I’ve written extensively about the adaptations of books into television and films defending change in adaptations, analyzing the process of adapting, and trying to shy people away from the purists idea of adaptations.
This doesn’t mean that all changes made in adaptations should just be accepted. Take the season four finale of Game of Thrones. In one episode they have a change that is both welcome and one that leaves me scratching my head.
In the episode Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne come across Arya and Gregor “The Hound” Clegane. Words are exchange, misunderstandings are bound and soon swords are unsheathed in what starts out as a straightforward sword fight but soon turns into an out and out brawl. Did this happen in the book? No. Does it matter? Not really, because this is still television and people do expect a bit of action once and a while. Besides that, it is a welcome change to The Hound’s end that quite frankly underwhelming in the book. The only thing that leaves me curious is where Brienne’s journey takes her now that she has found and lost Arya Stark especially with a certain character not being introduced in the finale.
Honestly, as the show get closer and closer to overtaking the books all fans of the book should be prepared for the story to diverge strongly. I, for one, am quite interested as then I get surprises I didn’t expect as a book reader.
That final scene though, with Tyrion, Jaime, Shae and Tywin is some serious changes that honestly leave Tyrion’s motivations not making any sense to me. If you’re only a show watcher then it makes sense, good for you. To those who read A Storm of Swords the change they make with the end of Tyrion’s arc in this season seems out of the blue. It is one thing to change a plot point. It is another to use a plot point straight out of the book but take away a character’s motivation. It is poor writing on the showrunner’s part.
What’s the big deal? show-watchers ask. Let me break down for you. Don’t read this next sentence if you ever plan on reading the books.
In the show, Jaime frees Tyrion because they’re brothers and Jaime doesn’t want his brother to die. Jaime tells Tyrion there is a galley waiting for him thanks to Varys and they hug out, say goodbyes and Jaime leaves. Tyrion then, instead of going to the galley makes his way to the Tower of the Hand where he finds Shae in Tywin’s bed, calling for “her lion” and saying Tywin’s name. Tyrion murders her then grabs a crossbow and bolt on his way to find his father. When he finds him on the privy he confronts his father about why he sentenced his own son to death even though he knows Tyrion didn’t do it. Tywin of course lies and says he wasn’t going to let it happen, says they’ll talk it out back in his chambers. Tyrion doesn’t want to go there. He confesses he killed Shae, who Tywin calls a whore one too many times, tell Tyrion he is no son of his, and then saying whore one more dies at Tyrion’s hands.
Just a couple question about that. Why didn’t Tyrion go to the galley? Why is he asking Tywin questions he already knew the answer to? Did he blow up in that trial giving his grandiose speech after Shae’s betrayal only to forget all about what they’ve done to him? Did he forget that Tywin wanted to take him out to the water and let him drown? That he would never be granted Casterly Rock? Just all of that, poof, out of his mind as he confronts Tywin.
In the book, Jaime holds Varys by swordpoint making him free Tyrion, granted Varys probably didn’t much motivation to do this as he has his own agenda. When Tyrion asks why, Jaime tells Tyrion he owes Tyrion one because, as he reveals, that first wife that was a whore Jaime hired for Tyrion to lose his virginity to. The one that Tywin forced him to watch his guards rape her and giving her silver for and Tyrion last for him to give gold to because he’s a Lannister. The one that Tyrion tells the story to Shae and Bronn to in season one. Yeah, all of that was a lie Tywin made up because he didn’t want Tyrion married to a lowborn woman. Here is where Tyrion reveals Cersei’s infidelity, saying “She’s been fucking Lancel and Osmund Kettleblack and probably Moon Boy for all I know” then lies about killing Jaime’s son, Joffrey. Any good ties between Jaime and Tyrion die here and when Varys slyly reveals a passage to the Tower of the Hand in a Oh no, please don’t go there, snicker snicker fashion Tyrion begins his ascent. He finds Shae and kills her, just like in the show but now his motivation for confronting Tywin makes sense. Tyrion wants to know what happened to Tysha, where did she go, not Shae. When he asks Tywin he simply respond Where whores go… before getting a bolt right in the privates.
By changing this in the show, Jaime and Tyrion are still buddy buddy so what is Tyrion’s motivation going forward? What is he going to do? Jaime and Cersei are still on good terms so where their arcs go is going to seem really weak. She’s crazy with grief for Tywin? She hated him in the finale for trying to get her to marry Loras Tyrell. Is Jaime still going to leave to take back the Riverlands even though his lover is struggling in King’s Landing?
So many great lines from the book, throw away for much weaker dialogue. No mention of Tywin Lannister shitting gold, only for his body to stink of shit thanks to Tyrion’s crossbow bolt. That irony, gone, for what? Where whores go won’t linger in Tyrion’s mind as he hopes to find where his former wife was.
I’m sorry, I really do love this show. I don’t mind changes they’ve made except for this one because before it’s always been changes for cutting for time, eliminating characters they couldn’t afford to keep and what becomes essential for adaptations. From my perception, this seems like the showrunners believing they could do the scene better and in my opinion not only did they utterly fail but screwed up the story for future episodes. I’m still going to watch and I’m sure they’ll make it make sense but this has been the largest disappointment in the show I have had since the cutting of Rhaegar from season two.