Hello, friends and bannermen. Game of Thrones kicked off Season 3 in high style with "Valar Dohaeris" on Sunday. 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!).
Game of Thrones recap: Jon Snow goes wild!
[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 "Valar Dohaeris" for a spoiler-free discussion.]
Sadie: I was disappointed with the way they handled Tyrion's "disfigurement." He wasn't mangled it all! It's more of a sexy Michael K. Williams look. I understand not losing the nose, but even the scar wasn't bad.
Hanh: But Cersei did have that line: "They said you lost your nose, but it's not as gruesome as all that."
Sadie: I thought that was a cute nod to the fans of the books.
Hanh: I have friends who read the books and are just disappointed in Tyrion in general because he's not ugly enough. But I'm OK with that because TV is a visual medium after all. You have to make some concessions for adaptations.
Sadie: I just wish he looked a little more banged up, even if they were superficial wounds that would heal because it makes his whining afterwards much less sympathetic. Just compare Tyrion to Davos! That man looked like he was in a battle.
Hanh: And Davos was just exposed to the sun. His face was kind of stomach-turning. I'd rather look at Tyrion. Beyond that, what also bothered me was that Jon Snow's reason why he told Mance Rayder he wanted to join the wildings was different.
Hanh: In the books, he implied he was bitter because of the different (poor) treatment he received as a bastard compared to his true-born siblings. Whereas on the show, he said it was about the Night's Watch turning a blind eye to Craster's sacrifice of his baby boys. I think it lost some of the impact.
Sadie: Definitely. Especially because before Jon told his story, he made Mance share the reason he fled the Watch. For Mance, it was the simple reason of wanting to wear a different cloak, rather than the same black one as everyone else. The cloak then became this amazingly weighted symbolic object, to which the show, once again, nodded when Mance told Jon that they needed to get him a new cloak. But people who hadn't read the books wouldn't understand how important that was in Jon's journey.
Hanh: Well, a turncloak hasn't always been a nickname for a traitor. But it's true that there's a little bit of shorthand on the show because we don't know the characters' inner thoughts, which we get from their P.O.V. chapters in the book. And I also have to say I was disappointed that Ser Barristan Selmy wasn't undercover as Arstan when we first meet him on the show.
Sadie: Ugh. Me too!
Hanh: I do understand why they did that, but at the same time, the mystery of this old dude being a great fighter was awesome in the books.
Sadie: Hopefully, since they cut right to the chase that just means they'll really dig into the questions surrounding his motivations, which are just as intriguing.
Hanh: It's funny though. Jorah certainly seems a little threatened by having the great Ser Barristan part of Daenerys' queensguard. Jorah, you have no chance! She is not for the likes of you!
Sadie: Jorah just doesn't like anyone with a Y chromosome talking to Dany. I kind of wish she was supposed to be with him though! They made Jorah far too attractive in the series.
Hanh: I love Iain Glen, but Jorah is so preachy!
Sadie: He could preach to me all day with those eyes. ... Plus, I always thought of "The Bear and the Maiden Fair" as a metaphor for them. And in the end, the bear gets his maiden.
Defining Game of Thrones A to Zorse
Hanh: Ha! So I assume you wanted Mary to have him on Downton Abbey?
Sadie: Don't make me chose between Iain Glen and Dan Stevens. It's impossible! Another story line that was drastically changed from the books was with Margaery Tyrell. How did you feel about that?
Hanh: I love how British actors do all projects. There's so much overlap with all of these shows. I'm actually happy about that. Margaery here is far more fleshed-out. Double entendre!
Sadie: Well played! I really appreciate how all the subtle hints that involved the Tyrells and Renly are addressed head-on in the series. There's no question in the show about Renly and Loras' relationship.
Hanh: Yes, and I do appreciate that. A purist friend of mine who read the books was angry. He was like, "I like that ambiguity of not knowing." But back to Margaery. In the books, I felt she was just pushed to the background. A pawn. But to show that she was raised to be a courtly player and that she is strong, I like that. She knows politics.
Sadie: She's a perfect match for Joffrey in a way. I feel like Margaery's cunning was hinted at in the books, especially in her lunch with Lady Olenna and Sansa. But now there's no question. She's just as power-hungry as Cersei.
Hanh: Yes, we'll see about that! I mean, he does seem intrigued by the fact that she had the courage to *gasp* leave the litter and venture out into Flea Bottom and the unwashed masses. He's like, "Wait, peasants LIKE you?" What a concept.
Sadie: I think it also highlighted his cowardice.
Hanh: But yes, the Lady Olenna scene from the book did show that she took Sansa's words to heart and decided to strategize from there.
Sadie: Even if he had one million guards, he'd never walk the streets out of fear.
Hanh: It is something in general that I have to say I prefer in the TV series versus the books. There are far more stronger represenations of women beyond just Cat, Arya and Brienne. Margaery, the girl who was supposed to be Jeyne Westerling (Talisa) and even Shae are far more sharp, brave and appealing on the show.
Sadie: I remember when the series first debuted, people declared women would hate it because of its "anti-feminist" themes, but I agree with you completely. It's really the women who are running the show, quite often.
Hanh: Right! There was that lady who said it was only the violence and the sex we would tune in for because we're dumb females. That said though, I would love to get Dany's claw (tooth?) necklace. Ha!
Sadie: I was thinking the exact same thing!
Hanh: Did you notice that there were two around her neck and then later just one?
Sadie: My theory is that the other one is hanging from her back. Possibly I spent way too much time thinking about this, probably because I needed to distract myself from a man's nipple being cut off!
Hanh: Best. Mutilation. Ever. I was so happy they left that in.
Sadie: I thought the book was bad with him, "sawing back and forth," but actually seeing it was a whole different story.
Hanh: Right, and I watched it twice. They cut away so we didn't see it actually happen, just the before and after. But it was so artfully done, that I felt like I witnessed the whole thing.
Sadie: There are a lot of great mutilations in this show. That could be a story all on its own. With Tyrion's ranked as the worst.
Hanh: Worst as in most disappointing. Wah wah. Oh, but speaking of Tyrion, how tough was it to watch him ask his dad for approval? Poor Halfman!
Sadie: It was the first time we really saw how vulnerable Tyrion can be. And Tywin is no joke! In the book series, he didn't seem quite so bad. He sat at Tyrion's bedside after Blackwater, but now on the show — he couldn't even feign worry.
Hanh: Saying that Tyrion spent most of the time drinking and whoring — so unfair!
Sadie: Well, to be fair, Tyrion has spent quite a bit time whoring. Just not paying for it!
Hanh: LOL. But then to say he basically blamed Tyrion for his mom's death. That's crazy. It does make me wonder though, that if Tywin loved his wife so much, was he a more smiley man when she was alive?
Sadie: Lannisters, while sharp of wit, are not always the brightest or most rational. I like to imagine so. It's clear he loves his other children very much... in his own way.
Hanh: Cersei is the only one I don't have much sympathy for. I feel like she's using Jaime.
Sadie: I agree. The only person Cersei cares about is herself. I feel the only reason she's so caring and protective of Joffrey is because she can't be king, so she uses him to get power.
Hanh: But she did care about Tommen. She was about to kill herself and him when she thought Stannis was going to conquer them, which I guess is as maternal as it gets on Game of Thrones, but I still don't like her.
Sadie: I'd worry about your mental state if you did like her.
Hanh: Hey, we all love a good villain, but Joffrey is No. 1 and his mom is a pale comparison. Long live King Joffrey! (At least until Season 4.)
Sadie: There was just one other thing that was bugging me. The survivor that Robb and Talisa found in the beginning of the episode. Did he say his name was Qyburn? Or did I mishear?
Hanh: It certainly sounded like it! But he was so near death I couldn't hear. I wanted to shake him and say, "Enunciate! I need to know who you are!"
Sadie: If the Starks have Qyburn, that changes everything. How, I'm not quite sure though.
Hanh: Well, it's possible it's just the name being reused. He might not be the Qyburn from the books. But he was wearing robes...
Sadie: Should we open it up to our readers to guess?
Hanh: Yeah, this is too much for my poor feminine head to puzzle out. Let's get their theories.
Should Tyrion have lost his nose? Did Jon Snow have better reasons to turn his cloak? Do you approve of the stronger interpretation of women on the TV series? Is Cersei the worst? Do you think the survivor is Qyburn? Do you have any other issues in adaptation?
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.