The Game Of Thrones backlash wasn’t born overnight; it was a slow-moving caravan of snow zombies approaching a poorly-lit castle that no one could see on a home entertainment system. The show slowly went off the wheels, starting with season four, going from highs like the “Red Wedding” to lows like an Ed Sheeran cameo that not even Sheeran himself could enjoy. The brutality and unnecessary sexual exploitation began eating away at fan faith long before the Bran the Broken monologue. Something was off, even if fans couldn’t put their fingers on it until it was too late.
So what the hell happened? Well, it turns out that it’s exactly what everyone assumed: George R.R. Martin stopped contributing to the show. As silly as it is to prop one person’s contribution to the series as the reason for its failings, the problems with the show’s final season boil down to writing. Characters untethered to reality were making bizarre choices that the show struggled to justify and retcon (though this writer might be the only Thrones fan that found Hodor’s “hold the door” scene a Shymalanian twist too far).
The New York Times said Martin was “out of the loop” by seasons five and six and “certainly for seven and eight.” But the why is stranger because, according to Martin, he doesn’t know why they cut him out. “You have to ask Dan and David.” Both declined to comment to the New York Times and have not responded to The A.V. Club’s request as of publication.
The good news for Thrones fans is that the new series is leaning into Martin’s expertise. Casey Bloys, the HBO chief content officer, says that the author and creator of Game Of Thrones was a “really valuable resource” when working on a Game Of Thrones TV show.
“He is literally the creator of this world. He is its historian, its creator, its keeper. And so I can’t imagine doing a show that he didn’t believe in or didn’t endorse.”
Of course, as we all know, Martin working on another television show is a double-edged flaming sword. Working on House Of The Dragon means waiting even longer for The Winds Of Winter. Even though Martin is “very, very late” on this one, he vows that his “ending will be very different.” So, unfortunately, we won’t have any descriptions like, “And Daenerys emerged, with her dragon’s wings splaying directly behind her. For but a moment, Snow thought they were her wings. She was the mother of dragons after all—perhaps, she sprouted wings. It wouldn’t be the first time her personality veered wildly off course. But they were not hers. It was merely a shot that should be taught in film classes.”