Fans, especially the ones who have read George R.R. Martin’s novels, were quite outraged by the events of season 6 premiere of Game of Thrones. Not because Melisandre was revealed to be a very old woman.. It’s because they believe that the show has completely butchered an already struggling storyline.
“Weak men will never rule Dorne again,” were the last words Prince Doran ever heard as he was murdered by Ellaria Sand, who is hell bent on taking revenge against the Lannisters and will kill anyone who comes in her way, including the men of House Martell.
The Sand Snakes, led by Ellaria already made their first move against Lannisters by killing Myrcella in Season 5 finale. Considering Doran had already warned her multiple times against taking any rash decisions, if she hadn’t killed him, Doran would have probably had her executed. So the murders of Areo, Trystane and Doran actually made sense if we just consider the show’s version of Dorne.
So why the outrage? Ever since we first saw the southernmost realm of Westeros in season 5, almost every scene shot in the beautiful sunny kingdom has felt like a badly written fanfic. And to make things worse, last episode saw the brutal murders of 3 main Dornish characters and yet fans are more shocked by Melisandre’s big reveal rather than the deaths of Trystane, Areo and Doran.
Considering how badass Oberyn Martell was in season 4 as he turned Littlefinger’s brothel into his personal playground and gave his life just to troll Tywin Lannister, fans were pretty excited to see rest of the House Martell. Book readers told show watchers to expect great things when they would finally see Dorne in season 5- a kingdom with its own laws and equal inheritance rights for both men & women. A place where people drank amazing wine and ate spicy food. A house that resisted Targaryens for centuries and a place where you can practice all kind of weird sexual stuff without the fear of being arrested by the Faith militant. So how in the world can you mess something like this?
It turns out you can and in quite a spectacular fashion. Let’s first look at Dorne storyline in the books. The main character is Arianne Martell, the eldest daughter of Doran. She is impulsive and highly ambitious woman who suspects Doran of overthrowing her as his heir in favor of Quentyn Martell (her brother and Doran’s eldest son). Due to her suspicion, she schemes to crown Myrcella as the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms (based on Dornish law) in the hope that it will result in a war with Tommen and therefore, make her own people rally around her. Things however do not go right for her and she is arrested on her father’s orders until Doran reveals his larger plan of making her the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms! His schemes however suffer from setbacks and things do not go the way he had planned.
Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss probably thought that it was too much of a story to fit in a single season and cut down Arianne altogether and instead promoted Ellaria Sand and the Sand Snakes to major characters. Here is what has happened so far on the show: Ellaria gets mad at Doran for not avenging Oberyn’s death and plots to kill Myrcella. Cersei sends Jaime to save Myrcella. Jaime gets a hilarious sidekick in Bronn. In an attempt to rescue Myrcella, Jaime and Bronn are confronted by the Sand Snakes. Nobody is killed and Bronn & the Sand Snakes are arrested. Bronn gets flashed, then poisoned and saved by an antidote. Ellaria is warned by Doran and she swears her loyalty to him & makes peace with Jaime. Myrcella sails for King’s Landing with Jaime and Trystane. Bronn wants a good girl but a bad pussy. Ellaria kills Myrcella anyway and then stabs Doran when he learns of Myrcella’s murder. Areo and Trystane are killed by the Sand Snakes.
There is sex, betrayal, nudity, violence- things that have made Game of Thrones a huge success, yet none of this works. Indira Varma’s portrayal of Ellaria Sand has been very two dimensional. Doran’s plans of making Arianne the Queen of Seven Kingdoms have been replaced with the adventures of Jaime, Bronn and the Sand Snakes. Why is Ellaria so determined on taking revenge on Cersei? Cersei was not even directly involved with Oberyn’s death. Oberyn knew the risks when he chose to be Tyrion’s champion and had he not been so keen on making The Mountain confess, he would have been alive. Tyrion anyways killed Tywin ‘who gave the orders’ to kill Elia Martell.
What forced Ellaria to kill Doran? On one hand, she wants to avenge Oberyn’s death. Yet she kills his elder brother who loved him dearly. What made her stage this random coup and why should people of Dorne accept this kinslayer as their new ruler?
Whole Dorne storyline in Game of Thrones lacks context and it is a perfect example of how show has struggled in later seasons. A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons are no small books by any means and clearly the writers had found it difficult to condense certain storylines from these novels.
So are we done with Dorne? Were these 3 quick deaths an attempt to wrap up the storyline for good? We don’t know for sure but we do hope that is the case. Dorne has been a massive failure for Game of Thrones and it is best for the show as well as the fans that it is forgotten as soon as possible.