So here are are again for a second week in a row, back for more abuse and disappointment as fans of the books miss out on some powerful scenes while the rest of the viewing world semi-enjoys the series! And with that unnecessarily bitchy first sentence out of the way I have to say I was much happier with the second episode than I was with the first. Perhaps my expectations have been lowered so dramatically that I’m not longer bothered by the details, or perhaps they simply did a better job on the second episode.
Either way, while it was a far cry from great, it certainly wasn’t bad. Dare I say, it might have even been pretty good. Though we still ended up with a few disappointing scenes and a couple that just made little sense. So! Let’s get to it! Here’s my take of the scenes and how they were in the books. These are in no particular order and remember, there are book spoilers.
Let’s start off with the scene where Joffrey and Margery were getting to know one another. In the books there was no such scene as Joffrey and Margery are not Point of View characters. But in my opinion the scene was well done and if we get some more might even end up as good as the Tywin/Arya scenes from season 2. But I wonder, was it just to give more depth to Joffrey or was it a spot to shoehorn in a political opinion of the directors, even more obvious than the infamous Dubya head from the past season? The sudden anti-gay rhetoric for me was jarring as I keep up with current events and it’s currently a big hot button issue. It took me out of the show for a bit and when trying to immerse yourself in another world it’s not always the most pleasant thing to experience. Though I’ve got to say hearing that come from Joffrey wasn’t too surprising and certainly fit in well with his character. Even with the sudden jerk back to reality the scene ended up being pretty darn good and memorable.
This episode we got to see one of Sansa’s best scenes from the entire series. The meeting with Margery and the Queen of Thorns. I’ve got to stop for a second and give a shout out to Diana Rigg who has completely brought the Queen of Thorns to life. Despite not getting to have the full ambiance of the books, we see the Queen of Thorns at her best. Her blunt opinions and observations endears her to us, as finding someone unafraid to speak the truth is more difficult than one might expect in Westeros. In the books the scene took place not outside among the scenic surroundings, but instead inside surrounded by a gaggling group of noble women sworn to House Tyrell. This was important because as we saw in the first and second seasons of the show every little bird, every brick, every shadow was someones spy.
When pressed Sansa was still too terrified to speak the horrible truth, prompting the Queen of Thorns to have her jester “Butterbumps” sing The Bear and the Maiden Fair. By the end of the hushed conversation Butterbumps was straight up screaming the song. An incredible scene in the books. Why we got quiet cheese instead I don’t know, but even as disappointing as missing out on that wonderful memory, the scene was executed flawlessly by all the actresses involved.
Samwell Tarly was getting more abuse in this episode. If I remember correctly, even more than he ever received in the books. Makes me wonder if the directors of the HBO series have something against fat people, or if they genuinely believe that by destroying and constantly berating his character to the nth degree it’ll pay off later on. But as it stands it looks like one of his biggest bullies will be taking on a role that a really cool but short lived character did in the books. We’ll have to wait and see if they can salvage his story or completely destroy it. Samwell has grown into one of the most well developed characters in the Song of Ice and Fire series and I hope they don’t take him for granted.
Arya’s scene was great, as hers so often tend to be. While we might not get to enjoy time with Lem Lemoncloak, we finally got to get some screen time for Thoros of Myr. As important as he becomes I think I’m fine with the change. Getting to run into the hound sooner than expected works out just as well. Arya’s stories continue to be some of the best in the HBO series.
Theon’s scene was a great re-introduction to him. Though the secret iron born spy in Ramsay Bolton’s (Who wasn’t even mentioned by name if I remember right) service might be a huge mistake serving in the place of a character that completely broke him all the way down in book five. So we’re skipping quite a bit ahead on him. Hopefully this is just something minor to give him screen time so that audience doesn’t forget about him. Though it’s strange to see him now as we didn’t see much of him in books three or four. But at least one thing I want you to remember: Theon rhymes with weak.
The Tyrion scene while I don’t recall from the book, served us well as damn near perfect foreshadowing. As well as getting to show off Peter Dinklage some more. You can’t really get enough Dinklage.
We got a really strange scene from Catelyn. I suppose the directors wanted to make her more human, but if there if there is anything Catelyn is, is a bitch. Her whole life she treated Jon Snow as an outcast, she gave him the real bastard treatment. It was all over the first season! Then all the sudden this episode we hear about she begged and pleaded to save his life after some nasty prayers. So instead of a dead baby bastard, we ended up with her character being insufferable to Jon Snow for his whole life, simply for the flaw of being born. Sorry, I don’t care about this faux attempt to make her seem like less of an awful person. If anything it only made me dislike her more.
Jojen and Meera Reed finally show up. Though by this point they’ve taken them quite a ways out of the book. By now the group should have already been well acquainted while Osha takes Rickon to the south and Meera, Jojen, Hodor, and Bran go North; to keep the precious princelings of the north from potentially being captured together. Hopefully this season they’ll go their separate ways. Even though it means losing a familiar face like Osha. But in such a convoluted series like this, I don’t know if having less characters to deal with is necessarily a bad thing.
Brienne’s and Jaime’s scene was excellent. Even though they didn’t stay true to the fight, it was still fun to see. In the books it showed just how dangerous Jaime Lannister was, because even after being a prisoner and having to walk all that way, he still fought Brienne back and forth for over an hour with both going for killing blows. The show made him weaker as a character as it failed to show how even with his hands tied, and weak from hunger, travel, and prison Jaime was still insanely dangerous. And if a lesser knight than Brienne had been tasked with taking him, it’s likely he would have done them in and been away. So really, both characters are weaker because of it. But I can imagine choreographing an extended fight scene and spending gratuitous amounts of time on it might not have paid off when you have so little time to work with. Still it was a good scene with a pair of my favorite characters.
So! All in all this turned out as one of the best episodes in a while. A few understandable changes, a few weird choices. But in the end, something to be much less disappointed about than the first episode. To me it felt like more of an opening episode than the first one. I can only hope the episodes to follow take on the spirit of the second episode and not the first. We’ll have to wait and see. So come on back next week! Let me know what you thought about this episode and/or my take in the comments below! I’ll be around.
Oh, and before I leave you, it appears that GRRM has confirmed that we won’t get any Strong Belwas in the HBO series. Disappointing news I know. But we’ve only got so much time and money to work with.