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[Book Spoilers] Lack of a Prologue Similar to the Pilot / Book 1


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#1 Laohu

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 07:31 PM

I was slightly disappointed very early in the season premiere when I noticed that we were not going to see a prologue setup featuring Dragonstone, similar to what we saw last season beyond the Wall. Why did the production decide to alter this format? Was anyone else expecting to see a solid 10-15 minutes of Dragonstone to kick off the season?

It seemed to me, at least, that a prologue would be the logical direction to take to signify a new season and introduce three monumental characters (Stannis, Mel and Davos). From what I have read so far in various threads, there is a general consensus that the short Cressen story arc was not nearly as effective as the way things played out in the books. They would not have even needed to sacrifice much more time in the episode to showcase Dragonstone in a way that would impact the TV audience much like the White Walker / Other made its presence known in the pilot episode.

What were your reactions? Does anyone have some information on why David and Dan decided against a similar setup to S1?


#2 kissdbyfire

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 05:02 PM

I beg to differ, I think it was the right decision. Introducing new characters and new plot lines to people who haven't necessarily - and probably didn't - read the books would have made things really confusing and hard to understand for those viewers. Different media require different approaches, and I think they did brilliantly!

#3 Brewmaster

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 05:05 PM

I was disappointed personally, as I loved the season 1 prologue and I was looking forward to this one, because I thought it was great in the book.

It might be the right call for TV only viewers, though.

#4 kissdbyfire

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 05:44 PM

I hear you. I love that prologue too, and was looking forward to it. I'll even admit I was a bit disappointed for a fraction of a second, but then I thought about what I wrote upthread and thought it made sense.

#5 Lord Varys

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 06:03 PM

Stannis was introduced in an average way. You already knew his name, he was mentioned and described in the first season. Seeing what kind of man he is should not have been a surprise to the audience.

But Melisandre and the why of the burning of the idols was handled poorly, if you ask me. We do not hear even her name in this episode
Spoiler
.

By making Cressen's Prologue the Prologue of this season, the producers could also have highlighted Stannis's importance for the overall story. After all, he is one of the major players insofar as he ends up being around for quite some time, and deals with the Others/wildlings.

Placing the burning of the idols at the end of the episode/Stannis arc would have made it much more powerful in my opinion.

#6 teemo

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 06:33 PM

I think it was poorly done and seemed like it was randomly thrown in there. Like I mentioned in another thread, this is the only part of the show that my boyfriend was actually confused and asking questions. Today I talked about the scene with a couple people and one said, "Yeah, what was that about?" the other one was so lost he blocked it out and barely remembered. So yeah, apparently it wasn't very effective. I guess seeing Joff watch some weird fights with no horses like we just back from a commercial break or something was the right way to go.

#7 Hyper

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 06:52 PM

Ah, the prologue. Given the frequent complaints here on the westeros forums, they could have dedicated an *entire* episode to this chapter, and people would still think that the prologue was short-changed, and that Cressen did not get enough character development. Sigh.

But Melisandre and the why of the burning of the idols was handled poorly, if you ask me. We do not hear even her name in this episode

Spoiler

It is not necessary to name her straight away - she looks distinctive. Some characters in season 1 were not named initially either.

Stannis was introduced in an average way. You already knew his name, he was mentioned and described in the first season. Seeing what kind of man he is should not have been a surprise to the audience.

By making Cressen's Prologue the Prologue of this season, the producers could also have highlighted Stannis's importance for the overall story. After all, he is one of the major players insofar as he ends up being around for quite some time, and deals with the Others/wildlings.

You seem to be contradicting yourself here. Stannis was mentioned a lot at the end of season 1. His introduction was fine. I actually liked the way they did it... It was not clear who at the beach was Stannis (the Davos or Stannis actor), but when Melisandre called out 'Stannis Baratheon', the camera pans to him. Nicely done.

Placing the burning of the idols at the end of the episode/Stannis arc would have made it much more powerful in my opinion.

No, I think it was a good idea to start with the burning - it was a very striking image.

Overall I think Stannis got a perfectly fine introduction, given all the talk about him in season 1. I can buy that people think that more time should have been spent on Davos and Melisandre - Neither were named, but the essential points of them was made clear:
1.) They are both close advisors to Stannis, but with
2.) clashing viewpoints.
But both characters will receive a lot of screen presence in the first four episodes, which should clear up any remaining confusion for new viewers.

#8 Laohu

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 07:02 PM

One piece of defense that some have offered is that the format of the S2 premiere allowed for an equal amount of time allotted for both the new S2 characters and all of the familiar S1 characters. Perhaps the TV audience needed just as much time to get reacquainted with their favorite characters from S1, but I thought that was what the 2-3 minutes of S1 overview (before the episode even started) was meant for. We got our refresher course on S1; now let's dive into S2 with something new and fresh. What better way to do that then showcase Dragonstone? Alas, it did not turn out the way I expected it to.

Kissdbyfire, I can see where you are coming from with the "information overload" argument, but I think that is all the more reason to put it at the beginning of the episode. A prologue before the opening credits / main title sequence would have put some separation between Dragonstone and the rest of Westeros (oh... let's not forget Daenerys in the Red Waste). The audience would have had a minute or two to ponder all those new characters while getting prepared for the rest of the episode. Instead, we see the introductions of Stannis' party right in the middle of the episode, which I really felt was out of place. Stannis, Melisandre, and Davos deserved a better entrance than what they received in my opinion. Ultimately, these characters (all three of which play integral roles in the main story) had a very forgettable intro.

#9 Lord Varys

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 07:08 PM

Davos was named by Stannis in episode 1.

I said Stannis's introduction was okay. But only because we already know that a guy named Stannis Baratheon exists. The whole point in the Dragonstone storyline in the book is that Melisandre and her new religion are perceived as a threat by the good/decent guys. Instead there is talk about 'fools and fanatics', but we don't know why or how this is the case. It's neither mentioned that Melisandre is a foreigner, nor is it elaborated that her god has virtually no followers in Westeros.

Stannis story is always about choices and ethics. It would have been powerful if the question 'Does Mel get her way?' would have been the main theme of the Dragonstone arc in episode 1.

#10 congokong

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 07:10 PM

Pride is the bane of any TV adaption of a novel. Very few writers can resist the temptation to "make it their own" by meddling with the script and changing things. I don't mean shortening things due to budget/time limit, but unnecessary changes.

For example, the Petyr/Cersei business. It seems they're trying to push the Petyr/Catelyn love angle much more than was in the books. By the time the series started, Petyr didn't care about Catelyn. He had moved on. Petyr is going to find himself at Renly's camp for some reason and likely reuniting with Catelyn.

This means things like the prologue will be dumbed down to make room, since they're adding plots when GRRM already provided more than enough. Why? Because the writers think they can make it better. Well, they can't. They'll just muck everything up later in the series the more they diverge now.

Edited by congokong, 03 April 2012 - 07:11 PM.


#11 Lord Varys

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 07:53 PM

Well, there is a certain
Spoiler
in episode 2 that is as useless as nipples on a breastplate. It leads nowhere, and it won't lead anywhere.

So I very much doubt that there was no room for a proper introduction of Dragonstone. Honestly, the whole Cressen-thing only works if the audience cares for this guy. So if you want to keep his poisoning in the series, you should make it work by keeping the focus on his character and his relationship to Stannis. Make Davos just a guy for this episode, and Melisandre an evil intruder on the way to power, but not yet fully in control of the situation. It could have worked.

#12 TheWanderer

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 09:35 PM

I don't really think that 'not wanting to throw people in the deep end' can be a valid defense of the decision. I mean, look at the first episode of S1. Knights, dead people, suddenly dead people are gone then bam white walkers and people getting killed. And the rest of the episode (and indeed the season) pretty much forgets that even happened. If that's not throwing people in the deep end, I don't know what is. Frankly I felt this episode played it too safe, focusing on crowd pleasing favourites and t&a, rather than taking the risks that made season 1 a success (in my opinion at least). Now don't get me wrong, I think the introduction of the new characters was pretty well handled I'm just not sure that it couldn't have been handled better.

As for the accusations of script meddling, I'd point out that some of my favourite scenes from the show are ones that are done differently (or not done at all) in the books. Tyrion's first battle for example, having watched the show first I was actually disappointed that Tyrion fought, thinking that the knocked unconscious scene was a much better fit for the character. In the same vein I think the Littlefinger/Cersei scene was an excellent addition. Littlefinger behaved in a manner consistent with his character (being a smarmy, antagonistic prick) and Cersei flipped her lid, giving some excellent foreshadowing of her impending craziness. All in all, I'd say the screenwriters have done an excellent job trimming the massive source material into something wonderful.

Edited by TheWanderer, 03 April 2012 - 09:36 PM.


#13 Vikingkingq

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 11:59 PM

I'm with Hyper on this one. The complaints of many people was that this episode felt rushed and had to lean on the comet transitions to tie together a lot of plot threads into an hour. So in order to really do a 15 minute Prologue, you'd have to either lose 27% of the rest of the pilot, or you have to add 15 minutes onto the runtime - which is money that couldn't go to say, the Battle of Blackwater.

As for Cressen - I think this is a question about what the Prologue is meant to do. We're supposed to be introduced to three people - Stannis, Davos, and Melisandre - and the larger plot that's going on. That we come to care for the guy, Lord Varys, is totally an artifact of the fact that we're inside his head and can feel his emotions. That can't happen on the show, so instead his death is stripped down to what actually matters (given that Cressen is here to die, really), showing that Melisandre is something entirely different from the largely unmagical world we've seen before.

#14 Ororo727 Jon Snow Fangirl

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 12:33 AM

Ah, the prologue. Given the frequent complaints here on the westeros forums, they could have dedicated an *entire* episode to this chapter, and people would still think that the prologue was short-changed, and that Cressen did not get enough character development. Sigh.


It is not necessary to name her straight away - she looks distinctive. Some characters in season 1 were not named initially either.



You seem to be contradicting yourself here. Stannis was mentioned a lot at the end of season 1. His introduction was fine. I actually liked the way they did it... It was not clear who at the beach was Stannis (the Davos or Stannis actor), but when Melisandre called out 'Stannis Baratheon', the camera pans to him. Nicely done.


No, I think it was a good idea to start with the burning - it was a very striking image.

Overall I think Stannis got a perfectly fine introduction, given all the talk about him in season 1. I can buy that people think that more time should have been spent on Davos and Melisandre - Neither were named, but the essential points of them was made clear:
1.) They are both close advisors to Stannis, but with
2.) clashing viewpoints.
But both characters will receive a lot of screen presence in the first four episodes, which should clear up any remaining confusion for new viewers.

I agree. Davos was named by Maester Cressen.

#15 Qhorin Halfhand and Yoren

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 12:36 AM

Random, perhaps relevant fact: the season one first episode was longer by about seven minutes than this one.

As I think the Prologue chapter is just a great story that very well introduces us to the characters of Davos, Stannis, Cressen, and even the politics in DS, yeah it should have been adapted. But what about the inner thoughts and other information? I read it yesterday it has a lot of great dialogue that works even without inner thoughts and shows people like Davos reacting to events in ways that explains a lot about them While we can also learn about how much Stannis is unsupported, how Stannis is pissed for not getting Storms End, and in more detail why and how he feels unloved. Still some important things would be lost. (like the explanation of how Davos saved Stannis, this can perhaps be explained later on in another episode) To replace some of the lost inner thoughts we can have, Cressen be shown as frail and weak and having difficulty maneuvering without that much time being spend on that. Have him share a line to someone where he says how he has seen all Baratheon boys, grow he loves them as sons. And maybe in that part of dialogue he would also say that their father had died. The dialogue itself that is already in the prologue
Spoiler
It would be sort of a spoiler for only tv show readers though. If the actor is particularly great he can also make us particularly understand about his emotions for Stannis, the Baratheon kids in general and his loyalty and care about him, that we instead get from inner thoughts in the books. Cressen's increased desperation and alienation could also be successfully shown and again good acting can mitigate the loss of inner thoughts.

Patchface might have to be removed entirely and some adjustments to some of the dialogue should been made, but it is adaptable and it would make for great television. Also there is a difference between geting a glimpse of what characters are and understanding what a character is, how and why he is in that way in detail. The second is different than the first and much better and that is why Stannis and Davos and Cressen of just the prologue of ACOK is much better than the Stannis of this episode. Even without inner thoughts we can get something approaching the great characterization found in the prologue of the book. And of course it is a good story if you care about Cressen, and in the episode it wasn't that much special of a story as in the chapter. So yeah, I definitely would have preferred if it was adapted.

Edited by Qhorin Halfhand and Yoren, 04 April 2012 - 12:47 AM.


#16 Tall Tyrion Lannister!

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 03:23 AM

While it wouldn't have hurt the show to show it. I didn't really miss it that much.

#17 Lord Varys

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 07:05 AM

Well, they could have done this easily...

PRINCESS SHIREEN: The bird looks funny, Maester Cressen. Why is it white?

MAESTER CRESSEN: White ravens herald a change of seasons, my princess. The long summer is finally at an end. Winter is coming.

PRINCESS SHIREEN: Am I going to die in winter? Patchface says, everyone will die in winter.

MAESTER CRESSEN: No, my dear, no one is going to die.

PRINCESS SHIREEN: Father will. The servants say he has not enough men to fight. They say, no one loves Stannis Baratheon. No one in all the Seven Kingdoms. And no one loves me.

MAESTER CRESSEN: I do. I've always loved you, my princess. As I've loved your lord father. His brothers did not need my love, but your father did. You remind me of him...

[Entering Davos - talk about the political situation, Mel, R'hllor etc.]

See, it would not have been that difficult. I really think it would have been better to omit Cressen entirely. That would have been better than the thing they did in the show. Mel comes of as some kind of evil sorcerer, but Cressen seems nearly as bad. Since we don't care all that much about the Faith of the Andals, the pyre scene does not seem like that great a sacrilege. Had it been established, that there were different factions fighting each other on Dragonstone, things really would make sense. The way he has been portrayed, Cressen seems to want Stannis to submit to the Lannisters. It's not Mel who is wanting the war, Stannis is. Mel only convinces him to fight in a certain after everything else fails.

And by showing that Davos and Cressen were somewhat close, the rivalry between Davos and Mel for Stannis's favor would have also been established.

Edited by Lord Varys, 04 April 2012 - 07:15 AM.


#18 Tywin's bastard

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 08:26 AM

Putting the prologue story across the entire episode was definitely smart writing. It's a good part of the book but it gets into the details pretty slowly and puts too much focus on an irrelevant character when the episode is rushed enough as it is. This was, in my view, the only way Cressen would have worked well in the episode. All the non-readers I know got the jist pretty easily so apparently it worked for them.

It's pretty easy to see that the difference between D&D and posters on the forums does not lie in reverence of the source matierial but rather in that D&D has a clue about how adapting works while many negative posters write wishful nonsense.

#19 Ser Dermett Corbray

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 08:33 AM

I always imagined that the prologue would have made a really good introduction to the season. Seeing the dragons upon Dragonstone for the first time, seeing this new area and these new players in detail. Would have reminded viewers who haven't read the books that there is much more happening in this world and much more at stake than the hating of everyone's favourite villain, Joffrey.

#20 Vuron

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 11:31 AM

Putting the prologue story across the entire episode was definitely smart writing. It's a good part of the book but it gets into the details pretty slowly and puts too much focus on an irrelevant character when the episode is rushed enough as it is. This was, in my view, the only way Cressen would have worked well in the episode. All the non-readers I know got the jist pretty easily so apparently it worked for them.

It's pretty easy to see that the difference between D&D and posters on the forums does not lie in reverence of the source matierial but rather in that D&D has a clue about how adapting works while many negative posters write wishful nonsense.


This.

This is a TV show. It is a pointless waste of time to turn the entire prologue into a scene. We don't need to care about Cressen or his motives or his life or his opinions. He's just some worthless character that dies 5 minutes in and is never heard from again. Yes, his story worked great in the book when we could hear his thought process and reasoning, but everything in his chapter can easily be introduced in another way. I read some complaints that not all the characters were named.... I had the same complaints last season about some of the characters not being named (Theon, Selmy, etc.) and later realized that the show runners knew a hell of a lot more about it than I did.

You can't really compare the S1 prologue to S2... the S1 prologue set up the entire series and just tries to keep the white walkers in the backs of our minds. The S1 prologue has been criticized even by book readers because it doesn't follow the flow of the first few books.