4 Game Of Thrones Characters Who Really Dropped The Ball
Game Of Thrones is trying to cram dozens of subplots and thousands of characters into a TV show that wants to end before we'll need to ask our grandchildren to finish it for us, so it's understandable that they've used a few shortcuts and cheats along the way. But, in a few scenes, they've had to lobotomize otherwise intelligent characters just to keep the plot moving.
Stannis Baratheon Could've Won The Iron Throne With A Rowboat
The Battle Of The Blackwater, aka The First Battle With A Budget, featured Stannis trying to storm King's Landing from sea. It's famous for Tyrion and Bronn kicking their defense of the city to 11 with one well-aimed flaming arrow and a literal boatload of wildfire ...
... The blast wrecked a good chunk of Stannis' fleet and contributed heavily to his loss, which makes us wonder: Why did Stannis send his whole navy into the Blackwater without a single advance scout? Scout ships were absolutely a thing in medieval naval warfare, and scouts appear in Game Of Thrones so frequently that there were two mentions of them in the previous episode.
Stannis and Davos, whose last name is freaking Seaworth, were planning to confront an entire enemy navy at Blackwater. If they had sent so much as a damn fishing boat in first, they would've known the harbor was empty save for one ship leaking a mysterious neon green liquid. That screams "trap." They could have made a new plan, or sunk the boat themselves from a safe distance and sailed in unscathed. Instead, they just hoped that the enemy, who knew they were coming, hadn't bothered to prepare at all, which is generally not a sound military strategy.
Ser Barristan, Devoted Bodyguard, Abandons His Queen In The Middle Of A Civil War
Ser Barristan Selmy, the Obi Wan-esque elder in Daenerys Targaryen's ever-shrinking Queensguard, was famous for being one of the greatest swordfighters on the fictional planet. He protected her father and brother in the backstory days, and when he joins Team Dany he declares, "I was sworn to protect your family. I failed them. Allow me to join your Queensguard and I will not fail you again." Spoiler: He does.
After Dany kicks slavers out of power in Meereen and they retaliate with a plot-padding Iraq War metaphor insurrection, Dany and Barristan use a rare peaceful moment to chat about what a great singer Dany's brother was. After being told to take five and "sing a song," Barristan leaves Daenerys and heads out to what we can only assume was a Meereenese karaoke bar. He does look like a Kenny Rogers man.
Unfortunately, the Meereenese chapter of the KKK chooses this moment to ambush Dany's soldiers throughout the city, which attracts Ser Barristan and ultimately results in his death. Barristan heroically dies fighting terrorism ...
... But, why? He's a bodyguard, not a cop. He should have run straight back to Dany's palace at the first sign of trouble. For all he knew, someone might have been trying to assassinate his queen by using the attacks as a distraction. His death is like if an on-duty Secret Service agent got shot trying to stop a random mugging miles away from the president.
Again, this is a guy who saw the last two kings he served die on his watch. His one job is to protect Daenerys, and he should know that by now. It's out of nowhere for him to die the way he did, and that's according to the guy who played him. Actor Ian McElhinney argued to HBO that his character shouldn't have been killed off so abruptly, and so we'd like to think he left the stage the same way Ser Barristan would've: by telling everyone they were making a mistake while casting down his costume.
Jon Snow Keeps Forgetting He Has A Giant, Super-Strong Wolf
Game Of Thrones repeatedly shows us that direwolves are handy to have around. Bran's wolf saves both him and his mother from an assassin, Arya's protects her from Joffrey's douchebaggery, Robb's kills "a dozen men and as many horses" in one brilliantly executed-sounding off-screen battle, and Jon Snow's saves Jon. And that's all just in the first season!
Direwolves are giant, snarling death machines that love their owners. Who wouldn't want one? The answer is Jon, apparently, who didn't bring his trusty direwolf, Ghost, to the Battle Of The Bastards. Or to Hardhome. Or really anywhere in Seasons 5 and 6, when Jon was surrounded by people plotting to betray him at Castle Black. Which sure sounds like a good time to have an intelligent, loyal, turbo-murderer roaming the office.
The official explanation for Ghost's apparent gap year to the Summer Isles to find himself is budget restraints, but within the context of the story, there's no good reason for Jon not to have Ghost beside him at all times. Especially the time that he, you know, got stabbed to death by traitors in the Night Watch and had to be brought back to life by desperate magic. Feels like Ghost could have helped sidestep that whole chestnut. Apparently the only thing the North doesn't remember is proper pet ownership.
Sam Spends Three Seasons Traveling Halfway Around Westeros To Learn Something He Already Knew
In Season 5, Sam tells Stannis that he killed a White Walker with dragonglass. He starts to explain what it is, and Stannis replies "I know what it is. We have it in Dragonstone." Five episodes later, Sam and Jon chat about all the priceless dragonglass Jon lost at Hardhome. Jon says, "No one's ever getting that back now. It wouldn't have mattered anyway. Not unless we had a mountain of it."
It's made clear, time and time again, that the war against the White Walkers will be hopeless without dragonglass. Sam knows they need a lot of dragonglass. Sam was recently told that Stannis lives on an island that has it. He does not tell Jon this because ... he has the memory of an especially dull goldfish? He thought Stannis was pulling one of his trademark wacky pranks on him? Because the writers just flat-out goofed up?
Sure, Stannis doesn't say how much he has, but you'd think that Sam would consider looking into that little detail, since finding ways to defeat the White Walkers is his only job at this point. Instead, Sam crosses miles of stormy seas and empties countless gross chamber pots in the Citadel to follow Jon's orders and find a supply of dragonglass. And he eventually succeeds! Can you guess where it is?
Think hard now!
Yeah, it's Dragonstone.
The map shows an entire "mountain" of dragonglass precisely where Stannis said it was two goddamn years ago, making Sam's journey a monumental waste of time that was badly needed to prepare for the fight against the White Walkers. After (re)discovering this knowledge that, like in all great dramas, he stumbles across with dumb luck in a random book, Sam even starts to mention Stannis before trailing off. It's like they were trying to explain the plot hole before realizing they couldn't.
Jacopo is a published scholar who wouldn't mind seeing his book License to Quill made into a TV series, so please buy a copy and tell someone at HBO about it. You can also follow Jacopo on Twitter.
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