Game of Thrones: Winter is Here (full season)   Books Included 
April 15, 2019 7:34 AM - Season 8 (Full Season) - Subscribe

Winter is here, and the show has outpaced GRRM's writing, but in case we want to talk about the books, here's a thread for speculating on this season.
posted by filthy light thief (96 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Given that we're "ahead" of the books at this point, I figured there's no need to put up a new post for every episode, but there might still be some overly bookish theories or speculation that could be considered spoilers, so here's a place to chat like that.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:36 AM on April 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oh thank fucking God we finally get to meet Harry Strickland. Please give us Jon Connington next episode!
posted by skewed at 7:43 AM on April 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

Here's an item: I read out Eyebrows' commentary on the black sails to Mr. Machine, our local Maester, and he was like BUT MAYBE IN THIS WORLD THE TYROSHI HAVE COLOR FAST BLACK DYE BECAUSE OF THE SNAILS.

And then we fell into a hole talking about Tyrian purple and Tyrosh as (not even thinly veiled) analogy for Carthage.
posted by joyceanmachine at 7:47 AM on April 15, 2019 [9 favorites]

Westeros, where nobody ever gets to answer a question or finish a thought
posted by OverlappingElvis at 8:34 AM on April 15, 2019 [5 favorites]

At least Tormund, my ginger muffin is alive.
posted by miss-lapin at 11:50 AM on April 15, 2019 [13 favorites]

I did like the moment between Sansa and Arya, where they both acknowledge being survivors and being strong in different ways. Also Sansa calling attention to how Tyrion has become so easily tricked by Cersei was a lovely reversal to show how well she has learned.
posted by miss-lapin at 11:54 AM on April 15, 2019 [6 favorites]

"Given that we're "ahead" of the books at this point, I figured there's no need to put up a new post for every episode"

I don't see why these are remotely related? Seems like each episode should have its own episodes, it's very much a show that's exciting to watch and then talk about and theorize and all that. Plus, Metafilter isn't really structured to facilitate extended length discussions over time. Most full series posts of ongoing shows seem to just be graveyards. I may be misinterpreting the purpose of this thread however.

Anyway, I had a blast watching this episode with a group of friends. I think it really was an episode tailor made for the anticipatory watch parties, everyone was hotting, hollaring, yelling, cheering, etc. It was a lot of fun and it seemed like they knew this first episode was more a celebratory landing spot before the show launches us into the terror and stress of seeing the characters we root for die and fail.

I'm really curious if Cersei is actually pregnant or not, I can see her making Tyrion think she is carrying to manipulate him into thinking he has cause to trust her. We know she's untrustworthy but her true plans have not been revealed just yet. I don't think Bron will actually kill Tyrion or Jaime, but it also seems too fairytale for him to just be like "lol ur sis wants me to kill you, but give me some treasure and I won't."
posted by GoblinHoney at 1:21 PM on April 15, 2019

Should start a pool: which main character goes first (this season and which episode.
posted by sammyo at 1:48 PM on April 15, 2019

I figured the only reason she slept with Euron was to cover the fact that she's pregnant again.
posted by miss-lapin at 1:49 PM on April 15, 2019 [3 favorites]

Cersei's pregnancy might make her feel like she has a good way out of the prophesy, of being supplanted by a younger, more beautiful queen. She'd probably be okay with that if she thought it were her daughter. Something about the way Euron said "I'm going to put a prince in your belly" made me think that he's going to be wrong on two counts, not him, and not a prince.
posted by skewed at 1:53 PM on April 15, 2019 [3 favorites]

"Should start a pool: which main character goes first (this season and which episode.)"

The group I watched the premiere and last season with had these printed out and we all filled one out. It will be fun on the last episode to see how wrong everyone was.
posted by GoblinHoney at 2:50 PM on April 15, 2019 [5 favorites]

I don't see why these are remotely related? Seems like each episode should have its own episodes, it's very much a show that's exciting to watch and then talk about and theorize and all that.

Well, we will definitely have a post for each episode (there's already a post for 8.01), it's just that it will be a show only post. The question is whether it's worth having a separate show only and books included post for each episode (as was done in previous years), given how far past the books we are.

FWIW, I think it's a good idea to have a full season post for books included discussion, and then just do in show only posts for each episode.
posted by litera scripta manet at 2:57 PM on April 15, 2019

before the show launches us into the terror and stress of seeing the characters we root for die and fail.

On Game of Thrones? Never!
posted by biscotti at 3:28 PM on April 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

Well it's a full series book thread, got any jucy spoilers? Doesn't Ned Starks wife get reanimated at some point?
posted by sammyo at 3:29 PM on April 15, 2019

Nah, Lady Stoneheart was ages back, was brought back using Beric's life, and Beric's alive in the show, so she won't turn up at this late date. Though I guess that might tell us something about whether he'll make it back from Castle Black next week, so there's a spoiler for you.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 4:22 PM on April 15, 2019 [3 favorites]

Nah, Lady Stoneheart was ages back, was brought back using Beric's life, and Beric's alive in the show, so she won't turn up at this late date.

Won’t the Night King resurrect her?
posted by tilde at 9:37 PM on April 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

Should start a pool: which main character goes first (this season and which episode.

I filled out a BINGO sheet, and among the characters that were available for that I'd pick either Beric or Edd.

Um, what's up with the artwork the Night King nailed to the wall? Like, did he do that himself? His minions? How long did they sit around and neatly pin those limbs up like that while their undead army just sat around waiting?

I thought this was ridiculous too, but apparently it's been a recurring motif throughout the show that I'd just completely forgotten about. Corpse Crafting is apparently pretty common among the undead. Anyway, this just firms up the fact that I'm rooting for the endless night.
posted by codacorolla at 9:45 PM on April 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

Do they fix errors with Wight Out?

I’m picturing all the Umber Undead coming back one armed. Hopefully (dupe from TV thread), they were bright enough to lop off their non dominant arms.
posted by tilde at 10:23 PM on April 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

Um, what's up with the artwork the Night King nailed to the wall?

I was randomly re-watching scenes from season 7 to fill in gaps in my memory and I noticed that the "armed spiral" showed up in the petroglyphs on the cave wall in the scene where Jon convinces Dany that the Night King has been the enemy all along.
posted by OHenryPacey at 7:46 AM on April 16, 2019 [5 favorites]

Yeah, the White Walkers artfully arranging body parts into circular shapes, and pinning undead children in high places goes all the way back to the beginning of S01E01.
posted by firechicago at 8:03 AM on April 16, 2019 [7 favorites]

Those spiral shapes were also seen on the cave walls of the children of the forest, so I guess that's where they picked them up.

Have the books ever made mention of the effects of winter on Essos? I know it's more temperate than Westeros, but I often thought it conspicuous that they never spoke of 10 year winters when alluding to the 5000 year history of the giscaris and Valyrians.
posted by skewed at 8:23 AM on April 16, 2019 [4 favorites]

I guess I just assumed the wights work as kind of a flock, you know, how birds can fly in formation or ants and bees create elaborate homes? So I think the corpses just ARE ARRANGED, and it’s not an extensive crafting process. I can’t believe I’ve spent time thinking about this.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 12:43 PM on April 16, 2019 [7 favorites]

I don't think Bron will actually kill Tyrion or Jaime, but it also seems too fairytale for him to just be like "lol ur sis wants me to kill you, but give me some treasure and I won't."

If I were Bronn and I didn't want to kill my friends but still wanted money, I'd be trying to capture either Dany or Sansa and bring them to Cersei. Dany would be the bigger prize but would be harder to get as she's usually around Jorah, Grey Worm, and/or Jon.

Sansa, however, while not as a big a prize is still enough to force Jon's hand and provides a chance at revenge for Cersei as she still blames her for Joffrey's death.
posted by asteria at 8:39 AM on April 17, 2019

So is Esseros / Dorne done for the show? It seems like that might be the case, but there's just so much stuff that was apparently completely meaningless in the books if it is indeed how it happens.
posted by codacorolla at 12:24 PM on April 17, 2019

Essos as a location has probably been done since Dany sailed with the Dothraki and Arya left the House of Black and White. (It has occurred to me that, if Arya survives, she may decide that whatever losses she's suffered may have left her not wanting to be Arya Stark any more, and rejoins the Faceless Men in Braavos, but who knows.) Dorne may come into play, depending on who might be in charge now, and whether they've stopped killing each other long enough to remember who the real enemy is.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:09 AM on April 18, 2019

Maybe Dorne will be a Netflix spinoff
posted by tilde at 9:45 AM on April 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

Prediction: Neither brother will kill Cersei.

She will die in childbirth giving birth to a little girl, the much younger and more beautiful queen who will supplant her. Because she dies in childbirth with Jamie's daughter, he's the brother that kills her (by impregnating her in the first place).

That still allows the prophecy of watching all 3 of her children die before she does. BOOM! Plot twist unlocked.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 7:22 PM on April 19, 2019 [8 favorites]

I'm really curious about the relationship between the lore resolution on the show vs the books, especially as the show seems to be pretty dialed in to a no-more-subverted-tropes approach as it hurtles to the end. (This is even before taking into account my deep suspicion that we may never see another book.)

Is there a canonical list somewhere that keeps track of the unresolved mysteries from the books? It'd be interesting to sort by how the show dispatches them, like (off the top of my head):

Most likely how intended/supported by existing text: L+R=J
Unclear if how GRRM intended/foreshadowed: "Hodor," Jorah/grayscale, coldhands, Arya/faceless men
Not resolved in show yet: Azor Ahai, Cersei's prophecy
Totally bailed: lady stoneheart, fAegon, something up at the citadel

I'm sure I'm missing a lot, and maybe have some things mislabeled. Because it really seemed like GRRM was winding up for another 6 books rather than heading toward any kind of conclusion, I'm not convinced at all that (say) the show totally bailing on fAegon means anything at all re: his importance to the book plot.
posted by range at 7:56 PM on April 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

A theory for the ending:

Azor Asshai, the legendary hero who defeated the Great Other the last time around is said to have re-forged his legendary sword Lightbringer three times - once tempering it in water, once by plunging it into the heart of a lion and once by plunging it into the heart the heart of his wife Nissa. There's a prophecy that Azor Asshai will be reborn as the Prince that was Promised, when the Great Other needs to be defeated again. A big believer in that prophecy was Rhaegar Targary, which is why he was so adamant that the dragon needs to have three heads, and he needs to have three kids, which is why he impregnated Lyanna, which started this whole mess. And the result is Jon. So people who believe that Jon is supposed to be the Prince who Was Promised like to speculate that he will turn his own Valyrian steel sword into his own version of Lightbringer by plunging it into the heart of his Nissa Nissa, which would presumably be Dany.

I'm not into that sort of trope, so I would hate this plot development, but I can't say this theory is entirely baseless. Substantial magic in ASOIAF is always powered by human sacrifice. Now, my reading is that human sacrifice is what actually caused all these problems, so I'm side-eying the idea that it's also going to be the solution, from an ideological perspective, but there's a certain narrative logic to it. Quite possible that someone will get something sharp plunged into their heart in the course of a magic ritual until all is said and done, especially if the result is not only a new magic sword, but also your very own version of a thinking zombie fighting on your side.

I've also seen a theory, that the zombies' corpse art is supposed to symbolize the site of the original sacrifice that created the Night-King, the Weirwood in the center of a stone spiral from Bran's vision. In the first season we have seen different corpse art as well - a circle with a strike through it, which is theorized to symbolize the Isle of Faces, the location of this most magical weirdwood amidst the stone spiral in the heart of the Riverlands, where the treaty that ended the Long Night the last time was worked out. This is where it all started, this is where it all ended the last time, so it stands to reason that this location will also be important this time around.

Berric setting fire to the spiral-corpse art with his flaming sword could be seen as forshadowing as to how to end the War for Dawn. Dany could sacrifice herself to become Night-Queen, and keep the NIght-King off Jon's back, while Jon uses the new flaming magic sword resulting from the sacrifice to set fire to the Weirwood in the Stone Spiral on the Isle of Faces, which would presumably end all magic in Westeros forever, instantly kill the dragons and anyone resurrected by magic, including Jon himself, but also finally end the tradition of human sacrifice for power-ups, which has to count as a plus. Would rather meet the criterion "bitter-sweet".
posted by sohalt at 1:24 AM on April 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

This felt unfair to drop in the "tv only" thread, even though it's kind of meta. (also apologies if GoblinHoney's cries above are heard and an 8.2 books thread gets spun up)

I enjoyed episode 8.2 quite a bit more than a lot of season 7 and 8.1 and all I keep thinking is that the scenes that took place all felt like they came from GRRM's sketch book of "scenes I will write when I get to that book." I'm not saying every scene and I'm not saying every line. And maybe I'm way over-estimating my GRRM truther abilities, but there were the super-clear "ahead of book but cribbed from GRRM's drafts" scenes last season, and scenes that feel like the showrunners said "let's move this ship along." And ep 8.2 felt a lot like GRRM's fingerprints were heavily on it to me. I'd love to be prove wrong (read: dear GRRM, please write the god damn books before you die and don't punt on them saying "ah, everyone knows the end now anyway.")
posted by jermsplan at 8:37 PM on April 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Kind of a big revelation from episode 2: The Night King's primary objective specifically, or maybe primarily includes killing the Three Eyed Raven. Is there anything in the books to suggest that or is it a show only thing?
posted by skewed at 8:44 PM on April 21, 2019

An interesting theory a friend mentioned to me that's floating around online is that the zombies at Winterfell are only part of the force - the other force is moving on a mostly completely unprepared King's Landing so that it can soak up their armies and hem in WF from both sides with an even larger army.
posted by codacorolla at 8:45 PM on April 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

I totally don't buy the 3 eyed raven being the NK's objective. Wasn't the 3ER north of the wall all these millenia? Why not simply lay siege to the tree and never let the successor(s) get in (Bran's not the first to have the power transferred). I think this is just some lame wrap it up with a reason for bran to be bait rather than one of GRRM's plot points.

Also can't believe no one has suggested using the dragon(s) for reconnaissance, or having one of them perched on the red keep to ensure that Cersei kept her end of the bargain. wtf?
posted by OHenryPacey at 12:03 PM on April 22, 2019 [3 favorites]

Rereading the first book in advance of next episode, there are a lot of very freighted lines involving Tyrion.
”’When I was your [Jon’s] age, I used to dream of having a dragon of my own. . . . Even a stunted, twisted, ugly little boy can look down over the world when he’s seated on a dragon’s back. . . . I used to start fires in the bowels of Casterly Rock and stare at the flames for hours, pretending they were dragon fire. Sometimes I’d imagine my father burning. At other times, my sister. . . . Don’t look at me that way, bastard. I know your secret. You’ve dreamt the same kind of dreams.’”
Well well well
posted by sallybrown at 6:45 AM on April 23, 2019 [4 favorites]

I think there’s a good chance that Bran dies next episode.. 1) That plan working out as predicted would shock me more than Cersei surviving the last episode. 2) I believe the Night King wouldn’t move on to King’s Landing without having dealt with the Bran situation first, and I’ll eat my hat if the zombies don’t make it to King’s Landing. 3) Bran has just had that fireside chat with Tyrion conveying some piece of information we didn’t get to hear anything about, which makes me conclude it’s going to be crucial to defeating the zombies. Much has been made of Tyrion’s cleverness last episode, so he’ll probably get to have one last clever idea before all is said and done, and that’s going to be putting the pieces together to defeat the Night King, one of them being whatever Bran told him just now. At any rate, Bran’s days as an exposition device seem pretty done.

Does that mean the ultimate climax won’t be about shit with Bran, the children, red good magic, etc after all? Probably, not. 1) Bran might just figure out a way to fake his death to get rid of the Bran body, including the Night King’s mark and warg into someone else. (Theon? A dragon? Ghost?) 2) Even if he actually dies, he’ll probably pull of some significant piece of magic before that, that’s going to play heavily into the ultimate outcome. He’s conviently placed himself right next to the Weirwood after all, I’m sure he’s planning a little something. (Probably with Theon? By the end of the last book Theon was set up to be sacrificed to the Red God under a Weirwood tree, with hints that Bran might have a hand in it via ravens, do I smell I last act book-show convergence?) 3) Bran might just pick the most devastating moment to join team Undead, if he hasn’t already. I mean, honestly, could he have been any less useful so far? Goading Jon via Sam to bring up the whole birthright question at the most inconvenient moment to mess up things with Dany, coming up with that doomed-to fail Night-King-bait-plan, not a word of warning about the potential pitfalls of sending all the women and children to the crypts in a war against the Undead? Are we sure Bran’s still on the side of living here? And if he still considers himself to be, might he just have decided that Winterfell and all its current inhabitants simply have to be sacrificed for the greater good?

Bran may or may not bite it next episode, but the repercussions of his actions next week will probably determine the ending in some way or another.
posted by sohalt at 11:29 AM on April 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

In the books doesn't Euron have what is probably the actual Horn of Joramun on his boat? It's been so long, and Euron (screen and page) sucks so much that it's slipped my mind entirely, but that seems to point towards him betraying humanity for a better deal.
posted by codacorolla at 2:05 PM on April 23, 2019

Different horn, codacorolla. Euron has Dragonbinder, and I believe the whereabouts of the Horn of Joramun/Horn of Winter are currently unknown.

I heard some pretty convincing speculation that the purposes of both horns have been either misunderstood or deliberately misrepresented by characters. (Think these ideas were from the YouTube channel of either Preston Jacobs or In Deep Geek.)

Skipping all the textual evidence, the basic theories go that:
1) Dragonbinder doesn't bind a dragon to a person; it binds people to a dragon. That is, it was used by Valyerians to bind subjects or slaves--and that's how Euron suddenly wins the Kingsmoot.
2) The Horn of Joramun wouldn't bring down the Wall; that's just what Mance told the Wildings to get them excited about searching for it. Instead, it would wake the giants (whatever that means, exactly) to help fight the Others.
posted by hippugeek at 8:37 PM on April 23, 2019 [2 favorites]

I’m pretty sure Varys will turn against Dany. He’s opposing her in the books and I expect book and show storylines to converge again any time now, since the ending has been said to be pretty much the same, at least concerning the broad strokes.

Whether that’s for the good of the realm, well, there’s going to be room for interpretation. Varys probably genuinely believes that this is his sole motivation, but so does Dany. And they are both equally willing to get rid of anyone who gets in their way.

On thing I’m fairly certain of is that Varys isn’t a Targ loyalist at all. In the book, he’s not backing the Targ with the best claim (there are rumours that Aegon is actually his friend Illyrio’s kid, which I find pretty plausible), but the one he’s personally had a hand in raising, who should be most receptive to his influence. Varys thinks he can socially engineer the perfect ruler. When he murders Kevan, he explains his reasons - Aegon has been shaped to rule before he could walk; he’s been trained as a knight, but he also knows several languages, has been instructed in the faith, etc. and most importantly, he “has lived with fisherfolk, worked with his hands, [...] he knows what it is like to be hungry, to be hunted, to be afraid”. In contrast to Tommen who has been raised to see kingship as his right, Aegon presumably knows that kingship is duty.

But there are some signs that Varys is rather tragically overestimating his pedagogical skills here, because the Aegon we meet in the Tyrion chapters is a bit of a brat, who definitely knows that people thinks he’s super special. (Poor Varys reminds me a bit off those upper-class parents who think their kids will be down-to-earth, just because they don’t shower them with pocket money. True privilege goes so much deeper than an ample monthly allowance). I don’t detect great signs of humility in the scene where Tyrion gently advises not getting too cocky about his better claim in marriage negotiations with Dany, since she’s still got the better army after all - Aegon is having non of it. He’s the superior Targ, Dany should come woo him. Compare that Jon’s behavior in a similiar situation - he knows to swallow his pride if that gets him the army he needs to protect his people. I think we can safely say that Vary’s pedagogical mission has failed.

Ironically, Dany fits the description of the perfect prince Varys gives to Kevan a lot better than Aegon in many regards. She certainly knows more about being hungry, being hunted, being afraid , than little Aegon who’s always been fussed about by all these teachers and mentors, chief among them Jon Conningtion who was clearly besotted with his dad. You can tell that to Aegon it’s all still just a big adventure. Compared to Dany, he hasn’t seen shit (and I do think the books do a good job showing how her traumatic personal history often makes her identify with the downtrodden, so I think Varys isn’t exactly wrong about this criterion, he’s just wrong as to how to achieve this effect).

But the fact is that the person who argueably fits Varys stated vision of the perfect Prince best is Jon Snow, who’s the most the reluctant ruler of them all, and thus the truest anti-thesis of “kingship as a right” one could wish for.

Now I profoundly disagree with Varys’ idea that the person most fit too rule is the one who wants it least, firstly because I really don’t think it describes Varys himself, who’s mostly competent and not the worst option for Westeros, and secondly, because at some point, stability is indeed a worthwhile goal, and for that you don’t just need charismatic leaders who can inspire their followers to give them power, you need savy operators who don’t just know how to get power, but also how to hold onto it. There’s no holding on to power without playing politics, and people who don’t on some level enjoy that game won’t be good at it. Dear Jon certainly isn’t. He got murdered by his sworn brothers, and even now he probably wouldn’t survive a second without Sansa doing her best to at least somewhat keep Northerners in line. (Those council scenes where Sansa voices their concerns might be seem like her undermining Jon, but I think that’s more due to the unwillingness of the show to devote much time to these matters; in the books she would presumbably do that kind of stuff behind the scenes and be the only reason the Lords haven’t given up on Jon completely at this point).

So I’m not sure if Varys would be really acting wise to ditch Dany for Jon, but according to his own logic, he certainly should. He’ll probably do it against Jon’s wish, involving the Golden Company and get executed for treason.
posted by sohalt at 12:28 AM on April 24, 2019 [6 favorites]

The speculation in t'other thread about Beric's future role is making me a bit antsy. Even at this point, there are still possible book spoilers. Or has Beric been combined with a, still living, book character?
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 4:37 PM on April 25, 2019

Who knows, we've got another 2000 pages of books to get to where we are in the series (assuming 1,500 pages each, and of course, that they ever get written). Who knows who could be up in winterfell fighting for the lord of light by then? I could imagine Thoros of Myrh or however you pronounce his name taking over the Brotherhood after . . . whatever happens with Lady Stoneheart.

I enjoyed the first episode of this season well enough and really enjoyed this last one, and all that has made me really want them to publish the next book, which is the first time in awhile I've felt that way. Of course, then we'd have to wait another X years for book 7, so maybe I should go back to not thinking about it.
posted by skewed at 5:34 PM on April 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

Well, that certainly cemented the end of 'subvert the tropes,' didn't it? All seems lost, and then someone kills the Big Bad and all the minions drop dead. Yawn. All the major characters got +20 Plot Armor, to boot.

Most disappointing is that the whole series has been building to this from the very first scene in the pilot. What a let down. I am not optimistic for the remaining 3.
posted by Frayed Knot at 8:33 PM on April 28, 2019 [3 favorites]

I liked D&D's comment in the post-show snippet that they'd known Arya would kill the Night King for three years, suggesting that their scenario is wholly their own creation, and that if the books ever come out, things will be significantly different.

That said, this was fine by me. My expectations may be low, but it was pretty good, pretty satisfying.
posted by skewed at 8:45 PM on April 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

Full disclosure, I'm someone whose read all the books but who hasn't watched since season two because of the gratuitous sexual violence. I've been reading recaps since the show started outpacing the books because I kinda think we won't get them from GRRM. I am so glad to see the death of he Night King. It tells me that we probably won't get his arrival in the novels (white walkers: yes; but no Night King) That means that this Winds of Winter might give me the story I signed up for after all: the War of the Roses with fantasy sprinkles.

To me the Night King/White Walkers have always been a sort of metaphor for climate change. The degree to which characters care about White walkers--or even believe in them depends on how much they are personally impacted by them. The Night's Watch are climate scientists; the free folk are nomadic communities affected by climate change but not listened to; Cersei and Kings Landing are the US: rich; arrogant; and refusing to acknowledge threat in the middle of power squabbles at home. The metaphor even holds up with this battle. The Unsullied and Dorthraki; are the global south who suffer first and most severely; the death of all but the most prominent and wealthy also tracks. It only falls apart with Arya killing the Night King. I think the books would have had the Night King as a threat hovering at the bottom of the last page. (Sam just discovers dragonglass in book 5, for Pete's sake.)

Reposted from the show thread: I just noticed the "show only" tag on the Game of Thrones discussion and realized that my post probably makes more sense over here.
posted by CatastropheWaitress at 12:43 PM on April 29, 2019 [3 favorites]

I found the show's last episode... annoying? anticlimatic? Generally off. I'm wondering if the book might had the same plot with different effect. In the books, it felt like the undead were busting out all over - ice zombies, fire zombies, science zombies...

So I could see the Night King dying at Winterfell - but meanwhile, Cersei is bankrolling Dr. Frankenstein, somehow co-opting the Lord of Light's next resurrectee, acquiring a navy of black-sailed ghost ships, and generally becoming a new Night's King in order to keep the Iron Throne.

The show gives us a Cersei willing to gamble on ignoring an existential threat - but they really downplayed the non-ice zombies early on, so she doesn't seem like anything worse than a ruthless usurper with a poorly-written navy.
posted by mersen at 8:47 PM on April 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

I actually think that the Night King/Walkers being wrapped up in one episode is entirely a cost-of-production thing, and the books totally wont do it the same.
posted by corb at 6:14 AM on April 30, 2019 [4 favorites]

I actually think that the Night King/Walkers being wrapped up in one episode is entirely a cost-of-production thing, and the books totally wont do it the same.

Yeah, and I imagine that the major conflicts in the books (should they ever be written) will not be so neatly bifurcated, but will converge in such a way as that filming them would be extremely difficult and result in a lot of episodes that only really dedicated viewers would be able to keep up with. I do wonder how clear GRRM's outline was, and to what extent D&D made changes they felt were necessary vs. how much they just had to make up on there own. Surely there are elements that the show is still drawing from GRRM (Jon/Aegon drama with Dany), but there are major plot points that seem to me to be completely their own, not just a different way to get where GRRM was going, but a significantly different destination.
posted by skewed at 9:33 AM on April 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

I definitely think/hope this would go down differently in the books. For example:

Night King just skips Winterfell (for now) heads down to King's Landing to add a couple million soldiers to his army. After all, King's Landing is completely unprepared to fight them, so this should be easy pickings.

But wait! Qyburn helps smuggle Cersei out of the city, and then as the army of the dead converges on King's Landing, Qyburn's little birds ignite all remaining caches of wildfire. Boom! Bye bye King's Landing. What seemed like a great way to add to the army of the dead ends up being a net loss for the Night King.

Of course, the army of the dead still has tens of thousands of wights, but not millions, maybe closer to 50,000, so when they head up to Winterfell, it's not quite the impossible battle it seemed to be in the show. Perhaps in the books, the Night King does go with a siege approach, so the battle takes place over days. (Sort of like how in the books, the fight against the Wildings at the wall took place over several days, not one night like in the show.) Eventually the living win, but it's a longer fight.

And then as Cersei is sitting on a boat somewhere, plotting her next move, Qyburn comes in to chat strategy. Cersei pours herself a glass of wine, and as she begins choking on it, Qyburn pulls off his face to reveal...Arya! The last face Cersei sees before she dies, choking on the strangler poison, thus fulfilling the Valonqar prophecy.

With no more iron throne and no more Cersei, maybe Dany heads back to Mereen, where she can actually do the most good, by keeping those cities from sliding back to slavery. Sansa, Jon, Tyrion, and co help to rebuild what's left of Westeros, preferably without implementing a new monarchy. Arya goes back to the House of Black and White. Bran spends his days talking to trees.

Of course, this is all just speculation, since I know we'll never actually get the finished book series. Still, it's nice to speculate.
posted by litera scripta manet at 10:51 AM on April 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

Well, and it's worth noting they've already made significant changes to the plot already in order to get people where they wanted to be, or to avoid overcomplicating. They make a lot of choices based on 'who is a fan favorite', because they're worried about losing viewers, not about people throwing books across the room.

(For example, the enormous amount of screen time they've been giving to her is entirely as a result of appreciating Sophie Turner's acting chops. Which means that a lot of the tension between her and Dany they're building probably comes from somewhere else entirely. )

One thing that's kind of messing with me in this last season is whether people and events are being put in because it has large overarching meaning, or whether it's just a fun detail. For example: the Golden Company. Are they putting it in because at the last minute they will be switching to Aegon/Jon?

This article points out that we're probably doomed to disappointment, that there's no way to get the ending we want out of the limited time we have left. (The bit about Arya's time with the Faceless Men essentially boiling down to a training montage in a revenge movie is particularly spot on)
posted by corb at 11:53 AM on April 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

I actually think that the Night King/Walkers being wrapped up in one episode is entirely a cost-of-production thing, and the books totally wont do it the same.

The only major book characters to die were Jorah Mormont and Melisandre. This makes me think that the book resolution requires a lot less people and maybe no battle at all. My current bet is that The Others get pushed north by some dragons and/or fire magic but remain an existential threat at the end of the books.

The Others haven't even made an appearance since Book 3. They've been discussed, but it has been two long books and the north is still busy with wildlings and baby swaps. In that time GRRM wrote a 736 page book that details the first half of the Targaryen dynasty in Westeros. I think people disappointed that we're going to spend the last 3 episodes on Dany vs Cersei are going to be very disappointed by what the books are going to focus on.
posted by Gary at 1:41 PM on May 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

Oh, I forgot Theon. But his death was at best a distraction in the show. So I imagine his story has already diverted quite a bit from what will happen to him in the books.
posted by Gary at 2:03 PM on May 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Okay, this isn’t a real spoiler for Ep 4 for those who didn’t watch it live, but what the fuck is with this “Prince of Dorne” shit.
posted by corb at 11:34 PM on May 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

what the fuck is with this “Prince of Dorne” shit.

I'm sure we'll never find out.. oh well.

I'm staying clear of the show-thread this week because I don't want to read 500 comments complaining (with good cause!) about Sea Ramsay's deus ex crossbow.

So I imagine that whole thing was a super-super-super condensed version of all the drama that is supposed to play out with Euron and the dragon-horn, and all the various politics of the Iron Islands, most of which I cannot remember at all even after reading the books twice and listening to them on recording once.

And Gendry as Lord of Storm's End kind of makes sense from a book perspective too, especially since Gendry in the books makes quite a big deal about not being fit to interact with Arya after he learns that she's high born. Giving Arya a chance to turn down his proposal was nice.

The Jaime-Brienne thing looked to me like it was just in there for fan service, it doesn't really ring true to me for either character, at least not as presented on screen. I just don't see them as lovers, even though they have decent on screen chemistry.
posted by skewed at 7:47 AM on May 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

Indeed. Euron killing Rhaegal basically confirms to me that Euron somehow kills or claims a dragon in the books. (which has always made more sense than the Walkers getting one)
posted by Wulfhere at 11:37 AM on May 6, 2019 [5 favorites]

The Jaime-Brienne thing looked to me like it was just in there for fan service, it doesn't really ring true to me for either character, at least not as presented on screen. I just don't see them as lovers, even though they have decent on screen chemistry.

Their romantic feelings for each other were clearer to me in the books than on the show until we got to this season. Although the books make clear that they don’t understand why they feel drawn to each other, I think, they just are.
posted by sallybrown at 11:50 AM on May 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I think probably the answer is the dragon-horn pulls a dragon out of the sky and claims it - I don’t think Euron can ride it or use it, but it would still be pretty massive. However, if he could ride it, it would be an interesting dragon-has-three-heads that no one has been anticipating.

Gendry holding Storm’s End is interesting, especially because in the books, Young Griff and the Golden Company took Storm’s End for ““Aegon”. Them bringing it up may mean Storm’s End has a part to play. It may also in the books be a place that the living retreat to, if it’s not all solved in one battle - it’s imbued with magic from the Children of the Forest, supposedly.
posted by corb at 11:52 AM on May 6, 2019 [5 favorites]

This article is kind of reaching, but it does make it clear GRRM is not thrilled with how they are finishing his series: I think what we can learn from it is that it is definitely, definitely, not going to be this reductive in the books.

He also complains about charismatic characters getting all the storylines, and about them snipping some storylines entirely. So I think this may not be as predictive as book readers would like.

My deep hope is he’s annoyed enough to finish the books!
posted by corb at 9:17 AM on May 9, 2019 [6 favorites]

My deep hope is he’s annoyed enough to finish the books!

Completely seriously, me too. The power of spite is not to be trifled with.
posted by DebetEsse at 9:41 AM on May 9, 2019 [8 favorites]

These books being finished through the power of spite would be a very meta and fitting conclusion.
posted by codacorolla at 10:30 AM on May 9, 2019 [3 favorites]

Per the article, on 60 Minutes he said that his involvement with season 8 was limited to "several days" of story conferences at his house, which surprised me, I would have assumed that by now he was pretty out of the loop.
posted by skewed at 12:33 PM on May 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

In the show thread I refereed to the unwritten books as our Snyder Cut and that increasingly feels too true.

The last two completed books do not fill me with hope that the last two unfinished books will be anything special.

Like we're worrying about Azor Ahai but all I can remember is how much fucking time I had to hear about the fucking Kettleblacks.

I believe he is genuinely stuck and has lost interest. If he dies with the books un-finished you can bet that the publisher would push for D&D or other show writers to be involved in finishing them because the popularity of the show so wildly outstrips the books.

And if you give them the manuscripts chances are the finished books would then essentially be the show anyway.

That seems more likely than Martin actually finishing the books himself with some perfect conclusion we're all imagining.
posted by French Fry at 8:41 AM on May 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

Supposedly, at least according to interviews, GRRM has said that he was really affected by the endings of Lost and Battlestar Galactica, and doesn't want to be/do that. I suspect the pressure of having to come up with "the perfect conclusion" may also have been part of his writer's block. One other hope I have is that if the show comes up with a kind of 'meh' ending, that instead of judging himself by the standard of "Does this measure up to the Platonic Ideal Ending" he'll just be measuring himself by "is this better than show end."
posted by corb at 8:48 AM on May 11, 2019 [4 favorites]

I'm most intrigued by the resolution to the threat of Winter. In the TV show it's all wrapped up in the addition of the Night King to the cast of characters. It's a shortcut that makes sense for TV; personify the danger in a recognizable character, have a tidy end to the danger with one tiny little magic dagger stab.

GRRM has something more interesting going on in the books. The global warming metaphor, for one. Also just the pure supernatural menace of it in a fantasy setting where magic is barely there on the edges but mostly a sham. The part that gives me the hiccup is the TV show's story about the Children of the Forest making the Night King felt very GRRM to me, like they were working closely from his notes. But maybe in the books the Children are responsible for making some broader threat, like all the White Walkers, and we get our apocalyptic army without some stupid Borg Queen invention.

I'd like to see him finish this thought.
posted by Nelson at 9:00 AM on May 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

My deep hope is he’s annoyed enough to finish the books!

Yes, that might be the one silver lining for this crap ending for the show. Frustration has certainly powered a lot of fix it fanfics, so maybe it will work for GRRM too.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:14 PM on May 12, 2019

Also, now I guess we know why they left out the Valonqar part of the prophecy in the show. Because they apparently were planning on just having Jaime run back to Cersei first chance he got. Since Jaime in the books has had a much more consistent redemption arc compared to the show, I'm going to hold on to the hope that the books would have done better by his character.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:15 PM on May 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

So this was linked to over on r/freefolk (although I think it was originally linked to on r/asoiaf). It's an interview with the actor who plays Barristan Selmy, and at 31:40, he basically says that GRRM has finished the books but he committed to waiting until the show ended to release them.

I've heard people make claims like this before, but it's usually desperate fans, not an actor from GoT (and I do remember reading that McElhinney was one of the actors who was actually a fan of the books). I'm still super skeptical, but who knows, maybe there's a tiny sliver of hope?
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:12 PM on May 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

That was really not to my liking at all.
posted by skewed at 9:44 PM on May 12, 2019 [6 favorites]

If you gave me a vague description of this last episode in the context of it being in the book, and then let me fill in the rest in my imagination, I think I'd say it's a decent if not mindblowing conclusion to the narrative. It hits a lot of the right themes, and feels more or less how GRRM is taking things in print. But... man... the journey to get here in the show just did not fucking happen. As someone expecting a grim ending I'm not let down by the fact that Daenerys brutally killed people, or that the good guys didn't 'win', just that it feels like such a cop-out on every level to have gotten there given what we've been shown on the screen.
posted by codacorolla at 9:55 PM on May 12, 2019 [4 favorites]

Yeah, I think my feelings are that this episode really teaches us how much you can’t excise all those plot threads from the books and then have the resultant thing you see on screen make sense. People have been teasing about “zombie Catelyn Stark” for a while, but I agree with the AV club, that it’s an important set up that sometimes the people who are truly wronged, fighting evil people, can make bad choices out of pain and grief and being stuck on a particular moment. Dany has been stuck on having her life have meaning in the context of the Baratheons and Lannisters. She’s right, they deeply harmed her family, but like UnCat, there’s never going to be a good answer to that. Vengeance can only take life, not give it. Catelyn can cut Frey’s son’s throat, she can die and return and kill her way across the Riverlands, and it’s not going to bring her son back. Nothing is going to bring Rhaegal back. Nothing is going to bring back Missandei. And in the end - Dany can’t bring back Khal Drogo, or her son, or the life that was taken from her by the quest for the throne. All her choices are hollow because she is basically a shell and has been for four seasons.
posted by corb at 4:35 AM on May 13, 2019 [4 favorites]

I hated the nihilistic feel of the episode but I do think having access to characters’ interior monologues and more breathing room for the plot to play out could make a huge difference (crossing fingers that he does actually finish the books!).
posted by sallybrown at 4:43 AM on May 13, 2019 [5 favorites]

I have way too many thoughts going on after that episode so have escaped here from the fury of the show only thread.

It is kind of hilarious that the major complaints about the last 2 novels were that they were too slow, meandering and character driven, given that everyone is howling about ruined character arcs and rushed plotlines over in TV land.

Can’t please anyone.
posted by arha at 5:24 AM on May 13, 2019 [2 favorites]

he basically says that GRRM has finished the books but he committed to waiting until the show ended to release them.

Gurm shoots this idea down.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 6:16 PM on May 13, 2019

So we know these final episodes, especially key plot points, are based of GRRM's bullet points of how it all ends.

I wonder in that case if Cersei's semi-hysterical, not very bright ending is reconciling her back to her characterization in the books which is more hysterical, more overconfident and less intelligent.
posted by French Fry at 4:16 PM on May 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

Fake Aegon exists in the books, and is on the way to invade KL. It's entirely possible Cersei is dead, and that her character on the show is a stand-in for Aegon. It'd also take the narrative weight off of the dumb Jon / Daenerys love fued, since Aegon has been trained from birth to be a charismatic leader the people will love.
posted by codacorolla at 4:51 PM on May 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

I've imagined FAegon will not succeed at anything, I assume he'll be dead or sidelined shortly or he would have been introduced in the show.
posted by French Fry at 4:54 PM on May 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Or next book is just 30 new characters and 30 new plots because GRRM
posted by French Fry at 5:00 PM on May 16, 2019 [7 favorites]

I wonder in that case if Cersei's semi-hysterical, not very bright ending is reconciling her back to her characterization in the books which is more hysterical, more overconfident and less intelligent.

This makes sense to me. I think Cersei and Jaime’s end will be the same, but that the Jaime/Brienne plot points will get moved up earlier in the story and Brienne somehow dies, which triggers Jaime’s return to KL like a dead-eyed zombie who no longer cares about anything but Cersei (his ambition towards knightly honor dies with Brienne...although that doesn’t fit his fever dream, hmmm). The Cersei pregnancy subplot that doesn’t fit into the Maggie/valonquor prophecy won’t be needed.
posted by sallybrown at 5:01 PM on May 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

Among my other issues with the finale, it made me sad that they didn’t show what BookJaime had written in the White Book, that the Maid of Tarth brought him back safely to Winterfell. It would have been just a little crumb of something for Brienne to find out Jaime had been the one to first mention her there.
posted by sallybrown at 8:24 PM on May 19, 2019 [9 favorites]

The finale was dumbfounding. I will say this, though: in the book Tyrion is slowly becoming a sort of maddened, Incel, Warhammer playing monster who monologues tediously and mopes around and sulks, and somehow I now like that version of him better solely through comparison of his character on the show.
posted by codacorolla at 9:19 PM on May 19, 2019 [6 favorites]

The plot of the finale makes me more sympathetic to GRRM not writing the books. Apparently he had the endgame in mind, and it's just as straightforward as we expected (other than Bran the Broken). He must be disappointed that was the best he could do, given how interesting and subversive the first couple of books were. Imagine feeling obligated to write 1600 more pages to lead to this conclusion.

Particularly Varys. There's a promise of something super interesting in book-Varys. Also the network of Maesters. Maybe he can still pick that up since the teevee basically ignored it.
posted by Nelson at 7:37 AM on May 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

I can imagine the books coming to the same endpoints that the show did, more or less, and being pretty satisfied--but only because bookBran has already had soooooooo much more development and figures to have loads more before we get to the last chapters of A Dream of Spring, and because I'd assume that Dany's internal conflict and her tension with Jon will be built up more (that is, at all).

So now my working theory is that the whole show was just a chance for GRRM to workshop the outline of the last two books with the entire internet for a decade. Hopefully he's gotten some good notes and can do some rewrites as appropriate.
posted by skewed at 8:28 AM on May 20, 2019 [5 favorites]

In books with internal monologues a guy who lives almost entirely in his mind and a magic god queen who becomes very isolated and who's primary motivation is her self belief can work really well. We can be in their heads for pages and pages and books at a time.

So a Dany and Bran end game can/could/woulda work but in a show without POV characters it seems more difficult.

I was hoping bran's case for king would be essentially hinge on him being an immortal god , like the 3 eyed raven as essentially one person who will be king forever. Because that would be important to me as a voter. That would be real a change.
posted by French Fry at 10:42 AM on May 20, 2019 [5 favorites]

It'd be fun to watch Bran on a diplomatic mission.

Them: "We will never agree to those terms!"
B: "I know. That's as it should be."
Them: "No, wait, we will agree to your terms!"
B: "Of course you will. It's why I'm here."
Them: "No, wait..."
posted by Mogur at 11:06 AM on May 20, 2019 [8 favorites]

They hinted at it, but Bran's real ace in the hole as king is that he has Drogon at his service for the rest of his (Bran's) life, which is the only reason I was able to not flip-out over the idea of the remaining six kingdoms not succeeding. A warged-Drogon would probably be far more effective than any human-ridden dragon, so that should keep things peaceful for the next few decades. I was hoping that Bran would get a parting shot of him sitting on a balcony looking thoughtfully/blankly at the horizon and then a moment later we'd see Drogon doing one last fly-by in full roar.

Anyway, good to see the filthy Andal/Essosi hegemony finally give way to a theocracy of the Old Gods and restoration of the First Men as the holders of power in Westeros, I think that's what we were all hoping for with all that talk of breaking the wheel.
posted by skewed at 12:22 PM on May 20, 2019 [8 favorites]

I don't see any possible way that King Bran isn't a fucking nightmare and horror show. It's basically like being governed by Skynet.
posted by codacorolla at 5:36 PM on May 20, 2019 [9 favorites]

Yeah, like that would be a bittersweet ending alright - things wind up well for the Starks, but the six kingdoms are now a nightmare realm from which there can be no return.
posted by corb at 5:39 PM on May 20, 2019 [5 favorites]

Um, going off a recommendation from the show theead, rue72, do you actually want me to talk about why I think the Lannisters sexualize everything? Because I do have uh, some essays stashed in gdrafts about this, but I don’t want to trauma bomb the thread.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 8:23 AM on May 24, 2019 [6 favorites]

Um, going off a recommendation from the show theead, rue72, do you actually want me to talk about why I think the Lannisters sexualize everything? Because I do have uh, some essays stashed in gdrafts about this, but I don’t want to trauma bomb the thread.

Of course I do! You can memail me if you feel weird posting on the thread, but for what it's worth, I don't think you should feel weird posting (and I think other people besides me probably want to read your thoughts and discuss, too).
posted by rue72 at 8:32 AM on May 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

The books included thread for season 8 of Game of Thrones must live on forever, so it may be a testament for future generations--we need insight into the Lannister's sexualization of everything like we need air.
posted by skewed at 9:00 AM on May 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

I too would like to hear this theory!
posted by dogheart at 12:57 PM on May 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

Also me, I am so down for longform theories.
posted by corb at 1:45 PM on May 24, 2019

I am also curious about this theory.
posted by miss-lapin at 9:27 PM on May 24, 2019

An illustrated guide to all 6,887 deaths in Game of Thrones and very nicely done at that. Arya is credited with 1214 kills in the Battle of Winterfell, which I guess is the power of multi-level marketing.

Reading this article I'm reminded even I forgot about Robb Stark. Remember him?
posted by Nelson at 5:20 AM on May 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

An illustrated guide to all 6,887 deaths in Game of Thrones

I call foul, Syrio Forel is only presumed dead.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 1:20 PM on May 25, 2019 [5 favorites]

It's hard to believe the tv series lasted almost a decade - time flies! I would like to thank everyone who participated in these threads; reading the opinions and jokes and boat wisdom has been fantastic.
posted by ersatz at 2:53 AM on May 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

Fabergé and HBO Are Marking the 10th Anniversary of ‘Game of Thrones’ With a One-of-a-Kind Egg. You Won’t Believe the Price

I feel like there's a high probability that egg will bring a curse on whoever owns it.
posted by roolya_boolya at 9:07 PM on April 9, 2021

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