Hello people of the 7 realms and welcome to our first official Game of Thrones discussion thread! I know, it's been 4 years and I'm just getting around to it. We have certainly had our lengthy discussions in the weekly posts, but it felt like it was past time to give it its own space. Depending on my available time and the content of the episode, I may or may not include commentary within the post itself. We'll play it by ear!
A little background on my level of exposure to the world of Ice and Fire. I have read all 5 books in George R. R. Martin's sweeping saga, including the latest "intentionally leaked" chapter from the currently unreleased Winds of Winter. And of course, my obsession with the show is reaching LOST levels of dedication as I have rewatched it several times. I'm fairly good at not spoiling large events coming in the books. There may be a tease here and there, but nothing that would take away from your surprise of any coming big events. Like LOST, I will try to bring my encyclopedic knowledge of the characters, history and locales of the expansive saga to these discussions as I know it can be helpful to casual watchers (even readers as it's tough to remember everything. I'm guilty of that too!) And, after things air in the show, I like to compare how it was similar or different to the books.
For book readers, I won't forget about you as I'm always itching to look ahead too. I will clearly distinguish in the post between TV Thoughts and Book Thoughts. I ask that anyone that comments in the comment section, please do the same. In the past we've made it very clear in commentary when we're about to discuss Book Spoilers so that TV Readers can avert their eyes and keep reading. Even in my spoiler sections, I still try to be vague (using abbreviations where possible) in case wandering eyes accidentally view something.
Sound good? Good! I have a few thoughts on the premiere, so I'll dive into those and then we'll get into the major discussion below! Did I even mention I thought this premiere was fantastic!? Well, I did now! Here we go.
- We got a cold open! There was one last season with Sam running from the White Walker battle. But the last one before that was in the series premiere with the Night's Watch encountering a White Walker. This one continued the theme of the Lannister Family's defeat of the Starks. Tywin forged 2 swords from Ned Stark's ICE (the sword that was used to take Ned's head as well). One was made for Ser Jaime Lannister. The other? Well, you'll have to wait and see. Mr. Hibberd at EW thought that the wolf's skin thrown onto the fire was Robb Stark's direwolf. That doesn't make much sense since the head was removed and sewn onto Robb's corpse. I think this was just more symbolic of taking the Starks off the game board for now. And of course, we should all be familiar with the Lannister song at this point as the "Rains of Castermere" played in the background.
- Jaime's rejection of his father's offer of Casterly Rock was directly from the books. Though, I can't remember if this was at the end of book 3 or book 4 (thinking more about it, I'm 100% certain it was in book 3). Jaime didn't return to King's Landing until near the very end of the 3rd book. I do know that this season more than ever we might be mixing elements of book 3, 4 AND 5 (since 5 has a lot of parallel stories to book 4). It's awesome that the show has come that far, but as always, it's scary because GRRM is most definitely not going to be able to keep up at this point. Jaime's reason for wanting to stay is 2-fold. He doesn't want to break another oath for his father, and the other is Cersei. There's a reason he joined the Gold Cloaks in the first place. It kept her close to Cersei.
- Of course, Cersei is giving Jaime a rather cold should since he has returned to King's Landing. She was pretty blunt about it too. She claims to have had a rough time since he's gone and blames him for helping to start a war and getting captured. The missing hand doesn't help matters either! He is no longer the master swordsman that he once was!
- We had our first Father/Son scene in Jaime and Joffrey having a wonderful discussion. Of course, only one of them possessed the knowledge of their actual family ties. Joffrey just decided to further insult his uncle for his failures in battle and praise his own "success" in keeping Kings Landing safe. It is key to note the White Book, possessing all of the tales of the Gold Cloaks over the years. This book, I'm pretty certain, was not revealed until book 4 on the show. But, since Jaime is in town early, it makes sense to show it. Besides being ammunition for Joffrey, it really goes to show Jaime's conflict of being the man he has been for awhile (Cersei and Tywin's pet) to the man he may aspire to be. We'll see how things go!
- The introduction of Oberyn Martell was fantastic. Though, I think my favorite part of the whole sequence was Bronn trying to call out the banners and came up with, "Yellow Balls?" The grand entrance of the Dornish people was a diversion of Oberyn (aka "The Red Viper") quietly enterting the town with his bastard woman Ellaria Sand. We'll skip past all of the sexposition, except I will note that the Viper was not hinted at as being bi-sexual in the books. So, this is just another level that they're adding to his character. I will say that he certainly is a fan favorite character and for good reason! I'm excited for what's to come.
- About his motivations, we should discuss this as it gets into one of the long running theories of book readers. They FINALLY started bringing up some key moments from the books that need to be portrayed. Elia Martell was married to Rhaegar Targaryan. Rhaegar was the Mad King's son (and Dany's brother). Rhaegar ran off with another woman (I never heard it brought up this way) which spawned Robert Baratheon's war. This other woman was Llyana Stark, Ned's sister who was promised to Robert for marriage. Anyway, when Tywin Lannister sacked King's Landing in Robert Baratheon's name, some major events happened. Obviously, Jaime Lannister stabbed the Mad King in the back when he gave the order to burn the town down. But, also The Mountain (Ser Gregor Clegane, the Hound's older brother) raped Elia Martell and sliced her in half. There are also tales of how the children of Rhaegar and Elia were murdered as well, but I'm not sure if that was mentioned in the show yet. In any case, the Martell's of Dorne are not exactly thrilled with the Lannisters. And the Red Viper, being Elia's brother, is seeking vengeance. If you don't recall, Cersei's daughter Myrcella was sent to Dorne to be married to a Martell in season 2 (at Tyrion's request). Kind of puts things in perspective right!?
- Yikes, there's so much to cover, I'm not sure I can get to it all!
- Let's talk Night's Watch and Wildlings. We were introduced to the Thenns, another clan of wildlings united under Mance Rayder. I don't really remember this crew too much from the book, but I'm sure it's just to show the diversity of people coming towards the Wall. They are portrayed as cannibals on the show which is a new angle. I'm sure we'll see more there.
- Meanwhile Jon Snow reflected on the Red Wedding with Sam, speaking of his jealousy of his older brother. But then went to testify to his crimes to a Night's Watch council. Notice Janos Slynt has joined the crew at the Watch. He was sent there by Tyrion for his crime of not guarding Ned Stark in season 1 when he tried to claim the throne per Robert's request. Alliser Thorne is also there, who trained Jon Snow. He is currently in charge until they elect a new Lord Commander of the Watch. And of course, Maester Aemon was present and most sympathetic to Jon Snow. The odds were stacked against Jon, but Jon told his tale and confessed all of his "sins" performed during his cover. He will live to fight another day, for now!
- Dany had to adjust to a new look for Daario Naharis, as did we! We got a new actor playing him. I recognize him from my brief stint watching Nashville, but apparently he was on Treme as well. In any case, he's probably a better fit for Daario than the porn star that we had last season. (sarcasm, I don't know that guy's IMDB history!) Anyway, there was certain flirtation going on there. But, the biggest thing I'll take from her scenes was how unruly the dragons are becoming. They show Dany's strong attachment to the black dragon, Drogon as always. He appears to be slightly bigger than his 2 brothers. But yes, they are getting tough to control.
- We also got a disturbing image in our heads of crucified children slaves paving the way to Meereen, Dany's next conquest. Book fans probably dread hearing that name. I don't want to spoil the books in this section, but you might want set your expectations of getting used to seeing this location! The books certainly spend a long time there. But, with the aggressive schedule of the show in contrast to the books, you never know if that might change! From what I've seen of production shots, they seem to have taken their time in creating the city and it looks pretty amazing. We shall see! In any case, the short time we spent with Dany was effective. She is ready to take on another cruel Slaver town and her ambition seems justified.
- Almost forgot to talk about Sansa. She clearly is unhappy in her current situation. She was almost ready to have a fun friendship with Tyrion, but this was ruined the moment news of the Red Wedding reached her. They finally visited a big plotline in the books with her relationship to Ser Dontos, now a fool thanks to Sansa saving him in the opening of season 2. In the books, Ser Dontos played a larger role in being her drunk advisor for her potential escape of King's Landing. Instead, we saw Littlefinger take on a larger role until he was taken away on assignment. (Of course, he did offer to take her with him. She just wanted to stay at the chance of marrying Ser Loras.) Anyway, Ser Dontos gave Sansa a token of his appreciation in a blue necklace. The necklace actually looked very much like how I pictured it in the books. Why on earth would I remember a necklace so clearly? I don't know, I'm weird like that. But, I did feel like mentioning it, so there!
- I'm sure I'm missing stuff but let's jump to Arya and The Hound! This was one of my favorite plots in A Storm of Swords (right up there with Jaime and Brienne's road trip). Things are unfolding a little differently, but not drastically. I expected a trip to a tavern and a "Needle" sighting and we got it! Arya and the Hound had some great banter leading to the tavern. We find out they're heading towards the Vale to crazy Aunt Lysa's home. Last we heard of her was last season when Littlefinger was going there to woo her and wed her.
- They stumbled to a tavern filled with Lannister soldiers. But, Arya recognized Polliver. (In the books, the Tickler was here also, but he was already killed on the show in Harrenhal) On the show Polliver took Arya's sword "Needle" and used it to kill her friend Lommy. Raff the Sweetling killed Lommy in the books, and also made it to Arya's list. But, a Lannister solider is a Lannister soldier. The hound's conversation with Polliver was filled with intensity and was pretty darn awesome. But, it resulted in the Hound taking on the 5 or so soldiers as Arya cowered in the corner. This didn't last though. Once Arya saw her opportunity she took out Polliver's leg and got Needle back. YAY! Then she had an amazing recreation of how Lommy was killed. She tried to egg Polliver on to say that he needed to be carried and then talked about the sword in the exact way Polliver did. Then she killed Polliver the same way Lommy was killed. The Hound and Arya left the tavern in good shape. The Hound got his chicken and Arya got her pony and a sweet smile of revenge.
- This scene was awesome! In the books Arya killed the Tickler while the Hound killed Polliver. But, I actually remembered it as Arya killing Polliver, or just assumed she would. This is an important step in her journey and it was perfect. Now, ironically, there was a chapter of Winds of Winter just released by GRRM. I don't want to spoil it but it mirrored a a lot of events that happened in this scene. Now, maybe the Game of Thrones writers had advance notice of this chapter, but it gives me hope for the show when it surpasses the books in the timeline of events.
- So, did you like my subtle hints with that necklace? :) PW is coming! It won't be long now. I've heard as soon as episode 2.
- Don't have much else to talk about here right now except for what we may cover this season. I feel like with Bran and Brienne we'll be getting into book 4 and 5 territory. Maybe even a little bit with Jaime. I think some of Theon's book 5 story might happen too since we really never saw him in the books after book 2 until book 5.
- Definitely looking forward to this being a big season for Tyrion all the way up to his dramatic finish near the end of the season. They started building that up with his conversations with Shae. He didn't indicate that he wanted her to say, but didn't deny the allegations that he tried to pay her to leave (which he didn't). This might lead Shae to where she ends up.
- Loved the hints at R+L = J. I mentioned above, I never remember it being clear that Rhaegar "ran off with another woman". I thought it was generally assumed he kidnapped her. But, maybe I'm just remembering it wrong. Of course, the grand theory is that they were in love and that love may have spawned a Targaryan/Stark child that might currently be considered a bastard of Ned Stark's. I fear that the show may get to a point where this needs to be revealed before it is in the books. And I fear if that happens, they might not be able to reveal it. But, we shall see!
- Everyone buckled up for the Meereenese Knot? I think, if anything, the show will be able to trim the fat and make this Dany plot more exciting over the seasons. We shall see!