This is the third in a string of entries I’ve done since the return of HBO’s hit Game Of Thrones for their fourth season, pointing out the differences from the books. Last week it was “Breaker of Chains“, and before that it was “The Purple Wedding“. Let me start by saying I think this was the most polarizing episode of the show yet, and after season 3’s “The Red Wedding”, I didn’t think that was possible. This collection from Imgur perfectly displays my reactions during this most recent episode, but with more yelling and cursing.
THERE WILL BE SPOILERS. IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE BOOK AND DO NOT WISH TO HAVE THINGS POSSIBLY SPOILED FOR YOU, TURN BACK NOW.
1.) In the beginning, there was Ice, Ned Stark’s great two handed Valyrian steel blade he was beheaded with way back in book/season 1. After Ser Ilyn Payne (the King’s Justice) executed the Lord of Winterfell, the sword was not seen again, until the beginning of this 4th season when Tywin Lannister was overseeing the creation of two new blades. The larger of the two is presented to Jamie Lannister, the shorter to the King, Joffrey *cough* Lannister *cough* Baratheon. In this fourth episode of season 4, Jamie gives his sword to Brienne of Tarth along with the quest of finding and protecting Sansa Stark. “You’ll be defending Ned Stark’s daughter with his own blade,” Jamie says. This along with what happened with his Sister/Queen in the Sept are formulative as to where his head is; the man the kingdoms call Kingslayer, who went against his sacred vow to ‘protect the king’ by plunging his sword in Mad King Aerys’s back in order to stop the senseless killing and protect the realm. Jamie says the last words Aerys repeated over and over was “Burn them all,” while plotting to light the cache of wildfyre beneath the city to incinerate King’s Landing and all the inhabitants. I never liked Jamie til this point in the book, the first time he stands up for himself, to truly keep an oath. When Catelyn Stark charges him with the protection and return of her daughters upon his release from his cell, Jamie is reborn. He is focused on two things; being reunited with Cersei and fulfilling his promise to Caitlyn. When he returns to King’s Landing, he is a new man, hellbent on not making the same mistakes again. “It would please me very much if you would call this one Oathkeeper”, Jamie says when he lays the blade in the Maid of Tarth’s hands. Brienne doesn’t name it, in my mind, it takes away from the full impact of Jamie’s change of character.
2.) Sam NEVER tells Jon about meeting Bran and the Reeds. Out of everything, I think this is the point I have the most contention on. Again, this is something we as readers never get closure on; we always want Sam to tell Jon, so Jon knows the fate of his brothers, and that Theon didn’t kill them. I really don’t understand why Benioff and Weiss thought this was a good/’strong’ move, because as a character building point of Samwell Tarly, this change is such a weird choice.
3.) The Nights Watch deserters torturing Hodor at Craster’s Keep. Now this ties into point 2, because as of “A Dance Of Dragons”, Bran is never seen again except by his traveling companions and the children of the forest. (….ok, and Theon/Reek during a visit to the God’s Wood at Winterfell, which REMAINS one of my favorite moments of the later books. Bran learns how to use the faces carved in the Weirwood trees, speaking to a highly broken Theon/Reek). But this nonsense of Jon’s direwolf Ghost being held in a cage by the deserters, and then Bran, Meera, Jojen, Hodor, and Summer getting captured? No. Just, no. After Coldhands the dead and reanimated Ranger leads the group through the secret passage after they meet Sam, as far as we know, they never encounter people again. This beating and torturing of Hodor doesn’t serve the story at all. And in the teaser for next week’s episode, they show Jon Snow leaving Castle Black to go and ‘deal with the deserters’. THAT DOESN’T HAPPEN. Jon doesn’t leave the castle again, and he SHOULD be readying everyone for the upcoming battle with the Wildlings.
4.) The “Night King” taking the boy child and turning him with a nail through the cheek into an ‘Other’. We know from the books that when one of Craster’s daughter-wives gives birth to a boy, they leave him in the forest for the Others to take as a peace offering. This is one of the reasons Sam saves Gilly and her son, so the blue eyed zombies don’t take the boy baby. I am very curious to find out where this idea of having a Darth Maul look alike blue guy with this Ice-Henge came from.
Now we have two sides of this particular fandom, and both seem equally vocal about this season so far: A, everything should be exactly how it is in the book, which is mostly impossible and B, any and all changes are welcome and encouraged. This second one almost falls into the category of GRRM-detested fanfic.
I compared these changes to a quote from Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse books HBO’s True Blood is based on. During the beginning of their third season, EVERYTHING changed, and they completely moved away from the building blocks of the books. “Y’all know how the books go, so we’re not going to follow them.” Which as both a reader and watcher, was confusing as hell. I accepted the changes, and continued to watch the show, even though 90% of the accents of the actors disappeared, the stories got really stupid, and the drama became more high school boring than compelling and all the strong characters became useless. I REALLY don’t want that to happen to Game of Thrones, because the source material is so vast and the histories rich, I would hate to see it become a laughable show.
So why does any of this matter? They (show runners) said there would be deviations from events, not full on rewriting important character driven things that build entire plot points further on. These are HEAVY tomes to even attempt to put on tv, and I love what they’ve done so far in adapting and bringing to life these pages. But so much of it this season just….doesn’t….fit with the plots as they’ve been laid out for at least a decade.