In some ways, it’s pointless to debate how a hugely successful TV series deviated from its resource material. A franchise so widely accepted such as Game of Thrones would be watched and would be reviewed, would be gif-ed and meme-d regardless of whether the fans of the book dished their stamp of approval. Nonetheless, there are lines that shouldn’t be crossed.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
This week’s episode is the denouement of all the adrenaline rush of the past week’s excitement. In that respect, this episode made a job of it. It was a loaded one and yet not so much: we see the aftermath of Joffrey’s wedding (and the would-be funeral) from all angles, and we do get some answers. Sansa is escorted by Peter Baelish away from King’s Landing, and we are clued in to the fact that he had a hand (or a finger. i couldn’t resist. sue me) in the king’s early demise. As Erik Adams wisely pointed out, protection is a recurring theme in this episode, but no one can naively cuddle in that sense of security enough. At least not in Westeros. We get that as Sansa disappears with a reassuring promise from Littlefinger, and mirrored with how Sam delivers Gilly and her baby to Mole’s Town to protect her from the advances of his fellow crows. On the other hand, Arya is reminded that his travelling buddy is the Hound–one that is not likely to be domesticated. There is an evil to be averted. But whether they are carried to safe harbors or to the mouth of the devil is yet to be seen.
As aftermaths go, we are given a peek at the not-really weeping wife Margaery Tyrell who asks the logical question: “So am I the queen?”, and so really, business is as usual in the power play department. Her asking lays on some doubt, or carefully masks the idea that the Tyrells orchestrated her early widowing. Speculations are on a high, despite that nobody actually gives a hoot who did it; the abundance of people who just wants Joffrey dead is too many, and those who cares about to find out (clue: it’s his mom) would settle for a bloodbath than solve the whodunnit. If it was the Tyrells, however, Margaery appears to be nonethewiser, and the political veterans remain to be the puppet masters of this show.
A fine example is Tywin Lannister, the Hand of the King, who shoulders the burden of keeping the kingdom running, not that Joffrey’s absence was particularly . Tywin is a well-oiled political machine: assembling a triad of judges for his son’s trial for his grandson’s death by bargaining with the charming Prince Oberyn, prepping up the would-be-king Tommen with an insightfully wise speech on what it takes to be a good king. Of course with Tywin, by being good, he means being compliant, asking Tommen to defer to the judgment of his elders until he comes of age. At these moments is where it is clear that Tywin is, first and foremost, a creature of power: taking advantage of every situation to solidify the status quo in which he is at the top of the game. He is the House Lannister, and his powerless crippled and dwarf sons and grieving daughter all fall to the wayside.
He also is the most aware of the dangers that are up and coming: “The king is dead, the Greyjoys are in open rebellion. A wildling army marches on the wall—and in the east, a Targaryen girl has three dragons.” Yet unknown to the capital, an army of wildlings marches forward to Castle Black.
Outside of King’s Landing, the struggle for the Throne continues as Davos and Dany each define what it is to be “Breaker of Chains.” Davos revels in his newfound literacy, as he goes outside of the box to gather support for Stannis by writing to the Iron Bank. Dany continues on her path to free the slaves as she takes on Meereen. With a wink and a badass knife-throw, Daario defeats the champion of Meereen, overtly writing off the character of Strong Belwas who took on that task in the books.
There are writing offs of minor characters, and there are writing offs of character development–the latter of which is just unacceptable. Here we have Jaime, insisting on taking her sister cum lover right there and there beside the dead body of their monstrosity of a son, despite her insistent pleas otherwise. Much has been said about this event which graced our TV screen, even from an audience who has endured and understood these two characters. It’s not so much an appeal to propriety; after all, objecting to Jaime and Cersei’s incestuously illicit love affair is so two seasons ago. Jaime has become a well-liked favorite himself, after exhibiting his loyalty and chivalry to someone as seemingly trivial as Brienne of Tarth. Still, the scene wherein he forces Cersei to have sex with him– “Why have the gods made me love a hateful woman?”, Jaime says, and then proceeds to rip Cersei’s underthings as she pleads and says “stop” seven times–is disgusting as it is confusing. At most, it’s infuriating that such a character brimming with potential could only, apparently, come to terms with his newfound disability by sexually violating a powerful and cunning woman. At the very least, it’s disappointing. Objectively speaking, that the screenwriters chose to elect so much leeway in writing an originally consensual sex into rape only leads to the conclusion that only falling out comes next. Four seasons into this, and it’s common knowledge: Westeros is a place for karmic retributions.
– This show has an abundance of old man-young girl comic tandems. Nevertheless, “You won’t be a very good Hand if you see the word knight and say ‘ka-nigit'” was still funny.
-Tyrion, as he paces and tries to figure out Joffrey’s killer, was too much of a Sherlock Holmes impersonation, especially with the frustrated “They. They. The ominous they!” monologue. At least he’s got the Cumberbatch hair down already, albeit a bit blonde.
-Tommen looks like he’d rather pet kittens than rule Westeros.
-Oberyn and Elleria are begging to have a spin-off series named after them.