After dealing with a strange WordPress error, SEK and I are now live with our breakdown of the first episode in HBO’s troubled second season over at Lawyers, Guns, and Money.
Check it out!
As far as the show’s use of Dontos, while from his background appearances in a couple of other episodes he may have had scenes cut, season 2 ends with Littlefinger offering to take Sansa with him, setting the stage for their interactions in season 3. They may have decided midway through production how they wanted to do season 3 — the explanation they gave being that they prefer to have main characters interact. And as we can see from how the adaptation ultimately went, they weren’t interested in the thematic arc Dontos is part of, or how his presence enables Sansa to show some agency; as far as they were concerned, he’s a plot device to get Sansa the necklace, get her on the boat, and then die.
In response to Scott’s query, put me down in the “tired of Robb Stark” column. By the time we got to the Red Wedding I was just waiting for Roose and Walder to do us all a favour and put that woefully mishandled plotline out of its misery. It’s not the fault of the actors involved, but most of the worst aspects of the adaptation converged in that plotline: ignoring the POV character in favour of other people in the storyline (of which Catelyn got an even worse version that her elder daughter; Cat barely speaks in the third season prior to the Red Wedding, other than to pander to Jon Snow fans who think she’s a bitch), dumbing down GRRM’s examination of honour in favour of twu wuv — and relatedly, the whole character of Talisa, who is a character type GRRM himself has criticized in the past as unrealistic and contrary to the world he’s trying to create — and, as Steve notes here, the complete mess the show makes of the actual plot (the Riverlands basically vanishing as a narrative element, etc).
And the thing is, they could have easily done the Jeyne plotline and given a bit more emphasis to the romantic aspects, since Robb and Jeyne clearly liked each other in the text. Also, I think it was a missed narrative opportunity to completely ditch the Freys from Robb’s army, though I think that was a conscious decision within Season 2 because if there were Freys around it would be transparently obvious how monstrously and calculatedly selfish Robb was being by marrying Talisa at a time when the show was pitching them as a straightforward love story.
I completely agree that the Tyrion scenes in this episode all work pretty much perfectly. This remains the character’s best season.
As a non book reader at the time of S2 broadcast i thought it was fucking awesome but after reading book 1&2 back to back i was thinking “yep they dropped the ball,especially dany & jon.
OH but i did love when pyat pree aces like 11 dudes at once,great idea.
That was cool, I did like that. Its more the stuff that comes before and after that I had issue with, and the after stuff is more about staging.
Yeah, that was my reaction too…though I found I preferred both Tyrion and Theon’s storylines on the show than to the page.
And while Jon’s story was much better on the page, I think Dany’s ACOK story was a bit of a wash to begin with so I’m more sympathetic to why D&D struggled with THAT one.
Right. It’s not the case that all of Season 2 sucked. A lot of it was quite good, but it’s way more of a mixed bag than any other season.
Agreed, which is why I think the show’s anti-theme bias has hurt it. Not as bad as some people think, but it’s definitely there.
Agreed about Jeyne – if they wanted to make it a real relationship, why not have Talisa be Jeyne and play up the whole Romeo and Juliette thing? On the other hand, I think you could salvage some of the Talisa thing by re-ordering some scenes.
I had jack gleeson over for an episode of english comedy ‘Red dwarf’ & steve your right he is a really nice guy!!
He’s big into theatre and loves comedy,friends of mine say his plays are hilarious!!
Thats right folks i had the king in my house 🙂
Could’nt believe it when my mate turned up outside with joff!
My first words were….Holy f**k your grace!!!
ps had a pint with him too in between S2 & 3 🙂
OH and keep up the good work!!
He’s really smart and level-headed, too, judging from an interview I saw with him. He did such a great job as Joffrey. I wish him well in his future endeavors.
After meeting him pre S3 then watching that scene where joff threatens to rape sansa on her wedding night…the look in joff’s eyes!?,i thought to myself How the f**k did he do that??
The answer is great acting.
That’s really cool.
And thanks, will do.
He also got rescued by batman and saw the scarecrow while tripping off fear gas,oh wait thats confabulation,his character did.
On cersei being too sympathetic,i’d say feeding qyburn her handmaidens & the possible breaking of guest rights when she introduces falyse stokeworth to aforementioned qyburn,then theres the little girl down the well & what she did to an idiotic lancel and all that goes with that…more incest & getting the king hammered drunk on hunting day.
I’d say the show runners can pull it off!
I hope so, but it’s a much sharper divergence, compared to, say, Arya’s evolution from Season 2 to 4.
They could go for a more mothers tragic fall angle than the books “you f**king deserve this” angle.
Hopefully its awesome either way!!
Thanks for the podcast Steve. Just wanted to say that while many argue the show hasn’t given Stannis his full due, I think SD has been great in the part. His dead pan delivery is so perfect that its spawned a joke among Sullied and Unsullied alike, “Oh Stannis-Never Change!” And Liam Cunningham has been absolutely brilliant. And I would argue making Mel less over the top was a good move. She worked on the page but it wouldn’t have worked on screen. And while it was a shame we lost Cressen, to be fair they couldn’t very well fit in *everything* could they?!?
And this was when we first started to see one of the greatest highlights of the show; The Tyrion/Cersei hour! I could watch them all day. Ditto Tyrion/Varys.
Agree that Robb’s war was mishandled and Talisa was a HUGE error though I did like Richard Madden in the role-and the way they handled his relationship with Theon and the impact that inevitable betrayal they had.
Can’t say enough good stuff about Stephen Dillane. He gets the part, a lot better than the writers do.
Two other things;
Yes the “power is power scene” was clunky but to many viewers (including the Unsullied) that was kinda the point; they saw it as evidence that neither Cersei or Littlefinger are quite as clever as they think they are.
And in fact on the show we actually have *Tywin* letting them both know that, like when LF smarms how a crisis is an opportunity Tywin snaps back, “You speak like you’re the first man to ever think of that.” And his immediate instant classic one liner to Cersei, “I don’t distrust you because you’re a woman. I distrust you because you’re not as smart as you think you are.”
Which gets me to point number two.
SEK is right, that the Unsullied don’t find ShowCersei nearly as sympathetic as you fear she might appear Steve. Oh, they have a degree of understanding of her motivations but *nobody* I’ve talked to on any of the threads is rooting for her and a LOT of viewers including the Unsullied have already been commenting that things could get pretty bad for House Lannister and the Tyrell’s as well now that the coolly if cruelly practical Tywin has been replaced by his daughter. Hell even before “The Children” the Unsullied were speculating how Tywin was in a sense a tragic character because none of his children could be his true heir; Jaime lacked ambition, Tyrion was disqualified because he was a dwarf, and Cersei was likely to screw things up.
Because while ShowCersei isn’t nearly so one dimensional or over the top as BookCersei, she does come across as vicious, short-sighted, self-destructive, alcoholic, petty, and increasingly unstable. So no I don’t think next season’s events are going to shock anyone…well ok they’ll be shocking but they won’t be surprising or seem incongruous at all especially since I’m sure it will be portrayed that they dual shocks of losing Joffrey and Tywin so close together put her on the crazy train. And for the record, I am *panting* for LH’s performance.
Ok one more thing…if you think Steve the impact of the RW was in any dulled, then there are some YouTube reaction clips you need to watch!!!
I think the impact of the RW hit the way it should, but it’s the lead-up that didn’t work as much.
As for Cersei, what bothers me is that people hate her more than they should, and for problematic reasons.
As I listened to the podcast, you guys talked about the Bran scene that sucked all the energy out of the episode. I suppose that it supports your argument that I can’t remember the scene that you’re talking about at all. It’s been a long while since I watched any of these episodes. Is this the scene where we have Random Lord complaining about how poorly maintained his own walls are? I can’t place that bit in a particular place in time beyond (probably) early Season 2.
It’s that scene, yeah.
I was always under the impression that part of the reasons why Cersei had the Robert’s bastards purge was to eliminate ”evidence”. She knows her kid’s aren’t Robert’s and don’t look like him and that the bastards do, so she has them killed so that the comparison can’t be made(like Stannis was trying to do with Edric before leeches). Joffrey on the other hand, really believes that he’s Robert’s son so he really has no reason to feel threatened by a bunch of bastards.
Robb’s story in S2 & S3 was a huge mess and Catelyn was railroaded into nothing. Daenerys, Jon and Stannis story lines were also severely mishandled by what IMHO is a failure to understand the themes and actual point of these story lines.
Ultimately, Tyrion, Theon, Bran and to some degree Arya were the saving points of the Season.
Actually, I thought Joffrey’s decision to kill Robert’s bastards proved that despite all his protestations that he’s completely confident that Robert is his father, there’s a nagging little voice inside his head, that tells him otherwise.
Deep down he fears the tale-hence his need to not only destroy the ‘evidence’ but any other potential heirs. After all Robert’s bastards were at least the bastards of an actual King, while Joffrey is the bastard of a Kingslayer-and in Westeros it’s not unheard of for bastards to be legitimized. Their claim then is better than Joffrey’s.
But how would Joffrey know about all of them, some are as old as he? And he never even mentions Edric, a know bastard. Cersei, on the other hand, would know and have both the means and reasons to ”burn the evidence”.
If he’s concerned about the tale, his usual M.O. is to lash out directly at the source of his displeasure which are not any of the bastards(most don’t even know themselves).
Death bastards don’t end the gossip, but make proof impossible. That fits to Cersei’s methods and concerns better, i think.
Well on the show, they have Joffrey finding out who the bastards were from Cersei.
Now yes in the books, *Cersei* killed Robert’s bastards, but the show changed that so that Cersei isn’t completely psychotic yet, but that Joffrey clearly was.
I wasn’t arguing that the change made perfect sense but that it wasn’t out of nowhere either.
But even in the show Joffrey is smug about gender behavior, Robert’s bastards are just another proof of ”King does as he likes”. He really has no reason to go after them, and Cersei going after them isn’t psychotic but a calculated move to eliminate any possible source of doubt.
But you are right, it isn’t out of nowhere, just poorly done, like so many other things in S2. The story has several layers and they(script writers) missed quite a few.
It should be noted that show-Joffrey is several years older than book-Joffrey which makes differences in behaviour more understandable in my opinion. For example he is old enough to manifest sexual sadism, something I don’t doubt bookJ would be guilty of in a few more years. In the same vein, showJ seems a bit more “aware” (though still clueless) than his book counterpart.
All said and done, I don’t have any problems with D&D shifting some of Cersei’s worst excesses to him; frankly, it suits him. Yeah, Cersei has a somewhat different personality as a consequence, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
I think it’s a combination of that and a need for revenge.
Thought that season 2 started out well. The first 3 episodes make for some pretty good story arcs but then the rest of the season outside of Blackwater and Arya story was very forgettable.
Would have like to see more of the Warrior King/Strategist Rob Stark in the season. They really rush into the love story and it takes up 5 of the 6 episodes that Richard Madden is in. Part of the failure of this season was the not focusing on Rob Stark or the Rob Stark vs Tywin Lannister conflict. It is the most interesting thing going on. In the books they can show it effectively and uniquely by showing the people around the interesting actors but it doesn’t work well on TV.
I think TV series can, if handled properly and imaginatively, depict intricate pre-battle plans and maneuvering. I am always reminded of the great way Galactica pulled it off in its 1st season episode “Hand of God” and again, to a lesser extent, in the S2 “Pegasus” trilogy. They used war table and little model ships to great effect.
For that matter GoT *can* do a great job with battles as well too, on more than one occasion. Blackwater and TWoW are both key examples, but I thought they handled the planning and build-up for Theon’s taking WF quite well, and also the drama at Moat Cailin, making it clear that
a. The Ironborn were pretty much screwed there-hundreds of miles from the sea and with no escape, the scene inside the Moat made it clear they were dropping one by one.
b. Also demonstrating why having them in Moat Cailin was a big logistical problem for Roose and why Ramsay preferred subterfuge to taking it by force.
I also liked Stannis’ defeat of the Wildlings-they showed how the use of cavalry and surprise delivered the victory to him there.
Of course three of those examples, (and also Dany’s sending in weapons via Grey Worm to get the slaves to kill the masters in Mereen too,) all happened in Season Four so it could be they’re just getting better with this as they go along. Which makes me very VERY eager for next season!
Yeah, bring on the next season! That said, I would like to have seen a bit more effort put into explaining the Stark-Lannister war in Season 2. I find it a bit underwhelming that we haven’t seen a single battle of what was the largest front in the War of the Five Kings. Oh well.
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