Why Did HBO Even Go To Dorne?

We say goodbye to the worst plotline of Game of Thrones
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Jon Snow in Game of Thrones Season 7
Jon Snow in Game of Thrones Season 7 HBO

Indira Varma’s recent confirmation that her character, Ellaria Sand, would not be returning to Game of Thrones after Season 7 marks the departure of the last Dornish character from the show, so far. Ellaria and her paramour Oberyn Martell were the first Dornish characters we met, all the way back in Season 4. With Oberyn’s death at the hands of the Mountain That Rides at the end of that season Ellaria became the only surviving Dornish character of note. Her scenes with Oberyn in Season 4 were well liked by audiences and critics, probably helping the decision to bring the show to Dorne itself in Season 5.

Building up to Season 5, I was thrilled that the show was moving to Dorne. The buzz seemed great. They were shooting in Spain. They cast Alexander Siddig as Doran Martell, someone who had long been a fan-favorite choice for the character. Unfortunately, the Dornish storylines from here on out were a mess. I hoped at the time that all the weak Dorne storylines would eventually pay off and serve a larger dramatic purpose. Now that we say goodbye to the last Dornish character we know that isn’t true.

When I took a moment and looked back at the things of import that happened in Dorne, I was shocked to see that nearly nothing of the larger storylines of the show. We first come to Dorne with Jaime and Bronn on their mission to retrieve Myrcella Baratheon from Sunspear. Doran Martell and Areo Hotah are set up as the core of the power structure in Dorne. In the books Doran is an incredibly savvy political manipulator who has managed to keep Dorne powerful as the rest of Westeros descended into civil war. In the show he is more or less a useless weenie. Likewise Areo is changed from one of the best fighters and bodyguards in the Seven Kingdoms, to someone who just stands in the background of scenes until he is killed.

The Dornish coup against these characters was impossible to care about since we hadn’t seen these characters actually do or stand for anything. Their deaths mean nothing to us since the show never gave them a reason to matter. It doesn’t help that they are killed by Ellaria and the Sandsnakes, characters who also lack any connection to non-Dornish storylines. It makes you wonder why have a coup at all? Why set up Doran and Areo as characters at all? Ellaria could have been in control for the get go, or shared power with Doran and Areo. Furthermore, after the coup Ellaria fails to have an impact She joins Dany but a few episodes later is captured and imprisoned, before having any effect on the war against Cersei.

It’s shocking how many Dornish characters there are and how little any of them mattered. Starting with Season 5, when we arrived at Dorne we have Doran, Areo, Ellaria, Trystane, and five Sand Snakes. Of all of those characters the only thing that any of them accomplished by season 7 was poisoning Myrcella. That seems hardly enough to warrant nine characters and tons of screen time. At the time the Dornish storylines felt plodding but it was possible to imagine a payoff. Now they’re all dead and I only wish their screen time could have been used to slow down the breakneck pace of the new Season.

It is a shame that such an amazing region was treated so badly on the show. It could have been worth it if the Dornish Army or Dornish characters ever did anything of import. It feels all the more of a waste that after all that, the only thing they accomplished in the game of thrones was one poisoned kiss.

Game Of Thrones
Too Much Is Never Enough
Once you start watching Game of Thrones, you won't be able to stop.
  • Fully realized, intricate world
  • Compelling characters
  • Plot twists you won't see coming
  • Lots of ground to cover if you're new to the series
  • Don't get too attached to anyone
  • Two words: Sand Snakes
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