R.I.P The Dorne Subplot
It is well established that the 6th season of HBO’s TV adaptation of George Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series has strayed somewhat from the plotline of the source material. Strayed so far in fact, that most fans now consider the two versions “alternate universes”. That is to say, the same world but a different version. A version in which Brienne and The Hound took turns kicking each other in the crotch until one fell down. A version where Bran made it to the Three-Eyed Crow without the help of a dead man riding an elk. A version where Jaime Lannister decided to take a package holiday in Dorne instead of ending the siege of Riverrun. You get the idea.
Understandably, a lot of book fans (myself included) tend to get a tad miffed when the show-runners mess with established plot. The biggest and most bitterly disputed example of this recently has been the ruination of a subplot centred around the Dornish house of Martell and their schemes. For those of you who consider reading books to be about as much fun as an afternoon in Guantanamo Bay, here’s a short recap of the book version:
Both the show and the book introduce Doran Martell, brother of fan-favourite: Oberyn Martell, as the timid and gout-ridden prince of Dorne. Where Oberyn was a sex-crazed, revenge-seeking,”say-my-name-while-I-stick-my-spear-in-you” type of guy, Doran is the savvy, cautious and calculating political leader keeping Dorne from having the other six kingdoms rammed up its arse. He’s a man with a plan. A master plan! A plan that involves conquering the seven kingdoms no less. How you ask? Well from here it gets complicated…
Doran’s initial plan was to marry his daughter Arianne (not in the show) to Daenerys’ brother Viserys (in the show). However that plan was nipped in the bud when Viserys was given his first and last “golden” shower. Doran’s second attempt involved sending his eldest son; Quentyn (definitely not in the show), to marry Daenerys and help her invade Westeros. He leaves in secret on a ship that eventually gets attacked by corsairs, joins a sell-sword company and fights at the siege of Astapor, he defects to Daario’s Stormcrows and finally manages to reach the council chamber of Mereen.
And what does he win?! About the square root of fuck-all.
On hearing his proposal, Daario gives him the “ha-ha!” speech he’d been practising for Jorah Mormont’s inevitable return, Daenerys informs him she is already betrothed and then kindly advises him to get the fuck out of her implausibly big pyramid. However Quentyn is not deterred so easily. After a few failed attempts at persuading her, he reasons that his Targaryen heritage might let him tame one of Dany’s imprisoned dragons. This goes about as well as you’d imagine. Quentyn does manage to make it Daenerys’ bed afterwards but only as a horrifically burned mess who doesn’t take long to kick the bucket. The mother of dragons has done a bunk by this point and the city full of chaos and confusion. All in all, I’d say: Mission Failed.
Doran meanwhile, unaware of his eldest son’s colossal cock-up, sets out to payback House Lannister for their crimes against his kin. After crushing Arianne’s feeble attempt to establish Myrcella as a candidate for the Iron Throne, he rallies the three Sand Snakes and gives them each a task.
The tough and hot-headed Obara is to lead one of the Kingsguard on a wild goose chase to buy time, the beautiful and deadly Nymeria is to take Oberyn’s seat on the small council and the sweet and pious Tyene is to infiltrate the sept and befriend the High Sparrow. It is from the positions the Doran hopes House Martell will be able to undermine House Lannister, “robbing them of all they hold dear” before destroying them.
Quite the plan eh? Could make for a lot of interesting developments right? Well, according to the show: Nope. Quentyn is never mentioned. Arianne doesn’t exist. It’s Ellaria that defies Doran’s will by poisoning Myrcella with a kiss. And finally, the cherry on the sundae: Ellaria and Tyene murder Doran and his bad-ass bodyguard Areo Hotah and pretty much take over Dorne, while Obara and Nymeria murder Trystane and disappear!
This left a lot of fans with a few pressing questions. Such as:
“What the fuck was that?”
“Why didn’t anyone attempt to aid their prince as somebody stabbed him?”
“Where in Robert Baratheon’s wine-soaked beard did those two come from?”
In answer to the first, that was everyone in Dorne collectively abandoning all common sense.
In answer to the second, Ellaria explains that the people of Dorne are tired of Doran’s perceived weakness and timidity. This is a little implausible surely? Did the people of Dorne hold a meeting and decide they all wanted to go to war? No-one had any objections to the mass death and mortal peril this rash action entailed? Jeez.
And in answer to the third: I guess Obara and Nymeria were waiting in King’s Landing for the ship? Or maybe they stowed away… Hard to say. Even harder to say is what exactly they plan to do now?!
This up-in-the-air storytelling is exactly what throws the fans off and makes them uncomfortable as Dorne is now pretty much whatever the show-runners need it to be. Mostly likely it’ll be a cheap enabler for one of the more prominent characters’ return to Westeros. In effect, robbing the fans of the epic tale of revenge, subterfuge and turmoil that the House Martell of the books provided.
Summing up then, what is Septa Unella’s favourite word?
Shame, Shame, Shame.