Spoilers for all of Game of Thrones and all of A Song of Ice and Fire up to now, right up front.
Jorah Mormont, played by Iain Glen on the show, is an exile from Bear Island due to selling poachers on his land to slavers. When the show begins he attends Daenerys Targaryen and Khal Drogo’s wedding as a spy for Varys, sending back information about the exiled Targaryens in hope of earning a royal pardon.
He eventually falls in love with Daenerys, saves her life from poisoning, and stop sending back reports to Varys fully committing himself to his khaleesi. The problem is, and this is where her point-of-view chapters from the books benefit, is that he sees her as both a child and as someone he wants to bed. She needs him to see her as a queen.
It feels like Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys knows this but we cannot be sure. Unlike the beginning of A Storm of Swords, Jorah never has this big reveal of his love for her until it is too late. This doesn’t make Jorah any less a creep, as the audience knows he secretly loves her through Viserys’ reveal in season one, his fatherly protection of her in seasons two and three, and his jealousy of Daario in season four.
On the show, Tywin Lannister uses the royal pardon that was promised to Jorah to separate the two of them. In the book, it is Barristan Selmy who reveals this fact and the two of them have to prove their loyalty to Daenerys by breaking into Meereen. In either medium she both rejects him and exiles him from her presence.
This leads us to Sunday’s episode Sons of the Harpy in which Ser Barristan Selmy is killed by the Sons of the Harpy, a group of insurgents fighting against her rule in Meereen. Meanwhile, Jorah has kidnapped Tyrion in Volantis.
The death of Barristan Selmy was a surprise and an annoyance. Not because it was different from the books, that’s only part of it. Some of Barristan’s best moments in the series comes at the end of A Dance with Dragons and thanks to D.B. Weiss and David Benioff we’ll never see them. Is it the biggest deal? No, but it makes the plot for the rest of the season really predictable.
Without Barristan, Daenerys is without a close advisor. Who should happen to be heading back her way but good ol’ stalker creep Jorah Mormont with Tyrion in tow doing whatever he can to earn his way back into her good graces by bringing her one of her enemies.
He’s going to arrive, and Tyrion is going to betray him instantly. He’s going to spin a clever tale that’ll make him her new advisor and put Jorah right into the fighting pit, and will try to save Daenerys when Drogon returns. Of course he won’t be needed, this is when Daenerys will finally mount Drogon and fly with him leaving Jorah behind to take care of Meereen along with Tyrion. Uh oh, the hijinks that will ensue. In the books, Tyrion and Jorah had not yet arrived but Barristan was there to take care of Meeren as Lord Commander of her Queensguard when she takes off. All those moments he has, and it does involve the Sons of the Harpy, will now be Jorah’s.
That’s not all Jorah will do. Before he meets Jorah, Tyrion travels with Jon Connington, Rhaegar’s former best friend who contracts Greyscale rescuing Tyrion as they pass Stone Men, a group of people infected by the disease that they pass. Gee, Greyscale sure has mentioned an awful lot this season. I wonder if that’s relevant? For Jorah Mormont I bet it will be.
What better way for the show-runners to redeem Jorah by
- Infecting him with a fatal disease
- Bringing a beloved character (Tyrion) to another beloved character (Daenerys)
- Fighting to the death in the fighting pits until…
- Drogon arrives and he tries to protect Daenerys then…
- Gets all the badass fighting scenes defending Meereen while the queen is away.
I can understand cutting Jon Connington and his story from the show, and even giving part of that story to Jorah but he is not so great a character that it was worth losing Barristan Selmy, the only good person left in the show who
- Both Eddard Stark and Jaime Lannister revere.
- Who told off King Joffrey just after the boy king cut off Eddard’s head.
- Who Tywin Lannister thought dismissing Barristan was a dumb move.
- Who was the only one not to attack Eddard in the throne room and
- Questioned Cersei’s dismissal of Robert’s last requests.
- Kills the gold cloaks that go after him to prevent him from leaving King’s landing.
Some of these scenes don’t make it to the show, along with the ones that will occur after his death, and all for the sake of redeeming Jorah Mormont. I don’t mind changes from the book but that’s not going to stop me from criticizing bad storytelling. If my prediction for Jorah Mormont is right, it’s going to be bad.