Game of Thrones: The Ed Sheeran Problem

Y’all watch Game of Thrones right? I mean if you don’t I would maybeeee stop reading right here if you are interested in picking it up, but I won’t make mention to any super important events or spoilers. If you are thinking about starting, this may dissuade you in to do so (but it really shouldn’t).

Now, for those of you who watch the show, you may or may not know that as of the fifth season, the show has caught up and surpassed the books written by George R. R. Martin, who is just about finishing up the second to last book in the “A Song of Ice and Fire” Series. This is something Martin apparently anticipated in the show’s inception by letting the showrunners know how he intends for the series to end before the first pilot even aired. So this means that everything after season 5 is more so an interpretation of what the showrunners and writers think would happen to achieve this ending and less so a deliberate intention of what Martin would have happened in his world. (Fun fact, Martin says about 20 characters who have died in the show are still alive in his newest book, so that’s neat if you’re into that sorta thing…)

You can really see where the problems can arise; Misinterpretations of character arcs, character behavior inconsistencies, less of an attention to detail due to a lack of source material, and I’m only scratching the surface. However, for the most part, the show hasn’t been “suffering” from any of these issues. I mean fans of the show and books have been hailing the show in the same vein pre and post season 5***.

So what the fuck am I complaining about this time? Why are you trying to ruin Game of Thrones for me cuck? I’m not trying to at all, but I hate it when fans of any franchise/IP lie to themselves or consistently deny glaring flaws because it would require them to acknowledge flaws in something they hold near and dear to them (your ass is next Star Wars, the tipping point is coming **eyeballs emoji**). I mean I get why it happens, but the ones willing to point out the issues shouldn’t be shunned for calling it like it is.

SO, during season 6, the show runners announced their decision to end the series in 15 episodes, splitting season 7 into 7 episodes, and season 8 into 8. Cool, I don’t have a problem with that, shows aren’t meant to last forever, 6 seasons and a movie is the sweet spot for the average tv show. But Thrones is not the average tv show, and after the sixth season, it did feel like there was a lot to wrap up. But the season did place the last theoretical domino for the whole narrative to fall, so fans like myself were more hyped than skeptical. Season 7 episode one began, and already like many had anticipated, dominos began to fall in the very first episode. It was having or setting up glorious pay offs that fans had been waiting 7 seasons (or longer for book fans) to happen. But one thing happened in the first episode that seemed insignificant, but I have realized has become an indictment of the larger issue surrounding the post-Martin thrones episodes: Ed Sheeran made a cameo.

Not just any cameo. Most cameos in the show had been for musicians or celebrities who were fans to be extra soldiers or background characters. They would be in the show, but the show wouldn’t let you know they were there. You had to find the easter eggs for yourself. Here Ed Sheeran, a huge fan of the show, was displayed front and center, with his own lines, and references to his singing abilities. He awkwardly interacts with Arya, who is apparently a huge fan of Ed herself. Now, I don’t blame Ed for any of this. It’s not his fault the showrunners chose to place him in that role, and as far as acting goes, he did just fine. What I take issue with is what this cameo did for me as the viewer and many other viewers of the show: It was the first time Game of Thrones deliberately broke my immersion.

Immersion? That’s what you’re complaining about?? Yes, indeed I am. If you took a moment to think of some of your favorite franchises, you may be surprised to realize how many of them succeed due to their air tight immersion factor. And to me, Game of Thrones’ biggest strength and biggest sell is its immersion factor. The ability to lose yourself in the world of Westeros, with a huge ensemble of interesting and unique characters along with a fairly detailed lore and backstory is what draws everyone in, and makes such a strong, loyal, and educated fan base. When you have frumpy-ass Ed Sheeran pop up out of the blue, and sort of having a turn-to-the-camera-and-wink-fourth-wall-break-moment, all of a sudden I’m not immersed in Westeros, the show just acknowledged it is a show, which is completely counter to the spirit of both the show and books.

Now I can forget a moment like this, I would certainly be an unreasonable individual to say that this one instance completely destroys the shows past and future achievements. But to me, this moment highlights a larger issue that season 7, in particular, has been suffering from: the show is recklessly breaking the narrative immersion. As far as specific events go, they’ve been really cool to watch and they are executed in a very satisfying manner. Like I said before, there are moments here that fans have been waiting years for, so to see it actually happen can distract from this issue I’ve laid out. But to get to these events, without getting into specific details (if you watch the show you’ll know what I’m talking about), there have been too many timeline inconsistencies. Characters are saying they are going to go to a certain part of the region, that would normally take a long time in the show, and several episodes to portray, and yet are arriving at those locations in the very same episodes. Things are happening at a pace that is convenient for the plot events to occur, and that comes at the sacrifice of plausibility.

And before you even say why I’m complaining plausibility in a show about dragons, ice zombies, and twincest, understand that the show over the course of 7 seasons has laid out the rules of its world fairly clear for us as the audience to understand. These time jumps break those rules and make them less easy for us as a viewer to justify in our heads, whether you like it or not. To just say you’re cool with all of this at this point is to say that you’re cool with inconsistant and sub par writing. And if you are that’s totally cool by me man, as long as you can acknowledge why people would feel the way I do.

Now any other show could probably get away with some of these time inconsistencies, but Game of Thrones has such a distinct and meticulous pace that it’s practically trademarked over the course of the series. It is a pace that we have familiarized ourselves with over the past 7 years. The pace of the show mimicked the pace of the books so that moments like the ones that have been occurring this season could feel that much more gratifying. But in this case, haste makes waste. It’s cool to see all of what we’ve been waiting for to happen, but I would be willing to wait a little longer to have these pay offs happen if it would mean the show would behave more consistently. And I’d be willing to wager fans would feel the same way. We waited this long, what’s a season or two more? Now, I do acknowledge it’s probably a mixture of the budget, lack of source material, and fear of oversaturation, but despite all that, I don’t feel very good excusing the short comings at this point for logistical issues, it’s been so consistent up until this point.

At the end of the day is the show ruined for me? Not at all! I’m still going to watch, and I will try and tune out my logic and reason to be entertained until the very end. But when it’s all said and done, and we look back at the series with a complete synthesis, I do believe fans will not say the series stuck the landing. I mean damn, even the showrunners admit they’re stretching it when it comes to the timeline. I’m just hoping that the events to conclude the series more than make up for the logistical shortcomings it’s suffering to get to these points, and only time will tell. This season definitely felt spiritually different than the past 6 seasons, let’s hope season 8 can rally back and finish strong. Sorry y’all it is what it is.

***SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER*** {Yeah I know I said no specific spoilers, but this bitch is a stream of consciousness and I wouldn’t feel great if I didn’t mention this before I got to the issue at hand} While I say the show doesn’t suffer from these issues, that doesn’t mean it’s been flawless, and Jon Snow’s death/resurrection is the biggest offender of this fact. His character died and came back to life and has experienced no character change nor has he appeared to have learned nothing new or different from the event. So what it really seems like it was as far as the SHOW is concerned is a cheap cliffhanger between seasons. Now the latest book stops at this point, and I’m sure Martin’s Snow will behave or appear more differently than post season 5 Snow. Same can be said for Jorah and his Grayscale affliction.