Wildlings

Game of Thrones Episode Companion – Season 5 Episode 10

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It’s ok guys, it’s ok; there are THEORIES!

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So the winner of the War of the Five Kings is….Balon Greyjoy!!! Ah, so another season of Game of Thrones comes to a climactic end. Whilst this season has arguably been the worst (of the best) so far, you cannot deny that the finale had some wonderful moments. Well, depending on your definition of wonderful. As it stands now, essentially every story has caught up or even overtaken the books – save for an entire side plot featuring the Greyjoy family which fans are hoping will make an appearance in season 6. This episode popped in to say hi with pretty much every ‘main’ character, so let’s start in the east and do a little banana shaped trip across Westeros and Essos.

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The climactic scene of episode 9 was, of course, Daenerys flying off on Drogon. Now, Drogon is still a young’un and not fully grown, so it is understandable why he was hurt so badly from a few blades. We aren’t exactly sure where Daenerys has landed, but due to the arrival of the Dothraki, you can assume it’s somewhere within the Dothraki Sea, which is north of Meereen. It wasn’t revealed who the Khal of this particular khalasar is, but we know that what remains of Dany’s ties with the Dothraki is limited; will she be greeted with welcome arms, or a sword to the face? In the books, Drogon makes himself a home in a cave, which Daenerys calls Dragonstone after her old home. She also gets very ill and has the poos before she seen by a lone Dothraki scout, who then sends for the rest of the khalasar.

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Further east, in Braavos, we saw the concluding chapter for Arya this season. After a bit more overkill with Meryn Trant’s evilness (yes, we get it, he’s a dick) Arya is able to finally act out her revenge, wearing the face of the girl that she helped mercy kill a few episodes ago, which was a pleasant scene to watch! What was interesting here was that we saw, in some form, how the faces actually work. They appear to literally be masks that the Faceless Men can chop and change as they please. Additionally, the show also implied truth behind a theory that many fans already speculated – that Jaqen H’ghar is just a face, not a person. Seemingly as punishment for going against the Many Faced God, Arya is now blind, and even that does happen in the books, but under slightly different circumstances.

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Over the Westeros now. The slightly seemingly irrelevant Dorne scene concluded with the unexpected death (we assume, anyway) of Myrcella. It was kind of obvious as soon as Ellaria kissed her on the lips what would happen, but my mind was briefly taken away from thinking about it too much as soon as Tyene Sand said “bad pussy” and I cringed. I mean, really? As if the Sand Snakes couldn’t get any worse…. As mentioned prior, this whole side story differs quite dramatically from the books. To avoid mild book spoilers (for scenes that I am 95% sure will not appear in the show), skip ahead to the next paragraphs. Ok? Ok. Well, for starters, Jaime is off in the Riverlands, and nowhere near Dorne. Mycrella is still there, and is guarded by a member of the Kingsguard named Arys Oakheart. Doran Martell’s daughter, Arianne (who sadly does not appear in the show) seduces Arys and convinces him to make Myrcella queen, seeing as in Dorne, age matters in succession, not gender. The reason for this is to largely defy the Lannisters. Without going into too much detail, someone snitches, and Arianne’s little rebellion fails, with Myrcella losing an ear in the process and Areo Hotah (the big guy with the glaive that protects Doran) killing poor Arys. What do the Sand Snakes have to do with this? Well, not much…they kind of just bang on about revenge until Doran imprisons some of them, whilst Ellaria…also doesn’t do much, and is a lot nicer! So, anyway, the question that arises now is 1) how will Jaime react? And 2) how will Doran react? I’ve said before about how much I like House Martell in the books, and unfortunately they haven’t really shone in the series, but there is still in in season 6!

 

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Right, King’s Landing. It was a shame that we didn’t get to hear of Margaery’s fate; so at this stage we have no idea what the High Sparrow has in store for her. In the books, Loras is off fighting on Dragonstone, and so the whole trial surrounding his sexuality doesn’t happen. Instead, Margaery’s own virginity is taken into question (bear in mind that book Tommen is about 8 or so, so they didn’t seal the deal). Nevertheless, I’m sure light will be shed on her early next season. No, instead, the focus was on Cersei and her brilliantly done walk of punishment. It was horrible to watch, in a good way…and it was just about long enough that you felt uncomfortable and, despite what you may think of the Queen-mother, sorry for her. The question that now of course is how will Cersei respond to this? Will she get revenge, or is she truly broken? As an interesting side note: lads, this was just a body double with Lena Headey’s head CGI’d on. Some people are complaining that it looked a bit rubbish, but honestly I don’t think you would know. We very briefly saw the return of Kevan Lannister, standing with Pycelle, in the Red Keep. Kevan has been acting ruler since Cersei’s imprisonment, whilst Tommen pouts in his room. We were also introduced to a new member of the Kingsguard….who looks somewhat familiar…but I can’t quite put my finger on it….

Feels like he is staring straight at me...
Feels like he is staring straight at me…

Everything that surrounded Winterfell was show-only stuff. In the books, we last we see of Stannis is that he is marching…forever marching. He does not engage the Bolton force. Sansa is still in the Vale with Littlefinger – in the series, she has taken the role of a character called Jeyne Poole, who marries Ramsay as a fake Arya. Nevertheless, Theon still steps up and leaps from the walls of Winterfell with her to freedom…only to run into Stannis’ army. Right…let’s talk about Stannis. Despite being a Stannis fan, I don’t feel as upset about his death as I thought I would. It was almost inevitable. He became such a tragic figure, and as I mentioned last week, truly desperate. But, like the man he is, he went down a trooper, in the most stoic, Stannis way possible. So, yes, whilst I am a bit gutted that the One True King is dead (in the series, anyway….), it’s almost a relief. Now, all the legit Baratheons are dead… On the plus side, Brienne finally got her revenge…at the expense of forgetting all about Sansa. Shame we didn’t actually get to see the fight, but I guess a lot of the budget was spent on Drogon and Lena’s head. Now, Melisandre…what is your game? You got the impression that her confidence in Stannis was waning as this season went on, especially after her interactions with Jon. Which brings us on to…

Face of pure heartbreak.
Face of pure heartbreak.

The Wall. Firstly, Sam. Now this conversation is carried out a little differently in the books, and it’s actually Jon who insists that Sam go to Oldtown to become a maester, pretty much as soon as he is elected Lord Commander. Sam also takes Gilly, the baby, and Aemon with him, the latter of whom still passes away, but during the journey. Melisandre never actually goes with Stannis, and stays at the Wall. As do Shireen and Selyse, who are still very much alive. The climactic events happen in a slightly different albeit somewhat similar way too. In the books, the Night’s Watch are annoyed at Jon not just due to his empathy with the Wildlings, but because he wants to attach Winterfell to remove the Boltons from power (and existence). The attack on Jon happens through the teary eyes of the Watch brothers, and is not led by Alliser Thorne. Jon is also not tricked about Benjen either – no, no one has heard from Benjen since A Game of Thrones. Also, Olly isn’t there, because that little bastard is a show only character. Nevertheless, Jon is assassinated “for the Watch”. This is where book readers are; “[h]e never felt the fourth knife. Only the cold.” BUT DON’T WORRY!!! Since this happened in A Dance With Dragons back in 2011, fans have been scrambling together any theories they can on how Jon might have somehow survived this assassination. Now, show Jon looked pretty darn dead to me, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he will stay dead. One theory is Melisandre. She returns to the Wall, but for what purpose? We know she has a bit of an interest in Jon, and know that Red Priests have some sort of power that allows them to bring back the dead – think back to season 3 with Thoros and Beric. I believe that she will use her power to resurrect Jon. This may well change the Stark bastard, but changed Jon is better than no Jon, isn’t it? Kit Harington has said in a very recent interview that Jon is dead…but my argument is that he wouldn’t really turn about and go “nah he comes back”, right? RIGHT?! It also seems kind of weird that they would kill off our only real link to the Wall. Sure, Melisandre and Davos are now there too, but they are more supporting characters. There are also dozens of other theories surrounding Jon, such as his parentage, or whether he is some kind of ‘chosen one’, and whether the title A Song of Ice and Fire alludes to him partially. Also, he had his stare down with big baddie White Walker, the Night’s King in episode 8…surely that was not for nothing….right?! Well, until either The Winds of Winter or season 6 are released (the latter, I’m sure), I guess we can keep on speculating.

IT'S FINE OK HE'S FINE
IT’S FINE OK HE’S FINE

Well, now you have just under a year to kill. My advice? The same as last year: read the books. They are phenomenal, and further expand on this world that we know and love. As for me, I need to find some games to review…

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Game of Thrones Episode Companion – Season 5 Episode 8

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Confess….

9.9 this episode scored on IMDb! 9.9!! The highest rated Game of Thrones episode (on IMDb, anyway). Interestingly, this episode also featured a wide range of ‘show-only’ content. Which backs up my point that with the whole Dorne thing, book readers aren’t annoyed because it’s different: they are annoyed because it’s bad. Show-only folks feel the same. But this episode greatly restored my faith (which was never really dwindling, I swear) in the writers’ ability.

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The book-to-show adaptations this week focused solely on Arya and Cersei’s stories. Cersei’s is pretty straight forward, continuing on from last week’s cliff-hanger. Arya’s, on the other hand, is slightly more convoluted and confusing. The question is, what is Arya actually doing? Well, it seems like she is training to become a Faceless Man, that’s for sure. To understand how to be another person, Arya must live the life of another person. Hence, she becomes the oyster seller. In the books, she talks the name Cat of the Canals – a nod to this can be seen during the scene when multiple cats cross her path. The ‘skinny man’ sat at the desk was essentially an insurance dealer (boo!) who had cheated a family out of their money. Arya has killed before, but for her own reasons, so it will be interesting to see how she deals with taking the life of someone who has done her no wrong.

V3UvWGDBreaking away from the books, we are treated to a fantastic couple of scenes between the little Lion and the Dragon. As Tyrion has not yet met Daenerys in the books, this is all original stuff, save the “wheel” speech, which is said to another character. As Barristan is now sadly deceased, it appears that Tyrion will be taking his role (as advisor, anyway, not knight…though that would be good). Tyrion, obviously, knows the political scape of Westeros more than Dany, and doubts she would gain many supporters. However, the Martells were Targaryen supporters until the bitter end, after years of a love/hate relationship between the two. We still haven’t really seen the extent of the Martell’s power, as they tend to keep themselves to themselves…though I’m hoping more light will be shed on them in the final two episodes of the season.

 Ok, time for the biggie. Beyond the Wall (which apparently has some sort of magic spell on it to stop Baby Sam from aging??) is a vast wasteland: the Lands of Always Winter. Very little is known about this area, save a few leagues from the Wall where rangers have explored. The Wildlings have scouted further, as far as Thenn, which is where the bald cannibal people from. Beyond that, however, it is largely uncharted, and the map just kind of fades off. Hardhome is a settlement situated on the east side of the Lands of Always Winter, geographically roughly the same distance north of the Wall as the Fist of the First Men (where the Night’s Watch set up camp in season 2). Hardhome has acted as a refuge for Free Folk all over. Leaderless, they have become shambles, and appear to be governed by a group of ‘elders’ representing each faction. We see the (brief) return of a character from season 2: Rattleshirt, or the Lord of Bones, before he is brutally bashed down by Tormund. This not only shows Tormund’s brutality, but also acts as a final nail in the coffin for another character: Mance. In the books, Melisandre puts a glamour spell on Mance, and disguises him as Rattleshirt, and vice versa. So, it’s actually Rattleshirt that dies on the pyre at Castle Black. Meanwhile, Mance goes incognito and heads south on a secret rescue mission. Book-readers may well have hoped that the same happened in the series, but, alas, it’s not to be.

OldBrightFoalThe climactic scene gave us more information about the White Walkers than we have received in the books. Largely, this is due to the fact that this scene is show-only, and a lot of information on the White Walkers comes from gossip and Old Nan’s stories! Exciting times. Obviously, we still know very little about them – such as their motives, their intelligence, community etc. But it’s apparent they are a serious threat, which many Westerosi seem to poo-poo. Suddenly, the tribulations of King’s Landing seem irrelevant, now that we have seen the real enemy! It’s important to note that this isn’t just a ‘medieval Walking Dead zombie apocalypse’; this is full out war. These undead soldiers (known as Wights) are relentless and brutal, as opposed to your classic zombie which survives on instinct. No, these guys want to hurt you. And now we know how easily the White Walkers (also known as the Others in the books) resurrect their undead Wights. Just a simple ‘come at me, bro’ gesture and you’ve got yourself an army. We also got to see how they really do ‘bring the cold’, and the Wight’s sheer determination as they flung themselves off of a cliff in order to kill their prey. Another big reveal was the importance of Valyrian Steel. I think I have talked about this previously, but Valyrian Steel, as the name suggests, was originally forged by the Valyrians (see my post on episode 5 for information about them). It is said to be the strongest, sharpest metal around, and only a gifted few know the secrets of how to forge it. Known Valyrian Steel swords are few: Ned Stark’s massive sword, Ice, was melted down and presented to Joffrey on his wedding day, and to Jaime, who later passed it to Brienne as Oathkeeper. Samwell Tarly’s family also own one named Heartsbane. Littlefinger’s dagger that was used to try and assassinate Bran is also Valyrian Steel. To my knowledge, these are the only blades that have been mentioned in the books. There were many more, but they have been lost to time

GreedyNecessaryJavalinaThis whole final scene was brilliantly shot, with some wonderful cinematography, and, in my eyes has made up for the awful Dorne scenes (especially choreography wise). And the sound; oh, the sound! I’ll be interested to see how the rest of the Watch react to Jon bringing bands of Wildlings and a Giant (whose name is Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun, or Wun Wun for short, if you were interested) to the Wall. Also, I’m awfully suspicious about that hooded figure navigating Jon’s boat at the end. He didn’t even turn round! I was half expecting it to be some sort of disguised White Walker…or, and I had my fingers crossed for this, that we would hear a voice “Jon?” *Jon looks down* “Uncle Benjen?!” BLACKOUT!

0jG1AvSNext week’s episode is titled The Dance of Dragons, which is an obvious allusion to the title of the fifth book, A Dance with Dragons. Ramsay also mentioned how he would leave Stannis’ army as “a feast for the crows”, which is a nice little nod to the title of the fourth book, A Feast for Crows. Whether you think this season has been slow or not, it’s definitely apparent that it’s picking up now, with next week’s episode looking pretty darn epic, and episode ten will apparently “break the internet”…! Also, Oberyn died this time last year. Just saying.

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Game of Thrones Episode Companion: Season 4 Episode 10

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This article is to be read after the episode has been seen, as and as a result may contain spoilers up to the episode that it’s covering, but no further. So if you haven’t seen the episode yet, go and watch it. Then come back and read this. Then watch the episode again. Then read this again.

Happy Father’s Day, Tywin.

I bet I’m the first person on the internet to make that joke.

So, Game of Thrones is over for another year. What did we all think of the finale? Whilst I don’t think that it was Weiss and Benioff’s ‘masterpiece’, as they claimed it was, I did thoroughly enjoy the episode. Book fans have been simultaneously reeling from the lack of a certain scene, but actually I am kind of glad that it was omitted. Without spoiling anything, the scene that was expected is the epilogue of A Storm of Swords, which is book three in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. It’s a major reveal – I will say no more than that – and would have made a great epilogue to the series. However, had they included it, there episode would have been too packed, I think. There was a lot going on, and a lot of twists and turns in various story arcs. Had this scene been included, I think that it would have taken away from the rest of the episode. Now, I just hope they include it early in season 5, as the longer they wait, the less impact it will have. But I’m not as angry about it being left out as I thought I was, and actually having the episode end with Arya sailing away was quite a nice way to finish the series.

A lot of events unfolded throughout the 65 minute episode, so I will try and cover as much as I can, ending with a note on where the characters all are at the moment.

I’ll start with a scene that was quite easily overlooked: Qyburn and the Mountain. I’m sure that a normal man would have died by the wounds that the Red Viper of Dorne inflicted…but the Mountain is not a normal man. It is revealed here that Oberyn used poison during his fight with Gregor Clegane in episode 8, and this is what is slowly killing him. Qyburn (who was once a maester, but was kicked out for ‘unorthodox’ practices) is the fellow that escorted Jaime and Brienne back to King’s Landing from Harrenhal at the end of season 3. He has been there since, and Cersei has taken quite an interest in him, it seems. Qyburn promises that, through his ‘unorthodox’ practices, he can save Gregor Clegane’s life, but he won’t be the same. As an interesting side note, Qyburn was first introduced in season 3 episode 1, when Robb arrives at Harrenhal after it had been pillaged. Pillaged by whom, you ask? Well, the very person that Qyburn is experimenting on.

Qyburn

Sticking in King’s Landing, Tywin had a very bad day. Firstly, his daughter tells him that his family is built up on incest, and then his youngest son shoots him whilst he is having a poo. Deary me. The most powerful man in the word…killed on the toilet. Here we see the Lannister’s real decline in power. With the patriarchal figurehead eliminated, what will happen to the family now? We already know that the gold mines in Casterly Rock have all but dried up, and the Tyrells are sneaking around, getting their mits into Tommen to manipulate him. Jaime remains in the Kingsguard, and as a result cannot father any children. Indeed, it seems that the Lannister line is all but drying up! Whilst I really enjoyed how Tyrion’s story was played out, I can’t help but be a little upset with some minor variations from the book – it is obvious that Tyrion is a favourite; not just a fan favourite, but Benioff and Weiss’ too. As a result, I think that they are, for lack of a better term, white washing him. In the books, Tyrion is a lot darker. For example (I think I mentioned this before), he once had a singer boiled into stew for threatening to reveal the truth about Shae. In the series, we sometimes see a darker side to him, but not to this extent. Anyway, my point is that Tyrion and Jaime’s departure in the series was on good terms, whereas in the books it is not, which both influences their characters drastically in the next installment. For those interested, this is how it plays out in the books (if not, skip ahead until after the nice picture).
****** SPOILERS KIND OF-ISH BUT NOT REALLY ****
Do you remember the story of Tysha, Tyrion’s first wife? Long story short, Tyrion lost his virginity to her, and then found out that she was a whore, hired by Jaime to help Tyrion become a man. In response, Tywin had his men rape her, and paid her afterwards. Skip forward to the present, and Jaime comes down to the cells to free Tyrion.  He reveals the truth about Tysha: she wasn’t a whore; Tywin lied about it to break up up their un-(in his eyes) holy matrimony. Naturally, Tyrion is mega pissed off, and then proceeds to tells Jaime that he did kill Joffrey, and that Cersei has been having sexy time with Lancel (their cousin, in the first and second series), Osmund Kettleblack (a knight from the books) and “Moon-Boy, for all I know” (Moon-Boy is a court fool). The two part ways, peeved at each other – with Jaime questioning his incestuous relationship, which had been perfect up until now, let’s be honest. Anyway so Tyrion encounters Varys, who’s like “by the way, that’s Tywin’s room up there, jus’ sayin’.” Tyrion ventures up, finds Shae in Tywin’s bed as the show portrays (though he seems to be a lot angrier in the books and pretty much murders her in cold blood) before finding Tywin on the privy. The difference in the scene here is that series-Tyrion seems concerned and upset with Shae, whereas book-Tyrion is hung up on Tysha. He tells Tywin he knows the truth, and asks where Tysha is. Tywin replies “where do whores go?” before Tyrion thwangs him with the crossbow. Like Jaime, Tyrion has this line repeating in his head – “where do whores go?” – heavily influencing his character and the decisions he makes.  So, I for one am very interested to see how their future stories play out!

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Continuing on – so Tyrion finds Shae and kills her out in self-defence, anger, betrayal and sadness. I’m not sure what the weird “I’m sorry” was about, but the scene was very well done. He then finds Joffrey’s old reliable crossbow and hunts down Tywin, putting a big crossbow bolt shaped dent in the Lannister’s power. Varys, who is so awesome, then helps Tyrion escape. Varys is about to return to the castle, but then realises what an awful, silly place it is, and proceeds to boat trip with Tyrion. He doesn’t accompany the Imp in the books, but I’m looking forward to seeing more interactions between the two next season!

Ummm next we have Daenerys. Her exploits in the finale were pretty self-explanatory: Drogon, the largest and most fearsome of her three dragons, went and flamethrowered a young girl. Daenerys wisely finally realises that dragons are actually pretty dangerous, and, full of emotion, chains them up for the time being, which is probably going to end really well. Well, she chains two of them up – Viserion and Rhaegal. Drogon – the most dangerous muthafuzzer – is out hunting and hasn’t been seen for days…

In the North, viewers were treated to some brilliant exchanges between Jon Snow and Mance Rayder, before Stannis shows up and kicks arse. If you recall at the end of season 3, Melisandre tells Stannis that the “true fight is to the north”. So how did Stannis get to the Wall? Last we saw of him, he was in Braavos, which is to the east of Westeros in Essos. From there, Stannis could have sailed north along the Westeros coast and past the Wall, before docking and unloading his troops. But why is he there? Well, to quote George R. R. Martin, Stannis is realising that he shouldn’t become king to save Westeros, but should save Westeros to become king. It is important, however, to note that the Night’s Watch swear they will not align themselves to a specific family or take part in any wars besides their own. This is A Song of Ice and Fire, and it appears that Ice and Fire are indeed now meeting!

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Further north, you may be rubbing your eyelids in confusion as to what is going on with Bran’s story. We know that he is trying to find the Three-Eyed Raven (Three-Eyed Crow in the books) from

Artwork by Marc Simoetti.
Artwork by Marc Simoetti.

his dreams, and he knowsthat it is something to do with a heart tree, which, as I mentioned before, were symbols of the Old Gods (Jon burnt Ygritte under one in this episode too). They arrive at the tree that Bran has seen in his dreams, are attacked by undead, and then rescued by a Lost Boy from Peter Pan. This character is called Leaf, and she is one of the Children of the Forest. Some quick background – the Children of the Forest, though childlike in appearance, are not children at all. They’re kind of like Halfling elfy things. The giants called them “little squirrel people”. They lived in Westeros eons ago, before the First Men settled. When the First Men settled, with their bronze weapons and what not, the Children’s weirwoods were all but burnt down, and what little of them remained went into hiding. That’s just a brief history – you can probably find out more online, as it is quite interesting, but beware, for the night is dark and full of spoilers. Leaf leads Bran, Hodor and Merra (but not Jojen as he is now super dead) to the Three-Eyed Raven, who appears to be a man caught in a tree. His depiction in the books is a lot cooler, but I imagine the CGI budget was pretty much spent at this point, what with all of Leaf’s fireballs, so I guess an old man in a tree will have to do. Suddenly, Bran’s story has become interesting again!

Holy Christmas is that it? Oh, no – Arya. Ok, so book-Brienne never meets Arya, and the fight between her and the Hound doesn’t happen – book-Sandor Clegane becomes weakened by a wound he suffered, then Arya leaves him to die – but this was much cooler, and a pretty bad arse fight scene. Arya has obviously become very suspicious of people, which is why her tone towards Brienne changes as soon as “Lannister” is mentioned. Despite that, she still resents the Hound for killing Mycha (the butcher’s boy), no matter how many whacky adventures they have had. Arya is now stone cold, and instead of giving the Hound the sweet, sweet release of death, she leaves him to die slowly and painfully. She arrives at a place known as the Salt Pans (hence all that salt you saw), searching for a vessel. She is lost and alone in the world, but still has one hope: the coin that Jaqen gave her at the end of series 2. “Give this to any man from Braavos and say ‘valar morghulis’”. And off she pops.

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So, as it stands –

Bran and co. are beyond the Wall, sheltered from harm with the Three-Eyed Raven.

At the Wall we have Jon and the Night’s Watch, along with Stannis, Davos, Melisandre and Stannis’ men, whilst Tormund and Mance are being held prisoner.

Reek/Theon is at Winterfell, where the Boltons have made their new home.

Sansa (going by the name Alayne) and Littlefinger are in the Eyrie, preparing to depart on a tour of the Vale.

Ayra is boarding a boat to Braavos.

The Hound is left dying on a rock.

Brienne and Podrick are still in the Vale looking for Arya.

In King’s Landing, Tommen sits on the throne, surrounded by the Tyrells, much to Cersei’s dismay. Qyburn is experimenting on the Mountain, Jaime is still a member of the Kingsguard, Tywin is dead, and Tyrion and Varys are also boarding a boat to who-knows-where.

Across the Narrow Sea, Dany has chained up her dragons and realises that ruling ain’t that easy, whilst Jorah is moping out in the wilderness somewhere on horseback.

Oh, and somewhere in the Narrow Sea, poor Gendry is still probably figuring out how to row his boat.

I think that just about covers everyone? Apologies if I have missed anyone out.

If you’re feeling a big Game of Thrones shaped hole in your heart, I really do recommend you to read the books. At times, they are quite difficult, tedious, and a tad boring, but overall the story is fantastic and exciting, and gives you so much more depth than the series can. Start with the first book – A Game of Thrones­ – even if you have watched the series thus far, or else you will miss out. Plus, then you can join in the hundreds of theory discussions online, and, more importantly, gloat and act smug to non-book readers that you have read them…not that I do that, of course. Thank you for reading my episode follow-ups, and I hope that you found them helpful and enjoyed reading them, as I did writing them.

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Game of Thrones Episode Companion: Season 4 Episode 9

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This article is to be read after the episode has been seen, as and as a result may contain spoilers up to the episode that it’s covering, but no further. So if you haven’t seen the episode yet, go and watch it. Then come back and read this. Then watch the episode again. Then read this again.

Pyp….Grenn…..THAT WASN’T IN THE BOOKS 😥

There isn’t really that much to say about this week’s episode; it was pretty self-explanatory.  What I found interesting is that with all the goings on in King’s Landing and the rest of Westeros, you could be forgiven for forgetting about the imminent peril that the Night’s Watch were about to face. Jon’s story in this season so far has been mostly filler, but it has all been leading up to this moment. You may even have forgotten who the hell Mance Rayder is (in my opinion they should have shown him in this episode, even briefly, to remind watchers what his biz is), but his threat is ever looming, and, like the rest of Westeros, we may well have thought not much of it. Mance wants the Freefolk to destroy the Night’s Watch, and then Westeros. It all comes crashing down, seemingly quite suddenly. To the north of the Wall, Mance Rayder sits with his massive army of Wildlings, giants and mammoths, ready to attack. To the south of the Wall, on the Westeros side, Tormund, Ygritte and Styr await the King-Beyond-the-Wall’s signal. The signal is given, and both armies pincer-attack Castle Black. The story that Tormund was telling, by the way, was about him having sex with a bear. Tormund’s…member…is a subject that he likes to discuss often – we saw a glimpse of how raunchy he can be in season 3, but yeah, pretty much he allegedly has a huge Johnson, and engaged in coital activities with a bear (not realising it was a bear at the time…apparently).

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For obvious reasons, this episode shares many similarities with “Blackwater”, so it’s hard not to compare the two. Whilst “Blackwater” have the awe-inspiring wildfire sequence, “The Watchers on the Wall” was not without its merits. For starters, how great was that awesome Wall-scythe-anchor-thing? That may or may not have been a nod to “Blackwater” – in the books, Tyrion has a massive chain built around the bay to trap Stannis’ ships in before igniting them. Some fans were a little peeved that the chain didn’t make it into the show, so maybe this is a little tribute to it. And we finally got to see some giants and mammoths in action, squishing and squashing all in their paths. Whilst their arrows did look a bit like a weapon from a JRPG, it was a good way to show just how fierce and powerful they are. Additionally, I think that a lot of the battle choreography was better than “Blackwater” – it looked sloppy and unpredictable, which makes sense when this episode focused on fights with Wildings, who essentially trained themselves and are undisciplined, whereas the soldiers featured in “Blackwater” were castle trained military men. Plus, dat panoramic shot.

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Ygritte’s death was mega sad and very well done. The build-up, with Jon, seeing her alive and safe, smiling, was heart-wrenching. I’m not sure if, given the chance, she would have opened fire – if she wanted to kill him, she would have done last season when she shot him. But it’s ok, because Olly the kid gets there first. In retrospect, there was a lot of foreshadowing indicating that he would be the one to kill her – firstly, she very obviously arrow’d his parents, and the two exchanges a look before he runs to the Wall. A few episodes later, he claims that he is a great shot with a bow. During the battle, he finds one on the floor, and off he goes. Foreshadowing…this show is full of it! The scene ends with a beautifully heartbreaking shot of Jon cradling Ygritte in his arms as the battle rages around him. On the subject of sad things, although Pyp and Grenn’s deaths were pretty upsetting, I also found myself sympathising with the giants: there is a moment when Mag Mar Tun Doh Weg, (or Mag the Mighty for short) the giant that opened the gate in the tunnel, sees his fellow giant get killed. He pauses for a second, before letting out a cry and anguish. Mag is witnessing the extinction of the giants – in the books, there is a song called “The Last of the Giants” that explains this – right before his eyes. It’s only natural that he is a bit peeved.

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This episode also saw quite a lot of character development – not just from Jon, who became stone-cold following Ygritte’s death, but also Sam and Alliser Thorne. Sam, who is usually the source of a bit of comic relief, really came into his own in this episode (and said a swear!) and it is apparent that he is no longer the snivelling craven that first arrived at Castle Black in season 1. And Ser Alliser, who has, quite frankly, been a total knob up until this point, was actually rather likable in this episode! During his 1 on 1 with Tormund, I didn’t know who to root(?) for. Not Janos Slynt though – the slimey coward! Although he will earn no XP from the fight, so that’s ok. Also, I love that Jon spat blood in Styr’s (the bald cannibal guy) face – something dishonourable that he must have picked up from Karl “Fookin’ Legend” Tanner earlier this season. It’s nice to see, as highlighted in the Jon v Karl fight, that Jon Snow isn’t invincible; I mean, Styr very nearly kills him before Jon decides to fight dirty. Though he does survive an anvil to the face, so kudos on that, Jon.

Don't mess with the cook.
Don’t mess with the cook.

At the end of the episode, Lord Snow heads off to try and assassinate Mance – he believes that without leadership, the Wildlings will fall into disarray. A similar thing happens in the books, although in this instance Janos Slynt and Alliser Thorne coerce Jon into going. I don’t think that there is really anything else to say about this episode. I am gutted about Pyp and Grenn – who are both very much alive in the books – but they both died honourably and in service to the Watch, and to be honest, it would have looked a bit silly if all of Jon’s comrades had survived. Still, unexpected and sad. Oh, also, Ygritte was probably pregnant with Jon’s child (I can’t really see them having a spare pigs intestine contraceptive in the sex-cave) so there’s that….

Anyway, next week is the final episode of the season, which is extremely upsetting. We have a lot of loose ends to tie up, and I for one can’t wait. Also, I am very curious to see when this scene comes into play –

This isn't a spoiler because she said it in an interview!!
This isn’t a spoiler because she said it in an interview!!

Game of Thrones Episode Companion: Season 4 Episode 8

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This article is to be read after the episode has been seen, as and as a result may contain spoilers up to the episode that it’s covering, but no further. So if you haven’t seen the episode yet, go and watch it. Then come back and read this. Then watch the episode again. Then read this again.

And this isn’t even episode 9!59Fwway

This episode was fantastic, in my most honest and humble opinion. Whilst sections diverged from the books slightly, it was all very well written and coherent. My only gripe this week was the Meereen scenes, so we will dust over that first.

Some people are outraged/confused about the whole Grey Worm/Missandei thing. Two arguments have arisen here: 1) THAT’S NOT IN THE BOOKS! And 2) but he is a eunuch! Whilst these are both true, I believe that this little filler story is just a harmless side plot. Firstly, no, nothing like this is in the books – I mean, book-Missandei is only ten years old, for starters. And Grey Worm has no interest in her. In fact, if I remember correctly, the two barely interact. But that isn’t a pivotal plot point, I don’t think, and ergo it can be altered and changed to add some show content. So calm your booky faces. Now, I’m no scientist man, but I think that the fact that he is a eunuch may mean that he has no sexual desires at all – isn’t that the point? So I think that his attachment to Missandei is purely on an emotional level. In the books, it is stated that the Unsullied often go to the brothels to lay with the girls, just for comfort. Perhaps Grey Worm’s infatuation is driven by the same desire? Also boobs. But anyway, that scene wasn’t what let the episode down – no, that honour goes to Daenerys. Jorah’s exile should have been a much bigger deal. I mean, how many “Lord Friendzone” jokes are there out there? In the books, this scene is heart-breaking, and unfortunately I think it is one of those ones that just hasn’t translated too well. I think that this is partly down to the writing for that scene, and partly down to Emilia Clarke’s acting, who seems to be getting progressively worse. I don’t know. I think that she was going for the whole “numb” approach, which is fine, but it just didn’t have the emotional impact that it should have. To add some context, in the books, Barristan and Jorah’s ‘reveals’ happen at the same time: Before Joffrey dismisses him, book-Barristan sat on Robert’s Small Council meetings, and as a result knew about Jorah’s spying from day one. After leaving King’s Landing, he dons the disguise of Arstan Whitebeard – an old man – and seeks out Daenerys. He finds her as early as Qarth, still under the guise, and joins her. For obvious reasons, this couldn’t really be done in a TV adaptation, as we would all know who he was. Anyway, eventually Barristan’s disguise is revealed, and Jorah’s all like “you’re spying on her!” and then Barristan is like “mate, you’re spying on her!” The reason why Jorah is exiled and Barristan isn’t, in a nutshell, is because Barristan comes clean straight away and apologises (Dany still punishes him), whereas Jorah just makes excuse after excuse about his spying and never actually apologises. With a heavy heart, Daenerys banishes him. It’s a shame that this hasn’t been translated well, because obviously it’s quite a big deal, and one that has been bubbling for a while now. I’m starting to think that every episode has one ‘meh’ scene in it…

But there were plenty of good ones to counteract it, s’not all bad! At the Wall, the Wildlings have reached Mole’s Town, and are closing in fast. In fact, episode 9 of this series is going to be another Blackwater-esque episode; that is so say, one fat off battle at Castle Black. According to the episode director, it’s going to dwarf Blackwater. Is that a pun? That might be a pun.

Staying in the north, can we please just take (another) moment to appreciate Alfie Allen’s portrayal of Reek? I know I keep going on about this, but it’s absolutely brilliant. You could see how constantly petrified, broken and terrified he is, especially considering he was this cocky little so-and-so in the earlier seasons. So the story here is that Ramsay wants to please Daddy Bolton by taking the stronghold that is Moat Cailin (we saw it in the opening credits). Moat Cailin is an extremely strategically placed fortress, built in the centre of the swampy lands that separate the Northern Kingdom and the south of Westeros. The Ironborn took it over when Balon Greyjoy decided again that he wanted the North…and just kind of sat there. Reek manages to convince them to leave, promising them safe passage…and then they get flayed. If you were wondering what Reek was muttering through the scene, it was “Reek, Reek, rhymes with meek” – a  rhyme (or variation of) that he repeats consistently throughout the book to remind himself ‘who he really is’. Anyway, in a “one day, all of this will be yours” kind of manner, Roose Bolton, pleased with his bastard, rewards him by legitimising him – he is no longer Ramsay Snow, but Ramsay Bolton. And if you didn’t work it out, that castle that there were heading to at the end of their scene was Winterfell – Roose, as Warden of the North, is claiming the castle as his seat of power.

Game of Thrones Season 4 Episode 8In the Eyrie, Littlefinger is being confronted about Lysa’s sudden, suspicious death. The three people interrogating him are Lord “Bronze” Yohn Royce (who lead the interrogation), Lady Anya Waynwood, and Ser Vance Corbray. The former two are the heads of houses sworn to House Arryn, and the latter is a knight from another noble house in Vale. What’s interesting here is that this may well have been the first time that we see Littlefinger without a plan. Pushing Lysa out of the Moon Door was quite impulsive, I think, and he may not have considered the consequences.  For all he knew, Sansa would spill the beans, which would probably have resulted in fox lord Baelish following in his wife’s footsteps… But, luckily for him, Sansa has picked up a few things in her time at King’s Landing, and uses her own weapon – her tears – to defend Petyr. Oh yes, introducing a new player to the Game: Sansa Stark. These two are going to make quite a formidable team, I think – especially when you think about how much combined influence they have together: Petyr Baelish has the Vale (which is pretty darn big) and Harrenhal (also pretty darn big), whereas Sansa is the key to the North (pretty darn biggest). Fun bit of trivia – Lord Yohn Royce’s son, as Sansa mentioned, joined the Night’s Watch. He was one of the first people we saw brutally die in the very first Game of Thrones episode, in the prologue. So that’s nice to know.

 

Ok, so once again the climax of the episode was King’s Landing, which is generally where shit’s going down. Tyrion’s beetle story was a show-only inclusion, and fans have been baffled about what it meant. There is no right answer, really, so you can decide for yourself – though I think it may allude to how pointless all the killing in Westeros is, and how the gods (if they exist) really don’t seem to care. Another lovely speech though.

On to the main event of “The Mountain and the Viper”…the Mountain and the Viper! In my opinion, this scene was done perfectly. I was worried that Oberyn’s shouting may have been drowned out by

Alternate ending
Alternate ending

the sound of steel on steel, but the fight was paced very well, allowing intervals of mocking-to-hysterical shouting. It was brilliant, epic and gave me chills. Sure, some of the choreography was different to how it is described in the book, and the Mountain didn’t accidentally slice an innocent bystander in half during the fight (yeah…) but who cares – it was exciting, tense and very impressive. But, alas, Oberyn’s hubris got the better of him. See, he had multiple chances to kill the Mountain where he stood. But Oberyn didn’t simply want to kill Gregor Clegane: he needed a confession. There is a passage in the book where Oberyn says something along the lines of “if you die before confessing, I will hunt you through the seven hells”. The Red Viper of Dorne is a renowned fighter, and it shows – and to take down the Mountain is no easy feat. But unfortunately Oberyn makes one wrong move, and it costs him um…pretty dearly. Whether the Mountain died or not is not yet revealed, although even if he did, Tyrion still lost the trial as his champion died first. What’s important to remember here too is that Oberyn wasn’t just some knight or sellsword; he was a Prince of Dorne…I don’t imagine that his death, despite the fact that he willingly put his life on the line, will go down well back home.

I have seen a lot of posts on t’internet in the last few days in which people have been posting their anger at Oberyn’s death. Not the gruesome, horrible manner of it – but the death itself. People claiming that it was only done for shock value, for example. This is all wrong. Events such as Ned’s death, the Red Wedding, and the outcome of this fight are obviously shocking, but that’s not why they’re there. There are very few “good guys” or “bad guys” in Game of Thrones; pretty much everyone is morally grey. Oberyn, no matter how awesome, died due to his own neglect. In a recent post I read on reddit, one user summed it up perfectly: “the whole point of the Song Of Ice And Fire is that characters face the consequences of their actions whilst playing the game of thrones. Ned died because he was naive and put his trust in the wrong people. Roose/Ramsay are still alive because they are playing the game correctly by being intelligent in regards to their alliances.” There is a much deeper meaning than just ‘GRRM likes to kill off characters’ – there is a reason behind all of their deaths. I just hope that fans can see that, and don’t just look at is as ‘an attempt to top the Red Wedding’.

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To tide you over, here is Arya’s slightly maniacal laugh, accompanied by the biggest “….fuck” face I have seen, on the Hound. DON’T READ THE YOUTUBE COMMENTS.