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Monday, May 14, 2012

Game of Thrones Recap: Adaptable Adaptation Edition

Posted by Joe Streckert on Mon, May 14, 2012 at 12:59 PM

Change is necessary in adaptations. What works well in print isn't going to necessarily work well on screen, and any successful adaptation has to make the source material its own. Last night's episode of Game of Thrones was probably the biggest departure from the books so far, and probably caused not a few fans of A Song of Ice and Fire to explode in fiery bouts of nerd rage. I enjoyed, it, though. HBO has altered a lot of the substance of the series, but in doing so they've left the spirit of the source material unaltered. If anything, the changes have largely made the TV series feel even more Game of Thrones-y, if that makes any sense.

Spoilers aplenty after the jump.

Even when covered in filth, Jaime Lannister is still better looking than you.
  • Even when covered in filth, Jaime Lannister is still better looking than you.

“It’s all just a game.”A little on the nose there, Theon.

“My father was Ned Stark.” Whatever, Jon.

Gregor Clegane: Now with dialogue! Kind of a departure from season one

More Tywin and Arya! Hurray! The rapport between these two has been one of the best bits of the season. I like to think that Tywin Lannister knows exactly who Arya Stark is, and he’s just messing with her, like she’s the world’s most dangerous cat toy. He probably knows damn well that she's thinking about killing him, but just kind of smirks and shrugs it off, because Tywin Lannister is just that steely and confident.

“It gives me joy to kill people.” Between the Hound going on about how killing is fun, and Jaime waxing poetic about battle, this episode kind of gives the impression that fighting is the greatest high ever, and knights are all adrenaline-crazed murder junkies.

“You know nothing, Jon Snow.” I hate this line. However, Rose Leslie delivered Ygritte’s precious catchphrase the least-bad possible way. As much as I dislike Book Ygritte, I kind of have to admit that I was sort of amused by TV Ygritte taunting Jon Snow. A life of celibacy is eminently mockable, after all. She’s still an annoying manic pixie dream girl, but so far it’s not nearly as severe as in the book. Also in the North…

Jon Snow is captured now? WHAT THE HELL? Are they just taking out the part where, you know, that really dramatic thing happens? You know: THAT. The big character-defining moment where Jon Snow has to do something really dangerous and difficult before he gets captured? They’re just taking that out? Um… okay. Where are you going with this, HBO?

OMG, THEY KILLED IRRI! I guess that’s fine- in both the books and the show, she was little more than Daenerys’ accessory. Still, I did not expect that.

Sansa and Cersei have The Talk. Lena Heady, who plays Cersei, has stated that she hasn't read any of Martin's books specifically so she can make TV Cersei her own. Last night, that was most apparent in the interaction between Cersei and Sansa. Book Cersei gives us only brief glimpses at a real human being. TV Cersei seems deeply sad, and far more tragic than the source material.

Who the hell is Alton Lannister? He seems have been summoned into existence by HBO simply to give Jaime someone to talk to this episode and… OH SHIT! JAIME JUST KILLED HIS FANBOY! Ew.

Warlocks are jerks. Dragon-stealing jerks. So far, I’m vastly preferring HBO’s version of Qarth to book Qarth. Daenery’s storyline in A Clash of Kings is not exactly the world’s most exciting jaunt. This, though… Wow. There's intrigue, contention, schemes, blood, magic, dragonnapping, and lot of jugular-slicing action. A straight-up adaptation of Daenerys' stay in Qarth would have been utterly boring to watch. HBO, wisely, has given us a little extra in the way of blood and drama. Also, was anyone else surprised by seeing the warlock suddenly bust out the creepy magic? That, along with Melisandre's shadow baby, has really driven home how deeply weird the arcane is in Game of Thrones.

Tyrion and Cersei had a moment. As enjoyable as they are as scheming adversaries, it’s nice to be reminded that they are, in fact, brother and sister, and there’s more to their relationship than just conniving and backstabbing. If anything, their familial intimacy makes the backstabbing all the more fun. They're not just rival politicians- they're squabbling siblings who've been at it since childhood.

“No matter what you do, you’re forsaking one vow or another.” I'm a big fan of Jaime, in both his book and TV incarnations. Now, even I have to admit that he was sort of a dick for defenestrating Bran, but he remains one of the most unfairly demonized characters in Westeros. He did everyone in Westeros a favor by killing the Mad King, and everyone with half a brain knows it. Robert's Rebellion was a collective instance of spurning loyalty for the sake of practicality. It was necessary, proper, and beneficial for the realm, but it was not honorable. Jaime, being the guy who actually sliced the king up, took the brunt of everyone else's dishonor. When he's in chains, my sympathies are more with him than with any of the Northmen.

Oh yeah, and Theon totally killed Bran and Rickon. Yup. They're dead. Totally dead. Never to be seen again. Immense tragedy, there. Yup. Totally sad and stuff.

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