Priorities and privilege reign in Game of Thrones S3E3

I’ve heard a lot of bewilderment across social media when it comes to keeping up with the ever-climbing number of characters in this show. Even fans of the books are having a bit of a tough time, since the written chronology is odd -- each character’s arc is written separately, so you might read in an entirely unpredictable order about events that are presumed to be happening simultaneously.

The show’s doing an incredible job of streamlining the chronology and making sure stories unfolding at different corners of the world keep reasonable pace with each other, and at uniting disparate arcs under a common theme. It’s titled “Walk of Punishment”, and it’s about the privileges each individual has (or has not), and what those things cost them.

Sigh. Trigger warning for discussion of rape.

Robb Stark and his army have come to Riverrun, the home of his mother’s Tully family, for the funeral of Catelyn’s father. That her brother Edmure wastes several flaming arrows trying to hit the pyre, ultimately forcing their uncle, Brynden the Blackfish, to step in, is a good analogy for how badly the younger generation’s botching this war effort.

The Stark’s greatest failing here is the very thing that makes them noble: the value they place on individuals. Robb sees his enemies by name -- Tywin Lannister, and Lannister-affiliated savage Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane. The Mountain’s been largely portrayed as a concept here, but he’s the brother of The Hound (responsible for burning his little brother’s face as a youth, creating The Hound’s fear of fire and telling you almost all you need to know about Gregor).

Rather than draw the Mountain into a more advantageous position as Robb had hoped, Edmure wasted resources and lives capturing a relatively-useless mill holding, along with two minor young Lannister cousins, who aren’t likely to be worth much as bargaining chips. Good job, family Tully.

This is not the kind of mistake Tywin Lannister, the ultimate general, would make. The only prisoner he really cares about is his son Jaime, a prioritization that doesn’t seem to escape the notice of his other two children. As the small council convenes to discuss strategy at court, we get a priceless sequence whereby Cersei determinedly moves a chair to sit alongside her father, across from the men (that’s Littlefinger, gossip-master Varys, and the Maester Pycelle). Tyrion one-ups her by pulling his own chair to sit at the table’s end, directly opposite their father.

As reward for his service to the crown, Littlefinger, who’s been running the books at King’s Landing, has been entitled Lord of Harrenhal, but given that Roose Bolton’s currently holding that awful shell of a castle for Robb Stark, that title hardly means much. Instead, Tywin “suggests” Littlefinger court Lysa Arryn, Catelyn’s sister, who’s fancied him since they were children.

Since the murder of Lysa’s husband Jon kicked all of these events off by bringing Ned Stark to King’s Landing in the first place, Lysa’s been hiding out in her mountainous tower home, The Eyrie, with her awful, sickly little son Robert, whom she still nurses at her breast even though he’s got to be six or seven years old by now. Marrying Lysa would bring the territory into Lannister hands, though, and give Littlefinger a better title, so he agrees to go -- leaving Tyrion to be assigned into the role of Master of Coin.

We join Jaime, Brienne and their Bolton-bannered captors. As presumed Stark allies, this group here couldn’t have a more high-value prisoner on their hands than Tywin’s favorite son, the famous swordsman. This group is led by a man named Locke, which I only know because of a wiki search. In the novels Jaime and Brienne are held by a group of contract grotesques called the Brave Companions, but the Bolton banner is meant to simplify the number of factions in play.

The song they’re singing is “The Bear and the Maiden Fair,” a popular ditty about a bear that poses as a knight to rescue a lady. It’s often used as a motif in the books, especially when one grotesque ends up in an alliance with a more vulnerable individual -- think of the Hound visiting Sansa Stark during the Blackwater battle, or Jaime and Brienne. Except in this case, the “maiden fair” is definitely the Lannister golden boy.

Brienne, less impressed by Jaime’s swordsmanship during their brief duel than she expected, insinuates that perhaps Jaime’s reputation owes a bit more to Lannister privilege and fame than perhaps Jaime would like to admit. In fact, he wouldn’t like to admit it at all, and revenges himself on the idea by reminding Brienne she’s liable to be raped in camp. Yet in his way, he also advises her not to resist, counseling her for her safety, even though he can admit he’d rather die than be in her position and he’s thankful not to be a woman.

At the village site of Thoros of Myr’s ragtag liberation group The Brotherhood Without Banners, Arya’s friend Hot Pie decides to stay behind at the camp. Having lost her pal Lommy in an earlier skirmish, she’s down to just one friend, now -- the young blacksmith’s apprentice Gendry, who doesn’t know he’s one of the late Robert Baratheon’s black-haired bastard (getting a look at Gendry was part of Ned’s research into the revelation that Cersei Lannister’s children are all inbred).

Help me out here, commenters: Why does Arya ask Sandor Clegane if he remembers the last time he was here?

Losing her father makes Catelyn worry about her own children -- remember when Theon displayed two child’s bodies of about the right size at Winterfell? Rumor must hold that Bran and Rickon are dead, but Catelyn and her uncle need to have faith, if only to keep Robb’s war effort spiritually strong.

Legends hold a lot of power in this world, of course. Note how Lady Talisa, of whose name no one’s been reminded since before her wedding to Robb last season, indulges in scaring the little Lannister boys as she treats their wounds.

And how thanks to their skin-changing warg, the Wildlings believe hundreds of the Wall’s black brothers might have been killed up north at the Fist of the First Men. Mance Rayder thinks it’s a good time for his army to breach the Wall, a long-standing boundary between the Wildlings and the rest of Westeros. That it’ll also breach the boundary between the White Walkers and the rest of Westeros doesn’t seem to concern him.

But they find only horse corpses, presuming there must be undead, instead of bodies, nearby. However, Jeor Mormont’s party of crow rangers is safely at Craster’s Keep, where Craster continues being the most awful person in the world. Remember that this man lives beyond the wall so that he can keep a homestead where he has children on his own daughters and sacrifices all his boy children to the White Walkers.

Even given the imminent threat of the undead, Craster saves his best food for his pigs, pitiless to the painful birthing cries of one of his daughters, and suggests everyone should eat Samwell Tarly, because he’s so fat. Sam is a bit tired, justifiably, of being made to feel worthless because he’s so fat, and Craster’s remarks prompt him to seek out Gilly, a girl he’d been fond of at their last visit to the keep, and watch her deliver her baby. Unfortunately it’s a boy baby -- but we think now Sam might have the chance to try to be a hero.

At Dragonstone, where Stannis is licking his wounds after his last decimating loss at King’s Landing, Melisandre is leaving to do who knows what in the ritualistic service of her Red God, the Lord of Light. She says Stannis’ “fires” are too low for her to birth another murderous spectre of the type that assassinated Renly, but hints that sacrificing someone else with Stannis’ “king’s blood” -- maybe one Robert Baratheon’s bastards -- would create enough magic for an advantage.

The books never tell us if Stannis is physically or romantically interested in Melisandre. He’s obsessively puritanical, rejects the idea of prostitution whatsoever, demands rigid order among his men, and supposedly maintains a loyal marriage to his wife (known to be ugly) and his daughter, who has a skin disease. That makes the fact he’s constantly in the company of the red sorceress more ambiguous, provokes more curiosity about his character. Seeing him patently crave her here makes Stannis seem a little more objectively distasteful.

Still in Astapor, Daenerys continues to be horrified by the consequences of slavery. Despite her promises to take her rights in fire and blood, she instead is negotiating for an army. Her close advisor Jorah Mormont (the son of the Old Bear, the Night Watch’s leader) thinks having an army of perfectly-trained slave soldiers is a better proposition for Dany’s value system than imperfect, personally-motivated men who often show their ugly sides as they raze and pillage in wartime, but last-gen Kingsguard veteran Ser Barristan Selmy believes in the value of personal loyalty, while Mormont doesn’t seem to think nobility gets you much.

The tension between Selmy and Mormont (“’We’ already, Ser Barristan?“) over Daenerys, in a sense, is quite interesting. We see Dany patiently considering both trusted viewpoints -- but neither of them think it’s a good idea for her to give away her biggest dragon in exchange for the Unsullied warriors. She does it anyway, and gains the translator Missandei as a companion in the bargain. She seems potentially drawn as an interesting character here, versus in the books when she’s often creepily referred-to as “the little scribe”.

Tyrion enters Littlefinger’s domain of prostitution to collect a wagon full of royal ledgers, where Littlefinger asks apparently-innocent questions about why Ros was punished by Cersei for Tyrion’s sake. There are no innocent questions at court, however -- Cersei mistakenly believed Ros was Tyrion’s lover, and nicked her instead of Shae. That Tyrion is keeping Shae (and hiding her as Sansa’s handmaiden) is a crucial weakness to him, since the consequences to the couple are liable to be dire if Tywin ever hears of it.

But when Littlefinger suggests Tyrion reward his squire, Podrick Payne, for saving his life, Tyrion takes the bait, leaving Pod alone with four of Littlefinger’s women. When Pod comes back with the money Tyrion paid still in hand, Tyrion and Bronn realize Littlefinger must have gotten something out of him. Not only that, but Tyrion’s got his work cut out for him, learning that Littlefinger’s manner of accounting mostly involves borrowing impossible sums. If the deeply in-debt Crown can’t make some restitution to the Iron Bank of Braavos, the Bravosi will fund Lannister rivals instead.

Theon’s set free from torture at the Bolton family's Dreadfort[*] by the mysterious sympathizer who’s promised him his sister Yara Greyjoy is waiting for him nearby. But he doesn’t get far before he’s hunted down again, and his mysterious savior somehow arrives just in time to rescue Theon from inevitable rape and murder. This guy’s pretty good with a weapon for someone we met holding a broom in the dungeon corner, and the last man to die at crossbow-point seems to know who’s killed him -- “you little bastard,” he marvels.

Brienne doesn’t seem able to either talk or fight her way out of what the men in Locke’s camp plan to do to her. Jaime is a talker, though, and manages to convince them to leave her alone by telling Locke she’s worth a load of sapphires to her father in Tarth. Tarth gets its name from its sapphire waters, not from any load of gemstones[**], but Jaime’s a charming liar. Brienne then gets to watch the special privilege the fancy, high-value Lannister prisoner looks likely to get from camp because of his rich father.

Jaime tries to impress his gift for fancy language was just due to the education his father forced upon him, but this expression of his privilege seems to alienate Locke, who slowly, insidiously reveals he’s a bit more clever than he looks and doesn’t appreciate Jaime’s efforts to manipulate him with the promise of his father’s gold, nor the automatic assumption that he ought to be grateful for whatever glories a Lannister wants to buy him with.

Is it his talent that makes Jaime special, or simply his father’s power and money? In a brutal attempt to force an answer to that question, Locke removes Jaime’s sword-hand, as The Hold Steady’s rousing cover of “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” plays over the credits roll. In the end, privilege pays the highest cost and it’s Jaime, not Brienne, who loses something permanent in that encampment.

Jaime is my personal favorite character in the series. He has all the arrogance his class has bought him, but the mantle of Lannister privilege has harmed him, too. He’s carried the mantle of “Kingslayer” for his entire career, and it’s assumed he was simply the ultimate traitor -- slaying the mad king he’d sworn to protect. He’s famously handsome, but has only ever been with his sister Cersei, as the twins bonded during a tough and lonely childhood. Now, he’s simply the most high-value prisoner at large in the war effort, having lost the only thing that he truly owns -- his ability to use a sword.

Game of Thrones wants us to hate the way that privilege challenges others, but it also illustrates that incredible misfortune doesn’t discriminate. These are the more interesting subtleties that make us attach to the series’ major characters, and not mind so much when it starts throwing minor ones at us. I wonder if one is even meant, ever, to maintain an all-seeing grasp on the plot, its different factions, and their complicated constituencies; maybe it’s possible to just pick a favorite family or two and focus on them.

In last week's comments discussion, we talked about our favorite women characters. Whose narrative arc do you find most interesting (try to avoid spoilers, if you know them?) How tough of a time are you having keeping the story and characters straight, if you're new to the series? Do you do the special-nicknames thing (King, king's mom, jerk, jerk's friend, wizard lady, Jon Snow)?

[*I'd previously incorrectly-claimed Theon was being held at Winterfell, which House Bolton is meant to look after on Robb Stark's behalf now that the Ironmen have left. Instead, commenter Roose_Bolton (of course) lets me know they're more likely at the Dreadfort, the Bolton family home. I can't even tell you why I think he's right, because spoilers. **I'd also made the mistake of thinking there used to be sapphires in Tarth but aren't anymore; my pal Pete (of Anamanaguchi fame) reminds me that it's really just the water that derives the 'sapphire' legend, which makes Jaime's lie a bit bigger.]


  1. “the last time he was there” was when he killed the butcher boy after Arya’s wolf bit Joffrey’s arm. I think. At least in the book, that’s the main grudge Arya holds toward the Hound.

  2. Pssst – I think the title of the episode was “Walk of Punishment”. Contrast the crucified slave boulevard with Jaime’s walk to the dining table at the end.

  3. Are we sure Theon is being held at Winterfell? I assumed it was the Dreadfort.

    As to which narrative arc I enjoy the most….a toss up between Bran’s and Brienne’s, for reasons that are not completely clear to me. Call it a hunch.

    1. You’re absolutely right.  Theon is at (or at least was released from) the Dreadfort.  100% positive.

      Also, his conspirator’s advice: Ride east. That makes no sense at all. Pyke and Theon’s sister are in the sunset sea.

      1. He was being tortured on an X-shaped rack. A man being tortured on an X-shaped rack is the sigil of the Bolton’s, at least as far as the TV series is concerned.

        Never even picked up on the false directions his “rescuer” gave, but it’s not surprising.

        1. *SPOILER* I am wondering if Theon’s rescuer is actually Ramsay Snow! Like it’s all part of his perverted ‘hunting’ game to let someone think they’ve escaped and then be like ‘SURPRISE!! I’M A PSYCHO!!!’ 

        2. You continue being my favorite commenter! UGH OBVIOUSLY it’s the Dreadfort, Roose would be at Winterfell right now, and is never in the same place as [ET CETERA] 

          1. Seriously, as I was writing this I was like “probably all correct here, but if not, Roose_Bolton will tell me.” Never abandon me~ 

          2. Heh heh. Just so long as you don’t think I’m pickin’ on ya! Half the time I’m unsure of myself, given that the TV series is taking liberties with the actually storyline.

            I love the ASOIAF series. Have read it 6-7 times. The little details have seeped in : )

    1. I’m with Ramone.  Littlefinger’s …employees didn’t charge Pod.  Tyrion & Bronn want to learn his …technique.

      1. I think that ties in with the theme of ‘privilege,’ though. Bronn, as a skeevy sellsword, and Tyrion, as a dwarf, have both always had to pay whores for action, whereas Pod, as a cute teenage boy who is apparently also a sexual prodigy, is ‘whole’ in the Westeros universe. Although I did wonder what the angle the whores were playing was until I guessed it was just a comedic conceit, like Edmure’s failure to properly shoot the arrow in the beginning of the episode.

        1. I agree with the first, but Edmure’s failure was much deeper than just comedy. Without any words being spoken we were given a very good idea of who Edmure and the Blackfish were. Efficient storytelling at its best.

          1. Oh totally agree with you on the Edmure thing. I think of it as a storytelling threefer, they introduced Edmure and the Blackfish and their dynamic, AND it was hilarious!

        2. Ah, you think? I’m being hypervigilant, I suppose. COMEDY IN WESTEROS? I DON’T TRUST IT 

          1. HA! Right? ‘I’m laughing… OH GOD SOMEONE’S GOING TO DIE IN THE NEXT SCENE!’ 

        1. Heh… I can perform like a champ when I have cobwebs to dust off; pretty hard to beat a lifetime’s worth… my first GF was treated to a three-day marathon ; )

    2. I quite disagree, and anyway, it doesn’t have to only be one or the other.

      Tyrion’s one of the savviest people in the world; naturally he would be exceedingly suspicious of his squire being given something for free, particularly being given so by those in the service of manipulative Littlefinger.

      The comedic implication of Pod’s prowess is there, but it’s surely not the only, or, I think, the main thing happening in that scene.

      1. Sorry, but you’re missing the main point, which was the overtly gossipy nature of the two when they poured Pod a drink. This interpretation seems to be fairly popular:

        For me the key here is Bron’s reaction. It’s well established he’d rather hang out with Littlefinger’s ladies than do just about anything else–including worrying about his schemes–that’s Tyrion’s job. Before Pod walks in, he confirms this by telling Tyrion how little he cares about the kingdom’s money problems.

        1. Podrick must have revealed /something/ about Tyrion’s true love, the “no charge” ploy designed to get under his skin.

          Littlefinger was homing in on the truth in the previous episode when he made secrets with Sansa while Rose probed Shae for clues to her past… which she has revealed to nobody, even Tryion.

        2. I wonder if the dynamic between Tyrion, Bron and Pod will change at all? Mad props are in order, one would think…

          Paying for the services of working girls with nought but skill and ability should be something mighty impressive to Bron and Tyrion both.

          I think Pod can hold his head a bit higher in their company now : )

      2. Nah, if Tyrion wanted to get serious information about what Pod might have said, he wouldn’t have grabbed wine for him Pod and Bronn to drink and talk.

        Leigh really misreads the scene at Littlefinger’s–Tyrion wasn’t rewarding Pod based on Littlefinger’s suggestion. It was pretty obvious that he had planned the foursome for Pod beforehand, already having chosen the ladies for their particular talents.

        1.  I agree that Tyrion planned the encounter in advance, not on Littlefinger’s suggestion. As the scene plays out in what is mostly realtime, there is no hidden time for that discussion to take place.

    3.  not a chance.  Tyrion is way too savvy of both pros and littlefinger to not think something deeper is up

    4.  There are four theories on this, as far as I am aware.

      1). Littlefinger wheedled something out of Pod in exchange for the romp.

      2). Pod is a sexual prodigy–as much as he is young, cute, and innocent–so the girls do not charge him.

      3). The girls are attempting to gain some favor with the new master of coin. (I believe this is the silliest of theories.)

      4). Tyrion paid for the girls secretly, and the money left was meant to be returned. This is the most interesting theory to me because it is at such strange contrast with what has happened in Tyrion’s past. This leaves me to wonder whether Bronn knew of the trick or not.

      1.  Everyone misses the two obvious possibilities.

        5.  He has a huge penis

        6.  He couldn’t perform because of fear or alternate sexuality.

        1. Possibility 6 occurred to me at first, but then I wouldn’t expect Pod to be such a good bullshitter. Also he was perving pretty hard at Littlefinger’s wares.

          As for #5, I gather fortuitous dimensions go a long way, but a good job depends just as much on the entree as the main course, and anyway that’s just another angle on #2.

    5. I interpreted the scene as all part of Tyrion’ gift to Pod, that the women were paid in advance to reject Pod’s money, to make Pod feel like he didn’t simply lose his virginity to some women for money, but that he had a true experience that all involved enjoyed. Tyrion gave him the gift of confidence and bragging rights in addition to one evening with three women. The gossip about it later was just for fun and to extend the (good natured) deception. Just how I saw it personally.

      1.  See, this is a common viewpoint, but it is seriously problematic with Tyrion’s history. Remember Jamie paid for a whore for Tyrion who Tyrion ultimately fell in love with. Tyrion does not remember that trick fondly.

    6. The scene struck me as uncharacteristically humorous, so Alexander’s reading puts it in a more sensible light. Which also makes me thing that it may be both ways. Humorous: Bronn curious to know how to get some tail for free. Not so humorous: Tyrion curious to find if Pod had inadvertently fallen into a honey trap. 

    7.  I think this scene was set up to intentionally be ambiguous. It could be as you say that they wanted to dish on details, or any of the other reasons, or a combination of several of them. Most likely, they just wanted to get to the bottom of it, and if they could have a laugh doing so then all the better.

      One thing I am certain about though is that the cash being returned unpaid was not indicative of Littlefinger having gotten something out of him. The reason I can say this is because if this had been the case, Littlefinger wouldn’t have left so obvious a clue. What is a possibility though is that Littlefinger instructed the girls not to take his money to mess with Tyrion’s head; to give the impression he had some unknown intel over him so as to keep Tyrion at a disadvantage.

  4. “Why does Arya ask Sandor Clegane if he remembers the last time he was here?” Isn’t this the place where Sandor killed Arya’s friend (the kitchen-boy or whatever)? The set definitely looked familiar.

    1. His name was Micah, the butcher’s boy. You best be glad Arya isn’t around to hear you call him “the kitchen boy or whatever”.

        1. You don’t remember this from the books? Really? It’s pretty significant.

          I too feel sorry for the Hound. His character arc is pretty touching.

          1. Ahhh, I see what you mean now, good point. I’m not 100% sure they mention where he was caught in the book. Just that he was “sleeping one off” under a tree somewhere.

  5. As for character arcs I would have to go with Arya

    Arya just keeps getting more and more awesome. Especially (minor spoiler) in the later books.

      1. I agree, which is why I hesitated to say anything at all, but Arya’s badass-ness compelled me.

        She has just gone through so much more to earn the warrior/princess title than Dany. And I love end of book 5 Dany.

    1. Arya’s arc is fantastic. It’s the one storyline that could be pulled whole from the entire series and given its own books.

      1. Straight  after reading all the books I read all Arya’s chapters. You’re right, they could work as a book in their own right.

      2. “Arya’s Book” would be fantastic. It wouldn’t quite have that weird resonance from everything else going on, but it would be cool.

  6. When i read the book, I was somehow sure that Theon was killed at Winterfell. I must have read it wrong, or else the show is significantly diverging from the books.

    1. Theon is taken prisoner in ACoK, then is only mentioned in ASoS (though Robb Stark wishes he was just dead), then we see him again in ADwD. This whole storyline appears to be a way to give the character/actor something to do since otherwise we weren’t going to see him again until season 5 (assuming that season 5 will combine elements of AFfC and ADwD rather than split the cast).

      1.  I think perhaps the role (due to the actor) has become more popular in the series than in the books, and so rather than keep him out of the story until 2015 they’ve expanded his role.

    2. The show is significantly diverging from the book as regards Theon’s timeline. At the end of Storm of Swords the reader is left with the idea that Theon died at Winterfell……I think.

      The timeline is really the hardest thing about the books to keep straight. I’d be surprised if GRRM himself is able to explain it!

      1. Keeping track of who exactly is dead and alive is one of the real challenges of reading the books. The strict POV nature of the narrative means that you can’t always be sure if someone died, but only if they’re thought to have died. It’s worse when characters’ deaths are faked.

        Wait, no. It’s worse when characters actually do die, but change their minds. I’m still expecting Ned to make a comeback.I’ve got an app on my phone that I bought as a map of Westeros, but it has this nifty little feature whereby you can keep track of the locations and life-status of the main characters. I’ve given up trying to figure out who’s dead and who’s alive, because I’m sick of being wrong!.

    3. He wasn’t killed, but he did disappear until the 5th book, so the assumption is there. They’re obviously changing up his arc.

    4. Theon is known in the later books as “The Reeker”, he is tortured to the point of being almost unrecognizable.  Speaking of which, his torturer (The Bastard of Bolton) is likely the kid that let him go and gave false directions.  The Bastard loves to play these little cat and mouse games with those he captures and bedevils.  He gives the illusion of an escape and pulls them back in to break their will and simply delight in their crushed hopes.  The Bastard of Bolton gives new meaning to the phrase “heartless bastard”. 

      1. Dude, I think we’re trying to refrain from blatant book spoilers here. Assume everyone here has watched the latest episode, but has not read the books.

        That said, I should look back over my latest posts, I may be guilty myself….

        1. Yes! Try to avoid explaining things here that haven’t been explained yet in the books! Some interesting reveals are being set up… 

        1. They call me the Reeker, I’m been stinking low (born) and high (born)! (with apologies to Ser Pate Townshend…)

    5.  Theon definitely survives. There is a minor mystery  and reveal coming about Theon’s sruvival, the Ironborn, and Winterfell I feel like the show is skipping over.  It’s minor, but I feel like it is an interesting thing. I also disliked strongly the lack of the rose blooming out of the Wall in Dany’s vision-quest within the House of the Undying.

      1. Well they also haven’t explained the story of Bael the Bard and the blue roses in that story either.  And I would expect that they don’t flashback visually to the Knight of the Laughing Tree story either.

        1. What I wouldn’t give for a telling or flashback of the Tower of Joy sequence. I feel the need for Howland Reed.

          1. I expect that they could get Sean Bean to come back for that, but how would you convince an actor to commit to the Howland Reed role?

  7. I have too many favorite character arcs. I am really excited to see the dynamic develop between Dany, Jorah and Barristan Selmy (the latter character is one of my faves). I love the Hound, although I love Show Hound more than Book Hound. Most of all I am loving the onscreen chemistry between Brienne and Jaime– I’ve read the books so no surprises for me, but the actors are really nailing it with their interactions! Jaime and Brienne’s respective character arcs were also my favorite aspect of the books, so seeing them depicted so perfectly is awesome. I love how both represent some of the big themes of the books, like the perception of a person vs. the reality, and how their dynamics shift as their stories unfold. 

  8. Along with which character arcs are the favourites, I’d love to hear how non-book readers think the storyline of their favourite character will evolve. You know, just so I can re-live the innocence I lost by reading the books!

    1. I’m a non-book reader, and I made some predictions before this season started (some have already been busted) (I am horribly misspelling character names here)
      Brianne and Jamie will become romantically involved
      Bran and Rikon will cross the wall
      Daneris will go to Doorn (might still happen, but I think its unlikely)
      Rob will face consequences for not marrying girl from bridge place
      Lady stark will make another fatal mistake and be killed for it.
      Sansa will leave Kings Landing
      Geoffrey will be spanked by his grandfather
      Tyerion will find a new position of power
      John snow will continue to be boring, but he is the only tie in to the Mans Raider plotline, so he will live through the season.
      Sam will convince Gilly to run away with him
      Aria and Gendry will wander in the wilderness being awesome together for a long time. Then, when everyone else competing for the throne is dead, they will emerge and rule in a bromance of awesomeness.

        1. True, but I think all of those predictions are telegraphed, and I thought a lot of them while reading the books. It’s the unpredictability of the stories that kept me reading!

  9. “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” was pretty botched in this review. Perhaps I’m not reading enough into it, but I’m pretty sure it’s about performing oral sex on an (briefly) unwanting woman. Not rescuing a maiden and pairing an undesirable force with a weaker ally. Sure, the wiki says she’s being rescued, but the song doesn’t. The song just says she wants a knight (better looking man) instead of a bear (large hairy man).

    1. And nobody is mentioning the fact that the Mormonts (Jeor and Jorah) are from Bear Island and have a bear for their sigil.  Jeor is even called the Old Bear!

  10. ” This guy’s pretty good with a weapon for someone we met holding a broom
    in the dungeon corner, and the last man to die at crossbow-point seems
    to know who’s killed him — “you little bastard,” he marvels.”
    at least in the show, the last kill, appears to be a long-bow.

  11. I have to say, I absolutely hated the scene in the whorehouse. Not only do we get a minutes-long T&A introduction of three prostitutes we’re never going to see again, we have to suffer through the sub-American Pie joke of Podrick being some sort of naturally talented sex god? I like your reading of that scene, Leigh, because it at least gives Tyrion’s and Bronn’s reaction a different angle, but I honestly think you’re reaching – it’s just puerile writing. You’d think a show that has already been accused of milking its nudity for all its worth would be a bit more mature about such things. Was this scene in the books, by the way?

    1. Nope, that’s pure HBO nonsense. Book-Pod is so shy he would have pissed his breeches and run away. These added scenes have gotten on my nerves since the beginning.

    2. I don’t think anyone thought, or was meant to think, that Pod was a naturally talented sex god. No matter how good you are, whores never work for free (not least because Littlefinger wouldn’t allow it), so it was implied that Pod gave up something else of value, some information that could be to Littlefinger’s benefit and Tyrion’s detriment maybe. 

  12. I apologize for the somewhat OT question, but:

    Sigh. Trigger warning for discussion of rape.

    Have any studies been done to determine whether or not this ultimately helps, or hurts, the people it intends to help?

    Because, I mean, the warning that accompanied the Boston Marathon photos made me think of horrible things I’ve witnessed, and I just saw that stuff firsthand, wasn’t a victim (in one in particular, I couldn’t experience it without dying; they can’t sew heads back on yet.)  Maybe it’s different for the actual victim so if anyone knows of anything other than feels, please, I’d love to know whether it makes a difference, for decency’s sake.

    Hopefully I can get away with alluding to decapitation, since we’re talking about GoT after all.

    1. I was told by a female friend that she finds these warnings condescending and patronizing. Her view being that the warnings exist because “I’m too fucking delicate to live in the real world because I was raped.”

      1. That’s why she’s been given a choice to decide whether or not to view something. Does she want to take that choice away from other rape victims?

      2. It’s more then condescending. It’s an expectation that victims remain broken and vulnerable; their whole lives will always be chained to and defined by that event. A way of keeping victims apart from everyone else. Sure there are some that want the role of card carrying victim till their end days but some of us just want to be people again.

        1. And the alternative is to tell them to just toughen up and get over it. Isn’t it usually the abuser who says that? Who are you to take that choice away from abuse victims? And who the fuck are you to refer to them as “card carrying victims”?

  13. I’ve seen the Pod storyline interpreted so many weird ways. My first reaction was that Tyrion DID pay for the services, he just made it so that Pod will leave thinking he’s a god. It was part of Tyrion’s gift for Pod saving his [nose].

  14. I’m still making my way through the fourth book (Kindle says 60% done), but I think my favourite character arc surprisingly  belongs to Sansa. I am also loving what the show is doing with with Olenna and Margaery and letting us get a better look at what they are up to.

    1. I have to admit Sansa’s story is one I just can’t imagine the ending to, so in that sense it fascinates me to a certain degree. Not a huge fan of the character at first, but she certainly has changed!

  15. It’s interesting watching this show with friends who haven’t read the books, and it’s very difficult to not give spoilers or hint at what’s to come.  That said, it’s also very interesting to hear what their understanding of the story is.  Going into Ep. 3, there was quite a bit of speculation about who was holding, and torturing, Theon.  Where I felt the show had given enough information to know that Ramsay Snow had sacked Winterfell and captured Theon, neither of these facts came across very well. 

  16. “That it’ll also breach the boundary between the White Walkers and the rest of Westeros doesn’t seem to concern him.”

    I’m not so sure. In the books, Mance is always on about bringing down the Wall. Given his knowledge of the White-Walkers, this seems insane and suicidal. In the TV series, while leaving the Fist of the First Men, Mance says of the Westerosi: “They’ve got a big ol’ wall to hide behind, and I aim to be on the right side of it.”

    Crossing over the Wall, conquering Castle Black, and bringing the rest of his host into Westeros before closing the gates makes much more sense. 

  17. Regarding nicknames, my wife and I both watch the show without having read the books, so we do the nickname thing until a character has enough screen time for their name to start to stick in memory.  We still refer to Melisandre, for example, as “Tori Amos.”

  18.  My favourite narrative arc? Having read all the books in between the second and third series it’s very hard not to make a slip, but I will refrain! For me it’s got to be Arya’s story up to this point.

    1.  There were two GoT characters on the Doctor this week. :-) Liam Cunningham plays the captain of a stealthy sea-faring vessel who finds himself declaring loyalty to a man he once thought of as an enemy, and Tobias Menzies as a high ranking soldier who doesn’t think things through properly and botches things up for everyone. An impressive range these actors have.

      1. yes! you’re right!

        The first of the “new” doctors Christopher Eccleston would be great in GoT. I’m sure they can find a character for him since it seems half of all british actors are already playing in the series!

  19. Jamie Lannister’s Self-Improvement List:

    Grow a bitchin’ beard: CHECK
    Become a better person: Maybe eventually. Baby steps.
    Manage to keep my hands off my sister from now on: … 50% complete.

  20. you’ve really opened my eyes about Jaime as a character. You want to hate hime because he seems so simple: he loves to fight, and seems to take joy in killing. But as good looking as he is why would he he be so singularly devoted to his own sister if his thoughts ran as shallowly as he presents? He must have come to knighthood as a rejection of everything his father represented; possibly [sort of spoiler] because of the cruelty his father showed to Tyrion and Cersei (one for being a dwarf the other for being a woman). Although, the brotherly love between Tryion and Jaime has yet to truly be evinced in the TV show. hmmm. you’ve given me a lot to think about, and appreciate.

    1. Yes, Jaime actively joined the Kingsguard to get away from his father, and also, importantly, so that his father couldn’t marry him to anyone else. Won’t say any more though in case it comes up on the show~! 

      1.   Collapse
        seem to recall he was ordered into the kingsguard by Aerus Targaryen as
        an insult to his father – he took his heir and golden boy who could now
        not carry on the Lannister name?

        1. … leaving Tywin wallowing that (quoting from the season premiere) “[he] cannot prove that [Tyrion] is not [his son].”

  21. My favorite narrative arc on the show is probably Catelyn off the top of my head. I genuinely dislike her character, but she is supposed to be a tragically flawed person, and Michelle Fairley plays her very well. If you asked me who my favorite story arc was at this point while reading the books, I would’ve said Jaime and Brienne for sure.

  22. With a father like Tywin, it makes sense that he’s going to be more devoted to his twin sister, and from what we’ve seen so far, he seems to be the only Lannister at all concerned for Tyrion’s well-being. It makes for an interesting juxtaposition of character. This devotion (rather than any defiance towards his father) is what shapes many of his decisions.

    1. On another site someone astutely pointed out that Jaime got his father’s martial skills, Tyrion his intelligence and Cersi his ambition.

      None of them are capable of being complete while standing in their father’s shadow. They also have these conflicting desires to both impress him and to distance themselves from him.

  23.  I seem to recall he was ordered into the kingsguard by Aerus Targaryen as an insult to his father – he took his heir and golden boy who could now not carry on the Lannister name?

  24. It’s been strange to discover that some of the characters I either don’t like or just don’t particularly care about are widely loved by others. 

    My girlfriend and I agree almost 100% about which characters we like and which we don’t (and which are more complicated than that… which is most of them, actually). Then we see stuff online about some of the characters we don’t like and think wait, what? Are we supposed to like this character? I think this is a major strength of the show, in that all of the characters are so well developed that it’s far from black and white – but I guess for us, almost all of the main characters (besides the obvious good ones) are unlikable :)

    For the record, Tyrion is my favorite character (and has been since the beginning) and he is the only person I worry about from episode to episode. Arya is my next-favorite but even without spoilers or reading the books it’s obvious that she’s not about to be killed off anytime soon, so I’m not worried about her. I don’t think Tyrion will be killed off anytime soon either, but bad things could (will) certainly happen to him.

    I think Jaime and Brienne’s story is really interesting despite being literally plodding, but I’m not sure I understand why some people are super in to it, and I don’t particularly like or dislike either character (they’re clearly both written and acted intentionally to be ambiguously likable, of course). This episode was obviously a big turning point for them, so I guess I’ll have to wait and see if I get more in to their story. 

    I don’t really like Daenerys. I don’t dislike her storyline – it’s been consistently interesting, and adds a very welcome different flavor since it’s on the other continent – but I don’t like the character. I do really like the two advisors, and I am more interested in how their relationship will develop than whether or not Daenerys claims the throne (though I do look forward to any dragon battles that may happen). I suspect that paying for the army with a dragon was a trick. I don’t see how anyone would think the dragon won’t just leave and go back to Daenerys after she’s beyond pursuit (pursuit that obviously would be foolish anyway).

    Does Theon have any redeeming qualities? He had so many chances to redeem himself, and always made the wrong choices – doubling down on them, even, rather than trying to make things better after a mistake. If Theon being tortured and rescued is just an excuse to introduce the character of the rescuer, who will then go on to do more interesting things with Theon’s much more interesting sister, I would be very OK with that. I feel like I really don’t need to see any more of Theon.

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