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Why Everybody Needs to Stop Complaining About ‘Game of Thrones’ Travel Time – Forbes

The Night King and White Walkers march through London to promote the forthcoming Game Of Thrones Season 7 on July 11, 2017 in London, England. The new season airs at 9pm on July 17th on Sky Atlantic. (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)

Scrolling through Game of Thrones discussion forums and opinion pieces, I keep noticing the same complaint pop up when discussing the new season – travel time. Fans, especially fans of the books, appear to take serious issue with the fact that the show’s characters are appearing in new locations without doing the necessary legwork.

My Forbes colleague Erik Kain has made many a well-reasoned argument against the logical inconsistency, and while he and others are technically correct, I personally don’t view reduced travel time as a negative. In fact, I think the decision to cut that aspect of the show is one of the reasons why this season’s plotline is so expertly streamlined.

Here are three reasons why travel time is best kept offscreen. (Spoilers ahead).

Less travel time means less screen time

Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss had a different opinion to HBO over the number of remaining seasons of Game of Thrones. HBO, understandably wanting to hold on to their golden goose as long as possible, believed the show should run until season ten, or preferably, until the end of time itself. The showrunners wisely fought against extending the show, because stretching out plotlines is what led to the episode of Lost that explained the backstory behind Jack’s tattoo.

Anyway, the showrunners won the right to slim down the story, and this season is a mere seven episodes long, and the final season, a stingy six (although rumors state that individual episodes will be longer). The few remaining hours mean plotlines are going to be resolved much sooner than expected. It also means there’s simply no time to spare. And all of that spare time is usually spent watching people walk.

We all want more Game of Thrones, really. I’d love for the show to continue just as long as HBO’s accountant intended, but deep in my heart I know it’s not for the best. The best tv series and films leave before they outstay their welcome, leaving no room for boredom. And make no mistake, travel time is boring. Did we really need to watch Arya and the Hound trudging along for miles, exchanging insults and getting into fights? No, we needed a scene or two.

We get it, the Hound is a kind soul wrapped in a bitter, burnt shell. We get it. He likes eating chickens. Really, we get it. I felt every single miserable step of Bran’s journey beyond the wall, the same with Jaime and Brienne’s road trip. I understand that there is no highways and airplanes in this fantasy world, but I don’t care. Honestly, I’m good, I’ve taken a walk before. I know what it’s like. Just show us the consequence of the journey, not the entirety of the journey itself.

Coordinating travel time is a narrative burden

The story is really picking up the pace, and already, there’s been multiple meetings between the protagonists. There are wars to win and allies to lose. Jon Snow had to meet Daenerys, Daenerys had to lose her allies, and Euron had to prove his worth to Queen Cersei. There’s a lot of variables in the air here. How long does it take for a fleet of ships to travel from A to B? How long for an army to march south? How fast is Jon Snow’s horse?

I don’t think the writers need to be concerned about any of that. They have more than enough on their plate regarding the climatic meetings of the show’s most important characters. All these people scheming against each other from a distance are finally face-to-face. There are egos to clash, romances to be kindled and backs to be stabbed.

The tale of one noble family fighting another has blossomed into a global conflict; it only makes sense to reduce the story into encounters between the major players, rather than worrying about their travel arrangements.

Lord Varys is seemingly everywhere; the guy appears to have a kind of Skyrim-esque Fast Travel ability. I know he couldn’t possibly have gotten to all those important locations that quickly. But I can also see a faint stubble shadow on his face, sometimes. And his voice is a bit too deep for a man with no testicles. And how come the Targaryens outrageously inbred family tree hasn’t just melted into a puddle of throbbing, mutated DNA? Daenerys is unrealistically attractive for a girl descended from a long, long line of incestuous siblings.  

There is a point when logic gets in the way of narrative. The only unforgivable inconsistencies, as far as I’m concerned, are those of character. If personalities and opinions miraculously shift just to serve the story, then the viewer has been cheated. That victorious climax won’t feel earned, that death or loss will be completely stripped of meaning.  

So far, this season has been all about the primary characters and their conflicting worldviews. Their decisions have been met with harsh consequences, and their individual perspectives shape their actions. Cersei has risen from the ashes obsessed with vengeance, Jon Snow is duty bound to serve the North, against his own wishes, and Daenerys is obsessed with fulfilling her imagined birthright, after her blissful life of nomadic motherhood was obliterated before it even began. Oh, and Theon Greyjoy is still a coward. Being tortured by a sociopath is the sort of thing you never really forget about.

Game of Thrones is succeeding in telling a tale true to its characters, and although realism and logic are to be treasured, they do take a reluctant backseat to story.

This is why George R.R. Martin can’t finish his series

There are surely many reasons, real or imagined, to why George R.R. Martin hasn’t come anywhere close to finishing his series. I elaborated on them before. But the fact that he encumbers himself with relentless consistency has surely turned his epic story into a colossal headache.

Place yourself, for a moment, in Martin’s shoes. Imagine sitting there, trying to enjoy the Super Bowl, unable to concentrate because your wife keeps talking over the commentator.

“George,” she says, firmly. “You really owe it to all those fans to finish that story of yours. Remember how excited you were when you started it? You said you’d be finished years ago.”

Grudgingly, you plod up the stairs and into your office, and try to remember where you left off. “Sam just cured Jorah of greyscale, didn’t he? No, that was last night’s episode. Hmmm …” You stare, intimidated, at the large map of Westeros on the wall, covered in a nightmarish cluster of scribbles. Crisscrossing lines depict varying trade routes and pathways, clashing time zones and weather forecasts. None of it makes any sense anymore.

You remember the early days, when A Song of Ice and Fire was just a short story about a single family, a simpler time, before the thousands of characters, their armies, ships, and even their bloody horses. Why didn’t you just end it when it was easy?

“I’m not in the right frame of mind. I’m going to start tomorrow,” you tell yourself. “I mean it this time. Here, I’m setting a reminder on my phone. Can’t ignore that.” So you head back downstairs, hopefully in time to catch the rest of the game.

Not everybody can be J.R.R Tolkien. The man created multiple languages, and detailed the entire history of Middle-earth, from the beginning of time, down to the individual strains of pipe weed. George R.R. Martin is immensely talented, and has created many more interesting characters than Tolkien ever could, but he can’t build a world of equal depth. All those variables start to clash after a certain point, and keeping them under control must be a losing battle.

Personally, I don’t think he should try. Resolving a story of that scale, giving an ending to all of those individual characters, must be difficult enough without having to worry about the number of steps they take to get there.

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Why Everybody Needs to Stop Complaining About ‘Game of Thrones’ Travel Time – Forbes

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