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HBO’s Game of Thrones enters into new territory after Season 5 Finale

June 16th, 2015

There have been plenty of books made into TV shows, but very few have had the book being made at the same time. Hell, it may have never happened, before Game of Thrones that is.

As you no doubt know if you follow the series, George RR Martin’s classic novels haven’t actually been completed, and for the first time, book-readers no longer have a leg up on the TV-watchers — the TV show has caught up with the plot lines in the book.

As Vox notes, beginnings are easy, however, and how the two narratives will twist together here is going to be interesting for any fan of television. Everybody knows what the start and end of a story looks like, in general, including any child who’s heard a few fairy tales. It’s the middle where things get tricky, and we’re more or less there as the two finally converge, and it’s in the middle where we find this particular tale.

That’s probably why many found “Mother’s Mercy”, the finale this week, particularly disjointed. Game of Throneshas entered the doldrums of act two, where the story bottoms out and our protagonists find themselves at their lowest ebb. Of course, Martin has crafted multiple protagonists for us to follow, and then he’s put them all at their lowest ebbs simultaneously. And Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss have upped the ante by doing all sorts of things that never even occurred to Martin, like having Jaime watch as his daughter dies in front of him. So that rather creates the feeling of everything collapsing into utter despair.

But, weirdly, this episode also left me feeling hopeful; I have faith. In a very real way, there’s nowhere for Game of Thrones to go but up. Whether or not Jon Snow lives, narrative structure all but demands that things start improving, because people can only endure so much punishment. “Mother’s Mercy” is a test, then, both of the characters and of the audience. If we can make it through this finale full of death and desperation, seasons six and seven await, and everything will get better.

Or maybe I’m just thinking about these big, metatextual questions because as someone who’s read the books, I’m finally out of ammunition for the smug superiority I can feel over those who haven’t (because, I can only assume, they are incapable of reading). Maybe Martin finishes book six between now and season six, but even if he does, the relationships between the show and its source material, between readers and non-readers, will never be the same. So long, vague feeling of satisfaction I got from having read these tomes. Welcome, uncertainty.

Jen, you haven’t read the books. Were you more enticed by the finale’s endless series of cliffhangers than I was?

Categories: Channels & Shows

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