Game of Thrones Griping 13: The Kangaroo Trial of the Century

By Bob Case Posted Friday Jul 7, 2017

Filed under: Game of Thrones 134 comments

This series analyzes the show, but sometimes references the books as well. If you read it, expect spoilers for both.

With the clock rapidly winding down to the start of the new season, I think it’s now time to cover the episode where Cersei blows up pretty much the entire government of Westeros.

Geez. I hope that wasn't a load-bearing wall.
Geez. I hope that wasn't a load-bearing wall.

When one approaches this show with my impressively high levels of grumpiness, one experiences scenes differently than the audience as a whole. The general opinion of the whole “wildfire blows up the Sept of Baelor” sequence is very high. I’ve seen terms like “poetic” and “masterfully crafted” thrown around.

I won’t deny that it’s professionally done. But look, there’s no delicate way to say this: when I first saw this scene, I was holding back laughter by the end. It’s so freaking long, for one thing. The cello theme keeps coming back over and over again, swelling louder each time, to the point where it takes on the character of a shaggy dog joke.There’s a British comedian called Stewart Lee who specializes in shaggy dog jokes. If you’re familiar with his work, then maybe you’ll understand when I say that if Stewart Lee directed an episode of Game of Thrones, it would probably look something like this.

The sequence’s length isn’t helped by the fact that I’m pretty sure everyone, or nearly everyone, who watched it saw the wildfire reveal coming a mile away. There had been several highly conspicuous references to wildfire in the episodes leading up to this one, so the foreshadowing wasn’t exactly subtle.And I wasn’t cheating by using book knowledge, either. This doesn’t happen in the books, or at least it hasn’t happened yet. When you use very slow, deliberate pacing to reveal something that I already know about, the reaction produced – in me, at least – isn’t suspense. It’s impatience.

But I could forgive all of this if the events depicted weren’t so ridiculous in so many different ways. Let’s cover as many of them as we can.

The Kangaroo Trial of the Century

We start with Ser Loras’ confession. This part actually piqued my interest, because I thought we were finally going to find out what the deal was with Margaery Tyrell.

The interactions between Margaery and the High Sparrow were one of the season’s high points for me. Jonathan Pryce and Natalie Dormer are both pros, and they managed to put some real tension into these scenes. We can obviously tell that Margaery is up to something, but what? And to what extent is the High Sparrow fooled? Could he know that her newfound piety is an act, and perhaps he’s springing a new trap? Who’s playing straight, who’s bluffing, who’s double-bluffing? For a second there it threatened to turn interesting.

But they both get exploded to death before we get any answers. We’ll never know what exactly Margaery’s plan was, or if she even had one. “You gave me your word!” she protests as the Faith’s thugs carve a star into Ser Loras’ forehead, suggesting that they’d made some kind of deal. But we never saw them make this deal, so we don’t know what it was, which kind of takes the drama away when he breaks it. (If he did break it.)

What could the deal have been? It seemed to involve her convincing the King to side with the Faith earlier in the season. But what practical effect that had on the balance of power in King’s Landing is never really explained. Later, the High Sparrow threatens Olenna Tyrell, and seems to want her to leave the city. So Margaery convinces her to do just that, which is presented like it’s some kind of clever move on her part. But I don’t understand what either of them is up to. What are their respective endgames, and how does any of this stuff advance them?

Of course, in the end it doesn’t matter. They’ll all soon be dead in a haze of wildfire smoke anyway. For me, this was frustrating. It’s something like watching a version of The Godfather, where just before the baptism scene starts, an asteroid hits the earth, everyone dies, and the credits roll.

In the meantime it’s time for the main event: Cersei’s trial. There’s just one hiccup. She’s not there.

This is where things start to get farcical. I can only speak for myself, but if I were setting up a high-profile trial, “make sure the defendant is actually there” would be at or near the top of my to-do list. But the High Sparrow seems to have left it for last, and is on the verge of gaveling the proceedings into order before noticing that the accused isn’t even in the building.

And for that matter, neither is the King. Which is unusual, considering that two of his family members are on trial. By this point, I’ve accepted that the Faith Militant’s organizational skills could use some work, but Margaery generally keeps her eye on the ball better than the rest of these chuckleheads. You’d think she’d say something like “wait a minute, where’s my husband, the King of Westeros? His brother-in-law is being publiclyThis is apparently the correct spelling. I checked. I don’t get why it isn’t “publically,” like “basic” turns into “basically.” English is weird. mutilated as we speak. Isn’t it kind of weird that he’s not here?”

But don’t worry, the High Sparrow is on the case. He sends Lancel Lannister off to collect the Queen Mother. This is dumb for three reasons: one small, one large, and one we won’t see until later.

First, the small one: Lancel is a key witness against Cersei. Near as I can tell, he was her original accuser, in fact. He should probably be protected. This is even more evident when you consider the second, bigger reason: the last time Lancel was sent to collect Cersei from the Red Keep, she refused to go, said “I choose violence,” and had her giant murder-zombie literally rip one of the Sparrows’ heads off.

Oh, by the way, Cersei has a giant murder-zombie. It’s the reanimated corpse of Gregor Clegane. It follows her around all season and occasionally kills people for her. And no one seems to care.

He's a sweetheart once you get to know him, though.
He's a sweetheart once you get to know him, though.

Pycelle, to his credit, does notice that this whole arrangement seems suspicious. But he’s the only one I remember raising a real objection. Remember that Westeros is a place where, for the most part, educated people do not believe in magic, resurrection, or zombies. And presumably the characters on the show can see through the eye holes of Gregor’s helmet as well as we can, and notice that there’s clearly something wrong with the face underneath it.

Even if no one objects to the murder-zombie itself, you’d think someone – the High Sparrow, for example – would object to it killing one of his men. But I’m not sure he even realizes that it happened. Did anyone tell him? And if so, why is he sending Lancel and his men off to execute the exact same mission that, last time, resulted in one of them being minus a head and the rest of them running away?

Whatever. As it happens, neither of the first two reasons this is dumb will matter in the end, because of the third reason: as we’ll soon discover, Lancel Lannister is the most easily distracted person in all of Westeros. He doesn’t even make it down the front steps before he sees a small child and chases him through a maze of alleyways, and then underground, forgetting about the whole Cersei thing entirely.


The kid is one of Varys’ little birds, now employed by Qyburn. He pays them in candy, and in return they bring him secrets and sometimes stab people for him.I tried to think of a way to describe this story element that makes it sound better than it is. I tried and I failed. One of those people is Pycelle, who a little bird lures to Qyburn’s lair so she and her friends can stab him. Before that, he was presumably on his way to the trial like everyone else. If Qyburn wanted him dead, he could have just let him be blown up like the rest. But I guess he wanted to make a speech first.

If this speech seemed strange to you, there’s a reason. It’s been repurposed from a vaguely similar scene in the books. And when I say vaguely, I mean vaguely. Much like last week’s Frey Pie, in the books this dialogue was said by someone else, to someone else, in completely different circumstances. Near as I can tell, these are supposed to be sops to book readers. As a book reader, I’d rather they just left them out. These were things that were cool in their original context. Remove the context and they’re just disorienting.

So now the cello music is swelling for the 143rd time, and Lancel has been lured towards one of the caches of wildfire beneath the sept. The fact that the kid he was chasing knew where it was is a little alarming. Are we to understand that Qyburn’s little birds placed the stuff? Because in both the books and the show, wildfire is the Westerosi equivalent of sweaty dynamite. You really shouldn’t trust the handling of enough of it to blow up a city block to a bunch of sugar-addled children. But apparently that’s exactly what happened.

There’s a candle – rapidly burning down to the nubI think that’s what the last part of a candle is called. – that will ignite the wildfire, and Lancel crawls towards it. Very slowly. The cello music swells some more. Lancel crawls even more slowly.

And then everything blows up. I admit, the explosion itself is pretty impressive. There’s one particularly cool shot where the Sept’s bell tumbles down the street, gonging as it goes. CGI is best when technical aptitude is married to imagination.

We’ll cover the post-explosion fallout, and wrap up season six, next week.



[1] There’s a British comedian called Stewart Lee who specializes in shaggy dog jokes. If you’re familiar with his work, then maybe you’ll understand when I say that if Stewart Lee directed an episode of Game of Thrones, it would probably look something like this.

[2] And I wasn’t cheating by using book knowledge, either. This doesn’t happen in the books, or at least it hasn’t happened yet.

[3] This is apparently the correct spelling. I checked. I don’t get why it isn’t “publically,” like “basic” turns into “basically.” English is weird.

[4] I tried to think of a way to describe this story element that makes it sound better than it is. I tried and I failed.

[5] I think that’s what the last part of a candle is called.

From The Archives:

134 thoughts on “Game of Thrones Griping 13: The Kangaroo Trial of the Century

  1. ehlijen says:

    I didn’t really like the bell flying about. It was too strange for me.

    The explosion was beneath the sept, and said sept had plenty of open windows and doors. An explosion should realistically just have made the whole bell tower drop straight down, no flying bell. But that’s boring, fair enough. Instead, we have the bell flying out and about…sideways? Spinning like a flying saucer?

    It just didn’t ring true for me, and I have that issue with a number of CGI heavy movies, actually.

    I think I first noticed it during the two towers, when legolas back-under-flipped/reverse fell/??? onto gimli’s horse. And most recently, some of the god-of near the end of Wonder Woman had it as well.

    Cartoon/action movie violence looks the most convincing when it pays lip service to the newtonian laws of physics, in my opinion. I don’t really care if the power to reaction ratio is right, but mess with the direction and my brain seizes up. If dude A punches thing B, then thing B should fly directly away from dude A’s punch. Not up or sideways or down. it can fly one meter or a hundred, but if it flies a realistic distance in the ‘wrong’ direction, my goof senses start tingling (which is ironic since loony tunes were by and large ok-ish at getting this right).

    The early transformers movies got that right (yes, they got something right), as did pacific rim. Star wars was pretty good at it, too (see the hammerhead corvettes for an extreme example of ‘at least the direction works’).

    I wish I could turn that part of my brain off, or that more movie CGI people had it.

    Anyway, flying bells are funny.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      An explosion should realistically just have made the whole bell tower drop straight down, no flying bell.

      Buildings falling down dont always behave they way you think they should.

      1. TheJungerLudendorff says:

        It seems Youtube doesn’t always behave like one expects it either.

        By which I mean i’m just getting a black screen for a video. Strangely the preview works just fine.

        EDIT: It seems to be the same with other links from this page. Weird. Might just be a problem on my end.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Maybe you live in a place where they have “restored the freedom of the internet”.

          1. TheJungerLudendorff says:

            Fortunately, we stay away from there. T’is a very silly place.

            Also, it works now, so no idea what actually happened there.

            Also also, they should give that architect a raise. They actually managed to make their building work in reverse.

    2. Nixorbo says:

      Then the oil from the coach-lamps ignites and there is a second explosion, out of which rolls – because there are certain conventions, even in tragedy – a burning wheel.

      1. ehlijen says:

        That’s not really what I meant.

        I’m talking, if a speeding car is hit from behind with a rocket, goes up in a fireball, and somehow the front wheel rolls out of the inferno…to the back. Every conceivable bit of force should have propelled the wheel forwards, not backwards.

        Obviously my brain isn’t capable of realtime analysis of all the forces involved, but there is such a thing as blatantly going against the most basic expectations, and for me the bell flying sideways was that.

        1. General Karthos says:

          An explosion does create a shockwave, and the shockwave can have unexpected consequences on pieces of the car. If the wheel does roll, it could hit another piece of the car and bounce (rubber does bounce, after all) or it could have been pushed by the shockwave. The physics and math involved are too complicated for most people to manage; even computer simulations. So for the most part, nobody bothers.

          And the flaming wheel rolling past is a bit of humor.

    3. General Karthos says:

      It just didn't ring true for me

      Intended or unintended?

      1. ehlijen says:

        Unintended, but I wish otherwise now.

        1. TheJungerLudendorff says:

          Just smile, pretend it was part of your plan all along and use the idea for future material.

          More than one mystery reveal was unwittingly created by fan-forums and wild speculations after all.

    4. Decius says:

      >If dude A punches thing B, then thing B should fly directly away from dude A's punch. Not up or sideways or down.

      Having learned physics from Super Smash Bros, I can confidently say that your intuitions are wrong.

    5. GTB says:

      Wildfire doesn’t melt steel beams.

      1. TheJungerLudendorff says:

        It does propel them at significant speeds though.

        So less of an industrial forge, and more of a giant impromptu shrapnel bomb.

    6. Jeff says:

      Legolas being badass:

      Keep in mind the dude also walks on top of snow and clambers up the trunk of a giant elephant, so not sure what you really expect him to be limited to…

      1. TheJungerLudendorff says:

        Fancy floaty twirly acrobatics mostly.
        And shieldsurfing.
        And shooting multiple arrows at the same time without losing stopping power somehow.

  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

    You really shouldn't trust the handling of enough of it to blow up a city block to a bunch of sugar-addled children.

    They have hobo power,so its ok.

    1. TheJungerLudendorff says:

      A potent combination of magic miracle orphan powers and the type of wisdom only imparted to the permanently homeless. Can be considered a distant cousin of magic negrindian powers.

  3. CZack says:

    Are we coming back to this scene? I usually think these posts are a little too sensitive to fridge logic, but you didn’t mention what I thought was the most glaring flaw of the season: in order for this explosion to work, the High Sparrow has to be alternatively lenient and strict in the dumbest way possible.

    “Oh, Cersei’s not here? Well, whatever, we’ll do it without her. What are we, gonna force people to be here? That’s not our style. She’s free to come and go as she pleases.”

    “Wait, Margaery wants to leave?! She can’t! She has to be physically present, even though she’s just a spectator. In fact, no one can leave. The only person who’s allowed to not be here is the defendant. I hope none one has to pee, because you’re all stuck here for the next couple of hours.”

    I guess it wouldn’t be a dramatic climax to the season if they were just milling around, unaware of any danger, but there’s no way to resolve the tension between Cersei being gone while everyone else is trapped without the Sparrow acting like a maniac.

  4. Joshua says:

    “It's something like watching a version of The Godfather, where just before the baptism scene starts, an asteroid hits the earth, everyone dies, and the credits roll.”

    So, No Country for Old Men?

    1. Fade2Gray says:

      Thank goodness I’m not the only person who was left scratching his head at the end of that movie.

      1. Kylroy says:

        Compared to the still-difficult task of writing interesting stories, writing good endings (that aren’t incredibly conventional) is nearly impossible. So I get really annoyed at all the praise some authors get for just having their narrative stop instead of conclude.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Not every ending that is cut short is bad though.It can actually fit the theme of the story and be a very good ending.Thats why I liked the red wedding and the hounds death and why I think bringing him back to life was a mistake.

          1. Kylroy says:

            Both of those were the ends of story threads, not the story as a whole. If the whole series ended after the Red Wedding, maybe with an epilogue about the Lannisters quickly routing all opposition and claiming the Iron Throne, that would be a major cop out.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              Yeah,but the story thread of a tv show can be a massive thing,spanning over multiple hours and involving quite a lot of things.Robs campaign was a focus of numerous episodes worth multiple films of content,and all the plans and promises he had with so many people were simply cut suddenly.Sure,many of those characters continued doing stuff,but those were different stories told about them,the rebellion was over.

      2. Zekiel says:

        I believe (bearing in mind I’m an extremely unskilled analyster of films) that the ending of No Country For Old Men was very deliberately supposed to be frustrating. It doesn’t show the main protagonist’s final confrontation with the antagonist – not because of sloppy writing or because they ran out of budget for a good action scene – but in order to contrast with a normal, expected story narrative. The theme of the film is basically something like “life isn’t fair and it all comes down to random chance”. The film’s ending with Chiurgh being in a random car accident for no reason at all serves to raise the audience’s hopes that fate will at least serve justice on the bad guy only to dash it by having him walk away. It’s a hugely nihilistic movie.

  5. Joshua says:

    “If this speech seemed strange to you, there's a reason. It's been repurposed from a vaguely similar scene in the books. And when I say vaguely, I mean vaguely. Much like last week's Frey Pie, in the books this dialogue was said by someone else, to someone else, in completely different circumstances.”

    Yeah, it came across as odd to me in that context, too (Varys speaking to Kevan Lannister). Varys goes on a monologue explaining all of his plans, and then tells his minions to kill Kevan. The popular theory is that Aegon is a “False Dragon”, which makes no sense if Kevan dies here because Varys would truly believe him to be the real one.

    Much like the Pink Letter, it felt to me that the communication was more for the benefit of the audience than the actual recipient, about as artificial as an As You Know. This is something that I thought Martin usually avoided, at least in the earlier books, where communication felt more natural but important information was still dropped in conversation, and it took multiple references and some re-readings to fully grasp what was being talked about. It’s actually pretty interesting reading the books a second time after you’ve read them once to catch a lot of references that seemed off-handed at the time.

    1. JakeyKakey says:

      I disagree.

      Kevan getting the “*teleports behind you* “Nothing personal, kiddo” treatment might have just a bit too much exposition, but Kevan has been consistently set up as a bro and one of the few all-around decent characters in the entire series. The fact Varys might be the kind of person to pragmatically murder someone, but also be really nice about it if he respects them is the key revelation here. It’s hard to tell if it’s out-of-character because he’s hardly been a well-defined character.

      Whether Aegon is real, Varys is convinced Aegon is real, or Varys knows Aegon is a pretender, this is the first time in 5000 pages he stops being a complete wildcard and you finally get a glimpse at what he’s been up to so far and where his future motivations lie. You find out a lot about Varys, it makes sense for a person as secretive as Varys to monologue his plan to a deadman, this epilogue gives you get a clear picture of where things are heading from here, and the scene itself is pretty badass as a re-introduction to a character who seemingly left Westeros and disappeared off. All those things make it work on a narrative level.

      The show’s take on it has literally nothing going for it besides a ‘hey this is sorta a bit like this completely unrelated thing that happened in the books’.

      1. Joshua says:

        Well, I’ll agree about Varys being a wildcard, vaguely-defined character. I’m reading the series for the 3rd time, and his actions in the early books don’t always seem to line up with what his motivations are as revealed by this DoD scene. A lot of his actions seem to be lined up towards pragmatically reducing chaos (encouraging Ned to take the black in order to avoid an execution, working with Tyrion to keep King’s Landing under control, working *against* Tyrion in his trial to make Tyrion the easy scapegoat for Joffrey’s murder) than causing chaos to make things easier for Aegon.

        Some things work, like killing Kevan and subtly encouraging Tyrion to kill Tywin (which may not have happened had Jaime not dropped an important plot detail in midst of the escape), but not enough where this scene revealing Varys’s true motivations suddenly makes it all “click into place”. At least for me, anyway, YMMV.

        It sometimes seems to me that he (and Littlefinger to an extent) are Martin’s Go To characters for causing mischief and working multiple sides, where it makes sense or not.

        1. Matt Downie says:

          Varys (I’m guessing) wants to keep things peaceful. If he’s got his own candidate for the throne, he’ll try to arrange a situation where suddenly all the other options are dead, and then there can be an orderly transition. No wars, no sieges, no riots in the street. “Chaos is a ladder” is Littlefinger’s philosophy; he’s lowborn, so he can never be king unless the old order has broken down completely. That doesn’t apply when you have the true heir to the throne in your pocket (fake or otherwise).

          1. Joshua says:

            Keeping things peaceful seems to match his earlier behavior, but not this last bit. He kills Kevan precisely because Kevan is bringing order, and he wants Cersei to be in charge so the kingdom will continue to go up in flames when Aegon arrives and looks like a more attractive replacement. If he was secretly wanting the realm to be in strife when Aegon arrived, why does he do all that he does in books 1-3 to pragmatically end conflict in favor of a strong ruling body?

            If his friend was deliberately supporting Viserys and Daenerys, how come Daenerys is almost killed by King Robert’s assassin without interference from Varys (Ser Jorah is the one who saves her, after he has an attack of conscience).

            1. EmmEnnEff says:

              Varys could have prevented the War of the Five Kings in book 1 by doing any one of a long list of things to tip Ned Stark off. The incest, the fact that Littlefinger was about to betray him…

              Varys wanted war. What he didn’t want was a war before his other plans (With the Dothraki, and fake Aegon) were ripe. That was what his entire exchange with Illyrio was about – accelerating their plans. Varys arranged for the attempted assassination of Dany in order to spur the Dothraki into action. Once that was in play, he was perfectly happy to have the the realm plunge into civil war.

              He was not supporting Dany. He was perfectly happy to have her die, as it would spur the Dothraki into taking bloody vengeance on the Seven Kingdoms. They would invade in the middle of a civil war, further weakening the realm for Aegon’s conquest.

            2. Arctem says:

              It could be argued that Cersei being in charge will result in mass opposition to the Baratheon line in a way where they would be more welcoming of a Targaryen. Varys wants a stable transition, but the transition is more important than the stability. Ideally there would be mass desertion of the Lannisters when Varys’s pretender arrives. Kevan would probably be able to instill enough loyalty that the conflict would actually be substantial.

              I would say Varys’s priorities are twofold: Keep the realm generally stable/safe/etc (earlier actions about Ned taking the Black and preventing the war) and reduce trust in the Baratheon line (make sure Cersei stays in charge, kill Kevan).

              Wasn’t Jorah told to stop the assassination by Varys? I can’t quite remember but I thought that was hinted at.

        2. Harper says:

          I think both Varys and Littlefinger are generally consistent throughout, Varys wants the Perfect Prince on the Throne and Littlefinger wants to screw over everyone who “wronged” him and control as much real estate as he possibly can with his “young Catelyn” as his bride.

      2. BlueHorus says:

        Varys always struck me as having fairly simple goals – stabilise the country, avoid war if possible, he even seems to care about the peasants of Westeros (unlike almost everyone else).
        As the sitation changes, so do his actions, but the goal always seems the same (YMMV, of course):

        1: Get rid of Robert B, he’s an idiot. Bring back the Targaeryans.
        2: Robert’s dead, war has started; back the Lannisters to get it over with ASAP.
        3: War more-or-less won but Tyrion is unpopular. Have to condemn him in public, but sneak him out of prison in secret.
        4: Oops, Tyrion killed his father. Now his vindictive daughter is in charge, she’s worse than her husband was.
        5: Aegon is ready to attack; what now? Kill Kevan Lannister because he’s a competent leader. A few more years of Queen ‘Crush All Dissent’ Cersei vs House Tyrell, and the kingdoms will flock to anyone else who claims the throne, in theory.

        1. Wraith says:

          You might benefit from checking out the Aegon Blackfyre/Varys is a Blackfyre theories.

          The gist is that Aegon is a Blackfyre through the matrilineal line, the son of Illyrio and his first wife Serra. Varys is a Blackfyre sympathizer or a Blackfyre himself as well (hence why he was used in a ritual by a Rhlorrite sorcerer).

          It goes further that Varys’s true intentions have been to undermine the Targaryen regime from the start, as many characters say that Aerys’s reign truly started to go to shit once he brought in Varys as his spymaster. The theory is that Varys stoked Aerys’s natural paranoia while also building a network to weaken Targaryen rule. The ultimate goal was to make the Targaryens seem like tyrants and the returning Blackfyres to be liberators.

          But Westeros blew up too early before their conspiracy was ready because Rhaegar made an entirely unpredictable action, and the Targaryens were overthrown and almost destroyed, replaced by the Baratheons. So Varys and Illyrio adapted their plan to have their Blackfyre pretend to be Rhaegar’s dead son having survived, and proceeded to undermine the Baratheon regime. But yet again, the instability yet again triggered too early because Joffrey made an entirely unpredictable action. But luckily for their conspiracy, Cersei proved so incompetent that she alienated the allies of the Lannister regime and opened a potential opportunity for Aegon to arrive as a grand liberator anyways.

          This theory on Varys’s actions and intentions is explained in detail by this essay and its subsequent installments

    2. EmmEnnEff says:

      The false dragon theory is consistent with Varys monologing in front of a dying man, because he’s surrounded by other witnesses – his little birds. Even if Varys literally had their tongues removed, there is another scene in the books where Wex, Theon’s mute squire spills the beans about what happened during the sack of Winterfell.

      Aegon may well be fake, and maybe Varys is just being careful.

  6. MarsLineman says:

    The deal between Margaery and the High Sparrow is that if she confesses her sins and helps steer the King towards following the ‘advice’ of the High Sparrow, he will release Ser Loras from captivity (and from his sadistic nuns). Remember the scene where the High Sparrow brings Loras to Margaery, and Loras falls to pieces, claiming he can’t handle the captivity? To that point, Margaery had refused to submit to the High Sparrow. The subtext to the arranged meeting between Loras and Margaery was that if Margaery confessed her sins and took her place by the King’s side, Loras would be released from captivity.

    It’s all about the power dynamic. The High Sparrow wants to rule Westeros with the King as his proxy. And to do so, he must bring the high lords down from their place of power and respect. When the lords/ ladies confess their sins, they show their fallibillity and their vulnerability. And when he can force male heirs to join his service (Loras and Lancel), they also relinquish their claim to their lordship. Margaery thought she had managed to secure her brother’s release (and thus the future of her house) by accepting her ‘sins’, submitting to the High Sparrow, and steering the King towards the Sparrow’s tutelage. But the High Sparrow nevertheless forces Loras into his service, and into releasing his claim to Highgarden.

    1. Geebs says:

      Yeah, it was pretty obvious to me what the deal between the HS and Margaery was. The show really doesn’t leave much to the imagination there.

    2. BlueHorus says:

      Margaery wants to be Queen; but Cersei is currently Queen and hates her. So she’s trying to form an alliance with the other powerful figure in King’s Landing. It also helps that he’s also come across as more stable and politically savvy than Cersei ‘destroy anyone who disagrees and damn the consequences’ Lannister.
      And, she’s hoping to save her brother by playing along.

      What did bug me was that only Margaery seemed to work out Cersei was up to something – the High Sparrow certainly didn’t seem stupid in previous episodes.
      Defendant’s not here? King’s not here? Don’t send one lackey – send fifty!
      Or take the entire court to her; hold the trial outside the palace gates.

      Something better than ‘stand around looking smug and pointlessly stopping Margaery leaving until you die.’

      1. MarsLineman says:

        I think he’s meant to come across as complacent- smug that his grip on power is ironclad. And since this trial is largely a show of his power, he won’t allow anyone to interfere with his planned course of action. So he’s too smug to consider Cersei a threat, and too interested in controlling the room/ proceedings (as a show of power ) to allow Margaery to leave.

        But yeah, it might’ve stretched on a bit

        1. Fade2Gray says:

          I always felt like he anticipated that Cersei wouldn’t show up for her trial from the moment he released her (she lives in a castle after all). It seemed to me that that the trial was mostly meant to further solidify public opinion against the monarchy by showing that the queen still believed she was above the laws of both man and gods. Clearly, he didn’t anticipate that Cersei would go as far as to blow up the whole building with everyone inside it.

          1. MarsLineman says:

            +1 This. Makes a lot of sense

  7. Geebs says:

    As somebody firmly in the camp that thinks the show is actually a heroic and largely successful attempt to make watchable entertainment out of a series of increasingly dull and turgid doorstops which are crying out for an editor:

    I don’t think you can really blame the show for Ser Arnold Strong or whatever he’s called. He’s pretty much exactly the same in the books, except for the fact that (it’s heavily implied that) nobody has noticed that he doesn’t have a head.

    1. Joshua says:

      Well, only the last two books were problematic in most readers’ eyes. And it’s a well-known fact that Martin’s original plan was to have a 5-year time skip, and ended up continuing the story in the last two books this way instead, where the characters mostly just spin their wheels and little actually occurs, or at least in comparison to the first three books where a lot happens.

      I’m just curious why Martin needed 5 years to pass, and what of note has happened in the last two long and dull books that allows him to get on with things in The Winds of Winter?

      In regards to the Mountain, he’s Ser Robert Strong. Not only is he missing a head, he’s cartoonishly over-sized as only the original Ser Gregor was (near 8′?). In comparison, Andre the Giant was 7’4″, so Ser Gregor is *very* distinctive. Combining his height and missing head, you think more people would make some comments.

    2. Arstan says:

      He apparently doesn’t have a head? Interesting, i remember that in books he appeared only once or twice, so i did not get that impression)

      As a somebody from the camp of “the book is better”, i actually like the show too. At first seasons, the differences made me a bit frustrated, but later on i found out that the film story has it’s own good sides. The only thing scaring me now is the probability of “lostification” in the end, if writers would fail to tie all storylines together properly.

      1. Joshua says:

        They sent the head to Dorne. I seem to recall they had beetles eat the skin off of it first, so it was mostly just the skull. He just has an excuse cooked up by Cersei and Qyburn how always just wears a helmet, which seems like would only be of limited success.

        What I am concerned with is that even if Martin hasn't finished the 6th book yet, he should have all of the major ideas down at least, right? I would assume so if he believes that the book will be released this year, which would imply just editing and a few chapters of writing. Why does it seem like the show doesn't know what to do with all of these plot threads, when he's involved enough for them to ask him?

        Does that mean he hasn't gotten it all figured out yet either, except for the general end to the story? He has described himself as a “Gardener” rather than an “Architect” when writing, so it may be that a lot of this is actually made up as he goes along.

        1. Henson says:

          Wait…if they had beetles eat the skin off first, how did the people of Dorne know that it was his skull? Do they keep good dental records?

          1. Joshua says:

            Probably the biggest human skull in Westeros? *shrug*

            1. Commonpleb says:

              There was that corpse of a deformed dwarf with a really large head that some bounty hunters tried to pass off as tyrion to cersei, that skull could be his.

        2. guy says:

          I’m pretty sure that head is fake, given the lack of skin. The size is distinctive, but the convenient lack of other distinctive features leads me to suspect it’s artificial or not recent.

    3. newplan says:

      As somebody firmly in the camp that thinks the show is actually a heroic and largely successful attempt to make watchable entertainment out of a series of increasingly dull and turgid doorstops which are crying out for an editor

      Why not both?

      The show has flaws – it’s moronic and makes no sense.

      The books have flaws – they’re meandering and the author lost the plot two books in and the series rapidly declined in quality.

      The books suffer even more from Lindeloffism than the show. They piqued interest because they violated everyone’s expectations by killing off a bunch of heroic characters. Why did people have the expectation that the son of the unjustly killed good lord wouldn’t be murdered due to treachery? Well, because it means there’s no dramatic payoff for the earlier righteous indignation that the author stirred up. When that happened in the book everyone was excited because it meant that the author was planning some other kind of payoff. As time passes and three books of worthless filler got written it looks more like the author had no idea what kind of payoff he was aiming for and that the earlier implied promise was a cheap trick because he had no plan – Lindeloffism.

      1. Kylroy says:

        For a certain breed of ASoIaF fan, the series’ tendency to kill off any non-monstrous character (and/or maim them the moment they start being less monstrous) is a virtue – because it’d be so *conventional* to give audiences something other than a parade of detestable characters attacking each other in increasingly horrific ways.

        I personally thought the death of Ned Stark was a brilliant move, showing that being brave and strong isn’t enough if you lack cunning. Killing his son for making essentially the same mistake struck me as excessive, and shattered any faith I had that there was a point to this story beyond “life sucks, lol”.

        1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

          The lessons were different though. Ned was killed for sticking to honor, over the wise move which would have been to prioritize his friends’ and family’s safety by striking quickly and decisively. Rob made the opposite mistake, prioritizing his love life over the war effort. Various slight shifts in behavior could have saved either character in the end.

          1. Nessus says:

            I’d argue that in both cases the lesson was about not being stupid about how you pursue your goals in an overwhelmingly hostile environment. The way it boils down is Ned died because he was lawful-stupid, and Rob died because he was chaotic-stupid.

            What bothers me is fans who confuse this with them being lawful-good and chaotic-good (by the standards of their crapsack world), using them as evidence for a misguidedly romanticized notion of a world where good is always punished because bad is more practical. This isn’t accurate: they didn’t die because of their goals or ideals, they died because they both deliberately refused to pursue those ideals in anything other than the most facepalmingly direct and simplistic way they could think of.

            To be fair, good is punished in GoT, but as a matter of writer’s fiat, not in-story cause-and-effect. People who act good reliably get punished disproportionately… but usually for reasons incidental to their goodness, if not entirely out of their control to begin with.

        2. Joshua says:

          “For a certain breed of ASoIaF fan, the series' tendency to kill off any non-monstrous character (and/or maim them the moment they start being less monstrous) is a virtue”

          Good characters can tend to die in his books. People think they are weak.
          Evil characters also tend to die, often even more horrifically. People despise them and want revenge.
          Characters that try to balance good with being pragmatic, don’t always succeed. Life’s not fair.

          In short, everybody dies.

          1. Kylroy says:

            Which is an awesome theme for a four and a half minute Type O Negative song, but not something I want to devote several thousand pages of reading to. Especially after I made the mistake of thinking he had a more significant point to make.

        3. Grampy_bone says:

          Killing Ned was fine because it fit his tragic arc. In a good, classic tragedy the qualities that make the hero great are also what lead him to his doom. Ned could have avoided his fate by being more cynical and less trusting, but then he wouldn’t have been Ned Stark.

          But the Red Wedding and most of the other plot twists and shocking deaths are garbage. It seems like Martin wrote a classic tragedy by accident, decided that “shocking death” was enough to carry a plot, and went from there. So Robb dies after he and all his men are handed an Idiot Ball and act completely out of character. Joffery wins, and then he randomly gets assassinated by some other guy. What the hell is the point of ANY of that? Newplan is correct in pointing out it saps all the dramatic payoff from the plot.

          The most common response from people when you point out the gaping plot holes and crummy pacing is to declare “It will all be explained/resolved/pay off in the next book!” But Martin has already written five books with zero endings, what makes anyone think he’s going to start with the next book? Fool me once, fool me five times…?

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            What the hell is the point of ANY of that?

            To bring the story closer to life.Martin was always clear that his inspiration was the bloody history of medieval europe,and if you read that history youll often find people who had great plans that never got fulfilled due to unforseen circumstances.

            1. Grampy_bone says:

              The problem with that argument is it’s too cynical. You can usually pick out a story from history and still make a compelling drama about it. Just saying sometimes life sucks and nothing works out for you because “realism” doesn’t excuse bad storytelling.

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                Just because a story emulates real life and some things get cut short without dramatic payoff does not mean its bad storytelling.Not every story has to be dramatic and stylized,some stories can be closer to real life.

                1. bentoon says:

                  Dragons, zombies, the other zombie, “shadow babies”, etc.

                  I don’t think you can defend Martin by calling this historical allegory.

                  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                    Realism is not the same thing as “set in the real world”.You can have a realistic portrayal of a society where magic is real.You can have a realistic portrayal of a world where people have discovered faster than light travel.And you can also have a completely unrealistic portrayal of world war 2 or a modern world.Compare martins books with something like the movie twister.Yeah,the use of magic in westeros is far more realistic than those tornadoes.

          2. Syal says:

            Robb and Joffrey were also magically cursed by Stannis in a blood ritual. Along with Whatshisname Greyjoy, who I think just fell off a bridge?

            So, all those deaths serve to build up the Lord of Light as an increasingly major player.

            1. EmmEnnEff says:

              It’s doubtful that blood magic cursed and killed them. It’s more likely thatMelisandre just saw their deaths in her flames, and then staged a big spectacle out of it, to make Stannis trust her more.

              Like real life fotune tellers, her main skill seems to be taking credit for things she didn’t do.

              1. Joshua says:

                The ritual was specifically to kill the remaining contenders for the throne.

                1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Yes,but what EmmEnnEff meant was that the ritual might not have been genuine.That the witch simply saw the future of those contenders and decided to fake the ritual in order to solidify her power.Her magic is strong,but is it really that strong?Even strong magicians can rely on trickery to appear more powerful than they really are.

                  1. guy says:

                    I’m pretty sure that she did genuinely conduct an actual magical ritual to curse and kill the other contenders; she has demonstrated that she has the capacity to kill people with magic, and if she just saw they were going to die for unrelated reasons in the flames she’d probably have simply told Stannis that and waited for it to happen. Plus, while her visions are spot-on her track record for interpreting them is batting zero.

                    What I’m not sure on is the extent to which the ritual worked. It’s been noted that the Lannisters were prepping the Red Wedding before the ritual happened, Joffrey was already on people’s shit list, and Euron’s own sorcery probably did for his brother given the timing. It might’ve been a bust, it might’ve been preempted by events, or it might’ve helped make sure the existing plots went smoothly.

              2. Syal says:

                She already killed Renly and… Castle Guy… directly with magic. And it doesn’t have to kill them directly, just get them to pick up the Idiot Ball like Grampy Bone mentioned.

        4. Harper says:

          The series is much more idealistic than it appears.
          There’s a great quote from a Dance of Dragons, “Men’s lives have meaning, not their deaths.” Ned may have died and his family may have went through hell, but in the end the Starks will survive when families that wronged them like the Lannisters and Boltons will die off. And its not because Stark=Good Team and Lannister=Bad Team, its because the Starks behaved honorably and justly and the Lannisters, Boltons, etc betrayed their oaths, acted dishonestly, etc, etc.
          Ned Stark’s is still a rallying cry in the North, and the same can’t be said for Tywin Lannister who was probably already dying before his son shot him with a crossbow

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            What about all of the small people who were snuffed out by the pointless war they didnt want?Were they all dishonorable?

            1. Harper says:

              No, they were victims of the feudal system Martin is criticizing, and their treatment leads to even more problems for the Lannisters down the road in the form of the Brotherhood without Banners and the Sparrows

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                Yes,but are they going to be replaced by someone better for the people?Is the cycle ever going to be broken?If not,then the story is as grim as people think.

                1. Harper says:

                  After the Long Night there’s going to be big change in management, so I would say with some certainty, yes.

                  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                    Thats what people thought after the mad king was replaced,but look how long that (somewhat) peaceful period lasted.

                    1. Harper says:

                      The Long Night is a little different than one King’s rule, its a complete upheaval of the system, its unlikely there will even be a centralized state afterward

                    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

                      The last such event didnt really help that much.The alliance forged by it lasted only until the threat was defeated(just contained actually),and the only remnant of that period,the watch,has fallen into disarray.So yeah,the event will shake the underlying structure a bit,but nothing will change that much because of it.

                    3. Harper says:

                      You’re just kind of ignoring all of the actual themes in the text, Martin isn’t just deconstructing these fantasy medieval tropes, he’s reconstructing them into something better. That’s why the Hound has moved on from his life of violence after being treated with genuine kindness from Sansa. That’s why “The North Remembers” after the Starks have been betrayed. That’s why Theon is willing to save an innocent girl from abuse, a girl he knows isn’t really a Stark

                    4. Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Yes,but is that the rule or are those the exception?To me it seems more like the second one.Coincidence more than fate.

                    5. Harper says:

                      Its textually a rule, that’s what his narrative supports. The books are far different from the show in tone as well as context. The show has the Hound go through near enough the same arc as the books( arguably does it better when he gets injured defending a Stark from what he thinks is a Lannister agent) but then completely throws it out the window when the Elder Brother expy and his flock of pacifists get slaughtered and he becomes the Punisher. That sets a different tone from the books and completely derails the message Martin was trying to convey.
                      The end state of the world will be “Bittersweet” as Martin himself has said, but it won’t be terrible and overly depressing

              2. Hector says:

                The idea that Martin was/is criticizing “the feudal system”, or even any feudal system, is completely laughable. Nothing in his books has anything beyond the remotest and barest resemblance to the various feudal duties. Note that I am not criticizing him, because I heavily doubt he even intended that at all. He invented a kind of massive tyranny with some medieval trappings because that’s the kind of story he wanted to tell. But it has nothing at all in common with, say, 14th-century Europe.

                1. Harper says:

                  There’s a lot more peasant deaths than historical feudal lords would have been comfortable with, but there is still a lot of historical parallels and Martin has done a good deal of research

                  1. Joshua says:

                    The peasant deaths do seem excessive, especially in a world where you have to survive for several years without being able to grow new food.

                    One thing I remember reading about the period on which it is based is that it seems backward from how it’s portrayed in ASOIAF: When one army defeated another, most of the low-born would be let go because they didn’t matter, whereas the actual nobles were more of a threat to you and would be more likely to be killed, although ransom wasn’t uncommon. ASOIAF seems to go out of its way to show everyone slaughtering the low-born left and right.

                    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Depends on what the battle was about and who lead which army.But,seeing how the war in westeros is about conquest,slavery should be more common than pointless slaughter.

      2. Harper says:

        As time passes and three books of worthless filler got written it looks more like the author had no idea what kind of payoff he was aiming for and that the earlier implied promise was a cheap trick because he had no plan ““ Lindeloffism.

        I don’t buy this idea at all, the fans have had the endgame sketched out for years, even before GoT. The whole series has so much foreshadowing, R+L=J was old news by the time GoT premiered
        There’s obviously been some dropped plot lines and some later elements came out of left field( ex: Euron Greyjoy) but even he was alluded to early on and coming out of left field is pretty much the point of his character.
        The only thing actually missing is George RR Martin’s willpower…

        1. Grampy_bone says:

          Some people have forgotten/are not aware that book 1 was supposed to set up the Lannister/Stark rivalry and then there would be a time-skip of several years, and books 2 and 3 would carry on the rest of the plot. That’s why everyone is a kid in the first book. The problem is Martin couldn’t pull the trigger on the time skip. He said he needed another book to properly set things up for the rest of the plot. Then another, and another. Four books later and still no time-skip, and yes he claims it’s still coming. That means that at this point, we’ve only experienced 30% of the actual plot of the series as he planned it out, with books 2-5 being just padding and setup to get us there. That is the definition of filler.

          Film Crit Hulk called this “Writing like an ant walks.”

          Most of the original plots and setup from the first book have been wasted at this point. It shows the trouble with writing a multi-part fantasy saga in installments. People forget that LOTR wasn’t written in chunks, it was one book that was broken into three parts. Martin’s problem is he takes five years to write a book, and its been decades since the series began. Ideas that sit around that long go rotten. He isn’t failing to finish the series because of the lack of willpower, but because he is incapable of doing so. In fact I doubt anyone could finish the series in a remotely satisfying or coherent way. It’s just too messed up at this point.

          1. Harper says:

            He dropped the Five Year Time-skip very early on, the bare bones of the plot is still in place. Go to Reddit or Tumblr and you can get the whole series spoiled, their predictions have been right since the Red Wedding.
            There are obviously dropped plot lines as I said( I’m pretty sure Dany was supposed to wind up in Asshai at some point) but the bare bones, a la Three-Headed Dragon, the Long Night, etc, etc were always there

    4. BlueHorus says:

      Heartily agree with the ‘crying out for an editor’ comment. Man those last two/three books were a slog.

      But. The show has been a LOT less subtle about the transformation of Gregor Clegane than the books. I remember a review of one of the episodes after he died when the reviewer complained that the only thing they didn’t do to hint what was coming was have Qyburn turn to the camera and say ‘Now I will make him a ZOMBIE! Muahahahaha!’.

      In the books he doesn’t have the same name. He doesn’t go out. No-one sees him much. And there are quite a few helmets he could be wearing that are…better at concealing what he is than the show uses. Like these:

      In short, he’s much better hidden. The show has deliberately made up the actor under the helmet to make him LOOK like a zombie – and then given him a stupid helmet, and zoomed in on his face. I think they just don’t think the audience is very bright. It’s another instance of a chronic lack of subtlety in the show that does the story a lot of damage.

      (Related side note: Remember Loras & Renly’s relationship? In the books, all in subtle hints and asides. In the show, they spent a lot of time onscreen either shaving each other’s chests or sucking each other off. ‘Cos they’re GAY, GEDDIT?! GAAAAY!
      They practically wrote the fact on a stick and hit you with it.)

      1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

        What you call “being subtle” about the gay relationships I have no doubt gay fans of the book would call “never actually depicting the relationship in question, if it’s a gay one.” I think the show has the edge there, honestly.

        1. Kylroy says:

          Ding! We may eventually get to a point where being subtle about a same-sex couple’s relationship isn’t queerbaiting, but we’re not there yet. It’s not like the book was subtle about the forbidden love of Jaime and Cersei.

        2. Joshua says:

          Not seen the show depiction of Ser Strong, but it was clear in the book what was happening, even if it wasn’t spelled out in capital letters.

          Renly and Loras’s relationship, though? That was certainly beyond subtlety. If you already know about it or are an expert at reading between the lines, you’d pick up on the references, but they are not obvious, unless you go only for the stereotype of Renly being well-dressed.

          I think Stannis makes some kind of comment to Renly about how Margaery will go un-bedded or something, which is the strongest hint, until you read into passing comments about Loras’s devotion to Renly after he died.

          Meanwhile, the lesbian scenes with Daenerys and Cersei (not together) are a lot more explicit.

          1. BlueHorus says:

            The subtle way it was done in the books added to it. It makes re-reading the books worthwhile, because you pick up things you missed last time. It also fits the setting, because Westeros is (probably) homophobic – so Renly and Loras would hide it.

            But it seems I picked a bad example, because of the real-world politics around homosexuality. So.

            A less-emotive example: What does Littlefinger want in GoT?

            The books: You piece it together over time, as you learn about his past with Cat & Lysa Tully. It’s tied to his station, theirs, unrequited desire & manipulation – it’s a fairly tangled story. He hides them well, but there are concrete motivations behind him.

            The show: He just monologues his intentions at the camera, over women fingering each other. Then talks about chaos being a ladder. He’s like the Joker in a lot of ways (not good ones), seemingly with no plan, doing things that don’t work for…reasons?

          2. Droid says:

            As far as I remember, Cersei and Daenerys were both PoV characters in these scenes, while Renly or Loras were not. I just presumed both Cersei and Daenerys would be hiding these things as well as Loras and Renly were, just not to an audience that can jump into their minds for a bit whenever the author likes them to.

            1. Gethsemani says:

              It makes sense like that, yes. But let’s not pretend as if the reason Renly and Loras don’t get a sex scene together while every lesbian encounter of Dany’s is written out in great detail is because Martin is very strict about who gets POV chapters and wants to keep Renly/Loras a secret. We don’t get to read about them bumping uglies, while we get to read about Dany getting it on with her handmaidens, because Martin writes the sex scenes he fantasizes about the most. Just like he tends to go into great detail to talk about the food being served because he loves food.

              That’s also the reason why not a chapter goes by with Dany without some casual mention of her exquisite bosom or her sexual fantasies or desires. Martin likes to imagine this hot young woman in a sexual fashion and writes about her like that. Compare her to Sansa, who’s about the same age and in similar situations and where Martin doesn’t write about Sansa’s sexual desires, her breasts or about how she finds sexual satisfaction in every chapter. Dany is Martin’s fanservice (and as FilmCritHulk put it: his wanking off) character, hence she ends up being sexualized, like a lot.

              1. BlueHorus says:

                There didn’t seem (to me) to be much overt sexualisation in Dany’s storyline – she spend a lot of time thinking about her bosom because the men she deals with are going to notice it. It’s a tool she has to recognise and use.
                The sex with her handmaidens isn’t all that gratuituous – it seems boring to her, just something they feel they have to do as a duty. It’s mentioned like, once?

                I agree with Droid – had there been a Renly/Loras POV, it would have made their relationship explicit.

                And I don’t think we don’t hear so much about Sansa’s sexuality because she’s:
                a) A virgin.
                b) A bit naive/schooled against such things, having been raised as a proper lady.
                c) (Unlike Dany) Never in a position to control who she marries or sleeps with: she starts out betrothed to the monster who killed her father, and it doesn’t really get much better from there. So probably avoids thinking about sex.
                The closest she got was with Tyrion, against both their wills, after all.

        3. Harper says:

          I’m pretty sure the gay fans aren’t happy with Loras suffering and dying for no other reason than his sexuality.

          “never actually depicting the relationship in question, if it's a gay one.”

          Honestly I would rather have”subtle” gay characters that are three dimensional rather than flimsy stereotypes with everything interesting about them thrown out.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            I'm pretty sure the gay fans aren't happy with Loras suffering and dying for no other reason than his sexuality.

            True.But it is a world thats harshly skewed towards producing many offspring to keep the family lineage as strong and as numerous as possible.Thats why everyone keeps being sold for various political marriages,regardless of their feelings about such a thing.And the show draws this directly from the book,so it cant be faulted for that(not that you can really fault a book for depicting a medieval european setting like this).

            flimsy stereotypes with everything interesting about them thrown out.

            Maybe Im wrong,but I dont remember them acting stereotypically gay in scenes where they interact publicly with other people.On the other hand,they dont get many scenes in the show,which is a valid criticism.Cutting dialogue/character scenes in order to show more (pointless) sex and nudity is something practically everyone criticizes the show(most of hbo shows) for.

            1. Harper says:

              And the show draws this directly from the book,so it cant be faulted for that.

              The problem is that it doesn’t draw straight from the books, its an invention of the show. The Faith of the Seven and more so the Sparrows are more concerned with the treatment of smallfolk, incest, and kinslaying. Homosexuality doesn’t have the same stigma as it does in the medieval Catholic faith or at the very least, its not a priority.
              And the show can be faulted for making the Sparrows self-mutilating religious extremists akin to Al-Qaeda rather than the religious movement that sprang from the failures of the Faith and the Nobles to protect the smallfolk

              Maybe Im wrong,but I dont remember them acting stereotypically gay in scenes where they interact publicly with other people.

              This article goes into detail about how Loras was stereotyped

              1. BlueHorus says:

                I wish they’d kept the trial as it was in the books.
                It was delightfully medievil: an inquest into whether or not Margaery was a virgin (and thus blaspheming by doing services to the Maiden) and it fit the culture of Westeros so much better.
                The Sparrows were also a really sympathetic and nuanced, seeing as they (seemed) to be one of the few people to care about poor people killed in the war.

                But I guess ‘obviously crazed religious fanatics hate the gays, isn’t that bad?’ technically counts as political commentary, right?
                If you hate having to think too much and can’t be bothered with nuance and complexity.

              2. Geebs says:

                The Westerosi society of the books has literally no out gay characters. I think it’s pretty wildly innacurate to look at that setting and claim that homosexuality isn’t being stigmatised.

                1. Harper says:

                  I think it's pretty wildly innacurate to look at that setting and claim that homosexuality isn't being stigmatised.

                  Its discouraged, certainly more so for the nobility but its not actively stigmatized or persecuted and certainly not a priority for a religious movement that arose in response to the Noble’s abuse of the smallfolk and the Faith’s complicity.

                2. Harper says:

                  And further, the heir to the most powerful House in Westeros would not be prosecuted for it much less have his inheritance and titles stripped for it. Realistically, Kings Landing would be under siege by the only House that can field a full sized army

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        So they depicted two guys doing a bunch of sexy stuff together while they were alone,just like how they depicted every straight couple.Why is that a problem?

        1. BlueHorus says:

          Well actually, the fact that there’s so much sex (of any kind) depicted in this show is also a sign of the lack of subtlety. ‘This dialogue is boring! Put some tits in the scene to keep their attention!’
          But apparently this is par for the course with HBO.

          It’s not about the homosexuality at all. It’s that the relationship was a ‘nudge nudge, wink wink’ affair in the books, which trusted the audience to work it out. There’s a lot of things like that in them, stuff beneath the surface, things unsaid, that the audience is trusted to work out on their own.

          But the show just straight up tells you this stuff, to your face. Or they change it to make it simpler. Very, very little is left for the audience to work out, and it makes it the whole story less….rich. Clever.

          1. Kylroy says:

            The show does this with a lot of things in the books, both because it has to cover ground faster and because, well, the showrunners favor overtness over subtlety. If you take issue with this very real problem with HBO’s adaptation, you probably don’t want to start by mentioning one of the few cases where there were laudable reasons for the producers to be overt.

            1. BlueHorus says:

              True enough.

              I didn’t particuarly want to debate how homosexuality is depicted or not on TV shows, but I do think being honest about Renly & Loras was a good thing for the show to do. They could have avoided queerbaiting by just confirming the characters were gay at a convention or something…but that wouldn’t have had the same effect, I guess.

              There’s a better example above, anyway.

              1. Kylroy says:

                “They could have avoided queerbaiting by just confirming the characters were gay at a convention or something…but that wouldn't have had the same effect, I guess.”

                It really, really, wouldn’t. Being unwilling to make characters gay as part of the text, rather then subtext, is pretty much the definition of queerbaiting. Granted, there are plenty of ways to do that short of hot man-on-man action (see Clark in the show Legion, for example), but, well, they gotta do it their way.

                1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Being unwilling to make characters gay as part of the text, rather then subtext, is pretty much the definition of queerbaiting.

                  Most of the time.For example,dumbledore never being stated as gay in the books is fine simply due to there being no place for the thing to be shown.The flashback things with his childhood couldve been used,but the book was already massive in cramming in various plot important flashbacks that this filler would just bog down the story even further.But if the relationship is important to the overall plot,as this one is,then giving an explicit answer in the text is preferable.Especially if the text already shows us private thoughts of the characters.

                  1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

                    I think if Dumbledore is a main in the prequel movie series they’re doing, they HAVE to touch on this, or they deserve every criticism they received over that character’s sexuality. Dumbledore in company with adults his own age is a far different story than as a teacher to children.

                    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Depends on the story.Its perfectly ok to have a story where romance is never mentioned.But yeah,theyll probably do the romance,and theyll have to address him as being gay,and its a toss on whether theyll screw it up.But then,I was never a fan of how any of the potter movies turned out,so I dont really care about this one.

    5. stratigo says:

      the show and book peak at the same scene, the red wedding, which is a pity

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        I disagree.Tyrions trial,both verbal and physical,and the aftermath of it are a big peak of the show as well.I even like that one more than the red wedding.But then,I adore practically all of the scenes where the Dinklage and the Dance are together.

  8. Warclam says:

    So in this context, “wildfire” means some kind of magic green explosive?

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Something like that.Its an explosive substance capable of exploding and burning everything in a wide radius,first used to destroy a bunch of ships because it can burn even on water.Its basically ye olde dynamite.

      1. ehlijen says:

        It’s ye olde dynamite AND ye olde napalm rolled into one. Put it in a kinder surprise and you’ve got the magic trinity of fun, play and yum!

    2. Shoeboxjeddy says:

      It’s some kind of magical equivalent of Greek fire.

  9. newplan says:

    The kid is one of Varys' little birds, now employed by Qyburn. He pays them in candy, and in return they bring him secrets and sometimes stab people for him.

    Not to defend this ridiculous show buuuut would you put it past the guy who makes zombies out of corpses to dispense a mind control drug in the form of candy? On the other hand, until some evidence for this is shown on screen I’ll go with the hypothesis that’s more consistent with the rest of the show – the writers are morons who don’t care about their jobs.

    1. Kylroy says:

      If Varys had access to some sort of mind control drug, he’d find far better uses for it than pressing orphans into his service. You could probably mess with this story idea until it became somewhat workable (horrible side effects mean he won’t give it to nobles? Something? I dunno…), but it would be way more effort than a scene showing the how he commands the kind of loyalty that leads these kids to kill for him.

    2. Shoeboxjeddy says:

      He feeds and is nice to orphans, and in return they do odd jobs for him. Finding this at all questionable is rather silly imo. Yes even stabbing, notice they do it in a big group. He didn’t ask them to fight a trained warrior in a fair fight, he said “this moron will be in the dark underneath the city… lunge out from the shadows with all your friends and put the pointy end in, then run.”

    3. Steve C says:

      It wasn’t candy. It was never candy. It was an implicit reference to an unnamed drug like heroin, hash or meth. All of which can be a sweet resin. GoT has ‘milk of the poppy’. Heroin is made from poppies.

      Varys is getting the street kids hooked on heroin so they do anything for another hit of ‘candy’. Not a mind control drug, while also being a mind control drug.

      1. newplan says:

        I think we’re meant to think of Varys as actually caring for the orphans due to his empathy with them based on his similar childhood circumstances.

        Qyburn on the other hand is the very image of the evil necromancer (ya know, exactly the type who castrated Varys as part of a pact with some kind of demon (ok, not exactly since Qyburn seems to be more science-y about his necromancy but I’m put in mind of this scene from Futurama

        Varys gave them candy. Qyburn gave them drugs of some kind.

        1. Steve C says:

          Oops. I got the names mixed up. I was referring to Qyburn when I wrote that.

      2. ehlijen says:

        Of course, how reliable children on drugs are as informants is a very good question…

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Depends on the drugs.

  10. Grampy_bone says:

    I agree with the general criticism of this scene but at the end of the day I’m happy that story threads are actually resolving and the plot seems to be moving forward. I’m sure once the books reach this point–if they ever do–it will take 10 times as long and resolve 1/10th as much.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      But, but…don’t you like that the books slow down to the speed of a dead snail and introduced a load of new character 5 books in?

      Didn’t you enjoy reading page after page of Brienn of Tarth searching for Sansa Stark in what we as an audience know is the wrong place, rendering it all pointless?

      Didn’t you enjoy being introduced to a series of brand-new characters in the Maester’s college as they do very little related to the main story OR AT ALL?

      Aren’t you excited about that magic candle one of them has that was never mentioned before ever?

      Didn’t you like the introduction of manipulative cliffhangers and unanswered question about long-standing characters that just aren’t answered until a book later/haven’t been answered yet?

      Why would you want to know about what’s happening to Tyrion, Arya, Bran, Dany, or any of the other characters we know when we can spend THE ENTIRE FUCKING BOOK our time with other characters you’re not as interested in?

      No? What a shock!

      TL:DR? One of the few things the show has over the books is that stuff damn well happens.

      1. Henson says:

        I find this immensely ironic, seeing as how my first reaction years ago to reading A Game of Thrones was in how much I appreciated that things actually happened. Of course, I was comparing it to the Wheel of Time…

        1. Joshua says:

          Stuff actually happened earlier on in A Wheel of Time too, up until about the 6th or 7th book, and you end up with the same people spinning their wheels waiting for something to happen. However, Martin is not as bad as Jordan when it comes to repetition of certain items (braid tugging, dress smoothing), with the exception of constantly describing food.

          A Feast for Crows seems somewhat filler, but it is not *nearly* as bad as The Crossroads of Twilight, which still has an atrocious rating on Amazon and many fans who have read the series can tell new readers to out right skip to moving onto the 11th book.

          1. Syal says:

            Since I find it fun to mention: in the 1000+ pages of Crossroads of Twilight, I counted three plot events, one of which was in the epilogue, and one of which later turned out to have not actually happened.

          2. Henson says:

            I guess I had a perpetual bad taste in my mouth after the first hundred or so pages of book 1 being nothing but ‘let’s run from trollocs. Let’s camp. Let’s talk about nothing. Let’s run again.’

          3. ehlijen says:

            Is GRRM trying to appeal to Shamus? I mean, no one who reads the books could possibly still wonder what they eat…

            But more seriously, the food descriptions could help establish the character and drives of a society, and if the story is really coming to a decade long winter, that could become of critical importance. But so far, he’s done little with it. All those feasts and all those burnt farms and dead farmers will take on a different tone if the final stretch of the story features wild spread starvations. If.

            So far it reads like the sort of opposite of Fallout 3:
            Why do we care about water? *shrug*
            That’s a lot of food, do we care? *shrug*

      2. Grampy_bone says:

        Pretty much. There’s been a significant uptick in “stuff happening” since the show broke free from the books. Granted, it’s not exactly stellar quality, but as I’ve said many times, I don’t think the best writers in the world could fix the mess Martin has made.

  11. JDMM says:

    There’s this trope on tvtropes called Franchise Original Sin, about when the flaws of a franchise were there from day one however were just sort of brushed aside at the time.

    The Qyburn speech and others are pretty bad but what was just as bad even if you didn’t notice it at the time was in season one when Pycelle, the Court Physician/Scientist took up the High Septon speech of “As we sin so do we suffer etc” because what the hell was he doing taking on a Popes role of religious absolution in the first place?

    And I view season one as legitimately good, as a fine piece of television


    Are we to understand that Qyburn's little birds placed the stuff?

    No, the foreshadowing moment (Ep 6 IIRC) has Qyburn say he found a bunch of wildfire with the implication it was an old Aerys cache, odd that the City Guard never noticed what with Tyrion knowing about the Mad Kings plan but not the same problem

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