Hello, friends and bannermen. Game of Thrones' dangled the Stark family reunion before us and brought lusty Lysa to our screens. How did the episode 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 for "First of His Name" for a spoiler-free discussion.]
Hanh: Alas, no Stark family reunion this week, and although I'm disappointed, I can't say I'm terribly surprised. The show is a TEASE!
Sadie: I actually was a little surprised they didn't follow through with it! I mean, this show is constantly kick-you-in-the-crotch, spit-on-your-neck fantastic, but I thought after the past few episodes they'd throw us some sort of bone.
Hanh: Yeah, I guess it's nice that Bran at least knows that Jon is OK. But I wanted to see the direwolves frolicking together. After all the rape and near-rape of Meera, I wanted something sort of lighthearted.
Sadie: I just wanted one other living Stark (Rickon excluded, natch) to know that Bran's even alive. Everyone thinks he's dead!
Hanh: Well, Jon thinks he's alive. He just didn't see him. Or at least, that's the way it is on the show.
Sadie: True, because in the show Sam is a huge blabbermouth. (He'll make a horrible septon with discipline like that).
Hanh: As long as they keep the rest of the Starks apart, I guess it doesn't matter that he knows. He's stuck up North. Ha! Poor Rickon. The joke will be on us when GRRM writes a POV chapter for him and he eventually wins the Throne. NOT.
Sadie: They really do need to give us some Rickon POV eventually or else I don't really get why he's a character in the first place.
Hanh: True, although it seems that the show has been good about streamlining extraneous characters — subbing Gendry for Edric Storm, cutitng out Lancel's brother — they've kept Rickon around, so I wonder if the producers know something we don't about his future.
Sadie: It was really fun to see Bran finally take control of Hodor's body. Even though I felt so bad for Hodor when he looked down and saw blood on his hands.
Hanh: I feel a little odd about that whole thing though. Not just that Hodor was shocked by the blood, but that he was taken control of against his will. Maybe not against his will, but without his consent. Just because he seems simple doesn't mean he's not a person. I wonder how Summer likes being warged (if that's the proper terminology).
Sadie: I feel like the direwolves really are extensions of their owners (like daemons in His Dark Materials), but when Bran wargs into another human it's completely crossing the line. At least in this case, Bran did it under extreme duress and in a really tough situation. But if he does it again for fun, he's going on my list.
Hanh: Yes! I feel the same way about the direwolves for some reason. What do you think of Jojen's vision of his flaming hand?
Sadie: I was going to ask that same question! I really had no idea. Though obviously whenever I see fire in this world, I always get chills thinking about Mellisandre and R'hllor. There's just been so much in the past few episodes that I feel has broken so far from the books it's hard to speculate, which is also incredibly exciting as a fan.
Hanh: Is it how he'll die? It comes on the heels of his comments about death to Karl ... oh good point! Wouldn't it be funny if he were reborn as Azor Ahai? Since we know that Stannis has a fake flaming sword. But of course Jojen doesn't follow the Red God.
Sadie: I wasn't sure if the fire was a vision about his own end, Karl's end or The End. But I do know this, Karl's death was EPIC!
Hanh: It was also suspiciously like how Pod killed that Kingsguard. Is it just coincidence that Pod got to describe that killing this episode? Hmm. It was appropriate that one of Craster's women helped defeat Karl, but I kind of wanted all the women to tear him apart.
Sadie: Yeah, I definitely wanted the women to finish him off. There was no need for Jon to do it (except to deny women agency).
Hanh: Exactly. I get they're setting Jon up to be the leader, and thus he needs to kill the main villain, but the women only got power at the end when they refused the Night's Watch help and wanted the keep burned down.
Sadie: Which could have been what Jojen's vision was about. (Go ladiiiiezzzz!)
Hanh: I hope the White Walkers got all the kids they needed! But without the hoped-for reunion, we are now reset. Let's switch over to King's Landing. I do like this Tommen. Man, was it just that one conversation he had with Margaery, or are we to assume they've had more late-night chats? He acted like they were fast friends.
Sadie: I feel like Tommen has so little contact with anyone that isn't his mother that even just having one chat with someone would make them his BFF. The chat I was all about this week though was Cersei and Margaery's! That dig about "mother or sister" got me so hard. And it's just really see Margaery showing her claws a bit more than she did in the books, where she always played the ingénue.
Hanh: It was hilarious when she's all, "Oh, it never crossed my mind!" in one breath and "Mother" in the next. And Natalie Dormer has such a glint in her eye when she's scheming! No wonder Tommenn is smitten. This Margaery is far more fun than the book one for sure.
Sadie: Exactly! Like, I'm completely smitten with show Margaery. It helps that they're really letting her stand on her own and get her hands dirty, as opposed to book Margaery who was surrounded by a fleet of tittering maids and acted like she was at a perma-slumber party.
Hanh: Yeah, who needs those annoying maids when you have Olenna as your muse?
Sadie: I miss Olenna already. She should come back and take away all of Robin's screen time because that kid is just as insufferable as he was in the books (albeit in a totally different way).
Hanh: OMG! OK I was just thinking that although both of us are crazy cat ladies, we're the cool, social kind (keep telling yourself that, Hanh). Whereas Lysa Arryn is the hermit kind of crazy cat lady, and Robin is her cat!
Sadie: That is such a perfect analogy!
Hanh: Robin was almost as tall as Littlefinger! The kid grew. At least he wasn't nursing.
Sadie: Jesus! Now I have that image in my head. Thanks for that.
Hanh: I have to say, Littlefinger getting pawed/mauled/made out with by Lysa was gross and yet hilarious.
Sadie: It really did break my heart though when Sansa arrived and looked so happy at the thought of Lysa welcoming her. Then Lysa let the psycho out
Hanh: Oh, the look on Sansa's face! Yes, the book made it clear all along that Lysa didn't like her, but the show was cruel — making Lysa seem sweet at first and then turn stark raving mad with jealousy.
Sadie: Every time that girl gets lemon cakes, some drama always comes and spoils the mood.
Hanh: Sansa needs a drama-free lemon cake scene. How dare they taint such a sweet treat?
Sadie: One thing I especially loved about finally getting to the Eyrie was all the Moon Door foreshadowing. However, where was Marillion? Do you think they'll cut the singer altogether?
Hanh: First of all, what a little sh-- Robin is to toss the gift Littlefinger gave him out the Moon Door! But as far as Marillion, he won't be here because they used him earlier in the series. He had his tongue cut out by Joffrey for writing and performing a limerick about his parents.
Sadie: So who's going to take the fall (ha!) for Lysa's murder?! I can't see this going well for Littlefinger. He's lost his scapegoat!
Hanh: Right, that's an interesting twist. He's been untouchable before. I wonder how he'd escape that danger?
Sadie: I just hope that Littlefinger doesn't get put on trial, because I cannot take more of that this season. The show is so much duller with Tyrion locked up.
Hanh: Ugh seriously. This doesn't need to be Law & Hodor. (Although I'd totally watch that.)
Sadie: I don't know why, but I assume Hodor's partner would be Ice-T.
Hanh: Think of the rap sheets!
Sadie: But now that we're back to King's Landing, do you really think Cersei's going to go through with this wedding to Loras? She seems very calm about the whole thing.
Hanh: I was wondering about that. She was not the same Cersei that we've known ... what does she have up her elegant sleeve? Where can she send him to get horribly injured?
Sadie: She has to have a plan, right? There's no way she would willingly let two Tyrells into her family (let alone one into her bed) without a scheme. I'm really just waiting for Cersei's paranoia to set in. In the books, she went full-blown psycho after Joffrey's death. Her head seems to be squarely on her shoulders.
Hanh: Well, her wine-drinking continues unabated, so that may happen soon. Maybe they're saving it for next season as a reaction to Tywin's murder and Tyrion's escape. What did you make of that new conversation with Oberyn? I kept waiting for her to try and manipulate him or insult him. Do you think that trying to appeal to his paternal feelings was her way of getting him on her side for the trial?
Sadie: It was definitely some deft manipulation. The more maternal she appears, the more (hopefully) riled up he can be about the trial. I do find it hilarious that she even attempted to make any parallels between them and their losses, as if her family wasn't the reason Elia was murdered. Luckily, Oberyn's too smart for that nonsense. I feel like those sort of arrogant attempts to sway him are so transparent, it's probably half the reason he decides to be Tyrion's champion. Like, stop trying to play him like a fool.
Hanh: Yes, I did find this line of hers heartfelt though: "Everywhere in the world they hurt little girls."
Sadie: That line was rough! You really felt as though Cersei was talking about herself in a lot of ways.
Hanh: She had to have been! I mean, this is the second marriage she's had to do against her will.
Sadie: I'm just so ready to get to Myrcella and Dorne. I feel like the past few episodes have just dragged a little (as did parts of Book 4, I guess).
Hanh: I admit I was excited when they had the "previously on" scene with Myrcella. But I fear Myrcella will have to wait until next season. So sadly, Dorne will have to wait.
Sadie: And as we wait for Myrcella, you know what we get to tide us over? Flipping Dany sitting on a bench in Meereen for the next infinity seasons.
Sadie: I never thought I'd say this, but I actually can't wait for Jorah to be exposed! At least that will shake things up.
Hanh: Daario has his work cut out for him to seduce her quickly so I have something to care about. Yeah Jorah hasn't had much to do lately. He needs some excitement that banishment will give.
Sadie: Daario has seduced me, so it can't be too hard to get her on the line as well. It's not like she's surrounded by hot men with beards. Oh wait...
Hanh: Tee hee.
Sadie: It's always possible they'll save the banishment towards the end of the season, since he literally does nothing between that and kidnapping Tyrion.
Hanh: What do you think was up with that Arya and The Hound scene? They're breaking up my favorite comedy duo and making way for Pod and Brienne. I guess The Hound needs to give her a reason to go to Braavos for training.
Sadie: I kind of liked it! Just because when she named The Hound in her list, it was a nice reminder of who he was when we met him. He isn't a good dude. Also, the entire fight scene with Arya I found much more about mentoring and tough love than I found it mean-spirited.
Hanh: It was fun to see her dance again, but coming from an objective observer who loves fight scenes, she needs some real sparring practice. But will she take it as tough love? I don't think he's really winning her over. But it makes me wonder if someone with "armor and big f---ing sword" will take him down.
Sadie: Someone has to, I suppose. Though until I actually see a POV character laying eyes on The Hound's dead body in the book, I will continue to have suspicions about his status.
Hanh: Hmm, true true. He survived getting burned. He's a survivor.
Sadie: Pics or it didn't happen. Isn't that what the kids say?
Hanh: I can totally hear Maisie Williams say that. One last thing: That Brienne-Pod scene was way too short, but he does have the best smile.
Sadie: He's really a man of many talents, if you know what I mean (sleazy eyebrow wiggle).
Hanh: Maybe he and Brienne ... nah! That would be unsquirely of him.
Sadie: And though the scene was short, there's so much road ahead of them. We have a lot of scenes to look forward to. You never know, he did take off her armor. But I do hope that's all he takes off her.
What did you think of the episode and being denied a true Stark reunion? Do you think Littlefinger will be in danger after he kills Lysa? What were your favorite non-book scenes?
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO. Watch the latest episode here.