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fauxkaren

[Book Spoilers] Where is Catelyn Stark and what has HBO done with her?

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Yeah, it's quite a shame. Not only for the reasons Alexia explained so well, but also because IMO Michelle Fairley is one of the best actors in the cast and would have done justice to a more complex character. On the other hand, the attempts to make Cersei more multidimensional in the series often fall flat because Lena Headley is quite limited as an actress IMO.

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Winterfell didn't fall because of lack of political acumen. They had few men to defend them because Robb took them all south, and Theon was able to take advantage of that, because Robb let him go. It was Theon's idea to take Winterfell, not Balon's. And Ironborn don't negotiate, they defeat until they are defeated.

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GRRM DOES show that she is politically shrewd and competent. She knows what the Freys want and thus is able to treat with them and make the deal that allows Robb to cross the Twins. She is the one who comes up with the idea to treat with Renly. Yes, this plan doesn't work out... AND IT ENDS IN RENLY'S DEATH. It was still a good plan, but Renly and Stannis did not listen to her reason. If Robb had listented to Catelyn and not sent Theon (WHO WAS THEIR HOSTAGE) to Pyke, it's possible that Winterfell would never have been sacked. Catelyn was wise to see that the Freys would not be happy at the Red Wedding which is why she advised Robb to eat right away in order to establish guest rite.

It was a good idea to try and treat with Renly, but she doesn't know how to do it. IIRC Renly didn't seem too keen on letting the north be independent. In general her plans have never worked out the way she wanted them to. She urged Ned to go to Kings Landing, captured Tyrion and brought him to Lysa, advised Ned to trust Littlefinger, released Jaime openly defying her son and king... I'm not saying she's stupid or that I don't like her, I learned to sympathise with her throughout ACoK and later books, but she's not all that good at political strategy. While I agree Robb wasn't great at it either, he was a 15-16 year old boy. Him breaking his betrothal was stupid, but also the typical rash action of a hormonal teenager, specially one that has been raised to follow the code of honour of Ned Stark.

How was she supposed to be able to see that Walder Frey would go against that sacred tradition and murder guests in his own home.

How was Robb supposed to know that his childhood friend, who must have been nearly as dear as a brother to him, would betray him so terribly and "kill" his brothers?

Catelyn is mean to a fan favorite right off the bat, but Jaime also pushes a child out a tower window right of the bat and somehow readers are able to forgive him and Jaime is one of the most popular characters in the book. Please try to tell me that there is not some degree of sexism involved in that. Female characters are held to higher (and more unreasonable standards) than their male counterparts.

I think the difference is that Jaime pushing Bran out the window is an impulsive act, an act done to protect the people he loves. He doesn't think it through and believes he has no other choice (I'm not excusing Jaime's action, just saying that it wasn't premeditated). Cat's treatment of Jon isn't just a one-off rash action, it's continuous and done mainly out of spite. I'm not saying she should be fine with her husband having a bastard, but her anger should clearly be directed at Ned, not at Jon.

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Like I said above, these are moot points. "Should have", "if", "how was she to know"..enough said.

The point is that she SHOULD have been listened to because she gave wise advice and the people who did not listen to her ended up dead. That is the point. Cat gave good advice. People didn't listen. They died. How is that unclear to show her wisdom? She SHOULD have been listened to and it was the folly of other people to ignore her.

Jaime wasn't liked until 3 books later and many people still dislike him. He was the most hated character in the book for the first 2 books. Apples and Oranges anyway, as George had Jaime commit one horrid act and then purposefully went about making him bend over backwards to show how different he was in book 3. Cat doesn't go through any kind change (until un-Cat)

Yes it is comparing apples to oranges because was Cat did was nowhere near as awful as was Jaime did. She didn't need to be redeemed because she did nothing for which she needed redemption.

Ask George, not me. He's the one that writes that Rickon "needs his mother". Not me. He's the one that writes Rickon as being neglected and allowed to become a feral child. As I wrote above, I would think they should have adequate childcare there. However, George didn't write it that way.

If Cat could have been in two places at once, she would have been there in a HEARTBEAT. But Cat had to make a choice and she chose to stay with the fifteen year old who was fighting a war because he needed her the most.

And nobody in Westeros and most readers don't find it obvious that Robb needs Cat at all.

Wow. I am really not sure how one would arrive at that conclusion because it is obvious to me that Robb doesn't really know what he is doing as a ruler. He is a good general, yes. But he doesn't know how to manage his bannermen and he really is fighting an unwinnable war which is why CATELYN makes the suggestion to treat with Renly. Robb does need Catelyn's advice and he is foolish to not take it. A fifteen year old not wanting his mom around is not concrete evidence that she SHOULDN'T be around. Furthermore, Robb's bannermen not wanting her around doesn't mean she SHOULDN'T be around. Westeros is a deeply sexist society that does not value the opinion of women, but that doesn't mean that it is ok.

Again, you have to go to the source on this one, of GRRM and stop ascribing sexism to the reasons why Cat is disliked. It is pretty clearly not sexist in nature. You keep giving examples of other characters that do bad things, or make mistakes, and that's true. In ASOIAF nobody is perfect, and in this series everybody finds different characters to like and forgive. However, no point of view character, other than perhaps Cersei makes more decisions that lead to such bad results. People's reactions to Cat are natural occurrences from the way she is written. You can forgive anybody for anything. You don't have to justify as many actions for other characters as you do for Cat. Even in your defense here it was nothing but justification after justification for either poor action or poor result. For every other POV character, that's just not the case with plenty of simply good actions in between.

Please elaborate on the bad decisions that Cat made that led to bad results. She captured Tyrion which did lead to bad results, but those were bad results that were unforeseeable. You cannot blame her for Tywin's over the top reaction. She set Jaime free, but what bad results did that have? The Red Wedding was already being planned. Both Ned and Robb (just to name two characters) made even worse decisions that led to even worse results. Cat is routinely unfairly singled out.

We must have read different novels. Whenever she wasn't talking to Robb, and on her own, she did things extremely narrow-minded and basically is the cause of the entire conflict.

Yes. We really must have read different novels because in the novels I read there was no single cause of the conflict because the series is actually really great in its complexity and in showing that the political situation was so tenuous and entangled that everything was incredibly precarious and multiple people contributed to the start of the war and it cannot be pinned on any one person. Saying Catelyn started the war is like saying the the assasination of Franz Ferdinand was the cause of World War I. WAS IT PART OF IT? YES. But saying that that isolated incident cause the war is just completely wrong and ignores the larger context.

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You're upset because you think they were trying to make Catelyn more sympathetic & likable and you don't like the way they went about it. I saw it completely differently.

I thought they were trying to make Robb more sympathetic. Here he is, boy king, who is ultimately fighting this war because he lost his father and sisters. A lot of people end up losing their fathers because of this war. If they played Robb as he is in the books, it wouldn't translate for two reasons.

One: he's just too old for his youthful flaws to be sympathetic. TV Bran whines, and we go "oh it's OK, he's just a kid. Kids whine." TV Robb whines, and we go, "Pathetic. Be a man."

And Two: it wouldn't come across via the format. In the books, its easy to see how Robb is torn by trying to please so many all the time, how his ear is filled with so much advice. It's less visible in TV where long conversations of exposition about the world won't sit well.

Book Robb is understood as, for whatever his flaws are, good. I felt they were trying to get that across for viewers. In short, I thought they cut out Catelyn's legs a bit to make Robb look taller.

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It was a good idea to try and treat with Renly, but she doesn't know how to do it. IIRC Renly didn't seem too keen on letting the north be independent.

Renly was willing to work with Robb and let him be a king as long as he was a king in fealty to another king. Catelyn was going to take those terms back to Robb, but Renly bit it. Renly was more flexible, it was Stannis who was rigid.

While I agree Robb wasn't great at it either, he was a 15-16 year old boy. Him breaking his betrothal was stupid, but also the typical rash action of a hormonal teenager, specially one that has been raised to follow the code of honour of Ned Stark.

So the solution is to give Cat's positive contributions to Robb in the TV show?

How was Robb supposed to know that his childhood friend, who must have been nearly as dear as a brother to him, would betray him so terribly and "kill" his brothers?

I don't blame Robb. Just pointing out that this falls under "moot" according to someone else's definition in this thread.

Cat's treatment of Jon isn't just a one-off rash action, it's continuous and done mainly out of spite. I'm not saying she should be fine with her husband having a bastard, but her anger should clearly be directed at Ned, not at Jon.

The worst Cat did was say a terrible thing to Jon. The worst Jaime did was try to kill Bran. That matters too.

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I completely agree with fauxkaren. The evidence is more than abundant in the series of Cat being a shrewd negotiator and she's stated it. Nothing is ever simple with GRRM or this series. He's a master of layers upon layers and subtext, and there are those fans (myself included) who are upset at the way Cat got written in episode One; did I miss some clause in the Fandom Charter of the Realm that said it is some form of mortal sin that we are upset? I want more of Robb's POV so I don't mind him taking more command in the series; I really don't. This next part might earn me more than a few sideways glances on my Tumblr, but I personally don't mind Cat vocalizing she wants to go home and see Bran and Rickon in front of Robb and in private--especially after Robb tried to explain his plan for allying with Balon Greyjoy. But what really ground my gears was the idea of the Starks treating with Renly came from Robb and not Cat. Personally, Cat shines in the second series to me because she works within the 'system' and continues to fight for her family by using her smarts and her perception. If I may throw a different line of thought out there re: Bran and Rickon? Cat was in the exact spot she needed to be to save all 5 of her kids, and she HATED not being able to be at Winterfell with the kids ( "I do not forget you my sweet ones; you must believe your brother needs me more." I believe it's in Clash; I can't recall the exact page number). Anyways, back to my original point: Bran and Rickon are safe in WF until Theon invades. Whose call was it to send Theon to Pyke to try for an alliance with Balon? Robb. Who advised against it? Cat. Had Robb heeded her advice and kept Theon close, there would be no Sack of Winterfell. There's two of the five safe plus a home to come back to when this is all over. Robb himself: Cat petitioning for an alliance with Renly . Renly had the military backing (100K soliders plus a good portion of the Southern Navy. I don't have the books in front of me so I can't look at a map.) for Robb's rebellion to not only have more than a fool's hope of succeeding, but to get Robb himself back alive. There's the guys out of harms way. Sansa and Arya: Releasing Jaime was the only option she feasibly had available to her. But she didn't just undo the cell door and set him free--he swore some heavy oaths to not harm another Stark or a Tully, and Brienne was sent along as an escort to make for damn sure Jaime held to his vows ("Sansa Stark is my last chance for honor" Jaime in Storm when he and Brienne are on the road; again, no books in front of me so can't cite a page number). That's my thoughts on that matter.

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How was Robb supposed to know that his childhood friend, who must have been nearly as dear as a brother to him, would betray him so terribly and "kill" his brothers?

Because his mother told him it was a stupid idea? No one could have foreseen that Theon would attack Winterfell. But Cat's reasoning for not sending Theon to Balon is logical. Robb let his emotions and his affection for Theon get in the way of reason. Cat didn't want Robb to send Theon because Theon is their HOSTAGE. He was their leverage over Balon. Sending Theon to Balon removed any hold over Balon that they might have had. If Robb had sent another lord to treat with Balon and said, "join with us and I will make you king of the Iron Islands and also I won't kill your son", would he have worked with Robb? Probably not. But with the possibility of executing Theon still out there, would he have attacked the north? I am pretty sure he wouldn't.

I think the difference is that Jaime pushing Bran out the window is an impulsive act, an act done to protect the people he loves. He doesn't think it through and believes he has no other choice (I'm not excusing Jaime's action, just saying that it wasn't premeditated). Cat's treatment of Jon isn't just a one-off rash action, it's continuous and done mainly out of spite. I'm not saying she should be fine with her husband having a bastard, but her anger should clearly be directed at Ned, not at Jon.

Yes, Cat's anger should have been directed at Ned. Cat is not a perfect person. She is a fully realized human character. It is a lot easier to project feelings of anger and bitterness onto a person that you intentionally keep at arms length than to harbor those feelings towards a man you are married to, are growing to love, and who shares your bed every night. Is it rational? No. But it is human.

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I do not see how "I should be with Bran and Rickon in Winterfell" and yelling at the new star Robb could possibly make her a more sympathetic character.

Gosh no, how can any parent wanting to spend time with their children ever be seen as a positive character trait? :bang: :bang: :bang:

Sometimes I wonder about the state of ASOIAF fandom. Would you all like some cheese with that whine?

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her flaw is her need for vengeance (which is much less sympathetic)

Ironic. In the books Catelyn routinely puts aside vengeance for other purposes. It's HBO who plays up her vengeance streak.

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but LauraD, we agree completely.

and we think it's unfair.

Would it do to have, for example, tywin hesitate on his war out of fear to hurt Jaime, to show how loved Jaime was when compared to his siblings?

Would it do to have Ned not be so honorable so Jon's honour could shine brighter?!

Please... that's the excuse of a petty writer.

Someone accuses us of mind acrobatics? wow. let me put this in a simple way:

- cat tells ned to stay, instead of telling him to go

- cat says she wants to go home, instead of staying in the camp

- cat don't want to go parley with renly when she's the one who comes up with that in the first place

so it's another character entirely. Are we being unreasonable to complain??

One last time about Tyrion's polemic arrest:

it was TYRION who acted like a DUMBASS outing Catelyn in front of everyone when she was clearly incognito, in a random inn with only one companion. TYRION was the one who forced a confrontation and backed Cat into a corner, forcing a desperate reaction out of her. He subestimated Cat, though, and never though she could overcome his money as his status as queen's brother with nothing but the authority of her voice.

What was the option, pray tell, when the man who murdered your brother-in-law and tried to murder your son TWICE appears with a bunch of guards and backs you into a corner? Cat fought, and won. And if you hadn't been inside Tyrion's mind and knew he wasn't the culprint thanks to your god-like perspective, you would have cheered and congratulated Cat... who knows how many of you did anyway.

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In short, I thought they cut out Catelyn's legs a bit to make Robb look taller.

Yes. And I think this is where the problem lies. One character's complexities are sacrificed in order to service another.

(See also: the Cersei and Littlefinger scene)

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So the solution is to give Cat's positive contributions to Robb in the TV show?

I believe LauraD's observations are right: Robb in the show is older than Robb in the books, and that's why they have to change some things.

And I'm not trying to excuse Jaime's actions, nor vilify Catelyn, I'm just trying to explain how people can dislike Catelyn but like Jaime without being sexist (personally I prefer Jaime these days, which doesn't mean I don't like Cat).

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I intepreted her desire to return to Winterfell as a sign of her devotion to her family, which the writers included to show that she desired in her heart to be at home and at peace with her family (which she did) but could not be due to the circumstances. As others have mentioned, the show doesn't have her narration to bring out her feelings or subtext, so they beat people over the head with it in dialogue. I do think that the writers have not been using many of the characters to their fullest potential, but that is to be expected from a program that tries to fit a long, complex novel into ten hours of television. They need longer seasons, or to split the books.

I agree that too many share the blame to lay the whole war, or any major event (like the Red Wedding) on one head. There are plenty of reasons to like and dislike Cat, as there are with every other character in the series, and so it seems unfair IMO to label so many of the Cat-haters misogynists.

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Catelyn started the war because she arrested Tyrion

vs

Tywin started the war because he started a war.

If Catelyn didn't do what she did Tywin wouldn't have retaliated

vs

If Tywin didn't do what he did he wouldn't have retaliated

So much for personal responsibility! But at least Tyrion thought that Cat was clever and agreed that Tywin would probably follow her, not attack the Riverlands. I guess that just makes Tyrion a bad judge of character though.

Man it's too bad that there was never a time at the end of the first book where the Starks could have chosen to put down their weapons and go home. It's too bad that someone didn't sue for peace in that king in the north scene. If only, if only ...

I believe LauraD's observations are right: Robb in the show is older than Robb in the books, and that's why they have to change some things.

I don't see that they have to, merely that they want to and that they did. If Catelyn did not want to go home, if Catelyn thought of going to Renly instead of Robb, I doubt anyone would think Robb was acting younger than his age.

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Back to the original topic of the thread, I wrote a post about how I believe the Robb and Catelyn storyline is being done a huge disservice by HBO. The following is an edited version of that post.

Really, I think HBO just does not understand the Robb and Cat storyline. They’re playing Robb As Hero completely straight. I think part of that is a by-product of aging up the character. It’s kind of hard to sell Richard Madden as a Boy King. So in the books when Robb pulls the Grey Wind stunt with Cleos Frey, it’s immature posturing. But in the show when he does it with Jaime, I think we’re supposed to read it as him being bad ass which completely misses the point of his character (the point being a deconstruction of the idea of a boy king).

But the way Cat was handled was even worse. There were four big mistakes with the way Cat was written in the first episode of season 2.

1. In the books, it is Catelyn who suggests to Robb that they go to Renly and get the Baratheon brothers to work together to take down the Lannisters. I love that it is Catelyn who has the political mind to see this solution. The fact that in the show they gave that idea to Robb does away with the idea we see in the books that while Robb is a capable general on the battlefield, he needs help ruling. It also de-emphasizes Catelyn’s perceptiveness and cleverness.

2. I didn’t really like the fact that the only reason Cat gave for not sending Theon to Balon to treat was because Balon was untrustworthy. I mean, that is true, but in the books she relents and says that if Robb has to treat with Balon send someone else other than Theon. I think that in order for later events to be most impactful, it’s important that she tell Robb specifically NOT to send Theon. Her opposition to sending Theon also shows her wisdom. Theon is a HOSTAGE. He is their leverage over Balon. WHY WOULD YOU GIVE UP YOUR LEVERAGE, ROBB? Robb was letting his emotions and his affection for Theon make his decisions for him. (Except of course CAT is the character who makes lots of bad and irrational decisions, amirite?)

3. I was annoyed that Cat didn’t get her line about girls not being worth it. Catelyn knows how the world works and she knows that in Robb’s eyes his sisters aren’t worth giving up his prize hostage of Jaime Lannister. I mean, I believe Robb loves his sisters, but he also doesn’t want to risk angering his bannermen and they would be mad if he traded Jaime for Arya and Sansa. But with the line about girls not being worth it, it becomes explicit that Cat understands how the politics of it all is very gendered and how girls aren’t worth much in this game of thrones. The idea of the sexism in Westerosi society is shown through other female characters, of cours. But in my opinion, it's important that that perspective come from Catelyn as well as figures like Arya. Unlike Arya, Catelyn DOES fit into the prescribed gender roles assigned to her. She is happy being a wife and mother and has traditionally feminine qualities. BUT that doesn't mean that she is blind to the unfair way that women are treated and valued in Westeros. She did get the general argument about Sansa and Arya being important to her, but I really just missed that line where she gets to explicitly call Westerosi society out on how little it values girls. Instead the scene read as Cat merely wanting her family back which is definitely true too, don't get me wrong. I just missed that extra shade of meaning that the line about girls not being worth it adds.

4. I was really angry at Cat's line about it being time for her to go home. I mean in the book she does want to see Bran and Rickon, but she knows that her duty right now is with Robb. So her wish to see Bran and Rickon in the books is more of a “I wish we were all safe in Winterfell” or a “I wish I could be in multiple places at once” type thing. In the book she makes a conscious choice to be with Robb because she knows that he needs her more at that moment in time. But Robb is a typical teenager about it, eager to assert his independence from her, and he tries to send her away to various places. And I feel like by changing things to have Catelyn want to leave Robb and be with Bran and Rickon, it’s like the showrunners are validating all the haters who complain about what a terrible mother she is for abandoning Bran and Rickon. BECAUSE NO. THAT IS NOT TRUE.

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Because his mother told him it was a stupid idea? No one could have foreseen that Theon would attack Winterfell. But Cat's reasoning for not sending Theon to Balon is logical. Robb let his emotions and his affection for Theon get in the way of reason. Cat didn't want Robb to send Theon because Theon is their HOSTAGE. He was their leverage over Balon. Sending Theon to Balon removed any hold over Balon that they might have had. If Robb had sent another lord to treat with Balon and said, "join with us and I will make you king of the Iron Islands and also I won't kill your son", would he have worked with Robb? Probably not. But with the possibility of executing Theon still out there, would he have attacked the north? I am pretty sure he wouldn't.

Of course Catelyn was right then, but my point is Robb trusted Theon (just like Cat trusted Littlefinger or her sister). Also, Robb probably never truly saw Theon as a hostage...

Yes, Cat's anger should have been directed at Ned. Cat is not a perfect person. She is a fully realized human character. It is a lot easier to project feelings of anger and bitterness onto a person that you intentionally keep at arms length than to harbor those feelings towards a man you are married to, are growing to love, and who shares your bed every night. Is it rational? No. But it is human.

I agree. I'm not saying Cat is a terrible person for doing what she does, I'm not saying I can't understand her actions... There's a whole prism of feelings between OMG!LOVE! and GO DIE IN A FIRE!, to me Cat isn't an extreme, but in the middle. Some things she does I agree with, others I don't...

Anyway, I have a feeling this discussion is veering into what is strictly book-territory, so I'll just say that while I regret some changes made to Cat, I can understand why they did them and (as I said before) I think it has to do with the fact that people are older in the show.

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It's my belief they are portraying Catelyn the way they are in the series to give an opposing 'strong but fallible' Mother figure in the two main opposing factions.

On one side you have Cersei, who also is being portrayed a little differently - with some strong qualities and some weaknesses, some points that make you pity her and others that make you despise her. This seems to be the theme they may be striving for with Catelyn on the 'honorable' side of the fence (which clearly isn't the best choice either).

The reason I feel they're putting strong emphasis on the two strong willed Mothers of House Lannister and House Stark is from this:

HBO Season 2 Full Length Special "You Win or You Die"

If you watch the 22 minute long "You Win or You Die" full length special on the HBO site, you get a really clear idea of how the houses and characters within the houses are portrayed for the series. This may be very different from a book fan's opinion of the portrayals, but as Emilia Clarke says at one point in an interview:

"Some people hold a grudge, some people don't - but the tension is always so high and you as the audience member can decide for yourselves who you think should or should not have the power"

They stress several times (they being some of the actors and the producers) that the story is full of 'strong women' figures. This is why I believe Catelyn's character was changed to a more likeable personality for the series.

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Of course they probably think this makes her more likable. But that doesn't make it right.

Martin showed us a mother who makes the tough choice of leaving her small children because she felt she could help her family best "on the job". In the end, she gave the advice to not send Theon, and she gave the advice to trade Jaime. Later, Robb admits he should have traded Jaime.

While both Robb and Cat, and many others, make mistakes, it is only Cat who is told to go home, because she is only a mother and mothers belong with babies and nowhere else.

This is a story about a working mother who faces sexism both by not being listened to when she is correct and by being penalized harsher than men when she makes a mistake. Benioff and Weiss have taken all that commentary out.

Don't forget that last season:

- Catelyn was not allowed to have any ambition regarding Robert's offer

- Catelyn did not get to comment on Robb's tactical choices as she did in the book

- Catelyn did not even get to speak in the king in the north scene, as she certainly did in the book

- Catelyn's lines about not celebrating victory too early were given to Robb

Now as ennumerated by fauxkaren:

- Catelyn doesn't get to have the the idea to see Renly and how it could lure Tywin away from Harrenhal; that's given to Robb

- Catelyn has to want to go home to reassure people she's a good and loving mother

- Catelyn does not get to point out that Robb would've traded Jaime for Ned but not two girls, who are not valuable enough

Catelyn has been made into a Hearth-and-home Only woman whose ideas are at least partly being given to Robb, and the entire gendered aspect of how she is sidelined because she is "a woman and worse a mother" is being undercut. Playing it safe and erasing social commentary, what is to approve about what HBO's done? I know why they did it, but I don't like it, and I'm going to let them know all season long.

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