Every week, Tezini’s panel of A Song of Ice and Fire subject matter experts breaks down the latest episode of its television adaptation, Game of Thrones. Below, we tackle “Garden of Bones”.
AJ: The Game of Thrones universe continues to expand on screen, and I’m loving each new layer. This week we got visuals on Harrenhal and Qarth. Oddly, I was more excited to see Harrenhal going in, and yet more dazzled by Qarth in the end.
Speaking of Qarth, I couldn’t help but think the producers were responding directly to a few of Andy’s criticisms this week. They moved the ball forward on Dany. Finally. I still don’t think they did a great job of hammering home how beleaguered her Khalasar is right now, but at least we’re on to the next stop for the Mother of the Dragons. They also began to show the utter carnage taking hold of the Riverlands. I’m pretty lukewarm on how they did it, at least with regard to the opening scene of the episode where Robb Stark tries to justify the slaughter to the Westerosi Florence Nightingale, but you can’t say they aren’t representing it now.
I continue to be disappointed with the portrayal of Littlefinger. Maybe I’m just through A Feast for Crows now, but Lord Baelish is much more clever than he’s been depicted (especially this season) and so I’ve just been unhappy with the overall tone set there. You can argue, probably correctly, that things are different for him when it comes to Catelyn and that’s why he grovelled/pleaded with her, but I’m not sure I’m willing to buy that at this point. I think the Littlefinger we have this season is just too open about everything. Part of his extreme shrewdness is his secretive, measured nature and I just don’t think viewers are getting that at this point.
Ros. Sucks. Worthless character so far.
Finally, they are pitch perfect on Arya, you have to say. I’m really glad they got her counting off the names of her enemies early on because it illustrates her character wonderfully — her brashness and resolve and also her difficulty coping with all the terrible things that she has gone through over the last few months.
I’m going to leave the discussion of what happened with Melisandre and Davos Seaworth to the true experts on this thread. Do lay viewers have a good sense for Ser Davos at this point? They finally started to explain just who the hell he is in this episode, but it strikes me as perhaps a little too late for people who don’t have the context of the books.
Sam: I feel like I could write a novel on this episode, but I’m pretty sure that’s been done already. … Where to begin?
I was freaking out about everything that was going on in this episode the entire time I was watching, starting with the opening credits when they showed Harrenhal and Qarth. I can’t express how enriching it is to a person who has read the books/a very perceptive watcher that they change up the credits for each episode. It’s probably my favorite HBO intro of all time (sorry, The Wire fans).
I thought the opening scene was incredible. It gave context to the way that Robb is just crushing right now and introduced Roose Bolton, who is, again to HBO’s credit, cast amazingly well. He was soft-spoken but brutal, I can see his pale eyes and I can totally envision him leeching himself to get rid of his “bad blood.”
I can’t believe they upped Tyrion’s game even further. The scene with Lancel and the scene with Joffrey were just so fucking awesome. Tyrion and Bronn’s conversation was incredible and produced my favorite line — “There’s no cure for being a cunt” — since Salladhor Saan’s quip about the true god being between a woman’s legs. Lancel just got completely pwned and I love it. I don’t know which version of Lancel I like the least, the stuck-up, prick child knight that he is now, or the (possible Dance With Dragons spoiler) pious douchebag that he becomes. There’s not much more to say here other than I can’t wait to see what’s next from Tyrion (not Lancel, fuck Lancel).
I geeked out about Harrenhal so hard last night and I’m still riding the afterglow this morning. The look of it was not exactly what I imagined, but the melted stone just looks so badass that I’m totally fine with their rendition. AJ, I agree with you about Arya. They’ve done such a great job with her, and she’s at the point now where she just wants to kill everyone, and she really, really wants Needle back. She is my favorite character, so I’m glad they are doing right by her.
Seriously, what the hell is up with Littlefinger. They need more subterfuge from him. He goes toe to toe with Varys for the entire time that both of them are in King’s Landing and right now they don’t seem like similar characters at all. In my opinion, this is the biggest miss by the producers from last season to this season. I mean, we all remember that amazing scene from Season 1 when the two of them when they verbally jousted by trying to figure out who had higher quality informants in the city. Why can’t we get back to that Littlefinger?!?
This is how Tyrion describes Littlefinger:
“If ever truly a man had armored himself in gold, it was Petyr Baelish, not Jaime Lannister.”
We are all familiar with who Littlefinger is because we’ve read the books. For example, if you asked someone who hadn’t read the books do you think they’d even know that he was master of coin, or that he has as many informants as Varys does? The fact that the answer to these questions isn’t immediately obvious shows the way in which they’ve erred with his character.
I’ll say more on Qarth/Dany later.
AJ: From talking to fans of the show who haven’t read the books, I’m a little worried in general about their confusion level as things get more and more complicated. Characters are flying at them and they aren’t always exposited fully — Davos being a prime example.
I had to explain a lot this week to those folks, and while they still seem to be enjoying GoT greatly, I’m not certain that will remain the case if unexplained and confusing characters are a facet of each new episode. I’m not sure if this is a weakness in the show that’s starting to come out or we’re just early in the season and they’re going to do a lot of backwards exposition (as they did with Davos in “Garden of Bones”), but it speaks to the monumental task that is adapting these books for the screen.
Sam, you mentioned last week just how much still has to happen this season (assuming we’re going to be taken roughly to the conclusion of A Clash of Kings in Season 2) and that hit me like a ton of fucking bricks on Monday. We’ve got a long way to go, and only six episodes to squeeze it all in.
It’s a shame this show is so expensive, because a 12- or 13-episode run each season feels more appropriate, especially over the next two books. (The showrunners have basically said 10 episodes a year is all they can do with their budget and, just as importantly, their production schedule.)
On a grander scale, I’m kind of daunted by the future seasons coming our way. The showrunners have said we shouldn’t expect to see future seasons mirror the plot of one book in the series (and we know Storm is going to have be split into two seasons, at least), but it’s easy to see HBO squeezing 10 or more seasons out of this when all is said and done. There’s that much ground to cover. I’m not going to complain if that’s the case, though it does raise questions particularly about the young actors playing Bran, Arya, Sansa and so forth.
Sam: My only other thoughts revolved around Qarth and the portrayal of Dany. I guess I understood why they didn’t show the dragons (to keep the expensive CGI out of the budget), but I really wanted to see Pyat Pree and Quaithe. I really love Dany’s story arc in Qarth, and I think that Quaithe and Pyat Pree are huge important to it. I guess they have a lot of CGI money to save for when they’re in the Temple of the Undying and for the Blackwater, but it doesn’t cost anything to incorporate those characters.
I liked Dany being a true Targaryen by threatening to burn Qarth to the ground even though that particular exchange wasn’t in the books.
Finally, it’s not a coincidence that the best jokes from this week’s episode, with the exception of Bronn’s, are taken directly from the book. I just read the Lancel-Tyrion exchange and it reads pretty much exactly like the scene in the book. The writing is perfectly adaptable for screenplays because, as I’ve touched on before, it’s written by a screenwriter. George R.R. Martin rules.
Ende: I loved this episode. I really enjoyed seeing Robb kick ass in the west. Roose Bolton is everything I ever hoped he would be. I don’t mind Tywin stealing his cup bearer too much, but I hope Roose still gets plenty of camera time.
I strongly agree with Sam about Qarth. I just don’t know why you would remove those characters. Together, they create a great snapshot of the different types of personalities and backgrounds one finds in the East. There’s also a crucial “three wise men” allusion with them that is important to Dany’s development.
I’m only really good at complaining, so I don’t have much more to say this time around, which the writer(s) of this episode should take as a compliment.
Jon: I agree with just about everything already said. The Lancel-Tyrion scene was one of the best encounters of the season. It was the first time we have been introduced to Lancel’s post-knightship personality and we learn just how dumb and soft he is. We also start to understand how weak Cersei’s power may be because she surrounds herself with people like Lancel.
I think that the highlight of the episode, obviously, was the very end with Melisandre spreading her legs. It represents one of the many crossroads that the show has and will reach. From the first season through the current one, casual viewers are rarely introduced to the pure fantasy elements of the series, and when they are it’s only for a brief moment, such as the episodes with the Walkers and the dragons. But the show consistently walks the line between fantasy and the archetype HBO drama, similar to Rome and The Sopranos, both of which had power-hungry, sex-craving characters. What sets GoT apart from those other series is its fantasy elements. Viewers only get a hint of it, here and there — the three-eyed crow, giants in the North, dragons in the South and “Winter Is Coming.”
My question is, how will the viewers respond to a stronger fantasy presence as the series progresses?