Vinnie: So Brienne meeting Sansa and Littlefinger in the inn was a little confusing for me because HOW DO I ACT SUPERIOR WHEN IT DIDN’T HAPPEN IN THE BOOKS? I have glimpsed my future in which the TV show surpasses George RR, and it is a dark one.
Drew: Oh come on, Vinnie. First off, you KNOW you’re supposed to preface this whole tirade with “AS SOMEONE WHO HAS READ THE BOOKS,” otherwise George RR won’t feel a disruption in the force.
But when you say the show is surpassing its creator, do you mean that this scene was better than how the plot goes in a Song of Fire and Ice? Or just that it’s adding supplementary material and maybe becoming a larger story than what the books have already laid down? I don’t know where I fall about some of the stuff they’ve changed, but having Brienne find and fail to entice both Stark girls back to–yeah, where does she think she’s going to put them again? King’s Landing? That’s literally the opposite of what Catelyn asked her to do–wherever adds this really poignant hopelessness to this Don Quixote quest. As Littlefinger notes, this glass ceiling that Brienne thinks she’s shattering with her asexual lady knight thing is still rock solid as ever, thanks to the fact that she’s consistently proving the point that she’s terrible at doing knight stuff. Everyone under her protection has died, basically, or lost a limb, or had to save her from being eaten by a bear. At first Brienne was all stoic and noble, but I think her seams are fraying at this point, and she’s doubting herself and acting recklessly.
Vinnie: So Brienne has gone…insane? Maybe a little insane? Twice she has run across a Stark girl, and twice they’ve been quite reasonable, stating “yeah, I’d rather just not go with you, actually.” And twice Brienne’s response has been “THEN I WILL SLAUGHTER YOUR COMPANIONS.” Yeah, Petyr Baelish is creepy and all that, and Brienne asks Pod “Do you think she is safe with Littlefinger?” I mean, she’s not currently NOT safe, as far as Starks go.
Drew: Not only is Sansa safe, but she arguable saved Brienne’s life by telling her to GTFO. I missed it the first time around, but that sort of meaningful look she gives when she tells Brienne’s to go is her way of signaling that her self-named savior is the one whose in danger. But it’s so subtle and you can read it either way: like old Sansa might have just been saying “Be gone with you, peasant!” which is probably how Littlefinger interpreted it. But I think that the show is making New Sansa a lot more aware of what’s going on: not necessarily that she knows what Littlefinger intends for her, but that at this point she’s developed a Spidey Sense for shadiness and bad situations. She also knows what Littlefinger is capable of–she’s seen him straight murder her friends and family–but she also knows that he’s got this obsession with her. And as anyone who has ever Friend-Zoned a faculty advisor instead of going through the motions of finding someone else willing to let you write your senior thesis on Transitional Media can tell you, there’s power in being the object of someone’s affections. She doesn’t know for sure that Littlefinger won’t kill her, but that’s a hell of a lot better odds than returning to Cersei, who most certainly would.
Vinnie: So obviously that screenplay I wrote about Bronn and Jaime going on a buddy road trip (working title: Thenns, Rains, and Dragonmobiles) is useless, because it’s happening on the show now. No complaints, because that is a team-up I am ON BOARD with.
Drew: I don’t know man, this show is so big on it’s buddy road trips. It felt cute the first time, when it was Bronn and Tyrion and Vulture made that awesome mashup of their BFF-ness. But between Catelyn and Brienne, Brienne and Jaime, Jon and Sam, Theon and Ramsay (that time where Ramsay pretended he was a janitor and let Theon believe he escaped), Arya and the Hound and a billion other that I’m forgetting, this season feels like it’s just some Internet dweeb’s slash fic. “Ooh, what if Varys and Tyrion took a trip together and…like, Tyrion gets really drunk one night and asks–just for academic purposes!–if he can see Vary’s little spider for close up…” But you’ve got that with every character: Sansa and Littlefinger, Brienne and Pod, Jaime and Bronn, Stannis and Mr. Onion Guy Whose Name I Always Forget.”
It kind of bugs me because it seems lazy. It’s like if every Breaking Bad episode was the one where Mike takes Jesse on a field trip and let’s him believe he was the hero for thwarting the robbery. (Which is literally something that Jaime once let Tyrion do. Coincidence???)
Vinnie: Not sure I liked seeing Bronn in a suave-ass cape though. It felt wrong, like seeing Mike from Breaking Bad in a dress. I did like Jaime’s sweet leather jacket though. Jaime Dean, rebel without a hand.
Drew: Stop stealing my Breaking Bad jokes (JK). But this is for you anyway:
You know, we’ve been dodging this, but what do we think of Arya’s whole subplot with finally arriving in Braavos (right? That’s where they are? One of the other cities guarded by a reject statue from LOST?) (Follow-up question: how close are they to Dany in Meereen? Or Varys and Tyrion at Pentos?) (Follow-follow-up question: I found a map, NVM.)
Ahhhh..that’s so many cities I haven’t even heard of yet. Also: no taking away from the opening credits, but if I–SOMEONE WHO HAS READ THE BOOKS–still can’t figure out where all this shit is in relation to each other, maybe that’s on you? Here is basically how I tell landmasses apart on this show:
Desert + people of color = Slavery Bay; wherever Dany is. (Oh heeeey that’s actually REALLY NEAR WATER. Why does it look like the desert??)
Bustling ports with Venice-type waterways: Braavos and Pentos; Arya, Tyrion and Varys (respectively)
Snowy, large wall = The Wall, Jon Snow
Medieval Metropolitan = King’s Landing; Cersei
Woods, fields, mild climate, always slightly overcast = Where most other characters are
Okay! So, now that that’s established….every other confusing thing about Arya’s storyline!
A) Two seasons ago she saved this guy “Jaqen H’ghar,” except that wasn’t his real name (or face): he was actually part of this secret assassin group that live in Braavos who somehow was so bad at being a ninja he keeps getting caught by different warring factions in Westeros.
B) For her kindness, Jaqen says he’ll kill three people for Arya. Weirdly, he referenced the Red God as owing her a debt (you know, the one gaining all the popularity in Westeros right now, but is more of an Essos thing), even though the Faceless Men already HAVE a god, the Many-Faced God.
C) He ALSO gave her an iron coin and a High Valyrian catchphrase, ” “Valar Morghulis,” which means “All Men Must Die.” It pretty much encapsulates Arya’s whole worldview. Perf.
D) If you give one of those iron coins to someone from Braavos and say the special phrase, they have to respond, ” Valar Dohaeris” (“All men must serve”). Awesomely, I just Googled the specifics and was directed to my own recap.
E) These Faceless Men have a temple called The House of Black and White, located in Braavos.
G) At the end of last season, Arya used her coin to be taken there. Now at the House, she’s not even allowed in, which is hilariously anticlimatic and 1000 percent what the experience of reading these books are like.
The hardest part for me to understand is how Arya GETS TO KEEP THE COIN. Shouldn’t it be good for one wish only? Didn’t that captain who brought her across the ocean want it for his troubles?
Arya clearly wants to dedicate her life to being a contract killer. She’s like Jason Statham, but with better hair.
Vinnie: Well then, now that all that is…cleared up…my thoughts? I think if that Jaquen Hrothgar guy wanted to test Arya there was a better way to do it than answering the door with a different face and being like “nope, sorry.” Then later being like “JUST KIDDING, you can come in now here’s your coin back.” What’s the training like INSIDE the house? An extended game of “I’m thinking of a number between 1 and 10?”
Anyway, the Water Gardens of Dorne sure are pretty, but they’re really dragging out the first appearance of the Sand Snakes, huh? At least we met Ellaria Sand’s new hair cut and Oberyn’s brother Doran, who is a lot less sickly then in the books. “We don’t mutilate little girls for vengeance,” he says, referring to Myrcella. I wish he had pointed and the camera panned over to a sign that said “No Mutilating Little Girls For Vengeance.”
Drew: I mean he’s just crippled, right? Also I love how Myrcella is just running her GAME out there. Dorne is another one of those desert places, but it’s still in Westeros (let’s double check that!) or at least the same land mass, so that makes it…Miami? Or like Burbank? Because those water gardens are only opulent if it’s like, the only water around for MILES.
Also, I feel like Ellaria just took a picture of Juliette Lewis to her face stylist (def a thing) and was like: “I want that. But with HAND SPIDERS.”
Vinnie: Another thing, it says a lot about how I feel about Daario that the coolest thing he has ever done is viciously stab a wall.
Drew: Um are we forgetting the epic three way fight into *some fucking place* with Greyworm and Jorah two seasons ago? It was like the most epic portrayal of *some fucking shit in the book.* To be fair, that was a DIFFERENT Daario.
Vinnie: “Yes, be careful. You might actually consume some solid food.” It’s only two episodes in but Varys with the sass turned way up is owning this season.
Drew: Yeah he went from Oprah to RuPaul reeeeal quick. YAS BAE! (Still not old.)
Vinnie: Nothing in this world or the next will ever make me as happy as Sam straight ROASTING Janos Slynt. Now THAT is what men do. And I loved when the voting was tied, and Maester Aemon dropped that chip onto Jon’s slot. The place went nuts. It was the blind Targaryen Maester equivalent of dropping the mic. This whole scene was like a Westerosi version of Wild’N Out.
Drew: Ugh, but I hate hate HATE Jon Snow’s uber-sincere, surprised smile. It’s like he can’t even believe it, which at this point isn’t even humble, it’s totally naive. Everything about Jon Snow is just him graciously turning down somebody offering him a plush gig or Better Last Name (although technically, being a Stark right now is WAY WORSE for your health than being a bastard), and he’s all “oh no, I can’t even believe I’ve even been nominated, I didn’t prepare a speech or anything…” You ain’t J-Laws, Jon Snow. Shit ain’t cute.
Vinnie: If anyone out there hasn’t had the ABSOLUTE PLEASURE of attending a red carpet as a journalist, it looks and feels a lot like this.
Drew: This actually triggered a terribly traumatic flashback to 2013’s Met Costume Gala theme: Fucking Hell on Earth. Greta Gerwig was there, though.
Vinnie: But what do you think of Daenerys’ policy of “no killing without trial, unless someone is guilty of killing…without trial?”
Drew: Her and Bruce Wayne would make a great couple. If she was alive today, she’d be running for Senate in Texas, or like, Colorado. (But she’ll never get the 2016 nomination; her Free Cities Works bill is bullshit.)