A word on book versus show. Yes – I am known to be overly critical about these things. In my humble opinion, that’s half the fun – seeing (and sometimes hating on) how David Benioff and D. B. Weiss have adapted some pretty complex stuff to the small screen. Is it a perfect adaptation? Hell no! (I’m still mad about Grenn.) Is it fun to watch? Absolutely. Season 4, it’s been fun. Final recap – ho!!
I dug the whole show opener – the tent chat between Jon and Mance Radyr, the awesomely choreographed attack, and, of course, Stannis and Davos riding in to save the day. “Stannis the Mannis,” the internet has dubbed him. I mostly love him for Davos, but also appreciate Stannis and his ever-sulking presence. Dude is the first king to get his priorities straight – you have to save the kingdom in order to win it over.
Mance’s politics are not to be forgotten either – he just wants to get his people the hell out of north of the wall. “Winter is Coming.” In the worst ways. Which brings me to…
WHAT. THE. EVER. LOVING. HELL. Are those creepy skeleton things? Are we supposed to understand them to be wights (as in the zombies we have previously seen)? I mean, that was just some of the weirdest special effects I’ve seen in years. And as for the Children of the Forest… I half expected the little girl to say “Some call me… Tim” after throwing her little fire balls.
Poor Bran. Hikes (haha) across the frozen wastes only to find out that he will not, indeed, ever walk again. And at the cost of his friend! Jojen was another unexpected show death, though this was upsetting than others – the boy spends half the books mumbling “This is not the day I die,” while subsequently reminding us that his death is impending. Did he die a tad early? Sure. But eh, the plotline is boring anyway.
Now Bran and Meer and Hodor are with the Children of the Forest and, well, it gets kind of weird from here. It’s one of those things I can’t figure out how they are planning to wrap it up, or tie it to other story lines or anything. Perhaps he’ll learn to use his warg powers to jump into dragons.
Speaking of dragons… I’m wondering why Danerys, in all her great wisdom, doesn’t ensure that former slaves now have wages? Why can’t this old man be an employee, instead of a slave? Didn’t anyone think of that? Maybe that’s just naïve of me to think slaves would be hired as employees, but it seems like the case of the man who was respected and loved by his master would be able to receive SOME pay for his work. I don’t know. No matter what, it’s clear that she can’t keep her kingdom, her court, or her dragons under control. Drogon is missing and now killing kids, and her other scaly babies are all chained up. Something’s missing, be it a dragon tamer or council wiser than Ser Barristian.
More non-book frustrations! Brienne ACTUALLY finds Arya in the show, and gah, Brienne has never been great with people. She could have explained herself much better, but I guess her story has been convoluted between Catelyn and Jamie and no one really knows that Jamie is even a good guy besides her. But seven hells, was that a heck of a brawl between Brienne and the Hound. That ear bite! Those groin kicks! Yeesh.
This whole bit is almost preferable to the book, save for the ever-annoying frustration of the classic GRRM almost-save. I kinda wish Pod and Arya got chummy on the sidelines while Brienne and the Hound were fighting – hell, he could have showed her Hot Pie’s bread, if only they hadn’t conveniently lost the horses!
Oh, that heat breaking, pathetic begging between Sandor and Arya. Arya, stone cold, Sandor, most assuredly crippled and dying a slow death. Terrible way for them to part paths.
And now everyone’s favorite orphan is off to adventures across the Narrow Sea, to Braavos, the land of assassins and men who can change faces. Another rather odd storyline – and even harder to see how it will combine with the others – but her story is certainly very interesting. Can’t wait to see what happens.
In another turn that wasn’t quite explained in the books, it seems the Mountain will live. Oberyn’s last act was to stab him a few times with a poisoned blade – which, in A Storm of Swords, leaves Ser Gregor fevered and with a dubious future. The fact that Qyburn is experimenting on him on the show and assures his survival is more news that we received in the books. Will this “change” Qyburn talks of be yet another recasting for Clegane??
Cersei has regained some of her fire after spending a few episodes playing the dutiful daughter. Hell of a move, blackmailing your father with your incest with your brother. Though, I suppose none of this matters because…
One second, before I get to that part. Jamie is having some much chummier times in the show than the books. He’s spurned by Cersei and hated by Tyrion by the end of ASOS. At least he remains loved by the end of the season.
One thing I have to say – grief and hate rather broke Tyrion in the books, and he spends much of his next chapters wandering around muttering “Where do the whores go?” It’s all bitterer, as he is friendless, angry and alone. At least here he knows he has Jamie as an ally (and doesn’t end up feeling betrayed by him – I always hated how that went down in the book!), and he gets his retribution. It’s all very sad though. Especially the way he says “I’m sorry” after killing Shae.
Books, TV show, no matter how you spin it, it’s just so horrid that Shae gets with Tywin, who has always despised whores and ridiculed Tyrion for his adolescent mishap of accidentally loving and marrying a whore. For him to not only manipulate (and of course, she had some part in it!) but also screw Shae as part of some twisted way to get back at Tyrion… Just the worst.
His manipulation is incredible, how he tries to twist the situation in his favor with a mix of bullying, shame and compliments. “I’d never let them execute you. You’re my son.” Words he never would have said, were he not staring down a crossbow. And now he won’t be manipulating anyone anymore.
Hey guys, next season, can we get a new song besides “The Rains of Castamere?”
And now our watch has ended. Until season 5, folks!