After George R. R. Martin took his time last week laying out the Purple Wedding, the show runners had to work to catch us up on what’s happening with everyone else, and this week we saw a lot of plot points moving. It strikes me that if there were a similar arrangement on the novels, we might see a book more often than every five years.
Without Martin in control, however, it’s too easy for the show to stray off that knife’s edge it walks on gender and the role of women. The first two episodes of this latest season had me wondering about changes made to the dynamic between Jaime and Cersei from the novels, and I’m outright baffled as to why they thought Jaime needed to rape his sister. Others have pointed out how problematic this scene is, even in the Westerosi context, and I don’t have much to add except to add my objection.
A few other thoughts:
- I loved the scene between Tywin and Tommen Lannister, especially the way Tywin physically led Cersei’s son away from her as he insinuated himself. Here’s one where the show runners displayed their usual skill and nuance.
- After three episodes I’m not a fan of Daario Naharis 2.0, especially when after he completely replaced Strong Belwas, perhaps my favorite supporting Essosi. Frankly, the scene with Meereen’s champion [super-long shot of horseman, super-close shot of big fake penis] felt very off to me as well. So far this season I’m just not loving Dani’s scenes, even if the CGI dragons do look better than ever.
- The scenes on the Wall, on the other hand, are perfect. If anything they are too short—I feel like Castle Black would support a whole spinoff series at this point. That said, I’m waiting to see if there’s a reason the Thenns turned into cannibals between book and show, or if that was just an attempt to make them extra shocking.
- I also love every minute with Arya and the Hound.
- How about a quick shout-out for Oberyn Martell and his work against bisexual invisibility? He is one highly visible bisexual. Also, his explanation of male bisexuality to his gay partner had to be the best gay and lesbian studies discourse ever in a medieval fantasy TV series.
- Just a personal note: I’m shocked how many things I forget from the books. When Petyr has Ser Dontos killed I was all, “that’s a big change!” Turns out no, that’s precisely what happens in the books, down to the placement of the crossbow bolts. When Tywin offers Oberyn a small council seat I was like, “weird!” A quick visit to A Wiki of Ice and Fire, however, and it turns out the only change was at what time the small council seat was offered.
- Lastly: No dragons? My dad must have been pissed. I can’t be the only one who, when someone said Dany had to “name her champion,” pictured Drogon doing a quick fly-by and burning that little horseman to cinders.