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Jamie Lannister

[Book spoilers] Theon's letter

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If you pay attention to his later chapters in ACoK, you'll know that's wrong.

The Theon in the novel starts off as very unreflective while being a moral coward. We do not see what follows between the first and second chapter -- it's likely he did think, a little, but he goes where the wind blows, taking the path of least resistance. It's only once he's buried in the mire of his own betrayal that the cracks show and you realize that this was all a horrible, petty mistake that happens because of that moral cowardice of his.

The thing is, GRRM can easily do this -- he can mask that part of the story, and only bring it out later while we're in his head and we start seeing the regret and shame seep in through the cracks. They can't put us directly into Theon's head, however, in the same way... hence this wonderful scene, which externalizes the struggle where it most makes sense.

It's a medium thing. They take different approaches -- they front-load it, GRRM puts it at the tail end -- but the result is the same: fantastically complex characters.

Of course, sometimes they front load too damned much...

I agree that in the later books, after enduring unspeakable torture, Theon/Reek begins to express a small measure of regret, sorrow, perhaps even a little repentance. And he does show a modicum of loyalty by keeping secret the fact that Bran and Rickon are alive. But is there any textual evidence that suggests that he was actually conflicted about betraying Robb and the Starks initially? My recollection is that it was a pretty easy decision for him. He is upset to discover that his father does not trust him and that he has been usurped by his sister; but are there any indications that he feels any pains of conscience when he allies himself with his father's plans? Perhaps there are. It's easy to forget or overlook these kinds of details in the books. My impression of Theon is that he is driven by ambition, lust, and a desire to prove himself to his father. Breaking vows and bonds of affection and loyalty seem to come easy to him. I cannot see book-Theon ever composing a letter of warning to Robb. It is only later, after his education at the hands of Ramsay Bolton, that he begins to evidence something akin to remorse. At least that is my recollection. Perhaps I'm wrong.

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Just wanted to add that I thought Theon's "betrayal" was handled perfectly.

The only thing I am questioning is; was Balon even planning on taking Winterfell in the book or just raiding like a Viking? It seems Theon really stepped up his betrayal in his attack on Winterfell.

I seem to recall Balon mentioning a "ripe fruit lying there for the picking" and Theon inferring that Balon meant Winterfell.

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Just wanted to add that I thought Theon's "betrayal" was handled perfectly.

The only thing I am questioning is; was Balon even planning on taking Winterfell in the book or just raiding like a Viking? It seems Theon really stepped up his betrayal in his attack on Winterfell.

IIRC he said pretty much the same thing in the book, that after they've captured the other castles closer to the sea and less defended, Winterfell will fall to them eventually. What Theon did was attack it way earlier than his father planned, that will probably be the case in the series too.

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TV Greyjoys want to take a castle in the north and live in it.

Balon hints on it but Asha actually says she wants a castle of her own in the north. Thats not very Greyjoy-like.

They do not sow.

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Alfie Allen, Patrick Malahide and Gemma Whelan were brilliant this episode. Wow. I loved the book deviations.

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I agree that in the later books, after enduring unspeakable torture, Theon/Reek begins to express a small measure of regret, sorrow, perhaps even a little repentance. And he does show a modicum of loyalty by keeping secret the fact that Bran and Rickon are alive. But is there any textual evidence that suggests that he was actually conflicted about betraying Robb and the Starks initially? My recollection is that it was a pretty easy decision for him. He is upset to discover that his father does not trust him and that he has been usurped by his sister; but are there any indications that he feels any pains of conscience when he allies himself with his father's plans? Perhaps there are. It's easy to forget or overlook these kinds of details in the books. My impression of Theon is that he is driven by ambition, lust, and a desire to prove himself to his father. Breaking vows and bonds of affection and loyalty seem to come easy to him. I cannot see book-Theon ever composing a letter of warning to Robb. It is only later, after his education at the hands of Ramsay Bolton, that he begins to evidence something akin to remorse. At least that is my recollection. Perhaps I'm wrong.

In Clash of Kings, once he's actually in Winterfell he does. He has nightmares about Robb and Ned, which he handles with violent sex with that girl (the only way he knows how to deal with stress apparently). And he desperate tries to get all the citizens of the castle to just go along with him so he doesn't have to make his men kill them. And he felt a huge amount of remorse immediately for what he did to the miller's sons. Every decision he makes bites him in the ass, and he feels guilty the whole way IMO.

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Considering how Theon had thus far acted like a twat to people around him, this helped add complexity to his character and make him more sympathetic. Plus it'll help make his remorse later feel more real.

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I think the TV writers have done a good job of showing a more realistic "struggle" with certain characters. Theon here with the letter and Cat last week with going to Renly instead of returning to Winterfell and her children. In both cases in the books I never really bought the decisions, it made them both seems "evil" or unfeeling, while the TV show has shown the struggle and difficulty with which the characters come to their decisions.

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In the book, I didn't know who to hate more, Theon Greyjoy or Walder Frey. The show is pointing out that Theon feels the pain of his evil acts, far earlier than the book. Not necessarily, a bad thing. I'm still not sure whether I prefer a weak person who does evil or a strong one.

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I totally agree. The HBO writers have made Theon comprehensible. Book-Theon is a man who betrays his foster family without hesitation or regret. We are certainly led to infer that Theon only pretended to be Robb's "brother" and liege, that he was waiting for an opportunity to break from the Starks and exact the iron price. Book-Theon is totally unsympathetic. Even after all the suffering he endures, we lack sympathy for him. He is not a tragic figure; he's just wicked and pathetic.

The HBO writers have made Theon into a human being, a boy whose father surrendered him to the enemy as hostage, a boy who is searching for a father's love, a boy torn between conflicting loyalties. He makes his decision to fully identify with the Ironborn, but we see that it was not an easy decision for him. There is a tragic depth to HBO-Theon that I find to be a significant improvement over the books.

Not true, we don't see much of his decision making because his chapters in ACOK are weeks apart.Stil when reading the chapters after the taking of Winterfell we know that he was actually torned by his decisions.

http://www.towerofth...tark/index.html

This is a good analysis of Theon.

Just wanted to add that I thought Theon's "betrayal" was handled perfectly.

The only thing I am questioning is; was Balon even planning on taking Winterfell in the book or just raiding like a Viking? It seems Theon really stepped up his betrayal in his attack on Winterfell.

Yes, they wanted Winterfell.They couldn't have taken right away because securing the neck was of greater importance and taking Winterfell at that moment would have just streched their line of supply.The ironmen war as conceived by Balon was almost impossible to win for them IMO, they are good raiders and great warriors but they are terrible inland/cavalry and with winter coming eventually they would have lost after a guerrila resistence by the northmen.Theon was actually close to win it for them, if he had taken Bran and Rickon as hostages and destroyed Winterfell ( making hard for the Northmen to regroup ) the war was virtually won.

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*slightly off topic, but the scene with Theon being "baptised" with the salt water was absolutely beautiful. The landscape shot, right before the zoom in, was breathtaking. Pike, and the Iron Islands are the most beautiful of locations thus far.

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Yes that was a very strong scene.I really liked the priest too, with that voice he could be a great Damphair.To bad he was cut for this season.

As for the topic, I was thinking if actually Theon could have betrayed his blood family and escaped/send a message to Robb.I think he was watched very closely at that moment, probably at that point his only choices were to fight with the Greyjoys or be confined on the Isles.

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TV Greyjoys want to take a castle in the north and live in it.

Balon hints on it but Asha actually says she wants a castle of her own in the north. Thats not very Greyjoy-like.

They do not sow.

No, the Ironborn then make the Northerners sow while they continue to raid and pillage further inland. Greyjoys aren't opposed to having castles, so long as they don't have to become agricultural themselves.

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I thought this was a great scene. I just wished they'd shown the letter a little more clearly so I could read it.

Thinking back to Ned writing Robert's will, it make me chuckle how everyone has really beautiful handwriting;)

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i loved tv theon much better than book theon. I felt sorry for theon in this episode which i only felt for him in dance. In ACOK i hated theon the most. Great episode keep up the good work hbo.....

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This was my second favorite "added scene" from the books (the first being the Robert/Cersei conversation last season), beautifully shot as well.

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Of course, sometimes they front load too damned much...

I feel that way about this TV-Theon. I think Theon was characterized by a sort of short-sighted selfishness and an overblown idea of his own merits, only to have those shattered bit by bit. Adding this reflection and loyalty piece marred that part of the characterization. I understand why the TV show has to do it, and I think it was a good addition, but I also think it changes the trajectory of the character a slight bit.

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after seeing Theon bits in this particular episode, my hopes have been set much higher for "Prince of Winterfell" episode later...

uuuuunf, how was it this good!!

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