Friday, May 2, 2014

Game of Thrones Season 4 Book Comparison and Review - Episodes 3 and 4

Has everyone recovered from episode two yet? Are we good? Episodes 3 and 4 provide some very important groundwork for the rest of the season. Follow me under the jump for more of an analysis and comparison to the Song of Ice and Fire book series and some speculation on what is to come. Any spoilers for future plot lines will be clearly labelled, spoilers up to and including episode 4 of season 4 of Game of Thrones.

Episodes three and four are comprised almost exclusively of new scenes or altered scenes from the book, which is surprising given how close to the book scenes from the Purple Wedding were kept.

I would argue that this was done most effectively in episode three and far less so in episode four, which I have to admit, I didn’t like at all.

We start with Sansa Stark getting whisked away by the Fool Sir Dontos and taken to none other than Littlefinger on a boat in the bay. I understand that the Sir Dontos storyline needed to be cut, in all honesty it’s quite tedious and there definitely isn’t a lot of time in the show to delve into more characters. I do think that using him in only one lead up episode was too little though. It makes very little sense why Sansa trusts him enough to flee the wedding with him or why he was linked to Littlefinger.

The death of Jofferey, much like season one’s assassination attempt on Bran, will take a very long time to play out and the pieces are not fully laid yet. We now know that theoretically, the culprit’s have been quickly revealed in the show. What we also know about this show though is that sometimes it is not those with the plan that are the most culpable. Interestingly, in episode three we see Littlefinger deliberately crush of one of the beads on Sansa’s necklace and throw the necklace back in the boat with Sir Dontos to be found. He claims in episode four that his alliance with the Lannister’s has served its purpose, but Littlefinger is always careful to make sure he has options on every side. He claim’s that his new allies (the Tyrell’s) wanted Jofferey gone, and Lady Olenna confirms this in her discussion with Margaery admitting her hand in Jofferey’s death or at least in the plot. If you look carefully in the Purple Wedding episode, you will see Lady Olenna play with Sansa’s necklace and remove something, presumably a bead of poison that we now know was used to kill Jofferey.

It is unclear in this episode with Littlefinger whether he is crushing another bead to make the point or to even out the beads on the necklace so that no one notices that one is missing. Regardless, although we might know that he and the Tyrell’s are close allies (and have been since he visited Renly’s camp all the way back in season two), we do not currently know in the show what he might want with both Sansa, her claim to Winterfell or the Eyre. From the book series it is clear that the Tyrell’s and the Dornish do not like one another, perhaps the use of poison was specifically to implicate Oberyn Martell and to fuel Dorne’s conflict with the Lannister’s.

Needless to say, Tywin Lannister is onto that, although many of his subsequent actions imply that he was well aware of the plot to kill his grandson and that because it worked to his advantage he allowed it to happen and is now using it instead to strengthen his alliances with the Dornish.

My favourite part of the exchange between Littlefinger and Sansa, however, was the perfectly executed point that Littlefinger makes, and that Sansa finally seems to understand, that ‘we are all liars here’. Indeed in episode four, Tyrion comments that Sansa is no assassin… yet. Littlefinger is well on his way to potentially grooming her into something like that, and given her little sister Arya also seems to be headed down this path it makes for some very interesting character development and analogies.

One of the most elegantly put together and stunning scenes in episode three, that is also not in the book, is Tywin Lannister speaking to Tommen Baratheon about what it means to be a King and grooming him for his first steps. Charles Dance is some kind of magician and the speech really illustrated his preference for Tommen over Jofferey. It’s nice to see Tommen seem a little less dim-witted than in the book series as well. He actually seems like he might understand what being a King means and he might learn how to play the game itself. He is of course, also being manipulated by Margaery and the Tyrell’s at the same time, so the game is on for who will have the new King’s trust and ear.

The scene between Cersei and Jamie in episode three, by comparison was monstrous. TW for sexual assault.

In the book Jamie has just returned from his long absence and Cersei has only just seen him again, missing hand and all. While a sex scene does take place and it is icky to say the least, it is reciprocal and Jamie’s only known way of comforting his sister and lover. The scene in the show has left a lot of people confused and dismayed as this was clearly a rape scene and not as the director has subsequently argued, about how Jamie and Cersei get off on depraved things. Jamie’s motivation for having sex there and then in the book was to comfort Cersei, not to ‘punish’ her for being ‘a cruel woman’. In fact, this undoes a lot of the building of Jamie’s character done with Brienne and the loss of his hand and does not make any sense in terms of where Jamie is headed. Many people have felt completely put off by his character in the show now, and I have to agree that it was not only in poor taste and ill fitting the characters and their relationship but also careless and misunderstood by the writing team. Not really sure how Jamie can redeem himself from this point. In addition, Jamie’s presence at the wedding and now this act, significantly change his motivations and his relationships. I am not sure how the writers will sell why he feels the way that he does from this point on. More in the spoiler section.

Lord Tywin’s conversation with Oberyn Martell was particularly well executed. I seriously do not remember there being that much sex in the book, but I guess that they want to keep their label as the show with the boobs and the blood. It tied in nicely though with Tywin’s resentment for prostitutes and those who are promiscuous and therefore with his current and past distain of the culture of Dorne (not that Oberyn is representative). He strikes a deal with Oberyn and claims that Westeros needs Dorne because they are the only ones who previously resisted the Targaryen’s and now Daenerys has three dragons and will soon come to stake her claim. He also offers revenge on the Mountain for what was done to Oberyn’s sister and his nephew and niece. Pay careful attention here, those playing at home, because this whole thing is really important to what you already know and what is yet to come. 

Tyrion, arrested for his nephew’s murder and awaiting trial, discovers that Oberyn has agreed to sit as a judge in his trial. He also learns that his Squire Pod has been approached to give evidence against him and tells him to flee. Before Pod goes, Tyrion asks if he will organise a meeting with Jamie. Jamie visits Tyrion and it seems clear that he does not believe Tyrion capable of murder. Although Jamie tells Cersei that his feelings about Tyrion are not bound with the commitment he made to Catelyn Stark to return her daughters to her, we see him send Brienne off to continue this particular quest and thus retain some of his honour. Pod sets off with Brienne as her squire.

Perhaps the most significant change thus far happens north of the Wall. We see Bran, Hordor, Meera and Jojen captured by the turned men of the Night’s Watch still at Craster’s Keep. This never happens in the books and perhaps has been done to speed up Bran’s story. Jon Snow also puts together a group to go to Craster’s Keep (something that also does not happen in the books) to stop the mutineers from telling Mance Rader how many men are actually in the Night’s Watch. Geography and timing aside – all of which seem completely out of whack in the show – this puts Bran and Jon directly in each other’s paths. 

We then see the White Walkers take a little baby boy, sacrificed as Craster had always done, be turned into a White Walker. As far as I know, this is not in the books. While we see that Craster has been sacrificing sons to the Walkers and that they are taken, we don’t know where or why. I always assumed that this was how the Walkers reproduced, but others thought that the Walkers were simply eating the children. At any rate, it’s a very significant revelation at this stage of the series, when we do not know Bran’s destiny or who the White Walkers might be.

The Song of Ice and Fire continues.

On Jamie and His Relationship With Jofferey – book spoilers

In the book series, Jamie reflects upon his return on Jofferey and the fact that although he is biologically Jofferey’s father, he has never felt anything fatherly for him. In fact, Jamie detests many of the things that Jofferey does and protects him in the beginning for Cersei. Fundamentally, Jamie considers himself in some regards as a good man for killing the Mad King (hence labelled King Slayer) because of what the king threatened to do to all. Jofferey was destined to become such a king, so what remorse could Jamie feel or reason to become attached to Jofferey now. In addition, he wasn’t at the Purple Wedding in the book, so he didn’t watch his son die. Reasonably then, he felt no responsibility for what happened (unlike as if he was already in the King’s Guard as in the show) and could continue to side with Tyrion in the trial and subsequent outcome. I wonder whether people feel that Tyrion and Jamie are close enough in the show for what Jamie will do for Tyrion in the episodes to come. I wonder also if this change in motivation will make Jamie less likable and less of a hero they way that he has grown to become in the book as he rapes his sister and he feels no responsibility or sadness for his son in the show, despite evens unfolding before him.


  1. ugh, have been waiting for your response. it's such a rollercoaster - whenever cuts and redirects are made from the book to the tv show I'm usually impressed at home well they've pulled it all together, but this has been a pretty crazy pair of episodes. cheers bro xx

    1. Yeah, they have been pretty unimpressive as far as things go; especially episode four. I nearly decided to stop watching because I was so worried it was ruining plot arcs and characters for me. Some of the episode three acting was great though.