Now that Season 5 of HBO’s Game of Thrones has concluded, I have to say I was a bit less that impressed with Star Trek: Deep Space Nine cast member Alexander Siddig’s role as Prince Doran Martell, not because of his acting, but because of the story centered around his character.
Book readers knew of the character of Doran Martell as early the first novel of the series written by George R.R. Martin, as the Crowned Prince of Dorne, the last of the Seven Kingdoms to become part of a united Westeros a century and a half after Aegon the Dragon united the continent. He is alluded to again in the second novel (the second season of the TV series) when Hand of the King (their version of a Lord Chancellor) Tyrion Lannister proposes marrying off his niece Princess Myrcella to Doran’s son Trystane. And when a royal wedding between King Joffrey and Lady Margaery is on the horizon, Prince Doran is unable to attend, because of a debilitating case of gout, and sends his brother Oberyn the Red Viper as a representative of Dorne in his stead.
Actor Pedro Pascal (Oberyn) provided the “template” for the Dornish accent, which sounds very much like a Castilian Spanish accent. Alexander Sidding had the accent down perfectly. I was excited before the start of Season 5 to see how Sidding took on the role of Prince Doran, considering the character in the two most recent novels had a brilliant master plan seventeen years in the making to avenge the brutal murder of his sister, who had married into the now-deposed royal family. He reveals his intentions after derailing his daughter’s efforts to use Princess Myrcella to avenge the now deceased Oberyn. On the television series, we saw a different story that seemed awfully bland.
In Siddig’s portaryal of Prince Doran, we don’t see someone with a debilitating illness, we mostly see a guy in a wheelchair looking down on his son and future daughter-in-law and going, “Awww, what a cute couple they make.” His nieces, the Sand Snakes, were advertised as these badass woman warriors. They just have the look of a superhero trio, each with their own unique weapons and superpowers, that seems out of place for a more adult-themed fantasy franchise. The resolution to the question of whether or not Dorne would declare war on House Lannister (the Queen Mother’s family) over the deaths of Doran’s siblings seems woefully anti-climactic. He proclaims that, despite his brother’s girlfriend’s recent shenanigans, there will be no war. The princess can go back to the capital with his son, who will represent Dorne on the King’s Council.
********************WARNING: CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS********************
Since this is Game of Thrones, and once viewers grow to root for and care for particular characters, they die, those plans are naturally ruined. In any case, this latest plot twist leaves a lot of unanswered questions as to what the fallout will be, especially how Siddig’s character will react to this betrayal.