Thousands of men don’t need to die. Only one of us.
What follows clearly will contain spoilers up to the current episode, so if you did watch on Sunday, why are you reading this?
I servered House Stark once. But House Stark is dead.
What follows contains spoilers for Game of Thrones, up through episode 6.07…
Things are about to get down right irresponsible in Westeros. But before we get to 6.08, let’s take a minute to talk about 6.07…
Let’s go ahead and ignore the words “only two episodes left” and just enjoy this promo for episode 9 of Game of Thrones, “The Rains of Castamere”.
I’ll just say it – Arya is perhaps one of my favorite people on the planet. That chick does not play around. Sure Daenerys is obviously amazing but she’s got a family history going for her, not to mention the obvious dragon benefit, but Arya? Girlfriend has been kicking ass and taking names seemingly from the time she popped out of the birth canal and doing so in very challenging situations. Of course she’s going to stand up to Hound and threaten him, just another day for the young Stark.
Not only is the number of episodes left sad news, but there’s also a week without our beloved Westeros inhabitants thanks to the Memorial Day weekend. While the true intention of Memorial Day is to remember those men and women who have died in service to this country, we all know that it’s the start of summer and really just a reason for people to stand around in backyards and drink around a grill.
Of course the obvious choice for a drinking song to go along with this promo would be The Rains of Castamere itself!
Well that’s all I’ve got this week. Make sure you check back tomorrow for our review of tonight’s episode and I’ll see you next time Game of Thrones fans!
Episode 8: The Prince Of Winterfell
This episode pays off the one of the main changes from the books, and effectively gives Ros The Wonder Whore a reason to have been around, other than her breasts, instead of the whole Alayaya/other whore/switcharoo, we get basically the same outcome, only with Cersei thinking Tyrion’s prostitute lover is Ros. Cersei holds her at ransom, to ensure Joffreys safety against Tyrion, because she think’s he’s plotting to kill him. This, readers will note, is foreshadowing to what happens to Tyrion in Book 3, and probably foreshadows Ros’s execution to be in Season 4, (revenge by Cersei), when we finally, finally, get to see Joffrey die.
The scene between Davos and Stannis isn’t quite different, as much as it is the second half of an earlier conversation they had in the series, that was split up into two different parts. This conversation in the book to me, defined Stannis to a T. He’s the kind of guy who would thank you, and honor you with knighthood for smuggling in food to save all the lives of the people during a siege, and then turn back around and punish you for smuggling. He is bound by duty to punish you, but will lessen it by only taking the tips of your fingers, rather than the whole hand, in recognition of the good you’ve done. He’s the creepy older uncle type who sits in his castle all day playing building models, and his brother is the young, cool, hipster guy who throws awesome parties. Unfortunately, it’s Stannis’ duty to be King, and he’ll take what is his by right, because it’s his duty. It’s prevalent in the series, but not as concrete.
Arya actually makes a pretty brilliant turn, and picks a different name at first from her third name in the novel. She thinks to name Tywin, but can’t find Jaqen and loses her chance. I can’t remember her third name in the book being anybody BUT Jaqen, since she required his help to escape. In the book, she pretends to be delivering a message, and even stabs a guard in the throat herself to get out. I was sad to see this scene missing, because it was a pretty awesome moment in the book.
Again, almost everything with Robb in this is new, since he wasn’t even a POV character in the book, but the basic reason for Catelyn stupidly letting Jaime go stays the same. Robb’s urges getting the better of him and having sex with Talisa are there, and we see his the beginning of his downfall, the second he drops her robe and lets the name “Frey” disappear from his duty, and his honor dies, like his poor dad did, only way more sexy and with 100% less beheadings.
Over the wall, the scene between Qhorin and Jon discussing him defecting is abridged, and ends up having pretty much the same outcome, as we’ll see later in the show, but one of the bigger differences, is Sam and Grenn finding the dragon glass weapons, along with the Horn Of Winter, which Mance Rayder had in the books, and we haven’t seen or heard about yet in the show at all. I’m assuming it’s the Horn Of Winter, unless the show is double faking us out, and making multiple horns, and the future series will have horns that have weird horny effects, and everybody starts getting really horny and… Sorry. I’m getting off topic. The point is, the little changes here, are gonna be a big deal later. The last change I noticed, was Asha actually showing some affection and love for Theon, which was a great difference from how she treats him in the book. It was a great scene, and added to their respective character depth.
Episode 9: Blackwater.
This episode is mostly the same as the chapters from the book, only with its perspectives changed around, and previous details that were changed, adhered to in turn. There was no chain to trap Stannis’ fleet, and Stannis’ fleet was MUCH smaller than the literal half page of named ships in the book. They seemed to purposely leave Davos’ fate ambiguous, along with his son, who we know dies in the book. Tyrion is still attacked by Ser Mandon, but no real context is given to who he is, and one could easily miss the fact that he was betrayed.The other rather significant change is the far less literal depiction of Ser Loras showing up in Renly’s armor. In the book, this was taken as Renly literally rising from the dead to fight and defeat him, and may not even have been Ser Loras in the armor, The entire vanguard in the book was supposed to be led by “Renlys’ ghost”, but has been changed to Tywin and his alliance with Ser Loras winning the war by coming in and taking them from the back. Stannis does notice Renly’s armor, but it’s a very subtle scene that lets the viewer decide it’s meaning, until it’s shown to just be Loras a few minutes later. A definite downgrade, as Renly’s ghost was a huge WTF moment for me as a reader.
Episode 10: Valar Morghulis.
Hoo boy. Where to begin? I guess I can first start by saying, that there’s officially no Ser Dontos pretending to be the rescuing knight for Sansa. In the book, she believes Ser Dontos is her ticket out of the hellhole she’s in, and is the reason she keeps refusing offers to get out from others. In the show now, they’ve seemingly cut him out entirely, and just gone straight to Lord Baelish up and telling her he’ll get her home. If this means we’ll get to the Lysa/Arryn/Baelish murder plot reveal sooner, remains to be seen, but it was definitely a revelation for me in book 3, where we find out almost everything was Lord Baelish’s machinations. So this change, while small, may lead to yet another future change, that will be big. Joffrey deciding to wed Margaery Tyrell, in the manner he chooses, is also a change, as that wedding doesn’t really come into play at all until book 3, and I’m hazy as to whether it was first planned in CoK, or A Storm of Swords, but either way it’s different. The scene with Varys turning Ros into one of his “little birds”, so to speak, will assuredly pay off with some kind of new scene in the future, since it’s not in the books at all. Ros is a character that is simultaneously frustrating and intriguing, because she personifies the changes in the story, in a way, and just like the changes, I sometimes hate her, and other times find her great. What we can all agree on, is she has great breasts, and ultimately, great breasts make anything easier to accept.
In the book, Shae genuinely seems to care for Tyrion, which makes it such a shock when she is forced to betray him so terribly later on. The show did a lousy job showing this, right up until this added scene, with her telling him to leave all the BS behind, and go with her to live together. It’s very well acted, and genuinely tugs at the heartstrings to see such a big man, (in spirit), come to tears with emotion.
Over in Stannis’ camp, he starts to really wig out and choke the hell out of Lady Melisandre. This never happened in the book, since by this point, she has him totally around her finger. In the show though, he’s clearly questioning his judgment and trust of this woman, but she turns him once and for all, making him gaze into the fire, to see the visions she sees, cementing him as a R’hollor zealot. In the book, he’s been far gone for far longer. Back to Robb’s story, the main change of his continues, with his love for Talisa being proclaimed to his mother. She has a great dialogue that actually makes a solid argument for arranged marriage, but he’s not having it. In the books, if I remember correctly, I believe it’s at this point where he just drops Jeyne Westerling on her, revealing that he plans to break his deal with the Freys. Then again, this could be in Book 3, but regardless, he’s sealed his fate, and marries Talisa.
Theon’s story continues, showing new scenes between him and Maester Luwin, expressing great doubt over his decisions, and truly questioning everything he’s done to come to this point, where he’s facing almost certain defeat and death. It goes a long way towards making him a much more tragic character, rather than the lying, backstabbing bastard he was in the book. His speech and the subsequent interruption, beating and blackbagging by his own men is all new, since the book just shows the battle with Roose Bolton’s bastard attacking and allegedly killing Theon. Soon after, there’s a new scene showing Maester Luwin’s death, and he officially gives them their mission to go north, rather than the Reeds, like in the book.
Now, nearly everything about Daenerys’ scenes in the show at this point are different. Everything. Xaro Xoan Daxos didn’t have an empty vault, he didn’t turn Doreah heel, he didn’t get Amontillado’d by Dany as punishment. Her entire scenes inside the House Of The Undying where totally and absolutely different, in many ways. In the book, this is a much stranger scene, where she enters willingly after having drunk a potion made by Pyat Pree. She is given instructions to only take doors to the right, and only take stairs up. During her exploration, she sees many doors on the left, showing many prophetic visions of the past, future and things that couldn’t be. She eventually reaches the right door, and makes her way out, and all the readers collectively wonder what the hell they just read, until all of its prophetic meaning becomes obvious in later novels.
Here’s where they made one of the biggest changes in the whole series, and in my opinion one of the best. In the book, the House of the Undying is almost certainly illusory. It’s a trick, and while the prophecies it shows of the Red Wedding come true, the things happening in it, aren’t “Real” for lack of a better term. By not including these prophecies, the show runners have given us NEW, more subtle, and nearly fourth wall breaking prophecies to decipher. Fourth wall breaking, in that they’re for book readers and show watching alike, to both decipher. In particular, Dany entering the Iron Throne room, now broken and covered in snow, reeks of symbolic meaning that wasn’t in the book. Does this mean Winterfell will be breached by the icy threats north of the wall? Does it spell doom for Westeros, since this would mean that Jon and Nights Watch have failed their duty? This is further compounded, by showing her leave the room, exiting The Wall itself! Is it her fate to go north? What will she find there? The questions abound, but none of these changes and the new questions they raise rival the last big change, where Dany is reunited with Khal Drogo.
Aside from being one of the most emotionally impacting scenes in the show, it’s also one of the most curious. They both embrace each other, and both openly question what they are experiencing. As the viewer, we’re left to interpret this scenes’ “trueness”, and wonder if Dany really is speaking to Drogo here? I personally like the idea that this literally is a real section of the afterlife, and she literally is speaking to Khal Drogo’s spirit, who has spat upon his journey into the Night Lands, and has been waiting for her since. Also with him, is their unborn child, adding further question as to what exactly this place is, and the nature of it being an elaborate illusion, or an actual gateway into the afterlife.
It’s a scene akin to the buddhist belief in the Bardo, a word that translates to “intermediate state”, and is a religious concept, where one exists between the two states of existence, being after death and before rebirth. In this state, one’s consciousness isn’t connected with their physical body, and they see and experience a variety of phenomena, memories, and symbolic hallucinations. The show creates the possibility that Dany has entered this state via the House of The Undying, and is effectively getting her rebirth, prematurely via Drogo’s choice to wait for her, making this scene, and their love, truly unique and something revelatory in its importance for the show, and the finality of death therein.
Of course, I could be looking too much into it. I guess what I’m saying is, I really liked this change. A lot.
The last change, is the manner in which the Whitewalkers attack the Wall. Sam wasn’t there to see them, and the scene of him, Edd and Grenn hearing the horns and running in terror is taken from the prologue of the third book, only the book had three entirely new characters instead. It’s a change that left everybody clenching their teeth, ready for the REAL war to go down, and ended the season pretty perfectly, and I think, better than the book ended, which I don’t even remember.
That being said, the amount of changes the story has seen, while being seemingly minimal, are overall adding up. This is a going to be a continuing effect as the series goes on, as changes build upon more changes, and spiral either somehow back into the story we know, or diverge entirely into new things. I honestly can’t decide if it’s something I dread or look forward to, but it’s there, it’s happening, and we’ll have to accept it. That being said, I am optimistic, as the show in and of itself, is still excellent, and consistent within its own storytelling and development. Sometimes, change is good.
Episode 4: The Garden Of Bones.
The first difference I noticed from this episode was the new scene where Tyrion decides getting Joffrey some action could perhaps “cure” him of his awfulness. Of course we get to see Joffrey unleash his inner Patrick Bateman, and force the two unfortunate prostitutes to beat each other at crossbow-point. It’s a scene that is there to really drive home how utterly psychotic Joffrey is, but unnecessary ultimately, as everyone already hates the crap out of him. A big change comes, as Robb Stark meets and speaks with a field nurse who calls herself Talisa. This character is replacing the role of Jeyne Westerling, who in the book, Robb meets after being injured in battle, and she tends to his wounds. My guess is they wanted Robb to have a romance that wasn’t as suddenly introduced as it was in the novel, and to give some foreshadowing to the dire consequences he faces for this romance later in the series.
Truer words, Bronn. Truer words.
Next comes the biggest change in the show yet, where Arya, Gendry and Hotpie are taken to Harrenhal, and Gendry is nearly tortured by The Tickler for information. This is ended by the arrival of Tywin Lannister, who immediately recognizes her as a girl and makes her his cupbearer! The books had a long sequence of chapters with her serving as a cook, a washing maid, and finding herself adding more names to her long list of vengeance. In my opinion it was a welcome change, as the interaction between her and Tywin were very interesting and captivating. Being a book reader, those scenes were tense because they were new to me too.
When Daenerys gets to Qarth, the entire way she gets in is different in the show. In the book, she simply enters the city, as her scouts have gotten her appropriate permission previously. The three who would have her audience are Pyat Pree and Xaro Xoan Daxos. She visits Daxos’ palace, and Pyat Pree says the House of The Undying will welcome her. Much different from the show, where they nearly leave her to die outside of Qarth, until Daxos takes a personal interest and invokes a blood oath to let her in. Another difference, is Lord Baelish showing up to speak with Catelyn, lies about the Lannisters having Sansa and Arya captive and ready to trade for Jaime. He then presents Catelyn with Eddard Starks remains. This is pretty huge, as one of the big debates in the book fandom is what the fate of Eddard’s remains happens to be, and whether or not it is as significant as we think. The show however, seems to think he’s dead and gone, barring those remains actually being Neds’, and just another lie from someone as untrustworthy as Lord Baelish.
The last big change is the order in which we see the shadow babies presented. In the novel, Renly is killed, mysteriously by a shadow, and no explanation is given, other than it resembling Stannis. The scene with Davos taking Melisandre to the castle to birth it, is much later in the book. The shadow singlehandedly ends a siege overnight by slaying all the besieged, giving Stannis much more militaristic might nearly overnight. After two shadow babies being seen, Davos notes that Stannis looks visibly aged, by at least a decade, and it is implied that Melisandre is using his life force to make the dark things. The show has none of these details, and I feel, lessened the shock of Renlys’ death.
Episode 5: The Ghost of Harrenhal.
This episode is almost entirely scenes from the book, recreated with tweaks here and there. It touches on the subplot of Kings Landing starting to become restless from hunger, and gets to Tyrions plan using the wildfire. A notable change I could see was that he hasn’t commissioned all the cities’ blacksmiths to being making large chain links for him, which he’d later use at the battle of Blackwater. Here they seem content to only use the wildfire. The main new addition of course, is the scenes with Arya and Tywin playing mental chess. Accordingly, since Arya isn’t doing all of the different duties she had in the books, her first name from Jaqen is different, and has her first name be The Tickler. It’s a bit sad, as her stabbing the Tickler to death over and over again in the third book was a pretty great scene, but i’m sure they’ll keep it, or incorporate it in some way.
Episode 6: The Old Gods And The New.
In the books at this point, Jojen and Meeren Reed have been coaching Bran on his dreams, their meanings, and his latent abilities as a skin changer. They then bust him out of Winterfell, away from Theon and his iron men, by using Winterfell’s tunnels. The show has a similar thing to this, only with Osha seducing Theon, and lets Hodor escape with Bran and Rickon. Robb meets up with Talisa again, and plans his revenge with Roose Bolton to capture and execute Theon, while promising amnesty to all other Iron Men who give up. The scene with Ygritte was mostly how I remember it in the books, although the sexual teasing was a bit more exaggerated, with the scene of them having to huddle together for warmth. Sansa’s attack is actually shown in the show, in the book we simply see The Hound return with her as the riot begins, and she has a few bruises, rather than the truly vile attempt to rape her we see in the show. In both it is The Hound who rescues her. Another added scene with Arya and Tywin, this time she’s privy to a tactical discussion between Tywin and Lord Baelish, and it sets up an interesting plot thread of Lord Baelish possibly noting that ‘Arry’ is actually Arya. Of course, this being a new scene, it’s all speculation. Arya overhearing the war plans Tywin was making, manages to steal some war orders on paper, but is found out by Ser Amory Lorch. This leads to Arya’s second new name from Jaqen, and ends with a hilarious moment where Ser Amory literally drops dead at the door of Tywin’s room.
Message for you ser!
Then we come to the biggest change in Daenerys story yet, the kidnapping of her dragons. This straight up didn’t happen in the books, and it’s purpose in the show was to me, at the time, entirely unknown.
Episode 7: A Man Without Honor.
Sansa wakes up having had her first period, as she does in the novel, only now she has Shae there to sympathize with her, and even hunt down and threaten one of the handmaidens who had seen Sansa in such a state. It seemed as if her flowering was going to be kept secret, until The house appears, and has seen the bloody sheets they were trying to hide. In the book, Shae isn’t there at all, so all of this interaction was new. Another great new scene was yet another discussion between Arya and Tywin, and they discuss the legacy and conquest of Aegon The Conqueror. Tywin figures out Arya is lying about her past, and we’re all left to wonder just how much he does or doesn’t know, or is even letting on. The Harrenhal scenes between these two are very clearly a brilliant new addition, and i’m glad to see them every episode they’re in. The last big change is this episode, is the almost entirely new scenes of Daenerys in Qarth. Pyat Pree assassinates the Thirteen, leaving Xaro Xoan Daxo’s now the king of Qarth, and informs Dany her dragons are in the House of The Undying. In the book, Daxos’ wishes to wed Dany, initially to help her reclaim her throne, but it turns out to be that he plans to exploit some Qartheen marriage right, that the bride must give her newlywed husband a gift, and ti turns out Daxos was really after her dragons, (at least one) the whole time. In the book, Dany willingly enters the House of The Undying, as she is invited peacefully. These changes I initially had problems with, but only because the chapter where Dany goes to the House is such a great chapter, and I couldn’t wait to see it portrayed.
This scene was a great example of something happening onscreen that happened in the book, adapted even better than I thought possible. My mom literally started shouting at the screen and yelling “No! They can’t do that! NO!”, which was a far cry from my reaction when reading that chapter: “Oh. Bummer.”