If Justified, Dexter, and The Walking Dead have found success by straying from their origins, Game of Thrones has found success by staying on the straight and narrow. The series’ first season was so doggedly faithful to its source material that HBO made headlines just by changing the name of Theon’s sister—Asha, in Martin’s novels—to Yara. But showrunner Dan Weiss recently commented that there would be more deviations from the source material in season 2, and they began to appear in last night’s “The Night Lands.”
For a series as revered as Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire,” such changes are often poorly received. The Wire creator David Simon drew headlines last week when he complained about bloggers who review a TV series episode-by-episode, arguing that their criticism is useless “until there’s a beginning, middle and an end” to the series’ overarching story. Game of Thrones has the opposite problem: Many of its biggest fans already know each plot arc’s beginning, middle, and end—or at least as much as the first five books in the series has revealed.