May 7 2012 11:30am

Game of Thrones, Season 2, Ep. 6, “The Old Gods and the New”

Game of Thrones season 2 episode 6: The Old Gods and the New

That was definitely my favorite episode of Game of Thrones this season. It was gut-wrenching, nail-biting, downright disturbing, and it had some moments to cheer for (though they were few and far between.)

I found the episode title misleading, as so much of this week’s show was about Winterfell, Robb Stark, and Jon Snow encountering a troublesome wildling. The Old Gods were well represented. I can’t say the same about the new, as we didn’t check in with Melisandre this time. Which maybe contributed to me liking this hour that much more.

But really it was about Joffrey getting slapped again.

Warning: Episode reviews contain episode and book spoilers. If you want to remain spoiler-free, follow Leigh Butler’s read of ASOIaF. is not liable for your further enjoyment of the series if later books get spoiled in the comments.

“The Old Gods and the New” hit the ground running with Maester Luwin desperately trying to send a raven to alert Robb to Theon’s betrayal and the seige of Winterfell. Though we’ve spent less screentime at Winterfell than we did in the books, it’s possibly even more distressing to see the Stark home under attack. It’s more than a castle, it’s a heart, it’s a dream that all of the scattered Starks wish to return to. It’s Tara, Manderley, the Shire.

Game of Thrones season 2 episode 6: The Old Gods and the New

Theon is such a dick. Is there really more to express along those lines? Any ounce of sympathy I did feel for him as he struggled with his Greyjoy heritage is gone. One line that did strike me was Bran asking the new prince “Did you hate us the whole time?” Did anyone ever ask Theon that?

The faithful servants of Ned Stark are uniformly bold. Let’s have a moment for Ser Roderick and his bitchin’ muttonchop braids. He’s punching direwolves in heaven with Jory and Yoren now. His execution was harrowing. Hearing Bran and the smallfolk of Winterfell begging Theon for mercy made it worse. Alfie Allen, like Jack Gleeson (Joffrey), is such a natural at playing the bad guy. That wild look in his eyes as he kicked Roderick’s head was superb.

The tension didn’t let up when we stopped in on Arya at Harrenhal. I love the scenes she’s been sharing with Tywin. Lord Tywin seems to know his men are half-wits and sycophants. When Littlefinger entered the room, I think I might have frozen as much as Arya did. That was nicely edited, like a dance.

Charles Dance imbues Tywin with real life. He’s a frighteningly powerful man, and so smart, but when he talks to his little cupbearer there’s a vulnerability in his voice, showing through rare little chinks in his red and gold armor. But it’s ultimately nothing Arya can exploit. Yet it makes the old lion one of the more interesting men with an army.

In Robb’s camp, the young wolf flirts with Lady Not-Jayne-Westerling (or is it?) until his mother comes along and kills the mood, as moms are wont to do when they see their betrothed son flirting with some nameless hussy. If you’ve read the books, you know that Robb should really, really listen to his mother here.

Game of Thrones season 2 episode 6: The Old Gods and the New

One of the biggest events of the night was the riot in King’s Landing. Chaotic camerawork left me on the edge of my seat. King Joffrey, such a stupid little shit. What will it take for anyone besides Tyrion to reign the “vicious idiot” teen tyrant in? Tyrion, the Kingslapper. I have no problem with this occurring at least once each season. I can’t help but notice that Tyrion is the only person concerned for Sansa. It’s like he’s the only person who realizes her worth to the Lannister cause, but he sees her as more than a bargaining chip, too. He seems to have some bit of admiration for her.

In an episode of beheadings and a man getting torn apart like he was on The Walking Dead, the near gang rape of Sansa was the hardest part to stomach. Too bad no Hound was there to save the other women from a similar fate. Again with the repugnant treatment towards women in Westeros. I loved finally seeing a bit of interaction between Sandor Clegane and Sansa. While he may not look the part, he is quite the knight in shining armor. 

Beyond the Wall, Jon Snow gets some good ranging advice from Qhorin Halfhand. Qhorin seemed really smart until he left Jon alone to kill a feisty redheaded wildling, even though it was so obvious that these two were destined to meet cute. And how cute was it when Ygritte made Jon squirm by squirming herself? Oh, enjoy the fun while it lasts, you two.

The episode ends with Osha helping to spirit away Bran, Rickon, Hodor (Hodor!) and the direwolves. But the real cliffhanger is the dragon-napping. What will Dany do to get her children back? Looks like somebody woke the dragon. Where was Jorah in all of this? How long can Theon hold Winterfell against Roose Bolton’s bastard — one of the few men more heinous than even Joffrey and Theon?

Next week can’t come soon enough, don’t you agree?

Game of Thrones airs 9PM E/PT on HBO.

Theresa DeLucci is a regular contributor to She covers True Blood, Game of Thrones, and is also an avid gamer. She has also covered tech and TV for and Action Flick Chick. Follower her on Twitter @tdelucci

David Lev
1. davidlev
I'm beginning to think they've just replaced Jeyne Westerling with Talisa to save time--Robb doesn't have to get hurt while capturing the westerling castle or however they met (It's been a long time since I read ACOK). Book purists might be angry, but I kinda like Talisa. Her being from Volantis seeems an odd choice though--ADWD made it pretty clear that Volantis is the farthest of the free cities from Westeros, both culturally and distance-wise.

One change that did bother me a bit was the bit where Osha, Hodor, and the two Stark boys escape from Winterfell, because if it happens this way (and they're not simply recaptured by Theon next episode) then it takes away one of Theon's few redeeming acts (as well as one of his most monstrous. Those poor miller's boys...). Also, a big dynamic of AFFC and ADWD were that Bran and Rickon were presumed dead, not missing. Perhaps they will be recaptured them.

I found it interesting that when Tyrion thanks Sandor Cleagane, Cleagane says he didn't save Sansa for him. But if he didn't do it for Tyrion, and Jofferey doesn't give a shit (btw, both Jofferey and Meryn Trant get black marks in my book for their total lack of concern for Sansa's welfare--not that either of them ever had white marks), who did Sandor do it for? Methinks the Hound is less of a bastard than people suspect.
Richard Fife
2. R.Fife
I loved this ep too, and mainly for all the departures from the book. I loved the knowing look Cat gave Robb when she saw him flirting. The dynamic was spot on perfect of a mom and son. The change of what is going on in Winterfell, with Theon killing Rodrick personally and the like. I think the miller's sons will still happen, although I am curious what they are going to do with Rickon, seeing as Osha took him off in the books while the marsh-kids took Bran north. Seems they are setting Osha up to fill the marsh-kids roles, though, so she'll be headed back north. Who is going to chapereon Rickon?

Also, the Dragon Napping? That is new. Really excited to see where this is going. My money is on the warlocks having kidnapped them.
Scott Sherris
3. ssherris
"I can’t say the same about the new, as we didn’t check in with Melisandre this time."
The "new" gods refer to the Seven, the gods of the 7 kingdoms. The septs and septas represent them. "New" is obviously relative. Melisandre's one red god is too new to Westeros to even be called the "new-new god".
Richard Fife
4. R.Fife
@3 somehow I just read that as saying red priests are hipsters. "I worship the red god. You probably haven't heard of it." I will never unknow this.
5. Lsana
The names of the episodes this season, with the exception of "Ghosts of Harrenhal," seem to me to be determined by taking a cool-sounding phrase from the book more or less at random. This week was especially bad. I don't think we got much influence from Gods, either Old or New. A better title might have been "You Know Nothing, Jon Snow." It was certainly true. Jon, I love you, but it's a good thing you're pretty because you clearly won't make it by your wits alone.

This was another one where I was disappointed, mostly because while I didn't think anything was bad, it was just slightly inferior to the book. The scene in the castle once the royal party gets back after the riots is one of my favorites in the book. Here, it was reasonably good, but just so far from the standard set by the book that I have to sigh.


What on Earth was "redeeming" about Theon's actions after Bran and Rickon escaped? In my mind, that was his Moral Event Horizon, and one of the primary reasons I'm hoping for him to die. I can't think of any part of that incident that wasn't monsterous.
Theresa DeLucci
6. theresa_delucci
@3 But we didn't really spend time with septas either. It was just a weird choice of title.

@2 Re: Dragon-napping. When in doubt, a wizard did it. Do we agree that that tower was supposed to be the House of the Undying?

I loved how melodramatic The Spice King was, with those eye rolls. He can't invest in wishes and dreams and Khal Drogo's sparkly guy-liner, people. He's busy.
7. sofrina
i officially don't know what story this is, which is kind of exciting. tywin opening up about his family? a far cry from roose bolton promising to cut out arya's tongue for asking questions. osha sleeping with theon? she couldn't orchestrate all that from the kitchen? i think that beheading was as horrifying for theon as for the witnesses. we really missed this actor last season, but it seems like he should be up for an award this year. he's nailing theon's pathos. you have to hand it to those wildling women. they'll use every trick in the book to save their own lives. i kept expecting ghost to take her down. i kinda like the way roose bolton says 'dread fort.' of all the places in westeros, that name really stands out. even winterfell is somewhat lyrical. but bolton just sort of sells it as ordinary and formidable at the same time. and now someone's slain daenerys' khalasar and stolen the dragons? is she down to two bloodriders and jorah?! my guess is doreah, who was last seen playing with them and not seen among the dead. i'm staying tuned for the exciting conclusion. dracarys!

on the hound: saving sansa doesn't wash out riding down the butcher's boy. just because he has some kindness in him doesn't mean he's any less awful. he saved sansa for himself. he's got a sort of crush on her.
8. Black Dread
I'm wondering if we get to see the Halfhand give Jon that most important speech? It is necessary to understand all his future actions.
9. sofrina
@6 - but it was the high septon who blessed myrcella's departure and was then torn apart by the angry there's that.
Scott Silver
10. hihosilver28
@1- Check chapter 46 & 50. Bran and Rickon's escape happens pretty much the exact same way. Theon doesn't have any redeeming qualities at this point. He's just trying to save face since the Stark boys gave him the slip.

re: episode name- I feel that it was, if not appropriate, then not out of place. Namely for reasons mentioned by sofrina and then Jon north of the Wall.
Rob Munnelly
11. RobMRobM
I liked a lot of things about this episode (Winterfell!! Kings Landing!!! Arya-Littlefinger!!) but some of the changes made to "amp up" the books are over-obvious and create plot credibility problems (Arya's note and last minute death by Jaqen; Ygritte's escape from Jon; Dany's scene with the Spice Dude; and most especially the Dragon napping). The trend of last second fortuitous saves to create drama (Gendry by Tyrion two weeks ago, Arya by Jaqen, Sansa by the Hound) needs to be brought to a swift close.

12. AI1
Please Advise--
I haven't read the books but think this might be the best show on television. I got hooked last season and waited what seemed like ages for this one. All of you seem to have read the books and are now watching so here are my questions:
1. How true an adaptation is the show?--I would expect some waffling in the translation from book to screen but this can be OK as in LOTR, or devestating as in The Golden Compass. I have no way to know, what is the general sense among you?
2. I have a Kindle and there is much rancor regarding these books, first as to their high price relative to others (I don't think a care about this at this point); more important that both the Kindle and print versions have real problems--poor formatting in the former, missing pages in the latter. Any thoughts/guidance would be helpful.
3. The books are huge, reportedly. This can be tedious or it can be fine, is GRRM a good enough writer to carry you through? or is it a hard slog with a good plot, as some reviewers complain?
Again I appreciate any advice. I realize this isn't the correct place to ask and I apologize for the intrusion--just don't know where else to go. Thanks.
Genevieve Williams
13. welltemperedwriter
It was pretty obvious to me even from the books that the Hound has more than a little crush in Sansa. But he's also had life experiences that have taught him not to care about anything, or to show it, too much. And, because of the position he's in, there's not a lot he can do to help her. I'd go so far as to suggest that most of the times he acts angrily towards her, he's really angry with himself.

I liked this episode a lot, even the plot changes, though I'm not sure about this unexpected sympathy for Tywin.
Scott Silver
14. hihosilver28
@RobMRobM- I can see where you're coming from with last second saves, but I actually liked the Arya one. It showed her as a young girl and trying to help herself and Robb, and pretty much botching it. So I'm ok with that one. The situation with Sansa and the Hound is from the book.

@AI1- 1.The adaptation is by and large a faithful adaptation of the books. I'd say on a level of faithfulness with tLotR. That said, they are WAY deeper than the show, mainly with characters and political intrigue. So, even though you've seen the show, there are still benefits to be reaped by reading the books.
2. I bought the softcover boxed set with books 1-4 and had no problems with the text. Can't talk to the digital editions.
3. The first time I started the series, A Clash of Kings killed it for me. I was expecting that once the plot kicked into motion at the end of A Game of Thrones that the pace would stay in high gear. That expectation made me dislike book 2 and then quit. After the first season started airing, I decided to go back and reread the first two and finish the series. That time, I knew what I was getting into. The books had "taught me how to read them" and I enjoyed it MUCH more than the first time through, especially A Storm of Swords. All because I wasn't expecting them to read like The Wheel of Time. Moral of the story: don't expect them to read like "typical" fantasy, in fact, don't carry many expectations in. Let the books teach you how to read them and you'll enjoy the experience.
15. mochabean
@AI1 : I read all five on my Kindle and had no issues -- other than maps don't render well. Easily mended via the internet. It is well worth the time to read the books, especially if you are enjoying the show.

@all: just wanted to note how much I liked the very subtle "flayed man" sigil etched on the leather of Roose Bolton's armour. Grimly efficient.
Eli Bishop
16. EliBishop
Rob @11: I don't get how you're lumping those three things together as "last second fortuitous saves to create drama." Gendry being saved by Tywin (not Tyrion) was that, sure. But Arya wasn't saved by Jaqen just happening to show up by coincidence; she ran all over his workplace looking for him, and based on his ninja act last time, it was a pretty sure bet that if she found him he'd be able to take care of things. And the Hound didn't just happen to show up in time to save Sansa-- he went out looking for her, a short distance from the castle, immediately after she'd been abducted.
Rob Munnelly
17. RobMRobM
Hiho - Hound did save Sansa from trouble but not made clear in the books what kind of trouble she was in. Here, it was right at point the pants were getting lowered - a bit too precise for me, especially following the timing of some other saves. I do understand your point re the Arya save it is better than the others and more fun besides - but it tipped a big wrong for me in light of other examples.

AI1-1 - I will agree with Hiho's response. The HBO show has been faithful to the spirit of the books, if occasionally departing from the letter. One minor example to illustrate the point - a fan favorite character from the book is Cat's uncle, who lived in the Vale, helps Cat with her sister Lysa, goes with Cat to Robb's camp and becomes a trusted advisor to Robb. But he didn't make the HBO show. I would like to have seen him on screen but I agree he isn't quite sufficiently critical to make the cut - and it makes Robb more dramatic to make key war decisions without the benefit from a seasoned battle leader/uncle. There are other examples of side characters being dropped or consolidated so that there are fewer characters for the audience to follow. The show also puts out front things that are implied subtlely in the books, such as the Loras-Renly relationship. There seem to be more significant deviations this season, as expected given that there remain 10 eps and there are an additional 300 or so pages to cover compared to the first book/season. Bookreaders are holding our breaths to hope that the changes work out ok without disrupting future plot lines.
Joseph Kingsmill
18. JFKingsmill16
In the book, I believe the man who was torn apart was the High Septon.
Scott Silver
19. hihosilver28
@mochabean- Damn, I missed the Flayed Man on the armor. REWATCH!

On a different note, I have been impressed with the consistency of the past two episodes. I'm hoping that the final four are more in line with these two and some of the missteps early in the season are simply just that, missteps not to be repeated.

On a different different note, anyone here been watching Legend of Korra too? Not much in common between the shows besides two examples of excellence in what is typically a dry season for tv. I've actually been kind of surprised that the show that I'm looking forward to the most each weekend has been Korra over Game of Thrones. Then only two months to Breaking Bad! Already a summer for the record books.
Anthony Pero
20. anthonypero
I'll say this, not many fans of the books were sorry to see *spoilers in spite of not needing them* Robb go in the Red Wedding *End Spoilers*. The HBO Robb is a far superior character to the book Robb. When that happens on screen, it's going to be much more horrifying.

Just aging the children the way they have improves the story tremendously. Other changes? Not so much.
Tricia Irish
21. Tektonica
I agree, AP@20. Robb is much improved over the book is Tywin. That actor is wonderful. Tywin is a ruthless monster, but he's made to be human here too. I actually liked him last night. (Horrors!) Even Arya, one of my favorite book characters, is better on screen.

I almost chocked when Littlefinger came in to see Tywin. Obviously, so did Arya! Well shot too. Now he did see her, right....and as usual kept his mouth shut and banked his information. He is such a weazel.

I don't remember any dragon stealing in the I wrong?

And Jon....oh Jon....why are men so easily influenced by a pretty face? Sigh. He's just too nice. (And yes...good thing he's cute!)

Theon....So dumb. So confused. So dependent on other people's opinion of him, that he has no center, himself. He'd sell out to anyone, promising him a position/castle/title/boink. Such a pathetic, dick, and incompetent to boot. No honor. Loser.

AI1@12: Read the books. They are much more indepth, and GRRM is a very good writer. This is an instance where long is good.....mostly.
22. graftonio
Oh Theon, you have to remember your name. In a series where so many terrible things happen to decent people some poeple do eventually get what they deserve and then a little bit more.
Scott Silver
23. hihosilver28
Tektonica@21- I have read the books. That was the point that I was making to AI1, they are well worth reading, but know what you're getting into. I loved the first three and was fairly let down by A Feast for Crows and A Dance With Dragons. But that's a discussion for another post.

All in all, I've really enjoyed A Song of Ice and Fire, but it's not my favorite fantasy series. That still goes to Lord of the Rings and then Wheel of Time. However, that being said, GRRM writes viewpoints better than anyone else in the business. They all feel very different from each other, and yet are incredibly real.
Tricia Irish
24. Tektonica
HiHo: Oops....I should've directed that to AI1!! My bad. I did a very fast scan back up to someone with a list and tagged you instead. Maybe I'll go correct that.....

btw....I agree about LotR and WoT....have you read Malazan? Fantastic. The best characters and dialogue, ever.
Scott Silver
25. hihosilver28
Tektonica- I have started Malazan. I have to be honest; Gardens of the Moon turned me off in a BIG way. I don't mind being tossed into a story, but being tossed into a series and feeling like there were 3 previous books that I had missed...not so much. I didn't feel that there were rules or stakes and crap just happened in the book. Granted, I have heard that books 2-4 are easier to get through...but honestly it's going to be some time before I get to those. I have to do my complete re-read of The Wheel of Time this summer and fall to get prepped for A Memory of Light, after that is some David Foster Wallace and other stand-alones that I've been wanting to read. My next series will probably be the first few to The Sword of Truth.
Rob Munnelly
26. RobMRobM
Hiho - Tek and I are both big WoT people as well. (I fell into yet another re-read - just finished TFOH.)

Re Malazan, I didn't like GoTM all that much but I really liked 2-4. I finished the rest of the series (as well as the related Esslemont books in the same universe) but I had to work too hard for me to enjoy them on a Jordan or GRRM level. I'm a big fan of Robin Hobbs' works - perhaps head in that direction if you want some new reading. Start with the three Farseer books (first one is Assassin's Apprentice). Three other trilogies that tell stories in other parts of her world (except for Tawny Man - first book is Fool's Errand - which is a direct sequel to Farseer) follow (although the latest one will become a tetraology before next year).
27. mochabean
@graftonio (22): nicely done! I know many may disagree, but that moment is perhaps the most poignant in all of the books. Curse you GRRM!
Bill Stusser
28. billiam
Haven't seen the episode yet (*damn work!) but the changes I've read about here and on other sites sound terrible. Maybe I'll have a different reaction when I finally get to see the ep.

*We got a new account at work that started on April 1st so I've been working 6 nights a week, Sunday through Friday for 5 or 6 weeks now. 25 to 30 hours of OT a pay period, good for the paycheck but bad for every other aspect of life.

I would highly recomend reading ASoIaF. GRRM is one of the best authers writing today in my opinion. I have been reading (and rereading) WoT since the early nineties and can't wait for AMoL to come out but I now place ASoIaF ahead of WoT.

Sorry Tek, I think the Malazan books are terrible. I've read the first 4 books and was disapointed in every one. Erikson's world building is awesome in scope but the story itself is just disapointing.

Rob, I stopped reading the Assassin's apprentice about half way through out of sheer boredom. Does anything actually ever happen? Maybe I'll give it another chance after I finish rereading the Thomas Covenant Chronicles.

And one more thing, I wouldn't bother with the series that shall not be named. Worst. Fantasy. Books. Ever. Again, just my opinion.
29. MichaelFFlynn
It would be fair to say that no one ever sets out and reaches the destination they had intended. Ned going to be Hand; Renly going to be King; Arya going north with the Crows. No one ever seems to reach what they were trying for. And that would seem to include the baddies, too. Theon went home to find welcome, and did not. Now he has gone to Winterfell and...

The book cover says it all.
30. lampwick
@29 -- When Arya started heading to Winterfell I actually looked at the map and thought, Well, that isn't such a long way to go... That was back before I realized that GRRM was going to deconstruct every single fantasy trope in existence.
31. AlBrown
I liked this episode quite a bit, and last week was a good one, so IMHO, the series is on a pretty good roll as they reach the midpoint of the season. I don't mind the minor variations when compared with the book, it makes life more interesting. Book and film have different focuses, and what works in one media often does not in the other.
I loved Ygritte in the books, and very much enjoyed her entry into the series. I also enjoyed watching the riot scene in King's Landing, a very gripping scene, well acted and well directed.
I don't know why we insist on discussing who is 'good' and 'bad' or 'redeemed' in this work--in GRRM's work, he presents people as they are, not as we wish they might be, with both good and bad qualities, often at war with themselves as much as with the world around them.
Tricia Irish
32. Tektonica
HiHo & Billiam:

Like RobM said...GotM (Malazan's first book) is tough going. If I hadn't had a mensch/tutor to hold my hand ,and tell me what to pay attention to, I might have given up. It was also written 10 years before the next book in the series, and Ericson improved considerabley in those 10 years. It's not an easy series, it's scope is vast, the time line is not straightforward, but his world, and the plain old soldiers who are the heart and soul of the story, are wonderful characters. Sometimes his turn of phrase stops me dead, it's so amazing.

Robin Hobb is another favorite of mine too...The Farseer and the Tawny man series...not the others. Rob and I seem to agree on books!

GRRM is a wonderful writer, but I don't trust him ;-) I never feel comfortable....I'm always waiting for another shoe to drop. I think he likes it that way.
David Goldfarb
33. David_Goldfarb
lampwick@30: The map is a bit deceptive, because it has no scale on it. It's easy to think that because Westerosi culture is similar to 15th century England, that Westeros is about the size of England. But it's more like America -- from King's Landing to Winterfell is more than two thousand miles.
34. GriffinSetToGo
Well I officially hate season 2. Too many changes are making the show a painful experience now.


Dragons being stolen. Utter rubbish.
Green Children not in the story. Makes no sense at all.
Cat already caught up with her son. Impossible.
Tulisa. Who?
Jeyne Westerling. Where?
Reek storyline. The Bastard Bolton assuming the role of Reek and being imprisoned in winterfell and then released by Theon was never introduced or incorperated into the story, instead these writers (with a complete lack of regard for the future storylines) just jump ahead to introducing him as Roose Bolton's Bastard son, so that of course means that obviously Theon will never become Reek later, because as far as viewers of the show are concerned - "who is Reek?" which is unforgivable. Criminal.
Littlefinger spotting Arya. Pointless.
Osha sleeping with Theon. Pointless and ridiculous.
Jon and Ygritte. The chase. The tying up in ropes. The grinding bum into Jon's ..... What was that? Why? Just why?
Theon killing Rodrick.
The Royal procession walking from the harbor to the Red Keep on foot. They have no horses? Stupid.
The Grand Maester having no crytal crown. Pity.
Amory Lorch killed by Jaqen H'ghar. Why? It was never properly established that he led the attack against Yoren's men of the night's watch. So viewers hardly know who he is. He wasn't one of Arya's mortal enemies nor someone on her nightly death-wish list. He just chased her. Which in itself was bloody laughable. Ultimately he should have been fed to a bear by Roose Bolton whe Bolton becomes the lord of Harrenhal. Compltely baffling.

I can accept quite a few of the small differences, and I can get over the fact that all the scenes in Quarth are so, unbelievably poorly cast, written, acted, visualized and directed. I can accept that some characters will be shown more than they were written to appear, Jaime and Robb for example, but as shown above, this amount of changes shows no respect for the material. It is a slap in the face of the people who read and understand the story. It is an amateurish and simple-minded writer's attempt to make this show exciting and racy. Fail.
Writer Vanessa Taylor, you have single-handedly made me hate this season. Well done.
Rob Munnelly
35. RobMRobM
Billiam - yes, things happen after the first half of Assassin's Apprentice. Lots of character and world building and then ... things happen and you understand their impact because of what has come before. Hobb plays a long, deep game that strikes a chord with me. I can understand why some might think her slow paced but it is right paced for me.

36. CPRoark
@MichaelFFlynn (29): "No one ever seems to reach what they were trying for."

While that's technically true, one of the things the show has highlighted is that most characters get what they wanted, just not in the way they expect.

For instance, Arya wanted nothing to do with the life of a princess, preferring more "manly" pursuits and the life of an adventurous knight. Now, she's finding out it's not quite the fun she expected.

The same can be said of Sansa, who yearned to be wed to a prince and live in a big castle. She got the twisted version of that.

Jon's life as a ranger will be flipped, too (presumably), to the point that, yes, he's fighting, but for who?

I know this doesn't quite hold up for everyone, but in the case of the girls, I like that "be careful what you wish for" can be a heavy thematic element.
37. Black Dread
AI1 - I read all the books after watching the first HBO season. I never paid for any of them since I have a library card. My library even has the books on CD - which are very good. (Thanks to AverageJoe for tipping us off that the fire alchemist narrated 4 of the books).
The middle books can drag at times. You have to accept that you aren’t always going to get the characters you want to follow. And, as you have probably already noticed – GRRM does not make dreams come true and is utterly ruthless about killing main characters whenever he fancies it.

Lastly, A Song of Ice and Fire is 5 novels into what will be at least 7 books, GRRM is 63 years old, built like Samwell Tarly, and takes several years to write each book. So there is a definite chance that we will never reach the end of this series.
38. tigeraid

Dragons being stolen. Utter rubbish.

Why? Who cares? We have no idea where this angle is going, so how can this opinion even be valid yet?

Green Children not in the story. Makes no sense at all.

They aren't there yet. They're definitely important to Bran's character development. I can't see them being left out. Just because they weren't part of Bran's INITIAL escape doesn't mean they won't show up. Relax.

Cat already caught up with her son. Impossible.

Meh. A trivial matter. Do we have a clock so we know exactly how much time has elapsed from episode to episode?

Tulisa. Who?

Who cares?

Jeyne Westerling. Where?

Maybe that is her, hiding in plain site. Or maybe they introduced this girl for him to marry. Who cares? We barely saw Jeyne or Robb in the books anyway (relatively speaking.)

Reek storyline. The Bastard Bolton assuming the role of Reek and being imprisoned in winterfell and then released by Theon was never introduced or incorperated into the story, instead these writers (with a complete lack of regard for the future storylines) just jump ahead to introducing him as Roose Bolton's Bastard son, so that of course means that obviously Theon will never become Reek later, because as far as viewers of the show are concerned - "who is Reek?" which is unforgivable. Criminal.

I don't see why you can't still have Theon's torture and transformation later in the series, without introducing the previous guy to have it done to him. There are ways to write that and still have it mean something. OR, in some way over the next little bit, the bastard Bolton will reveal that he was, at one time, Reek. Different, not necessarily worse.

Littlefinger spotting Arya. Pointless.


Osha sleeping with Theon. Pointless and ridiculous.

Why? He's a notorious womanizer that clearly was attracted to her when he used to live at Winterfell ("I've always wondered what you had under there.") ... Since Theon was the guy most likely to keep an eye on her and know how dangerous she was, she put together a good diversion.

Plus, boobies.

Jon and Ygritte. The chase. The tying up in ropes. The grinding bum into Jon's ..... What was that? Why? Just why?

Because Ygritte is smart and knows an easy way to play Jon Snow is through his pants? I thought the character was well done, she really captures that free spirit and mischievousness. Just a nice little moment of humour. It's okay for a show to have those you know.

Theon killing Rodrick.

Much better realized than the book, did much more for Theon's character development, and his acting in the scene was brilliant.

The Royal procession walking from the harbor to the Red Keep on foot. They have no horses? Stupid.

Is it far? Have you got a map?

The Grand Maester having no crystal crown. Pity.


Amory Lorch killed by Jaqen H'ghar. Why? It was never properly established that he led the attack against Yoren's men of the night's watch. So viewers hardly know who he is. He wasn't one of Arya's mortal enemies nor someone on her nightly death-wish list. He just chased her.

Not an important character in the book, so his death is unimportant. He discovered Arya had the note about Robb and was rushing to report it to Tywin. Arya had him killed. It's pretty straightforward.

Again, if this show fully flushed out every single character in the book, a "season" would take five years. Who cares. Most of these complaints are generic fanboy whining. They HAVE to take shortcuts, period. ESPECIALLY for people who haven't read the books. And so far, unlike a lot of other book adaptations, they're doing a great job of it.


As for me... Loved this episode. Loved Cat's knowing look at Robb's flirtations... Loved Theon's continued turn towards evil... Loved the tension with Arya, Tywin and Littlefinger... Loved how the riot was handled. Thought the rape scene with Arya was okay because in the end, she was saved and the rapists dealt with... I also really liked how Shay summed it up very succinctly as to why typical peasants loathe her. Well done.

The show is moving fast, as it really must, it's television. And the writers are doing very well with removing things that are unimportant and summarizing/shortening other things as we move along. Can't wait for the Blackwater.
39. LG

I can agree with that clearly some shortcuts needed to be made (otherwise it would take forever), but not including the green children really messes up the whole plot. Unless they have Theon still use the Miller boys to protect Bran and Rickon...I'm not really sure how they're going to pull off that thread of the plot. I guess what really concerns me is that the books aren't finished, so any major changes (and I do think excluding the green children is a major change) could completely divorce the show from the books.
I honestly wouldn't mind the plot changes if they didn't give so much screen time to them. Who really cares about Robb's little love story? Why is it getting so much screen time? One scene showing them kissing /entering a tent together for the night would be much more efficient than all of this pointless bantering.
As for Dany, they could have cut her whole convo with the Spice merchant to a quarter of the time and just have had her visit the warlocks voluntarily as a 'making the rounds' type thing.
Tl, dr: I don't mind the changes as long as they aren't major and I wish they'd put the emphasis on more important events than meet cute dialogue.
40. PKH
I think the episode title needs to be taken a bit less literally. I saw it as referring to the new generation of leaders (Jon, Dany, Joffrey, Theon, and even Arya) being tested in various ways as they take the places of "the old gods", their parents, foster parents, and predecessors. You can look at the various decisions the young nobles are making and how they parallel or reflect those of the previous generation. History repeating itself, etc.
Grant Ritchie
41. gritchie
Could anyone (maybe someone with a higher definition TV) tell me how, exactly, Jaqen killed Amory Lorch? I saw red on the back of his neck when he toppled forward, but couldn't tell if it blood, some kind of dart, or something else. Thanks in advance.
42. Phonos
It was a (poisoned?) dart to the neck which killed Lorch.
43. gritchie
Thank you.
44. Spiegel
I'm not liking this season as much as the previous one, but one thing that won't bother me if it gets dropped is the whole subplot with Reek. I thought it felt forced in the book that Ramsey decided to have a replacement.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
45. tnh
Hello, Michael Flynn.

I turned the dysfunctional URL in your comment #29 into a proper link. The far-right icon at the top of the comment entry box will do that for you automatically.
47. Jacob the Swede
"In Robb’s camp, the young wolf flirts with Lady Not-Jayne-Westerling (or is it?)"

I say "is" - At least after a fashion. In the show, Rob's apparent love intrest is Lady Talisa Maegyr of Volantis. In the books, she's Jayne Westerling, great grand daughter of "Maggy the Frog", a Maegy from Volantis (as I remember). Jayne Westerlings "Maegy" from Volantis and Talisa Maegyr of Volanteen decent seems too much to be a coincidence.

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