The Old Gods and the New
Elena: So, Rachel, what was it about this episode that made you say the F word all over Twitter?
Rachel: Holy Craaaap, Dany’s Dragons were stolen! This shit DOESN’T HAPPEN IN THE BOOKS. I am lost. This scene is such a great representation of how I felt during the entire episode. HBO is finally making changes that put the readers in the dark and now we (get to?) enjoy the show in much the same way as non-readers. Sitting on the edge of our seats, no idea what’s happening next, worrying for our favorite characters.
The changes can’t please everyone, but if they continue on making these sorts of changes, that don’t rewrite entire plotlines, I think it will be great. It is an adaptation, after all, and I don’t think anyone can reasonably expect the writers to follow each book exactly. (Remember when I kind of hated The Hunger Games? Yes. It was because the movie followed the book too closely and lost most of its heart in the process.)
This change for Dany’s storyline ESPECIALLY is definitely the right move for HBO. I love Dany. She is one of my favorite characters, but her storyline can get a little…well, boring. HBO recognized that sitting around in Qarth receiving sycophants and having Jorah make you feel uncomfortable is not enough of a story for Dany. Compare that to what is coming for pretty much any other character, and it is absolutely understandable and expected that HBO would spice it up. I’m totally fine with it. I’m upset that Irri is dead, but at least she defended the dragons with her life. She was brave.
And the noises the baby dragons were making? Heartbreaking. I cannot wait to see Targaryen Dany Eyes in full force for the entirety of the next episode. Girl is going to lose her mind.
Rachel: Elena, what did you think as a non-reader?
Elena: It didn’t really stand out to me as being obviously not of the books when I watched it, and so I think the writers did a really great job of integrating in Martin’s trademark “you can see it coming in retrospect but never in advance” sort of solipsistic-character interaction with the world. Having had Dany’s behavior in Qarth in the book explained to me, I can see why this didn’t happen in the books (read: because she didn’t leave her dragons alone very much), but in the show it was just sort of a duh moment. Like…the entire city knows you’re there, and that you have dragons, and that you are making house calls on all the rich men, trying to finance Operation: Reclaim the Iron Throne, and that you have a very limited contingent of guards. Why wouldn’t someone move in to take the one thing of value (sorry, Dany) that you have while you are essentially defenseless? I know there is a thing about hospitality and guests, but…she’s not the guest of the city but of Xaro. Also, the city is full of rich men. Sure, some of them did it entirely honestly, but as Xaro pointed out, most of them did not—they did things that would make a back-alley whore blush and didn’t blink because it was what needed to be done. Of course some opportunistic Qarthian is going to try and steal her dragons.
This scene also tied in very well to what is going on with the rest of the show right now. Part of being a lord in this land is being able to hold what you claim…we are actually seeing that theme play out in macro with the various kings and will they be able to hold their thrones (as indeed Robert was barely able to) and on a micro-scale with individual holdings. Such as Bran not being able to hold Winterfell against Theon…and Theon in turn probably not being able to hold it long against Robb or anyone Robb sends. Or his sister, for that matter, when her 500 knights get there (assuming she even sends them). Come on, she’s not going to let her brother use her men to secure what he stole and still call himself Lord of Winterfell. She’ll steal it from him. Ha! Take that, Theon!
Elena: Speaking of Theon…were there more changes from the books in his Winterfell-felling quest?
Rachel: Oh, Theon. Theon, Theon, Theon, Theon. Having just seen Avengers I am tempted to draw lots and lots of parallels between Theon and Loki. They’re both adopted. They both have older brothers they have a really complicated relationship with. They’re both horrible fucktards. And yes, both are strangely compelling. Although, I think we’ll give Loki the trophy in prettiness, we’ll all agree. (Sorry, Alfie, considered yourself…Loki’d).
But yes, there were more changes in Winterfells scenes. Let’s talk about the things that HBO has done in that I liked:
- THE DETAILS: Bran had a handle hanging above his bed that allowed him to sit up my himself. I loved this detail. Not only because it gives Bran more physicality – we don’t see him only move around with Hodor’s help – but because it also means that Bran has made a turn-around from the depressed child we saw following his accident. Bran has figured out how to go on with daily life.
- Yes, I’m totally OK with the fact that they compressed (again) several scenes into one. Namely that instead of Theon killing Mikken (which would have made no sense as he isn’t a character in the show), he killed Ser Rodrik (who dies a little later in the book, but I can’t tell you details). There is emotional impact since we know this character, plus Theon’s total inability to get through Rodrik’s neck in one or even three blows is just…gugh. Maybe we shouldn’t blame Theon – all that salt air can dull his blade. And since the Greyjoys Do Not Sow, we can’t expect them to have any native blacksmiths around to keep their weapons sharpish. But those of us who’ve read the books know Theon’s worse moments are coming…soon.
- Maester Luwin’s performance. What a scene stealer! Isaac (Bran) did an awesome job as well at conveying the frustration of a little boy who can do nothing to stop the inevitable. Not merely due to his handicap but because he has no men and no way to oust Theon from Winterfell. He is feeling the responsibility of keeping his people safe, but it is Maester Luwin that really steps up in his scenes. He is no fool to let a boy shoulder those responsibilities. Also – that opening scene with the ravens. WIN.
I’m going to scoot right on by seeing Tonks naked (Wow, these Harry Potter books got way adult) except to say that she should have just killed him, otherwise why even put yourself through it? She could have skipped boning with Theon and gone straight to offering herself to the guards (arguments against this will include – “but she needed Theon to be asleep!”…Yea…or dead?)
But really I have to love any scene in which Shaggydog makes an appearance.
Rachel: Anyway, there were lots of wtf moments in terms of writing in the Osha escape scene, agree?
Elena: Man, that sequence was just killer. Tonks Osha is yet another Badass Bitch! Are there any women in Westeros who are not secret badasses? No wonder all the men are so terrified of letting them do anything but knit. I mean, all these warring rapacious assholes have to get the genes from somewhere, and apparently it’s not all from daddy…but I digress. Right. Lots of WTF when Osha goes in and has sex with Theon. The only point to that scene is to continue the narrative confusion of what her game is until the end of the episode. Because, seriously, there is no reason for her to bang Theon if she isn’t going to kill him! Gurl. Your brain is a bit too one-track here. You have Theon sleeping like a baby in all his self-satisfied glory, no guards in sight, and you…just put your cloak back on and walk out? Honey, the guard would have been just as certain Theon sent you to warm his night if you had gone to him first. Did you worry not having the scent of Theon’s balls on your breath might tip your hand?
Rachel: Insert me making a face and saying “Theon’s Balls?” to myself.
Elena: Anyway, Osha’s mad plan to escape with Bran and Rickon was, aside from the 5-minute detour (bc you know that’s all it took) to fuck Theon to sleep, pretty brilliant. And while I would totally like to claim that I knew she wasn’t really betraying Bran, because she’s Tonks, and she’s too Awesome for that…honestly, I didn’t question her trying to get out of being the Stark’s indentured servant at all. But the second she slit that guy’s throat I remembered what happened on the day she was caught. Theon wanted to kill her, and Robb stopped him. She told Robb, if you spare my life, I am yours. And she is from the North. They do not make bullshit vows like the Iron Islanders do. She meant that. And Theon was fucking there, and he fucking heard her make that promise, and he doesn’t have a bazillion character motivations to keep track of the way I do. So how the fuck did he forget that?
So, yeah, Osha is awesome.
Theon is…not awesome. He totally allowed himself to be bullied into having Ser Rodrick executed, and then he had to be bullied into doing it himself. I don’t think he has very long to live. He’s not fooling anyone into thinking he’s real leadership material. If he weren’t such a hosebeast I might feel sorry for him. Like, I understand he has conflicting motivations. And I get that he is young and hasn’t been exposed to having to do these hard things for himself. But at the same time, if he had a stronger sense of self, he’d have the courage of his convictions. Instead he has no convictions, just whatever seems necessary at that moment. He is not thinking ahead, and in the game of thrones if you can’t think five moves ahead you’re going to lose. Theon can’t even think one move ahead right now.
I just hope Robb gets his wish to be the one to kill him. I feel like that isn’t going to happen for him, though. Theon’s just Too Stupid To Live.
Rachel: So remember when Roose finally wanders over to tell Robb and Cat and Talisa of Theon’s betrayal, and Cat is all, “I TOLD YOU!”? You were right, Cat. You were riiiight. Robb is basically an idiot if he thought he could rely on Theon as if he were Jon. No way. Everyone forgot that Theon was a PRISONER. Everyone but Cat, because she’s very good at remembering which ones are her children and which ones aren’t.
Ten thousand extra points for Roose’s “Let me send word to my Bastard at the Dreadfort.” YESSS. SEND ALL THE WORDS. And leaches!
As far as Robb still mooning over Talisa…eh.
Elena: That was such an awkward mom intrusion. Robb was just starting to get his mack on, inviting her to have dinner in his tent and all, and then his mom comes up and might as well have pulled him away by his ear. Ha! Also Cat is going to get to say I Told You So a second time when Lady Talisa turns out to be not foreign and not Talisa. The lady part I give her, Robb’s right about that, but otherwise? I call bullshit on that story. Cat smells it, too. She keeps giving that girl the skank eye, like, “Bitch, please, I have a pen pal in every keep in the Riverlands (except Harrenhal, obviously), and I know there ain’t no mothafucking lady named Taleezha running around here with any legitimate purpose.”
Also, having Roose’s inclination to suck fingerbones explained to me, your caption on our first Talisa picture (“Roose, you’re making this [amputation] awkward”) is stunningly hilarious. Apparently, like the books, OUR VERY COLUMNS can be revisited with greater appreciation once the bigger picture comes clear!
Elena: Right. So, since I mentioned Harrenhal…what did we think of this week’s episode of As the Wheel Turns: Isengard?
Rachel: LOL at Littlefinger’s teleportation abilities. Yet another creation of the show that is not in the books. It’s kind of weird. I guess they don’t want to pull a Downton Abbey and put everything in letters for people to read and then pull dramatic faces over – I get it. Also, I’m going to assume that show-Littlefinger TOTALLY recognized Arya but very handily CHOSE not to. However, I…have no idea why he would do that. If he did recognize her and then told his ally Tywin…they probably would have shipped her back to King’s Landing or arranged a trade to get Jaime back…maybe. But Littlefinger doesn’t give a rip about ol’ horse face, he’s got other fish to fry.
By far the best moment was Jaqen H’ghar’s kill. Again, changes from the book, but the impact and plot movement is the same. Plus, HA! Arya demands, Jaqen delivers. Tywin does…nothing? The fallout (ha) of this kill may actually come back to kick Arya in the butt. Tywin isn’t the type of lord to ignore the fact that one of his men was obviously murdered right in front of him.
Thaffierths! <———— I’m sorry. I had to.
Jaqen H’ghar strikes (our hearts) again! Let’s here it for team, “More water, sir?”!
Elena: I don’t know, that guy was getting on Tywin’s nerves. Maybe he will choose not to look a gift horse in the mouth?
Really the whole sequence convinced me that Jaqen H’ghar is kind of in love with Arya. Not, like in a creepy sexual way, but in the “I’ll wait for her” guy in love with Hit Girl on Kick-Ass way. He finds her fiery spirit irresistible. Also I think he responded to her imperious tone. She definitely channeled her mother there, with that NO, JAQEN, IT MUST BE NOWWWWWWWWWWWW. Like even the representative of the red god took a step back and decided not to annoy Her Ladyship further. Because if Arya uses a Cat tone, you know shit’s about to get real, and he couldn’t stand to see his little bird of death get hurt.
Rachel: A… raven, perhaps? As to Jaqen – representative of R’hllor? You think that? Just because he mentioned him to Arya before? I totally understand why you would think that given the line but take this is a negative head nod from me. Ya know.. FYI. (This has been a message from DarthRachel Omnipotence Corps.)
Elena: Conclusion: Stark girls are irresistible to sociopaths. Or perhaps it’s Tully girls, if Littlefinger’s obsession with Cat is any guideline. Discuss in the context of Sansa’s arc this week.
Rachel: The big San/San moment this week! Sandor rescuing Sansa. Not going to lie, my exposure to The Phantom of the Opera as a small child has left me predisposed to liking their dynamic even though IT’S TERRIBLE. It is! He’s an amoral killer with a hate-gig, and she’s a naïve (but learning) prisoner. It’s romantic in a brooding, windswept moor sense, but also horrifying. More San/San!
The riot in King’s Landing might actually be less powerful in the books than it was in the show. In the books they’re on horseback, and everyone is running, and I was not in as much fear for characters’ lives (okay, let’s face it, there aren’t a lot of characters I give a rip about in the scene to start with) as I was in the show. Putting them on the ground not only saved them horse-renting money, it helped put the camera down in the riot instead of horse-back level. Well done!
Elena: I would say…it’s easy to fear for a character’s life even if you actively want to see them dead. It’s just that fear is perhaps the wrong connotation. “Actively question their ability to survive” is more tone-neutral, yes? Because I actively questioned the ability of any of them to survive. It would be a fitting end for our Good King Joffrey, White Knight of Douchebaggery and High Wizard of Craziness to get trampled in street riot by peasants throwing cow pies. Better yet, by peasants force-feeding him cow pies. That would make my life complete…but it was not to be. Instead the little fuckball left Sansa out to get raped to death in the streets. He obviously is not turned on by sub’s the way the Hound is. Maybe he should toss over Sansa for Margaery, I bet she could whip (literally) some sense into him. But the Hound probably should have let Sansa at least get her little princess hymen snapped by the first of those street roughs; then Joffrey would have thrown her to him like a bone! Maybe he will anyway if Margaery strolls into King’s Landing with her father’s army and a black leather dress on. San-San 4evah!
Rachel: I’m laughing at that because I know you, I know you aren’t actually advocating Sansa be raped. You’re making a comment on how fucked up and shitty Joffrey is, YOU HEAR THAT COMMENTORS?
I don’t have much to say about the introduction of Ygritte except that I love her and it was perfect and I demand more Ygritte! So what did you think of Ygritte becausesheismyfavoriteandIreallyhopeyoulikeher?!
Elena: Ygritte was AWESOME! She is going to test Jon Snow’s knowledge of Where To Put It very quickly, I sense. Although considering how uncomfortable her wiggling made him, perhaps he really DOES know.
God, I can’t wait to see what all she can manipulate him to do with her feminine wiles. I mean, Jon Snow is this poor horny virgin who couldn’t even bring himself to bang a Winterfell whore (and the whore was obviously not actively trying to seduce him or she could have talked him out of walking away, so obviously he has NO experience even attempting to resist feminine wiles, because he has never in his life had any directed at him), and here’s this wild thing who calls his bluff when he’s told to kill her and almost escapes him and still fights him the only way she can…yeah. This is not going to end well for him. If by end well we mean staying true to his vows at The Wall, that is. The actual sex will probably end very well. She will show him the true meaning of a Wild Rumpus (because she’s a wildling, and Jon Snow has run off to Where The Wild Things Are…AKA North Of The Wall).
I kind of expect that she takes Jon to the wildling camp and he finds out that the King Beyond the Wall is actually Uncle Benji. Because that would be dramatic irony of the type that is totally irresistible for this kind of story (cough *soap opera with swords* cough). And if the King Beyond the Wall is not a man to whom Jon Snow owes ostensible fealty…then Jon Snow will someone end up the new King Beyond the Wall, because that’s just how things are going to go for the kid. His destiny is not to become wildling shish kebab or live out his days on The Wall until he is old and impotent and telling stories about how he could have stopped a civil war but didn’t. No.
But now he won’t have to, because he has met Ygritte, and she is pretty enough to tempt even a Lord of Winterfell, and she is hard enough to impress even a Lord of Winterfell, and yet she is low enough that the Bastard of Winterfell doesn’t feel out of his league as long as he doesn’t lose his fights to her! Jon Snow, meet Rocked. As in, your world officially is. And yes, the romance reader in me will unabashedly ship the one fucking couple of maybe-they-could-hook-up characters on this show for whom it would not be a disaster or betrayal in one way or another to actually hook up. I mean, yes Jon vowed celibacy, but…come on. Even Lord Mormont admits they don’t actually expect the men to keep that vow, and anyway Jon’s “brothers” kind of threw him to the wolves on that one with their whole, “you go on and kill her while we walk to the top and wait for you” bit. There was just no way he was ready for killing a pretty girl without having seen her kill someone first. So I’m not going to consider it any kind of oathbreaking for him to forget about those assholes (even though Jon will be emo about it for YEARS). Anyway, my main point was, Yay, Ygritte!
Rachel: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH (insert me laughing hysterically and weeping and then laughing again and I will never tell you WHYYYYYYYYY)