Note: This is discussing the TV show Game of Thrones specifically, ignoring the books.
Far be it from me to drag on people who are selling millions more books than I ever will, or attracting millions more eyeballs than anything based on my books ever will (unless I finally do my Pantsless Dancing exercise video, in which case: Watch out, world!) but it’s time to talk about how astoundingly dumb Game of Thrones has gotten in its later seasons—specifically the character of Jon Snow—and why it matters from a writing point of view.
We don’t know how close to the books the show is right now; Martin may have a much better handle on the story and the characters, and it’s been discussed to death how Game of Thrones is on an accelerated pace right now in an effort to finish the story before we all get collectively tired of it. I can forgive, therefore, the compressed and nonsensical time frame; after all, no one wants to have six episodes of Jon Snow slowly making his way to meet Daenerys in a damned rowboat, passing the time by chatting with Ser Davos about their unhappy childhoods and fighting sea monsters. Okay, maybe the latter, a little.
Side note: How is it possible there are no sea monsters in Westeros? For serious.
The time thing doesn’t bother me. Sure, it’s shitty storytelling, but there are economic factors pushing them, and I can still enjoy the show despite them. No, what bothers me is that Jon Snow is fucking stupid. And not in a defensible way.
Da King In Da Norf
Jon is a major character in this show (again, the future books may be different [and thus, better]), and might even turn out to be the ultimate hero/survivor in all of this. And the problem isn’t so much that he’s stupid, but that his stupidity would not exist in any slightly realistic universe. IN a realistic universe someone as stupid as Jon Snow would have choked on something as a child and died, or possible fallen down a hole and starved to death, or maybe have accidentally stabbed himself with a dagger. Here’s a few quick rundown of the disastrous decisions Jon Snow’s made in recent episodes, going back to the end of last season:
- Allowed himself to be baited into a solo charge at the Battle of the Bastards, setting his army up for annihilation (prevented only by the fortuitous arrival of Sansa and Littlefinger)
- Abandoned his kingdom to go personally visit Daenerys, bringing just a small honor guard
- Allowed that honor guard to be immediately disarmed, like without even a shrug
- More or less allowed himself to be a prisoner with no reason to believe it would work out aside from having copious amounts of Plot Armor
- Came up with this absolutely shit idea that they needed to have a wight on hand to prove to people that the Night King for reals, yo
- Decided that he had to manage this task personally
- Then brought about a dozen people with him on the raid despite having a fucking army at his disposal, without bothering to tell his sister what he was up to as she sits in Winterfell ruling in his stead (this despite the fact that apparently he can send Ravens like super fast anywhere he wants)
I could go on. Should I go on? No.
The simple fact of it is that this is shit writing. Even if we assume for a fun moment that getting a wight to show off to the doubters is necessary, any sane King in the North would delegate the task to a trusted lieutenant (Tormund, we’re looking at you). There is simply no need for Jon Snow to actually be in the north personally. And we’re supposed to believe that Jon is a smart, solid choice to be King of the North. His entire character arc is a guy who was and literally knows nothing to the one woke bastard in all of Westeros who sees the true threat. So he really shouldn’t be this terrible at the job.
There is, however, a plot need for Jon Snow to be in the north. The showrunners want Jon to be the badass, they want him to be the one to put together the puzzle pieces for defeating the Night King, and they wanted to demonstrate the growing and completely icky and nonsensical love affair brewing between secret cousins Daenerys and Jon. So they sent him up there despite the fact that it’s dumb. In short, since Jon’s arguably the main character at this point (or at least the focal character for the moment), he needs to be in on all the major plot developments.
Forget the timeline. Forget the fact that the Night King has been marching his wights for about six months and is still miles away from the Wall. This is the problem: Shit writing. Shortcuts in the service of smart plotting I can forgive, but shit writing that ignores the rules of decent storytelling deserves to be mocked.
Of course, I’m still gonna watch the show, because watching dragons burn the everliving shit out of wights is fun, dude. Bad writing can be entertaining. It’s still bad.
As you were.