“But now the rains weep o’er his hall,with no one there to hear.”
It was quite the eventful week on Game of Thrones, so let’s talk some spoilers. But first, some ground rules for our spoilers discussion. Rule #1: if you don’t want to be spoiled with book knowledge, wild speculation, unfettered access to wikis and message boards and other guesswork informed by our deep analysis of George R.R. Martin’s psyche, you may want to stop reading. No really, stop here where it’s safe. Rule #2: Always choose trial by combat.
Spoiler questions and answers begin right after this image of Walter White Walker, Lord of Spoilers…
Wait a minute, why is Stannis in Braavos?
“The Laws of Gods and Men” didn’t waste any time with changes from the book, sending Stannis and Ser Davos to the Iron Bank of Braavos to meet with Tycho Nestoris (played by the deliciously smug Mark Gatiss). For those well-researched folks out there, you’ll note that this stuff is book six material, which isn’t even completely written yet. That said, it does make a lot of sense. From a show standpoint, Stannis has been beaten to a pulp. And the only way to resurrect his army and get him to The Wall — where he will play a huge role in the big battle at Castle Black — is to have him get into the Iron Bank early (and probably often).
The other thing this does well is introduce the Iron Bank and it’s role in the politics of Westeros. I’ve got a theory that a driving force behind season five will be the narrative around the bank, overshadowing the book’s focus on religions. I’m still holding onto the notion that I could be wrong. Season five may introduce the High Septon and throw King’s Landing into chaos. Plus, there’s that whole Cersei thing…
The final thing I like about the Braavos introduction is that it seems to infer that the show won’t deviate from Arya Stark’s travels there following her time with The Hound. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of that happens over the next few episodes. There have been a great deal of theories that Arya’s story would be changed for the show, that adding Braavos in addition to Meereen would be too costly for the show and Arya’s story would get streamlined. All of that is out the window. My bags are packed, I’m ready for the House of Black and White.
Does the show know what it’s doing with the Iron Born?
Upon first watch of this episode, I would have said no. After a bit of thought, I’m not so sure. The scene in which Yara goes to rescue Theon from the clutches of Ramsay Snow is definitely territory the books never covered. In fact, the timeline in the books is much different. After the sack of Winterfell, Theon disappears and his family writes him off as dead. His sister is also quite preoccupied with the fact that their father has died and there is to be a Kingsmoot to decide who will succeed Balon. None of that has happened in the show and the showrunners couldn’t exactly tell Alfie Allen (and his considerable acting talent) to leave and come back for season 5. So a lot of this Yara/Theon/Ramsay stuff seems like taking the long road to give the characters something to do while the show figures out their ultimate destination.
That’s not to say that they won’t still end up in the right place, though. Now that she’s tried and failed to rescue Theon (and seen that he’s not really Theon anymore), Yara can return to the Iron Isles in time for her father’s death and the political maneuvering that occurs around the Kingsmoot. The show needed a way to show why she ultimately writes Theon off and tries to take power from her uncles. My guess at this point: Balon dies later this season and the Kingsmoot is in play for season five.
The dragon didn’t just kill sheep in the book, did he?
Excellent question, dear reader, and thanks for paying attention. In “A Dance with Dragons,” the sheep herder doesn’t present Daenerys with the bones of his flock, but his child. It’s an interesting change for a show that has recently and often been accused of going for shock value, especially where rape is concerned. This shows an odd sense of restraint, not killing the child. Then again, the show has always been very cognizant of creating the right emotions around characters. The dragons are no different. We are supposed to like the dragons so that we’ll feel bad for them when they are eventually imprisoned in Meereen. But how do they get imprisoned if they don’t kill the child? It’s all a little murky at this point.
What we do know is that Hizdahr zo Loraq is in play. All of the sudden this Meereen storyline won’t be so boring.
Which Oberyn joke was better, the one about the Unsullied or that time he asks Shae if she really did fuck Tyrion like it was his last night alive?
There’s so much to love about the orchestration of Tyrion’s trial, but the best of it is in the little details. The over the shoulder shots of Jaime Lannister slowly realizing that the entire thing is a farce. The quick moments of Mace Tyrell oozing obedience to Lord Tywin (and just been an all-around buffoon). Most of all I loved the acting of Pedro Pascal as Oberyn. Book readers know where this whole Trial by Combat thing is going, but it’s nice to see the show drop plenty of breadcrumbs along the way. Jaime isn’t the only one seeing right through Cersei’s game. We can see it in Oberyn’s facial expressions that he’s got it figured out. All that’s left now is to fulfill the promise of episode eight’s title, “The Mountain and the Viper.”
The other fine detail from the King’s Landing scenes that caught my eye: the mention of Ser Jorah’s previous spy activities during the small council meeting. Another breadcrumb, as the show loves to place them. A reminder to show watchers that Jorah was at one point informing on Dany for the crown. This is going to be very relevant. As I mentioned on last week’s episode of A Storm of Spoilers, my guess is that Jorah departs the service of Daenerys late in the season and rendezvous with Tyrion Lannister early-ish in season five. This fulfills the show’s quota of giving each character something useful to do in between their big moments.
Feel free to discuss your own theories and thoughts below. And if you’d like, leave me questions and I’ll try to answer them to the best of my ability in next week’s spoiler discussion.