Last night was the next to the last episode of season three of Game of Thrones, and I’m still processing my feelings about it. Having first read A Storm of Swords, upon which this season and the next are based, some thirteen years ago, I’ve long known what was coming this season. I grinned and shared knowing looks/tweets/FB posts with folks I know have read the books for a year now about the Red Wedding.
I expected some serious emotions watching it, but instead, sat there somewhat non-plussed about the episode when the credits rolled. That is, until the second airing, which we watched immediately after our company left (Bruce and Cricket, who don’t have HBO). It hit me more the second time around, for sure, but to me, it wasn’t anywhere near the kick in the balls I got when Ned lost his head in season one.
There are some lingering feelings about this most recent episode I’m wrestling with, and I think I know what’s causing them:
I’m a reader of the books. I revel in them, knowing that while they could be edited better, GRRM has a habit of adding several hundred pages per book that may not necessarily be needed. I don’t care about that, usually.
Yes, the episode did veer from the novel somewhat substantially in a couple of places, but on the whole, it was executed (sic) well. I’ve never complained much about the liberties taken by the producers with the story, as I’ve always felt that they fully understood that television is different from reading, and the experience of the same thing in each medium can be very different. So how does being a reader of the books play into this?
I know I’m not alone when I say I never liked Catelyn. From the get-go, she’s set up to be a bitch, never able to welcome Jon into Winterfell. Granted, Ned never explained just where the hell Jon came from, but her assumption that he was Ned’s bastard, and not Lyanna’s (speculation that Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen are Jon’s real parents seems more and more logical to me these days) really does lead to the breaking of her family. The scene between her and Talisa earlier this season where she talks about never having been able to love Jon and make him a family member didn’t happen in the books, but it certainly goes far to explain Cat.
(I do look forward to Lady Stoneheart’s first appearance, probably in the last episode of next season.)
Also, I never warmed to Robb in the series. Richard Madden did a bang-up job as the Young Wolf, but… he was never a POV character in the books. Not once. Hell, he’s barely referenced in A Clash of Kings, since Cat isn’t with him. Much of his story is told through rumor and stories. So his murder didn’t have the same impact on me as it did thirteen years ago when I read about it.
Even that, though, isn’t quite it.
It’s Talisa, I think, in the end. She’s not in the books. There, she’s Jeyne Westerling, who Robb met when she nursed him back to health from a wound. Her family are Lannister bannermen. And, more importantly, she’s not at the Red Wedding. Reading up on her just now, I find there’s a bunch of things I don’t remember — not surprising, given how long the gap is between the books these days.
That, I think, is my real problem with all of this, and why last night had less of an impact than reading it did oh, those many years past. I accept changes to the story, for the sake of better storytelling on television, but Talisa’s presence and murder – and that of her unborn child – really doesn’t sit well with me.
I’ll get over it, given that there’s so much more delicious plot to come, but I think that’s why I’m less thrilled with last night than I should have been.
What are your thoughts?