Category Archives: Game of Thrones

Game Of Thrones: All in the Balls

002Warning. I’m spoiling stuff here about who has balls and needs balls and wants balls in GOT. No, not Varys. Everybody knows Varys got cut, even my co-workers who have never heard of George R. R. Martin and don’t watch HBO. If you are behind in the books or the TV series and don’t want me to ruin anything for you – and not just about characters’ testicular issues – come back later

A subset of my readers – the ones who are my friends in that world out there that isn’t just on a screen – are rolling their eyes right now and thinking “damn, woman, can’t you talk about anything” without bringing up balls? I like to think I am a witty creature, but the truth is sometimes my humor is much like that of a mischievous 8-year old boy. Balls make me laugh, so I talk about them a lot.

But hear me out anyway.

It is no secret that eunuchs run rampant in George R. R. Martin’s fantasy world. There’s a whole army of them across the Narrow Sea, hanging out with The Mother of Dragons.  Back in King’s Landing, Varys slithers about trying to gain everyone’s trust by sharing his “day I lost my balls” story in excruciating detail.

But in the books, the dudes without do-dads really don’t get much in the way of relationship storylines. Someone involved in the HBO series must have felt bad for them, because in the TV series, these guys are coming as close to getting some action as they possibly can.

First, we’ve got Grey Worm, Head Eunuch of The Unsullied. I like him well enough in the books. He’s focused and strong. He’s loyal. He’s tough. He’s never tempted to stray from his duties by the chance of getting laid.

On the show, Grey Worm develops a sort-of-something-maybe-more-than-friends relationship with Missandei. In the books, Missandei is a child, but HBO aged her up to adulthood. Until this whole plot twist, I thought they just wanted more females showing boobage. But it seems they are actually building a storyline for her and Grey Worm, making them more human, interesting characters in the process.

I wasn’t buying the storyline at first. It began with Grey Worm catching a glimpse of Missandei standing naked in the river. She senses his gaze and anxiously covers herself. Puh-leeze. You can’t hang out naked in a river and not have some guy checking out your stuff. Not every dude on this side of the sea is a eunuch.

But in their subsequent scenes, the affection between Missandei and Grey Worm started to grow on me.  I felt for her when she wondered aloud about whether his pillar was gone or just his stones. What a thing to have to worry about in a potential new relationship. In our world, we just have to hope our dates aren’t crackheads, porn addicts or serial killers.

I’m curious to see where HBO takes these two next season. Will Grey Worm have a pillar? Will it matter without stones? Either way, I’m more interested in these two characters than I was in the books, although I liked them both in print too.

Another character who grows an unexpected set of balls in the TV series is Sam Tarly.  Sam is not a literal eunuch, of course. But he’s seriously lacking in testicular fortitude. In both the books and the series, he falls for Craster’s daughter-wife Gilly. But in print he comes nowhere near as close to acting on his impulses as he does on the show. In both, his feelings for her help him find a latent bravery buried deep inside his layers of Sam-ness. But his growing courage is much more evident on the show. During the battle with the Wildings, he actually inspires courage in others. Not only that, but he puckers up and gets himself a kiss from Gilly. I know that’s not much action in a show where Oberyn is boinking everything, Cersei is doing her brother and her cousin, and Littlefinger is giving out whores like candy. But this is Sam we’re talking about.

Like Missandei and Grey Worm, I’m curious to see what HBO does with Sam and Gilly next season. A set of phantom balls and a bit of testicular fortitude have added some spice to these characters for me.

And here I thought balls were only good for making me laugh.

 

Game of Thrones: The New and Improved Sansa

002Warning: Game of Thrones TV series and Song of Ice and Fire book series spoilers ahead. If you aren’t caught up on one or the other and want to be before someone ruins it for you, come back later.

This is the second post in what I am considering my “GOT Withdrawal Medication” series. With both the next HBO series season and the next book light years away, I am feeding my addiction by rambling about the differences between the show and Martin’s books.

I began with my favorite ugly duckings, Brienne and  The Hound. I’ll devote this one to a character HBO has turned into a beautiful swan – Sansa Stark.

In the books, Sansa Stark is little more than a pawn. The various players of the game tuck her in their pockets and make plans to marry her off for their own gain. Unless Westeros had a lemon-cake eating contest, she’d have only one claim to fame: Girl With the Most Repulsive Potential Husbands. First Joffrey. Enough said. Then Robert Arryn, AKA Moon Door Boy. The only exception to the ick-factor is Tyrion.  If it wasn’t for that whole his-family-murdered-my-family thing, even Sansa might have eventually been able to see the dwarf as an ally.

In the books, Sansa is the oddball Stark. The other children are brave and adventurous, even when they are getting an ass-whooping. Robb tries to avenge his father. Arya makes her list and checks it way more than twice. Brann rides off on a trusty Hodor to find the three-eyed crow.  Jon Snow survives the Wildlings and holds the Wall. When shit happens, these Stark kids at least try to control their fates and create their own destinies.

Sansa, meanwhile, cowers and lets everyone else define her future. Initially, she’s the most gullible in the Stark bunch. Her starstruck admiration of Cersei ultimately costs her father his head when she blabs to the Queen about Ned’s plan to drag her away from King’s Landing . Once she survives that horror, she sees cruelty at every turn. Sansa trusts no one, especially if their name is Lannister. Can’t blame her for that.

But in the books, you still want to grab her by the shoulders and shake her, because she never learns to trust herself either. The Hound nails it when he calls her a little bird that sings whatever song it is taught.

Until the 4th season, HBO built their Sansa Stark in the same mold. Then they decided to take her for a joy ride. In the books, Sansa recreates herself as “Alayne Stone” because that’s what Petyr Baelish tells her to do. She wears what his bastard daughter would wear and fades into the background like a sweet little bastard girl would do.  She remains mouse-like while her fake daddy lures the Knights and Ladies of the Vale into his schemes. She is afraid of pissing off Petyr, but I think she’s also afraid of being Sansa Stark again. After all, being Sansa Stark kind of sucked.

Instead of lying low, HBO’s Sansa said “Screw this Alayne shit” and fessed up to her true identity when confronted by the nobles of the Vale. Then she sauntered down those stairs making Creepy Dead Lysa’s dress look downright hot.

Sansa didn’t whip out a sword or a Braavosi coin, but her subtle changes were still one of the power plays of the season. By telling her potential allies in the Vale the truth, she also grabbed Lord Baelish by the balls and gave them a little twist. As long as she was just Alayne, she was powerless. When she reclaims her Starkness, she becomes someone the Vale folk may want to help, use or both. Either way, they’ll care about her way more than swarmy Petyr.

Her change of outfit and those knowing looks she shoots him afterwards? If that isn’t a “how do you like me now?” I don’t know what is.

As I watched HBO’s reformed Sansa, I saw all that “use your womanly wiles” advice Cersei and Margaery gave her put to use, and I was glad. Quite frankly, I’m getting a wee bit tired of feeling so sorry for Book Sansa. I’m glad HBO Sansa appears to be growing some girl-balls and shaking things up a bit.

What about you? How do you think HBO’s stronger version of Sansa will change things to come?

 

 

 

 

Game of Thrones Season 4 – I Knew Less Than Jon Snow

002Warning:  If you have not seen the finale of Season 4, do not enter. If you have not read through the third book in the series (A Storm of Swords) and plan to do so, click on out of here. That is, unless you like spoilers. Because this, my friends, is full of them.

I am an unabashed Game of Thrones geek-girl. I plan my Sunday nights around showtime. I have read all the books – more than once.  For the first three seasons, this generally meant I knew what was coming on the show. Oh, there were some big change-ups.  HBO made Joffrey even more hate-worthy and the Red Wedding even more brutal. They turned Robb Stark’s nondescript wife into a character I cared about (and then killed her). They reduced Robert Baratheon’s bastard count by turning Gendry and Edric Storm into “Gendric.”

But that didn’t prepare me for Season 4. For most of this run, I felt like Jon Snow. I knew nothing. And now it is over, and so our watch begins. Season 5 and Book 6 seem as far away as Dany and her dragons are from Westeros. So I am creating my own little ‘mini-series’ here on this blog, to discuss some of the major differences between HBO’s season 4 and Martin’s books.

Let’s begin with the end.

I have anticipated watching Tywin Lannister get offed on the shitter for weeks now. The scene was all that I expected. Peter Dinklage and Charles Dance have brought  the complex, twisted relationship between Tyrion and Tywin to life from their very first scenes together. Their grand finale did not disappoint.

Even so, Tywin proving that he does not shit gold wasn’t the episode’s shining moment for me.  I was still reeling from Brienne of Tarth biting a huge chunk out of The Hound.

That entire scene came out of nowhere. Don’t get me wrong. I think it was a very well-planned and executed twist. I’ve been disappointed by some of the ways HBO has veered away from the books. But not by this one.

In the book, Arya leaves a dying (we think so, anyway) Sandor Clegane after refusing him the mercy of a quick death. But Brienne of Tarth is not involved. Brienne never actually crosses paths with Arya and The Hound. HBO ignored that and gave us an epic battle between two favorite characters. I applaud this twist for many reasons.

1. It highlighted just what all her suffering has made Arya.  Brienne offers her protection. Instead of taking it, she hides during the battle, then returns to Clegane before leaving him to die slowly.  Brienne didn’t lose her chance to save Arya because Clegane pegged her as a Lannister affiliate. She lost it by offering Arya something the child no longer believes in – safety.

2. If there were ever two ugly ducklings unable to transform to swan status, they are The Hound and Brienne. Their lives are defined by their lack of beauty. Brienne is huge, awkward and unfeminine. Sandor is scarred and twisted. They are too big, strong and angry to fit in by fading into the background, so they build lives around serving others. Sandor serves so he can fight. Brienne serves out of love and loyalty. She is broken by failure to save those she chooses to serve, and he is reduced to nothing by the sight of fire. They are two characters who seemed destined to meet in the books, and never did.

3. Both George R. R. Martin and HBO make you feel for The Hound in spite of his brutality. But in my mind, HBO took the relationship between Arya and The Hound to the next level, making you like him just a bit more. Brienne is one of the few characters I can forgive for cutting short a relationship journey that had really grown on me. I’m still pissed about the lack of Hound in the most recent books.

4. The fight was epic. You saw a brutal, clawing, desperate, fierce side to Brienne. This wasn’t the tough but insecure woman who served Renly and found herself being rescued from a bear by Jaime Lannister. This was a creature of raw force. This was almost The Hound in female form.

What did you think? Did HBO do the right thing by making Brienne the one who took down The Hound, or would you have preferred they stick with the original storyline?

Next up: The new and improved (?) Sansa.