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Matrim bloody Cauthon


Elder_Haman
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One of the recent rumors, fueled by the little promotional blurbs they released earlier this week, involves Mat's backstory. The bothersome lines are these:

 

his mischievous smile and witty retorts simply distract from the question constantly burdening him: Is he a good person — and how would he know? His parents were far from role models, yet he fears himself fated to follow their path.

 

I have to confess that I've had pretty negative feelings about this since I heard it. I really like the Cauthons - Abell especially - and don't really want to see him turned into some sort of abusive dad. And does Mat doubt that he's a good person.

 

This led me to start thinking about Mat. Let's be honest, Mat is the toughest of RJ's characters to nail down. He goes through at least three distinct changes over the course of the series. I think it's important for the tv writers to decide who he is early on in order to smooth out some of the rougher aspects of Mat's arc. But again, I'm very wary about making him into some sort of abused kid. There have also been unverified rumors of Abell being portrayed as a womanizer and Natti as an abusive drunk. I don't like that. So I'm trying to figure out what to make of it.

 

When we meet him, Mat is a prankster. The people of Emond's Field are suspicious of him. We also know that he's a gambler, drinker, and womanizer. When I try to put Mat in the modern day context, I keep coming back to Bender from "The Breakfast Club" movie. He's sort of an antisocial guy who tends to be a bad influence - convincing his buddies to drink a beer, or smoke cigarettes in the bathroom, or get into the other "bad" but relatively harmless behavior that teens get up to. But he also has a good heart and genuinely doesn't want people to be hurt. His antics are attention seeking and thrill seeking, but they are not malicious. And when called upon to protect people, Mat is brave and kind and selfless because it's the right thing to do.

 

But Mat doesn't recognize his bravery and selflessness as inherently good. He believes they are things that everyone would do in his shoes. Things that are expected of him. In the books, people never give him credit for these good qualities. They only chastise him for his irresponsibility and recklessness. You've got to figure that he internalizes those things.

 

But why is he like that? It's never really explained in the book. But it also doesn't need to be. Apart from Tam and Rand, we never get very deep into any of the EF5's family dynamics. But I don't feel like the show can ignore it. We are going to spend time seeing the villagers interact. We're going to meet Mat's family. And then they are going to be subjected to a horribly traumatizing event where they are attacked by nightmarish creatures. It would be weird for Mat not to interact with his family after that.

 

And if we're going to see Mat's family anyway, it seems to make sense to contextualize Mat. And this is where I hit on a "maybe this could be okay" moment that fits: 

 

We see the Emond's Fielders drinking and celebrating on Bel Tine. Natti Cauthon is obviously tipsy from a little overindulgence. Abell is gambling and drinking and flirting uncomfortably with a bar maid. Mat is also gambling and flirting.

 

Then the Trollocs attack. Natti and Abell cower in fright, while Mat risks himself to save someone. In the aftermath, Abell yells at Mat for being too reckless and putting himself in danger. Mat is angered by this and has a little teenaged tantrum about not being appreciated. He's going to leave this town with the creepy lady and there's nothing his parents are going to do about it.

 

I feel something like this would make sense for his character. It fits what little we know to be official. It fits the marketing blurbs. It doesn't turn anyone into totally unlikable people (given that the context is Winternight revelry). It explains Mat's penchant for women, dice and drink. And it's a nice foreshadowing of Mat's relationship with Olver - nodding to the fact that many bad habits are formed by kids modeling their parents.

 

What do y'all think?

 

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I feel like the people who want the WoT to be darker and not YA should like this change. In the books the EF 5 all have wholesome loving families. Even Nynaeve who's an orphan had loving parents once and was raised by a good woman. Looks like they're giving them grittier backstories in the show. Mat's parents are bad role models and he believes he takes after them and can't be good. Perrin kills his wife (ugh hate that) and believes it means he can't be good. Rand... is the feared Dragon and therefore can't be good. You end up with three tortured boys full of self-hatred. Not sure how I feel about it but it's definitely darker than the books.

Edited by Rose
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"his parents weren't role models" does not authomatically mean "mat was an abused kid". far from it. maybe his father was just like him, a good person but on the irresponsible side.

from that blurb we can be pretty sure they substantially changed mat's family background, but we can't figure any detail. and as for any other change, i'll wait to see before judging if it was done for a good reason. though i'll miss book-Abell.

actually, if that's the "one change that the fans are not going to like", i'll be pretty relieved. in front of all the other potential changes that i fans could not like, that's one of the more benign.

5 minutes ago, Rose said:

Perrin kills his wife (ugh hate that) .

 

nope. That was just one rumor. One among many, and completely unsupported. don't despair prematurely.

 

in fact, i'm quite sure it can't be as bad as you make it. Brandon mentioned one change the fans would not like. Now, both giving mat a gritty family and having perrin kill his wife are big changes the fans won't like, so we can be pretty sure they didn't do both.

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5 minutes ago, king of nowhere said:

"his parents weren't role models" does not authomatically mean "mat was an abused kid". far from it. maybe his father was just like him, a good person but on the irresponsible side.

from that blurb we can be pretty sure they substantially changed mat's family background, but we can't figure any detail. and as for any other change, i'll wait to see before judging if it was done for a good reason. though i'll miss book-Abell.

actually, if that's the "one change that the fans are not going to like", i'll be pretty relieved. in front of all the other potential changes that i fans could not like, that's one of the more benign.

 

nope. That was just one rumor. One among many, and completely unsupported. don't despair prematurely.

 

in fact, i'm quite sure it can't be as bad as you make it. Brandon mentioned one change the fans would not like. Now, both giving mat a gritty family and having perrin kill his wife are big changes the fans won't like, so we can be pretty sure they didn't do both.

 

I'm not despairing, just reserving judgement lol. I actually don't really mind the Mat change. But I wanted to point out that you can't both complain that they're not making the show dark enough and also complain that they're giving the characters dark backstories. (General you)

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29 minutes ago, king of nowhere said:

Brandon mentioned one change the fans would not like. Now, both giving mat a gritty family and having perrin kill his wife are big changes the fans won't like, so we can be pretty sure they didn't do both.

I don't think Mat having family issues would've been a problem for Sanderson, after all Mat never actually meets up with them again after leaving. If anything this might be a good change as it gives Mat a reason to not want to go back to the Two Rivers and be distant from his family.

 

I feel like Perrin killing his wife (even the fact he starts the series with a wife) is what Sanderson was talking about.

Edited by AusLeviathan
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An important thing to remember is that good people can be put into bad situations. Don't need a tortured upbringing for that.

 

"For Benioff and Weiss, trying to continue what Game of Thrones had set out to do, tell a compelling sociological story, would be like trying to eat melting ice cream with a fork. Hollywood mostly knows how to tell psychological, individualized stories. They do not have the right tools for sociological stories, nor do they even seem to understand the job.....

 

....In sociological storytelling, the characters have personal stories and agency, of course, but those are also greatly shaped by institutions and events around them. The incentives for characters’ behavior come noticeably from these external forces, too, and even strongly influence their inner life.

 

People then fit their internal narrative to align with their incentives, justifying and rationalizing their behavior along the way. (Thus the famous Upton Sinclair quip: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”)

The overly personal mode of storytelling or analysis leaves us bereft of deeper comprehension of events and history. Understanding Hitler’s personality alone will not tell us much about rise of fascism, for example. Not that it didn’t matter, but a different demagogue would probably have appeared to take his place in Germany in between the two bloody world wars in the 20th century...."

 

Fascinating article from Scientific American on how GoT went off the rails from an analytical perspective, I highly recommend everyone read it.

 

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/the-real-reason-fans-hate-the-last-season-of-game-of-thrones/

 

What I'm getting at is that I'm not surprised the writers are changing Mat's and Perrin's backstories, because those are the kinds of stories Hollywood (I use that as a general term for the industry) mostly knows how to write.

 

Edited by TheMountain
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31 minutes ago, TheMountain said:

An important thing to remember is that good people can be put into bad situations. Don't need a tortured upbringing for that.

 

"For Benioff and Weiss, trying to continue what Game of Thrones had set out to do, tell a compelling sociological story, would be like trying to eat melting ice cream with a fork. Hollywood mostly knows how to tell psychological, individualized stories. They do not have the right tools for sociological stories, nor do they even seem to understand the job.....

 

....In sociological storytelling, the characters have personal stories and agency, of course, but those are also greatly shaped by institutions and events around them. The incentives for characters’ behavior come noticeably from these external forces, too, and even strongly influence their inner life.

 

People then fit their internal narrative to align with their incentives, justifying and rationalizing their behavior along the way. (Thus the famous Upton Sinclair quip: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”)

The overly personal mode of storytelling or analysis leaves us bereft of deeper comprehension of events and history. Understanding Hitler’s personality alone will not tell us much about rise of fascism, for example. Not that it didn’t matter, but a different demagogue would probably have appeared to take his place in Germany in between the two bloody world wars in the 20th century...."

 

Fascinating article from Scientific American on how GoT went off the rails from an analytical perspective, I highly recommend everyone read it.

 

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/the-real-reason-fans-hate-the-last-season-of-game-of-thrones/

 

What I'm getting at is that I'm not surprised the writers are changing Mat's and Perrin's backstories, because those are the kinds of stories Hollywood (I use that as a general term for the industry) mostly knows how to write.

 

 

That's a very interesting analysis, thank you for linking it. I agree Hollywood (and western storytelling in general) tends to approach things from a very individualistic lens and that has its limits.

 

 

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My pleasure ? It's one of those intangibles that I think Hollywood doesn't quite grasp contributed to the success of early GoT. The main takeaway seems to have been, "oh, fantasy... but just bloody, dark, gritty and sexy."

 

I think the difference between sociological vs psychological storytelling is key.

Edited by TheMountain
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2 hours ago, DaddyFinn said:

What did Abell and Natti even do in the books? Abell went to Tar Valon with Tam and then..?

He taught his son how to use a bow staff and track. Traveled all the way to Tar Valon to plead with the Aes Sedai in search for the kids with Tam. Fought with Tam in The Shadow Rising. Both get brief moments of mentorship with Perrin. We get most of his tidbits from other people true, but never are we told he is a bad father. Even Mat’s internal dialogue often references what has dad taught him about fighting. One famous fight he has comes to mind. “ This is a death blow.”
 

I like the idea of having Mat’s struggles belong to Mat. The beauty of his story is he has to take responsibility for his actions. There really isn’t anyone or anything else he can blame for the things that happen to him. Pretty much everything that happened to him was of his own foolish choices or his sharp tongue. This is highlighted when he sees his last lives in the portal stone.

Edited by JaimAybara
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I look at Mat's character description as being not much more that his parents are an old-school country song and he's a little bit bro-country.  

 

Since, I happen to enjoy some of both genres that doesn't really bother me too much.  

 

They have to define the basic characters in some way.   Perrin and Rand are the best defined at the outside.  Mat is a little more difficult for a good part of the books and the brief blurb does fit with his early actions. 

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I really don't care for changing the nature of Mat's parents. It seems so unecessary. Mat is a prankster, a jokster, a rogue but when it comes down to it like Siuan asked of him when the flames are high he stands tall. Thats the nature of his character despite his protests to the contrary.

 

Its very hard to know what they actually mean when they say "His parents were far from role models, yet he fears himself fated to follow their path" but it doesn't sit right with me.

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While I am gonna wait and see what changes they actually make to Mat's parents before I judge here are some of my thoughts on the issue.

 

Forget how Mat is portrayed in the series and remember what Mat was like in the first 2 books.  Yes, he is a prankster and a jokster he really doesn't have much of an arc or overriding motivation other than that pertaining to the dagger.  We know he is immature, acts without thinking and interested in material things(Owning the biggest farm in the Two Rivers, treasure etc...).  But we get very little of his later character work, a rascal who will shrug off responsibility but would willingly run into a burning building to rescue people.

 

Now remember all of the characters are being aged up a bit, assuming to around 20.  While he can still be immature he needs something more to work with throughout the season.  The overarcing idea that he doesn't know if he is a good person and doesn't want to end up like his parents(however they choose to portray it) gives the character something to work with.  Taking the dagger because it could provide him a better life than he was given is miles better than taking the dagger because it wasn't specifically given to him.  But that is just assumption on my part.

 

Ultimately I think what they do with Mat in the first season or two will be very interesting as leaving it to season 3 to give him actually character is not a great choice.

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I am not surprised that Mat’s character seems to be the hardest for these writers to pin down. Brandon Sanderson famously said that he never thought he got Mat quite right. I imagine that it is even more difficult when you’re on screen. A lot of times if you look at his actions they don’t really match up with his inner dialogue. I would never have described him as someone who is battling… Am I good person or am I bad person? It is more just a naturally irresponsible person battling with having to take responsibility.
 

what is also going to be interesting is how much is going to change with the new actor in season 2?

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We'll find out soon.  Again - I'm fine with changes and expect way more than I'm comfortable with, but the fun part will be deciding which of the changes was the one BS was talking about.  Should have some great threads going within a few hours of the episodes dropping...

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52 minutes ago, Siberian Rat said:

That might just be that the show’s writers changed him to be

  Hide contents

closeted gay

 . TV writers love to write

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inner conflicts

that don’t drive up production costs.

 

 

Highly unlikely. That would be a major change for no real purpose.

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2 minutes ago, Elder_Haman said:

That would be a major change for no real purpose.

“To a television producer, nothing is unnecessary which is expedient.”

What it does is add more “depth” and conflict to a character. You and me might not like character changes, but this TV show was not made for the book purists.

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1 minute ago, Siberian Rat said:

“To a television producer, nothing is unnecessary which is expedient.”

What it does is add more “depth” and conflict to a character. You and me might not like character changes, but this TV show was not made for the book purists.

Still don't see it. The changes I know about seem to be purposeful and made in order to adapt the story to the new medium. Thus far, they seemed not to have messed with any of the characters much - certainly not in the dramatic, story altering manner that your suggestion would require.

 

 

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