Hello, friends and bannermen. Sunday's Game of Thrones gave us some graphic skin (de-skinning, not nudity) scenes and some bad feelings about the fate of our favorite bastards and whores. How did the episode match up with the books? How did it differ?
This weekly chat series is for fans of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire books, upon which HBO's fantasy drama is based. It's meant to be a safe haven to discuss spoilers and changes from the novels and how they have played out or will play out in the TV series. Hanh Nguyen and Sadie Gennis are longtime fantasy fans of varying levels of geekiness who will sound off on all things Westerosi (and beyond!).
[Warning: If you're a Game of Thrones fan who has stumbled upon this chat and haven't read the books yet, begone! Instead, check out our recap of Sunday's episode "The Climb" for a spoiler-free discussion.]
Game of Thrones recap: "The Climb" and Littlefinger's bad investment
Hanh: Well, we got two of our wishes: 1) Sadistic Hanh got more graphic Theon torture, and 2) We got a Tywin and Lady Olenna face-off!
Sadie: And one was as painful as the other was enjoyable.
Hanh: How did your stomach hold up to Theon's pinky-skinning treatment?
Sadie: Not very well at all, but I'm glad they went for it. Though, I'm also happy Ramsay didn't leave Theon with a skinned finger for so long that he attempted to bite it off. It was gory, but quick -- just like I like it.
Hanh: I didn't get the feeling that Ramsay actually cut it off though. I thought Theon only pleaded for it to be cut off, but we didn't see the result since the terms of the bet were, "You will beg me to cut your finger off."
Sadie: Oh, no! Don't tell me this means we WILL see Theon gnawing at his finger! I didn't see [survival drama] 127 Hours for a reason. Self-amputation (or even the attempt) is something I just can't handle.
Hanh: LOL, I have no idea if Theon will even be able to reach his own finger with his mouth. But I'm pro-amputation in this situation. Let's get some real stakes here!
Sadie: I also kind of want to see it now -- just so that Ramsay is equally twisted in the show as he is in the books.
Hanh: That bastard really brought the cray-cray. It's hard for me to refer to him as Ramsay. I keep thinking of Gordon Ramsay, the British chef-lebrity, who can be mean, but not sadistic!
Sadie: Well... depends who you ask on that one. I'm sure plenty of Hell's Kitchen contestants would beg to differ.
Hanh: He's actually quite a nice fellow, but I haven't had to work in one of his kitchens or served him meat that was RAW! Anyway, on to Tywin and Olenna... It was intriguing to see them working certain angles in their chess match of wills and strategy.
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Sadie: One of my favorite parts of that scene was the way they were so brutally to the point. Sword-swollowing, incest, who cares?! Let's just talk it out! I have to agree with Tyrion, though. I'm really not sure which of the four [Tyrion, Sansa, Cersei or Loras] is getting the worst end of the [betrothal] deal. Olenna sure is getting dealt a crap hand, though. But no one can best Lord Tywin when he's armed with his quill.
Hanh: Nevertheless, she wasn't as disappointed with him as she was with Tyrion! I'd love to see them collaborate on a scheme.
Sadie: The realm would be in trouble then. Also, do you really think Tywin had NEVER done any sword-swallowing, sword-sheathing, etc.? The idea had never crossed my mind until Olenna brought it up, but he was just a wee too defensive, if you ask me.
Hanh: Ha! I actually tend to believe him. He seems rather black and white about certain matters. He has no time for being uncertain. I think he had one love, and that's it. He probably never even considered anyone else after his wife died. Or at least, that's how I see him.
Sadie: Well, we both know he considers SOMEONE later down the line. But I feel like he probably views Shae and other whores not as people or an indulgence, but as a rational means to an end. It's sad how much sex and marriage are reduced to transactions in Westeros. (I'm sure Edmure and the Lannister kids agree.)
Hanh: Well yeah, it's a reflection on our culture. Hell, my grandmother had an arranged marriage, and I know of Indian friends who still do. It's not as horrible as Westeros though. But yeah, marriage is more about commerce in these situations. I loved how on the show, Edmure was so funny when he was trying to protest getting into a political marriage with Walder Frey's daughter.
Sadie: I really enjoy how much of a total goof he is on the show! Especially when compared to The Blackfish.
Hanh: Yes! Brynden is so alpha!
Sadie: I mean, I can't wait to steal the line, "the laws of my fist are about to compel your teeth."
Hanh: Next time some young pup gives you lip, you'll be ready.
Sadie: I feel like so much of this episode was dedicated to just hammering in this impending sense of doom. Even when Edmure agrees to marry Roslin, Robb's line about how he's "won every battle, but losing the war" hints towards what's to come for those who haven't even read the books.
Hanh: Ah, I didn't really see it that way, but then again, I'm trying really hard not to let my foreknowledge of the books color my perception of the show. But it is difficult. But hey — it turns out you were right; Melisandre came and whisked Gendry and his mustache away. I then have to assume Davos gets free somehow so he can save Gendry, maybe with Shireen's help.
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Sadie: While I'm sad about what this might mean for Gendry (viva la mustache!), I love the way those two story lines are being wound together. Shireen is such an angel. Why is it that only the disfigured are allowed to be so noble? Davos, Jaime, Tyrion -- they all have some stand-up morals (even if they falter now-and-then).
Hanh: With hardship, comes an appreciation for what really matters in life perhaps. In a world where privilege is dictated by birth, some things are taken for granted. If you're not a Stark, true nobility doesn't seem to come easily. But back to the Lord of Light followers. It definitely was cool that they added in a meeting between Melisandre and Thoros. Not only did it give us some insight into Thoros' motivations, but also made it clear that those worshippers are not all the same. And boy, did the Red Woman look jealous of Thoros for being able to resurrect Beric when she couldn't do anything close!
Sadie: The backstory they gave Thoros was fantastic! We knew in the books that he was a totally drunkard at King's Landing, but I never understood how he became such a devout priest until now. My favorite Melisandre face was her shock when Arya whipped her around and called her a witch. Personally, I was thinking she'd use a different word that rhymed, but witch will do, I guess.
Hanh: Seriously, I wonder who does like Melisandre among the viewers. Is there a gender split?
Sadie: I feel like even if someone found her sexually attractive, they'd still hate her. I mean, what's to like, really? Plus, she serves Stannis, and I feel like there are about as many Stannis supporters in the real world as there are in Westeros.
Hanh: But I do like some horrible villains. Joffrey, for example ... I mean, how horrid was that killing? Using Ros for target practice? And Littlefinger let him? OMG, that even shocked my non-delicate sensibilities.
Sadie: I absolutely loved it! As a viewer, of course. As a person, completely horrified.
Hanh: Yep, it was fantastic. The stakes are very, very real, and I worry for Margaery. I mean, I know Joffrey's fate (from the books) and all, but that doesn't mean she can't be harmed first ... which may be the catalyst to his downfall.
Sadie: Ooh, so true. I doubt Olenna will let Joffrey hurt a hair on Margaery's head, though. I feel like she has some spiders of her own to keep a good guard. I do love that we saw how evil Littlefinger can be, too. We all know he's a cold-blooded killer (future RIP Lysa Arryn), but in the books we only got little hints at his sadism. Now there's no question about it: this dude is bad news!
Hanh: I can only bloodthirstily hope! But there is a certain hubris that the Tyrells have, and I hope it doesn't bite them in the a--. I know Olenna realized she finally met her match in Tywin. And yes! Littlefinger's journey is kind of the opposite of Jaime. His descent into villainy has been a joy to watch.
Sadie: But now that he's left King's Landing, do you think he'll still return in the night to whisk away Sansa? And if so, who will bring her to the ship since she doesn't have her Florian?
Hanh: Hmm, he may not come back, but I would feel that maybe any number of people could help her escape and possibly do so without knowing he's behind it. Shae, for example, wouldn't mind keeping Sansa away from Tyrion, and be misled into thinking she's putting Sansa on a ship elsewhere. I really worry for Shae! I hope her fate isn't quite the same as it is in the books. Her character is so much cooler on the show, and she's quite devoted to Tyrion.
Sadie: Me too! They've really made me like her a lot. She seems so much more genuine. I feel like for Tyrion to get so dark, she might need to betray him though. Or else, why would his mind go back to Tysha so much?
Game of Thrones: The trouble with Joffrey
Hanh: Well, she [Tysha] never really betrayed him in the books. Tywin only made Tyrion think so ... so maybe it will be the same for Shae on the show? The perception of betrayal will be enough. I just don't want to lose my faith in this whore!
Sadie: That's true. As long as Tyrion believes Shae betrayed him and discovers the truth about Tysha, he can still be as brooding and wistful as he is supposed to become. I still feel like Shae's going to have to die, though. Unfortunately.
Hanh: Yeah, me too. *sob* But speaking of doomed relationships, I'm glad they made Ygritte smarter than she is in the books. She's aware that Jon is a double agent, but offers a really compelling argument to be loyal to her. ... And it's true! I also loved that it was a wildling (Orell) who cut her loose on the Wall, and that it was Jon who saved her. In the end, they can only rely on each other.
Sadie: I have very conflicted feelings about this. I always felt like she had some doubts, but that she refused to indulge them because she cared about Jon and believed he cared about her.
Hanh: I think her doubts on the show do not preclude their feelings for each other.
Sadie: I feel like knowing he's a double agent will make his betrayal less painful, because she saw it coming, even though he did give her his word.
Hanh: Well, I feel it's still going to be a betrayal if he leaves her behind, because that's the true betrayal in her mind. I think she knows he has to act in certain ways to support his mission, but because they have an understanding, he shouldn't act against her or leave her for good. Of course, we know she has a big archery scene coming up on the show, and that jibes with what happens in the books — when she shoots him as he escapes.
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Sadie: I love that Ygritte does that. She truly is a BAMF. I'm also glad that Jon's arrow isn't the one to fell her, though. I don't think he can handle that guilt. Part of me worries the show might change that, just to really mess with his head.
Hanh: He would, once again, have to "miss" when trying to kill Ygritte. There's one last subject I wanted to bring up: the skinning of the rabbits! Another deliciously graphic scene.
Sadie: It was a very skinning-centric episode. This scene was much more enjoyable than Theon's, though.
Hanh: Hannibal Lecter would approve. It was also an interesting device to display Bran's growing leadership skills since he had to mediate between Osha and Meera, who aren't supposed to be traveling together in the books.
Sadie: It was a lot of fun seeing these alpha women butt heads. I don't understand why Jojen's dreams gave him an epileptic fit, though. And even Rickon had a line!
Hanh: I know! Jury's out for Jojen for me so far. But I agree it was a red-letter day for Rickon. I wanted to tell him to shut up though. And give Hodor more lines!
Sadie: Haha, me too! As much as I love Osha, she and Rickon need to get to stepping just so that we can go back to pretending he doesn't exist. Hodor is clearly the most eloquent of all the Westeosi.
Hanh: Hodor. Hodor. Hodor. Let's see what our readers think of the episode and the various fates of these poor Westerosi.
What do you think about the Theon's torture, Olenna and Tywin's chemistry and Ros' death? Share your thoughts about this season below.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO. Check out this "Inside the Episode" video: