Mon
Apr 28 2014 9:00am

Game of Thrones Episode Review: “Oathkeeper”

Game of Thrones Oathkeeper Brienne

So it looks like last episode’s much-discussed scene between Jaime and Cersei was just the tip of the storytelling iceberg when it came to departures from George R. R. Martin’s books. There was a lot of outright rage at what those changes would do to Jaime’s character long-term in regards to the plot. Which is to say nothing of how That Scene would or could change Cersei emotionally. Well, we didn’t get any real reflection on last week’s event from either sibling which was a disappointment.

Major episode spoilers ahead. Book spoilers are allowed in the comments, so be careful.

Instead, “Oathkeeper” didn’t even take liberties with the books; it completely made up whole new stories. Usually, I love the brand new scenes on HBO’s show and this hour was no exception. Unlike last week’s complete step backwards for Jaime, the new scenes in this episode felt true to the spirit of the books—and the show—and added some welcome surprises for book readers who thought they knew what was going to happen next.

I feel like Hodor lost in the woods without a Hodor. And I’m okay with that.

In all of the discussion about last week’s infuriating (so, so infuriating for so many reasons) rape scene, I think Dany’s show of force outside the gates of Meereen got overlooked as a cool moment. In the first of many new-to-book readers scenes, it was a pleasant surprise, after the bombast of last week’s ending, to open on a quiet moment between Grey Worm and Missandei, with the former learning the Common Tongue and the latter remembering her home before she was taken as a slave. I think I want to revise my first impression that these two were headed for a sweet courtship. As Missandei was trying to coax Grey Worm’s pre-Unsullied memories out, he touched her hand and she pulled hers away. Aw. Why? For those still maintaining that Missandei and Grey Worm are siblings, they both confirmed that they were born in completely different countries (Naath and the Summer Isles.) So, I’m still rooting for them. Because they are both more interesting to watch than Daario.

Grey Worm got a chance to go all Spartacus and lead Meereen’s slaves in revolt, while Dany became one scary queen, with her coronation music a choir of agonized screams from one hundred and sixty-three crucified Great Masters. “I will answer injustice with justice,” she insists. And yes, the slave masters of Meereen probably deserved their execution, but it also doesn’t sit quite right. Barristan Selmy’s not the only one with reservations. At this point in the story, Dany is more like the late King Robert Baratheon—great at the fighting (though not through brute force) but not really interested in being a ruler. It was a far grimmer victory than what we’ve seen in Yunkai and Astapor. What will she do from the top of that grand pyramid?

Game of Thrones Oathkeeper Dany

I’m not going to lie, it was hard to enjoy Jaime in this episode after last week. It’s difficult not to look at him and be kind of disgusted, whereas before, I would’ve enjoyed his banter with Bronn and his visit to Tyrion in his cell. The Kingslayer Brothers: coming soon to a Flea Bottom vaudeville stage this summer! Some fans want to ignore last week because it didn’t happen in the books, but we can’t. This is TVJaime. The rapist.

It was such an odd thing to change from the books, an example of the Butterfly Effect causing negative ripples that could be felt even in “Oathkeeper.” Was making Brienne name Ned Stark’s re-forged sword “Oathkeeper” an innocent change from the books? Or was it because the showrunners/director didn’t think Jaime, in his self-loathing for all of the vile things he’s done, could be the one to give the sword a name that promises honor?

Making Jaime an outright rapist and not having him speak aloud that promise to be a man with honor to Brienne changes his character, while the plot remains unchanged. I’m just not sure how we’re supposed to feel about Jaime anymore. I just know I care about him less on the show than I did in the books, where he was one of my favorites.

It didn’t help that before he gave his sword to Brienne, he did get a scene with a drunk, cold, formal Cersei who seemed more angry at Sansa’s disappearance than at Jaime himself, meaning not much beyond her usual disappointment with Jaime. I don’t think last week’s director thought he was directing a rape scene, so now these scenes between the Lannister twins that take place after come off... off in tone somehow.

One good thing that does come from Jaime’s encounter with Cersei is that it adds a level of urgency to Brienne’s mission. It’s not just enough to find Sansa (and Arya, who is pretty much presumed dead) because of Jaime’s promise to the late Lady Stark, but it’s to actively prevent Cersei from killing Sansa for a crime she didn’t commit.

While it’s not as huge a deal to have Brienne name that sword, events beyond the Wall were a giant question mark. Roose Bolton’s man Locke is a new recruit for the crows, lurking about and eavesdropping to try and find out where Bran and Rickon have gone. This becomes crucial when Sam tells Jon that he met Bran and let him continue north of the Wall, likely to Craster’s Keep.

Now the Craster’s Keep story makes a modicum of sense: it’s filler! And another reminder that Westeros is full of men who love to rape. Sigh. Die screaming, Karl Tanner (no relation to Danny) of Gin Alley, you evil young Willem Dafoe lookalike motherfucker, and all the rest of you. I really thought Meera was going to get raped. It just wouldn’t surprise me and that’s depressing.

I still think it’s ridiculous to worry about the mutineers telling Mance Rayder how small the Night’s Watch is. Wouldn’t he just find out when he got to the Wall anyway? Or does he really think Crow membership became mega popular after he defected? But, I thought it was a good move to introduce the upcoming elections for a new Lord Commander and how this ill-advised plan to send Jon to Craster’s could backfire on Alliser Thorne and Janos Slynt. Crow drama!

Game of Thrones Oathkeeper Jon Snow

More intriguing still was Bran’s capture at Craster’s Keep. Holy cow. I couldn’t believe it when Bran and Jojen heard the baby crying in the woods. To have them actually held prisoner by the mutineers? That’s just the kind of change from the books I’m totally fine with because it holds so much promise. It’s the most interesting thing to happen to Bran since he got pushed out of that window.

Will he actually be rescued by Jon Snow? Will a Stark ever get to see another living Stark ever again? That’s HUGE!

And how about that final scene with the White Walker? That was so, so creepy and what a fine choice it was to show that scene from the eyes of the baby. I still feel disoriented by it. I mean, we kind of knew what the Others were doing with Craster’s sons, but to actually witness it for ourselves? Whoa. And who or what was that White Walker with a crown? I think it’s a smart move to introduce a sort of ruling class to the Others. It worked for Peter Jackson and his Uruk Hai and Orcs in Lord of the Rings. It gives audiences a baddie to focus their hate on.

Of course, ASoIaF readers might have some different theories on who that Walker King could be and this episode marks the first time the series has touched on what some could consider to be a spoiler for a book not yet written.

Personally, I tend to think people are hyper-sensitive to anything that could possibly be considered a spoiler, especially as it relates to Game of Thrones. I don’t think it’s an outrageous leap to show a Walker King. But it does bring into question how book readers will feel about the show if George R. R. Martin continues writing (or not writing) at his current pace. There will very likely come a time when the show outpaces the books and, yeah, that’s why keeping Bran in a holding pattern at Craster’s Keep at this time is wise.

I think it’s a little early to worry about future book spoilers until next season at least. But I suppose it’s never too early to wonder if die-hard fans will have to stop watching the show because they’re afraid of getting spoiled for future novels.

Game of Thrones Oathkeeper Hodor

 

Final Thoughts:

  • Tonight’s episode was directed by Michelle MacLaren, who directed the stellar “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” episode last season, so I’m glad she was behind the camera for another pivotal Jaime/Brienne moment. MacLaren was also the director of what was one of Breaking Bad’s most unbearably tense episodes, “To’hajiilee.” Damn, she is good with standoffs and creative camerawork.
  • “Oh Hodor!” Seriously, fuck you mutineers. You made Hodor cry.
  • In addition to Oathkeeper and sweet new armor, Brienne also got the gift of Pod. Huzzah! I kind of forgot he left King’s Landing with Brienne, so that was a nice surprise. I thought the show was going in a different direction with him.
  • Aboard the HMS 4chan, Littlefinger continues to ply innocent Sansa with creepy innuendos about wanting everything and basically repeating all he said last week, which is weird because only about five minutes have passed from where we left off with them.
  • For the slower viewers who didn’t see Olenna palm Sansa’s poisonous jewel at Joffrey’s wedding, the Queen of Thorns outright told Margaery that she was involved with Joffrey’s death because she doesn’t want her granddaughter married to a monster when the monster has a much nicer brother who’s ripe for suggestion.
  • Loved the scene between Margaery and Tommen. It could’ve been way more uncomfortable because of Tommen being aged up, but it still did what it was supposed to do, without making Margaery... Littlefinger.
  • Aw, Ser Pounce! If he was at NYC’s Cat Cafe, I bet lines would’ve been even longer.

Next week: “First of His Name.” A new king is crowned in an episode written by showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.

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


Theresa DeLucci is a regular contributor to Tor.com, covering True Blood, Game of Thrones, and gaming news. She’s also the resident Hannibal fannibal at Boing Boing. Follow her on Twitter @tdelucci

95 comments
Rob Munnelly
1. RobMRobM
In books, Pod didn't leave KL with Brienne. He followed her until she caught him and got him to admit who he was.

Re WW, I still like Leigh's vision from the re-read of an Others day care center. More seriously, this is a huge hole from the books and I wonder if conversions from babies to Others can be treated as GRRM approved canon.

Agree that the Jaime rape scene has really screwed things up for his on-screen character. Such a poor creative decision. Ugh.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
2. Lisamarie
This is the first time I've gotten to watch an episode as it came out! Thanks to my bro-in-law who is letting us use his DirectTV account to watch ;)

See, the White Walkers are actually awesome - they just want to take in all the little babies. I'm sure that being a White Walker baby is a fluffy, happy, shiny existence ;) I'm rooting for them now!

Random thing I noticed - Rast (was he BITING Craster's daughter? Cause, ew.) seemed to handle the baby very tenderly. And then the scene where he tried futiley to cover the baby up with the blanket was really kind of awwwww, at least as much of an awwww as you can get in Game of Thrones. Like, he had this tiny, tiny, tiny, miniscule spark of humanity, despite being a horrible disgusting mutineer rapist.

(I have two little boys so anything involving little baby boys is kind of emotional for me and tends to be what sticks out - I still remember when they looked like that! Moving on!)

I kind of like the new direction - I've accepted awhile ago that this is basically two versions of the same story, and in a way, it's kind of neat, because now I get to be surprised too (my husband has not read the books). I will probably keep watching even after the show outpaces the books, since we can't really know what comes from the books and what doesn't - and even if it does spoil some of the bigger endings or events, in my opinion, I'm still going to be surprised by it and will be experiencing it for the firs time, I just don't know what media it will be through. That's actually kind of cool. I don't do things like read the novelization of a movie before it comes out (for example, I think the Star Wars prequel novelizations came out before the movies) but this is a rather unique situation.

In the books, does Jon know Bran and Rickon are still alive? I thought Sam had kept that from him, but I might not be remembering it correctly.

I'm not even sure yet what I think about Jaime. Perhaps the rape (and it still truly boggles my mind that they didn't see this as rape) is meant to be a new low. Theoretically, if a person can be redeemed of pushing a little boy out of a window, they can be redeemed of rape, right? But, it will be a much, much harder sell (especially given the directors apparently don't think he has anything to be redeemed of...).

The only change I didn't quite like was how Pod got attached to Brienne, I thought it was sweeter when it turns out Pod was secretly following Brienne on his own.
emeraldcite
3. emeraldcite
This episode was a little heavy-handed with the telling.

I do understand John Snow's desire to go to Crasters. The few Watch members that they have need time to prepare and train.

Mance expecting a bigger resistance at the wall would slow him down to pool resources. Once he found out that the Watch was severely out-numbered, he wouldn't have to wait for his plan to come to fruition south of the wall. He could just attack.

In the slow world of medieval-style battle, this could mean weeks of preparation or "let's just go and wipe out the wall tomorrow."
Shelly wb
4. shellywb
My reaction to the white walker was "Yay something we haven't seen but I've always been wondering!" I was glued to the TV for it. So spoilers for the books in the show? Bring 'em on.

The Jaime this week is so different from the Jaime last week. It didn't work for me. They had a director or writer or actors with no clue last week, and it screwed up everything. That episode was one of the worst I've seen to be honest.
Mo -
5. Astus
The Walker King was referred to as 'The Night's King" in the HBO guide (has since been edited out). I'd say that this is a pretty big deal!

It was refreshing being able to watch in complete wonder at some of the developments for a change. I watch the show weekly with an Unsullied so it was interesting to be along for the ride.

@ 2 - Lisamarie
Sam doesn't tell Jon about Bran in the books. He promised a certain elk-riding bloke that he would keep a secret. :)
Lauren Hartman
6. naupathia
Honestly I think you're overblowing the whole Jaime-rape thing. I was uncomfitted by the change as well. But after reading some of the information from the actor and directors, it sounds like they didn't intend for it to come off as rapey as it did. I know you maintain that that shouldn't matter - it was rape, period - but I think it does matter. As you said, if you dismiss the show's intentions then the rest of the show isn't going to make sense tonally.

And as far as people being "unable to get past that scene" - okay so, you're alright with him flinging an 8 (or 10 or whatever) year old out of a window but you can't get past a semi-rape? Really? How is it that everyone can forgive him Bran, but in the show this "rape" scene somehow is just unforgivable?

Personally I think the only reason you let it bother you more is because when Bran happens, you don't have any feeling about Jaime at that point. He throws Bran and you say, "OMG! How evil!". But then we get to know Jaime, that in his love for Cersei he would do anything she wants. You start to fall in love with his snark. And then he comes home broken and you want so much for things to be okay for him and they're not. Then he realizes that Cersei is a bitch who just uses him for everything (like Bran) - so he takes what he wants for once. It's evil, of course! But evil for different reasons which I think just make him a more complex character than in the book. I would also say a lot the hate also comes from book vs show comparisons. And I try hard to keep them separate.

I was surprised at the Craster's Keep storyline as well - and them bringing Jon and Bran together (supposedly). It's very intersting, such a huge departure from the book! This episode really got me thinking that they may start diverging a LOT more than they have been. And I don't know whether to be excited or worried! Since they are working with GRRM though and they know the intended outcomes and all that, I'm more hopeful than not. The only reason I DIDN'T like the change was because it got Hodor hurt!

And @2: No Jon doesn't know in the books.

I didn't like Dany's storyline change though for Mereen. Mostly because I LOVED the book scene, where she gets pissed at Barristen and Jorah and sends them into the sewers as punishment. I just thought that was a great bit. But I knew it would have to change for the show since she's known who Barristen is the whole time. So that still leaves the question of her finding out about Jorah - it seems like they are building up more to that. Or maybe she won't dismiss him but I see that as highly unlikely since Jorah plays a different role with Tyrion later. So I guess I have to wait and see!

And I'm not worried about book spoilers at all. But then I never get really upset over spoilers - for me it's all about journey over destination (Sanderson stole my line!) I don't care if I know where it's going - I like seeing how it gets there. So maybe I'm just special that way.
emeraldcite
7. ShellyS
In the books, Bran made Sam promise to not tell Jon he was alive and, so far, Sam has kept that promise. The changes with Craster's are intriguing, and I realized as soon as Bran heard the baby cry that this was how the show was going to slow down Bran's journey, which was starting to go way too fast.

I also prefer how Pod followed Brienne in the books. But one change I have been enjoying is Jaime working on his swordplay with Bronn. At least it gives the scene someone who can talk back rather than the tongue-less Illyn Payne. ;)

As for Jaime as a rapist, I'm trying to keep in mind that that was not the director's intent, based on interviews he's given, but that does make it the worst directed episode of the series. Also, having Jaime back early and having Tyrion tell him he didn't kill Joff has me wondering how that will change things, because in the books, by the time Jaime sees Tyrion, Tyrion is in such a state that he tells Jaime that he did do it.
Mo -
8. Astus
Doesn't Tyrion only tell him that he killed Joffrey becauae Jaime revealed the truth about Tysha? Also that conversation took place after Tyrion was convicted IIRC and was when Jaime freed him from his imprisonment.
So, there's still time.
Preston Stafford
9. Pigasus
Hrrmph.

I think they're taking Danny in a good direction in light of where she needs to end up. Barristan Selmy gave good counsel and she ignored it.

I'm not sure at all where Jaime is going. Your point is well taken about his development in the series. The rape scene looks to have no payoff. If that's the case, then why do it?

The Locke plotline has real promise. It's a way for the Stark bloodline to have some action with House Bolton.

My money is on Craster's wives killing the mutineers before Jon and his party make it to the keep.

I have mixed feelings on the Icehenge scene. It was cool. But I already know the thing I need to know about the ice walkers: they're coming.
Thomas DeLorenzo
10. flyingtoastr
"I still think it’s ridiculous to worry about the mutineers telling Mance Rayder how small the Night’s Watch is. Wouldn’t he just find out when he got to the Wall anyway? Or does he really think Crow membership became mega popular after he defected?"
A good military commander will always do everything in their power to get more intelligence. It's not too much of a stretch to think that Rayder would go after the mutineers, even if it is just to confirm his suspisions about the Night's Watch's disposition. The mutineers do have sizable and, most importantly, *recent* intelligence about the defences of the wall, so they do represent a clear threat.

Remember that the Night's Watch is severely undermanned because of the disaster at the Fist of the First Men. It is probable that Mance doesn't know how drastic the losses were there, and might assume the Watch to be double or even treble the size that it currently is.
Chris Nelly
11. Aeryl
I thought the Walker King had horns not a crown. Looked kinda like an Iridorian(Darth Maul's species)

I called Sam a lying sack of shit when they revealed he'd told Jon. But it makes more sense, his "reason" for going North, in re Mance, doesn't make sense, but going North on chance he could find Bran, THAT makes sense.

+5000 to Lena Headey's scene. Her rage at Jaime seemed barely in check to me. As I said last week, with my understanding of these characters, I can see how both these characters move forward without actually acknowledging what happened at the Sept.

I always viewed that scene in the Sept as terrible and emblamatic of the problems in their relationships, but still liked Jaime despite it, so moving past what he's done in the show isn't that hard for me.

I can't decide how I feel about the Pod change, but I think I like it. He looked so happy, whereas in the books he's SO SAD by the time he's discovered. All I want is for Pod to be happy. The world's best knight now has the world's best squire at her side. THIS is why I stick with this story.

You know, we all KNEW terrible things were happening, did we need the rape-sposition? Like literally, the woman being raped behind Tanner as he was going ON AND ON. This really plays into the discussion that was spawned last week about why is it, when the show adds depictions of violence no mentioned in the books, it's ALWAYS against women. Ros, Daisy, Cersei, now Craster's daughters. STAWP ALREADY.

I'm really into the changes to Bran's story, and I hope Meera gouges out Tanner's eyes and pisses on his corpse, and Ghost eats Tanner.
emeraldcite
12. Black Dread
My complaint isn't that these news scenes are deviations from the book. It is they are replacements. No Cold Hands - instead the losers at the keep and Sam’s Moletown adventure. The book version made far more sense.
Chris Nelly
13. Aeryl
And the book's version was far more boring.

Find a tree, have vision, rinse, wash, repeat.

No thanks, I'll take the Adventures of Meera Fucking Up Your Shit anyday.
Adam S.
14. MDNY
Sigh. So now they're just gonna go ahead and pretend that it wasn't rape? Not cool.
I can understand why they just put Pod with Brienne from the start, but I love Pod travelling on a quest to find his master (Tyrion), and love the scene in the books when Brienne threatens him in the rain and he cries that Tyrion left him. This way wasn't as cool (or powerful).
At least the White Walker scene was awesome. Like @1 RobM, I immediately thought of Leigh Butler's White Walker Baby Day Care. LOL.
Chris Tierney
15. chris.tierney
I really thought Margaery was actively involved in Joffrey's poisoning, but this episode confirmed she was innocent. Now I wonder if what I thought I saw in the wedding episode (her hand moving over the cup) was intentional misdirection, or just me looking too hard.
Chris Nelly
16. Aeryl
@15, I saw it too, and it bothers me the show's claiming Margaery's not culpable.

I've watched that scene six times now(I told the Sailor I could watch Joffrey die daily, and still never get enough) and there's no opportunity for her to do it. There's a Kingsguard between her and the cup the entire scene.

Now MAYBE the Kettleblacks have already joined the KG, but it seems like if you're going to pull THAT, you'd have to devote some screen time to it.

But Margaery fiddles with the cup, AND carefully places her fingers over the rim right before he drinks the poison.

More shitty direction.

@14, We knew that was going to be the case when the show people came out last week and said it wasn't rape that was going to happen.

Another reason why I like my reading, is the characters don't say that's what it was, but they act like it. Especially Cersei, from here forward in the series, continues to act like a woman with unresolved trauma.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
17. Lisamarie
Kind of an interesting meta thought, but it's spurred a bit by the discussion of what is going on with the Star Wars canon right now, but I wonder if the show is considered a totally different canon than the books, or, if something is spelled out/revealed in the show, could it be considered part of the book canon if the book has not gone into that topic or it doesn't otherwise contradict it? Is Olenna really 'that good'? ;)
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
18. Lisamarie
Maybe Olenna told her it was a love potion ;)

(Kidding - but I honestly don't know how Olenna got it in there either. I also didn't really like that it was a necklace instead of a hairnet, becuase I think somebody plucking a jewel off a necklace would be a LOT harder to do discretely - I really don't see how Sansa would not have noticed/felt that - than fiddling with somebody's hair and getting a little gem out of the back of it. Plus, in the scene where Olenna is touching her, it really doesn't look like she touched her enough to get a jewel off, unless it was so ridiculously loose that it could have fallen off at any provocation)
Chris Nelly
19. Aeryl
Oh she absolutely did, it's just from the shot, it looks like she could be playing with her hair.
emeraldcite
20. Gregor Lewis
Count me in as a 'journey over destination' adherent, especially where the 'journey' has the potential inherent in being created by the best GRRM has to offer.

In my highly subjective, admittedly jaundiced view, GRRM's best has not been on offer for the last two books, but it's been more than engaging enough for me not to worry about potentially being spoiled by the TV Show.

Logically, given the heavily expository nature of AFFC & ADWD, without more than perhaps two potential 'Series Episode 9' moments (which both come in the last quarter of ADWD), it's not really a shock to see such separation and invented story being inserted into the TV narrative.

It is disappointing, I will admit, but for me that's just because of the way I was watching the show until the last two weeks. The biggest impact this latest episode had on me, was to make me realise ... AND stop me theorising.

To paraphrase a former Australian Prime Minister (Treasurer at the time), 'These are the plot departures the TV Show had to have' given what the upcoming, already published source material doesn't have.

Until now, I haven't really been watching the TV Show. I've been theorising on what scenes from the books would be filmable & judging the success or failure of an episode, on how well it services those theories. That's out the window now, coz if I continue to use that logic, I'm gonna get more than a little peeved - I may even turn into a ghost and haunt the various GOT sets around the world - at all the opportunities I have seen being missed.

So with that outlook, I could set aside last week's rape. (If everyone's acting like it never happened, then it most likely wasn't supposed to and Alex Graves should go find another talky political drama, with exposition heavy sermons - I mean dialogue - to direct ... He may be able to get his point across better).

I could set aside the blasé incidentalism of the reveal that Sam told Jon about Bran.

As others have already noted, I could set aside the nonsensical substitution of a cracking, easily filmable Bran subplot (Coldhands) being replaced with depravity for depravity's sake, in order to make explicit an answer to a question no-one was really asking.

Sure it looked cool (in more ways than one), but ... Who cares when a long unremarked remnant of Season 2, gets a special effects heavy answer two years later? It was 'baby mobile' filmmaking of the most disingenuous sort.

'We know this show can be hard to follow. We know the rape & depravity can weigh you down. You've had a really difficult couple of weeks haven't you viewers? There There, it's alright now. LOOK! A baby! Some really snazzy CGI cleverly shot! A baby! Some more snazzy CGI ... And evocative too! (What do those 'horns' remind you of?) Look it's the baby again ... But not just any baby. It's ICE ICE BABY™ (vanilla...)

Don't worry kid, I'm steamed enough for the both of us.

One last thing. My one hope of reclamation for this disaster is that all this overt White Walker explication, will see the delayed arrival of Coldhands, at Craster's, thus keeping Jon away from Bran and adding meat to the undead theme ... with what could end up being the delayed reveal that Bran was saved by ONE OF THEM, on his way to the Three Eyed Crow.

'I'm YOUR MONSTER Brandon Stark!' is a scene I really want to see somewhere other than my mind's eye.

Oh well. I guess I'm not that reconciled after all.

grl
emeraldcite
21. Max Gardner
I'm fairly sure I'm not alone in thinking that last week's episode marked sort of a low point for the series. Not just because of That One Part, but because they also made everyone else a total jerk -- the Hound, Stannis, the Wildlings -- which I kind of think is their approach to shortening certain plot arcs, and not the best way to do it. (If I remember correctly, didn't the Hound actually take the job in the book, and live on the farm with Arya for a while? And turning Styr, Magnar of Thenn, from "kind of a dick who doesn't have ears or trust Jon Snow" to "cartoonishly evil cannibalistic Cenobite" also bothered me last episode.)

This episode was a step back in the right direction, but was also super-awkward, as I kind of expected it would be, because it made it clearer that the showrunners did not see that scene in the same way that most everyone else did. I don't know whether that should make me feel better or worse. How can a writer, a director, possibly be oblivious to the fact that they made a rape scene? Smart money would have been on leaving the scene out completely, since the immediacy and desperation from the books is gone as a result of Jaime showing up earlier and it was a gross enough scene in the first place; non-rapey incestuous sex by your son's corpse is still incestuous sex by your son's corpse. But they left it in, and then they bungled it as badly as they possibly could have, and it makes Jaime's character arc weirder going forward because of the sheer level of ineptitude with which it was handled.

I liked the new stuff, though I hope in future they'll be more circumspect when it comes to how they deal with rapey stuff as a result of the outcry over the last episode. At least you're not SUPPOSED to like Karl. And it was weird watching Karl, because the last time I saw him he was an awkward hyperactive professor in Pacific Rim. I liked the new stuff with the Walkers especially. And having the Bran/Jojen/Meera/Hodor story intersect with the mutineers is in my opinion more compelling filler than the interminable "Bran travels through the woods for two books, doing basically nothing most of the time" slog.

Poor Hodor!
Chris Nelly
22. Aeryl
And having the Bran/Jojen/Meera/Hodor story intersect with the
mutineers is in my opinion more compelling filler than the interminable
"Bran travels through the woods for two books, doing basically nothing
most of the time" slog.

This, a thousand times this.

Plus, I have a feeling we're about to see our first hardcore Hodor-warging.
emeraldcite
23. TeaSea
Are you all nuts? Quit publicly showing love for Pod, one whiff of that and Martin will kill him, enough said.
emeraldcite
24. Max Gardner
Other brief miscellaneous observations:

1) The excuse for Jon to lead a team to attack the mutineers' keep. Kind of flimsy the way he put it last time, but this time, I thought he had a better point when he noted that Karl's men have recent knowledge of Castle Black's defenses. Makes it seem like it's not just about the numbers.

2) I'm glad that super-guilty look Pod had last week when Tyrion told him how loyal he was seems not to be amounting to anything. I would've been seriously pissed if he took Shae's place at the trial, and I thought that was where they were headed. Maybe he just felt guilty because he was basically being told to voluntarily abandon Tyrion to a kangaroo court to save his own life. I'm fine with that.
Chris Nelly
25. Aeryl
@24, I think Jon's talk about the mutineers and their knowledge is a cover anyways. He wants to go North to find Bran, since Sam told him.

@23, That's an overblown concern. The last character I really liked the books killed off was Ned. I didn't like Cat or Robb, didn't like Renly, hated Balon Greyjoy, hated Joffrey. Ok, there was Oberyn, and then Maester Aemon, but Oberyn went out fighting and we knew Aemon's time had come. The people I've cared about from the start, Arya Sansa, Jon, Dany, Davos, Arianne, Pod, Delorious Edd, Grenn, and Samwell, they are all still alive and well(well, not necessarily well).
emeraldcite
26. sofrina
td - i agree daenerys was overlooked last week. that ending was pretty boss. she's interesting study in the effects of power. contrast dany's journey with robb starks for instance. her with no training, having to barter for troops with the objectionable people. what if robb had the option of obtaining frey's fealty and then marching frey's troops out of the twins before the red wedding could be executed?

burn gorman must have told his agent he would take any part in any locale so long as he got on this show. wow. that was worse than i imagined and i imagined it was awful. if craster's wives wouldn't lift a hand against craster, how would they ever find the collective spirit to lift a hand against a group of men? :fright wig:

bran's recklessness was kind of infuriating. they are all in danger of being raped + worse up there. these men are desperate. they can't go back to the wall and winter is bearing down on them. they only have until the others come knocking or the food runs out. there is absolutely nothing they won't do.

fat chance jon and bran will crosspaths. it just won't happen. we'll probably get a near-miss followed by some direwolf justice. prediction: the little boy survivor/archer will kill ygritte. he's got the skill and they specifically showed him watching her in action after she killed his father. which is how she deserves to go.

i have to say at first the margaery/tommen scene had me on high alert (ready to switch the channel), but it played out allright. the actor is older but not so old that they're switching up the angle. she'll charm him with friendship. phew.

dear sansa: sleep sitting up with one eye open and foot on the floor.
Shelly wb
27. shellywb
@6, the difference between Jaime attempting to kill Bran and a rape last week is in timing. Characters have arcs. Jaime's in the book has been redemptive. His arc in the show was brought to a crashing halt with the rape. That's why it bothers people. It's not that one is worse than the other. It's that his character should be at a place where he wouldn't do that now, and the show ignored that.
Chris Nelly
28. Aeryl
Great catch on the little boy archer, @sofrina, I didn't notice that's who he was!
Chris Nelly
29. Aeryl
@27, Jaime's in an arc, but he's still too wrapped up in Cersei. Jaime, as he is right now, is capable of doing what he did, and even moreso, INcapable of seeing what it was.
Chris Nelly
30. Aeryl
So, apparently, Darth Maul's melanin deficient cousin has been called the Night's King.

So is this the Night's King of Old Nan's stories? Or is this the actual Night's King, and the stories full of untruths?
Walker White
31. Walker
@14
Sigh. So now they're just gonna go ahead and pretend that it wasn't rape? Not cool.
It is worse than that. I have seen posts at WinterIsComing saying that, since it was not addressed this week, the event last week cannot be rape (and a lot of people are using "rape" in quotes). It just was "badly edited" (whatever that means).

Sigh... Just when you thought the fandom was starting to mature.
emeraldcite
32. quinne
No, the journey is not the most important thing. The Destination is why we begin the journey in the first place. If the destination is moronic or nonsense then it invalidates the entire enterprise begun when we started reading this series of novels.

I've heard that dumb assertion: "It's the journey, not the destination" to justify terrible endings to shows or novels we've all read. Ron Moore's Battlestar Galactica is the most painful recent example which comes to mind.

I'll say it: Winds of Winter better have some damn good pay-offs for our investments in time and money and attention. It had better not clone the structure of "A Feast for Crows" and "A Dance with Dragons". Bran's story needs earth-shattering revelations, Daenerys' Dragons better burn some serious shit, that Horn better shatter the Wall, etc.
emeraldcite
35. bill1
I have never understood the love for Jaime. I get that its an arc in the book, but I don't think killing an innocent 8 year old is the kind of thing you get a pass on (I know Bran lived, but it was clearly the intent). The only noble thing he's done has been to go back and get Brienne from Harrenhall. Even his character in the book that people seem to like had sex with his sister in front of thier dead child, and that was the "good" version.
Chris Nelly
36. Aeryl
He killed the Mad King and prevented the destruction and fiery massacre of King's Landing.

He's trying to keep his oath to Catelyn Stark and protect her daughters.

And even his defenistration of Bran was based on the desire to protect HIS family. If Ned had agreed with Renly, and kidnapped Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen, and had perhaps killed them, he would have been applauded for protecting his children.
David Lev
37. davidlev
I has an interesting thought while watching this episode re: the rape scene last week. It's clear that Jaime doesn't think he raped his sister, but I wonder if Cersei considers what happened to her rape. While watching the rape scene last week, I honestly thought it was going to turn into one of those "girl resists at the beginning of the sex scene but consents as the sex goes along" things you sometimes see in media (which actually could be more morally problematic than a flat-out rape scene if you think about it), before it made it clear that Cersei wasn't consenting during any part of it. But it should be noted that Westeros probably has a very different concept of rape, and Cersei has a very complicated relationship with her brother, meaning that while she didn't want ot have sex with Jaime she may not have considered herself to have been raped by him (given her probably not-entirely gone love/lust over him and cultural norms that lead her to think that a woman should consent to a man who's trying to have sex with her), leading to her coldness (resulting from her mixed feelings) in this episode as opposed to the PTSD, rage, or horror one might expect from a rape victim when confronted with their rapist.

However, while exploring the idea of if nonconsensual sex is rape if neither party's cultural background would necessarily label it as such is an interesting idea, I somehow doubt that GOT could or is interested in exploring it, and doing so would require a lot of delicacy to make it not sound like it's justifying rape( I worry that even my speculating may make it sound like I'm downplaying the rape-iness of the scene--trust me, that's not my intention in the slightest). This was a bungle, and unfortunately we're probably going to have to shove the scene down the memory hole much like the similar scene in season 1 where Dany is essentially raped by Drogo (another consensual sex scene in the book--if you consider a 14 year old able to give consent--made uncomfortable in the series). Jaime is almost certainly going to be treated like the Jerk with a Heart of Gold the series has been builing him up as, which I suspect a lot of fans will reject.
Tom Smith
38. phuzz
@11. Aeryl
"This really plays into the discussion that was spawned last week about
why is it, when the show adds depictions of violence no mentioned in the
books, it's ALWAYS against women. Ros, Daisy, Cersei, now Craster's
daughters. STAWP ALREADY."

HODOR!
And during some scenes, for example the village that was attacked last week it was equal opportunity violence. I do agree though, that whenever they've decided to add something particularly nasty it seems to happen to a woman more often than not.

I am also looking forward to seeing Meera being badass.
Chris Nelly
39. Aeryl
@37 Davidlev

That's my view of it as well, that Cersei doesn't acknowledge what happened to her as rape, especially with the fantasy she has as Jaime as her "other half", and that a lot of her behavior could be read as a traumatized woman lashing out, but unable to express why, because she can't acknowledge her trauma.
emeraldcite
40. Johnnyboy
I'm really disappointed with Dany's story so far this season. Very similar to the end of last season. The way the shows producers are presenting it you'd think all she did in the books was make bombastic speeches and walk through adoring slave crowds. It reminds me of Brans story in season 2 when virtually all he did was dream of a three-eyed crow every single episode.
marian moore
41. mariesdaughter
As someone who didn't read the books, I have to tell you that the rape scene that everyone keeps crying about did not bother me as much as it has the readers. Both Jaime and Cersi have good and bad characteristics. I have not seen a rise to sainthood in Jaime. He has learned in some situations that he hurts people. Sometimes, he cares. Sometimes, he doesn't. Like most nobles, he looks out for his own comfort first. I can feel grief for Cersi's rape while remembering that 5 minutes earlier in screen time, she was laughing about the humiliation of the majority of her guests. These are not good people. You approach them as if they were a roaring bonfire.
Rob Munnelly
42. RobMRobM
@11, 38. There is at least one potential counterexample - Theon was about to be sexually abused by his male capturers before being "saved" by Ramsay last season.
Adam S.
43. MDNY
@35 Bill1- If you believe in the death sentence for all murderers and that people cannot achieve redemption for past crimes, then we just see the world differently. If you don't, then try looking at Jaime's growth as a character to understand why so many of us like him (in the book-not the show).
Nathan Martin
46. lerris
As far as Bran's story goes, I no longer wonder about Coldhands. I'm confident he will turn up later, given that the reason for his absence, from a writer's perspective, is now obvious.

@14, 31,
Speaking as a male, albeit with some influence from my spouse, my take on this may be completely out to lunch ( I know enough to realize that males don't really understand rape )-
Is it not true that many women don't report their rapes due to the shame of being a victim? I've seen many real-world cases where women returned to their abusive partners ( usually the fathers of their children ). Cersei's post-rape behaviour seems very consistent with this kind of behaviour.
Adam S.
47. MDNY
@46 You missed the entire point of my post. Yes, it is true that many rapes go unreported; I'm not talking about Cersei's reaction to the rape, I'm complaining about its inclusion in the first place. The scene in the books was entirely different. I'm a male as well, but I do know the difference between consensual sex (in the books) and rape (jn the show). This week they just continued like the book version.
C R L
48. Maac
@8 -- I personally don't forgive Jaime anything, but I can see how people might be willing to think better of him despite the defenestration of a helpless 8-year-old. Firstly -- the passage of time. This was nearly four years ago in viewer time. I doubt people doing a DVD marathon would be so mellow about it. Secondly, there's still a deep-seated eye for an eye mentality in our Western morality at least, and I think people are not forgiving Jaime so much as accepting the loss of his hand as his just karma. If they feel he's gotten appropriate comeuppance, they're probably more likely to at least let him start from the bottom and work his way up, morality-wise, so his stepping downwards morality-wise is annoying at the very least. Lastly, I think there are many who see his experience with King Aerys, a savior act, and his subsequent demonization for it as a black mark/a plus in his ledger (as opposed to a red one, yes, I saw Captain America recently and am using Black Widow terminology, so black = credit as opposed to red = deficit). The fact that this was revealed much more recently than his cripping of Bran, and with lots of woobie music in the background, also factors in.

(I reiterate that I myself am not in favor of any of these people, except maybe two of them, and am simply clinging to the hope that at least some of the small folk manage to survive the Ice and the Fire and usher in a constitutional democracy after this world's version of f***ing Ragnarok is over.)

I'm seeing quite a few online outlets discussing Dany's arc in this ep, critiquing it in fairly high dudgeon, essentially saying "No no no! There is a difference between justice and revenge!" (Hopefully the rationale behind my anti-Targaryen stance will begin dawning on some folk. I'm sure some of that family are nice people, as far as people can be, and should be entitled to a lovely little retirement in a cottage in the countryside somewhere -- but I don't want any of them in charge of human beings.) At any rate, I believe that "whoa, hold up there, Dany" reaction is what was meant to be elicited, and that the flaws in Dany's plan and approach will be further explored.

@47 -- I agree with you, but I'm not sure how they could handle it at this point that would make sense or be satisfying. I believe from cast and creator interviews that they meant to convey the DubCon that happened in the books (when you have her "guiding him into her body" we have to accept that there was at least a little "con" happening, and yes, people's sexuality is complicated... et cetera and sigh). I'm under the impression that the editing had a lot to do with it (I still can't bring myself to watch it all the way through) and so my best hope is maybe since so many people involved have admitted they didn't convey what they wanted, maybe for the DVDs or subsequent airings they'll tweak it toward more of the original vision.

With Cersei and Jaime I still say that, putting aside what the books have illustrated, if the show wants to illustrate all these fancy complex ideas about their sexual relationship they're going to need to try a damn sight harder and be a damn sight more blatant, because at present it ain't working.

@41 -- Actually, I'm extremely glad to hear your interpretation, as a non-book reader. I want to have a better ability to separate them, but sadly I do not.

I have problems with the Craster's Keep scenes. SO MANY PROBLEMS. Not least the whole not knowing what the hell was going on for far too long. (I swear, every time I see Burn Gorman anywhere nowadays, I have to brace myself for the horrible, just in case...)

I did like seeing the White Walker, though. Just a little reminder to everyone that the real stakes are a lot higher than the Iron Throne.

*edited for a couple hilarious spelling errors
emeraldcite
49. Sophist
And even his defenistration of Bran was based on the desire to protect HIS family.

The Knights of Byzantium wanted to kill Dawn based on their desire to protect their own lives and the lives of others. So did Ben.
Alan Brown
50. AlanBrown
A few random thoughts:
- I see folks on the internet complaining that people are willing to forgive Jamie for throwing Bran out a window, but not for raping his sister. I think the reason for this is quite simple. Not a lot of us have experience with being thrown out a window, but far too many of us, either directly or indirectly, have experience with rape.
- I found the scene of Jamie and Cersi having sex near the body of their son disgusting in both book and TV. The book had Jamie forcing himself on Cersi, with her initially resisting, but then giving in, and finally begging for more, which I found totally repulsive, playing to that "even though she said no, she really wanted me" false rationalization of the act. So it was not just the TV portrayal that was problematic.
- And I was repulsed by all the rape going on in the background during the scene at Caster's House. Enough with the rape and abuse of women, GoT. Especially when you go beyond what is portrayed in the book, which is already bad enough.
- Had Burn Gorman (Owen from Torchwood, and eccentric scientist from Pacific Rim) been in other GoT episodes before this? If so, I hadn't recognized him until this one.
- I liked the minor differences between book and TV show that unfolded this week. If everything on TV followed exactly what was in the book, there would not be a lot of excitement in watching the show. I say, let them portray the same themes as the book, while taking slightly different paths to get there. And often, things that work well on TV are not the same things that work well on page. Variety is the spice of life.
Chris Nelly
51. Aeryl
@49, Yes but they had other options than killing Dawn. Fighting and delaying Glory, which is what Buffy ended up doing would have worked fine, it could have gone better if those dudes with all their horses and swords had helped.

And Ben wanted to save himself at the expense of the world.

Jaime almost always acted out the desire to save others. At the expense of his own soul, ofttimes. Did he have other options? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. But the same impulse that led him to thrown Bran out the window without a second thought, is the same one that saved the population of King's Landing and rescued the Maiden Fair from the bear. Jaime is a man who acts, damn the consequences. He makes life interesting if nothing else.
Adam S.
52. MDNY
@51 Her name is Brienne, don't make me hit you with my golden hand.
emeraldcite
53. Sophist
Jaime threw Bran out of a window to save himself and Cersei, so that's pretty much the same as Ben. Jaime and Cersei were both taking a risk, doing something they knew was wrong. Rather than face the consequences of their own behavior -- fleeing or being executed -- they chose to make an innocent child suffer (and intended to kill him).

Note that this makes Jaime and Cersei even worse than the Knights or Ben. Neither the Knights nor Ben created their own problems, but Jaime and Cersei did. The Knights at least had the good of all humanity in mind; Jaime had only his own benefit (and Cersei's).

Enough with the rape and abuse of women, GoT.

I'm certainly not going to try to count them up, but I'm pretty sure there are more rapes in the books (including those we're both shown and told about) than in the series to date.
Chris Nelly
54. Aeryl
@53, It's not the number, as I've said, I support the reiterpretation of the Dany/Drogo & Jaime/Cersei scenes, it's the disregard.

The shot of Tanner speaking while a woman was being raped behind him, we didn't need that. We didn't need to see Rast running his mouth over the other woman. We knew.

And the more serious issue with the Jaime/Cersei scene, is that the creators DIDN'T KNOW that's what they made. That's a problem, and emblematic of why they shouldn't try and use it as a plotpoint.

In the books, they are a part of the canvas. In the show, they are a part of the plot. The depiction is the problem.

And as far as Jaime goes, well no what they were doing wasn't right, but it was for more than just him and Cersei, it was for Cersei's kids, or don't you think their heads would have been on spikes too? It's all about point of view, for Jaime his kids>other kids. Thousands of other parents have made the same calculation, and never faced the condemnation that Jaime has. Cat sacrificed the mentally challenged grandson of Walder Frey to her grief, Ned sacrificed the lives of all who died under Joffrey by admitting to treason, to save his own children.
Sean Tabor
55. wingracer
I still find it kind of funny that people all of a sudden want to hate a guy for rape when that same guy started off the series by intentionally throwing a kid off of a building. Yeah both the books and show went a long way to try and redeem him but come on, this is no nice guy we are dealing with here.
C R L
56. Maac
Oh yes -- I was also happy the Margaery-Tommen scene had much less of a molestation vibe than I originally feared.
emeraldcite
57. Sophist
I agree with all of 54 except maybe the last paragraph. I'm not sure that the rapes in the book qualify as "part of the canvas". Unless that means they're part of GRRM's depiction of the horror of the world he's describing. I think that they are that, but I'm not sure how TV would communicate that while being less in our face about it.
emeraldcite
58. Sophist
Ok, that's weird. The last paragraph of 54 wasn't there when I posted 57. Take my 57 as responding to all but the (now) final paragraph.

I don't know what Robert would have done with the kids if he had discovered the twincest. I like to think he would have simply exiled them to Casterly Rock (where they'd be heirs), but he was pretty vengeful so it's hard to say. I am sure Ned would have tried to talk him out of harming the children; it's pretty much what he did with Cersei. Regardless, if Robert does something wrong, that's on him. Jaime still has to deal with his own bad actions.

I don't think Jaime gets to trade the possibility of harm to his kids against the actual harm to Bran. In any case, is there evidence from the books that he even had that in mind (it's been too long since I read GoT)?


Cat was clearly wrong when she killed the boy, but she was also deranged at that point. Jaime doesn't have that excuse; he acted in cold blood.

Ned's case is even more indirect than arguing about what Robert might have done, so I can't blame Ned. Besides, he couldn't have known that Joffrey would execute him. He had a deal.
Stefan Raets
59. Stefan
@58 Sophist - Moderator note: people who have a Tor.com account have the ability to edit their own comments, including adding/removing parts of them.
C R L
60. Maac
Robert was fairly squeamish about offing children (Elia's) that he did need dead. I'm genuinely torn as to what he might have done about his little Lannister cuckoos. On the one hand they'd pose little threat to him claimwise (and their claim to Lannister lands would be unparallelled, oh my god, so they'd be fairly well ensconced there -- and I still don't know how to deal with the incest thing, because on one hand, I believe Tywin was in deep denial over it, which does not spell approval to me, and the smallfolk and subordinate houses might not have liked it much and might pose a threat -- but on the other hand these same smallfolk and subordinate houses were fine with Targaryens doing it for centuries. Targaryens make everything DIFFICULT. Ugh).

Back to Robert -- on the other hand, I can definitely see Robert's temper factoring into this. So who knows how that might have gone down. The twins would be taken out, though, and that would have started another war if Tywin was still left alive, under such circumstances as would have kiled the twins, to do something about it.
emeraldcite
61. Gregor Lewis
I'm with the 'Arc' folks on this.

The plot arc of the books is consistent. Until the last few weeks, the TV Show had also maintained a consistency of Total Internal Logic. Not always in step with the books, because that's impossible, but in harmony with what had come before on TV, and at least recognisably thematically adjacent to the books.

The last two weeks have seen an unnecessary shift away from those attributes, IMO.

OK. You totally messed with Jaime's timeline, keeping a 'hot' actor on screen with nothing but angsty pouting to sustain his momentum. You've hit the big note that overshadows EVERYTHING ELSE, move on already with the arc trajectory you had him on.

That scene with Jaime and Cersei in the sept, next to the body of their dead son isn't necessary now. The change in their relationship has been clearly established ... Moving on now ...

Instead I felt like I got yanked, horse-collared off a plot conveyance going steadily one way, and dropped into the middle of a dump truck tray full'o'manure.

But I can dig it. I don't like the scene. Ironically enough, it shits me. But I can see why you did it. Jaime's been a more overtly shitty character on TV, Cersei more ambiguous. You're inverting the dynamic from the books.

I still don't like it, but heck, I can see what y'all are tryin' to achieve and I can dig it. Jaime's back in familiar surrounds, in environments he would expect to be more comfortable in, but the person he needs most is making him feel decidedly uncomfortable.

What a hateful woman eh? Might even provoke an unstable man to unleash his own reactionary version of a hateful act, because he mistakenly thinks it will bring everything into balance again.

Still don't like it. Still think you're yanking my chain unnecessarily. But hey, you're consistent.

Rape? Incestuous rape? In sight of your dead child's body. Here comes the nadir. Wait a minute. It's not finished. WTF is that? Who taught you how to frame a scene?

What? You think all those half-assed pullbacks make it ambiguous? What you talkin'? That's a cop out man! I said I got it! I don't like it, but I understand. Now you say you be playin'? For real?

Next episode comes round and it's 'resume your battlestations'. Almost like it never happened. Asshole Jaime has returned to the mothership, to be replaced by the 'Knight of rueful lament', symbolic gifts and weighty, emotional silences filled with meaningful glances.

It's the HBO version of The Bold and the Beautiful.

For me it's that abrupt to & fro, that created a discordant plunking yowl. Kind of like a dying cat being used interchangeably with a rusty set of bagpipes to illustrate musical dissonance.

Neither of the options is the least bit appealing to me, but if you could pick one and stick to it ... we could get through the poor execution at least. I enjoy most of the arcs in the books. I find that despite their seeming interminability, I can at least understand the motive behind even those arcs that shit me.

The last two weeks of the TV Show however, have hit the trifecta of sewing the stitches of Jaime's arc crooked; not being able to convey on screen what they aimed to achieve beforehand; alienating and confusing viewers with their abrupt changes of direction, within - and ultimately colouring outside the lines of - their own established circle of Total Internal Logic.

I'm not disappointed because a character I like/dislike was demonised/lionised. I'm disappointed because the way things were conveyed in the final product, over these past two weeks made me believe - unavoidably so - that you couldn't decide how to tell the story cohesively, so you cooked up your plot pasta aldente and flung it at a wall with a teflon undercoat.

Nothing stuck, and now there's a mess to clean up.

grl
C R L
62. Maac
I have a random question that I didn't have before:

Why did they cast a blonde as Stannis's daughter? (Blonde? I think? Dirty blonde? Light brown? As a non-white person with the upbringing and surroundings that entails, I confess that I sincerely can't always tell. Also TVs and computer screens mess with color. The point is, girl has, comparatively, very light hair.)

After that whole big huge dang plot point hanging on the fact that Baratheon children are invariably "black of hair"?

(I like the little actress, don't get me wrong. After all, this only just occurred to me.)
emeraldcite
63. Gregor Lewis
@58; @60.
Sophist, Maac, you've taken this discussion in an interesting direction, but from memory, I think you're giving Robert too much credit.

Now my memory's come up fallow recently, but on this I'm pretty confident of the following:

All Lannisters involved, including children were dead people the moment Robert found out.

That's part of the reason Ned invited Cersei to this 'private meeting' in the godswood. He wanted to intimidate her, but not with bluster. It was a quiet form of intimidation. It was the truth.

Words to the effect of, 'Nothing will save you and your children when Robert finds out.'

'Go as far away as you can. I will wait until he returns from his hunting trip to tell him.'

As for Elia's babes.

Lets not forget, Ned remembers their execution as the catalyst for a breakdown in the relationship between he & Robert.

I think the line was something like, 'Ned named it murder, whereas Robert dismissed it as war. They went off separately to fight the last battles of Robert's uprising and it took Lyanna's death to reconcile them.'

Lets also not forget Robert's vehemence against 'Dragonspawn' as he calls them, which led to Ned resigning his position as Hand, after Robert's insistence a pregnant Daenerys be killed.

There seems no doubt to me regarding this particular 'if'.

The only outcome for the Lannisters was death.

As for Jaime, as I've said before, I don't give him a pass but I understand. He gives us the answer himself after all.

'The things I do for love,' he said with loathing. Jaime knew exactly what he was doing. And he was doing it for Cersei.

Not himself - if it had been up to him, he and Cersei would have been married, the children acknowledged and 'the war for Cersei's cunt' being fought.

Not for the children. We know because he tells us, of the emotional disconnect he feels, as a result of Cersei's insistence he keep his distance from the children, to protect them from even the slightest hint of suspicion.

It was all for Cersei and it went against his instincts, which he had exercised moments earlier, saving Bran from his initial fall.

Unlike Cersei afterwards, he didn't rationalise. Nor did he kid himself. He did what he understood needed to be done. And he didn't shirk the recognition it was evil.

His actions are not forgivable. But IMO they are understandable. This is why redemption is possible in readers' eyes, I think.

In the TV Show, be it deliberate or not, such delineation has not been made as clear.

@62
Great point Maac. Can't for the life of me remember how she is described in books. My instinct was mousy, dull coloured hair, but I just can't remember. Either way, ya wonder why a wig wasn't utilised?

grl
Jeroen van Berkel
64. Heronimus Rex
I have not yet seen any of the shows episodes from this season, but I find reading about them really a very unique experience. Super entertaining!
emeraldcite
65. Black Dread
@62 - Good catch!

She is definitely lighter than the whole dark-Baratheon-hair thing would suggest (as is Stannis himself). If it is her natural color, she has the kind of light hair (like me) that darkens over time. She will have medium brown hair as an adult – not the blonde forever hair of a Lannister or Targaryen.
emeraldcite
66. rewaters
I'm feeling prety good about the changes they are making to the show, but I just wish they'd spend more time with Dany. These little five minute reels with her and then nothing else is annoying, and I worry that she is being overlooked as an important character. Why can't she have an entire 30 minutes dedicated to her storyline? There's plenty there to draw from in the books. The Meereen attack was too fast IMO; seeing one slaver go down in a quiet alley does not an overthrow make. Just give me a few minutes more, that's all I ask. Let's see the unsullied actually fight. Assuming they follow the story in the books (and it's unclear now) her problems are just beginning, but still... we need more Dany to ensure that her storyline has better balance with everything that's going on in Westeros. Otherwise, she falls to insignificance, and that would be a crime against humanity.
emeraldcite
67. Sophist
@59: Thanks. I didn't know that.

@63: Those are good points about Robert's possible reaction, but I think the key is the distinction between Dany and the Lannister kids: she was a legitimate heir to the throne, the Lannister kids would not be once the twincest was exposed. I think Robert would have realized this once his temper cooled (60 makes good points). Even with Dany, he eventually admitted that Ned was right.

There's no certainty to any of this, of course. But even if Jaime had the kids in mind -- and I don't think he did -- I still can't accept the trade of pushing Bran for that reason. All the kids are innocent (at this point, even Joffrey) and we (or at least I) can't do moral calculus with innocent kids.

Re: the rape scenes. In thinking about it overnight, I decided that what makes the TV scenes so disturbing compared to the book, is the sneaking suspicion we all have that we're being shown them not to horrify us, but to titillate us.
Chris Nelly
68. Aeryl
As a witness to the sack of King's Landing, I think it's fair to say that the deaths of Elia's children is never far from Jaime's mind, and that they definitely figured into his calculations.

And while I do agree that Jaime disassociates from his children, his motivation wasn't to save his kids, but Cersei's kids, which she loves very much.
Adam S.
69. MDNY
Jaime is impulsive, he just pushed Bran because he had caught them doing something that would get them both killed. He didn't sit and think about it logically.
Ryan Smith
70. simplery
re: the rape scene, it can be helpful to remember that in season 1, Jaime and Cersei have a similar scene, when she is freaking out about Bran possibly waking up, and slaps Jaime who is trying to get it on with her, and seems unconcerned. He catches her hand, and then proceeds to kiss her in what begins as a forceful manner but appears to become a concensual exchange. I think that the idea is that this is the natural dynamic for Cersei and Jaime, that she resists but does actually want/enjoy it (as troubling an example as that is). I certainly didn't pick up on those levels of rapey vibes between them in their previous scenes.

I assume that the writers/directors were attempting to do that again, but way, way overdid it, and it's become this weird, isolated, disconnect moment in the show that plays as a pivotal event in the audience's mind, but is completely irrelevant in the show. Indeed, the characters in the show seem to act and feel precisely as they would if it hadn't happened at all. Cersei seems unfazed, Jaime doesn't seem to have any feelings about it whatsoever. They don't talk about it. Neither reflects on it. Their relationship has the exact same tone it did before that scene. It's like it didn't even happen.

Clearly, the showrunners didn't intend for it to be perceived as the scene it became, which is why it doesn't fit with the rest of the show, both before and after. This raises the question of why they felt compelled to change that scene in the first place, and how they could possibly have thought it could be perceived in any other way. The "I don't care" line in particular made it seem like Jaime was possessed by a demon for an episode, then Harry Potter stopped by to obliviate him and Cersei before the next one.

I'm going to chalk it up to a severe and baffling miscommunication on the part of the showrunners and try to forget it and salvage Show!Jaime.
Rafael
71. Ryamano
@67

Even if Joffrey and his siblings were taken out of succession line due to confirmation of their illegitimacy, I don't think things would end well for them. Looking at how being cuckolded was solved in certain societies in human past, my guess would be that Robert would demand the heads of the five of them.

I mean, in Brazil a husband could get away without going to jail if he killed his unfaithful wife and her lover. This was known as "legitimate defense of honor", and was finally outlawed completely in the whole country only in 1991. So I could guess what would be the lords of Westeros' reaction to their king allowing his wife, her lover and their children to walk away unharmed after the public humiliation of having their affair being known. He would be much less respected, and I doubt Robert would take this kindly.
emeraldcite
72. Sophist
@71: I think we're all in agreement that Jaime and Cersei were dead if Robert found out. I think most (all?) of us agree that this wouldn't be much defense for Jaime's defenestration of Bran.

The debate has to do with the role of the kids: whether Jaime even had them in mind when he pushed Bran; what Robert might have done; and whether pushing Bran could be justified in any event. The Brazil law you mention is not all that different from many other laws, and certainly not laws in the Middle Ages, but it doesn't reach the kids.
Chris Nelly
73. Aeryl
@72, And I say again, Elia's children. Jaime was there. Jaime saw their battered bodies lain on the floor, swaddled in Lannister cloaks. Heard Robert brush it off. That has had an impact on him.
C R L
74. Maac
Oh I definitely think Jaime had the kids in mind. I think Jaime was pretty effing irrevocably scarred by the sack of King's Landing, and I'm not sure that gets enough airtime, to be honest (although I wouldn't alter much to give it more airtime, as I have no time for the further woobiefication of Jaime Lannister either).

(I do wonder sometimes if that whole aspect of his psychology wasn't thought up by GRRM a little bit later than the chapter in GOT was written, though. Because in the original scene he does come off as slightly flippant. Which is fine, that's how writing works, and we take and judge the work as a whole. Or however much of the whole currently exists...)

I'm sorry, I'm drawing a complete blank and the Wiki isn't helping much -- was there ever a rationale that Jaime himself gave for why he was sitting on the Iron Throne? (Or should I go on believing it was just a stress-rest?)
Lauren Hartman
75. naupathia
@27 That was exactly my point. The difference in timing makes you more apt to get anrgy at Jaime's rape of Cersei than at him throwing Bran out the window. Because he's had progress, and you as a book reader don't want all that progress to be gone. But I say if you only pay attention to his actions/progress in the show I don't think the rape was a huge step back or one that derailed his character. I personally see it as an obvious conclusion to his recent storyline in King's Landing (again, paying attention only to show): He's been getting increasingly frustrated with Cersei's denial of him, and as others postulated in the last episode's recap his continual "unmanning" by recent events caused him to lash out at Cersei who he sees as the last vestige of hope for his masculinity. So he does the only thing he can do to feel less powerless and takes what he wants from her.

I'm not excusing his actions at all. I'm not downplaying the weight of the scene. I'm just saying that from a characterization point of view, and only through the show, I thought it made sense and didn't "derail" anything.

@50 I agree so far in that people see it differently because 1) Bran didn't die, so it's easier to forgive attempted murder than actual murder and 2) most people do hold a special place in hell for those who commit rape, not necessarily because we have experience with it over being thrown out a window but because that's what society has taught us to believe.

@54 I think you're wrong, the violence in the show is part of the canvas. Obviously in a show it has to be shown. How would the scene at Craster's make sense if all the dudes were just sleeping or if the women were just sleeping? It doesn't convey the same sense of evil that these guys have commited. You're supposed to be repelled by it. It's supposed to be offensive. Because those men are both repellant and offensive.

And it's not all against women: has everyone complaining just conveniently forgotten about Theon? Jesus, I'm pretty sure he's had more screen time being tortured than every incidence of rape or violence against women on the show. And it was sexual - how can you consider being forcibly castrated not sexual torture?

Point is, the GoT world sucks. It's obviously unequal as women aren't equal to men in this setting so I think complaining about inequality is rather moot to begin with, but also just as pointless when you consider that there has been plenty of evidence of violence against men, you just don't see it with the same weight that you do the violence against women.
emeraldcite
76. Sophist
Jaime may well have been affected by what happened to Elia's kids, though I don't recall any passage where he says that. But while Robert may have blown that off, it was Jaime's own father, not Robert, who ordered it done.

I still can't see his action as excusable. That doesn't mean he's irredemable (though my comments probably come across that way). It just means I think he has a long way to go.
Chris Nelly
77. Aeryl
@75, Obviously in a show it has to be shown.

No it doesn't. Offhand mentions work in print, they work in shows.

How would the scene at Craster's make sense if all the dudes were just sleeping or if the women were just sleeping?

No one EVER said that's how the scene had to go down. It would have worked mostly fine the way it was, without the gratuitous shots in the background.

Plus, I guess you just need to count your lucky stars you lack imagination, because I didn't need to see it to know it's happening. I can't really escape the reality of rape.

Because those men are both repellant and offensive.

And we knew that watching them kill Mormont, threaten Samwell, and drink from Mormont's skull. Didn't need the Rape Party 2014 to make that point.


And it's not all against women:

Yes, the added violence that's not originally from the book, has ALL been against women.

The issue is that we live in a rape culture, where rape is normalized, and this is perpetuated when you use it to illustrate plot points about rapists, when it is treated casually, as GoT has done. You bring up Theon. Do we live in a castration culture? You bring up murder. Are murder victims routinely blamed for their own crimes?
Chris Nelly
78. Aeryl
@76, I'm not saying that it's objectively excusable. But from Jaime's subjective point, it is. Of all the things he's felt remorse over in the books, what he did to Bran is not one of them.
emeraldcite
79. Sophist
Ok, we're closer than I first thought.

If Jaime is on a redemption track -- I'm not sure GRRM does redemption tracks -- then my view would be that he needs to reach a point where he does feel remorse about Bran.
Chris Nelly
80. Aeryl
Yeah, I don't think that'll ever happen. But Jaime's on my "Not Gonna Survive the Series" list anyways. I only like him because Brienne does.
emeraldcite
81. Sophist
Well, that's as good a reason as any. :)

I actually expect Jaime to be among those left standing. We'll see.
emeraldcite
82. Max Gardner
@79: He does express remorse for Bran -- at least he starts to. I think it's actually during the scene in the sept between Jaime and Cersei that he mentions it when he's telling her of his regret for some of the things he's done, and she replies with something along the lines of "It's not like I made you toss the kid out a window." (Obviously not exact words, but it's been a few months since I finished re-reading the book. He does not express the same regret in the show, but I do recall him doing so in the novel.
Jared Cooper
83. jaredwcooper
@77: Agreed. I was actually enjoying the parts of the series that didn't give me the sense of a relentlessly pervasive crapsack world, but it's caught up.

Arya's a good example. Yoren and the Hound tell her overtly, if you were on your own in the woods, you gonna get raped. There is more than enough of it in the background, and I was cringing during the Craster's Keep scene. Almost went a whole episode without awkward sexposition/super creepy rapetime. Alas.


I have to mention, though, re: Jaime. Throwing Bran out the window almost never calculates into my mental characterization. After all that's happened in the series, I never equate 'Bran can't walk' with 'Jaime did this', because of how much time has been spent on their respective journeys beyond that incident. Some of the better (or comparatively "lighter") formative events in the book almost look contrived after all the effort that's gone into dressing up the crapsack scenery.
Chip Man
84. Chip72
concerning Jamie/Cersie, what's everyone gonna do when WoW comes out? One name: Sansa. You can't elude to which is alluded.

Luv4Jaime, see list:

1. He's not playing the game; doesn't know how; even though he wants to give it a go

2. Cersei uses sex as a weapon (can't refute this in the books); uses it to constantly manipulate Jaime (by her own admission); so, wtf happened on TV?

3. Jaime IS as much a victim some others; he doesn't have his brother's physical challenge, but

a. He's not his father's son. Tywin == Tyrion (says so in the book)
b. He's not cunning like LF.
c. He's not worldly like Tyrion.
d. He's not a hypocrite and cutthroat like Cat.
e. He's not duplicitous and spiteful like Frey.
f. He's not Machiavellian like Bolton.
g. He's not vicious like Ramsey.
h. He's not short-sighted like Dany.
i. Aerys tricks him into serving the KG; accepts - further motivated by his jealousy of Rhaegar/Cersei
j. No one sees that he sacrificed his honor for the lives of city (ty Mr. Forthright and Upstanding Citizen, Ned, for that)
k. Remorse for Bran? Yes. Do you need it in print, or will the fact that through action, he upheld his vow to save Sansa and La Femme Nikita, do?
l. I'm running out of letters in the alphabet... I provided one spoiler, and I wouldn't want to go into other examples as to why he is palatable (if not one of the few chars left with any degree of integrity)...

ADwD is yet to be screen-written and to be botched on TV... but, I can't wait to see HBO feed him to the wolves (pun intended) ...rme

Does Jaime have a temper? Sure.
Does he act impulsively? Sure.
Did he do monsterous things? Sure.
Would you do the same things? Depends on your temperament. Everyone deals with a perceived or real threat in their own way.

Faults and mistakes, at least, you know from where Jaime is coming. Every other character is a backdoor man. Jon Snow included.

IMO, the Craster's arc on TV is bogus... if you're waiting on GRRM, give me backstory... not a homeage to Loki's origins from the Thor movie...
emeraldcite
85. Sophist
He does express remorse for Bran -- at least he starts to. I think it's actually during the scene in the sept between Jaime and Cersei that he mentions it when he's telling her of his regret for some of the things he's done, and she replies with something along the lines of "It's not like I madeyou toss the kid out a window."

He may express remorse, but not in the sept scene. I just checked it and it wasn't there.

Do you need it in print, or will the fact that through action, he upheld his vow to save Sansa and La Femme Nikita, do?

Personally, I'd need it in print. And I don't think he's upheld the vow yet. He's certainly tried to, but actually upholding it would require succeeding.
Alan Brown
86. AlanBrown
I saw a Rolling Stone interview quoted recently where GRRM himself specifically said that Jamie's story was one where he was exploring the theme of a man seeking redemption. So, yes, @79, I think "GRRM does redemption tracks."
emeraldcite
87. Tina Nabors
I think it actually makes sense that they show what was being done to Craster's sons all along.
At the end of the chapter where many of the Night's Watch mutinied and killed Craster and Mormont the women who were urging Sam to take Gilly and her son, tell him: "The boy's brothers," said the old woman on the left. "Craster's sons. The white cold's rising out there, crow. I can feel it in my bones. These poor old bones don't lie. They'll be here soon, the sons."
I think that indicates that they’ve known all along what was being done to the boys and that they know that the Others will be coming soon, including the sons of Craster.
The show wasn’t telling something that wasn’t already shown in the books, just something that wasn’t apparent to the reader until now.
emeraldcite
88. Sophist
That Rolling Stone interview is very revealing and speaks directly to the issues we've been debating. Here are the relevant passages:

Both Jaime and Cersei are clearly despicable in those moments. Later, though, we see a more humane side of Jaime when he rescues a woman, who had been an enemy, from rape. All of a sudden we don't know what to feel about Jaime.

One of the things I wanted to explore with Jaime, and with so many of the characters, is the whole issue of redemption. When can we be redeemed? Is redemption even possible? I don't have an answer. But when do we forgive people? You see it all around in our society, in constant debates. Should we forgive Michael Vick? I have friends who are dog-lovers who will never forgive Michael Vick. Michael Vick has served years in prison; he's apologized. Has he apologized sufficiently? Woody Allen: Is Woody Allen someone that we should laud, or someone that we should despise? Or Roman Polanski, Paula Deen. Our society is full of people who have fallen in one way or another, and what do we do with these people? How many good acts make up for a bad act? If you're a Nazi war criminal and then spend the next 40 years doing good deeds and feeding the hungry, does that make up for being a concentration-camp guard? I don't know the answer, but these are questions worth thinking about. I want there to be a possibility of redemption for us, because we all do terrible things. We should be able to be forgiven. Because if there is no possibility of redemption, what's the answer then?

I don't know if somebody like Jaime or Cersei can be redeemed. Cersei's a great character – she's like Lady Macbeth.

Well, redeemed in whose eyes? She'll never be redeemed in the eyes of some. She's a character who's very protective of her children. You can argue, well, does she genuinely love her children, or does she just love them because they're her children? There's certainly a great level of narcissism in Cersei. She has an almost sociopathic view of the world and civilization. At the same time, what Jaime did is interesting. I don't have any kids myself, but I've talked with other people who have. Remember, Jaime isn't just trying to kill Bran because he's an annoying little kid. Bran has seen something that is basically a death sentence for Jaime, for Cersei, and their children – their three actual children. So I've asked people who do have children, "Well, what would you do in Jaime's situation?" They say, "Well, I'm not a bad guy – I wouldn't kill." Are you sure? Never? If Bran tells King Robert he's going to kill you and your sister-lover, and your three children.?.?.?.
Then many of them hesitate. Probably more people than not would say, "Yeah, I would kill someone else's child to save my own child, even if that other child was innocent." These are the difficult decisions people make, and they're worth examining.
Chris Nelly
89. Aeryl
@87, That is important, and has been a huge hint lying there for awhile.

What bugs me about this, is that scene shows the women of Craster's Keep aren't down with it, but of course, because the showrunners wanted to exploit women and make you feel less sorry for them, the women are ALL IN when it comes to sacrificing the baby.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
90. Lisamarie
I actually saw it as the women being totally freaked out and conditioned to do it out of fear...I still felt very sorry for them. They seemed practically brainwashed.

Although come to think of it, it did feel a bit similar to Selyse's fanatic blathering during the the burning scene.
emeraldcite
91. Tina Nabors
@89, I know. I’ve been slowly rereading the series and it seems that my reading has come up at the same time as some points in the show. I always thought that Craster’s sons’ were either being eaten by the Others, or made into slaves. Maybe even growing up and becoming wrights themselves after being killed. It never entered my mind that they were made into Others. I read about how the show showed about the babies being made into Others, the controversy surrounding showing this and then I read this chapter, and at the end of it was mention of Craster’s sons, and I’m like so that’s why they included that in the show, since I’m not sure that it will be mentioned in the other books.

Since I can’t watch the current season all I have to go by is what is talked about in the forums. I do have huge problems with the way people are presented in the show as to how they are presented in the book. The main ones being Cersei, Tywin, and Shae. Also, when I saw the first season of Game of Thrones, I was astonished by the amount of sex. I could understand the scene between Jaime and Cersei when Bran discovered them. It was part of the story. When they showed Theon and Ros, I’m like OK, you’ve shown me some dick, do I really want to watch this? But when they got to the scene in the brothel where Petyr was working on his books and two prostitutes were; for lack of a better word; practicing, I was not impressed. It seemed like it was a gratuitous scene. But I persevered and the story was getting better. Now it seems like they are at it again, and I’m wondering if I want to buy this episode when it is available. I think I will because Summer was so huge like I thought he should be in the scene I saw on YouTube. And there are other nice perks like Joffrey’s death and Ser Pounce.
emeraldcite
92. boredme
Sigh.

How many Words of God does it take....That Scene was not supposed to be a rape scene. Yes, the person in charge of editing that episode should be fired; but I'm sorry, I don't like the idea of permanently changing my opinion of an arc because of a mistake. It's like wondering why a character doesn't have a bump in his head because a boom swung into action and hit the actor on the head.
emeraldcite
93. Queerbec
The "rape scene" says more about contemporary television show runners than it does about Jaime Lannister. If that's what the Davids think represents consensual sex, then I guess their wives/girlfriends better be careful around them, or else like violent game playing. It certainly came off as rape when I watched it (it looked a lot like the scene in "Mad Men" when Joan got raped by her husband), although I recall a scene in "Rescue Me" that sure looked like Dennis O'Leary's character raping his wife, but Dennis and the director and writers vehemently denied it--as if a woman has to actually get up and leave or kick the guy in the ballsx for sex to be nonconsensual.
Lee Anderson
94. DSNiner
@11, Darth Maul is Zabrak, not Iridorian. :)

I'm going to chalk it up to a severe and baffling miscommunication on the part of the showrunners and try to forget it and salvage Show!Jaime.

@70, I'm with you.
Chris Nelly
95. Aeryl
@94, Thanks. Man, KOTOR2's been too long. I never read the prequel novelizations.
emeraldcite
97. BMan
Grey Worm is a eunic, how is he going to have a "sweet courtship" with Missandei. Did you read the books?
Don Barkauskas
98. bad_platypus
BMan @97: Relationships don't have to be all about sex. Eunuchs are just as capable of having relationships as anyone else.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
99. Lisamarie
BMan @ 97 - I would address that queston back to you! if you read the books, you'd realize that this exact topic is addressed and debunked - eunuchs can and do have relationships!
emeraldcite
100. beastofman
Belle and I like to think that Ser Pounce speaks with the voice of Morris the Cat.


That's really all I came here to say

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