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zaphodbrx

Balanced review of Stannis [Book Spoilers]

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I was surprised that this thread hasn't shown up yet. So here goes.



There are three problems I have with this scene:



1) Jon's parlay with Mance. Now I never expected to see Val, Dalla, Varamyr Sixskins or anything like that. However what is also missing is the Horn of Joramun. This changes things a lot.


In the novels, Jon is forced to go out there and parley. If he would have accepted or declined the proposal, and gone back, Alliser/Slynt would have hanged him as a traitor, Tormund would sound the horn and the wall would fall. He could have tried to kill Mance but same result really except the wildlings would kill Jon. There was no way for Jon to 'win'.


In the show, Jon would have accepted the proposal. As there is no one in command at Castle Black, and Slynt is discredited as a coward, there is no downside for Jon. And since there is no horn, there is no danger of the wall coming down. In fact Mance is downright reasonable and doesn't say things like 'The laws of King's Landing and Winterfell? When we need laws we'll make our own. I'm offering you the horn, not our freedom. We will not kneel to you'. <- incredibly cool quotes by the way, which ofc don't appear in the show.



So basically Stannis came in and spoiled a 'good thing' from happening.



2)The battle itself. I don't like how the so called '100,000 wildling army' was reduced to 50 dudes huddled around a campfire. And Stannis has over 3000 cavalry alone ( since he has Iron bank support and all ). Mance doesn't even try to fight. He only says 'my people have bled enough', and then Stannis comes in with the evil music. Is there any ambiguity about who is the bad guy here?



Also this downplays the military achievement of Stannis. In the books the battle was a strong military victory for Stannis, who was outnumbered by a huge deal. Here he just slaughters a small bunch of people who were just having breakfast.



3)The whole kneeling business. This invented scene pretty much serves no purpose other than to make Stannis a dick. And I thought Davos was kind of a dick here too.



Obviously, they also omitted the chant ( cause god forbid anyone other than Dany has a cult following in the show ), and the cart before the horse line - which I never expected to be in the show because that's anyway not what happened, Stannis went to the wall because Melisandre basically ordered him too.



See a lot of people kept saying 'wait till he gets to the wall, it will change', but here we are, and basically nothing has changed. Those who don't care/ hate Stannis in the books will keep insisting D & D did nothing wrong, and those who like him will easily see how the character was butchered and blackwashed , and it will continue to be that way. So yeah.


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I consider their adaption of Stannis so far fairly shit, but I didn't have much of a problem with this episode.



1 - The basic point was enough for me, here. Mance is going through the Wall on his terms and his terms only, and if the Night's Watch disagrees he destroys it. They've gone to extremes to show how absolutely awful some wildlings can be, comically even, so Stannis ruining their ability to dictate how they cross the Wall is not something I'd consider a bad thing.



2 - Fair point, but it's the show, and battles never look good or make much sense. I just blank the fight scenes.



3 - Stannis is a dick, and I've never considered people skills as one of his positive qualities. But yes, the omission of Stannis' motivations was a mistake, and it seems like they won't be included given they have GRRM explaining it in an extra video, which they wouldn't need if they ever intended to include it in the show. I find Davos barking at Jon funny for my own reasons, so I don't mind that.





See a lot of people kept saying 'wait till he gets to the wall, it will change', but here we are, and basically nothing has changed.





Well, yeah. I wouldn't hold out for an accurate depiction in anything other than the broadest of plot points.


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I don't think it played as if Stannis 'spoiled a good thing' - Jon had a knife at his throat and in typical to the rescue so that the main hero won't die fashion Stannis' army arrived in what I thought was the most epic sequence in the show yet.



All in all, I loved all the scenes he had thia season, I can only hope he'll have more screen time in season 5.


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I don't think, Stannis was slated as a villain in that scene. Mance Rayder still threatened to kill every man at castle black and invade the North, if Jon doesn't agree to his terms.



I only was very underwhelmed by his arrival at all. It would have been so much better, if the first minutes of Ep. 10 were at the end of Ep. 9, which could have ended with the burning of Ygrittes body and then fading to black. Then Stannis would have appeared much more as the savior of the Night's Watch, which he really is.


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Well I do agree that Stannis is a dick. He's willing to torture/kill anyone in order to get what he wants. I never did quite get all this Stannis fandom.

Then again, I do have a weird sort of soft spot for the Boltons - don't get me wrong, I can't wait to see them go down - but I enjoy hating them and their antics. At least the Boltons have personality though. Stannis? Not so much. . . :)

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Well I do agree that Stannis is a dick. He's willing to torture/kill anyone in order to get what he wants. I never did quite get all this Stannis fandom.

Then again, I do have a weird sort of soft spot for the Boltons - don't get me wrong, I can't wait to see them go down - but I enjoy hating them and their antics. At least the Boltons have personality though. Stannis? Not so much. . . :)

Yeah if only he loved his daughter...and Davos...and tried to reunite the North and save the realm...and go against flaying monsters...oh, wait.

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I'm definitely no show- / D&D-apologizt or -defender, but I was actually more than satisfied with the scene(s), I loved them!

And I don't see some of the problems...

- Mance said he has still many, many men - the NW has now maybe 50 members. He has men who climb the Wall, men who are ready to attack again, enough men to kill "every man in Castle Black". Jon was in a quandary, surrender and agree with Mance' terms or try to kill him (which certainly wouldn't have worked). I agree with with:

I don't think it played as if Stannis 'spoiled a good thing' - Jon had a knife at his throat and in typical to the rescue so that the main hero won't die fashion Stannis' army arrived in what I thought was the most epic sequence in the show yet.

All in all, I loved all the scenes he had thia season, I can only hope he'll have more screen time in season 5.

I don't think, Stannis was slated as a villain in that scene. Mance Rayder still threatened to kill every man at castle black and invade the North, if Jon doesn't agree to his terms.

I only was very underwhelmed by his arrival at all. It would have been so much better, if the first minutes of Ep. 10 were at the end of Ep. 9, which could have ended with the burning of Ygrittes body and then fading to black. Then Stannis would have appeared much more as the savior of the Night's Watch, which he really is.

- I liked the scene of his cavalry, of course it wasn't suuuuper big and huge, but it looked epic and there were very nice shots and you saw his tactics. Okay, yes, we didn't saw 100.000 Wildlings, but I don't got the feeling that it was in any way pointless slaughtering of a few men.

- I don't think that the chant would have worked as in the books. Yes, I love the "Stannis! Stannis! STANNIS!" very much, but there it's essential for Jon to know who comes to rescue. In the show Stannis (& Davos) show(s) up and that, Imo, in a pretty epic way. Riding through the dust, dismounting their horses synchronically, walking undisturbed and calmly to Mance and Jon while a ramdom Wildling charges toward them - That was extremely awesome!

Yes, Stannis has a "cult" in the books and his queen's men shout very often things like "One Realm! One God! One King! Stannis! Stannis! Stannis", but there aren't these queen's men in the show and no guys who are used to chant his name (This shouldn't be an apology why they omitted the chant, I just think certain things work better in the books and some better on the show). And I myself loved the way he showed up.

- I don't know how anybody could find something negative about the Jon/Mance/Stannis talk. I found everyone very in character and it showed well their personalities (of all three) and don't see how this makes Stannis look villainous.

He wants Mance to kneel - He's the king, Mance surrenders, of course he orders this.

Mance insists to don't kneel - Because he's the Wildlings' King and the Free Folk doesn't kneel.

Stannis says he's not there to slaughter beaten dogs (You can hear in the background his men saying that they surround/capture wildlings, not "Let's kill some Wildlings!" or something), he makes clear that he has many men, he could do everything with the Free Folk, their fates depends on their king (Stannis doesn't allow other kings than him, but he knows that the Wildlings recognize Mance as their leader and king and follow him). How does this make him look as a villain?!

Then Stannis and Jon talk and it reminds me of the scene on the Wall, where Stannis tells Jon about the rumours some of Jon's brothers tell about him (He's a traitor, warg, Wildling, aso.), Jon says he's no traitor and Stannis believes him. That makes Jon wonder why and Stannis anwers, he knew Ned Stark and although he wasn't a friend of him, only a fool would question Ned's honesty and honor; and Jon has Ned's look; Stannis believes him.

Stannis on the show knows even that Ned declared for him, his respect for Ned is even bigger. That affects Stannis'/Jon's first meeting very positively. He asks Jon for advice and his opinion and Jon can show that he's really his father's son (let's forget R+L for a moment), that he's honourable and honest and Stannis approves that and follows Jon's advice. That actually a pretty beautiful moment, Imo, and I love how respectful all men are to each other, I can't see anything negative about that! Stannis didn't come to Mance and said immediately "Now, me and Mel are going to burn you!", he's now their prisoner (as in the books), they want to question him (what Stannis does in the books, too), but this first meeting of the two different kings at/beyond the Wall was actually a very well-made moment which blackwashed neither of them.

Jon tells also later to Tormund that nobody will or want to torture the Wildlings, they treat everyone, whether NW brother or Wildling.

I myself was super-happy with these scenes (my new favourites) and don't have problems with them! I found the Wall scenes were the best of the finale, everything with Jon, Mance, Stannis and the funeral(s) scenes later were very well done, in my opinion.

ETA: Of course, the biggest pity is still Stannis' motivations, the lack of explinations, "cart before the horse...", aso. Although I love that we got a GRRM video, it's no apology to exclude it of course, but I just wanted to say there are many things which happend at the end of ASOS at the Wall, but didn't happen so far. Not only the LC election, Jon's and Stannis' first conversation includes so many topics (the castles at the Wall, dragonglass/obsidian, letting the Wildlings though the Wall and make an alliance, Mance's execution, the only enemy/war what matters, Stannis' plans with the Boltons and Winterfell, the offer, aso...). They hadn't time for this in the finale, but Stannis and Jon will have enough time in Season 5 to make their plans and discuss and talk about the NW's / Wildlings' future and how to prepare against the WW and what to do with the Northmen/Boltons/aso.

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Yeah if only he loved his daughter...and Davos...and tried to reunite the North and save the realm...and go against flaying monsters...oh, wait.

Yeah, he loves Davos so much he was about to execute him until he realized he needed him to achieve his goals.

I get it, you like him. I don't. Let's just agree to disagree. . .

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Why does everyone try to divide these characters up into 'hero' and 'villain'? We have very, very few of those, most people are a mix of both. Some may be inclined towards one side or the other, but they are not wholely one or the other as a rule. Even characters like Melisandre and Jon Snow- she was going to kill Gendry, but she also agrees with Davos about going to the Wall to fight the true enemy. And Jon Snow...he is going to slay a man under the guise of truce in his own tent. Good people do bad things and bad people do good things. It's not one or the other all the time.



Stannis is neither good nor bad. He's Stannis- he makes good decisions and he makes mistakes. The show has shown that, and they haven't tilted to one side or the other. His hero moment was saving the Night's Watch...his villain moment was killing his own brother by black magic. He does both in the books.


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And I just wanted to remind of all this naysaying before the scene about him slaughtering innocent women and kids, hating Jon, burning Mance immediately, looking all villainous (although I know some of it was just tumblr#stannisisthevillain trolling) - Did that happen? No.

Did we saw Stannis being respectful, saving the Wall, listening to Jon, looking very awesome? - Imo, yes!

And about all this "good vs. bad" stuff (why are we talking here about that?!), this doesn't work the most time in ASOIAF, I just wanted to say on this famous spectrum (I think you know what I mean) is he the best example for "Lawful Neutral" you can find.

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And I just wanted to remind of all this naysaying before the scene about him slaughtering innocent women and kids, hating Jon, burning Mance immediately, looking all villainous (although I know some of it was just tumblr#stannisisthevillain trolling) - Did that happen? No.

Did we saw Stannis being respectful, saving the Wall, listening to Jon, looking very awesome? - Imo, yes!

And about all this "good vs. bad" stuff (why are we talking here about that?!), this doesn't work the most time in ASOIAF, I just wanted to say on this famous spectrum (I think you know what I mean) is he the best example for "Lawful Neutral" you can find.

What annoys me is this talk about him not loving anyone when the one thing I will always praise the show for is showing how much he loves his daughter. He is obviously capable of caring about someone

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What annoys me is this talk about him not loving anyone when the one thing I will always praise the show for is showing how much he loves his daughter. He is obviously capable of caring about someone

Huh, of course he's captable of love and emotions (Stannis is NOT Roose!), he's just terrible in express them. He loves his daughter, he loved his parents incredible much, he loved his brothers (Yes, he did). I'm sure he also loved Maester Cressen (he says in TWOW Cressen was like a father to him) and cares in his own Stannis-way about Davos (He says two times that he missed him sorely and is glad that Davos lives after the Blackwater). He's no man of many emotions and show his affection rarely and everybody knows this (I always have to chuckle when Jon gets Stannis' letter and he wrote: "...I will save your sister if I can." And Jon thinks: A surprisingly tender sentiment from Stannis, though undercut by that final "If I can"...).

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To cut a long story short: These scenes actually restored my hopes in the Wall storyline and Stannis (and Jon and Mance aso.) and made me very excited for Season 5. No, I'm still not satisfied in a whole (absolutely clearly not, I mean, this season began with him burning infidels... although, I admit, I found it got then better and better with every scene/episode Stannis was in), but I'm now WAY more optimistic and hyped for next year!

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Huh, of course he's captable of love and emotions (Stannis is NOT Roose!), he's just terrible in express them. He loves his daughter, he loved his parents incredible much, he loved his brothers (Yes, he did). I'm sure he also loved Maester Cressen (he says in TWOW Cressen was like a father to him) and cares in his own Stannis-way about Davos (He says two times that he missed him sorely and is glad that Davos lives after the Blackwater). He's no man of many emotions and show his affection rarely and everybody knows this (I always have to chuckle when Jon gets Stannis' letter and he wrote: "...I will save your sister if I can." And Jon thinks: A surprisingly tender sentiment from Stannis, though undercut by that final "If I can"...).

And Proudwing :crying: :crying: :crying:

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I enjoyed them.



I thought it was clever that Stannis asked Jon the same question Mance did a few minutes earlier, just in a different way. When Mance realizes Jon is there to kill him he asks, 'Killing a man in his own tent who just offered you peace. Is that what the Night's Watch is? Is that what you are?" Then the horns sounds. Later, after Jon name-drops the honorable Ned Stark as his father, Stannis tests him. "Ned Stark was an honorable man. What would he have done with him." (what kind of person are you?) And Jon answers in a way that would have made Ned Stark proud. A great moment.



And then Jon says maybe my favorite line of the episode, maybe the season, "Your grace, if my father had seen the things that I've seen, he'd also tell you to burn the dead before nightfall. All of them." And that look on Stannis' face was so great.



That above point was foreshadowed in Jon and Mance's conversation when Mance revealed the real reason for the march on the wall, the real enemy, which was a decent time to remind the show watchers of the white walkers.



All in all, I thought the scene was great. I didn't think about the Horn though, that's a great point. How does that effect things down the line regarding Sam?

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Re: the horn of Joramun, I think that Sam has the real one, and the wildlings have a red herring horn that doesn't do shit. From a writing standpoint, I don't see any other reason for GRRM to keep mentioning a dirty, crappy broken horn. Chekov's gun and all.

That said, I had a lot of the same thoughts you did. I thought Stannis' cavalry was pretty epic, but I was also wondering where the hell Mance's army of 100k was, because it looked like about 50 dudes sitting there.

D&D have referred to Stannis as a villain in the past; any nuance to the character is completely over their heads.

Just like many Westerosi, they don't "get" Stannis.

There is a lot going on behind the teeth grinding and curt comments. People talk about how he will supposedly "break before he bends", yet his actions show otherwise. He has adopted a new religion, completely curtailed his previous battle plans to travel to the wall and save the realm, and he gives equal weight to counsel from a smuggler peasant as he does his lords and advisors. If that isn't flexibility, I don't know what is.

I didn't like the dialogue with Mance. It sort of seemed like Mance owned Stannis by refusing to kneel. Davos was uncharacteristically dickish.

I also don't think Ned Stark would take Mance prisoner and hear him out. I think Ned would behead him with Ice, for being a deserter from the Night's Watch.

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Why does everyone try to divide these characters up into 'hero' and 'villain'? We have very, very few of those, most people are a mix of both. Some may be inclined towards one side or the other, but they are not wholely one or the other as a rule. Even characters like Melisandre and Jon Snow- she was going to kill Gendry, but she also agrees with Davos about going to the Wall to fight the true enemy. And Jon Snow...he is going to slay a man under the guise of truce in his own tent. Good people do bad things and bad people do good things. It's not one or the other all the time.

Stannis is neither good nor bad. He's Stannis- he makes good decisions and he makes mistakes. The show has shown that, and they haven't tilted to one side or the other. His hero moment was saving the Night's Watch...his villain moment was killing his own brother by black magic. He does both in the books.

On one hand I agree that most characters in ASOIAF can't be classified into 'hero' or 'villain' very easily. On the other hand, I disagree that any character ( and especially Stannis ) has 'hero moments' or 'villain moments'.

First of all. Stannis in the books doesn't know that he killed his brother. He certainly suspects it on some level, but doesn't know the details. And he expresses deep regrets over the matter ( paraphrasing )- 'He brought his doom upon himself, but I did love him. Only Renly could vex me so with a piece of fruit'. Second, there isn't any such thing as 'black' magic. It is the same thing as Dany using her dragon to burn the slaver, or faceless men and so on. 'Black' magic is more of a hollywood thing- in GRRM's work, the only common theme is that all magic comes at a price. Third, Renly was planning to kill his brother and usurp his position, thus he was a traitor and Stannis was perfectly justified in going for a preemptive strike.

If you think that killing his brother is a 'villain' moment, you need to read the books more carefully. GRRM is way more subtle than that. By the by, Renly in the books is very different from that in the show, they whitewashed him a -lot-.

Saving the Night's watch ( and more importantly the wall, against a WW invasions and such ) is a 'hero moment' of sorts. But it is a big tragedy for the wildlings, of whom only small groups get south of the wall eventually, the remaining are left to sort of wander around and die due to cold or the army of the dead. It really can be read both ways.

The important part is the motivation, that is completely non existent on the show.

GRRM even made a separate video to explain WHY Stannis attacks the wildlings, which by the way, is totally inconsistent with show canon, because 1) Stannis in the show didn't even know about the wildlings, since Sam's letter only contained some info on a white walker and the battle with zombie army and 2) He didn't go there because he felt it was his duty as a king ( the cart and horse conversation ), he did so because Melisandre ordered him to. And 3), even if you ignore the previous two, Stannis also spent the entire season screwing around with completely unrelated things.

To be honest, most casual viewers that I have asked have no idea why Stannis is there, they are just happy that he is finally 'doing something'. And those that like Jon Snow think he just came there to save Jon, even though Jon's life was not in any danger to begin with -see point 1) in my original post - and no, Jon would not have tried to kill Mance, he's not dumb and there was no downside in accepting his terms whatsoever.

The big problem with D&D is that they think motivations don't matter.

They can't explain the whole Alester Florent story, so they just have him burn as an 'infidel'.

They can't explain the Tysha stuff, so they just have Tyrion kill his father just because.

The characters are entirely driven by their own interpretations of the character, rather than any sort of internal logic. Thus Tyrion is a saint, and Stannis is the villain, no matter what they do. The music is also a clear indicator.

What annoys me is this talk about him not loving anyone when the one thing I will always praise the show for is showing how much he loves his daughter. He is obviously capable of caring about someone

First off, I don't really care about Show!Shireen, especially since she is not black of hair. She's a minor character in the books and consumes way too much screen time in invented scenes. Yes, he loves his daughter. Why wouldn't he? It's kind of like Hitler is nice to his pet dog. It's a neat touch. It is also completely irrelevant. None of Stannis' motivations and questionable decisions have anything to do with his daughter. It's just a sort of red herring that show defenders bring up to cover up the butchering and blackwashing of his character.

-------

After the debacle of Episode 9, I said I would count it as a win if Stannis even appeared in the episode at all.

Well I guess he did. It just shows how much lower my expectations have become of D & D, especially after the episode 'Mhysa'.

Going forward, the very broad points of Stannis' storyline might be kept, but I don't expect anything. I'm pretty sure he'll be burning Mance for being an 'infidel'. This is probably my last long post regarding the show- I have just become disinterested in it in general ( for other reasons as well, like no stoneheart ) and don't have the enthusiasm to comment on D&D's fanfiction masquerading as an 'adaptation'.

--------

A minor point regarding the kneeling affair. This doesn't happen in the books, because it is simply ridiculous.

The wildlings are not part of the seven kingdoms, of which Stannis is the king of. They have no obligation to kneel to him, and insisting on it just makes Davos look like a dick. Did he ask Bravosi bankers to kneel to him? Of course not.

When Stannis does let the wildlings through the wall, he insists that they pay him featy, in order to signify that they are now part of Westeros. The symbolism of the oath of featy in a feudal system is something that D&D are not capable of grasping though, since they really don't understand that sort of society at all ( they came up with 'Talisa' ).

What I felt was that the only purpose of that was to make Stannis look like a dick .

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First off, I don't really care about Show!Shireen, especially since she is not black of hair. She's a minor character in the books and consumes way too much screen time in invented scenes. Yes, he loves his daughter. Why wouldn't he? It's kind of like Hitler is nice to his pet dog. It's a neat touch. It is also completely irrelevant. None of Stannis' motivations and questionable decisions have anything to do with his daughter.

actually, the jury's out as to whether shireen is a red herring with no real importance to the story. in the book she is stannis' only heir and he goes to great lengths to get some of his most loyal men to swear to seat her on the throne if he dies. she is also the only known survivor of greyscale and grrm has hinted that a plague is on its way to westeros. what role she plays in that remains to be seen. finally, she has king's blood which is very much in demand.

in the show, she's much more aggressive and intelligent which dovetails nicely into book canon stating she's the rightful heir to the throne. while i agree, her scenes with stannis are meant to soften him, it's her scenes without him that make me question her irrelevance. both the show and book seem to be setting her up for something more than fading away into oblivion as edric storm did.

as for stannis, he's a questionable character in the books and he's questionable on the show. the show has definitely skimmed over some of his motivation but they've skimmed over most of the characters' motivation. while d&d will never be called stanstans, i don't think it's fair to say they've got it out for him and are interpreting him incorrectly. but yeah, they are erring on the conservative side when it comes to stannis.

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