Timely Game of Thrones Griping 3: What Exactly Is This Show Doing?

By Bob Case
on Jul 31, 2017
Filed under:
Game of Thrones
This series analyzes the show, but sometimes references the books as well. If you read it, expect spoilers for both.

I’ve had a busy week – I’m in the middle of moving, and a friend of mine got married this weekend, so I didn’t get back into town until almost midnight last night. So this week’s review is a bit late, and will be a bit shorter than most. With that in mind, it would be good to limit its scope to the easy, specific questions, such as:

What Exactly Is This Show Doing?

I don’t mean on an existential level. I mean what is it doing on a basic plotting level. Basically, at the start of season seven, the writers had a problem: Queen Daenerys was too powerful. She had either the finest or tied for the finest infantry in the world (the Unsullied), a huge force of crack cavalry (the Dothraki), countless ships, and three full-grown dragons. Queen Cersei, by contrast, seemed to have one army of indeterminate size, led by Jaime Lannister. I say “seemed to have” because you can never quite be sure with this show, which more and more has been playing fast and loose with its balance-of-power details.

Either way, it’s a pretty lopsided matchup, so, in the interests of drama, something must be done to even the odds. In other cases I’ve been sympathetic to the challenges of adapting the page to the screen, but not here. It was the showrunners that wrote themselves into this particular corner, not GRRM, and they’ve been straining mightily against plausibility ever since to write themselves out.

Their main vehicle so far has been Euron Greyjoy. He’s built an unbeatable fleet offscreen between seasons, and has now won two major (and confusing) victories in the space of two episodes. The first rested on the idea that he could find Yara’s fleet in the middle of a dark night without them even noticing he was coming. The second rests on the idea that Euron has time-bending powers that dwarf even Littlefinger’s.

Euron is played by a Danish actor named Pilou Asbaek. He at least seems to be having fun, so there`s that.

Euron is played by a Danish actor named Pilou Asbaek. He at least seems to be having fun, so there`s that.

Let’s rewind to the end of episode two: Tyrion, adhering to the ancient military maxim of “just divide your forces, it’ll be fine,” sent the Unsullied to attack Casterly Rock, the Lannister stronghold of great and hitherto unmentioned strategic value. At what I presume is the same time, he sent Yara’s fleet to collect Ellaria Sand’s forces in Dorne. It was the same time, right? I mean, why wouldn’t it be?

But Euron had time to sail from King’s Landing down to somewhere in the Dorne area, defeat and capture Yara Greyjoy and Ellaria Sand, sail back to King’s Landing, parade them through the streets, deliver them to Cersei, ask Jaime if his sister likes a “finger in the bum” (once again, that’s actual show dialogue), then get back on his ships, and sail clear around the southern end of the continent and up to Casterly Rock in time to attack the ships that ferried Grey Worm and the Unsullied there.

Once again, he was able to sneak an entire fleet up undetected. The Ironborn really need to work on their situational awareness.

Once again, he was able to sneak an entire fleet up undetected. The Ironborn really need to work on their situational awareness.

Apparently it’s part of the show’s etiquette at this point that we’re not supposed to notice things like this. We’re supposed to assume what happens from one scene to another is actually happening in whatever chronological order makes this all make sense. Has this sort of thing ever happened on any other show? Has there ever been another show where the audience has just resigned itself to the idea that time, distance, and chronology are meaningless?

If your head isn’t hurting enough already, now I’m going to try and figure just how many armies the Lannisters and Tyrells have and where they are. At the end of last season, Jaime was returning to from a short campaign in the Riverlands with his army. I assumed he took it with him to King’s Landing, right? That’s the place that was under imminent threat of attack.

But then we learn that Casterly Rock had not just a garrison to defend the castle but a whole other army, 10,000 strong according to Tyrion, that’s just been twiddling its thumbs this whole time. Jaime travels overland to collect it (again, after Euron returns to King’s Landing), arrives there ahead of the Unsullied, and takes this new army south.

I feel bad for Bronn. After all this time, he still can`t afford armor.

I feel bad for Bronn. After all this time, he still can`t afford armor.

There, they take Highgarden, with barely a fight if I’m understanding the sequence of events correctly. Did the Tyrells not have an army? Lady Olenna seemed to think they had one when she was sassing everyone at the Team Dany meetings. They had one when Mace and company marched on the Great Sept of Baelor last season. But I guess they don’t anymore. That, or their army was just made up of their bannermen, such as Lord Tarly, who we now learn has defected to the Lannister side. If that’s the case, I’m not sure why they needed the Casterly Rock army to begin with, or why they even bothered to do any of this. Lady Olenna was apparently never a threat at all, just an old woman sitting in a tower with strangely anachronistic wall-to-wall carpeting.

Jaime seems fine with this Casterly Rock-for-Highgarden swap. “The truth is, Casterly Rock isn’t really worth much anymore,” he says. Won’t Tyrion be embarrassed when he learns that! Between this and his botched deal with the Masters of Yunkai last season, his supposed competence is very much an informed attribute at this point.

I suppose at this point I should try and predict what happens next, but I’m not sure how I’m supposed to. Cersei might find another army in her couch cushions next episode, and use it to attack Dragonstone, which will be empty because it’s suddenly not important anymore, or possibly because Euron and his twenty good men ships burned their supplies or something.

Jon and Dany Finally Meet

I remember, back in season five, how excited everyone was for Daenerys and Tyrion to meet for the first time. I also remember that when it finally happened, it landed with a bit of a wet thud. They both just stared at other with blank expressions, trying to think of something interesting to do.

A bit of trivia: Dragonstone`s throne room was actually designed by the Combine from Half Life 2.

A bit of trivia: Dragonstone`s throne room was actually designed by the Combine from Half Life 2.

The long-awaited Jon/Dany meeting has a bit more going on, but not much. The Queen wants the King to bend the knee, based on a feudal obligation from many generations back. Does she still want to “break the wheel,” by the way? Is that still a thing? Once upon a time she seemed determined to tear down feudalism itself. Maybe she’ll get to that later. “The last King in the North was Torrhen Stark, who bent the knee to my ancestor, Aegon Targaryen,” she informs him, and no one corrects her. I had to replay that bit to make sure I hadn’t misheard. Has this show really just forgotten about Robb Stark entirely? I could’ve sworn he was a major character, and he wore a crown and everything. Is Bryan Cogman the only person who remembers that seasons one through three ever happened?

Jon forgets to mention dragonglass during this meeting, which I thought was the whole reason he came here, but whatever. This is a vintage Benioff/Weiss nonversation, where none of the lines spoken quite relate to the lines spoken before them. “Am I your prisoner?” he asks at the end. “Not yet,” she replies, but when next we see Jon we learn that he’s not allowed to leave, which I thought was basically what the word “prisoner” meant. Mostly both of them just came off as childish and comically bad at diplomacy.

Later, Jon and Tyrion have a slightly more substantial exchange. “How do I convince people who don’t know me that an enemy they don’t believe in is coming to kill them all?” he asks. Which is an excellent question, and possibly one he should have asked himself before coming to Dragonstone. After all, there were hundreds of witnesses to the battle at Hardhome, Night’s Watch and Wildlings both. He could have brought some of them to back up his story, right? Or perhaps he should’ve said whatever it was he said (offscreen) to the various northern lords to convince them.

How does Jon not get hot? Everyone else at Dragonstone is wearing normal clothing, he`s bundled up like it`s December in Minnesota.

How does Jon not get hot? Everyone else at Dragonstone is wearing normal clothing, he`s bundled up like it`s December in Minnesota.

Later, Queen Daenerys agrees to give Jon the dragonglass she doesn’t need and didn’t even know was there, which I guess is very generous of her. She and Tyrion both seem to believe Jon about the Army of the Dead, or at least Tyrion does. But neither of them seems curious about how many there are, or how much time they have, or whether the wall can be expected to hold them. It’s not clear whether the Night’s King has even reached the wall yet, after what I think is more than two full seasons of slowly walking towards it. It’s a good thing Euron Greyjoy was never made into a wight, or he would have conquered all of Westeros by now.

Aside from Dany/Jon and the whole secret Lannister army thing, not a lot happened this episode. We didn’t see Arya or the Hound at all, Littlefinger just had a brief mustache-twirling session with Sansa that didn’t really go anywhere, and Sam was assigned to copy a bunch of books. There was a “Cersei poisons a Sand Snake” scene, which clocked in at nearly five minutes long. I have a sinking feeling that “Cersei nonologues at a minor character” is going to be this season’s “Arya gets hit with a stick.”

That’s it for this week. Next week I should be back to my usual high standard of long-windedness. See you then!

 

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A Hundred!2014There are 134 comments here. I really hope you like reading.

From the Archives:

  1. newplan says:

    There’s one clear and consistent marker for time in Westeros – the age of Gilly’s baby.

  2. Droid says:

    Your articles are always a great read, firmly supporting my decision to stop watching the show back somewhere during season 3.

  3. Sannom says:

    Maybe that is Stannis was still alive they would have had two capable naval commanders (he and Davos) to kick Euron’s ass.

    Once upon a time she seemed determined to tear down feudalism itself.”

    She wants to institute an absolute monarchy, duh!

  4. shadr says:

    Despite some of the general stupidity in this episode, I was pleasantly surprised overall. That’t not to say it was well-written or anything, it’s abysmal compared to S1-4. But compared to the quality of writing in S6 and 7 so far, I thought it was one of the better episodes. Easily the best episode in the season so far. Not a particularly high bar to pass though.

    One thing you didn't mention is that the writers do seem to be trying to resolve some of the unanswered political tensions that should have been addressed already, as you pointed out in earlier posts.

    Cersei apparently spun the whole Sept explosion as a "tragic accident" as the Banker from Braavos implies. I suppose this is the writers way of telling us that that's why there's no open rebellion against Cersei; the commoners of KL just believe it was an accident. Not a very solid defense though. How exactly did Cersei disseminate propaganda that the Sept blowing up was just an accident – an accident in which all her enemies were killed, in a location in which she was suppose to be put on trial, and all at a very convenient time in which she wasn't even there? Does that not look suspicious to the commoners/lords/etc of Kings Landing, especially considering Cersei became Queen after said "accident"?

    There was another moment like this with Jon and Daenerys. When Davos tells her that he took “a blade to the heart” Jon quickly silences him. Again, I suppose this is the writers way of retconning why Jon didn’t tell Sansa or the Northern Lords about how he was resurrected. It’s never explained why he didn’t tell them. Perhaps he thinks they wouldn’t believe him? But apparently he expects them to believe in White Walkers and wights.

    Even so, it’s a poor defense. Even if Jon didn’t want Sansa to know about his resurrection, it’d be nearly impossible for Sansa to not find out. I imagine if your lord commander was murdered and resurrected, it’d be all the talk around Castle Black. Did Sansa really not overhear anything while residing in Castle Black? Did word of such a miraculous event not spread?

    • shadr says:

      “It’s never explained why he didn’t tell them”

      should be

      “It’s never explained why he didn’t want them to know”.

      Probably should have better editing options for these comment sections lol.

      • Niriel says:

        Shortly after Jon woke up, his eyes flashed ice-blue for a second. Davos and the others were out of the room, nobody saw it. Did Jon notice it? Is he feeling that there’s something not quite right? Maybe he doesn’t trust himself, but still need the trust of his allies. He’s downplaying the whole thing, hoping that people will not think too hard about it. People wouldn’t follow a half night walker.

        • shadr says:

          Perhaps, and that would be an actually interesting subplot to follow. Jon’s entire resurrection was pretty trivial given that he didn’t change in any fundamental way. It just felt like the writers needed an excuse to resurrect the hero of the story with little cost, so having him doubt whether he’s a half-wight or something would be worth exploring.

          But I doubt they’d introduce something like that at this point in the show. I re-watched the resurrection scene and didn’t really see his eyes turn blue, and online it doesn’t really seem to be a popular theory or anything. It seemed like the best time to introduce this would have been shortly after he was resurrected, or maybe after the BotB. Give us something bittersweet, and something to dread on for the next season. Introducing it now would maybe just feel like a lazy retcon.

    • Steve C says:

      When Davos tells her that he took “a blade to the heart” Jon quickly silences him. It’s never explained why he didn’t tell them.

      That does make a little bit of sense now that I think about it. Gives kind of a mixed message; “We must band together to fight the dead! Ignore the fact that I used to be dead. Fight all the other dead that aren’t me! You can tell they are much more dead then my deadness.” Someone dying and then coming back to life is one of those memorable kinds of things to gossip about. News would have gotten out. It’s incredulous that it hasn’t. I can at least see *a* reason to keep it quiet.

      I want to point out that the Tyrell and Dornish threats didn’t do anything. They pretty much had all this hype from the end of last season and then they immediately faceplanted. They literally didn’t do anything useful after their season finale of plotting menacingly. It’s like they were the pet characters of someone in the writers room in last season. Then that person left the show and the rest of the writers decided to kill them off asap.

      Easily the best episode in the season so far. Not a particularly high bar to pass though.

      Yup. Those are my thoughts exactly.

    • BlueHorus says:

      Cersei apparently spun the whole Sept explosion as a “tragic accident”…an accident in which all her enemies were killed, in a location in which she was suppose to be put on trial, and all at a very convenient time in which she wasn’t even there?

      Not to mention the GIANT GREEN EXPLOSION, last seen when a Lannister used dragonfire to save the city.

      Three episodes too late, there’s one throwaway line that doesn’t quite explain a major plot hole.
      I have to admit a grudging respect for this show; they just give none of the fucks anymore. It takes someone special to be this brazenly, shamelessly inconsistent.

  5. guy says:

    So, wait, Team Dany made two major military deployments and their, you know, dragons aren’t with either of them? I feel like they may have a very poor understanding of the concept of dragons.

    • Olivier Faure says:

      … Yeah, it’s kind of hard to get invested in military conflicts when the rules are so random and the most powerful characters don’t use their resources to keep the tension up.

      Especially since both of those were naval deployments, which everyone acknowledge as ridiculously favorable to giant fire-breathing monsters.

    • Fade2Gray says:

      They hand-wave it away by saying that to deploy the dragons Dany would have to go in person, but it’s too dangerous to risk her dying in battle to “a single stray arrow.”

      • guy says:

        That rhythmic sound you hear is the ghosts of Eddard, Robb, Robert, Rhaegar, and Drogo face-palming in unison. It’s pretty standard in this setting for rulers to lead from the actual frontlines, and those are people who don’t have three fire-breathing aerial lizards to accompany them.

        • Sannom says:

          It’s pretty standard in this setting for rulers to lead from the actual frontlines

          A bit too standard even, Robb was supposed to be a bit of an exception in Westeros in that regard, but the show made pretty much everyone a frontline commander. Even Stannis, who always commands from the back in the books, goes up and personal in the show.

          • TheJungerLudendorff says:

            Heck, if they were that afraid of losing her, why not make Dany RIDE one of them? She can just stay out of bow reach while her other two giant living flamethrowers rain fire down at anyone who looks important.

            • Hypatia says:

              Or you know, just look menacing if they don’t want to get close because “holy heck, a DRAGON!” is probably pretty effectively psychologically.

            • Fade2Gray says:

              But she could still get shot down by the Really Big Crossbow of Dragon-slaying +1 that team Dany isn’t supposed to know about! In all honesty, when I heard them give the stray arrow excuse my first thought was that they somehow found out about the dragon killing crossbow off screen somewhere.

              • ehlijen says:

                I didn’t get that impression? (Also, what’s supposed to be so amazing about a ballista anyway? We know house Lannister has used and liked crossbows since Joeffrey got one, and historically, ballistas predate the crossbow by a long time).

                When a dragon attacks a ship, what’s the ship going to do other than try to shoot back with archers? It’s literally their only option. That means arrows are flying around, and that means Dany, on the back of a dragon, could get hit. That sentiment feels out of place in a show that has Euron lead boarding parties like an Urikai beserker and Ramsey charge armored fighters while naked, but it’s not actually wrong.

          • RCN says:

            This even led to one of the first major plotholes I spotted on the show. How the hell did Stannis NOT get captured by the Lannisters during the Battle of Black Water when he was leading so, so, so far ahead of his troops that he was basically INSIDE KING’S LANDING’S WALLS raiding the castle by his loneself when he lost the battle?

            Seriously? Did no-one in King’s Landing had any idea where the general of their sieging enemies was when they got their reinforcements? When he was pretty much the ONLY guy in the front line? How the hell did he get to escape that battle other than turning invisible or literally teleporting away?

    • sheer_falacy says:

      Daenerys started with 3 armies, then she got up to 5 armies, and now she’s at approximately 0. The Unsullied are apparently under siege (by who, since the Lannister army went to the Tyrells?), and have no food or boats. The Dornish army still exists but there’s no way for it to get anywhere and no one to lead it anyway. The greyjoy army is gone because Yara told all of her lookouts to take the night off and then covered all her ships in oil. The Tyrell army never existed, apparently. And the Dothraki army is totally intact, but, uh, where the heck is it? Dragonstone, an empty rocky island with no food? That’s a great place for a horse army when all of your boats have sunk. Not that we’ve seen more than token Dothraki.

      • Shoeboxjeddy says:

        The Unsullied aren’t under siege. They’re holding a castle with no food stores, their own stores having been burned when their boats they arrived in were sank in a surprise attack. So the idea is they’ll have to leave and march back a ridiculous distance, which will put them out of position to help Dany any time soon.

        • RCN says:

          If just they had the teleporting power Cersei seems to be able to grant any of her allies at any point to stay relevant so that the position of HER armies never matter.

          They should have collected hearthstones for all the Unsullied. I mean, we know for a fact Stannis has one since there’s no possible way he could have escaped from the Battle of Black Water without magic.

  6. Olivier Faure says:

    I thought the conversations between Jon and Tyrion and Daenerys were sort of interesting… but also very frustrating.

    Tyrion and Daenerys sort of believe him, but they never press him for details. Jon doesn’t talk about any of his encounters with the White Walkers, or the fact that less than a year ago, a huge expedition by the Night’s Watch (with at least hundreds of men) was almost slaughtered by the undead.

    Jon and Daenerys don’t really get to know each other. Tyrion doesn’t try to negotiate any sort of deal like “Let’s keep things as they are right now, but you promise that if we do help you with the White Walker army, you’ll swear loyalty to Daenerys by the end of winter”. (or she could marry him; that would mostly solve the whole problem)

    Also, I like that they do point out the whole “resurrection” thing… but then they try to keep it secret? Not sure why, it would at least give them some credibility? And why did Melisandre leave before the negotiations were over? Sure, they had bad blood, but couldn’t she have made sure that Daenerys was informed about the whole “zombie invasion” thing before she left? I mean, she probably stayed in that castle for weeks. She heavily recommended Jon Snow. She pointed Daenerys as a possible prince(ss) who was promised. Couldn’t she have said that Jon Snow was a possible candidate? Also she resurrected him? And that the very threat the prince(ss) would save them from was the actual current zombie invasion?

    Also, why didn’t anyone suggest sending one of Daenery’s advisors (or even a few ranked officers) to the Wall to talk with the Watch and the wildlings, get witness accounts of the invasion, and when the time comes have someone Daenerys trusts say “Yup, I’m on top of the wall, and I definitely see a zombie army coming for us. Please send help”?

    Other miscellaneous remarks about the episode:

    – I like that they managed to fit Tyrion’s latrine-digging backstory in, even though the whole surrounding arc is dumb.

    – But I’m very annoyed that *now* that the Unsullied are trapped on the other side of the continent, the writers seem to remember “Hey, a continent is actually very large and sending half your army across it is actually a bad idea!”

    – Why would the Tyrell bannermen betray Olenna? Even if they’re dishonorable enough to do it, isn’t it a choice between “Join the Tyrells, the Martells, the Starks, the Tully, the Arryn, some Ironborns and Daenerys to take on an insane ruler with crushing debts, no money and no reliable allies left”, or “Join the Freys, the Boltons, the Ironborn and Cersei and hope they don’t collapse or betray you next”?

    – I kinda like Euron Greyjoy. I mean, sure, his ability to teleport everyone is super annoying, but as a villain he’s pretty fun.

    – He doesn’t seem to have noticed that Cersei never publicly committed to marrying him after the war. Kind of a huge oversight.

    – Honestly, even if it doesn’t bring the plot forward, I like seeing Sansa acting like a leader, and I like her blowing Littlefinger off like the failure he is. His concerns are kind of dumb too. Yeah, Cersei is completely going to march her army across the entire continent to attack northerners who are leaving her perfectly alone, while she’s being invaded by Daenerys Targaryen, even thought the Lannisters were incapable of marching to Winterfell even at their peak. Real danger there.

    • Nick says:

      On Melissandre being cagey – I get the impression that she doesn’t like the idea of Dany ruling Westeros overmuch, and doesn’t think the prophesy really refers to her (after all, she personally resurrected Jon and has a lot personally invested in that idea.

      In that light it makes sense she wouldn’t tell Dany so as not to make him a threat to her rule in her eyes.

    • BlueHorus says:

      I’m very annoyed that *now* that the Unsullied are trapped on the other side of the continent, the writers seem to remember “Hey, a continent is actually very large and sending half your army across it is actually a bad idea!”

      The show wrote itself into a corner, and had to find SOME way to drag out the conflict. Because there’s what, eight episodes to fill?

      Hence this, Euron Greyjoy’s omnipotent pirate fleet, Dany’s non-use of dragons (Also good for the budget) and Randyll Tarly’s nonsensical joining up with Cersei. Dany turning up and saying ‘veni, vidi, vici’, while more likely, would be over too soon. They’re presumably going to drag this show out as long as possible.

      • RCN says:

        “Omnipresent” is the word you were looking for.

        As for Randyl Tarly… Cercei probably used that Omnscience of hers to tell him that Lady Olenna Tyrell reads books so he immediately turned coat, since the only characterization we ever got of him is that he really, really hates books to the point of exiling his son to the Night’s Watch at the hope he’d stop reading them. (He says that Honor is the most important thing for a Tarly too, but him siding with Cersei and her weaksauce explanations for all the convenient deaths around her promptly proves that that was a lie)

        (Wait, maybe Omniscience isn’t really the word to describe Cersei super powers. What would be a better word to describe that someone will always be handed to them precisely what they need to always solve any problem?)

        • Droid says:

          Writer’s fiat.

        • BlueHorus says:

          Why not both? Or just, all of the Omni- words? We don’t need to be picky here.

          Euron can make ships out of nothing, know exactly where other ships are at night, be in two places at once, be a creep to the queen’s brother, freely suggest kinslaying with no consequences…he can just do all the things.

          Why? Because SHUT UP NERD!, that’s why.

  7. Nick says:

    I assume Dany just never heard about Rob being crowned King in the North. That doesn’t really excuse Jon not mentioning it though.

    • TheJungerLudendorff says:

      You’d think she would at least have gotten a basic rundown of what happened in the past couple of years while she was gone. Rob’s rebellion wasn’t exactly a minor event.

    • Olivier Faure says:

      It made sense to me as a “The last King in the North was this guy; anyone else who took the title after that was deluded.” thing. She knows about his brother, she just doesn’t acknowledge him.

      But yeah, it’s kind of an awkward way to make a point.

  8. Emilios Manolidis says:

    Has there ever been another show where the audience has just resigned itself to the idea that time, distance, and chronology are meaningless?

    Hi, you seem to be Lost! Don’t worry, there’s excellent view from my Twin Peaks!

    • Joshua says:

      Wasn’t every episode of Twin Peaks supposed to be a day or something, and yet it shows students going to school every one of those days?

      I also remember that despite it being such a short time, some of the actresses (Sherilyn Fenn and Lara Flynn Boyle) had amazing hair growth in what was just a week or two.

    • ehlijen says:

      Before Varys, I think the most notable example I had seen was Te’alc walking across a mountain range (with a back wound and heroic soundtrack and everything) in less time than the space battle above took in Stargate: Ark of Truth.

  9. And I guess I’ll take the counterpoint: the folks I watched the episode with were extremely satisfied with it. “Wow: that was a GREAT episode! Major character interactions continue to be happening! Doomed folks are twisting the knife! A lot of this interminable lead-up has actually been set into motion!” We were as aware as anyone, snickering about some of the distances traversed in implausible amounts of times by ships – “I installed wakeboard motors on all our ships so we could Miami Vice it down the coast in time for this scene; they’re totally awesome” – but it didn’t detract from the notes of the episode.

    And in the back of my mind, I was pretty sure what Bob’s commentary was going be like. “Continuity error! I watch the movie good!” It was almost disappointingly trivial to see it confirmed as much.

    I mean, Shamus has talked repeatedly in the past about the disparity between works who are holding themselves to hard logical constructs and ones that are dramatically driven by the Rule of Cool or the like. This appears to be a work abiding by the latter, but Bob is judging by the former, at least for the bulk of posts like these. I mean, hey, I get it! Easy-hanging target! But it invokes far more eye-rolling than emotional resonation, nor a desire to share the commentary with any associates.

    • Greg says:

      The problem is that, like Mass Effect, GoT made a transition from details first (where troop statistics and movements were actually important and had major impacts on the plot — see Robb crossing at the Twins, Stannis going from pitiful underdog to massive superpower overnight by killing Renly, etc.) to drama first (where armies materialize from nowhere because a writer thinks they should exist, then move at the speed of dramatic convenience).

      These aren’t continuity errors; they’re plot holes (yes, actual plot holes, significant events which contradict information from the show itself) in what was previously a tightly plotted story. Perhaps if it had always been drama first … but no, having grown attached to all these characters because they make believable moves in a space that runs on relatively well-defined rules, seeing them all suddenly turn into cliches smashing armies against one another so that they can spout the next epic line is disappointing, to say the least.

      That Bob’s criticisms are predictable aren’t really a point against him; they’re a point against the show, that the same problems remain week after week.

    • Olivier Faure says:

      This appears to be a work abiding by [Rule of Cool], but Bob is judging by [logical constructs]

      I think he said something like that earlier, about this show being similar to wrestling.

      The thing is, the show is based on a franchise whose major selling point is “Like fantasy, but more down-to-earth”, and everything besides the plot is built around this aesthetic. The magic is very low-key, people spend more time planning their fights and talking logistics than fighting, things are dirty and grimy, etc. So I don’t think “Rule of cool” is really appropriate for the series.

      • ehlijen says:

        It is what it built itself around, though. The strongest point of the show at the moment is good actors burning each other with high yield trash talk.

        That’s why the show gets such accolades for great writing: When the characters rip into each other, audience emotions surge high, and the insult quality writing is pretty great. The characters and the plot fell by the wayside when the big names started dropping like flies, leaving only poorly established replacements.

    • BlueHorus says:

      Two criticisms of this Rule of Cool argument:

      1) The show isn’t cool. No character consistency, a terrible script,* blatant fan-pandering/baiting and thuddingly stupid ‘POLITIKAL KOMMENTRY’ all combine to make the show bad. The lack of logic is just one aspect. A story run by Rule of Cool needs to actually BE COOL – though YMMV of course.

      2) As other people have said, GoT used to be a ‘details first’ story. That’s what it did well (though only IMO, of course): the characters were believable and the event of the plot flowed from their actions. All the twists were set up, believable, and when they weren’t, more often than not the show’s changing of details was to blame.
      Then they ran out of books/made up their own stuff, and the difference in quality is palpable.
      This show really was much better than this.

      *’Where are my niece and nephew? Let’s go murder them!’ = Show writers: HEY! THIS GUY’S A BAD GUY, GEDDIT? YOU SHOULDN’T ROOT FOR HIM! HE’S B-A-D! UNDERSTAND?

    • name says:

      Well, that’s the thing, GoT is not supposed to be a show that adheres to the rule of cool. Just like the books, it was anchored in realism – or rather, a certain set of internal rules that hold the entire thing together. Not that cool is absent or unimportant – it’s the kind of story where cool is all the more cool because it’s held up by internal consistency. And once you establish this internal consistency, you can’t break it whenever it suits you and hope all the cool will still be cool.

      If suddenly anyone can do anything, the whole thing is robbed of any weight. At that point, you can only hope the audience is attached enough to the main characters to be interested in whatever arbitrary set of circumstances you put them through next. Obviously, it’s working out and the majority of the audience still loves the show. But calling out Bob’s criticisms as nitpicking is just outright wrong. There’s a line between a harmless “continuity error” and “complete nonsense” and GoT is firmly in the “complete nonsense” territory.

      Within a breath, one character is teleporting around and winning battles while another is concerned about the lack of leather plating on her army’s armor.

      As Bob put it – you can’t possibly tell what will happen next. And not in a good way. Anyone can be anywhere at any time and do anything, ergo what exactly is this show doing?

      • Sure. I can completely respect that sort of critique.

        I suppose that for me personally – I did not read the books, and I only got up to speed on the show like two or three seasons after the fact – I didn’t parse the work as “this is hinged on internal consistency!” so much as “this is going not going to abide by many staid tropes.”

        Steadfast noble leader Ned? Yeah: he can get his head lopped off! Sucks to be you! Renowned swordsman Jamie? Well, he’s not going to play the cartoonish villain… so he’s not going to slink away into the corner once his hand’s lopped off… and nor is he going to be magically as adept with his non-dominant hand… but he’s not going to turn tide against his house and lover in one Grand Sweeping Moment. That sort of thing.

        “You can’t possibly tell what will happen next”? I suppose I respectfully disagree. If you were writing the series for emotional highs and lows, even if you needed to fudge some of the logistics, it’s pretty easy to suss out some of the upcoming events. “I bet the ice guy is gonna meet the fire lady. They’re gonna unify their forces, team up and win.” It’s all implementation details and nuances at that point.

        I’m sure there’s someone who can cite a deep reference assuring me how Westeros ocean currents during impending-winter time spans do not foment favorable trade winds assuring that such-and-such armies could make it to such-and-such battle in time. I’m fairly positive that it’s not such a galling error that I especially care.

        “What exactly is this show doing?” “The audience is attached enough to the main characters to be interested in whatever … it’s working out and the majority of the audience still loves the show.” That appears to be what the show is doing.

        • name says:

          Good points. When I think about it, I realize this show has only been internally consistent in as much as it was faithful to the books. So in other words, all its internal consistency comes from the source material. When the show is doing its own thing, it doesn’t care much if it makes a lot of sense. All the consistency it had is almost an accident, or rather, a coincidental carryover from the books. As time went on and a huge audience got hooked, the showrunners grew more confident in doing their own thing. As that thing matured, it shed a lot of what was perceived to be unnecessary elements, one of them being internal consistency.

          Book readers don’t have to be catered to by default – they have the books. And besides, a lot of them are nitpicky turbonerds that hated the show from the get go due to (what was then) minor deviations from the source material – so might as well disregard them in the decision making process.

          Show-only fans that care enough about internal consistency to stop watching are very few and as such, an irrelevant demographic.

          I mean hell, even I’m still watching. Only because I would have all the events spoiled otherwise (because the book is lagging behind the events horribly – not to mention that the show will likely wrap up before the sixth book is out) but I’m watching regardless.

          It is what it is. It could have been something different, they had enough time and money, but it is what it is. Regardless of the books, the show would be better if it respected its own established rules, but it’s kinda hard to get really worked up about it. If GRRM has made peace with it, I bet the fans can as well. At the end of the day, books still exist and will weave their own story – and even if they weren’t there, it’s just a work of fiction.

  10. Amarsir says:

    I basically got over the jetpack usage a few seasons ago, when Littlefinger crossed the continent like 6 times in fraction of The Hound & Arya’s speed. It’s nonsense, but if I didn’t expect that nonsense I’d have had to stop watching years ago. Apparently Arya is still a slow traveler since solo on horseback she couldn’t make it to Winterfell in that time. Maybe that’s a point for consistency?

    Featuring several important conversations that advance the plot, I found the episode overall pretty tolerable. Cersei / Ellaria, Jaime / Olenna, Jon / Daenerys / Tyrion, and even Sansa / Bran. (The latter being important in that she learned he’s alive and is now creepy.) I could even hope we’re done seeing Euron for a while now that all the opposing boats are gone, but he still has to torture Yara in a way totally not reminiscent of Ramsay.

    • Grampy_bone says:

      The Lannisters have always had infinity armies with NoClip, even in the books. Earlier in the story they teleport all over the south and always have full strength despite being repeatedly trounced by Robb.

      • Joshua says:

        Well, a lot of travel in the books is like that. Isn’t Westeros supposedly the size of South America or something? Yet the politics and troop movements suggest something more the size of England, or even smaller.

        For example, King Robert personally traveling from King’s Landing to Winterfell, which one fan estimated as about 1,500 miles as the crow flies. I hope someone’s running the kingdom while he’s gone for the next few months. Oh wait, that would be the Hand, who has perished.

        • TheJungerLudendorff says:

          Don’t worry, the queen can rule in his… wait, no. She came along too. As did every direct heir to the throne.
          Maybe he called in Renly or Stannis to keep an eye on things? Because the only other named character who hold the reins while his Majesty is off to the North is Tywin Lannister, and I seriously doubt Robert would have given him control over the royal court.

          • KarmaTheAlligator says:

            Wouldn’t he leave the council (Littlefinger, whoever else was there) in charge? They were usually the ones doing everything anyway, while Robert was making (bad) decisions.

      • Grudgeal says:

        I don’t recall it going exactly that way. Tywin raises thirty-five thousand men, splits it 15-20 and gives 15 to Jamie. Each army meets one part of Robb’s army, Tywin wins and Jamie loses. That’s twenty thousand left. Tywin then falls back to Harrenhall, digs in, and orders his cousin in the Westerlands to raise his reservists/new blood and whip them into shape. Robb ambushes his reservists, Tywin still has 20 thousand dug in at Harrenhall. Tywin attempts to break through into the Westerland after Robb but his vangard is repulsed by Edmure with light casualties, forcing him to stay at Harenhall. Then Stannis attacks King’s Landing and Littlefinger allies the Lannisters to the Tyrells. Tywin goes south-east, joins up with the Tyrells’ 100,000 and attack Stannis in the rear with 120,000.

        Barring that Westeros is supposedly a lot bigger than the story implies it is, which seems to be a problem that hits all sides, I don’t see any overt teleportation present. Tywin moves overland the entire time, he maintains supply lines by raiding the Riverlands for food, and while we don’t get told of all his army’s movements that’s true for a lot of characters.

        • Vermander says:

          Also remember that the defeated armies aren’t simply “gone” like in a strategy game. The survivors retreat, regroup and reorganize, so at least some of Jaime and Stafford’s armies presumably rejoined Tywin along the way.

          We don’t really get a good idea of what portion of the former Tyrell army defected to the Lannisters, but given that Randyll Tarly was their most famous and capable general I would guess it has to be at least a third? But the fact that the Tyrells don’t even have enough men to withstand a siege of Highgarden is ridiculous. Even if Jamie’s army “surprised” them, that siege should have lasted weeks, months, or even years.

          • Alex Broadhead says:

            Ah, but Jaime built the sewers at Highgarden so he’d have more to talk about with Tyrion…

          • Olivier FAURE says:

            And been immensely vulnerable to a counter-attack by Dragon which would have:

            – Ended the Lannisters right there

            – Ended Tarly’s forces and showed exactly how insane and stupid his betrayal was.

  11. newplan says:

    Let’s talk about this Tyrion’s plan.

    Tyrion has the brilliant plan of sending a squad of the unsullied in to sneak in* and kill the gate guards and open the gates to let in the rest of the unsullied army. This is right after it’s shown what a disaster it would be to directly storm the gate (and presumably batter it down) because the unsullied would be outside the castle, taking fire from archers and likely burning oil and rocks and whatever siege equipment is emplaced on the walls. Keep that in mind – Tyrion’s plan is supposed to be so great because it avoids that situation.

    Did you spot the HUGE problem there (ok, if you spotted more than one huge problem that’s good too)?

    Original plan was bad because the unsullied would be outside the gate taking withering fire from the battlements. To solve this problem Tyrion’s super plan has the bulk of the unsullied standing outside the gates without being noticed. How?

    Maybe they approach at night and hope the Lannister guards (who are presumably in a heightened state of alert because they’re at war) don’t notice them – but they approached from the sea! They should have had warnings about the fleet from castles that are miles away (via the same magic owls that serve as the Westerosi email system) So now you’ve got a coordinated amphibious assault at night with medieval technology – no radar, no NODs – they’d be lucky not to dash enough ships on the rocks to lose less than half the army. That doesn’t even mention the biggest problem with the nighttime approach – how in the f*ck does the infiltration team find the hidden entrance at night? Night approach is impossible so this must have happened during the day as shown.

    Day approach is just as ridiculous. Unsullied unload all their armies and muster at the gate without the defenders doing anything. If the defenders don’t notice a giant army outside the walls then you could just have put up the ladders and stormed the castle conventionally.

    This doesn’t even get into the absurdity of the actual logistics of the infiltration occurring without Tyrion being there. Ever try to give someone directions before GPS? This is about a thousand times harder – they have to travel across the continent to a hostile fortress and find the entrance to a hidden passage then make their way through a maze-like structure that they’ve never been to. It’s absurd without having Tyrion there as a guide but for plot reasons Tyron is needed at Dragonstone so he’s not there to guide them.

    Ah, but the fortress was barely guarded so they didn’t have the manpower for scouts and didn’t man the walls so they never noticed the army waiting outside for someone to open the gates. If that’s the case then the only reason the plan worked was because it was a terrible strategic plan! Just awful top to bottom.

    • Amarsir says:

      Yeah that didn’t make sense to me either. And I was also bothered by the narrative technique of having the first description (straight assault) be fake, but then the second (sewers) and third (tricked) both being true. To the extent that I wondered if maybe they did both – straightforward assault that was defended, to cover the ones going through the sewers?

      There were an awful lot of dead bodies atop the ramparts if people weren’t coming up that way. But no part of this really makes sense.

    • Blue_Pie_Ninja says:

      I assume it’s more of having the army assault the walls to distract the guards, but have a splinter force go through the sewers in order to open the gates and let the rest of the army in. Sure they will still lose a lot on the walls but it helps with the whole needing to hide the army out of sight of the walls.

      Also the sewer tunnel is somewhere down the coast out of sight of the castle, so it’d be pretty easy to find without being spotted by the castle.

    • Grampy_bone says:

      This isn’t actually that big of a deal. Historically castles can and have been lost the moment the gates open and the attacking army gets in. Sieges have been won just by bribing one dude to leave the gates open. I’m not sure why you think the army outside would even need to be “hidden” for the infiltration to work. 99% of a siege is two armies standing across from each other and waiting.

      What doesn’t make sense is the idea of a 10,000 man garrison in the castle. Against the Unsullied (who are presumably less than 10,000) you would sally out and meet them in the field, if you lose you can retreat to the castle, the Unsullied can’t. But this ends up being a feint, as Bob pointed out the Lannister army apparently retreated down the mountain while the Unsullied were ascending it. (There’s really only one way to and from Casterly Rock).

      In any case, it’s perfectly fine for the attackers to hold back out of arrow range and wait for the gates to open. Using the ladders and such to storm the walls makes less sense, but it’s still not a big deal if the frontal assault is actually a diversion while they wait for the gates to open, assuming that actually happened. The editing makes everything unclear.

      Realistically there’s not much the defending army can do to the attackers anyway. Hollywood likes to pretend that armor does nothing but in real life a decently armored force with shields has very little to fear from self bows.

    • Chris Davies says:

      I don’t see that being any particular defect with the plan. After all, this was for many years the traditional means by which you captured a walled city. You created a breach in the wall, formed a column of men and marched in to the breach with the knowledge that while you would take some casualties, your forces would still be reasonably intact and concentrated by the time you came in contact with the enemy. Assaulting a breach was always preferable to an escalade, and the open gates are in effect a breach in the walls.

      The chief defect in the plan seems to be that it requires precise coordination between the bulk of the army and the party sent to open the gates. Presumably the plan is to march the army to the walls, feigning an escalade until the last moment when the gates would be thrown open by the party inside the walls, and the column would bypass the defenders on the walls entirely, enabling them to fight the army inside piecemeal. If the party inside encounter any unexpected difficulties, the army outside ends up sitting ducks under fire from the archers on wall above.

      • guy says:

        Most likely the Unsullied would just deal with being shot at with arrows. Raise their shields and wait. It’s rather difficult to shoot a bunch of people with big shields to death.

        • ehlijen says:

          That works to a point. Sooner or later the defenders will wonder why you’re sitting there with a shield wall and not actually trying to achieve anything. To keep the defenders attention, they’ll need to actually do something threatening, and that means exposing themselves to at least some fire.

          • Olivier FAURE says:

            They could use a ram while still reasonably protected by their shields. But the real problem is that castles also have defenses against that (boiling/flaming oil, heavy rocks, etc).

            I guess the unsullied’s timing was good enough that few of their vanguards did for the sake of their diversion.

      • Grudgeal says:

        After all, this was for many years the traditional means by which you captured a walled city. You created a breach in the wall, formed a column of men and marched in to the breach with the knowledge that while you would take some casualties, your forces would still be reasonably intact and concentrated by the time you came in contact with the enemy

        That tactic only got used in the 16th-17th centuries, after the introduction of gunpowder. Despite what total war games would tell you, a catapult/trebuchet isn’t accurate enough to repeatedly wear down a spot on a castle wall faster than the defenders can repair it.

        Traditionally, castle assaults were a weapon of last resort that followed prolonged sieging and probing the defences for weak spots, complete with feint attacks all over the line. The problem is if you don’t keep all the defenders busy all around the castle they can converge and focus on your position faster than you can get through the gap, leaving you attacking an enemy surrounding you and often on high ground.

        The writers presumably thought of an attack on Casterly Rock as a repeat of the Siege of Mereen, which is the wrong way to look at it because Mereen was a walled city and the way it fell was due to the defenders surrendering when their mercenaries defected instead of continuing to fight, while Casterly Rock is a castle held by House Lannister loyalists. Once you’re past the outer wall of a city, there are no more defences inside except for the citizens and defenders. Castles, traditionally, had multiple layers of defences and if the Lannister soldiers wanted they could hole up in the inner keep and prolong the siege.

        • Seaxneat says:

          Despite what total war games would tell you, a catapult/trebuchet isn’t accurate enough to repeatedly wear down a spot on a castle wall faster than the defenders can repair it.

          That’s why sappers were used since the age of antiquity. It takes time, though. Traitor defenders or any other way to suddenly open breaches is so much easier and quicker…

          Traditionally, castle assaults were a weapon of last resort that followed prolonged sieging and probing the defences for weak spots, complete with feint attacks all over the line.

          Feint attacks – check!
          Knowledge of weak spots – check!
          Why laying a long siege, then?

          Castles, traditionally, had multiple layers of defences and if the Lannister soldiers wanted they could hole up in the inner keep and prolong the siege.

          Unless the Unsullied Commando entered through the citadel (which they did. Tyrion calls it “main guard tower”, but since it’s supposed to deliver whores to his chambers unnoticed, it’s in the citadel). Then the defenders can’t hole up in a place already secured by the enemy (those places were built to be held with very few fighters). They’re screwed.

  12. newplan says:

    Oh! Here’s another mystery. Why did Lady Olenna go to Highgarden? Never mind the how – it’s been established that named characters can teleport in Westeros but why?

    • Erik says:

      She was sent away to Highgarden in the previous season, by Margaery. I guess she did not feel the need to travel with Daenerys.

      • newplan says:

        Since she was sent to Highgarden by Margeary she’s been to Dorne and last episode she was in the big table room at Dragonstone – where she made no indication that she was leaving.

        Last episode they needed a grrrrrl power scene with her and Dany so she was at Dragonstone. This episode they needed a capper to the Highgarden attack so she was at Highgarden. Maybe next episode she’ll be at the wall.

  13. Dork Angel says:

    I assumed Euron headed back to Kings Landing with his prize and sent all or some of his ships on without him to Casterly Rock. I mean they weren’t going there for a naval battle, just to burn undefended ships so he didn’t need to be there.

    All in all more believable than last weeks random sea ambush. Mind you, they still did a pretty good job of guessing Tyrion’s plan. Imagine if it is all one big conspiracy that Tyrion is in on… :o

    • ehlijen says:

      But we see Euron’s Flagship leading the attack on the unsullied (it’s the one with the silly extra side sails). If we are not to assume he is on board that, the show should really have told us that, otherwise that ship is a clear a signal as a super star destroyer saying “yo, vader is here”. He doesn’t have to be on board, but the gut assumption from the viewer would most likely be that he is unless told otherwise.

    • GloatingSwine says:

      Even if you assume the most efficient route, the travel time around Westeros by ship should be weeks if you have favourable winds.

      Dragonstone to Casterley Rock by sea should be about five thousand miles.

      The show has been progressively falling further into Thud and Blunder the further it progresses past the books, but this isn’t even sail ships acting as if they had diesel engines, it’s sail ships acting like jet fighters.

  14. Shep says:

    Couple of points:

    – I don’t think the point about Robb being last king in the north is very fair, Dany clearly means last legitimate king, whereas in her eyes Robb was just a pretender. It would seem strange for her to acknowledge Robb as king, when she obviously doesn’t recognise Jon.

    – The Euron teleport thing is a bit funny, but I could suggest that he isn’t actually with the Iron Fleet at Casterley Rock, he took the prisoners back with a few ships whilst the rest of the fleet carried on, which shouldn’t take as long because it was by sea. A bit hand wavey perhaps, but not entirely unreasonable.

    • Wraith says:

      I fully expected Jon to cut in and mention Robb being the last King in the North and was exceedingly disappointed when he didn’t. I should really stop raising my expectations.

      I was less bothered with Euron’s fleet turning into the Flash than I was with how the Lannisters found out about their ridiculous plan in the first place. This morning I thought that scene over again and it was the Plinkett voice going in my head saying, “How’d you know they were going to Casterly Rock? What if they’d just gone to King’s Landing?You’d…you’d look real stupid sending your army south to Highgarden if they’d just attacked King’s Landing anyways. Remember Stannis? Everyone expected him to attack King’s Landing from Dragonstone and was surprised when he didn’t. I didn’t see anyone worrying about Dany – with her armies and fleets and dragons – attacking King’s Landing. What’s that over there in the corner, is that the script?”

      In fact, my new headcanon is that they thought the Targaryen army was going to Oldtown and Jaime was just lying out his ass about learning from Robb Stark to make himself look smart.

      • name says:

        I don’t really see how relevant it would be to Jon or anyone else to mention Robb’s brief time as King in the North. Not only was it a failure, but it was in rebellion against Lannisters and therefore not really important in a discussion with a Targaryen who sees all Westeros conflicts after the rebellion against Targaryen rule as irrelevant.

        Jon’s claim as King in the North is not really based on Robb’s rule. If he was shown not to be capable, the northern houses would not have chosen him, regardless of his blood – in fact, due to the fact that he is a bastard, his blood is more of a point of contention rather than affirmation of Stark rule. Furthermore, in his own eyes, it’s more of a means to an end (the end being defense against the whitewalkers and prosperity of the north) rather than upholding Stark rule. He’s practical and humble, and while loyal to his family, he does not put his blood above the interests of the people.

        So why even mention Robb? Why would he open a fruitless debate about history and succession rules with a Targaryen of all people? And at this point in time? Not only would it be uncharacteristic of Jon, but it would also be a very wrong argument to present to a pissed off Targaryen with three dragons. Why defend his position as King in the North with any argument other than the fact that he was chosen as one and that he intends to be a good king? In fact, he did not even outright refuse to give up Northern independence and to be a Warden of the North – it is implied he only refused it at this point in time because he has reasons not to trust in Daenerys’ capability and/or good intentions. As he plainly stated – he does not know her yet.

        In conclusion, I don’t agree with Bob’s criticism in this regard. However, I don’t hold it against him or anyone else, because this show has become so incredibly stupid that stupidity is to be expected. In this instance, I believe the showrunners actually did have all of the above in mind while writing this scene. But if it instead turned out that it was simply an accidental success, I wouldn’t be surprised. For the most part though, I think the show’s failings are intentional negligence and cynical dismissal of the audience’s intelligence rather than the stupidity of the showrunners. There’s also probably a degree of laziness, but it comes with the territory when you assume your audience doesn’t care much anyway.

  15. Wraith says:

    I expected this week’s title to be “Whack-A-Rebel”

    I am disappoint

  16. JDMM says:

    All of that is annoying but all of that was to some extent already established, my big problem was when the show wanted a character parallel so it had Littlefinger speak gibberish about seeing all futures at once so that they could set up a parallel between him and Bran who showed up and talked about he could see all futures at once

    Firstly why do you want a parallel between the boy who’s becoming some insane seer and the banker/schemer?
    And secondly just how many drafts did you go through? I get that there was a need for Bran to come off as otherwordly but that doesn’t mean Littlefinger had to follow him and seem completely insane

    • name says:

      For all you know, Littlefinger may actually be some sort of time traveler. There was ominous music as he spoke, after all. And besides, there’s a large number of people with some very insane theories regarding Song of Ice and Fire and some of them actually hold some water – for example, the merman theory. No pun intended. In one of the wilder branches of this theory, Littlefinger is preparing for a flooding event and intends to stay in The Eyrie which sits high enough to remain above the water.

      Suffice it to say, we don’t really know what Littlefinger is up to yet.

      But then again, none of the theories are proven, and even if they were, you can never tell what will stay in the books and never make it to the show. And after all, it’s more than likely he’s speaking gibberish to set up a pointless, corny parallel as you point out.

  17. Commento says:

    Once again, agree with pretty much all your points on this show despite still enjoying it immensely. One thing though;

    The last King in the North was Torrhen Stark, who bent the knee to my ancestor, Aegon Targaryen,” she informs him, and no one corrects her. I had to replay that bit to make sure I hadn’t misheard. Has this show really just forgotten about Robb Stark entirely? I could’ve sworn he was a major character, and he wore a crown and everything.

    I don’t think this isn’t the writers forgetting about Robb Stark, this is Dany attacking the legitimacy of there being a King in the North.

    • TheJungerLudendorff says:

      In that case, why did Jon just keep quiet? She’s not just attacking his (half)family and the cause many of them fought and died for, but practically attacking his own position as independent leader of the North Kingdom. And she’s some uppity Targerean to boot.

      He doesn’t have to punch her in the face or do anything drastic, but SOME reaction or protest would be expected.

      • While he’s unarmed, in her chambers, surrounded by her armed guards?

      • Commento says:

        He does react, it’s sublte but he gives a grimace, clenches his fist and looks away from her – the camera even cuts to him to show us that. He doesn’t angrily blow up or interject true, but does he ever? That would be rather out of character. So what’s easier to assume, that the writers and staff completely forgot a major character of 3/4 seasons ever existed and no one in the whole crew managed to point it out? Or it was a subtle dig that some viewers missed?

        • guy says:

          He could just tell her something to the effect of “The last King In The North was Robb Stark, and he bent knee to no one.” Not disputing her statement indicates he is not willing to defend Robb’s, and by extension his own, legitimacy.

          • Arkady says:

            “The last King In The North was Robb Stark, and he bent knee to no one.”

            This is quite confrontational, and he wants to avoid a confrontation. If Daenarys replies along the lines of: “And Robb Stark died”, I don’t really see where Jon takes the negotiations from there.

            His theory that the sons and daughters are not to be judged by the sins of their fathers, and therefore he is not beholden to a vow made 300 years previously is, I think, the better option.

  18. I’m quite disappointed by this post. You’ve been objecting all season to there being no mention of Jon Snow returning from the dead, and now that it’s come up, no “Hey, there it is!”

    If you make a deliberate point of bringing up something missing, you should at least acknowledge when it reappears.

    Additionally, the complaint you had last week – that attacking Casterly Rock was not actually a great move – was something that the show was 100% aware of. This isn’t a case of the writers being dumb; it’s some characters having knowledge that other characters didn’t.

    I get that you’re not enjoying it, but it would be nice if you acknowledged when your complaints turned out not to be valid.

    • Olivier Faure says:

      I don’t think the failed attack on Casterly Rock is a point in favor of the show. Besides the other plot holes it creates, that just mean that something that had many people in the audience go “What? That’s insane!” was confirmed to be actually insane.

      Which:

      – Makes Tyrion look extremely incompetent. Not “you fucked up” incompetent, but “You may have cost us this war and will never be consulted on military matters again” incompetent.

      – Makes everyone who was in the room with him when he suggested his insane plan incompetent as well, because no one thought to ask “Wait, are we really splitting our fleet in two when Cersei’s only remaining ally has a giant pirate fleet?” or “What is this strategic advantage you want us to ferry half our forces around THE ENTIRE CONTINENT for again?” or “Shouldn’t we wait before we’ve secured our allies’ armies before we start dispersing our own across the continent?”

      • Was the mines being dry common knowledge? I didn’t think Tyrion knew (or, by extension, everyone else in the war room.)

        • guy says:

          Definitely not common knowledge, but Tyrion is on the short list of people who should have known, being a member of the main family and living in Casterly Rock. Even if they kept him out of the loop, he’s smart enough to notice they aren’t mining vast quantities of new gold.

      • Dork Angel says:

        They only found out about the other fleet and its allegiance to Cersei after they were attacked by it.

        • Kris says:

          Which is interesting in itself. How do you not get news of a armada sailing to kings landing and its leader walking into the throne hall offering his services to Cersei? Is the Dany faction totally lacking in spies? I mean not knowing this hardly needs the use of spies, it not like Euron aimed at secrecy, the throne room itself was full of people.

          Varys is now the spymaster that tell the news long after it happened. But seriously, it would be more to say he would know about Euron visiting Kings landing than reporting on the fleet lost far away.

  19. ehlijen says:

    At this point, Cersei must die while monologuing or gloating: Mocking her prisoner for her bf dying because he gloated, and then proceeding to gloat herself for several minutes before engaging in a drawn out torturous execution whose success she’ll assume rather than witness herself is straight from the Dr Evil playbook. If this big red Chekov’s Thunderfire Boomcannon isn’t fired off, the writers will need to hand in their pens for good.

  20. Decius says:

    >Has there ever been another show where the audience has just resigned itself to the idea that time, distance, and chronology are meaningless?

    Yes. Firefly. Star Trek. Star Wars.

    Granted, those are all space themed shows, but the writers never bothered to figure out what timescale travel is in.

    • Corsair says:

      They really did. Firefly was pretty clear that it was in an extremely large solar system, and it took generally days to travel between worlds. Star Trek established how fast a “Fast Ship” could move, at roughly 1000 Lightyears per Year, and gave a rough but consistent understanding of where the major players lay, and Star Wars keeps time, distance, and chronology very consistent, it just doesn’t bother telling the audience. T

      • Mormegil says:

        So the border to the neutral zone with the Romulans is genuinely and consistently depicted as being a few minutes travel time from Earth? Because that’s where it is in Star Trek: First Contact.

        • Clive Howlitzer says:

          It feels unfair to use one of the movies to call it out, as it was a big dumb action movie. The series I’ve watched have always been fairly consistent. That was just TNG and DS9 though. I can’t speak for the rest. I mean, not perfect, but certainly better than GoT has been.

          • Mormegil says:

            You mean the movie with the 93% fresh rating on rotten tomatoes and the only really good next gen movie? The one about a leader struggling with PTSD?

            I’d also argue Firefly isn’t a great example. They consistently say travel between planets takes a while but never define it as many days or many weeks and then never has a plot point where it would matter. That strikes me as the right way to handle it but it also means you can’t really compare it to anything where travel time does become a plot point.

        • ehlijen says:

          That wasn’t an important point in First Contact, though. Where the Enterprise was didn’t matter at all. It could have been on the way to the Neutral Zone. Or they could have sent it to Vulcan instead for some reason.
          The only bit with story impact was that the Enterprise headed for earth against orders. That is a minor writing gaff (of which the movie had plenty despite its good qualities).

          In this GoT Epsiode, it was important for Euron to be in King’s Landing and to be at Casterley Rock. And to do both in the same time as someone going less distance with a headstart. I mattered that Euron was in both places despite that being too far to make it in time. That is very poor plotting (of which the show is doing more and more because the writers appear to have given up paying lip service to travel times and distances for good).

  21. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Tyrion thinking that casterly rock is important while cersei and jaime just abandoning it does not make tyrion dumb,but is rather paralleled by cersei showing she does not care about appearances any more.She loses face because of this,but she doesnt care.Thats why she is fucking jaime publically now.

    As for there being few troops in highgarden:Standing armies are not the same thing as mobile ones.So why should all the troops they have be stationed there?

    And yes,this isnt the only show where the flow of time is fluid,or where the space is bendable.In fact,the books have space being warped as well sometimes.

    Euron sucks though.Big time.

    • Vermander says:

      It doesn’t take a huge army to defend a castle though, even one as big as Highgarden, against a much larger attacking force. There would definitely be at least a small garrison stationed there, especially if Olenna was there in person.

      And despite what the show says, losing your castle, especially a regional seat of power like Winterfell, Casterly Rock, and Highgarden is an absolute catastrophe. It’s not just a really big house, it’s where you store your food, collect your money, train your troops, etc.

      • guy says:

        Heck, I had a book on castles somewhere that discussed an incident where a castle was defended by the noble lady and like twenty maids and assorted staff, and it still took several days to take.

  22. Syal says:

    Has there ever been another show where the audience has just resigned itself to the idea that time, distance, and chronology are meaningless?

    Tune in next week, when Bob reviews Slipstream!

    Also Boogiepop Phantom, Kino’s Journey, and the Legend of Zelda timeline.

    • Grudgeal says:

      Kino’s Journey is, like, 70% metaphor anyway. I don’t think any part of it was intended to make sense. You may as well ask for FLCL to stick to real-world physics.

    • KarmaTheAlligator says:

      All the Zelda games are meant to be self contained stories (apart from Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask which are legitimate sequels), with the timeline being thought up after most of the games came out anyway (so, an afterthought). I don’t think it’s fair to include it here.

  23. Jokerman says:

    Hulk is always angry, Jon is always hot…

  24. Galad says:

    Judging by the reddit comments for each megathread on each episode, it’s pretty clear most people are buying the hype and the drama first approach. Their cool, amusing comments have thousands of upvotes – however little you might think this means – while the people that notice the details, usually book readers, have less than 100 upvotes and are waaay down the threads.

    Like it or hate it, as a whole, we details-first people seem to be an exception, the minority. It only makes sense too – when you want to reach as many people as possible, to sell them a product, it’s more important to entertain them, than to stick to the source material, which is not even available for these last two seasons, and to be factually correct.

    • Grudgeal says:

      Let’s also be fair; the “details-first/booksnob viewer who is still watching after three seasons of this and who also post in/read pro-GoT threads for complaints” demographic is probably fairly small compared to the show’s overall viewer base. And there are much better places for that demographic to go to read critiques.

    • Sebastian says:

      That’s why I prefer /asoiaf over /GoT. Also slightly less memes and gifs.

  25. James says:

    I’m going to take a moment to address the elephant in the room, Cersei blowing up the Sept, and why I think it’s just the natural culmination on a big factor in the Game of Thrones setting that the writers seem to have done little with or are just happy to ignore when it suits them.

    Religion.

    I cannot begin to describe how big a factor Religion is in Martins setting, it is ingrained in every facet of each of the kingdoms cultures. Aegon the Conqueror, the man with three giant dragons who built an unstoppable war machine could not actually rule the country until he converted to the faith of the seven. The church has operations throughout the continent, from charity to taxes, partially controlled from the spiritual center of Kings Landing. When knowing all of that the destruction of the Sept doesn’t seem just stupid, it comes off as completely insane and suicidal.

    But the writers have been kind of happy to piss on or ignore the faith of the seven since basically day one. It started with off-hand comments from the ‘cool’ characters, how they were so jaded they couldn’t possibly believe in a spiritual order to the world. Then it only started coming up for naive characters or crazed zealots until being swiftly ignored as soon as possible.

    The only faiths were reminded exist and are practiced are the Red God or the many Faced God, but that seems to only be because they can grant magic powers. Heck even the Drowned God is barely gets a mention anymore, in the last episode when Theon is making his choice I strongly felt it would have been appropriate for him or his sister to utter their old mantra of “What is dead can never die”.

    This is not to cast shade on the writers specifically, it feels more like they don’t have a strong personal reference point to draw inspiration from. Write “what you know” as they say. But it does seem like a big disservice to the setting that they haven’t done any research into this detail, as it can serve as a very enriching (and often character defining) element of the world.

    —-

    Also screw that whole Tyrell invasion thing, that was hot garbage writing. Instead of trying to dig out of the corner they put themselves in it would have probably been much more interesting if the season showed Cersei’s meltdown of a rulership. It could be a fantastically tragic time with Jamie knowing the instant he or his army leaves Cersei is dead, but she still thinks she’s in total control the whole time.

    Instead of the Iron Bank congratulating how like her father she is, it could have been delivered as a cruel barb that she totally misses cause she actuality believes she is as smart and cunning as her father was.

    • Joshua says:

      One of the odd things I took away from the books is the whole belief in Trial by Combat. It’s considered legitimate enough for every faction to accept the results as view of Divine Favor, and yet significant characters also believe it’s just a farce at the same time.

      • BlueHorus says:

        It’s a good example of a compromise that uses religion for weight – trying to hold powerful Lords accountable to the law wouldn’t really work (they ARE the law), so they come up with a system that allows the powerful to get away with stuff with a veneer of legitimacy.
        No-one really likes it (except people strong enough to win consistently) but the extra authority of ‘the gods will it’ helps to keep the peace, sort of.

        Remember, when Eddard Stark is executed by royal decree (a legal act), his son immediately goes into open rebellion. Hence horrible war.
        If Joffrey had been smart enough to either let Ned take the black or give him Trial by Combat, they might have avoided the whole situation.

      • Syal says:

        The only non-Lannister I remember having a trial by combat was the Hound vs. Beric Dondarrion, with Beric very much treating it as a sign of Divine Favor.

    • PoignardAzur says:

      it would have probably been much more interesting if the season showed Cersei’s meltdown of a rulership. It could be a fantastically tragic time with Jamie knowing the instant he or his army leaves Cersei is dead, but she still thinks she’s in total control the whole time.

      This is actually how I felt reading A Feast for Crows.

      Cersei basically spends the entire book burning bridges, making enemies she cannot afford to have, and surrounding herself with increasingly toxic and unpopular people.

      She makes fuckup after fuckup, all the while thinking she’s more clever than anyone else around her. By the end of the book the Tyrells hate her, the Faith arrest her, and Jaime explicitly abandons her to her fate, and it’s pretty clear she has no influence left outside King’s Landing.

      But apparently none of those things matter in the show.

      • BlueHorus says:

        Yeah – that was the point of her Walk of Shame in the books. She knew damn well that she will not be an important person anymore after being paraded naked through the streets.

        While the show did actually depict the Walk (because HEY GUYS LOOK NEKKID WIMMIN) they forgot to depict it having any consequences. TV Show Cersei is still queen, and still winning.

        Though I guess that – in the show’s defence – they made her Walk of Shame a laughable farce rather than anything of consequence.

    • guy says:

      The Iron Bank congradulates her? Did she get around to setting up a payment plan with them at some point?

      • PoignardAzur says:

        I think they decide to back her because:

        – Lannister reputation is still worth enough that the bank believe they may pay the debt.

        – Even if they don’t pay anything, the bank would still want the Lannisters to win rather than let Daenerys take over the kingdom, because if she did she would probably go right back to destroying slaver cities, which costs the bank money.

        • Malimar says:

          The “Daenerys is costing you money in the slave trade” nonsense was just one more example of the show writers peeing on the canon. The whole deal with the Free City of Braavos is that it was founded by escaped slaves and is the only slave-free city in Essos; the Iron Bank would never have dealings with slavers.

      • ehlijen says:

        She sort of did. She promised to repay her debts within a fortnight, and the Highgarden coffers (you can see the Lannister soldiers packing gold ingots during Jaime’s dramatic walk) are going to do just that, it seems.

        • RCN says:

          The only problem being, logically, that this means she fully expected to conquer Highgarden and for Olenna to not have hidden all her treasury (or destroyed it somehow) as a fitting last “fuck you” to Cersei. Also, it means the Lannister really DO have magical boots of logistics that allow them to attack anywhere they well please.

          But of course Cersei knew all that, because she’s been omniscient throughout most of the series. Barring that part where she expected religious fanatics to not act like religious fanatics (because she apparently expected them to worship her as a Goddess for her omniscience).

  26. Agammamon says:

    Has there ever been another show where the audience has just resigned itself to the idea that time, distance, and chronology are meaningless?

    I’ve watched a lot of tv, consumed a lot of fiction. So – pretty much every tv show ever.

  27. Ness says:

    After watching the episode I thought, just as I’m sure I was supposed to, that Euron’s greatest achievement was inventing teleportation. Or at the very least a warp drive. That’s the only way I could explain Euron being on the other side of the continent instantly. Apparently The Reach was also incredibly easy to conquer? Like it was just an afternoon stroll for a small army to go down there and achieve victory. I fully expect them to go on and conquer Dorne next. Just because why not? Instead of making Cersei clever to achieve victories and somehow make-up the power balance, they had to make Dany and her advisors total morons. The whole episode was them just being bad at diplomacy and military tactics.

    • Joshua says:

      That’s come up on this site before. Good old screenwriter’s trope of when you want the villain to outsmart the heroes, just have the heroes act like idiots. It’s apparently easier than actually coming up with a clever plan. I say heroes and villains, because it seems to me like it usually happens this way. Antagonists get Idiot Balls less frequently than Protagonists.

    • Alex Broadhead says:

      Euron didn’t invent teleportation – he stole it from the Sand Snakes once he captured them.

  28. Mayhem66 says:

    Euron Greyjoy is just the writer’s new Ramsay Bolton. The writers obviously loved Ramsay, and it showed. He always beat everyone in a fight. He could see everything coming, no matter how far out of left field. And he had plot armor that would make the main characters in Star Wars call BS. But, they eventually had to kill him off, although they dragged it out as much as they could and had him do everything but beat Jon in that battle. Now he’s dead, but that that’s ok, because they have Euron Greyjoy now, to whom they have given all the plot-bending abilities of their previous love. I just refer to him a Ramsay Greyjoy, or Pirate-Ramsay.

    It’s like a power-gamer who’s “Yes, I did roll all 18’s for stats. Honest” D+D character just died and so he just takes the same character sheet and writes a new name on it.

    “So, this is your new character?”
    “Yep.”
    “You just crossed off ‘Ramsay Bolton’ and wrote ‘Euron Greyjoy’.”
    “No. I also added the Sailing Skill. Ramsay was a warrior. Euron is a pirate. Totally different.”
    “But all his other stats are the same and he has the same personality write-up.”
    “No, he IS different. Ramsay loved to torture people in his dungeon. Euron loves to torture people on his boat. Totally not the same.”
    “Sigh……”
    “Did… did you just say ‘sigh’?”
    “Yes…I did.”

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