The king is dead. Long live the king.
Yes, I read all the books way back when, back when each was released. The two most not-so-recent installments bored me beyond tears.
Regardless– Joffrey Baratheon’s recent demise might possibly be the least satisfactory death in literary/film history. Evil should suffer, if only to give satisfaction to the reader/viewer.
Frankly, if anyone was deserving of the Blood Eagle, (see Vikings), it wasn’t Jarl Borg, it was Joffrey Baratheon. The Blood Eagle episode, by the way, contains the most moving, beautiful, horrific execution scene ever filmed for television.
(Read this, you won’t be disappointed: Viking’s Creator on Frightening Spiritual Death.)
But it’s not my disappointment over the simplicity of Joffrey’s death alone that has robbed me of a pleasurable viewing experience. One can only take so much bad. That’s it in a nutshell. Occasionally a lighter hand is required.
Now, I’m well aware I’m swimming upstream here, paddling against the current if you will. I’ve read the books. I know Martin loves to kill off his characters. But the series (the books) lost me as a fan because:
1. Many of the characters I cared about were brutally murdered or morphed into something unrecognizable, or worse, were left dangling like participles – stuck in suspended animation, while other characters, characters who had little meaning for me and played only a marginal role in the ultimate story, took center stage.
2. Too many story lines. Way too complicated. And here is where Martin really irritated me when it came to the books. The HBO series only exacerbates this issue. A single scene of Bran or Arya or Danerys is singularly unsatisfactory, as is too much focus on the Lannisters.
3. The worst thing an author can do is take the well-seasoned meat of a gripping story and somehow lose track of time, wander aimlessly, forgetting he’s turned on the oven until he smells smoke and the meat is burned beyond recognition. Even sex and death, when constant, become flat out boring.
4. He’s changed Theon Grayjoy (never one of my favorite characters) from the bawdy tortured despised craven guilt-ridden under-achieving son and heir of Baylon Grayjoy and foster brother of Robb Stark into Igor (Marty Feldman) from Young Frankenstein.
You know, I really hate it when that happens.
Maybe it’s better to go out like Firefly. Leave the party early, before you drink too much and publicly humiliate yourself. Or throw up an entire bottle of red wine on your host’s new white carpet.
Now, as long as Vikings continues its stellar trajectory and if Orphan Black can maintain its brilliance and even improve with age– I’m happy.
P.S. Awful things happen in Vikings- but there are playful moments as well. Since today is the first night of Passover I’ll say this – one must mix the bitter with the sweet. The secret is finding balance. Ah yes, as Stoltzfus says to John Book in Witness– “That’s the ticket, Mr. Book.”