Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Game of Thrones: 3.08 Book Comparison and Review

Game of Thrones: Second Sons was only marginally better than last week’s Bear and the Maiden Fair, offering gratuitous boobs and a slower plot line. There are a few things to compare to A Storm of Swords here that make for an interesting look at where the show is taking the characters and what this might mean for their futures.

You’ll find some musings under the jump. There are spoilers up to the end of A Storm of Swords, and hints to the story of A Feast for Crows in this article.

Off the bat, the gratuitous female nudity in the show is getting old. If it served to further the plot in some way I could appreciate it, but as it currently stands it appears to be a hook for casual viewers and a tagline for the show; watch the show with boobs and violence. Personally, I feel like this is disrespectful to the complexity of the story that George R. R. Martin has told in his Song of Ice and Fire series.

In Second Sons we saw Gendry get seduced by Melisandre, and I could have taken this as necessary if she was making a shadow baby with him. As it turned out, she just needed to leech some blood from him. So why get naked? And why throw a leech on his cock for good measure? Heavy petting would have been more than enough not to “let the lamb see the knife”. Ridiculous. All of this strange wooing that Melisandre is doing on screen is taking away from her mysteriousness and darkness as cultivated in the book and basically making her seem like a nymphomaniac. It’s disappointing.

Those familiar with the books will have realised that Gendry is standing in for Edric Storm, sent to Stannis for his King’s blood, leeched to prove there is power in it, and he will then presumably be spirited away and protected by Davos. I feel it is clear that Melisandre intended a lot more for Edric in the novels, and would have similar designs on any other bastard of Robert’s she can catch. Unfortunately for her, most of them are already dead, making those that remain - we know of Edric, Gendry and Mya Stone at the Vale - important to the future of her plans. Shifting Gendry into Edric’s storyline is a way of reducing the cast and allowing more focus and characterisation of Gendry. While I am all for this, a couple of things must be questioned. As Gendry is seen with the Brotherhood Without Banners in the future, is there a TV plotline that has not been written yet that will return Gendry to the Brotherhood in order to fulfil his storyline, or will he follow Edric Storm’s path now? If he will be returned, how is he going to justify returning to a group of people who sold him out to Melisandre? If he will take Edric’s path, will the changes made by the show influence GRRM into ending Gendry’s role in the book as a consequence of this change? Or perhaps the show will have Gendry go to the Vale and take Mya Stone’s role? Regardless, this demonstrates that Robert Baratheon’s bastards are valuable pawns in Melisandre’s, and perhaps some other players, game.

The other nudity that we see in the episode is in Daenerys’ confrontation with Daario Naharis who brings her the heads of his comrades and pledges her his allegiance. This could have served as a show of power in a moment where Daenerys would have been very vulnerable. Unfortunately it didn’t read as majestic, but as awkward and overplayed. Daenerys’ meeting with Daario in the book was not in this manner as far as I can remember.

Daario is also Tyroshi in the book series, with blue hair and becomes captain of the Stormcrows, not the Second Suns. His appearance was perhaps changed in the television series to indicate his attractiveness to Daenerys and to the audience, as a man with blue curly hair, a blue three pronged beard and loudly coloured clothes might not have gone down as well. Regardless, we have seen very little of other, more foreign, cultures in Westeros and across the Narrow Sea. Everyone seems vaguely British. The Dothraki were a notable exception, but mostly out of necessity. Here we have an opportunity to see some more diversity, but we get another clean and handsome looking white man.

Although I understand the need to cut characters, I am also sad that a lot of Daenerys’ Dothraki companions and indeed her Bloodriders have been cut from the story. They are a wonderful reflection of who she is and where she has come from and their disappearance makes it difficult to view her as Khaleesi still.

North of the Wall we see Sam Tarly and his Wildling companion Gilly encounter a White Walker. Sam stabs the Walker with his knife made of obsidian “dragon glass” (is that clear in the television show?) and the Walker bursts apart like Buffy’s vampires. Sam, of course, moments after being awesome, leaves the knife on the ground and runs off with Gilly. What? We were long overdue for Sam The Slayer finding out that the dragon glass could kill Walkers, and in the novels his knowledge was passed on to the Night’s Watch at Craster’s Keep, just before Lord Mormont is killed. It is going to be a long time before he and Gilly make it back to Castle Black and can therefore pass this knowledge on; =in the novels, it is after the Battle of Castle Black. Regardless, the importance of dragon glass and what it is has not been thoroughly explored in the show, which makes for confusing viewing.

Finally, Sansa and Tyrion’s wedding was done almost exactly as in the book. The nuances of emotion that were portrayed were fantastic. Sansa begins with some measure of humility and grace, but at the age of 14 she quickly descends into disgust. She doesn’t realise how lucky she is to have been wed to Tyrion, who respects her, puts his neck on the line to avoid the bedding ceremony and who tells her she does not need to sleep with him unless she wants to, despite his father’s instructions. One of the moments in the book that translated beautifully to the screen was Sansa’s cloaking. Standing there, unaware of Tyrion’s height and desperate not to kneel, she adds greater shame to her new husband who is sparing her so much of it. Both Peter Dinklage and Sophie Turner gave incredible performances.

Additional scenes included Cersei’s encounters with Margaery and Loras as well as the Tyrells reflecting on their lot in the game. Cersei and Margaery’s conversation was exquisite, allowing Cersei to explain her father’s role in the downfall of the Reynes of Castamere at exactly the right time – one hopes that the audience made the link with the song we’ve been hearing for two seasons now - as well as warning Margaery of her malice towards her. Although this is not a scene in the book, we can imagine that this happened. Similarly, we can imagine Olenna making quips about the fate of the Tyrells and how they will be related to the Lannisters, though as Loras was never set to marry Cersei this wouldn’t have been quite so intricate. Loras’ scene with Cersei is obviously not from the books but serves to show Cersei’s disgust for the whole situation. Whether she will end up marrying Loras, which would be a very big deviation from the book series, remains to be seen.

Next week... the Red Wedding. Let’s hope they pull this off.

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