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Haven't watched this season yet, as I'm waiting for its iTunes release, but I appreciated this book fan's analysis at Westeros.org (SPOILERS GALORE, of course):

Here’s the thing that makes writing this so difficult: even though it’s an effective episode, it’s not really agreat episode, unless one wants to define greatness by the level of shock value and nothing more. There’s nothing bold, as such, in what the show does at the Twins: it’s George R.R. Martin who was bold. But the real genius of the Red Wedding is not the “what”, but the “how”, and in this, Benioff and Weiss seemed to step back rather than attempt to equal or match it. “Blackwater” was a triumph in terms of scale and production value, but it also featured one of the show’s tautest, most well-honed scripts and some inspired performances, things that helped elevate it beyond mere spectacle. “The Rains of Castamere,” on the other hand, does not rise above the shock value—it takes it as its destination and sees no reason to go further.

Those who’ve read the books will surely recall that part of the power of the Red Wedding was the atmosphere and the nagging feeling that something, somewhere, was not quite right. This uneasy feeling is a hallmark of the entire chapter, not just the final pages. Martin builds tension from the opening line (“The drums were pounding, pounding, pounding, and her head with them.”), leaving readers aching for the release—the end of this awful, uncomfortable wedding—and then when the resolution comes, it’s in the cruelest way possible. It bears recalling that Martin isn’t just an award-winning writer of science fiction and fantasy, but also an award-winning horror writer, and it shows within this chapter. What sets apart that final Catelyn chapter from (almost) every other chapter in the series is that Martin seamlessly slips into the horror mode. From start to finish, the chapter is filled with horror tropes: a feeling of growing dread, an uneasy focal character who can’t quite pin down what’s wrong, an environment that feels threatening in some inexplicable way.

It’s not as if Benioff and Weiss tried and failed to capture the mood, the sense of the wedding as being the wedding from hell—an ungracious host, bad food, bad music, too many people in too close a place—and then segueing into the bloodiest wedding imaginable is. Instead, the executive producers/writers eschewed the atmosphere entirely. Where in the novel it’s a plot point that the musicians are terrible, they actively go with the musicians being quite capable (perhaps because drummer Will Champion of Coldplay was among them?), and the gaiety seems quite unforced. Even Catelyn is in good cheer through much of it. Was it a lack of ambition? A belief that going from the extreme of a joyous atmosphere to an orgy of murder is more powerful than mounting dread and uncertainty? A need to simplify and shorten?

There seems to be something hollow in “The Rains of Castamere”, and I believe it comes down to this choice to reconfigure the event into a “Big! Shocking! Moment!” that’s really at fault. What makes one react even more strongly about this failure to really go all out is that from day one, Benioff and Weiss have hinted that this event, the Red Wedding, has been the thing they’ve most wanted to depict on the screen, that if they could take the show far enough to get there, they would be happy. And yet when the moment finally comes, they take the easy way out: they simply hid their hand, as if any premonition from viewers more than a minute or two before the slaughter began would somehow be a failure and ruin the “surprise”. It’s now an “event”, little more. The texture of what the scene could have been, the thing that could elevate it into true greatness rather than an inevitable entry in one of those tedious TV’s 20 Most Shocking Moments-type programs, is gone.

There’s an orgy of violence, yes, there’s a brutality, yes, but all these things are relatively easy to do on the screen if you have the money and the extras for it. The dread and unease that builds throughout—those are harder things to achieve, a matter of establishing atmosphere, of subtly urging viewers into a position of tension. While the Red Wedding of the show was effective as a “shocker”, it simply doesn’t live up to what it might have been, to what Martin put on the page and which readers went through. Those who are blessedly ignorant of the fiction will doubtless be over the moon with paroxysms of shock, and perhaps they (who are the vast majority of viewers, after all) are all that really matters. But it could have been so much more than it was. They aimed low and so, armed with Martin’s masterful storytelling to provide the basic outline, they passed the bar with some ease. But they did not aim high, and at the end that failure in ambition is something I fault them for.

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Haven't watched this season yet, as I'm waiting for its iTunes release, but I appreciated this book fan's analysis at Westeros.org (SPOILERS GALORE, of course):

I saw Elio's review right after it was posted and, from what I saw of the episode, I agree. I think this summary works for the TV series as a whole, too.

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After a slow start, season three wound up quite effectively. It will be a long wait till Spring 2014.

Confession: I checked out the new NBC international detective procedural Crossing Lines just to see how Jaqen H'ghar would do in a non-assassin role.

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The Red Viper has been cast. And Benioff/Weiss have unveiled the list of directors for Season 4, including the return of Neil Marshall for the all important Episode 9 (which I'm guessing, and hoping, will be completely focused on the Battle of the Wall).

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Also, Mark Gatiss has been cast:

Sherlock co-creator and star Mark Gatiss has been cast on the HBO fantasy hit as...

We don't know! Yes, Gatiss' role is being kept top-secret, much like Iwan Rheon's role prior to season three. (He was later revealed to be Ramsey Bolton).

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I've actually had more fun speculating on their casting choices than I have actually watching the show, so time to get excited.

Guesses for Gatiss:

Mace Tyrell - Could really work, though no reason to keep this a secret.

Randyll Tarly - See above.

Coldhands - I have a feeling they're just writing him out of the story. Plus, we've already met him, haven't we? (heh)

The Kindly Old Man - Maybe

Oberyn Martell - I could see it, though the Martells physical characteristics don't jive with Gatiss

Jon Connington - Would work for casting, but this early?

The most crazy theory I've seen is also fairly compelling: Howland Reed, in a flashback.

What about Mag the Mighty?

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Just got caught up. I've not read the books--and, honestly, I burned out on fantasy in general somewhere in my undergrad days (and I was never really into it beyond Tolkien and Lawhead--in fact, it was right in the middle of The Song of Albion that I put the book down and decided I was done. And this was in spite of adoring the Pendragon cycle and enjoying, though not admiring, the Dragon King books). So I'm coming from a doubly-outsider perspective. But--seriously. This has to be the gold standard for televisual fantasy. The Lord of the Rings movies have nothing on this; heck, I'm inclined to think that the LotR books have nothing on this. For one thing, GoT totally reams the "one true king" stuff that's so central to a certain substantial portion of LotR. There's no rightful king in Westeros; there can be no rightful king, because (golly) the monarchs themselves are varying degrees of drunk, cruel, or insane. And the claimants each have a powerful case, but that's what it is--a case, not a transcendent actuality.

And because of this fact, the series can't deal in the dualism that undergirds the LotR films (and, to a somewhat lesser extent, the books); there's evil footsoldiers, to be sure, and evil lords--but we're carefully shown that they're found all over the place. Stark soldiers are as likely to commit atrocities as Lannister soldiers. It's a brutal world, and it's one that doesn't allow a sentimental identification of one side as "good."

--which isn't to say that there's no moral compass here. I've seen that idea bandied about [not on this board,] but it's pretty clear that we are to identify some characters as on the side of--not angels, perhaps, but of kindness: Tyrion is the most obvious, but I think that the transformation of Jamie Lannister is even more to-the-point (as of Season Three--again, I've not read the books). It's pretty clear that he undergoes a transformation over the course of the series, and it's one that brings him more in line with Tyrion than with Cersei. I think there is a good deal of complex navigation of right and wrong, but the fact that it's complex doesn't mean it's nonexistent.

So yeah. I'm thoroughly a partisan of this series now. I've even thought about picking up the books, though when I would actually read them is a question for which there is no answer...

(And looking back over the thread, I see that all this has been said before. Carry on, then).

Edited by NBooth

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... but it's pretty clear that we are to identify some characters as on the side of--not angels, perhaps, but of kindness ... I think there is a good deal of complex navigation of right and wrong, but the fact that it's complex doesn't mean it's nonexistent.

Or, if there is indeed some not so complex good (which is arguable) characters, they're not so much nonexistent as having a much shorter existence.

 

A friend of mine told me, after watching the third season, that the aggravating thing was that the majority of good characters on the show had the whole being "innocent as doves" thing down without apparently ever having heard that other concurrent necessary part about also being "wise as serpents."

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... but it's pretty clear that we are to identify some characters as on the side of--not angels, perhaps, but of kindness ... I think there is a good deal of complex navigation of right and wrong, but the fact that it's complex doesn't mean it's nonexistent.

Or, if there is indeed some not so complex good (which is arguable) characters, they're not so much nonexistent as having a much shorter existence.

 

A friend of mine told me, after watching the third season, that the aggravating thing was that the majority of good characters on the show had the whole being "innocent as doves" thing down without apparently ever having heard that other concurrent necessary part about also being "wise as serpents."

 

 

That, too. Actually, that selfsame reference [doves/serpents] occurred to me as well. Though even there it's a little vexed: part of what makes Tyrion such an effective Hand of the King in Season 2 (insofar as he is effective; he's certainly better than Ned Stark) is that he's a "good" character who isn't willing (to jump genres and quote Salvor Hardin) to let his sense of morals get in the way of doing what is right. The journey of Daenerys (so far--again, I've not read the books) is very much along the lines of becoming wise as a serpent. Or a dragon. And then we have Jamie Lannister, who seems to be making an opposite movement by starting out a serpent and slowly transforming into a dove Samwell Tarly is an exception: he's both pretty much harmless and pretty unambiguously good--and the tv series has managed (so far) to keep him from suffering overmuch....

 

Of course, if by "majority of good characters," we mean "the Starks," then yeah. Ned, Robb, and Cat all hew slavishly to a conception of "honor" that doesn't let them maneuver in the world of the series; Jon Snow manages to get along all right, but he's still a bit outside of everything. Arya is going into some very dark places; Sansa is pretty much a doormat.

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Just got caught up. I've not read the books--and, honestly, I burned out on fantasy in general somewhere in my undergrad days (and I was never really into it beyond Tolkien and Lawhead--in fact, it was right in the middle of The Song of Albion that I put the book down and decided I was done. And this was in spite of adoring the Pendragon cycle and enjoying, though not admiring, the Dragon King books). So I'm coming from a doubly-outsider perspective. But--seriously. This has to be the gold standard for televisual fantasy. The Lord of the Rings movies have nothing on this; heck, I'm inclined to think that the LotR books have nothing on this. For one thing, GoT totally reams the "one true king" stuff that's so central to a certain substantial portion of LotR. There's no rightful king in Westeros; there can be no rightful king, because (golly) the monarchs themselves are varying degrees of drunk, cruel, or insane. And the claimants each have a powerful case, but that's what it is--a case, not a transcendent actuality.

And because of this fact, the series can't deal in the dualism that undergirds the LotR films (and, to a somewhat lesser extent, the books); there's evil footsoldiers, to be sure, and evil lords--but we're carefully shown that they're found all over the place. Stark soldiers are as likely to commit atrocities as Lannister soldiers. It's a brutal world, and it's one that doesn't allow a sentimental identification of one side as "good."

 

 

At a convention this weekend, Martin read some new chapters from The Winds of Winter and did some Q&A (I read these sorts of reports online, yes). He said one of the reasons why he began A Song of Ice and Fire is because he's a big fan of Tolkien, but lines about Aragorn ruling wisely for many years made him ask things like "What sort of tax policy does he have? Does he make peace with the remaining orcs or opt for genocide?"

 

Anyway, after finishing this past season, I've decided to stop following the show. For years I've been a strong advocate for letting books be books and letting screen adaptations be their own thing, but it's just been too hard for me disconnect what I've read from the HBO treatment. Not that the show is bad, by any means; I just prefer what I've read, especially now that I'm going through the books a second time. (And, being honest, the more I watch the show the more I liken it to Jackson's Hobbit films v. the books.)

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At a convention this weekend, Martin read some new chapters from The Winds of Winter and did some Q&A (I read these sorts of reports online, yes). He said one of the reasons why he began A Song of Ice and Fire is because he's a big fan of Tolkien, but lines about Aragorn ruling wisely for many years made him ask things like "What sort of tax policy does he have? Does he make peace with the remaining orcs or opt for genocide?"

 

 

Oh, now, that's cool. Which con was it?

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5iS3tULXMQ

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Are we going to wait for season 4 DVDs to discuss What Just Happened?

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Are we going to wait for season 4 DVDs to discuss What Just Happened?

 

I'll be honest--as a fully spoilered-up viewer, I was expecting it. But I also expected the whole season to build up to it--the fact that they got it done in the second episode was a surprise (though it makes sense of certain casting changes made between seasons).

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Are we going to wait for season 4 DVDs to discuss What Just Happened?

 

I'll be honest--as a fully spoilered-up viewer, I was expecting it. But I also expected the whole season to build up to it--the fact that they got it done in the second episode was a surprise (though it makes sense of certain casting changes made between seasons).

 

 

I didn't expect the whole season to build up to it, but I thought maybe Ep. 3 or 4. There's enough stuff in the second half of A STORM OF SWORDS to still build up to a big finale. MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE BOOKS: I figure they're going to end the season with Tyrion's escape and the reveal of Lady Stoneheart.

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I didn't expect the whole season to build up to it, but I thought maybe Ep. 3 or 4. There's enough stuff in the second half of A STORM OF SWORDS to still build up to a big finale. MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE BOOKS: I figure they're going to end the season with Tyrion's escape and the reveal of Lady Stoneheart.

 

 

 

I think this makes sense. But that probably means some feet-dragging, which is to be expected from this show. The eighth episode of each season seems to focus on some big, jaw-dropping moment...I expect it'll be the Red Viper / Mountain battle..

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I didn't expect the whole season to build up to it, but I thought maybe Ep. 3 or 4. There's enough stuff in the second half of A STORM OF SWORDS to still build up to a big finale. MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE BOOKS: I figure they're going to end the season with Tyrion's escape and the reveal of Lady Stoneheart.

 

 

 

I think this makes sense. But that probably means some feet-dragging, which is to be expected from this show. The eighth episode of each season seems to focus on some big, jaw-dropping moment...I expect it'll be the Red Viper / Mountain battle..

 

 

True, but depending on how they the work out the timeline, I imagine the rest of the season will take up a significant amount of time with Stannis and co. arriving at the Wall, the battle with the Wildlings, Jon's election as Commander of the Watch, and the taking of Meereen by Dany and co.. So, I don't think it will feel significantly like foot-dragging to folks who haven't read the books.

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True, but depending on how they the work out the timeline, I imagine the rest of the season will take up a significant amount of time with Stannis and co. arriving at the Wall, the battle with the Wildlings, Jon's election as Commander of the Watch, and the taking of Meereen by Dany and co.. So, I don't think it will feel significantly like foot-dragging to folks who haven't read the books.

 

 

Good point. Still, I'm thinking of where the various characters are now and where they end up by the end of A Dance With Dragons. Some, like Brienne, have plenty of plot. Others, not so much. I'm specifically concerned that the show is going to squeeze as much as they can out of the Sandor and Arya buddy cop formula. This could work fine, I guess, but I have my doubts. 

 

I do think one story arc will benefit from extension: Dany in Essos. I like how the books handle it just fine, but if they expand on the assault / post-occupation political backstabbing, the show could dig into some good stuff. 

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One thing I really liked about the first two episodes was their perverse refusal to deliver the "goods" in terms of sexually explicit scenes. The first episode, especially, seemed to be structured around the theme of coitus interruptus--not one suggested coupling, that I can recall, was brought to fruition. There was nudity, but it was quickly shuffled away from as less interesting than the expectation of nudity. I was inclined to think it was a meta-joke; with so much of GoT's early buzz centering around the sex and the nudity, it seemed like the show was going out of its way to finally, four seasons in, tweak audiences who came expecting rampant sexy-times. But now I wonder if there wasn't something else going on: if the [narrative] frustration of deferred satisfaction wasn't designed to make Joffrey's death that much more satisfying. It's as if the film-makers were saying "No, we're not going to give you what you 'want,'--wait for it--wait--for--it--aaaand now here's what you've really been wanting for the past few years."

 

[And, of course, in one way deferred satisfaction is what narrative is, structurally, all about--withholding the payoff for as long as possible before releasing it. That's a banal observation, but I think it's literalized in the deferred sex-scenes of the first episode of Ssn 4]

 

Related--kind of--here's The New Yorker on "A New Kind of Woman on 'Game of Thrones'?"

 

The world of “Game of Thrones” is now populated by two kinds of women: those who are actualized to make their own destinies, like Ygritte, Daenerys, Melisandre, Arya, and those who still rely on their male counterparts to dictate their happiness (with characters like Brienne caught somewhere in the middle). While the women deprived of power choose to self-medicate—Cersei drinks herself into a stupor in the castle, Sansa starves, Shae seduces, and Margaery touches diamonds—Arya’s drug of choice is grisly revenge

 

Wholly unrelated, there's this.

Edited by NBooth

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...and then Jaime raped Cersei. Didn't see that coming. Here's the AV Club. And here's io9, with a reading that makes a lot of sense to me:

But maybe the rape next to Joffrey's corpse is supposed to feel like a sequel to Joffrey's murder — as if one atrocity begets another. Or as if nothing means anything any more. Along those lines, the episode gives us the sequels to a few other notable crimes...

I'm still parsing out what I think of the scene, myself. On the one hand, it certainly does a lot of damage to the good-will built up around a certain character during the previous season. On the other, I'm not sure that wasn't intentional; none of the reviews above mention the music that's playing. It's clearly meant to be disturbing; this ain't something that's laughed off or passed over--at least, not yet, though as the AV Club points out it may well be--it's intentionally taking a character who's become [in spite of everything in the first season] a bit of a mensch, as far as viewers are concerned, and reminding viewers that the character isn't really all that nice. 

 

Of course, we'll see how it plays out. Perhaps the AV Club is right [though, reading over the scene, I'm not convinced that it is ​consensual in the books]. And, as I say, I'm still chewing over what to think of it.

 

EDIT: ThinkProgress weighs in, bringing up the inevitable term--but in a remarkably confused way: the fact that two of the people involved in the scene don't see a problem with it somehow outweighs how nearly everyone else who saw the scene responded.

 

And George R.R. Martin contends that the way the scene played out was inevitable given other changes to the story.

Edited by NBooth

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Of course, two of the people quoted are men...no comment from the other actor in that scene.

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Of course, two of the people quoted are men...no comment from the other actor in that scene.

 

Yep. And that, I think, might be a bigger problem than what they say. As it stands, TP doesn't actually prove their point: Rape culture is an issue, but the fact that these two guys say what they say when--by TP's own commentary--almost everyone else who saw the episode saw something different.... Well, it kind of proves the opposite, no? The AV Club's argument is a much smarter approach, since it has in-text evidence that rape culture is at work here, rather than the words of two people against an overwhelming number of viewers.

 

I'm curious to heard Lena Headey's take on the scene.

Edited by NBooth

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