or, the Talking to Talk about More Talking
By Ser Nigel Overstreet
For a show that felt the need to bulldoze a thousand plot lines last episode, this week’s installment of the television program Game of Thrones slammed on the breaks pretty hard. It’s going to be a slow, introspective ride folks, so buckle up! In case we hit a cow or something.
As I understand it, it’s like the WSJ editorial page with less whining
We begin in the Meereenese throne room and it’s awkward silence. Weren’t Dany and the gang out in the provinces or something? Did they just have the whole ride back in awkward silence? That had to have sucked.
Emilia Clarke’s wigs are playing the only note they know how to play; stoic anger. She asks Tyrion why he’s there and he says it’s to advise her, but he hasn’t decided if he wants to yet. Dany says she hasn’t decided if she wants to kill him yet.
To test his super advising skills, she asks what he should do with Ser Jorah.
Dany points out that the last time she saw Jorah, she threatened to kill him and what will the people think of a Queen who doesn’t keep her promise?
I don’t know Dany, what did happen last time you did that? Think back. It was like 3 episodes ago.
They hissed and threw rocks at you. Perhaps a dispassionate, iron handed tyrant with bloodlust against personal slights isn’t what the smallfolks had in mind when you crowd surfed them?
Tyrion says Mormont should be exiled again, so he is.
Their Strong Female™ character is portrayed as needing to take advice from a man.
Nothing. Makes. Sense!
Husband to a gold digger wife…
The Jorah Mormont plot has now been run over, put into reverse, run over again, had a penis drawn on it to draw city council attention and paved over. You now never knew anything was ever there.
In the books, the Danaerys/Mormont relationship is one of the more interesting dangling threads in Dany’s arc. They are the Bear and the Maiden Fair, much like Brienne and Jamie.
When book Dany exiles him the first time, she almost immediately regrets it. She is torn between her anger at being betrayed and the fact she genuinely cares for this man. But really, she’s mad at the fact that he kissed her; that he wanted more than she could give him. She tries to think about being with him, but it’s just not to be. He’s an ugly old man and it doesn’t matter how much he loves her and how much she cares for him, she can’t bring herself to love him as he loves her. And he should have known that. That is Mormont’s real betrayal. He broke an unspoken rule that he shouldn’t act on his feelings because it puts her in the awkward positon of rejecting someone she cares about. He sees her as a woman, and not a queen.
Ultimately, Dany exiles one of her best advisors for very personal reasons.
It’s a plot we can all understand. We’ve all had a crush on a friend who didn’t feel that way about us and we’ve all been crushed on by someone we like, but aren’t attracted to. It’s a universal experience. And it’s made all the more poignant when Dany is with Daario and she wonders if anyone will ever love her as a woman and not as a queen. She rejected the only person who ever could.
The most unrealistic part of this show about dragons is that anyone on earth could not be in love with Iain Glen.
In the show this story is over. Dany isn’t torn about rejecting Ser Jorah, she’s pleased to do it. She only has one note when reacting to him – anger. Jorah doesn’t show genuine affection for Dany as a person, he “worships her” as a queen.
Most importantly, all of this has been covered before. Dany has exiled Ser Jorah before. This is re-hashing last year’s scene. Exactly. Literally and actually. Nothing has been learned by anyone. No arc is present. What, precisely, was the point of bringing Jorah back to meet Dany if we’re getting the exact same scene from the two of them we had last year?
But the show never lets a good story get in the way of plot beats. Show Jorah needs to get to the fighting pit, so off he goes with no thoughts of motivation, characterization or tone.
Jorah runs off to fight into the great pits of Meereen because he’s got the Greyscale and his life is forfeit! …or something
But there is no drama for the audience, because what do we care if he lives or dies?
If he dies, that’s just one more Game of Thrones death. We’ve seen a million of them. We’re desensitized to it at this point.
If he lives, Dany is just going to exile him again. We’ve seen what will happen when he gets to her. She clearly has no more feelings for him, or she’d have shown them. There. Is. No. Tension.
Instead, we’re only treated to Dany and Tyrion talking at each other. It’s annoying because Dinklage is a master craftsman at his art and Clarke clearly doesn’t want to be doing this anymore. It started after her criticism in Season 2, and at this point, she is ready for Game of Thrones to be over (and may be one of the reasons D&D are rushing through the plot and demanding only 7 seasons).
This episode does a whole lot of talking and not a whole lot of plot-moving. You’d think this would be a perfect time to slow down and show the personal relationship we have seen between Dany & Jorah which has been cultivated over 4 years. A relationship the audience has seen bloom and evolve.
The show cares more about this relationship than Jorah & Dany’s
And why not give us this? To tell us, once again, that Dany is infallible. Unbreakable. A perfect Strong Female™ to save us all. She wouldn’t stoop to having more than one feeling about a thing. She’s The Decider!
For all the grief people give a Dance of Dragons about harping on the Meereen plot, at least it made sense and made us more emotionally invested in Daenerys.
Here it’s just more Khaleesi is Jesus!; a boring one note hit so often, the key is played out.
This scene wasn’t bad. It was fine.
Arya is given a new persona, and meets an insurance salesman. Not-Pate tells Arya she’s supposed to just watch this thin salesman and not kill him. He’s a little curt about the idea of Arya dying, which seems out of tone, but I can live with that. It’s setting up cheap drama without payout, but that’s TV. You have to end the scene on a beat, else it falls flat.
But frankly, this scene is shocking to me. It sticks pretty closely with the books. Arya does sell clams and just observes those around her. She does meet an insurance salesman she’s supposed to kill.
And the fact that this scene stick to the books might explain why it’s so good. It hits all the character beats and tells a consistent story.
This goes to show that all the “we can’t stick to the books because boring talking” talking points are full of crap. This episode was nothing but talking for the first half.
And if one of the best scenes involves a synopsis of 14th century, Mediterranean insurance sales, then I think a Kingsmoot wouldn’t be out of the question.
That said, don’t get me started on calling her Lanna. Complete trolling of the many fans who think the character Lanna from the books is @#$%#%.
Sansa is angry! Not frightened or snide like last time. These out of the blue mood changes and inconsistent character beats must be just great for Sophie Turner’s audition reel. Just, not so great for conveying to the audience who Sansa is. Remember how everyone said they wouldn’t show Sansa as a victim of abuse?
I tried to type “Sansa Bolton” just now and I can’t. I just can’t.
Anyway, Sophie Turner and Alfie Allen are great in a poorly written scene.
Theon spills that he didn’t really kill Bran and Rickon. Do you hear that? This show still remembers Rickon!
I wouldn’t do well on Skagos. I’m not really a people person.
That is so very out of character for Theon, but what else is new. In the books, he doesn’t even tell Stannis about the boys while being strung up and threatened with immolation. He doesn’t even tell the Washer Women about Jeyne Poole. His arc is about the nature of internalized identity and concealing authenticity. It’s also another example of Theon making no active choices to do a thing, but passive choices to not do a thing because he’s been tortured to the point he’s afraid to take any action he wasn’t told to take.
Except to try to kill himself. Which he fails at.
But I guess having Theon tell everyone is as good as some kid who saw the whole thing from a tree tell the Manderlys. Well, it’s not, but it will serve.
But nothing beats those delicious Manderly pies!
Also, Ramsay wants to go fight Stannis in the snow, but Roose says no because he’s got provisions for 6 months.
6 lousy months! Winter. Is. COMING!
Its eyes are getting glossy and its breathing heavy. Its legs are shaking and back is arching.
No one thought any of this through.
Cercei is being told to confess. When she doesn’t, she’s beaten by a septa.
We’ve all been there
Well done on making it a woman hitting her, HBO. At this point, it’s the little things.
She’s also being denied water for not confessing, but Cersei remains defiant offering both threats and rewards to an indifferent septa. Granni Gummi wasn’t even this bad (obligatory Gummi Bears reference).
It’s the same tone, but a significant difference from the books, where Cersei is physiologically tortured by being awoken every hour to confess. She’s given food and clothes, which at first rejects. She then acquiesces and submits to her imprisonment. It’s a powerful image that is somewhat mirrored in the show by Cersei sipping spilled water from the filthy floor.
It’s just not the same, though. Cersei’s imprisonment hasn’t changed her. She’s made no concessions.
It is little changes like this which make no sense. Do they exist primarily to make the Faith seems all the more horrible and Cersei stronger for enduring and never giving in?
Why would you need to do that?
Qyburn shows up to tell Cersei that Tommen has stopped eating. What? Is he Baelor the Blessed or something?
Yeah, we’re going to need to lock the she-cats in the Maiden Vault. Don’t ask why.
Oh, now I get it. Now Cersei must escape…to save her son! When she confesses, it won’t be a cunning ploy to escape punishment; it will be a noble sacrifice for the good of her children.
The Walk will not be comeuppance for threatening to do the same to Sansa or a humiliating experience to humble a once proud tyrant. It will be an unjust tool of the patriarchy she will endure for the good of the realm!
Something to look forward to next week. I’m sure it will be handled in the best of taste. Won’t that be fun?
Enough with Olly already. I don’t care. Did we need to loose Satin for your whiny bum?
Why must we be subjected to D&D original characters? It’s like your friend in high school who wouldn’t shut up about his Buffy the Vampire slayer OC, who was like Spike, but better. But instead of being in 2nd period English it’s on television every week.
I can’t think of anyone who likes this kid.
Even Ser Pounce hates you, Olly
Tyrion talks to Dany. Peter Dinklage is an amazing actor. Emelia Clarke’s wigs are also there.
This episode was written by D&D themselves and it shows. Show-only watchers and bookburners take an inordinate amount of joy in telling us how boring the last two books are and how it’s not plot, but just a lot of talking. While the show is, supposedly, all about the action and fasted paced excitement and #EPIC and whatever else the kids are into these days with their music television and what-not.
For them, I’ll leave this episode here. It’s almost nothing but talking, and they are gaga over it.
David & Dan have no problem with lots of talking, as long as it’s their talking. If Martin wrote it, it’s slow and boring. If they wrote it, it’s the necessary for the scene.
It’s all just indicative of two bros who are so enamored with their own work, they forgot it isn’t their work which captivated the audience. If ever two people were born on third base and convinced themselves they hit a home run, it’s David Benioff and Dan Weiss.
Dany decides not to kill Tyrion and Tyrion decides to advise Dany. He points out that she needs the great houses to conquer Westeros, because just killing everyone who disagrees with you does not work. As demonstrated by the fact that all Meereen hates Dany.
She responds by saying that all the great houses are just spokes on a wheel, with some being up and others being down and coming back around again.
But she’s going to…BREAK THE WHEEL!
It’s a great line.
Until you think about it for 5 minutes. Then it makes no sense.
She’s going to dissolve all the great houses? And replace them with what? Is she going to literally kill all the nobles in the land? Is she going to do away with feudalism?
As good a reason as any
I guess an argument could be made for issuing writs to do away with the noble houses possessing retinues and de facto standing armies ala Henry VII. That would be a good idea and a first step towards unification and budding, Renaissance-era mercantilism.
But, that’s stopping the wheel, like Tyrion said.
Is she going to break all the great houses and promote new ones, like the Blackfyres, the Boltons, and the Freys? Because that’s just building a new wheel and you’ve got all the same problems again in a generation.
She’s going to break the wheel. I don’t know what that means.
Firstly, it’s just a terrible idea. Even Aegon the Conqueror & his dragons couldn’t conquer the Seven Kingdoms without the great houses. And he only conquered 6 of them, lest we forget Dorne.
Secondly, Dany does not have a good track record of building anything. Perhaps she should get an idea of what people actually do before going ahead and breaking more things
Lastly, which form of government is she proposing replaces feudalism? So far, I’ve only seen heavy handed Absolutism from her. Is she going to be like Cardinal Richelieu and insist upon only one Queen and everyone beneath her? That’s not an idea anyone can get behind. The smallfolk need some degree of social mobility. The idea that there are only The Queen and peasants erases even the small hope of any social advancement. This does not a happy populace make. Ask Oliver Cromwell.
To paraphrase another great leader who cheated on his spouse, it’s not called the wheel. It’s called the carousel. It lets us travel the way a child travels – around and around, and back home again, to a place where we know are loved.
And they put a circle in the frame. Subtle.
Feudalism in Westeros is based around the family; an institution so fundamental, it transcends species. You serve a family loyally and you are loyally rewarded. That great family will be there for your children and their children. You won’t be assaulted on the road by bandits, because that family will stop them. They will track them down and keep you safe. They will not allow dishonest people to work for them and will not ask you to perform dishonest deeds. In the winter, this family will keep you fed. And you’re a part of that family. A part of a greater whole. You contribute, through crops or blacksmithing or horse training. In war, you wear their sigil on your chest. You are proud of them and you hope they will be proud of you. And if you work hard, your children can become greater than you in this family’s service. If you don’t, there will still always be a place for you. If you are crippled, broken or sick, they will care for you and your family. This is the way it’s been for thousands of years, and this is the way it will always be.
At least this is how it’s supposed to be.
If feudalism is done right, it’s an appealing prospect. When it’s broken, it is chaos and tyranny.
But the people of Westeros aren’t asking for freedom from feudalism, they’re asking for a restoration of order. They were perfectly happy under Robert. Most of them were happy under Aerys (thanks to Tywin).
When you’re a worse King than this guy…
If Dany wants to lead them, she’s going to need to offer some actual form of governance and make a case for throwing out a thousand years of tradition that most people were perfectly happy with before the war.
But, of course, what it really is, is populist allegory for a 21st century audience, which I find asinine. Depending on your political bent, she’s advocating either Communism or Objectivism. Whichever you prefer. She’s going to overthrow the patriarchy, whatever that means. She’s going to bring down big government, whatever that means.
She’s not a politician, she’s a queen. (What happened to khaleesi?) She’s going to break the wheel. I before E except after C.
It’s the fortune cookie regency.
In this, as in most things, I am Josh Lyman
She’s sound and fury, signifying nothing. Because Dany is not a complete person, she’s a symbol. She’s an idea. And this is what happens when you make a character one dimensional. Nothing she wants to do has any substance. It’s why House of Cards fell so flat. They spent so much time making Frank to be only a conniving schemer; he never had any motivation in terms of actual policy.
And so it is with Daenerys. Why does she want the Iron Throne? What’s she doing to get it? Why would she be a good ruler? It’s easy to say she wants to help the smallfolk, but why? Why would her rule be better for the average peasant than it was under Robert? Or Aerys II?
Eventually, if you want to actually rule, you have to say the name of the thing you’re going to do!
But Dany just shouts platitudes.
A noun, a verb and Freedom. That’s the Daenerys Targaryen way.
Two seasons ago, when Dany crowd surfed the freed slaves, people freaked out because they thought it was promoting colonialism or something. Those who felt the need to defend the ethics of art said it was her “Mission Accomplished” moment and that her failures in Meereen would reflect such hubris.
And that was touched on this season with the hissing and the execution.
It was then immediately thrown away.
Missandei walked in and told Dany “Don’t listen to stupid men! Do what you want, girlfriend.”
She then opened the fighting pits and married Hizdar, so everything is fine. It was all her idea and not at all a plot by the great masters to undermine her authority, like in the books.
Even her dragons are still on her side. She still uses them. The symbol of her power and motherhood wasn’t muzzled up and locked in chains. The chains make them more useful!
Rather than showing the problems inherit with massive tools of destruction in peace time, her dragons can just be locked up with no repercussions. They are still used as a symbol of her power and as a literal instrument of the state.
No problems here
Instead of showing the troubles Dany, a fully formed person, has with ruling an unknown culture and the dangers which come from authoritarianism, we are simply shown that Khalessi is flawless.
Nothing is allowed to make sense because any flaws in Dany’s character might alienate her personality cult.
So I guess the show WAS promoting colonialism?
We’re back. I knew we’d be back!
This would be fine, if that’s what they wanted to do. But they just stumbled backwards onto an inconstant message which makes no sense. And they did it because, once again, all must be sacrificed on the altar of Khaleesi Is BAE!
How many T-shirts do they have to sell before I get to see an actual character?
Jon’s in a boat! Tormund Giantsbane and Dolorous Edd are there. Those are two of the funniest guys form the books.
I wonder what penis joke and sardonic anecdote we’re going to get this scene?
Oh. Nothing. Everyone is dour and grim.
Hey, did you know Kristofer Hivju is in a bunch of commercials for Wyndham Hotels? He’s pretty funny in those. Maybe bring some of that to the show.
Or penis jokes. Either way.
Booking through Wyndham Hotels is so easy, I can do it with me member
Anyone else think it’s weird that there are these enormous long boats, but only 2 oars? Seems like they’d have more oars.
The Lord of Bones is there to talk smack to Jon & Tormund. Hey, Lord of Bones. Glad to see you aren’t burned to death! I wonder what role you’ll play this season?
Oh. Dead. You’ll play dead. Well, that was a waste. Tormund just killed him for implying he falated Jon Snow. Which isn’t that bad, really. Gingers clearly have a thing for Jon. You could do a lot worse than Jon Snow, Tormund-Doesn’t-Joke-About-His-Member!
I’d like to mention here how the Free Folk are not the Dothraki. They don’t just kill people for no reason, especially at a parlay. They are descended from the First Men and observe the same traditions as folks in The North. Killing folks for insulting you isn’t their bag.
But I guess the show just wants to show the noble savage trope or something.
They go into the hut and discuss peace terms.
Jon Snow is, in fact, their supervisor
If any bookburners want to bring up how wordy and boring A Feast for Crows is, now’s the time.
They all argue and holler and mention dragonglass (which the maesters call obsidian.) Jon notes that one of his men killed a White Walker with Dragonglass (WTMCO). We know this because show Sam won’t shut up about it.
Most of the free folk will go with Jon, but the Thenns won’t.
Thenn go already!
But because of one of this show’s many coincidences…ZOMBIE FIGHT!
Except Dolorous Edd. If you lay a finger on his head, I will burn this show to the ground
Not bad. I don’t know why the Wights are stopped by arrows or why their decapitated hands aren’t still moving like in Season 1. But, you take what you can get.
We also get to see Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun, or Wun Wun, if you’re nasty. That’s pretty cool, I guess.
I don’t know how he’s going to get on one of those carracks.
Jon fights an Other with Longclaw while trying to get to the dragonglass (WTMCO.) A White Walker walks through fire which is so irritating I want to eat glass. Which the maesters just call glass.
The Others are ice. They do not walk through fire. There was no reason for this other than to have a dynamic shot. It’s the Michael Bay School of Cinematography and Explosioness.
Jon kills an Other with Longclaw, which the children of the forest call Dragonsteel, confirming that Valyrian Steel will, indeed, kill a White Walker. A minor book spoiler, but there it is. Most of us suspected it anyway.
I guess all of this confirmed that Jon is Azor Ahai and the Night’s King is leading the Walkers, but I don’t think so. The rest of this show is so very off base, if Martin told them that Jon wasn’t Azor and The Night’s King is dead, they’d have filmed this anyway. It just looks #EPIC. (Note – D&D confirm in their Inside the Episode that Jon Snow is AA and that is Night’s King).
And I can’t really complain about a scene that just sort of looks cool. It’s not offensive like so many other changes. I like sword fights and this was one. They didn’t give me any sword fight on The Newsroom, so I take what I can get. A cool fight scene for the sake of a cool fight scene is kind of juvenile, but I’ll take what I can get.
Sam Waterston asked for one, but Sorkin said no.
I might say that there are too many quick cuts. Some of them half a second long. Would a long, longer kill them? The fight choreography on this was pretty good. I would have liked to have seen it. Your fight choreographer probably worked really hard on this and the director should have trusted him and worked with him to create a great fight scene to tell a story. Instead, I mostly just saw a swirl of images racing at me so I couldn’t tell what was going on.
Or they could have taken a horror movie direction with it and shown that you can’t really fight a Wight. You can plop all the arrows you want into them, but they’ll just keep coming. You have to fight them with fire and discipline.
But for the most part, it was fine.
Best of all, there was no sexual assault this episode! That’s exciting.
On a side note, I will be on holiday in the old country for the next two weeks, so someone else will be writing ANGRYGOTFAN.com recaps.
But the Old Country in question is Ireland, so I will be seeing a number of Game of Thrones locations while in the north and bringing the good word of the books to the people of Ulster.
I’ll be back with my usual sense of dour sarcasm and irascible wit for the finale.
Until then, keep reading!
– Ser Nigel Overstreet