Hello, friends and bannermen. On Sunday's Game of Thrones, we got to meet the official Faith Militant and the Sand Snakes! 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 postmortem for "Sons of the Harpy" for a spoiler-free discussion.]
Hanh: Before diving in, let's take all discussion of Grey Worm's and Ser Barristan's heroic falls to their postmortem here. If either of them dies, that will be another show casualty of a character still alive in the books. The show is getting bloodthirsty! But along those lines... the Sparrows have officially (with Cersei's blessing, that is) descended upon King's Landing, and it ain't pretty. I really like how the show decided to make Lancel into a physically strong part of the Faith Militant instead of that broken old man he had become in the books.
Sadie: Yes! Lancel is much more dynamic in this version, which once again proves just how adept the show is at utilizing previous characters from the story in new and exciting ways. But I couldn't help but stifle a laugh when Lancel sat up to reveal he had just gotten the sigil engraved on his forehead. It gave me intense Colin Farrell as Bullseye flashbacks. But other than that brief moment, I found the Faith Militant absolutely terrifying.
Hanh: OMG! I must have blocked that out of my memory, but now I can't unsee it.
Sadie: You're welcome. Because that will now haunt you for the rest of the season.
Hanh: But you're right. There's something about seeing the Faith Militant at work, slapping down whores and johns (all that nakedness!) that was truly scary. And, of course, the thing that is frightening me the most is that Loras has been targeted. Romping around with Olyvar so blatantly was foreshadowing, and it makes sense that Loras' fate be more immediately in danger, rather than a secondhand account of his journey at the siege of Dragonstone and then being doused by boiling oil, possibly lingering in excruciating pain as in the books. Since this happens off-page, we're left wondering if it's all a lie, and he's still alive, plotting to get back at Cersei. But here, it seems that Game of Thrones is totally going to kill him, yeah?
Sadie: I can't decide! I've been thinking about that a lot and it's hard to tell. Obviously in the books, we're led to assume he's going to die, but it's never confirmed — an ambiguity facilitated by the fact that he's so far away. But since he's still in King's Landing on the show, is that to make his death that much more visceral and powerful? Or to show us how he manages to finagle his way out of the situation? Game of Thrones' track record tells me all signs point to Loras dying, but I'll miss the Knight of Flowers!
Hanh: Yeah, I don't want to believe it, but we've been promised multiple deaths of characters who are still alive in the books. The best possible candidates have to be ones who have weird, meandering plots who are lost somewhere off the page, like we already saw with Mance. Otherwise, that would really eff up the main trajectory of the story. This would also light a fire under Margaery's butt to get back at Cersei.
Sadie: Totally! I think a major point that's been on every readers' minds is how the Cersei-Margaery rivalry will go down since the Kettleblacks aren't a thing in the show. And to be honest, I find dragging Margaery's brother into it a much more engaging story line than relying on the spying of one lover to help you convince another lover to frame Margaery for adultery. However, I am sad we're going to miss out on Cersei's bisexual subplot. I found her relationship with Taena to be oddly sweet and the show hasn't featured a lot of lesbian relationships or interactions that weren't purely for male arousal.
Hanh: Right, and it would have shown a different side of her, whether or not she uses sex just for her own ends or if there's something more. Then again, if she and Taena had something on the show, that would just be too much fodder for the Sparrows. Incest and adultery are enough for now. Margaery really intrigues me this season. Her having a real relationship with Tommen makes her scheming far more effective. He seems so befuddled about what to do when he's stopped by the Sparrows on the steps.
Sadie: I like how to compensate for the fact that they aged Tommen up a lot, they just made him really, really naive. He could get away with being so blind to everything that was going on in the books because he was a child. But here, Tommen is so painfully daft he should be hanging out with Lollys.
Hanh: Ha! But it's also kind of sweet to see that there's a bastion of purity and innocence on the show. That doesn't bode well for his future, but oh well. Let's just hope Ser Pounce will watch out for him.
Hanh: Moving on... We finally met the Sand Snakes, and... I'm sure you have thoughts.
Sadie: I was a die-hard Sand Snakes fan in the books and could not wait to see these complex, badass, interesting women in action. But instead of that, all we got was a cartoonishly evil squad of one-dimensional villains. They seemed like they belonged more in a Bond movie than in Westeros. I don't get it at all and am frankly, still reeling a little bit. Like, how do you mess up characters as awesome as the Sand Snakes? It seems impossible.
Hanh: I'm really hoping that if I give them the benefit of the doubt that it'll pay off. Like Tyrion's plot has seen such little screentime beyond that first episode, so there may just be too many characters they're trying to service in too little time. That said, I did wish that maybe the show waited to truly introduce them in a meaty way. Killing that captain served no purpose! Also, scorpions? All that was missing was wringing hands and evil laughter. The one thing I was OK with was making them all look similar. It was fun in the books to have the three main Sand Snakes look wildly different, but it may have played out even more cartoonish on the show, as if they were wearing different villain costumes
Sadie: Yeah, I think the casting was fine. But the writing made it seem like this story line was going to end with Jaime ripping of Ellaria's mask and her screaming: "I would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for you and your meddling dog!" I do think there is plenty of time for the show to right this ship. I'm just hoping they do it ASAP.
Hanh: Yes, I hope so. What I mainly want to see are the differences in the three sisters, but also how they have that Oberyn genetic bond. And of course I want to see them really kick ass in a fight... not just torture a dude buried in the sand. Doesn't seem sporting (reminds me of The Princess Bride).
Hanh: Nevertheless, despite my disappointment with the Sand Snakes, I was happy with the episode overall. That Sons of the Harpy attack in Meereen in which Dany may have lost her two best fighters and the rise of the Faith Militant gave me enough thrills to balance it out. And it's only Episode 4! I have a feeling things are about to get far more action-packed and effed up from here on out.
Do you think Loras is doomed? How did you like the Sand Snakes? What did you think of Sansa's comments about Rhaegar? And wasn't it a treat to see Ser Barristan fight ? Weigh in with you comments below!
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.
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