We don't know they are replacement yet. On the show they reimagined the Brave Companions and Vargo Hoat becomes, kinda, Locke (funny Locke sort of looks like Hoat!) The Brave Companions become bandits in the books, so this could be an analog of them.
Clarke was quite good in season 1, and really very good in season 3, in fact better than good in S3E4 the "Dracarys" episode speaking High Valyrian. As has been noted several times she has always been good, seemingly a different person when speaking Valyrian. She was very good in season 5 in the rather long dialog with Peter Dinklage. I still think she needs an 'actors' director. One thing about her , with that wig, she comes off as an ethereal Valyrian , an almost uncanny image.
The battle with the Others, after all they are everybody's common enemy. The straightforward plot implication , right now, is that the forces of the living both Westeros and Essos will realize they need to cooperate ,or they will be bludgeoned into cooperation else everybody dies!
I hope George does not go this way too much, the big honking battle with the Others makes any internecine conflicts seem moot. Also I am getting a little tired is this kind of thing it makes the plot go sideways , we have had enough of that.
I still don't know what was wrong with north of the Wall. I was ok with the Talisa story , it just was different from the book. Arya's interaction with Tywin and Jaqen was fine. Nothing wrong with story in King's Landing. Stormlands, fine, Iron Islands, better than fine, Westerlands fine, Dragonstone , fine.
I disagree with this. I thought all north of the Wall was fine, I can't anything of particular fault with S2 except for Qarth. I didn't find the Qarth stuff anything but awkward not awful. In fact Dany's episodes 1 and 2 of S2 where just fine, as was episode 10. So a lot of season 2 was excellent excluding Blackwater.
That's a pretty good summary. Well, the Ragnarok discussion has appeared , even here, on both the book and show forum spools, but they just fade pretty fast. One thing , book wise, as it influences the show , is GRRM's setting up The Others yet he has not said that much, and now show gives up a teaser that something big is afoot.
George has hinted, in interviews, about the final confrontation with the Others being a honking Gotterdammerung. (Will they ever call Others that on the show? I don't buy the argument about confusion over the name with another TV show.) Something bigger than The Battle of the Pelennor Fields. GRRM has said things get so big a 200 million dollar IMAX movie is needed! (Hmm IMAX... where have we seen that before?)
One thing to speculate on if The Others are the common enemy and it's gonna take a united effort , Westeros and Essos(?) to defeat them, what irreducible group of characters are needed for to lead the forces? Not matter who is alive on the last pages of the story. One might say Dany and Dragons and whatever forces she can thrown against them would represent Essos. Before recent events I would have said Stannis and Jon leading Westerosi forces with the help of Davos, Jamie, Brienne and any lords with Valyrian swords! The Ironborn and Dorne and whoever else is alive! (I would have figured Ser Barry in this mix, but not so sure now.) Arya and Sansa and Rickon in some unknown way. Bran in some kind of Great-spirit-in-the-sky-way.
Those are just guesses , one reason, with two books to go, I don't want any more major characters introduced. I want to get to the end.
I don't see it. A lot of time was spent at KL, and all that mostly Tyrion, that was fine. Arya adventures on the way to Harrenhall were good, the introduction and story with Jaqen was a nice condensation. The rework of Arya at Harrenhll with the tête-à-tête with Tywin was a gem. All the Stormlands , Iron Islands, at Winterfell, beyond the Wall, the Westerlands and Dragonstone were fine with me. Everybody seems to forget those and that's most of the story.
It's gotten to be a cliché now but as someone said "GoT at it's worse is better than 90% of all the other TV viewing fare." (Something like that.) I don't think it is a real surprise, HBO took a chance on an alternate universe medieval fantasy (lite) story that's a bit off center and at an adult level and is now Big Buzz. It's drama that the major networks can't even do , one reason why Amazon, Netflix ... are looking at original content. House of Cards could no have been done on ABC, NBC or CBS. I am surprised that Philp K Dick's somewhat esoteric Man in a High Castle has , so far, succeded on Amazon. Seems people are looking for something different and off center of usual visual narrative.