WESTEROS – HBO’s Game of Thrones reached the mid-point of its season on Sunday and the Studio Exec has taken the opportunity to cast his gin filmed eye over the happenings in George RR Martin’s fantasy world.
At the beginning of the latest episode of Season 6 of Game of Thrones, Sansa once more meets Little Finger. It is one of the features of this new George RR Martin-free Game of Thrones that characters are beginning to reunite with increasing frequency. In fact, Season 6 could even be rename 1.0, because there is a definite tendency to reset. Danerys gets out of her endless palace politics and back to the Dothraki; Arya after the briefest of banishments is back training to be merely ‘a girl’; Theon is back with his family; the surviving rump of the Lannisters are back together once more. Martin’s favored narrative model is aimless wandering through various climate zones – snow, desert, forest etc. – interrupted by interludes of violent surprising/unsurprising death. The show-runners are now gathering their characters into clumps ready to do battle and some minor characters are getting offed to clear the underbrush. Likewise there is a sense that they are repairing Martin’s more masochistic blood letting. The resurrection of Jon Snow is only the most obvious example of this and was halfway between a shark jumping incident and sigh of relief.
Back to Sansa’s meeting with Little Finger. Maybe I’m being too meta here but it sounded like finally the women of Westeros and environs were speaking directly to George RR Martin. It’s all very well showing rape and using rape as a danger and dramatic turning point, but the real suffering of the characters has not received much in the way of acknowledgement. Sansa’s insistence on the details of her ordeal at the hands of Ramsay Bolton felt like a corrective. As did the nudity during the play Arya watched. First we get a flash of breasts and then a close up of a penis.
However, moving away from Martin’s vision also means moving more towards a regular television feel. The return of a seemingly dead character mirrors Bobby Ewing’s return in Dallas. When the ginger bearded Wilding made goo-goo eyes at Brienne of Tarth, it felt like a comic note in a sitcom. The cinematic climax to the episode was powerfully done, but once you step back and think about it, poor Wylis’ whole life was destroyed just so he could repair the umpteenth Bran Stark f*ck up.
As the show goes on the divergence is going to get broader and whether this proves liberating, or a betrayal of the original spirit of the books and the first five seasons is still very much up for grabs.