unabashed Book Snobbery. The following is a collaboration between myself and theculturalvacuum, who you should totally go follow right now.
Preface: this was a difficult list to construct, because while we feel very strongly about certain characters’ arcs completely missing the point of their book counterparts (Sansa is one the most egregious here, for example), we felt we really had to hone in more on characteristics. It was a painful animal to narrow down, but we feel fairly comfortable with our order. That’s not to say anyone off this list is without issue though.
Without further ado:
Honorable Mention: Arianne Nymeros Martell
Arianne’s whole thing is that she exists and she won’t let people forget it, so being nonexistent is WAY out of character for her. She would give Doran an earful if she knew about this.
Littlefinger is a Sneaky Sneak. You could say this is pretty much true in both the books and the show, though what is sneaky about mailing a letter to one of your greatest foes that has a reputation for treason to let him know about your hidden asset is beyond us. Still…yes, both Littlefinger and his show counterpart, Batfinger, are indeed weasley-type characters. And both have incredibly inappropriate feelings towards Sansa Stark due to viewing her as an awkward combination of daughter and boyhood fantasy.
My bestest pal, partner in crime, peanut butter and dude sandwich @simseternity is doing a bachl-icantspellthat, so I made this nerd! Her name is Flora Demarco (I accidently typed A instead of F, but her name is Flora not Alora!)
Queen Hildeburh challenges a Valkyrie to combat. (Lora Louise Freeland, from “Valkyrie Settlement” by Susan Shwartz, story inspired by a character referenced in Beowulf, Dragon magazine No. 85, May 1984.)
more reasons to hate d&d: the Loras Tyrell edition
at this point i think if u know me u know how much i LOVE Renly Baratheon and Loras Tyrell and seeing as SOMEBODY *glares at coffin* COULDNT STAY ALIVE all i have left is Loras–but d&d are virtually killing him, too. how? let’s chat.
at first, we were all rad excited about Renly/Loras right? it had a chance for such great representation. but once Renly died, Loras grieved for like 2 seconds, and presumed to fulfill one role: the token gay character. and here’s why that’s wrong.
we first meet Loras in AGOT, at the hand’s tourney. sixteen, a knight, and with a prestigious title: the Knight of Flowers. the third son of one of the most powerful lords in westeros, he already has big shoes to fill. Willas is the true heir to Highgarden, and renowned for his breeding. Harlan is just as famed as Loras- Garlan the Gallant, with honor and a beautiful wife and love from everyone. and Margaery- the only daughter, beautiful, and super smart. the fact that Loras has been able to distinguish himself in this family is an accomplishment all by itself. and guess what? HE IS NOT FAMOUS FOR BEING GAY.
Loras is “at sixteen, he was the youngest rider on the field, yet he had unhorsed three knights of the Kingsguard that morning in his first three jousts.” (AGOT) the Kingsguard is as prestigious as you can get, and Loras beat three when he was sixteen. in fact, the only person he “loses” to is the hound, and only because he forfeits due to the hound stopping Gregor Clegane from killing him. again, no mention of being gay.
Loras is pretty much the definition of “chivalrous”- at least we see so through Sansa. while she is being kept prisoner in King’s landing, he arrives to escort her to Margaery and Olenna. Sansa brings up the hand’s tourney, when he gave her a rose after unhorsing someone in his match- ’[Sansa] “you said no victory was half as beautiful as me.” Ser Loras gave her a modest smile. “i only spoke a simple truth, that any man with eyes could see.” he doesn’t remember, Sansa realized, startled. he is only being kind.’ Sansa is once again a prisoner at this point. 99% of king’s landing hates her. but the Tyrells? no. nothing but kindness, Loras included. and nothing!!! about!!! being!!! gay!!!
well, I’m not going to lie. Loras’s being gay does have a lot to do with his character. one of the most memorable of his aspects, besides his chivalry, is his intense loyalty. and often, that loyalty is directed towards Renly.
’ “not all [of Renly’s men] have bent the knee,” agreed the eunuch. “not Loras Tyrell. a fifth of Renly’s knights departed with Ser Loras rather than bend the knee to Stannis. it’s said the knight of flowers went mad when he saw his king’s body, and slew three of Renly’s guards in his wrath.” ’ (ACOK)
renly’s rainbow guard was parallel to the Kingsguard, including the prestige and vows. they serve for life and swear off marriage. it’s accepted that breaking vows pretty much will not happen. yet Renly dies, and rather than Loras save his skin and swear to Stannis, his grief overcomes him. and this is part of Loras’s great flaw. he’s emotional, headstrong, stubborn. he loves too hard.
and, of course, ’ “when the sun has set, no candle can replace it.” ’ (ASOS) here’s some context. Tyrion is asking Loras about love. at this point, Loras is part of Joffrey’s Kingsguard due to Margaery and Joffrey’s betrothal. Tyrion questions Loras’s willingness to join the Kingsguard- does he wish for love? it’s easy to make an assumption that due to the quote, Loras has loved someone, but they are gone, and he believes no one will live up to them. pair that with killing three people after Renly’s death….hm. something clicks here.
later on, this is expanded in a conversation with jaime. ’ “what did you do with Renly?” “i buried him with mine own hands, in a place he showed me once when i was a squire at storm’s end. no one will be there to disturb his rest.” he looked at Jaime defiantly. “I will defend King Tommen with all my strength, I swear it. But I will never betray Renly, by word or deed. He was the king that should have been. He was the best of them.” The best dressed, perhaps, Jaime thought, but for once he did not say it. The arrogance had gone out of Ser Loras the moment he began to speak of Renly.“ (ASOS) wow. that’s devotion, if i do say so myself. but this is not homosexuality being thrown in our faces! this is someone fiercely loyal past the point of death, literally. this is the Loras we know and love.
and like I said before, Loras is emotional, headstrong, and stubborn. he’s also vain, I won’t sugarcoat it. ’ “A more modest man might have answered ‘My lord is too kind,’ or ‘I had a good mount. [Jaime said]” “The horse was adequate, and my lord is as kind as I am modest,” Loras said.’ (AFFC) no, he’s not 100% Super Knight all the time. he’s young, rude, and stubborn like every other teen. these flaws add to his character, yet d&d see them as erasable. fuck them.
Loras is pretty much teased and mocked every day in King’s Landing for being gay, Cersei’s POV especially. and he has a breaking point too. ’ “Your Grace, let me take Dragonstone.” His sister’s hand went to her mouth. “Loras, no.” Ser Loras ignored her plea. “It will take half a year or more to starve Dragonstone into submission, as Lord Paxter means to do…the castle will be yours within a fortnight if I have to tear it down with my bare hands.” ’ (AFFC) this is widely regarded as a suicide by cop move, further explained later by Aurane Waters: ’ [Loras] turned what could have been a bloodless victory into a slaughter. Loras was the first one through the breach when the ram broke the castle gates. He rode straight into the dragon’s mouth, as they say.“ ’ (AFFC) the teasing, the mockery, and the knowledge that his love is dead are all forces strong enough by themselves to send someone to death, let alone combined. once brave, charismatic, and proud, Loras is now more reckless that he was before, desperate, and defeated.
D&D really messed up with this kid. poor representation is almost worse than no representation, which they fail to realize. LORAS IS MORE THAN JUST GAY. I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH. he’s incredibly interesting- a minor character, but he does have a central role as brother to a rising player (Margaery) and serving kings, able to pass his influence along. Loras is amazing. Loras is relatable. And yet, to d&d he is nothing more than a stereotype. and that pisses me off.
I hate Margaery´s death, she didn´t die because she did a bad move, no, she was one of the most amazing and clever characters in the whole show, even in her last moments of life she was sure something was going to happen, Margaery knew Cersei in a way no one else did. Cersei might have beaten the high sparrow but she didn´t beat Margaery she was, as always, the smartest person in the room.
So. After spending 3 days in very much needed discussion, I want to take the task of picking apart the King’s Landing plotline. Because the more I think about it the less sense it makes.
1. The Sparrows (the Faith Militant, the Faith Taliban, what have you) are able to burst into brothels to arrest clients engaging in homosexual intercourse. They are able to smash merchandise. They are able to arrest the HEIR of Highgarden based on a rumor that he might enjoy the company of men. According to Lancel it’s a “new” King’s Landing from which the godless have fled. But Batfinger, the most prominent brothel owner, says “the Queen is waiting,” and that’s that? Let’s be honest: they thought of the “we both peddle dreams” line and wanted to use it. Who needs logic?
2. Carol summoned Batfinger and had “urgent” need of him. This is what she told Qyburn in 5x03. Yet all she did was go, “hey you’re still loyal, right?” At the time I thought she wanted Batfinger because she would get him to help her set up Marg. And you know what, given that Olyvar works for Batfinger, isn’t that what should have happened? I feel like there was a missing scene where Batfinger convinces him to testify (and Carol asked for Marg to get thrown in or something) because otherwise wasn’t it a little too convenient? And why would Olyvar testify against Loras?
I already talked about why Batfinger was stupid in my recap or my musings or something, but I’ll reiterate. For one, he trusted a raven to tell Roose Bolton that he had the #1 fugitive in Westeros (which is idiotic for numerous reasons), but he couldn’t trust a raven to King’s Landing to tell Carol about it? Or did he want to be there in person to suggest the Vale Lords? Because he probably could have included all of that in a letter. Secondly, Carol clearly isn’t fact-checking. She thought Batfinger was still in the Eyrie (and he knew this). So what’s to stop him from say, not sending Sansa to Winterfell, but just telling Carol the Boltons are having this wedding and can he send the Vale Lords? Or how about this: why doesn’t he just not say anything, and send the Vale Lords to clean up after the Boltons vs. Stannis and claim Winterfell no matter what? Because literally the only way this plot makes sense is if Batfinger legitimately wants to kill Sansa at the end of all of this. Maybe I am super mis-reading everything, but that happens to be the one thing I am sure he wouldn’t do.
So…Batfinger was down in King’s Landing because they wanted Sansa to be alone in Winterfell. That’s what happened. We can agree, right?
3. Olenna marches in and demands that her family’s heir be released, and Carol is all “you’re bluffing, you don’t want war again.” And then Olenna seems to agree with that sentiment. So…seriously? There really wouldn’t be a repercussion against the Lannisters (or the Sparrows) for arresting the Heir to Highgarden? If the Tyrells won’t go to war over the future of their House, what will they go to war for? And WHY was Olenna brought back other than to talk about shit and tarts? Oh wait…that is why.
4. Clearly Olyvar told the High Sparrow about being with Loras and Marg knowing ahead of times, because that’s how the High Sparrow knew to ask those questions. Does that mean the High Sparrow is Carol’s lackey? Because wtf would he gain from arresting the Queen and pissing her off? He didn’t have to question her; it was a clear perjury trap. So what was his beef with her? Or is it that she tolerates gay people so therefore she must go…ya know…the worst crime and all.
5. It is total he-said-she-said, especially for whether Marg ever witnessed anything because it’s not like she has a birthmark that can be discussed. Even more, it’s 2-1 he-said-she-said where we have the word of the Queen and the Heir of Highgarden vs. a random squire/sex worker. Why would anyone believe him?
6. Squires see their knights naked. Even if they didn’t, no one bothered to check for the birthmark before carting everyone away.
7. This is where aging up Tommen doesn’t really work. He just sat there.
At least it wasn’t as actively insulting to our intelligence as Dorne?
Loras and Renly and been exchanging ravens since he’d arrived in King’s Landing. After years of spending every day together, every waking moment, their months apart had been difficult, to say the least. Renly had yearned for Loras since they’d parted, and was thrilled that his suggestions that Loras come to King’s Landing to be a tourney knight had finally worked.
The raven he’d received last, announcing Loras’ arrival in King’s Landing in two days time, had set Renly on nervous edge. Though he’d been performing his duties to the best of his ability, anyone could see he was distracted. Now, the day had come, and Renly was pacing his chambers waiting for his heart and soul to arrive. He had sent word to Loras, told him he would not meet him publically. It would not be appropriate, close friend or no, for Renly to embrace him as soon as he entered the gates of the city like he wanted to. They would meet in his chambers, where their embrace would be private.
A few hours into the day, Renly had given up on getting any work done. His duties would have to wait, and he’d taken to pacing the small space of his chambers. He’d taken sips of water, sips of wine, had food delivered to his rooms and then not eaten it. After what seemed like eternity waiting, though in all likelihood it was only just past midday, he thought he heard sharp footsteps outside his door.