Sorry for the delay in our last two columns folks. We’re back with Compare the Throne. Our weekly look at how HBO’s Game of Thrones differs from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books. Let’s dive right in on episodes 5 and 6.
Episode 5: Kill the Boy
Episode 5 opens on shots of Grey Worm (alive) and Barristan Selmy (now confirmed dead). Daenerys Targaryen grieves for her departed protector and then instructs her soldiers to round up the leaders of all of Mereen’s wealthy families, Hizdahr zo Loraq among them. She intimidates the family leaders with her dragons, and ultimately feeds one of the timid members to them. This is a massive difference from the books, as Barristan Selmy—at least as of the end of the Dance of Dragons—is still very much alive. Grey Worm has not been gravely wounded either.
Far in the north, Samwell Tarly readers Maester Aemon a letter about Daenerys’ current state of affairs in Mereen. Aemon laments her being alone without other Targaryen support. It’s a small point, but Aemon doesn’t become aware of Daenerys and her dragons until almost the end of the fifth book. This happens when he is journeying with Sam and Gilly. Jon Snow seeks him out for advice and he gives his famous, “Kill the boy and let the man be born,” speech. This is pretty much word-for-word from the novels.
Jon Snow that confronts Tormund Giantsbane in his chambers, proposing that Tormund seek out the remaining wildlings and bring them South of the wall. This is mostly accurate as Jon does make this deal with Tormund, only in the books Tormund is not a prisoner at the wall. He is loose on the North side with a small group, while the remainder followed Mother Mole to Hardhome. Here Tormund explains that all the wildlings are at Hardhome. Tormund insists that Jon come with him to explain the truth of this proposal. That part does not happen in the stories as Tormund brings the contingent he controls over and Jon remains at Castle Black. Jon makes the case to the brothers of the Night’s Watch, and not surprisingly, meets a great deal of resistance at his radical proposal.
Brienne and Podrick settle in at an inn close by Winterfell. Brienne explains to Podrick how Sansa is clearly not safe at Winterfell with the Bolton’s. When the innkeep arrives with fresh blankets, Brienne asks him to find a way to get Sansa a message.
Inside Winterfell, Miranda and Ramsay discuss Ramsay’s upcoming marriage to Sansa. Miranda, clearly vexed that Ramsay will be marrying Sansa jealously questions him on whether he is attracted to Sansa. Predictably, Ramsay threatens Miranda over her jealously until she proves herself to him by biting his lip until it bleeds. None of this is in the books as Miranda is an invention of the show.
Brienne’s message arrives to Sansa by way of a servant (who we still are not sure if it is meant to be Old Nan). She informs Sansa to light a candle in the highest window of the broken tower. Sansa heads out to investigate the tower and Miranda finds her there. She curiously examines Sansa’s clothes. Miranda takes Sansa to the kennels and urges her to look at the last pen. There, Sansa finds the disfigured and broken Theon. Theon urges her that she shouldn’t be seeing him. Except for the fact that Sansa is not in this part of the story in the books, this is similar to the books as Jeyne Poole does recognize Theon even in his disheveled Reek form. Ramsay realizes something has happened later and intimidates “Reek” into revealing how Sansa recognized him. Mysteriously, Ramsay does not further disfigure Reek. Perhaps because he sent Miranda to take Sansa to Reek?
Afterwards, Ramsay, Sansa, Roose Bolton and his wife Walda dine together. Ramsay orchestrates an elaborate awkwardness forcing Reek to be present and then forcing him to apologize to Sansa for the alleged murder of Bran and Rickon (which Ramsay and us know isn’t true but Sansa does not). The moment is gripping and painful for both Sansa and Reek. Ramsay then decrees that Reek will give away Sansa at their upcoming wedding. After that, Roose makes a revelation all his own, that Walda is pregnant and that its likely a boy. Ramsay finally appears less than thrilled with himself. After dinner Ramsay and Roose discuss the pregnancy. Ramsay expresses his concern that his station is in danger. Roose tells him how he had raped his mother. He explains when she showed up a year later with a baby, he almost had her whipped and the child, “Thrown in the river.” But, he instantly recognized and accepted it as his son. He then details to Ramsay how Stannis will soon be marching on Winterfell. He implies to Ramsay that if Ramsay helps him defeat Stannis, his station will be assured. Given the lack of Sansa in this part of the story in the books, all of this is a creation just for the show.
Back at Castle Black Sam and Gilly discuss Oldtown where the Maesters are trained. Stannis arrives and questions Sam about his research and how he killed an other. In the books this conversation does not happen either. Stannis then seeks out Davos and instructs him that it’s time their army head to Winterfell. He also instructs Davos that Melisandre, Shireen and Queen Selyse will all accompany them towards Winterfell. This is a major departure from the books as there they all stay at the wall, Selyse aimed to make the Nightfort her seat until Stannis takes King’s Landing. Several important plot points happen because of their presence at the wall, this no doubt removing those circumstances completely from the show.
Missandei stands watch over Grey Worm and he finally wakes. Grey Worm expresses regret at his fear that he might never have seen Missandei again if he had died. Missandie, touched by the revelation, joins him in his sick bed and kisses him. Later, she discussed the predicament with the Sons of Harpy with Daenerys. Daenerys beseeches Missandei to give her advice on what she should do next. Missandei simply councils her to do what she knows to be right in spite of what her councilors may advise her. Daenerys then finds the imprisoned Hizdahr zo Loraq and informs him how she will allow the fighting pits to reopen and marry a Mereenese nobleman, him. So, this gets us essentially to the same place as the books do, it just happens under much more elongated circumstances. In the books, Daenerys only does this after the Green Grace (who has not appeared on the show) urges her to marry and consecrate her connection to the city and its history. Hizdahr also proves himself by somehow—mysteriously—being able to get the Sons of the Harpy to stop their nightly attacks for a month.
Jorah Mormont and Tyrion continue their voyage and are heading through the doomed Valyria in an effort to avoid slaver pirates. While sailing upriver towards the city, Drogon flies by overhead. As they sail under a bridge, they are attacked by several stone men (men permanently diseased with the grey scale affliction). The show runners have moved the stone men’s home from Chroyane on the river Rhoyne to Valyria. Tyrion is saved by Jorah after falling off the boat being pulled under by one of the stone men. When Tyrion awakens Jorah finally cuts his bonds. As he walks away, he realizes to his horror that one of the stone men did touch him and he has a small patch of his arm that is infected. This connects the missing plotline of the crew of the Shy Maid that we discussed in our last column. In the books, his happens and it is Jon Connington that saves Tyrion, not Jorah. In the books Jorah has not yet kidnapped Tyrion. Jon Connigton also only reveals to the reader that he contracted the affliction almost at the very end of Dance of Dragons.
Episode 6: Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken
If Jorah Mormont contracting greyscale wasn’t shocking enough of an ending for last week’s episode, this week’s finale might be one of the most controversial in the show’s history.
Episode 6 opens with Arya continuing her duties at the House of Black and White washing recently deceased bodies. As other acolytes take the body into the hidden enclave further in the bowels of the building, Arya inquires to The Waif what happens to the bodies after their washed. The Waif angrily tells her to get back to work. The Waif spins a tale claiming she is a highborn girl that had to kill her evil stepmom. Arya initially seems pleased at the story, but The Waif shuts her down asking whether Arya believed the entire story. In the middle of the night Jaqen H’ghar confronts her and asks her to explain who she is. Arya attempts to embellish on her own story the way The Waif did earlier. Jaqen smacks her each time there’s even a tiny inaccuracy in her story. This is mostly accurate as in the books there are several attempts at Arya to tell the truth and/or lie to the Kindly man and The Waif, just not this exact conversation.
Back heading towards Mereen, Tyrion both reveals to Jorah how he murdered his father Tywin Lannister and how Jorah’s father Jeor Mormont (who was the commander of the Night’s Watch) was murdered by his own men. Jorah did not know that his father was dead. In the books, at the end of the Dance of Dragons, Jorah has still not learned of his father’s passing. Also, absent from the show is how Jeor’s dying words are to Samwell of how his last wish in life is that Jorah take the black and he will forgiven for his dishonor.
Arya convinces a sick and dying girl to drink of the poison fountain by embellishing a story that she was herself sick at one point and that the water healed her. Later, as Arya cleans the newly dead young girl’s body, Jaqen motions to Arya that it’s time for her to see what’s behind the closed door. At the bottom of the structure she finds an immense room filled with the endless nooks where thousands of collected faces of the dead have been stored. Jagen intimates that Arya may not be ready to become no one, but that she might be ready to become someone else. This is essentially accurate to the books, only it happens after Arya is blinded temporarily by The Kindly Man after she kills a certain someone she was not authorized to murder. She does eventually be allowed into this room and is given the ability to craft an identity using one of the faces to kill someone marked for death by the order.
Back on their march towards Mereen, Jorah and Tyrion are captured by slavers. Tyrion ultimately convinces the slavers to not kill them and upon learning Daenerys has reopened the fighting pits of Mereen, convinces them that Jorah would make an excellent pit fighter. While this is essentially how Tyrion and Jorah end up in Mereen, they are captured while on a tradeship, not while walking. Also, at this point, they are with the dwarf penny and her animals Pretty Pig and Crunch. Not sure yet whether the show means to omit her from the story completely, but she is a major part of Tyrion and Jorah’s story at this point in the novels. Also, Jorah is just a slave, he’s not aimed for the fighting pits and is branded a dangerous slave.
Littlefinger arrives at King’s Landing and is threatened by Lancel and members of the faith militant. Like everything, he talks his way out of the threat and moves on to meet Cersei. Cersei questions Littlefinger about his loyalty to the crown, both him and the knights of the Vale he control in fact. Littlefinger reveals to Cersei how Sansa is alive and in Winterfell and what’s more engaged to Ramsay. He lies and doesn’t reveal to Cersei his role in the deception. Cersei, outraged by Roose Bolton’s deception is incensed and Littlefinger offers to assault Winterfell with the knight’s of the Vale. He claims he won’t rest until the Lion flies over Winterfell’s walls. For this he bargains to be made Warden of the North. As he indicated previously, chaos is a ladder indeed. Needless to say, none of this happens in the books as Littlefinger is still with Sansa in the Vale at the end of book five, just having descended the Eyrie.
Back in Dorne, we finally get to meet Prince Doran’s son Trystane. Trystane and Princess Myrcella are apparently smitten with each other, kissing and canoodling with joyful abandon in the water gardens. As Jaime and Bronn attempt to convince Myrcella that they need to speak with her, the three sand snakes arrive and a fight ensues. No one is killed, but Bronn does get cut on the arm (and hopefully not poisoned). Prince Doran’s captain of the guards Areo Hotah arrives with a few dozen men, breaks up the fight and captures all of them. This is an approximation of the events in the Dance of Dragons, as there it’s Arianne Martell that attempts to steal Myrcella with the help of Ser Arys Oakheart. There, another of their party, Darkstar, disfigures Myrcella once Areo arrives.
Enraged at the capture and imprisonment of her grandson Loras, Olenna Tyrell arrives at King’s Landing. She confronts Cersei requesting Loras’ release, but Cersei again denies any involvement in the faith’s arrest of Loras. Cersei shuts down Lady Olenna claiming the faith requires only an inquest of Loras, not a trial. At this trial, the High Sparrow springs a trap, getting Queen Margaery Tyrell to say on the record she had no knowledge of Loras’ homosexuality and then uses Loras’ lover Olyvar to contradict her statements. Margaery is captured and the High Sparrow states both her and Loras will formally be put on trial. Now, in the books, Loras is never arrested though Margaery is. Margaery though, is arrested after Cersei has Osney Kettleblack lie to the High Sparrow claiming he has bedded her and two of her cousins. Also, Lady Olenna never returns to King’s Landing after she leaves following Joffrey’s death.
The episode concludes with Ramsay and Sansa’s wedding. In a solemn ceremony beneath Winterfell’s heart tree, Reek now presenting himself as Theon gives away Sansa to Ramsay. In a somber tone, Sansa proceeds with the wedding. They return to Ramsay’s bed chamber. Ramsay seems to doubt Sansa’s claim that she is a virgin. He menacingly intimidates her that she must always be honest with him. Then, he instructs her to take off her clothes. When Reek turns to leave, Ramsay insists that he stay and watch. As the scene continues, Ramsay becomes increasingly threatening. Apparently growing impatient with how long it takes Sansa to disrobe Ramsay rips off her clothing and sexually assaults her. The camera stays on Reek as he breaks out into tears watching the horror unfolding in front of him. Much has been said about this scene in the days since it aired. It will no doubt be one of the most controversial moments the show has ever dared to air. Compared to the books, it’s amazingly a little less brutal. There, it’s Jeyne Poole that suffers the awful wedding night. In that telling, Ramsay is even more terrible and actually forces Theon to partake in the event, suffice it to say, priming her for what’s to come. As mentioned earlier, Sansa is nowhere near Winterfell in the books, safely nestled in the Vale with Littlefinger.