Game of Thrones: Stormborn   Books Included 
July 24, 2017 7:35 AM - Season 7, Episode 2 - Subscribe

Daenerys convenes the Rebel Alliance. Jon gets Captain James T. Kirk Syndrome. Iron Island ships meet in the night. Arya meets old friends.
posted by filthy light thief (87 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm not sure if we want to keep episode-by-episode posts for season 7 Books Included, or make a Season 7 Books Included thread, but given the amount of discussion in the prior episode, I think new Books Included posts per episode are warranted.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:36 AM on July 24 [1 favorite]


I kind of feel/hope that the books are going to have a more interesting use for the direwolves. In the show, it feels like they've been keeping their appearances to a minimum to save money.
posted by drezdn at 7:52 AM on July 24 [2 favorites]


Goddamn do I ever hate Euron, and D&D's apparent inability to write villain characters who aren't simply mustache twirling supermen.
posted by codacorolla at 7:56 AM on July 24 [4 favorites]


(double posting now that there's a book thread too)

Where's Rickon Stark? I have forgotten, I guess... In the books I want to say he is hiding in the countryside with his wildling nanny? Or did she get murderized in the Boltons at Winterfell situation?

What are the Dothraki supposed to do in the (already foiled) plan as laid out on Dragonstone?
posted by mzurer at 7:57 AM on July 24


In the book he should be on the cannibal island.
posted by drezdn at 8:00 AM on July 24 [2 favorites]


In the books, Rickon and Osha disappeared into the northeast of Stark territory. My theory is that they're on Skagos. In the show, they were both killed by Ramsey - Osha at the castle and Rickon just before the Battle of the Bastards, with Ramsay making him run towards Jon then shooting him on the way.
posted by harriet vane at 8:02 AM on July 24 [3 favorites]


I kind of feel/hope that the books are going to have a more interesting use for the direwolves. In the show, it feels like they've been keeping their appearances to a minimum to save money.

Yeah, this more than anything has been my interesting takeaway from the show interpretations of the books. The show simply can't afford to have as large a cast as the books, even if it weren't for the "confusing" nature, so you have a lot of major-minor characters that have been cut, and now we're kind of seeing the holes around them and the holes when the show tries to simplify.

Like, for example: in the books, there is a rebellion that harms Myrcella - Darkstar cuts off her ear after the rebellion by Arianne. But will the Sand Snakes then in the book poison Myrcella in addition? Or is Cersei's reaction to the poisoning of Myrcella a standin for her anger over the ear-cutting of Myrcella? Or is it the show's attempt to simplify the complex succession claims and warring issues? For example, I imagine Cersei attempting to raise herself to Queen is something that would be much more easily countered if you, say, had Cersei's daughter who has a legitimate claim under Dornish law.

Similarly, the Sand Snakes are an issue. In the books, they are all over the damn place, whereas I think the show has all of them together on that boat? So in Show World, are the Sand Snakes all dead? But in the books they can also kind of afford to kill a few off, because the other deadly ones remain.

Also, is Euron even going to be capturing the Sand Snakes in the books? Like I have literally no clue - we've talked about how it makes way more sense for him to give Cersei the horn, but the horn doesn't exist in the show. Is the substitute horn that crossbow, or does the crossbow also exist but maybe less effectively? This is all so fucking fascinating that I am going crazy with each episode.

That's actually also the main reason why I'm kind of 'meh' about the Missandei/Grey Worm plotline. There's no romance there in the books and can't be because she's a child, and neither of them have any particularly useful information no other character has so we aren't being fed info secretly through the romance scenes, so I'm kind of like "this gives me no keys to mysteries, so eh?"
posted by corb at 8:08 AM on July 24 [7 favorites]


On an animal nerd note:

I was delighted to see how Nymeria is basically the lead wolf of her own pack -- like, the standard theory is that the pack is led an """"alpha"""" male wolf who fights viciously to establish dominance over everyone, including all the other wolves, except maybe his chosen mate. However, it's been debunked as basically what happens when you throw unrelated wolves together into an unnatural living situation where they can't leave. (I can't believe that I just linked to a Cracked.com article as a citation, but that's 2017 for you.) Instead, when wolves are free to self-assort, wolf packs are usually the result of a single breeding pair with their offspring or close relatives and or wolves that come into the family structure.

I am 99.9999% sure that the show was not thinking this deep, but I fucking love the idea that not only do wolves not follow this alpha-beta dominance pattern that's been used to justify all kinds of MRA nonsense, but that when Nymeria rolls up on Arya, she's surrounded by her children and possibly even grandchildren, assuming that direwolf-wolf or direwolf-dog life cycles look anything like regular wolf cycles/wolf dynamics. Arya has been thinking of Nymeria as part of her family and this wonderful, golden time -- well, how did Nymeria end up with her? When her mother died brutally and in pain. Did Nymeria have any choice about it? Nope, and then, Arya and Nymeria bonded, but Arya drove Nymeria away. Nymeria had to make her own life, running free with as close to her own kind as she has now that all of her entire fucking original direwolf pack is dead, building her own pack made out of her actual kin, and who she actually chose.

Plus, if Nymeria's breeding cycle follows regular wolves, and we're in this sort of extended winter -- wolves typically give birth in spring, meaning that they're pregnant in winter. Thus, when she's onscreen, Nymeria might be pregnant with her next litter of pups. I love the idea that she isn't leaving her pack and her mate behind to run around with Arya. When a wolf gives birth, she's dependent on her pack to hunt and bring food to her in the den while the pups are too young to be left by themselves, and well, can she count on Arya to do that?

Also, and this is why this post is in the book thread -- I love the implicit nod, intended or otherwise, to the idea that these are wolves harassing Lannister-aligned troops and settlements in the Riverlands or what have you. Like, rabbits and voles and the occasional deer aren't supporting a pack like that. But farms, with barns full of cows and sheep? Supply trains full of mules and horses? The occasional hunter, or isolated farming cottage, poorly defended and not used to using farm implements against two dozen snarling wolves, led by basically the wolf equivalent of Captain America?

On a diet like that, a fair number of each season's half-direwolf pups are gonna make it. When winter comes, the lone, etc.
posted by joyceanmachine at 8:18 AM on July 24 [17 favorites]


The main thing that Nymeria reminded me is that all the warging which was so critical for Bran and Jon last season is so far unmentioned. I know we're only two eps in, but not even a reference, and a very short season, I suspect it's not going to be as critical... I mean really, we've seen Jon a bunch and not a sign of Ghost?
posted by mzurer at 8:33 AM on July 24 [9 favorites]


Other things that the show made me think about related to the books:

1) SANSA ISN'T EVEN IN THE NORTH MOST LIKELY. So that's maybe why Jon can't send Sansa to treat for him, or various other theories - because the 'Stark' that married Ramsay is fake-Arya, or Jeyne Pool, and has nothing to do with the Vale. This is maybe also why you haven't seen the implications of the Valemen being taken into consideration - because they're not there in the books, and D&D don't want to screw things up too badly in terms of army numbers.

2) ARYA'S CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

So I think actually the show is doing Arya a disservice in making her the fan-favorite-murderer that takes on all of the book murders, and I think it's kind of on display here, and also will affect things like how she relates to people and Nymeria. Things like, for example, Frey Pie. While I enjoyed like hell the Frey pie served in show and book and appreciate the show's callback to it, in the books it was Wyman Manderly who did it, which makes so much more sense - he's an old man who has brooded on the death of his sons. That's what makes the murder and subsequent pie-baking resonate and feel real. With Arya - she hasn't really had time to learn that kind of bitterness and hatred, even working for the House Of Black And White. They kill, but they don't kill for vengeance, and there's an enormous difference even between killing someone, a Lannister on your list, cleanly with a knife or a sword, and baking people into pies.

Same with the murder of all the Freys. In the books, that's probably left to UnCat, so Arya probably only has a few murders under her belt - not that hard to come back from, in Westeros. But making Arya everyone's favorite vengeance-assassin, now responsible for dozens of deaths and essentially feral - I don't know that I like that, as an Arya fan, honestly.
posted by corb at 8:58 AM on July 24 [10 favorites]


Yeah Arya is basically taking the Stoneheaet role in the show. That's … maybe more clever than good.
posted by KathrynT at 9:32 AM on July 24 [5 favorites]


KathrynT: Yeah Arya is basically taking the Stoneheaet role in the show. That's … maybe more clever than good.

Except Stoneheart had a posse, and Arya is the solo assassin. The cold-heartedness of Stoneheart was apparent because of her company, who sometimes questioned her brutality, if I recall correctly. Arya has no foil, though the Nymeria scene might have provided a moment of that -- perhaps more of a momentary mirror in which Arya could gaze and see a bit of herself.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:43 AM on July 24 [1 favorite]


That's … maybe more clever than good.

This describes many things I think about the show's later seasons. I mean god bless them tho, having to include so much that turned out to be dead ends and red herrings.

I prefer the brotherhood without banners arch with the hound in the show far more than lady stoneheart. She felt like bridge too far for me in the books, like one more zombie person?! and one who was essentially co-opting our fun robin hood analog into a bunch of murder zealots for her personal shit list.
posted by French Fry at 9:56 AM on July 24 [5 favorites]


My fiancée pointed out that the first time she came back to my place it was because I'd told her that I had The Critic on DVD, so she definitely would have been down if a dude told her that he had dragon skulls back at his castle, and Cersei could go pound sand if she felt like being judgmental about it.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:15 AM on July 24 [4 favorites]


Was the thing Euron was using to shoot fire a ballista or something else?
posted by drezdn at 10:24 AM on July 24


Pure GOT villain toxic masculinity. It spits hot fire.
posted by French Fry at 10:25 AM on July 24 [12 favorites]


Do Trebuchets exist in Westeros, and if they don't, how do people launch 90kg more than 300 meters?
posted by drezdn at 10:27 AM on July 24 [2 favorites]


One thing I couldn't figure out - in the first Jorah scene, the maester tells him he'll live a while, and that his brain won't go for a while (weeks? months?) and then tells him he has one day, and the camera pans to his sword (implying I guess that he could commit suicide). I didn't get that - why only one day? Was the maester going to take his sword after that?

(also, ugh, I can't stop picturing that gruesome surgery scene, ugh ugh ugh)
posted by lunasol at 11:07 AM on July 24 [1 favorite]


one day before they shipped him to old Valyria I believe.
posted by French Fry at 11:12 AM on July 24 [2 favorites]


they were going to send him to valyria. I think the exact line was that if he wasn't an annointent knight they would send im right away, as it was they were giving him a day (to kill himself?)
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 11:12 AM on July 24 [2 favorites]


Do Trebuchets exist in Westeros, and if they don't, how do people launch 90kg more than 300 meters?

Doesn't Jaime threaten to load Edmure's baby in one if he doesn't give up Riverrun?
posted by asteria at 11:17 AM on July 24 [3 favorites]


Ah, ok, I missed that. Thanks!
posted by lunasol at 11:30 AM on July 24


The thing that they have had to cut that perplexes me the most is Bran. The books make it seem like Bran will eventually be the lynchpin of the dramatic climax, but it seems like the show is just going to use him to deliver some exposition and maybe prove to everyone how serious the threat of the zombies is? I don't know, if they can distill Bran's character to that, it makes me just kind of shake my head at all the wasted pages on him in the books. Like, not quite as bad as Quentyn Martell, but close.

And the show is basically done now with direwolves? Ghost still lives, but Jon doesn't seem to need him much, and Jon will probably be off at Dragonstone for at least the rest of the season. I've got to believe the wolves are going to be a bigger part of the books, because otherwise, wtf.
posted by skewed at 11:32 AM on July 24 [4 favorites]


I doubt they will ever exist, but I feel as though the book and show are necessarily very different stories at this point. Perhaps arriving at the same location, but with vastly different trajectories and themes.
posted by codacorolla at 11:34 AM on July 24 [1 favorite]


Nothing is as bad as Quentyn Martell.

Except maybe Jon Connington.
posted by Justinian at 11:41 AM on July 24 [3 favorites]


Jon Connington, for sure.
posted by culfinglin at 12:35 PM on July 24


I think I'm the only "Griff is actually Aegon" believer left. Because after the Quentyn's plot turned out to be a big pile of nothing I can't imagine introducing yet another set of characters in the same book who turn out to be an even bigger pile of nothing. Though after Tyrion's entire story in A Dance with Dragons was reduced to "how about Varys ships him over in a box", I do have my doubts.

Jorah being stuck with Jon Connington's greyscale indicates maybe greyscale is important in the grand scheme of things?
posted by Gary at 1:33 PM on July 24 [3 favorites]


Jorah being stuck with Jon Connington's greyscale indicates maybe greyscale is important in the grand scheme of things?

I have no textual support for this and but... greyscale seems to have some connection to Valyria, maybe greyscale provides protection against dragonfire. Otherwise, what the hell is the point of making up a new disease and giving it to dramatically important people. Maybe Jon Connington's role in the books is to be the one who can withstand the attacks of Euron's horn-enslaved dragons? And in the show, that gets to be Ser Friendzone, in the ultimate act of trying to buy Dany's affection?

Nah, only Dany should be able to withstand fire. Still, I think there's some connection.

Oh, and I think Griff is Aegon, and it will end up not mattering in the books so they wrote him out. I think it'd be cool if he doesn't even die, just doesn't get to be king or even powerful. Just because you're a nice guy and have the bloodlines to back your claim doesn't mean you get the throne. Is there a lot of textual support for Aegon being a fake (I know that there's no real "proof" about what baby was killed by the Mountain or whomever)?
posted by skewed at 2:14 PM on July 24 [2 favorites]


In the books Arya is hinted (stated? It's been a while) to have been warging into cats in Bravos. So potentially they'll be some connection there between her and Nymeria if/when she ever makes it back to Westeros. Although considering Jon warging into Ghost has been pretty much ignored I can't see this ever coming into play on the show.

Talking about holes created by moving people around the show has written itself into a bit of a corner with Jaime's arc. Last we see in the books he has been lured off by Brienne to date unknown with the Brotherhood. I've been doing a bit of musing wether his story has been conflated a bit with the Hounds for the screen but I am not quite sure how that would work.
posted by arha at 2:29 PM on July 24 [2 favorites]


I haven't dug too deep into it. It's possible that fake-Aegon theories are just /r/asoiaf and similar communities getting bored in the off-season.

Some theories are about him actually being a Blackfyre. So that may actually have some legs. The TV show would basically need an extra season just to get started explaining that. So they'd have to write him out no matter how important he became. But I get the feeling George R R Martin likes the Targaryen backstory more than this book series (Fire and Blood is now going to be a two book series) and working more of that into the story seems up his alley.
posted by Gary at 2:29 PM on July 24


A lot of the FAegon theories mostly revolve around the "mummer's dragon" prophecy, implying there is one false Targaryen, with the mummer in this case being Varys, who likes to pull the strings from the shadows.
posted by corb at 2:57 PM on July 24 [3 favorites]


I have no textual support for this and but... greyscale seems to have some connection to Valyria, maybe greyscale provides protection against dragonfire. Otherwise, what the hell is the point of making up a new disease and giving it to dramatically important people.

I was about to say, what good is protection against dragonfire when the disease has reached your mind, but then again we have a handful of characters who have experience warging into the bodies of other characters, so... maybe we end up with a dragonfire-proof remote-controlled warrior? Or more than one? Seems like a stretch but I can't imagine any other significant direction to go with greyscale and its mysterious connection to Valyria.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 3:32 PM on July 24 [3 favorites]


"Game of Thrones has been awful to its LGBTQ characters except for the dragons which are Queer and doing well" - jpbrammer on Twitter

Justification: "Dragons are neither male nor female..."
posted by larrybob at 4:46 PM on July 24 [2 favorites]


The main thing that Nymeria reminded me is that all the warging which was so critical for Bran and Jon last season is so far unmentioned.

I don't think Jon is a warg on the show (an neither is Arya: no wolf dreams). He's certainly never warged into Ghost the way Bran did with Summer.

With Jon leaving for Dragonstone, I hope we get to see Ghost to spend some quality time with Sansa.
posted by homunculus at 5:30 PM on July 24




I thought there was general agreement that Jon had warged into Ghost when he was murdered by the Nights Watch.
posted by mzurer at 5:49 PM on July 24


As far as I know that's an unconfirmed theory about the books. On the show, Jon echoed Beric Dondarrion when he told Melisandre that there was no afterlife, only darkness. He didn't experience anything while dead.
posted by homunculus at 6:17 PM on July 24




In the book he should be on the cannibal island.

lol, of course there's a cannibal island.
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:28 PM on July 24


This week's D&D D&D session had something for just about every kind of RPGer!

• The plotting table reminds us that the new draft rules on mass combat will likely play a large role this season.
• Daenerys & Varys perform an intricate dance of Insight, Intimidation, and Persuasion checks.
• Missandei demonstrates she's been taking the Linguist feat every 4 levels, and passes an Int (Religion) check.
• Tyrion uses animal messenger to send Daenerys's summons to Jon. This spell is usually associated with Druids, but also shows up on the Bard spell list. (OK, strictly speaking it's the maesters sending ravens, not the lords writing the messages.)
• Jaime has an inconclusive result on his Persuasion check against Lord Tarly -- or the DM is keeping the result secret for now.
• Qyburn uses the aid action to assist Cersei's ranged attack; she doesn't have proficiency in ballista, or other siege equipment presumably.
• Tyrion announces his cunning plan to split the party's armies.
• Lady Olenna's Persuasion check against Dany likewise has an inconclusive result.
• Sam puts his new proficiency in using a healer's kit to good use.
• Various Northern lords all fall Persuasion checks against Jon.
• Jon crits a grapple against Littlefinger.
• Arya passes an Animal Handling check, yet fails to follow it up with animal friendship.
• Finally a combat encounter! This commenter won't bore readers with a play-by-play, but we did see some excellent weapon skills from the Sand Snakes before they fell. It's too bad that Euron is obviously the DM's SO or brother or something so gets all those rolls fudged in his favor. Prolonged behavior like that can ruin a table toot-sweet.

An interpretation through D&D rules of the Grey Worm-Missandei scene was omitted deliberately, and instead is left as an exercise for the reader.
posted by The Nutmeg of Consolation at 6:29 PM on July 24 [18 favorites]


Jon Snow told Melisandre that he didn't experience anything, but that doesn't mean he was telling the truth. I had forgotten that they have put his resurrection at least apparently on Melisandre... In the books it's not unconfirmed though, he sees through Ghost's eyes a number of times.
posted by mzurer at 7:00 PM on July 24 [1 favorite]


An interpretation through D&D rules of the Grey Worm-Missandei scene was omitted deliberately, and instead is left as an exercise for the reader.

Grey Worm seemed to perform an impressive cunnilinguist feat on -- what, fine, I can see myself out
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:05 PM on July 24 [4 favorites]


Is "next week on..." off limits on this thread as well as show-only? I can see why it might be because we're in unchartered territory now; just asking.
posted by torticat at 7:10 PM on July 24


In the books it's not unconfirmed though, he sees through Ghost's eyes a number of times.

Oh yeah, Jon is a warg in the books. I meant it's unconfirmed that he warged into Ghost when he was stabbed, but maybe I need to reread that passage. But he doesn't seem to be a warg at all on the show. They've made that exclusive to Bran.
posted by homunculus at 7:12 PM on July 24


Is "next week on..." off limits on this thread as well as show-only?
Yes. On all shows, for all things, "next week on..." is considered spoilers.
posted by coriolisdave at 7:44 PM on July 24 [3 favorites]


Got it!
posted by torticat at 7:46 PM on July 24 [1 favorite]


It was a pretty good episode, and so far I'm liking this season more than last one. At some point in the middle of it though, I think it was at the end of the scene where Arya eats a pie or whatever, I'm sure I heard in the background someone say "It's 200 miles to King's Landing, and we've got one bottle of rum. Think we'll make it?" It seemed like the voice was coming from someone on a cart that had set off, presumably in that direction, and was rolling along at about 5 miles per hour showing no prospect of getting any faster. So no, even if we assume that only two people are to be sharing that bottle of rum, for that seems to be the minimum unless the speaker was addressing only himself which seems unlikely enough given that the viewer could plainly hear it and thus so could all the other people around, and none of them thought it odd enough to comment on. No, you will not make it. You will more likely drink all the rum, fall asleep for a while, wake up, relax, eat breakfast, lounge about for a while, and then be thirsty again before you've made it a third of the way there. Particularly if, as seems likely from the nature of the comment and not unlikely given the general milieu, rum is an essential part of your regular diet. It's not even close enough to qualify as a respectable jest. So far as I know there is no indication that bottles are of unusually large size in their universe as compared to ours. What are you talking about, anonymous background character.
posted by sfenders at 7:48 PM on July 24 [6 favorites]


When did things flip-flop and show-only became the haters thread?
posted by skewed at 9:07 PM on July 24 [5 favorites]


Super Euron kinda kills my mood. I imagine this is book Victarion, who is the greatest pirate of the world etc, but who also lost the contest for the throne.

Also, we're meant to infer the sand snakes had never dealt with attackers trying to overpower them with physical force before?

Not hard to believe that half the iron islanders were awful warriors (they lose every time) but you'd think they'd have scout boats at least. In general the battle didn't do it for me.
posted by ersatz at 11:59 PM on July 24 [2 favorites]


It's too bad that Euron is obviously the DM's SO or brother or something so gets all those rolls fudged in his favor. Prolonged behavior like that can ruin a table toot-sweet.

Best Euron description ever, and we just had that whole thread about this topic on the blue.

Super Euron kinda kills my mood.

So much this. I hate the whole GoT invincible douchebag trope. It was tired with Ramsay, and it's even more tired this late in the game. It was so bad I was rooting for the Sand Snakes, which... who knew that could even happen?
posted by mordax at 12:45 AM on July 25 [7 favorites]


Also, we're meant to infer the sand snakes had never dealt with attackers trying to overpower them with physical force before?

The sand snakes do better with more open space. Like on a sunny patio in Dorne where they can really show off the whip and dagger skills to their best advantage. And especially when they have on the cool nipple-armor.

All that choreography is hard to pull off when you're crammed on a bloody ship deck with Greyjoys killing each other all around and no one is even paying much attention to your sick moves. (Hard to know, for that matter, in the dark, which of the Ironborn you are supposed to be fighting against.)

However, I was disappointed that WhipSnake was so easily disarmed. Seems like if the whip is your weapon, one of the first defenses you might learn is how not to let it get wrapped around your own neck, and bloody CHOKED with it.
posted by torticat at 3:53 AM on July 25 [4 favorites]


And what about the famous poison? The sandsnakes can pull out a poison lipstick to murder a teenager, but not a poison stilletto while fighting a monster pirate? Pfffffft. Good riddance.

Euron's arm better drop off next episode at least.
posted by arha at 5:40 AM on July 25 [7 favorites]


He got stabbed a few times, right? Right? So I expect to see him doing his best Black Knight impression next episode, telling everyone "it's just a flesh wound" as he hobbles around.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:12 AM on July 25




Jon Snow told Melisandre that he didn't experience anything, but that doesn't mean he was telling the truth.


Doesn't Dondarrion also tell Melisandre when he dies, he experiences nothing?
posted by culfinglin at 10:31 AM on July 25




From the Ask A Maester link:
A talent for warging runs in the Stark family. Warging is a commingling of mind and spirit; no surprise, then, that the Stark wolves took on the personalities of their human companions. Robb Stark’s Grey Wind dominated the battlefield, playing a crucial role in many of the late King in the North’s victories. Rickon’s Shaggydog was high-strung and unpredictable and presumably could only run in straight lines. Sansa’s Lady was docile and trusting. Bran’s Summer was the most magical. And Jon’s Ghost is constantly locked in a closet, alone and sad.
Okay, I laughed out loud.
posted by mordax at 12:06 PM on July 25 [9 favorites]


Oooh, that Ask the Maester link bought up the prophecy where Dany will get betrayed three times, once for blood, once for gold, and once for love - maybe the 'for love' one somehow will involve Greyworm and Missandei? One of them will betray Dany in an attempt to save the other?
posted by aiglet at 4:10 PM on July 25


That'd be interesting because it'd be a complete departure from whatever is intended in the books if anything - they're not an item there
posted by vibratory manner of working at 4:18 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


That really would be interesting, and it made me realize that the "love" Dany is supposed to be betrayed over doesn't have to be love she's involved in personally. That would open it up to anyone Dany ever allies with who loves someone, if they thought that loved one might be better off with Dany dead.
posted by skewed at 5:37 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


Something I was thinking about: has the show introduced the idea of The Iron Bank essentially owning the throne because of debt? Because that seems like a funny thing to happen as Cersei begins to get a handle on alliances and fighting off Daenerys. It would also be a good in-universe explanation for the faceless men giving Arya so much latitude (because they were always training her to take down Cersei as part of an Iron Bank contract).
posted by codacorolla at 6:29 PM on July 25 [11 favorites]


giving Arya so much latitude

I *like* that!

Syreo Forel recruiting/grooming Arya to make her way to Braavos, Jaqen H'ghar minding her to make sure she makes it there (and a little more grooming along the way), and training (and more grooming) once she gets there.

It is inconceivable that the Faceless Men didn't know about Arya stashing Needle nor allowing her to reacquire it.

Completely plausible that the Iron Bank read the situation waaay back then (and that there are probably at least a couple of other contingencies that we the audience/reader are not party to). The initial read would be that the Starks are done in King's Landing so why not salvage an asset in Arya, that the Lannisters wouldn't be solvent anytime soon, and Daenerys just might be able to conquor KL by force.

The hole here is how TIB ultimately acquires control of KL's/Westeros' future resources - Lannister gold (mineral resource reserves) is essentially depleted - Braavos looks like it has a healthy trade/finance economy, what possible resources does Westeros have left other than peasant labour and or zombies?

It feels like the White Walkers are only a threat to Westeros - Essos is airgapped/oceangapped from the WW menace.

(Serious question, I've never been clear on whether Essos/further East suffers also from the long winters?)

Having leverage over Cersei (with power intact, and ultimately successful against the WW) is pretty much the only means TIB has a potential avenue of squeezing Westeros dry (aside from the other contingencies previously mentioned).

Only thing I could think of is twisting an ultimate authoritarian in Westeros to ship food to Essos on the cheap during the long winter, and in the New Spring then send settlers/homesteaders after the populace has been depleted. In this scenario, having Cersei be supreme in Westeros through the Long Winter is their likeliest means of recapturing their investment. In this scenario, though, Gold/Money (in Westeros) becomes devalued relative to food and Essos could sell food at highly inflated prices to Westeros during the Long Winter - which still requires an obedient/subservient super-ruler in Westeros under Essos' thumb.

TIB has no leverage on Daenerys... do they? If they do, then smoothing her way via getting rid of Cersei by Arya then makes a lot of sense.

tl;dr - GoT/ASoFaI is written GRRM so all of my above is complete nonsense. Because, magic and story and self-indulgence and he's a silly git.
posted by porpoise at 7:54 PM on July 25 [4 favorites]


I *like* that!

Syreo Forel recruiting/grooming Arya to make her way to Braavos, Jaqen H'ghar minding her to make sure she makes it there (and a little more grooming along the way), and training (and more grooming) once she gets there.


I keep seeing this as a Jared Kushner metaphor.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 8:07 PM on July 25


Arya as the unwitting tool of The Wall Street is pretty elegant, I like it. It definitely closes a lot of plot holes re: the Faceless Men and why they let her go. They did lay the foundation for that in the show, remember that the debt was the reason why Tyrell and Trant went to Braavos which was when Arya killed Trant.
posted by gatorae at 8:11 PM on July 25 [7 favorites]


Yeah, but money men people are into MONEY. There's no money in Westeros other than land and future peasants/serfs and their labour to exploit the land in some way where "surpluses" can be translated into "wealth."

Maybe TIB sees the untapped resource of the Iron Islands/Greyjoys ability in turning sea monkeys into 1000 warfare-capable ships (with crews!) overnight.

Did TIB give anything to Stannis for his foray back into the North (to save the Wall)? I can't honestly remember -I think they sent them back empty handed; if they did - yeah, this may be a long term Wall Street-type investment to reap future spoils from a terribly bloody and chaotic situation.

The Russians, IRL, are about protecting their (lone-ish) resource (petroleum) which is taking a beating and may become irrelevant in the (near-ish) future. That, and laundering extraordinarily corrupt stolen oligarch money, for the benefit of the oligarchs.

Russian landmass is essentially worthless in the projected future of Russian oligarchs winning. Just increasingly terrible anthropomorphic climate change, a Canada-sized un-exploitable mud plains with unpredictable and non-constructive climate, rapid catastrophic deterioration of most extant construction, and (further) explosion/expansion of (multiple drug resistant) TB and HIV epidemics (and who knows what's next, in addition to all the "old" diseases).

TB and HIV are serious problems in Russia, not something that their government wants to be widely known. Multiple drug resistant TB and HIV are rampant, especially so within the ever growing and disempowered intravenous drug using population. I could go on and on about TB, but the executive summary is - over the counter antibiotics and the lack of money/will to do drug resistance testing to develop *effective* regimens. The ghastly socioeconomic status disparity (ie., people are truly and seriously fucking poor, even relative to their neighbours) of many of the infected also seriously hampers effective compliance to potentially effective tailored drug regimens. (Effective antibiotic treatment of even "normal" TB is often a 6 month course - and in many cases much longer - many of these patients can't find stable housing that lasts even a month or two.)

I've seen no indications that TIB has an issue with this (and in the world of ASoFaI, irrelevant - there's no democracy; the most "egalitarian" is TIB who's capital can manipulate the "noble" class(es). However, econopolitics in Essos/East-of-Essos is highly speculative.

/sorry, I'll see myself out of here
posted by porpoise at 9:10 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


I too really like the Arya-as-bankers-assassin idea though I agree it's hard to imagine what they're trying to gain... maybe the Iron Bank knows of some other uses for dragonglass...
posted by aiglet at 11:30 PM on July 25


At the very least, Braavos is very honor based, and TIB is often portrayed as medieval mafia. Absent even any other profit motive, simply sending a message and enforcing penalties for non-payment is perhaps good enough. Regardless, I'm not sure that plot has been foregrounded enough in the show to get any actual play.
posted by codacorolla at 11:53 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


I too really like the Arya-as-bankers-assassin idea though I agree it's hard to imagine what they're trying to gain...

Couldn't it be as simple as Kevan Lannister having a higer credit rating than Cersei?
posted by paper chromatographologist at 8:38 AM on July 26 [1 favorite]


TIB gave Stannis the mercenary army he went north with.

(who ran off when he went full fire god crazy)

That's their gimmick, pay your debts or we will pay an army to get you out of power.
posted by French Fry at 8:39 AM on July 26 [1 favorite]


Something I was thinking about: has the show introduced the idea of The Iron Bank essentially owning the throne because of debt? Because that seems like a funny thing to happen as Cersei begins to get a handle on alliances and fighting off Daenerys.

The show seems to have completely forgotten about the Iron Bank. As I recall, in the books TIB's refusal to extend more credit and demanding current debts be paid is having a big impact on the economy of the realm, but on the show I guess we're supposed to assume that Mace Tyrell successfully negotiated some kind of deal with them. I think it really is just an abandoned story line that they don't want to spend more time on.
posted by homunculus at 10:12 AM on July 26 [4 favorites]


Yeah, but money men people are into MONEY. There's no money in Westeros other than land and future peasants/serfs and their labour to exploit the land in some way where "surpluses" can be translated into "wealth."

It's just like the real world: Everything is about money, except money itself, which is about power.
posted by vibrotronica at 8:34 AM on July 27 [2 favorites]


(Serious question, I've never been clear on whether Essos/further East suffers also from the long winters?)
Westeros is not the only place affected, but it's affected most strongly, because it's the only landmass that extends that far north. The other continent is bounded to the north by an icy polar sea.
- some forum chat with George R R Martin.
posted by Gary at 10:21 AM on July 27 [2 favorites]


so I was thinking - with Jon Snow headed to meet Daenerys, is this also when he gets to find out who his parents actually are? Is that something that Varys would know, since he is the collector-of-all-information?
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:04 PM on July 27 [1 favorite]


The only people who knew were Ned and Howland Reed. Bran knows because he saw it through the tree-vision. So now we have Jon conveniently leaving Winterfell before any ravens come about Bran showing up at the wall.
posted by Gary at 12:14 PM on July 27 [1 favorite]


Littlefinger seems to suspect. Both in the show and the books. There are others who make reference to the odd timing of Jon Snow's birth but only in the books, I don't think the show has made any reference to how Ned would have had to get his cheat on almost immediately after leaving Winterfell.

It seems several people are aware at the very least that Lyanna Stark was not abducted, I'm sure Varys knows that much.
posted by French Fry at 1:09 PM on July 27 [3 favorites]


So... Jon's parentage has been completely revealed in the show, right? I have a friend who's adamant about no spoilers, but basically asked me if he was right that Jon was Robert's Bastard, and I couldn't really answer that question without explaining how wrong it is. But they made that clear in the show, didn't they?
posted by codacorolla at 7:13 PM on July 27 [1 favorite]


The reveal for John's parents was a little bit elliptical, you could miss it if you weren't looking for it, but I'd argue it was unambiguous. They tell you that Lyanna had a child, she was under guard from two of rhaegar's kingsguard, they show you the baby, zoom in for a close-up and then cut to a close up of Jon snow with the same color eyes. I don't think they explicitly say rhaegar was the father, but it's clear from context (numerous statements that rhaegar chose Lyanna from many different characters, why the hell else would lyanna be guarded by the kingsguard, why else would lyanna make Ned promise to keep jon's parents a secret?). You can find about a thousand YouTube clips that piece together the relevant scenes, though you get everything you need just from the tower of joy reveal.
posted by skewed at 8:32 PM on July 27


But they made that clear in the show, didn't they?

I just finished the rewatch of the entire show with my partner, who'd never seen it before, or read the books, and he got that Jon was Lyanna's child and thus Ned's nephew, but was hazy about who exactly the father was. I don't think the show did a particularly good job of mentioning that Lyanna was abducted by Rhaegar; it was brought up once in the first episode, and then pretty much dropped… though I think it might have been very quickly mentioned maybe two more times over the course of the first few seasons that the Mad King loved Lyanna.
posted by culfinglin at 8:55 PM on July 27 [1 favorite]


Rhaegar loved Lyanna and was the mad king's son. But they haven't gone into enough detail on the show. Even in the books those details are spread out and I missed most of it while trying to keep track the present day storylines.

"The World of Ice and Fire" makes a pretty good case for the mad king possibly being Jamie and Cersei's real father. I like that theory because it makes Tyrion the hated son Tywin's only biological son.
posted by Gary at 9:35 PM on July 27 [8 favorites]


I think Jon's parentage would have been made a lot clearer if they'd also had a scene with Bran and Bloodraven looking back to the Tourney at Harrenhal and watching Rhaegar crown Lyanna Stark as the queen of love and beauty. That and a scene of Rhaegar's and Robert's fight at the Trident would have cemented the identity of Jon's father in everyone's mind.
posted by homunculus at 10:23 PM on July 27 [2 favorites]


vibrotronica - which is about power.

Yeah, I totally agree - GRRM had no idea what he was doing building his world. We're (well, me) all post hoc ergo propter something here trying to justify his ignorance and giving more import than warranted to stupid details that were probably just a byproduct of indifferent writing.

Not sarcastic. I enjoy speculating and logic lawyer-ering (and I guess a lot of other poeple here too) and GRRM's ending up being an unwitting L. Ron Hubbard-ish type.

GRRM has no voice left. HBO bought it from, and that's likely a *good* thing.
posted by porpoise at 10:53 PM on July 27 [2 favorites]


Damn, I couldn't disagree more. D&D transparently have no idea of what the actual themes of the story are, and have turned it into a (bad) soap opera. GRRM lost the plot in a literal sense, but I think it's weird to assume that the obvious plot leads that he's set up are... an accident, I guess?
posted by codacorolla at 6:45 AM on July 28 [6 favorites]


I think there is a lot of allure of saying GRRM or D&D are the problem. I think both have problems and have contributed to problems. Both have different but serious issues with portrayal of female characters and of foreign exoticism.

But both also make atypical overtures to their audience that they are trying to subvert or invert those tropes. Which can be in parts refreshing and in parts maddening as they then learn on some of those same tropes exploitatively.

My take is that GRRM wrote 2 great books and then some books, that while not poor, just continued the world building and growing the narrative and not moving towards a plot structure. At least not in the traditional sense. By nature he wants to explain things.

D&D Have made a lot of wonderful TV but in their effort to contain the increasingly massive scope of the books have had to make a lot of weird shortcuts, while working with incomplete text. If they knew at the beginning what they know now would we have ever even gone to Dorne? Some of their shortcuts have been wonderful and others have been cringe worthy. They by nature seem to want to dazzle, make a spectacle.

So we get a show that sometimes explains too much, sometimes to little. Sensationalizes a lot but leaves some things oddly dry.
posted by French Fry at 7:29 AM on July 28 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I agree with French Fry. I find myself sort of blasé about the show at this point; I'm curious enough to find out what the end is, but I no longer believe in its capacity to surprise me, which was the whole appeal of the thing in the first place. All the big, genre-inverting twists in books 1-3 share one thing in common: They keep making the story bigger, turning it from Ned's story to the Starks' story to the story of a war to the story of a world, and eventually it seemed to get so big GRRM didn't know how to begin to shrink it, or didn't want to. The show has done what it can to suture the thing closed, but it's done its debridement with a horse-meat cleaver, and the patient may yet survive but it ain't gonna be pretty.

You can still see some of the ghosts of plot yet to come in the show though, for instance:

1) SANSA ISN'T EVEN IN THE NORTH MOST LIKELY. So that's maybe why Jon can't send Sansa to treat for him, or various other theories - because the 'Stark' that married Ramsay is fake-Arya, or Jeyne Pool, and has nothing to do with the Vale. This is maybe also why you haven't seen the implications of the Valemen being taken into consideration - because they're not there in the books, and D&D don't want to screw things up too badly in terms of army numbers.

Could be wrong, but I bet Sansa and the men of the Vale do end up bailing out Jon in the books as well. The idea of Littlefinger pulling the stunt Sansa pulled at the battle of the bastards--- or Littlefinger and Sansa --- making a power play that saves the North by swooping in to turn the tide of battle at the last minute, that makes a hell of a lot of sense. The show gave Sansa the Jeyne Pool plot because Sansa basically has no plot for the last couple books; she's just hiding in the Vale waiting to be used as a chess piece by Littlefinger. Book LF is maybe going to use her to help shore up his control over the Vale; but once Book LF hears about Jon's army marching on Winterfell he'll be ideally placed to do exactly what Show LF does, and Book LF will then have a claim on two of the seven kingdoms. And Book Sansa will then return to the North as LF's protegee, with him having saved her from King's Landing and never betrayed her as he does in the show. The developing tension between Sansa and Jon over control of the North and whose side Sansa will be on then makes a hell of a lot more sense. The thing that fucks that up in the show is LF having given her over to Ramsey; show Sansa should hate him forever for that. But the show did it because otherwise one of their top billed cast was going to be twiddling her thumbs for a season.

A lot of the Dorne stuff is like that as well, I haven't re-read them recently but I would be surprised if, after a million bajillion twists, it ends up that Dornish support for the Pretender get the current Prince and the Sand Snakes killed and Princess Adrianne or whatever her name is end up being the last woman standing and signs Dorn up with Dany.
posted by Diablevert at 1:43 PM on July 28 [4 favorites]


... with (Littlefinger) having saved her from King's Landing and never betrayed her as he does in the show. The developing tension between Sansa and Jon over control of the North and whose side Sansa will be on then makes a hell of a lot more sense.

Sure, except in the books she doesn't trust him, or particularly like him.. she's aware he's manipulating her, and using her for his own purposes, and I'm pretty sure we're about to see her start maneuvering him...
posted by coriolisdave at 4:41 PM on July 30


Sure, except in the books she doesn't trust him, or particularly like him.. she's aware he's manipulating her, and using her for his own purposes, and I'm pretty sure we're about to see her start maneuvering him...

Sure, but in the books Sansa takes after her mother and doesn't like or trust Jon either. If Sansa and LF storm in and provide the decisive blow to retake Winterfell, and then Jon, a bastard, is elevated over her, the last true Stark, to rule the North? Why would they not be natural rivals? We readers/viewers tend to think they should be natural allies because they're family and we know Jon's a good guy. But being disinherited by a person you've always regarded as illegitimate does not make for warm fuzzies. Sansa hasn't seen Jon in years, in the books; their having common enemies doesn't necessrily make them friends, and objectively described Jon is a pretty shady character --- handed over huge chunks of the north to windings, killed and ressurected at the hands of a strange foreign cult, oathbreaker, usurper. Plus, realpolitik-wise, once Jon's king of the north he doesn't need her for anything; she has no hold on him. LF needs her a lot, and wants her a lot; she can work with that.
posted by Diablevert at 6:43 PM on July 30 [5 favorites]


I was completely wrong about TIB getting their money (revealed next episode).

But Arya Stark being a shadow asset is still consistent with TIB wanting something on Cersei, regardless, and maybe they'll be (pleasantly?) surprised.
posted by porpoise at 8:41 PM on July 31


« Older Star Trek: Voyager: Unity...   |  Book: Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments