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[Book spoilers] Theon's letter


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109 replies to this topic

#1 Jamie Lannister

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 07:33 AM

Robb,

I hope this reaches you in time. My father has rejected the offer and plans to attack the north, raiding the shores and taking Deepwood Motte. Mobilize your army and make for the north before it's too late. I'll write again when I can.

Theon

Short and simple, but great character development. Having Theon wrestle with this torn loyalty -- however subtly -- was one of the best book deviations they've gone for. I loved this scene. It shows how close he was to saying "fuck it" to his increasingly cold and callous family, and instead reaffirming his loyalty to his sworn brother ("am I your brother, now and always?") and best friend. And he looks his letter of warning over. Deeply... before giving it to the fire. The way it cuts off to the drowned god ceremony, and the way he gives this black look to his father before saying the words... just great.

Probably their best book deviation so far, honestly; we have this slight disconnect in the books where Theon deals with his father's budding rebellion offscreen. That right there was a powerful little TV sequence.

Edited by Jamie Lannister, 16 April 2012 - 07:52 AM.


#2 Kaitscralt

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 07:53 AM

I also approved. Thought it was an epic little scene.

#3 dtones520

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 07:59 AM

I totally agree. When i first read the book i couldnt figure out why Theon would turn on the Starks like he did. It just happened. You didnt really sense much struggle with the choice. I think the show creators did a better job than George in showing Theons battle for acceptance. He was never a Stark, now hes not even truly a Greyjoy in his fathers eyes.

The scene when Balon hits him was great. I dont know what Balon expected whenbhe sent Theon to Winterfell, but he seems so surprised that his son isnt like an Ironborn. Well no shit, you send him away for the most impressionable years of his life. Im sure he wasnt even that close with him before he became the Starks ward, being a 3rd son and all.

It also showed off how big of a hypocrite Balon is. "Pay the Iron Price" my ass. Theon told him straight up, you bent the knee as soon as Robert Baratheon stopped his rebellion. He should have died fighting, instead he bent the knee and got to keep his Iron Islands. Sounds completely against paying the Iron Price.

#4 The GreatRon

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 08:06 AM

The Letter and the argument with Balon where he actually says things I really wanted him to say were very good deviations.

#5 Ferrum Aeternum

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 08:09 AM

In my opinion this is the first story element that the TV series has handled better than the books. I have always found Theon's turn of the cloak in ACOK to be a bit jarring. As portrayed in the series, his decision (and his difficulty in grappling with it) is more plausible and realistic.

#6 NW Deserter

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 08:12 AM

I don't want to repeat what's already been said, so I'll just add that I loved how that scene was shot. Having a wider of Theon, surrounded by complete darkness and sitting in the corner of the room, was very intense visual imagery - shows his utter isolation from both Robb and from his father.

#7 Iron Captain

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 08:13 AM

The letter was great, as you guys have already said it showed the viewer Theon's internal struggles better than the book did, which is pretty impressive since in the book we could read Theon's thoughts.

But the best added ironborn scene was Theon calling out his father for giving him away after his failed rebellion. Great acting by Alfie Allen, and you could see on Balon's face that his son's words cut to his core.

#8 The Black Wolf

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 08:24 AM

I'll just say that I agree with what other people have said already. Theon's scenes in this episode almost had me crying...

#9 Qhorin Halfhand and Yoren

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 08:26 AM

Agree favorite book deviation

#10 Frey Pie

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 08:28 AM

Totally agree with all of the above. Iv had a few complaints about the season so far but that was excellent. Shows how much of an outcast theon is. I wonder if all pity for him will soon be lost....

#11 Fredwin

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 08:31 AM

Theon will certainly have a lot more sympathy from viewers. Awesome scene.

Anyone else notice in episode 1 that Catelyn told Robb not to ask Balon for help? Where I'm pretty sure in the book she said above all else, "Do NOT send Theon"

There are a lot of changes to how we are supposed to portray him, so I'm wondering if GRRM didn't say something about how he wished he could have changed this bit originally.

#12 Strider

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 08:37 AM

I totally agree. The HBO writers have made Theon comprehensible. Book-Theon is a man who betrays his foster family without hesitation or regret. We are certainly led to infer that Theon only pretended to be Robb's "brother" and liege, that he was waiting for an opportunity to break from the Starks and exact the iron price. Book-Theon is totally unsympathetic. Even after all the suffering he endures, we lack sympathy for him. He is not a tragic figure; he's just wicked and pathetic.

The HBO writers have made Theon into a human being, a boy whose father surrendered him to the enemy as hostage, a boy who is searching for a father's love, a boy torn between conflicting loyalties. He makes his decision to fully identify with the Ironborn, but we see that it was not an easy decision for him. There is a tragic depth to HBO-Theon that I find to be a significant improvement over the books.

#13 Tourniquet

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 08:45 AM

It will make his eventual story arc all the more tragic should they follow it.

#14 Magjee

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 08:49 AM

Theon will certainly have a lot more sympathy from viewers. Awesome scene.

Anyone else notice in episode 1 that Catelyn told Robb not to ask Balon for help? Where I'm pretty sure in the book she said above all else, "Do NOT send Theon"

There are a lot of changes to how we are supposed to portray him, so I'm wondering if GRRM didn't say something about how he wished he could have changed this bit originally.


I think in the book Cat wanted to keep Theon so they would have a hostage, a smart move.

Robb trusted Theon too much.

#15 Howland Reed

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 08:53 AM

I totally agree. The HBO writers have made Theon comprehensible. Book-Theon is a man who betrays his foster family without hesitation or regret. We are certainly led to infer that Theon only pretended to be Robb's "brother" and liege, that he was waiting for an opportunity to break from the Starks and exact the iron price. Book-Theon is totally unsympathetic. Even after all the suffering he endures, we lack sympathy for him. He is not a tragic figure; he's just wicked and pathetic.

The HBO writers have made Theon into a human being, a boy whose father surrendered him to the enemy as hostage, a boy who is searching for a father's love, a boy torn between conflicting loyalties. He makes his decision to fully identify with the Ironborn, but we see that it was not an easy decision for him. There is a tragic depth to HBO-Theon that I find to be a significant improvement over the books.


I agree, although when I think back on it, he wasn't thaaaaat unsympathetic. I mean, he was a douche, but he almost just seemed very, very ignorant, but I agree with you they definitely made him seem like a much better guy. Granted part of me just thinks a lot of it is ignorance, and his internal struggle of trying to win back his family and his desire to be king of Pike.

#16 Chelly

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 08:56 AM

The letter was great, as you guys have already said it showed the viewer Theon's internal struggles better than the book did, which is pretty impressive since in the book we could read Theon's thoughts.

But the best added ironborn scene was Theon calling out his father for giving him away after his failed rebellion. Great acting by Alfie Allen, and you could see on Balon's face that his son's words cut to his core.

Yes, I agree with this completely. I was worried on how the show would convey Theon internal struggles and thoughts because you can't read his thoughts like in the books. It was handled so wonderfully and Alfie Allen is killing it as Theon. I really feel for him. Balon was also very good, I also noticed that he had this almost pained look on his face, like Theon's words were really hitting him hard. He just refuses to show it.

Totally agree about the scene with the burning letter. It was a great touch and very beautiful as was his baptism scene. The look on Theon's face says so much during that scene.

#17 NW Deserter

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 09:00 AM

I don't know if I agree about him being unsympathetic in the books. It took a re-read for me to really see it, but even when he's taking Winterfell he's constantly racked with guilt about what he's doing and trying to rationalize to himself that it's the right thing to do. The biggest different in the show is just how early on we sympathize with him (it takes til Dance to really get to that point in the novels) because of scenes like this, which I think is okay because it almost makes the viewers feel conflicted as well. It will make his actions later this season be both despicable and understandable.

IDK if any of y'all watch Larry Williams' (OtakuAssemble) reviews, but he's only watching the series without ever looking at the books and was a huge Stark fan, but in his review this past week he even admits that he already feels torn on how to feel about Theon because he loves the Greyjoys.

#18 Ran

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 09:04 AM

Book-Theon is a man who betrays his foster family without hesitation or regret.


If you pay attention to his later chapters in ACoK, you'll know that's wrong.

The Theon in the novel starts off as very unreflective while being a moral coward. We do not see what follows between the first and second chapter -- it's likely he did think, a little, but he goes where the wind blows, taking the path of least resistance. It's only once he's buried in the mire of his own betrayal that the cracks show and you realize that this was all a horrible, petty mistake that happens because of that moral cowardice of his.

The thing is, GRRM can easily do this -- he can mask that part of the story, and only bring it out later while we're in his head and we start seeing the regret and shame seep in through the cracks. They can't put us directly into Theon's head, however, in the same way... hence this wonderful scene, which externalizes the struggle where it most makes sense.

It's a medium thing. They take different approaches -- they front-load it, GRRM puts it at the tail end -- but the result is the same: fantastically complex characters.

Of course, sometimes they front load too damned much...

#19 The Monkey

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 09:07 AM

Alfie Allen was brilliant in this episode. Never really payed much attention to him in the past. Agrees with you all that it was done better than in the novels. The part where he confronts his father about being sent off to Winterfell was utterly heartbreaking and one I missed from the books. TV-Theon is starting to become one of the more complex characters on the show.

#20 wolverine

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 09:37 AM

Just wanted to add that I thought Theon's "betrayal" was handled perfectly.

The only thing I am questioning is; was Balon even planning on taking Winterfell in the book or just raiding like a Viking? It seems Theon really stepped up his betrayal in his attack on Winterfell.