- First up is Talisa aka Jeyne Westerling. She and her star-crossed love affair with Robb were my biggest problems with this season. They turned this timid, sweet girl in to this brave crusader who saws off mens’ feet on the battlefield by day and beds would-be kings by night. By changing her name, origin, and personality, they changed the dynamic between her and Robb completely. To be honest, this new salacious affair makes Robb seem more idiotic than he really is in the books. Instead of their “romance” being one night of passion followed shortly by a wedding to protect Jeyne’s sullied virtue, they become two lovers willingly giving the middle finger to Robb’s mother, the Freys, and consequently all of the North.
- I know that some people were greatly bothered by the whole Tywin Lannister and Arya relationship, because it humanized Tywin on the one hand, and completely cut out involvement of key characters such as Roose Bolton and Vargo Hoat with the other. I actually enjoyed their fun little dynamic. We get to see little bits of Tywin’s softer side in the books (for instance, how he has Eddard’s blade broken down and reforged for Jaime) but we never get to see the real man behind the whiskers. I thought this little back-and-forth he had with Arya made him seem actually sort of charming which was nice.
- Now here is the second biggest grievance I have with the show this season. Just as they changed Jeyne Westerling’s character, they changed Shae. Okay, if you want to say that Shae was made Sansa’s handmaiden long before Sansa and Tyrion marry, fine, I’ll go with that. What’s the harm right? Just don’t make it out like Shae was Tyrion’s loyal and dedicated lover as well as some great friend to Sansa. As I recall, after they marry, Shae offers to screw Tyrion while Sansa is passed out in bed. Yeah, what a sweetheart! She also said that Tyrion was welcome to impregnate Sansa as long as he would come back and screw her for kicks. Yeah, not such a great friend to Sansa I’m thinking. I just wish they wouldn’t make her such an empathetic character because she’s really not. I don’t know if they’re just playing that up so her screwing over Tyrion in the end will be more shocking or if we’re supposed to feel bad for her. Either way I don’t think it is fair to Tyrion in a lot of ways.
- As for another thing I actually enjoyed, I thought that The White Walkers (aka The Others and Wights) were really great looking. We got to see them a tiny bit with the opening of the first season and then the attack on Mormont in his chambers, but this is the first time we really got to see them in mass. It definitely looks like the battle at the Fist of the First Men is going to be amazing. I wonder if the White Walker on horseback that Sam makes eye contact with is going to be the one he slays with the dragon glass. I hope they don’t take that kill away from him because that’s really a great scene and makes his character that much more endearing.
- I expect that the producers of the show knew that the audience wanted a great battle on the Blackwater. It’s such a huge driving force through two of the books that it wasn’t just another little fight that could be brushed under the rug. The wildfire and Tyrion’s face-slashing had to be included. Well, I think they did a great job working within the show’s budget. This isn’t a major motion picture, you have to remember, so you can only do so much. Though they changed things here and there, the battle itself was sufficiently gory and actually kind of beautiful. The acid green explosions were exactly how I pictured the wildfire scenes to be.
- I took small issue with Theon killing Rodrick and burning the boys instead of beheading them. I get that they wanted to show his desperation for glory along with his quick descent into shame and self-loathing, but what about Roose Bolton’s bastard? How are they going to play this? Reek was a big part of the slaying of the Miller’s sons, the killing of the north men, and the taking of Theon into captivity. It just seemed odd to have Reek essentially replaced by one of Theon’s Ironmen. I guess we’re going to get to see him in season 3 if the exchange between Robb and Roose Bolton in the tent was any indication though.
- Hmm…other things we seem to have to forget? Edmure Tully, Hoster Tully, Brynden Blackfish, and Riverrun altogether. Those characters come in to play when the true nature of Lysa and Littlefinger’s relationship is revealed, when the Red Wedding occurs, and the eventual siege on the castle. I guess we’re just going to lose those things or have them altered in some way like everything else. It seems like Edmure is going to have to come in to the picture next season at the very least.
- Finally, Daenerys’s whole story was out of wack, but I thought for changing the whole House of the Undying and what not, it looked pretty decent. I liked that she got to see Khal Drogo and her unborn son together. That moment really captured the essence of what the Palace of Dust does to a person’s mind. It shows you things that could still happen or could have been and some things completely outside of any reality. Still, why didn’t we get to see the Undying, why didn’t we get to see Rhaegar, and why the hell didn’t we get the prophecy of threes?! I can forget the other stuff but when, how, and from whom is she going to hear the prophecy that becomes so important to her fate? I guess that just leaves a lot of excitement for season 3.
So, to some it all up, if you can really draw anything from my rambling it is that while this season was not an accurate portrayal of the books in the slightest, it did capture the essence of them. It encapsulated the magic and human drama of the books that are really the most important things to hold on to if you’re going to start making your own version of the story. This season ultimately leads the audience in the right direction and I think that is what counts.
My best advice is to try and forget about the books while watching the show. I know it is difficult when you have all of these pre-conceived notions built up about the way things should look or the way characters should act. Really though if you just take the show for what it is, it’s still just as edgy and fantastical as the first season. Just forget what you’ve read if you can and enjoy the show!
For your listening enjoyment, here’s the badass song from the credits that basically foreshadows the Red Wedding in the next season.
Now that Game of Thrones, Madmen, and Hatfields & McCoys are all over, Ricky and I are really just counting down the days until Breaking Bad returns. If you’re a fan of the show, it starts back up July 15th. Be sure to watch because this is the final season!