Not exaggerating in the slightest when I say this was my least favourite episode yet. I'd been looking forward to so many of these moments ever since I first finished ASOS and now it's clear that book readers who fell in love with the story GRRM created are now no longer important.
The positives for me were all the stuff at the Wall. I couldn't give a shit about the chant being left out especially when the sequence itself was so well done. The acting from Kit, Ciaran and later Kris Hivju was great and the funeral scenes really moved me. I would say I'm looking forward to everything that happens with Stannis and Jon next year but it's hard to give a shit at this point.
Dany was fine. Glad we finally got a dragon namedrop. I guess three would have been too much info for the casual Khaleesi fans to take in. Aside from the placement of Arya's last scene in the episode, the whole Arya/Hound/Brienne/Pod thing was fine and Rory's performance was excellent.
Bran's segment was looking so good until for some fucking reason Jojen died. It didn't bother me much at the time since the rest of the scene was so interesting and I assumed it meant getting one of the better-known actors off the show, paving the way for some Greyjoys next year. But the rest of the bullshit that happened, or didn't happen in this episode just made it seem all the more redundant.
I have no idea what the Jaime/Cersei/Tywin thing was all about but again, didn't bother me at the time because I was so excited about other events.
The obvious negative is the lack of Lady Stoneheart which was the absolute cherry on top of the cake that was Storm of Swords. And it's a scene that couldn't have been more perfect for the screen so I have no idea why it was left out. But that's not even my main issue.
The escape was diabolical. No Tysha at all apparently, let alone from Jaime who Tyrion leaves with a stellar opinion of, thus completely negating his character arc going forward. The Tywin scene felt extremely rushed and missed out just about every important point from the books. The acting was off-key as well. It felt extremely apathetic as if they didn't believe in the shitty material put before them.
Everything that was truly important about this episode in terms of the book narrative was done wrong bar Stannis for a change. Clearly show-watchers that can't remember that Lysa is Catelyn's sister are now the priority. Fine.
Fair to say that screencap is legit. Whether or not they have access to the whole ep I don't know. It's a bit odd they picked that as the one screencap. Either way I think I'm staying off the internet until after the episode airs. Would still like to be somewhat surprised
Had a look at the supposed LS screen cap and I"m not convinced at all. Generally speaking when these things leak the person responsible will have more than just one screencap. That said, I still hope and think we'll get her.
As for GRRM saying 116 minutes, I can't imagine this would have not been rightfully milked for all it's worth from HBO if it were true. That's longer than a lot of movies.
I adored the entire episode on the first viewing up until it became clear that Stannis would not be making an appearance, thus cramming up the finale and also slightly diminishing the impact of his arrival altogether. Although that might turn out to not be the case.
However on the second viewing, this is a truly fantastic episode. I can wax lyrical about the direction, the choreography, the editing and all the incredible effects to no end. i also remember being constantly in suspense from the first time we saw Joe Gatt's owl. Although that might have been down to some lingering PTSD from last week.
But it was the character moments that really stuck out for me. Sam guiding Pyp and Olly through the battle and death in the case of the former, whilst Janos Slynt cowered in that room where Sam downright refused to stay. Love is the death of duty.
I can't say enough about Grenn. You constantly see interviews with cast members being asked how they would like to die on the show. "The way Grenn died" is probably the correct answer now. A heroic, blaze of glory death for the greater good is not something we've seen a lot of on this show.
Then there's Jon and Ygritte. A little cheesy perhaps. But the infrequency of this sort of thing on this show make it feel somehow more real and incredibly emotional. I've always been a huge fan of Rose but this has been Kit's season in terms of acting and he absolutely nailed it again here and throughout the remainder of the episode.
Even feckin Tormund! You can hear the self-loathing and blame in his voice when he calls out at Jon.
Amidst all of it though, the character that I've grown to like the most is Ser Alliser. We talk about how Jorah, Tywin, Bronn etc are all improvements on their book counterparts. With Ser Alliser, the TV version is so far ahead it's unreal. Without going into too much detail, he encapsulates this 'grey' aspect as much as any character on the show or book. My own favourite character, Theon, included. So much props to Owen Teale.
Anyway I still just wish we had Stannis arriving to round it off and probably confirm it in my own mind as the best episode in the show's history. I hope they have something special up their sleeve for next week.