Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Game of Thrones 3.10: Mhysa

Hello and welcome to the FINALE (sniff!) of season 3 of Game of Thrones. As always I’m joined by my own Jaqen, Christopher Lockett, who hears my “Valar Morghulis” call each week to come to me so we can discuss this great show. And occasionally he offs people I don’t like. 

Oops... I have said too much.

So let’s get started. There’s a lot to talk about.

Nikki: Well, I, for one, am never eating pork sausage again.

This week was the season finale of Game of Thrones, and while for most TV shows, the season finale is where it all happens, GoT loves to lay that stuff out in the penultimate episode, leaving the finale as the one where we try to breathe again, grieve a little bit, and then start crying all over again that we have to wait a whole year for the next season. And that was pretty much what this episode did. A letdown from last week’s, yes, but it was pretty hard to top the Great Stark Massacre of 2013.

Let’s start with the character reactions to the Red Wedding:

Joffrey: Laughing like a maniacal hyena
Cersei: Calm acceptance
Tywin: Triumph
Tyrion: This is a really, really bad idea. The shizz is gonna hit the fan.
Arya: Angry, empty, murderous
Bran: Doesn’t know
Theon: A little bit busy right now!!

The Lannisters were missing from last week’s episode (other than Tywin being the hand that was dealing the blow from afar) and so they return, with Joffrey being an even bigger shit than he’s ever been, and Tyrion at this season’s best.

First we see Tyrion and Sansa walking through the garden (with Shae sadly following behind) and you can see that Sansa is actually warming up to him as a friend and not an enemy. She’s no longer sulking in her bedroom about having to marry him, but instead is treating him like a BFF, explaining a really good prank that her sister used to pull on her. But when she believes that “sheep shit” is actually pronounced “sheep shift,” probably because that’s what her parents told her to prevent her from cursing, there’s a look of sad bemusement on Tyrion’s face, as if he’s once again reminded that he’s married a little girl.

The highlight of the episode, for me, is the small council, where Joffrey is so insanely happy he can’t even stand still, bouncing around behind Tywin’s chair like a goofy little monkey, squeaking, “Show him! Show him!” and practically throwing the scroll in Tyrion’s face. Joffrey lives in the moment, hopping about in a “Yippee, we won!!!” kind of way. Tywin is stoic and pragmatic, with a smugly victorious look on his face, convincing himself that by offing the King of the North, he has saved thousands of lives. (That’s his story and he’s stickin’ to it.) Tyrion is instantly hesitant, and tells his father, “The Northerners will never forget.” Tywin doesn’t care. “Good. Let them remember what happens when they march on the South.”

The best part of this scene is that despite Tyrion and Tywin being on opposite sides of the moral coin on this one, they both take out their feelings on Joffrey. Giddy King D-Bag excitedly instructs Pycelle to have Robb’s head sent to them, because he wants to serve it to Sansa on a platter for her wedding. Tyrion reminds him that “she is no longer yours to torment,” but the little shit will have none of it, reminding them all that HE IS THE KING and that Tyrion is just a little monster. Tyrion’s response — “Then you’d better be careful. Monsters are dangerous and just not kings are dying like flies” — is priceless, but immediately topped by Tywin telling his stupid little grandson that “Any man who has to say ‘I am the king’ is no king.” But he catches himself quickly, and tells Joffrey — who is now as livid as he was excited earlier — that he needs to lie down, that it’s all been too taxing. “You just sent the most powerful man in Westeros to bed without his supper,” sneers Tyrion.

And Tywin reminds him that no, Joffrey is not the most powerful man in Westeros. Before, of course, explaining to Tyrion that the only reason he didn’t kill the imp at birth is because he’s a Lannister.

Let's all look back on this particular moment with fondness, shall we? And yes, you are WELCOME:

The game has gotten more complicated, and the ties that bind this family have weakened. Tyrion isn’t just a Lannister anymore, he’s married to a Stark. This massacre hits home in a way the death of Ned Stark simply didn’t, and when he returns to his chamber to find Sansa with a look on her face that tells him the little girl has just been forced to grow up, he can do nothing but turn and slowly walk away. Trapped between two families, Tyrion doesn’t know where his loyalties lie. And to me, that makes him even more interesting than he’s been before.

Brilliantly acted all around, this scene is definitely a highlight of the series.

What were your thoughts on the season 3 finale, Chris?

Christopher: My initial response—which seems to be echoed on the interwebz thus far—was: Really? That’s it? But on reflection, and watching the final episode again, I revise my opinion to: Nicely done. As you say, GoT has made a practice of putting the big action into the penultimate episodes. Daenerys having her messianic moment wasn’t quite as awesome as seeing her emerge sooty and naked with dragons, or seeing the frozen army of the dead, but it will do. And in a number of ways, it makes season four that much more alluring—ending with the Red Wedding, or the Battle of the Blackwater, or Ned Stark’s death would have been shocking … but they also would have offered finalities. After this episode, we look forward to: (1) the continuing escapades of Arya and the Hound (now including extra homicidal Arya!) edition; (2) the Bran: North of the Wall edition; (3) the Jon Snow: Wildlings! Wildlings! edition; (4) the Balon Greyjoy “Oh crap, one of those leeches bore my name” edition; (5) the Stannis: Who Am I Allowed to Kill Now? edition; and of course (6) the Tyrion: I Hate My Family edition.

So … you know, a lot to get to next season.

You might never eat pork sausage again, but holy crap, I will never again date a redhead. I mean, really … a little, slight, misunderstanding, and she puts not one, not two, but three arrows into you? Jeebus. What’s up with that?

Sniff... I had such high hopes for Ygritte and Jon Snow.

Once again, the Jon-Ygritte moments are so good. So we’re clear: this scene was not in the novel. Jon takes an arrow in the leg as he flees the wildlings (which was, admittedly, shot from Ygritte’s bow), but the confrontation they have here is an invention of the show. I love so much that she shoots him repeatedly as he leaves her … to have had her sob and lower her bow would have been somehow a betrayal of her character. Of course she shoots him. Perhaps she misses his vital bits on purpose … or perhaps not.

But to return to the question of pork sausage … finally, we now know the identity of Theon’s torturer, and all of us who have the read the novels can stop bouncing up and down in our seats with theatrically sealed lips. Ramsay Bolton: and I cannot remember if Roose specifies that he is a bastard or not. In the novels, Ramsay is Ramsay Snow, a bastard boy Roose got on a peasant woman in his lands. He looks different from how he’s described in the novels—GRRM describes him as thick-necked and broad-shouldered, with a plain dull face. But they got two elements spot on, namely his crazy eyes and his thick, wet lips.

The one hint we had as to his identity, I should mention, is the sigil we’ve seen Bolton’s men carrying: the image of the flayed man, upside down against an x-shaped cross—the same kind of cross on which Theon is (admittedly upright) pinioned.

The scene with Theon and Ramsay was at once incidental and crucial. Nothing really happened … having gelded Theon, Ramsay doesn’t seem interested (for the moment) in continued the torture aside from taunting him with a length of sausage. But he does want to assert his dominance: having robbed Theon of his manhood and his dignity and his pride, he now wants to rob him of his name. Reek. His name is now Reek, as everyone who has read the novels knew it would become.

Again, we see torture here at work not in the name of interrogation but as a process of destroying a person. Roose’s resigned words about his son give us all we really need to know—that Ramsay is a man given to his own whims and enthusiasms, which apparently mostly involve pain and torment. That Roose doesn’t seem overly chagrined at his son’s distractions is a dire reflection on how the new Warden of the North will rule his subjects—and reminds us that his family’s sigil is a flayed man.

What did you think of the Theon sequence, Nikki?

Nikki: As soon as Ramsay was identified as Bolton’s, I said, “I knew it!!!” to my perplexed husband. Last week’s episode made me sit up and notice Bolton in a way I hadn’t before. He’s willing to carry out the task at the Red Wedding, pitting him against the Starks but on side with the Lannisters and the Freys. He’s the one who captured Jaime and is responsible for Jaime losing a hand (while pretending he’s sorry about that) so that makes him a complicated and interesting character, and I thought if he’s somehow behind the Theon abduction, it would put him up against the Greyjoys. I thought the kid was working for him, not that he’d come from him. Near the end of the episode they referred to him as Ramsay Snow, which was the tip-off that he was Roose’s bastard. And what a bastard he is. I wasn’t sure what I thought of Theon’s sister last season, but this season, in her only appearance, I believe, she really steps up and becomes completely badass. Once again, it’s the women who come off as strong on this show: when the father’s being a prick, it’s Yara who says fine, I’m going to war.

As for Theon, each week I try to like him, but I can’t find it in me. I just found out he’s Lily Allen’s brother Alfie (she wrote that song about him) and he’s engaged to Ray Winstone’s daughter, so that should make him seriously cool. But nope. Just can’t find it in myself to like the character AT ALL. I have no doubt he reeks. The name works for me.

And yes, the Ygritte/Jon Snow thing was shocking, but like you I loved that she shot him; if she’d just stood there and let him ride away I would have been really disappointed. He tells her that he loves her, and he knows that she loves him, but we know that they just can’t be together. She’s devoted to the wildlings and he’s devoted to the Night’s Watch and his world south of the Wall. He looks at her and tells her that he knows she won’t shoot him. And then BAM, shoots him. Oh Jon Snow, you really know nothing.

After so many near misses in the last episode — Bran doesn’t quite run into Jon Snow; Arya doesn’t make it to the Twins in time to be reunited with her family — we finally get three big reunions. The first of these is Bran meeting with Sam. Now, while this isn’t technically a reunion, it’s two groups that we’ve been following coming together and finding a common ground. I loved that Sam knew exactly who Bran was, and recognized Hodor (and the bashful look that Hodor gives when he says that; part of me wanted Hodor to look down at the ground, clasp his hands, drag the toe of his shoe in the dirt and say, “Hodor” sweetly). Of course, it was just a brief meeting where Bran expresses his desire and reason to go north of the Wall, and where Sam gets to play hero by giving the daggers to the group. Sam continues on to Castle Black, and where he left a schlubby loser, he returns a hero, telling the Maester what’s coming, sending out the ravens to tell the rest of Westeros, and then ordering the others to take Jon Snow inside and help him. (That’s the second reunion of the episode.)

Did the Bran and Samwell bits play out similarly in the book, Chris?

Christopher:   You can’t even bring yourself to like Theon after his cameo on Gay of Thrones? Harsh.

Yes, the Samwell bits are pretty spot on—the only difference (which was a bit disappointing for me and, I assume, other readers) is that in the novel, the way underneath the Wall is guarded by a magical weirwood gate that will only open for a brother of the Night’s Watch. I was hoping that they’d show that, but I guess since it doesn’t really play a crucial role, the opted to save some money.

There is also another missing element that I won’t mention for fear of spoilers. Suffice to say we might be meeting another north-of-the-Wall character at the start of season four.

I really enjoyed the Sam bits in this episode, especially considering his stammering explanations to Maester Aemon provide some of the only levity (“It’s not what it looks like,” says he to the blind man. Ha!). And we see how he returns a hero in more ways than one: Gilly by this point is obviously taken with him, seeing him not as a fat craven but a courageous and caring man—and someone, moreover, who does not possess a speck of cruelty. After her life with Craster, it’s unsurprising she looks at Sam with such a wondering expression all the time.

And she feels safe enough with him to name her son after him, in spite of the usual injunction not to name babies until they’re a year old. In spite of his protestations to Maester Aemon, it obviously is what it looks like, at least a little … Sam has of course behaved with complete respect and propriety, but that doesn’t change that fact that he has, for all intents and purposes, taken on the role of the baby’s father. His oath forbids him from formalizing that relationship in any way, of course, but it’s obvious that Gilly sees him as her and her child’s protector.

Which, to segue to one of this episode’s key themes, makes Samwell Tarly the sole instance of noble or virtuous fatherhood we encounter. The episode’s title, “Mhysa,” is Ghiscari for “mother” … and while it is used to describe Daenerys at the end, it also reflects back on one of the sympathetic moments the show gives Cersei, when she urges Tyrion to impregnate Sansa—not for Tywin’s reasons, but to give her happiness. Her speech was, I found, quite affecting, for it reminded us that most of her adult life has been spent as the unwilling bride of a drunken, brutal lout who not only never loved her but came to despise her as much as she did him.  And even in the aftermath of his death, she is still a pawn in her father’s machinations. What joy her life has had, she tells Tyrion, she got from her children, without whom she would have thrown herself from “the highest window in the Red Keep.” That Joffrey has grown up to be a sociopathic tyrant distresses her but cannot obviate the memory of the happiness she experienced when he was an infant. Her words resonate, I suspect, with anyone who has been a parent:

He was all I had once, before Myrcella was born. I used to spend hours looking at him … his wisps of hair, his tiny little hands and feet. He was such a jolly little fellow. You always hear the terrible ones were terrible babies. We should have known, then, we should have known … it’s nonsense. Whenever he was with me he was happy. And no one can take that away from me, not even Joffrey. How it feels to have someone … someone of your own.

Cersei’s words are in profound contrast to the sentiments expressed by the fathers in the episode, who are more numerous: Tywin, Balon Greyjoy, Roose Bolton, and the lingering specter of Craster. Balon’s scene is perhaps the starkest. Having received proof of Theon’s captivity and ongoing torment, he echoes Tywin’s preoccupations in the harshest terms possible: without the capacity to further the Greyjoy line, his son is no longer a son or a man, and is therefore useless. Tywin’s revelation that he desired nothing more than to give the newborn Tyrion up to the waves but did not is offered in the spirit of pure pragmatism: here was a son, dwarf though he may be, and therefore with a role to play.

Roose seems to come at it from a slightly different angle, though in his case he is willing to tolerate his bastard son’s terrifying enthusiasms for the sake of having a son, bastard though he may be. And it seems as though much of his cruelty is learned: “My mother taught me never thrown stones at cripples,” he tells Theon. “But my father taught me aim for the head!” Ramsay is obviously psychotic, but it is just as obvious that his father has been an enabler.

Even the most sympathetic father has failed: Davos bonds with Gendry over their shared humble beginnings, and tells him his ambivalence about becoming a knight and lord—but that he did it so his son would have a better life that he did. “And does he?” Gendry asks. “He’s dead,” replies Davos. “Following me.”

Your thoughts, Nikki?

Nikki: Agreed on the Cersei scene: for once she’s a completely sympathetic character, and of course as a mother I agreed with every word she said. In a world where she has to keep her true love secret, her son doesn’t respect her, her father treats her like useless garbage, and her husband is a boor, everyone sees her as a bitch, they know about her incestuous relationship and they know that Joffrey is the product of that. And she knows they know, and has to endure the snickers. Her marriages are arranged, her love is gone, her life is controlled by the men around her. But no one can tell her how to be a mother, or have the babies for her: in that sense, as a mother, she is the one who is in control, and she tells Tyrion that it’s the one thing in her life that truly belongs to her. I still remember staring at my own daughter when she was just a few hours old, thinking, “Wow. She’s mine.” I didn’t buy her; I created her, and she was mine. It’s a shocking feeling.

And then her son grows up to be Joffrey, and she’s as disgusted by him as the next person, but deep down, he’s still hers, and he once smiled at cuddles, not massacres. A wonderful scene.

It’s interesting that you brought up Davos and his mention of his son, which was a poignant moment, because when you first said this was an episode where we really got to look at fatherhood, it was Davos who jumped into my head. Not for his relationship with his son, but the way he is with Stannis’s daughter. Another failed father, Stannis has tossed his “imperfect” child into a dungeon and has nothing to do with her, but Davos engages her, talks to her, learns with her, and tells her things others wouldn’t. She’s taught him how to read, and he’s a companion to her. I love seeing those two together.

And of course, so much of the action has been spawned by fathers: Ned Stark’s death has precipitated so much of what’s happened in seasons 2 and 3; Daenerys is out to avenge the murder of her own father; Gendry is a threat to Stannis because of who his real father is; Tyrion is alive because of his father’s decision; Theon may soon be dead because of both his father and Ramsay’s father; Sam is on the Night’s Watch because his father abandoned him there; Jon Snow’s father wasn’t married to his mother, and now he’s ended up there; Joffrey’s a king because of who he pretends his father to be; his real father has returned, but can never openly admit he’s his father.

And that final scene is the last of the three reunions I mentioned earlier, where Jaime appears before Cersei, and she is utterly speechless. When he left, he was a carbon copy of Prince Charming from Shrek. Now he returns, dirty, with mud-filled hair, probably stinking to high heaven, and missing the very arm that earned him the title of Kingslayer. And she just stares at him, as if she cannot believe he’s returned… and likely that she cannot believe he looks like this.

Of course, we should also mention Arya in all of this. Having lost her father, and now her mother, the Hound has stepped in as somewhat of a protector, though he’s a reluctant one (she despises him) and realizes she’s as much a danger to herself as anyone else is. At the end of last season, Jaqen gave Arya a coin and told her that if she ever needs him, to hold out the coin and say, “Valar Morghulis” and he’d return. I thought it would take a few seasons before we’d see her pull it out, but I guess having most of your family slaughtered in front of you would do the trick. Remember: Arya probably feels like she’s alone. She assumes Sansa was killed after Ned because she was in King’s Landing, and if she’s heard the news about Bran and Rickon that Theon spread, then she assumes they’re dead, too. The Hound is her protector, and she hates him (he’s on her dreaded list), so she’s desperate and turning to the only way out she knows. I’m looking forward to Jaqen showing up; he was one of my favourite characters in season 2.

 Christopher: The relationship that has developed between Arya and the Hound is intriguing—less adversarial than in the novel, which I would have thought would have been thus less interesting, but in fact the opposite is true. Arya, we assume, still hates the Hound; the knife she took from him was almost certainly meant to be sunk into his neck, something the Hound just as certainly knows. But if he is concerned, he does not show it—in fact, his irritation, as he says, proceeds just from wanting to be kept apprised. That Arya chose to interrupt their journey to kill a man who had a hand in the murder of her mother and brother—effectively risking both their lives—is something he takes entirely in stride.

Arya has become hardened to her world, forced to mature faster than she should have by circumstances. As you say, she must feel alone in the world, but she does not curl up in a fetal position and weep, but takes her revenge when she can. Her murder of the Frey man is cold and clear-eyed until she sinks the knife into his neck, at which point anger takes over. Her answer to the Hound’s question about whether that was the first man she’d killed—“The first man”—reminds us that she has killed before, but it was in the heat of the moment and in self-defense when the stableboy came at her and she stabbed him with Needle. This time, she approached it very deliberately. And as much as we like to go on about Arya’s awesomeness, there is something deeply saddening about her transformation from precocious tomboy to killer.

The bit was the coin was similarly bittersweet. Will Jaqen return next season to help her? As usual, I say nothing.

Your comments about Davos’s friendship with Stannis’ daughter are spot on, as are your observations about how fathers’ actions and inactions set so much of the action in motion. It is, after all, not just a patriarchal but a patrilineal culture being depicted in which the Cerseis and Daeneryses and Yaras and Aryas are not just the exceptions but the potential spoilers to the main action. Sometimes not always to the benefit of things, as Varys seems to think: his proposal to Shae (which is yet another deviation from the novel, and yet again beautifully done) reads like an ironic reflection of Tywin’s iron law. “The house that puts family first,” he lectures Tyrion, “will always defeat the house that puts the whims and wishes of its sons and daughters first.” Tywin demands that Tyrion do his duty; Varys has a similar wish, but he must accomplish it by other means. He cares nothing for family—his concern is for the realm, and he sees Tyrion’s love for Shae and her love for him as a threat to Tyrion’s efficacy.

I am still uncertain of how to take Varys’ offer: on one hand it smacks of paternalism, however kindly meant, and that is certainly how Shae interprets it. But I also cannot help but think he means to atone for Ros. Is he genuinely just trying to get Shae out of the way, or is Ros’ death tugging at his conscience? Varys has no qualms about using others as his informants, as a means of getting leverage. But I have to wonder whether Littlefinger’s cruelty—and Joffrey’s—wrong-footed him, and have him a little gun shy.

What do you think, Nikki?

Nikki: I have to agree. Maybe I’m getting caught in the spider’s web, but I truly believed that Varys was offering Shae a way out. He wants to save the realm, and he’s completely honest about that, telling Shae that Tyrion can’t be distracted by her, or “endangered,” as he puts it. He comes right out with it and says Tyrion is the only hope they have, and if Shae puts him at risk, it’ll put the entire realm at risk. Shae knows deep down that the future she laid out a few episodes ago — that she’ll be Tyrion’s little piece on the side, that he’ll care for her and take care of their bastard children, but that eventually he’ll either tire of her or she’ll be killed by Joffrey when he finds out — is absolutely true. She’s not safe in King’s Landing, and neither is Tyrion.

So Varys offers her the way out: take these diamonds and you can go and live in a palace, have any man you want, have servants, and Tyrion can save the realm and your life won’t be in danger and your children won’t have to hide. But clearly she loves Tyrion too much, and she hurls the diamonds back at him. I couldn’t help but think Varys was right. There is no real life for her in King’s Landing, and this is the best offer she’ll ever get. But the heart wants what the heart wants.

And next we come to Stannis and Melisandre (yes, we’re actually going to make it to every character in this episode write-up!) Melisandre, whom Gendry described as having big words and no clothes (ha!) is taking credit for Robb Stark’s death, thinking the leech in the fire procured his murder, and not a bunch of letters written by Tywin or agreements between houses. Davos begs the two of them to listen to reason, telling them about Sam’s raven, that something horrible is coming from the north, and that you simply cannot unite the seven kingdoms with blood and magic. But just as last season ended with Davos appearing to have betrayed Stannis and allowing him to lose the war, he’s betrayed him again by letting Gendry go free. The blunt discussion between the two of them was one of the highlights of the episode:

Ever been in a boat before?
Know how to swim?
Don’t fall out.

And finally, Daenerys. Season 1 ended with her emerging from the fire with freakin’ dragons on her shoulders. In season 2, she defeated the creepy bald guy and her dragons destroyed him. And now she has become not just the mother of dragons, but the mother of all those who are in chains. While Robb Stark waged war, and the Lannisters have united houses to gang up on others, and the Night’s Watch fears what’s coming, Daenerys is almost like a politician, roaming through the countryside and finding loyalty and followers wherever she goes. Her dragons are growing up, her people love her, and her army is fiercely loyal to her. She is an incredible character (certainly better used this season than last) and next season? Bigger dragons.

And that ends the finale. So much has happened in season 3, Chris! And yet, if I understand it correctly, we’re only halfway through the third book, is that correct? Are you already imagining what season 4 will look like?

Christopher: The Red Wedding occurred on pages 582 and 583 of my edition of A Storm of Swords, which runs to 924 pages. So we’re about two-thirds of the way through, but soon the storyline starts getting a bit wonky. I have to imagine that season four will get into material from books four and five—at least, I really hope it does. There isn’t much I can say about what season four might look like without getting spoilery, but suffice it to say that while the Red Wedding was the most shocking part of ASoS, it was by no means the only shock. GRRM still has lots in store for us, so stock up on your heart pills.

I loved the exchange between Davos and Gendry as he sends him out in a tiny little boat. There’s a very slight hesitation after Gendry tells Davos he can’t swim as you see Davos think to himself “Oh, crap. I hadn’t considered that.” But there’s nothing else for it, and he shoves him out onto the waves. Between the red priestess and the deep blue sea, as it were.

Have you noticed that every season ends with a high angle panorama shot? Actually, that isn’t entirely accurate—this episode ended with a vertical crane shot, pulling directly up so we see Daenerys at the center of a concentric circles of arms all straining inward toward her so that she is the focus of a seething mass of humanity. It is actually reminiscent of the crane shot of Drogo’s pyre in season one; but season one ended with the camera pulling back at ground level as Daenerys’ few followers (those happy few) knelt before her and her newborn dragons, then with two cuts taking the camera’s eye higher and more distant. The final effect was both to emphasize the desolation of their location, and metaphorically show the blank slate of possibility Daenerys had won.

Season two ended just as memorably, with the image of the army of frozen undead. Like season one, it started out at ground level, the camera pulling back through the legion of wights, rising until it finally settled on the chilling (heh) image of a mass of remorseless, implacable zombies herded forward by the mounted White Walkers.

This season ends on a note that resonates with season one, in that the crane shot recalls the image of Drogo’s pyre, but also because it is an image of Daenerys’ worshipful followers—except now they number in the thousands, and the landscape is no longer empty but full of people. The final seconds before fading to black juxtaposes the mass of newly liberated people with the serried ranks of Daenerys’ army—cleverly reminiscent of the final shot in episode four, with her dragons soaring above her newly won army of Unsullied.

We’re well set for season four … though the prospect of waiting ten months is torturous (which, on reflection, is a poor choice of adjective—sorry, Theon). Once again, I want to thank you, Nikki, for proposing this project. It is such a pleasure to do these posts with you. Whatever will we do to salve our Game of Thrones cravings in the coming year?

Nikki: Why… I think it’s time to read the books!! 

And who better to guide me along as I discover what GRRM’s original world read like than you, my trusted compadre. I’ll mention something on my site to let everyone know when I’m going to start book 1, and Chris and I will talk our way through it just like we have the shows, so if anyone else wants to join in and read the books (or jump into the discussion, having already read the books), we look forward to more discussions as we wait for season 4! Thanks to everyone who has been reading along and joining in all season long and remember: Season 4 Is Coming.

Well that and Breaking Bad, which is my next obsession on the calendar.

See you all soon! 


Sharon said...

Don't read the books esp book #3. Too many spoilers detract from the narrative of the TV series.

Alejandro said...

As a reader of your blog (lurking from the time of Lost, currently viewing Buffy and following your non-spoilers commentary as well) I have a selfish request: don't read the books! The discussion/review here contrasting the perspective of a reader and a nonreader is unique and one of the things I look forward after each episodes. There are dozens of sites offering reviews from readers, and they are much less interesting.

If you do read them, though, I hope will you offer commentary on them once every few chapters, with your ongoing reactions to them and how they differ from the series. Reviews of the books from people who viewed the series first, and can discuss the adaptation process "backwards" instead of the usual way, are another thing that cannot be found yet on the Internet as far as I know, and would be very interesting to read as well!

By the way, a small correction on Jaqen and Arya. He didn't tell him the magic words would summon him to help; he told her that she could show it to someone from Braavos and say the words, and they would offer help. So she is not summoning him in this episode; she is just remembering him, and (metatextually) reminding the viewers of the connection of the coin to him, and of the words' meaning "All men must die".

Anonymous said...

Personally I found that reading the books helped me enjoy the show more as I spent less time trying to remember who everyone was and how they related and more time enjoying the excellent performances, scenery, etc...

Can't wait for next season - especially the....I shouldn't say it so I won't but it's great.

Thanks for the great recaps you two.

Finally - you're kidding me...Theon is THAT Alfie? High on THC? Playing stupid computer games? Wearing a stupid fitted cap? Oy.

-Tim Alan

Suzanne said...

Thanks for all the wonderful reviews this season, Nikki and Christopher. Your back and forth entries are unique and thought-provoking. I will miss them in the next several months.

I loved everything about the finale. Like Nikki and as a mother, too, I really related to Cersi's speech. Loved Sam, Bran, and Hodor meeting! Hated the parting of John and Ygritte, but felt it was written beautifully. Lastly, hated every minute of Theon's stupid story and still do. Why did they torture us with it almost as badly as Theon was tortured. He is the one character that I wish had never been written!

Nikki, I will be interested to see how you do with the books. I decided to give Book 1 a chance a couple of months ago, and while it was interesting at first getting a lot of the back story and details you don't get at first with the series, I found myself getting bored after awhile. Since I had only begun watching GoT fairly recently, everything was fresh in my mind. I felt like I was just reading a script of the show much of the time. I am also not a big fan of a lot of description, especially on a case like this where I have already seen the visuals. I am not sure if I will continue reading them or not. Maybe your blog entries will inspire me!

Austin Gorton said...

Thanks again for your always insightful and entertaining reviews.

Like you, I was inspired to read the books from watching the show, and am just about done with the first one. But I plan to stay behind of the show, because I want to be able to enjoy it as a show first and not just an adaptation.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

This episode reminded me of Mrs. Miggins shop on Blackadder.

"This huge sausage is very suspicious. If I didn't know better, I'd say it was a horse's wi--"

You guys should cut Sansa some slack. She's fourteen and unlike her sister, had no interest in swords. In other words, she led a sheltered life. She probably doesn't even know some boys like boys. She wouldn't be the first young girl to fall for a gay guy.

Am I wrong to want Dany and Tyrion to eventually get together? I think they'd be awesome.

Are there time jumps in the books that would mean recasting some of the young actors?

Blogger said...

YoBit lets you to claim FREE COINS from over 100 unique crypto-currencies, you complete a captcha one time and claim as much as coins you want from the available offers.

After you make about 20-30 claims, you complete the captcha and resume claiming.

You can click claim as much as 50 times per one captcha.

The coins will held in your account, and you can exchange them to Bitcoins or USD.