Game of Thrones Memory Lane 302: Dark Wings, Dark Words

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Today, a guest writer will walk us through “Dark Wings, Dark Words” in our #GoT50 countdown. Please welcome WotW reader, commenter and annual surveymaster James Rivers! -Sue the Fury

“Dark Wings, Dark Words” is one of the lowest-rated Game of Thrones episodes on IMDb. But frankly it stands up pretty well; perhaps there are no major events — and no on-screen deaths — but we are introduced to a surprising number of new characters who matter down the road. It has a good amount of foreshadowing for discerning book readers, as well as dialogue that, in the light of the forthcoming season 6, is suddenly important to remember.

We open on Bran running through the woods in a dream, trying to shoot the three-eyed raven. Robb and Jon encourage him, and Ned’s voice even makes a cameo. An unfamiliar boy shows up just before Bran awakens. He and Osha discuss what a long way it is to the Wall. Indeed, it takes them an entire season to get there (albeit on foot). Going by horse, or jetpack, is clearly far faster.

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At Harrenhal, Robb breaks the news to Catelyn that her father has died, Bran and Rickon are missing, and Winterfell is in ruins. (“Which do you want first, the bad news or the really bad news?”) Catelyn asks if Robb has heard from Theon, and we cut to him tied to a wooden setup that looks oddly like the sigil on Roose Bolton’s armor in a previous scene. A captor tortures him. This will get old fast for some viewers.

We next have a lovely foreground shot of Jaime’s stream o’ No.1 arcing past Brienne in the background as she looks off woodenly. Their banter is a highlight of the episode. Jaime discerns that Brienne fancied Renly, but after mocking her, him and Loras, he turns sympathetic: “I don’t blame him. And I don’t blame you, either. We don’t get to choose who we love.” They encounter a commoner in the woods; Jaime wants Brienne to kill him, but she refuses. Of note: The man has sticks or something strapped to his horse in shape of an X, like the cross Theon was on. Coincidence, or a little joke from the producers?

At King’s Landing, Joffrey orders around a tailor and talks to Cersei about Margaery, but says, “This is becoming one of the most boring conversations I’ve ever had.” Shae is wary of Littlefinger’s interest in Sansa, who is invited by Loras to see Margaery and their grandmother.

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Lady Olenna introduced and immediately has all the great lines, for instance: “Loras is young and very good at knocking men off of horses with a stick. That does not make him wise.” And:  “Once the cow’s been milked, there’s no squirting the cream back up her udder, so here we are to see things through.” And: “The cheese will be served when I want it served, and I want it served now.” Olenna corners Sansa about Joffrey. At first she stammers and recites the party line about him being awesome and her family being traitorous, but finally admits he’s a “monster.” Margaery is all eh, whatevs, I’ll deal.

En route to Riverrun for the funeral, Robb and Lord Karstark argue over war strategy. “I think you lost this war the day you married her,” Karstark says of Talisa. Foreshadowing…

Catelyn works on a dreamcatcher-like art project and recounts to Talisa making a similar dreamcatcher-type object when Jon Snow was sick as a child. They have an extended, heartfelt conversation about her conflicted feelings for Jon.

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North of the Wall, Jon is confused upon his introduction to Orell the warg. “What, you never met a warg?” asks Ygritte. Well…

Rast taunts Sam, but Grenn, Edd and Mormont help him out.

South of the wall, Jojen makes a dramatic entrance where Bran and company are resting, and Meera sneaks up behind Osha. Jojen quickly shows he is not intimidated by Summer.

Thoros and AnguyIn the Riverlands, Gendry asks Arya what I recall wondering myself as I watched Season 2 (then Unsullied): Why didn’t she have Jaqen kill Joffrey or Tywin. But they and Hot Pie are intercepted by the Brotherhood Without Banners. Anguy shows off his archery skills and Thoros of Myr even sings “The Rains of Castamere,” as the show continues its efforts to familiarize viewers with that tune ahead of the Red Wedding.

Anguy on Hot Pie: “Half the country’s starving and look at this one.” Responds Thoros: “Maybe he’s the reason half the country’s starving.”

Tyrion and Shae discuss protecting Sansa. Shae accuses him of being attracted to Sansa. Semi-foreshadowing here, what with the soon to be announced engagement.

Margaery manipulates Joffrey by dissing Renly and fetishizing his new crossbow that, as he helpfully points out for future viewers of “The Children,” is cocked using a lever and not a crank.

MJ GIF1

 

Theon is tortured further, and a “Boy” says, “Your sister sent me,” implying he’ll be soon rescued.

Jojen and Bran have a Very Important Talk. “When I told my father about your father” dying, Jojen tells him, “for the first time in my life I saw him cry.”

“Your father is Howland Reed,” Bran says in wonder. “He saved my father’s life during the rebellion.” Gosh, if only Bran could see that event play out!

Arya, Thoros and others eat and drink at an inn. Thoros is about to let them go when in walks Anguy and an “uncommonly large” man with a bag over his head. Turns out it’s The Hound. Arya tries to skirt around him, but it’s too late, he’s spotted her: “What in seven hells are you doing with the Stark bitch?” She and he will spend much of the next two seasons together.

Jaime steals one of Brienne’s two swords (ha) and they fight on a bridge — he’s surprised by her skills — only to be taken by a group of men led by someone named Locke, and guided by the farmer from earlier. The men carry flags bearing “the flayed man of House Bolton.” Hint, hint. Man, in retrospect it should have been obvious where Theon was even to us at-the-time-Unsullied.

JB


Introductions: A bunch of important ones! Lady Olenna, Orell, Jojen and Meera Reed, Thoros of Myr and Anguy, “Boy” a.k.a. Ramsay Snow, Locke

Deaths: Hoster Tully, off-screen.

Big Moments: Lady Olenna draws the truth out of Sansa (and gets her cheese when she wants it); The Hound and Arya are brought together; Jaime fights Brienne on the bridge.

Notable Quotes:

“We don’t get to choose who we love.” – Jaime to Brienne

“Once the cow’s been milked, there’s no squirting the cream back up her udder, so here we are to see things through.” – Lady Olenna to Sansa

“He’s a monster.” – Sansa on Joffrey

“The raven brings the sight.” – Jojen to Bran. (It also brings a poorly executed marketing campaign.)

No one died onscreen! And so this was the episode’s entry for Beautiful Death:

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79 responses

Jump to (and Always Support) the Bottom

    1. Good recap James.

      In many ways, this episode functions as a second premiere for the season. The story isn’t progressed to a great degree, and the characters missing from the premiere (Theon, Arya, Jaime and Brienne) make their seasonal debut while Daenerys and Stannis take an episode off. I don’t think this’ll make it onto anybody’s list of favourite’s, it’s probably bottom 5 episodes for me. Still, a solid setup episode.

      I recall a lot of anger towards the Catelyn scene, but I liked that scene then and I like it now. Fairley nails that monologue, and it adds an extra layer to her previous interactions with Jon Snow.

      This was the last episode of the show written by Vanessa Taylor. Her leaving may have ultimately been a good thing for the show in my opinion, as the dialogue occasionally feels too modern in her episodes, and none of the episodes were series highlights despite strong material (like Theon’s beheading of Rodrik). They never seemed as tightly written. However, her episodes show a distinct knack for pointed barbs, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the Jaime and Brienne road show. Of all the fantastic odd couple pairings the show has produced, this may be the best.

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    2. This one should be remembered as the “only GoT episode without on-screen death”… quite a noticeable fact and a nice way to give some “personality” to that episode many consider bland (but is still a quite damn good ep) !

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    3. I’ve always been puzzled by the comparatively low rating for this episode. The Jaime/Brienne scenes are excellent, with a terrific fight scene — a real improvement on Season 2, where I didn’t find their initial dynamic all that compelling. NCW and Christie were the acting highlights of this season, in my opinion. The scenes at court centered around the increasing influence of the Tyrells, likewise good. The introduction of various new supporting characters for Arya and Bran work (Season 3 is Arya’s best season to date, in my opinion) — the Reeds’ absence from Season 2 was a bit iffy in some respects, but it’s also true that without the introductory scenes here Bran would have even less to do, as his book plot continues to taper off.

      The stuff North of the Wall is adequate — both Jon and Sam’s plots would only really pick up around a third of the way through the season.

      Catelyn is virtually invisible this season prior to the Red Wedding — an ironic reversal given GRRM’s stated intent with the character — but it’s not really any better that one of her only two major scenes prior to that episode is this one, the Jon Snow thing, as the writers more or less have her grovel to people who hate the fact that she wasn’t eager to play stepmother to her husband’s bastard who was forced into her household.

      The initial Sansa/Shae scene here, prior to the very good scene between Sansa and the Tyrells (her best scene this season, probably), is another instance of how the writers have reframed the plot to paint Sansa as more naive than she was in the books at this point, because the plot has been changed to all about how a constellation of other characters have to protect her from Littlefinger.

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    4. Also loved Sansa’s scene with the Tyrells.
      Diana Rigg is amazing.

      Looking back, I’m starting to really like Sansa’s story. On first watching it I found it preaty ”meh”, for lack of a better word. Probaly because I was expecting the awful Vale plot from the books.
      But now it starts to grow on me, that they actaully gave her a story.

      Hell her story in s6 is one of the stories I’m most excited for, behind only Jon’s.

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    5. Sean C.:
      Catelyn is virtually invisible this season prior to the Red Wedding — an ironic reversal given GRRM’s stated intent with the character — but it’s not really any better that one of her only two major scenes prior to that episode is this one, the Jon Snow thing, as the writers more or less have her grovel to people who hate the fact that she wasn’t eager to play stepmother to her husband’s bastard who was forced into her household.

      This argument is just stupid. It’s the typical “Interpret with minimum faith, attack with maximum rhetorical force” mantra that far too many people on the internet adhere too.

      No, it couldn’t just be the writers thought it would be interesting. It HAS to be that they’re giving in to bad segments of the fandom, it has to be because that they hate the character, it has to be that they’re sexists that have no empathy for Catelyn.

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    6. I still have a problem with Jamie pretty much losing the fight, I know he was weak & his hands tied but his reputation as probably the greatest living swordsman should of been maintained.
      Feel it should of been a draw which would of still given Brienne the respect from both him & the viewer

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    7. Good recap. I quite fond of this episode, and my favorite part has always been the Catelyn scene. Though Arya’s scenes and Jamie and Brienne’s and the intro to the Queen of Thorns were great too, I always come back to Cat’s conversation about Jon. Strangely, it’s what finally made me like her.

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    8. cosca,

      I never said they hated the character. But Catelyn has always been dogged by a huge group of readers and viewers who hate the character for not liking Jon. Having one of the character’s last scenes in the show be a completely new moment where she has a whole monologue where she confesses to everything the people who don’t like the character believe the character should have felt, but never did, is really hard to view outside that context. I expect the writers thought it would make her more sympathetic (as with many of the changes they make), but I intensely dislike that approach.

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    9. I like the Catelyn scene and I love the Jaime/Brienne ones. NCW hadn’t had amazing dialogue since season 3, and it’s just cool to see him at his best.

      I find the Theon torture scenes really hard to watch. I always skip them when I’m rewatching. I hated them in season 3, thinking it was a mix of torture porn and not being able to keep Alfie Allen away for an entire season. But I do think it makes his transformation into Reek more believable. I just wish they had forgotten one of tv’s golden rules and had found a way of telling, not showing.

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    10. I really liked this episode……….but I never really dislike any episode. ….There are some scenes some moments some story lines I dint like …..but as a whole I have liked all the episodes so far ……

      but this one would rank In my top 20 atleast. …The guy who voiced ferb my fav teenage animated character ….appeared as jojen and I instantly liked him. ……

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    11. Sean C.,

      It isn’t hard to view outside of that context. What certain fans think should have no effect on how you view or assess art.

      Also, I very much doubt that most people who dislike Catelyn solely do so because of her treatment of Jon.

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    12. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I think that S3 has the worst pace. It is too slow at times, especially episodes 6 and 7. And I know that E5 is very popular for some reason, but even that episode was too slow for me.

      I think that S3 is stronger that S2 because this season has stronger big moments, but I think it is weaker that S4, S1 and S5.

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    13. Stargaryen,

      Looking back on the season as a whole, I think they should have kept Theon’s first three episodes more or less as is (leading up to the great shot in 304 with Ramsay looking depraved), then cut his next two appearances in episodes 306-307, which is where the narrative of repetitive torture really set in. Then we rejoin the character in 310, but with him already as Reek, which would leave the audience to imagine what Ramsay inflicted on him (well, not wholly, since there’s that other scene in the episode where we’re told Ramsay castrated him). I think that would have done the job and not tested audience patience the way the story ended up doing.

      cosca,

      Not when it’s an adaptation choice that was most likely made with that in mind (and yes, I would be quite sure it was — the writers are not unaware of these kinds of things, and they’ve made numerous changes aimed at reducing such controversies).

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    14. mau,

      Agree!!

      It’s painfully obvious that they drag thing, just to get the blackwater and RW in episode 9.
      I’m glad that this has changed.

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    15. I binge-watched this season and I enjoyed it very much, but I’m not sure I would have the same feeling if I watched it normally.

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    16. Mihnea,

      yea I agree …… I hadn’t seen him ….I had heard his voice as ferb so I was really excited to see him play the role……Both meera and jojen were great ….

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    17. Completely disagree that Theon’s torture should have been left of-screen.

      One or two scenes could have been cut. But not showing him becoming Reek would have been a huge mistake.

      These scenes are hard to watch, but nevertheless are great. Iwan and Alfie’s acting is top-notch. And seeing Theon slowly being broken, piece by piece, was dificult to watch, but these are one of the scenes I like most about S3.

      They’re last scene in EP10 was really damn good.

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    18. Sean C.:
      Stargaryen,
      cosca,

      Not when it’s an adaptation choice that was most likely made with that in mind (and yes, I would be quite sure it was — the writers are not unaware of these kinds of things, and they’ve made numerous changes aimed at reducing such controversies).

      Any interpretation based on mind-reading is utterly worthless. At least attempt honest analysis.

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    19. My loathing for that lousy “motherless child” monologue remains after all these years. Aside from that, it’s a pretty good episode. Most of my gripes with the show have to do with the show’s treatment of Catelyn.

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    20. cosca,

      That’s not “mind reading”. It’s an obvious conclusion to drawn from a consistent pattern in how the show is written. That’s the foundation of all “honest analysis”.

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    21. cosca,

      People see what they want to see. Don’t bother.

      That scene made me feel for Catalyn, not ”hate” her more. So saying they added it just so we’ll dislike her more is hilarious to me.

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    22. Or maybe D&D just don’t like “the evil stepmother” stereotipe?

      Just like they don’t like “the evil queen” stereotipe with Cersei?

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    23. Sean C.,

      I think it worked better on the show as we do not know Catelyn’s inner thoughts like the books. I really liked the scene as I started with the show and did not know anything about the books at the time, I also never blamed or hated Catelyn for feeling the way she did about Jon before this particular scene as it made sense to me. I didn’t know she was that much of a bitch to him in the books. Sometimes cannot translate from books to show the way people think it would, from the shows perspective we can already see Catelyn is a flawed character with some good qualities. She is strong, loyal, and very protective of her children. To make her unnecessarily cruel to Jon on the show would have been out of place, imagine if she told Jon, “it should have been you who fell from the tower” in the show, it would have been out of place and almost forced in my opinion.

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    24. cosca,

      Wait, so the thing you’re taking issue with is the idea that lots of people dislike Catelyn because of her not liking Jon? There’s oodles of evidence for that. GRRM himself has commented on it.

      mau,

      Catelyn’s not an evil stepmother. Indeed, she isn’t Jon’s stepmother at all. That’s one of the things a lot of people refuse to acknowledge.

      Lord of Bones,

      Catelyn wasn’t “unnecessarily cruel” to Jon in the books; she simply shunned him most of the time (whereas the show has her actively wishing for him to die, per this monologue). GRRM himself said that her outburst over Bran’s bedside was a one-time thing prompted by her extreme psychological trauma.

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    25. Lord of Bones,

      Her hatred for Jon just doesn’t fit with her character in the books IMO. It just so irrational and out of place. It’s juts like Cersei hatred for Tyrion, except it fits Cersei’s character.

      With Cat it just doesn’t feel believable. In every other occasion she is not jealous, she is honorable, she has great empathy, but with Jon she just hates him, without ever question herself.

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    26. Sean C.:

      mau,

      Catelyn’s not an evil stepmother.Indeed, she isn’t Jon’s stepmother at all.That’s one of the things a lot of people refuse to acknowledge.

      You are talking abot formality, I’m talking about essence

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    27. Sean C.:
      cosca,

      Wait, so the thing you’re taking issue with is the idea that lots of people dislike Catelyn because of her not liking Jon?There’s oodles of evidence for that.GRRM himself has commented on it.

      I take issue with you saying that this is “obviously” a sign that D and D are pandering to those fans, and not that they just thought it would be a good scene. It’s a clearly agenda driven view on your part.

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    28. Sean C.:

      Lord of Bones,

      Catelyn wasn’t “unnecessarily cruel” to Jon in the books; she simply shunned him most of the time (whereas the show has her actively wishing for him to die, per this monologue).GRRM himself said that her outburst over Bran’s bedside was a one-time thing prompted by her extreme psychological trauma.

      If an author needs to explain his own work, he didn’t do a very good job.

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    29. Sue the Fury,

      Why do you loathe it? I though it was a great scene and Michelle Fairley killed it. Although I started watching the show first, so maybe I viewed it differently from you.

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    30. mau,

      It’s not irrational. Jon is a daily reminder of her husband’s infidelity, a daily reminder of his being imposed on her household over her wishes, and a potential challenge to her children’s inheritance.

      It’s not “nice”, but it’s very much rooted in the character and the world she lives in.

      cosca,

      There is an obviously perceptible pattern in their adaptation choices. This is not “agenda driven” on my part; it’s basic analytical work.

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    31. Sean C.,

      I’m not arguing against any hatred for Jon. I’m just saying that the intensity of her hatred in the books is over the top and it is unbelievable for me that this honorable and honest woman would never question herself about that.

      She hates him in the show as well, but in the way that fits with her character IMO.

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    32. Sean C.,

      There is an obviously perceptible pattern in their adaptation choices.

      Please, enlighten me. And try to refer to the internet fandom as little as possible, and actual evidence from the show and statements by the writers as much as possible.

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    33. Lord of Bones,

      Yes, my opinion is probably going to be affected by having read the books first. I have no problem with Fairley’s performance- I think her great acting is elevating the dialogue and distracting people from how silly and offensive it is.

      “And everything that’s happened since then, all this horror that’s come to my family… it’s all because I couldn’t love a motherless child.” They went out of their way to add a monologue with this woman blaming herself for EVERYTHING, “all this horror,” because she didn’t love someone else’s kid that was thrust into her life without her having any say in it, with Ned refusing to provide any real explanations. It’s insulting, and it reads sexist.

      People have a tendency to dismiss any and all criticisms about sexism, or they go way over the top and think anything and everything is sexism when it comes to D&D. But the truth is, like most things, somewhere in between. There have been times when I think their writing has slid into sexism in ways that are more subtle and insidious than someone showing their boobs.

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    34. mau,

      I don’t know what you mean by “question herself why”. She knows why; indeed, she mentions all of the reasons that I brought up.

      cosca,

      I already said what the pattern was in the first post you responded to.

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    35. Sean C.,

      What I took from Catelyn’s monologue was the guilt she felt for breaking her promise to the gods and that all of the bad things happening to her family were caused by that broken promise. I had more compassion for her after that scene.

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    36. Sean C.:
      mau,

      I don’t know what you mean by “question herself why”.She knows why; indeed, she mentions all of the reasons that I brought up.

      Questioning herself is it normal to hate innocent child, while not blaming his father at all.

      She is written as a much more complex person, and blind hate is just drama for the sake of drama.

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    37. Sue the Fury:
      Lord of Bones,
      “And everything that’s happened since then, all this horror that’s come to my family… it’s all because I couldn’t love a motherless child.” They went out of their way to add a monologue with this woman blaming herself for EVERYTHING, “all this horror,” because she didn’t love someone else’s kid that was thrust into her life without her having any say in it, with Ned refusing to provide any real explanations. It’s insulting, and it reads sexist.

      You could interpret it that way, but that’s setting aside the religious dimension to too great a degree. Catelyn is probably the most religious non-fanatic in the show, and the scene is framed as her failing in her duty to the gods, not just her failing as a woman and a mother. This is more catholic guilt then how religion is normally portrayed in the show, I suppose, that she couldn’t be as all nurturing and kind as the Mother.

      I do feel this interpretation equates depiction as endorsement. The writers can find religious guilt an interesting dimension without also thinking that it is in fact her fault, and I’m pretty sure we’re not meant to agree that it is her fault.

      And I’m not sure what “going out of their way” means. It’s not like anything in the show exists by default.

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    38. Sue the Fury,

      I always took it as a deeply religious woman blaming herself for things that she could not really control. Like the character is bathing in melancholy and anguish, I really felt Michelle did a good job of portraying it. I never really got the feeling of it being sexist or having any insidious agenda. I will definitely pay more attention to the portrayal of the character when I do my rewatch of the show.

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    39. cosca:
      And I’m not sure what “going out of their way” means. It’s not like anything in the show exists by default.

      The default would be the source material, which did not contain a scene like this. Consciously adding in something that is so different from the book character would fit the definition of “going out of their way”.

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    40. I LOVED Catelyn’s monologue. I thought it was one of the best scenes in Season 3. I was (and still am) honestly shocked to find how many people hated it…

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    41. cosca,

      No, that’s really the most obvious way to look at an adaptation. There is a starting point — the source material. That doesn’t mean you can’t depart from it; indeed, virtually all adaptations have to. But I can’t imagine the writers don’t know that Catelyn in the books never did anything like this moment, which makes it a conscious departure. As to the substance of the departure, people can like or dislike it (plenty of people are on each side of that question), but that it is one is unquestionable.

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    42. Sean C.:
      cosca,

      No, that’s really the most obvious way to look at an adaptation.There is a starting point — the source material.That doesn’t mean you can’t depart from it; indeed, virtually all adaptations have to.But I can’t imagine the writers don’t know that Catelyn in the books never did anything like this moment, which makes it a conscious departure.As to the substance of the departure, people can like or dislike it (plenty of people are on each side of that question), but that it is one is unquestionable.

      Whether they include or do not include something, or deliberately change something, it’s all changing the meaning of the work. To some it will be to a great degree, others not. In bold is what matters, the fact that they decided to write it despite the books doesn’t inherently mean very much.

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    43. Not only was Book Catelyn much more hostile to Jon during the Bran farewell scene, but she forced Ned to let Jon go to the Wall when he was too young to make that commitment. It’s implausible to characterize her attitude as just shunning. She was perfectly willing to abide other boys who were not her sons staying in Winterfell while Ned was gone, just not Jon.

      The monologue is ironic since, while it’s hard to believe Catelyn’s breaking of her promise to the gods caused all the terrible things that happened to her family, it’s obvious that her rash, emotion-driven decisions set most of those things in motion: her abduction of Tyrion and release of Jaime being the most prominent. (Before I get accused of sexism, her husband and eldest son contributed to their own demises with a lot of terrible decisions too.)

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    44. Sean C.:
      I’ve always been puzzled by the comparatively low rating for this episode.

      I agree. It’s a slow, introductory episode that still manages to be quite good. I suspect low ratings are mainly due to deliberate bombing efforts over Cat’s scene with Talisa.

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    45. Sue the Fury,

      I have no idea how her feelings of guilt, compounded by however many losses the character has suffered during that timeframe, is in any way sexist :/

      I remember the furore about this episode before it even aired, as some reviewer was calling the Catelyn dialogue “character assassination”. I think it’s great dialogue, really. But I don’t really give a damn about 100% fidelity to the books and don’t share this Leavisite antagonism to popular culture you seem to find amongst some purists who can really, really delve into the subtetlies of the books when they want to but always approach the show as either a crass simplification or even as vandalism. “There’s been a lot of talk about the way in which Hollywood directors distort literary masterpieces.” Hitchcock once said. “I’ll have no part of that! What I do is read a story only once, and if I like the basic idea, I just forget all about the book and start to create cinema.” We’re lucky to have an adaptation as succesful as this, and I’m enjoying the process.

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    46. Sean C.:
      cosca,

      No, that’s really the most obvious way to look at an adaptation.There is a starting point — the source material.That doesn’t mean you can’t depart from it; indeed, virtually all adaptations have to.But I can’t imagine the writers don’t know that Catelyn in the books never did anything like this moment, which makes it a conscious departure.As to the substance of the departure, people can like or dislike it (plenty of people are on each side of that question), but that it is one is unquestionable.

      If the showrunners had portrayed Catelyn’s attitude toward Jon exactly the way it was in the books, she would be despised by far more of the fan base. If anything the “departure” helps her character.

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    47. Valaquen,

      I don’t care about 100% fidelity to the books. Obviously.

      Catelyn’s attitude toward Jon in the books was what you would expect from a lady of the castle who was being forced to raise her son’s bastard. She was actually pretty gracious about it, all things considered.

      I explained exactly why it’s sexist, to me. If you don’t get it, well, you’re not going to.

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    48. Sue the Fury:

      “And everything that’s happened since then, all this horror that’s come to my family… it’s all because I couldn’t love a motherless child.” They went out of their way to add a monologue with this woman blaming herself for EVERYTHING, “all this horror,” because she didn’t love someone else’s kid that was thrust into her life without her having any say in it, with Ned refusing to provide any real explanations. It’s insulting, and it reads sexist.

      I’m sorry Sue, but I can’t overstate how much I disagree with your position and how misread that whole scene seems to be. Catelyn is portrayed not as some paragon of sexist views, as seems to be a widespread opinion. She is depicted as a strongly religious and moral woman who, as she truly believes, broke her accord with the gods when she reneged on her promise to have Ned legitimize Jon. When Cat mentions “loving a motherless child”, it is in the context of that broken oath. So no, she’s not sexist, she doesn’t advance anachronistic sexist positions. She is mortally afraid that she fundamentally betrayed and slighted the Seven by having them intervene and save a life for a promise unfulfilled. It’s essentially a variation on the oft-repeated theme of only death pays for life; it’s now her family paying that debt in their lives.

      Deeply religious? Yes. Sexist? Hell no.

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    49. Mr Fixit: I’m sorry Sue, but I can’t overstate how much I disagree with your position and how misread that whole scene seems to be. Catelyn is portrayed not as some paragon of sexist views, as seems to be a widespread opinion. She is depicted as a strongly religious and moral woman who, as she truly believes, broke her accord with the gods when she reneged on her promise to have Ned legitimize Jon. When Cat mentions “loving a motherless child”, it is in the context of that broken oath. So no, she’s not sexist, she doesn’t advance anachronistic sexist positions. She is mortally afraid that she fundamentally betrayed and slighted the Seven by having them intervene and save a life for a promise unfulfilled.

      From what I understand, it’s not the broken promise part that people have a problem with, it is the earlier part of the monologue where she confesses to praying for Jon’s death. Despite the fact that she expresses roughly the same wish out loud, to Jon himself, in the books.

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    50. Valaquen:

      I don’t share this Leavisite antagonism to popular culture you seem to find amongst some purists who can really, really delve into the subtetlies of the books when they want to but always approach the show as either a crass simplification or even as vandalism.

      Very well said. People are so quick to analyze the books’ every paragraph in order to support their positions (as it should be if they’re going to engage in some serious analysis) yet they are even quicker to judge the show on the most superficial of levels as if it’s so simplistic that nothing at all could be gained from a more thorough (and open-minded) approach.

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    51. To conclude on Cat’s monologue: I found it beautifully written and a great window into Catelyn’s soul. I do believe writers gave a her a short shrift this season, but she has a wonderful trifecta of scenes in the early episodes that touch on the common theme of loss, guilt, and sorrow: in this episode a scene with Talisa and an earlier one with Robb (Will I have to attend my father’s funeral in chains?) and in the next one a poignant moment with her uncle in Riverrun, overlooking the river.

      Actually, the entire season Catelyn is shown experiencing nothing but those negative emotions… until she finally lets her guard down and smiles wistfully at Robb and Talisa kissing in Rains of Castamere, moments before the slaughter began. Maybe this turns out well after all?, she must have thought. That little smile is such a wonderful touch…

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    52. Never fails to amuse me me how picky some people are about this show!

      So as a counterweight this really needs a cock quote and luckily this episode has one

      “It’s a shame the throne wasn’t made out of cocks. They’d have never gotten him off of it.” – Jaime Lannister talking about Renly

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    53. Cersei’s Brain,

      Yes I was about to say that nobody mentions the delicious cheese boy… A great episode in my opinion. An excellent introduction to the finest episodes that followed and defined season 3. Excellent dialogues, great pairings and all these new characters!

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    54. I love this episode. The ending is one of my favorites with the Brienne and Jaime fight and Ramen’s awesome score playing into the credits (that’s a musical piece I don’t think we’ve heard before or have heard since?). The shot of the Bolton horses closing in on them as they backpedaled was very cool – at the time I wasn’t sure if they were going to escape.

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    55. I was going only going to make a brief comment regarding Catelyn’s speech about Jon Snow, but I see the discussion about that scene has come to dominate this thread. I’ll try and phrase my thoughts more carefully.

      I like the speech. I know it was and remains a controversial addition, and I’m not going to tell anyone who doesn’t like it that they’re wrong to feel the way that they do. But I find it spellbinding, and it features some of the very best acting that Michelle Fairley has ever done on the series (and she has no shortage of great scenes).

      Like several people have already mentioned, I saw Catelyn’s self-proclaimed guilt more through a religious lens. It has been consistently established, both in the books and the show, that Catelyn is a woman of faith. It makes sense to me that, in light of all of the horrible things that have happened to her family, she would be feeling guilty, even if that guilt is unwarranted because she bears no responsibility for those horrors. As someone who isn’t religious (lapsed Catholic here), her path of reasoning may not be one that I would follow, but in no way do I think that holding such beliefs makes her stupid, or a dupe, or foolish. I know that many intelligent people of faith, men and women alike, do filter everything that happens in their life, good or bad, through that core aspect of their identity. As such, I staunchly disagree with the idea that the show is mocking or diminishing Catelyn by having her express such thoughts.

      As for it being a departure from her book characterization, that’s not an issue for me. I read the book first, and I think the scene works on its own merits. Catelyn spends most of ACOK and ASOS dealing with intense feelings of grief and guilt, and I saw this scene as being consistent with that mindset. No, those feelings don’t extend to Jon specifically in the book. But I don’t see this brief moment of softening and reflection as a betrayal of her character – more an extension of it (She expresses her grief and guilt about being unable to protect Bran and Rickon in the next episode). With Catelyn’s death at the Red Wedding looming (and LS thus far nowhere to be seen), I view this scene as a moment of closure for her, and one that deepens her character rather than diminishes it.

      As for the monologue being sexist, unintentionally or otherwise, I’m going to tread very carefully around that subject. I didn’t see this particular speech in that light, but I’m male. I haven’t been through those battles. As such, I’ll acknowledge that my opinion on the subject will never be as informed as the opinion of someone who has. I truly don’t mean to be oblivious to such concerns, or insensitive towards those who harbor them. This is a real issue, both in popular entertainment and in real life, and I always want to be aware of where the line is so I don’t unconsciously stray across it.

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    56. On to something more uplifting … the Queen of Thorns!

      Lady Olenna Tyrell is just great, and her introduction of in this episode is dynamite. I’m almost ashamed to admit it, but I remember that before the new cast for Season 3 was announced at Comic-Con, I briefly wondered if the Queen of Thorns would even be in the show. With Margaery being a more active and openly political presence on screen (as we see in this episode), I briefly toyed with the idea that perhaps she would take on more aspects of her grandmother’s personality and plot (the identity of Joffrey’s killer would have needed to be changed, but that wasn’t totally out of the question).

      Regardless of how briefly I toyed with the possibility, it was one of the dumbest speculations that I’ve ever had about the show – perhaps the dumbest. I should have had more faith. Not only was the Queen of Thorns cast, they got Dame Diana Rigg to play her, and they significantly expanded her role beyond that of her book counterpart. The scenes that she share with Tyrion and Tywin later this season are superb, and I love that they brought her back to King’s Landing long after the character in the books seems to have exited the series. If Diana Rigg agrees to be on your show, you give her good material to play, and you keep giving her such material for as long as she wants to be there. Luckily, Rigg seems to relish playing the role, so let’s keep it going. Queen of Thorns forever!

      On a similar note, I briefly wondered if the two Reed siblings might be folded into one character (likely Meera, in that case – I could have seen the show giving Jojen’s greensight abilities to Meera while retaining all of her skills and the more upbeat aspects of her personality). But I’m glad that hypothetical condensation didn’t come to pass either. Thomas Brodie-Sangster captures the eerie nature of Jojen well, and I really like Ellie Kendrick as Meera (I’m glad that she’s coming back in Season 6 – when we didn’t get such confirmation for a while, I was worried). I’ve always loved her line to Osha here: “Some people will always need help. That doesn’t mean they’re not worth helping.”

      I also love the Howland Reed namedrop (his only direct mention so far in the show, I believe). When Bran mentions that Howland saved Ned’s life, and Jojen says that he saw it, all I can think is “Bran’s going to see it too! And so are we!”

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    57. cosca,

      It is not only about a religious womans failures of faith. It is also about Cats perception of her role as the honourable wife of an honourable lord. She stated previously that Ned and she didnt marry out of love but love grew within their marriage. So Jon s existence, the bastard son of an honourable lord symbolises a break in this cultivated love. It touches upon the insecurities of a woman who believed in perfection as a result and reward of a certain behaviour. It is not thus a matter of weak characterisation of Cat. It is a matter of her own way to understand Jon’s presence, an attempt to give answers that the gap of his existence raises, a way to penetrate her husbands inexplicable silence. Under this light I find all the “feminist” fuss about the scene’s misogynism as irrelevant.

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    58. In that situation, I’m sure there are some women that would feel more guilt than others. Maybe Cat feels guilt because of the inherent sexism that exists in the society she lives in? Often times men and women, particularly ones that are sensitive and thoughtful, do irrationally place the weight of the world on their shoulders and I think it’s totally acceptable for Dan and Dave to portray Cat that way.

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    59. Jared:
      I was going only going to make a brief comment regarding Catelyn’s speech about Jon Snow, but I see the discussion about that scene has come to dominate this thread. I’ll try and phrase my thoughts more carefully.

      I like the speech. I know it was and remains a controversial addition, and I’m not going to tell anyone who doesn’t like it that they’re wrong to feel the way that they do. But I find it spellbinding, and it features some of the very best acting that Michelle Fairley has ever done on the series (and she has no shortage of great scenes).

      Like several people have already mentioned, I saw Catelyn’s self-proclaimed guilt more through a religious lens. It has been consistently established, both in the books and the show, that Catelyn is a woman of faith. It makes sense to me that, in light of all of the horrible things that have happened to her family, she would be feeling guilty, even if that guilt is unwarranted because she bears no responsibility for those horrors. As someone who isn’t religious (lapsed Catholic here), her path of reasoning may not be one that I would follow, but in no way do I think that holding such beliefs makes her stupid, or a dupe, or foolish.I know that many intelligent people of faith, men and women alike, do filter everything that happens in their life, good or bad, through that core aspect of their identity. As such, I staunchly disagree with the idea that the show is mocking or diminishing Catelyn by having her express such thoughts.

      As for it being a departure from her book characterization, that’s not an issue for me. I read the book first, and I think the scene works on its own merits. Catelyn spends most of ACOK and ASOS dealing with intense feelings of grief and guilt, and I saw this scene as being consistent with that mindset. No, those feelings don’t extend to Jon specifically in the book. But I don’t see this brief moment of softening and reflection as a betrayal of her character – more an extension of it (She expresses her grief and guilt about being unable to protect Bran and Rickon in the next episode). With Catelyn’s death at the Red Wedding looming (and LS thus far nowhere to be seen), I view this scene as a moment of closure for her, and one that deepens her character rather than diminishes it.

      As for the monologue being sexist, unintentionally or otherwise, I’m going to tread very carefully around that subject. I didn’t see this particular speech in that light, but I’m male. I haven’t been through those battles. As such, I’ll acknowledge that my opinion on the subject will never be as informed as the opinion of someone who has. I truly don’t mean to be oblivious to such concerns, or insensitive towards those who harbor them. This is a real issue, both in popular entertainment and in real life, and I always want to be aware of where the line is so I don’t unconsciously stray across it.

      Exquisitely said as always.

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    60. Sean C.,

      “It’s not irrational. Jon is a daily reminder of her husband’s infidelity, a daily reminder of his being imposed on her household over her wishes, and a potential challenge to her children’s inheritance.”

      I believe it’s irrational to hate a child because of who birthed him or what his father did before he was even born. Especially since, from what I can tell Jon wasn’t a brat, he knew his place, and he loved her other children, who were kin to him whether she liked it or not. Besides, it was so long ago at the point we see in the show (17 years?) that she obviously had already forgiven Ned himself and he’d never wronged her since, you could tell they loved each other, so I think it’s pretty weird how she thinks of, and acts toward Jon because it’s not like she’s a really flawed or bad person. Cersei I could see being that way, but not Catelyn. That said, this dialogue at least showed her to have enough humility to own up to it, and the humanity to feel remorseful for it.

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