Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Game of Thrones Episode 3.07 Book Comparison and Review

What was that? Seriously. That was the worst episode of Game of Thrones I've ever seen. A friend who has not read the book series described this season as disjointed. This is how it feels, like a cobbled together clip show and the characterisation is suffering as a result. The episodes are relying more and more on shock value and pace to tell the story and it's clear that the complexity is getting the better of the writers.

There have been some significant changes made in this episode, so under the jump you'll find some theories as to why things have changed and what this could mean for future plotlines.

Please be aware, this post will contain potential spoilers for the end of this season of Game of Thrones and the end of book 1 of A Storm of Swords. All future book series spoilers will be labelled beforehand so that you can skip if you don't want to know.

Okay, let's take a look at The Bear and the Maiden Fair.

This episode comes across as a series of conversations and very little else. Each character converses with one other person in the scene to drop hints about their destinies and the end of the season. In the context of the broader story, there's a lot that doesn't add up. But for a moment let's talk about what worked.

The scene between Sansa and Margaery was fantastic. Margaery demonstrates great care for Sansa and tries to educate her about sex and the role that women can play in their own future, whether it is educating their children and influencing their husbands or something more. Margaery makes reference to all of the different types of sex and men, and Sansa enquires if she has learned this from her mother. She looks at Sansa for a beat before saying that she had learned this from her mother. It is clear to the viewer that Margaery has learned this from experience, giving weight to the idea in the book series that she isn’t exactly as she seems and is certainly not a virgin. This does cause some minor conflicts with hints given in later books, but hopefully nothing worth worrying about yet. Margaery in the series gets to play out a lot more complexity and I am really loving Natalie Dormer’s performance.

Rose Leslie continues to be witty and fantastic as Ygritte. Her one liners and her inquisitiveness are great to watch. Her verbal spars with Kit Harrington as Jon are great, so it’s a shame that the second she touches him the two of them completely fall apart. There’s no point of talking about her or Jon at this stage. They’d make for interesting siblings but their sexual relationship just has not sparked. What was important in this episode though is that Jon told Ygritte that he thought they were all going to be killed, that they aren’t a true army and that they don’t know what they are walking into.

Orell’s scene with Ygritte was another interesting one, indicating not only his interest in her but the truth behind his disdain for Jon. He obviously knows something that everyone else doesn’t. This may become clearer later on as Orell in the television series is a combination of two characters and it is difficult to determine how important he is in the show at this stage.

Tywin’s imposing discussion with King Joffrey was amazing. He has such presence and knowledge and it is clear what he thinks of his grandson and what he will allow him to get away with. Tywin has been around the block a few times, he knows what he is doing. This is not a scene from the books, but it fits – it’s no stretch to imagine that this conversation could have taken place in A Storm of Swords. Cinematically the scene was stunning, the empty room made for a theatre like performance with Joff slouched in the iconic iron throne. Beautiful.

Daenery’s was sublime in that new power gown, receiving the slave master of Yunkai in the kind of fashion that makes her unquestionably a badass. The dragons are getting bigger and the CG work is brilliant. Drogon is starting to scare me, and so he should. I loved her deliberate and calm negotiation, how wise she seems. It’s a coming of age for her in this season, and though she still has a lot to learn, standing by her principles is something that she feels she needs to do if she is to be respected as queen. This is my favourite time for her.

So while there were things that were done well, overall, there was a lot to be discouraged by. I’m only going to touch on a few things here, but suffice to say, it was all very messy and disjointed.

My main concern was the reveal that Tallisa is pregnant and, while she could be lying, this has been the discussion of many people in the Song of Ice and Fire world. The following paragraph contains spoilers for all of A Storm of Swords, so please skip to the next paragraph if you do not want to know.

Tallisa, as most of you know, replaces Jeyne Westerling from the book series. In A Storm of Swords, Robb was not sure Jeyne was pregnant when he departed for the Red Wedding (leaving her at Riverrun). This meant that the heir to Winterfell was Tyrion, as he had married Sansa. To prevent Wintefell falling into Lannister hands, Robb declared his bastard brother Jon Snow legitimate, and his heir, much to his mother’s disbelief. This made Jon a true Stark, and means that he would have the North if he left the Wall. The concern is that, if Tallisa is pregnant, Robb will have no reason to make this declaration, which has many repercussions. It changes not only the motivations of those who will seek Jon out in future, but also which kinds of people will seek him out. Additionally, it was an indication of Robb’s love and respect for Jon, and this is integral to the future of the story and who Jon’s birth parents might really be. I think it’s a huge mistake and deviation if she is indeed pregnant. Similarly, she mentions she is writing a letter to her mother in High Valarian, it is possible she will still betray Robb, though in the book Jeyne didn’t realise she was part of any deception. I am not sure what will be achieved by definitely having Tallisa pregnant.

Regardless, I still shuddered every time they spoke to each other. Every time Robb talks about how much he loves her I get mad. This change in motivation means a lot to the overall story.

We see Melisandre take Gendry to King’s Landing and the Blackwater wreckage, and she tells him who he really is. Although this is fantastic in some ways, it is potentially destructive in others. Firstly, yet again, it is ridiculous for them to be travelling where they are, and certainly to detour into the Blackwater. There is just no reason for them to be there and, furthermore, no sense of how long these journey’s take – great care is taken in the books to consistently deal with issues of time and distance. In relation to Gendry’s future storyline, this could also pose problems. Skip the next paragraph if you do not want to know what happens in A Feast for Crows.

As we know, Gendry remained with the Brotherhood Without Banners. It is Edric Storm, another bastard of Robert Baratheon, whose blood is used by Melisandre to ‘kill’ the other kings. Davos helps Edric to escape and perhaps this will still happen with Gendry. In Feast, Gendry is present when the Brotherhood Without Banners captures Brienne of Tarth and is part of that story, and whether he would return to the Brotherhood who sold him out seems unlikely. I had thought that he had more to come in terms of Brienne’s story. Also, in the books, Gendry still does not know who he is, which may be significant.

As I watched the fight between Brienne, Jamie and the Bear go down I got very confused. Why was Locke just standing there? Why weren’t the men DOING anything? We’d just been mocking Jamie’s negotiation skills, surely he didn’t just talk them out the door? What happened? It seems silly that Locke would react the way that he did. And then I remembered, in A Storm of Swords Locke is of course, Vargo Hoat, a cruel and unusual man. Vargo and his men are drunk and their numbers significantly dwindled with the departure of both Lord Bolton and Jamie and his escort. Vargo tries to rape Brienne and she bites off part of his ear. Because of this, Vargo throws Brienne into the bear pit with a wooden sword. When Jamie arrives and dives into the pit to save her, the bear is shot multiple times and killed by Bolton’s men, there is no dramatic and implausible Jamie clambering up the side with one hand. Vargo doesn’t stand by; the bear is dead and his men drunk and outnumbered. This certainly doesn’t appear to be the case in the show. Pitiful. Though it makes me think that they might not include what happens to Vargo/Locke later in the series.

Finally, the scene where Theon loses his bits was harrowing, and while Alfie and Iwan were fantastic again in their performances, I am starting to get the feeling that not only does this plot make little sense in the context of the show, but it’s also gratuitous and that is what the show has become, a dumbed down version of season one with more boobs, violence gruesome death and torture porn. I have always found George R. R. Martin to include atrocities when they are necessary to convey an important plot point. This is not important and is just sick gratuitous violence. In the book series, Theon is tortured, but it is not described in as much details for as long and we know the motivations behind Ramsay and the story of Reek. They could have left Theon out this season and even had him come back at the end, maimed and broken, but without us having to watch this happen. It’s not relevant to watch it happen to him, it’s only relevant that it did happen. For viewers of the show only, this whole plotline must just be confusing. Certainly, friends of mine have told me that their friends who have not read the book series feel that this plot just isn’t going anywhere. It saddens me because in A Dance With Dragons, when Theon does turn up alive and broken, he is one of the most interesting characters and has one of the most interesting plots in the story. Significantly, he is one of the few people remaining who can identify any of the remaining Stark’s with any validity and this becomes important as the series continues.


  1. So Theon actually DID get castrated? I thought little theon was just getting flayed. I might have missed it, but I don't remember any specific maiming details beyond hands and feet in the books.

  2. We discussed this before it happened as well. It seems a couple of us remember a vague reference to no longer having his manhood and hence having to 'pleasure' in other ways. I was never sure it was everything, but it was hinted. Rick remembered it was the whole lot and Mark didn't remember there being any hint of anything.

    Go figure. I guess George likes to keep things vague, like the way it's never overtly stated in the book that Renly and Loras were into each other.

    1. I think i remembered the "not having his manhood" thing, but in the context I think I assumed they meant he was so mentally broken that he couldn't maintain an erection anymore. ah well. RIP the only penis in GoT.

  3. Really, its nice information, I read this whole and carefully. This covers the all required thing. I can say that you make a real effort, Please keep this continue.