The first season finale for HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’ aired last night. I’ll have a recap for that up later in the week. (I’m writing this post before the episode aired.) In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying the viewer freak-out that followed in the wake of the previous episode’s shocking plot twist. Some people really don’t like it when a story breaks from convention or their expectations. In related news, Sean Bean is a badass in real life.
As soon as the episode in which Bean’s character Ned Stark was killed off aired, Entertainment Weekly ran an interview with series producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss about this unconventional plot development in the original source novel by author George R.R. Martin (first published 15 years ago, mind you), as well as the network’s reaction to it. Even better than that, however, are the reader comments that follow the interview. Some highlights:
“They killed the series – they killed off the best actor… and character…”
“I have little interest in this series now as the other characters were just background to Neds Story.”
“Right, series is over! This is not like reading a book. HBO just killed this series.”
From a reader calling himself “Done with the Show”: “I didn’t have another reason to watch and it will be hard for me to stick around without Sean Bean.”
This one calls himself “Done with HBO”: “Worst move ever. I’m sick to death of HBO choosing shock over creative and suspenseful plots. And as far as ‘sticking around’ to see what will happen next, don’t count on it. Every single one of my friends couldn’t care less.” And: “None of the other actors can hold a candle to Sean Bean. The story is full of holes in the plot and this was my last straw. I’m sure there’s some ‘reason’ for it, but it’s shoddy writing on Martin’s part, and even worse decision making from the producers.”
“Ned was simply killed off for shock value, and judging by most of your comments, it seems to have worked. Why don’t you go away and read some Joyce, or Nabokov; maybe then you’ll understand what good fiction looks like.”
This one is perhaps one of the most hilarious: “I agree, killing off one main character after another doesn’t necessarily make for a ‘bold and different’ way of storytelling. It also doesn’t translate to TV viewing, which has always been character driven.”
So, TV is a “character driven” form of storytelling and books aren’t? Good to know.
As all that was going on, Ned Stark himself was involved in a bar fight to defend a wench’s honor.
Sean Bean, the actor who plays Ned Stark on Game of Thrones and played Boromir in Lord of the Rings was stabbed in a bar fight Sunday evening. But instead of going to the hospital, he walked back inside and ordered another drink. Badass!
Apparently Bean was smoking in front of his local pub in London with a “glamour model” (which is British for topless model) when someone walking by made a lewd comment about her. Bean chased him off, but when he went out for another cigarette the guy was waiting and stabbed him in the arm and punched him in the face. Bean chased him off again, but instead of going to the hospital, he patched himself up with a first aid kit and kept on drinking. Sean Bean is officially my new hero. I question if there is some parallel between what happened to him in real life and to his character on Sunday night’s episode. The similarities are uncanny!
I wonder if Bean has ever hung out with director Werner Herzog? The two could trade some interesting stories.
The funniest thing about the whole Ned is dead debate, and I’m being generous by even calling it that, is that the show has been effective in eliciting an emotional response from its viewers. The fact that so many people are talking about Ned’s death as a negative illustrates what a deep connection viewers had with the character. This is good television, this is what we as viewers constantly ask for, and so rarely receive.
I find all the whining online to be hilarious, but I’m glad that this single event in the show has so many people talking. It’s good for the show, will likely increase viewership, and help ensure that the entire series will make it to air. Bless you whiny self-entitled children, you’re doing every fan of good television a great service.
I can understand a casual fan’s anger – HBO heavily promoted this show with Bean on virtually every poster and advertisement – plus, he was easily the most recognizable actor in the cast (with the possible exception of Peter Dinklage).
I wasn’t happy about it either, to be honest…mainly because I felt the producers got rid of two of their best actors (Bean and Mark Addy) in the space of about four episodes. While I care about other characters on the show, other than Dinklage, no other actor has much in the way of range (in my humble opinion, of course).
This show CAN’T just survive on plot twists…it’s got to have characterzation as well, and for that, it’s got to have some strong leads (and none of remaining Stark family members have the kind of screen presence that Bean had) the viewer can latch on to and root for. I think Dinklage COULD fill that role, but I think the show needs a few more “names” in its cast.
Hopefully Season 2 will bring some actors onto the show that will fill the gap left by the departure of Bean and Addy.
i watched the first ep. and it wasn’t my cup of tea and i’ve moved on. this reminds me of the classic saturday night live bit where Shatner tells the fans to get a life. the way the pilot was if i remember correctly it was an ensemble not one main person stood out like tony soprano. it makes me want to go back and watch it.
Loved every minute of it. I love Sean Bean like most, but I actually thought he was pretty stiff through all his episodes. His scenes in the pilot were amazing, but not so much later on. Peter Dinklage and Charles Dance are amazing. The actor who plays Joffrey is a perfect little shit. Maisie and Isaac Hempstead Wright are amazing child actors. Not taking away from Bean, but he’s been eclipsed by everyone else in this show, so I don’t buy the whole “no one else has the acting chops” bit for a second. And I didn’t even mention Aiden Gillen’s Littlefinger.
I don’t mind a major character being killed off. In fact, I applaud the willingness to do so. Unfortunately, as someone else stated, the negative point is that the show has lost some of its best actors/characters very quickly. The rest, apart from Dinklage and Dance, don’t have the on-screen charisma or presence. Dinklage is not going to be the main hero, and Dance is a villain…
So who are we left with in the hero camp, who can really make things interesting without it turning into ‘pretty young heroes’? The only actor left, I think, is Iain Glen, and I don’t see his character becoming especially central any time soon.