In previous episodes, we've seen some smalls ways in which Game of Thrones, the show, is diverging from the books. Certain minor characters have been omitted. Some have been killed on the show while they're alive and well in the books, and vice versa. Then there was the whole thing that was supposed to happen at the very end of last season that DIDN'T HAPPEN. But most of the changes haven't been major plot/game changers. Varys hanging out with Tyrion for a while probably wasn't going to set the world on fire. That one cute dude on the Wall dying in the battle for Castle Black wasn't going to make that big a difference. But the big change tonight, however, that's going to have repercussions.
Actually, most of the stuff in this episode is book positive. Arya's in the House of Black and White, learning about Jaqen H'ghar's religion/way of life that is more inscrutable than Tracy Jordan's license plate (ICU81MI). Jaqen is Mr. Miyagi-ing her, putting Arya through her paces before she's ready to learn the real secrets of whatever the hell face changing nonsense his religion is about (honestly, this stuff never did much for me in the books; I rather like seeing the particulars of what Arya's going through than just reading about it).
Tyrion and Varys are still off on their little journey from Pentos to Meereen. Tyrion wants to get out of the box for a few minutes, and Varys lets him. Tyrion goes looking for a whore and he can't get it up (mentally), which does end up playing a part in the books and I wonder if we'll hear Peter Dinklage utter the famous, "Where do whores go?" by the end of the season. In the finale of this episode, Tyrion finds himself roped up by Jorah, which, yeah, I was just waiting for those two to find each other. And now they have. Jorah says he's taking Tyrion to the queen, and that's that.
Jon Snow's story stays quite true to the books as well. He's in his first days as Lord Commander of the Night's Watch and he needs to show the brothers who's boss. (Spoiler: It's Mona.) Stannis and Davos take turns giving Jon pep talks. Stannis still wants Jon to help him take back the North from the Boltons, but he respects Jon's decision to be a true Stark and choose duty over desire. That's the kind of thing that got Ned Stark killed, but WHATEVER. That thing happened so very many years ago. Davos assures Jon that Stannis likes him way more than he lets on. (I have CONCERNS that we're not actually going to see Davos's storyline take shape this season, but there's always next year, right? Davos is my Book Favorite.)
In Jon's first act as Lord Commander, he makes Alliser Thorne first ranger, which is a totally nice thing to do and Ser Alliser won't have anything bad to write about Jon in the burn book tonight. But when Jon tells Janos Slynt that he's going to be heading up the command at Greyguard, Janos throws a hissy and Jon is all, "Ollie, get my sword." After he sees that Jon means business and finds his head on the chopping block, Janos has a Gob Bluth moment, but it's too late. Just as he watched his father knock off someone's head in the first episode of the show, Jon steps up and does the deed himself in front of all his men. Because HONOR. Stannis even gives him a little head nod.
In a complete shocker for the TV-only fans, considering how much we've been trained to fear weddings at this point, the marriage of Margaery Tyrell to King Tommen goes off without a hitch. They even consummate the thing, four times, and forget ruling because Tommen just wants to bone all day long. Ser Pounce mews in the corner.
There are some great moments here as Margaery and Cersei play each other. Margaery has the ear of the king (by way of his penis), and Cersei is feeling displaced. The main thing she's got going for her is her relationship with Maester Qyburn, who is doing science-y things involving a large mound of anger writhing under a sheet in his laboratory. HULK SMASH.
Cersei also has to meet with the High Sparrow, who is the pastoral leader of the Sparrows, AKA the religious group her former fuck buddy, Lancel, is now a part of. They showed up at Littlefinger's brothel and dragged the High Septon through the town naked, for debauchery and hypocrisy. Cersei, deciding to bet on the Sparrows, puts the old High Septon in the dungeons.
Speaking of Littlefinger, his shit is the new shit. In the books, we pretty much caught up to Sansa and Littlefinger's story last season. They're off on the road, but that's about it. This season, Littlefinger told Sansa that he was taking her somewhere Cersei wouldn't be able to touch her. Turns out, that place is Winterfell, and Sansa is going to be married to none other than the Lord of Sweetness and Light, Ramsay "Snow" Bolton.
I'm very interested to see how this develops. Sansa, obviously, does not trust this situation, but she's playing along. Littlefinger, who knows everything about everything, doesn't know much about Ramsay Snow Bolton -- or he SAYS he doesn't know anything about him. I'm not sure. I'm not sure if he's feeding Sansa to the wolves here, knowingly, or if he's going to find out what a sadistic jerk wad Ramsay is and then go off on him. Or not, because he's foreign this alliance with Ramsay's dad, Roose. Who can know what goes on inside Littlefingers mind grapes?
Even if Littlefinger doesn't swoop in to save Sansa (And who's to say she needs saving? She knows the score, and I'm pretty sure she's tougher than she's let on all along), there are a few other people milling around who might want to help her. One is Theon "Reek" Greyjoy, who is fully aware of how horrible Ramsay can be. Also, he probably feels guilty for Robb dying and for being the reason everyone thinks Bran and Rickon (remember him?) are dead. He recognizes Sansa, and I think he will try to help her. It may end badly for him. I fear for Theon (I have no inside knowledge about what might or might not happen to Theon. This is all speculation).
The other person who might help Sansa is Brienne, who has been following Sansa and Littlefinger since that fight at the pub last week. She feels horrible that she wasn't able to save Renly or Catelyn, and I think she believes saving Sansa might mean she can finally forgive herself. Which means she'll probably die before she even gets to Sansa, after Pod accidentally stabs her during one of their training sessions. Again, no inside knowledge other than this show likes to kill good people.
What did you think of the episode? How do you think things will play out with Ramsay and Sansa? Do they wind up married? Is their wedding a disaster of Purple or Red proportions, or do things go off without a hitch? What will Varys do now that Tyrion's been kidnapped?
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