In the end, we are all rendered equal.
For the past four years, I’ve written season previews for Game of Thrones with the smug superiority of the book-reader. Sure, there would be surprises ahead, but having made my way through George R. R. Martin’s successive tomes, I typically had a pretty good idea of the overall direction the plot would take.
Beginning this season, though, the showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have caught up with or surpassed Martin’s material in all but a handful of particulars. Moreover, HBO, which had in previous years provided media outlets with screeners of the first four episodes, has decided to keep a tight lid on this season for anyone whose name is not Barack Obama.
Which is all a long way of saying that this time around I have no more idea of what is going to happen than many of you reading this—and undoubtedly less than those of you who have been poring through online speculation or devouring annotated versions of the trailers.
I thus approach the season with both excitement and no small degree of apprehension. Game of Thrones has typically been at its best when it has hewed most closely to its source material. Though Benioff and Weiss have proven themselves brilliant adapters, the storylines that they have written (or rewritten) themselves have generally been among the weaker ones of the show. Their alternative take on Qarth comes to mind, as does the utter silliness of the Jaime-and-Bronn road trip to Dorne. The tragic fall of Stannis Baratheon, too, although foreshadowed in the books, seemed unduly rushed in execution (so to speak) at the end of last season.