Hello, friends and bannermen. Game of Thrones' second episode revealed the fates of several more favorite characters that we didn't have time for in the premiere. That's right, more Starks! How did it 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!).
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[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 "Dark Wings, Dark Words" for a spoiler-free discussion.]
Hanh: I loved this episode. So much stuff packed into it. It felt like I got so much more compared to the premiere's slower pace.
Sadie: I agree! I can't believe that all happened in an hour.
Hanh: And of course, Theon lives! We knew that, but that makes it clear that the show is now incorporating the events of Book 5 here, which makes sense timewise.
Sadie: Shh... I haven't read Book 5 yet! No spoilers! No spoilers!
Hanh: Ha, well, unfortunately, the show is going to spoil at least this story line for you. Since of course Theon's fate isn't known in Book 3 yet (except for a piece of his skin being sent to Robb and Catelyn).
Sadie: Or will it? Since they seem to be deviating quite a bit in some aspects. Whether the show follows the book or not, I hope Yara rescues Theon soon because I can't stand more of that torture!
Hanh: Nice X sort of torture frame. I think I saw a spike go through a hand, and some sort of foot crushing device. Since I also watch/cover Spartacus, my stomach is pretty strong about this stuff.
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Sadie: I had to watch the scene twice because I kept turning away. I still don't really know what they did to him. I have a bad habit of covering other people's eyes when I get grossed out. A main reason I watch this show alone.
Hanh: But I do feel sorry for Theon!
Sadie: Me too! There's something so pathetic about him that I just love. Unlike Sam Tarly, who I feel zero pity for. Especially in this episode.
Hanh: Right? Ser Piggy is pitiful.
Sadie: Which is odd, because I actually like Sam a decent amount in the books. He wasn't so whiny and had really accepted that he's the worst, which made him bearable.
Hanh: Exactly! Was just about to say that. He didn't make it other people's fault. "You left me." Well, he could have run also!
Sadie: Yes! In the books, when Sam stopped walking. it was because he physically couldn't get up and had accepted death. This was more an emo teenager's cry for help. It was just so... Degrassi.
Hanh: Although John Bradley is a fine actor, I have always felt that the depiction of Sam on the show has always read as very "teen." It's the way he's written.
Sadie: I completely agree. Maybe once he becomes "Sam the Slayer" we'll see a real transformation.
Hanh: While Jon Snow is out there killing his own Night's Watch brother, Sam is feeling sorry for himself. Wah! Didn't that already happen in the books? I'm worried they'll leave the dragonglass thing out.
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Sadie: It happened shortly after Sam collapsed and had to be carried by Small Paul. I think there's still time for Ser Piggy to face the other. Hopefully it will be that bully who bites the dust though, instead of Sam's friend like in the book.
Hanh: Ugh, that bully. Talk about high school. I want to pants him! OK, so I need to ask this, since I know we were both looking forward to/fearing it: Are you disappointed that Jaime isn't bald? There goes our "The Bald and the Beautiful" headline!
Sadie: I am livid! I get that it's TV and audiences like to look at pretty people, but come on! Plus, Jaime would look amazing with a buzzcut. First Tyrion's disfigurement and now this. They're really going to have to make up for these with a brutal amputation, if you ask me. Jaime needs to be completely reborn, in a sense. How can he do that when he's still so Prince Charming handsome?
Hanh: Ha! Well, I did interview Nicolaj Coster-Waldau and asked him about not being bald. You're going to have to wait to find out his answer, but it was pretty funny.
Sadie: Oooh. I can't wait. I've also been wondering how people who haven't read the books are going to feel about him this season.
Hanh: But it's true. In the books, in a way he had to get an understanding of what his brother went through -- disfigurement, feeling physically useless.
Sadie: Without his inner monologue, do you think people will be able to see that he's hiding a big heart under all that snark?
Hanh: I'm hoping so, and another thing about this episode: It had great dialogue, so I'm hoping that some lines will reflect that. I liked when he told Brienne, "We don't get to choose who we love" -- meaning Renly and Cersei of course. So yes, I'm hoping some of that inner stuff comes out. Also, the amputation of course. They have to do that. It will be tricky, but that's so essential to his identity they can't pass over it.
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Sadie: I think fans would revolt and I'd probably be leading the charge. One thing I think this episode got spot-on was Lady Olenna. Even though she's only gotten a few minutes of screentime, she's become one of my favorite characters (and definitely the best TV mother-in-law I've ever seen).
Hanh: And, they used one of my favorite lines from the book: "But once the cow's been milked, there's no squirting the milk back up her udders." You can't improve on that. And the writers were wise not to try.
Sadie: It's complete perfection. And we didn't even have to suffer through Butterbumps' atrocious singing!
Hanh: Ha! I have to say, I was kind of hoping for that, if only to get a preview of "The Bear and the Maiden Fair" song.
Sadie: I'm sure we'll get more than our fill of that once we enter into wedding season.
Hanh: Yep, Diana Rigg is great. Only difference is that I always pictured Lady Olenna as smaller, kind of like Estelle Getty.
Sadie: I could see that.
Hanh: I also loved Olenna's reaction to learning Joffrey is a monster. "Hmm, that's a pity ... ah, here comes my cheese!" I appreciate a person with a good appetite!
Sadie: She's a woman after my own heart. Olenna and Margaery are definitely more cunning than Cersei signed on for, but Margaery was giving me a bit of the creeps this episode. I couldn't tell how much she was playing Joffrey during the crossbow scene and how twisted she really is.
Hanh: Right... but I had to giggle when she was fawning over the crossbow. "My, what a large crossbow you have!" I mean, if ever there were a phallic symbol. But yes, there was some ambiguity about it all, as if she really was turned on by that murderous power.
Sadie: It makes me a little nervous! Even knowing Joffrey's fate and the Tyrells' role in it, I'm finding myself almost hoping he'll survive. In a strange way, I think he and Margaery could be happy together. Maybe I'm just a sap though. And saps have no place in Westeros.
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Hanh: Well, sure they do, if they live in a highly fortified environment. Or if you're a wildling, perhaps?
Sadie: Sansa lived in a highly fortified environment and look what happened to her!
Hanh: No, she left it! She went into the lair of the dragon.
Sadie: Her mother's ex-boyfriend is coming on to her. Not that she's noticing.
Hanh: Grosssssssss. Littlefinger is the worst (and the best)!
Sadie: He and Tyrion can do no wrong in my eyes. Probably because they're two of the only men in the series with any real wit. Both are also destined to be romantically tangled with poor Sansa, as well.
Hanh: What about Varys? But he's not a man...
Sadie: Varys is a spider, not a man.
Sadie: The true origin story of Peter Parker revealed! So much cross-over potential there.
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Hanh: The eunuch origin story is always the best. Radioactive knife! OK changing the subject. There is just one more major difference that I really wanted to get your thoughts on: Catelyn's confession about Jon Snow to Talisa.
Sadie: I was about to ask! That scene really perplexed me. Was she implying that everything that's happened -- her children's deaths, all this tragedy -- is because she betrayed a promise to the gods? We really got to see this bitterness in Cat that you don't see in the books until the RW.
Hanh: Yes, I think so? It was muddled. I mean, it's typical mother's guilt. On one hand, she first couched it as one of her boys fell ill, but it was Jon Snow. And then she begged Ned to call him a Stark, but he didn't. It felt to me, that she was looking out for Jon Snow more at the beginning...But she ended up not loving him. So, I don't know. Maybe Ned wanted him to be named Snow for some unfathomable reason. Why? Not sure. Roose Bolton legitimized his bastard.
Sadie: It was as though Cat thought she could grow and become this better person, but this darkness -- the baseness of humanity, almost -- was too much for her to overcome and she gave in. The way I read the scene was that she promised the gods she would call Jon a Stark, but never actually brought it up to Ned. Maybe I misheard though.
Hanh: Oh, I got out of it that she begged Ned to, but he didn't. I'll have to go and re-watch it. Hmm, wonder what our readers think.
Sadie: Let's find out!
Did you like the changes from the book? Did Theon's presence surprise you? Should Jaime have lost his hair? Do you feel more sympathetic of Catelyn? Weigh in below!
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.