I truly had no intention of doing any sort of review on this or any other episode of Game of Thrones. I have a great number of comparative essays planned for ASOIAF, but for episode reviews, I truly have no time, and I mean that in the most straightforward/direct way possible. It’s not that it isn’t worthy my time; it’s that I literally have no time. However…after seeing Season 5’s first offering and watching a few videos of my favorite YouTube theorists, I feel the need to air my thoughts.
It was this video by Bar De-Porto that did it, because I found I agreed with nearly everything she said.
If you are an ASOIAF/GoT fan I would highly recommend you subscribe to her. Some of her insights are downright miraculous, and I would also recommend
- CharlieIinWesteros – spoiler free reviews mostly that nonetheless get to the heart of the matter.
- James Johnson – this is meant as no offense to any of the other ASOIAF/GOT theorists, but James and his mom LaDonna have the best in depth and brilliant analysis of the narrative I have ever seen. They dig deep, deep down to divine the sources of Martin’s machinations, and while their theories may seem outlandish, they have support for it, and they know how to argue. I have spent countless hours on their channel, watching and re-watching, and they are the main inspiration for the essays I want to write. Their examinations of ASOIAF made me realize that something else (more than likely) inadvertently shares the same tropes and paradigms. Watch them. Your time will not be wasted.
- Tony Teflon – the Don does not mess around. His videos tend to be short, sweet, and to the point. He has a series of them called “Breaker of Lies” where he proceeds to knock down some of the more out there of theories.
- Preston Jacobs
- Maester Payne
- Alt Shit X
I had to get the shout outs out of the way because I wouldn’t have half my insights about ASOIAF without the foundation of those above and others to stand on (ironic wording I know), but now that that’s finished, let’s get to the business.
*sigh* So I did have quite a few issues with this episode. Now, these issues may be resolved in later installments, but for now I’m going to let the grievances air.
I’ve broken my issues down into four parts: Unfinished Prophecy, Tywin and Twins; The Varys Dilemma; and Burning Man(ce). Since I will be discussing things that happened in the books that haven’t or may not happen in the show, I’ll say this now. It may not hold true for everything, but The Varys Dilemma discusses something that occurs at the end of the 5th Book, A Dance with Dragons. If you haven’t read through that and do not want to be spoiled, turn back now.
Okay so first off, Maggy the Frog aka the woman Cersei and her friend found in the tent is supposed to be a repulsive, ancient witch.
But this discrepancy I could deal with. People like to look at pretty things, and it’s possible the sight of an old hag gumming the fingers of two young girls would be too much for the average viewer to bear *rolls eyes* My major issue is the prophecy itself. There was a change, a huge omission and one missing death.
In the book Cersei is told that she will marry the king not the prince, which the show kept intact; however, the number of children Robert would sire went up by four. Book Maggy tells the young queen-to-be that her future husband will have six and one, while she will have three. What reason did they raise the number in the show? Are these other four children going to make an appearance or was it a sloppy mistake? Benioff and Weiss have been so (mostly) on point prior that it seems odd that they would allow so juvenile a error. Maybe there’s a method to their madness. Show Maggy then proceeds to tell Cersei that for her three children “gold shall be their crowns and gold shall be their shrouds.” She also mentions the younger and more beautiful queen (whom current Cersei thinks is Margaery, but that would be far too obvious). Okay, all good so far for the prophecy’s sake, and then the scene ends. Um what? What about the rest of the prophecy? If you are a hapless show-only watching (and you ignored or didn’t care about the spoiler warning) I shall explain.
Haggy book Maggy then goes on to say, “And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.” This was glaringly omitted from the show and it may very well be the most important part of the prophecy as it has spawned numerous theory videos wondering who the valonqar might be. Cersei wholeheartedly believes it’s Tyrion, as valonqar translates into “little brother,” but Cersei like so many other POV characters is generally wrong. Some speculate it might be Jaime since Cersei is technically the first born. There is also a theory that it’s not her little brother at all as the prophecy states the valonqar, not her valonqar so just “the little brother,” which could be anybody. Bar has a very interesting video that focuses on this. It seems out there, but she has plenty of evidence to support.
The showrunners either didn’t think this portion was pertinent or there may be more Cersei flashback scenes to come, because they also skipped Melara’s death. Who the hell is Melara? She was the friend who was with Cersei in Maggy’s tent. She receives a prophecy as well when she asks when she and Jaime will wed. Maggy tells her that “worms will have her maidenhead,” implying that she is going to die…which she does that very night.
The prophecy so received terrifies the future queen so much that she wants to forget it ever occurred. So much so that the thought of anyone knowing what words were spoken are intolerable, and it is heavily implied that Cersei pushed her friend down a well, killing her rather than have the fated words be known. In seeking to avoid her own empty fate, Cersei ends up fulfilling Melara’s. I truly hope that this is shown, because it makes us realize that Cersei always had a darkness lurking in her heart. She was willing to kill her friend at such a young age rather than risk Maggy’s words reaching other ears. There’s a definite psychopathy to such action that lends more insight into Joffrey’s depravities and gives credence to the secret Targaryen theory in regards to Cersei and Jaime, as the dragonlords are well known for their insanity.
Tywin and Twins
Fast forward to the future and we have the funeral of Tywin Lannister.
Again this may be something that they’re planning on doing, but I saw no evidence that Tywin’s body was exhibiting the rot that permeated the Sept in the book. The expedient putrefaction served to pull the Lannister patriarch’s mouth into a smile it never wore in life, which Martin ingeniously utilized as cruelest irony. The man who hated laughter and japes was forced to make a horrifying one in death. Now his body lays in state for several (seven?) days, nor has Cersei brought Tommen to see his grandfather yet, which was where the stench erupted in full force. As morbid and sickening as this sounds, I really hope they do show his rotting body. I think it’s important to bring up the idea (whether false or no) that he may have been poisoned by Oberyn Martell before the prince of Dorne met his own mountainous demise, and that was why Tywin was in the privy long enough for Shae to have fallen asleep.
The Varys Dilemma
Varys and Tyrion arrive in Pentos…from what I’m assuming. I don’t think it’s ever stated that that’s where they are. I thought I heard Illyrio Mopatis’s name mentioned once or twice, but we never get to see the ponderous magister.
Tyrion is drinking himself into a stupor to accompany Varys’s witty quips, but as I let their whole situation marinate (and as I listened to Bar’s video posted above), I couldn’t help but wonder who the fuck is going to kill Kevan Lannister? Kevan is the younger brother of Tywin who eventually takes over the ruling of the kingdom after Cersei fucks it all up. He was going to get Westeros back on track, but then Varys, who had been hiding somewhere in the Red Keep, pops out of the shadows and shoots him with a crossbow. The eunuch is more than sorry for what he had to do and even professes to liking Kevan, but the younger Lannister would’ve done too good of a job, and the kingdom needed to be in chaos in order to facilitate Aegon’s return. *sigh* Yeah…it’s getting complicated, and this is the problem. There’s been no mention of Aegon (fake as he probably is); no talk of the Blackfyres; no hint of Jon Connington. Trust me, I understand that not everything in the books is going to find its way into the show, but these things seem pretty damn integral to the huge overarching plot. Unless they’re just planning a barer adaptation that leaves out the deeper shadings…which is probably what’s happening. But my whole point is with Varys in Pentos with Tyrion, who is going to take care of the more competent Lannister? Unless there’s going to be someone else taking over after Cersei OR unless there’s not going to be anyone taking over after Cersei. The latter is probably the most likely. Show-wise, it would be financially feasible to have less people than add more, and I suppose Kevan isn’t THAT important of a character. Either that or they’ll just use Mace Tyrell and have some cat’s paw off him at the appropriate time.
Last but not least we must turn our sights to the Wall where Stannis informs Jon he plans to burn Mance Rayder if the King-Beyond-the-Wall doesn’t bend the knee and offer the wildlings to Stannis’s service. Jon tries, but Mance refuses and is consequently immolated…except that didn’t happen in the books. Oh “Mance” was burned, but it wasn’t really Mance.
Instead of burning Mance, they do the old switcheroo. Mance is glamored to look like Rattleshirt and the Lord of Bones is burned instead. Jon still gives him the gift of the arrow, but it’s not Mance upon the pyre. Using one of Mellisandre’s rubies and the bones, the wildling king remains very much alive in order to take part in an important rescue later. The show appears to kill Mance for real, at least according to the actor Ciarán Hinds. Now, he does state that that doesn’t mean Mance can’t 100% come back, he just won’t be played by him as he would look like a different person (!!!) This may give some credence to the James and LaDonna video about Rhaegar Targaryen, which is in depth, over an hour long, and pure genius. I…could see it, and honestly hope it’s true. I’m a fan of Rhaegar. Have you seen what he looks like??
Well…so there are my gripes/issues, but I’m going to give some concessions because it is only the first episode. There was a great deal of set up and preparation, an lest we forget it is titled “The Wars to Come.” Let’s not start it before it’s necessary for there will be plenty of battles for all.