Game of Thrones – 34

Game of Thrones - 34-7 Game of Thrones - 34-21 Game of Thrones - 34-43


Butterflies – butterflies, everywhere…

At this point, I would say everyone watching Game of Thrones (apart from Benioff and Weiss and George R.R. Martin – and I’m not even 100% sure about him) – is pretty much in the same boat.  In short, I have no idea what’s going to happen from this point forward.  I can only assume there’s an agreed-upon endgame where Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire are going to wind up in a place that’s materially at least similar, even if they take different roads to get there – but for now, it’s the Butterfly Effect on steroids.

I have no choice to start with the hangover from last week’s scene in the Sept, though the series (in a rare occurrence) started with Danerys, because it’s been by far the biggest story over the last week.  And the events in this episode make that rape scene all the more mystifying.  It seemed as though pretty much everyone – from the writers to the characters – was acting as if it had never happened.  That fosters the suspicion that it amounted to a colossal misstep in direction rather than a deliberate attempt to change the meaning of the scene – and hard to believe as that is, it’s less hard to believe than any other explanation based on “Oathkeeper”.

Game of Thrones - 34-1 Game of Thrones - 34-2 Game of Thrones - 34-3

Any way you slice it it’s a huge shame, because everything Jaime did this week – which was perfectly consistent with his development right up until last – was tainted by the blight of that rape of Cersei.  It did take Bronn shaming him into going before he went to see Tyrion (that was a change) but here we see a man who at least seems to want to do the right thing.  At heart he knows all along that Tyrion didn’t kill Joffrey, but won’t formally admit it to himself until he’s seen and talked to his brother.  Jaime seems unwilling to go so far as to commit treason to help Tyrion – it’s not like he’s coming off as heroic – but his response to Cersei’s implied order that he go and bring back Sansa’s head is much more resolute.  Not only does he send Brienne to find Sansa and get her somewhere safe, but he gives her his Valyrian steel sword (a tacit rejection of his father and indeed, his family) and even has her take Podrick with her to keep the randy squire from being collateral damage when Tyrion goes down.

Another significant change here is that Benioff and Weiss have come right out and clarified who Joffrey’s killers were – or at the very least, some of them.  Littlefinger admits his involvement to Sansa (not that she didn’t already know) and Olenna to Margaery – though one might argue that the headline there was that Margaery didn’t know beforehand.  As Peter Baelish in deliciously slimy fashion tells Cersi “I don’t want friends like me” and responds to her question of what he does want with “Everything”, Olenna is counseling Margaery that she needs to move quickly to bring Tommen over to her side, and giving her the recipe for how to do it.

Game of Thrones - 34-4 Game of Thrones - 34-5 Game of Thrones - 34-6

It’s certainly plain now why HBO changed to an older actor for Tommen, but I give a lot of credit to writer Bryan Cogman and director Michelle MacLaren (a legend in the annals of great television) for the Tommen-Margaery scene.  It was obviously uncomfortable, but fascinating.  Margaery is one of the most morally ambiguous figures on the show, and given the story Olenna had told her it was easy to expect the worst – but without knowing how much if any heart Margaery had in the moment, it was almost sweet.  Tommen, somehow, has managed to emerge from his twisted background and vile mother’s influence and become a decent and sane boy.  We even get a rare appearance from the much-revered Ser Pounce, who Joffrey had threatened to grind up and feed to his brother.  When Margaery notes that Tommen doesn’t seem cruel like Joffrey, his thoughtful response of “No…  I don’t think I am.” is one of the more straightforwardly moving moments of the series.

More than any episode of recent vintage, this one takes place in the North – and if it was Danerys’ tale that seemed the most changed last season, it’s here that things are most unrecognizable now. First we have Locke (who doesn’t exist in the books in the first place) who was sent North by Roose Bolton to find and kill (or capture, presumably) Bran and Rickon (remember him?) showing up at Castle Black and ingratiating himself to Jon.  The latter is still pushing to attacks the rebels at Craster’s Keep, and Slynt advises Commander Thorne that it might just be a good way to get rid of a potential thorn (sorry) in his side.  Jon, Slynt points out, is popular – and Thorne isn’t.  And at some point there’s going to be a formal selection for a new Lord Commander to replace Mormont.

Game of Thrones - 34-8 Game of Thrones - 34-9 Game of Thrones - 34-10

Things with Team Bran are radically changed as well.  I won’t go into details of what’s been cut from his arc altogether it seems, but readers of ASoIaF will know – instead, Bran and his party end up in the vicinity of Craster’s Keep (where Karl, Rast and the others are camping up the evil big-time).  Inside the keep the last of Craster’s children has been born – a son – and Karl is informed of how Craster disposed of his sons.  It’s the baby’s crying that catches Bran’s attention and prompts him to go into beast mode with Summer, who promptly gets caught in a trap – but not before spotting Ghost in a cage.  Bran being Bran isn’t willing to let either of them go, and against Meera’s wishes insists on a close-up reconnoiter.

From here, who knows.  Superficially, it appears as if GoT is pushing Bran and Jon together – it hardly seems a coincidence that the former is now a prisoner at the very keep his brother is rousting up a party (Thorne has allowed him to attack it, but only with volunteers) to attack.  I can’t even speculate where that’s headed – but that’s not even the most shocking change of the episode.  That would be the final scene – absolutely a cracker, flat-out terrifying – where we see not just one but two White Walkers close up.  And not only that, one of them touches the baby’s cheek and seemingly turns it into a White Walker too.  That’s already more detail than we’ve ever had on their nature and abilities in the books, and one can only assume Martin gave this scene his blessing.  The implication is that the White Walkers are going to be both a more immediate presence and a major factor much earlier than in ASoIaF but again, that’s just a guess – though I confess the possibility is rather tantalizing.

Game of Thrones - 34-11 Game of Thrones - 34-12 Game of Thrones - 34-13
Game of Thrones - 34-14 Game of Thrones - 34-15 Game of Thrones - 34-16
Game of Thrones - 34-17 Game of Thrones - 34-18 Game of Thrones - 34-19
Game of Thrones - 34-20 Game of Thrones - 34-22 Game of Thrones - 34-23
Game of Thrones - 34-24 Game of Thrones - 34-25 Game of Thrones - 34-26
Game of Thrones - 34-27 Game of Thrones - 34-28 Game of Thrones - 34-29
Game of Thrones - 34-30 Game of Thrones - 34-31 Game of Thrones - 34-32
Game of Thrones - 34-33 Game of Thrones - 34-34 Game of Thrones - 34-35
Game of Thrones - 34-36 Game of Thrones - 34-37 Game of Thrones - 34-38
Game of Thrones - 34-39 Game of Thrones - 34-40 Game of Thrones - 34-41
Game of Thrones - 34-42 Game of Thrones - 34-44 Game of Thrones - 34-45
Game of Thrones - 34-46 Game of Thrones - 34-47 Game of Thrones - 34-48


  1. M

    Here we are at episode four and still no close to wrapping up ASoS material (episode titles suggest they won't for some time). I hope Ishruns didn't skip over all this for AFfC!

    As for the rape debate. It's a tough one which I don't care to rekindle – so many valid perspectives. I will say though that three kids clearly weren't enough – Cersei is running low on love and children to love. In all seriousness I think more than anything the scene at least spoke of how broken the brother x sister relationship is. Cersei clearly induces the worst out of Jaime (hell, her scorn alone kills him) – where Bronn, Tyrion and especially Brienne continually bring out the best.

    Margaery's reaction to Olenna's admission was perplexing. She felt like a different character during the 'Soredemo' scene with Tommen afterwards. I appreciate that the writers have fleshed her out, but it felt like they were juggling two conflicting interpretations here.

    Jon seems rather unperturbed about possibly stumbling upon Mance's forces beyond the wall…they can't be far off can they?

    The mutineers must have some skill if they managed to trick and capture a direwolf. You'd think they'd have the wits to kill the beast too. Also I think Karl (Burn Gorman) could have made an excellent Ramsay Snow.

  2. b

    I'm not a fan of all the diversions from the book, it reminds me of shounen filler episodes, where i'm just waiting to get to the canon material all the time.

    Did you know that the white walker at the end of the episode is listed as the Night's King – a legend who lived like 1000 years ago.
    I wonder if the fact that he is leading the others can be considered canon or not, since it is in no way implied in the current books, or is the tv storyline is just going to completely diverge from the books. (similar to the first FMA anime)

  3. w

    *prays for no Meera rape next episode*

    It's all very compelling, but I'm starting to lose track of everyone. I think the series might finally be getting a little bloated.

  4. That's an issue in the books too, TBH. The bloating. The TV has actually trimmed it back a bit (sometimes wisely, sometimes less).

    It must be said that GoT relies on sexual assault as a plot device way, way more than ASoIaF does. To the point where people are starting to get creeped out about it, and I can't blame them. I think it's that attitude that infected the Jaime-Cersei dynamic and caused that scene to play completely differently than it should have. I certainly share your hope that GoT doesn't feel compelled to throw a Meera rape scene in just because they can, but since that whole scenario is original, I have no more idea than anyone else.

  5. M

    One bonus about the books is that you get time to absorb side characters. This is especially useful during Dany's arc – a character really held together by her subjects.

  6. w

    I've actually read the first two books, but I told myself I'd wait until the fourth season was over before blazing ahead with the rest.

    I kind of like the irony in that the sexual aspect was ramped up in order to entice viewers, and yet it's become one of the most criticised aspects of the show from all audiences. I'd say the same of the gory (Reek) side as well, but entice doesn't seem like the right word.

  7. M

    Let it also be said that GoT can't afford the same sort of subtlety as the ASoIaF, the latter which lets you into the heads of characters. The gory scenes involving Reek are necessary in quickly re-establishing Theon in a far more sympathetic light than when we last saw him in S2. It's not all just for indulgence sake. There is plenty of unpleasant indulgent aspects to the series, but none have felt far-fetched or at odds with the setting.

    The books have plenty of under-aged sex – that seems to be one line the show is hesitant to cross. And remember it will usually sound more poetic on paper.

  8. Z

    *prays for no Meera rape next episode*


  9. U

    It's starting to feel like the show is going down the steep hill and you wonder if it's still running or they already started to fall. And all this cause there is not enough time for exposition and world building and they were forced to change some things from books for various reasons.

  10. I don't really buy the "not enough time" argument, since the TV is going to catch up to the books too soon as it is. I think the changes they're making are because they want to make them.

  11. U

    Yeah, actually after thinking about it that way I'm not buying it either. It's hard to predict why they are changing something when you don't know the whole picture and especially the ending of the story but from the start I didn't like parts of the show and it's even more true now. I wonder if it's just because I started to read books after second season or the way they are adapting it just doesn't fit me in general.

  12. Z

    I wonder if it's just because I started to read books after second season or the way they are adapting it just doesn't fit me in general.

    The former.

  13. J

    Wait, you too were displeased with Jaime and Cersei's scene last week? I'm amazed how much people were disturbed by it. It seems some have forgotten, but GoT characters are all gray. Jaime and Cersei have been doing this since episode 1 three or four years ago. It's no 'colossal misstep in direction', it's the way those characters are.

  14. U

    No, it's not. There is a huge diffrence in how it was shown in book and how they made it on screen as well there is difference between doing it and forcing it on someone over your dead child body in kinda sacred pleace. I'm not going to say that they aren't gray because they are but here is a point in story that changes Jaimie somehow, point that made his character much more likeable for me and they partialy ruind it by throwing rape scene when it should be right after he got back. The setting is the same, but characters and circumstances aren't.

  15. J

    Thank you for the link Urizithar. I think him saying "The scene was always intended to be disturbing… but I do regret if it has disturbed people for the wrong reasons." proves what I was saying though, about the characters being not what you expect them to be. People seem to want to like Jaime after all he's been through, but most of them apparently forget he's been a child murderer since episode 1…

  16. Z

    It's not about what fans want though. Character X not developing how you personally want them to does not necessarily a bad/good character make. Fan conceit is something that mightily pisses me off.

  17. J

    That's exactly right, Zeta Zero.

  18. U

    People seem to want to like Jaime not cause of all he's been through but cause it changed him. At least in books. He made everything because he loved his sister as a women which is of course ethically ambiguous and it doesn't change that his deeds were sometimes really bad but at least it's something I can get. I can understand his reasoning – making everything for beloved one. Later when his love is betrayed and Cersei rejects him he starts to understand that she never really loved him and is changing. He starts reflecting on what he has done and trying to change himself. It's really hard to get this picture of him from the show because it lacks his thoughts and a lot of his backstory (childhood, how he looked up to great knights of Targaryen times etc.). It's really gray character and so are my feelings about him.

  19. I think you're totally misreading Martin's thinly veiled criticism (I would even say outrage) there. He's a smart enough guy not to piss in his own bathwater, but he made it very clear in that statement – indeed by making a statement at all – that he's very ticked off about the way that scene was changed.

  20. M

    No, you're simply projecting. Martin's a smarter man than you give him credit for, Enzo. He's realised the resulting scene is not as black and white as you like to think it is – he's pretty forthcoming in noting the circumstantial differences from Book & TV – but graciously expresses regret at the offence taken by precious fans.

    In one fell swoop, he suggests a fairer reading of Dan & David's scene whilst shutting his door on tumultuous fan rage.

  21. t

    Enzo aren't you reading way too much between the lines on Martin's comment? If in any case, the entire scene last episode was really probably meant to just make the scene more disgusting and it while it succeeded on doing so, we all know it was a misstep. I'm all aboard in just forgetting it happened since the TV series is pretending it didn't happen too.

Leave a Comment