Game of Thrones: The Spoils of War   Books Included 
August 6, 2017 11:00 PM - Season 7, Episode 4 - Subscribe

Jon and Dany go spelunking. Other stuff you've been waiting on for 6 to 20 years happens.
posted by skewed (120 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
I always figured Harrenhal would be the sight of the first big battle with dragons. Oh well, this was good too.
posted by skewed at 11:06 PM on August 6


So, a great episode with a lot going on. What a battle. Finally get to see dragons in action.

Was that final shot adding fire to the whacky theory that Jaime is TPTWP? Reborn in (dragon)fire and salt?

The only book nod I picked up was Cersei name checking the Golden Company, last seen in the books making land near Storms End with the fake(?!) Aegon. So please tell me that means 3/4 of Dance of Dragons will turn out not to have been a fakeout and a complete waste of paper.
posted by arha at 4:06 AM on August 7 [4 favorites]


The show has already diverged pretty heavily from the show at this point, especially with regard to Danny's story. The show hasn't gotten into the Golden Company and Jon Connington stuff at all. It's not a waste of paper, the books are just going to go a different route.
posted by Sangermaine at 5:45 AM on August 7 [4 favorites]


Also, the lack of scouts or reconnaissance for everyone is becoming just stupid. The show needs to stop leaning so heavily on "surprise attack!!111":

-Yara Greyjoy's fleet not only does not even notice an entire enemy fleet coming until they're attacked, they don't even tell Yara about it. She learns about the attack by walking on deck and seeing it.

-No one notices the entire Lannister/royal army marching across Westeros to Highgarden until they're at the gates.

-The Lannister army does not notice an entire Dothraki horde and a dragon in the sky coming at them until they are literally on the horizon.

I get that the show has to cut some corners for the sake of run time and drama, but this is ridiculous. I also get that Qyburn claims to have taken over Varys's network of "little birds", but Varys, the consummate spy master of information, doesn't/can't provide any intel at all about any of the above or anything at all? There's not one person in all of Westeros who, say, could tell him they saw the entire Lannister army marching towards Highgarden?
posted by Sangermaine at 6:24 AM on August 7 [13 favorites]


Normally, I'm the one in the threads being like BUT MILITARY DETAIL, and there were parts of my brain complaining about how you don't use light cavalry like the Dothraki the way you use heavy cavalry, but.

I'm willing to forgive A LOT for Sansa and Arya finally hugging it out, for Bran to finally put his Three Eye Raven powers to use, Arya and Brienne fighting and Brienne FINALLY taking Arya seriously by kicking her in the chest and how beautifully it's set up with her takedowns of Pod, and Jaime running straight at a dragon with a lance. Having him tackled into a river by a sellsword jumped-up noble with a survival instinct? Now THAT'S how you do fantasy trope subversion.
posted by joyceanmachine at 7:08 AM on August 7 [11 favorites]


The Greyjoy fleet was basically unforgivable as a thing that could happen. And the Dothraki attack, well, someone should have sent a raven (though we have no idea what kind of swath of destruction they left between their landing and wherever we were near King's Landing at this battle. I think we can excuse Highgarden with Randyl Tarly being the example they showed of Jaime winning the liegelords and bannermen of the Reach over to Cersei such that Highgarden just didn't have much of a chance at all.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:08 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


Re: scouts -- Dothraki are master of their domain, so you could imagine that they've managed to anticipate and handle scouts in the past. Also, they relish in the impending doom of a mass of wooping, stampeding Dothraki, because they could have snuck over the hill, or at least waited to make noise until they got to the crest of the hill. Nope, they chose to rush up and down the hill, their sounds announcing their presence first.

And Lady Olenna could have been expecting a civil exchange, or a less civil shake-down. But by omitting the battle that lead up to the defeat of Highgarden, the viewer can fill in the gaps (with whatever seems logical to them, or illogical for that matter).

Really, the lack of scouts or their uselessness is the least of the gap in logic on this show.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:20 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


Really, the lack of scouts or their uselessness is the least of the gap in logic on this show.

Yeah, I think my vote for most ridiculous logic gap (at least this season) is still Euron's 1000 teleporting ships made out of thin air. #shiptruther
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:24 AM on August 7 [11 favorites]


Question for fellow book-readers, how do you feel about Dany? The majority, or at least those invested enough to write anything, in the show-only thread seem to be pretty anti-Dany, seeing her as a tyrant in the making. My take from reading the books was that she hasn't had the formal training to be a more level-headed ruler, so I give her credit for trying, compared to the arrogance of her brother or the unfettered (to even fostered) sadism of Joff. And she wanted to avoid burning King's Landing to a crisp, which means she cares more for the common people than Cersi. Perhaps GoT is just well-stocked with naive idiots (Ned Stark) and psychotic rulers (see the rest)

With great power comes great responsibility, and all that jazz. I think Dany is still trying to strike that balance, with some frustration that no one gives her credit for her right to the Iron Throne. Everyone who has their eye on the throne has their own self-identified path to legitimacy for the claim, why is Dany considered differently? Her grandstanding speeches and request that Jon bend the knee? I also don't understand the need to be Queen or King Of Everything, when it would be easier to manage a few of the kingdoms instead of all seven. I guess the idea is that if you rule them all, you can better ensure peace throughout the lands? I'm not too strong on how royalty justifies their "benefit" in ruling everything, beyond their stoking their own egos.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:28 AM on August 7 [5 favorites]


Also, this episode seems to be a very vivid reminder of why the Citadel killed off all the dragons in the first place. When I first read that, I was kind of angry at the Citadel and also worried for Drogon et al, but now...

I still think Drogon, Viserion, and Rhaegal are awesome but wow, they really are the WMDs of their time, and I can't help but feel that the best case scenario for Westeros as a whole is to go back to having no more dragons.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:30 AM on August 7 [4 favorites]


Question for fellow book-readers, how do you feel about Dany? The majority, or at least those invested enough to write anything, in the show-only thread seem to be pretty anti-Dany, seeing her as a tyrant in the making.

Their concerns are ridiculous and should be dismissed out of hand.

A lot of people seem to be under the impression that she's some kind of anarchist revolutionary on a quest for social justice. They also seem to think that any time she raises her voice slightly it's evidence that she's going mad.

She's a monarch looking to retake her throne. She will, should, and must kill and dominate whoever she needs to to achieve that, because that's the only way to do so. If it takes leaving mountains of charred corpses in her wake to do it, so be it. The Game of Thrones is a terribly, bloody game. She has dragons, the biggest military advantage in the world, and will and should use them. Any question of that is sheer nonsense. She needs to be more like Tywin Lannister than Tyrion if she wants to actually win. As Olenna told her, she's a dragon. Be a dragon. She has the fastest, best military in the world right now, she shouldn't be fretting on Dragonstone.

The concept of "tyranny" just has no meaning in this world. Of course she's trying to be a tyrant, she's vying to be the absolute monarch of a realm. So is everyone else. She freed the slaves of Eassos so they could be her serfs. You know who else doesn't practice slavery and kills slavers? Cersei, and everyone else in Westeros, because slavery was outlawed there centuries ago. That's why Jorah was sent into exile in the first place. Congratulations Danny, you've caught up to where your homeland was ages ago.

Danny doesn't represent anything new or different. There were bad Targaryans and good ones, and it seems like she might be a good one, but the idea that she's some symbol of freedom is absurd.

I also don't understand the need to be Queen or King Of Everything, when it would be easier to manage a few of the kingdoms instead of all seven. I guess the idea is that if you rule them all, you can better ensure peace throughout the lands? I'm not too strong on how royalty justifies their "benefit" in ruling everything, beyond their stoking their own egos.

Because the only possible option on Westeros is to be the ruler of everything or nothing. The entire series exists to show this. When Westeros doesn't have a central ruling power it collapses into bloody chaos. Leaving other kingdoms intact leaves rivals on the field who will eventually harm you. That's the benefit to royalty ruling the entire continent: it eliminates all possible threats to their rule and imposes stability and order.
posted by Sangermaine at 8:09 AM on August 7 [7 favorites]


In terms of direction, character work, and pacing, this was the best episode that the show has had in years. Everything looked so good that I was able to ignore my problems with the larger story structure and plot.

Question for fellow book-readers, how do you feel about Dany?

I feel like the show wants her to be a conflicted hero, and the book wants her to be the new mad queen. Those things are at cross purposes. Throwing Jon into the mix as a romantic partner this late in the game is even more confusing. How does that work? They fall in love in 2 episodes, everything's peachy for 2 episodes, and then she does a complete heel turn in 2 episodes? Probably not.

The most boring way that this story could end, for me, would be for Jon to tamp down Daeny's murderous impulses, for them to defeat Cersei, and then band together as a defense against the White Walkers, with all of the fan favorite meme-spouting characters taking on their own special role in the defense of Westeros. But I think that's the way it's going, because I seriously don't think there's time enough for anything else.

As someone who read a decent amount of high fantasy growing up, the main appeal of this show was that it went beyond the tired genre tropes of high fantasy. At this point it's just another David Eddings novel, or something, with a little bit of grimdark paint that's often more irritating than it is interesting.
posted by codacorolla at 8:33 AM on August 7 [6 favorites]


I also don't understand the need to be Queen or King Of Everything

I kind of get it, but her insistence that Jon bend the knee RIGHT NOW is baffling, especially considering how things worked out for the three houses who did. Jon bending the knee now would be a notch on her map but it would also create a mutual obligation neither is inclined nor equipped to fill. It would draw Cersei's freshly funded ire up to the North, drawing energy and resources away from the *real* Northern threat AND stretching Dany's forces even more thinly (not that the Dothraki or the Unsullied are particularly well-suited for winter anyway). The smart, practical course of action right now would be for Dragonstone and the North to form a temporary alliance to be renegotiated after Dany actually takes the Iron Throne. The North promises not to interfere in her conquest of the rest of Westeros and she lets them take as much dragonglass as they can mine to ensure she's not just Queen of the Ice Zombies. She can always use the dragons as a carrot (air support against the White Walkers) or a stick (burn the North) to force Jon to bend the knee later. (Plus the reveal about Jon's parentage, whenever that happens, will change the equation.)

Also, this episode seems to be a very vivid reminder of why the Citadel killed off all the dragons in the first place. When I first read that, I was kind of angry at the Citadel and also worried for Drogon et al, but now...

I still think Drogon, Viserion, and Rhaegal are awesome but wow, they really are the WMDs of their time, and I can't help but feel that the best case scenario for Westeros as a whole is to go back to having no more dragons.


They're definitely WMDs, but I think both the book and show have set them up as that world's counterbalance against the White Walkers. Their existence now after so many years of being assumed extinct suggests a magic ecosystem trying to right itself. If The Citadel wants to exterminate dragons once and for all, it needs to figure out how to exterminate White Walkers too.
posted by Fish, fish, are you doing your duty? at 8:41 AM on August 7 [6 favorites]


For the record, I have read all the books, even though I have also posted a lot in the show only thread, including a significant percentage of the "anti Dany" comments.

A lot of people seem to be under the impression that she's some kind of anarchist revolutionary on a quest for social justice.

I think the only person who is actually under the impression (at least in the fanfare threads) that she's some "anarchist revolutionary on a quest for social justice" is Dany and some of her followers. That's the thing that's getting so tiresome. She said she wants to "break the wheel," but that was so vague as to be meaningless and also all her actions show that she doesn't want that.

I agree that she's more of the same, even though she and others want to brand her as something different. Missandei may say that she's the queen "they chose," but what choice did they have, really? And what does that matter to the Westerosi, since she's not the queen THEY chose? In fact, a lot of the arguments you make are the same ones I (and others who might count as "Anti-Dany) are making.

The only difference is that I don't think it's an automatic conclusion that she should just embrace her tyrannical impulses. I can see the argument, but I think what she really needs to do is decide whether she's willing to accept that she's a conqueror who is ruling not because people want her to or because she's the best choice, but because she can. In that case, sure, burn it to the ground.

But time and again, she says that's not what she wants. And this constant dissonance between her "I was born to rule" and "I'm going to break the wheel because I'm not like those other monarchs" is what I'm so tired of, especially because in the show no one seems willing to call her on the hypocrisy.

For all her faults, at least Cersei owns what and who she is. Dany probably still has a capacity to be a more just ruler than Cersei (that's a pretty low bar to clear after all), but they're not nearly as diametrically opposed as Dany wants to believe.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:46 AM on August 7 [12 favorites]


If The Citadel wants to exterminate dragons once and for all, it needs to figure out how to exterminate White Walkers too.

Yeah, absolutely get rid of the White Walkers first. My point is just that this episode really hammered home how destructive the dragons can be when used as tools of war. But a WMD is exactly what you want when you're fighting White Walkers.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:48 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


That wasn't a knock on your comment -- the dragons are terrifying. But I've always been uneasy with The Citadel's implied anti-magic agenda, because an attempt to change the nature of the world on that scale is bound to have unintended consequences. By exterminating dragons, the maesters may have inadvertently created the conditions that made the resurgence of the White Walkers and the return of the Long Night possible. That's not quite the same as a deploying a WMD but it's a hell of an unforeseen outcome.
posted by Fish, fish, are you doing your duty? at 9:04 AM on August 7 [4 favorites]


> A lot of people seem to be under the impression that she's some kind of anarchist revolutionary on a quest for social justice [...] She's a monarch looking to retake her throne.

why_not_both.gif

but yeah, that's the dichotomy that the writing this season is pretty effectively highlighting: Daenerys thinks that she's got power because she's the rightful queen of the andals, rhoynar, and first men — like Stannis thought he had power derived from being the rightful king of the andals, rhoynar, and first men — but really she's got power because folks like Missandei see her as Magic Dragon Lenin. It's completely fascinating watching her try (and largely fail) to figure out what sort of power she's got and how she can wield it.

> They also seem to think that any time she raises her voice slightly it's evidence that she's going mad.

Oh, she's completely loony. Out of her mind — but she can't not be out of her mind, and it would be actually inappropriate for her to try to be sane. Something this episode highlighted was that Missandei is literally the only person in the world who she's ever been allowed to have a "normal" human relationship with, because she is in no way "normal" — she's only ever been a slave or a god. Pretending to be rational or normal in a context that's fundamentally irrational is itself madness.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 9:10 AM on August 7 [3 favorites]


There's literally no basis to say she's insane. None at all. Feel free to cite examples if you think otherwise, but there's been no evidence of this at all. She fights wars to get what she thinks is hers? She uses dragons? She gets angry sometimes? What exactly makes her "completely loony"?

She lives a strange life because she was born into very strange circumstances, but she's perfectly sane. She's doing her best to make decisions in the situation she was forced into, and often making bad decisions, but that doesn't make her crazy. She's no more abnormal than any of the nobility or royalty born into positions of extreme power, wealth, and therefore isolation. Her choices were restricted before she was born: because of her lineage, from birth she had to be either a corpse, a pawn, or a ruler in her own right.

It's her critics who are being irrational, expecting her to make the ideal decision in every circumstance rather than acting like a human being.
posted by Sangermaine at 9:15 AM on August 7 [5 favorites]


She has a literally 50% chance of being insane according to intelligent people in her world. 25 is the average age onset of schizophrenia in women in our world. It's totally a reasonable thing to be looking out for in her. Also, I assume Jon has secretly bent the knee in the cave in between the cut of them looking at each other and emerging. Bran knows. I'm still so confused as to the creation of the Night King by the CotF and how quickly he got out of hand. How fast did the CotF go from trying to kill the First Men to being allied with them?
posted by mzurer at 9:23 AM on August 7


About the Citadel conspiracy, which they seem to have dropped from the show--to me, I really liked how it seems address one annoying thing about high fantasy, which is the lack of scientific development. There are loving, fetishistic descriptions of all the magnificent arms and armor they can make, and mentions how the realm is thousands of years old. To me this is not impressive, this makes me think the population must all have severe lead poisoning or something, why haven't they invented gunpowder, or steam power, or germ theory, or anything? Fifty centuries of scientific stagnation needs an explanation. Here, I take it we are supposed to assume the Citadel believes not just that dragons are a threat to human life, but that they, and all other magic, are holding society back. It's not clear to me how the existence of dragons precludes the development of the scientific method, but whatever, at least there's a nod to the issue.
posted by skewed at 9:24 AM on August 7 [5 favorites]


Oh, and as for Dany--it seems to me like one of the overarching themes of the books is that there is not so much separating the great heroes from the great villains. Dany at this point really should be 60% hero, 40% villain at best. But they didn't really follow up on this theme too much in the show, so it's rubbing people the wrong way when she is all imperious. With Arya, I think this should be making people even more uncomfortable. Arya is, at this point in the show, an arch-fucking villain. She slew an entire clan, we have a special word for an act that evil. I don't root for her at all, even though I sympathize with her perhaps more than any other character. That's ASOIAF at its best, and to me, the whole point.
posted by skewed at 9:30 AM on August 7 [7 favorites]


That's ASOIAF at its best, and to me, the whole point.

To me, the perfect encapsulation of that happened this episode when Jaime grabbed a spear that he was using as a lance and charged Dany like he was on a tourney field. You get:

1. The high drama of the underlying trope (knight charging a dragon with a damsel)
2. Great visuals and production value (that establishing shot from the side to show you the water and the charge and Dany and the dragon, and Dany turning around with her white hair against the dragon's dark scales, the fire starting to blast out of the dragon's throat)
3. The twist on the external tropes (that Dany isn't a damsel who has been kidnapped by the dragon, that Jaime isn't her rescuer, that Jaime killed her father)
4. The twist on the internal trope (people die when they do stupid things) that comes about because of GRRM's favorite type of character, the wily outsider who survives.
posted by joyceanmachine at 9:49 AM on August 7 [29 favorites]


lance and charged Dany like he was on a tourney field.

Yeah, that's good stuff too, I'm not gonna pretend I didn't literally move up to the edge of my seat while I was watching that.
posted by skewed at 10:03 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


why haven't they invented gunpowder, or steam power, or germ theory, or anything? Fifty centuries of scientific stagnation needs an explanation.

Why is it that after 8,000 years of history, technology in Westeros has not advanced?

Game of Thrones: why hasn’t Westeros had an industrial revolution?

posted by Fish, fish, are you doing your duty? at 10:34 AM on August 7 [3 favorites]


I know that people have written about this idea of lack of science in ASOIAF, but there are no good explanations except "magic something something". The idea that there is no gunpowder or fossil fuels, not just on Westeros, but apparently in any known part of Planetos, is just silly. First off, blast furnaces and advanced blacksmiths seem to be fairly common, so they've got coal or its equivalent. There is no explanation for an entire multi-ethnic, multi-continent society developing a complex economy with global trade, fairly advanced navigation abilities, advanced masonry, iron and steel-working, etc., yet not developing further for hundreds or thousands of years (except--magic!). I appreciate that GRRM at least gives a nod to this idea through introduction of the Citadel conspiracy. The failure to consider it at all is a pretty nagging issue with a lot of other high fantasy.
posted by skewed at 10:54 AM on August 7 [3 favorites]


I don't think Dany's insane, I think she's an asshole.

The closest thing Westeros has to a democratically elected savior is... Jon Snow. And that's precisely who she insists on subjugating because of her own internal narrative about liberating and ruling Westeros herself. So, you know, put me firmly in the anti-Dany camp unless she does a pretty astounding 180 and realizes that her spiel about breaking the wheel is nothing but rank hypocrisy at this point.
posted by lydhre at 11:16 AM on August 7 [10 favorites]


Dany's not insane. Like, there's not even an argument in favor of her being insane. The Meereenese Knot bullshit only came about because George wrote a character so dead-set on finding the best course of action that he couldn't naturally get her out of the situation she was in. She is literally so punishingly rational that it has become a plot hindrance. She is a lot of things, but not insane.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:39 AM on August 7 [6 favorites]


By exterminating dragons, the maesters may have inadvertently created the conditions that made the resurgence of the White Walkers and the return of the Long Night possible.

Good point! And that's one of the interesting things in all of this. On the one hand, it's hard not to be disturbed by the level of destruction one dragon can cause in like 10 minutes. But then again, what better way to fight the greatest threat to Westeros, the White Walkers?

And on the topic of the Citadel, for all their knowledge, they do seem a little short sighted in some areas. Like when the Arch Maester basically brushed off Sam's concerns in episode 1 about the threat of White Walkers because, essentially, people always worry that X is going to bring about end times, and we're still here.

But if the tales of the Long Night are to be believed, the reason the White Walkers were defeated was because people fought to defeat them.

So while it's fair to say that they've been through terrible things without being completely destroyed, the logical conclusion isn't, "So we'll just chill and read books."

Now, it may very well be that the Maesters of the Citadel are doing more about this then they're willing to let on, but that response just seemed very short sighted.
posted by litera scripta manet at 11:39 AM on August 7 [5 favorites]


i keep seeing book spoilers in the show only threads and i'm cackling like ursula the sea witch because there's so much canon from both book and show that no one can keep it straight.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:50 AM on August 7 [10 favorites]


I agree that Dany's not insane. But she doesn't have to be insane to be a liability and a potential menace to the people of Westeros.

Also, appears not to have always been insane either. From the awoiaf wiki:

In his youth, while not being the most intelligent, nor the most diligent of princes, he was described as having an undeniable charm. He was generous, handsome and resolute, although somewhat quick to anger. He was also vain, proud, and changeable, traits that made him easy prey for lickspittles and flatterers. As he grew older, Aerys became increasingly jealous, suspicious and cruel, prone to furious outbursts.

After the Defiance of Duskendale, these characteristics became more pronounced. He began to see every unexplained event or act of minor defiance as evidence of fearful conspiracies against him, and devised sadistic punishments for those he imagined to be his enemies. He developed a fascination with fire, which eventually grew so consuming that he could only become sexually aroused by watching someone burn to death.


I think the real question isn't so much whether or not Dany is insane now. She may come off as a little unstable at times, but I consider her relatively sane. But I have a hard time watching her apparent enjoyment of seeing her enemies burned or crucified, not to mention her response to people who oppose her, and not think back to her father, the Mad King.

Even if she remains at this level of sanity, there are still a whole host of reasons why the people of Westeros wouldn't want her to rule, and I don't think she's done anything to change their minds. And although she might never reach Aerys levels, I think it's still reasonable to worry that she has the capacity to turn into the Mad Queen.

Of course, Cersei did already pull an Aerys so it's not like she's any better in that regard. And in the books even more than the show I think we see just how paranoid Cersei can be.
posted by litera scripta manet at 12:04 PM on August 7 [4 favorites]






I totally agree that someone needed to die last night, though I still loved the episode. I thought Bronn was going to die, and although I like Bronn a lot, there are only so many episodes left, he's presumably gotta go sometime, why not in a literal blaze of glory? Jamie or Dany's death would have been a gut punch and wouldn't have made sense dramatically, but still.. could have been pretty awesome.

However, after a day or so's thought, having Jaimie alive is soooo necessary for what I'm thinking comes next week. Jaimie's going to be captured by the Dothraki, then brought back to team Dany where he gets to have a reunion with Tyrion. Jaime captured again! Another jailhouse visit between the Lannister brothers, more deep dark secrets revealed between them, another decision on whether or not to free dear brother! Too much to give up on! If it goes like this (fingers crossed), I see Tyrion, worried that Dany is going to burn him alive for it, recommending that they let Jaime go, so that he can properly warn Cersei that fighting dragons is stupid and they run away to an idyllic life in the Whatever Islands. This will appeal to Jaime, who probably has PTDSD (the extra D is for dragons), but Cersei will mock him for his callowness.
posted by skewed at 1:12 PM on August 7 [2 favorites]


oh, that post was in response to the show thread, but since my insight is so prescient, it probably belongs here in the spoilers thread.
posted by skewed at 1:16 PM on August 7


My assumption is that the Dragons (fire) and White Walkers (ice) are deliberately set up as counterparts. I don't think either will survive the story, and whatever destroys them is likely to involve both Daenerys (fire) and Jon (ice). That suggests they don't make it either.

The books to me are a cautionary tale about the horrors of monarchy and patriarchy (Dany is an example of the former and in tension with the latter) and the myths of a golden age and all the usual mythological and fantasy tropes that are so common in human cultures, yet with little basis in reality. GRRM isn't subverting the story just to fuck with us; he's making a point that these myths, though they aren't always off-base, are often wrong and lead people to very dark places.

For that reason, I continue to suspect the ultimate outcome of the story is either an outright rejection of the usual tropes, or a realization of them in such an unexpected way that it casts doubt on those tropes anyway. I would be very disappointed if Dany ends up on the throne at the very end, unless it can be done in a way that otherwise upends all of our expectations.

I admit to a bit of a bias here, because I frequently found myself being bored during Dany's POV chapters and impatient to get back to the characters in Westeros. I like her in the show a lot more, but I still think she's bad news for Westeros. Incidentally, I found myself rooting for the survival of every character on both sides of the battle except Lord Tarley.
posted by llachglin at 1:54 PM on August 7 [10 favorites]


Oh book thread, I am so glad to have you. We may be past the books now, but I don't enjoy the show only threads nearly as much.

So...if Jaime and Cersei have ceased to care that the world knows that they've been lovers, doesn't that make her even MORE of a usurper? It will confirm that Joffrey and Tommen weren't Robert's rightful heirs. Although has Cersei ascended the throne based on being the Dowager Queen or the wife of the last King who left no rightful heirs?

WITH THE EXCEPTION OF GENDRY.

ROW, GENDRY, ROW!
posted by elsietheeel at 2:24 PM on August 7 [2 favorites]


ok so every time Jon and Dany were talking I started silently screaming "now KITH"

I can't be the only one, guys, I can't
posted by schroedinger at 2:55 PM on August 7 [6 favorites]


this is what we know:

1. Dany loves her men dark-haired, intense, and broody
2. Nobody is more broody and intense than Jon Snow
3. Caves add +5 to Jon Snow's Broodiness (see: Ygritte)

I'm not saying that both of them had to change their pants after that whole Dragonglass Cave Talk

I'm just saying I wouldn't be surprised
posted by schroedinger at 3:01 PM on August 7 [12 favorites]


I'm still so confused as to the creation of the Night King by the CotF and how quickly he got out of hand. How fast did the CotF go from trying to kill the First Men to being allied with them?

It's really frustrating how little interest the showrunners had in this part of the story. They could have explained a lot with just a few more Bran/Brynden flashbacks and/or Meera/Leaf conversations. I guess we won't find out more until TWOW comes out, which I suspect will only happen after the series is over.
posted by homunculus at 4:20 PM on August 7 [2 favorites]


This week's session around the table may have been a bit short, but nonetheless was packed with lots of good RPG action. Your D&D D&D recap!

• Jaime tries to pay Bronn in electrum pieces but Bronn is none too happy; he wants a stronghold of his own. He should count himself lucky the DM didn't make him lug all his treasure out of Highgarden in the form of "valuable works of art" or "fine rugs".
• Littlefinger gifts to Bran the vorpal, undeadbane dagger that had been used in the attempt on his (Bran's) life. Bran responds with an attempt at identify (results of which he does not reveal) and another trenchant cast of legend lore. It is possible that Bran now has Legendary actions available to him (e.g. clairvoyance/clairaudience) with the benefits of a legendary lair (i.e. Winterfell, or any vicinity with weirwoods).
• Bran continues to use legend lore in uncanny ways when meeting Arya again.
• Arya shows herself to be a master of "finesse" fighting with rapier and dagger. Perhaps beyond all the levels in Rogue/Assassin she picked up in Braavos, she splashed into Fighter as well, long enough to pick up a fighting style. Or perhaps she started out as Fighter under Syrio's and Yoren's tutelage, multiclassing later – certainly by the time she joined the Faceless Men. She clearly has a lot of the Rogue abilities mastered: Uncanny Dodge, Evasion, even Elusive.
• Brienne on the other hand is straight-up Fighter, probably with the Battle Master archetype. During the sparring bout with Arya she puts to good use her Lunging Attack, Disarming Attack, and Trip Attack (this last through a strong unarmed attack with her boot).
• The ambush & battle unfold well enough within the semi-official mass combat rules. The morale of the Lannister stands are shaken right at the outset by the appearance of Dany riding her "dragon". Its breath weapon and Frightful Presence are used to great effect throughout. Jamie and Bronn act as "solos" through the battle, attempting to affect its course through heroic actions of their own.
• After Bronn knocks the "dragon" out of the sky, Jaime attempts a mounted charge against Dany, but is brought up short by the "dragon's" fire breath. Jamie passes the Dex save only by being aided by Bronn, who cannily remembers that being fully immersed in water gives them resistance to fire damage.
• There are no drowning rules as such in 5E, but guidance from the Suffocation rules (PHB p.183) allows Jaime (1+con bonus) minutes to hold his breath. Thereafter he will have a number of rounds equal to his con bonus to get to air again, before he drops straight to 0 hp (no save allowed). Wearing heavy armor no doubt will make getting back to the surface difficult.
• In sundry other scenes, various characters make Persuasion checks against each other.
posted by The Nutmeg of Consolation at 4:24 PM on August 7 [13 favorites]


Speaking of Meera: Meera Reed Deserved Better. She risked her life, watched her brother die, watched Hodor die, dragged Bran across a frozen tundra, drank rabbit’s blood, and all she gets is a half-hearted “thank you”?!

I'm also disappointed that Meera didn't get Dark Sister as a reward for chaperoning Bran on his quest, since the Three-eyed raven was the sword's last known wielder.
posted by homunculus at 4:33 PM on August 7 [15 favorites]




So you brought a knife to a creep fight

"Why does this keep happening to me in caves?" LOL

On the one hand, I do sort of feel as if this thing is now mostly trading in fantasy-sword-n-sorcery tropes rather than shredding them. I mean, there are an awful lot of living and intact main characters hanging about season after season at this point whereas the novels were an absurd ongoing snuff film by the end of Book 5. I'm not sure which is more annoying.

On the other hand, that was one fucking awesome dragon battle! I mean, if you're gonna do fan service, that's how to do it, brother. Almost as good as the Battle of Bastards, which is among my favorite screen action sequences ever.

Also, Dany is clearly not nuts. These are all massively flawed people, by our moral standards, so anyone who's not just 100% gratuitously awful all the time (a la Ramsey Snow or Euron Greyjoy) has to be considered sort of normal and regular in this world. Dany seems to be trying, rationally, to find a place where she's just ruthless and arrogant enough to achieve her aims without making it a way of life like Cersei. She and Cersei and Jon all have different strengths and weaknesses and make different kinds of mistakes, but it seems like they've cleared all the egregiously underqualified candidates off the field now.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:25 PM on August 7 [3 favorites]


Has Cersei ascended the throne based on being the Dowager Queen or the wife of the last King who left no rightful heirs?

She has ascended to the throne based on having control of the Lannister armies and having burned all her enemies to death. Dowager Queen, titles and heirs and lines of succession --- these are appeals either to the Law or to Blood, as the font from which power derives. Point of the show --- and certainly Cersei's POV, always has been--- is that power comes from a mailed fist. I think she's past caring to wear gloves at all, now, no matter how thin.

Speaking of blood and tropes, it's funny how people who hate Dany ignore the dragons. Why should she get to rule? The gods themselves have bestowed upon her house a power so terrible she can bring the world to kneel before her. She usually gets about a miracle a season. That is the claim of kings: I rule because the gods will it, and the wonders I perform are proof of their favour upon me. All the counter-arguments amount to: "But she doesn't really have the consent of the governed!" But that's not the basis of her claim. Oh sure, she wants 'em to like her. But she doesn't think she gets to rule because people like her. She thinks she has a destiny to fulfill.

And frankly, the story seems to be backing her up. Early on it seemed like the magic was just another trope that was going to be subverted. But it sure seems too late for that now. A song of ice and fire. Doom approaches; without the dragons it cannot be defeated. The dragons are not a bagatelle. And it sure doesn't seem like the kind of story anymore where the person who returned them to the world and who is the only person they obey gets killed 7/8ths of the way though and the dragons fuck off back to Valeria and the zombies win. (I know, I know, there's meant to be three riders, I'm sure someone will be able to lend a hand come the day.) So why should Dany get to rule? She's apparently fated to save the world.
posted by Diablevert at 9:07 PM on August 7 [6 favorites]


The dragons might need some kind of armor. Maybe a blacksmith will turn up.
posted by amtho at 11:33 PM on August 7 [18 favorites]


how is dany supposed to settle for dopey lil jon snow in the wake of having had khal drogo aka the finest piece of dothraki manbeef the world has ever known
posted by poffin boffin at 11:59 PM on August 7 [5 favorites]


I mean, there are an awful lot of living and intact main characters hanging about season after season at this point whereas the novels were an absurd ongoing snuff film by the end of Book 5.

Up to book 3, I'd agree with you. But I can't find any super important deaths in books 4 and 5. Maybe I'm forgetting some? The few that stand out are secondary characters like Maestar Aemon, Janos Slynt, Kevan Lannister, and Maester Pycelle (two of those happening in the very last chapter). Maybe you could include Jon Snow, but I'd put that among the many cliffhanger chapter ends where it looks like someone might die but of course they don't.

That said, they really should have found someone important to die in today's episode. There was ridiculous plot armour surrounding not only Jamie, but also Bronn and Dickon. Did even Randyll Tarly survive too?
posted by Gary at 12:41 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


Gizmodo's got a nice little bit on filming the fire battle on the loot train. I still think Dany was impractically too low on the dragon; her eye lines didn't match up to me, but that's on the director and crew.
posted by tilde at 4:22 AM on August 8


"I hope Lord Randyll gets burned first." - Me, the second they heard hoofbeats on screen.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:09 AM on August 8 [5 favorites]




He misspelled 'infernal logic'
posted by tilde at 8:46 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


"I hope Lord Randyll gets burned first." - Me, the second they heard hoofbeats on screen.

This is never going to happen but I would like a brief flashback showing us how Lady Tarly managed to prevent both Dickon and Sam from acquiring their dad's asshole-ness. And does Randyll remind anybody else of Ilyn Payne?
posted by Fish, fish, are you doing your duty? at 9:56 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


Hey, so I was thinking some more about the valonqar prophecy now that Olenna's final words seem to have gotten through to Jaime on some level. So, the Maggie the Frog's prophecy says:

And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you

We all know that Jaime is the most theorized candidate for the valonqar, but one problem with this is that he only has one good hand (unlike Euron "One thousand ships and two good hands" Greyjoy).

But what if rather than literally using his hands to choke her, he used poison? Specifically, "The Strangler." As described in the wiki:

Dissolved in wine, the strangler makes the muscle of the victim's throat clench tighter than a fist, shutting down the windpipe. It is said the victim's face turns as purple as the poison crystals

It would certainly be easy to use on Cersei given the amount of wine she knocks back. And there's also a horrible poetic quality to it, since it was what killed Joffrey (as Olenna recently reminded us). And we all know that prophecies are notoriously fickle, so this would be one way to fulfill the spirit of the prophecy while still subverting expectations.

Of course, it wouldn't have to be Jaime as valonqar for this poison to be used. In fact, Arya might be the most likely candidate to kill off Cersei this way, after her faceless man training. And Jaime as valonqar assumes he doesn't drown at the bottom of the lake, but I think he'll survive at least a little while longer.

(I'm sure someone out there has theorized this use of the Strangler before, but I haven't seen it mentioned yet.)
posted by litera scripta manet at 10:35 AM on August 8 [4 favorites]


how is dany supposed to settle for dopey lil jon snow in the wake of having had khal drogo aka the finest piece of dothraki manbeef the world has ever known

Oh, I'm not saying she's going to love him, I'm saying she's going to do him. She deigned to allow that unremarkable Whatsisface Mercernary Guy into her bed, after all.

And after the doing, there's also the political marriage aspect. Marrying the King in the North solidifies the alliance without the overt, public display of subservience, their temperaments balance one another pretty well, and she's his aunt which is, like, a huge bonus (ugh) for a Targaryen and their marriage would quickly eliminate any possible debate over line of succession from Rhaegar for anyone who might bring that up. I feel like it's a no-brainer for the show to head in that direction, or at least suggest that's where it's going.
posted by schroedinger at 10:58 AM on August 8


I think it'll all be immaterial who wins the war when the White Walkers come to town. And they'll all wish they hadn't wasted so many resources fighting each other. That's kind of the theme of the books thoroughout.
posted by fshgrl at 11:10 AM on August 8 [2 favorites]


So let's say there's a reveal about R+L to the other characters. And let's say they all believe it. Maybe it's discovered there was a secret marriage (I forget if this happened in the books or not) and Jon takes some steps up the legitimacy ladder. Jon is now the legit son of a Targ heir, and Dany is relegated to being the little sister of the same Targ heir, and aunt of the actual heir.

I am not confident that sexy times are necessarily a consequence of this new situation.
posted by vbfg at 11:46 AM on August 8 [3 favorites]


Jon as Targ kinda undermines his claim to da Norf tho doesn't it? I mean i get that he'd kinda elected, but mostly it's his Starkness that carries the weight.
posted by OHenryPacey at 12:16 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


I am not confident that sexy times are necessarily a consequence of this new situation.

See, I guess I feel it can go south but it also has the potential to strengthen the likelihood of this. Dany is set on a political marriage, and someone who is King in the North, the offspring of a Stark and a Targaryen, and a potential rival for the Westeros throne is the killer app of political marriage. Jon seems more the hopeless romantic, but he also seems like the sort of fellow who could be convinced to go for it if he thought the safety of the world was at stake (no better way to secure the use of dragons than to marry the person who controls them).

As for the aunt/nephew situation, it's super gross but par for the course for the Targaryen dynasty. Guessing Jon wouldn't be a fan, but it's not clear how adverse Dany is to the whole business provided it doesn't involve force and/or underage participants.
posted by schroedinger at 12:18 PM on August 8 [2 favorites]


Love is the death of duty.
posted by amtho at 12:22 PM on August 8 [2 favorites]


Jon as Targ kinda undermines his claim to da Norf tho doesn't it? I mean i get that he'd kinda elected, but mostly it's his Starkness that carries the weight.

If he's Lyanna's son he's still a Stark--if anything perhaps more so if she & Rhaegar were married, unless the North considers the matrilineal line less legit.
posted by n. moon at 12:26 PM on August 8 [3 favorites]


The books don't mention a marriage of Rhaegar and Lyanna. Elia was still alive when Rhaegar died, so a marriage to Lyanna would have been polygamous unless there was also a secret divorce. But it seems that the King does have the authority to 1) legitimize bastards, including his own (even displacing the current legal heir) 2) unilaterally divorce, even if he has children with his wife, and 3) in some historical cases with the Targaryens at least, have multiple wives. So that's three paths by which Jon could have been made legitimate. And male primogeniture gives him precedence over Dany in all of those cases.

If the theory that Tyrion is also a secret Targaryen is true, *he* would have precedence in birth order over both Jon and Dany, but as a bastard would not have a legal claim. But that would make three Targ heirs and three dragons, so it's hard to dismiss the possibility. And any one or combination of the three could be the "fire" in the Song of Ice and Fire. If he renewed his vows to Sansa they could rule the Seven Kingdoms, assuming Jon and Dany don't survive the fight vs. the White Walkers. Or you could have dual Stark/Targ marriages at the end of the whole thing even if they do.
posted by llachglin at 12:26 PM on August 8


OHenryPacey, Jon is a Stark, remember? He's a Stark by Lyanna. Question is whether the Northerners would prefer Jon, the male Stark-by-mother that they've already thrown their lot in with, Sansa, the female Stark-by-father (Bran is off the table and guessing Arya is too), or a non-Stark. Or perhaps their distrust of Targaryen's disqualifies Jon based on the Targ alone.

I guess my feeling is that even without R+L, if Dany and Jon show any modicum of cooperation more mercenary advisors like Tyrion or Varys would suggest uniting their Houses by marriage to solidify the alliance. R+L only strengthens the wisdom of such a suggestion since it sidesteps conflict over who has the most claim to the throne. Jon would be a bastard of Rhaegar, but Dany is a woman and female heirs are not traditionally recognized in Westeros. Obviously both Cersei and Dany are intent on bucking the system, but there's a difference between accepting a queen because there's no other practical option and accepting a queen despite the presence of a male heir with a collection of allies.

Even if it's resolved by one or both of them dying, this conflict is going to have to be faced at some point (or they could kill off Dany before it's broached). I suppose they could just never bring it up, but gosh dropping R+L in there and never mentioning it again is terrible storytelling.
posted by schroedinger at 12:37 PM on August 8 [2 favorites]


Dany needs to learn a lesson Stannis learned in the books:
“Surprisingly, Stannis smiled at that. “You’re bold enough to be a Stark. Yes, I should have come sooner. If not for my Hand, I might not have come at all. Lord Seaworth is a man of humble birth, but he reminded me of my duty, when all I could think of was my rights. I had the cart before the horse, Davos said. I was trying to win the throne to save the kingdom, when I should have been trying to save the kingdom to win the throne.
Maybe I've forgotten, but I don't think that line was ever used on the show. If that's the case, then I hope the writer's have the wit to have Davos say it to Dany in the next few episodes.
posted by homunculus at 1:33 PM on August 8 [14 favorites]


BTW fellow readers, the graphic novel version of The Mystery Knight novella came out today.
posted by homunculus at 2:05 PM on August 8 [2 favorites]


Jon would be a bastard of Rhaegar,

There has been a ton of speculation about this. One line of thinking is that since it was said that Ellia Martell couldn't have any more children, and Rhaegar was convinced about the "dragon has three heads" thing, they got the marriage annulled. (I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that the being unable to bear children is a reason for annulment in Westeros, or maybe just in general in the Middle Ages, but I'm not clear on whether that still counts if you've already had a couple children and just can't have more.) Or maybe Rhaegar decided that polygamy was okay.

Assuming Lyanna did in fact choose to run off with Rhaegar (as opposed to him taking her captive), it seems likely that he would have found some way to make any children they have legitimate, especially have how many issues Targs have had in the past with bastard children.

If they did get married, then it seems likely that this is something Bran would be able to see on weirwood.net.
posted by litera scripta manet at 4:13 PM on August 8


And I agree that Jon and Dany marrying could sidestep some of this. At the same time, I don't know how happy Dany would be about this. It's one thing for her to be queen and take a husband who helps consolidate the realm. In that case, she is still THE queen. The authority to rule would come from her. But if she marries Jon, who arguably has a better claim to the throne then her, that's put her in the position of being pushed off to the side more when it comes to ruling. Not that I thing Jon would do this, but let's be honest, this is a massively patriarchal society already. Even with a husband other than Jon she still might run into problems with people wanting her husband to be in charge instead of her. But that problem is magnified if she marries Jon.

So I guess it could go either way for them. Also, if they do hook up, I'm betting that the sexy times come before Jon's Targ heritage is revealed, just for the sake of maximum drama.
posted by litera scripta manet at 4:17 PM on August 8


Off-topic from Starg Drama:

I loved the scene between Bran and Baelish because it truly drove home exactly how hard Aidan Gillen has been nailing his role. When Baelish's face drops into an "Oh shit oh shit oh shit" look after Bran says "Chaos is a ladder" I suddenly realized that was the first time I've ever seen Baelish look like he genuinely had no idea what to do. I look back in past seasons and no matter how stressful the scene Gillen consistently maintains this look in Baelish's eyes that says the wheels are turning in his brain, and if the current situation isn't part of his plan he's actively incorporating it. In that single flash of expression after Bran quotes him we see the wheels have stopped and all of his plans have been replaced with a roiling mass of confusion and fear. He recovers almost immediately, but dang, that was just a great little moment for both the character and Gillen.
posted by schroedinger at 4:34 PM on August 8 [22 favorites]


I'm sorry but you're wrong. Bran & Baelish are the two most boring of men.
posted by dame at 4:45 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


Don't get me wrong, I think they're both dicks, and their storylines are hardly my favorites or the most compelling. I was writing about that scene because of the impact Gillen was able to deliver through a very short, relatively subtle change in expression. The dramatic effect of that moment was entirely built out of Gillen's totally consistent, wholly enmeshed portrayal of the role throughout all the episodes before it. It was not something I'd really noticed until I saw that flash of actual fear and realized it was not something I'd ever seen on Baelish's face before.
posted by schroedinger at 5:27 PM on August 8 [3 favorites]


Up to book 3, I'd agree with you. But I can't find any super important deaths in books 4 and 5.

OK, it's been a while since I last read Books 4 and 5, but, as far as we knew at the time, Jon Snow was killed at the end of Book 5. Brienne was maimed horribly. It's not even super important deaths, just the speed and cumulative horrificness of them. The one that finally made me go "Oh come on, this is fucking ludicrous and you are terrible for doing this even to fictional people, GMM!" was when he gratuitously introduced that hapless idiot Dornish prince whose name I don't even remember anymore who thought he'd skip off to Meereen (?) and marry Dany -- only to get immediately torched. And they didn't even put the poor guy out of his misery but let him lie there for like two days in abject agony until his burns killed him. I literally threw the book across the room in disgust at that point. Thank the gods they left that shit out of the show. It's weird how some relatively "unimportant" deaths get to you, though. I'm still genuinely sad about Oberyn Martell.

But now that I think about it, the post-Book-5 show has been killing off minor and non-principal characters in pretty good numbers: Stannis, Balon Greyjoy (or was he dead in Book 5?), Tommen, Marjorie, Loras, Ramsey, all of House Frey, Olenna, Roose, and I'm probably forgetting a few. So there's that. I will bet the ranch, though, that if there weren't a show at all, GMM's Book 6 would have wiped out at least a couple of the marquee characters and fan favorites.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:43 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


It's weird how some relatively "unimportant" deaths get to you, though. I'm still genuinely sad about Oberyn Martell.

Actually I had forgotten about Oberyn, though he was more important in the show than the books. Balon Greyjoy died in book 3.

The other whose name you're forgetting is Quentyn Martell. That one had me stunned because he took up so much of the book and was so boring and it was all a shaggy dog story. (Not a Shaggydog story, who we haven't seen since book 2 and hopefully gets a better end than in the TV show). Quentyn's entire plot line was replaced with these these three minutes where Tyrion unchains the dragons and isn't burned and left to die.
posted by Gary at 6:09 PM on August 8 [2 favorites]


The character of Quentyn Martell is in at least one respect a far superior character to Jon Connington in that the character of Quentyn Martell will no longer appear in the novels.
posted by Justinian at 7:24 PM on August 8 [4 favorites]


The whole Quentin plot is a subversion of the tired high-fantasy trope where interesting, meaningful characters are developed and cause the reader to become engrossed in a story. It's a breathtaking departure from the reader's expectations.
posted by skewed at 7:34 PM on August 8 [10 favorites]


On the "bend the knee" subject, I think if Jon gets some understanding for how precarious his position is, how he might lose the North if he yields, Dany ought to get understanding also for her obstinance. I think so many of her Essos followers are at least in part inspired by her being a conqueror, and the more she relaxes on that, the more she slips in the esteem of her people.

She's the one who sacrifices a witch on her husband's pyre (but it doesn't burn her!) and murders a building full of assembled Khals (two for two on the Unburnt status). She crucified over a hundred slave masters. Set the Unsullied on several towns full of civilians.

If she's insane or evil, she's always been so. The people who follow her because they've chosen her, are the survivors.
posted by traveler_ at 9:41 PM on August 8


I'm also disappointed that Meera didn't get Dark Sister as a reward for chaperoning Bran on his quest, since the Three-eyed raven was the sword's last known wielder.

I thought it was more appropriate that she ended up with nothing. Would the death of her brother and Hodor and all her efforts be made whole with an extra fancy sword? You can't return home. Like Arya asks after long-dead people and she can't be the girl she was (cf Sansa's awkward smile when she hears about the list), in a castle that is mostly occupied by different people (Vale men and other Northerners).
posted by ersatz at 1:01 AM on August 9 [2 favorites]


I agree that Jon and Dany marrying could sidestep some of this. At the same time, I don't know how happy Dany would be about this. It's one thing for her to be queen and take a husband who helps consolidate the realm. In that case, she is still THE queen. The authority to rule would come from her. But if she marries Jon, who arguably has a better claim to the throne then her, that's put her in the position of being pushed off to the side more when it comes to ruling.

There's an alternative that could be satisfying to Dany and also consistent with GRRM's use of English history as a source: Jon and Dany marry and rule as a "coregency", like William and Mary of England. W and M were cousins (shades of House Targaryen) and she had the better claim to the throne. Their marriage solved some similar political issues for them...
posted by Zonker at 5:13 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


The whole Quentin plot is a subversion of the tired high-fantasy trope where interesting, meaningful characters are developed and cause the reader to become engrossed in a story. It's a breathtaking departure from the reader's expectations.


The first time that it happens. Which we had in a huge way with Ned Stark.

But that was the first book. Throw in all the other times since then that he's head-faked us out with the idea that Robb would realize how bad he's fucked up, that things would work out for Sansa, that Sansa would be rescued, that Arya would be safe, that Catelyn would do the strategic thing, that things would work out for poor rando no. 2038940123 like Martell, not to mention Fake Arya, Fake Sansa, Fake Targaryen, etc., etc., and it really takes on the feeling that dude is beating a dead horse, setting it on fire, and stampeding bull elephants over the site.

I lost my patience for that point roughly 18 ambiguous prophecies and two doorstop books ago.
posted by joyceanmachine at 6:25 AM on August 9 [2 favorites]


Boy this show keeps rushing right along. The reunion of Bran in the last episode, and now the reunion with Arya in this one. Most of the family is back together and it's over in about five minutes flat. No one bothers to mention Rob or Rickon. Rob is old news and truly, Rickon should never have been written into the books at all. And then a delicious establishing scene of Arya's new role as The Stranger. Good stuff.

(Speaking of Arya as The Stranger, don't miss this comment about The Seven from the other thread.)

My favorite moment was Meera's criticism of Bran. Both because it's a GRRM-like trope inversion with her saying what badly needs to be sad. And because it furthers Bran's character as one weirdly fucked up kid. I haven't reviewed, but didn't she say "you died back in that cave?" She meant it metaphorically, but it seems very on the nose.

I was very confused about the pictographs at Dragonstone showing the First Men and the Children of the Forest happily cavorting together and killing White Walkers. Didn't the Children create the White Walkers as a way to kill the First Men? I know they realized it was a mistake, but that seems like quite a change.
posted by Nelson at 8:11 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Set the Unsullied on several towns full of civilians.

Hmmm I guess this is technically true but I think in the story, slave owners kinda stand in for military (since they have the power, and they were the ones Dany tried to negotiate with) and slaves stand in for civilians. And Danaerys definitely told the Unsullied to save the slaves.
posted by torticat at 8:37 AM on August 9


She deigned to allow that unremarkable Whatsisface Mercernary Guy into her bed, after all.

I will admit that neither GRRM nor TV-GoT did what I would have liked to see with the Daario character (which could have been great) BUT I cannot allow calling Michiel Huisman "unremarkable Whatsisface" to pass. That's some kind of blasphemy against the god/dess of sexyface.

I am not confident that sexy times are necessarily a consequence of this new situation.

>See, I guess I feel it can go south but it also has the potential to strengthen the likelihood of this.


Aren't these kinda one and the same? :-P
posted by torticat at 9:28 AM on August 9 [2 favorites]


Dany needs to learn a lesson Stannis learned in the books:
“Surprisingly, Stannis smiled at that. “You’re bold enough to be a Stark. Yes, I should have come sooner. If not for my Hand, I might not have come at all. Lord Seaworth is a man of humble birth, but he reminded me of my duty, when all I could think of was my rights. I had the cart before the horse, Davos said. I was trying to win the throne to save the kingdom, when I should have been trying to save the kingdom to win the throne.”
Maybe I've forgotten, but I don't think that line was ever used on the show. If that's the case, then I hope the writer's have the wit to have Davos say it to Dany in the next few episodes.


Already favorited, but just want to call this out specifically as a great catch, homunculus, and insightful comment.
posted by torticat at 9:32 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


The whole Quentin plot is a subversion of the tired high-fantasy trope where interesting, meaningful characters are developed and cause the reader to become engrossed in a story. It's a breathtaking departure from the reader's expectations.

Yeah, I get this, but at a certain point, how much more subversion do you need, especially when the books are already so sprawling? Okay, fine, the character and subplot were actually engrossing, but, I found him to be painfully uninteresting and it was one of the reasons Dance with Dragons felt like such a slog to get through. And then you realize that every Quentin chapter could have been cut out and it wouldn't have changed the story at all.

I feel similarly about the Jon Connington and (f)Aegon subplots, although theoretically I guess those could go somewhere, but we'll probably never know. I really appreciated the show consolidating Tyrion's storyline and dropping Connington, Faegon, and Quentyn Martell.

With that being said, I will never understand why they dropped Arianne Martell and some of the other Dorne characters only to replace it with the worst subplot ever in the show. And they totally butchered Ellaria's storyline.

At least the Sand Snakes are theoretically gone for good, although I wouldn't be surprised if that ends up not being true. If Bronn escapes from Dany and gets back to King's Landing, maybe he'll go save the "Bad Pussy" one before she dies. (Sorry, I can't even get there names straight. Is that Tyene in the dungeons? I know there's one named Obara who is dead, and I can't remember the third name.)
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:47 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Yes, Tyene is the one in the dungeon. The other one was Nymeria. I'm relieved that they're gone from the show, but I'm actually looking forward to Nymeria's and Tyene's adventures in King's Landing in the next book.
posted by homunculus at 9:57 AM on August 9


I'm also disappointed that Meera didn't get Dark Sister as a reward for chaperoning Bran on his quest, since the Three-eyed raven was the sword's last known wielder.

I thought it was more appropriate that she ended up with nothing. Would the death of her brother and Hodor and all her efforts be made whole with an extra fancy sword?


No. But what I really wanted was a payoff to Arya's telling Tywin about Dark Sister back in season 2: it would have been great if Meera, who would probably want nothing to do with it at this point, had given Dark Sister to the Stark sisters to replace Ice as the new family sword.
posted by homunculus at 10:01 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


Before anyone else responds to my Quentin subversion remark, it was meant as a joke. Quentin's storyline is just dumb and boring. Even though I guess it was supposed to be a surprise that after all that "intrigue" this particular hidden prince who was promised ends up getting unceremoniously (yet boringly) burnt alive, I doubt a single gasp was uttered or tear was shed because his story was boring and his quest so implausibly stupid that it made it nearly impossible to respect Doran Martell. Also, the storyline was quite boring.
posted by skewed at 10:51 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


Oh yeah, I just remembered that Oathkeeper was forged from Ice. I doubt Brienne knows that though.
posted by elsietheeel at 10:51 AM on August 9


I posted about it in the other thread, but I simply don't see how the ballistas pose a credible threat to the dragons, while the plot necessarily needs them to. I'm starting to understand why GRRM used the dragon horn: it really only makes sense to fight magic with magic. Any realistic, man-made device is going to be very silly if you present it as a credible threat to the essential equivalent of a fighter jet. I'm curious how they're going to write their way out of that, but I'm assuming it will be: "not very well."
posted by codacorolla at 10:57 AM on August 9 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I think you're right, the scorpions do seem to be a replacement for the dragon horn. They're both pretty silly, at least the dragon horn can be shrugged off with "it's magic". Still, one thing I like about the show is that they seem to hold back as much as they can on putting in real magic. In most cases I think the magic doesn't translate well from the page, and in others I think it's just incongruous with the rest of the material (e.g., Lady Stoneheart, Ser Zombie whatsisname).

The scorpions I think would be somewhat more believable as anti-siege weapons for castle defense, but using them as mobile artillery is just dumb, it should be trivially easy to spot them, and flank. I don't think it would make sense dramatically to have another successful scorpion hit on a dragon, but having them as the defensive presence which protects KL from a siege seems reasonable to me.
posted by skewed at 11:11 AM on August 9


Oathkeeper was forged from Ice. I doubt Brienne knows that though.

She knows, Jaime told her when he gave it to her.

And btw fwiw in my opinion there is more heat between two people in that sequence than in any scene between Jon & Dany OR Jaime & Cercei. Season 4 ep 4 around minutes 31-35, if anyone feels like looking it up.

Oh Jaime! You had so much going for you back then; why can't you get your head out of your ass in the present??
posted by torticat at 11:26 AM on August 9 [4 favorites]


Oh Jaime! You had so much going for you back then; why can't you get your head out of your ass in the present??

He shaved his beard and it all went downhill. Apparently it was the Beard of Cluefulness. Which Jon seems to be trying to grow. Maybe Davos will give him some more advice, this time about facial hair.

I would be perfectly happy watching Davos dispense advice, with Yara, Tyrion, and Bronn cracking jokes from behind him, drinking. Add some Lady Mormont raising her hand imperiously, and we're golden. NEW SPINOFF SHOW!
posted by culfinglin at 12:29 PM on August 9 [7 favorites]


So a merling is deffo going to save Jaime, right?
posted by Rock Steady at 12:57 PM on August 9 [3 favorites]


I don't think Varys was on the scene, was he?
posted by The Nutmeg of Consolation at 3:05 PM on August 9


I agree that the scorpion is really silly. I was actually expecting something like the dragon horn when Cersei made that comment about the dragons being not that invincible, but then, it was like, "Hey, a giant crossbow!"

Qyburn can make zombies, but not come up with a better way to take down a dragon? Also, even though it did go through the 500 year old skull, first of all, it's a 500 year old skull, but second of all, that was from a distance of like 10 feet. The Scorpion's arrow is going to be hitting the dragon at the top of its arc (or near to it), which means that it's going to be moving at a much lower velocity, so it's hard to imagine it even would realistically be able to pierce the dragons hide at all. Unless, like, gravity and physics work differently in Westeros.

It's too bad they don't have any giants. Remember the giant that shot the gigantic arrow over the wall back in Season 4? They need something like that. (Of course, I imagine a giant would be way too easy a target for the dragon, but still.)
posted by litera scripta manet at 3:21 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


The scorpions I think would be somewhat more believable as anti-siege weapons for castle defense, but using them as mobile artillery is just dumb, it should be trivially easy to spot them, and flank.

Their visibility could make them useful as bait, though, right? They're the only weapon of war that has been successful against the dragons so far, so next time Dany or Drogon see one, they're going to want to get rid of it right away. That could be useful in terms of getting Dany/Drogon to walk into a trap.

How they could be finished off once they're in a trap, I don't know -- but it seems like someone trained in war strategy, like Jaime, would be able to figure that out. I mean, it could theoretically be as dumb as getting them to go into a tight cave/crevice to get to a scorpion and then using some kind of explosive to close the opening of the cave/crevice behind them. Or dropping something very heavy and/or pointy on them once they're in place.

You could also maybe booby trap the scorpion itself to, say, release some kind of poisonous chemical when exposed to intense heat (such as dragon breath). That would kill people on both sides, but it might also kill Dany and/or the dragon.

Honestly, it doesn't bother me that the scorpions are kind of underwhelming and not very glamorous weapons. Something that I like about GoT, and ASOIF in general, is how people have to constantly try to make do with what they've got or can cobble together, despite what they've got or can cobble together often being disconcertingly skimpy. I like watching people be resourceful.

And just because the Lannister contingent has scorpions doesn't mean it ONLY has scorpions.

I'm really hoping that Jaime survives, because I'm very interested on his take in particular on this battle. He looked more shocked and horrified than I'd ever seen him.

It wasn't just the dragons, either -- it seemed to me that he looked at Dany specifically with shock and horror. I've never cared much about the Targs either way, but his reaction made me pretty intrigued once again about the conspiracy to unseat the Targs originally, and the role that Jaime in particular played in that. Jaime's always been an odd duck in his lack of ambition and his resignation to his own disgrace/lack of honor. I don't really think that he's ever going to redeem himself, because of that lack of ambition and that resignation. But in retrospect, it actually might be interesting to know more about how he came to be how he is, anyway. I always figured that we could put the pieces together pretty easily, and it was Jaime, so who cared anyway? But his reaction to the dragons and Dany surprised me.

And I loooooooved the visual of him holding that spear like a joust and racing toward Dany tournament-style.
posted by rue72 at 3:28 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


The scorpions make perfect sense to me, thats what I would build if confronted by a dragon with no access to modern ground to air missiles etc. I sure as fuck wouldn't only build one through, I'd have them everywhere, coated with all the poison I could find. Dragons can die, it's GOT, anyone and everything can die. I'm not counting out the white walkers winning in the end.

I'd also like to mention that I read every book and can't remember Quentyn at all. I do recall Jon Connington and that story vaguely and it seemed real interesting but I am 100% sure we are never getting another book so I guess we'll never know.
posted by fshgrl at 3:46 PM on August 9


And btw fwiw in my opinion there is more heat between two people in that sequence than in any scene between Jon & Dany OR Jaime & Cercei. Season 4 ep 4 around minutes 31-35, if anyone feels like looking it up.

On the video I was watching at 33:00 Jamie says "I almost forgot, I have one more gift" and it cuts to him standing next to Podrick, who's wearing the biggest shit-eating grin on his face. I know this is not what you were referring to, but I want to believe.
posted by schroedinger at 3:54 PM on August 9 [3 favorites]


It's too bad they don't have any giants. Remember the giant that shot the gigantic arrow over the wall back in Season 4? They need something like that.

Well, ONE group that the dragons seem destined to fight now have giants, but it's unclear if giant wights use bows.
posted by flaterik at 4:07 PM on August 9


Honestly, I would be looking to engage with Dany in ways that would make it difficult for her to even use the dragons. By slipping into her camp and attacking her covertly/by surprise, by trying to draw her into fights in tight quarters or warrens where the dragons wouldn't fit or be able to move easily, areas with a lot of groundcover that are hard to surveil from the air -- stuff like that. Also, I would be very interested in trying to get access to the dragons' liar and food supply, to try and trap or poison them in a context where their defenses are down. Yeah, that stuff's not perfect. But you've got to try and level the playing field whatever way you can, and dragons are more effective and more aggressive in some scenarios than others.

I guess I figure, why wait until you're in a scenario where the dragons are at their peak effectiveness and aggression to attack them? So weapons to be used against dragons while in open combat would be more of a Plan B than the foundation of defense, I would think. But this was the very first battle to even involve dragons, and the Lannister forces did manage to at least disable (if not kill) a dragon even on this outing, so. I think that's actually pretty successful, considering.

Anyway, personally, my first tactic would be to Trojan Horse Dany. Honestly, I think that offering her a (booby trapped) present would probably work, if it were presented with the right kind of deference. Dany has a weakness for a certain kind of staid brand of flattery -- and she makes her weakness obvious whenever she forces anyone to stand there listening to her ten million titles.

But in any case -- Jon needs this war to be over ASAP so that Dany doesn't get herself or her dragons killed before they can attack the White Walkers. He can't let her get into some kind of protracted ~thing~ with the Lannisters, and he can't risk any of the dragons or Dany getting killed in this ultimately irrelevant fight over the Iron Throne. I don't know how Jon might rush all this to a solution that leaves Dany and her dragons alive, or if he's even thinking in those terms, though.
posted by rue72 at 4:12 PM on August 9


At this juncture I am wondering who came up with the idea of the scorpion?...it must have been a last minute quick fix for the Horn problem.
Surely dragons have not been gone long enough that there isn't a body of research on anti-dragon measures somewhere, including the citadel. Dany has been raising them for years, so ithad to be known that they would be deployed.
Has no one considered a catapult net to entangle the wings? at least as an option?
Personally i would think that Cersei would just cede the battlefield and then ambush Dany once she's on the ground, with the assumption that she (cersei) would inherit the dragons once dany is gone.
posted by OHenryPacey at 4:14 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


So we know dragon glass and valyrian steel have special power against the white walkers. Any chance they also might be effective against dragons? I know that valyrian steel is special because it's light and super strong and all that, but I don't feel like we really know that much about obsidian or valyrian steel.

And btw fwiw in my opinion there is more heat between two people in that sequence than in any scene between Jon & Dany OR Jaime & Cercei. Season 4 ep 4 around minutes 31-35, if anyone feels like looking it up.

Not just heat, but all that unspoken sexual tension and longing and respect and admiration just below the surface. It's kind of like something out of a Victorian romance novel. I ship it.
posted by litera scripta manet at 5:01 PM on August 9 [4 favorites]


It's too bad (for Cersei) that Tyrion is on Dany's side, because I feel like he and Jaime working together could be really could at coming up with anti-dragon warfare implements. I assume Tyrion read a bunch about dragons based on him talking about wanting to have a dragon as a kid.

Has no one considered a catapult net to entangle the wings? at least as an option?

But couldn't the dragon just burn the net off? It's an interesting idea, though. Maybe if you could manage to do it over a big body of water. The dragon might end up drowning before it could get itself out.
posted by litera scripta manet at 5:07 PM on August 9


One thing the scorpion has going for it is precedent: The Dornish managed to kill Meraxes with a scorpion back during Aegon's conquest. Back when Tywin and Oberyn were talking in the brothel, Tywin mention that only Dorne had resisted Aegon and his dragons, so I assumed the show was going to mention the Meraxes incident at some point, but they haven't said anything yet. None of the show-only folks seem to know about it.
posted by homunculus at 5:32 PM on August 9 [7 favorites]


I'm starting to understand why GRRM used the dragon horn: it really only makes sense to fight magic with magic. Any realistic, man-made device is going to be very silly if you present it as a credible threat to the essential equivalent of a fighter jet.

Yeah, I think you're right, the scorpions do seem to be a replacement for the dragon horn. They're both pretty silly, at least the dragon horn can be shrugged off with "it's magic".


There's no reason the show couldn't have had both. The dragon horn could have made for some fine spectacle. The other thing it had going for it was that it made it make sense that the Ironborn picked Euron as their leader instead of Yara & Theon. On the show, with Euron an admitted kinslayer with nothing but a "big cock" to offer Dany, there wasn't much of a case for so many Ironborn being so gung-ho to follow him, but in the book it made complete sense because he had the dragon horn.
posted by homunculus at 5:34 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


Been driving around the kids all day. In the backseat they're playing some cross between choose your own adventure, Pokémon, and hero quest.

So all of a sudden I hear from the backseat "a rowboat comes into view from the mist rowed by a solitary man." I honestly thought it was Gendry and they've never seen the show .
posted by tilde at 5:36 PM on August 9


Oathkeeper was forged from Ice. I doubt Brienne knows that though.

She knows, Jaime told her when he gave it to her.


There's another missing conversation that should have happened already. We have no idea if Brienne has told any of the Starks that her sword comes from their family sword, and I think Brienne would feel obliged to at least tell Sansa about it. But we don't even know if Jon knows that Brienne has a valyrian steel sword, or if Brienne knows that valyrian steel kills White Walkers. There could have been at least one more episode this season if they'd including the many missing conversations.
posted by homunculus at 5:40 PM on August 9 [3 favorites]


I'm really hoping that Jaime survives, because I'm very interested on his take in particular on this battle. He looked more shocked and horrified than I'd ever seen him.

And Tyrion too. Jaime will definitely survive, and we'll get BOTH of their takes. Which I look forward to a great deal!

But his reaction to the dragons and Dany surprised me.

Well, Jaime might have some ptsd regarding his kingslayer incident, what with Mad King and the wildfyre close call. Seeing another Targ who probably appeared to him QUITE mad, had dragons IRL and was actually, massively destroying things with fire (not even just threatening it), could definitely have triggered the same instinct that led him to take out Aerys. I don't see any reason why he would make much distinction between the two of them, at that stage.

Of course he needs to come to terms at some point with the fact that his sister did the exact same damn thing. Which is another reason he's not dead yet.
posted by torticat at 6:02 PM on August 9


Not just heat, but all that unspoken sexual tension and longing and respect and admiration just below the surface.

That's what I meant by heat, but, oh yeah! Coster-Waldau and Christie were amazing, communicating all that, with not so many spoken lines, and none of the script having anything to do with sexual tension!

More of all that is what we needed in the cave.
posted by torticat at 6:09 PM on August 9


Anyone make anything of this?

I think it's just an easter egg. Seems likely it was intentional, though, given the placement.
posted by torticat at 6:22 PM on August 9


> Also, did followers of the seven just shrug after the Sept was blown up. It's possible some would accept an accident as the explanation, but where are the Sept truthers?

That plot hole got even bigger. There was this in the transcript:
Bronn: What could you possibly have to be upset about? Come on, you can tell me. Queen of Thorns give you one last prick in the balls before saying goodbye? I'll save my confessions for the High Septon.
Jamie: There is no more High Septon.
Bronn: No, there isn't, is there? There is still the question of my prize.
It's kind of ridiculous to imagine that after all this time there's still no High Septon. The Faith of the Seven plays as big a part in life in Westeros as the Catholic Church did in medieval Europe. Even if Cersei killed all the Sparrows and septons in King's Landing, there are still septons all over Westeros who would be rebuilding the institution, and the lords would be competing with each other to influence it. Many of the septons and lords would probably be secretly grateful to have the pesky Sparrows and their annoying reforms out of the way, which might help Cersei mold the hierarchy is she saw fit, though many of them would be trying to fight her on it. There's an enormous power vacuum there, but it's being ignored.
posted by homunculus at 4:48 PM on August 11 [1 favorite]


It's kind of ridiculous to imagine that after all this time there's still no High Septon. The Faith of the Seven plays as big a part in life in Westeros as the Catholic Church did in medieval Europe.

Well, how much is "all this time", really? Six months? I don't think there's any real hope of creating a realistic timeline for the events of the show at this point --- GRRM was lousy at it from the start, and the show has clearly deployed a teleporter as needed.

But though there's ample wiggle room, it's probably not the case that it's been say, 5 years since Cersei blew the sept. 18 months at the upper limit, maybe as little as 3, I'd instinctively guess. If some Protestant Guy Fawkes had managed to blow the Vatican sky high in 1540, do I think 18 months would be enough time for them to get their shit together? Absolutely not, personally. The rituals of the medieval church were the metronome of people's lives back then, but the authority of the church was central. Cut the head off the snake, and yeah there's still be priests and bishops, but I don't think they'd be anywhere near having created a new authority and agreed to submit to it, in 18 months. It'd ll be various powerful bishops consolidating regional authority, hunkering and bickering and making alliances to subdue each other.

It's less clear, in Westeros, exactly how centralised the Faith of the Seven is --- do abbots and bishops literally have to receive a sign of the high septon's flavor to take up their roles? Seems probable, the way the High Sparrow takes over -- once he has control of the sept in KL he acts as if he's got the whole church. Medieval kings who were arguing with the Pope spent months, sometimes years, unable even to get themselves crowned, because the bishop of Rome hadn't given the high sign. Eliminate him and all would be confusion for a considerable time, and tending to fracture and faction, if the history of the early church is any guide.
posted by Diablevert at 6:32 PM on August 11 [6 favorites]


I'd add on: It's worth noting that the Seven are incredibly weak, by design. The reason that Cersei reforming the Faith Militant is noteworthy is because it gives the church more worldly power than they've had in decades. In fact, we might imagine that the strongest and best leaders of the church were probably drawn into the Sparrow uprising, and most likely localized within the Sept of Baelor. So, by killing the Sparrows, Cersei has probably created a power vacuum that is difficult to fill, since she also eliminated the talent that would typically go towards filling that vacuum. An interesting side story, which we obviously don't have time to explore in the show, would be a few of the radical Septons who weren't at the Sept, and who might still be fomenting rebellion among the small-folk. I can also imagine a schism in church leadership, between those who still support the High Sparrow's cause, and the mainstream (orthodox?) Septons who want the church to go back to its previous weak state. All of this would be further exacerbated by the encroaching faith of the Red Priests, which Stannis first brought to Westeros, and which Daeny and company would likely be spreading as they earn more and more victories.

I dunno... exploring the religious life of the average Westerosi in the aftermath of two apocalyptic events (the destruction of the main church, and the appearance of actual real-ass magic being touted by a foreign God) seems like the sort of thing that GRRM could explore in a chapter of a book (hah), but would be harder to do with the ~12 hours of show that remain.
posted by codacorolla at 2:46 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]


In fact, we might imagine that the strongest and best leaders of the church were probably drawn into the Sparrow uprising, and most likely localized within the Sept of Baelor. So, by killing the Sparrows, Cersei has probably created a power vacuum that is difficult to fill, since she also eliminated the talent that would typically go towards filling that vacuum.

But the thing is, the writers aren't acknowledging that there is a power vacuum at all. There's been no fallout from the destruction of the sept of any kind.

First, in episode 2 the writers made a point of informing us (via Hot Pie, the voice of the common man) that people believe Cersei blew up the sept and killed the Sparrows. If that's so, even without the Faith Militant the septons around Westeros could ignite quite a bit of unrest throughout the land if they publicly blamed Cersei. The people who were rioting against Joffrey in Season 2 would have gone nuts if they believed that the queen they already hated had destroyed the center of their faith along with the only people who were trying to aid the poor. Instead they joyfully throw their food rations at Cersei's enemies? Also, it probably wouldn't be just the smallfolk: many of the Lords of Westeros are pious people and would have been furious at Cersei, and some of them would likely have joined Olenna's cause if she publicly accused Cersei of the deed. Even some of the Gold Cloaks and Lannister soldiers in KL would have figured it out too, and some of them would have mutinied. But there was simply none of that kind of fallout on the show. The writers could have easily used a few lines of dialogue to imply that something like that had happened off camera between seasons 6 and 7, and Cersei's response to the unrest consolidated her power, but they didn't even bother.

Even if we set all that aside, there's still the condition of the institution of the Faith and it's rebuilding which we're discussing above to consider. There should be a huge power vacuum in the story, but there's no evidence of one. Even if there hasn't been enough time to pick a new High Septon, there should political machinations surrounding the institution of the Faith going on, with septons and lords and Cersei all vying against each other for control. No doubt there would be septons who'd be grateful to have the Sparrows gone and would side with Cersei. The level of intrigue would be on a par with what you'd expect to see on a show like, well, Game of Thrones! But in the last episode, when Jaime was paying Bronn there was this bit of dialogue (which I misattributed above).
Jaime: I'll save my confessions for the High Septon.
Bronn: There is no more High Septon.
Jaime: No, there isn't, is there?
Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but it sounds to me like the position of High Septon has been nullified altogether and that the organization of the Faith of the Seven is just gone. But the only way that should be possible would be if Cersei were deliberately suppressing it, which should have obvious blowback. In a society like this one, everyone from the smallfolk up through the lords would be demanding the organization be restored, and of course there would be all the drama mentioned above. It would make a lot more sense if Cersei had used or were trying to use her power to place her own lackeys in positions of power. Again, much of all that could have been accounted for with just a few lines of dialogue referring to events off camera, but I think that in the writers' minds the Faith is done.

It's not even that I particularly want to see all this play out on the show; I thought the story arcs of Loras and the Sparrows went to shit. But a plot hole that big breaks the story for me.
posted by homunculus at 11:21 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]


Shit, I meant to post this before the one I just posted above. So just read them in reverse order:

Good points, Diablevert. I probably overestimated the amount of time passed between seasons. I can't get used to how Planetos has shrunk in the last couple of seasons. Since the destruction of the Great Sept there's been enough time for Varys and the Dornish and Tyrell fleets to sail from Westeros to Mereen to join Dany, and for Dany's collected forces to sail from Mereen to Dragonstone. I figured that's a least a year right there, but for the sake of argument let's just say that there hasn't been enough time to for there to be a new High Septon yet. Even so, there hasn't been any of the political shenanigans we'd be expecting: there are no septons and their patron lords attempting to consolidate regional authority, or hunkering and bickering and making alliances. The vast cultural institution that is the Faith of the Seven seems to have disappeared.
posted by homunculus at 11:52 PM on August 12


I agree with you that if Westeros was a real place, Cersei's blowing the sept would have big consequences. In the hacked-down, brutally abridged world of the TV show, though, what would those consequences amount to, in terms of impact on the central plot? They're another reason for the lords of Westeros to abandon the Lannisters. And that's about it, really. Dany's invasion is already underway; finding out Cersei blew the sept is one more reason to hate her, but those weren't in short supply. Against them must be balanced: daughter of mad king/scion of brutal conquerors who were resented for hundreds of years and who we were glad to see deposed; accompanied by a foreign invasion force primed for an unprecedentedly brutal rape and pillage session. If the show had three more seasons to play out, there might be room for a side plot about some second rank house being torn between two sides or to show us some church infighting. But the problems of two bishops don't amount to a hill of beans, homunculus, when we've only got 10 episodes left for the end of the world.

I dunno, for my part I don't no whether to even call that bad writing, necessarily. Like do I think it's realistic that there would be no consequences? No. Do I think taking the time to show the impact on the church is the most valuable use of resources in the time they have left? For me, no. It doesn't impact the motivations or decision trees of the main characters we have left, and I'm pretty sure they're going to be yada-yada-ing a bunch of stuff there as it is. Whatever we're getting for the rest of this show is the CliffsNotes version; it can't be otherwise, given the constraints of the medium. If it were me I'd rather they'd have done 10 seasons instead of seven; with a bit more breathing space they could give us some of the nuance and character development that I enjoyed in the early seasons. But 10 years out of anyone's life is a big ask, and I rather seethe thing finished than un.
posted by Diablevert at 12:33 PM on August 13 [4 favorites]


But the problems of two bishops don't amount to a hill of beans

Beans, you say?

Good points. Actually when I reread what I wrote last night I found myself feeling a bit silly for making such a thing of it.

As far as the amount of time they have left, though, that was their choice. As far as HBO was concerned theshowrunners could have had as many full seasons as they wanted, but D&D wanted to get it over with. Actually I was sympathetic to them and the burn out they must be feeling after all these years until a few weeks ago, when I found out how asinine their next project which they're so anxious to get started on is. FFS.
posted by homunculus at 3:51 PM on August 13


The people who were rioting against Joffrey in Season 2 would have gone nuts if they believed that the queen they already hated had destroyed the center of their faith along with the only people who were trying to aid the poor. Instead they joyfully throw their food rations at Cersei's enemies?

If nothing else, I hope that this motivates GRRM to write again by making him "see? I'll show you!" about it.
posted by corb at 1:21 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]


I remembered something: when we were discussing Tommen's age it turned out that about a year passes between the beginning of each season (Tommen's age was retconned so he could trade up from kittens), so it probably had been about a year since Baelor went Boom.
posted by homunculus at 3:51 PM on August 17 [1 favorite]


But Cersei's hair isn't longer.
posted by bq at 11:25 AM on August 18


It's kind of ridiculous to imagine that after all this time there's still no High Septon. The Faith of the Seven plays as big a part in life in Westeros as the Catholic Church did in medieval Europe.

I mean, if you believe the ruler of your country is willing to blow up with wildfire the equivalent of the Vatican, the Pope, his closest cardinals, and all the nobility in the city, and still controls the army and military police, and you've been suffering through years of war and intermittent starvation and roaming bandits and mercenaries, siege, well, I imagine that right now survival is outweighing a peasant rebellion.
posted by schroedinger at 11:56 AM on August 18


I didn't think of Westeros as mesa country.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:55 PM on September 4


« Older Game of Thrones: The Spoils of...   |  Rick and Morty: Pickle Rick... Newer »

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

poster