Well, that’s probably the most deviations from the books’ plot in a single episode of Game of Thrones.
Now, I’m not saying that’s bad. In general I’ve been fairly satisfied with the changes to the story (with one admittedly very subjective exception). It is an adaptation, and those books are long, the plot is very complicated, and in general I think the changes have been understandable and have made for a better TV series than if it had remained unchanged.
But seeing as there were quite a few changes, I thought it’d be interesting to dissect them. (Needless to say, spoilers! Although I do try to be vague about book stuff).
So, changes in this episode, and my opinion of them:
- Ser Rodrik executed by Theon. This was actually a great, very economical way to instantly raise the stakes after Theon takes Winterfell, I thought, because up until that moment, well, Bran certainly didn’t seem to be taking Theon all that seriously, and the Prince of the Iron Isles was coming off as a chump. After killing Rodrik he comes off as a much more dangerous, more than slightly unhinged chump.
- Osha seducing Theon as part of the escape plan. Don’t really see how the seduction plays into the plan, but I guess the show needs to meet it’s titties quotient? Doesn’t really bother me, but I don’t see the point.
- Obviously the biggest change to the Bran storyline (lack of Reeds) isn’t specific to this episode. That’s going to necessitate a fairly large deviation down the road.
- The Ygritte and Jon part is being extended quite a bit, so they can spend more time together now and we can spend more time with both. I liked this actually. Serves to introduce her better, and I think Rose Leslie (Downton Abbey‘s Gwen, amusingly enough) is doing a fantastic job. I like how she’s purposely tormenting Jon. Kind of surprised she hasn’t busted out a “You know nothing, Jon Snow” yet.
- Littlefinger at Harrenhall. In general I love nearly everything about Harrenhall, because I love Arya, and because this is my favorite plotline from Clash of Kings, and because the actors involved are all doing amazing jobs. The scene where Littlefinger visits Tywin while Arya serves and tries to avoid being recognized was easily my favorite in this episode, so many things happening at once. Maise Williams is still killing it.
- The second name Arya gives Jaqen. The first name was the one change that I’d previously found problematic, and I admit that that’s very subjective, since I get why, but it also means my favorite scene from the books can’t happen quite the same way. “How many how many how many how many how many! Is there gold in the village!” wouldn’t really make sense, now.
- I REALLY hope the third name is unchanged, though.
- The continued flirtation between Robb and not!Jeyne. Despite the fact that I can’t recall the new character’s name, I’m actually pretty okay with this. Jeyne Westerling is kind of a non-entity in the book, and this girl seems much more interesting. And it kind of makes Robb more interesting by association too, I guess. I mean, to be fair, they have to pad Robb’s story, and this seems more interesting than what happened in the book.
- Dany’s entire storyline. This is the one thing where I’m downright eeeh about it. To be fair, Dany’s chapters weren’t really all that compelling to me in the first place (until she entered the House of the Undying), so I guess I understand why the writers felt the need to pad them, but… stealing the dragons? That seems kind of a cheap narrative trick to pull, as opposed to trying to find alternative takes to what happens in the book that work better in a tv series format. To be honest, this reminds me of anime series that catch up to the manga chapters and need a season of tv-only filler to wait for the manga to catch up. Sometimes you wind up with awesome stories like Saint Seiya‘s Asgaard… and other times you end up with Prince of Tennis‘ Kevin Smith and other ridiculous crap. What I’m getting at is that I suppose it’s a very easy way to raise the stakes, as it were, for people that haven’t read the books, but to me it comes off as nothing but filler that can’t really pay off unless Dany’s story was to be drastically altered and thus all it does is take me out of the story. YMMV, obviously, this is a very subjective opinion.
- Sansa was in a great deal more peril during the King’s Landing riots than in the books. This was excellently handled, I thought. Having Sansa almost suffer Lolly’s fate made it all very real, and like Rodrik’s execution, it was a very savvy way to make viewers realize the gravity and danger of the situation without spending as much time on the events as the book did. And once again, The Hound comes off as more misunderstood and even secretly noble. I don’t mind, exactly, but I do think book!Hound is a much more interesting character.
And overall, I think the episode just breezed by, to the point that I was surprised when the credits rolled. The various plots are all moving along and the season has really hit its stride, I think.
But can I please have a lot more Jaqen H’ghar next week?