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About HouseLark

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  1. That first difference is the really important one. Violence is part and parcel of Westerosi society but it's a question of scale. All of the great houses in, both in their histories and within the confines of the ASOIAF story, used violence to achieve their goals. That goes for notional good guys like Robb Stark to outright evil bastards like Tywin Lannister. But there's something about the willingness to wreak destruction on a mass scale that is different. It's why in the real world we are so horrified by chemical and nuclear weapons but not conventional weaponry which kills as many people. The difference is, in Westeros, only one faction has ever and will ever have access to the weapon of mass destruction. I'd also argue that every character that used violence did so because they were trying to do what they considered to be the right thing. Even Tywin and Cersei did what they did in the service of their house which was the most important thing to them. The whole point of GoT and ASOIAF is that violence is awful and the finger is pointed at everyone, not just Dany. The only difference is she had the ability to end life on a mass scale.
  2. But the way I see it, the descent into a kind of righteous tyranny started in season 1. Dany has always been comfortable with violence and accepting of the deaths of innocent people in order to further her goal. In season 1 she was happy enough to go along with the Dothraki sacking cities and slaughtering innocent Lhazareen so that it furthered her goal of taking the Iron Throne. She also knew that the Dothraki would do to Westeros if they invaded under Drogo. She threatened Qarth in season 2, promising to rain fire on the city if it did not give aid to her people. She killed slavers and nobles in Astapor and Meereen. She had to be talked off the ledge when she returned to Meereen as her instinct was to torch her enemies and probably half the city in the process - it was only thanks to Tyrion that she didn't. Right through the series we've been shown Dany's penchant for violence and destruction in pursuit of her goal. As Tyrion pointed out (and that was maybe unnecessary), we were encouraged to cheer because some of the people were "bad" and we were also shown that Dany had some noble goals like ending slavery. I think a lot of Dany's negative character traits and actions were overlooked in a desire to see her as a classic fantasy hero and also because, you know, dragons are cool. The rapidity of the decline from queen with tendency towards unrestrained violence to mass murderer of innocents was a bit much, but the seeds were sown long before this season, most of us just weren't looking for them. A lot would look different with a start-to-finish re-watch of the series.
  3. There was no retcon at all. Everything was there from the point that she burned Mirri Maz Duur alive. Remember that Mirri Maz Duur thought that she was pre-emptively saving the world from death and destruction at the hands of Dany's child. In her mind, she believed that an evil act was necessary to make the world a better place. And as fans, most cheered Dany for taking her revenge. It's been the same at every point. Nothing Dany did in the past 7 seasons has had to be re-interpreted to fit with the ending so there's not retcon. On the other hand, I agree that the full on descent to city-slaughtering mad queen was too quick. Sadly, I think that die was cast when they decided to end the series in 13 episodes rather than 20. Even though some of them were feature-length, the pacing that exists when a season was strung out for 10 weeks felt better. It gave time for viewers to absorb plot points. And in the end, I don't think anyone is pleased that she's dead, it's a tragic death. Even Tyrion understands that. Both he and Jon are unsure if they've done the right thing and it's good that the show was equivocal about that. There's no sense that Westeros is going to be a better place now that the wars of ice and fire are over.
  4. HouseLark

    The purpose of R+L=J?

    It sets up tension between our two main protagonists. In the books, I think it will matter more. The battle of Winterfell will likely play out a lot differently and I expect the dragons will be central to destroying the threat of the Others. I certainly don't expect killing one Chief Other will end the battle as it did in the show. We therefore need another dragon rider, maybe even a third as I'm still not convinced that Viserion will become a zombie-dragon in the books.
  5. The show doesn't make us feel guilty for supporting Dany's journey. It was a necessary journey. The Targaryen line had a mythical destiny to produce the saviors of humanity. The Targaryen's affinity with dragons was important and I think this will be emphasized even more in the books. But the Targaryen's struggled to rule benignly partly and especially the Targaryen's that had dragons at their disposal. I think a lot of the disappointment with this season has been that people were invested in a drama about the Targaryen restoration but it was not about that. Instead, the whole series is about the Targaryen's fulfilling their destiny to destroy the Others. After that, the Targaryen's are more of liability than anything else. It's the tragedy of House Targaryen: they were destined to save the world but could not be trusted to rule in peace. So, I'm totally onboard with Dany as a mythical hero in the best fantasy tradition. GRRM often said that he wondered whether Aaragorn would be a good king after the defeat of Sauron. It's a good question. Inspirational wartime leaders are rarely the best people to rebuild shattered nations.
  6. HouseLark

    Destiny of Jon Snow

    It's clear he's riding out to live out his life with the wildlings. It's a happy ending for Jon. He only ever felt truly happy north of the Wall. Now he gets to leave behind the lands that only ever brought him tragedy, where Lords fight petty battles for something that Jon can't even understand them wanting. He was only ever used by people south of the Wall, first as soldier in the Nights Watch and later for his name and ability to rally people to a cause. North of the Wall, he gets to be free of his name, of duty, of expectations. It's the best ending Jon could have hoped for, except for the guilt he has to live with.
  7. HouseLark

    [Spoilers] Episode 806 Discussion

    If this is how the books end then I'll be happy. This season has felt very fast-paced but the ending was satisfying for me. It changed my idea of what the story was about. Now that it's over - and assuming it will end this way in the books as well - I think GRRM has written ASOIAF as the final chapter in the history of the Targaryen dynasty. The house that was fated to produce the saviors of humanity but would always be too unstable and unpredictable to build a peaceful regime. When read along with GRRMs short stories and histories of Westeros, the whole saga of the rise, fall, rebirth, and ultimate end of the house of Targaryen is a tragic fantasy epic. You can see why he has put so much effort into these ancillary works like Fire and Blood since they tell an essential part of the story of ASOIAF, they aren't just fun background reading. The best thing about the ending is that it is true to the nature of the books. There is a sense of possibility for the future but also a real sense that Westeros is still on a knife-edge, things could go wrong very quickly. Could the north remain an independent kingdom? Could it restrain any temptation to expand its territory? We've seen siblings go to war throughout the history of Westeros. Couldn't each of the remaining kingdoms decide that independence was an attractive option? What about the "rightful" king in exile? Varys wrote letters to others informing them of Aegon's existence, it wouldn't take much for some of them to try and plot a restoration at some point. There was some level of happiness in the ending but the seeds for it to all go wrong were planted, though we'll never find out how this turns out.
  8. HouseLark

    [Book Spoilers] EP510 Discussion

    Jon will be back by episode two. The cast and producers are doubling down to sell the "death" because they need to try and maintain some thread of drama to it. But think about it: in what way does Jon's death at this point make any narrative sense? By the end of the series is Jon Snow's role really going to be limited to that of a POV so we can see what's going on at the Wall and in the lands beyond? He's on a classic hero's journey and right now we're at the end of the Empire Strikes Back. Can the show leave Jon aside for a season? Not in my view. The show has ramped up the threat from the Others and it was taken up a notch this season. We need to see action there in order to see the threat start to knock on the door of Westeros and the only characters at the Wall with any standing are Mel and Davos, secondary characters. Essentially, next season is going to be about Dany resolving the situation in Meereen and then making her way in Westeros, and the realm slowly seeing that there is a threat from Beyond the Wall. For the series to wrap up in season 7 we pretty much need to Others to be ready to marching on the Wall by the end of season 6. Plus, I suspect that season 7 will be primarily about the war against the Others (which I do expect to be a war rather than one epic Helm's Deep style battle, expect defeat, despair, turning the tide, etc) so a lot of dangling plot threads will need to be resolved next season. They could still retain the mystery surrounding Jon if they can keep Castle Black a closed set but I expect to see reports of Harrington spotted on set by the end of this year.
  9. It's pointless to even try and review this episode after that final scene, all I can think of is: Fire and Blood
  10. HouseLark

    [Book Spoilers] EP 210 Discussion

    I thought it was a nice touch for Maester Luwin to tell Bran and Rickon to go to Jon. It was just a nice nod from an honest and wise man that Jon was a person who could offer the boys protection. It also demonstrates that decent people like Luwin see a person's true worth and don't just judge them for being a bastard.
  11. HouseLark

    [Book Spoilers] EP 210 Discussion

    The thing is, the dead soldier (it's a king on the book) with a wolf's head has only one interpretation: the Starks are set to lose the war. And the sword in the back is rather famously a symbol of betrayal. It's too heavy handed for the screen. The Rhaegar vision is something I'm uncertain about. I have said elsewhere that I wonder how many people genuinely think that the absence of this is detrimental to the story or did they really, really, really just want to see Rhaegar depicted on screen? I will concede that it would have been nice to have someone telling Dany of the "threes" (3 treasons, dragon has 3 heads, etc).
  12. HouseLark

    [Book Spoilers] EP 210 Discussion

    As a standalone episode I thought this was excellent. There are problems of course but that's the same with everything. The big postives for me were finally something satisfying happening in Dany's storyline and the ending at the Fist of the First Men which was just brilliant. Dany's storyline has been poor this season, suffering from the writer's desire to have Emilia Clarke on screen more than she would be if they followed the book. But the House of the Undying worked very well for me. I know fans are disappointed with the lack of "visions" but how many can you put on screen without ruining future seasons? What they did worked well because it alluded to the past and future, of what could be and what might have been, showing Dany glories and tragedies. It served to emphasise the point that the future is uncertain (e.g. showing Drogo with Rhaego which obviously never came to pass). This is a good counterpoint to Melisandre's certainty about her visions which leaves viewers with the question: is the future already written as Mel believes or is it uncertain as suggested by Dany's visions? If I have to nitpick here, I'd say that since they wrote Dany a vision at the Wall then they might as well have had a close up of a Blue Rose, seems like a simple opportunity missed that would have had purists wetting themselves. Shifting 3 Blasts from the ASOS prologue to Season Two was a great cliffhanger and now I can't wait for Season Three - pryaing for Neil Taylor to be given directorial duties on the battle at the Fist. On Jon, I'm on the side that likes how this ended but I would like to have seen some more realisation from Jon that what he was doing was necessary, or at least what Qhorin wanted. I like that it looked like it was done in anger but it's stretching audience credulity a bit to ask to accept that Jon new what Qhorin's plan was, especially when Jon has been depicted as a bit slow on the uptake so far. Also, this would be a big decision for Jon, a huge moral dilemma; it would have been good to see him wrestle with that. The only major criticism I have is the burning of Winterfell. If you don't have a book reader friend to explain it will be hard to know what has happened there - who did it? Why? Why didn't Luwin say anything to Bran or Osha, such as: "be careful of some of the Northmen Bran, they just burned down your home"...? Still, very excited for next series. ACOK always feels like a bit of a transitory volume whenever I read it; it's just there to bridge the gap between AGOT and ASOS but it's not a middle act in a three act play, it's more of a bridge to the middle act. That's hard to adapt and kudos to the show creators for handling it well overall.
  13. HouseLark

    [Book Spoilers] EP 209 Discussion

    There's some callback to the beheading of Ser Rodrik here. If you recall it weakened Theon's character when he couldn't carry out the execution cleanly - it didn't just speak of his physical strength it also said that he wasn't ready to lead, his position was false. The gruesome scene in Blackwater told you about Stannis, his physical strength, his ability, and it alluded to his strength of character. Also, this was discussed in a scene from Spartacus: Vengeance earlier this year.
  14. HouseLark

    [Book Spoilers] EP 209 Discussion

    Definitely, it's an easter egg, nothing more. It's not much of a plot point anyway but those little nods to the book fans are nice. There's no way that any non-book reader would think of Renly at that point.
  15. HouseLark

    [Book Spoilers] EP 209 Discussion

    A visceral episode. Before airing I was concerned that there were no real stakes for viewers since Stannis' character has been underdeveloped. But three characters absolutely saved it: Tyrion, Sansa and the Hound. The stories of those three were so well done that they raised the stakes. Tyrion has always had a well-written story but Sansa and the Hound have been given scraps really. But with Blackwater both had solid emotional arcs and the actors both nailed it. The Hound was especially good, to see that fear of the flames and all his courage desert him was incredible. I know everyone is banging on about GRRM writing this episode and I don't buy the argument that the other writers aren't up to scratch. But GRRM "gets" Sansa and the Hound in a way that the other writers don't. I should add that I don't give a damn about the "SanSan" thing which I find irritating in the extreme. I believe that Sansa serves another purpose for the Hound, their joint story is not about any sort of relationship, but I won't go into that here, it's more of a book discussion. There's a few loose ends which will be cleared up next week (Tywin, Tyrell, Mandon Moore). It would have been great to have this as a two-hour season finale and when I watch this back on DVD in the future I'm sure that's how I'll view it. Excellent.