Welcome to the book readers’ edition of recapping Game of Thrones! As we established last week, if you haven’t read all of the books (yes, all the way through A Dance of Dragons, it’s been just shy of three years on that count, so it’s fully in play) kindly either depart gracefully or accept that there will be spoilers in what follows.
With the Red Wedding and Purple Wedding down, let’s be clear, while this is a spoiler-filled space, you absolutely should not tell anyone else about the Grey Wedding. And I mean, if you’re going to mention it in passing to someone who doesn’t read the books, make sure to apologize, refuse to say anything more about it, and tell them they’ll understand when they get there. And if you’re confused on this point, just have faith: the Grey Wedding is the best part of book seven.
So this was a very slow episode, but in exactly the way that it should have been. Just slow, mounting tension, as the audience relates more and more with all of the wedding guests grimacing in awkward silence as Joffrey’s pettiness mounts.
A couple of things I missed from the books. When Tyrion gave the book as a wedding gift, it really needed that added note of “and there are like three copies of it left in the world”. It just added the additional layer of horror to Joffrey destroying it. And further, I really missed the interplay that should have followed the whole “no stranger to Valyrian steel” line, in which Tyrion pieces together that it was Joffrey who sent the assassin at Bran all those books ago. One thing I like about the books is how there will be world-shaking events and then we find out almost as a footnote long down the road what actually happened. Joffrey tried to kill Bran in order to impress Robert, and framed Tyrion. So much snaps into focus, and gifts Joffrey with some affection for his father in retrospect. And it has a wonderful anticlimax to it: we find out the truth long after it could have made any difference.
And I can’t be the only one who every time it flashed to Sansa, I paused it to see if there was a missing jewel on her necklace. I didn’t catch one missing, but given that she actually wore what Dontos gave her, I imagine she’ll discover the stone missing next episode. Who else is loving all the speculation as to who actually killed Joffrey? I haven’t yet seen a single person guess at Littlefinger’s involvement.
Ugh Shae. I’m glad she’ll be gone soon, as I really can’t stand the way she’s been written on the show, or her relationship with Tyrion. It’s like they’re setting it up that he actually loved her, and that he’s throwing rocks at her to make her go away for her own safety. Just, no.
Hey! It’s the Boltons! They must have the weirdest holiday dinners. First reaction: well getting torn apart by dogs is terrible, but it’s actually an improvement on what Ramsay’s hobbies are in the books. Second reaction: who the hell is Myranda? It’s funny to me how when the show does something I don’t recall, that the books are complex and detailed enough that I can’t just say “oh that’s new”, I have to go digging around. And I’m never quite certain I’m right, because not finding something in the books is like trying to prove a negative. I’m curious where they’re going with this, but it’s sort of sweet that they’ve given Ramsay a girlfriend who shares his hobbies. That’s all two crazy kids can ask for in this messed up world.
Oh, Stannis. He just sits there stewing, unconvinced even by his own arguments, with his wife and Melisandre chirping away on either shoulder. At some point, in the books or the show, I feel like Stannis is suddenly going to get a constipated look on his face, glare at Davos, and ask “Davos, is it true that everyone thinks I’m an asshole?”
Once the church starts throwing its weight around when Cersei gives them back their old school powers, I think we might see an interesting riff on the European wars of religion that depopulated a good chunk of central Europe back in the century after Martin Luther, with red god adherents on one side and the magnificent seven on the other. We’ve got fanatics on all sides at that point.
But before we’re done, time to check in on Bran. Oh, wonderful, he’s going to be written as a sullen teenager. Fantastic. In the books, I always feel vaguely guilty during the Bran chapters because I find them interminable. They remind of the twelve page songs in Tolkien: they’re painful to read, but you feel bad because you get the sense that they’re the author’s favorite part of the book.
Steven Lloyd Wilson is a hopeless romantic and the last scion of Norse warriors and the forbidden elder gods. His novel, ramblings, and assorted fictions coalesce at www.burningviolin.com. You can email him here and order his novel here.