July 13, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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The Westeros Watch Part Eleven

Jimmy and Tom have some stuff to say about the beginning of season three of Game of Thrones. Here they discuss the episodes "Valar Dohaeris" and "Dark Wings, Dark Words".

It’s time to return to Westeros as Jimmy and Tom start season three with the episodes “Valar Dohaeris” and “Dark Wings, Dark Words”.

tomk:  Season three is based on the first half of the third book, A Storm of Swords. That one is, to date, the longest of Martin’s novels but has a hell of a huge midpoint.

Martin’s novels keeps most of the surviving POV characters from the second book (there is one noteworthy exception) and adds two more: Samwell Tarly and Jaime Lannister.

jimmy:  I guess it is hard to keep track of the Wall crew if Jon Snow is off with the Wildlings.

tomk:  True. Very true. Care to guess which character was not featured in the novel?

jimmy:  Ned


I don’t really know since I don’t really know what ones were used previously.

tomk:  Wiseass…

Previously: Jon, Bran, Sansa, Arya, Davos, Theon, Tyrion, Dany.

jimmy:  Davos?

tomk:  No. Theon actually. He disappears after book two and doesn’t reappear until book four or five under a new name after things only hinted at happen to him. As such, well, the show opted to show you exactly what happens to Theon.

jimmy:  Interesting. Theon was almost my first guess but I thought they’d need him there to show what was happening to him post Winterfell.

Side note, I noticed that Winterfell was burning in the credits. Nice touch.

tomk:  And we still aren’t exactly sure why.

Well, you aren’t.

jimmy:  The news sent to Robb was that the Islanders did it.

tomk:  But leaving Theon out for two or more seasons would have probably been problematic. Alfie Allen would need to find more acting work, and then what happens if he can’t come back?

And if the Islanders did that, who is holding Theon?

jimmy:  Uh…the Rangers?

tomk:  Martin does the Theon reveal in a cool way. His chapter titles are the character names, but Theon is listed under a new name due to the things that happen to him until late in book five when he starts to recover and then there’s a chapter simply titled “Theon”.

Martin can get away with that better than the show because we’d instantly know Alfie Allen’s face. Same with Ser Barriston, who goes in disguise to see Dany for a long time before revealing himself. Here he reveals himself right away because we might recognize it’s the same guy as before.

jimmy:  A logical comparison.

When this season was being produced, how far along were the books?

tomk:  The same as they are now. Five were finished.

jimmy:  Same as…now? Geez.

tomk:  He’s not a fast writer.

jimmy:  And I thought I was bad.

Speaking of the books, is Joffrey as unlikable there and need to be slapped as much as he does in live action?

tomk:  He’s possibly worse. He occasionally uses his crossbow on peasants who piss him off.

jimmy:  Geez. I have a feeling Margaery is in the midst of a nice long con right under his nose which is nice to see. Though I think Cersei is suspicious.

tomk:  Cersei is an overprotective mother who wants power and being the King’s mother doesn’t give her any.

As for Margaery, she clearly has Joffrey wrapped around her little finger doing the sorts of things Sansa was trying to do just to stay alive. She understands the power of image from her time with Renly. The female Tyrells play the game of thrones very well. Better than Cersei does at any rate.

jimmy:  Yeah, you don’t want to come between that eldest one and her cheese.

tomk:  The Queen of Thorns is just awesome. Do not mess with Olenna Tyrell. She does not tolerate fools, especially ones she is related to.

jimmy:  And Sansa tried her best to foolishly(?) remain loyal to Joffrey, but finally broke. “He’s a monster.”

tomk:  The Tyrells are the closest she has to a lifeboat out of that hell. Plus, why not earn a nice girl like Margaery what she’s getting into?

jimmy:  Yeah, and if Margaery becomes Queen, it could help keep Sansa safe from Joffrey’s madness.

tomk:  Unless Littlefinger is right and Joffrey will just rape Sansa anyway.

jimmy:  Joffrey doesn’t seem overly interested in the ladies all the same…

tomk:  He likes Margaery. And women who don’t talk back and do as they’re told.

jimmy:  Fair enough. He does seem to like Margaery. But rarely had time for Sansa and tortured the poor whores Tyrion sent him.

What is the age difference between Joffrey and Margaery?

tomk:  I’m not sure. Margaery probably isn’t supposed to be that much older.

jimmy:  She was much younger than Renly?

tomk:  In the book she was for all that that matters.

jimmy:  Speaking of ages, one thing I do find a little odd is that many people do live to old age. One of the big rushes to get kids married off and having their own kids so young in this time period you would think would be because of life expectancy. Now, a lot die because of war (and I assume disease, unless your step mom prays for you), but if people are living into their 60’s and 70’s, having a child king seems a bit unnecessary. Even if it is simply to stick to the bloodline.

tomk:  Historically dying young is true, but high childhood deaths pushed the average lifespan down. Anyone making it to adulthood and avoiding unfortunate accidents could reasonably live to see their 60s in medieval times.

So people like Olenna and maybe Tywin may be up there in age, but they seem to be less common. Olenna especially looks to be quite old for that society.

jimmy:  Exactly. There are a few kicking around. I suppose because several have prominent roles in the show, they stand out. You’re right that they may be the exception to the rule and there are likely more whore houses around than old age homes.

tomk:  Now I wonder where the old whores go…

jimmy:  Btw, it’s looking like the description of this post is going to be “the one where they say whores a lot”.

tomk:  We’ve become Frank Miller?

jimmy:  Heh. Let’s hope not.

So, in our ramble we touched on a couple of things. One, whores. Shae is really taking to looking out for Sansa. And two, Cat really, really hates Jon Snow.

And maybe herself.

tomk:  Jon has his own problems. He’s surrounded by people who will slit his throat if he lets in on the fact he’s only deep undercover.

jimmy:  I was just thinking, Jon really represents “us”, the audience. He seems to learn the major aspects of the show as we do, outside of the inner workings of the counsel and the war beyond the Wall. More on the more supernatural side of things. We learn about White Walkers as Jon does. Jon is there for that first attack at the Wall when he earns his sword. Jon learns of a warg, and shortly after we learn that is what Bran is. Maybe I’m reading too much into coincidence.

tomk:  I think that works. Jon is learning more about Wildling life than most people south of the Wall ever do. But the other younger characters are learning as well. Arya is learning about life as a peasant in wartime. Sansa is learning about royal politics. Bran is learning about prophetic dreams and warging.

jimmy:  Warging…that sounds too “Watson-y” for me.

tomk:  Can’t be helped.

But remember what I said way back when: adaptation is the key to survival.

jimmy:  Yes. And Bran adapting to be able to control Summer will be awesome.

tomk:  The novels suggest all the Stark kids are wargs. It’s why their dire wolves behave in ways that seem to compliment the different Starks and their needs.

For the show, just Bran.

jimmy:  Interesting.

tomk:  In the books, Arya and Jon show more signs of it than the others. Arya occasionally has a dream of Nymeria building a wolf pack of her own.

jimmy:  I guess there is only so much you can translate to the small screen. And Arya and Jon have a lot going on as it is.

tomk:  Very true.

But this does mean Bran is sort of a wizard.


tomk:  If only Hodor was that articulate…

jimmy:  Hodor.

tomk:  Though consider if you will: most high fantasy stories open with a young boy who discovers a special destiny. Bran is the first POV character in the first novel, but then he gets crippled. But he still may have a special destiny.

jimmy:  It is a game of boys for the most part. Even the likes of Robb and Jon barely (legally) qualify as men.

tomk:  Moreso in the novels when they’re only about 14.

jimmy:  Exactly. And you got the cowardly lion as King who’s younger again.

tomk:   Child kings happened. Many were awful.

jimmy:  It’s surprising that anyone would listen to them…but I guess when he has the power to have your head cut off…

tomk:  Ok, time for a history lesson.

The War of the Roses, historical basis for the War of the Five Kings, was partially set in motion when Henry IV overthrew his cousin Richard II. Richard assumed the throne around the age of nine after the death of his grandfather Edward III.

Richard was, by all accounts, an awful king. He was a murderous tyrant who overtaxed the people and claimed Divine Right as justification for his behavior. That Divine Right protected many a bad king in the past, and didn’t help much.

Now Henry’s grandson Henry VI was also a child king, assuming the throne at the age of six months. He was overthrown when the Wars of the Roses started, but he wasn’t a cruel tyrant. He was basically just incompetent. He probably would have made a fine monk or priest, but he was a lousy king.

Unfortunately, overthrowing either of those guys sets up the idea that anyone can potentially overthrow a king for a wide variety of reasons, so that leads to decades worth of on and off warfare.

But on the subject of child kings, the aforementioned Edward III also became king at a young age and was, by all accounts, pretty good at the job.

But believing kings were chosen by God tended to keep a lot of bad kings on a lot of thrones. I’m not sure how that works in Westeros.

jimmy:  I thought the Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering silmite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that the king was to carry Excalibur. THAT is how someone becomes king.

tomk:  Allowing some watery tart to throw a simitar at someone is no real system of government.

jimmy:  Better than allowing some incestuous son to take over.

tomk:  Hey, Joffrey is not incestuous!

He’s the product of incest. There’s a difference.

jimmy:  Yes, yes. You know what I mean.

tomk:  But yes, we are at the point where “anyone but Joffrey” looks like a good choice.

Then again, Margaery seems able to actually control his stupid ass…

jimmy:  The timeless power of cleavage.

tomk:  Well, there’s that, and she’s behaving exactly the way he thinks a woman should behave. Sansa tried demuring but was clearly petrified. He just doesn’t listen to Cersei. That probably bothers Cersei more than anything.

jimmy:  Agreed.

Margaery seems like it is all an act though, but he can’t see through it.

tomk:  If it’s an act (and I agree it is, at least with Joffrey), she’s damn convincing.

See, the Tyrells actually rival the Lannisters in wealth, and between Olenna and Margaery, one thing you should get is they play the game of thrones much, much better than Cersei does.

jimmy:  Cersei lost the game when she assumed she’d be able to control Joffrey.

tomk:  She better watch it. According to one C. Lannister, when you play the Game of Thrones, you either win or you die.

jimmy:  Ok, here’s a question I maybe should know the answer too…why do the Wildlings call the Southerners “Crow”?

tomk:  They call all men of the Night’s Watch that because they dress in black.

jimmy:  Right.

Like these guys:

tomk:  Um…

I am not touching that one.

But let’s get back to the Wildlings. What did you make of Mance Rayder?

Or the redheaded Tormund Giantsbane for that matter?

jimmy:  Well, Mance sure seems like a king to a group of people previously proud of having no king.

As for Tormund, he’s got a hell of a beard.

tomk:  Tormund is kinda awesome.

Here’s the thing about the “King Beyond the Wall” concept…in Wildling history, there hasn’t been that many of them.

I asked before why they would have one. Mance himself said he had to somehow unite all kinds of warring tribes together. That’s basically what the King Beyond the Wall does. He’s a guy who can bring all the Wildling tribes together in cases of extreme emergency.

Usually a common enemy.

jimmy:  If we don’t join together we’ll all die. Or something to that affect.

tomk:  Yeah, and the Wildlings know if you die, you don’t necessarily stay down.

jimmy:  So, there must be something more to it than that. Than just dying, or else the South would already be overrun with walking dead. And I doubt the resurrections are somehow contained by the Wall.

tomk:  Well, it may be as simple as ever the Wildlings haven’t seen much of the White Walkers in centuries. The White Walkers might have come south (for them) and started raising their army only within the past year or so, and that was motivation enough to get all the Wildling tribes to unite for a common purpose: survival.

Plus, the Wall is somewhat magical, so it may hold off the White Walkers as it is. No one knows at this point.

jimmy:  Fair enough. Do we know the full backstory of the Wall? How long it has been there? Who constructed it?

tomk:  The Wall was constructed after the first and last time the White Walkers were defeated by the First Men and beings known as the Children of the Forest.

The King in the North to commission it was named Bran the Builder.

And the White Walkers were scary enough to forge an alliance between the King in the North and a King Beyond the Wall (despite a lack of a Wall from the looks of things).

jimmy:  And to this point how the White Walkers were defeated has been lost to the annals of history, figuring they would never return? (By the looks of things probably to do with fire, maybe from the mouths of giant flying lizards.). Yet enough worry remained to construct the Wall.

tomk:  Were the original White Walkers defeated or destroyed? No one really knows at this point.

jimmy:  Whichever it was, it didn’t appear to stick.

tomk:  That’s certainly true.

Also true: someone is torturing Theon.

jimmy:  Are they ever. That fingernail thing was hard to watch.

tomk:  As much as Theon deserves punishment, it’s hard to think he deserves that. He doesn’t even know who these guys are or what they want.

Robb would just have executed him quickly.

jimmy:  Would he? They were brothers.

tomk:  He still thinks Theon killed Bran and Rickon. He said he wanted Theon dead. And the Stark way is a quick beheading.

jimmy:  Probably. But a lot of question marks remain around the events between the Islanders knocking him out and the predicament he’s in now. Especially if the Islanders are now attempting to rescue him.

tomk:  There’s a lot we don’t know there. It’s not like a broke woman is looking to buy a slave army.

jimmy:  Speaking of hard to watch. Who’s cuts off a nipple? Honestly.

tomk:  The same man who orders his soldiers to murder babies as the proof they graduated from boot camp.

jimmy:  Definitely a crowd you want to get caught up in.

tomk:   That does seem to be the issue for Dany.

Does she get the army she needs through despicable means or does she stick to her morals and find another way?

jimmy:  Tough call.

tomk:  Isn’t that what Game of Thrones is all about?

jimmy:  Adapting.

tomk:  Adapting would also suggest testing what you believe when life suggests things aren’t so simple.

jimmy:  Yes, but there still have to be limits though. You would think anyway.

tomk:  Maybe we just need to see how Dany solves that particular problem.

jimmy:  We shall.

So, the luster of Robb seems to be slowly rubbing off.

tomk:  Apparently, marrying for love turns a lot of noblemen off. It almost certainly cost Robb the Freys, and as we’ve seen, there are a hell of a lot of them.

jimmy:  And the men aren’t too impressed that he lost Winterfell, nor of their excursion to Riverrun.

tomk:  Except Riverrun is for a good cause: recruiting the Tullys to their cause. Yes, it does seem Cat’s father, the local lord, is dying and there will be a funeral, but they do need the support and the Riverlands have been hit hard by the Mountain and other assorted Lannister forces.

jimmy:  That’s the Stark spin on things for sure.

tomk:  The Starks aren’t much for lying, so it is probably true.

jimmy:  No doubt it is true, but I’m not sure the men are buying into it. Doesn’t old guy whose son was killed by Jaime and I can’t remember his name say as much?

tomk:  Lord Karstark?

Yeah, he’s a bit upset.

I mean, Lord Bolton seems to be taking everything well so far, but he did send his bastard son to liberate Winterfell.

jimmy:  Whose name is…Ramsay Snow…I’m sensing a pattern here.

tomk:  “Snow” is the default last name for all bastards born in the North.

Every region in Westeros has a default last name for its bastards.

jimmy:  No wonder winter is coming. All the Snow.

I’m the first one to ever make that joke.

tomk:  In Dorne, they go by “Sand”. The Baratheon homelands of the Stormlands use, obviously, “Storm”. “Stone” is used in the mountains near the Aerie. And I don’t know any more than those.

jimmy:  So Arya is actually not too far away from Robb and her mother it seems. Before running into the Brotherhood Without Banners and a captured Hound who blows her cover, Gendry asks some pretty obvious questions about the choices from her list that she gave to Jaqen.

tomk:  Look, she wasn’t thinking far enough ahead, and how certain are you when Mystery Man says he can kill any three random targets?

Do you think he can do it?

jimmy:  Probably not.

Or at least, no one of importance.

tomk:  Besides, there were, as Jaqen explained, limits.

He can only travel so fast if Arya names Joffrey. It’s not Instant Death.

jimmy:  That’s true.


tomk:  But hey, the Brotherhood Without Banners. Sort of a Robin Hood type of bunch.

jimmy:  They even have the archer.

Though…not much of a hard skill to come by in this show…

tomk:  The book version makes it more explicit. They have an archer, yes, but also a Friar Tuck in the form of Thoros of Myr (a red priest like Melissandre), a singer like Alan A’Dale, and a big guy who combines Little John and Will Scarlett named Lem Lemoncloak for the color of his cloak. The last two do not appear on the show, well, not necessarily. They combined the archer with one and a man in a yellow cloak does appear briefly in a future season.

Though I do wonder a bit how those guys captured the Hound.

jimmy:  One of them probably lit up a smoke and he started whimpering like a little girl.

tomk:  I see. The Hound is secretly the Martian Manhunter.

jimmy:  He should fix that face then.

tomk:  But that’s his disguise!

jimmy:  Inconceivable!

tomk:  Or not. The Brotherhood is clearly hanging around for a while.

Not hanging around for a while? The White Walkers. Something of a let down to the season two cliffhanger of an army of zombies reduced to one that can conveniently be set on fire when Ghost slows it down.

jimmy:  And that can’t catch Sam, whom they were already on top of.

tomk:  Sam and that wight had one thing in common: they both had one. Job. And they didn’t do it.

jimmy:  At least he didn’t run away and hide like the other Crows. Um…until later.

tomk:  He wasn’t as fast. And a decent number survived. Plus Ghost.

jimmy:  Rast is not impressed with him.

tomk:  Ghost may have just been looking for a meal. And a wight might just be a walking Milkbone.

jimmy:  Surprising that Ghost isn’t off keeping tabs on Jon.

tomk:  Ghost apparently likes Sam.

Sam may need the help more than Jon.

jimmy:  That’s true. He’s probably watching over Sam instead.

tomk:  Maybe Jon somehow told Ghost to do that.

jimmy:  Somehow eh? Ghost eh? Maude eh?

tomk:  Or maybe not. Who knows? Sam is still alive, and that may be all that matters.

jimmy:  And he better stay that way or Rast will have to answer to Mormont.

tomk:  You don’t mess with the Old Bear.

jimmy:  I wouldn’t. So, what have we not touched on? Littlefinger seeming to do Littlefinger things with Sansa?

tomk:  Well, you mentioned Shae being protective of Sansa, but she’s also a bit jealous of her when it comes to Tyrion.

Tyrion is having a very hard time explaining anything to Shae.

jimmy:  I wasn’t sure how serious Shae was being in that scene. Or if she was just busting his balls. Especially since they end up in bed by the end of it.

tomk:  It is hard d to say, but she definitely isn’t listening when he keeps telling her how dangerous things are.

jimmy:  She’s pretty sure she can handle herself.

tomk:  She’s never met Tywin or Cersei.

jimmy:  This is true. But’s she’s probably met people like them.

Or is just incredibly naive.

tomk:  I’m leaning more towards the latter. Her general ignorance when she becomes Sansa’s handmaiden and her general attitude suggest ignorance. She may have met and even bedded some great lords, but she’s never really had to deal with one behind closed doors for extended periods, and considering what Cersei almost did to Roz, Shae would be toast if Tyrion’s family ever found her.

jimmy:  Yeah…she should probably listen to Tyrion.

tomk:  Hmmm. That might be everything. How’s season three looking to start, Jimmy?

jimmy:  Looking good so far. I’m not expecting many surprises.

tomk:  Well, we’ll have to see if anything surprises you then.

jimmy:  I don’t think so.

And so our Watch continues.  Will Jimmy be surprised?  Find out next time when he and Tom discuss the episodes “Walk of Punishment” and “And Now His Watch Is Ended”.