So…that last scene, huh?
Check it out!
1.) I suspect there will be a fairly large tonal shift in both the book/show when the invasion happens – politics, family history and the game of thrones will go out the window and we’ll be left with a World War Z-type zombie battle for the fate of humanity.
The more we see the Others and we’re reminded of the threat they pose, the less jarring it will be when this happens.
2.) Bronn and Jaime is like Tywin and Arya – sure it didn’t happen in the books, but man what a great pairing.
1) I disagree. Absent some radical change in the power structure of the South, those families are not going to stop trying to knife each other. If Aegon or Dany conquers them and re-establishes a central authority, I can see a coordinated effort to repel the Others. But as the current players stand…
Also remember the BOOK World War Z was actually all about how politics, culture, and human psychology impacted the Zombie war,,,I’m hoping that’s what the show will do which the movie version of World War Z failed to do.
It’s just they want us to remember that the fight for the IT is but a distraction to the much greater threat facing the Seven Kingdoms-and they’re trying to wean us off KL.
Right exactly. I wonder what viewers (and for that matter, readers) will do when what I assume will be a fairly large tonal shift occurs for multiple episodes/chapters.
Less stuff like Cersei and the High Septon, Littlefinger and Varys jockeying, and Dany governing in Mereen; more large scale Fist of First Men style chaos…
That would be cool.
That’s true, but it’s also true that cataclysmic events can yield surprising amounts of institutional change.
Fair point Steve-I’m sorry Tywin Lannister won’t be around to see as all the “rules” he saw for how you handle power in Westeros prove completely irrelevant in the face of the Others and Dragons. Or for that matter what the likes of LF and Varys will do in the face of what’s coming.
I wonder if having to shift emphasis from politics and kings landing to the existential threat isn’t why Martin has been having so much trouble finishing this series.
1. There will be, and I’m very curious about how Martin does it.
First time commenter.
Not going to watch anymore. Don’t want to spoil books. Didn’t really like your take on book spoiling at the end of this episode. I get that what we saw was alluded to in the chapter you read, but there is so much in asoiaf universe that’s been alluded to & I want my confirmation via the books. And come on guys…they weren’t just horns on a walker. He was clearly different from the others (ha!) so isn’t that a major spoiler as well?
Maybe there’s just a lot more folks ok watching a show that surpasses the books and I’m just now realizing that I’m not down w that. Sucks cuz enjoyed these reviews, peace.
Fair enough, but I feel I’m pretty up-front about my stance on spoilers.
For what its worth, I’m kinda counting on the show now to provide closure about all the question’s Martin’s left us with. I’m sorry but after eighteen years, people shouldn’t have to wait any longer for answers.
David Blight’s lecture series on the US Civil War & Reconstruction:
This excellent series can also be found on iTunes U, YouTube, etc. Can’t recommend it enough.
Brilliant move popping that link in the comment section. Thank you!
FYC: An irate coda RE: the Bronn & Jaime bromance. While I’m a fan of the pairing and of the characters individually, the bit with the hand this episode *really* annoyed me. It’s importing 21st-century assumptions about class into a pseudomedieval world where they’re completely backwards.
Assumptions: rich kids don’t have to deal with ugly realities about violence and personal combat the way poor kids do; if rich kids learn to fight, they only learn “pretty” (read: ineffective) fighting; poor kids learn Real Street Moves for Real Street Fights that inevitably trump any amount of formal rich-kid training.
Reality (warning: blue streak ahead): Jaime fucking Lannister does not need *Bronn* to fucking *explain to him* what a weapon of opportunity is, because Jaime fucking Lannister has been training since he could walk. In a world in which a hereditary warrior aristocracy maintains a tight grip on power, knowledge of how to fight most effectively is a resource those warrior aristocrats hoard like *precious fucking dragon eggs,* because that’s how they stay in power. They learn “pretty” fighting *for jousting at tournaments and melees in front of audiences.* They spend the rest of their time *learning how to kill people in desperate, blood-and-mud-soaked battlefields* while poor kids their age are pushing farm implements or learning an urban craft. We *should* have seen Bronn switch to a two-handed grip, push Jaime hard b/c he can’t do the same anymore, and then have Jaime *slug* him with the hand in a moment of improvisation.
Jaime’s maiming is a plot twist I love, but even GRRM made a mistake in how he characterizes Jaime’s new level of performance. For someone who puts such rich detail into so much of his world and who does battle scenes so well, his fight scenes, particularly those from the POV of skilled fighters, are surprisingly weak on technical terminology.
I buy that fighting left-handed instantly catapults Jaime out the medal-winners at the Westerosi Olympics; I buy internal monologue like “Sandor would make short work of him now;” I buy that previously decent-but-not-spectacular swordsmen like Addam Marbrand are now dangerous challenges.
But I *don’t* buy “his left [arm] had been his shield arm, nothing more,” not for a hot second. Imagine: you’re in a battle, separated from your men, and you take an arrow to your right arm. You have to fight your way back to your men with your left hand. This is an eminently possible scenario that *any halfway decent master-at-arms* would want to train his students to cope with, and Jaime fucking Lannister has had the best masters-at-arms Lannister gold could buy. Fighting from a position of disadvantage is a must-train for *any* advanced hand-to-hand student. Nor do I buy the general level of stumbling incompetence that suffuses his retraining montage with Ilyn Payne.
Personal example: I’m a fencer and student of krav maga. I’m v. athletic, but I’m a journeyman at best. I’m no Olympian.
I’ve fenced left-handed for giggles. It’s a sharp drop in my performance, no question. But I don’t suddenly have to “think about each move, where before I just moved.” I don’t magically bounce back to novice level and have to start over from square one with learning how to “hold a sword properly.” If *I* can do that – and I’m not Jaime fucking Lannister, training from childhood with the best coaches – then Jaime can do *at least* that much.
There there..(Pat on the back.)
Now that you mention it, it’s a very, very good point. I do think Jaime would need to learn more practical realities of war and battles from Bronn though-as we’ve established for all his fighting skills he’s no genius for battle tactics which is why Robb captured him. So having Bron lecture him about the difficulties of say besieging Riverrun for instance would make more sense.
Appreciated. Especially for the show, which has perpetuated far more important & harmful stereotypes about gender, it’s a minor point – it’s just a minor point that I happen to be particularly sensitive to because of my personal background.
RE: Jaime as a commander – IIRC, pre-maiming Jaime was a decent commander. Tywin clearly felt he’d learned his lessons well enough to give him a major command, at least. I’d suggest his weakness wasn’t inexperience with the realities of war per se, it was impatience, reckless aggression, and the assumption that he could solve everything if he could just hit the enemy with a personally-led charge of armored knights; and in fairness, a charge of armored, experienced knights is usually pretty effective against most people.
Robb Stark wasn’t most people. He taught Jaime valuable lessons in patience and expecting the unexpected – which we see put on great display when post-maiming Jaime leaves KL to take Riverrun – so it’s an open question as to whether at this point Jaime has already internalized those lessons beyond the point at which hearing them from Bronn would be useful.
I’d agree Jaime’s shortcomings were mostly temperamental. I’d also add a degree of arrogance and short-sightedness, so that he was spending more time thinking about what he’d do, and not thinking as much about his opponents would react.
hear hear–I’ve always been annoyed by the “shield arm” line, one of those throwaway bits of prose that sounded good in the moment, but later you’re like whaaaaaaaat are you talking about.
And the annoying thing is that GRRM didn’t really need to make Jaime revert to a novice to achieve the same point about Jaime having an epiphany, feeling immensely stressed, etc. It’s done for the sake of poetic justice alone.
I think it’s not so much about Bronn “lecturing” Jaime as it is about the fact that Jaime is kind of a snob and a nerd about how swordplay is supposed to be “beautiful” and he’s and “artist with a sword.” Like, a few episodes ago, when Bronn knocks his sword out of his hand before he’s started fighting, he’s not mad because it’s not fair, he’s mad because it’s unattractive and unexciting swordplay. I thought that the line about how “I bet that stab in the Mad King’s back was pretty as a picture” fits Jaime’s approach to a t. But now he’s not the best swordsman in the seven kingdoms. He can’t afford to fight pretty and have fun now that he’s not anywhere close to the best in the world.
Maybe it’s just because I am SUPER left handed, but while I agree that the characterization of the hand-loss is a bit much, it doesn’t seem so implausible to me. Jaime was a cocky prodigy. Everything came easily to him, so he took everything for granted. I can totally see him being dismissive of a lot of the battle training you describe because after all, he’s the best in the world, why should he bother fighting at their level (how boring!) when he can paint pictures with blood (using his right hand, of course. Makes for better pictures).
RE: “I can totally see him being dismissive of a lot of the battle training you describe because after all, he’s the best in the world, why should he bother fighting at their level” – because at nine years old, it doesn’t matter how good you are: when your adult master-at-arms tells you to pick up the sword and spar left-handed, you obey, or he knocks you tail-over-teakettle; and you don’t get to run crying to Tywin and complain, because Tywin knows that it’s for your own good, that random arrows and crossbow bolts are no respecters of talented persons, and that not listening to your master-at-arms in training is a good way to wind up dead in battle.
I agree with the idea that young Jaime was a cocky prodigy, but I don’t think it follows that he skimped on his training. Jaime, particularly young!Jaime, loved fighting; this was something he wanted to learn, not something he had to put up with. All it would have taken would have been “You know, I bet the *Blackfish* didn’t give his master-at-arms any guff about training to fight from a position of disadvantage” and Jaime would have been doing left-handed and attacked-from-behind drills into the wee hours of the morning.
And even if he did skimp, assuming that he was too invincible to ever be caught off guard or shot or, you know, maimed, we would have been better served with a line like “Jaime bitterly regretted not having paid more attention to old master-at-arms Something Bastardname’s left-handed drills” than we are by “his left had been his shield arm, nothing more.”
It’s not about it being the shield arm and nothing more – for one thing, we’re actually seeing Jaime improve between scenes, and I’m sure we’ll see more of it later. But fencing is different from this kind of fighting – these swords are a lot heavier and you have to put-through a lot more force onto your target, and require a good deal of muscle strength in the arm and wrist to get both force and precision up to where it needs to be. Now keep in mind, not only has Jaime lost a hand, but he’s spent months in close confinement and came very close to death via infection, malnutrition, etc. Part of what’s going on is that Jaime needs to build up overall physical conditioning.
Also, part of what’s going on is psychological – Jaime’s cradling his arm to his chest here because he’s got a bit of a case of the “yips.” He hasn’t yet gotten his mind around to the idea that he needs to use his hand to counter-balance, that it can be used to parry or punch someone in the face, not so much because he’s stupid but because at a subconscious level he’s having a hard time grappling with his new hand. In the books, Jaime doesn’t do well with his prosthetic and doesn’t put in the PT time to get used to it.
But yes, Martin isn’t the best when it comes to the technical side of combat – see the Bronn/Vardis Egan duel.
I know you’re busy, and I’ve read your previous explanation of why chain mail was actually less maneuverable than plate mail, but I still don’t really get it. Why doesn’t chain mail distribute the weight better?
No, it doesn’t. Chain mail is basically just sheets of metal links with no internal structure to re-distribute the weight; thus, the weight of chain mail hangs straight down off the back, shoulders, and arms, so it’s more concentrated. I’ve worn chain mail, it’s much heavier than you think it’s going to be, and you start to notice fatigue in your arms, shoulders, and back pretty quickly. Belting it at the waist helps a little bit.
Whereas plate mail is designed to distribute the weight across the whole body, as the plate is distributing the weight across the whole of the thing. Moreover, plate is supposed to be fitted precisely to your dimensions, which helps. It’s still a bit awkward to move around in because you’re losing degrees of flexibility, but less than you’d think.
Malnutrition & muscular atrophy I buy 100%. Problem: IIRC, Jaime thinks about that during his road trip/fight with Brienne, but stops thinking about that once he gets back to KL. His thoughts RE: fighting Addam Marbrand & Ilyn Payne seem to revolve exclusively around “gee, I’ve never fought left-handed before, must re-think everything.”
I also buy Jaime’s lasting discomfort with his prosthetic and feelings of self-hatred & uselessness, but in the books, that doesn’t stop him from realizing that a metal hand can be combatively useful and weaponizing the prosthetic. (E.g. smacking Red Ronnet Connington into the bear pit after he trash-talks Brienne.)
In fairness to Martin, I think he’s improved somewhat in this vein. Jon v. “Lord of Bones” & Barristan v. Khrazz, both in *Dance,* are better-constructed than Bronn v. Vardis and Jaime v. Brienne.
Edit: “prosthesis,” sorry.
Addendum: sure, fencing swords are much lighter than an arming sword or bastard sword. But I didn’t mean to imply otherwise; rather, I bring it up (and the equivalent fighting-from-disadvantage unarmed training in krav maga) to suggest that if I can do that much, and my training < Jaime's training, then Jaime should be able to do at least that much. At some point, the muscles in his left wrist and forearm should have been acquainted with the heft of an arming sword, even if it was long ago and before prolonged confinement in Hoster Tully's bloody dungeons.
I don’t understand your complaint about the Jamie/Cersei interaction here. The producers have clearly stated that Cersei consented to sex with Jamie in the end, so Cersei doesn’t think of it as rape and therefore doesn’t view Jamie as a person that raped her (unlike Robert who she does view as a person who raped her). I think this is a case of you projecting your own views on the Sept scene onto a character that has had her views determined by people who disagree with your viewpoint.
1. “Consenting in the end” is HUGELY problematic. It’s the whole “raping someone into consent” fallacy at the root of a lot of problematic cultural messages that contribute to the idea that if you just keep pressing, she’ll give in.
2. That may well be what they intended, and they’ve gone back and forth on that (their comments on Inside the Episode certainly weren’t that it became consensual). But they failed on the execution – I didn’t see Cersei consenting, nor did most viewers.
I come to this blog to read the views that Steven “projects” onto the content. Don’t you?
I certainly do!
I’ll confess to a smidgeon of schadenfreude: I also come here to see Steven shoot down SEK’s wild blue-sky theories. =P (No, SEK, Syrio’s not gay. He’s Yoda. Yoda is asexual. No more projecting 21st-century-Earth assumptions about body-language and fashion sense; Daario is 150% over-the-top swaggering hetero, for goodness’ sake, and he *dyes his hair bright blue.*)
I thought it was kind of a weird choice to have Margaery be completely unaware of the murder plot, based on her characterization to date, and especially since the book version really had to have been in on it at least passively, otherwise there’d be no way for Olenna to be sure she wouldn’t drink from the chalice they were sharing (they weren’t sharing a chalice in the show, so that’s not a problem there, but it’s still odd to actually make Margaery less active in the show given that she’s otherwise much more openly playing the game on the show).
From the promo for next week we’re already getting to the Eyrie, which I wasn’t expecting.
Yeah, that was strange – it also didn’t quite fit with the previous episode. I’m rationalizing it as Margaery knew it was going to happen, but not that her grandmother actually dropped it in herself.
Yeah, you’d think that she at least had to know not to drink from Joffrey’s cup, at least without him drinking from it first and knowing that ABSOLUTELY NO ONE but her and Joffrey had handled it since he did drink from it. However, IIRC Joff appeared to have his own cup to himself in the show. However I can rationalize away her participation in the assassination with the idea that Margaery had been coached on how hated Joffrey was and to ALWAYS be careful about sharing any of his food or drink lest she die of a poison from one of his many enemies in his place…
I don’t remember all the details from the book anymore, but wasn’t there some cup that Joffrey and Margaerey were sharing? You’d expect that she HAD to be in on that plot because of how incredibly dangerous it was for her to be drinking from a vessel that was going to be poisoned. I expect that was very useful in diverting suspicion away from the Tyrells after the fact.
Yes, they were sharing the cup.
My version really is the only way that makes sense.
Actually, I’m surprised that SEK didn’t talk about the quotation in the final scene of those recurring shots in Breaking Bad where the camera is looking up through a transparent surface at Walt crossing another Heisenberg borderline. We get a very similar shot looking up past Craster’s son at the Other. The nod for that goes to Michelle Maclaren, I would think.
I’m going to send this comment to SEK – he’ll go green with envy that he didn’t think of it.
I just wanted to note that Moses in Hebrew is pronounce Moshe . strikingly similar to the Mother in Valarian – Meshe – that the slave use to call Dany.
I had a thought about this episode the comment by you and SEK that hte first and last scene of episodes are often bookends that refer to the title in some way. Do you see that in this episode? I mean it starts with a the conquest of Mereen and ends with a really creep induction ceremony. I’m not seeing it.
Well, someone mentioned that Dany’s conquest of Meereen is keeping her promise to the slaves and then the baby being sacrificed is keeping Craster’s promise to the White Walkers.
Bit of a stretch tho.
Yeah, that was my thought as well. Given that the sword (Oathkeeper) itself appears in the middle of the episode, I tried to find some way to link it with the bookend theory, but couldn’t make it work.
Well, there’s nothing I’m aware of that says they HAVE to construct all their episodes like. that.
Speaking of white walkers,do you think there’s any possibility their just defending their own kingdom?
And are we looking at purebloods & hybrids?
Not really, no. All evidence points to omnicide.
A lot of info can get lost over time,its possible the night king made them see things differently by nursing his future bride back to health.The WW that took the baby looked like it had ice textured skin(original ww)while the dude who pressed his finger to the baby’s cheek had a fleshy skin texture(hybrid)
A species that would kill everything in existence would wipe themselves out first.
Their clearly rebuilding numbers through crasters sons and possibly other villages,maybe the village in the prologue weren’t paying up so they wacked them!
I have a feeling that the WW may want to sit the iron throne.
Also did you notice the garb the weird WW(and the other 12 in the line)at the very end wore?
They want sacrifices certainly, but they don’t need that many – overwhelmingly, they’ve gone for kill rather than capture, and every legend of them has to do with them killing everything in their path, hating all life, etc.
Maester Steven, I’ve just seen the preview images for ‘The Laws of Gods and Men’ which features an image of Mr Mark Gatiss in character as a gentleman whom I presume to be only the first Braavosi of the present season – I was amused to note that the costume designers seem to share our views on the likeliest sources of inspiration for Braavos which definitely seems to imply that Stannis Baratheon is really in for some ruff business!
I WILL drop that joke at some point, but only when it stops appealing to my delusions of humour like a plump goat to a hungry dragon.
There is a bit of a ruff, but I’m surprised the Iron Bankers are so underdressed. You’d think they’d be dressed richly, if soberly. Where are the hats?
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