Hello, friends and bannermen. On Sunday's Game of Thrones, dragons breathed fire, a king burned in the fire, and Tyrion drank a lot of fire (water). 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!).
[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 "The Wars to Come" for a spoiler-free discussion.]
Hanh: The deviations from the books have begun — and in such a big way! That really was Mance who burned, not just a glamoured Rattleshirt. The whole time I kept looking for clues that it wasn't really Mance, but once he opened his mouth and wished Stannis luck, I knew it was him.
Sadie: I was actually pretty underwhelmed by his death. I thought the premiere was amazing, don't get me wrong. But when I had heard people were going to die that were alive in the books, I expected someone a bit more important than Mance Rayder. (Though, I'm sure there will be more shocking deaths to come.) The only thing Mance got up to after Melisandre let him live was heading off to Winterfell to save "Arya" from the Boltons and getting himself captured. And since Sansa will be taking over that story line this season, Mance's part isn't necessary.
Hanh: Right... I didn't find it emotionally shocking in any way. The show really hasn't let us get to know or care about him, and his fiery death was meh. Hate to say it, but I expected (wanted?) something more grisly. More screaming, smell-o-vision scorching, something! But, as a book reader, I was nicely surprised that the showrunners made such a decisive move to just cut that plot off right there (although I did predict that his story was totally unnecessary, and therefore ripe for trimming) which sort of sets the stage for me this season. Makes me wonder what other liberties we'll take. You referenced Sansa, and we may as well dive into what we expect to happen with her story.
Sadie: Well, the marriage proposal Littlefinger received is clearly setting up her union with Ramsay, since Jeyne doesn't exist in the show. And I think this might be my favorite deviation from the books they've ever done. Every season we've got to see Sansa's agency grow, and how satisfying will it be to see her get to have a direct hand in avenging her family?
Hanh: Agreed. It's kind of a mixed blessing with this show. On one hand, they remove Ariane, who is such a strong female character in Dorne — she's the successor! On the other, they really give some women like Shae and now Sansa way, way more to do and the power to do it. Dark Sansa is the best. I cannot wait to see her start to lie and manipulate. Ooh, and maybe a dark wedding?
Sadie: It was great to see how much she's already learned from Littlefinger and she pieced together his strategies in the carriage. And I would love to attend Sansa and Ramsay's dark wedding as long as Frey pie is still on the menu!
Hanh: Would you eat Frey pie? I think it would depend on how much wine I had. Would it pair well?
Sadie: 100 percent yes. Because the Freys aren't people — they are monsters. And if you've had enough wine, your drink will pair with anything. Even human flesh. (Not speaking from personal experience, of course.)
Hanh: Oh and remember Frey rhymes with "prey"! (This show makes me not just bloodthirsty but also brings out my inner predator.)
Sadie: I feel like you'll definitely enjoy this season then. There's Sansa's plan, the trouble in Dorne, the revolution in Meereen, the Others and soon to be the armed Sparrows.
Hanh: The Sparrows scare me, no lie. I want to see them rise to power and yet I'm also afraid of how far they'll go. Oh, but how did you like seeing Lancel again? This version of him as a devotee of the Faith of the Seven is way more interesting (and virile!) than the old man version in the books. He should've known he couldn't get Cersei to repent... or admit to boozing Robert up for the boar hunt.
Sadie: I found it hilarious that Lancel thought he had tempted Cersei into doing anything, but it was double hilarious knowing that soon he and the Sparrows will have complete power over her and cause her (very public) demise. This whole season is going to have such wonderful dramatic irony as we watch the ways Cersei unwittingly orchestrates her own downfall, all in the attempts to prove the prophecy wrong.
Hanh: "Unnatural relations" is the way I think he put it. It made me giggle for sure. It's interesting that they decided to keep that prophecy in, but take out the part about the younger brother. I think it was kind of a cop-out for her to have three questions and the second one to only be, "But I will be queen?" That sort of lame clarification. Honestly, I'm not quite sure if that whole flashback about the prophecy was necessary. Her friend didn't even die!
Sadie: I thought the flashback wasn't as interesting as it was in the book, but it did help give context to Cersei's obsessive hatred of Margaery. Though, I doubt anyone was confused by why Cersei would hate a young beautiful woman married to her son.
Hanh: Right? They hated each other already. I have Season 3 and 4 as proof!
Sadie: I do hope that fear of this prophecy in the show will fuel her paranoia as much as it did the books. I loved watching the way Cersei became an alcoholic, conspiracy theorist with absolutely no grasp on reality.
Hanh: Yes, I want to see her completely lose it. Also, any scene with Cersei and wine to me is gold. (Arbor gold?) Speaking of Lannister winos.... Tyrion can throw down!
Sadie: Ooh, yes he can! But let me ask you the question on all book readers' minds right now: What do you think they're going to do about Aegon Targaryen? Clearly, they've cut Tyrion's travels with the Griffs, but is this because ultimately, Aegon isn't a real player in the books? Or do you think they'll find a way to introduce him later? Nikolaj clearly hinted at the group's appearance this season, but he could have just been messing with us like Lena posting the photo of the stone heart.
Hanh: First of all, Nikolaj with a duck! I can't stop watching that. And then secondly, I'm of two minds here. On one hand, I didn't love the Aegon/Young Griff plot when I read it. We didn't know him, didn't care about him, and his desire to ally with Daenerys would mean more Targaryen incest. I know it's terribly un-Targaryen for me to want a little genetic diversity, but there it is. On the other hand, it would be a huge wrench thrown into the plot if they did introduce Aegon and decided to make him worthwhile. Why not? They've given Sansa more agency. And that theory only considers the Griff/Young Griff angle. I wonder if anyone tried to determine if they could be cast as other people? Who would they be?
Sadie: I totally feel you about not loving Aegon. If the showrunners cut him completely, then clearly we know that he doesn't go anywhere too important in the books so no harm, no foul. But he is another living, breathing Targaryen and that inherently seems like a big deal — even if he is a bit of an entitled little sh--.
Hanh: Oh right, and a point to you about a living Taragaryen — would perhaps Dany's dragons sense that in him? And DRAGONS! This season is really playing that up with that awesome firebreathing scene in the catacombs. The poster of Tyrion with Drogon flying over him alone makes me hope for many things (Imp on dragonback! Imp on dragonback!) that will probably never come true. However, there is a good chance that Daenerys will get to fly, but only after the Meereenese rebellion.
Sadie: Which hopefully will not take nearly as long as it did in the books because oh lord, did that drag. There is one thing I'm very curious about regarding Dany this season. Hizdahr doesn't seem nearly as skeazy, so I have no idea how that will play out.
Hanh: I think he's only going to be instrumental with getting the fighting pits started. And then, low-rent Lenny Kravitz can go away.
Sadie: I feel like in the books, he made my skin crawl right away and there were ample hints that he had ties to the Sons of the Harpy and a personal stake in reopening the fighting pits.
Hanh: Besides, Daario (and his butt!) are clearly far more important to Dany right now. How could she not heed his hindquarters?! What does Hizdahr have to offer? Not his butt! Speaking of Tina Belcher's favorite subject, the butts were in full force this episode. Besides Daario's we also got to see naked Loras and Olyvar (he gets around!) when Margaery barges in on them. Awkward! But when she cautions him to have more discretion, that definitely filled me with foreboding. Listen to your sister!
Sadie: The second she said that I was like, "Welp, looks like Loras won't be getting injured at Dragonstone." Because clearly, it's going to be his sexuality that does him in in the end (though hopefully not fatally. I do love Loras.) And speaking of sex stuff, I did not like the way Melissandre was looking at Jon Snow, touching Jon Snow and asking Jon Snow whether or not he's a virgin. Did not like it one bit!
Hanh: Ha! Melisandre is the worst. It makes me wonder if she's into him on a personal level — that hair! that despair! — or if she wants to use him to make more shadow babies.
Sadie: I don't think Melisandre is interested in anything beyond R'hllor. Whatever her interest in Jon Snow is, it's definitely not without some nefarious intentions.
Hanh: She skeezes me out! I guess I only wondered because she smiled. It seemed like an uncharacteristic expression for her, as if she actually was being a person. (Silly me. It's probably just a glamour.) In contrast, Brienne was in a really bad mood, more so than usual this episode. It's one thing to be unhappy but don't be snippy with Pod! He's the best squire ever. The show was such a tease when Brienne and Pod were discussing Sansa, and then of course Sansa and Littlefinger are in the carriage. TEASE! Mance Rayder's death gives me hope that the show will have them meet up. They promised convergences!
Sadie: There's no way Brienne will succeed in "rescuing" Sansa from Littlefinger, but I am thinking she and Pod will now get to play a part in everything that goes down in Winterfell — especially if they really aren't doing Lady Stoneheart. Even though I am still holding out hope for her to make an appearance eventually!
Hanh: Game of Thrones has killed many hopes in me, including Lady Stoneheart, but I do have a few hopes for things to see this season. On my list: 1) Sansa in a killer wedding dress, 2) Daenerys keeping a stone face when Tyrion makes one of his wry/ribald comments, and 3) Arya changing her face. What about you?
Sadie: Oooh, I'm excited to see how Sansa's revenge plot plays out more than anything. But also for Tyrion to make it to Meereen and (fingers crossed) actually meet Daenerys. And also, everything about Dorne!
Hanh: Yes, how could I forget about Dorne? More on Dorne next time. For now, let's find out what our readers think.
Are you psyched for Dorne? Were you surprised by Mance's death? What are your hopes for the season? Which butt did it best? Share all in the comments below.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.
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