*Contains Game of Thrones series spoilers up until Season 3, Episode 9
Dear George R.R. Martin, Author of GAME OF THRONES,
Fans and critics have been reeling since the Game of Thrones episode titled “The Rains of Castamere” aired. The reason, as you well know, was for seeing the (technically) well-executed final sequence dubbed the “Red Wedding”, where the eldest in the Stark family are brutally massacred – including an unborn child and caged direwolf. Fans of the books waited with baited breath for years to see this moment, turning those of us only familiar with the television series into the subject of YouTube reaction videos. Unfortunately, no one caught my indifferent shrug on camera, so I’ll do my best to sum it up for you in this letter.
Let’s go back for a minute, since I’ve found this series to be the source of endless frustration. Season 1 had precisely three moments worth remembering. First, seeing the young Bran Stark pushed out the window in the pilot episode fueled my hate. This effectively compensated for my not caring about the myriad of other characters, so I came back for more. The show looked impressive. The characters sounded like they had purpose. Still, be damned if you could string together a storyline that made me care. Not until the truly bold execution of Ned Stark did the show feel like it had half the guts it always talked about spilling (but rarely bothered to show). And then, well, there was the season finale’s last shot with Daenerys. Memorable, certainly, but hardly for narrative reasons.
For season two, I don’t even know where to begin. So little changed from start to finish, yet the series continued to amass an army of followers faster and more illogically than the Khaleesi. Episode 9 was again the only standout, but only because the show finally focused on a single story. Tyrion helped fend off an invading army, resulting in a scratch on his face and added frustration to his diminutive position in the Lannister House. In other words, nothing changed. You killed off a few secondary characters, shifted people from The North a bit further south and vise versa, and ended the season promising a Walking Dead mash-up. My dropped jaw was only at the service of a yawn, I assure you.
And now season three. More plotting and politicking of stories that take a dragon’s age to ever intersect. This, and this alone, lends to the “shock” of the Red Wedding. The reason so many people are reacting is because they’ve been sedated into a coma over how stingy this series has been with progress. The world building has been so slow and laborious (not unlike the overlong title sequence), that people seem fooled by the sight of blood. Rest assured, if they took a few minutes to look at the big picture, they would realize that the wedding massacre has next to no outside consequence.
Not for a moment did I believe that the Starks would return to glory. Their family has been a write-off for me since the end of Season 1, when momentum finally shifted to the other storylines. If the intention was to fool us into believe Ned’s son would rise up to reclaim the throne, the TV series did a piss-poor job of seeding that idea. Instead, the Red Wedding felt like a delayed inevitability – needlessly drawn out over two full seasons.
So now, with that out of the way, the big “moment” that fans have been anticipating, I’m worried for what’s next. I want this show to be great – I really do. It’s the only reason I keep coming back. But this most recent episode seems to have crystalized everything that’s wrong with the series. With so many characters and diverging stories, we should be treated to grand moments every few episodes, not every few seasons. You know you’re in trouble when Downtown Abbey has been bolder in its first three seasons than you have.