After the stellar first episode of Game of Thrones, Sunday has officially become the new geek night. As we gathered again for episode 2, I found myself both nervous and excited. What if the first episode was a fluke? It should be no surprise that when creating a TV show, the premier and finale of a show are the “most important” episodes. They build the show and set up for the next season. If these episodes aren’t polished to be perfect, it can leave a sour taste in the viewer’s mouth and cause a promising TV show’s life to be cut short. Would I find a series of mediocre episodes following the fantastic premiere of Game of Thrones? My fears were quickly laid to rest. While some events have been cut or shortened, which should be expected, the second episode shines as bright as the first.
The thing about books being made into movies and TV shows is that you end up having to condense everything. That being said, there are so many things that COULD have been edited out that I am very thankful they didn’t.
The first scene that easily could have been edited out is the conversation between Robert and Ned. They begin discussing how great it is to be together again, then to old stories about whores and bastards, and finally to Robert’s need to assassinate Danerys. As a script-writer, I know the conversation surrounding Jon Snow’s mother as well as Robert telling Ned that Danerys should be killed, serves little purpose. It’s a scene that the audience can get easily bored with because we already have several scenes that establish that Snow’s mother is not Caitlyn and that no one knows who his mother is. We also already have a scene where Robert is alerted to Danerys wedding to the Dothraki Lord. So why not cut this scene for say… some more nudity? Characterization. The fact that they left this scene alone absolutely thrills me because it means the writers recognize the power of this scene. Not only does it show the differences between Ned and Robert but also gives us an intimate look at their relationship.
Why is this such a big deal? Recently the show has come under attack for it’s “poor script” by the New York Times Ginia Bellafonte and renown Science Fiction writer Orson Scott Card. Bellafonte argues that the “Game of Thrones is boy fiction”, though one can argue that if nudity and war makes it boy fiction then why is there such a huge female following for Tru Blood’s nudity and violence. Card states “Combine that with the screenwriters’ aforesaid incompetence at creating character and relationship in a script, and what you have is a deeply ruined adaptation.” And yet we have a useless scene that could have easily been cut, but was left in to do exactly that: Build character.
On the topic of nudity, almost all the poor reviews of the series have been based on the amount of nudity in the series. Card says, “Martin never, not once, uses sex pornographically,” which is something I highly disagree with. There is a lot of graphic sex in these books and unfortunately, when you show sex on screen it’s going to end up looking pornographic.
That being said, my biggest complaint with these first two episodes is Danerys. In the first episode, which was pointed out by several fans, Danerys is “raped” which is a huge disservice to her character. In the books, Danerys is worried about her wedding night but greatly enjoys it as the Dothraki lord, Khal Drogo, takes her under the stars. In the show, she is raped on a cliff, and in the second episode is seen crying during another sex scene. They then have a scene from the book that shows Danerys asking how to please her the Khal. Her lady servant then shows her how to ride like a Dothraki. This scene made sense in the book because Danerys enjoyed having sex with the Khal but wanted more power. The whole point is that she didn’t want to be “rode like a Dothraki horse”, but because of the way she is portrayed on the TV show her scene of asking how to please the Khal is confusing and redundant. While I don’t think this scene should have been cut, I think that there should have been some visual change that would have caused Danerys to want to take part in the sexual relationship.
As Sunday approaches again, I am excited to see how life at the Wall and with the men of the black is going to be portrayed in “Lord Snow”.