11 June 2013

Game of Thrones injustices vs the Mannis

So we all know Westeros has and needs only one true king. The King who cared, the King who forsook the wars of the kingdoms to fight the only war that matters, against the greatest enemy of all. So I proudly say, All hail Stannis, of the House Baratheon, First of his name. King of the Andals, and the Rhoynar, and the First men. Lord of Dragonstone and the Nightfort, and chosen warrior or R'hllor.

But for whatever reason, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the creators of the HBO adaptation of GRRM's opus, just cannot do Stannis right. When they struggled to properly portray Jon Snow, it was slightly forgiveable as most of Jon's development in the novels is through his own inner monologue as a POV character. But Stannis is not. The Mannis is only ever seen through the eyes of others, initially Ser Davos Seaworth, the most loyal and honorable man in the 7 Kingdoms, and later Catelyn Tully, Samwell Tarly, Jon Snow and Melisandre. So that should make it easier to portray the man. Stannis is honorable and dutiful. Stannis is stubborn, uncaring, and unemotional, except for anger. Stannis does not want to be King, yet he is, by all the laws of gods and men. It is his right, and therefore his duty to take the throne, for his brother's memory and his daughter's future, and more importantly, for the good of the realm. When the war of the Five Kings begins, before there even are five kings in the realm, Tywin Lannister, arguably one of the most intelligent and dangerous men in the world, tells his son that Stannis is the most dangerous enemy they face, despite both Renly and Robb Stark possessing larger armies.

But above all, there is one reason that so many book readers love the One True King. When the Night's Watch called for help, and revealed that the greatest threat to ever face the realm, The Others, had returned, only one of the great lords of westeros turned his banners northward. Only one of the then three Kings came to aid the Watchers on the Wall. Stannis the Mannis. (Thanks in part go to his hand, the Great Lord Davos Seaworth).

There are few issues that those who read and those who watch are so divided upon as King Stannis. And honestly, if you've only ever watched the show, I can't blame you for not liking Stannis. I don't like the show version at all. And its not Stephen Dillane, who is doing an excellent job. Its the writing. Its Benioff and Weiss' faulty interpretation. Here they are talking about Stannis. They're saying other things, but what I hear is "oh my god we don't understand the guy who's probably the most straightforward character in the whole damn series":

Benioff: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=DaslqlBtSbc

Weiss: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWQMqaFm5X0&list=PL468A4537ECDC5466&feature=player_detailpage#t=259s

One of them says "well, he always wanted to be king." WHAT THE ABSOLUTE FUCK? Have you even read the books?

Anyone remember earlier this season when Melisandre left to go find Genndry (which, on its own, WTF, why?) Stannis groping at her on the beach, like a fucking lovesick high-schooler who's cool older girlfriend is going off to college, where you just know she's gonna bang frat guys. That's not Stannis. And then this week, the finale. Jeebus, wtf was that. Now, unlike many fellow Stannis supporters, I didn't need to her the quote about fighting to save the kingdom instead of fighting for it. I like that it in its original context of Stannis to Jon. But I didn't need to see Stannis only agreeing to go because of religion. Stannis is an atheist. Stannis never believes the Melisandre's leeches killed Robb Stark or Balon Greyjoy. He only later comes to embrace his role as the supposed Azor Azai, even if some such as myself and Maester Aemon believe it to be another. (Though I disagree with the great Maester on whom).

Here's a quote from my fellow reddit.com/r/asoiaf user /u/stauncho about how they've gotten Stannis so very, very wrong:
"I saw the post about why we shouldn't worry about Stannis in the show, and I'd like to give my two cents. Stannis has always been among my favorite characters, and I've been pretty distraught about what I saw last night. Feel free to correct me if I've gotten the order of what my recollection of the books incorrect.
One of the major themes of ASOIAF is that of identity. Discovering ones identity, losing ones identity , rediscovery of ones identity. We saw it with Jaime, a man who once had this admirable view of knights and "the system" and then was jaded by how he was treated by Aerys and then later Ned and the whole realm for branding him as dishonorable for the most honorable act he believes he did. We saw it with Arya, as who she was slowly fades away into someone else, desperately trying to hold on to the last thing that makes her Arya Stark. We see it with Jon as he tries to make his own identity as a man of the Night's Watch and not just some bastard. We see it with Sansa, we see it with Tyrion, we see it Dany.
We also see it with Stannis. After the Blackwater, he's filled with self doubt. He agonizes about whether to sacrifice Edric Storm. He knows its wrong, but he's desperate. He's desperate for anything that can get him back in the game and give him the opportunity to get what he believes is his, the Iron Throne. He doubts Melisandre actually caused Robbs death or Balon's death. He's doesn't believe 100% in Melisandre but he's cornered an isn't sure if he has another choice.
But then, with the help of Davos (and we all know the quote), he rediscovers his identity. He's realizes he's the King, whether he has King's Landing or not. And as King, he has his duty. He doesn't wait to get confirmation of Rhllors power after Joff dies. No. He goes to the Wall because he is King and its his duty to protect the realm.
It has nothing to do with Rhllor or Melisandre. It has to do with him and his rediscovery of himself and what he lost at the Blackwater. Doing his duty.
Now, he's going to the Wall because Melisandre told him to go. Because Rhllor commands it. Stannis can go to the Wall and save it next season, but its tainted and its different now. Stannis' decision to go to the Wall was crucial to his own character growth and sadly, the show took that away from him. Even if he does rediscover himself later, his impetus to go to the Wall now appears to be forced and now show Stannis cannot be the Mannis." - /u/Stauncho

Well said ser.

One last thing from me. This show is really, really, pushing the powers of R'hllor's followers over those of the other gods. (Hopefully as Bran progresses north next season we'll see the power of the Old gods followers start to show a bit as well.) I'm not sure if thats their choice or something they're acting on as a hint from GRRM himself. But with the change in the Brotherhood without Banners from a Robin Hood gang to R'hllor's Holy Heroes, and the emergence of Stannis the Fanatic, its a little weird. But whatever they're doing, I want my Stannis back. I want the King who cared. I want to see the man that Ser Davos sees.
That said, I do not believe that Stannis will sit the Iron Throne at shows end, nor do I ever believe he will. But the chair does not make the King. Nor do I believe that Stannis is the Prince that was Promised (Jon Snow). I've even briefly entertained the idea that Stannis will be the 1000th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch at series end. But for now, for the next several seasons of television and at least one more book, if not two, I want to see the King Stannis we've read about.
-The Penguin

09 June 2013


Well folks, we made it. Another season draws to a close. Hopefully not too many of you were turned off of the show by the Red Wedding last week. Tonight, we learn the meaning of Mhysa. The word itself is Old Ghiscari for 'Mother', and in the books refers to a certain mother of Dragons. The title is bestowed upon her by the freed slaves of Yunkai. So we can expect to see that tonight. But what else can we expect? Several episodes this season have featured multiple meanings for their titles, and I personally believe that tonight will be another such. Theres been a ton of speculation about whether a certain character will appear tonight, and my vote is yes. I know that we didn't see her in book until the end, but the event happened three days after the Red Wedding. A related question to this, of course, is whether we'll see the Wolf Dream that finds her. I'd love to see a Stark child that isn't Bran warg, and Arya is either second or third most powerful amongst them, Jon Snow being the other, though the show has missed his abilities completely. While the Brotherhood could certainly stumble upon the requisite corpse without Nymeria, it'd be way cooler with her included. So we shall see.

Previously, on Game of Thrones:
Dany threatens Yunkai, then Jorah reports her victory. Jaime frees Brienne. Theon loses his little Kraken. Sam and Gilly make for the Night Fort, Tyrion and Sansa talk about their love life, and Jon Snow shows his true color. And it's Black. Bran wargs, and direwolves tear shit up, then Jon gets a face full of angry eagle. Bran and Rickon split up. Stannis drops the leeches into the fire, and Rob bites it hard. The Hound Ko's Arya, and Catelyn dies screaming. About what you expect. There are a few consequences of the Red Wedding still for us too see. Those of you who only watch the show were spared the terrible book version of Arya and the Hounds final interaction. One more speculation for tonight. Much to my dismay, a certain character with icy cold hands will be left out of this episode, possibly the series as a whole. But again, we shall see.

And we begin at the Twins. Roose Bolton looks out over the ramparts to see the dirty work being done. The Stark army burns down as the Freys and Boltons tear into them. And then we've got some Freys walking out chanting. What are they carrying? Oh shit.....thats Robb...and Grey Wind...Wow...thats brutal to let Arya see that.

Sansa and Tyrion are walking through the gardens. Its a seemingly normal interaction. This is a rather pleasant talk. And there's Pod. Looks like the Lannisters are about to learn some news. Joff seems rather happy. A little too happy. What a dick. Great interaction there. And Varys is enjoying this. Cersei is realizing now that she has no control over the lunatic. Oh, Joff. Yelling at your uncle is one thing. Yelling at Grandpappy, not a good idea. You might get the Rains of Castamere played as your lullaby. Even little shithead King's have a bedtime it seems. Oh Tyrion. You always make me laugh. Tywin is a scary man. "I'm in this world a little while longer." Just a little eh? Oh Tywin. And he ends with the zinger. Tywin is all about the family. It's a true statement, but he just goes about it in a slightly different way than someone would expect. And the shoe drops. Tywin has never forgive Tyrion for being born a dwarf, but more importantly for the fact that his mother, the one person Tywin ever loved, died in child birth. And now Tyrion has to deliver the news. Or did someone already tell her? Yup, she knows. But how?

Ah, the Nightfort. Largest castle on the wall. Abandoned for over 100 years. Rumored to be haunted, and home of the Rat Cook. The Rat Cook, interestingly enough, once broke Guest Right. The Gods turned him into a giant rat. One can only hope Walder Frey has a similar fate coming. The kitchen well goes quite deep, as Hodor finds out. But what else do we know about the Night Fort? We know that a certain Black Brother is making his way there, seeking a secret passage below. And now Bran tells the story I just mentioned. This deals not only with Guest Right, but foreshadows a certain pie the Manderly's love so much.

And now we get a conversation between Lord Walder and the Roose. Hah! Blackfish escaped! Excellent. This is a strange conversation. I'm almost expecting Roose to kill Frey here. No love between him and, well, anyone else. And the suprise drops. Oh that was a GREAT TRANSITION. Oh my god. Please tell me thats not Theons kraken he's eating. Oh lord. This show is almost making me like Ramsay. Lord this wrong but I'm laughing. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree here. Theon begs for death, but Ramsay's not done playing with his pet yet. I wonder if Alfie Allen read this far ahead when he signed up for the role. Wonder if he knew the torture was in his future. No, Theon isn't his name anymore. Theon still showing some balls for a man who doesn't have any. Yes, Reek. Reek, reek, it rhymes with meek.

Lets take a trip back to the Nightfort. Bran's hearing things. Could be the Night Cook coming back? There be ghost in this fortress. Oh my god, its a monster! Oh, just kidding. It's only Sam! And Gilly. Shame we didn't get the interaction between Summer and Samwell. Jojen's got some pretty specific insight to this. Also some pretty pessimistic thoughts on the matter. So who can stop them then Jojen? Maybe three dragons?

Meanwhile, on Pyke. Asha/Yara returns to Balon, and he gets a letter sealed with the Bolton Sigil. An ultimatum from Ramsay Snow. And a box. Oh, Asha, don't open that box. The patented Bolton Dick in a box. Interesting that Ramsay hasn't been legitimized yet. Asha is not pleased with her father here. Luckily, their disagreement won't last long. That was an interesting pause on the man with the scratched up eye there. Another Greyjoy perhaps? This is pretty badass. It'll never work, cause, you know, geography, but a great sentiment.

Samwell shares the obsidian with the Reeds. Good to know he's got more. Oh, noone has, eh Meera? How about Sam the motherfucking SLAYER! God I hope we see the gate. But of course we won't. God damnit. And so Bran is off to the North.

Stuck in jail? Davos can help! I love me some Davos Seaworth. Good personal interaction between two men born in the same terrible place. Davos wins the "who grew up in a shittier neighborhood" contest. Literally. I know GRRM has said many times there are shades of grey to every character, but Davos is one of the greatest men in the realm. Davos is one of several characters who seem to be losing sons in the tv adaptation. He's got five or six in the books, and one of the three who was at Blackwater survived. Well, I guess he can't help. Just wanted a chat.

Varys meeting with Shae now. I'm not really sure where this scene is going. Varys has already proven to be working against Littlefinger's plot to get Sansa out, but why would he meet with Sansa. Varys  continuuing the emphasis on family. He's trying to get Shae out of the city? WTF? I really don't know where this is going? Varys is trying to help Tyrion? This does play in his "for the realm" bit, but, I'm not really sure where this is going. Is Shae taking this as Tyrion sending a message? Ok, think i see where this is going now. Might be a nice setup for next seasons dramatic tweest.

Tyrion wants Pod to go drink for drink with him? Thats a terrible idea. And enter Cersei. This can't go well. Cersei still scheming to get out of her own marriage. Thats actually a pretty decent point for Cersei. Were Sansa to have a child, she'd at least have someone she truly loved, someone to be family. We're getting the emotional Cersei here tonight. She laments for the innocent babe Joffrey was, but I don't think thats all she's here to say. Or that is. Weird

And now we've got Arya and the Hound. A few of the Freys are mocking Catelyn openly. Revealing the identity of Cat's killer. Black Walder, the worst of the Freys. Arya pulls out the Iron Coin and gets all stabby. And then the Hound lays the smack down. Three Freys are no match for Sandor Clegane. And she stole the knife from the Hound. Hah. Excellent. This is, I hope, just a foreshadowing of a future stabbing event. Ok, I've got to rant for a second here. Yes, in the tv show, this is the first "man" she's killed. (She stabbed a boy in the stables of King's Landing. But its not supposed to be. She's supposed to have killed a guard to escape Harrenhal. And the Hound lays the foundation for the future adventures of Arya and Sandor. To be continued next season.

Jon's looking pretty grim. OH MY GOD. Ygritte? What? Why? No. No. No. She should not be here. How did she get away from Tormund. How did she catch him on foot when he's RIDING A HORSE. Oh, you really do know nothing Jon Snow. Why would you say that? You just told her what you are, but you know that being what you are, you can't love her. In the shoulder? Really? Ok, theres the leg shot. Damn. Three arrows. And I thought I'd had some bad breakups.

Oh Sam, you really didn't just say that to Maester Aemon, did you? You don't say "I know how this must look to a BLIND MAN. Not for many years, but he once was. Interestingly enough, they renounce all titles except Maester. Theres an unneccesary e in there. No, his name is not Sam. He cannot have a name until his second name day. Well said Samwell. Well said indeed. 500? I thought it was 300. Might just be my mistake. This time, Samwell, don't forget to attach the letters. I know you sent the Ravens from the fist, even if the god damn show fucked it up.

God damn that was one fast Raven. Davos continues to progress in his learnings. Oh, well, guess that wasn't THE letter. But soon I hope. Oh Shireen. No creepy songs today please. I love that Davos dismisses the name-day invitation instantly. King Stannis does not party. Ah, good, Davos is the Hand again. That is the letter. The bells ring out, but why? What is Melisandre burning now? Are they ringing for Robb? Are they really going to leave out Stannis' line about the Red Wedding being Frey's work? Thats upsetting. He's much more of a fanatic than in the books. Show me my Mannis. Show me the one true king. The King I can follow. The King who cares! Great juxtaposition for this shot, the angel and the devil on the King's shoulders.  If only Davos knew a smuggler. Oh, right. Definitely a different approach than having Sallador Saan smuggle Edric to Braavos. Haha. Well spoken Ser.

And Jon made it back! Oh hey, look, its Pyp. Shortest scene ever.

Meanwhile, Jame Lannister isback in King's Landing. At least I assume it's Kings Landing. He seems to have lost his Bolton escort. This is so very, very wrong. So wrong. No sex in the sept, no Loras confronting Brienne. Wow, really Cersei? Just gonna stare at him, after all this?

Davos faces the music for his crimes now. Well played indeed Ser Davos. Now Stannis, become the King who cares. Become the King you were meant to be. And Lady Melisandre, this is your time. This is your god's war. Yes! And the Lady Melisandre supports the Onion Knight. Yes, he has a part to play. The part of rescuing Lord Rickon Stark from Skagos. ANd when I say rescuing, of course, I mean carrying his army back. Holy crap Stannis smiled. And Davos gets the death glare from Melly. That scene was all sorts of wrong, but at least they're going to the right location.

And finally we see the Mhysa. She's standing on a rock outside Yunkai, with all her advisors. Barristan still not wearing armor. Interesting choice. And oh man what a muddled mass. The freed slaves of Yunkai. The Unsullied adopt a defenseive position, and we heard a Dragon yell, but don't see it. Interesting. This has been a big episode for titles. King Stannis used his full one, and now Dany finally gets most of her true style. All these slaves need to know at least. And now, the following of House Targaryen grows. Ah, there are the Dragons. Man, they are well behaved today. Just sitting still, listening to mommy. That won't last. Interesting choice to place them out like that. She probably should have added "don't eat the nice people" to that command. Man, spotting the Targaryen is not hard in this crowd. Barristan sems to think he's made the right choice. A queen he can follow. Excellent use of the vocal music here, especially playing the theme underneath. Thats alot of slaves.

Ok, I really hope they're about to pull a Marvel on us. No way they can end it like that. I wonder what they're saying, but its sung to the theme song music here. Still a bit of time on the DVR bar here....intersting. I'll buy the soundtrack just for this song. Ok, I was gonna buy it for "The Bear and the Maiden Fair" anyway, and maybe get that sick instrumental version of Castamere from last episode. Wow. Fuck you HBO. They're really ending it that way. You've got to be kidding me. So you make the time slot for the episode an hour and 10 minutes so we can get an extra ten minutes of commericals for your other shows? Fuck that noise.

I'm really, really, upset we didnt' see anything at all relating to Lady Stoneheart here. She is the ultimate "Mhysa" character. There is noone, and I mean noone, in all of GRRM's writing who is more defined by being a mother than Catelyn Stark. You show us Robb's fate, you show us the wrap up at the Twins, but leave out her "Tully Funeral" and Lord Berric finding the body? Thats just wrong. Should have been part of the wrap up for that arc. It has no place in a season premiere, and certainly won't be part of episode two next season, so we're going to have to wait quite some time for this. Don't get me wrong, I didn't want to see the full on Lady Stoneheart effect, but it would have been great to see Nymeria, and have Arya know her mother's fate, and Berric and the Brotherhood coming across a corpse in the river.

But I digress. There was mostly good this episode. Some bad. Some things I just for the life of me don't understand why they did it. But honestly, this season was the redemption for this show. I decided at the end of Season two, atrocity that it was, to give the show one more year, one more try. And I wasn't disapointed.

And now, a little feature I'm borrowing from the Talking Dead. Lets take a moment to think back on those (important ones anyway) we've lost this season:

Hoster Tully: Died without ever being seen on screen alive. But, on the upside, Robb and Catelyn finally decided to show up at Riverrun. Better late than never.

Craster: He may have been a bastard, and he may have given his sons to the Others, but he was, for his part, a friend to the Watch.

Lord Commander Jeor Mormont: Affectionately known as the Old Bear, the 997th Lord Commadner of the Night's Watch was killed by his own men, a horrible way to go. Sadly, we never heard his dying wish, that his son Jorah follow in his stead and take the black. And now his watch has ended.

The Lannister Boys: Two young squires, murdered by Rickard Karstark. Which of course led to

Rickard Karstark: You knew things were going to go downhill for the King in the North when he was forced to execute one of his own Bannermen for killing Lannisters. But Karstark deserved his sentence, and true to his father, Robb carried out the punishment himself.

Vargo Hoat: Killed by omission. We will now never have the glory of trying to understand 'kingthlayerth' or Jaime's classic "maybe I just wanted to hear him say 'Thappireth'.

Berric Dondarrion: We've lost count of how many times. 5? 6? Only R'hllor knows. Most recently died at the sword of Sandor Clegane during a trial by combat, giving House Clegane a clean sweep vs House Dondarrion
Queen Talisa Stark: The Lady of Winterfell, though she never saw its walls. I'll admit, I hated her, and hated her change in the story (and still kind of do), but to find out I was wrong, and she truly loved Robb, was a nice twist to the terrible events of the Red Wedding. Telling us she wanted to name her child Eddard before she died just twisted the knife a little more.

Wendel Manderly: The physical stand-in for all the bannermen unseen on tv. The SmallJon, Dacey Mormont, and more. The North Remembers, and so will your father.

The 6th? 8th? Who cares, I've lost count, Lady Frey: Replacing the fool Aegon Frey for Catelyn's final attempt to save Robb, and an effective one at that.

Grey Wind: Robb Stark's loyal direwolf. Grey Wind joins his sister Lady in death. He was Robb Stark's most loyal and true friend.

Catelyn Tully*: Ned Stark's widow. A heartbreaking death, even for those who never really liked her, myself included. There is just no word to describe what she lived through. When Catelyn died, she believed she had one living child remaining, though at least the show spared her the knowledge of Sansa's marriage. Her boys were dead at the hands of the ward she watcher her husband raise, her younger daughter missing, and in the final moments of her life, she watched as her son's own Bannerman stabbed him through the heart.

Robb Stark: The King in the North, aka The Young Wolf. Robb Stark won every battle, but lost the war. HIs streak of victories on the battlefield was tempered only by his streak of defeats on the home front. His blunders away from the fight cost him his home, his kingdom, and his life.
Honorable Mention:
Jaime Lannister's Sword Hand: Who is Ser Jaime now? Was he just a sword hand? Or more? We'll find out soon, I feel, even though he's NOT supposed to be back in King's Landing yet.

'Little Theon' aka 'The Kraken': There are very few people in the world who deserve to have their dick cut off. Theon Greyjoy is probably one of them.

Well, thats it for Game of Thrones till next may. Season 4 will continue the story of 'A Storm of Swords', GRRM's 3rd book. I feel they may have to introduce a little of the next book for some characters, but there is alot of action to come next season. At least two massive battles at the wall, a wedding in King's Landing,  a trial in King's landing, and the best one vs one fight of the series, except for the ending. We'll also find out if Tywin Lannister does in fact, shit gold. The Wall needs a new Lord Commander to go with the King they're about to get. There are two deaths next season that will make you hurt, but one that will make you cheer with glee, and another that will probably shock the hell out of you.

Until then, read the books. For the first time, or the tenth. And I'll keep you posted as I hear casting rumors. Goodnight all. The North Remembers, and so shall we.
- The Penguin

03 June 2013

Its a nice day for red wedding day.....

Here we are folks. Episode 9. Always a climax, always an epic moment. In season 1, poor dead Ned lost his head beneath blessed Baelor's sept, after sacrificing his honor for his daughters. Season 2 gave us the epic battle of Blackwater Rush, and a healthy fear of wildfire. "Those are brave men at our gates, LETS GO KILL THEM!" Now, we have season 3.The title of this episode, The Reynes of Castamere. I know whats happening, and I know that most readers of this blog do as well, but for the love of god, if you don't stop reading now, or I'll tell you how successful the Young Wolf's conquest of Lannisport is. Oh lords I wish that were true. Lets begin, shall we. I hope you've all got your tissues, or handkerchiefs ready. You'll need them.

Previously, on Game of Thrones:
Osha doesn't trust Jojen, but Bran's starting to. Osha fears returning north of the wall. Jon fears for Ygrittes life, and she begins to suspect his loyalties. Robb explains his strategy to Talisa, and bargains his uncle for a marriage to a Frey. Dany takes a bath, and Daario creeps on her, swearing his army. The Hound takes Arya to the Twins for the wedding, hoping to see the little girl traded for gold. The weather is slogging the wedding procession down, and Cat reminds us all how prickly Lord Walder can be. And lastly, Sam the Slayer discovers what happens when you add 1 part Dragonglass to 1 part other, proving him craven no more. Or a little less anyhow.

I just caught the Inn at the Crossroads in the credits. I'm not sure if thats been there or not, but its a cool touch. And, we have a new castle tonight, the Twins, seat of House Frey of the Crossing. The Freys are a young house, compared to the 7 great houses and many others, and Lord Walder has always been prickly about this. He's prone to slight quickly, and does not suffer insults. Though sworn to Riverrun and the Tullys, when Lord Hoster called his banners to support Robert's rebellion, Lord Walder only stirred himself to arrive at the Battle of the Trident, and even then only as the battle ended. The Late Lord Frey would hence be his nickname. And as we all know, when Robb Stark wanted to bring his northern army to lift the siege of Riverrun, not only had Walder Frey not yet stirred his armies to aid Riverrun, he delayed the Stark's crossing, only agreeing to add his strength to the Young Wolf's when he had been promised two marriage contracts, both Robb and Arya. One last note on the title sequence. I wonder how long they continue to keep Winterfell in the mix. No other castle has remained in the sequence after it became of less import. And there is noone in Winterfell now, only smoking ruins and a proud, lonely weirwood.

I hope you all memorized the lyrics to the Reynes of Castamere. At least the melody. There will be a test later.

We open with Robb explaining his battle plans to Catelyn Stark. He feels that when he's ignored her advice, he's been very wrong. See also Greyjoy, Theon. So now, he wants his mother's council. Enjoy it while you....well, nevermind. I wonder where I can get my hands on a sweet set of War markers like Robbs. Those things are epic. And Catelyn wants blood. Oh look, Greywind. Its almost like they forgot about him. And here we see him leading the armies to the Twins, but of course, no savaging of Freys. I guess they didn't  want to give up any more hints. This is a very literal application of the "bread and salt" part of Guest Right. This is going to be a very important factor in the reactions of many this evening, I'll explain more later. Lord Frey rightly insists that the King in the North apologize to his many daughters and granddaughters, of whom he was to have had his pick. Edmure looking very nervous at this parade of less than attractive women, wondering which is his. Blackfish giving him a good look there. An excellent apology, nearly word for word from the book. And Argus Filch, errr..I mean, Walder Frey seems pleased. And now he's going to totally creep out on Queen Talisa. This is the big departure from the books. Robb leaves Queen Jeyne behind at Riverrun under the protection of Brynden Tully. He knows that even if Jeyne could have suffered Walder's insults, he would likely have killed the old man for them, and well, that wouldn't have helped his apology any. Walder totally is eye-fucking Talisa here, and whoa..."I can always see whats going on under a dress". Thats either high level creep, or the old fuck somehow knows Talisa is preggers. Robb is holding that sword very tightly. "I say he betrayed me for firm tits and a tight fit. And I can respect that." Almost enough to make you like Lord Walder. Whoa..Walder stood up. Thats not right. In the books the old bastard is so taken by gout he can't rise from a chair.

And we take a break from the Twins to cross the Narrow Sea to Slaver's Bay. The Unsullied guard the camps as Daario explains his plan to Dany. Jorah clearly doesn't like this guy, especially with his smooth touching of the Khaleesi's hand. I understand they didnt want the crazy hair for Daario, but they could have at least given him his forked beard. Grey Worm gets his first chance to speak on the council. Barristan Wan-Selmy wants to go along, but the Bear won't hear it. They continue their dick measuring contest from two episodes ago.

North of the Wall, Sam continues to bore the shit out of Gilly talking history. Whoa...whoa...whoa....Sam knows about the Black Gate? What the absolute fuck? Are we not going to get to see Coldhands? I've been waiting all season for that reveal! I swear to R'hllor, that is one exclusion that cannot stand. The Black Gate is a magical gate that only opens for a Brother of the Night's Watch, one who has said the words. Cold Hands takes Sam and Gilly there in the books, and they meet another interesting group of travelers. No Gilly, he's nothing like a wizard. He's just a giant fucking nerd. Which is not a bad thing.

Meanwhile, Arya and the Hound stop to obtain the cart they'll need to sneak into the Wedding. This poor bastards got the Westerosi equivalent of a flat tire. Holy hells Sandor is strong. And theres the KO. Haha. I love these two. And there's Arya with the follow up KO. Who's too kind now burned face?

And now we check in with Bran, Rickon, Hodor, Osha, Jojen and Meera. And now we're going to disparage Wildings right in front of Osha. Hehe. Drinking out of your skull. Might we have a Skagos reference. Wait, hold on. Is that busted up, landlocked tower supposed to be Queenscrown? Seriously? Man, I was really looking forward to that insane visual.

And as we cut to the Wildlings, looks like I'll be right. Tormund and Orell rally their troops to take on......one single old man. Such brave heroes these wildlings are. And I just HAR'd out loud at Tormunds face when Jon suggested not killing the horse merchant. Silly crow. This is a good time to mention how curious I am about the continuation of Tormund's story. He's got to be north of the wall again, but I dont know how they get him there. Why on earth they replaced him with the Magnar of Thenn for this sequence, I'll never now. But I digress. Oddly enough the Wildlings seem to be dressed just as warmly here on the Gift as they were north of the wall. I know its not warm, but they've got to be sweating their asses off in those furs. Jon pulls off a nice distraction to warn the horses, then get Ygritte to miss her shot. How his life would be simpler if he hadn't.

Back to the Riverlands, Arya is within sight of the Twins. So close, after all this time. She hasn't seen a member of her family since her father was beheaded. I'm really looking forward to more time for these two together. The Hound munching down on some pigs feet here. Playing with his food before he eats it. Ballsy, Arya. Throwing the Hounds past right back in his face. Well, at least the right side of his face anyway, if you catch my drift. Thats one hell of a death threat little girl. Shame how thats going to work out.

Yup. Earlier fears confirmed, this is in fact, Queenscrown. Ok, I'm going to go off on a little rant here. In the books, Queenscrown is a tower in the New Gift, named so because Queen Alysayne, wife of Jahaerys the Concilliator, considered one of the greatest Targ kings, stayed in the tower one night. It is a tall, strong tower, in the MIDDLE OF A LAKE. This tv equivalent is, of course, landlocked. Why is this important you ask? Well, moments from now, Bran, Jojen, and company are going to have people outside their tower. Its pouring out. Why wouldn't they go shelter in this stone tower? Simply put, in the books, its because they can't get there. The Tower has a path to it, but the path is of submerged stone, and has many turns and twists, so only those going carefully and who know the secret can make it out to the center of the lake. Which keeps them safe from these aforementioned people. Alright. I'm done for the moment. Just a quick thought folks. From here on out, we're probably looking at nothing but non-stop action and excitement. This is the time to take a break if you need one.

And we continue planning the Stark/Reed vacation to the wall. Its a stormy night, and Hodor clearly doesn't enjoy the thunder. I love Meera's optimism. And here we have the horse merchant, surrounded by Tormund's men. What's that, the Direwolves are outside. Convenient. Orell thinks he hears something in the tower, and OH YES! Bran with the Hodor Warg. Thats supposed to be nearly impossible, as well as kind of a mind rape, to take another man's consciousness over. The theme of the night is Stark near misses. See, heres the issue with the tower being landlocked. Orell thinks he heard shouting. Tormund says its thunder. Heres an idea, its ten feet away, go frikkin look inside. Besides, you're wildlings, and theres probably treasure. There is no reason not to. Except that the plot demands they don't. So therefore, they should have kept the tower far away, in the lake where it belongs. Tormund carries one hell of a sword. Kind of half machete half scimitar. And ooh, look, direwolves. Orell wants Jon to do the murdering to prove his worth. Which falls under the command that he was given by Quorin. Jojen knows that Bran just warged Hodor, now he'll finally voluntarily slip into Summer. Jon hesitates to kill the man, but doesn't say anything. Why not just a simple, "where's the honor in killing an old man?" Ygritte gets tired of waiting, and arrow to the heart. Tormund calls for the kill, and Jon reacts instantly, shoving her to the ground and turning his steel on Orell. Intersting that Ygritte was going to fire on another for Jon. The things we do for love. Jojen nearly has Bran convinced. Tormund seems intent on keeping Ygritte out of this fight, instead of himself in it, which is very very odd. There goes Bran, and Jon's got allies! Summer and Shaggy join the fray, Orell looks away for an instant, and YES! Jon slides Valyrian Steel into the scum's belly. I love that line. "You were right the whole time." And oh shit, Orell wargs out at the last second, which supports the Varamyr/Jon death wargs, and oh man. Jon gets mauled by the bird, which was supposed to happen north of the wall, but oh well. Wait, what the fuck? Why isn't shooting? SHOOT HIM! Wow. Missed moment there. in the books, as Jon runs, he gets shot in the leg. He later pulls out the arrow and realizes that its Ygrittes fletching pattern. She shot him. But oh the feels on her face there. And the emotional mess that this episode will become is on its way.

Taking a break from Wildlings and Wargs, we're back to Yunkai. That is the worst defended gate in the world. Even if Daario wasn't allowed in, he could have just killed the one solitary guard and walked in. Well ok, another one inside, but still. Famous last words Daario. And now we get to see Grey Worm fight! And Daario, but forget that guy. I want to see the master of the Unsullied kick some ass, and I am not disappointed. Wow. Thats alot of guards. And of course, we cut away.

Back to the Twins! We've got some reveling and wrestling outside, as the troops get a well deserved rest from war. Inside, we see the wedding. Lord Bolton has rejoined Robb, and oh my, is that a Manderly? Ser Wendel I presume, as Ser Willis is held captive elsewhere. Lord Walder escorts his daughter Roslin in, and well, my oh my. Edmure got lucky. She's a beauty. Walder gives Robb a great, 'you could have had that' look. The Blackfish gets some admiring looks from the other young lady Freys, but he's not enjoying the view. Thats definitely the emblem of the Lords of White Harbor on that fat, mustachio'd man's chest. Good to finally see at least one of the other Northern lords, though its far too little too late. We tv viewers have been robbed of the excellent additions of such characters as the Greatjon, the Smalljon, Darcy and Maege Mormont (yes, that Mormont),  Ser Willis and Ser Wendel, Jason Mallister, and so forth. It will make tonight's wedding a little less personal than it could be.

Back at 'Queenscrown' the Wildlings have moved on, apparently without bothering to search the giant fucking stone tower ten feet away from them. Bran is reflecting on his newly discovered (And far too late, if you ask me) Warging abilities. And here it comes. This moment is long overdue. The books had the brothers Stark split at Winterfell, so that no one foe could take out both of them. Rickon has had more dialogue this episode than he did in three books. Gut wrenching moment for the little boy. They're going to Last Hearth you say? Home of the Umbers. Interesting. Greatjon and his heir are at the Wedding, so its now held by his Uncles (Brothers?) Moars Crowfoot and Whoresbane. Poor Rickon. I feel for the little guy. Interesting to see how much of those two we'll see going forward. In the books, we have not seen them at all. But GRRM has said how impressed he was with Natalie Tena's Osha, so perhaps we'll get some adventures.

Dany grows impatient, and just as Ser Barristan tires of her questions, Jorah and Grey Worm return. The slaves of Yunkai have surrendered. And of course, Jorah is beat up, and all Dany wants is her frikkin pretty boy. I think i just saw Jorah's heart break in his eyes. Poor bear. Daario brings her the Harpy Flag, and two thirds of Slavers bay now belongs to the Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea.

And now its wedding time. We're going to be spending the rest of the episode at the Twins, if I'm not mistaken. A nice shot of the wedding band, which rumor has it includes at least one member of Coldplay, for some reason I'll never know. They're quite good, which they're not supposed to be. I do enjoy this rendition of the Bear and the Maiden Fair. Everyone's happy, even Lame Lothar. Even Roose looks like he might smile. Roose is a cold and calculating businessman. And Blackfish is apparently playing the role of the Greatjon. Don't insult him she says. Like its not a little late for that? And now its time for the BEDDING! We didn't get to see this for Tyrion and Sansa, so now the audience gets their first taste of this baudy ritual. The men drag the lady off, tearing at her clothes, and the ladies lead the man off doing the same. Edmure is quite proud of his "floppy fish" shall we say. Roose again gets great lines in. Almost making himself likeable before the end. I'm not sure if that line about Ned is in the books, but I love it. Talisa reminds us she's pregnant, and oh boy, does that hit you right in the feels. "Don't you want to teach little Ned stark how to ride horses."
Say, why are you closing that door. If you don't recognize this song, its the oft mentioned 'Reynes of Castamere'. Seems an odd choice for now. But its a signal. Quick cut to Grey Wind, locked in a Kennel and obviously unhappy about it. Oh man. I'm not sure I'll be able to handle this. You all know whats happening next, or are in for one hell of a shock. Either way, for once, I just want to watch this. I'll rejoin you all in about ten minutes. May the Old Gods forever bless the King in the North.......

 Well....holy fucking shit. Thats about all that can be said right. I'm sorry I ever doubted Talisa's role in all this. I'm very glad, in the end, that they did not end things for Arya the same way the book did. I don't think I could have handled that. Hits you right in the feels. So close. oh so close. And then GRRM strikes again. I loved Catelyn at the end. I've never liked that character, until right then. Excellent choice of the 8th Lady Frey as her target instead of Jinglebell, or whatever the fuck Aegon Frey is called. Roose's smug face when Catelyn found him out was unreal. His stabbing of Robb could have been a little better. I really wanted the pink cloak to appear, just once, and I also pictured it as a sword from behind. I understand the reasons for the change from "Jaime Lannister" to "The Lannisters" also, since show viewers might otherwise have thought Jaime complicit in this disgusting farce, which we know he would not be, even before he began his turn to honor.

So remember earlier I mentioned Guest Right? Thats the key to this. Lord Walder gave them bread and salt, literally in this case, therefore declaring them guests and under his protection. So long as this was the case, neither he nor they could do harm against the other side. It is a sacred and ancient custom, that GRRM actually pulled from real world historical truth. The Scots were a big proponent of Guest Right, though not the only ones. So by breaking this rule, the Freys have now become tainted in the eyes of Gods and Men. No man is as accursed as he who breaks guest right, save Kinslayers. The Freys were always the low-budget, white trash house of the Seven Kingdoms now, but they're upjumping via alliances. This, however will not help how they are viewed. And Lord Walder, the North Remembers.

A few last thoughts, before I close out. Where is the Blackfish? He left before the hall was sealed. In the books, as I mentioned earlier, he is not at the Wedding, so he should have survived to hold Riverrun against the Lannister/Frey siege later on. Also, I'd like to say Thank you to Richard Madden, who's portrayal of Robb Stark is now at an end. Madden truly made us care for and root for the Young Wolf, who won every battle but lost the war. And even though we're hardly done with him, Kudos also to Michael McElhatton, who's portrayal of the Lord of the Dreadfort this evening was excellent. I look forward to seeing him and his bastard sharing screen time in the future, though not as much as I do to Stannis the Mannis and Lord Snow laying the fucking smackdown on House Bolton so hard they go the way of the Tarbecks and the Reynes. 

Until next week, remember, Winter is Coming.