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Xray the Enforcer

[Book Spoilers] EP108 Discussion Part 2

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Have we seen Roose Bolton yet? Robb mentions that the dude scares the hell out of him.

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He was a scout...He was probably just standing/sitting/hiding within sight of the camp. One of the main purposes of sending a scout out would be to count. He wouldn't need to be "doing" anything to appear to be counting.

Right? I mean what the fuck do people think a scout is doing if not counting? Jesus already. He doesn't have to be the Count on sesame street in order to be obviously counting troops, weapons, tents, formations, etc. This is a scouts primary job. Some people's children I tell ya.

And enough already about the wooden sword and armor. Have any of you ever gone hiking in the woods with a heavy pack and tripped? I know no one will ever admit to losing those cool points on something that happened out of plain site, but answering in your head isn't it pretty hard to get back up right away. Now double or triple the weight and have it all over your body. Syrio doesn't need to knock people out with a rap on the head. He just needs to get them off their feet to incapacitate them. He will eventually lose the fight unless he takes the opportunity to run, but his goal is to provide Arya with a head start, not to stand toe to toe with half a dozen armor plated soldiers. He accomplishes this feat, does he not?

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I definitely need to watch this episode again, because I find myself focusing on the nitpicks despite all the awesome things that happened. Robb turned into a bad ass. Drogo became a super awesome bad ass. More direwolves. Selmy giving the realm the middle finger after they gave him the middle finger. Ned and Varys. Sansa being manipulated. All of those scenes were well done.

Now, of course, the nitpicks:

-Tyrion marches into camp with 300 armed ruffians, and theres no escort? No outrider or scout who found them to bring them into camp? Yes, I suppose its possible that it happened off screen, but thats dubious because of what Tyrion says (Now its time to see what my father says or something along those lines, indicating Tywin hasnt been notified yet) and because there are no armed Lannister men riding with them. I dont remember how this happens in the book, but it just seemed a bit off to me.

-Jons fight with the wight was just okay. When he stabs the thing and it goes down, only to open its eyes, it reminded me of campy zombie horror flicks.

-Someone else mentioned this, but the scene where were introduced to the Greatjohn just didnt work very well on screen. I think they did this the best they could, but its just an awkward scene to pull off without subtext. Big dude we dont know is arguing with Robb, both get angry, wolf bites off dudes fingers, everyone laughs. It somehow made sense in the books, but it was tough to convey on TV.

-Syrio's defense of Arya. I'm fine with him knocking knights down with his wooden sword. Obviously he's skilled with it, and it's strong enough (maybe reinforced with a metal rod?) to fend off attacks by blades. But the fact that all four or five of those guys stayed down for that long...it was just tough to swallow. This is the scene I'm most interested in re-watching, to see if I buy into it more the second time around.

I know, I know, the nitpicks aren't important. But they stood out to me in this episode for some reason. The encouraging thing is that every occasion, I have enjoyed an episode better the second time I watched it. So Im looking forward to that later this week.

Edited by The Knight of Grasses

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As others have stated, it really was clear that GRRM wrote this episode, or, at least, this episode deviated the least from the plot in the books. I wonder though if faithfulness to the books was why this episode to me seemed to have some many moments where the audience was asked to overlook things. For instance, when Tyrion goes into Tywin's camp with the clansmen, were there no scouts/guards posted outside the camp? Or do we just assume that they skipped over any challenge he received for bringing in a huge host of armed fighters? Or with Robb winning over the Northern lords -- they show Umber and Grey Wind, but it's still a stretch to me that just from that one scene that all of the Northern lords would fall in line to go to war with a green boy. There were other smaller moments too (I wasn't really convinced by Tyrion's winning over of Shagga). I think these are just the kinds of leaps that are required to squeeze the series into such a small amount of screen time. If the jumps get too big though, the show will become difficult to watch.

Edit: oh, regarding the scout counting, I just assumed what was meant was that the scout was probably sitting/standing still for a while staring at the army. Maybe he made some pointing gestures with his hand as he did so. Perhaps his lips were moving slightly as he mouthed the numbers. I doubt he was ticking off the troop numbers on his fingers.

Edited by schrecklich

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Robb's ploy with the scout is made that much more effective by his not having shared his plans with the Greatjon or his mother or his other lords. They are as fooled by him as the scout is. That way the scout will report to the Lannisters that not only was the soft child merciful but that he disregarded the advice of older and wiser men. Extremely well done.

Books-Robb would not have come up with this trick this early on, but TV-Robb is older (and doesn't have the Blackfish yet).

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-Tyrion marches into camp with 300 armed ruffians, and there’s no escort? No outrider or scout who found them to bring them into camp? Yes, I suppose it’s possible that it happened off screen, but that’s dubious because of what Tyrion says (“Now it’s time to see what my father says” or something along those lines, indicating Tywin hasn’t been notified yet) and because there are no armed Lannister men riding with them. I don’t remember how this happens in the book, but it just seemed a bit off to me.

-Jon’s fight with the wight was just okay. When he stabs the thing and it goes down, only to open its eyes, it reminded me of campy zombie horror flicks.

-Someone else mentioned this, but the scene where we’re introduced to the Greatjohn just didn’t work very well on screen. I think they did this the best they could, but it’s just an awkward scene to pull off without subtext. Big dude we don’t know is arguing with Robb, both get angry, wolf bites off dude’s fingers, everyone laughs. It somehow made sense in the books, but it was tough to convey on TV.

-Syrio's defense of Arya. I'm fine with him knocking knights down with his wooden sword. Obviously he's skilled with it, and it's strong enough (maybe reinforced with a metal rod?) to fend off attacks by blades. But the fact that all four or five of those guys stayed down for that long...it was just tough to swallow. This is the scene I'm most interested in re-watching, to see if I buy into it more the second time around.

I know, I know, the nitpicks aren't important. But they stood out to me in this episode for some reason. The encouraging thing is that every occasion, I have enjoyed an episode better the second time I watched it. So I’m looking forward to that later this week.

I totally agree with all of these criticisms and they aren't even nitpicks to me. They're clear shortcomings of the episode. That's why I'm having a hard time swallowing all the 10's the episode has been getting on the ratings thread.

The Tyrion scene was especially befuddling. How the heck could that party get that close to the Lannister camp without either any resistance or escort?? Crazy.

Edited by valacirca

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Regarding the scout, I’m not sure what the big deal is. Of course, I have no room to talk, given all the nitpicks I listed above, but I don’t know what people expect.

[Guards enter the tent, dragging an unknown man between them]

Guard 1: My lord! We found this Lannister scout, counting our troops!

Robb: How do you know he’s a Lannister scout? And how do you know he was counting?

Guard 2: Look, my lord! He has Lannister stationery! And he has 19,864 tick marks on this paper!

Guard 1: Don’t forget his badge that says “Hi! I’m a Lannister scout.”

Guard 2: Oh, and check out what we found in his pockets. Casterly Rock driver’s license, a book called “Counting Northmen for Dummies,” a calculator…

Robb: Hmmmm…yes, that seems pretty conclusive.

I didn’t think anything seemed strange with that scene in the show. I try to think about these things in terms of a non-reader. Which scene is more confusing? The one where they apprehend a scout they found counting troops? Or the scene where a dude gets his fingers bitten off and then everyone starts laughing? For a non-reader, I’d be WAY more confused by the latter, but those of us who’ve read the books know how Umber works, so it makes sense.

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This was also the low-point for me as the guards were all in heavy armor - whats the point of your helmet it a wooden swords can send you flying while wearing it?

A helmet can protect you against fatal cuts or blows, but you'll still feel the kinetic impact. Imagine that you're wearing a helmet and that someone is hitting you on the head with a solid wooden stick or bat (I believe Syrio had some kind of lead core in his training sword). The hit won't kill you, but you'll still feel the force of the blow, and it'll probably disorient you for a while (due to concussion), or even cause unconsciousness.

Besides, Syrio attacked the unprotected areas of those guards: The neck, lower arms and legs (the guards didnt wear neck protection).

Hitting those smaller areas with such speed and precision requires a lot of skill. Not to mention the coordination of Syrio's attacks against multiple foes. But that's one of the ideas behind this fight (as written in the book and shown onscreen): Technique and skill wins over brute force.

Here's a summary of the fight:

  • Guard A swings his blade against Syrio but misses, and Syrio whacks his head with a right swing. The guard loses balance and falls to the ground.
  • Guard B thrusts his blade but Syrio sidesteps the attack and grabs the guard's cape. The guard is struggling to keep balance as he's being pulled backwards.
  • Guard C hacks with his sword, but Syrio strikes the blade sideways and lets his own blade hit the backside of the guard's lower leg on his downward thrust. The guard loses his balance and falls.
  • Guard D prepares to take a swing at Syrio (who's still holding the cape of guard) , but Syrio is faster and hits the guard on the unprotected area of his lower arm. The guard almost freezes (due to shock or pain), but manages to hold on to his sword.
  • Guard B (still being held by Syrio) swings around with his sword, but Syrio ducks and the guard hits guard D in the head instead. Guard D goes down.
  • Syrio turns around and hits guard B on the throat with his sword (this can be lethal, and would definitely keep this guard 'pacified' for the rest of the fight). Guard B goes down.
  • Guard C is on his feet again and prepares to attack Syrio. But Syrio is faster, he turns around to face him and strikes his head with full force. Guard C goes down.
  • Guard A is also back in the fight, but Syrio parries his blow and hits the guard's lower leg. The guard loses his balance and Syrio tackles him, before hitting his head. Guard A stays down.
  • Syrio turns around to face the kingsguard commander. The commander thrusts his sword but Syrio deflects it. They slash and parry until the commander grabs Syrio's sword and splits it with his sword.

Notes:

  • Most of the guards were only temporarily taken out (concussion, minor injuries, etc.), so Syrio wouldn't have much time before the other men rejoined the fight.
  • Syrio does not try to grab another sword immediately after his own sword is broken. Instead, he blocks the commander so that he can't reach Arya. Protecting Arya and letting her escape has much higher priority.
  • We don't get to see what happens after Arya leaves the scene, but Syrio would probably try to buy Arya some additional time. So his first priority would be to get another sword, fight defensively and keep the entrance blocked.
  • Sooner or later he would have to flee, because fighting the commander in addition to the other guards would (most likely) be too challenging, even for a master swordsman like Syrio. It would serve little purpose anyway, since his primary objective is delay the commander and his guards, not to kill them.
  • Syrio should have no problems running away from the guards (he's not wearing bulky armor), as long as he doesn't get surrounded.

EDIT: Removed a lot of empty space

Edited by Arya The Assassin

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re: Syrio vs guards, the book is so great and convincing in describing how Syrio won that fight, while the show was just so [email protected]#ing clumsy in showing it, not to mention it seemed really implausible:

From the book:

Syrio did not wait for them to reach him, but spun to his left. Arya had never seen a man move as fast. He checked one sword with his stick and whirled away from a second. Off balance, the second man lurched into the first. Syrio put a boot to his back and the red cloaks went down together. The third guard came leaping over them, slashing at the water dancer’s head. Syrio ducked under his blade and thrust upward. The guardsman fell screaming as blood welled from the wet red hole where his left eye had been.

The fallen men were getting up. Syrio kicked one in the face and snatched the steel cap off the other’s head. The dagger man stabbed at him. Syrio caught the thrust in the helmet and shattered the man’s kneecap with his stick. The last red cloak shouted a curse and charged, hacking down with both hands on his sword. Syrio rolled right, and the butcher’s cut caught the helmetless man between neck and shoulder as he struggled to his knees. The longsword crunched through mail and leather and flesh. The man on his knees shrieked. Before his killer could wrench free his blade, Syrio jabbed him in the apple of his throat. The guardsman gave a choked cry and staggered back, clutching at his neck, his face blackening.

Edited by valacirca

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re: Syrio vs guards, the book is so great and convincing in describing how Syrio won that fight, while the show was just so [email protected]#ing clumsy in showing it, not to mention it seemed really implausible:

From the book:

Already in the first exchange in the book the soldiers come off as way more clumsy than they should because you should not get out of balance when you strike without the opponent doing anything to you. Being balanced while you attack is one of the most basic things you learn (granted I've competed in unarmed martial arts and not sword fighting but the principle remains). Therefor I disagree with you, especially since the book has complete freedom while the show needs the actors to actually perform.

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re: Syrio vs guards, the book is so great and convincing in describing how Syrio won that fight, while the show was just so [email protected]#ing clumsy in showing it, not to mention it seemed really implausible:

From the book:

Yeah, this is pretty much how I feel. I don't know - this could be another of those scenes (like the Greatjohn getting his fingers bitten off) where it's relatively easy to make it believable in written form, but very tough visually. So even though they did the best they could, there's just no way to make a visually believable scene where a little guy with a stick takes out four fully armored guards. I definitely need to watch again.

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The Tyrion scene was especially befuddling. How the heck could that party get that close to the Lannister camp without either any resistance or escort?? Crazy.

I agree, a Lannister soldier saying "there is your Father's camp, Lord Tyrion" at the beginning of the scene might have made things clearer. But it didn't distract me at the time, and it's perfectly possible that Tyrion ran into the Lannister outriders and sent them on ahead to announce his arrival. Tywin and Kevan certainly seem to be expecting him when he enters the tent.

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It didn't bother me... Despite his "escort" of tribesmen, he is still Tyrion, and he is wearing Lannister colors. Every solider must know about the Lannister dwarf, and in case they don't know his face, was I one of the Lannister men, I wouldn't take the chance to piss the Lord off because there might be ANOTHER DWARF pretending to be Tyrion and having somehow managed to steal his clothes.

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re: Syrio vs guards, the book is so great and convincing in describing how Syrio won that fight, while the show was just so [email protected]#ing clumsy in showing it, not to mention it seemed really implausible:

I'm not quite sure what you find to be so implausible (*), and I actually think they did a good job. Many elements from the fight in the book were also included in the TV show: Throat whacking, guards hitting one another, Syrio attacking the guards' unprotected spots, keeping the guards off-balance, etc.

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Already in the first exchange in the book the soldiers come off as way more clumsy than they should because you should not get out of balance when you strike without the opponent doing anything to you

Yes, that's how I felt too. As I mentioned in the other thread, I had the impression that they underestimated Syrio, and it seemed to me that the guards were nowhere near Syrio's skill level. It just emphasized how Syrio's superior technique could more than compensate for the brute force of the guards.

Being balanced while you attack is one of the most basic things you learn (granted I've competed in unarmed martial arts and not sword fighting but the principle remains). ...

I've also trained in martial arts (but not competed professionally), and I think it's interesting that the martial artists I've talked to or communicated with find the scene to be more plausible than some of the critics here.

Ultimately, I think it boils down to this: Does the scene look cool? Does it entertain? If yes, then I think it should be less important whether you think it looks (extremely) realistic or not.

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Well, you'll have to take that up with GRRM two times over. It's straight out of the book:

“Have no fear on that count, Lady Stark,” the Greatjon told her in his bass rumble. “Winterfell is safe. We’ll shove our swords up Tywin Lannister’s bunghole soon enough, begging your pardons, and then it’s on to the Red Keep to free Ned.”

This was then repeated by like 6 various boarders.

Obviously, I am wrong about my criticism that the actor suffered from sloppy acting of that the show suffers from sloppy writing.

But my criticism stands.

Let me explain.

In the books, I never noticed that Greatjon calls Lord Stark Ned, and for appreciable reasons- its a very small detail, its very minor and it has no relevance. However, to a greater extent, in th books, the formality of Lord Stark at Winterfell is kept to a remarkable minimum. In fact, with the exception of the Feast scene we never really see Ned interact with anyone IN Winterfell other than his family: Cat, Bran etc. In the books, Ned's roll as Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North is not nearly as pronounced as it is in the show. Now, this is not absolute: in the ONLY scene where we ever see Ned speak to a subordinate IN winterfell is the scene where Cat gets the message from Lysa and Maester Luwin and Cat is in the nude- she specifically refuses to put any clothes on stating that Luwin helped her give birth to their children. In other words, Luwin is exempt from the formalities of Winterfell, if there actually were ever any.

This is different than in the show (putting aside that one scene: in the show Cat is fully clothed and its actually a relatively formal scene), you see a lot of small details that are critically important to understanding Ned's roll: nobody addresses Ned Stark by his name in Winterfell- its always "Lord Stark"; this happens several times. Guards and men at arms do not look Ned in the eye when he approaches: the avert their gaze and bow their heads. This happens several times in Winterfell and during the beheading scene. In fact, the entire SHOW is steeped in "Lord Ned Stark", at least to the extent that his underlings and subordinates can see.

Bean's Ned is, I will readily admit, far softer TO HIS FAMILY than book-Ned (he actually laughs, he smiles a few times; he is practically exuberant around Bran and Arya). However, overall, Book Ned rarely took on the airs of "Lord Stark," at least not while in Winterfell. Hence, my conundrum, and why I felt that line was so odd.

In the book, as I stated above, the line is banal and perfectly suited for the story.

But in the show, to me anyway, I thought the line out of character with the show-Ned. Show-Ned is far more formal, far more stuffy (in Winterfell especially), far less apt to allow for informality. Thus, when Greatjon says the line it echoed in my ears all wrong. That same line worked fine in the books- not so well in the show.

Thus concludes "Rockroi Gets Defensive About a Mistake He Made Nitpicking the Show And Hopefully This Will Be a Lesson To Him to Stop Nitpicking You Ungrateful SOB Who Should Just Be Happy That the Only Sci-Fi Fantasy Book He Ever Liked Was Made Into A Movie And Get Off People's Backs. Asshole."

Edited by Rockroi

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He doesn't have to be the Count on sesame street in order to be obviously counting troops, weapons, tents, formations, etc.

:lmao:

One, two, three, COUNT, four, five, six, COUNT. Batty batty bat bat bat.

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I'm not quite sure what you find to be so implausible (*), and I actually think they did a good job. Many elements from the fight in the book were also included in the TV show: Throat whacking, guards hitting one another, Syrio attacking the guards' unprotected spots, keeping the guards off-balance, etc.

The way Syrio disables the guards in the show is mostly just by whacking them in areas that shouldn't make them end up severely injured: Like on their helmeted head or behind the knee/thigh area. The only strike shown in the show that could have really put down a man was when Syrio hit one of the guards in between the shoulder and neck. That much was in the book, but it wasn't even a finishing blow (the strike to the throat was what put that guard away in the book). Other than that, the fight was totally implausible.

In the book, we have Syrio taking out a guard's eye with the pointed end of his wooden sword, shattering a guard's kneecap, and making one unable to breathe by striking the throat. Other than that, there's a kick to the face, which might be the only arguably weak move from the book... but for the most part, the book was amazing while the show not, at least for this sequence.

Showing someone whack several armored guards in the head causing them to lay disabled is totally unconvincing.

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