Game of Thrones: Season 5 created by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (HBO, Television 360, Grok!)

Starring Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Iain Glen, John Bradley, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Alfie Allen, Aidan Gillen, Conleth Hill, Jerome Flynn, Gwendoline Christie, Ian McElhinney, Stephen Dillane, Natalie Dormer, Carice van Houten, and Iwan Rheon.

*Spoilers… You’ve been warned!*

The Moment of

Twitter broke during episode 9 of Game of Thrones: Season 3. The carefully divided audience between book readers and non-book readers encountered “The Red Wedding.” This event involved the full-scale slaughter of the good guys. OUT OF NOWHERE.

Book readers had been anticipating the event for years, awaiting the vivid scenes that were so surprising in the books. Non-book readers enjoyed the horror first time, seeing their hopes dashed for a cleanly resolved fantasy narrative.

Plainly, the social success of this moment has become the signature element of the show. Nowadays, the story no longer functions as the key component of the series. While the story exists—we’re not watching a random series of events, the showrunners have increasingly organized the show into a series of set pieces. Every episode needs a shocking moment. There needs to be a talking point for every episode in the blogosphere.

The problem? The shock is wearing off.

Finding the Source

Season 5 sees Game of Thrones catching up with its source material. The last two books in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series have been ponderous and world building. The characters continue to bulge to the point of ridiculousness. For television, there’s too much to successfully convey.

In return, we see the showrunners create efficiencies. Sansa’s (Sophie Turner) storyline blends with Jeyne Poole’s narrative arc. Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) moves much more quickly to Mareen and Dany (Emilia Clarke). Jamie (Nikolaj Caster-Waldau) travels to Dorne.

The world remains incredibly large and screen time is valuable. On the positive side, the showrunners have become more confident in their stories. No longer do we have to check in with every character during every episode.

Buzzworthy

And yet, each episode builds toward the shocking moment. There are themes that emerge each episode, but they often build only to create what is buzzworthy.

I continue to watch Game of Thrones and its high water marks are sterling— the Battle of Hardhome will be this season’s trademark. But more and more, the shock wears off and endless drudgery becomes the norm.

Hopefully, the great unknown of a narrative beyond source material creates inspiration and awe. The showrunners have partnered with George R.R. Martin and they know where this story is going. Hopefully they can land the airplane in such a way that is satisfying. I’m not sure the key focus on shocking moments will serve the final story. We shall see.

Verdict: 3.5 out of 5

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