The Westeros Watch Part Eight

Hey, kids!  It’s that time of the week again as Jimmy and Tom have a chat about more Game of Thrones goodies!

This week we have the season two episodes “The Ghost of Harrenhal” and “The Old Gods and the New”.

jimmy:  How often have the opening titles changed? I think this is the first time it has included Qarth.

tomk:  The opening credits often feature locations that appear in each episode. The only three that seem to appear in every episode are King’s Landing, Winterfell, and Castle Black.

So one major change the show made to the story over the novels was having Tywin at Harrenhal. Martin used a much stranger character called Hoat the Goat, a cannibal who ran with a mercenary circus that spoke with a lisp. It’s a really good thing he never appeared. Instead, we see Tywin Lannister using Arya as his cupbearer, and that just means two of the show’s more awesome characters, two people who otherwise might never have met, share some scenes together.

jimmy:  I’ld be really surprising. Have you seen the rates the Screen Actors Guild charges for cannibals? Outrageous.

tomk:  Well, acting is all about pretending.

jimmy:  And Arya is doing her acting well.

tomk:  Yeah, especially when Littlefinger comes to visit. Sure, Tywin sees little inconsistencies, but nothing to alert him to whom his guest really is. But Littlefinger has actually met Arya before…

jimmy:  He was suspicious, but never seemed to get a good look at her.

tomk:  He was busy plotting and scheming. Tyrion will tell you those are the same thing.

jimmy:  Heh. Tyrion remains awesome. And adds to the slap Joffrey counter.

tomk:  With the great line about how his hand didn’t fall off for doing it.

jimmy:  Yes. And what was the line before that about having an idiot king?

tomk:  There were cruel kings and idiot kings, but Joffery might be the first cruel idiot king. (Editor’s note:  It was “vicious” kings, but I found the scene on YouTube and Jimmy and I comment on it again below.)

jimmy:  Right. I couldn’t remember the first thing he said. He sure calls it like he sees it. And I thought he was being caring for Sansa, but keeping her alive seemed to be more about strategy to get Jaime back. Though the Hound has clearly taken a liking to the little bird.

tomk:   It was probably a bit of both. He doesn’t necessarily want harm to come to Sansa, but that might be the only reason Joffrey would want Sansa back safe (Tyrion is wrong there).

jimmy:   Whatever the case, the Hound has been shown to be protective of her several times now.

tomk:  The Hound is an interesting character. He’d deny he has any goodness in him, but he then does something somewhat heroic.

jimmy:  But he didn’t do it for Tyrion.

tomk:   No, so who did he do it for?

Ooh, ooh! I know! Renly!

No, wait, Renly died on his way to his home planet…

jimmy:  Lol

I was surprised by Renly’s death, especially it happening 2 minutes into an episode.

tomk:  C’mon. What do you think the life expectancy is on a shadow assassin?

jimmy:  Apparently not long. And Phasma got caught in the crossfire.

tomk:  C’mon. Who are those guys going to believe? The giant woman who breaks all the rules and a rival king’s mother, or their lying eyes?

jimmy:  I don’t know if they can believe them, but they can’t hide them.

tomk:  And yet somehow the most distinctive woman in Westeros somehow got clean away.

jimmy:  She knew that super secret way out of the tent.

tomk:  And through the camp and across the countryside.

jimmy:  She knew a lot of super secret passageways?

This seems like something that might have been elaborated on in the books, but was cut for time and to avoid this becoming Harry Potter And The Sleepaway Camp.

tomk:  Or it ultimately didn’t matter. Renly was a failed claimant to the Iron Throne. Most of his followers defected to Stannis except the Tyrells. It’s doubtful either Stannis or anyone else cares that a “usurper” got what was coming to him enough to punish the perceived murderer. The only one who really cares at this point is Brienne.

jimmy:  Yeah, not looking good on her resume. Joined the royal guard for like 5 minutes, King dead.

tomk:  She wants justice though. Or revenge. And she already has a new lord that happens to be a lady.

jimmy:  Iron Flower is taking the revenge train as well.

tomk:  We’ll have to see which if the two actually pursues it.

Besides, Margaery had her defining line for the season. She doesn’t want to be a queen. She wants to be The Queen.

jimmy:  And like Renly’s sexual preferences, hardly a well kept secret.

tomk:   True, but it does establish an important character’s motivation going forward.

jimmy:  As an aside, information and people seem to travel awfully fast in Westeros. I understand the rMail (raven mail) is quite reliable, but depending on the plot, people also move from Kingdom to Kingdom with little effort. I’m sure Littlefinger has a transporter.

tomk:  Well, we may not know how much time is passing.

jimmy:  True. That is a bit difficult at times.

tomk:  Most of the plots seem to be taking place over longer periods, with a big moment here and there. That may seem weird for Harrenhal or north of the Wall, but that’s basically how I see it.

jimmy:  They’re probably not concerned about days and nights matching up across the various threads.

tomk:  Probably not. Timing these things out has never been one of the show’s strong points.

jimmy:  Speaking of things not taking very long, the corruption of Theon.

tomk:  Theon was always something of a cocky jackass. Turns out he never felt like he fit in with the Starks. And it’s obvious he doesn’t quite know or understand the Iron Islanders’ ways. Arguably he just wants the respect he thinks he deserves from…somebody. Perhaps being taken from his family at such a young age was more traumatic than he let on.

Then again, Papa Balon was hardly a ray of sunshine in anyone’s life.

jimmy:  His sister isn’t much of one either.

tomk:  Well, Yara has her own thing going on.

jimmy:  And gets along much better with the crew.

tomk:  She’s been hanging around. For Theon’s crew, he’s some unproven upstart who spent too much time with the wrong people.

jimmy:  True. There was some back and forth with his father initially, but I was still surprised at home quickly he turned, and then the gall to claim Winterfell.

tomk:  I think the moment when Theon reminds Balon how Balon gave up his only living son and the son was just a boy says a lot. Theon was hurt more by that than he lets on. As it is, he has some obvious weaknesses that a Wildling like Osha can take advantage of rather easily in the cut scene from Harry Potter and the Hot Honeymoon of Mysticism.

Who knows? Maybe Theon just wants Balon to love him the way Ned Stark loved his own children?

jimmy:  Or even the way Ned Stark loved him.

tomk:  Yeah, I mean, Theon is a jackass and not a likable character at this point in the series if he ever will be, but where does he even fit in? He doesn’t know his own people’s ways, he’s too much like the men of the mainland for the Iron Islands. He wants praise and glory and to be acknowledged as his father’s only heir. And he thinks with his dick.

jimmy: Insert clever Watson of Westeros joke here

tomk:  Unlike Theon, we’ve never seen Watson pay for it.

Um, I think I just defended Watson.

jimmy:  Let’s not do that again.

tomk:  Exactly. We might miss something. Hey, Jimmy, are you missing anything right now?

jimmy:  Very likely.

tomk:  Are you missing anything of a reptilian nature? Maybe something that cooks its own food?

WHERE ARE YOUR DRAGONS?!?

jimmy:  It looks like Randall Flagg is taking them to the Dark Tower.

Or…I knew I should have watched those How To Train Your Dragon movies with the Ms. Maybe that is funnier?

tomk:  Here’s the thing: Dany’s plot in the original book would make for terrible television as it’s mostly her hobnobbing with rich guys who won’t give her anything. No one steals her dragons. This is the show’s solution to that unfilmable plotline. And it seems to mostly be a couple episodes of Dany demanding to know where her dragons went.

jimmy:  Hobnobbing just doesn’t hold a candle to a good dragon story.

tomk:  But who’d kill a bunch of Dothraki to steal some dragons?

Time to call in an expert: William Watson, Sleazy P.I.

There, that makes up for the earlier defense.

jimmy:  I’d say almost anyone would like to get their hands on Khalessi’s dragons.

tomk:  But they’d need to go through some Dothraki to get them. That could be tricky by itself.

jimmy:  I don’t think those were cream of the crop Dothraki warriors.

tomk:  Well, Jorah was out. He’s no slouch.

jimmy:  That was gold, but I was a little worried for him after the slap. Joffrey didn’t take kindly to his mother doing it recently.

tomk:  Well, Tyrion is not Cersei.

jimmy:  Good. There’s already enough Cerseis around.

tomk:  True, but while we are on the subject of Tyrion and Cersei, a quick note on Tyrion’s trip to the Alchemist’s Guild. The guild master is played by actor Roy Dotrice, who died recently. Dotrice was originally supposed to play Grand Maester Pycelle, but his health was too poor to allow it. He would have gotten the Pycelle role as a nod to the fans of the book because Dotrice was the actor who read the audio versions.

jimmy:  Really? Interesting. And another scene where Tyrion shows what an asskicker and strategist he is.

tomk:  Yeah, and there’s nothing disturbing about Cersei stockpiling the Mad Kong’s favorite substance.

jimmy:  So how mad was this Mad King? I know he killed Ned’s brother and father, but being taken out by Jaime Lannister doesn’t do much to show me that he was a real threat to anyone but the Lannisters.

tomk:  He earned that name. He might have been Joffrey level cruel, and the Lannisters didn’t join Robert’s Rebellion right away. Tywin was the Mad King’s Hand for many years.

Tywin probably joined the Rebellion when he saw the Mad King was definitely losing.

But of note on the Mad King: he punished Tywin out of the belief that Tywin was getting too much power for himself as Hand (a debatable idea given it was the Mad King who held it) by putting Jaime on the Kingsguard, meaning Jaime couldn’t inherit Casterly Rock, and not letting Cersei marry Rhaegar as it seemed he was going to.

jimmy:  I like your grasp of the history of things. What are your thoughts on reading the books at this stage? I know the show has gone beyond the books at this point.

That said, we’ll probably finish season 7 before I’d finish book one.

tomk:  Well, book one isn’t that different from season one. The further out it goes, the more changes occur. There are plenty of characters killed off on the show that are still alive and well in the books and some characters don’t make the transition to the show. I like Martin’s prose style for what it’s worth, and it might make an interesting comparison. Books four and five are a bit trickier since they were originally meant to be one book and Martin divided the story by geography (meaning he took most of the Wall/Winterfell stuff out of book four and stuck it in book five). If you don’t mind reading something where most of the surprises are already things you know, I don’t see the harm of giving them a shot. Then again, I suspect Ryan would completely disagree with me on that.

jimmy:  And is this season based on book 2? I’m sure they credits still say it is based on Ice and Fire. Or does it stay that way throughout the run?

tomk:  A Song of Ice and Fire is the name of the book series, but none of the individual novels go by that name.

jimmy:  Oh. I thought that was book one…which is called…Game of Thrones then?

tomk:  Game of Thrones is book one. Book two is A Clash of Kings.

jimmy:  You are so learned again.

tomk:  It’s pronounced “learn’d”.

jimmy:  Indeed.

tomk:  But hey, there’s still North of the Wall to discuss!

jimmy:  That pretty boy Jon better be careful.

tomk:  Why? He met Ygritte, some red headed Wildling with a thick Scottish accent, showing further attention to detail on accents in relation to what part of Westeros a person comes from.

jimmy:  Yup, no reason to be worried about her.

tomk:  Wildlings have very different ideas from the Night’s Watch. Besides, they filmed those scenes in Iceland so now you can see how friggin’ cold it is there.

jimmy:  Well, she did try to keep him warm.

tomk:  Oh and Kit Harrington and Rose Leslie really hit it off on the show and are getting married very soon.

jimmy:  I was wondering if that’s who she was. Not that I know much of the outer circles of the cast.

Sansa got engaged too. Not looking good for Joffrey.

tomk:  I don’t necessarily know much about their personal lives either but Harrington got the producers to take some time off filming the last season so the cast could attend his wedding.

And Jack Gleason…I’ll tell you later.

jimmy:  So, back to the North. Where did Ghost go off to? Hmmm…

tomk:  Ghost goes wherever he’s needed.

jimmy:  The Littlest North Hobo.

tomk:  You’d wish you had an albino dire wolf like Ghost.

jimmy:  I do. This is as close as I could find.

tomk:  Keeping track of Ghost’s movements is a challenge unto itself sometimes.

jimmy:  And are we at all surprised that Jon doesn’t execute Ygritte?

tomk:  It’s that silly Stark honor getting in the way again. Qhorin Halfhand would be so disappointed.

But that may be a problem for later. Do you have anything else to add for this pair of episodes, Jimmy?

jimmy:  I was going to ask what you thought Ned would have done in Jon’s situation? He’s moral, but also a stickler for rules and traditions. See season 1 episode 1.

tomk:  See also how Ned tried to get Cersei to quietly leave town. I think it might have gone similarly.

jimmy:  On that note, episodes 7 and 8 await.

tomk:  Yes, where I am sure things will work out for the best for all involved.

jimmy:  They usually do.

And so our Watch continues.  Be back next week when Jimmy and Tom cover the episodes “A Man Without Honor” and “The Prince of Winterfell”

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