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Well other than correctly figuring out where the character focus would end with this week's episode, I swung and missed on that prediction.  Of course, I were a baseball player my current .333 average would be outstanding.  No new characters were introduced this week, and in the death department we bid a bland farewell to Ser Dontos, who was far more interesting in the books.  So with that said, let's dive into this episode.

As always, spoiler warnings are on high alert for all the books as well as all episodes of the HBO series.  There is plenty to talk about, even if this was the weakest episode so far this season.  Like almost everyone else, the scene that stood out to me the most was Jaime's incestuous rape of his twin sister in a house of worship while the royal corpse of their secret love-child lay decomposing mere feet away.  I wouldn't say that the show runners jumped the shark with this scene, but I do wonder if for some viewers this proved to be the straw that broke the camel's back, i.e. it left them too uncomfortable to keep watching the show going forward.  Will the episode hurt HBO's bottom line?  I'd be shocked if it did.  But I won't be surprised if it costs them some viewers, even if it's just a few.  That would be quite the feat, because when you're this deep into the story, it becomes rather addictive.

But I almost feel like the show runners sit around asking themselves, "How else can we make George's material even more shocking?"  This was a pretty shocking scene to begin with in the book, but it wasn't the rape that it was in this episode.  And that's really how I viewed it--yes, they had a previous relationship that never really ended, but Cersei clearly didn't want to, but she was too emotionally distraught to really resist the stronger Jaime.  We could get into all sorts of analysis about internal motivations for each of the characters in the HBO version, etc., but all we have to go on is on the screen.  And based on that, this was the equivalent of medieval-oid date rape.  Now I can accept rape in a story if it isn't gratuitous, but this scene was really toeing the line.  In the latest two books, Jaime is by no means a good person, but he has become a far more balanced/nuanced person, a journey that started in full with book three.  We've seen him at his worst in the early books, and this action is far more reminiscent of "asshole Jaime" as opposed to the Jaime that is trying to become something beyond his Kingslayer persona.  Yes, in the book he still had incestuous sex with his sister in a house of worship while their son's corpse was decomposing a few feet away, and that is still pretty abhorrent. But he didn't rape Cersei, and that makes a world of difference regarding how we're supposed to perceive Jaime at this point in his character arc.  Whatever viewer sympathy was built up for Jaime just got smashed to bits.  He is once again that asshole who pushed Bran out the window.  They're now pretty close to square one in making people identify with his character.  *Sigh*.

ETA: I originally made the mistake of recalling that Jaime's "love scene" was in book four when it's actually toward the end of book three.  The scene I was thinking of takes place early in book four, and is by Tywin's corpse--too many corpses and a few years of not having read the books, and I finally got something mixed up.  It's about time. :)  I've fixed the entry going forward with this in mind.

However, they're coming dangerously close to dipping into book four  Knowing that they're this close makes me nervous about that constant question of whether the HBO series will catch up and ultimately surpass George's books.  Looking at it realistically, the two storylines that worry the most where this could happen are Bran and Sansa.  Brienne is a little worrisome as well, because after giving it some thought, I woudn't be surprised if Stoneheart's eventual return toward the end of this season comes not in the form of the ending of A Storm of Swords, but rather with her encounter with Brienne toward the end of A Feast for Crows.  If next week's episode is called "Oathkeeper," that means Brienne is already going to look for Sansa.  If that's what's happening, the natural stopping point for her story at the end of this season would coincide perfectly with the return of Stoneheart.  Once that happens, Brienne only has one scene in A Dance with Dragons, where she reunites with Jaime.  They could conceivably stretch Jaime's storyline out next season quite a bit and even provide some filler on Brienne with Brienne between her ending in AFFC and her next appearance in ADWD, but even so, when I factor all these things in, I've now officially reached the point where I'm cringing when I see material appearing from book four, because the odds are becoming ever stronger than the HBO series will at least catch up to parts of the book.  As I've stated on numerous occasions, once that happens, I'll stop watching the series until the next book comes (and avoid the Internet like the plague each Monday after a new episode).  For me, watching the story unfold on the screen before I read about it on the page would be the very definition of spoiler-hood.  But I'll burn that bridge when I come to it.  For now I'll keep dissecting episodes.

Having gone into such depth on Jaime's scene, there isn't much to say about Cersei here, except having just lost her son and now having been raped, it's possible she might be seen as the more sympathetic character among some viewers.

Moving to the third Lannister child, Tyrion's scene was fairly straightforward, though I don't recall him telling Pod to leave.  In the books, Pod follows Brienne when she sets out to find Sansa, for he's uncertain what else to do, telling Brienne that Tyrion left him (in reference to Tyrion's flight at the end of book three).

Not much to say about Sansa's storyline this week, as it was pretty much by the numbers, though now that she's out of King's Landing her story is going to advance pretty quickly, though I suppose there will be opportunities to stretch it out (I certainly hope so).  From Sansa we skip to Arya, and while the scene didn't bother me that much, I'm not crazy about them turning Sandor Clegane into a thief.  The equivalent scene in the book actually depicts Sandor doing some honest work for honest wages, helping some villagers build a palisade before asking him to leave.  I've come to like the actor portraying the Hound, but I don't think the Weiss and Benioff ever fully got a handle on Sandor when it came to translating his character to the screen.  I'm at a complete loss what is going to be happening next in this storyline, as what normally followed this scene was the fight we saw in episode one this scene, which led to the Hound getting injured and Arya leaving him to bleed to death.  If I were to guess, the writers are going to create a new fight scene not in the books that leads to this exact same result.  At the rate things are going, it shouldn't be too far off, which means it shouldn't be that much longer before Arya's storyline spills into book four as well. *Sigh*.

OK, moving up to the Wall, we have even more changes.  Jon and company never discussed going back to Craster's Keep to silence these treacherous brothers from spilling the truth to Mance Rayder, and the escape of Grenn and Dolorous Edd is completely new to the show, as they were never taken prisoner  (although these angles are interesting ideas).  And Sam never sent Gilly off to Mole's Town with her babe--she remains at the Wall with Samwell until she crosses the Narrow Sea with him, and Sam's plan in the book was to send her and the babe to Horn Hill to live with his family.  There is more to this, but I'll save that for when the wildlings reach the Wall and we get a clearer picture of what direction that storyline is heading.

Over on Dragonstone, I am more annoyed than ever at how they're portraying Stannis.  In the books, he's an utter prick with an iron sense of justice.  There is nuance.  In the HBO series, he acts like a self-entitled asshole.  I'm sick of him threatening to kill Davos--their relationship is far more interesting in the books.  Oh well.  Further proof that the source material is better.  Anyway, I did catch what I believe was the first mention of the Golden Company.  I don't think they'd bother to mention them at all unless they planned on bringing them into the story (most likely next season), which pleases me immensely.  There are still big important plot lines that haven't even been introduced yet into the HBO series, and I'm hoping they incorporate as many of these as humanly possibly, including the Golden Company and all that comes with it.  The other notable tidbit over on Dragonstone appears to be that Davos has come up with the idea of writing the Iron Bank of Braavos, no doubt in order to raise the funds to secure Stannis his necessary army.  This is another deviation from the books, though not egregiously so.  In the books, the Iron Bank ends up throwing its support behind Stannis in book five because of Cersei's failure to repay the crown's outstanding debts.

Finally we come to Daenerys at Meereen.  In the book, instead of Daario Naharis fighting Meereen's champion, it is Strong Belwas, who for the moment has been written out of the show ...though they can always introduce him as a freed gladiatorial slave later on, which would be great.  I would love for them to do this, as Strong Belwas is an immensely entertaining character that adds vibrancy to the story. Otherwise the other big difference is Dany's army catapulting barrels of slave collars over the walls to rally the slaves to revolt.  In the book, they overtake the city when Ser Jorah and Ser Barristan slip in through the sewers.  I thought this change was fairly clever though, so it didn't bother me that much.

My final thought is that it would be great if next week there are fewer deviations from the books so this write-up doesn't take quite so long.  Until my week four prediction!


araken wrote:
Apr. 22nd, 2014 12:00 pm (UTC)
I just checked, and the scene between Jaime and Cersei in the sept is in Storm of Swords (p. 851 in the paperback). It's part of the chapter where Jaimie returns to King's Landing, which in the books happens during the aftermath of the Purple Wedding rather than beforehand.
douglascohen wrote:
Apr. 22nd, 2014 04:32 pm (UTC)
You're right. I mixed that up with the when Jaime and Cersei are talking in front of Tywin's corpse early in book four. Got my Lannister funerals mixed up! Will fix that.

Edited at 2014-04-22 04:39 pm (UTC)
fixnwrtr wrote:
Apr. 22nd, 2014 02:16 pm (UTC)
I did wonder about the barrels of slave collars. Didn't remember that from the books.

I thought the sept scene between Cersei and Jaime was book 4. Nice to know I was right about that. I did not get too upset about it because with Jaime's frustration with Cersei's lack of interest and her peevishness added to what was supposed to have happened (Tyrion telling Jaime about Cersei's other lovers), the scene makes sense. There has always been something about death that brings the need to reaffirm life with sex that I found germane to the scene. There's a lot going on there and Cersei really wasn't fighting that hard for her virtue. Still, interesting as all of this unfolds.
douglascohen wrote:
Apr. 22nd, 2014 04:43 pm (UTC)
Actually, I screwed that up. The scene we're both thinking of from book four is during Tywin's funeral, and there's no sex. The sex scene in front of Joff's corpse *is* from book three, though it's so close to the end of the book my worries remain about the show catching up to the books.

I'll refrain from having a discussion about the rape scene, because if I type one wrong word where my meaning is misconstrued, the Internet will open a can of whoop-ass on me (or anyone) when it comes to this subject. :P
temporus wrote:
Apr. 22nd, 2014 08:30 pm (UTC)
As to whether the show will catch up to George...well, it's season four. We should, in theory be IN book four by now, didn't the show runners announce they intend to do the story in 7 seasons like the 7 books? So, yeah, there's that. I'm not worried about book 6, I think he'll get that one out on time. Book 7...I just don't know. I think it depends how much wraps up in book 6, and how many plot lines fall away over the course of that novel.

The tough part here is: books 4 and 5 are concurrent timelines, not sequential, and with a chunk of book 3 left over to deal with...I expect this season and next to be somewhat all over the place in terms of the novels. Honestly, I am not convinced they can pull it off in 7 seasons without seriously trimming back some of the plot lines. Either that, or they have to expand their season to more than 10 episodes, which I don't think they'll do.
douglascohen wrote:
Apr. 23rd, 2014 02:57 am (UTC)
I've heard that they're targeting seven or eight seasons. Seven seems kind of hard to believe. Eight seems possible. If the show continues to grow in terms of audience, I suppose the budget will expand as well, perhaps enough to expand beyond ten-episode seasons. That might makes it easier to keep everything with the 7-8 seasons without chopping out significant chunks of story, because once you do that, the whole tapestry threatens to unravel.


Douglas Cohen

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