Hello fellow Westerosians and welcome back for another helping of Game of Thrones! After last week and now this week, it appears that season 4 is going to test the book fans' patience and willingness for change the most. I'm going to go ahead and say that this episode probably was the most different from the books since the beginning of the series. That said, I can probably still see where most of it is going to merge up with the books. But, there were some magical elements (one in particular) introduced that was theorized but NEVER revealed in George R. R. Martin's novels. We're at an interesting crossroads with the show starting to plan a future where there are no books to pave the way. Yet, they do have knowledge from GRRM on how story arcs end. So, we have to question things like, "Well, was this scene GRRM approved or is this a TV only creation?" Questions like these may not really have answers until the final books are released. Of course, it certainly makes things more interesting for all who are watching! Anyway, things are getting a little crazy on the homefront this week so my recap will likely be short. But, we'll have plenty to discuss in the comments.
Same spoiler disclaimers as always. I have read the books, several commenters have too. If something has already been revealed on the show, I'll describe the differences/similarities with no spoiler warning. If there is anything that hasn't been revealed yet, I will distinguish within the recap and in comments (and I urge everyone else to do the same!)
Here we go!
- Grey Worm and Missendei have a "common tongue" language lesson (I think), which is all a way to get Grey Worm to be able to teach the slaves of Mereen to "Kill the Masters"! Long story short, the convincing worked. I really don't remember how Mereen was taken in the books. I know part of it was Strong Belwas (Daario last week) taking on the city's greatest warrior. But, I also remember people sneaking into a city and taking it. I could be mixing it up with Yunkai though. Either way, the concept is the same. Dany has conquered 3 slave cities. Her retribution for the crucified slaves was pretty cruel, but it shows how much she doesn't tolerate slavery and cruelty to slaves. I have to note that after the whole controversy with the season finale last year it was a bit comical to see their "correction" to this cities' salvation. I'm about to make comments about skin tone and mean no racial offense. But, people took offense to a white woman being praised by a bunch of freed slaves whose skin tone was fairly dark at the end of last season. But the Mereen crowd that cried Mhysa? You couldn't find lighter skin people if you tried! But, I guess it kind of works. If you watch these episodes back to back maybe those who have an inkling to cry "controversy!" will back pedal a bit. So, Dany has a city and she has a fine view at the top of the pyramid. Book fans dread what comes next, but the TV show has proven that it might not be the same.
- I think I can sum up some plots in one bullet to say that the Joffrey Murder was solved last night! I had dropped enough small clues to keep an eye on along the way without spoiling, but I can finally say that Lady Olenna poisoned Joffrey under a conspiracy with Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish. He forged an alliance with the Tyrells due to his lack of rewarding trust with his Lannister alliance. His whole speech about being unpredictable seems torn right from the books, explaining that he has no political motivations except that he wants everything. In other words, he's one dude we probably should never trust, right!? He told Ned Stark the same thing in season 1! Anyway, how was Joffrey poisoned? Didn't I tell you to keep an eye on that necklace!? In the book it was a hairnet given to Sansa from Ser Dontos. The necklace made more sense for TV. Now, if you kept the purple wedding on your DVRs, go back and watch Lady Olenna's conversation with Sansa at the wedding. She grazes Sansa's hair and seems to grab her necklace. The next shot of Sansa shows a missing jewel from her necklace. And then of course the whole win goblet roulette happens afterwards with a brief stop in front of/near Lady Olenna. All the clues were there if you knew what to look for!
- So what next for Sansa? She heads to the Vale to witness the wedding of Littlefinger and Lisa Tully. Hey wait, isn't Arya heading there with The Hound? Hmmm This stuff is following the books I will say that.
- Jaime had some fun conversations during the episode as well. The sword training with Bronn continued to be rewarding. He then went to talk to Tyrion which was awesome. He also believes that Tyrion did not kill his son, which he pretty much tries to pretend is NOT his son. And then, we had the much anticipated meeting of Jaime and Cersei after the alleged (implied by fans but maybe not by the TV crew) rape. Somehow I feel like we'll be going back and discussing the impacts on Jaime's arc for awhile, even though I would like to pretend we don't have to! Cersei was cold to Jaime and referred to him as a Gold Cloak and definitely not his lover. She still wants Tyrion dead and now she wants Jaime to find Sansa and kill her. She also wants more guards outside of Tommen's room to keep Margaery away.
- Though, Jaime made a pretty noble decision. He went against his family and kept the oath that he made to Brienne. He gave Brienne 3 gifts for them both to keep their oaths and rescue Sansa. His Valayrian steel sword forged from the remains of Ned Stark's ICE. A new suit of armor. And PODRICK! We are getting into A Feast For Crows territory here with Brienne's arc. She found Podrick along the way during her search for Sansa. Here, they depart King's Landing together. But, the chemistry between Brienne and Jaime's newly forged respectful friendship was undeniable. Rape or no rape, this marks a key turning point for Jaime. Jaime has not always done the noble thing and his oath towards honor shouldn't be a straight line (I'm borrowing from James's recap here). But, his decision to choose Brienne over Cersei and his family (Tywin gave him that sword before he disowned him) should not be ignored. Great scene.
- Speaking of Margaery and Tommen, they had a little bedtime scene. Before more guards could be put outside Tommen's door, Margaery went to see him (on Olenna's advice. She gave some speech about her old romantic encounters which was pretty disturbing and hysterical.). She's getting her claws into Tommen, but it was a pretty sweet scene at the same time. She needs to build up a trust with Tommen before Cersei can turn him against her. This definitely was in the books as well. Maybe not this scene (as Tommen and Margaery are not POV characters) but the concept is certainly at play in the books. We might be creeping into A Feast for Crows with this storyline as well. After the Purple Wedding, it sometimes is tough to remember what storylines happened in which book. But, there are some key moments in A Storm for Swords that they certainly are saving for later this season. And boy, I can't wait for them!
- Then we have the Night's Watch/Bran/Craster's Keep stuff. And this is 100% Made for TV. And for the first time, I'm asking myself if this was worth it. There are key Night's Watch moments in A Storm of Swords that it would seem that they are stalling to get to. I get it. By the end of season 3, we had already seen "MOST" of Jon Snow's story arc in the 3rd book. So, I knew they'd have to do something in season 4 to stall. It would appear they were setting a lot of this stalling tactic up last season with the introduction to the leader of the mutineers at Craster's Keep. I couldn't even tell you his name, except that the guy was on Torchwood. Also, this Locke character that chopped of Jaime's hand is now joining the Night's Watch as he's on a secret mission to find Bran and Rickon Stark. Totally made up for TV. Locke is a made up character too as some other goon took of Jaime's hand.
- Lots of stuff at play here. Certainly Jon Snow building a reputation for himself is important in the books and the show, so this arc will have its positive points. The adversity he faces against Alliser Thorne and Janos Slynt is also in the books. But, everyone going to Craster's Keep? Totally new. And we can discuss it all in the comments. But the highlights. More rape, Bran and crew, Summer and Ghost are captured at the Keep. Jon recruited people to go to Craster's keep to put an end to the mutineers. The last Craster boy was born and given to the White Walkers.
- And this is where we get to a moment that has not been revealed in the books. We get a glimpse of the White Walkers' fortress (?) and we see what happens to these baby boys. They are pretty much turned into White Walkers! Not the zombie wights that the dead people turn into (I don't think). But this could be how the White Walkers themselves are being created. I just have to wonder how much of this is sanctioned by the original author himself. I'm sure he'd steer them differently if they veered off the path too much! But, it certainly was interesting!