Apr 25 2011 12:21pm

Game of Thrones episode review: “The Kingsroad”

This week on HBO’s Game of Thrones, two roads diverged in a godswood and Ned Stark wishes he took the one least traveled by Lannisters. Meanwhile, Daenerys shares what I think is supposed to be a tender moment with her new husband. Episode spoilers ahead.

Wow, new opening credits already. Goodbye, Pentos, Land of the Billowing Gauze Curtains. Hello, Vaes Dothrak. Well, almost. We’re getting there.

The same can be said for the next two big locations, King’s Landing and the Wall. We’re getting there. This was a transition episode and way more exciting than last week’s round of introductions. And I didn’t watch a 12-minute preview of this episode. It was all fresh. We still haven’t met everyone yet, but we’re getting to know the main cast a lot better.

In Winterfell, we learn more than a month has passed since Jaime pushed Bran from the tower. Damn, those direwolves grew! And Bran is alive. I take back what I said last week about Catelyn Stark having a quiet strength. She has (understandably) fallen to pieces as she waits for her son to wake up from his coma. More than that, she seems really wishy-washy about Ned taking on his duty as the new King’s Hand and heading south. Last week, she wanted him to go after her sister’s letter warning of Lannister treachery, now she wants him to stay.

It’s hard to be super sympathetic towards Catelyn when she treats Jon Snow so coldly. There’s no acceptable reason to take out the anger you feel for your husband’s infidelity on an innocent child. She’s actually nicer to Jon on the TV show, if you can believe it. How can anyone hate Jon Snow? He’s like the best brother ever. The affection shared between him and Arya is touching. Again, misfits tend to hang with other misfits. I much prefer Arya’s needle to Sansa’s. “Stick them with the pointy end.” Been waiting to hear that.

The next best brother in Westeros is Tyrion Lannister. He knows what Jamie and Cersei are about. What he plans to do with that knowledge is anyone’s guess at this point. Did he send the attacker to finish off Bran? Doubtful. Tyrion’s too smart for such a stupid, obvious plan. Not to say that he has something against hitting children. He became my favorite character when he slapped that brat Joffrey. I think he only slapped the prince twice in the book, but I hate Joffrey so much, I’d watch him take a hundred more non-canonical slaps to his smug face.

The drama on the King’s Road broke my heart. Ned should turn around and go back to Winterfell right now. Only two episodes in and already we’ve repeatedly seen that nothing in this world is fair, especially to children. Bran gets pushed off a tower, Mycah the butcher’s boy gets run down by the Hound, Arya has to send her direwolf away, and Sansa’s direwolf gets punished for Joffrey being a sniveling sadist who calls an eleven-year-old-girl one of the worst words ever. How cold was Cersei in that judgment scene? I thought we were getting a softer version of Cersei when she had her earlier heart-to-heart with Catelyn. But she’s cruel and calculating. I kind of hate Sansa, too, for wanting to be a queen like Cersei. Some role model to sell your own sister out for. And some Prince Charming. You think Sansa will learn something from the execution of her direwolf? Poor Ned. It was painful to watch him walk up to Lady at the end.

I’m glad Tyrion went with Jon to the Wall, to “piss off the edge of the world.” Again, he and Jon have a great conversation. What is Jon’s story, Tyrion asked. It’s an epic fantasy; there’s got to be something special about Jon’s mother and why Ned keeps it a secret. I think Jon wants to have a place in the world and if he can’t be an official Stark, he can take up a calling Stark men have been following for centuries. But he looked about ready to wet himself when he actually saw the Wall for the first time. Can’t blame him.

Speaking of Stark men, I’d like to point out how much I enjoy the casting for Benjen. He looks like David Wenham and he’s even a ranger, too. There must be a niche section of the Screen Actor’s Guild for big-nosed fictional siblings of Sean Bean. (This is not to suggest that a strong profile is in any way a negative.)

Meanwhileand this is where recapping and reviewing gets tough—completely unrelated to all of the cool intrigue at Winterfell, the Wall, and on the road to King’s Landing, we get the Daenerys storyline. I took issue with the way Khal Drogo was turned into a savage rapist last week. Here, it’s pretty much more of the same. Less nudity, now that we’re out of the pilot. Getting raped is Dany’s storyline. That and looking blank. These were actually some of my favorite chapters from the book, but without any sort of inner monologue, this thread is totally nonsensical. We see Drogo having sex with a crying Dany (that was in the book,) then in the next scene, she’s asking how she can make him happy? And Dany’s awkward reaction to her servant girl’s sex talk felt like watching a Middle Ages version of Cruel Intentions. I’m really waiting to be won over by Emilia Clarke’s performance. Dany’s still learning to come around to the Dothraki way of life, so I think it was too soon to have her try to dominate her husband in bed, like a fierce khaleesi. Without that depth of emotion, Dany’s still weak and Drogo is still inscrutable behind his frown and guyliner. Their sex scene had zero heat. Really disappointing when the actors are so attractive. And the courtship was so lovely in the book.

Overall, three out of four storylines are getting so great. Next week: the Wall. Finally! King’s Landing! At last!

Share your thoughts below, but please be warned that book spoilers may be discussed. For a true spoiler-free zone, please visit Leigh Butler’s ASoIaF read. (Though the TV show has now outpaced the novel chapters in the Read.)

Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9pm ET/PT on HBO.

Theresa DeLucci is an alum of Clarion West 2008 and her short fiction has appeared in ChiZine, Morbid Outlook, and Tear magazine.

1. Cmpalmer
Even with all of the horrible things characters do in this story and all of the shades of grey of their morals, Joffrey is the closest thing to a mustache-twirling villain (if he were old enough to have a mustache).
2. PC Wheeler
I think you missed the point in the first sex scene with Dany and Drogo - Dany starts out crying, but then something about the dragon eggs distract her and she focuses on them. You can almost hear the slither of scales and the hiss of fire in the soundtrack. From that point on, she changes. Also note that after that the eggs are kept warm with candles and what looks like steam.
Sydo Zandstra
3. Fiddler
There must be a niche section of the Screen Actor’s Guild for big-nosed fictional siblings of Sean Bean.

That made me laugh out loud, Theresa. Thanks :D

As for Jon, I thought you knew that he IS a Stark, but from his mother's side instead? *cough*Robert/Lyanna/Rhaegar*cough*love triangle*cough*

(I whited that out since it's a theory, and possibly a spoiler if true)

@PC Wheeler:

Good observation. I noted how often the eggs were shown, and the candles near it. I missed her focusing on it, but ISTR Dany was looking at them a lot.
Justin Golenbock
4. jgolenbo
The Joffrey kid is great casting. such a perfectly twirpish little sadist brat. That whole scene, where he's trying to cut down arya like a psychopath slapping him with a stick was unbelievable drama. Doesn't bode well for Uncle Tyrion...

I still disagree with the criticism of the Dany/Drogo plotline. This is a dark, cruel world; the tenderness fans are looking for from a warlord towards his purchased teen bride seems incongruous with what we've seen before. If you can ignore the books' portrayal of their relationship (or if you've never read the books) I think youd have to admit that if the TV show had tried to make Drogo a more romantic character it wouldn't work in such short airtime. What makes Dany such a compelling character, imo, is her ability to transcend her 'victim' circumstance and control her destiny, (eventually) becoming the standardbearer for victims and slaves across a continent; in stark contrast to her brother, who is cruel and entitled and expects everything to be given to him.

The direwolves are great, btw. Lady getting killed was a tough scene to watch, and Arya having to throw stones at Nymeria was a close second. Bran's direwolf going to town on that assassin and then calmly jumping in bed with him almost made up for it though...
James Whitehead
5. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
Spoilers - kinda

@1Cmpalmer, I think the only two Lannisters that seem multifaceted are Tyrion & Jaime. The other Lannisters, for me anyway, never reach that level of a three dimensional character. But I do agree that Joffrey, especially, is easy to 'hate.'

I cheered for Tyrion when he slapped that spoiled prince of a nephew. ;-)

@4jgolenbo, I think you are right. But in the book Dany's marriage to Drogo helps her mature and set her on her path. People who've read the book might just feel that Drogo's (no relation to Frodo) getting the short of it.

6. Edgewalker
You do such a good job in this post until you get to Dany.

You clearly missed that look on her face when she was looking at the dragon eggs. "Blank stare"? That was realization and a plan forming.

She is a woman in a world full of harsh, brutal men. She wishes to please Khal Drogo because it is the only weapon she has. It's about her gaining control of the situation in the best way she knows how.
Elio García
7. Egarcia
One brief note:

Catelyn was not for Ned leaving for King's Landing in the last episode. She was very much against it, even after Lysa's letter. Luwin was the one arguing for it, basically, and Ned was the one unhappily inclining to it for reasons of duty.

This is a significant change from the book, of course. But ep 1 to ep 2, Cat is very consistent -- she doesn't want Ned to be Hand, she doesn't want him and the children taken away from her.
William Fettes
8. Wolfmage
Reading these Dany rape compaints, I sometimes wonder whether people were reading an entirely different book to the one I read. To be fair, it may be that people just didn't read these chapters particularly closely, because the creepy non-consensual aspects aren't always pointed out in neon lettering. Or it may be because they took the rather more equivocal bodice ripping quality of the wedding night sex, and simply assumed that could be combined with Dany's subsequent feelings to carry the entire weight of the huge legitimacy deficit. Whatever. It's kinda bizare.

The courtship was definitely not lovely in the books. Dany was sold into sexual slavery by her brother. The scope for her to give any kind of meaningful consent in that position is a nulity. That GRRM's Dany POV immediately transitions from the terror someone in that position would feel, to an almost entirely physical quasi-acquisence to the masterful man from a certain kind of romance novel shouldn't obscure the real underlining power dynamics. It was a shortcut by GRRM. The servitude is no less obvious or repugnant here. Indeed, it's less obscured with the absence of the bodice ripping gloss given in the novel, and therefore, improved.

Whatever choices Dany has here are about the marginal power she gains from resigning herself to her fate, learning Dothraki culture from within, and finding genuine feelings emerging after a reasonable amount of time of getting to know Drogo within his limited cultural horizons. The love at first sight reading is not well supported.

FFS she cries every night for weeks during the move to Vaes Dothrak. And, unlike the tv show, there isn't even the luxury of a private tent during most of these sex scenes. Are people seriously going to argue that if Dany had a real choice, free from coercion, pressure and her sense of duty within such circumstances, she would simply choose to be getting bent over by the horse lord in public and crying from the pain night after night? No, of course not. She is trying to make the best of a bad situation and at some point she starts to find meaning in her existence and genuine feelings for Drogo.

Admittedly, the Drogo of the books is a mite less incrutible at this point, but otherwise the show has been fairly faithful to the substance of Dany's experience. As we're only at the second episode, I do expect Drogo to be given more depth as we move forward, but Dany's character arc is the most important here, and that is going well contrary to the jibe that she's just a passive victim who stares off into space.

Once again, for those not keeping up, Drogo's people routinely rape people. One of the most morally pathetic things I think I've read on this topic came from a thread on a different site where someone actually tried to argue they were offended by the portrayal of the "newly savage" Dorthraki because in the books they 'only' raped slaves and the newly conquered on screen -- as if there that was some kind of principled difference to the person being raped. Read between the lines people!:

-Drogo's Blood Riders rape people on-screen;

-Drogo actively reifies this as their inherent right when Dany intervenes;

-We don't have direct textual confirmation, but it is not a creative assumption to think that Drogo feels he is entited to take Dany whenever he wants each day regardless of what she thinks or the pain she feels;

-That Dany doesn't directly say no doesn't mean she is consenting, and her pain and the public nature of the act strongly suggests this is a specious line of argument.

-Drogo the undefeated warlord, has, in all probabability, raped countless women on previous campaigns. Again, this is not a creative assumption -- given what we know of their cutlure -- it's emphatically probable beyond all reasonable dispute.
Justin Golenbock
9. jgolenbo
I forgot about the "Needle" comment! That was general, i've been very impressed with the actors for all the Stark kids. It's hard to find good child actors and btw them and the kid who plays the despiccable Joffrey they really fit the characters as I remember them. I'm especially excited to see more of Robb as he takes on the twin stresses of ruling Winterfell on his own while also trying to bring his mother back from her despair, he was a great non-POV character whom hopefully we'll see more of on the show.

Also, missed this in ep 1: have we seen the youngest stark (Rickon?) on screen? I completely forgot about him until Robb mentioned him to Cat.
Sydo Zandstra
10. Fiddler

Rickon was in the scene where Bran had bow practice, the one where Arya hit bullseye. :)
Theresa DeLucci
11. theresa_delucci
@2 I did see Dany looking at the eggs. They're really focusing on those eggs. Making it almost a bit obvious. She did stop crying when she looked at them, but really she's such a cipher at this point, if I didn't read the books, I'd be confused as hell by what's going on. I don't think the actress is very expressive. There just doesn't seem to be much going on behind those very pretty eyes.

@3 Fiddler Oh, I know and love the theory about Jon's mom. I'm just not trying to put potential book spoilers and speculation in the main post.

@4 jgobenbo & @8 Wolfmage It's true, on paper, looking at the details, nothing about Dany's relationship with Drogo is savoury. But in the books, parts of it did come off less terrible. Viserys is constantly threatening Dany and Drogo, while course, at least genuinely shows her some affection. He's not so cartoonishly rough. Yes, he undoubtedly did terrible things in all of those raids. But there is a kind of spark with Drogo that Dany grows to appreciate as she comes into herself as a woman and a leader. And as he starts to see her as more of an equal too. Right now, she does seem passive. Even if she's doing girl-on-top. It didn't have that fierce being-in-control vibe to it, where she's determined to learn how to ride her husband and her horse to world-ruling glory. It came across more as she wanted less painful sex. She doesn't have a lot of to say at the moment and again, it's more my problem with the actress. Much of Dany's fantastic arc is internal. I think we need to see her more with Viserys to highlight how she's changing.
12. Edgewalker
I understand, but that was not a blank look on her face.

I think they are doing such a great job with the show, I am willing to give them some leeway and see where this goes for now.
Theresa DeLucci
13. theresa_delucci
@10 Yeah, brief glimpse of him while Arya was shooting arrows. He stood next to Catelyn while they were recieving the King, too.

I've very impressed with the acting of the main Stark kids. Usually child actors leave me cold, but they're all so good. I can't wait to see Robb become the caretaker of Winterfell while his Mom goes on her mission. It's a good point; we never got his POV in the novels, but here, we can spend more time with him and appreciate his strength.

Sansa is the least awesome Stark kid. Her Disney princess obssession is totally fitting for a 15-year-old girl but so frustrating to watch. How can everyone else see what Joffrey's about and she can't? And how great does Arya continue to be? Even though she's furious at her sister lying, she's still the first to protest that her sister's wolf shouldn't be executed for something Arya's wolf did. Such a strong sense of justice for such a young kid.

ETA: You know who has expressive eyes? Ilyn Payne, that's who.
Rikka Cordin
14. Rikka
I was really excited for Jon and even a bit for Robb in this ep. They actually started to develop personalities! :D Fabulous.

As for Dany, I'd not like to touch a lot of that atm but I will agree that the more they show of how her relationship with Viserys changes, the better for her development.

Also, we saw Rickon in the scene where the Starks formally greet the King. He was standing next to Catelyn, I believe.
Sydo Zandstra
15. Fiddler
@theresa, re: Sansa

She is irritating to watch, certainly in this early Disney princess stage. I liked the scene with her, Ilyn Payne and the Hound though. Exactly as I pictured it.

I think this girl can play Sansa all the way through though. :)

And yes, Arya is stealing the show. Very good casting too.
Chin Bawambi
16. bawambi

Can't wait to see our favorite WoT reviewer get to the Dany chapters - I was going to chime in on both episodes but you put my thoughts into perfect clarity in regards to this topic.
17. Marian
Ok--here's your weekly question from someone who has not read the books. How old is Dany supposed to be? I assumed around 16 but then there was the comment made about her not bleeding yet--which I assumed meant that she had not started menustrating. Is she 12 or 13?

I am enjoying this but it is as dense as "Treme" at times. That's a good sign!
David Thomson
18. ZetaStriker
The bleeding comment was about Sansa, the Starks' oldest daughter, actually. Dany is supposed to be 16, I believe.
Rob Munnelly
19. RobMRobM
@17 - Dany was 13 in books, aged up to 16 or 17 here.
Scott Terrio
20. Renegade248
I believe this episode was great. Lots better than last week. I loved all the scenes in this episode, except maybe for Dany. I am still waiting for that plotline to take off in the series.

I also believe Arya is stealing my affection in the series. She has a great plotline in the books, and hope to see more in the upcoming episodes.

Also heard that the name for the series on HBO will remain "Game of Thrones" for next season and any that follow, although we will be in the next book by then. I guess keeping the same name every season is a good idea so people don't get too confused.

Looking forward tot he rest of the series.
21. cranscape
In the books things were certainly not easy for Dany, but for me the distinction was on her wedding night he waits for her to say yes. That was pretty much the only thing that got me through their relationship at first because it was much worse after that for a time. There was a glimmer of depth to him so I waited to see more of that because I knew there had to be something more to this guy. The show so far has only shown the worst and stripped Dany and Drogo of her "you've given me the wind", his waiting, and she and saying yes and that has snowballed into distorting her motivation for working at their relationship and who knows what else down the line. *sigh*

I'm just going to have to let that whole storyline go I think. It was a tightrope walk in the book and it is being handled with much less skill in the show. I went into this thinking they had to get Dany/Drogo right because that relationship is so much in her headspace for the rest of her journey, but the about-face they'll have to do to turn it around...maybe they won't bother. The quick way out would be to put Drogo in a similar category as her brother and just another thing Dany must get past. Have it be Dany/Dragon eggs instead of Dany/Drogo/Dragon eggs as she sees it in the books.
Ellen B. Wright
22. ellenw
I spent a good deal of this episode on Foreshadowing Watch. Did anyone else notice throwaway lines in Tyrion's conversation with Jamie, and then Catelyn's with Cersei, that hint at things yet to come? (I had to bite my tongue a number of times, because the person I was watching with hasn't read past A Game of Thrones.) I'll have to check if those lines are in the book; of course, when I was first reading it, they wouldn't have meant anything.

This was a tough episode for me to watch. The murder attempt and then Lady and Mycah's deaths both snuck up on me. I think it says something about this episode's strength compared to the first one that I was caught up in the action, rather than picking apart every line. I can't wait for things to really get rolling.
23. Megaduck
Wolfmage @8
"FFS she cries every night for weeks during the move to Vaes Dothrak.
And, unlike the tv show, there isn't even the luxury of a private tent
during most of these sex scenes."

Quick point of reference. It was in a tent. The first time that Drogo and Dany have sex in public is when she pulls him outside.
26. dav
I think Dany is getting the short end of the character development stick at this point although I don't mind the slight adjustment in the wedding/courtship story. What they are doing seems to be an economical approach to her empowerment for this medium. In the story she sort of comes around because she starts to see something beyond the barbarism of Drogo, but here she is presented as more calculating, devising a plan to an end by being the "aggressor" in the relationship sooner. I still prefer how GRRM portrayed them in the books, but I realize that some truncating of the story needs to take place to get them all into 10 episodes. I'm still mostly surprised by what they're leaving in. So far, still extremely faithful.

Casting overall is great, but is there anyone better than Peter Dinklage? He's coming into his own as Tyrion.
Tom Wook
27. Twook00
My biggest issue with Dany's plotline is that, in the books, I liked liking Khal Drogo. Also, I think that future events (particularly at the end of the series) will require Dany to love him. If not, then I don't see much need for the "tent" scene.

And if she is going to fall in love with him, then Khal Drogo will need to go through a character change beforehand. Otherwise, she will be falling in love with someone we all hate (which will make her seem weak and lame).

Just my own opinion of course. All-in-all, I can't wait for episode 3.
Scott Terrio
28. Renegade248

@24 Theresa_delucci

One of the great scenes from this episode. I think everyone that has read the books has wanted to do this to Joffrey at some point. :)
David Thomson
29. ZetaStriker
I think others who have said Drogo is becoming an obstacle, rather than a romantic partner, may have it right. There's no way they can pull off the latter with any credence of believability now, so they may use her attactchment to her unborn child rather than her attachment to Drogo to play off the events at the end of her Game of Thrones arc. Which I think could work . . . I just don't like it as much. At least Mormont is still most excellent thus far!

As for the tent scene, Twookoo, I think that was vitally important. She has found a way to gain power over Drogo, putting herself in control of affairs. In the book it was more of a romantic moment, but here I think it was what it was; her taking back some of her freedom from her captor, in one of the few ways available to her.
lake sidey
30. lakesidey
@26 dav: Peter Dinklage is indeed awesome, and could very well have been head and shoulders my favourite character (pun intended) if it weren't for one of the few people possibly shorter than him. Maisie Williams. Where did they find that kid....such mischief in her eyes :) She's exactly as I pictured Arya all these years (ok maybe a bit prettier, but, still). She is Arya.

@21 cranscape: Dany's plotline....well, I see I am not the only one who is somewhat disquieted by how it is going. Still, it is better than it was in the first episode. Slightly. But I don't see how they can avoid having her fall in love with him - remember what she names the big, black, dragon?

31. jcfocarino
I actually thought the way Arya attacked Sansa after she lied was kind of harsh. I don't believe that happened in the book, and to me it gives someone who hasn't read the book less reason to sympathize with our young tom-boy. Perhaps that's just me.

I agree, I always looked forward to reading Dany's chapters in the book, and in the show I actually could care less. I'm just hoping that there will be some kind of noticeable change in her before she starts fighting back against Viserys, so she doesn't just go from a silent shy girl to a strong independent young woman with no explanation.
Jen Hill
32. greybon
Wait, the intro changed? I missed that. Completely. Must have happened when I was moving my cat out of the way of the screen. I'll have to catch it on the rewatch.

@31.jcfocarino It was in the book:

"You rotten!" Arya shrieked. She flew at her sister like an arrow, knocking Sansa down to the ground, pummeling her. "Liar, liar, liar, liar."

@24.theresa_delucci I can't get enough of that scene. Slap him again Tyrion!

The kids really are so brilliantly cast. Arya steals the show. Always. Sansa aggravated me to no end with blind idiocy in the books. The actress does well with capturing that and aggravating me to no end here too. Hah! Joffrey...oy, where ever did they find a kid to project that snivelling brat so well? I think I'll pause for a moment and rewatch the scene posted @24. Aah, perfect. Needed that. :P

This episode really was great on so many levels. Like a lot of others have said, I too wish Dany's would live up to to what was in the book. Shame that it doesn't. Tyrion and Jon's scenes are living up to what I hoped they would be. Excellent at every line.

Dire wolves. Man, I love them. I want one! Summer kicked ass! My heart broke in both the Arya making Nymeria go and Ned walking up to Lady scenes. *pout*

Can't wait for next week!
Pritpaul Bains
33. Kickpuncher
What a difference a week makes. The pilot was handled relatively well - at least as well as you can manage an episode in which so many characters demand introduction - but I thought the show quite noticeably hit its stride with this past week's episode. Since all the intros were out of the way, it was nice to have the show linger on more character interaction, and have the relationships start to develop.

What more can be said about the kids? Arya, Jon, Bran, Robb, Sansa, Joff... all seem pitch-perfect, completely in line with the feel of their characters from the books. This could've been a huge pitfall for the show as so many kid actors are hit-or-miss, but so far so good. Jury's still out on Theon and Rickon, but mostly due to lack of screen-time than anything else. Tyrion - nothing more needs to be said. Fantastic. I also like how the Hound has more of a quiet, subtle malice to him in the show, underscored by return after hunting down Mycah, as opposed to the book, where he's more openly angry and hateful - more of a "just don't give a fuck" vibe.

The opening credits and theme are starting to grow on me. I was a bit underwhelmed by them last week - I felt they lacked the "epic" feel the series lends itself to - but hearing the theme again, and the evolving credits... they just seemed to fit better. Minor nitpick, but opening credits help set the tone of a show for me.

@ 6 Edgewalker, I think a lot of the frustration about Dany in the show is less about how she's being portrayed (though the manner in which the show transitions her helplessness into an attempt to take back some form of control is a bit jarring, to say the least), but moreso about how, as @27 twookoo mentioned, the show took a relatively likeable character in the book (Drogo) and made him unlikeable. I do agree that for the sake of TV, some truncation of that storyline may have been necessary, and again agree that the writers deserve some benefit of the doubt here for a few episodes, but it's pretty clear that this was going to be a lightning-rod issue, especially for book purists.

@22 ellenw, yeah, a few of those foreshadow-y lines really stood out when I watched, although I couldn't recall them right at this moment without a rewatch. More of a wink to the series readers than anything else, I guess.

@24 theresa_delucci, I'm saving that .gif.
William Fettes
34. Wolfmage
Megaduck @ 23

The line "There is no privacy in the heart of the khalasar" is a general statement, and though it is first used in the context of Dany's attempt to reclaim some power within their physical relationship, it plausibly includes other encounters both prior and after. Privacy is either generally respected or generally not respected, and clearly the Khalasar was not a very private place.

Regardless, the suggestion that each of those dozen instances of sex during which she cried from discomfort were consensual, merely because the book doesn't rub your nose in a vocal dissent, is still risible. Clearly she is rather miserable during this time, and she then tries to make the best of it. Yet the book purists making this complaint still somehow find the love that develops between them organic enough to suspend disbelief. The tv show is no different. I was just using the public exposure angle of it to prompt those with a grossly rose-tinted view of her situation to re-examine their intuitions about how meaningful her consent was. The point doesn't stand or fall on her privacy, however.
35. Neumena
For everyone frustrated with the depiction of Dany/Drogo, I don't think they are truncating this storyline at all, but actually lengething it and in fuuture episodes Drogo will grow into the likeable character he was in the book.

The reason they did this is clear...Dany's storyline disappears for LONG stretches in the book, and they need to keep her in every episode. If Dany & Drogo's first sex scene occured in the show just like it did in the book, then there would be NOTHING for Dany to do in episode #2. They are starting their relationship from a crueler, more base level so it has more room to grow and can have some focus in each episode. I've little doubt their relationship will come to look much like it did in the book over the next few episodes.

As a fan of the book, this change was jarring for me at first, but once you think about it, without it Dany would have been absent from episode 2.
36. peachy
Can I just chime in to say that I didn't like book-Drogo? Wasn't real thrilled about the prospect of forty thousand Dothraki screamers rampaging through the Seven Kingdoms massacring all of the adorable Stark moppets, either... which, let's not forget, is the whole point of the marriage.


How Viserys planned to get the Dothraki out after they won his war for him is a point never resolved. It probably never occurred to him to think about it, of course, because he's a twit, but I expect better of his supporters. (Especially those we're aware of in the Seven Kingdoms, who are not only pretty sharp fellows, but would have to deal with the aftermath personally - unlike Illyrio, say.) Unless they didn't mean for the invasion to ever actually happen, which raises some interesting speculations...
37. Edgewalker
For book purists:

This isn't the book. It's the TV show. You want the book, go read them. Deal with the differences like an adult and understand that this is Martin's story through someone else's lens.

And I'm speaking as someone who's favorite character in Lord of the Rings is imagine how I felt watching The Two Towers :)
Marcus W
38. toryx
One thing I haven't seen anyone mention yet is the obvious effort the tv show is making to provoke more sympathy for Cersei while making Jaime ever more despicable. I find that to be rather interesting and I'm really curious to see where they go with it, assuming they go anywhere at all. Of course, it's also possible that they just needed extra scenes for the two actors.

The scenes with Nymeria and Lady broke my heart. I always kind of hated those scenes in the book (I love canines, what can I say?) and it was even worse to see them portrayed on the screen and to hear Lady's yelp. Ouch.

On the other hand, I really loved the scene when the assassin came into Bran's bedchambers. That was really well done and seeing Summer save the day was pretty awesome.

Personally, Emilia Clarke’s performance has been the most disappointing for me. I don't know if she's been directed to act as she has or that was a decision she made herself, but I find little of interest in her rigidness. And I was definitely not impressed by her expression, as some have pointed out, when she's focusing on the eggs. I agree with Theresa on that one.

Wolfmage @ various:

I don't know about anyone else, but I don't really object to the Dany/ Drogo scenes in the book because until relatively recently, that was a pretty standard relationship in any marriage (especially political ones). It's despicable by today's standards, of course, but no woman in a medieval setting or in Westeros has any choice when it comes to being bedded by her husband. Catelyn might have been taken more gently by Ned on their wedding night but she had no more choice (and likely very little affection) than Dany does. The same is true for Cersei, Lysa, and any other relationship that involves the marriage of two people for political reasons.

My point is, you can call those scenes between Dany and Drogo rape all you want but essentially that'd be the same for any other political marriage in the books as well. Do you think that Ned and Catelyn are any more or less realistic because they came to love each other? Was Robert any less a rapist of Cersei? Condemn one, you might as well condemn them all. Perhaps the tv producers agree with you on the Drogo/ Dany relationship and that's why they've gone to extra lengths to make the scenes more unpleasant than they were in the movie. I, personally, would have preferred more tenderness on Drogo's part.
39. Edgewalker

What does Drogo get from this marriage, other than a white girl?
Rob Munnelly
40. RobMRobM
@39 - My guess is gorgeous foreign royal wife of nearly-pure Valyrian blood and opportunity for massive plunder in Westeros (assuming the omens were favorable). Rob
Mo -
41. Astus
@39 - An alliance with the man who is the rightful heir (well at least at least how Visy sees it) to the throne and possible future king?
Or Drogo really digs the idea of blond kids. :)

I dug this ep a lot more than the first (though I did like the first). Seeing a number of scenes in my head realised is pretty slick. Drama! Though Theon still doesn't look like what I had pictured him as.
Arya and Tyrion are still awesome so all is still right with the world.
Theresa DeLucci
42. theresa_delucci
@37 Edgewater No one loves Faramir more than me. No one! Seriously. Tor had a fan club with a quiz to gain entry. (The nerdiest thing I've ever done.) I only forgave the character assassination in the movie because David Wenham is so awesome. ;)

Secondly, I don't believe anyone here is not discussing the book/TV differences "like an adult." What else should we be talking about while we have to wait a whole torturous week for a new episode? While I don't want every comments thread to be solely a long back n' forth about the sex scenes between Dany and Drogo, I don't feel things have become a flamefest. Just some healthy debate. And yes, right now, the book versions of those characters are way more likeable. And I'm hoping to be proved wrong, but I feel Emilia Clarke's acting stands out as the weakest link among the cast.

@38 Yeah, I think the show is trying to garner a little more sympathy for Cersei somehow. And at the same time making her really hateful. I mean, I think there was some truth in her dead, black-haired baby talk. The grief seemed genuine. But the "bonding" was so fake. Obviously, because she was a part of Bran's fall. But when you think about Cersei's situation (and some interviews I'd seen with the actress) it seems like there was a potential for a decent marriage there. Maybe not a loving one, but a decent political arrangement. But everything was really stacked against Cersei from the start. You can't compete with a dead girl. And when your husband is a very public drunken lout, it's got to eat away at you that you didn't do anything to deserve this. And then over the years a sense of vindictiveness and entitlement eats away at you... and you become a cold bitch who'll do anything to get more power. And maybe your creepy brother-lover is filling your head with these ideas, too.

It's interesting to think of the differences and similarities between Cat n' Cersei. Neither one married the ones they truly loved. Cersei can't and Cat's first betrothed died. Cersei has to suffer the indignities of a drunk, whore-lovin' fat fool. Cat has Ned's bastard underfoot every day. But Cat comes to love Ned through their children and a sense of family and duty. Cersei can't. Maybe because Ned only had the one slip. He's mostly honorable and won't ever speak of Jon's mother again. (Not the speculated mother of Jon, Ashara Dayne or Wylla - the only named possibilities in the books/series thus far?) It seems like he took Jon in out of that same sense of Stark duty. Robert, though, he's got bastards everywhere. And clearly still wishes Lyanna was alive and he never married Cersei.

@41 Theon looks pretty much how I pictured - that stupid smirk and shifty eyes. Maybe he's a bit greasier-looking on the show. Anyone so hot to stab a direwolf puppy is automatically a jerk. Don't like him already.
43. Edgewalker
Cersei's story was true. It was a clue..."black haired" baby???

And I was speaking about the purists, who want everything in the book to be the same on screen. That's what ruined the Harry Potter movies.
Theresa DeLucci
44. theresa_delucci
Additionally, I went back to the novel and that whole scene with Tyrion and his siblings over breakfast was pretty much word-for-work. HBO had better start their Emmy push for Dinklage now. Supporting, I guess. It's kind of the same issue Lost had; in a cast so huge, there's really no "lead."
Rob Munnelly
45. RobMRobM
Theresa - "Maybe because Ned only had the one slip. He's mostly honorable and won't ever speak of Jon's mother again. (Not the speculated mother of Jon, Ashara Dayne or Wylla - the only named possibilities in the books/series thus far?)." Only named possibilities, yes. Only speculated possibilities, no. *whistles*

Mo -
46. Astus
@42 - I think that's it. 'Greasy' does seem like the difference. I dunno, I just had him pictured as suave. I guess in a similar way to Jaime. I agree though, dude is a douche and I can't say that I'm sad to see that. :)

I can't believe that I forget to mention Joff getting slapped! Defining moment of awesome for me, it was at this point in the book that I really started to like Tyrion. Not only the slap but his interactions with his siblings and such.

Strangely, I can't recall Cersei saying that she had a stillborn in the book. I'm just blanking out on that point. I don't mind it but I'm wondering if it's just another tool to scrape some sympathy for the woman? Or at least encourage a tiny bit of empathy. I think I'm totally off track though, and that it was indeed mentioned somewhere.
Theresa DeLucci
47. theresa_delucci
@46 I don't know how to say it without spoiling too much. She did tell someone she had a stillborn, but I don't think she was as sad as her TV conversation with Cat would make it seem. It's in the first book though.

@RobM - I'm picturing you with Tyrion's eyebrows now.
Rob Munnelly
48. RobMRobM
Theresa - as long as I'm not being slapped, that's ok. I just finished re-reading Storm of Swords and there's some interesting stuff in there....Too bad we can't talk about it (unless we head over to spoiler-ville in the forums).
tatiana deCarillion
49. decarillion
Regarding Dany and her 'lack' of emotion--she's being raped, whether you categorize it that way or not--for her, it's rape. Rape victims often withdraw inside themselves--that may be what the actress has been trying to portray. Show nothing outward; don't let them know they are hurting you; go to your internal 'safe' place; focus elsewhere.

When reading the books, I always pictured Joff through a Draco Malfoy lense--the blonde hair, the arrogance, the sense of entitlement...
50. Carolyn H
For me, the biggest difference so far between the book and the HBO show are the Dany/Drogo scenes. In the book, Dany first shows some spunk of her own by jumping her wedding gift horse over the fire. I also believe this is where the Dothraki people first begin to like her. Even more so than this scene, is that Khal Drogo waits for her to say yes on their wedding night. Both incidents help to bring these characters to life.

In the movie, so far Dany has shown nothing that even vaguely resembles spunk and Drogo brutally raped her on the wedding night. In other words, both characters are now nothing but cliches.
Those differences in tone between the book and the movie make it ridiculous that movie Dany would suddenly now want to please her new husband.

In the book, Drogo comes across as something more than just another raping barbarian, and Dany has already shown signs of maturing into someone who's going to be her own woman. In the movie, nada. So frankly, I care about these two far less than I did when I read the book. For people who haven't read the book, this subplot must be pretty hard to understand, let alone care about the characters in it.
I find this difference in treatment for these two characters between the book and the movie odd, because the main Stark story has been outstanding and nicely captures the tone in the book, even when certain actions are understandably compressed.
51. Edgewalker
I know I will get flamed for this, but "brutally raped"? He pushed her so she bent over. Horrible, yes, but not "brutal".

Dany didn't want to please him. She was trying to exert what little control she could over her situation.

I would wait and see. They obviously made these changes on purpose. Give them the benefit of the doubt.
David Thomson
53. ZetaStriker
Yeah, I'm with Edgewalker . . . Dany came to life a little more in this episode, even if the actress still leaves me very cold. Her move with Drogo felt like an attempt to exert control, not to please her husband. It's why I'm giving the plotline the benefit of the doubt for this week, even if I still remain doubtful of its eventual outcome.
Pritpaul Bains
54. Kickpuncher
@51 Rape is rape - there isn't really much of a grey area in between to differentiate between "brutal" and "less brutal". The act itself is going to have repercussions and a certain connotation for the character(s) involved. That's where the disagreements kick in, I suppose.

With regard to the "purist" argument, it seems to me a fairly obvious point that any show translated from a book isn't going to be wholly faithful with regard to scenes/action, and the writers clearly have some built-in flex. That's an obvious given that I would assume/hope pretty much everyone on here understands. Changing the crux of characters entirely and their relationship dynamic significantly from source material is, however, going to foster some unhappiness and discussion. It sounds as though you are, for some reason, shocked by this.
lake sidey
55. lakesidey
Warning: Here be Spoilers. Please read cautiously.

@41 Astus: You suggested Drogo is angling for "An alliance with the man who is the rightful heir (well at least at least how Visy sees it) to the throne and possible future king?"

I am not sure that works for me. Drogo doesn't really care about Westeros (which is all that Viserys would be king of). Dothraki don't like ships; for him all that matter is the (fairly large) landmass he is currently on. And he's already powerful there - leader of 40000, undefeated in battle. His people don't have the rigid succession structures of Westeros - might is all that matters to them. If he wanted Westeros, he would ride out and get it for himself. Not for Viserys. And he wouldn't need to be allied to the "rightful heir" to justify the invasion.

@39 Edgewalker: I'll offer the alternate hypothesis that the targareyns had unique golden hair and purple eyes (apparently a very rare combination) which made them considered exceedingly good-looking. Possibly by the prevalent standard of pulchritude in their world and time, she ranks very very high and would make the ultimate trophy wife. Several people have, in their thoughts, referred to Dany as the most beautiful woman in the world. Victarion Greyjoy, for one, has heard such rumours.(highlight for spoilers)

@47 Theresa: But didn't Cersei also tell Ned that she never let Robert inside her? Then how could she have a black-haired stillborn? (highlight for spoilers). I am not sure what to think of this statement...

56. Edgewalker

We agree to disagree. She married him and she didn't struggle except to cover herself, so "brutal rape" seems a mite strong.

But then, this is from people who want to like Khal Drogo and I never liked him at all.

I would hope everyone understands it as well, but it's clear they don't.

And my issue is with the rush to judgement after 2 episodes. They've done an amazing job with everything else. They seem respectful of Martin's vision. There is a reason I am sure. I am happy to go for the ride they take me on b/c I KNOW what happens in the books. I don't know what's going to happen and the unknown is exciting in this case.
Marcus W
57. toryx
For myself, I know that there have to be changes in translating the book to the movie. I expect that and respect the attempts that have been made.

I simply do not agree with all of those changes or the manner in which they're made and I enjoy the discussion that follows. Obviously, quite a few other people do as well. That doesn't mean that we are insisting that the show be exactly like the book, or that our opinions are automatically unrealistic or immature.

I kind of wish there was a little more discussion and a lot less personal judgements.

Edited for better sentence structure.
Theresa DeLucci
58. theresa_delucci
If we cannot talk nicely, the King's Justice will be called in to execute misbehaving posts. Egads. Look at that mug. Do not call him to this thread.

Theresa DeLucci
59. theresa_delucci
To add a question for discussion:

Why did Benjen Stark take the black? Was he, like Jon, under the impression that it was a noble act and he didn't know his new brothers would mostly be criminals? You think he might've warned his nephew of that. Killed some of the romance of it a bit before a seventeen-year-old kid (14 in the books!) left home to sign up.

Like Jon, did Benjen have nowhere else to go, being the third son? Also, if I'm remembering the books right, Ben joined after Robert was crowned, so by then his and Ned's dad and eldest brother were dead and so was Lyanna. They're the only two Starks left. Was it wise to disavow all ties to Winterfell? Like there should always be a Stark in Winterfell, should there always be a Stark in the Night's Watch - because they're wardens of the North?
Chris Palmer
60. cmpalmer
@46 Astus: I just re-read the book, so the Cersei scene jumped out at me. In the TV version, the death of the black haired baby is a foreshadowing that will reduce the exposition required when Ned starts looking into what Jon Arryn learned in King's Landing. It also may be trying to make Cersei a little more sympathetic and hints that their marriage wasn't always so horrible.

(possible spoiler if you haven't read the book): In the book, Cersei tells Ned that the only time Robert got her pregnant, she had an abortion, that she avoided having sex with him as much as possible, and that their marriage was doomed on their wedding night when Robert came to their marriage bed drunk and called her Lyanna by mistake.
61. dmuskett
I found the scene with Cersei talking about the black haired baby... chilling. Not at all sympathetic. I believe she was attempting to be sympathetic-appearing, that she really did once have a black haired baby that died - but knowing what we know of her, the information that we have which Catelyn lacked, I came away with the thought that she had probably had the black-haired baby killed. We already know that she'll easily kill kids that get in her way. And for viewers of just the TV show, I think it was intended to introduce that thought.
Theresa DeLucci
62. theresa_delucci
@61 Well, the most convincing lies have some kernel of truth in them. It is chilling, but again, I wonder if the show is making Cersei more human. That her relationship with Robert wasn't too terrible. I hope we get more backstory of all kinds in King's Landing.
Rob Munnelly
63. RobMRobM
Theresa - I'm not aware of any in-book explanation for Ben's decision. I also don't recall the timing - whether before or after Brandon's death. If after, I agree it's curious as one would think Ned would need a loyal family bannerman and heir in case of war-related problems and baby fatalities.

Claire de Trafford
64. Booksnhorses
For my tuppence worth I like Dany's reactions. I'm pretty sure I'd be blank faced in that situation. My husband asked why she wanted to please him and I told him that it was the only way that she could get Drogo to do what she wanted and grab a little power for herself. I agree that she isn't getting the chance to shine with her storyline though - the whole silver horse thing could have been more overt.

2 other quick points before I dash off: Tyrion, wonderful though he is being played, and though he is my second favourite, seems a little too mature and self-assured. Book Tyrion, for all his wit, is still young and vulnerable and trusting. Secondly, I hadn't appreciated before seeing it on screen that it is Ned who cuts Sansa off from the Starks by killing Lady. He could have played that a different way - but he is responsible ultimately for killing her direwolf and all that it symbolises.

Off to school pick up now :)
Mo -
65. Astus
Thanks for clearing that up all. I recall it very clearly now. Still, it's definitely an interesting point.

@ lakesidey - Noted though I wasn't being very serious with the post. Just brainstorming possibilities, other than wanting the pretty blond lady haha. I like the discussion on why she is important to him though. Things to think about.
Marcus W
66. toryx
ClairedeT @ 64:
Secondly, I hadn't appreciated before seeing it on screen that it is Ned who cuts Sansa off from the Starks by killing Lady. He could have played that a different way - but he is responsible ultimately for killing her direwolf and all that it symbolises.

I don't really agree that Ned could have played that a different way. If he'd done anything else he wouldn't be Ned. He was constrained by his honor and his entire moral code to do exactly what he did.

In the end, though, that did lead to Sansa losing her connection to the Starks, I agree with that. Quite the tragedy. Still, my blame lies with Robert. If he'd had the strength to stand up to Cersei, it wouldn't have happened at all.
67. James23ar
I think people missed the point with cersei interaction with Catyln Stark over Bran's sick bed. Cersei had Bran pushed off the window, now she is telling his mother how much she hopes that he gets well. She almost had me conviced. This scence was to show what an amazing liar she was.
Theresa DeLucci
68. theresa_delucci
@66 Agreed. Ned will always, always do the honorable, right thing, which makes him such a rare guy in Westeros. I put the blame more on Cersei and Robert. He's the king! He doesn't even love his wife, so why have an innocent animal, your best friend's sigil, killed? I guess it's easy for me to say, since I don't have to live with Cersei on a daily basis. Robert continually makes bad decisions. But Cersei's the one who drove a powerfully aimed wedge between Sansa and her family.

On the other hand, if Sansa's going to sell out her own sister that quickly for a sadistic little shit like Joffrey, well, she doesn't deserve a Stark direwolf anyway. That's fate (or the author) punishing her very dearly for her lie. Yeah, I know she's thirteen, but she's not as clear-eyed as her little sister.

Poor Lady though.
Rob Munnelly
69. RobMRobM
Ned doesn't have a choice - if the King orders, he is sworn to obey. Only issue is who handles the killing, and he did that honorably.

Robert should be shooting Cersei down due to Lady's innocence and insult/harm to his Hand and family, but he is avoiding yet another fight with his wife and/or son. Life of Sansa's pet is, to him, a small price to pay to get his wife off of his proverbial back.

@67 - I liked the TV scene with Cersei because it can be read several ways. It certainly shows her ability to lie - at minimum, she wants Bran to die rather than live as she told Cat - but I believe she was actually sharing a bit of truth over possible loss of a child. It ties in with a statement she makes later in the books that while mothers may dislike their husbands they can really love their children. Cersei's feelings of loss over the first, long dormant, could well be real. (Adding a final layer, it could be an out and out lie but that would be tricky as Ned would be in position to check in with Robert and get truth.)
David Thomson
70. ZetaStriker
It's also possible they may have merely mentioned that child early in the series in order to echo it with the same truth about it that we know from the novel further down the road.
Rob Munnelly
71. RobMRobM
The bells ring out all over the land. GRRM has posted on his blog a pic of a fallen King Kong. Thus, the text of Dances with Dragons is complete!!!!! Woo hoo.

Theresa DeLucci
72. theresa_delucci
Awesome. Just saw the blog post. I kind of want to smack the person in the comments who tells George to take a break because he earned it. No more breaks!!!!! ;) Poor people who've read this series from the beginning. They've been waiting 11 years to find out what happens to some of their favorite characters. That's wild!
Rob Munnelly
73. RobMRobM
Good news is he's 6-8% done with the next book already, as he moved completed chapters from DWD into it. I'm just hoping this book sets the path and the final two books flow smoothly, without big creative/organizational hurdles to surmount (a la the Meerenese Knot).
Rob Munnelly
74. RobMRobM
Arggh. Not so fast, apparently.


Jeez, guys. Calm down.

This is why I hate to do updates.

I say I have good day, and immediately I have a hundred people deciding this means that DANCE is finished.

I'm not the oracle at Delphi. Whatever casual comments I make on this Not A Blog are just that, and should not be subjected to analysis, interpertation, or decoding.

When I finish DANCE, you'll know it. I will write something like this: "I have finished A DANCE WITH DRAGONS." You won't need to parse any hints.

For the record, I have not finished A DANCE WITH DRAGONS. I just had a particularly good day yesterday. I hope to have another one today.
Carol Witt
75. carolwitt
RobMRobM @ 74: That quote is from a post dated January 30, 2010.
lake sidey
76. lakesidey
@56 Edgewalker: I'm confused - I didn't refer to it as a "brutal rape" or anything remotely like it. I'm sorry if I seemed to be disagreeing with you, was not the intention! The only point I was making was that, since at some point she has to name a dragon after Drogo, she has to come to love him (however the series may make that happen) unless they choose to change the names of the dragons themselves! (Highlight for spoilers)

@65 Astus: Ah :o) like that. (Though, I must admit, I am not that much of a fan of blondes (even if they are noticeably older than Dany/Emilia) especially when they are as expressionless as she has chosen to be. So I can't really see her as the most beautiful blah blah.

@74 Robb: Where did you get that quote from? It isn't on his blog...?

Carol Witt
77. carolwitt
Argh. I tried to edit my post to include the URL and it's now flagged as spam. In any case, that quote is from a post from January 30, 2010.
Kimani Rogers
78. KiManiak
RobMRobM@74 & others,

I really hope this isn't another situation where Lucy (Mr. Martin) pulls the ball away from Charlie Brown (the faithful readers) yet again.

But it's sure looking like the same old, same old. I'll believe it when the actual book is physically in bookstores...

Rob Munnelly
79. RobMRobM
@74 - yes, was on his blog. Definite Lucy situation. He showed a dead Kong and started the post with a reference to "As beauty...." -- which, completing the quote, is that beauty kills the savage beast. Could not f***ing believe it that there was a secondary post. Arrgh.
Rob Munnelly
80. RobMRobM
OK - as of 424 p.m., Winteriscoming is reporting that GRRM's editor confirmed that the book was in fact done. Hallelujah. Wonder if the pulling back message was a prank, as I can't find the pulling back post on NotaBlog now.
Theresa DeLucci
81. theresa_delucci
Well now Westeros is reporting it as complete. I don't know what to believe. I want to believe. Like @78, I'll believe it when I've got a copy of a finished book in my hands.
Marcus W
82. toryx
theresa_delucci @ 72:

I'm not the one who posted on his Not a Blog that he should take a break, but I do believe he should. He definitely deserves a break. Hopefully he'll take some time to chill out and recharge.

RobM & Others: GRRM has said for years that when the book is done that he'll post on his website in the Updates page. He hasn't posted there yet, presumably because there are still some edits to be made. When it shows up on his web site, that's when we should start celebrating and not before.
William Fettes
83. Wolfmage
Toryx @ 38

Yes, that’s a good point about spousal rape: it doesn’t exist in Westeros either, and so, if the rape flag applies here we should also presumptively question Westerosi marriages and marital sex without prejudice. I entirely agree with that sentiment, and agree it follows from my position. After all, the culture of Westeros is hardly much more civilised than the Dothraki when it comes to treating women like chattels. Given that both cultures assign total sexual rights to the husband via marriage, this is an important point.

The only potentially qualifying difference here is that not all arranged marriages are created equally in terms of how they offend and alienate the parties involved, and we don’t actually see these on-screen to judge them.

For an on-screen example, however, consider Sansa. Putting aside her subsequent realisations about his character, Sansa is entirely captivated by the idea of being married to Joffrey -- though the prospect of their betrothal has nothing to do with her feelings. So clearly that arrangement, at least at the outset, was more consensual than Dany’s marriage to Drogo.

So, the fact that political imperatives dictate most high-born marriage in Westeros doesn’t necessarily crowd out the possibility of subjective feelings. IMO feelings, and indeed, love are a predictable possibility in any situation of pair-bonded co-habitation, and especially so with a reasonably compatible pair – ie. Houses and individuals with similar values and some minimal personal charisma. Being socialised from an early age to know your potential mate(s) no doubt helps pave the way for such feelings too.

My point wasn’t to question the whole basis of love ever emerging from an arranged marriage -- which seems to me to be an entirely untenable assertion. My point was that fixating on the moral hall-pass given by the bodice-ripping aspects of Dany's wedding night, whilst ignoring the fundamental coercion of the arrangement and the subsequent painful non-consensual sex acts – was a fairly superficial analysis of what’s really going on. Reading other forums, those making these complaints seem to want to avoid the huge moral tension that exists between those other sex scenes and the wedding night by pretending that Dany was really consenting despite the crying and the pain – which IMO is a horrible and untenable reading of what’s going on.

So, for the record, I entirely accept that love grows between Dany and Drogo in the books – but it does so despite the murkiness of the original relationship, and if that can work in the book it can work in the tv show.

That said, I really do think the wedding night was a bit of a cop out by GRRM. He went to this really dark place, not pulling any punches, but then he decides to focus the reader’s attention on a 13-year-old's state of sexual arousal to fudge through the nasty reality of there not being any meaningful consent in her situation. IMO the tv show treads a more realistic path, and probably one that is necessary given they lack time and can’t reveal Dany’s POV so directly.

To be clear I have no issue whatsoever with a modest, nuanced comment like desiring more tenderness. My stridency on this issue is more a reaction against the sky-is-falling type of comments that suggest this has now somehow rendered impossible the idea of love emerging between Dany and Drogo, because Drogo was like Prince Charming during their wedding night and there was nothing like rape in her arc. As I've said, I just don't think that's a tenable reading of the books.
84. Bernardette
I have yet to watch the HBO series but am looking forward to netflixing it as soon as it comes out.

Two comments about the discussion and one plea for help:

1.) Daernys/Drogo and other arranged marriages in the book:
- There should be no hair splitting on this thread between "brutal" rape and "non-brutal". Rape, the deprivation of another person's right to choose the time and set limits to their sexual experience, is awful and painful, period. Grading the "type" of rape leads to grading our outrage about the act, which we shouldn't be doing.

- It is possible that some of the arranged marriages included some kind of instruction about what they could expect and the women, while not necessarily enjoying what happened, consented to the act. Not pleasant, not morally right, but possible and different than what Daernys goes through. Others, in Westeros, were probably not much different than what happened to Daernys - women sold for political alliances and then raped by their husbands. Cersei, for example, for as awful as she became, had a right to be completely traumatized and humiliated by Robert's behavior.

2.) Can someone PLEASE help George RR Martin fix his website. It is SO ugly that I cannot stand to look through it another time. I do NOT understand why so many SFF authors have such awful websites. Readers, help your favorite authors out! authors, pay someone the $5 or 10k that it takes to create a nice website!!

p.s. as a reader, I am very familiar with the sexualization of young characters in SFF. It doesn't seem to make me as squeamish in books as it does in tv series which I find interesting/distressing on a certain level. So, that said, while I'm glad they "aged up" Daernys for the series, it still freaks me out that we're watching and PAYING to watch, simulation of an act that would be illegal to view in real life. Not sure what that means... just... making the observation...
85. Bernardette
my comment just got flagged as spam! captcha SUCKS. I spent TIME on my comment >:-(
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
86. tnh
Bernardette @84:

1. Please try to distinguish contemporary real-world politics from historical practices, and distinguish both of them from fiction.

2. Arranged marriages are problematical, and on the whole our real-world social consensus is that choice and consent are better; but the practice is not automatically the equivalent of rape.

3. Holding that all imperfectly consensual sexual acts are equal is a modern political stance. Its underlying premise is that allowing any not-wholly-consensual sexual act to be labeled "less than rape" tends to put the victim on trial, and/or imply that that degree of nonconsensuality is permissible. In that context, it's a respectable political position. However, as experiences go, violent rape is worse than nonviolent rape, or being married to someone you don't especially fancy; and we're talking about a piece of entertainment, not drafting legislation. Insisting on the equivalence of those experiences will generate some strange readings.

4. You may have noticed that Daenerys is a member of a (formerly) powerful ruling family. Read some history. (For starters, try Margaret Beaufort (1443-1509), or just read through the lives of Wikipedia's list of English consorts.) At that social level, marriage wasn't between individuals; it was between powerful families who married off their children for political advantage. Their family business was holding and amassing power, and arranged marriages were part of that.

The burden wasn't equally borne. Men could find other consolations more easily than women could, or could ignore their wives for years on end. But some women made quite a career out of their marriages, and some of their marriages were tolerably companionable or even happy.

And if they weren't particularly happy? Well, look at it as the flip side of not having to work for a living. Nobody asked the daughters of the nobility whether they wanted to live that life; but nobody asked the daughters of the peasants whether they wanted to be peasants, either.

5. In the books, the relationship between Daernys and Drogo is considerably more humane. It's arguable that the screenwriters are a more appropriate target for your criticism.

6. You're watching a work of fiction. If it makes you squeamish, don't watch it. Cancel your account. Write to the producers and tell them why you did it.

7. George Martin could afford a fancier website if he wanted one. So could a lot of other authors in the genre. Why don't they make them slicker and more ornamental? I suspect it has something to do with writers being more into words than pictures. If you want to look at pretty websites, try some cover artists.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
87. tnh
Peachy @36, that wasn't nearly enough spoiler space, so I've whited out your spoiler paragraph.

For anyone else wants to use that trick but doesn't know how: enter your text, highlight the spoiler, and pull down the menu under the orange-colored "A" in the text-entry menu bar. True white is at the far right of the bottom row.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
88. tnh
Theresa @81: I'll believe it when he says he's turned it in. The man's no fool. He's not going to say it's done if it isn't.

I'll believe it's irrevocably moving toward publication when I hear it's in copyedit.
Marcus W
89. toryx
I saw a post yesterday from Parris (GRRM's wife) stating that the book is definitely completed, aside from a few last copyedits. Which to me, still means there's work to be done and I'm still not going to put on my party hat quite yet.

She seemed a little upset by the reactions of fans like myself who viewed the King Kong post with caution. I understand where she's coming from but GRRM said many, many times, including in person to me, that when the book was truly done he'd say so on the web site first. I don't mind him not doing that immediately considering everything that's going on in his life right now but I don't think it's unreasonable for a lot of us to take the Not a Blog post with a serious grain of salt.

Of course, now the web site has been updated to say it's done, so that's all good and well. I look forward to having the final product in my hands, whether it's in July as currently predicted or some other time.
90. Daktari
I actually found the Dany/Drogo scenes far less disturbing than the Lucrezia Borgia scenes in the Borgias and I haven't seen as much 'outrage' about those. Makes me wonder why.
Theresa DeLucci
91. theresa_delucci
Maybe because less people have watched The Borgias? I'm curious about it, but there's only so much cable I can afford. And Game of Thrones is just going to be a bigger draw for people who frequent

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