Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Game of Thrones 3.03 and 3.04 Book Comparison

Well, season three of HBO’s Game of Thrones is now taking off at lightning speed, and with it, a lot of speculation from book lovers and show lovers alike. The last two episodes have been well crafted and jam packed. I’m starting to wonder how much each of these actors get paid because they usually only have a scene or two per episode now, some are not in the episode at all.

Time for another comparison between the book trajectory and where the show is headed; what new clues are we getting and what is meeting our wild expectations. Winter is coming, and you are a long way from home.

More under the jump.

In 3.03 we are introduced to Edmure Tully and the Blackfish, Catelyn’s uncle. The scene where we see Edmure miss lighting his father’s funeral pyre three times with a flaming arrow was hysterical. Uncle Blackfish, disgruntled, saves the day with the kind of shot that he doesn’t even need to watch; Hawkeye eat your heart out. Both Edmure and Blackfish are perfectly cast and the timing of their two scenes in the episode really illustrated just how daft Edmure is, how much of a bustling buffoon and all round wet blanket, and how majestic the Blackfish is. I really couldn’t ask for more. I did get a glimpse of more though, when Robb finally showed he is a little more strategic than the show makes him out to be. He delivers a scathing dismissal of Edmure’s disobedience that has resulted in Robb’s plans unravelling. More of that Robb please, though I hold no further hope, they have ruined that character for me. In the book by now, Robb is respected as a strategic war lord, not dismissed as a childish fool.

Also of note in 3.03 is the epic plotline where Jamie Lannister loses his sword hand. How perfectly that was done. As it turns out, they included Vargo Hoat although named Locke for some reason. The game he plays with Jamie is magnificent, and as someone who knew it was coming, I still felt completely sick. Knowing is possibly worse. When I read that part in the book it was done differently, it was sudden and immediate upon meeting Jamie and Brienne. This delivery is more ominous and calculated and given we haven’t spent any time with Hoat or learning about the legends around him, this serves to deliver more fear as to what he is capable of. The way the hand slough’s off just makes you want to hurl. Amazingly paced and played.

Theon is chased by a group of his captors, and rescued from a brutal rape after catching a mace in the chest by our mysterious (or not so mysterious) friend the sweeper who takes all the men out with precision shooting. Looks like Hawkeye has even more competition. At this stage, I thought it was pretty obvious that he isn’t who he says he is, how can someone shoot like that without training? But it serves its purpose perhaps in that non-book readers would start to wonder who he is and whether this is a trap.

But it’s 3.04 that really floated my boat; so many interesting character developments and superb performances.

Brienne and Jamie’s friendship is taking off exactly how I would like it to, and deeply reflects the bond that they share in the book. The performances are heartfelt and subtle and Brienne’s influence on Jamie and how he carries on in life is clearly illustrated in this episode. Watching Jamie stumble, fail at using his other hand to flight, be tricked into drinking horse piss, have to carry his rotting hand around his neck, none of that serves to do anything but encourage sympathy for his situation. This will ultimately end in readers and viewers alike considering Jamie to be one of the best characters and I would also suggest one of the most well loved.

Also turning that corner in the book is Theon in his transformation into Reek, one of my favourite characters. As we get closer to watching his torment I become increasingly afraid that this won’t be as good as it was in the book, and at the same time anxious to see it play out as this is all new information that was inferred before. Alfie Allen and Iwan Rheon are incredible in this episode and gave me exactly what I had hoped for. To the book readers who know that this sweeper is in fact Ramsay Bolton, the Bastard of Roose, and has been sent to find out what became of the Stark boys and why Theon did what he did, they know that this is the real confession. This allowance for Theon to believe he is in the clear results in a full breakdown of why he did what he did. This is what makes Theon redeemable and identifies that he did not kill the children and burn them, but he let it happen. As it’s Ramsay who commits that act in the books we become wise to his lust for torture and his twisted and depraved ideas of how to treat human beings. Theon says that he could never be a Stark, could never be Robb’s brother, all the while, written on his face that he was in fact Robb’s closest brother. He finally, emotionally comes clean that Ned Stark was his true father, and he chose wrong when he tried to return to the Iron Isle and win Baylon Greyjoy’s affection in a fit of anguish and rage. It’s nuanced and perfect for those of us who empathise with Theon’s story, he is just the poster boy of bad decision making and a hard childhood. Never the less, just as Theon believes he is saved he is returned to exactly the same apparatus he thought he had escaped. Ramsay gleefully says that Theon escaped and killed the others, and to put him back where he belongs. Whether this was an order as some interpreted it or just sheer favour currying is immaterial, the point is that whether these are Ramsay’s men or Bolton’s men, the lies work to his favour and Theon ends up exactly where Ramsay wants him. Brilliant.

Magarey continues her skilful manipulation of Joffery while we are treated to more Lady Olenna which I am loving. Tywin just about takes Cersei’s ears off by telling her what we were all thinking in the books “I mistrust you because you are not as smart as you think you are”. Ricky and I fist-bumped. We get to see Beric Donarrion finally, and though he is not as handsome as he is described in the book, he certainly has the charisma to pull the story off. The Knights Watch is in complete disarray as mutiny leads to the death of the Lord Commander and Sam fleeing with Gilly and her child. Vary’s schemes and plots and tells the story of how he was cut which was almost as startling as it was in the book. We are then told that Varys is the one who hatches the plot with Olenna to marry off Sansa and use her. Though there is some inkling in the book that the Tyrell’s were playing at more than charity with wanting to marry Sansa into the family, Varys being the culprit is interesting indeed, especially given Olenna’s involvement in Joffery’s wedding and in that event with Little Finger. Still, changing the planned wedding to Loras in the show makes sense, rather than introducing a new crippled brother. I liked Willas in the books, and I thought it spoke more to Sansa’s character development in the book that she could come to love a crippled man who wasn’t this glorified person she has developed Loras into.

And of course, we finally get Daenerys laying absolute waste to Astapor and commanding her army of Unsullied, freeing the slaves and showing the slavers that she is the Queen of Dragons. That scene should have perhaps been longer, as the book really revelled in this being her first true showing as a Targaryen and ruler. She was magnificent nonetheless. When she speaks Valyrian and says that it is her mother tongue before commanding her Unsullied to kill all slavers and having Drogon burn the head slaver she is a Queen. Then, mounted on her white horse she frees the Unsullied and they elect to fight for her as free men, as she leads them out, dragons in the sky. Emilia Clarke is truly amazing. Dany continues to both awe from brilliance and from stupidity and I think the show has done a great job of making her more Queenly and brave.

Speculation is running rife, especially given that those things the show includes are fundamentally important to George R R Martin’s ultimate game plan.

This week we have been discussing who the three heads of the dragon are, and someone made an interesting comment. What if Jon is a red herring. What if he is not the half Targaryen. What if Jamie and Cersei are? We know that the Mad King often jibed at Tywin, saying that he bedded Joanna Lannister on her wedding night, at the disrobing. In which case, the three dragon heads could be Dany, Cersei and Jamie. I can’t quite roll with Cersei being the head of a dragon, but she is certainly crazy. Jon is perhaps Azor Ahai reborn legitimately, but not a Targaryen. The current theory that he is the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen is still my favourite, but that makes him a head of the dragon, which also makes sense, making who the third? Aegon if he’s a real Targ? That seems to be in dispute anyway.

What do you think?


  1. On the three heads of the dragon...

    Remember in book one...Lyanna Stark in her deathbed...blood and flowers and the line "Promise me, Ned..."

    #2's gotta be Jon. As for #3...maybe Aegon...but I think not. I don't have any better options though...maybe in the next couple books

    1. Oh I'm totally with you on Jon, Jamie and Cersei are just an interesting idea that someone came up with. I fully believe Jon is Lyanna's kid. Don't worry. I got you. The other interesting theory I read is that as most of us believe Aegon is actually a Blackfyre Targ, maybe the REAL Aegon is actually out there somewhere posing as someone else. This theory suggest that Darkstar - Gerold Dayne is actually the real Aegon Targaryen and that the Blackfyre Targ son of Illeryio and his wife is Young Griff given to John Connington as a decoy.

  2. Interesting! That could explain who Illeryio is and what his stake in all of this could be...I've been wondering that since he and Varys were discussing it in king's landing with eavesdropping Arya waaaay back in book one! It must be more than just opportunistic, I'd think!