It's that Game of Thrones time of year again. For those of you unaware of the world of internet piracy somebody out there leaked the first four episodes. Therefore some viewers are a bit ahead of the rest. Those of us who have read all the books that have been published so far are ahead of you by quite a bit. After getting the news, I watched all four episodes in a marathon with a friend to see how this season would turn out. To this end it is only fair to warn you dear reader that there are
Having been one of the 25 million people who kept their vow of Omerta up to the Red Wedding in season 3, I feel no guilt for what I am about to do. Just to keep this in perspective, I've read all the books and then, under a pseudonym, won all the arguments (at least in my estimation of winning) with all the nerds on all the internets. With a pop quiz in mathematics I will clear up where I stand on the important issues of the day:
Equation: R+L=J Answer: True. And you should have guessed that during the first book. And if you have not read the books yet re-watch S01E02.
Equation: N+A=J Answer: False. Can not be true if R+L=J because R!=N and A!=L.
Equation: KA+JL=TL Answer: If TL=Mary Sue then yes. Otherwise Unknown.
Equation: BS=CH Answer: God said no in a letter to his editor, and that was wishful thinking anyway.
Equation: YG=AT Answer: False. When was the last time Varys told anyone the truth about anything?
Equation: SB=AA Answer: False. SB=NK. Isnt that obvious from his attitude?
When will GRRM come out with the next book? I dont know try asking Neil Gaimon.
I'll announce bonus questions for readers now. The Mockingbird will publish the best answer to any of these questions. Really well written ones might get you invited to write for us more often. The questions:
A Bucket knows a Liddle but what Liddle does it know? Does it know Liddle more than Snow?
Does one Glover know what the other Glover is up to?
Has a momma bear gone out howling with a black fish and does baby bear starkly know what is just right?
Without going too deep down the rabbit hole of spoilers, this season has already diverged from the books more than the others by an order of magnitude. Some divergence happened in previous seasons. This is to be expected, as making the show directly from the books would require three times as many characters and cost twice as much as Star Wars. HBO's budget per season is large and well spent.
They key elements of the story and the key traits of the characters were left largely intact until now. This season everything has started to go South (and North). Sending Jamie Lannister as far South as South goes to Dorne is one thing. They needed to bring Dorne into play and introduce us to the lethal young daughters of Oberon Martel that make up a nifty little Brady (or sandy) bunch.
In doing so by bringing a character there that were are already familiar and bonded with the showrunners found solid vehicle. This was a good alternative to using a random member of the Kingsguard who wears his gold cloak like a Star Trek red shirt. In the book he dies in the same way for the same reason – proving the new setting and it's natives are strange and hostile.
When going as far North as North goes the narrative changed characters personalities more than it changed plot and pacing. Somebody had to wonder if there was a marketing focus group involved. I can almost see them dining on little sandwiches made from genuine chimera prosciutto when somebody shouts that "Stannis needs a makeover!"
That Stannis has already been softened for the show. He is an unloveable, teeth-grinding bore of a man that only Davos actually wants to see on the Iron Throne (although that relationship is the subject of a not insignificant amount of slash fic). The show, until now, has tried to somewhat preserve the irredeemable unlovability of Stannis. You might respect him, you might think he is king by right of law and soon of arms, but if you have an emotional register with numbers above 3 you can't actually bring yourself to like him.
Now they have him hugging somebody!?! It's a justified hug. It's a hug between two characters that should love one another and hug. This, however, is "Stannis the Manis," teeth grinding lawful neutral archtype hero for male gendered emotional cripples everywhere. He cut the fingers off the one man in all Westeros who would give him a reach around. He did so because of his sense of justice "A good deed does not wipe out the bad." Nevermind that his now handless hand of the King can't give him a hand while standing by his man. Nevermind that, to Davos, wiping both good and bad is done with the same appendege.
I can learn to tolerate the gratuitous acceleration of the plot line beyond the books via Melisandre's attempt to seduce John Snow. I can almost hear the marketing goons dropping their 8th grade English homework to scream "MOAR bewbies." This is what a friend of mine called "Porn of the Rings." I get it, she is a priestess of fire, she can show up to defend a glacier wearing nothing but a skimpy bathrobe. This is HBO's marketing department making the calls after all.
But Stannis hugging anyone is proof that the thirteen year olds that populate the think tank in HBO's basement should stick to costuming descisions and leave character development to people who can read things that have a picture to text ratio better balanced than 10 to 1.