Game of Thrones S3E7: I am yours and you are mine

The song "The Bear and the Maiden Fair" that heralds the climax of this episode is about the comedy in unmatched relationships, in pairing yourself inappropriately in accordance with your station.

Yet that's the theme of this episode -- love, silly love, in all of its sick permutations. Once again into the breach!

In an episode strongly themed around unbalanced love relationships, the focus on Jon and Ygritte we get is lovely. Jon Snow, born and raised a lord of Winterfell and acquainted with the ways of warfare south of the Wall, is charmed -- and challenged -- in equal turns by her bafflement at their formalized ways. On one hand, he knows the understaffed Night's Watch is ill prepared to deal with a Wildling assault. And ill-prepared, too, to deal with an army founded in bravery, independence and self-preservation, rather than the marching orders of some distant lord.

When Ygritte mistakes a tumbledown windmill for a palace, we see both the good and the ill in her lack of acquaintance with Westerosi wealth and order. Yet when jealous Orell challenges Jon's ability to "hold onto her," (this is a woman doesn't even know what swooning is, literally) and when she once again reminds him he knows nothing, we can see him struggle with a value system that began unraveling when he failed to feel at home in the Stark family and that only continues when this new "family" not only rejects him equally, but makes him question his long-held values.

But on the other hand, the Wildlings have made six previous attempts to breach Castle Black and failed. If the Wildlings can win this impending battle, then he must break with everything he used to hold dear. If they can't, then Ygritte is likely to die. No matter what happens in the effort to come, Jon has lost things, and will continue to lose them. Ygritte seems to want to convince him that she can be his center -- that the loyalty of their love is more valuable than adherence to any side they fight for.

Her statement that they belong to each other recalls Shae's similar declaration to Tyrion last season (as well as Arya's plaintive "I can be your family" to Gendry), and illuminates how inherently untenable these promises are in the Game of Thrones universe when the power in the partnership is so uneven.

The scene with Osha back in Camp Bran illustrates the other side of being a woman like Ygritte -- it's a hard life North of the wall, where losing your partner to the White Walkers is a very real threat. Life and death mean entirely different things to Wildlings.

Meanwhile, Robb Stark is wondering how he's supposed to win a war with the distraction of his beautiful, beloved wife lounging around in the nude. How, indeed. And the Young Wolf's Lady Talisa is pregnant, an interesting development for the show to deal with so directly (in the books, the possible pregnancy of Robb's wife is just the stuff of unconfirmed conspiracy theories).

This is important. I had a discussion last week on Twitter about why, if Robert Baratheon could take the throne by rebellion, does, say, Tywin Lannister or some other close heir not now try to take it for himself. The answer is partially because Tywin prefers to rule from behind the scenes, using his children (primarily Cersei's marriage to the late king) to seize power.

But succession is essential to one's power claims -- Robert Baratheon had Targaryen ancestry, and lineage is important to the Iron Throne. It's the late king's (supposed) kids, not their grandfather, who are next in line, even arguably over the late king's brothers. Succession and bloodlines are paramount in this world, which is why Sansa's marriage is such a power play, and why Robb having an heir in the oven is a big deal. Talisa's baby would be a very valuable creature in the war for power among families.

The Stark and Tully family are on their way to the Frey-held Twins for Edmure's wedding to Roslin Frey (why did they have to change Asha Greyjoy's name to "Yara" to avoid confusion with Osha, and not change Roslin to avoid redundancy with the late and much-missed Ros?). Unfortunately they are delayed by weather, a hold-up cantankerous Walder Frey is sure to take personally.

Though Edmure doesn't seem concerned, Lady Catelyn is -- Frey is getting a wedding, though not "the wedding he wanted," she notes, looking pointedly at Talisa. Some of Robb's allies, including his own mother, have warned him all along that his marriage could lose him the war, and making it up to the Freys right now is essential.

Speaking of lineage, Margaery Tyrell tries to make Sansa feel better (Sansa's embittered reflection about being a "stupid girl with stupid dreams who never learns" is painfully striking) about her upcoming marriage to Tyrion by reminding her about the queenship it will create if she bears a child to the man they call "The Imp."

Poor Sansa's gone from believing she'll marry golden rose Loras and become a lady of Highgarden to being consigned to wed the youngest son of the family responsible for her father's death, and it's clear she's not attracted to Tyrion's stature. The books lavish on Tyrion as being quite ugly; it flatters the character to have him played by handsome Peter Dinklage, but I suppose one can suspend one's disbelief.

Margaery certainly can, and as she lightly encourages Sansa to be more open-minded sexually, the innocent younger lady wonders how Margaery, whom she assumes to have a similar upbringing to her own, learned such liberal values.

When Sansa asks if her mother taught her, Margaery's amused, condescending response is telling -- recall that her marriage to Joffrey depended on the idea that she's a maiden, and that she claimed Renly's "predilections" left her first marriage unconsummated. Margaery is clearly no maid, much more cunning than the sweet noblewoman simply obeying her family she represents herself as. It's good for her the Lannisters haven't quite figured that out.

Tyrion, too, wrestles with the moral dilemma of having to be wedded to an innocent young thing who is sure to loathe him. His friend and confidant Bronn counsels him against wanting to be liked by everyone -- a sellsword like Bronn probably couldn't see why marrying a beautiful young virgin and still getting to keep the saucy prositute with whom you're in love wouldn't be a dream bounty for everyone. These aren't thoughts Tyrion particularly wants to entertain, but can he help it?

On to more dark thoughts -- these Theon scenes are getting uncomfortably ruthless. Nearly everyone I know who hasn't read the books (and plenty of friends who have) are confused about what's happening to his character arc, why we need to see an illustration of him being so brutally tormented and broken by a man whose identity and motives are not even yet made clear. As we've said, in the books Theon disappears for a while after losing Winterfell, and emerges much-changed by his experiences since. We are now getting to view those experiences.

Last week readers speculated this choice is due in part to a contract issue; they might lose excellent actor Alfie Allen if the show followed the book's chronology and ignored him for two seasons. But it's hard to watch such unspeakable torture and mutilation happening to a character who was smug, unlikable, arrogant and stupid -- but fundamentally needy, relatable. He was so stellar last season, so touching as we watched his loss and increasing desperation in the name of claiming his identity and pleasing his father.

Onto further crimes of arrogance: Joffrey is cruel and not particularly bright, but he's noticed his grandfather has gently been freezing him out of any genuine tasks of ruling King's Landing. It seems Tywin plans to make good on his promise to Cersei that he can bring the King to heel, very quickly cowing Joff when he climbs the dais to the Iron Throne to fearlessly tower over the boy.

Yet Joff, who we know to be fascinated by the Targaryens' mad legacy of fire and ruin, is actually a little wiser than his elders here, evidencing genuine concern about the stories of dragons coming from the lands beyond. Yes, Daenerys' dragons are still little -- but they can grow big, can't they? Shouldn't King's Landing be concerned?

Remember how coldly Cersei once rejected the notion of sending resources to the Night's Watch to help protect against The Others? She disbelieves that "myths" can have more power than the sort she knows best. The Lannisters are generally too proud to be afraid of things they can't see, whether dragons or White Walkers. As unnatural threats of ice and fire descend on the kingdom from its periphery, we see that the ruling class might tear themselves apart over their own politics before they'll ever be prepared to unite against such things.

They needn't be worried about Daenerys just yet. When she negotiates with Yunkai, a city known primarily for the riches it's earned training and selling "bed slaves," even the promise of wealth and ships doesn't deter her from her slave liberation agenda. For her morals she desires to disrupt the entire economies of places and people she has yet to understand well, even at the expense of her original mission to reclaim her birthright in Westeros.

The Silver Queen's newly-large entourage does need food and resources, it's true, and the dragons -- though maybe still too small for war -- accord her enough power to make no compromises in the desert. She doesn't want to stop until she's freed the world.

Meanwhile, Tyrion makes an unfortuntely-symbolic gift to Shae of gold chains, which of course doesn't please her, as the man who purports to love her suggests she remain a kept woman while he undertakes the marriage in which he claims he doesn't have a choice. He really doesn't -- not so much because he's afraid of his father, but because he wants power, to play the game, and knows gratification from little else. Outside the realm of his status he'd be at an extreme disadvantage. Running away with Shae isn't an option.

And really, it's hard to tell why he even loves her so much. She often evidences admirable savvy and warm bravery in her dealings with Sansa, whom she seems to genuinely want to protect. But with Tyrion she is petulant, jealous, expensive, demanding -- on one hand rejecting the characterization of "whore," but on the other, requiring quite a lot of fancy treatment in order to be contented with their relationship. Whatever it is she wants, Tyrion can't or won't provide it to her, and rather than leave, she increases the pressure on his heart and his system of values.

Gendry learns he's a Baratheon bastard through Melisandre, who sails with him through the wreckage of the Blackwater battle. Recall she feels she could have prevented those losses if only Davos hadn't convinced Stannis to leave her behind (on the incredibly sound logic that nobody would respect a King who appeared to take the Throne by foreign sorcery -- the capital stands firmly in the faith of the Seven and might mistrust a red priestess).

Arya still hasn't forgiven the Brotherhood for accepting gold in exchange for Gendry's person, and when they decide to take a detour and chase a Lannister raiding party rather than continue bringing her to Riverrun to meet up with her family, it's the last straw for her, and she takes off running -- only to be taken hostage by Sandor "The Hound" Clegane. Oops.

In another unbalanced pairing, Jaime is allowed to be escorted to King's Landing by Bolton bannermen, an interesting move on the part of Roose Bolton, ostensibly a Stark ally on his way to Edmure Tully's wedding with the rest of the family. He needs to evade punishment by the Lannisters for what Locke did to Jaime's hand, but he seems a bit eager to curry favor with the Lannisters.

Notably Bolton doesn't seem to want to return Brienne, who should be allowed to go back to Catelyn Stark, if we're all on the same side, here. Jaime's farewell to Brienne is poignant evidence of the fact that despite what they've been through together, he still can do things she can't. The only thing he can do for her is make a promise that he'll see the Stark girls returned -- and you get the sense that Jaime means it.

Once he's departed, he learns more about unethical Maester Qyburn and his illicit "experiments" on dying people who wouldn't be missed. Everyone hates King's Landing's Maester, the crony Pycelle, but would this guy really be a better addition to the Lannister entourage?

Jaime also learns his throwing his weight around might have actually resulted in problems for Brienne. His lie about her being worth sapphires saved her from rape in Locke's camp, but has now stymied hostage negotiations with her father, Lord Selwyn of Tarth. When it dawns on Jaime she'll just be used as the "entertainment" for Bolton's unruly pets, Jaime once again plays the Daddy card to force his escort to turn around.

Side note: I've talked before about how Game of Thrones' factions are balanced like a game, and in the actual Game of Thrones board game, if you play as House Lannister, Tywin is one of the most powerful cards in your hand, and you will probably find yourself literally playing the Daddy Card repeatedly.

But it works, and when Jaime returns to Harrenhal to find Brienne facing a bear in a pit armed only with a wooden stick, he finally gets the chance to use his high-value person for something other than bullying people to do what he wants. By jumping into the pit to save her, the bannermen's cruel game is suddenly over -- nothing must happen to the Kingslayer, else all of House Bolton will be at risk. And he can leverage the Daddy Card to be allowed to leave with Brienne, too.

The motif that plays as the pair leave the dreary camp is Rains of Castamere, the Lannister fight song, so to speak. You can read the lyrics here or listen to The National's cover from Season 2's Blackwater end credits, but in summary it's a tune about what bleak ruin awaits those who stand up to the Lannisters.

What's notable about the song is the way the lyrics frame the historical narrative -- the sin of the decimated Reyne house was not so much its insubordination, but in the fact it even dared to compare itself, to claim its personhood was equal to that of The Lion.

It's an ambiguous anthem for Jaime's leading Brienne away safely from Harrenhal, because ultimately it reminds that despite making the honorable choice, the brave and the caring choice, his triumph over the situation came only from in the fact that in currency of Westeros, he simply had the fortune to matter more than anyone else in that scenario, including her.

For our discussion this week, if this episode was about the complicated fate of love and loyalty in a world of power imbalances, let's ask an easy question: Who's your favorite couple? And less easy, which pairing presented in this episode has the most complicated circumstances?

If Robb Stark were to win the war (and again, no spoilers further than this episode if you know them, please!) -- would it be because of love and honor, or in spite of it?

Finally, I'd love to know what you guys make of Shae. I couldn't figure her out in the books and I can't figure her out now. I look forward heartily to your enthusiastic, spoiler-free and respectful comments discussions every week. Please continue!


  1. I might be wrong, but Jaime’s return to Harrenhal to rescue Brienne feels like the first time in a long while that anybody in the show has done the right thing for the right reasons.

    1. True, unlike the Starks who are forever destined to do the wrong things for the right reasons.

      1. They’re the perfect foil for the Lannisters. I would love the be a Lannister Bannerman, but I would HATE to be a Stark Bannerman. Conversely, I would love to have Ned as a dad, but Tywin is…scary. 

        House Stark dooms itself with its nobility while House Lannister are the gods of the Seven Kingdoms.

    2. Possibly. If you watch the behind-the-scenes interviews with the writers they talk about one over-arching theme throughout the show: no good deed goes unpunished. So there’s bound to be repercussions. 

  2. I used to like Shae, but given the way she’s been treating Tyrion lately, I reckon he should tell her to go jump in a lake.

    1. I like Shae as a well rounded character better in the show. Not that I like the character, but she seems to have a lot more agency than book Shae.

    2. I think she maybe just didn’t have reasonable expectations for their relationship. And she doesn’t have any attachment to Westeros beyond Tyrion, so it’s got to be hard for her to see him so dedicated to a game and a place that’s apparently hell-bent on destroying him. She’d happily give it all up and go across the Narrow Sea with him if he could tear himself away from his politicking. She feels like all she needs in life is Tyrion, but she’s not enough for him.

        1. She’s suggested disappearing off home a couple of times. I’m sure the Lannister wealth is handy and all, but I don’t think that’s her end-game.

    3.  Jeez.   Somebody needs to find out where whore supervisors go and talk to Shae’s.  Less henpecking and more fornication please.  IIRC she was pleased as punch at the concept of being Tyrion’s concubine.  Her affection and stated devotion for him was a setup to later events.  It was literally one zipless ‘f after another in the books where she was involved.

      Still no crown for the poor King of the North.  Odd they changed his wife’s point of origin.   The identity of her father’s liege lord is related to certain motivations down the line.

      Also odd that they’re going with Margery being so outwardly un-maidenly, given certain later machinations based precisely on that accusation.

      Locke/Goat kept his ear.   A pity.    Seeing where things are trending, I’m guessing the entire ‘and moon boy as well’ plotline will be discarded.

      So they kept Gendry around as a prop for Mel’s hobbies, eliminating another minor character, but without the buildup/backstory.  How does she even know who he is?

      As long as Ross ends up with Rachel and Niles finally gets Daphne, it’s all good right?

      1. Book Shae and Show Shae are such different people it’s hard to judge one by the actions of the other, imo

      2. How does the priestess of a bloodthirsty fire god who can see the future and has been looking for “king’s blood” for like two seasons now manage to find a royal bastard who happens to be in the company of another red priest? Hmmmmm…

        1.  The relevance of their meeting would be buggered by someone else’s ‘plan b’.

    4. When Shae first appeared, I thought that she was going to end up being some highborn lady or princess from somewhere in disguise or in ruin.  

      The jealousy is irritating, but her wariness of Tyrion’s politicking seems well informed and her protests about not being able to marry him outright are reasonable and worth saying out loud, especially since it points to Tywin’s disregard for his children.  

      Yeah, I think Jaime and Brienne are the most interesting this season.  I’ve loved Brienne all along for her awkwardness and lack of guile, and they would make a great double date with Tyrion and Bronn.  

  3. I think Shae giving Tyrion some hell is her way to show she’s not in it for the money or power or anything else but him. She’s not scared to lose his favors, because she’s not after the favors, she’s after HIM. More to the point, her plea to elope and live a simple life with him.

    1. Agree! A lot of people have played up Shae’s increasing jealousy in the scenes she’s had with Tyrion this season, but I don’t think she’s jealous of Sansa, or Ros – she’s mad that Tyrion cannot give up his games of power to live as he claims he wants to. If she’s jealous at all, it’s of the Game itself, not any of the players. 

      Fwiw, I also think a lot of her jealous language is centered around her fear for and care of Sansa. “You want to fuck her! That little girl!” That’s not jealousy, to me, it’s disgust.  Shae knows she’s there of her own free will, but she also knows Sansa isn’t. I can’t blame her for trying to play off Tyrion’s apparent love for her to try and protect her charge. After all, we don’t really know Shae’s backstory (and there’s been a few scenes where she’s hinted it’s more than we all know)

      1. The dialogue itself is taken from the books. In the books Sansa is only 11 in the book and 13 for the show even tho her actress is visually older to alter perception of her canon age. By many standards she’s still but a little girl within the writing if not visually. Arya suppose to be 9 but is instead 11, Rikkon 3 instead of 6, Robb 15 instead of 17. So when certain things happen within the book they are all that much more traumatic and bitter to look at. I.e. Robb turning into a harden “man” at the age of 15. 

        1. yeah, Sophie Turner towers over almost everyone, I think it’s easy to forget that even in the show, she’s 14 at the most. 

        2.  I find the age difference most interesting in the case of Daenerys– in the books she starts out at 13 and by SoS is about 15, and by that point has already changed a great deal. It’s a rather different feel seeing Daenerys do her stone-cold badass routine in the books knowing she’s so young (and also that she has a lot of doubts she doesn’t acknowledge– her constant inner monologue of ‘if I look back I am lost’ is very telling) rather than her apparent age of 18-20 in the show.

  4. “But on the other hand, the Wildlings have made six previous attempts to breach Castle Black and failed.”
    I think it was a bit more than that. They have made six attempts to take the North. From the conversation about various battle and heroes as well as the little I remember from the book, it seemed like they had somehow gotten a size-able force over or around the wall to wage war on the Northern Kingdoms.

    1.  As long as we’re picking nits about the Wildlings fighting the Night’s Watch, I think this isn’t entirely correct:

      “On one hand, he knows the understaffed Night’s Watch is ill prepared to
      deal with a Wildling assault. And ill-prepared, too, to deal with an
      army founded in bravery, independence and self-preservation, rather than
      the marching orders of some distant lord.

      They are ill-prepared to face the Wildling numbers, but the “bravery, independence and self-preservation” is exactly what works in favour of the Night’s Watch force of well armed and armoured, trained and (allegedly) disciplined men. Ygritt’s mockery of armies marching to drums etc. was not meant to illuminate how silly it is to fight on the orders of some distant lord, it was meant to illuminate how the brave and independent Wildlings have no clue how to fight a large scale battle. To borrow from Ser Barristan Selmy, the much smaller Night’s Watch forces could cut through the Wildlings like carving a cake.

  5. Ugh. That scene with Theon. It seems that an “alteration” they only hinted at in the books was indeed carried out. Bee-Roo-Tull.

    Favourite couple? I know better than to be distracted by the concept of romantic love in this series. I mean, it’s ASOIAF, it’ll just end in tears.

    Wondering what Talisa was writing, and who she was writing to…

    1. Yeah I am really curious about Talisa contrasted with  Jeyne. Martin wrote this episode so can we assume he is doing something with the character that he wanted to do in the books but did not fully carry out? It seems he and the other writers have enjoyed making small changes that clarify obscure ideas/fan theories in the books. 
      Plus Jeyne really is not very interesting, hopefully Talisa will correct that.

      1. There’s a very interesting theory about Talisa that I think is pretty solid – I know my suspicions were aroused in this ep when she said she was writing to her mother (again?) but had yet to tell her mother that she was married to a king. Weird.

        1.  yeah, this was pretty obvious when those episodes were airing.  very interesting. but it could be some strange mis-direction by the writers.  some of the “evidence” in the video above is circumstantial or implied or a complete stretch.  i haven’t gotten far enough in the books yet to know…

          1.  Since Tywin at Harranhall is a show fabrication (Roose was there with Arya), and Jeyne is a different character of different parentage, I’d say the video evidence sounds pretty consistent with where the show is going, and completely different from the books.

        2. If, in fact, the “slow jam” version of “Rains of Castamere” was playing during Robb and Talisa’s first love scene, then, yeah, my suspicions, they are confirmed.

      2. I think Talisa is going to be playing the part that Jeyne Poole, Sansa’s friend from Winterfell, who travelled with her to King’s Landing, plays in the later books. They can’t introduce her in a future season without setting her up in season one. It would be more sensible to just use someone that the audience is already familiar with, like they did when they gave Edric Storm’s storyline to Gendry.

        1. It is an interesting idea, but I am not sure it works as Talisa (and her babe) have an importance in and of themselves. Poole was not important because of who she was but who she was presented as. I guess it could be some kind of double deception but that seems unnecessarily complicated.  The Gendry/Edric combination is more efficient. My guess is that they will drop the Poole plot altogether. It does not really accomplish much other than causing confusion among the families.

  6. So glad you caught the dreary instrumental of “Rains of Castamere!” I keep hoping they will explain that song, or help give it significance, but it seems that would be a lost cause at this point. Bad exposition, I mean.

    Alright guys, I’m seriously ready to eat my worlds about The God of Many Faces. I figured they were combining with R’hllor, which makes sense considering the duality there, but Arya’s statement about death pulled the air out of my lungs.

    And still the people I watch with begged me this week to explain who the hell was torturing Theon. They were totally in the dark about the symbols and the mystery of Winterfell.

    1. Have they seriously not explained Rains of Castamere? I could have sworn it was brought up last season…but maybe that’s wishful thinking.

      Apropos of nothing that has been said thus far, I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks of Danaerys and Mormont when they hear “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”….

      1. It is explained in some the extra materials in the Season 1 box set as well as HBO online guides. I guess they figured anyone curious enough to find out why they keep singing that song would look it up.

          1. She called him that, yeah. The sigil of house Mormont is a bear anyway (hence Jeor Mormont getting called “old Bear”, may he rest in peace)

    2. Arya’s statement probably hit Beric hard, given what he told Melisandre about “the other side.” Say what you will about R’hllor, Dude …

    3. My thoughts re: Jaqen and his mention of the Red God/Beric confirming the Red God is the lord of light is that Jaqen, Rorge and Biter nearly died to a fire, which is the domain of the lord of light.

  7. I really do love Jaime and Brienne, not only because their dynamic is so good, but because they are perhaps the only people who are even remotely close to equal footing. Not sure if I’m rooting for them romantically or not, but just that they continue to be there for each other and uphold the vows they’ve sworn.  Imagining them taking Sansa into their odd little family would be the icing on the cake.

    Concerned about Robb & Talisa, but compared to the Theon scene, it was nice to get some consensual sex on the show for a change, so I’m not complaining about it.

  8. I like how you characterise the mismatched relationships as comedic, because there is an element of farce even in the darker storylines of this episode. The writers spend it exploring how we handle the fraught pairings in which we often find ourselves, and how the most sensible-seeming advice and personal certainty on navigating difficult bonds (or trying to escape them) can backfire in dozens of ways.

    Along with a lot of viewers, I like the odd couple of Jaime and Brienne the best, but it’s a tough choice since most of them aren’t just about romance but about relations with family, friends and even one’s life’s work or code of conduct. Looking at it that way, it’s even more difficult to figure out which pairing has the most complicated (and potentially deadly) circumstances.

    1. The interesting part is that the backfiring is always part of a larger power struggle, Tyrion is in a bind because he wants to play the game not because he wants to be with Shae, and Rob is trapped because he wants to have a family but he also wants revenge and to be king.
      Catelyn couldnt free Jamie in an attempt to regain her children without hurting Robs bid for power.

  9. I have really bad feels about Robb. He’s too happy and when people on Tv are happy and they have a pretty wife and a baby on the way they die.  

    I never really liked Shae, never really trusted her and she does winge quite a lot. 

    Favourite couple Jaime and Brienne cos Jaime is the bestest and because i was genuinely suprised at the direction in went in.  

    1. Have you seen the cgi behind the scenes videos?
      I’m impressed with Dany’s acting abilities! There’s nothing there when she’s petting her dragons, its just empty air, pretty damn convincing!

        1. come for the commentary, stay for the validation of the hundreds of names crammed into my head to no good end

  10. “For her morals she desires to disrupt the entire economies of places and people she has yet to understand well, …”.

    Huh, hadn’t thought of it that way, but considering the middle-eastern look of the people of Qarth, Astapor and Yunkai and the extreme whiteness of Danaerys, I very much dislike the American interventionist symbolism here. The white messiah trope isn’t suddenly acceptable when the saviour is female.   

    1. I’m really conflicted with Dany’s storyline because the visual medium makes the white saviour stereotype even more glaring but it’s also probably some of the best scenes emilia clarke has had to do.

      1. I know what you mean; I really enjoy Clarke’s work too. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have noticed that anything was amiss if I hadn’t read Leigh’s recap (and the aforementioned line), but I can’t un-see it now.

        1. oops, I should have replied lower down I think, but emphasis yes, the story is very conscious that Dany’s identity and agenda is problematic. You aren’t supposed to like that she’s doing it. 

          1. On the other hand, she is also disrupting slave trade to the rest of Westeros. Her actions will likely muck up the economy of the land she is trying to ultimately conquer. 

            If it were deliberate, it wouldn’t be a bad strategy, but I think it’s incidental. 

          2. Slavery is one of the few major no-no’s in Westeros, so there’s not much to disrupt there. But she’s definitely disrupting the slave trade in Essos, and eventually that’s going to screw up their exports to Westeros (luxury goods and food, mostly enjoyed by the nobility) and cause a downturn in merchant shipping and perhaps deflation for Westeros gold (and consequently the fortunes of the Lannisters). So in the end you’re correct about the effects of what I agree is not a deliberate strategy.

          3. What @boingboing-66331188710fdd63ee45cdf931f793ca:disqus said, also the bankers are in Essos so it could impact them through the loans that Littlefinger was taking to support Robert’s extravagance.

          4.  Slavery is outlawed in Westeros; that’s why Jorah was exiled. He was selling people into slavery to provide riches and finery for his wife.

            Astapor/Yunkai seem to be far to the southeast of Westeros with very little contact or trade between them. However, Dany’s disruption of the slave trade might disrupt the economies of Pentos, Braavos, etc, and that might irritate people like Ilyrio, who was her patron after all.

            Then again, Dany’s whole strategy at this point is mostly “fuck you, I have dragons. I do what I want.” And she still has a pretty black and white view of the world.

          5. Thanks for clearing that up! I didn’t realize that slavery was outlawed in Westeros. It seems like people are bought and sold all the time, I guess in this case it’s about context.

            Either way, economies usually intertwine and I’m sure there will be an impact somewhere down the line.

          6.  Nesting is getting bad here, but this is a reply, or rather just a comment on Lady Viridis’s comment above.Regarding the Free Cities and slavery. Although permitted in the other cities, in the books both Pentos and Braavos have outlawed slavery. Though the wealthier families of Pentos do not seem to oppose as it was imposed on them after losing a war against Braavos.Still, in trading with the other cities their economies are still implicitly dependent on slavery.

    2. More like British colonialism. 

      So a messiah is only ok if they look exactly like the people they are saving?

      1. No, a coloured person serving as a messiah for white people would work too. It’s all about not reinforcing harmful stereotypes in these cases (like other cultures needing white people to save them from barbarism). And I see what you mean about British colonialism: I only mentioned American interventionism because of the US’s recent wars against Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, which seems like the most obvious modern reference point.

        1. Martin did base a lot on European/Mediterranean history. Westeros is obviously England. Dorne is Spain and Slavers Bay is the Aegean Sea. So the Crusades would be another comparison though Dany has a different and arguably more noble motivation. Though she is acting largely in her own self interest. So while she is a white woman freeing slaves, she is also an Alexander the Great type figure who is building an empire. An empire which will require the blood of many of those former slaves.

          1. I see what you’re saying, but it’s still problematic. The way Danaerys is contrasted with the slavers of Astapor and Yunkai she is obviously presented as a conquering hero who acts out of ideological imperatives instead of a pragmatic, morally ambiguous figure. Maybe that will improve in later episodes – I haven’t read the books – but for now, it’s disappointingly cliched.

          2. I see what you are saying too. In many ways, yes she is playing the stereotypical messiah-type figure but the great thing about Martin is that he plays with the tropes, twisting them and never giving us quite what we expect. 
            In most other shows/books a guy who sleeps with his sister, antagonizes the ostensible hero and throws a small boy out a window would be unambiguously evil.

          3. Would it help if her goal of freeing the slaves becomes an unending quagmire of pain and death for her and her people, and the slave cities she leaves behind revert to chaos, plagues, and renewed slavery so abhorrent that her momentum comes grinding to a halt, she loses control of her dragons, banishes her closest advisors, and ends up back where she started, alone, starving, bleeding, and lost in the endless Dothraki Sea?

          4. Yeah dude, I was kinda asking for it by criticising a storyline that hasn’t ended yet, but other people might not like having it spoiled for them.

          5. It’s also counter to the lesson she was supposed to have learned from Mirri Maz Durr in season 1 – by the time Dany had “freed” her, she had already been raped, seen her friends and family murdered, and her temple laid waste.  Dany was too late but smugly comfortable in having done the right thing, and I think she’ll find the same thing happening again in Yunkai and Astapor.

          6. Yes yes yes~!! That’s a very important note, that she was already made to regret her naivete/oversimplification of these problems, and seems to have forgotten that lesson. 

          7. I don’t remember Dany’s storyline from the books very clearly, but I think fairly soon in this arc she will be reminded of that lesson and realize that she can’t just walk in, overturn everything, and expect things to work out for her.

          8. The fact that our first introduction to her was the scene of her being sold isn’t irrelevant to the chain-breaking theme. And don’t forget another classic myth about a former slave freeing a people and leading them to take over a country he believes was promised to him by a voice speaking from a fire.

          9. Nice catch! It does remind me though – Barristan said a few episodes ago he didn’t have time for small council meetings, but is that true? I seem to recall scenes with Barristan at the King’s council table.  

            If so, Jorah’s time as a spy for Varys and a former slave trader might come back to haunt him…

          10. I agree.  But Essos and Pentos are Africa (hence the slave angle).   Also, there are Roman analogues, as the wight walkers could be the Barbarian Visigoths.

          11.  Africa was not the only source of slaves, especially not in the middle ages.

            As far as real-world analogies goes Essos is more the Mediterranean+the middle east than Africa, with the southern continent and the Summer Isles (from which the show’s version of Xaro Xhoan Daxos comes).

    3. I don’t think you’re supposed to find it acceptable. I think the middle-eastern symbology is a little bit intentional. Unlike the gross Qartheen or Astaporians, the emissary sent to treat with her this episode was portrayed as a lot more sympathetic. Dany’s White Savior agenda is highly problematic and not something we’re supposed to like her for. Expect it will have consequences for her. 

      1. It’s already having consequences for her in the book. Along with the Unsullied, she’s dragging along a train of freed non-soldier slaves, a chain that will only grow larger if she keeps this up.

        I understand where she’s coming from. As she said earlier, she herself was sold to Drogo at one point. But if her goal is the Iron Throne, she might better have taken the offer of ships and gold tendered by the (more Hellenic than Eastern-looking) emissary from Yunkai.

        If we’re going to take a modern view of patronising colonialism (British or American) from all this, it might be that if you’re embarking on a war of conquest it does little good and perhaps a lot of unintended damage to couch it in ideological moralising. One thing about the Westerosi, it doesn’t take long to bring them to an admission that, definitions of “the Realm(s)” aside, their wars are about raw power.

    4. Because, slavery and the murder of children as a soldier’s initiation right is a bad thing to intervene in if a queen is a dragon master with the power of an army behind her back.

      Come on Marijn, look at what the rest of the rulers in this series are doing, and then look at what this girl is doing. And, you are going to criticize her ;)?

      1. No, you misunderstand. I’m definitely not criticising Daenerys for trying to put a stop to slavery; I’m criticising the writers for having a white woman be the defining agent of positive change in a world that seems to be based on middle-eastern cultures. But because of the reactions of book readers here I’ve become convinced that Martin actually knows what he’s doing by using the white messiah trope here only to turn it inside out later on.

  11. As someone who didn’t read the books, I feel like the show really needs to start giving us some info about Theon’s situation.  Suspense is one thing, but episode after episode of torture with no hints of what’s actually going on and why his captor is doing it is both tedious and unpleasant to watch.

    1. Hints have been given. Think back, who told Robb that he would be honoured if Robb would let him send someone to retake Winterfell from Theon, on his behalf? Which house’s sigil shows a man being tortured on an X-shaped device similar to the one on which Theon is installed?

      1. PS – the horn which Theon’s torturer used for the “coitus interruptus” scene….sound familiar?

      2. A sigil which has been prominently featured many times this season, often right before or after a Theon scene.

    2. Strongly agree. I’m sure that readers of the books can point out even more hints than the ones Roose_Bolton and nowimnothing give below, but this episode’s scene was basically a carbon copy of the one from last week and of Theon’s previous “escape”. It adds nothing to what we already knew of this mysterious torturer, so it’s just padding (“tune in next week to see how Theon’s going to be tortured THIS time!”).

      1. As has been pointed out, this is what was happening to Theon in the interim in the books, and it has been suggested that they likely need to have Allen in scenes so that they can keep him under contract.

        That said, the torture aspect of Theon’s storyline is very significant. I don’t like it any more than anyone else, but it’s important, IMO. Theon is being broken.

        1. I saw someone suggest that the reason why this torture sequence is so constant and neverending is to put the viewer in Theon’s shoes by making us suffer too. Unlike a lot of scenes where I could see decent workarounds (Ros’ murder, for example), I’ve yet to come up with a good way to cover Theon’s torture that’s less explicit than it has been.

          Though I could do without the constant threat and filming of him being raped.

          1. The whole “submersion in suffering” theory doesn’t really work in a narrative with as many storylines as this one. If we stayed with Theon throughout his suffering (like we do in films like Martyrs, for instance), then it’d be a defensible choice, but I just feel bored with the scenes now that we just look in on Theon every now and then, because I know the exact way the scene will play out before it even starts.

          2. Agreed. There are no surprises (not even to Theon really, who knew the girls were a trick)

          3. Does no one understand that this will be a big reveal (in two weeks)?  

            There’s two reasons for Theon’s torture:  One, so that we can understand that his torturer is a BAD BAD man.  And Two, so that even though we all hated Theon last season, a recurring Martin character theme is from hero to villain to and back again.

            Think about how you felt about The Kingslayer in season 1, and to how you think of him now…that is a Martin archetype.  Many, many characters go through change as the series progresses.

          4. I understand why it’s happening as a plotline. What I don’t understand is why it’s so flagrantly gratuitous. (And yes, I know the books are gory and terrible too.) 

          5.  But both of those were established episodes ago. Everyone gets it by now and the scenes no longer provide anything new in emotion or in information.

          6. Really? How is Theon getting his junk cut off not a step up (down?) from previous episodes? (IN REPLY TO KfZ)

          7. Step up or not, it does not give the audience anything new. Theon is getting horribly tormented and his torturer enjoys it. We cannot know that more than we already do. The limit has been reached.

          8. I don’t think the identity of the torturer is going to be that big of a reveal unfortunately. The existence and reputation of the character has never even been alluded to, so when we find out who it is, it’ll be all “oh, right, how fascinating.”

        2. Yeah without this background I am not sure they could pull off future events as well. 

          In the book it is easier because you can go several chapters without revealing for example that that random old guy is actually Barristan Selmy. In the show you recognize the actor immediately so they had to play it differently.

        3. It seems a bit of overkill to me now. I don’t know when or how Theon will re-emerge in the books, but if they want to show the viewer that he was broken by [redacted] then they made their point a few episodes ago.

      2. I find the Theon scenes hard to watch, but they make me sympathize with Theon a LOT more than the book did. In the book it was like ‘well he killed the Stark boys, moving on.’ Even finding out he hadn’t killed the Stark boys didn’t make me forgive him because of what he did to Winterfell, his spiritual home. Reading ahead and finding out in a later book what happened to him I STILL had trouble forgiving him–somehow his betrayal of Winterfell bothered me a lot more than any other character’s betrayal. So even though I don’t like these scenes, they are definitely making me care about him again, in a way the book didn’t. I think they’re serving the dual purpose of hanging onto Alfie Allen (who’s a fine actor, I think) and also meeting the ‘boobs’ quota each episode has. :D 

        1.  in the books it was obvious he hadn’t killed the stark boys from the beginning.  the other iron-born (forget his name) having brought “props” to put on the mill boys. but maybe that was just how interpreted it?

          1. I didn’t pick up on that at all! Now I want to reread and see if there were clues!

  12. ****SPOILER******


    You should remove the bit about Lady Talisa’s being pregnant only being implied in the books.  That’s a definite, definite, spoiler.

    Love the articles every week–I forward them to my mother to read as well, and actually had to copy/paste this one and remove that one bit. :)   Keep up the great work.

    Please feel free to delete this comment, btw.

    1. I am not sure it is a spoiler as there is no Talisa in the books. I am not sure you can watch the show and be worried about spoilers from the books because the show is not beholden to the timeline of the books, they are moving things around quite a bit.

      1. Wait, now I’m confused.  That is the name of Rob’s wife, right?  The marriage that caused him to break his marriage pact with the Freys?

        1. In the books, her name wasn’t Talisa, though the character is essentially the same. They’ve changed it to some degree (and if that video Sean Murphy posted above is to be believed, to a very interesting degree, at that)..

  13. “From now on, I’ll see to it that you’re appropriately consulted on important matters… whenever necessary. Your Grace.” If there’s an Emmy for best delivery of a line, Charles Dance surely has that category sewn up.

    1. Tywin is such a badass. That scene was perfect.

      “You’re being counselled right now”.

      1. In the show nor the books I couldn’t help but love Tywin Lannister. I STILL get chills everytime I think of him striding into the throne room, having saved the city during Blackwater, and Cersei’s stricken relief at being saved by her father. If he was just some awful bully unjustly tormenting his kids we couldn’t enjoy the Lannister family so much. 

        1. Me too! I couldn’t help but relate to him a little – he had to rebuild his family’s reputation and grow up FAST. His speech to Jaime about legacy in the first season (the deerskinning scene) revealed a man who holds himself to the HIGHEST standards, and expects the same from his children. On the one hand I respect him for how adaptable he is and how he can accurately and objectively read situations (like knowing about Cersei’s attempts to wrest power for herself and also how disastrous that would be for the realm), on the other he’s judgmental, a bully, and is continually disappointed in his children because he has set an impossible standard for them to reach. He’s such a fascinating character! 

    2. In my viewing group, we give a little satisfied cheer whenever Tywin shows up. Not only is he portrayed by a fine actor and is, as Roose_Bolton says, a major badass, but he’s the keystone to that house’s family dynamic. A character who delivers a lot.

    3. There should be a category for ‘Most Badass Entry Scene.’ Because he would have PLENTY of them by now. His entry to Harrenhal in the 2nd season, his entry to the throne room after saving the city, his walking into the room to counsel Joffrey last night…. that man can enter the HELL out of a room! 

  14. There are no words to describe how much I hate Robb. He’s the Jack Shephard of Game Of Thrones: constantly jeopardising everyone around him by only doing what HE thinks is right. And then, when he has to bear the consequences of doing what’s right himself (by marrying a Frey daughter instead of Talisa), he suddenly decides that sometimes you can break your word after all, leaving his poor uncle to pick up the pieces. His hedonistic indulging in his romantic idyll in this episode only underlines his weak character. If he meets the same fate as Ned, it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving person.

    1. I agree with you but strangely enough show Robb is much more likable than book Robb. Well…maybe likable is too strong, relate-able may be better. Book Robb is much more like the description Arya gave to Tywin about him. More of a mythic figure than a real character.

      1. Thanks – it’s extremely interesting to me to hear about these kinds of differences between book and show! It’s amazing that I can come to these recaps every week, hear about what happens in the books and still not find any real spoilers.

    2. One thing to note is that in the book Robb isn’t a viewpoint character — when he shows up in person it’s in the Catelyn chapters, and otherwise he’s discussed as you describe.

      In the show, the more human Robb combines the fatal (to themselves and others) flaws of his father and his mother, with callowness thrown in to make things worse. I don’t hate Robb, but I don’t think he’s helping to improve everyone’s situation or his own, either. It can’t end well for him.

      1. A lot of characters get specific traits from their parents. I mentioned last time about the Lannister kids each getting a bit of Tywin in them. Robb is the worst possible combination of his mother and father. Sansa is her mother before her loss of Ned’s brother. Arya is Ned with the sense of honor burned out of her. Bran is probably the best combination of his parents possible, honorable, caring but flexible enough to do what needs to be done. Rickon, who is Rickon again :^). Jon’s parentage is a morass of speculation and possible spoilers so I won’t touch that one.

        1. Also interesting are those characters who recognise and reject their parents’ and family’s worst traits. I’m thinking especially of Sam Tarly, whose father in the books seems to be a particulalry unpleasant lord, ranking up there with the Mountain and Roose Bolton in Westeros infamy.

          When a character in the books and show does that, it’s usually a sign of character and courage (which is one of the many reasons I like Tyrion and find the Hound interesting). More often than not, those characters are also considered weak or damaged in superficial Westerosi view. Martin, like all good geeks, has a soft spot for the misfit underdogs.

          1. The entire series is based on his creation of Tyrion.  GRRM thought up the character and came up with the entire epic around him.  I continue to be gobsmacked at how the show just absolutely would not have been possible if not for Dinklage’s decision to go into acting.  It is downright eerie serendipity.  NO one else could inhabit this character the way Dinklage has.  Dinklage can demand any salary he wants.

            An interview with him has his wife chiming in that female fans “want to lick his face”.  Oh I want to do much more than that.  He is absolutely gorgeous and he acted the shit our of every role he has ever had.  That man is the shit.  All hail Peter Dinklage!

    3.  Robb is definitely annoying, no mistake, and he does combine the worst traits of his parents. But I think it’s worth noting that he’s really meant to be quite young– in the books he’s 15, and I think he’s meant to be 17-18 in the show– and teenagers are not known for their critical thinking skills. It’s absolutely believable to me that Robb’s best intentions of honor and oathkeeping were shattered when he found a pretty girl he couldn’t say no to. At least in the show Talitha gets a personality, whereas in the books Jeyne is barely mentioned, so it seems like Robb broke his word for no reason.

      1.  If I remember it right, Robb had sex with her, and married her afterward because that was the honorable thing to do in the books.

        Thought I’ll say that I like that we see little of in the books. Not because I don’t like her but because I like how strict the books are with how they reveal information.

        1. Yeah, that’s how it happened. And I understand he was wounded and she nursed him and he’s a teenager, but really. Could he not keep it in his pants, for the sake of the realm at large? Marrying the girl was the honorable thing to do, but we’ve all seen where the honor of the Starks has gotten them.

    4. or the Dan Draper of GoT!

      On sundays, i watch GoT at 9pm, then Mad Men, than the repeat of GoT. Then i dream of Christina Hendricks in a medieval dress fighting with Cersei. Meow.

    1. Yeah, it definitely seemed like that. If it was the writers’ attempt to flip the audience’s expectations when it comes to sex in this show (turning it into a loaded gun instead of a voyeuristic pleasure) it fell flat because of the predictability of the scene (who didn’t see the turnaround coming?).

  15.  A consequence of the characters being aged relative to the books.  A 16 year old would do things a 20 something might not.

    1. I remember reading the books and thinking that a lot of the dumb decisions Robb made totally fit in with those of a child. The same goes with Danaerys, when she does make a bad decision– it’s easier for me to forgive them their youth than Ned Stark or Catelyn when they do something nonsensical. 

  16. I think there’s much more to Shae than we’ve been informed about already.  I don’t think she’s a garden variety whore.  I think there’s powerful connections and secrets and motives there that are still hidden.  That this strange foreign accented hooker who clearly doesn’t behave like someone accustomed to a lowly life of prostitution and shows up out of nowhere in the camp and immediately finds herself exclusively attached to Tryion Lannister doesn’t just feel like a “hooker with a heart of gold” coincidence to me.  I think she’s important. 

    I’m wondering why Robb isn’t making more use of his wife’s connections.  She has a noble family.  I can’t recall now whether the story about her brother’s swimming accident and the slave fisherman and how she ended up a nurse so far from home came out and said it precisely or not, but it definitely gave me the impression that she was a true “somebody” back home.  Plus, we were reminded of it this week with the discussion of her letter being in Valerian.  We don’t know who her folks are exactly, but I get the suspicion they’re important.  If they weren’t of equal stature to the Starks, she’d probably have wanted to write and tell Mom and Dad much sooner about her marrying up.  They’d be impressed.  It’d be good news.   So for her to have so little interest in what would naturally seem a socially upward move, she must have been important enough for either it to be a lateral move or at least for her to be a valuable enough that there were other power plays her folks would likely have been able to marry her into that they might be disappointed with her decision. 

    1.  In the books Shae is a typical camp follower, just a higher caliber one that Bronn steals from one of Tywin’s bannermen, IIRC.  Tyrion likely falls for her as she did a better job hiding revulsion for him than his previous contractors.   That and the experience with his first wife.

      Jeyne’s parents are important, but in a way the show seems to have flipped.  Her mother is around, in fact.    All the pieces fit very well in that regard and I can’t see where (or why) this departure is heading.

  17. I don’t have much to say about the episode, but I wanted to pipe up and say these posts have become a highlight of my personal GoT experience. I watch the episode, head over to /r/GameOfThrones to read the episode thread and then obsessively watch Boing Boing for this post to read your insights.

    Kudos to you and keep em coming. Very entertaining read.

    1.  This one on Boing Boing is the only one I read these days.  It’s always great.  Both the original posts and the comments. 

      1. The avclub has both newbie (non-readers) and expert reviews (book readers) so it is great for theorizing without worrying about spoiling anyone else.

  18. I’m fascinated right now by Joffrey and Margaery as a couple.  The effect that she’s having on him is really interesting and I think it’s going to get even more interesting.  She’s able to exert power over him in a way that his counsel and his mother couldn’t and I think she may end up exerting power over him in a way his grandfather can’t.  But  in a way, she’s also helping him grow up and explore his own power and role and may turn out to be the thing that manages keep him from being killed.   If she makes him more endeared to his countrymen and more important in his own right, what will happen when he figures out that she’s not a subservient wife and has ambition and ideas of her own.  Will she just make the best of her position and work within gently guiding her spouse, or will she become more of a leader herself?  Will he let her?  Will she make him be less depraved, or will she indulge it so long as it doesn’t effect her grander plans?  It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.

    1. One of my greatest disappointments with this episode was there was (thus far) no fall out from Ros’ murder. Given that the show has been fairly open about dealings (see the triad of Littlefinger’s plans for Sansa versus Tywin’s versus Olenna’s) it’s weird.

      Also, I’m hoping for some recognition or fallout to save her death from being just another titillating murder shot.

      1. Since she was a prostitute I would guess it ranks around the same level as rumors of incest or homosexuality. Everyone turns up their noses and looks down on the crazy nobles but there is little anyone can do.
        Tywin is about the only one in a position to confront Joffery. But even if he knows about it, his pride in his family name and desire to retain the throne would come first. He could have used it as leverage in their little talk though, he is ruthless enough to suggest that Tommen would be a much better (easier to control) king if something were to happen to Joffery.

      2. Well, I don’ t think anyone who knows what happened to Ros is going to tell the powers that be (Tywin) about it.  Littlefinger is going to cover his tracks, and he only told Varys because he knows that Varys can’t tell Tywin without revealing that Varys was working with the Tyrells.  But if Varys had a house motto, it would be “Vengeance is coming” so there’s that.

        1. “But if Varys had a house motto, it would be “Vengeance is coming” so there’s that.” 
          WORD! I started out mistrusting Varys, now he’s one of my favorite characters. I love watching him overtly loathe Littlefinger. His eyerolls are magnificent! I hope WAAAAAAY down the line there’s a situation where he gets to put the screws to Littlefinger and says ‘you were a bad investment’ or something along those lines!

        2.  Actually, I think Varys’ house motto would be more like “For the Good of the Realm.” He really does believe in the realm and at least tries to make things more stable. Where Littlefinger is just causing trouble for the lulz and because it might give him more power.

          1. Oh of course, those would be his real words. But still, I want Varys to be the one to either end Littlefinger himself or elaborately orchestrate something, and just throw that in. I’m sure whenever that event happens Littlefinger will have killed or caused the death of so many people it would actually be necessary to clarify to him (and to the audience) WHY he’s being murdered and by exactly WHO. 

      3.  I think that nothing happens may be the take-away we’re supposed to get from that incident.  That Ros was a lowly pawn in the bigger game of thrones, she played above her station, and failed, and was allowed by her higher status boss to be murdered by a twisted king in exchange for her betrayal.  And in the end, she was disposable, used as necessary by the powerful, and then thrown away when that was what was most useful to them.  A dead prostitute no one mourns for. 

        The only one I can see really giving a care as far as making it make a real difference might be Varys.  He seemed to care some what happened to her and might feel responsible for the part he played in her getting more entangled in things and ending up on the ugliest side of Little Finger. 

        1. this is what I find disappointing, though. For the purposes of the show, she was a character subject to the whims of the writers and producers – these aren’t actual subjects so there’s no reason why they couldn’t have written such a scene unless, as mentioned above, it served no real good purpose. we already know the Game is brutal, after we’ve seen what happened to poor old ned stark.

          1.  There’s a looooot of plot to cover in Storm of Swords. Closure for a character who was essentially a plot device is something I don’t think the show really has time for.

      4. Ros wasn’t in the books, so her death was one of the few surprises I’ve had. I hated it! I loved that character so much! I am hoping that waaaaaaay waaaaaaay further down the line there will be something referencing her– like Varys is about to shove Littlefinger off a tower or something and he says ‘you were a bad investment’ or SOMETHING. SOMETHING to bring it back to her. To me, she represented what Varys is trying to do–reshape the world of Westeros so that the smallfolk like Ros have at least half a shot of dying from old age rather than being offed by the power struggles of the elite. 

        1. omg, me too! because she was a wild card, I expected her to, if not live forever, have a death that meant something. This was just a waste of a perfectly good character and one of the few smallfolk POVs we had.

        2. Also-finding out she wasn’t in the books was necessary to explain how an independent contractor prostitute in the North suddenly ended up a victim of human trafficking with Littlefinger.  There was never any explanation, and I thought it would eventually come out, but no.  A mark against the TV writers, since I guess they thought nobody would even notice just one more whore suddenly a sex slave, since boobies. 

          1. I feel like the character was created for the 1st season (in the books there’s mention of a red-headed whore who works at Winterfell, but I don’t think she’s named and she certainly never goes to King’s Landing) and they saw an opportunity for a plot device, then after she was cast they liked the actress and decided to keep her around a bit longer. She also functioned as a handy plot device. Plus I liked Roz’s little storyline– small town girl goes to the big city to chase the big time and all that. Roz and Shae are similar people who got caught up in the game and had very different experiences.  

  19.  I can’t help but feel like it’s going to end badly for them.  As much as I’d like to see them make it, I don’t see any plausible scenario where it’ll be okay.  One or the other will be a traitor to their people, one or the other will end up dead, nope, no one can win.  Unless, somehow the threat of something from outside like the White Walkers becomes a big enough deal that all of the human beings have to lay aside their differences and unite against a common foe.  Then being nights watch or wildling or north or south or king or bastard won’t be an issue anymore and they can just be two people.

  20. I’m curious if we’re going to get a scene where Lorras Tyrell finds out about having to marry Cersei.  I’m curious how he’s going to feel about it and react to it. 

      1.  Probably spot on. 

        But I wonder if it’s going to seem better or worse or equal to him to marrying Sansa.

        He’s one of the characters in the story who seems to me the very very least in control of their own fate.  Most everyone else seems to be at least a little bit living the result of their own actions (good or bad) and have their own objectives and motives that make them willing to do what they do and accept what they’re willing to accept.  Poor Lorras seems so powerless.  It’s so bleak to think the best possible outcome for him at this point would be for Jaime to come home and kill him. 

        1. I was so touched when Loras and Sansa bonded over how horrible King’s Landing was, I thought it was cute and a small hint of how their marriage could have worked out okay.

          1. Indeed! Like Redstarr points out, they are both largely powerless. It would have been nice if they had someone else to talk to about that. 

        2.  Really? Loras is less in control of his own fate than poor Sansa? He’s a knight admired by pretty much everybody and gets to run around doing knightly things. He’s even been overall pardoned despite signing up early on with Renly. While I’m sure he’s not thrilled about any marriage, he’s probably resigned himself to having to marry someone, and I don’t know if it matters to him who it is. Remember when he talked about the wedding he was way more excited about the clothes and the party than Sansa herself.

  21. As primarily a book reader, it’s interesting to read all these theories from the show audience. You sweet summer children…

    1.  I didn’t expect I’d like seeing stuff from the book readers.  I love the show so much I don’t want to ruin it with knowing things ahead of time.  And I was afraid the book folks might let too much slip, but you’ve all done such a FANTASTIC job of keeping it relatively spoiler free.  And managed to add some interesting perspectives about the differences in characters and stories between the books and the show without giving too much away.  Things that have been changed, ideas as to why, etc.  are an interesting addition to my GoT discussion experience. 

      And you all have totally reinforced my desire to start reading the books as soon as I know that I’m safely far enough behind that I can’t catch up to the series.  Sounds like they’ll still be super interesting. 

  22. (FYI and FWIW, I was “Touched by FSM” but changed my username to match that on other GOT discussions I frequent)

    Thanks as always for a thoughtful and insightful recap, and discussion.

    It is hard to have any favorite couple other than Jaime and Brienne, or imagine a couple with more complicated circumstances.  That being said, in an alternate universe GOT, no question that Arya and the Hound are a comedic buddy comedy duo, with poignant undertones saved for “very special” episodes.

    1. They’re taking the Tyrion/Sansa thing kind of seriously so far. Surprised in GRRM episode because I thought it was quite comical in the books–and you know Tyrion’s not going to mistreat her, so it can’t be that tragic in the context of this show. I thought they’d expand on the comic relief angle, if anything. 

  23. For my favorite couple, I am sticking with Jaime and Brienne. I like that their dynamic is give-and-take so much of the time–and how it changes, after he loses his hand. Yes, he’s still the golden son of the most powerful man in the Kingdom, but as Locke proved and Qyburn pointed out, there are lot of people out in the countryside who don’t give a fig about the next day, let alone the consequences of their actions. Which is where Brienne comes in, being able to defend them physically in situations where his reputation can’t. I like that he’s learning what honor is from her, and she’s learning about duplicity from him, if not putting it into practice. On the one hand I want them to remain non-romantic, but then again it would be nice to see a relationship of equals onscreen. 
    My favorite other couple is Barristan Selmy and Jorah Marmont. Their little glance at each other when Dany was laying down how it would be with Yunkai’i was so cute! Like proud daddies! Utterly ridiculous as well, since they don’t trust each other, but that one little moment was just so magical!

    1.  I like the effect they have on each other, but like  you, want it to be a friend thing and not a romance thing.  That Jaime loves Cersei is one of the most endearing things about him, as sad and twisted as that is.  Most of the rest of the Lannister lifestyle in so all about money and power and is cold and calculated, but poor Jaime and Cersei have real love for each other, even to their own detriment.  There’s no happy ending in it for them either, I bet. But that love and loyalty between them is kind of sweet.  And with him being Kings Guard, he couldn’t marry Brienne anyhow.  And she deserves a mate she can marry.

      1. Jaime seems the be more in love with Cersei than vice versa at this point though, given her and Lancel.

      2.  Is Jaime still in the Kingsguard? Barristan Selmy got dismissed, and Joffrey appointed a bunch of other guys, so it seems like the “lifetime commitment” part isn’t strictly enforced in practice.

        I also agree that the relationship between Jaime and Brienne is a lot better if it remains platonic, mostly because it gives Brienne more room to develop. She’s (basically) a knight, but because she’s a woman, she’s an outsider, and has never had the chance to rub shoulders with other knights and have the “guy time” that’s so central to a soldier’s life. That’s why she’s so naive and idealistic. Buddying up with Jaime allows her to learn what that life is really all about.

        1.  it seems “lifetime commitment” is a pretty one-way affair in most of westerosi dealings.  you are lord of such and such including all lands and titles until the end of time (or some other king takes it away).
          is there a upper limit on the number of kingsguard?

  24. Nothing important to add, this is just a fan letter.
    I love reading these after I’ve watched the show. Having read the books and seen all the episodes, these essays allow me to once again enjoy the GOT world. Well done, filled with insights and interesting points they are truly a delight. Carry on

  25. I really love the usage of The Bear And The Maiden Fair as a brick joke. When Jaime and Brienne get captured, our favorite ragtag band of psychopaths were singing that song and everyone speculated wildly about what it meant. Now, a few episodes later, we see that it was just a set-up for it to suddenly become literally acted out by Bolton’s men.

  26. Team Brienne here!

    i just can’t wait for the scenes between the “new” Jaime and each member of his family once he reach King’s Landing.

  27. The author said, “I had a discussion last week on Twitter.”   

    No….no you didn’t.

  28. My take on Shae’s general attitude was that it’s to partially explain where she ends up down the line (assuming the same things happen to her as in the book).  Ie, she gets so pissed off with Tyrion she decides to spite him by making him jealous.
    Can’t really go further into that without massive spoilers.

  29. Most awesome this week …

    … Everything You Need Know About Sex But Were Too Prudish To Ask, with Tormund Giantsbane, Love Doctor

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