Hello, friends and bannermen. On Sunday's Game of Thrones, Daenerys met an old friend, Sansa stole something and Gilly had a bad night this time. 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 "The Gift" for a spoiler-free discussion.]
Hanh: Well, they did it! We finally got to see Tyrion meet Daenerys, and although it was brief, the actual first encounter met my expectations as far as Tyrion saying a very typical Tyrion thing, and Dany being a bit nonplused.
Sadie: There were a lot of things that irked me in this episode, but the way that played out was not one of them! I thought it was awesome the ways in which Jorah and Tyrion each took their fates into their own hands and made the encounter with Dany happen. Though, I had hoped for a bit of a softer reaction from the Khaleesi when her old friend revealed himself. The show has deviated so far from the books, I had been hoping a Jorah-Dany reconciliation might be next!
Hanh: Yes, I would have thought with all the misfortune Dany has been through that at least she would've welcomed a familiar face. Or if not completely embrace his return, at least be confused about her feelings. And yes, Tyrion lying about his fighting skills, then beating up that guy — that was masterful. I can't wait to see further interactions between Tyrion and Daenerys. I really wonder which direction they will take.
Sadie: Dany's been through a lot recently and clearly has every right to be distrusting of new faces, particularly a Lannister's. But I'm really rooting for her to let Tyrion into her inner circle. Why kill of Ser Barristan if not to make room for Tyrion as the Westerosi expert in her council?
Hanh: Yep, the insider knowledge he can provide would be invaluable. Plus: He really did kill his father, so that's a pretty good sign that he's not working with the Lannisters. If Daener-ion (ha!) do work together though, I hope Tyrion won't ever be faced with choosing between Dany and his better family members like Jaime. I have high hopes for this plot line, especially with three more episodes left!
Sadie: Same! Especially since the show is likely still leading to Dany flying off with Drogon and I am much more intrigued to see what Tyrion does next if he's already set up in Mereen rather than him and Jorah cavorting with the Second Sons.
Hanh: I still want to see Tyrion flying off with her, but I know that's only in my dreams. But true, not sure what would be next with him. Speaking of... not sure what's next for Daario. I did not expect him to propose marriage to Daenerys!
Sadie: Ugh. I'm ready for him to go at this point. He's served his purpose in my mind. Everything he said in bed with Dany rubbed me the wrong way, since I felt like a lot of the context was lost in translation. For instance, he mentioned the killings by the Sons of the Harpy have stopped, which would have been an important detail had Dany still made Hizdahr promise to stop them to prove their union was valuable. Then, Daario tried to provoke her into killing the leaders of the most prominent families, which would have seemed like a smart plan in the books, but just came off foolish and brash here. Daario was originally an interesting counterpoint to Hizdahr, but by making Hizdahr less of a power force and threat, it's also weakened Daario's importance.
Hanh: Context is everything. This is when it's so clear how difficult it is to service this many story lines with the time they're given. Kind of like when Ygritte died. That season, they hadn't spent enough time on her for me to really feel sad when she finally died. Agreed that Daario's suggestion sounds insane if the Sons of the Harpy killings stopped spontaneously. Any allusion to there still being an atmosphere of distrust or maybe other unrest would have been appreciated. He was used for exposition and to plant that one seed for the future. Annoying.
Sadie: Sadly, even this was one of the least annoying aspects of the episode. Between Tyene's topless interaction with Bronn, the horribly disappointing way Sansa's story line is playing out and the gratuitous near-rape of Gilly, I'm about at my wit's end with this show.
Hanh: OK, let's take it in that order. What the eff was that with Tyene? I liked hearing Bronn sing again (they're really playing with Jerome Flynn's singing past) and the fact that they addressed the poison in his cut, but that was it. Even her sisters seemed over it, like, "Oh, there goes Tyene again with her cat-and-mouse seductive poison play." And in the end, there was no point to that scene whatsoever!
Sadie: Without even getting into the terrible way this show exploits women, what was the point in poisoning a character to cure him right away? That's just bad storytelling. And then, to add in the disgustingly blatant voyeurism of a young woman's body and making Tyene's power come from her sexuality instead of her skills or cunning is such a betrayal of everything the Sand Snakes stood for. At this point, I just wish they had already been locked up and never got to grace the screen rather than have their legacy be tarnished in this fashion.
Hanh: Yes, completely baffling scene altogether. Three strikes. I am very sadly over them.
Sadie: Same. And then what the @$%& are they doing to poor Sansa? Why turn her into a powerless victim in this episode? Why have her discuss how she is raped EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT? This is not the empowering story I was hoping for. And for one, allowing her to be treated this way is not a smart move for Roose Bolton, who hopes to use Sansa to strengthen loyalty. It makes no sense to treat the actual heir of Winterfell the same way Ramsay treated the well-known fraud heir in the books.So not only is this plot upsetting, but it also doesn't even make sense.
Hanh: That detail from the books about Jeyne Poole being imprisoned and then raped nightly was definitely something I was hoping would be missing on the show. It's like they took out all the best bits and only kept the worst from that plot. AND it's like a rehash of Joffrey showing Sansa Ned's head with Ramsay showing her the flayed old woman. I don't know what the passage of time has been, but even Sansa herself is inconsistent. She's trapped, subjected to tortures and completely falling apart — and yet she still talks back to Ramsay and then she steals that tool (a corkscrew? an awl?), which I take it to mean that she'll either use to stab Ramsay, pick the lock to get out of her room or both.
Sadie: Sansa getting a weapon hopefully means her seemingly endless torture will be over soon and that we'll get to see another of true empowerment come from Westeros' apparent whipping girl. And poor Gilly! What are the showrunners thinking? They follow up Sansa's sexual assault by fabricating yet another non-book rape when Gilly is nearly assaulted by members of the Night's Watch.
Hanh: Rape or near-rape should not be a go-to plot! Really, can they not think of anything better?
Sadie: Last week, I was one of the defenders of the show, but now I'm sadly joining the voices of dissent. GRRM's books are violent and bleak, but even he did not subject Sansa or Gilly to such acts.
Hanh: And then she asks Sam to walk away the next time she's about to be raped? NOOOOO. No next time. Please. We've had enough.
Sadie: Totally! And by having the near-rape be what inspires Gilly and Sam to consummate their relationship turns what was a moment of intimacy into something more like a gratitude-f--- for not being a rapist. Also, maybe viewers would have cared more about Aemon's death had we spent all that precious rape screen time on him rather than yet another sexual assault. It was a disservice to so many characters and to the audience, all of whom deserve better.
Hanh: Yes, there was a lot about Aemon's last ramblings and his warnings to Gilly to take Little Sam south that felt important yet totally overshadowed by the manufactured rape drama. One, another look into Maester Aemon's past, especially being the older brother to Aegon "Egg" Targaryen is always fascinating. Two, poor Sam has been given short shrift this season since this is when he was supposed to go on his journey overseas to forge his maester's chain in the books, but it looks like that may be set up to happen next season judging by Aemon's urgings to head south and Gilly's earlier commentary about how Sam is not a fighter. Plus: Watchers on the Wall has interesting casting news here that looks like we'll be delving into Sam's family life. So, yeah, less rape, more character development please.
Sadie: After this episode, how are you feeling towards the show overall?
Hanh: Somewhat discouraged, but since there are three episodes left, I really am holding out hope for what they do next. The most recent episodes have been rough for sure, but I'm really hoping that the action we know will happen in the books or by foreshadowing will take place. Also, with this much outcry from fans, maybe the writers will take a hard look at what they have planned for next season. I do not think fans should dictate plot (e.g. 'shipping and who should die), but I think that our concerns are valid in ways that they may have not considered before, regarding the deplorable depiction of women especially. But we still have lots to go — Jon Snow's visit to Hardhome and probable mutiny; Cersei's humiliation; and Dany on a dragon of course. How about you?
Sadie: Same. I'm not considering quitting by any means, but I have lost my unwavering devotion and rose-colored glasses. I would love to believe that the showrunners will take all the fan outcry into consideration, but people have been complaining about the way women and sexual assault are treated on this show since Season 1 and nothing has changed. So now I'll keep watching, but I'm coming to expect the worst of this show, which is disappointing.
Hanh: And as horrible as it may sound, one deviation from the book I am supporting is this sick twist with Melisandre suggesting to Stannis to kill Shireen. I totally do not want that to happen, but it does bring home the idea of sacrifice and what they're willing to do in the name of R'hllor and winning the throne. We care so much more if Shireen is involved than some baby we never met in the books.
Sadie: God, I completely forgot about poor Shireen! Women really did not have it great in Sunday's episode, even the young ones. Though I am totally with you on this front. Melisandre burning Shireen is absolutely horrible, but at least it will push Stannis' development in a more complicated direction. I'm just hoping we don't have to witness much of her actual death. But it is Game of Thrones, so who knows.
Hanh: On that grim note, let's see what our readers thought of the episode!
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.
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