Monday, May 7, 2012

THEY CALL ME QUIET GIRL, BUT I'M A RIOT, YEAH, MAYBE TULISA, IT'S ALL THE SAME -- THAT'S NOT MY NAME: I think it's time to stop thinking about Game of Thrones as a slavishly faithful adaptation of the books that changes the details only to get down to the ten-hour-per-season running time. That was true last season -- with the exception of the unambiguous depiction of the Renly-Loras relationship, everything on film was right there on the page. It hasn't been true this season, though. The key plot points, obviously, are the same, but Benioff and Weiss seem to have felt more comfortable filling in the spaces in between with material either altered or invented to make the best TV show possible, books be damned. And it's working well -- where the books are dense, the show is brisker and sharper (better for TV), and the show is still capable of surprising from time to time. So I think I'm going to stop talking about the books, not because I'm joining the show-only zealots, but because the books seem less relevant to a discussion of the show over time. Specifics after the jump.

As for last night, I had a different reaction than Sepinwall to the two executions last night. His thought was that Jon and Theon both should have paid more attention to the lesson that Ned gave in the second scene of the pilot. Mine was that the juxtaposition of the two scenes (a juxtaposition that you can only do in the show, given the structure of the books, and I'll shut up now) told us a lot about the two characters. Although Quorin pronounced sentence on Ygritte (I believe for the capital crime of deserting her Lady Maid duties at Downton Abbey) and Theon on Ser Roderick, Jon volunteered to be the executioner; Theon had to be reminded that it was his duty. More importantly, though, Jon had learned the lesson that Theon didn't -- when the person pronouncing the sentence has to come to grips with the consequence in a very immediate way, an honorable man will give some thought to whether it's the right sentence. Theon didn't, ergo he was not an honorable man; Jon knew that Ygritte didn't deserve to be killed, and therefore couldn't kill her. In an episode where all of the living Starks made appearances, it was a nice reminder that sending Jon to the Wall and leaving Theon with Robb was a terrible decision (for that one, blame Catelyn as much as Ned).

Meta comedy: Benioff and Weiss wanted us to be extremely aware of how ridiculous it is that George Railroad Martin wrote that flirtation scene for Ygritte. Hey, they were saying, remember when that woman wearing twelve layers of seal pelts made the sexy motion? She looked like a half-deflated fur balloon. Joffrey turnabout: some fresh wet cow dung to the temple, and then a Tyrion slap reprise. It's a start.

MIA: Stannis, Toriamosandre, Davos, Jaime.


  1. The Pathetic Earthling2:34 PM

    I also like that Dany's dragons were stolen, something that probably should have attempted every six to eight hours from the time she showed up out of the Red Waste at Qarth until the last page of A Dance with Dragons. They are the most powerful things in the world yet folks spend most of the time bargaining with Dany (if they do anything at all) instead of killing her where she stands to make a play for the dragons.  Sure, eventually, they can defend themselves, but that's not something most folks are going to worry about.  It's certainly not going to blunt the attempt. 

  2. The Pathetic Earthling2:35 PM

    Also, cheers for the first loss of limb delivered without the use of an edged weapon or direwolf.

  3. Duvall3:48 PM

    Metacomedy counterpoint: It's still Rose Leslie.

    Most of the changes to the text have been understandable given the extra time needed to service a TV ensemble as opposed to a set of characters in a book.  Ultimately you have to give these people something to do.

  4. isaac_spaceman4:26 PM

    I think most of the changes have been understandable not as ways to service the actors -- because there are plenty of actors who aren't being serviced at all -- but as ways to tell stories that have the same point, if not the same details, as the stories in the book. 

  5. Joseph Finn5:23 PM

    So, did Littlefinger recognize Arya?  Did Tywin?  Both?

    Now, my one problem with the episode...full credit to Sophie Turner, who is playing the hell out Sansa Stark, but that assault scene took me a little out of the moment with the very uncomfertable thought that she's only 16.  On the other hand, interesting that the Dog has more honor than his master.

  6. Slowlylu7:19 PM

    All credit to Benioff and Weiss they're demonstrating the power of staccato narrative beats and andante character beats to frame such a sprawling series of novels.

    </p><p>The boyfriend and I have just whipped through Dollhouse Season 2 and I think the work the writers did there to sketch character and narrative arcs is analogous to what has happened with GoT. With Dollhouse the runners had the pressure of a looming cancellation to tell their story, GoT hasn't got that risk but carries the burden of a meandering narrative with no end in sight.

    If GRRM dies I would be quite happy with one or both of them completing the story along with the television series. </p>

  7. isaac_spaceman7:19 PM

    There's a post brewing in my head, about the use of nudity this season and how it differs from nudity last season. 

    I thought Littlefinger was just short of recognizing Arya (which is inconsistent with his character, who would have known her in a second, especially since he's been looking for her; though he could always have an "aha!" moment later).  I had my doubts when I saw the letter and thought, "he left her a note."  Then I realized it wasn't his. 

    Actually, Littlefinger and Tywin are among the smartest people on the show (along with Tyrion; I don't think anybody else is close).  The notion that Arya would be in a room with both of them without either figuring her out is pretty farfetched. 

  8. Watts8:17 PM

    I feel like we may be getting some subtle indication that Tywin DOES know but is holding that information close to the vest to be used when he deems it most advantageous. 

  9. Duvall9:02 PM

    Littlefinger, sure - as much time as time as he spent staring at Sansa he has to know Arya's face well enough.  But Tywin?  Tywin has no idea what Arya looks like, may not know how old she is and may not even know that she's missing.  (Cersei certainly wasn't eager to pass along that information to the front.)  There really isn't any reason for him to suspect that this girl is anything other than an orphan kid that was wandering south to avoid the winter and ended up in a war zone.

  10. Jordan9:11 PM

    What's Littlefinger's play?  If they've made one thing clear, allegiances on the show aren't black and white.  And Littlefinger always thinks of himself first.  If he did recognize her, which I think he did (the surprise at seeing her face and then immediately mentioning her), why blurt it out now?  If he's all about "knowledge is power," (and totally wants to be her stepdad), he's gonna hold onto it until he can gain the most.  He's probably wondering if Tywin knows she's a Stark.

  11. Jordan9:58 PM

    I remember reading somewhere that he's given them an outline of the final, unwritten books.  Just in case.

  12. Slowlylu12:23 AM

    yeah that's what I've read as well. Bearing in mind he has just announced a minimum 2 year wait on the next novel my faith only rests in Weiss and Benioff to finish the story.