Thoughts on Game of Thrones, Season 7 Episode 1, “Dragonstone”

So…the great live-blogging experiment ran into some heavy technical problems, but was otherwise a lot of fun. While we figure out the format going forward, here’s what I thought of the episode:

Arya’s scene at the Twins:

While having some major open questions w/r/t plausibility – where did Arya get enough poison for the whole of House Frey, etc. – I have to say that I found this scene a lot of fun from a theatrical perspective. David Bradley clearly had a grand old time playing Arya-as-Walder giving this big dramatic monologue calling out House Frey. (By contrast, I wasn’t really feeling Maisie Williams’ “the North remembers” and “winter came for House Frey” – it’s a bit repetitious).

In terms of the over-arching question of what from the shows is going to show up in the books, this is strongly suggestive that my Red Wedding 2.0 theory is on the right track. I don’t think Arya is going to be the one to carry out the killing – my money is on Lady Stoneheart and the BwB – but I can see the streamlining logic of giving LSH’s plot to Arya.

I also found the followup scene with Arya and the Lannister soldiers a bit weird as characterization: it doesn’t exactly scan that the remorseless, emotionless avenger of House Stark is so unaffected by that when she’s breaking bread with the enemy and learning that they’re not so different after all. Maisie did a good job in the latter scene, but the two storylines aren’t talking to one another.

Bran Arrives at the Wall:

Not much to say here – Bran’s journey back south ends pretty quickly, but I rather like Isaac Hempstead Wright’s clairvoyant certainty. On the other hand, I’m rather surprised that Dolorous Edd didn’t send a raven to Winterfell informing everyone that Ned Stark’s oldest legitimate son is very much alive.

The Army of the Dead Marches Through Fog:

Cool CGI on the White Walkers and the dead, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before and the staging was quite oddly done such that you didn’t really have a sense of where they’re going to. You get that with Beric, Thoros, and Sandor later, but I feel like more clarity here would have made that realization hit harder.

Jon vs. Sansa:

Oy, this scene…

On the one hand, I like seeing Jon actually try to prepare the North for the White Walkers – and the throughline about the dragonglass was actually quite effective setup for what’s coming with him and Daenerys. And while I don’t think we’re quite going to get a girl power moment with Lyanna Mormont and arming the women of the North (although yeesh that military service is described as the sine qua non of gender equality…), it was a nice little moment.

HOWEVER, I was infuriated by how the Jon vs. Sansa storyline played out, chiefly because Benioff and Weiss don’t really understand politics and thus have created an entirely unconvincing portrait of what political savviness looks like. A real political savant would know that you don’t bring up a major disagrement with one of your main allies (indeed, your nominal superior) in the meeting itself – that actually does undermine them – you do it at the pre-meeting so that you can get the lay of the land ahead of time without showing public divisions.

Moreover, Benioff and Weiss seem to think that political skill can essentially be boiled down to Machiavellian ruthlessness and sarcasm – hence Sansa speaking of Cersei as a positive example for some unearthly reason, focusing her efforts at Jon to tearing down his arguments, and her snark-off with Littlefinger. However, Sansa entirely fails to accomplish her objectives, because she’s not actually trying to persuade anyone, which is what actually politically skilled people try to do. Equally infuriatingly, Benioff and Weiss seem to think that to be good is to be unintelligent – Ned and Robb were stupid apparently (which, as you can imagine given that a huge amount of my corpus is arguing the absolute opposite, did not go over well) – and so Jon has to do the dumb, honorable thing with soaring strings behind him to indicate that we’re supposed to approve of Lawful Stupid when they’ve just spent a bunch of words trying to convince of the opposite.

Cersei and Jaime (and Euron?):

I was surprised how much I actually liked this scene. Both Jaime and Cersei were surprisingly intelligent and in-character, with Jaime arguing that Cersei’s managed to systematically alienate most of the power structures of Westeros, and Cersei for once thinking about how to deal with this situation. Where these people were for Seasons 5 and 6 I have no idea, but it was good to see them.

My problem was more one of the plausibility of their circumstances: Cersei is ruling King’s Landing without any legitimate claim whatsoever after having openly murdered the continent’s religious authority (as the scene with Arya and the Lannister guards shows quite clearly). Where’s the reference to the palace being besieged by howling mobs? Where’s the people in the streets denouncing Cersei as an evil sorceress? And while Cersei’s reaction to Tommen’s death is plausible in its defensive re-writing of history, it really does not fit Jaime’s character at all that his reaction to wildfire being used to kill hundreds if not thousands of people is mild peturbation. This is his own personal apocalypse, with his sister cast as a different scarlet woman, but he’s unfazed.

Euron…I’m feeling a bit more than I was in Season 6; he’s certainly got more personality here than he did in every scene other than killing Balon, although he’s not really projecting the supernatural presence at all as much as aping Captain Boomerang from Suicide Squad. I really don’t think Euron is marrying Cersei in the books; maybe this is some way to roughly parallel Dany’s clash with the Iron Fleet, but it’s a big stretch.

Sam in Oldtown:

Although the subject of Sam’s circular montage (it was impossible not to flash back to SEK’s circular theories here) was gross as hell, I thought it did a nice job of establishing Tarly’s lowly routine. And his scene with Jim Broadbent was wonderful, a great encapsulation of the maesters’ philosophy and point of view.

Sam stealing the books and finding the clue about dragonglass on Dragonstone was a nice bit of setup (even if the foreshadowing of the Wall coming down was getting a bit thick) for Jon clearly allying with Dany in exchange for dragonglass…although the fact that Stannis had already told him about it really brought back my raw feelings about how Stannis was treated in Season 5. Gee, it’s almost like Stannis was a righteous man trying to save all of humanity and not a man brought low by his ambition…

Sandor, Beric, and Thoros:

Here is one scene I had no problems with whatsoever. Rory McCann is a brilliant actor when given good material and his grappling with the guilt of murdering two people through stupid greed was genuinely powerful.

Moreover, I liked how he interacted with Beric and Thoros, as his disappointed idealist’s cynicism is slowly worn away by the undeniable fact that Beric is an immortal fire-wight and Thoros can see the future in the flames, to the point where he finally looks into the fire and has a revelation of the Army of the Dead marching on Eastwatch.

Well done!

Dany on Dragonstone:

Almost nothing to say here, because they didn’t say anything in this scene (one more of Benioff and Weiss’ “nearly dialogue-free” moments where an actor, in this case Emilia Clarke, just has to silently emote for long periods).

I really liked the natural scenery of the slate cliffsides on the beach, and I thought the rock-hewn throne was quite nice. The castle walls and such I wasn’t as thrilled by – they looked a bit chintzy and obviously prop-like, a far cry from what Dragonstone is supposed to look like.

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87 thoughts on “Thoughts on Game of Thrones, Season 7 Episode 1, “Dragonstone”

  1. Bob Dillon says:

    One thing that bugged me was the Stag in King’s Landing during the credits. I was lookign forward to a lion in that place

  2. David Remer says:

    The Ed Sheeran cameo was jarring, and his line about the song being new totally took me out of the story. I’m surprised he wasn’t drinking a can of refreshing Coke too. WTF?

    Looks like the HoB&W training gives Mission Impossible powers to mask-wearers, where their entire body shape and height also adapts to the new face, in addition to perfect voice imitation.

    I did like the line where Sansa dismissed Littlefinger, but agree with you on that scene. Contrived drama between siblings indeed.

    My biggest nitpick on the show has always been the magical transportation, like Euron’s fleet getting to King’s Landing so quickly, but whatever.

    Watching the show go beyond the books seems perverted anyway, as we should be experiencing all critical plot points through GRRM’s voice first, and it frustrates me to no end. But I can’t stop watching of course.

    • olisimpson88 says:

      Along with that he actually found wood to build his ships, on a island full of rocks. From a culture that does no sow. A prime example of where D&D trip themselves up on the details of their universe. Which is so frustrating when they remember lines said seasons ago, locations from seasons ago and so on.

      • Crystal says:

        I have a nonfiction book on pirates that I picked up some years ago – and the treasures pirates *really* wanted weren’t gold, gems, and beautiful women, but water, timber, skilled craftsmen (they had a habit of press-ganging any carpenters and coopers they could find), and, in some cases, medications for VD, and *hats*. All this stands to reason – they wanted to keep their ships afloat to pirate another day.

        I can understand why the Ironborn invaded and conquered the Riverlands – they needed the timber. You’d think that Asha in ACOK would be all about starting to log Deepwood Motte ASAP, given that she’s sitting on what for the Iron Islands is a precious, rare resource that they badly need to support their lifestyle.

    • Jim B says:

      I forget exactly how Faceless Men’s abilities have been shown on the show before, but in the books it’s strongly indicated that it is wholly or at least partly supernatural:

      “Jaqen passed a hand down his face from forehead to chin, and where it went he changed. His cheeks grew fuller, his eyes closer; his nose hooked, a scar appeared on his right cheek where no scar had been before. And when he shook his head, his long straight hair, half red and half white, dissolved away to reveal a cap of tight black curls.”

      I suppose it’s possible that Jaqen is removing a mask and a wig with such dexterity that it looks to Arya like magic, but that seems unlikely. And once we’re down the road of “it’s magic,” I’m not terribly bothered by the change in height, etc.

    • Noseflower says:

      I think the HOBW trick is a mask and a glamour.

    • Lucerys says:

      As some who knew of Ed Sheeran but had no idea what he looks like I can say that I did not notice anything particularly odd with that scene.

  3. artihcus022 says:

    Clear evidence that Game of Thrones has become the show that Martin was mocking:

    1) Arya, posing as a commoner, talks to Lannister-soldiers about killing the Queen, and gets treated as “one-of-the-boys” despite being a young girl without a convincing noble cover, and talking to the army of the most snobbish, oppressive and occupying army of the Riverlands who apparently don’t care that she committed lese-majeste:
    Creator/GeorgeRRMartin: The bad authors adopt the class structures of the Middle Ages; where you had the royalty and then you had the nobility and you had the merchant class and then you have the peasants and so forth. But they don’t’ seem to realize what it actually meant. They have scenes where the spunky peasant girl tells off the pretty prince. The pretty prince would have raped the spunky peasant girl. He would have put her in the stocks and then had garbage thrown at her. You know.

    2) And Dragonstone is clear evidence of the Fisher King trope. Stannis was bad, so Dragonstone was a kind of evil looking castle and dank and dirty…but Dany is good, so Dragonstone now looks like Minas Tirith:
    Creator/GeorgeRRMartin: Ruling is hard. This was maybe my answer to Tolkien, whom, as much as I admire him, I do quibble with. Lord of the Rings had a very medieval philosophy: that if the king was a good man, the land would prosper.

    • Andrew says:

      Others have noted that too. Tyrion, without a doubt, one of the greyest characters in the series is made a Gary Stu. The Sand Snakes look like they could have fit in an exploitation film.

    • Samuel Pepys says:

      Neither of those scenes go against the quotes you used.

      Arya did not tell off any nobles. She didn’t even tell off the soldiers. The scene fit perfectly into GRRM’s story, showing that just because they work for the Lannisters doesn’t mean they’re monsters. Not every soldier is a rapist.

      Daenerys didn’t rule on Dragonstone at all, it doesn’t remotely fit that trope. It probably looks bigger and more majestic because they have much more money now. At most, it looks better because they wanted Daenerys’ landing to feel more like a homecoming. It had nothing to do with her being a good ruler.

      • Jim B says:

        GRRM’s example of the peasant girl involves her telling off a prince to his face. It’s a direct insult to the prince’s honor and a challenge to his authority, so it’s a little different. It’s certainly plausible that a group of Lannister soldiers would take offense to something said about the head of their House, but I think it’s also plausible that they would laugh it off. After all, soldiers surely gossip and tell jokes about their superiors, too — those sayings about Tywin Lannister shitting gold didn’t come from nowhere, or “when the King shits, the Hand wipes” — and there’s nobody else around to hear, so the soldiers shouldn’t feel compelled to defend their Queen’s honor from an adolescent girl. I think GRRM has plenty of characters speak irreverently about nobles or royalty behind their backs. And I feel like the show acknowledged that Arya had really taken a risk with her joke — there’s a pregnant pause where the soldiers are kind of looking at each other like, is she serious, what are we supposed to do here, before they decide to laugh it off. And since we’ve been shown from the beginning of the scene that these soldiers weren’t spoiling for a fight and were trying to be nice to this girl, I can buy it.

        Re Dany: the show obviously trimmed the Slaver’s Bay story a lot from the books, but I think overall it’s fair to say that it also depicts Dany as being much better at the whole conquering thing than the actual ruling. So I didn’t interpret the Dragonstone shots as being more than simply “this is a BIG symbolic moment for Dany.” And I say this as someone who has come around to the view that the show really has mistreated Stannis.

      • artihcus022 says:

        There’s such a thing as “the spirit of the thing” and mere pedantry is not going to dial it away.

        Openly talking about harming the Ruler is “lese-majeste” and for a person posing as a commoner to say that to soldiers wearing “the king’s colours” is committing that crime. Heck we don’t need to take a feudal example. Imagine in a contemporary democracy, someone publicly talked about attacking the head of state, either in jest or as a play…we don’t need to do that hypothetically…imagine the outcry after the Gabriele Giffords incident. Or for that matter, (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/17/trump-supporter-interrupts-controversial-julius-caesar-play-in-new-york) this kerfuffle about the Caesar play in 2017.

        And yes, Dany’s arrival in Dragonstone is Fisher King…it’s like The end of the Lion King where right after Scar dies and the land is shown as some kind of wasteland and hellish-landscape, we get rains covering the drought-ridden land and then we cut to a restored verdant environment. That’s pure middle-ages where the person of the king is connected to the land and weather….

        When Stannis was there, Dragonstone was ugly and decrepit, now Dany arrives it looks shiny.

        • Jim B says:

          Pointing out that context matters is not pedantry.

          I’m sure that if Arya goes to King’s Landing, stands in a public square, and loudly proclaims her intention to kill Cersei, that yes, there would be consequences. That might be a comparable example to yours.

          And really, I’m not sure that your examples prove the point you think they do. I don’t even understand your point about Giffords: she was actually shot, and there was then a public debate over whether some people’s provocative statements may have inspired the shooter. A few idiots have protested the Caesar plays, but the Secret Service didn’t show up to arrest anybody, because nobody actually construes the play as a threat to the president’s life. In the episode, none of those soldiers really thinks that this adolescent girl seriously believes she’s going to travel to King’s Landing, penetrate the Red Keep, overpower or elude the Queensguard, and murder Cersei. They don’t know that she’s actually Arya Stark, with a massive grudge against the Queen and the training and ability to possibly carry that out, and certainly the intention of trying. So like any reasonable person, they laugh it off.

          Could Arya’s (presumed) joke qualify as a crime under the laws of the Seven Kingdoms? I’ll assume it does. But so what? Our police don’t ticket every person who drives five miles over the speed limit, or every jaywalker (although that one seems to vary). I’ve been at tailgate parties where technically alcohol was not allowed, but as long as you put your drink in a plastic cup instead of walking around with a bottle, the cops left you alone. It’s called discretion. If you want an in-universe example: Ser Davos attempts to murder Melisandre. Stannis — not exactly known for being lax in enforcing the law — lets it slide.

          The soldiers’ choices were:
          (a) Do what you insist is their duty and charge this adolescent girl with a crime for making a dumb joke … and then what? Abort their mission so they can drag her back to King’s Landing for punishment? Drag her around as their prisoner (and another mouth to feed) until their mission is complete, and then take her back? Or just execute her on the spot?
          (b) Laugh it off and let it go like a reasonable person.

          No doubt some groups of soldiers would choose (a). Perhaps most would. But is it so inconceivable that one might choose (b) that it’s a serious plot flaw?

          • artihcus022 says:

            It’s just not acceptable or believable that they would let, as far as they know, some Riverlander commoner girl, who somehow has a sword, talk smack about their Queen and let it pass. Remember in Season 4, where Arya and the Hound was among soldiers with Polliver. Especially because these are Lannister ”soldiers”, and not simple peasant conscripts…They are people from the Westerlands and a colonizing army in another region, it’s not believable that they would have the attitudes they do to Arya Stark, at least not without reason. You are acting as if soldiers who sign up with a occupying and colonizing army don’t have ideologies, convictions or don’t know what they are doing.

            The only reason it’s there is because they want to make a cutesy cameo with Ed Sheeran, but if they want to do that, they could have made him a wandering minstrel, they could have made him Tom O’Sevenstreams. They only contrived the Westermen soldiers to prove that “Arya is not entirely psychopathic” and she is still a badass. And to do that they compromised the verisimilitude and made the show into the very thing that GRRM was arguing against.

            If you want an in-universe example: Ser Davos attempts to murder Melisandre. Stannis — not exactly known for being lax in enforcing the law — lets it slide.

            In the show, he imprisons Davos in the dungeons lets him stew for a while and then sets him out. Hardly let it slide or suffer without consequence…

  4. olisimpson88 says:

    The scene with Jon and Sansa… lord that was painful. Especially Sansa implying she admires Cersei and thought she taught her well… no just no.

    The bashing of Ned and Robb as well… again D&D just no.

    I really didn’t like Brienne’s continued mistreatment of Pod. She just kept saying no and not explaining to Pod what he’s doing wrong, that would actually help him to improve.

    Turtle paced explains it best. Their recaps of GOT are a great read for pointing out some of the more unfortunate implications of D&D’s writing.

    Then just knocking him down into the snow when Tormund came by. I really wish they would stop teasing that, it’s just… urgh.

    Full props to Rory for his scene in this episode. It may be 6 seasons too late, but at least the show actually made the effort to acknowledge the small folk and the suffering they are going through. Along with tying back to his mountain of lions storyline in season 4 with Arya.

    Hopefully they will show the state of KL and how the hole has affected their lives in future episodes. Even if it’s just one brief scene.

    The silence bits are one of the show’s strong points they do well. Let the music and facial acting do the talking more and less of D&D’s writing.

    • Andrew says:

      Sansa admires the women who held her prisoner, didn’t lift a finger to stop her son from abusing her and threatened to have her killed if KL fell? That’s not even taking into account that Cersei in the books is clearly a terrible politician, and manages to wreck the alliance her father and Tyrion built, and undermine herself.

      Agreed on Brienne as well. Characterization isn’t one of their strong suits.

      • Crystal says:

        I get the feeling that D&D don’t especially like Sansa or her character that much. Sophie Turner, though, does an excellent job (I could say that about most of the actors, really).

        • Sean C. says:

          I think D&D like their version of Sansa quite a lot (given all the screentime she gets). I definitely think the book character isn’t nearly as interesting to them, which is why they made all the changes to essentially make the character more compelling in their own view (for what happens when they find the book character dull and don’t revise them, see: Bran, a.k.a., Captain Exposition).

        • Brett says:

          I think the problem is that they ditched so much of what will probably be Sansa’s story so they could get her north sooner, and now they don’t really have anything for her to do except take down Littlefinger (and D&D are just not that good at coming up with replacement storylines*). It’s like how Tyrion mostly treaded water in Season 6, because he needed to be in Mereen but they didn’t really seem to know what to do with him (even though it would have been a good chance for him to demonstrate some real political savvy in preparing the city’s defense and security).

          * They can come up with plenty of good show-only scenes, but storylines . . . eh.

      • Steven Xue says:

        To be fair Sansa and Cersei did share a lot of moments together in the first two seasons when she was still betrothed to Joffrey. Back then Cersei was kind of a mentor to her. In her own twisted way she gave Sansa some advice in how to be a strong female of their times. Now granted Cersei is nobody’s idea of a strong role model, but the fact that she is a woman in power and she has gotten this power through will and determination is a valid reason for Sansa to admire her.

        • undercat says:

          And this is true in the books as well – Cersei was a twisted mentor and Sansa did learn a lot from Cersei. Namely, what not to do (“If I am Queen, I will make them love me.”)

      • Wat Barleycorn says:

        Seriously, they are butchering Sansa SO badly. Picking a public fight with Jon she doesn’t know how to win? Really? And she’s got no idea what to do about the threats she perceives to the South?

        And she’s just openly insulting Littlefinger, rather than using him? That’s self-indulgent and short-sighted, and Sansa is neither of those things.

        CERSEI is those things (oh, and she didn’t get it from nowhere, her “genius” father was very self-indulgent, and short-sighted as well, there’s a reason he was locked out of power and stewing in Casterly Rock for the better part of 2 decades. Frustrates me to no end that D&D seem to think his only flaw as a politician was being a horrible father.)

  5. winnief says:

    Glad to have u back in the saddle for another season Steve.

    I fear you may be overly idealistic though in wondering where the crowds denouncing Queen Cersei are. I think everyones too terrified after the Sept burned to dare question her…at least not in KL.

    • David Hunt says:

      A huge mob swarmed the Dragonpit during the Dance and killed as the dragons there even though vast numbers of them died. Rhaenera had to fee the city. Cercei has not claim to the throne and no dragons to inspire superstitious dread in the populous. She’s only on the throne because the writers want her there…only they don’t have any good reasons why she should be there a fortnight later.

      • JREinATL says:

        Steven, setting aside the idiocy of Sansa questioning Jon in front of the bannermen, I’m interested to know what you think would be the proper approach to Houses Karstark and Glover.

        To a neutral observer, they were following their Lord Paramount and Warden of the North into battle, titles that the Bolton’s seem to have had conferred upon them legitimately (even if they attained them through treachery). Now that their lord was overthrown, isn’t Jon correct that the new heads of the houses should be given the chance to bend the knee?

        • JREinATL says:

          (Above comment obviously shouldn’t have been posted in reply to this particular thread….)

        • jasonbmallister says:

          I think that should have been Jon’s line of arguing, not the ‘I won’t take away Karhold from the Karstarks because it’s their ancestral home’ argument that he ran with in the show.

          As a sidenote, I am curious as to what is going to happen to the Dreadfort now that all Boltons that we know of are gone.

        • DLG says:

          Everybody, including D&D, seem to have forgotten that Jon has already attainted the rebel Karstarks in all but name by marrying off Alys to Tormund,

        • undercat says:

          Well, sometimes the entire house is attainted, and Jon as acclaimed King, certainly has the ability to do so. It’s a reasonable option, since they were following a House that committed treason against the King (Robb) they all swore oaths to. In the books, as DLG points out below, Jon has done something similar in marrying Alys to the Thenn. It’s not exactly the same – Alys is her captive brother Harrion’s legal heir, but it does give her the military might to take the Karhold.

          As it is, Jon in the show did nothing to the Houses that followed the Boltons in violation of their feudal oaths to the Starks and King Robb – it arguably makes him look weak and also insults the loyal houses. Not sure the show recognizes that. Something they could have done instead is to have Jon say he’d punish them in some way, but since the North needs all the soldiers it can get, they get to return to their castles and lands, with the understanding that if they can hold them against the White Walkers, they get to keep their holdings. And if they can’t, well, then everyone has bigger problems.

      • Brett says:

        They should have had her make an off-hand remark about how she’s let a rumor spread that the city has wildfire everywhere beneath it and is ready to burn if she should be threatened.

  6. David Hunt says:

    Something I tried to post to your liveblog: last night. If this episode hadn’t been written by D&D, I might have a quibble with saying that Sansa called Ned & Robb stupid as her actual words that they made stupid mistakes and a smart person can occasionally make stupid mistakes as few people are brilliant all the time. However, as D&D did write the episode, I don’t think that distinction is warranted. She was calling them stupid and D&D didn’t notice the difference. More than most characters, Sansa suffers from not having written material from the books to based her script material on.

    • Trevor says:

      I was not bothered by her calling Ned and Robb stupid. I don’t think she has any inkling that the Red Wedding was in motion before Robb went against his marriage promise with the Freys. Steven has convinced me in the recent CBC analyses that in the Books the betrayal is in the works before Jeyne Westerling, but I don’t know that this point is ever made in the Show, or that anyone would have told her about it if it had (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong – Littlefinger would know, but I can’t remember him telling Sansa). So the only thing that she knows about the downfall of King Robb is the general narrative of Robb reneged on his marriage vow because he wanted to marry a commoner – which does look pretty dumb.

      And as for Ned, his and Cat’s education of Sansa left her woefully unprepared for the political environment of Westeros and she’s suffered plenty and learned many hard lessons because of that lack of education. One can debate whether or not criticism of Ned’s education of Sansa is valid – maybe she was too young to be taught those lessons, but then again, Ned does betroth her to Joffrey right away – but from Sansa’s perspective I can completely see why she has cause to call him stupid.

  7. Murc says:

    Equally infuriatingly, Benioff and Weiss seem to think that to be good is to be unintelligent – Ned and Robb were stupid apparently (which, as you can imagine given that a huge amount of my corpus is arguing the absolute opposite, did not go over well)

    The really annoying thing with Robb is how people let the Jeyne Westerling thing overshadow the fact that he’s a legitimate military and political prodigy and that he’s fifteen years old in the books and not much older in the show. I’d like to see how many other high schoolers could manage people like Jon Umber and the Blackwoods and the Brackens and form a working relationship with someone much older and more seasoned like the Blackfish without becoming subservient to them.

    Cersei is ruling King’s Landing without any legitimate claim whatsoever after having openly murdered the continent’s religious authority (as the scene with Arya and the Lannister guards shows quite clearly).

    Westeros had another illegitimate ruler who tried to rule by naked violence after burning the Faith alive in one of their greatest Septs. His name was Maegor the Cruel.

    I think we all know how he ended.

    The show is just hilariously risible at this point. Cersei is the ruler of next to nothing at this point. She’s got, what, the Westerlands and the Crownlands? That’s jack shit. Even if Daenerys weren’t out there, a strong wind could push her off the throne. That she’s even acting like she has a shot is nuts.

    it really does not fit Jaime’s character at all that his reaction to wildfire being used to kill hundreds if not thousands of people is mild peturbation. This is his own personal apocalypse, with his sister cast as a different scarlet woman, but he’s unfazed.

    I have a working theory that something like this is going to be the precipitating event that causes Jaime to strangle her to death in the books.

    It’s been foreshadowed with stuff like Cersei torching the Tower of the Hand and her alliances with shadowy mad scientists like Qyburn and Hallyne. I think she’s going to eventually go full-on “burn them all” and Jaime will be all “I dishonored myself once to stop a mad ruler from torching a quarter of a million people, I can stand to do it again.”

    As for Euron, I refuse to accept any Euron who does not have a ridiculous eyepatch.

    The castle walls and such I wasn’t as thrilled by – they looked a bit chintzy and obviously prop-like, a far cry from what Dragonstone is supposed to look like

    Given the shows success I’ve often felt it should have a bigger FX budget than it does.

    • Brett says:

      I’m not so sure in the books anymore (there’s a chance she flees back to the Rock), but in the show, definitely . . . or at least that’s what I think it would be, if this were Book-Jaime (or even Show-Jaime but with consistent character development). Daenerys had that House of the Undying vision of the ruined throne room, so for all we know the final scene for Jaime and Cersei will be of them embracing after they’ve placed the commands to light the wildfire that blows King’s Landing to hell.

      As for Euron, I refuse to accept any Euron who does not have a ridiculous eyepatch.

      . . . Seriously. How much would it have cost them to give Euron a black hair dye job and a cheap eye-patch? But it sounds like they’ve completely divorced any supernatural elements from the character, turning him into a generic Ironborn usurper giving Cersei ships and troops (and providing for a scene where Yara kills him).

      Huh. So does that mean Sam is only at Oldtown so he can discover that there are Dragonglass mines?

      • Jim B says:

        There’s not a ton of screentime left, so I’m not sure how much more plot they can squeeze in at Oldtown. It seems unlikely that we’ll see anything of the books’ subplots with a Faceless Man and a Sand Snake at the Citadel, since I don’t think either of those has been set up yet.

        Plus, Sam’s got to get Chekov’s Sword up to the North in time for the big battle. So here’s my prediction:
        1) Sam learns that the White Walkers have another weakness, Valyrian steel. (He doesn’t know this yet, does he?)
        2) Sam can’t bear to leave Gilly and her baby behind, won’t drag them into a war zone, and can’t take her back to Horn Hill, so he feels obliged to stay in Oldtown. Besides, he’s no fighter. But who can he trust to take his family’s sword up north and use it? Oh, if only there was a trained knight at the Citadel who’s a major character….
        3) Jorah gives Sam his oath that he will use the sword to fight the White Walkers if Sam can cure his greyscale
        4) Sam finds a cure. Jorah heads north with the sword to die a noble death in the penultimate episode.

    • Lucerys says:

      I think the maybe three Jaime was referring to are the Westerlands, the Stormlands and the Riverlands.

    • undercat says:

      The eyepatch is so cinematic! They could totally do it.

      Re: FX budget, it really is a pity. The filming and directing are so often absolutely fantastic, and it does it a disservice not to have a bigger special effects budget. HBO certainly makes enough money off of GOT to warrant it.

  8. winnief says:

    Regarding the Jon Sansa squabble i think it might just might be the writers attempts at ‘lovers quarrel’ style dynamics. Know you don’t like the idea and you may be right but don’t say I didn’t warn you!

  9. Byz says:

    I disagree that Cersei has no claim whatsoever. House Baratheon is extinct and no other near relatives have been mentioned, neither in the show or the books. As King Robert’s widow, Cersei does have the next best claim, like Lady Dustin and Lady Hornwood. However, I agree with you on the other points you raised about her and Jaime, and I’d like to add that even if Cersei has a claim, which she does legally, it’s a very flimsy and quasi-non-existent claim due to how it was pressed. For all intents and purposes, Cersei is an usurper who rose to the Iron Throne in a vacuum of power and will be toppled shortly thereafter.

    • Sian Griffith says:

      I don’t think this plot-point merits any meaningful discussion. She openly murdered thousands of people, and their Pope, a head of their state religion. This is not just a fun TV to watch, it is huge from historical/social/political perspective.
      In ANY realistic society she would be a criminal who can stay in power only by brute force and only in case of having an overwhelming military advantage, or somehow having the waste majority of the local nobles united behind her. In ASOIAF she does not have any of it. What is going on here is so beyond any historical normality that it is purely in a realm of fantasy novels that do not even try to mimic historical reality.

      • Byz says:

        Agreed. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have any claim at all. She does, and it’s the best claim around short of a secret Baratheon bastard or a Targaryen restoration.

        • Sian Griffith says:

          Yes, as a wife of Robert Baratheon and a mother of last two kings she has a perfectly good a claim as anyone. Unfortunately she can’t be crowned without sanctification from the Faith (at least it was how it worked in Medieval Europe), and with her Westeros-style 9-11 it is not going to happen, so she can’t be a queen, just an uncrowned usurper.

    • David Hunt says:

      Cercei has no claim. Thrones are not inherited like modern day mundane property such as houses. Blood (or genetic relations) is what matters. Robert was the King and the claim the passes to the legitimate heirs of his body (his children) and then to his nearest blood relatives. So after his supposed children are all dead, the claim goes to Stannis and his children (Shireen). Then to Renly. All those people are dead in the show, but it was the basis of Ned’s support of Stannis as the next king. After Renly, if his father had siblings, it goes through them. I don’t know if any siblings of his mother would come into it, but you get the idea. Cercei has no blood relationship with Robert, at least not for several generations. There’ll by a vast number of nobles who have better legal claims than her. Her Regency was entirely based on her ruling on behalf of Joffrey and then Tommen. When them gone, she’s got no claim to the throne, although she is the rightful Lady of Casterly Rock now that Tyrion is an attainted traitor. She has now openly usurped the throne and given the Lannister position should be forced off in short order. That won’t happen in the show, however.

      • Murc says:

        I endorse everything said here.

        As for Lady Hornwood and Lady Dustin, I’m going to be honest. Their situations don’t make a lick of sense to me.

        The Hornwood lands were thrown into uncertain succession because nobody knew who the proper heir should be, and thus the King in the North, from whose hands the Hornwoods technically received the fief in the first place, decides who gets them now. Maybe Larence Snow, maybe a Manderly, maybe a Tallhart. The fact that someone can apparently claim them by wedding Lord Hornwood’s widow, who is not a Hornwood by blood and thus has no claim, makes no sense given the nature of the rest of Westeros’ feudal structure.

        Same deal with Barbrey Dustin. She’s only a Dustin by marriage. She has no claim to Barrowton and the fief it encompasses. If her husband died without issue over fifteen years ago, then by now the fief should have been otherwise disposed of or reverted back to the throne. I don’t get how she’s been ruling in her own name all this time.

        It is true that wives and widows have some rights in these matters. Lysa Arryn ruled the Vale after Jon died. But she ruled in the name of her son, an actual Arryn by blood. She didn’t claim it in her own name.

        Steven, if I’m not being too presumptuous, can you weigh in on this? Why do Lady Hornwood and Lady Dustin have the importance they do? It seems weird.

        • David Hunt says:

          I’m obviously not Steven, but it in a reply to a comment of mine so I’ll give this my two cents. Lady Hornwood was ruling the fief in her husband’s name when he went South with Robb. There may have been a formal Castellan, but she was evidently in charge After Lord H and his son died, she remained as the person in charge, while the King in the North (or his representatives) decided who’s claim to honor. The rulers at Winterfell, were considering having Lady H marry someone they were going to grant the fief to as an additional prop for the new ruler, but I don’t think it had any specific weight in Andal/First Men inheritance although the politics of Lady H marrying the new lord would surely have helped. Ramsey’s forced marriage and murder of Lady H may have made him her legal husband, but shouldn’t have given him any rights to the Hornwood. Ramsyey being Ramsey, he just claimed the lordship. Winterfell immediately sent out Ser Rodrik to capture Ramsey and bring him back for trial. and execution. If Theon hadn’t off a near-miracle and taken Winterfell, that would have technically ended the matter and the Hornwood question would have been taken up again. However, Ramsey successfully faked his death and has likely had his lordship of the Hornwood confirmed by Roose and Tommen/Cercei. This however,would simply be the normal confiscation and assignment of lands after a war.

          As to Lady Dustin..I don’t know that bit half so well. However, she’s in charge of Barrowton, because she’s got clout and powerful allies who want her there. It Ryswells are powerful, and she may have played on some sort of sympathy from Ned since her husband died at the Tower of Joy. Wiki of Ice and Fire says it’s unknown whether she’s named an heir. He may have let her hold the fief till her death with the agreement that fief reverts to some Dustin relative afterwards, but it’s gone beyond me at that point.

          • undercat says:

            Re: Lady Dustin, I could see Ned deciding to leave her to rule Barrowton for the duration of her life. Partly because there’s no great alternative candidate, partly out of guilt for her husband Willam’s death at the Tower of Joy, but also due to the circumstances at the time. Robert’s Rebellion left quite a few northern noblemen dead and it was followed up shortly after by the Greyjoy rebellion. As there’s no clear Dustin heir, Ned might not to want to provoke a succession crisis a la Hornwood so soon after the Rebellion. And it seems that Barbrey is a competent ruler, and given that she would have ruled Barrowton during RR, she might have a fair bit of local support. So I could see Ned leaving the succession hang for a bit, especially since he’s probably initially uncertain about being Lord Stark (see his continuing guilt about how Winterfell was “supposed to be Brandon’s”). Once the situation in the North settles and Ned becomes more comfortable in his role, Barbrey’s a fixture in Barrowton, and he probably decides to let her rule there with the understanding that it will go to some distant Dustin relation upon her death.

            Politically, that’s probably what Ned told himself, but I do think the real if unconscious reason was the guilt Ned feels over Willam dying to save Ned’s sister. Guy has a *lot* of PTSD and clearly engages in a lot of emotional repression. Barbrey’s not exactly subtle about her feelings towards the Starks, and I have to imagine Ned doesn’t want the additional guilt of taking her seat as well as her husband from her.

          • Murc says:

            Undercat, your ideas intrigue me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

            I consider this explanation to be one of the pieces of the hidden history of westeros now.

      • Hedrigal says:

        I mean, in this case it gets awkward because the royal dynasty is so young. Legally, it’s not clear that succession was restarted from Rhaelle, or if Robert starts a new line, which would produce different answers.

        • David Hunt says:

          Not really. The Rebellion ended with the overturning the whole Targ dynasty. They had to so that they couldn’t have a Targ King get on the throne and decide that he wants to take revenge on the commanders of the Rebel Alliance.

          In practice, it doesn’t matter, because if you’re going that far back, the Baratheon line has been so devastated that they’re likely not a real factor anymore.

          • Murc says:

            The Baratheons still publicly claim legitimacy to rule all the seven kingdoms via the Targaryens, though. Robert might bitch in private about how he wants to kill all the Targaryens but Robert Baratheon IS a Targaryen; Aegon V is his great-grandfather. He has the blood of the dragon in him and his right to rule not just the Stormlands, but the rest of Westeros, is predicated on that.

            Even Ned Stark affirms this in GoT: “You had the better claim.” Ned doesn’t mean “you smashed in the heads of everyone who might have argued with a warhammer” he means “your blood tie to Aegon the Conqueror was closest of those we didn’t de-legitimate and exile.”

          • Hedrigal says:

            For the purposes of establishing a new line of succession. As in, is every descendent of Rhaelle in the line of succession? Or is it just coming from Robert exclusively?

          • Grant says:

            Just House Baratheon in this case, not every possible descendant from Aegon V. Though if every Baratheon had died things would get… complicated.

  10. Sian Griffith says:

    Thank you for this review. I mostly agree with you, I am just having a bit stronger negative reaction. But I guess they are trying to hit all major plot points without too much time left, and so they are brutally sacrificing character development, consistency of motivation/psychology, and continuity by retconning things when need.

    Arya’s scene was good from TV-perspective, but total nonsense from common sense/story-telling/believability perspective. But, given that Freys will be wiped out in the books (at least what I think), this was quick, dirty, cost-effective, and very TV-showey super-girl empowering moment, good for time, money, and modern ideology.

    Jaime’s reaction… Boy, I was expecting something! But it is as if his past simply did not exist, he didn’t even see the destruction, and just teleported to Cersei to have a nice chat over afternoon tea. Why they actually bothered to do it with Zandor, but completely skipped Jaime I have no idea.

    Bran’s transformation was too fast and furious for me, but I’ll see how it will go. I am cautiously optimistic here. May be Ed send a raven after all, and we’ll see it in episode 2. If not – well, it will be weird.

    I don’t know what a hell Sansa learned from that idiot Cersey, but it shows. Who in a right mind undermines her own king brother in from of his bannermen? Could she ask for a bloody recess to discuss this matter? As I understand it was not her fault that she and Jon did not discuss anything earlier – as she indicates, he simply did not have any discussion beforehand. So both of them are idiots in politics, and not because of some special goodness. I am not holding my breath for any improvement in this department, B&W are not big on any meaningful politics, and run with juvenile cliches.

    A scene with Sam’s routine was long and unnecessary, though it proved me right – B&W would eventually make some scene to test our gag reflex. The scene with the archmeister was really good. After all apocalyptic speeches I really love this response from a totally different perspective on history. Poor Sam thought his problem was with people not believing him, or otherwise they would start running around as well. Not so fast.

    In general I still love this show, even with all its flaws. I really like the idea that we are getting the ending, because I am highly skeptical about GRRM ever finishing the saga. It became way too huge and complex. I feel it is now far more complex that his brain can handle, and whatever he finishes, will be full of contradictions, inconsistencies, breaks of continuity, retcons, and so on. The show has a virtue of being brief, with less characters and plot-lines, and so it has less flaws just for this reason.

  11. Sean C. says:

    hence Sansa speaking of Cersei as a positive example for some unearthly reason

    I’m surprised that you’re surprised at that. The showrunners have been open about considering Cersei a good politician for years (hence, in their view, how she managed to become queen), and Sophie has always cited Cersei as one of Sansa’s main influences in learning to play the game.

    • Murc says:

      This explanation hurts my soul.

    • olisimpson88 says:

      Have they said this in their feature videos they do? When they claimed Stannis always chose ambition over family and duty despite their own writing contradicting this and other details as well. Some in the very episode they made those claims. They really have a fair amount of dissonance with their views and their writing.

    • David Hunt says:

      Cercei did manage to get Robert to appoint a rather large number of Lannisters and their close allies to court positions prior to the start of the books. Tyrion considered her a dangerous opponent in ACOK, even though he could generally out-maneuver her. She managed to take credit for almost everything good that Tyrion accomplished and blame him for most of the bad decisions made during his reign as Hand. I think she had some political savvy before Joffrey and Tywin died in short order. After that point, an easy way to decide what of two options is better is to ask her and then do the opposite of what she says.

      • El Pollo Loco says:

        either Littlefinger in feast or Tyrion in dance say that she is good at getting power, but doesn’t know what to do when she gets it

  12. thatrabidpotato says:

    Reading these comments has only further cemented my decision that the show is completely insane and that I should never ever watch the damn thing. I feel sorry for you poor buggers that sit through that asininity. I feel even sorrier for the Unsullied that think this is how the story actually goes.

    • Grant says:

      It started relatively well, I even defended some of the changes in early seasons. But as time went on, they became less and less defensible as part of a story and season 5 was practically the final nail and then a million extra in the coffin.

  13. Will Rogers says:

    It’s a good thing Arya offed Filtch before he could report to Professor Slughorn that Tarly was out of bed and picking through the restricted section.

    • Keith B says:

      Another student asking Jim Broadbent about what’s in the restricted section of the library? When will he ever learn?

    • Crystal says:

      Haha! A good thing Snape or Madame Pince didn’t catch Sam!

      I was waiting for Euron to offer Cersei a job at Hot Topic if this queen thing didn’t work out. That, or manage his 80’s New Wave cover band…

  14. Mick says:

    The new song was really new though, talking about Tyrions handship and the tunnels he had to go through to see his love/prostitute. Too bad, the show made her directly into a handmaid to Sansa in the castle, so that particular story didn’t happen in the show 🙂 (Symon Silvertongue with an y, right?)

    I am a bit disapointed that you are not more angry at the empty Dragonstone. I mean, where’s the port town? Where are the people? No pirates around even…

    I guess that’s the point, the show is (rightfully) more interested in creating scenes with suspenseful interactions between characters or ones that show new sides to them. Hence the Lannister Soldiers or the father/daughter in the hut that the Hound apparently recognized. That went fully above my head. But how could they sceletify that fast? And why was it snowing there while being just normal autumn weather at Areas camp? Couldn’t have been that far. Well, it doesn’t really matter.

  15. Steven Xue says:

    On Sam been told from Stannis about there been lots of dragonglass on Dragonstone a couple of seasons back. If you watch the episode again, you would see that Stannis never said it was a lot, only that they had some dragonglass lying around but never implied he had a quarry of that stuff. Maybe if Stannis had explained things a lot better, Sam wouldn’t have needed to find out this information from a book.

  16. Schneider says:

    I did not see anyone here talk about Jorah Mormont! He is alive! Azor Ahai is coming!

  17. David Hunt says:

    I had a thought. I don’t think Arya is going to make it to King’s Landing. I think in short order, maybe episode 2, she going to encounter Nymeria. If it were the book, she’d hear Ned’s words: “When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives.” This being the show, I don’t know what it will be. However, I think she’s going to go North to rejoin her pack.

    • undercat says:

      Promo pictures point to yes. I think you’re exactly right, and good prediction. Knowing the show, Arya will say something about how Winter Remembers and Nymeria is Coming. The only thing I wonder about is that the direwolf CGI is apparently expensive – oh, and this is D&D, and not the fun dice rolling kind, so they may have forgotten about Nymeria. Regardless, I think you’re right in that Arya is not going to get to King’s Landing.

      As an aside, I think the show serves as evidence* that Sansa’s heading up north after she leaves the Vale and Arya to the Riverlands. I never understood why people thought the opposite – Sansa may have the Tully look, but Arya has the literary and plot ties to the Riverlands, plus her great big Chekov’s direwolf hanging around there. And it’s more heartrenching if Arya’s the one who meets Stoneheart, after spending the entirety of ASOS trying to get to her mother.

      *clearly the show does a lot differently. But we know at least some of the broad strokes are similar, and Arya’s pretty transparently filling in for the BWB/Lady Stoneheart/kill all Freys plot.

      • Crystal says:

        I’ve always thought that the Stark daughters’ appearances were deceiving: Arya, who looks like Ned, is more like Cat in personality and outlook, and is connected with the Riverlands; Sansa, OTOH, looks like Cat, but is personality-wise more like Ned, and is now living in the Vale, just like dear old Dad, but mentored by Jon Arryn’s usurper.

        I see Sansa as revealing her identity sometime in TWOW, Harry changing from reluctant suitor to “aww yeah I’m gonna help you get your lands back, babe, let me at ’em!” and leading an army of Valemen north. Unfortunately for Harry, the track record of men called “The Young Whatever” is not good; like the Young Dragon and the Young Wolf, the Young Falcon will meet a bad end. Since he’s not Ramsay Bolton, at least he won’t be the winner who became the doggie’s dinner.

        I think the mistake D&D made was having Sansa take over Jeyne Poole’s storyline; I know what the reasoning probably was (get Sansa North ASAP and condense characters and storylines). But I thought the Jeyne storyline was overdone even in the books (really, over the top torture porn). It was meant to demonstrate that a steward’s daughter could not expect the same protection that the “real” Arya Stark would have (I’m pretty sure Roose, Ramsay, *and* Barbrey Dustin knew she wasn’t really Arya).

  18. Mr Fixit says:

    Dear God, to what levels has this site fallen… I love Maester Steven’s writing and am happy to read them, but the kind of audiences that constantly comment…. ugh. Like a bunch of high school jocks who think they’re so much cooler than that “other thing”. I mean, really! Like Deep Space Nine is so not Trek, sir, such a betrayal of Roddenberry’s vision! Have you seen the hack master Peter Jackson and his butchery of The Best Books Ever Written? Truly, Ron Moore’s abomination that is the re-imagined Galactica can’t even kiss the boots of the original nor bask in its glory.

    Every single fandom on the face of the Earth is the same. Full of people who can’t let go of the fact that Optimus Prime was killed in that movie with Marlon Brando.

    • Murc says:

      You know, friend, speaking as a relative newcomer to this comments section, if you want to tell people that their critiques of ASOIAF or GoT are insubstantive or just plain wrong, that seems to be not just allowed, but welcome.

      You, however, seem to just be telling people that offering up those critiques at all is somehow bad or illegitimate, and you’re backing that up with absolutely nothing but invective. I’m a big fan of invective but you’d better have some actual fire in there with that smoke and so far you’ve got nothing of substance beyond “you nerds suck.”

      I can therefore only assume incompetence, bad faith, or outright trollery.

      • Mr Fixit says:

        You are right. That is why you won’t see me again. And many many others who don’t bother here anymore due to constant hatred.

        Yes, i won’t let the door hit me on my way out.

        • thatrabidpotato says:

          Waaaaa waaa waaa. Good riddance.

          Also I actually think they LotR movies are better than the books. Proof that a great adaptation of a book to the screen can be done if the director has talent, which D&D do not.

  19. Grant says:

    So did the writers just forget about the Reach entirely? That place with a lot of soldiers? That place with a lot of money and, in the show, the Lannisters are broke? That place that isn’t going to be amused by Margaery and Loras Tyrell being openly murdered by a woman who already has bad PR?

    • JREinATL says:

      Didn’t Jamie basically tell Cersei that while they were standing on the map?

      • Grant says:

        There should be a Reach army marching on KL right this second, with the power to knock Cersei right out no matter how many Ironborn and Westerlanders (of those who are left) are on her side.

        But that would prevent there being some big battles with Dany, so I’m guessing the writers just think it doesn’t matter after the fire.

    • Murc says:

      So did the writers just forget about the Reach entirely?

      It’s entirely possible.

      Remember last season when Tyrion is listing the major houses of Westeros and whether they might or might not support Daenerys, and we’re all expected to pretend not to notice House Martell isn’t on it?

      Although that might be less “forgot” than “hope WE forgot.”

      • Grant says:

        It might seem like a nitpick, but in a show that focuses heavily on the politics and power of these major houses, you would think they would remember the houses.

        Out of curiosity, how do you do quotes on wordpress?

  20. John says:

    Steve,

    Quick question. Why do you assume that Dan and Dave’s interpretation on politics is that Sansa is correct? The first scene in the show reminded me of the scene back in season 3 episode 10 when Tyrion said to Tywin that the north would remember this and Tywin said good let them. Arya’s elimination of House Frey is another example where Tywin best laid plans didn’t quite work out and where he was wrong and Tyrion was correct. If the best representative of pragmatic politics continues to be shown as short sighted by subsequent events, can we really say that the showrunners are endorsing that point of view through Sansa’s voice?

  21. Wild Bill says:

    Other than hating it, I have no problem with Sansa arguing with Jon in public. 😀

    I’m sure there must be an “official” trope for having a TV/movie scene where people have totally inappropriate disagreements in public. IRL,serious disagreement is almost universally done privately (eg “pre-meetings” as previously mentioned and such…)

    Benioff and Weiss, presumably, have adhered to standard TV writing of creating unnecessary drama to make some dramatic point or other… I hate it because it is so unrealistic, but accept it as the TV series outpaces the books, Benioff and Weiss fall back on (as I presume) their lesser writing ability, or bookly nuance, than GRRM.

    • Jim B says:

      I’m not sure if it’s as much an issue of “creating drama” (necessary or otherwise) as it is just economy of time. It’s usually going to be faster to have one scene of the meeting (with the Sansa-Jon argument included), than to have one of the meeting and another of the pre-meeting, just because of the transitional dialogue or exposition needed.

      But I’m sure the drama aspect comes in, too, though more in the sense of avoiding having the actual meeting scene be rather anti-climactic if Jon’s already told us and Sansa what he’s going to say. (The other alternative would be to create some fake drama by implying that Jon isn’t sure what he’s going to do.)

      • Trevor says:

        I hear what you’re saying, and agree that there’s drama in public confrontations. If you know anything at all about legal procedure, Courtroom Dramas on TV will drive you insane because of how badly they portray the justice system. Lawyers don’t ask questions they don’t know the answers to, lawyers actually prep their witnesses on their testimony (which TV often thinks of as “coaching”) etc. I am willing to accept scenes like this as the politics version of that phenomenon. Dumb, but part of the TV format.

        I don’t buy the economy of time argument because Jon and Sansa have a 1 on 1 scene IMMEDIATELY after the big meeting scene. They could have easily switched the order of the scenes and had in that 1 on 1 scene Sansa express admiration for Cersei and her ruthless efficiency and so advocate for giving the Karstark lands to loyal followers. Then Jon could point out that while Cersei is efficient, that’s going to come bite her in the ass at some point and if you murder everyone for any slight you will soon end up with no allies. Both sides have a point, both people express themselves as political actors, then a short scene where Jon is shown being kingly in front of everyone and there is no disagreement between J&S.

  22. Ser Biffy Clegane says:

    All in all, I really enjoyed the episode, but there were a number of parts that were ridiculous or at least questionable.

    – The sympathetic Lannsister soldier scene laid it one WAY too think. “Me, oi just want to get home and take care o’ me saintly mum. How about you, Eustass?” “Oi, I also hate war and love all living creatures. O how I wish I was back home taking care of orphans and fashioning fair trade earrings, as I am wont to do!” We’ve come a long way from everyone ravaging the Riverlands just because they could. I GUESS you could argue that (1) everyone’s tired of war, and (2) the BWB has moved on, so the soldiers feel safer, but in my experience, it works the other way – you move closer and closer to total war until someone loses, and everyone hates each other more, and the soldiers would have been alerted many many times that a group of <10 Lannistermen in the Riverlands could easily be killed by partisans as soon as they let their guard down.

    + On the other hand, maybe the show incorporated that, and what was really going on is that the soldiers were scared Arya was a scout for Dondarion, and were pleading their case.That seems subtle for this show, although I thought the bit where Arya hesitates before accepting their food (and guest obligation) was both subtle and intelligent.

    – What frustrates me more than anything is how SMART Jon and Dany are in the books, and how B&W substitute strength of character for character + intelligence.

    + Given that those are the castles closest to the wall, I'm not sure Umber and Karstark are getting any prizes. Assuming they don't know how to form a deal with the walkers, there doesn't seem to be too much risk of disloyalty, but I expected Jon to say something like "I'm not offering a reward, and I'm not offering forgiveness. I expect you to earn those castles by holding them, against the dead themselves if need be, and by following every order I give you. If not, your house will never be heard from again, not even in legends. You and yours will lie in ashes with the Boltons."

  23. Roger says:

    The giant Westeros map is simply a horror. Look at the North: according to it, you need two Walls with a giant lake between them!

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