Jump to content

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Laohu

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

Recommended Posts

Does anybody also feel that the script actually had a Dragonstone scene before the whole idol burning thing? Yes, Stannis and Davos are mentioned by name in episode 1, but Melisandre is not, so something feels out of place here. Yes, I know, secondary characters (like Theon, Ser Rodrik etc.) were not addressed by name for quite some time in season 1, but Melisandre is perhaps the most important new main character season 2 introduces, so it's really kind of odd that we just jump in medias res instead of getting some indication who this woman is. All the main characters were mentioned by name in season 1. And later in episode 3 Littlefinger, Varys, Renly, and Pycelle, too, did not just pop up and were nameless guys for one or two episodes...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I enjoyed the S2 premiere, prehaps not as much as I enjoyed "Winter is Coming", but it was still pretty good. It continued slightly my pet hate of not naming characters (I already know who they were, just to new viewers) such as Melisandre, but less then in S1 (For gods sake, it took a while to work out who Jory was. xD) But this episode managed to bring together the first several chapters together well enough.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I didn't have a problem with Cressen drinking first, what I had a problem with was that he started showing symptoms before she even drank. So regardless of her magic powers, his timing here was pretty dumb. And maesters shouldn't be dumb.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I didn't have a problem with Cressen drinking first, what I had a problem with was that he started showing symptoms before she even drank. So regardless of her magic powers, his timing here was pretty dumb. And maesters shouldn't be dumb.

I think it's fine since at that point Cressen is obviously desperate, and desperate people don't always do things as well as they normally would. In this case his desperation made him hope that he could make a straight face long enough for Melisandre to drink.

The point of it is of course to rid the scene of any possible speculation that Melisandre got fooled into drinking. Even if they show her pause before drinking and looking at him the audience could still think that she finally believed him. This way she comes off as purely powerful as she's drinking while she's looking at the fatal effects of the poison.

Ergo they put the emphasis on the character that's going to be a relevant part of the story.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
"It is not too late to spill the wine, Maester."

"No," he whispered hoarsely. "No."

"As you will." Melisandre of Asshai took the cup from his hands and drank long and deep. There was only half a swallow of wine remaining when she offered it back to him. "And now you."

That would have made it clear she understood it was poisoned, and then drank it anyway.

I'd like to credit with TV viewers with enough intelligence to figure that out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Both variants can show Cressen miscalculating the time it takes for the poison to take effect, depending on how the viewer interprets it. The book version would also raise the question why he killed himself when he thought she was already dying (there's no chance, or point, to go that much into explaining a character that's dying that quickly in the show) and the show version is a bit stronger in pure visuals. I'm happy with how the scene works in the respective mediums.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The only importance of Cressen attempting to poison Melisandre is that it shows how magical she is. That message was quite clear, and the visual of Cressen dying before she'd even drank was very strong in a "show don't tell" way.

After re-watching the episode, I'm very happy with the Dragonstone scenes. One of my friends who has not read ACOK seemed to follow the scenes well enough. Are the scenes a little bit confusing? Yes, I expect so, just like the opening episode of season one was pretty confusing, and just like the prologue itself was pretty confusing. It's supposed to make you want to find out more about Melisandre, and I think that's exactly what it achieved.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's not in fact the only importance of it in the book. It's the only importance of it on the show, yes, which is why the scene lacks all sense of dramatic force and is, basically, a plot token.

The fact that she gives him the chance to back out can be construed to add shading to her character, making her just a little more complicated -- and being the first indication of the sort of stuff we learn in ADwD.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

IMO people are missing 2 key points;

1. Its a completely different media than the books, everything on screen has to have a purpose of moving the story on and develop characters. You cannot just take a book and turn the dialouge into a screenplay.

2. This adaptation is not being written for those who have read the books but for those who have not. The fact that we have read the books makes us all subjective rather than objective.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't think we're missing it at all. I'm pretty sure I can tell the difference between people on screen and reading in a book. But there's good adaptation and there's bad adaptation. Dragonstone was bad: they frittered away all the potential drama and turned it into an inert meet-and-greet and off to something else. They had several ways of adapting to screen that would have made a stronger narrative. Instead, they pared away all the useful functions of Cressen except "Oh, she has magic," and you're left with very little.

Do non-readers think it's fine? Maybe they do. Maybe they don't notice that the maester's nameless and they don't give a damn about him and they don't really understand why he did what he did -- Melisandre has magic, nothing else matters! But that's CSI-level of by-the-numbers writing. Go watch a top-notch episode of Mad Men or The Sopranos and you'll see writing that works on several levels, and does so economically.

Efficiency and depth are not mutually exclusive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not convinced that we're supposed to care about Stannis/Davos/Melisandre, yet. Last season we were slowly introduced to some characters instead of being given their entire backstory during an introduction. We only heard about Stannis in S1, and nothing that we heard was good. I think the Dragonstone crew is being setup to be the "bad" guys as opposed to Renly being the "good" guy. The audience was introduced to Renly and he was portrayed a little differently than he was in the books. The audience has some connection with him because he tried to help Ned during the show.

So, I think Mel and her evil shadow babies kill the good guy Renly and then we are slowly introduced to the motives and background of Stannis. I think it works better that way in a TV show than to have good guys fighting good guys.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't think we're missing it at all. I'm pretty sure I can tell the difference between people on screen and reading in a book. But there's good adaptation and there's bad adaptation. Dragonstone was bad: they frittered away all the potential drama and turned it into an inert meet-and-greet and off to something else. They had several ways of adapting to screen that would have made a stronger narrative. Instead, they pared away all the useful functions of Cressen except "Oh, she has magic," and you're left with very little.

Do non-readers think it's fine? Maybe they do. Maybe they don't notice that the maester's nameless and they don't give a damn about him and they don't really understand why he did what he did -- Melisandre has magic, nothing else matters! But that's CSI-level of by-the-numbers writing. Go watch a top-notch episode of Mad Men or The Sopranos and you'll see writing that works on several levels, and does so economically.

Efficiency and depth are not mutually exclusive.

Can't speak for non readers.

One wonders what the problem was?

I consider season 1 a gem, D&D's adaptation was a brilliant structuring , in face of knowing the novel... and I am not the only one, the dramatic flow seemed pitch perfect.

Was it because of the change in location shooting? I mean Northern Ireland remained the same and will so forever I am guessing.

Do Benioff and Weiss do all the blocking out of the adaptation? It's hard to think that Alan Taylor was not in on the structure of the narrative, and others.

Watching again last night I thought the small council scene nailed all we needed to know about Tyrion's new role.

I loved Peter's reaction and quick reading when Lena tells him they don't have Arya , Lena's subtle reaction when Peter says they might have gotten Jamie back.

Even the super quick 'red waste' scene (man here and gone!)...Emilia's rather lengthy Dothraki just seemed gripping, not just what is said it's how Clarke says it, does it look like Emilia has even got better! What an acting find!

Then beyond the Wall, compact , to the point, to my eye so beautifully composed. It was Peter on the DVD commentary who noted that D&D cast fine actors in secondary roles , they have not lost that touch.

Even Winterfell (Natalia Tena is still a scene stealer) and the Northern Camp summarized what we needed to know, I liked Robb and Theon's conversation better than Robb and Jamies'(which was good too).

The final sequence was the zinger.

(By the way closing credits, Djawadi hits another out the park!)

Joffrey's name day and Tyrion and Shae's scenes seem to just mark time, introduce Dontos later.

What to do with the prologue and Davos I of CoK?

Three major characters to introduce , and important narrative arc... I suppose D&D have an explanation for the rather hop, skip and jump narrative, I would like to hear it. Dillane , Cunningham and van Houten are such good and seasoned professional actors they punch it up as much as they can. (Tho must admit seems D&D were trying to avoid a horrible cliche with Melisandre, but what came out only half worked.) The elaboration needed for the rest of the story must be pushed into future episodes, but seems to me a rare fumble for D&D. Have to wonder if George really got to review that first episode closely?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I didn't mind the scene. I also think that being book readers, the opinions of many are biased. I feel that D&D have earned a certain level of trust in their decisions based on the first season - and I'm sure they've considered carefully where each and every scene needs to be placed for best effect, and what needs to be included in it. I don't think their decisions are flawless, but in this case, I find fault with all the opinions of complaining readers here.

The season has a lot of material to cover, and a limited amount of time and scenes to cover it. Every aspect of a scene must serve some function. There are elements that need to be introduced. There are also elements that are not needed to be introduced, and in fact introducing them makes the adaptation bloated and confusing. There are also elements that it is 'good' to leave some confusion about.

Some have complained that who the Lord of Light was, and what was the function of Melisandre had been unclear, and that the religious aspect of the scene was confusing and not properly explained. I think that it is a wise choice to leave some confusion there. The viewer for the first time does not need to be given a diatribe on the religious background of the seven kingdoms, and the difference between the Lord of Light and the seven Gods. The viewer is left with the impression that something uncomfortable and with religious colouring is going on, and that there is a mysterious and charismatic woman involved. The viewer is left with unanswered questions about who everybody is, and what is going on - but his interest is raised, and he now has a mystery to solve that makes him want to come back. This is a mystery that will be solved. We are bound to come back to Stannis and Mel time and time again, and the Lord of Light will be involved in almost every scene. So the initial confusion will eventually be resolved by the viewer who will have the nice feeling and satisfaction of 'figuring it out'.

On the other hand, we have Cressen. His role is not clearly developed other than to show that he is a servant of Stannis who dies trying to stop the mysterious woman. Some have complained that his character lacks the detail of the book, his love for the Baratheon brothers, his long years of service, his devotion and thus the depth of his sacrifice. But on the books we have a rather lengthy chapter where we are involved quite deeply into his thoughts and get to have those thoughts explicitly stated to us. Cressen can't go outright and make a monologue about those feelings as it would waste valuable screen time and seem unnatural. He can give hints about his relationship to make this more natural, but this is likely to cause confusion to the non-reader. Non-readers have yet to be introduced to Stannis in depth yet, many will need to have his relationship with Renly and Robert refreshed. When Cressen is given more depth, non-readers will be wondering 'This guy is devoted to whom? Which brothers? What is going on here?' This is a bad kind of confusion though. Cressen HAS to die, so he will not be revisited again for the confusion and the mystery to be resolved. By episode 3 most viewers will have forgotten about him, so the introduction of confusion by trying to give him depth, doesn't serve any purpose, doesn't get resolved into satisfactory insight, it simply leaves a confusing first episode. It is only upon rewatch after the end of the season that the non-reader would have figure out the significance of Cressen's deeper character attributes are, and D&D cannot have the luxury of working with that in mind.

Furthermore, the specific suggestions by many here, simply seem much worse. For example Lord Varys writes:

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...

No offense, but I think that is a very bad suggestion. Does the show have the luxury to focus on Shireen? On patchface? No. Introducing these minor characters at all will again simply create massive amounts of the wrong kind of unresolved confusion. The non-reader goes 'Wow, who's the weird girl, and what's wrong with her face (and does the show have the time to answer that question?). What's a 'patchface'? Who's her father? Who are his brothers? Who's the old man? What's going on here?'. Well Cressen is about to die, Shireen and patchface are not to be seen for a long time, and all we're left is a confusing mess.

The particular scene has to be there, because it shows Mel's power, that she's not an impostor, and because the fans would have a fit if it was omitted. The burning of the idols also has to be there, as it gives support for future scenes, when (likely), Tyrion will use Stannis abandoning the seven as propaganda against him.

Let's come now to the placement of the scenes and whether they should have been seen as a porologue or not. I'm pretty sure that what the opening scene for the season is would have been one of the most thought of decisions, and that it wasn't done lightly, and I I agree with their current placement for a few reasons.

Structurally, we must have the montage style 'previously on' type of prologue to get people up to speed. It just has to be there. Dramatically, you place a rising musical score to it, that reach its climax at the end, goes quite, then you get the HBO logo, then the introduction music. It makes sense and is very powerful. To end the climax of the first prologue to enter a second prologue, which is then to have a second climax and drop to the HBO logo and intro, is a bit more unwieldy, and even perhaps a bit cheesy.

Moreover, Stannis is not the white walkers, a mystery that we see right at the start that is then meant to be kept hidden from us season long. Stannis has to be introduced 'in the meat' of the episode as it were, which means that we must have a Stannis scene at the middle of the episode. Were the dragonstone scenes to be put at the start, then we would be left with no Stannis material to put in the rest of the episode. We could draw material from the second episode you can say, but then we would have no material for the second episode and so on. I'm sure that there's a very precise distribution of Stannis scenes, and messing with their order would then harm the pacing of the story. You could say that we could leave the burning of the idol scenes as the scene in the middle of the episode, but the scene has to come before Cressen's sacrifice to give some context as to why Mel is disliked, otherwise Cressen's sacrifice creates unnecessary confusion. Furthermore, the burning scene would have been somewhat bare where it not for the addition of the conversation between Davos and Cressen afterwards.

The one thing I'm slightly uncertain about is whether Mel should have given Cressen an out. I probably think she should, but perhaps I'm biased in that way, because I like Mel after aDwD. But perhaps D&D felt that giving even a hint of compassion to her character so early on may be unwise before the 'mysterious magical woman' aspect of her is established.Perhaps that is wise. WE only know that Mel has more humane side to her because we had the luxury of being in her head in aDwD. We in fact also know that it is her goal to give an aura of impenetrable mystery around her. For the non-reader to come out of the scene with anything other than an 'oh, evil red witch' impression could in fact be construed as a failure of Mel herself to project herself as she wants to.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Structurally, we must have the montage style 'previously on' type of prologue to get people up to speed. It just has to be there. Dramatically, you place a rising musical score to it, that reach its climax at the end, goes quite, then you get the HBO logo, then the introduction music. It makes sense and is very powerful. To end the climax of the first prologue to enter a second prologue, which is then to have a second climax and drop to the HBO logo and intro, is a bit more unwieldy, and even perhaps a bit cheesy.

Do you always have 'previously on's before the show in the US? Sky Atlantic never have them, and I'm very grateful for it.

Why would there be two HBO logo bits? Surely it'd be Logo - Prologue - opening credits - first scene. Or if there must be a 'previously', previously, logo, prologue, credits, first scene.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't think we're missing it at all. I'm pretty sure I can tell the difference between people on screen and reading in a book. But there's good adaptation and there's bad adaptation. Dragonstone was bad: they frittered away all the potential drama and turned it into an inert meet-and-greet and off to something else. They had several ways of adapting to screen that would have made a stronger narrative. Instead, they pared away all the useful functions of Cressen except "Oh, she has magic," and you're left with very little.

Do non-readers think it's fine? Maybe they do. Maybe they don't notice that the maester's nameless and they don't give a damn about him and they don't really understand why he did what he did -- Melisandre has magic, nothing else matters! But that's CSI-level of by-the-numbers writing. Go watch a top-notch episode of Mad Men or The Sopranos and you'll see writing that works on several levels, and does so economically.

Efficiency and depth are not mutually exclusive.

1. Why waste time naming a character who dies straight away? It's not relevant to the plot. D&D are adapting the series; they're not adapting the book word-for-word.

2. I think it's quite easy to grasp why he tried to kill Melisandre. Because of her influence, Stannis has burned his gods, and she's encouraging him to go to war. "This woman will lead him into a war he cannot win." Cressen tries to kill her--knowing it will kill him too--in an attempt to stop her influence over Stannis. All of this is clear in the scenes.

I do think that the Dragonstone scenes could have been fleshed out a bit more, but overall I think the producers did a great job without confusing the audience too much.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do you always have 'previously on's before the show in the US? Sky Atlantic never have them, and I'm very grateful for it.

Why would there be two HBO logo bits? Surely it'd be Logo - Prologue - opening credits - first scene. Or if there must be a 'previously', previously, logo, prologue, credits, first scene.

The 'previously on' is just for the start of the season. I think its necessary to bring people up to speed. The logo goes before the opening credits. So you'd have Previously On > Prologue > Logo > Intro, if the dragonstone scenes were kept as prologue.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Someone upthread had said they didn't do a very good job explaining Melisandre's beliefs, or how they differ from Westeros beliefs, same with Mel's conflict with Davos. They said that the latter point is something that could be fleshed out more later. Why can they flesh out the Davos/Mel relationship later, but they can't flesh out Mel's beliefs and how they they differ from Westerosi beliefs later? To that point, Cressen did announce to all those present "Is this how you would treat the gods of your fathers and grandfathers?" That pretty much spelled it out for me that Mel's beliefs differ from the whole of Westeros. The two non-readers I was watching it with got it from that line. That's all they needed.

I enjoyed how they introduced those three characters. Watching the show, I really couldn't get a hold of Davos, Mel, and Stannis as they were introduced. This kind of bothered me until I though about my first reaction to them in the books, and my reaction to them was identical. When reading, I couldn't really get a hold of Stannis or Davos until several of their chapters' in. I don't know if anyone else had this experience, but it was mine. The fact that I knew everyone's name didn't take away the fact that I couldn't tell what Stannis, Davos, and mel's motives were.

Lastly, someone said it upthread, but I'll reiterate it a different way. The writers aren't adapting a prologue, or Clash of Kings. They are adapting A Song of Ice and Fire. They only have roughly 55 minutes to cover between 100 - 250 pages of text. I remember an interview with Peter Jackson about adapting "Lord of the Rings" and he said (roughly, I don't have the quote in front of me) "we started with the goal of the story: Frodo destroying the ring. Everything in the movies needs to support that end, if it doesn't, it got cut, then we worked our way backwards." I think Benioff and Weiss, having the benefit of knowing where Martin is going with this, are taking the same approach. This is a story about, in its broadest sense, a supernatural, perhaps even cosmic, battle between a foe that has been laying dormant for 8,000 years and magical creatures that were thought to have gone extinct returning. If you personally had the task of parsing down what will probably be roughly 10,000 pages or text into what will probably be roughly 70 or 80 hours of television, what priority would you assign to Maester Cressen in a world governed by magic that includes dragons, krakens, sorceresses, ice demons, zombies, Hodor, ESP, Roose Bolton, exiled princesses, maltreated bastards, the faceless men, and the night's watch among many many others? I understand that is a completely subjective question, but if answered honestly, there is really one answer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

×