Hello, friends and bannermen. Sunday's Game of Thrones revealed the ruthless sides to a couple of characters we thought we knew well. 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 Sunday's episode "And Now His Watch Is Ended" for a spoiler-free discussion.]
Game of Thrones recap: Daenerys' emancipation conflagration
Hanh: I think this episode made me like Varys more. I was always kind of "meh" about him in the past. But his story to Tyrion about how he was made a eunuch that culminated in showing that he had caught the man who cut him, had him shipped overseas and trapped him in a crate — masterful! I think it was because Varys always seemed unshakeable, as if being a eunuch made him not feel. But that revelation made him human and creepy!
Sadie: The second that Varys started talking, I got goosebumps up my arms. I could tell something dark was coming, but who knew it'd be so awesome, too! I love seeing him be so bitter and proactive in his schemes, instead of just being a diddling, riddling eunuch. Good lord was he creepy!
Hanh: That has to be one of my favorite ways the show has adapted that bit of exposition.
Sadie: And did he sew his master's mouth shut? I think I'm going to have nightmares.
Hanh: Well, he is a sorcerer. Who knows what he could do if he could talk? I wonder how he feeds him though. Straw?
Sadie: Good point. Do they even have straws in Westeros?
Hanh: Well, they're more likely to have straws than an IV.
Sadie: True. Maybe he just throws food on his face and whatever seeps through the stitches is what he gets.
Hanh: This also leads to Varys' scene with Lady Olenna. How did you like that?
Sadie: I have so many questions about that! Because in the book, it's implied that Olenna was behind Joffrey's murder, which allowed Sansa's escape with Littlefinger. So I always imagined that Olenna and Littlefinger were aware and accepting of each other's plans, if not possibly in cahoots. But here, she and Varys(!) are firmly against Littlefinger carrying Sansa off. What gives?
Hanh: Hmm, good point. Well, even if Olenna had Joffrey murdered, I don't know if that necessarily meant she was working with Littlefinger to have Sansa escape. I'd have to re-read that part. Then again, there might be a slight shift on the show. Once Sansa marries Tyrion, the Tyrells might feel differently about how to help her. Or not.
Sadie: How would he know to plan the escape for the night of the wedding if he didn't have some notion there'd be an opportunity (ie: total chaos after Joffrey's death)?
Hanh: Oh, I just figured it's the king's wedding, plenty of opportunity for diversion. I'd pick that day.
Sadie: Very true. But Littlefinger was surely aware of her involvement, at the very least. If not, he's one great inferer.
Hanh: Or maybe there was more than one plot to kill Joffrey, but the Tyrells got to him first!
Sadie: It's possible Olenna lets Littlefinger take Sansa to shift the blame onto her, so that she and Margaery look as innocent as roses. (They are from Highgarden, after all).
Hanh: I definitely feel Olenna is more scheming, while Margaery may feel more friendly towards Sansa. But it's just politics in the end; nothing personal.
Sadie: God, Olenna was lecturing her poor niece (?) so harshly about her sad little craft. That woman's tongue is sharper than Ice (the sword)! I can never tell how much Margaery is playing the friend to serve a purpose and how much she genuinely cares about Sansa.
Hanh: I think it's both with Margaery. After a while though, there's only so much she can do for Sansa. I also loved how Olenna gives Varys a look when he says Sansa is "interesting." Ha!
Sadie: She was just saying what everybody already knows. Sansa is quite blah. At least until she gets out of King's Landing. But also, it became clear during Joffrey's macabre history tour that Margaery has figured out not only how to manipulate the king, but also his entire kingdom. Whoever would have thought we'd see people cheering for Joff?!
Hanh: King Joff! King Joff! King Joff!
Sadie: I half expected to see pigs flying in the background.
Hanh: It's a masterstroke to have improved his approval rating. Joffrey will certainly listen to her more now. Cersei never made him beloved to the people.
Sadie: As Tywin said so condescendingly, she's not as smart as she thinks she is. I do have to give Cersei props for at least TRYING to assert herself to her father and claim some respect (even if it failed miserably).
Hanh: Right. It's a pathetic scene that echoes Tyrion's earlier scene. She asks daddy why he doesn't trust her more, while Tyrion basically asks for praise. Daddy is not warm and fuzzy!
Sadie: The only child Tywin had that he ever loved was Jaime and now even he is a sniveling little mess. But one I love oh so dearly.
Hanh: Yes! Although he's not bald, at least the show didn't shy away from actually doing the full bit with the hand cut off and tied around his neck. They even made him drink horse urine!
Sadie: The contrast between last week's ending, when Jaime still had so much fight in him, to this one where's he's literally covered in mud and drinking piss was really harsh. Even Ke$ha stopped drinking urine. I don't know how Jaime got one gulp down.
Hanh: Right. They didn't show him starving/parched enough over time for me to buy that he would chug that down.
Sadie: Agreed. But I think they've done an excellent job of depicting Jaime and Brienne's growing bond in such a short time. When she tried to go defend him even though she was still bound: platonic swoon! I was really worried with how their friendship would be portrayed on the show and if it'd be able to capture the full depth and nuances. But I feel so far they've surpassed my expectations.
Hanh: Yes, and they did leave it hanging when she asks him why he lied to help her. You could see him asking himself the same question.
Sadie: I don't think he ever fully understands his feelings towards her until he gives her Oathkeeper (which I can't wait to see!)
Hanh: I wish this were a longer season. There are a lot of things from Book 3 that I hope they include this season, but I don't want it rushed. But at least there will be a bear!
Sadie: Yes! Brienne vs. The Bear would make such a good children's book, I think.But OK, we've put it off enough. It's probably time we talking about the Queen B of the episode, none other than Miss Daenerys "Stormborn" Targaryen, herself.
Hanh: It was fine the way they handled the scene, but I was kind of disappointed. Of course from reading it, I knew it would be much more epic and gory, so this felt just OK
Sadie: Really? I absolutely loved it. Daenerys has spent far too long being uncertain or betrayed or entitled. For me, it was great seeing her really take charge of a situation. Everyone in Westeros seems to be stumbling around and hitting obstacles left and right, but here Daenerys proved that she's more in control than any of the self-proclaimed "Kings" back in the Seven Kingdoms
Hanh: I have no issue with her actions at all. I only have issue about the scale.
Sadie: Just with the lack of maiming?
Hanh: Yes, I'm far more bloodthirsty I guess. And I remember when reading the scene I was cringing, but while watching it ... not so much.
Sadie: That's true. And I do feel as though it could have used more gruesome close-ups on the slaver's cripsed face.
Hanh: Yes. Make me feel his pain. This is paid cable after all. Also, her instructions in both the book and on the show — about who they should kill — I always felt were a little vague. Wouldn't more innocents die that way?
Sadie: Yeah, she might be in control -- and a total G -- but she's not the brightest or most articulate.
Hanh: Right. I hope the Unsullied are good with nuance. Genies aren't necessarily. You have to be careful about language around them. Literal SOBs! I do like her tossing away the whip at the end though.
Sadie: It was so melodramatic fabulous.
Hanh: Great overhead shot off the 8,000 Unsullied.
Sadie: I can't believe this is only the beginning of her army! She hasn't even picked up all the stragglers, yet.
Hanh: Do you mean the next city where she frees those slaves?
Sadie: That and they didn't show the citizens of Astapor who follow her, as well. Daenerys has more fans that One Direction! She's like the Grateful Dead of Westeros. Everyone just drops what they're doing and follows her around.
Hanh: If she's lucky, she'll get a Ben & Jerry's flavor named after her.
Sadie: Dragon Eggs! It'd be vanilla with Red Hots in it or something
Hanh: Blood of the dragon topping (cherry hot fudge). Maybe a dragon-fried topping.
Sadie: We should trademark this now so that when Ben & Jerry's comes knocking, we can get some back end.
Hanh: Last time we chatted, you were confused about what's going on with Theon. Since I know what's happening, I don't want to spoil it for you. What do you think about what happened in this episode though?
Sadie: Well, I (finally) remembered that Theon was being held captive by Ramsay, so that "bastard" comment all a sudden was much more appreciated. And man, that guy is sick! To allow Theon to think he's escaping, just to bring him back and torture him more -- talk about crushing someone's dreams!
Hanh: Tee hee! Yes. It is the ultimate in mindf--- . But I'm trying to figure out if there's more to it than that. He got Theon talking to the point that he expressed remorse about killing those two boys.
Sadie: Yeah, I considered that, as well. It's a genius, but somewhat risky, interrogation technique if it was planned that way.Too bad Ramsay Bolton isn't exactly the person on the Stark side I'd want to have that information first He puts the bastard in bastard-born.
Hanh: I love the actor though. He was on the British series Misfits. And despite his actions, I wonder if he was totally unaffected by Theon's story. He got to know his captive pretty well.
Sadie: Oh, he's absolutely adorable. It gives me very conflicting feelings.
Hanh: Ha! Well yes, Game of Thrones does that with the casting.
Sadie: I do have to say, there are a lot of Theon haters out there - probably enough to rival Joffrey haters -- but if they didn't feel for the man when he confessed his real father died at King's Landing, they are clearly cylons. But not skinjobs, because even those are capable of love.
Hanh: Right. If possible, Theon had it worse than Jon Snow: living in sort of a limbo existence, not accepted fully by anyone. At least Jon Snow looks like Robb (and in the books, like Arya). There's no denying blood ties there. I can't remember what age Theon was brought to Winterfell, but he can't have really been considered a brother, not like Jon was. So he's always been an interloper.
Sadie: He didn't come to Winterfell until he was 10, which couldn't have been easy! Especially because we know how well Catelyn takes to children she didn't personally birth.
Hanh: Yeah, people do hate their Joffrey and Theon. They're two of many villains that make the series for me.
Sadie: Agreed. This is very much a villain-driven series. Though, I could always do without Melissandre.
Hanh: I hate her. So smug. There's only one more tiny thing I wanted to ask you: Did Gendry suddenly grow a mustache? I actually laughed out loud when I saw it.
Sadie: Now, we get into the important stuff! I do believe he did. He's very set on becoming a Man, which apparently means poorly grown facial hair.
Hanh: Seriously, I half-expected Arya to give him grief over it. And then he drank that rum.
Sadie: That's what real men do? Or at least Tom Selleck on vacation.
Hanh: He WISHES he had Selleck's 'stache.
Sadie: Also, since we haven't heard a peep about Edric Storm, I'm worrying they're going to consolidate his role into Gendry's, which doesn't bode to well for his future.
Hanh: Wait, do you mean you think Melisandre is going to try and fetch Gendry instead? Ugh, I hope not.
Sadie: I have a very bad feeling that's exactly what's coming. They already consolidated Willas and Loras' roles. Why not Edric and Gendry's too? (The answer: to keep those abs away from her fire.)
Hanh: I mean, I'm not thrilled with them making amalgam Bloody Mummer guy Locke, but it's not like Vargo Hoat is a favorite of mine anyway. Willas wasn't ever really
seen, and I think since the wedding to him never went through, they might as well fake-engage Sansa to Loras instead. I understand why even Lancel's brother was done away with on the show. I guess I wouldn't put it past the show to also do away with Edric.
Sadie: He is kind of a snot and wouldn't be missed.
Hanh: Which? Edric? I thought he was sweet. He liked to read!
Sadie: Look, I'm the type of girl with a weakness for arrogant, lovable jerks, so Edric's right up my alley. But there's no denying he's just a tad entitled and cocky. He is very much Robert's son, after all. I'm not saying I wanted him dead! Just that, he's not the most sympathetic character in the series.Also, I can't believe I just referred to a child as "right up my alley."
Hanh: Think of the possible dark-haired British fellows they could have cast to play him! OK, let's see what the readers think. Will Gendry and Edric become one character? Do you care if they do?
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO. Check out more from inside the episode: