It should be noted that while I watched the first season of Game of Thrones I did stop watching it some time ago. The reason is very similar to something a coworker said today about not watching movies, “It just doesn’t seem like a good use of my time.” Now, this shouldn’t imply that I make the best of every moment or even that I don’t misuse my time. I just don’t see the point of this sweeping epic outside of some catharsis and the catharsis isn’t there for me.
So to catch up on Game of Thrones in the quickest and least painful way possible I watched Screen Junkie’s Idiot’s Guide to Game of Thrones. This gave me a quick overview of plot developments since I last watched an episode and was thankfully free. To watch the particular episode nominated for a Hugo Award I bought it on Amazon Prime. Dear Hugos, you need to figure out a way to get kickbacks from the stuff I purchase just for you, love, me.
Game of Thrones: “The Mountain and the Viper”, written by David Benioff & D. B. Weiss, directed by Alex Graves ((HBO Entertainment in association with Bighead, Littlehead; Television 360; Startling Television and Generator Productions)
Game of Thrones has amazing production value. From costumes and landscape to buildings and everything else the whole place is built thoroughly and well. The actors are also all top notch. Every one is believable. At no point do I roll my eyes even though there are times when really I should: “I’m glad I saw you naked”…”I’m glad you saw me naked.” Not easy lines. Plus all the fantasy linguistics which takes a strong constitution for even the direst fan.
So yeah, shiniest world since shiny became a word, good acting, epic plot, nice transitions, beautiful use of color and light. Game of Thrones delivers epic fantasy on a platter like a rich bride’s wedding cake: perfect. Objectively it is gorgeous. Subjectively it doesn’t do much for me.
Maybe the root of the problem is it reminds me too much of when I took a writing workshop from Walt Morey when I was twelve. I was so excited. I loved his books. He was a real author and he was going to tell me how to be a real author too. I walked in full of hope and ideals and he said, “First you have to build a character that everyone likes. Then kill them off within the first three chapters. That will engage people’s emotions in the plot.”
There I was twelve years old with the blinds drawn on formulaic plots and the intentional manipulation of reader emotions. I looked back on all the books I had read by Morey and realized that he was really just writing variations on one book.
Now, I’m not saying George R.R. Martin is doing that with Game of Thrones. Or at least not the part about being formulaic. I do think he enjoys tugging reader emotions around and really what book shouldn’t engage readers emotionally? It just reminds me really vividly of that first realization that the author not only was playing with my emotions but didn’t feel those emotions themselves. If I was crying over the death of a dog then they should be crying over the death of the dog. Otherwise it’s a little too much like burning bugs with magnifying glasses, “Hehehe look at them squirm!”
Given no other competition of worth this episode could easily sweep this category for me. Orphan Black remains competition of note and I have yet to watch the Dr Who episode. It’s going to be hard to beat Dr Who.