Many fans (if not all) expected the season finale to end with a brief teaser of Lady Stoneheart, resurrected Catelyn Stark brought to life by The Lord of Light and Beric Dondarrion who gave his life for hers, building unparalleled amounts of hype and unforgettable cliffhanger for next year. It seemed like a perfect jaw dropping moment on which to end the season. After all, the third book—A Storm of Swords—ends with the revelation of Lady Stoneheart, the new killing machine of the North. Instead, the last episode of season four ended with Arya on Titanic heading for Braavos. Not exactly thrilling material.
But if you think this is the biggest problem of the last episode or the season as a whole, you know nothing. So let’s begin.
What bothered me the most came towards the very end of this episode and it can all be summed up under one word – Tysha.
For those of you that cant remember Tysha was the first wife of Tyrion Lannister. After leaving the Eyrie, Tyrion and Bronn make camp on the High Road (in the show it happens the night before the battle, the first time Tyrion meets Shae). There, Tyrion tells Bronn the story of his first wife, who ended up being a whore hired by his brother Jaime,who had the best intention of making Tyrion a man. He also goes on telling Bronn how Tywin had each of his soldiers rape her and pay her a silver coin upon completion. He tells Bronn that Tywin made Tyrion go last, having him pay her a gold coin since he was a Lannister. After Tyrion is finished his tale Bronn states that he would have killed the man who did that to him and Tyrion remarks that he might yet; a Lannister always pays his debts. So this story was told in the book 1 (A Game of Thrones), Season 1. In the book 3 (A Storm of Swords) we got another information that shed some light on this terrible situation, information that will forever change the dynamic within the Lannister clan, an information that will, further down the road, ruin them forever. This piece of information came in the moment when Jaime rescued his brother from the cell in which Tyrion was held after Oberyn Martell had lost the trial by combat, sentencing Tyrion to death. And the story went like this….
“Thank you, Brother,” Tyrion said. “For my life.”
“It was . . . a debt I owed you.” Jaime’s voice was strange.
“A debt?” He cocked his head. “I do not understand.”
“Good. Some doors are best left closed.”
“Oh, dear,” said Tyrion. “Is there something grim and ugly behind it? Could it be that someone said something cruel about me once? I’ll try not to weep. Tell me.”
“Tyrion . . . ”
Jaime is afraid. “Tell me,” Tyrion said again.
His brother looked away. “Tysha,” he said softly.
“Tysha?” His stomach tightened. “What of her?”
“She was no whore. I never bought her for you. That was a lie that Father commanded me to tell. Tysha was . . . she was what she seemed to be. A crofter’s daughter, chance met on the road.”
Tyrion could hear the faint sound of his own breath whistling hollowly through the scar of his nose. Jaime could not meet his eyes. Tysha. He tried to remember what she had looked like. A girl, she was only a girl, no older than Sansa. “My wife,” he croaked. “She wed me.”
“For your gold, Father said. She was lowborn, you were a Lannister of Casterly Rock. All she wanted was the gold, which made her no different from a whore, so . . . so it would not be a lie, not truly, and . . . he said that you required a sharp lesson. That you would learn from it, and thank me later . . . ”
“Thank you?” Tyrion’s voice was choked. “He gave her to his guards. A barracks full of guards. He made me . . . watch.” Aye, and more than watch. I took her too . . . my wife . .
“I never knew he would do that. You must believe me.”
“Oh, must I?” Tyrion snarled. “Why should I believe you about anything, ever? She was my wife!”
He hit him. It was a slap, backhanded, but he put all his strength into it, all his fear, all his rage, all his pain. Jaime was squatting, unbalanced. The blow sent him tumbling backward to the floor. “I . . . I suppose I earned that.”
“Oh, you’ve earned more than that, Jaime. You and my sweet sister and our loving father, yes, I can’t begin to tell you what you’ve earned. But you’ll have it, that I swear to you. A Lannister always pays his debts.” Tyrion waddled away, almost stumbling over the turnkey again in his haste. Before he had gone a dozen yards, he bumped up against an iron gate that closed the passage. Oh, gods. It was all he could do not to scream.
Jaime came up behind him. “I have the gaoler’s keys.”
“Then use them.” Tyrion stepped aside.
Jaime unlocked the gate, pushed it open, and stepped through. He looked back over his shoulder. “Are you coming?”
“Not with you.” Tyrion stepped through. “Give me the keys and go. I will find Varys on my own.” He cocked his head and stared up at his brother with his mismatched eyes. “Jaime, can you fight left-handed?”
“Rather less well than you,” Jaime said bitterly.
“Good. Then we will be well matched if we should ever meet again. The cripple and the dwarf.”
Jaime handed him the ring of keys. “I gave you the truth. You owe me the same. Did you do it? Did you kill him?”
The question was another knife, twisting in his guts. “Are you sure you want to know?” asked Tyrion. “Joffrey would have been a worse king than Aerys ever was. He stole his father’s dagger and gave it to a footpad to slit the throat of Brandon Stark, did you know that?”
“I . . . I thought he might have.”
“Well, a son takes after his father. Joff would have killed me as well, once he came into his power. For the crime of being short and ugly, of which I am so conspicuously guilty.”
“You have not answered my question.”
“You poor stupid blind crippled fool. Must I spell every little thing out for you? Very well. Cersei is a lying whore, she’s been fucking Lancel and Osmund Kettleblack and probably Moon Boy for all I know. And I am the monster they all say I am. Yes, I killed your vile son.” He made himself grin. It must have been a hideous sight to see, there in the torchlight gloom. (ASOS)
In the show however, the boys had a warm goodbye hug and that was pretty much it. 33 seconds of goodbye and nothing else. After the warm hug Tyrion suddenly decided to risk the life Jaime had just saved, climb the number of stairs to reach the Tower of the Hand and face his father risking his life all over again. Makes little to no sense, which is why the above-told story is of such great importance. It is important because otherwise Tyrion would not be tempted to face Tywin, he would not be consumed by rage and despair…. and he would never risk his life because after all Tyrion is a survivor.
The sudden revelation that Tysha is not only alive but has never been the whore as Tyrion was led to believe was the pretty big revelation and a milestone in forming Tyrion’s character shift. This is the point in which Tyrion embraces the dark side of himself fully. This is the point in which he decides killing Tywin Lannister is a must. Finding Shae in his bed only further strengthened this notion.
This revelation also severed the Lannister boys’ bond, it made Tyrion hate Jaime. It made Tyrion lie to Jaime. We all know Tyrion did not kill Joffrey. It also made Tyrion tell Jaime the truth about Cersei, for the sole purpose of hurting him, the truth about what Cersei had been doing the entire time Jaime was imprisoned. It made Jaime realize that everything he had done to get back to her (killing innocent people, loosing hand, sitting in the pile of his own shit for over a year…) had been in vein. She was fucking half of the King’s Landing and Moonboy for all he knows whereas Jaime, however twisted, remained faithful to her. This will sever the twins’ bond, which will push Jaime onto a new course in his journey and it will leave Cersei all alone, which will, of course make her even crazier than she already was. In the series none of this happened.
It is one thing to make subtle changes, needed for the good storytelling, as it was done in Sansa’s storyline for example. But it is a whole different thing to change character development and characters dynamic. This “small little detail” has influenced the story on a whole different level and to what end? Was it that hard to have them exchange few words? The lack of time? Well, they could’ve just cut out the five minute long beetle story (which never happened in the books) for the sake of Tysha’s revelation, which made a huge impact on four crucial characters, as well as their lives. I don’t want to sound like annoyed book reader, but in all honesty, is that asking too much?
GLORIFICATION AND ABSOLUTION OF TYRION LANNISTER
Tyrion Lannister is, like every other character of A Song of Ice and Fire, painted in grey. He is neither a hero nor a villain. He is a human. However, under the Hollywoodesque influence, the series continues to insist on his hero-like portrayal. The scene with Shae in this season’s finale is a clear example of that. In the books, Tyrion murders Shae. He finds her on his father’s bed and strangles her with a necklace. In the show, she attacks him with a knife before he can even say anything so his murder would be justified. Her illogical attack exonerates Tyrion of all guilt, since now he killed Shae in self-defense. A character that was so grey in the books and at times almost black becomes the tortured soul, lamented by all, so white your eyes soon begin to hurt. In truth, he is his father’s son.
If this is not enough, let’s take another example, which also includes Shae, the funny whore. When Tyrion is the Hand of the King, his sister Cersei kidnaps a whore she believes is Tyrion’s lover. The whore ends up being Ros, a fabricated character that doesn’t exist in the books. Even though the whore isn’t the one he’s in love with, Tyrion protects her by kidnapping Cersei’s son Tommen—an innocent boy and Tyrion’s own nephew—and threatening that whatever Cersei does to the whore, he will do to Tommen, including rape. This moment was yet another jaw-dropping moment. It shows the dark side of Tyrion, it shows his brutality and readiness to do whatever it takes for him, and himself alone, it is also what makes Tyrion a much harder character to root for. But that subplot only partially appears in Game of Thrones. Yes, Cersei kidnaps a whore she thinks Tyrion is in love with, but Tyrion doesn’t retaliate in the same way. Tyrion instead becomes the poor victim the viewers root for even more. Why do it? I think we all know why. The problem is, A Song of Ice and Fire is written as the antithesis to such nonsense. So in truth, the show or the show runners for Game of Thrones are no longer telling the story of A Song of Ice and Fire, through which they gained audience and popularity. In truth, they no longer care for the story. Unfortunately.
DECRY OF JAIME LANNISTER
The changes or the destruction of Jaime’s character arch is yet another problem. It was not enough to have him sort of rape his sister over the body of their dead son, which is not how things happened in the books, they went even further to show yet another sex scene between the infamous twins, a scene that never actually happened. At this point in the books, Jaime and Cersei, had already started falling out as a couple. As in the series, she did come to him, she did make a move onto him, but unlike the series, Jaime said no. And this is how the scene went down.
“‘Don’t you think I want it as much as you do? It makes no matter who they wed me to, I want you at my side, I want you in my bed, I want you inside me. Nothing has changed between us. Let me prove it to you.” She pushed up his tunic and began to fumble with the laces of his breeches.
Jaime felt himself responding. “No,” he said, “not here.” They had never done it in White Sword Tower, much less in the Lord Commander’s chambers. “Cersei, this is not the place.”
“You took me in the sept. This is no different.” She drew out his cock and bent her head over it.
Jaime pushed her away with the stump of his right hand. “No. Not here, I said.” He forced himself to stand.” (ASOS)
Why insist on tarnishing the character of Jaime Lannister is beyond me.
On the other hand we have Cersei’s grand gesture of drama. She still doesn’t want to marry Loras (and who could blame her?!) and she still persists in winning this one with her father. But Tywin is a hard rock to break. Jaime is in Kingsguard. Tyrion is dying tomorrow so the whole legacy of Lannister family falls onto poor Cersei. However, she doesn’t care how important her loyalty to the Lannister family might be. Tywin starts launching into yet another story about Cersei as a kid, and she interrupts like a boss: “I’m not interested in hearing another one of your smug stories about the time you won.” She tells daddy that she was willing to euthanize Tommen during S02E09: that’s how far she’s willing to go to keep him from getting abused. So, no, neither Tywin nor Maergery can have him. And then the shocker, or should I say the utter nonsense – She threatens him with telling the world the truth about her and Jaime. Wait, what?!
Don’t get me wrong, this was an astonishing scene, for most part due to the brilliance of the two actors, however, it made little to no sense. First comes first, the sentence Cersie utters is so out of her character for there is no situation in which she would threaten anyone with the revelation of her darkest secret. This is why Bran flew out of window, which leads to Tyrion’s arrest. This is why all Robert’s bastards died. This is why Ned Stark’s head rolled. And why Robb became the King in the North. And this is why Stannis does not sit on the Iron Throne. He raised an army on this information alone (that came to him via letter Eddard Stark wrote just before he died) but he can’t prove the truth to it and as long he can’t prove that Tommen is not a Baratheon the war will go on. The whole plot of the Game of Thrones is based on this simple fact. The Lannisters have won the throne that is not theirs by right, but is theirs by conquest or to rephrase, a lie. Telling the world the most kept “secret” would be the end of Lannister rule. And not only that, it would annul all the prior events. So why did she do it?
She did it because Tywin Lannister dies several scenes later. (And what an anticlimactic scene that was. Dear Lord. But on the bright side at least we won’t need to hear Where Whores go every other second in the following season.) She did something so out of her character not because it is her last resort, because it is not, but because it is yet another dead end, in the sea of dead ends created by D&D (David Benioff and Dan Weiss, producers of Game of Thrones) in this season. The viewer will not dwell on that, the viewer probably wont even notice what went down in front of his own eyes but those who pay attention to details and remember will remember that the whole plot of the series revolves and exists on this little catch. This was the twist, the ultimate twist that lead to the War of Five Kings. And to have it negated this way because, well, the person that was being threatened dies mere scenes later and nothing happens, is such a sloppy writing.
THE DRAGON MAMA
I don’t know about you but I am utterly puzzled – Is Daenerys Targaryen a Breaker of Chains or is she the Bringer of Chains? Whatever the case might be we were finally given the scene many have feared would be omitted. Slaves want to go back to being slaves because this new world does not suit them, because, to the great shock for the liberator, they had a much better life before the liberator installed democracy upon them. And the biggest dragon, called “Drogon”, has killed. Again. This time it was not a goat but a baby girl. Understandably, she has no other option (?!) but to chain them. And even now, as she does it (lifting the chains even the Mountain would have difficulties with) we are forced to sympathize with infallible Daenerys Targaryen, first of her name and so on, as she walks out of the crypts heavy-hearted leaving her children as they cry for help.
WESTEROS COMIC RELIEF
Many will argue how dynamic between Arya and The Hound is the most interesting part of the season four and although I agree, to some degree, the very fact that a relation, meant as the comic relief, bares the title of “the most interesting plotline” is a tad bit alarming. Not to mention it was, for most part of it, fabricated. The Hound was supposed to die in S04E01. Which means, The Hound is not the king of KFC, Arya did not put Berric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr on her list, The Hound and Arya never traveled to the Vale to see Lysa Arryn and most importantly Brienne still doesn’t know how Arya looks like, which means Brienne never fought the Hound (who was given he role of Udead Cat Stark in this version of the ASOIAF), which means she never killed him. “Killed by a woman, I bet you like that.” said the dying Hound, who unlike Grenn did not get to have the epic death. Instead he starts begging Arya to give him the gift of mercy, which Arya refuses (“You don’t deserve the gift of mercy”) marking this as the end of the best action-comedy duo in Westeros. Sigh.
But not a single storyline from above has been butchered so savagely as were the multiple storylines from the North, Bran’s in particular. The most interesting and above all the most mysterious plotline in the book has become an utter bore in the series packed with meaningless dead ends. And they kept rolling, one dead end after another, causing a great disturbance in the force. And it all started with Coldhands. Or should I say, the lack of him.
Who is Coldhands you wonder. Well, he is a mysterious figure from beyond the Wall. He looks like a Wight, but he is not a Wight. According to the Children of the Forest, he died a long time ago yet he talks, is capable of thinking process and has memories. But he does not breathe.He is dressed in the mottled blacks and greys of the Night’s Watch with a scarf concealing his face. His hands are black and as cold as ice, and he rides a great elk. A flock of ravens flies under his command.He first appeared in A Storm of Swords, when he saved Sam, Gilly and her baby from the Wight Attack (who came to fetch the baby) upon their escape from the Craster’s Keep. He takes the three under his protection and brings them to the Black Gate of the Nightfort located underneath the Wall. The Black Gate is a hidden gate that allows passage to the other side of the Wall and is as old as the Wall itself. It is made of white Weirwood with a face on it. The face is old, pale, shrunken, and wrinkled with white eyes. The door glows. When someone approaches the Black Gate, the eyes open. Only a borther of the Night’s Watch can open the Gate. They are white and blind, and they ask, “Who are you?” A man of the Night’s Watch must repeat a part of his vow for the door to open. “I am the watcher of the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers. I am the shield that guards the realm of men.” The door’s lips open wider and wider still until nothing remains but a great gaping mouth in a ring of wrinkles. Coldhands cannot pass through himself, due to the Wall’s magic, but he charges them to bring Bran Stark and his companions whom Coldhands is expecting. He then takes Bran Stark, Meera, Jojen and Hodor to the last greenseer north of the Wall. Along the way he kills men of the Night’s Watch. Bran, having slipped into Summer as a warg, discovers this and confronts him in the abandoned village. Bran calls him a monster. He responds with: “Your monster, Brandon Stark”. Unknown to Bran is that the men Coldhands killed were the surviving traitors responsible for the mutiny at the Craster’s Keep. When his great elk collapses along their journey, Coldhands whispers a blessing in an unknown language and slits the animal’s throat; he and Meera butcher the carcass for food. Coldhands leads Bran and his companions to the cave of the three-eyed raven, but he cannot enter. He fights off Wights as they climb to the cave entrance. And his faith remains unknown.
If you have seen the show you know this is not how the story goes. Sam is the one who saves Gilly and the baby from the attack, since there was no Coldhands there to help them. Likewise, Bran and the Co. are captured by the mutinies at the Craster’s Keep because alas there was no Coldhands to kill them all. Instead Jon Snow was sent North of the Wall to deal with the mutinies with the help from Locke, who was, on the other hand, sent by Roose Bolton to deal with the remaining Stark heirs, only so he would be killed by Bran warging Hodor an episode later, which comes as no surprise because Locke never joined the Night’s Watch to begin with. Therefore, multiple plotlines resulted in multiple dead ends. Thank God we didn’t have Coldhands because that would mean less dead ends and furthermore, no Karl Tanner, the legend of Gin Alley. And we can’t have that. Few rapes and meaningless monologues per episode is where all the fun went this season. Anyways, upon avenging the loss of Jaime’s hand (a nice touch by the way), Bran proceeded North in search of the three-eyed crow and the Weirwood tree. Without the Coldhands. There, right in front of the cave, a great number of creatures, which are neither White Walkers, nor Wights, came digging their way out of the ground. What are these new creatures you wonder? I wonder too. What surprised me the most was not the odd agility of these creatures but the fact they were made of bones and if you have read the book you know that “the bones cannot come back as Wights” and you know that once the flesh falls of the Wight he ceases to exist as the Wight, i.e., he stops moving.
So, what is the deal here? Did they make a mistake? Or did they introduced a fourth entity, we know nothing off? Either way what happens next is even more alarming. In the nick of time, as Jojen is dying (wtf he is still alive in the books?!) and the rest are succumbing to the number of the agile bones, we have Leaf, one of the Children, emerging from the Cave and attacking the Pirates of The Caribbean with what happens to look like some sort of a deadly pixie dust fireball? Needless to say, this is not what happens in the books.
This is what happens when you cut the Coldhands out.
She calls Bran and the co. to follow here quickly into the cave because they are safe inside since the magic that drives the Pirates of the Caribbean does not work within the cave. And besides, he is waiting for him. He is the Bloodraven. The three-eyed Raven, The last Greenseer. Thousand Eyes and One. A man tree. The most mysterious character A Song of Ice and Fire has to offer. But not the show. The show offered a Thousand Eyes and Two, an older version of Pycell at best and Keisuke Miyagi at worst, resting comfortably in the throne of roots of a Weriwood. There went my favorite storyline down the drain. Oh well, at least we got to hear: “You will never walk again, Bran Stark. But you will fly.”
Meanwhile, at the Wildling camp we got a glimpse of Mance Rayder as he shares the drink with Jon Snow saying the names of those that have fell the night before. No one mentions Pyp. I guess his death was not as tragic. And then, out of the blue, attack. Stannis has finally arrived. It took him one entire season but he got there. He went to Bravos to beg for money (should I emphasize the sarcasm here or not?). But he got there. In episode 10 instead of 9. But he got there. I won’t talk about this much because talking about how Stannis gets downplayed from episode to episodes is futile. However, I will repeat what I said in my previous review – This is the downside of Game of Thrones‘ narrative: The feeling that some stories, no matter how well staged, simply matter less than others. Stannis being one of them. Coming in the moment Jon is setting peace with the King-Beyond-The-Wall is a clear proof of this statement. How anticlimactic.
Back at Castle Black Maester Aemon is holding a mass funeral pyre for all the brothers that perished the previous night. King Stannis is there. His family as well and so is Melisandre. As those 400 Wildlings still swimmingly climb the Wall, Mel and Jon lock eyes over the funeral pyre. Seriously! Will anyone look into that or have these 400 men and women been forgotten?! Alas, with so many plot-holes this season, does it really matter?!
I have no other way to conclude this review but to quote George RR Martin, the writer of A Song of Ice and Fire, the saga Game of Thrones series is based on, and Matt Sacarro’s response to these words in the article Has Game of Thrones sold its soul to the Hollywood devil….
When you read a book or see a TV show, if you got the hero and you have the villain, one is black and one is white, and everybody responds to them the same way—oh, we like the hero, we hiss at the villain, then you’re dealing with cardboard.
The battle between good and evil that’s fine. The battle between good and evil is a universal theme, not only for fantasy but also for any fiction. But my opinion has always been that the battle between good and evil is fought within the individual human heart. All of us have the capacity for good. All of us have the capacity for evil. The same people have the capacity for doing that on different days. You read about war heroes who save their whole platoon and are incredibly brave and then they go home and beat up their wives…how do you reconcile that? George R.R. Martin
This level of nuance doesn’t apply to Game of Thrones—where the good guys have to remain good so as to not upset the television audience, where Arya and the Hound have to become a Buddy Cop duo because the audience needs comic relief in the midst of a war-torn, joyless world, where Ramsay Snow can fight without armor or even a shirt and not get an ax in the chest because it’s important to show off an attractive male’s physique, and where Jon Snow can hug and kiss his dying girlfriend in the middle of a giant battle without so much as an arrow coming his way because that’s how it’s done in Hollywood, the land that tact forgot. Matt Scarro
No. It doesn’t apply because the story they are telling no longer follows the book that gained their audience for them, the book that made them who they are today and that made Game of Thrones a worldwide phenomenon. What they are telling is a “cheaper, bastardized, dollar-store version of it, complete with all the loathsome tropes of Hollywood that drove George R.R. Martin to write his magnum opus in the first place”. And this is the fact. Will the show loose the significant number of its most devoted fans for it? I feel like it should.
Text written by: Monika Ponjavic
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