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Why are people so sure the Reeds are out, is there some type of official statement saying they aren't in the show? They don't show up to Winterfell until the feast with Manderly and Lady Hornwood and the Walders aren't even there yet.

Natalie Dormer does not disappoint as much as they try to make her. Her first scene was pretty stilted but other than that great.

Don't mind the compression on Arya's scenes, they really do a lot of wandering around that probably just wouldn't do well on screen. Didn't like changing the story so that Lorch shows up with the goldcloaks. Preferred the book scene with Yoren trying to convince them that they're Night's Watch and Lorch just not giving a damn. Felt more brutal watching them get wiped out in just a random encounter rather than being specifically targeted.

Brienne was great. Considering how much they have sanitized the appearance of so many characters to be more hollywood I was halfways expecting her to truly be Brienne the Beauty anyways. I think the actress is going to do pretty well at capturing Brienne's awkwardness at anything that doesn't involve combat. So far at least.

Wish they had kept Shagga as the one chopping off Pycelle's manhood but they could have at least had Bronn complaining he wasn't no barber.

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He's charming, intelligent, capable enough as an administrator, involved in the running of the realm as a member of Robert's council, he has a claim, he has support from the Reach and the storm lands... who wouldn't follow him? So he's not a great warrior -- neither was book-Renly.

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The reason people haven't brought up the idea that the show's portrayal of Renly means "gay = soft" is because of Loras, who may be very good looking, but he's also a great jouster, a talented warrior, one of the most valiant knights in the Seven Kingdoms, who reveals that he's worked damned hard to be in that position, and who draws blood to force Renly to look and accept the cost of power.

So "gay=soft" doesn't exist as a stereotype here. There's different kinds of people, that's all, and sexuality doesn't really figure.

To a degree, but within the confines of the show we've seen him engaged in 3 fights.

1 he wins by cheating, 1 he gets saved by the Hound, 1 he gets beaten by Brienne.

It's pretty in line with the book in terms of results, but the emphasis is different.

The cheating is more of a possibility in the book, in the show it's an explanation. The Hound thing I think played out fairly, but he looked more like a scared kid than I imagined in the book, and from what I recall in the fight with Brienne...and this may be faulty memory...but I seem to recall Brienne's bullrush as a kind of desparate last gasp, that Loras was pretty much winning before she caught him off guard with that, and there was an implication that that, like the Mountain joust, was possibly borderline behavior, which contrary to the Loras aspect is downplayed in the show.

(Yeah, just checked the text. It's explicit. Loras was very much winning the fight and Brienne's bullrush was a desperate last gasp, after Loras had disarmed her, and comments were made about it being a 'vile trick'.

I'm not even saying it was, but the contrast is again there...both fights have insinuations about tricks; Loras' is made explicit and unchallenged, Brienne's is unmentioned.

And, beyond that, much secondary stuff is made about the Knight of Flowers being an acknowledged prodigy with arms, whereas here the secondary stuff mostly deals with him being popular with the girls. And his personality comes off a little more petulant and whiny than in the book, where he's mostly arrogant but gallant.

So in general I'd say that while I agree with you that in contrast with Renly, Loras is portrayed as brave, warrior, etc. even that is diminished in contrast with the book, and looked at together they are much less than they were in the text.

Edited by James Arryn

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I should clarify that I didn't object to the gay 'sex' scene for its own sake, or find it gratuitous at all.

I just find the complete weakening of the character coincidental with the decision to completely amp up the degree to which being gay is a central characteristic a bad combination.

And as you say, it's not just that he goes from being a brave, able warrior to afraid of blood...they downplay him pretty much across the board. His confidence and charisma, which in the book are 3 dimensional and very real, in the show come off as forced and kinda squirmy. Like, for example, how he deals with Cat's challenges. In the show he pauses, kinda twitches a bit, forces a smile and makes the best of it...in the book he genuinely laughs, talks about her besting his defenders (with words) and smoothly overcomes the difficulty about titles.

That's just one example.

You mentioned others...we never get a sense in the book that Renly is being lead, is indecisive and in need of constant prodding. We never get the sense that Loras is the dominant one in the relationship, or Margery in the marriage. Whenever Renly's there, he's the one who commands attention and admiration. In the books he's a man. In the show he's a child.

And lastly, my own impression based on the vague evidence from the book is that he's not necessarily exclusively gay. He talks pretty openly about getting Margery pregnant, etc. And, more, I don't get the sense that to whatever degree he is gay is something he's ashamed about. Again you get a sense of a man completely at ease with what and who he is, whereas in the show he seems nervous and insecure about almost everything.

I'd like to add that I don't blame the actor; the character as written, he's playing pretty well. And I also think that I can understand, to a degree, why they are marginalizing Renly and possibly Stannis. Too many titans. The book has room enough for a bunch of awesome people...but in a 10 hour show, too many will reduce scope and come off cartoonish.

I just wish they'd picked another means that an easy stereotype.

I never really got the impression from the books of Renly being particularly macho or as a brave able warrior. He's confident, charismatic, easy going, fun to hang around with, but not aggressive, domineering, or especially war like. In fact this is particularly noticeable in the conversation with Stannis, as the contrast between Stannis the humorless macho warrior and Renly who treats Stannis and his army as a kind of joke. Remember the peach?

When he talks about getting Marg pregnant it's more like "I know how to do what I need to do" than "I can't wait to bed her". And that's in response to Stannis questioning whether he knows what to do with a woman. In fact there are gay stereotypes about him in the books too. I mean come on, rainbow guard?

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which is funny, cause Kim's are real

I refuse to believe anything about any Kardashian is real in any known sense of the word 'real.'

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He's charming, intelligent, capable enough as an administrator, involved in the running of the realm as a member of Robert's council, he has a claim, he has support from the Reach and the storm lands... who wouldn't follow him? So he's not a great warrior -- neither was book-Renly.

Book Renly seemed smarter though.I mean, his army didn't rush to KG because he wanted the Stark and the Lannisters to fight between themselves making in this way easier for his future conquest.In the show he seemed he was just playing.

I never really got the impression from the books of Renly being particularly macho or as a brave able warrior. He's confident, charismatic, easy going, fun to hang around with, but not aggressive, domineering, or especially war like

Well, in the books even Jaime praised Loras' abilities.I think he really is supposed to be an excellent warrior.

Edited by isiman

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I never really got the impression from the books of Renly being particularly macho or as a brave able warrior. He's confident, charismatic, easy going, fun to hang around with, but not aggressive, domineering, or especially war like. In fact this is particularly noticeable in the conversation with Stannis, as the contrast between Stannis the humorless macho warrior and Renly who treats Stannis and his army as a kind of joke. Remember the peach?

Renly competes in tourneys and acquits himself well, never remotely displays fear of battle or blood, etc. It's a stark contrast.

Re: the peach, I think we read that differently. He's always lighthearted, but that wasn't a sign of weakness, imo. It was complete confidence.

When he talks about getting Marg pregnant it's more like "I know how to do what I need to do" than "I can't wait to bed her". And that's in response to Stannis questioning whether he knows what to do with a woman. In fact there are gay stereotypes about him in the books too. I mean come on, rainbow guard?

No, again, the pregnancy thing was said with complete confidence; he's contrasted with Stannis, not defensive. And the Rainbow thing? I think GRRM has specifically stated that he didn't remotely think of that as a gay sign...it was the seven colors, and reflected Renly's love of pageantry and willingness to create his own traditions.

And more, the disbelief everyone has of the 'official' status of Margary's pregnancy can only be down to a belief that Renly was at least bisexual.

Edited by James Arryn

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So he's not a great warrior -- neither was book-Renly.

No time to surf the text, but just from his wiki:

"Renly enjoys tournaments and hunting but isn't driven by the passion for food, drink, or wenching, as Robert Baratheon came to be...He performed well in the Tourney of the Hand, losing to the Hound, Sandor Clegane..."

And there's also the discussion about him on the morning of battle, anything but nervous, but instead completely at ease and confident. And the first time we see him he brazenly and openly laughs at the heir to the throne...for being disarmed by a girl. Something which would only amuse a certain kind of man so much.

You can't help but note the contrast, and its all in one direction. From someone who enjoys hunting and tourneys and fights well, to someone who is afraid of blood, offended by hunting, and nervous at the mention of war. In the book he is very much a warrior king type, he just has more going on besides that, and hasn't been alive for any real warfare yet.

Edited by James Arryn

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I really liked this episode. Unlike last week's where I felt the TV writers decisions contradicted some aspects of GRRM's characters, I feel like their deviations this week will pay off wonderfully.

I loved Yoren and his backstory. I wish they had taken an extra two minutes on the scene to have Arya lay down before the attack and start her list. It would have been earlier than in the books (I think), but it would have created a nice, strong connection between her and Yoren's story. Then, of course, as her story moves along, she can add people as they wrong her. As it is, I hope non-book readers don't forget that scene when she starts saying her list as she falls asleep.

That whole thing is a minor quibble, of course, and I could easily see it not being necessary. It's just how I envision the scene in my head.

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Was Margeary Tyrell this politically savvy in the books? I though she was a little more innocent but in the series she is pretty damn straight forward and intelligent. I know she has a wicked good conniving grandma but I never got the impression she was in on the Tyrell plotting. Is she going to become Joff's poisoner?

This episode probably deviated the most from the books so far and I wonder if that won't be a continuing trend.

See, this is the thing I commented on - reading into the books, yes, she and most of the rest of the Tyrells play the game well. Getting that though comes from all of the little pieces they do - which they can't necessarily portray in the series. I wish however they would leave something for the audience to figure out or deduce rather than just smack us in the face with something each time.

as far as who might poison whom...never know what the writing will end it up as, though she is a prime suspect I believe it was Garlan.

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I really liked this episode. Unlike last week's where I felt the TV writers decisions contradicted some aspects of GRRM's characters, I feel like their deviations this week will pay off wonderfully.

I loved Yoren and his backstory. I wish they had taken an extra two minutes on the scene to have Arya lay down before the attack and start her list. It would have been earlier than in the books (I think), but it would have created a nice, strong connection between her and Yoren's story. Then, of course, as her story moves along, she can add people as they wrong her. As it is, I hope non-book readers don't forget that scene when she starts saying her list as she falls asleep.

That whole thing is a minor quibble, of course, and I could easily see it not being necessary. It's just how I envision the scene in my head.

I loved the Yoren dialogue knowing that it would lead to her creating her own prayer. I expect the show watchers will remember it (if she doesn't take too long to make her own), at the very least on a rewatch since its so hard to catch everything the first time through. That was another great addition to this episode.

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Why would he kill him though? He didn't and (in the show's logic at least) Jon told Mormont everything and nothing changed. Mormont knew (and Craster knew he knew?) Whereas if he killed Jon and was caught doing so, he could expect reprisals.

So then what was he caught doing - sneaking around to see something that was all ready known? Why did Craster smack him? Why did Craster care what he saw if he knew Mormont knew? If that was the case they would have been better off having some "things aren't always what you expect boy" type line.

sorry for the multiple posts - can't multi-quote atm for some reason.

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Well, loosing to the Hand is still honorable, considering the four final opponents: the Clegane Brothers, Jaime and Loras... I guess book-Renly was still one hell of a warrior.

Then, there is something this episode foreshadows I'm so eager to see, or, hear:

Weese, Dunsen, Chiswyck, Polliver, Raff the Sweetling. The Tickler and the Hound. Ser Gregor, Ser Armory, Ser Ilyn, Ser Meryn, King Joffrey, Queen Cersei...

Even if I guess, Dunsen, Chiswyck, Raff, the Tickler and Ser Meryn will be left out of it for the show... dunno about Weese, still...

But that leaves quite a short list...

Edited by Arkash

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Actually, I thought Loras asking Cat if Robb had already attacked Lord Tywin strongly indicated that TV Renly also made the strategic decision to let the Lannisters and Starks weaken each other before he made his move.

I'm really happy with TV Renly by the way. He showed confidence in himself in public. He makes decisions as he sees fit and is not pushed around by Loras and Margaery. And they also gave us a glimpse why his men loved him.

Of course, we knew from last season that he would not be book Renly. The one thing I found irritating is that he is supposed to be this closeted about his relationship with Renly. Margaery revealing that she knew was a great scene in itself, but book Renly would not have cared about his bannermen knowing about his sexual preferences. And the Tyrells most certainly knew everything about it, that's why they sent Loras as Renly's squire to Storm's End in the first place.

But I really liked the fact that Renly was not able to consummate his marriage. Both Loras and Margaery are very aware of the fact that Highgarden expects that Mace's grandson will sit on the Iron Throne.

Margaery's character is also not really distorted. Yes, she is older, and yes, she shows her intelligence/capabilities as a plotter early no, but so what? We only get innocent book Margaery because we are never in her head, nor privy to any personal conversation between the Tyrells or Margaery and Renly. That Sansa does not see through Margaery in ASoS does not mean that Margaery is a nice and innocent girl.

Oh, and by the way, I can't see that 'adult Margaery' can be interpreted as a sign that they will drop Lady Olenna in the series. It's unthinkable that they would even consider omitting like the Queen of Thorns from the series. She would be far to great fun on screen!

And I also really like the reason why Tyrion is going to send Littlefinger to Renly. Tyrion and Cat did not 'bond' all that much during their trip to the Vale, so it would have been rather difficult to establish why Catelyn would trust that any Lannister would exchange Jaime for her daughters. But if Littlefinger is going to deliver an official offer from the Hand of the King she will not only consider it...

But I really hope we will not going to see all that negotiation stuff for Margaery's hand after Renly's death. The Tyrells saving the day at the Blackwater should be as much a surprise in the series as it was in the books.

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I'm not sure the Gay element has anything to do with weakness in this civilization.

Not having the ability to Father children might be a sign of weakness and probably is.

And if it's by choice -- no difference. A King needs a son in Westeros - for the most part - this is a quite important part of the culture.

Being Gay is probably fine with the vast majority of the population of Westeros and Essos.

Edited by episodenone

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I'm not sure the bay element has anything to do with weakness in this civilization.

Not having the ability to Father children might be a sign of weakness and probably is.

And if it's by choice -- no difference. A King needs a son in Westeros - for the most part - this is a quite important part of the culture.

Being Gay is probably fine with the vast majority of the population of Westeros and Essos.

You can still father children despite being gay

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You can still father children despite being gay

Obviously. My point is - if no one knows you're gay -- and if no children come from your marriage as king - then the perception would be that you are physically unable rather than simply not being attracted to your wife.

which would then be a sign of weakness in medieval cultures such as this.

Edited by episodenone

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I don't want to sound like a misogynist, but Asha is supposed to be hot. Isn't she supposed to be hot? It's been so long since I read her physical description by GRRM, but I sure have been picturing her as a sexy brunette, who's sexual deviance really turned me on. This actress may have a great personality in real life, but she really doesn't do it for me in the looks department.

By looks of the Ironborn, maybe she is. lol. Just saying.

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The strength of the older character actors really shines through in this episode, especially those playing Balon, Luwin, and Cat. Look at what they do with their eyes alone. Watch their facial expressions. Listen to their lines. Everything works. It’s a beauty to behold. I am so going to miss Maester Luwin once he’s gone. The seasoned actors playing Yoren, Mormont, and Pycelle were really quite good, too. Watch their faces.

In contrast, the actress playing Asha/Yara has very little range in here facial expressions. You never see a shift there to convey lines not delivered, internal thoughts. Not only do all of her lines come off as emotionally flat, there seem to be timing problems: it’s as though she’s just waiting for her cue to recite her lines instead of actually listening and reacting to the other actors in the scene. Sorry to say, but to me there just didn’t seem to be a lot of acting here. I wish there were.

The next strong point about the episode is the cinematography. The location shooting was absolutely gorgeous. The scene with Theon alone in the dark with the candle might seem cliché to some, but I thought it was very well done.

With all the dark scenes, though, I do worry about people watching this on devices without enough contrast ratio, or in bright light. You really do have to watch these in a dark, dark room with a good screen. I’ve read posts by people complaining they can’t see what’s happening in the dark scenes, and this is why.

I hadn’t realized that Margaery was pronounced like Marjorie. It makes a lot more sense that way, although I never though of there being a soft g (ie, that a j) before an a. Apparently “Marjorie” has all these spelling variations: Marcharie, Marge, Margeree, Margery, Margerie, Margery, Margey, Margi, Margie, Margy, Marja, Marje, Marjerie, Marjery, Marji, Marjie, Marjorey, Marjory and Marjy — all with a j sound, never a hard g. Curiously, it’s related to Maisie, the name of the actress playing Arya.

I don’t understand why Renly and Loras each pronounce Tyrell with the stress in different syllables compared to how the other one says it. Very odd, that. I suppose one can attribute it to different dialectal accents, but Renly and Loras both sound pretty flag RP to me. Does anybody know any real Tyrells? It’s not that uncommon a name.

Lastly on accents, you can now and then hear Peter Dinklage’s American accent sneaking through: listen to how he says “bygones be bygones”: the o isn’t rounded enough, especially on the first of those. I suspect that Peter has the cot–caught merger in his native dialect, although his character isn’t supposed to. This time I could here a Celtic lilt in some of Aidan Gillen’s lines. Listen to his musical intonation pattern when he says “And I suppose you want me to broker this agreement.” I’d have to play clips of Graham Norton and Dara Ó Briain versus some of Rob Brydon to be sure, but Aidan sounds a lot more Irish than Welsh to my ear, which makes sense given that Aidan actually is Irish. In any event, I find it attractive to listen to. It also comes out a bit later on in the episode when he’s angry with Tyrion’s deception.

The subtle background music seemed to fit well in all the scenes it was used for. The costumes were all characterstically wonderful, really nicely done. I just loved Cersei’s gowns and Varys’s frocks/robes/dressing-gowns. Beautiful.

Conleth Hill’s Varys remains pitch-perfect, a treasure and a delight. You can tell that if any of the three councillors whom Tyrion scams is really Tyrion’s confidant, it’s Varys. He entrusts him with Shae’s life, after all.

The top three actors in the billing for this episode, Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, and Michelle Fairley, all gave commanding performances fitting their position in the credits, with Lena’s perhaps being the strongest of the three this time around. Unfortunately, a couple of times I wasn’t sure I believed Peter’s lines. Oh, nothing at all like what happened with Asha/Yara’s flat affect, but there was something just a tiny bit forced every now and then. It might have been that he had to get out a lot of words in a short time, so there wasn’t room for dramatic pause and reaction. Or maybe it was Peter still struggling with the British accent. I’m not sure, but it isn’t bothersome enough for real criticism, and Peter gave a fine performance.

Overall, this was mostly a Tyrion episode, or at least a King’s Landing one. Tyrion’s one–two–three trick worked much better than I thought it ever would given the time constraints. I applaud the screenwriters’ decision to focus on fewer characters in each episode. This really is necessary to maintain enough depth within each set, and I don’t miss that we didn’t see Joffrey, Robb, Jaime, or Dany in this episode. Too much time-slicing and intercutting would make it choppy and disconnected. Although unavoidable, the season première suffered from a bit of that, and I’m glad to see the writers have found a solution to the problem.

Almost all the additions and abridgements make fine sense, and are welcome. This is especially important when they need to show situations where in the book there was no point of view character whose thoughts could be narrated. The Theon letter was great; the Lannister luncheon scene was very well done; and even the Sansa and Shae bit was perfectly acceptable. Unlike last week, the Craster portions were a bit weak this time around. I agree we had to show the Others again, and it was a good addition. I just don’t know that I believe this week’s segue and resolution. Mormont helped, though.

Speaking of non-POV additions, they’ve done a good job here making Renly by far the most likable of the three Baratheon brothers. He’s a decent fellow, and even pretty hot if you like that kind of thing. I thought the “flower-sandwich” of Renly between the two Tyrell siblings worked very well. Seeing Renly and Loras playing together was a lot more believable this season than last, and it’s relieving to see honest affection in a normal healthy relationship; there isn’t a lot of that in this show. I think the only other tender kiss we’ve seen in the series was when Ned kissed Cat good-bye in King’s Landing, long ago and far away. All the rest have been pretty gross, prostitutes and such. Of course, just like Ned and Cat, Renly and Loras are doomed lovers whose time together is short. Interesting that they’re the only couples shown in a good light, and they’re the ones that are quickly separated by outside betrayal and death. Really sad. Poignant, even.

Loras seems to be fleshing out a bit character-wise (and maybe bodywise, too), which is good, although I’m not in pouty myself. We’ll be seeing him for a long time. That said, I don’t find Loras to be “pretty” nor particularly appealing (read: hot), but Renly shows a playful cute smile here, almost elfin in places, which makes him a good foil for Loras’s sister. As for the triangle, to be honest that’s pretty much how I always pictured things going on behind closed doors, that Margaery always knew about Renly and Loras. I really liked Renly this time around; you wonder what was going through his mind in all his scenes, especially those with Cat. Natalie Dormer has one of those magical faces with oversized almond eyes like something out of a manga comic; she is truly beautiful. I’m glad they’ve strengthened her rôle, and found such a convincing actress, too, considering how important she’ll be later on.

I’m afraid I myself wouldn’t have had Renly’s misgivings over hopping in the sack with Margaery — what can I say? — but I suppose he was really conflicted because of the awkwardness of what he thought was his secret. Once he gets it sorted in his head, it should be easier next time, probably with a willing tag team by the Tyrells. I always thought that Renly had consumated his marriage, but that for whatever reason, Margaery just didn’t get preggers from it. I don’t recall how long they were married before Renly’s evil murder.

I loved Brienne. The reveal was well worth the wait. Can’t wait to see her interact with Jaime. I wish we’d seen more of Jaqen, but that too will come.

Overall, the episode gets a grade of B+ or A−, so probably a high 8 in a 1–10 system. It’s certainly the strongest we’ve seen this season. Can’t wait for more.

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