One of my favourite Game of Thrones podcasts is A Storm of Spoilers. It was originally for book readers and people who didn’t mind being spoiled, but now that most of the show’s storylines have surpassed the books, it includes production spoilers, which some people don’t like. One of my favourite parts of the podcast is the wild speculation and crackpot theories which are bandied about, and this week I came up with one of my own. I like to call it #BlackThorn.
The adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire is a strange beast. The first season of Game of Thrones aired just before A Dance With Dragons was published, and fans of the books have seen another four seasons of the show before The Winds of Winter‘s publication. The fifth season of Game of Thrones ended at the same point as A Dance With Dragons, as Jon Snow is betrayed by his men in the Night’s Watch, as they believe he has broken his vows by saving the Wildlings, and arguably taking Stannis’ side in the war. All throughout the fifth season of Game of Thrones, Entertainment Weekly published a series of interviews and features with the cast and crew of the show. Following the finale, Kit Harrington ‘confirmed’ that Jon is dead. Book and show spoilers/speculation will be around.
Recency bias is a problem in television; people tend to judge seasons and series of television shows by their finale, which is a problem. This is overcome by episodic reviews, which are in themselves limited, particularly in serialised dramas such as Game of Thrones. The way television seasons are structured, there’s a climax towards the end of the season, and possibly some fallout. This has been the case with Game of Thrones, which followed The Wire’s footsteps in putting the Big Event in the penultimate episode of the season, and the aftermath of those events are the subject of the season finale. In the fifth season of the show however, there’s so much action that it was more or less spread across the last three episodes of the season. This was true of season four as well, but “The Watchers on the Wall” was a lacklustre episode that suffered from not having Stannis ride in to defeat the wildlings, which was saved for the season finale. This review is going to have spoilers from the first five episodes of the show and also some book details, so proceed with caution.