Katerine459

[SPOILERS thru S7] Where did the show go wrong?

18 posts in this topic

I just finished watching S7. Watched S5-7 in short succession, and I've noticed a pattern in the show's writing that started as early as S5.

To be clear, I have no problem with the show deviating from the books. Especially given that books 6 and 7 haven't been published yet, they really had no choice, and even if they did, some deviation would be necessary, unless they wanted to make each season 100 episodes long. I even like some of the changes. Tyrion meeting Dany early on, for example.

But I think most people agree, the show has taken a notable downturn since S4. I first noticed it when Littlefinger gave Sansa to the Boltons.

The reason... the established reason... that Littlefinger arranged the whole Purple Wedding thing, was because he wanted Sansa. He wanted her for himself. Not only that, but Sansa really had to stay in hiding because Cersei had a "warrant" out for her. The only reason Littlefinger gave Sansa to the Boltons in S5 is because the writers wanted him to -- never mind that it makes no sense with his established motivations -- and the only reason both Sansa and Littlefinger survived S5 is because the writers apparently never considered how Cersei would react.

To me, this is the root of the problem. You can hear it in the interviews with them. They constantly talk about what they want to have happen. They keep trying to give the fans the things that they want to have happen. But it's all for nothing if you forget the basic rule: what should happen, is what would happen, given the characters involved.

Littlefinger should not have given Sansa to the Boltons, not because we don't want to see that, and not because that's not what happened in the books, but because that's not what Littlefinger would have done. And Cersei shouldn't have allowed it, because that's not what Cersei would have done.

ASOIAF has great worldbuilding, it's true. Many fantasy series have great worldbuilding. What makes the series great is the way everything... everything... that happens, in the entire series, feels organic. It feels natural. It feels like everything that happens is a direct result of the characters... all 1,995 diverse characters... acting like they would act in that situation. That's what makes the world feel real. That's what makes us care about the characters. That's what makes the story great.

It's inconvenient to write that way, sure. Sometimes, it means you have to give up on the cool things you want to see happen. But it ultimately results in a much better story.

S6 and S7 can basically be summed up as, "we want to see this happen, and the fans want to see this happen, so let's make it happen, and that'll make the fans happy." But writing that way is like giving us nothing but ice cream to eat. Sure, it's tasty for a while, but there's no substance there. Without organic character behavior, nothing else works.

Some other specific complaints, off the top of my head:

  • Not exactly a character complaint, but there was a change from the books that I didn't care for, just because I didn't care for it. I liked the meaning of the words, "the North remembers." How the entire North banded together against those who betrayed the Starks. While I love Arya, I felt having her responsible for everything cheapened things.
  • Speaking of Arya, the House of Black and White is rather dedicated to its secrets and its religion, and I don't think it would let her go so easily. Even if she wanted to go. Which she wouldn't. At least, not just on the basis of being asked to fulfill a contract.
  • Also speaking of Arya... what the hell was up with her behavior towards Sansa in S7? Seriously. What the hell?
  • What exactly were all of those knights and lords showing up to Arya's/Littlefinger's trial thinking? Did they know in advance what was planned? If so, how is that smart? And if not, why did they just go along with the change of plans?
  • Speaking of Littlefinger's trial: how does it make sense that Littlefinger was behind the cutthroat attack on Bran? That makes no sense. Littlefinger was a) all the way in King's Landing at the time and probably didn't even know that the younger son of Ned Stark had an "accident," and b ) in love with Cat, Bran's mother. Contrast with the explanation in the books, when Cat asked Littlefinger about the dagger, Littlefinger presumably recognized it immediately as belonging to Joffrey (who did it because he heard Robert saying that it would be better for the boy to die, so he did it to make Robert proud), but Littlefinger couldn't very well tell Cat that it belonged to Joffrey, so he made up a story about losing it to Tyrion.
  • Not exactly a character complaint, just something I didn't care for: Danaerys was much more cunning in the show than in the books. In the books, all of us readers could see the machinations going on in Meereen, but she couldn't, when Hizdahr zo Loraq kept asking her to marry him and promised to make the attacks by the Sons of the Harpy stop if she married him. It kind of made sense that she would be naive, given her lack of experience with court machinations, and it emphasized very nicely just how much she needs somebody like Tyrion. I know the writers wanted her to be a strong female character, but... she is strong. Strong and flawless are two very different things. If they'd stayed true to the books in this, it would have shown a strong character who still has room for character growth.
  • Back to character complaints: Why did Tyrion believe that they could convince Cersei to fight alongside them, just by showing her a wight? Why did he ever think that she would see it as anything other than a tool to use for her own ends? That's all Cersei, as portrayed in the show, is capable of seeing. That's always been an established fact.
  • After they saw the army of the dead at Hardhome, why did they think that a small band of people would be enough to abduct a wight?
  • Why would Elia consent to an annulment? For that matter, why would the High Septon, after their marriage was already consummated and she had given Rhaegar two children? And on a related note, why would Lyanna name her child Aegon, when Aegon is also the name of one of Rhaegar's other children? All of this screams "convenience" and "fan service."
  • Not a character complaint, just a practical one: Sam got from Oldtown to Winterfell awfully quickly. In his horse-drawn wagon. With a woman and a toddler. In winter. It took him, what, a week?

So... yeah. Those are my thoughts on where the show went wrong. In all fiction, but especially in fantasy, it's always best to start with what the characters would do. Not with what you want them to do. GRRM does this expertly. The show's writers, OTOH, are looking at it backwards.

Thoughts?

Edited by Katerine459
Changed heading to add spoiler warning

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Nice post. One reason for the drop-off after S4 is likely that aside from less book material, I don't believe GRRM has been helping out at all, having not written an episode since early season #4. I have similar complaints about the show. LF giving Sansa to the Boltons and not even bothering to do a background check on Ramsay was very strange indeed, and also it really didn't benefit anyone other than give LF an additional reason to ask Cersei for permission to send the Vale armies up north to liberate it. I have watched lots of clips by a YouTube poster called "The Dragon Demands" (he also posts links to his clips on forums here) and he said that basically the showrunners, for reasons best known to themselves, really wanted Sansa to be in the  Ramsay/Wintefell horror story instead of cooling her heels in Vale. They even arranged for LF to head to King's Landing leaving Sansa without protection. This whole plot seemed dreadfully contrived as did lots of the other storytelling elements:

  • Arya's plot in Braavos in season #6 was very weird. Having been threatened with death after failing to kill Lady Crane and hiding out with Needle, in the next episode Arya is walking around in broad daylight without Needle. This looks like an abandoned subplot, the initial plan being that "Arya" here was Jaqen in disguise. Not that this explains how Arya recovered so quickly with wounds that really ought to have been fatal, or how she defeated the Waif. Another plot hole is that in season #7 Arya suddenly becomes this great swordfighter despite her Braavos training mostly involving getting bashed up by the Waif.
  • Re Arya's behaviour towards Sandra, the prevailing theory is that the writers did it to inject tension and make the audience wonder so that they could pull a switcheroo in the last episode. I don't buy the theory that it was all a big act because Arya started behaving like that before she ever found the note in Petyr's room and had not been given any particular reason to be suspicious of Petyr. Granted, this makes Arya look really bad and doesn't explain how at the end of the finale the sisters are suddenly BFFs. Note that Arya got her trial cancelled thus getting away with murdering most of House Frey (and several other people) yet LF got executed for betraying and killing a few people years ago, despite being helpful since then especially liberating Winterfell. Must be because Arya = "good" and LF = "bad".
  • The trial didn't make a lot of sense I thought; I thought that the Knights thought it was Arya's trial initially but disliked LF enough to go along with what Sandra said. Personally I hated Littlefinger being killed off especially by one of the few people he'd actively helped. Ironically if Littlefinger hadn't ridden to the rescue and liberated Winterfell (either because Sandra didn't need him or because he'd ignored her belated request) he'd still be alive in the Vale.
  • I didn't think that LF did send the assassin to kill Bran even on the show (in the books yes it was Joffrey), just that the dagger belonged to him. Presumably as in the books he lost it to Robert during that tournament, and Joffrey pilfered it, but the TV series never revealed this.
  • Not really relevant to the question, but I assumed that Dany/Hizdahr never even married on the show, as it wasn't shown, and also that Hizdahr was shown being stabbed but not actually being dead. I thought it would have been a great twist for Hizdahr to have faked his death and really been the one behind the attack, but I severely doubt the writers are capable of coming up with twists like that (though GRRM is).
  • Tyrion's intelligence seemed to take a major drop this season. Not that he was shown as being brilliant for some time before then either. He was a much more effective Hand in season #2.
  • That was basically a suicide mission that relied on dragons and ravens travelling at light speed allowing a miraculous rescue, and in Jon's case he needed Benjen to conveniently show up. I guess the named characters did it because they realised they'd be protected by their plot armour, which they were right about other than Thoros.
  • This should never have been annulled because as you say it had been consummated - even Rheagar taking a second wife would have made slightly more sense as Aegon the Conqueror did. Just so that Jon could unambiguously not be a bastard and instead be the Chosen One ahead of Dany in the line of succession. Just like Jon is so honourable that he will refuse to lie and then later in the episode dishonourable enough to fornicate with Dany and risk fathering a bastard, which he said he'd never do in season #1. (So much for his complaints about the girls liking Robb more than they did Jon.)
  • There was amazing crazy amounts of teleportation going on this season. Whole armies getting from point A to point B basically instantly.

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I think your partially right but I also think some of it is a result of problems with the book series.  

 

On 10/10/2017 at 6:51 PM, Katerine459 said:
  • Also speaking of Arya... what the hell was up with her behavior towards Sansa in S7? Seriously. What the hell?
  • What exactly were all of those knights and lords showing up to Arya's/Littlefinger's trial thinking? Did they know in advance what was planned? If so, how is that smart? And if not, why did they just go along with the change of plans?
  • Speaking of Littlefinger's trial: how does it make sense that Littlefinger was behind the cutthroat attack on Bran? That makes no sense. Littlefinger was a) all the way in King's Landing at the time and probably didn't even know that the younger son of Ned Stark had an "accident," and b ) in love with Cat, Bran's mother. Contrast with the explanation in the books, when Cat asked Littlefinger about the dagger, Littlefinger presumably recognized it immediately as belonging to Joffrey (who did it because he heard Robert saying that it would be better for the boy to die, so he did it to make Robert proud), but Littlefinger couldn't very well tell Cat that it belonged to Joffrey, so he made up a story about losing it to Tyrion.

They needed to do something at Winterfell, they needed a "big" character death and they needed to get rid of LF 'cos he plays no role in the end game.  

The way they went about it was terrible.  I imagine the reasons were irony, his plans coming undone as a direct result of a "cunning plot".  The Sansa/Arya/Bran relationship should have been the focus and they should have fit LF's down fall in this.  Instead they did it the other way round, Sansa et al had to act in that way for LFs story.  It's shitty writing pure and simple.

How about something like this instead - 

1- Stark kids reunion

2- Mistrust between all three but not outright hostility.  After everything they have been through and the fact they weren't exactly bessie buds prior some mistrust would be expected.

3- LF starts his plan, Bran immediately grasses him up to Arya.  She stabs the shit out of him.

4-The rest of the season can then be dedicated to the fallout of this.  Will Sansa think that Arya cunningly disposed of her smartest ally?  Will Bran mistrust Arya seeing how violently she reacted to the information?  Will Sansa think Arya/Bran are coluding against her?  What of the Vale Lords?  etc etc.  So much potential.  Plus how shocking would that be?  LF brutally murdered early on in the series?

Aww well.

On 10/10/2017 at 6:51 PM, Katerine459 said:

Not exactly a character complaint, just something I didn't care for: Danaerys was much more cunning in the show than in the books. In the books, all of us readers could see the machinations going on in Meereen, but she couldn't, when Hizdahr zo Loraq kept asking her to marry him and promised to make the attacks by the Sons of the Harpy stop if she married him. It kind of made sense that she would be naive, given her lack of experience with court machinations, and it emphasized very nicely just how much she needs somebody like Tyrion. I know the writers wanted her to be a strong female character, but... she is strong. Strong and flawless are two very different things. If they'd stayed true to the books in this, it would have shown a strong character who still has room for character growth.

I wont mention the acting (although obvs I have)  but I do think it plays a role.

I don't understand what they are doing with her at all.  That whole Dickon/Randyl thing baffled me.  What was the problem?  Tyrion made zero sense.  Loads of the soldiers didn't kneel, where they to jail them all?  Quite honestly that seems like a good deal in a war.  Be on the losing side, refuse to kneel, sit out the rest of the war in a nice cell with food and water.  Tarly had betrayed Olenna who died as a result.  Plus Tyrions reasoning was "Wont somebody think of the Old Houses!?"... but if you are so hawt for the old ways then surely they should die for betraying their liege lady. 

Anyway the point is the show wants us to think this was bad.  Then... totally forgot about it.  I mean the "Game of Thrones" doesn't have that much life left in it.  Can Dany go totes Mad Queen in 6 episodes?  Whose she gonna go Mad Queen on?  The army of the dead?

Part of me thinks they just did it to fuck with book readers who are convinced shes batshit. 

On 10/10/2017 at 6:51 PM, Katerine459 said:

Back to character complaints: Why did Tyrion believe that they could convince Cersei to fight alongside them, just by showing her a wight? Why did he ever think that she would see it as anything other than a tool to use for her own ends? That's all Cersei, as portrayed in the show, is capable of seeing. That's always been an established fact.

I agree with you here, the showrunners wanted the main characters to get together and have all those reunions and I don't think they will get another chance. 

On 10/10/2017 at 6:51 PM, Katerine459 said:

Why would Elia consent to an annulment? For that matter, why would the High Septon, after their marriage was already consummated and she had given Rhaegar two children? And on a related note, why would Lyanna name her child Aegon, when Aegon is also the name of one of Rhaegar's other children? All of this screams "convenience" and "fan service."

I actually give this one a pass.  I think they are patching up book stuff that simply can't be explained in the context of the show.  My guess is that he is called Aegon in the books and he was legitimate somehow and both those things make total sense but have complex reasoning behind them that requires background (or page time) we don't have in the show.

Here is an interesting question though.  How come he is the legitimate heir to the Iron Throne?   I can't remember if it was Sam or Bran who said this but either way it doesn't matter.  So let's accept whichever one said it was privvy to Jons letter saying he had bent the knee and accepted this.  It doesn't matter, Dany is attempting to be a ruler by conquest, the legitimate heir is probably some Baratheon 3rd cousin.  Even if they accept Dans rule then as I said she rules because she conquered.  Her reasoning may be cos her Dad was king but the actual reasons are Dragons, Dothraki and Unsullied. 

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8 hours ago, Anythingatall said:

I don't understand what they are doing with her at all.  That whole Dickon/Randyl thing baffled me.  What was the problem?  Tyrion made zero sense.  Loads of the soldiers didn't kneel, where they to jail them all?  Quite honestly that seems like a good deal in a war.  Be on the losing side, refuse to kneel, sit out the rest of the war in a nice cell with food and water.  Tarly had betrayed Olenna who died as a result.  Plus Tyrions reasoning was "Wont somebody think of the Old Houses!?"... but if you are so hawt for the old ways then surely they should die for betraying their liege lady.

It runs in the family. It started long ago with the words of her more famous ancestor to another lord: "When the sun sets your line shall end!".

As for the legitimate heir, when Rhaegar died, his son Aegon (one of the numerous Aegons) became heir to the throne.

Later edit: By the way, Katerine459, great post.

Edited by hewman

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7 hours ago, hewman said:

As for the legitimate heir, when Rhaegar died, his son Aegon (one of the numerous Aegons) became heir to the throne.

No because they were usurped.  Otherwise Dany would have been the Queen prior to the Aegon reveal.

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1 hour ago, Anythingatall said:

No because they were usurped.  Otherwise Dany would have been the Queen prior to the Aegon reveal.

My apologies then. I thought with the heir dead, not his siblings, but his children (either his son Aegon from Elia or his son Aegon from Lyanna) would become heir. Sorry :)

Edited by hewman

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On 10/10/2017 at 7:51 PM, Katerine459 said:

S6 and S7 can basically be summed up as, "we want to see this happen, and the fans want to see this happen, so let's make it happen, and that'll make the fans happy."

:agree:

Yes. It's really how D&D are dealing with GRRM's story. But it's not since S6. It's since the beginning. D&D have a pretty good liking for the 1st 3 books., less so (as some other people) for the following books. They chose to go by themselves. And they did, IMO and as you said, an awful job of making characters "acting like they would act in real situation".

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On 10/10/2017 at 6:51 PM, Katerine459 said:

<snipped a lot of good stuff>

Season 5 is certainly where I lost faith with the show, even if I had several big quibbles with seaosn 4, and it's Sansa's plotline in winterfell that did it. Not the infamous scene in ep 6, but the episode when LF outlines his plan for Sansa when they reach Moat Cailen. It made no sense to me then or now and pulled me completely out of the world - I've never quite been able to watch the show and invest myself in its fiction ever since. It's a failure in plotting and characterization where no party seems to be acting in their own interest. The Boltons come across as incredibly gullible, LF's plan is nonsensical and Sansa seems to have suffered brain damage.

And of course the whole thing has a surprising lack of consequences; it's a two season cul-de-sac really. 

But the "side mission" elements, the questionable dialogue choices and the favoring of the action sequence over the characters were issues present in most of the previous seasons. 

D&D are highly competent screen writers and know their way around an action scene, but they are effectively "hollywood hacks" and that shone through most clearly when the book material ran out, or rather just before. 

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7 hours ago, hewman said:

My apologies then. I thought with the heir dead, not his siblings, but his children (either his son Aegon from Elia or his son Aegon from Lyanna) would become heir. Sorry

You thought right but they were overthrown so none of them were the "rightful heir".  

 

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I really love your post.  I don't post very often but what you wrote is how I feel.  Many of my friends and family also share similar opinions.  I must say, after season 7, I felt momentarily satisfied, but soon after I didn't feel my usual attachment to the show that I normally feel.  I actually lost some interest, and this really upsets me since GOT is one of my favorites.   For example, the way they "developed" the Jon Dany relationship left me with little or no interest. I am only looking forward to how Jon reacts when he discovers he is Rhaegar's son.  But even then, they might just touch upon some tension for half an episode and then move on to the white walkers.   It is sad since  I didn't really care either way about their relationship and I really don't enjoy feeling this way.  I want to care.  As opposed to Jaime and Brienne or Jon and Ygritte.    Also, I agree that the show is giving the fans what they want.  Again, this made me feel very disappointed.  I mean, a little fan service is good, I like it, but let's make season 8 more realistic. I thought that was what made the show stand out. Since the last season must match the book ending, I am hoping that season 8 will be more like the earlier seasons.   Also, I don't want an apocalypse or a ton of deaths.  I would just love to watch a more realistic season.  Another example is Jaime losing is  armor after Bron saves him in season 7.  That wasn't realistic at all.  I could go on and on.

Edited by Lover of the North

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On my cell so this won't be as detailed as I like. Just gonna give the overview of my opinion. 

D&D are just not as good. 

I'm not insulting them to insult either. I've had enough if that. What I mean is they are not "authors", for lack of better words. 

They write, sure, but anyone can do that. Anyone can make a string if scenes with explosions and characters being all super awesome. Kids do that. However, an author does that and has it naked sense within the universe they created. 

I have listened to their interviews and it's clear they care not for the actual characters or story. What they care about is showing off their favorite actor and doing "fan service". I do not use this word lightly, but this is legitimate fan fiction. 

What we are seeing now are people thinking, "wouldn't it be cool if..." and then making it so. Its essentially what happens if you have someone watch the show for 4 seasons then tell them to make up what they want to see and then do it. 

Everything in between is just fluff designed to get to the next cool scene. Not even good fluff. 

When I watched season 7 (and some parts of the previous) I truly felt like the writers have been looking at our memes and discussions and picking things that people talked about. 

Davos and "fewer" 

Gendry and his rowing 

Jon and Dany hooking up. 

Aegon and Lyanna secret wedding. 

LF "trial" 

Feild of fire 2.0

Commando misson to the north 

The hound and "you know what's coming" (airhorns) 

Arya and Brienne fight 

 

The list goes on. It's all just spectacle and no substance. 

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On 10/14/2017 at 5:36 AM, Anythingatall said:

You thought right but they were overthrown so none of them were the "rightful heir".  

 

Overthrowing doesn’t make you heir and it doesn’t make you rightful. It just makes you an usurper.

Edited by hewman

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8 hours ago, hewman said:

Overthrowing doesn’t make you heir and it doesn’t make you rightful. It just makes you an usurper.

Well in that case conquering doesn't make you the rightful heir either and therefore the 7 kingdoms doesn't exist and Jon Snow still isn't the right heir to anything**

**I suppose one could argue that Bran/Sam was saying he was Danys heir which actually makes sense if they had decided to bend the knee.

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17 hours ago, MrJay said:

Feild of fire 2.0

I agree with the other points you have raised but this one is absolutely unavoidable… the series can not in any case avoid a battle with the Dothrakis and the dragoons against Westerosi troups … on an open field… ;)

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I think this entire discussion is so subjective. How can any person factually decide where a show "went wrong"? The whole premise is flawed. I still find the show extremely enjoyable. 

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First of all, I have to say that I find the show to still be very enjoyable. 

However, there has been a drop in the quality of the show, beginning with season 5. Things that just plain don't make sense. Character development that's a bit sparse.  Some of this has been brought on by the fact the final two books haven't yet been published, but some of it is just the choices made by D&D.  

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11 hours ago, Nowy Tends said:

I agree with the other points you have raised but this one is absolutely unavoidable… the series can not in any case avoid a battle with the Dothrakis and the dragoons against Westerosi troups … on an open field… ;)

Took me two reads to notice you quoted me. Lol, I'm tired. 

I should have been clear, and I did notice this when I first wrote it. I just get fired of editing via cell. 

When I say field of fire 2.0, I mean the half baked way they set it up. I agree that it should and would happen. But the way it happened was the most ham fisted and forced way possible. 

But I'm fine with disagreement there. It's one of the weaker examples. My big boy examples I bolded. 

But really. The hound all but said "Clegane bowl confirmed! Get hyped!" (Air horns blare) 

Edited by MrJay

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Maybe this is just me, but I noticed this trend:  in seasons five and six, up until episodes 9 and 10 everybody’s storyline can be summed up in one sentence.  Season five the exceptions were Tyrion and Jon Snow, and kind of Cersei while in season six the exceptions were Dany and Jon.  Think about it, you can skip episodes 1-8 of season five, and all you need to know about every character besides Tyrion, Jon, and Cersei moving into the penultimate and finale, is one sentence.

Jaime and Bronn went to Dorne to rescue Marcella from Oberyn’s daughters and got captured.

Arya arrived in Braavos and is training to be faceless man with Jaqen H’gar.

Sansa returns to Winterfell and is brutalized by Ramsay after marrying him.  

Theon watches Ramsay torture Sansa.

Davos accompanies Stannis away from the wall to march for Winterfell.

Bran is non-existent.

Brienne and Podrick unsuccessfully try to rescue Sansa.

Meereen is turning on Daenerys and a shadow organization killed Ser Barristan.

Season five is where the writing really started to go downhill, but season four is where the limitations of the budget and the difficulty of putting this show out on time became apparent.  As far as which one played a bigger role in the dropping quality of the show overall, the writing.  But on top of that you also have Dan and David’s commitment to spectacle over story.  

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