Listeners of A Pod of Casts know by now that I have not enjoyed the Dorne story line very much since it was introduced in Season 05. The promise of seeing and learning about this nation and it’s people became relegated to a series of silly fighting sequences around a pretty garden set piece. Outside of the interactions between Bronn and Jaime, the trip to Dorne was a considerable disappointment.
It’s not surprising to me therefore to see that in a rather quick and abrupt manner the producers decided to resolve the Dorne plot line during the first episode of Season 06. There are some speculating that Ellaria Sand, as Dorne’s apparent new ruler, may still have a role to play during the season. Personally, I believe the producers have decided to cut their losses and I doubt we will be seeing much from our neighbors to the South in what remains of the series. Let me make the case for what leads me to this assertion:
- Sloppy writing: We are all well aware that at the end of Season 05 all three Sand Snakes stayed at the pier with Ellaria as Myrcella’s boat sailed away. Having two of the Sand Snakes appear suddenly on board the boat at King’s Landing to kill Trystane indicates to me that the writers did not care enough about the story to worry about such discontinuity and the fans’ reaction to it. Why continue to invest any more time in a story line you don’t really care about?
- The return of Bran: Game of Thrones juggles multiple plot threads and characters which can be hard to follow for any viewer, let alone non-book readers. One of the ways this was alleviated last season was by suspending the Bran story line, which in turn made room for Jaime and Bronn’s trek into Dorne. With Bran being re-introduced this season and the White Walkers gaining momentum after Hardhome, it makes it even easier from a production and budgetary standpoint to drop the Dorne story. I’m sure the producers are keenly aware that the audience is way more interested in seeing what Bran is up to over spending any more time in Dorne. And I have a feeling Max Von Sydow doesn’t charge at the standard union rate.
- The Iron Islands: Similarly, preview footage leading to the Season 06 premiere has shown there will be further plot development in the Iron Islands, presumably covering material from the books which is yet to be addressed in the series. We saw very little of the Greyjoys in Season 05, and it appears that this story line will get more attention in Season 06. There is even a new character being introduced this season, Euron Greyjoy, who plays a significant role in the Iron Islands’ story line from the books. More time spent with these characters and with a story line that is tied to book material further justifies leaving Dorne behind.
- Post-episode insights: Every episode of Game of Thrones on HBO Now is followed by a quick “behind the scenes” interview with producers Benioff and Weiss where they focus on the major story lines of the episode and give further insight into what’s to come. During the sequence after the season 06 premiere Benioff and Weiss completely ignored the Dorne-related events. No mention of the deaths of Trystane and Doran, of Ellaria’s take-over, or of the implications these events will have on the rest of the story. Usually what the producer’s highlight in these segments are the things we as viewers are supposed to be paying attention to and gives us some direction as to where they plan to take the story. Not acknowledging the events at Dorne is to me an important clue that the focus of the season will move away from this story line now that it was dealt with in such a swift way.
All that being said, I will acknowledge that there is still the possibility that Dorne will have some role to play in Season 06. After all Indira Varma, who plays Ellaria Sand, is considered part of the main cast for the season. And it is possible that the Sand Snakes trip to King’s Landing may be tied to yet another plot line from the books which has not, as of yet, emerged in the series. I sincerely doubt however that this plot line will gain much traction given how much the show is already juggling, but I’m open to being surprised. As for Ellaria, there could be the occasional scene of her ordering people around, though I doubt the production team will spend much time and resources location-shooting for Dorne. There’s probably enough stock footage for the occasional establishing shot if necessary. Personally, I think we will at best get the occasional report from Varys’ little birds or Cersei’s spies as to what Dorne is up to.
There is plenty of material to focus on as we proceed through Season 06. Spending any more time in Dorne, from a story, production, and budgetary perspective simply doesn’t make much sense. Put a fork in it…it’s Dorne.
Do you agree or disagree with my insights? Share your comments below!