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  1. SamuelVimes

    [Spoilers] Episode 805 Discussion

    After the pathetic strategery fails last week, it looks like Team Dany finally figured out what the frak to do with their dragons. Taking the city was well done...right up until the city surrendered. Then, well, then we get a breach of the same magnitude as breaking guest-right at the Red Wedding - attacking men who'd thrown their swords down and surrendered. (Attacking common folk isn't a breach of the same nature in Westeros [they're lives to throw away, from the perspective of the nobility], but for the viewers it functions the same way.) Team Dany is anointing themselves with dishonorable conduct, while Queen Dany herself seems to be going full Mad King Aerys with her burning of everyone in sight. (Jon's not much better; he verrrry belatedly calls off his men, but he's complicit in this.) Also, I'm holding Dany's utter failure to target Cersei against her. It's quite possible that it was hard for her to see, from dragonback, where Cersei's standing, but C's clear view of the city and the battlegrounds certainly made it seem like she ought to be relatively easy to pick off. Going for the common folks fleeing before going for the Red Keep is a pretty poor decision, but I guess she had already made her choice - fear, not love. I wonder if D&D, in their typically ham-handed fashion, want to make Jon vs. Dany into a nurture vs. nature issue - no madness for the Targ reared as a Stark, madness for the one who's always known who she is. It doesn't really work, but I was watching Jon while everyone else is murdering men who surrendered and thought "he's the only honorable man left in Westeros." He's not - he's complicit in this as I said above - but I think it's what they want us to think, and the parallel to Ned is so very, um, stark... At least Qyburn got what was coming to him, and Sandor finally got a real thank-you. (And decided killing Gregor was more important than avoiding fire.) Right up until the moment she got onto her Equus Ex Machina I was pulling for Arya to spend the next episode trying to kill herself a queen - not Cersei anymore, but Dany, who's responsible for all the death & destruction she sees around her. SPOILERS (next ep preview) -
  2. Sansa is clearly the last of the Starks. Arya says to the Hound she's not coming back; Jon clearly says he's not a Stark; and Bran makes clear he's not interested in being a Stark. Sansa, on the other hand, has huge Northron pride and ambition, and is not even sure about bending the knee; she's the Stark in the North, for sure.
  3. Also seems like they don't feel like the wolves merit the same kind of time/effort/expense as the dragons. They're not as sexy, they won't look as cool on HBO promo material, and so their importance to the story (which I think in the books is probably yuuuuge, like I think Ghost is the only reason Jon ends up still alive) gets minimized.
  4. So did anyone else clap harder for Arya turning down Lord Gendry's proposal than they clapped for Arya killing the Night King, because standing up to social expectations is for fuck's sake WAY harder than killing a bad guy, even if he's the Big Bad Guy? No? Just me? I'll be over here, still applauding Not-Lady Arya.
  5. TBH I have never seen the real reason why Dany OUGHT to be ruling Westeros. She doesn't know much about the place, her ancestors conquered it by force of arms/dragons a mere few hundred years ago, and she's not exactly done a great job actually ruling places she's been, either in the show or the books. (Yeah, she freed the slaves, but did she keep them free?) Her sense of destiny and thus entitlement plays really well in the general fantasy narrative, but I don't see a great narrative reason that she ought to be ruler of anything. I hope that GRRM plays with that in more interesting ways in his novels, should he ever finish them, than the show does. (I would say the same about Jon; he got his ass killed by his own men when he was supposed to be ruling them, so that's not exactly a huge vote of confidence. So I'm not voting Jon in this scenario; I'm just not voting and pissed I don't get a vote because again, hereditary damn monarchy.)
  6. If, as in the books, Varys is motivated by a concern for the common people, Dany's not where he ought to be placing his bets, at this point. The whole marriage-won't-work bit seemed to me, as I think you're suggesting, kind of a deus ex machina explanation as to why we can't possibly have that super easy solution to this Big New Three-Episode-Arc Problem That Has To Be Really Difficult To Solve.
  7. I guess it's supposed to seem like the invention of cannons that you can take on ships (except, you know, NOT CANNONS BUT BIG ARROWS I guess Westeros needs Essos to invent gunpowder stat), changing the entire face of maritime warfare and seeming like someone shoulda thought of that 200 years / 20 episodes ago.
  8. So... uh... why doesn't Dany just fly up BEHIND the Iron Fleet after the ambush and smoke them to hell? She's on a dragon - it's mobile in a way those boat-mounted scorpions aren't. Otherwise I liked the episode a lot, but there just seems to be an inefficient use of Dany's primary military advantage. [edited to add: I thought of it as Jon giving Ghost his freedom, rather than giving him away, and that made me sad, but also made me think, what a better choice it is than Sansa taking Lady to King's Landing.]
  9. So true. I think Dany's getting the Aegon-the-Mad treatment now, especially with the focus on her anger at the very end. I suspect Varys means to have Dany kill Cersei, but do so by killing the common folk; and then have Jon seize the throne as the people's champion. Never mind that there's still a, you know, hereditary monarchy, which is what leads to all these problems in the first place.
  10. SamuelVimes

    [Spoilers] EP610

    But didn't they offer Sansa another Tyrell to marry, wayyyy back when? When she thought it'd be Loras? Or am I remembering the book rather than the show?
  11. SamuelVimes

    [Spoilers] EP606

    Not to mention the fact that influencing Hodor that way was extremely difficult--a number of things came together in ways that'd be hard to reproduce even if he wanted to do so, and I think you're right that he would not want to. I'm not even sure Bran would know exactly how he did it. In order for it to happen we had to have: Hodor and Bran together in both present and past; a massive external crisis that Bran isn't consciously aware of, but which he's hearing; and, most likely, a link between Bran and Hodor established by Bran previously warging into Hodor. I don't think Bran would want to risk repeating that, given that it might turn Jaime or Aerys into a blathering wreck, but I also don't think he could do it even if he wanted to. I don't think the 3EC was telling him he couldn't change things to be obfuscatory--I think he genuinely didn't think it was possible. Bran warging into Hodor created some kind of link between them, though, and so in this one case, because of the massive crisis happening while Bran isn't really conscious AND while Bran is with Hodor in both the present and the past, the past gets changed. Seems like a one-time thing for lots and lots of reasons.
  12. SamuelVimes

    [Spoilers] EP606

    This makes a lot of sense. I imagine Jaqen must be irritated about how difficult it is to find, or even train, dispassionate killers these days. "Augh! Everyone has opinions these days, and emotions! By the Many-Faced God, someone invent Craigslist!" (I will admit I entertained myself imagining Jaqen trying to compose exactly the right Craigslist ad.) It's a good opportunity to show the unsustainability of feudal patriarchy, that's for sure--especially during wartime, when men are far more likely to die than women. (And yeah, technically Lannister did just get their male heir back in the game with Jaime being out of the Kingsguard--but I think we can all agree he's unlikely to go settle down at Casterly Rock with some nice girl who's not his twin.) I mean, even if Dany manages to get the Iron Throne, if we believe Mirri Maz Duur, she's not going to bear an heir at all, which means all she's doing is staving off future chaos for a few decades at most. We do have the Dornish and Wildling examples where women inherit / go to war, and I think it's going to be interesting just how bad the crisis gets--will Westeros go Dornish, basically feudalism with egalitarian inheritance... or will it be bad enough to force them to Wildling-style rule (anarchy? Variation on democracy? Definitely not feudalism anyway). Given that GRRM is drawing his inspiration from medieval Europe, I'd say that the best Dany can hope for is a variation on Elizabeth I, hoping like hell that Jon Snow has himself a few children so that, like Elizabeth, she ends up with a northern nephew to pass the throne to. Alternately, you end up like France after the Valois line ended, with so many options that you get the 100 Years' War. Or maybe we skip ahead a lot, and get the French Revolution--I think the Wildlings would favor that option, I can definitely see Tormund getting a kick out of the guillotine... I mean, we know from history that once the idea of self-determination hits, monarchies are difficult to sustain. Unless monarchs are willing to give up their power and sit as figureheads, the way the remaining European monarchies have done, they're ultimately doomed. And with the arrival of the Wildlings below the wall, the idea of self-determination has just been set loose. Sure, it's going to take a while, but that aspect of the Wildlings is probably their most dangerous aspect. Not their spears or their bad table manners, but their centuries of self-governance. That's the doom of the kings and great houses, ultimately. (Well unless everyone turns into White Walker snacks beforehand.) "Surely she must"... You're absolutely right, IF she's a responsible ruler. I'd say that's a major test she's facing, and I'd say that's a major test she's going to fail with flying colors (and dragons). She wants glory and adulation, not the hard slog that follows it. Also, it's not nearly as easy as wiping out the slavers. After all, that means either wiping out their families (and Dany doesn't like killing children), or leaving children alive who plan to avenge their families and retake their city when they're old enough. There's no good solution there, and like it or not, pragmatic Tyrion's got the right idea negotiating with the slavers. I mean, giving them 7 years was too long, because that's an entire childhood given away, but 3-4 years and substantial help in establishing a non-slave economy is probably the most sustainable way to make lasting change. After all, you have to set up something that will stay functional once the threatening dragons are away in Westeros. But Dany wants to be ideologically pure, and unfortunately for her, effective rulers are rarely ideologically pure. (It's what did in Ned Stark way back when, too. Honor is a good thing, but too much honor makes you a bad politician and ruler. I'd say that's true not just in the Game of Thrones, but in real life, too. Lincoln was way more of a pragmatist than we remember, for example.) It's why she's a conqueror but not a ruler--you can conquer without compromise, but ruling requires compromise. Finally, let's not forget that the Dothraki are a major source of slaves, via their conquests. She's going to be asking former slaves to trust her when she's leading a giant army full of people who enslaved some of them. Plus, taking the Dothraki out of the area may well be helpful in the long run, but unless you plan it right it's also going to leave a power vacuum that any unscrupulous bunch of masters might easily exploit. If Dany plans to leave right now for Westeros, she's condemning that whole area to chaos and collapse. As to Benjen I'm pretty sure that GRRM said that Coldhands isn't Benjen in the books, and even if he hasn't said that, I think it's pretty clear, given Coldhands' extensive interaction with Bran in the books where Bran does not recognize him, and the difference in the physical description of Coldhands and Benjen, that they are not the same person in the books. This is another point where the show has streamlined several characters into one. I would laugh so hard if Dany's entire, massive army drowns on the crossing, ending her conquest in the most anticlimactic of ways.
  13. SamuelVimes

    [Spoilers] EP606

    Benjen seems to be clearly dead (albeit walking around and all), whereas Jon is definitely still (or rather, once again) alive. I thought that the blood he was squeezing out was for himself, not for Bran, that maybe that's what he needs to survive--contrast that with Jon, who's eating the crap food of the Watch and drinking its awful beer. Benjen was prevented from turning into a wight, but he wasn't brought back to life. He's undead. Jon's alive. Which isn't to say that R'hllor is responsible for Jon's resurrection, necessarily, but I think what happened to Benjen is something completely different. I suspect that she will be safe once she kills the Waif. The Faceless God or whoever is owed one death; no reason that can't be the Waif instead of Arya. Jaqen doesn't seem like he's inclined to be angry at her, and also, honestly, on a pragmatic level it's just going to be easier for the show going forward if she's not also being pursued by assassins for the rest of her life. I suspect that if she's able to kill the Waif, she's good. And obviously she'll be able to kill the Waif. Also, I know folks are saying Sansa is gonna be the embodiment of vengeance, but to me it seems Arya is far better suited to the role of LSH stand-in. I mean, she's had a list for ages, she's already killed people, she's gained some assassin skills, and if she heads to the Riverlands and pairs back up with Nymeria... Just sayin' it could work nicely. Exactly. When she was giving that speech about how they were going to tear everything down in Westeros, I thought, "Wow, great way to make yourself popular with 'your people,' Dany." Tearing down the houses and bringing in an army that tends to rape and pillage its way across the world, well, that's not exactly the way to set yourself up as a successful leader in the future. (Yeah, I'm sure she'll outlaw raping and all, but that speech was all about subjugating and destroying the Westerosi; when did she decide they were the enemy instead of her people?) Daario was 100% correct that she is a conqueror, not a ruler--but the problem is that her world desperately needs rulers, not conquerors. She's left her conquered cities in a dire mess, and now she's scooting off to do the same to Westeros? We're seeing that Meereen is kind of in crisis, and Astapor et al. already went back to slaving, but her response is basically "shit's getting difficult here....Ooo! look over there! Let's go there!!" ("Squirrel!!") And we're... supposed to like her? Her heart is in the right place in terms of freeing the slaves, but she ought to get her brain and her common sense involved in the process as well to make sure that they stay free and can survive. At this point I think I'd take King Tommen over Queen Conquer & Scamper. I also think Dany ought to think about WHY she wants to take over Westeros. Yeah, sure, her ancestors came over a couple hundred years ago and smoked some castles and conquered the place. Great. So what? She wants to avenge Rhaegar and his family and all, but... that's not a reason to want the Iron Throne. She wants revenge, not Westeros. She's the kid who wants a toy because someone else took it, but doesn't actually want to play with it. If she can't handle the one city of Meereen, which only has two or three major factions to juggle, she's gonna be completely overwhelmed by seven kingdoms and massive numbers of factions. She may win a war, but unless she changes her personality, she will lose the peace every time.
  14. SamuelVimes

    [Spoiler] EP604

    Ooh, interesting! I do wish the show had somehow shown this ("Hey! You! Go get some oil for the floors! What were you saying, Dany?"), but I appreciate the info. Guess I don't hang out on enough dirt floors--or maybe just not on appropriately-cared-for dirt floors!
  15. SamuelVimes

    [Spoiler] EP604

    As many times as there are blades of grass in the Dothraki sea. As many times as there are grains of sand in Dorne. As many times as Daario gets a woman naked. As many...well, you get the idea... I thought so too. Still, I suppose it's a good thing she managed to find herself some fireproofing shampoo this time around... My issue with the fire scene, which tbh generally I liked, was less whether Dany was fireproof (I'm willing to accept that the show's rules here are different from those that Martin has set up, and I'm also not 100% willing to trust things GRRM says in interviews anyway), and more the fact that everything caught on fire so quickly. She throws coals down on a dirt floor and... the dirt floor goes up in flames? It seems from the way that the fire crawls up those steps that there's some kind of accelerating agent being used, but where did that come from? Were Jorah and Daario just carrying a handy container of lighter fluid? (Friend of mine said "Well I've heard the Second Sons piss petrol..." which is a better explanation than most...) I mean, maybe it's the unspecified help that Dany gets from the Lazharene dosh khaleen, but where do you get your hands on an accelerant that quickly--an accelerant that doesn't smell much or discolor anything, so the khals don't notice it? There's a reason that a lot of hearths feature...a dirt floor. Hard to set on fire, dirt floors are. [edited to add that in the time I spent writing this, a whole discussion happened around that point, so that's kinda been covered. I do think it would've been useful for there to be some kind of explanation, even if only having the old widow say "Gosh isn't it funny how we use benzene to clean the floors..."] This is one of the reasons I generally liked the scene, aside from dirt catching on fire. Dany's not waiting around to be saved by her dragon--and she's not letting Jorah and Daario save her the way they plan, either. This season so far seems to be the season of the show's women kicking ass and taking names, which is a nice change of pace. (I mean, even Margaery seems to be getting ready to kick some sparrow butt, and she's still in prison.) Well... except Osha. Sigh. House Baratheon is screwed. House Tyrell, I think, has more options--there was whoever they were offering Sansa really early on, after all, though Margaery and Loras are their key game pieces. There are always more Lannister cousins, even if Lancel keeps on being a little sparrow. House Arryn is suffering from the effects of having Lysa involved in your family line--and that's assuming that Sweetrobin is actually Jon Arryn's, and not Petyr's. All this, plus all the focus on strong women this season, plus the idea that the show is going to Bear Island (where you can inherit just fine from the women of the House, who "mate with bears" wink wink and thus don't need to bother marrying), makes me wonder if the show is, on the one hand, moving Westerosi nobility toward a more Dornish approach (speaking of Great Houses down to nothing...)--inheritance in the maternal line. Now, that won't help Arryn and Baratheon, who I suspect are beyond help (this is what happens when you kill your brother and burn your child, Stannis, you fool; and no one should ever have procreated with Lysa), but it'll work well for Stark, Reed, and several others. I suppose there is always the possibility that there's a distant cousin somewhere with a claim to inheritance. (That is generally what happens in real-world nobility / title inheritance. Kill the tsar's family? No prob, we've got cousins.) But I suspect that all of the concern for Houses is going to fall by the wayside when the entirety of Westeros (if not Planetos) gets drastically reshaped by the coming Long Winter. If it's as disastrous as it looks, and given how close to the brink a number of major Houses are, it's entirely likely that by the end of it no one will give a tinker's damn what House you may or may not be from, so long as you're not from the White (Walker) House. On the third hand, I might be completely wrong. Astonishing, but possible.