Glass Candle Dialogue: Dorne, from the Martells to the Sand Snakes and beyond

6 Ellaria Oberyn 4x08

For denizens of the internet, I think we’ve done a pretty good job of focusing on the positives in these Glass Candle Dialogues so far. But today we’re talking about Dorne. So, yeah. We will judge its merits, or lack thereof, but we will also give Game of Thrones some credit and discuss these characters on their terms, as people living in Westeros.

Petra: Dorne is a painful topic for me because it’s an aspect of Martin’s world that I really wanted to get invested in. I love the idea of a Moorish Spain analogue in the otherwise Anglocentric Westeros. I love the idea of its progressive culture and of a plot driven forward mostly by women. Yet Dorne fell flat for me in both the books and the show.

Luka: I’m fond of Dorne in the books — conceptually. This may be controversial, but the introduction in “The Captain of the Guards” is one of my favorite chapters, as Oberyn’s three eldest bastard daughters come to persuade Doran to retaliate for their father’s murder: Obara demands they march to war; Nymeria suggests a more surgical strike, by sending in Tyene to poison the top Lannisters; and Tyene advocates marrying Myrcella off to Trystane and proclaiming them Queen and King of the Seven Kingdoms, forcing the Lannisters to march south and fight a war in Dornish lands. These are not complex characters, but we get a good sense of what they’re all about. It’s an exciting, perfectly succinct plot introduction, which you can say about little else in this novel … but then it goes nowhere purposeful for two entire books until the end of A Dance With Dragons.

1.5 Ellaria Doran Areo Dorne 5x02

Luka: But what about the meat of the plot? What about Arianne’s thwarted conspiracy? What about Quentyn’s doomed quest to Meereen? It holds thematic significance, but themes alone don’t make a story. Narratively, it’s a bunch of faffing about, making time, until Doran reveals his plans. Quentyn gives us a lovely view at the horrors of war and then promptly dies, while Arianne’s machinations have no consequences — or at least none that warrant the pages spent on it. The Greyjoy chapters, by contrast, are arguably slower, and also lack a climax, but they were advancing in a particular direction all the time. With the Martells, Doran’s plan with Quentyn failed before it even started, and Myrcella got wounded, which will have a fallout but, oh boy, was that a long way around to get there. In the show, the Dorne plot is framed as Jaime’s story, with the Martells and Sands serving as side characters; the story arc is introduced well enough and concludes in a beautifully tragic way with Myrcella’s death. Nonetheless, the middle part is fluff yet again, and bad fluff at that. The Dornish then get their own political plot in season six, with the coup and the Targaryen alliance, and there is no fluff in the middle … because there is nothing in the middle, which was, I guess, an improvement?

Petra: Ellaria and the Sand Snakes seemed to be of one mind, with the single motivation of revenge. The book does take a more nuanced look at revenge, deconstructing the idea. Ellaria, who is a very different character, has a great speech about the nonsensical, endless cycle of revenge. That’s what I liked the most about Dorne, aside from the concept. Surely that’s something the show could’ve dealt with, and they just didn’t.

Luka: Well, they did — just not very well, at least not at first. I do miss that speech. There isn’t much substance to Ellaria otherwise, unlike Indira Varma’s version, so anyone could have said that in the show. But no one did! Though, to be fair, the show’s Doran, who didn’t harbor ulterior motives and truly believed revenge was pointless, came pretty close. He did point out Oberyn got himself killed and that was it. And the revenge theme was explored further: in the end, Ellaria’s attempt to avenge Elia and Oberyn resulted in the extinction of their House and the brutal death of the Sand Snakes, including Ellaria’s daughter, whom she was forced to watch die, as part of Cersei’s own monstrous revenge. Basically, Doran and Ellaria switched places in the show, as Doran took the pacifist role, while Ellaria took up a number of mantles — the doomed plotter, like Doran probably is in the books; the reckless avenger, like the Sand Snakes and Darkstar; and the female lead with a plan for Myrcella, like Arianne (though a very different plan.)

Petra: But the show was so bent on condensing that storyline and pushing it forward that all these potentially nuanced characters felt like caricatures, like cardboard cutouts.

Luka: Especially in the middle of season five, the Sand Snakes were henchwomen. It’s obvious the writers hadn’t planned to include this story for long. It wasn’t thought-out.

3 Jaime Myrcella 5x10

Luka: Even if they were thinking of including Dorne as Targaryen allies at some point, the storyline in season five was there to give Jaime something to do — marching around the Riverlands for a few chapters doesn’t really translate to much screentime. Jaime is a main character in the show who can’t just largely disappear for a few seasons. So they gave him a storyline exploring his fatherhood, with Myrcella and a bit with Tommen, and then about how he’ll measure up as a Lannister, against the Faith Militant and the Blackfish. If you see it as Jaime’s story, the lack of Dornish characterization starts making a lot more sense. It doesn’t excuse the results, but it does help explain them.

Petra: The writers tried to ease us into this world. In A Feast For Crows, the two storylines that appear out of nowhere are the Greyjoys and Martells. They both expand the world, but in a way that many consider jarring. The show tried to fix this by bringing us into these parts of the world through pre-established characters. We followed Theon back to the Iron Islands for the Kingsmoot and we followed Jaime to Dorne. This approach reintroduced the ironborn to the plot quite organically; it just didn’t work for Dorne. I think it would have been better if we followed Myrcella to Dorne in season 2.

Luka: Honestly, I wouldn’t have wanted that. Granted, they could’ve made her a main character somehow, though I can’t imagine what she’d have done for three or four seasons but I admit they could’ve pleasantly surprised me. That said, the character as she was in the first few seasons was barely more than an extra. She got more to do in season five, and that was great, but I don’t know that I needed more. The same goes for the Martells: I don’t think we needed more Dorne, or less Dorne for that matter; I just think we needed better —more intelligently structured and written— Dorne.

4 Nymeria Ellaria Obara Tyene Dorne 5x06

Petra: You have Jaime and Bronn trying to rescue Myrcella as Ellaria and the Sand Snakes try to kill her. Framing most of these characters as antagonists was an issue.

Luka: If you’re bringing in a main character to introduce us to the Dornish people, which may be the one major decision the writers made in the adaptation of Dorne that I totally agree with, it only makes sense for many of them to be antagonistic to this character, not only because of the political circumstances but because, when you’re telling a story, you do need drama. That said, Doran, Trystane and Areo Hotah weren’t framed as bad guys. They were antagonists to Ellaria and the Sand Snakes, but not to Jaime or Bronn.

Petra: But Ellaria and the Sand Snakes were much bigger players. We’ll never know. Maybe a storyline told from Myrcella’s perspective could have been interesting, maybe not, but that would have at least given us a chance to organically enter the world of Dorne and meet each of the Sand Snakes in a non-antagonistic light. Instead, they went with this botched princess rescue which … oh man, that was bad. Of all the storylines they could have gone with, having the blonde white guy fighting a bunch of coded Muslims to rescue the blonde princess was really fucking weird. I’d just love to know what the writers were thinking when they decided, “You know, we won’t have Arianne trying to crown Myrcella. We’ll exclude her and have Jaime try to rescue her instead.”

Luka: I never considered that. It is problematic. That said, I’d still include Jaime. In the books, the Crown sends a few Kingsguards at different points, Oakheart and Swann, and something along those lines is necessary to incite the drama, but you can’t do much with these nobodies in the show, so sending Jaime instead made sense. Also, as I mentioned earlier, you can’t do much with those few chapters in the Riverlands, especially as Jaime has always had more screentime than he’s had pages per book.

5 Arianne Martell Aerys Oakheart A Feast For Crows Fan Art

Luka: As for Arianne, I’d rather she had been a composite of all the Sand Snakes.

Petra: Sort of like what they did with Loras, Willas and Garlan Tyrell?

Luka: Yes. Not because I’m fond of Arianne, but because if you are not going to spend a lot of time there you should have fewer characters. Call her Arianne, Tyene, whatever. It’s a supporting character so Ellaria doesn’t have to soliloquy. You don’t need three Sand Snakes, let alone five, or the dozen other Dornish characters from the books.

Petra: You’ve told me before that you’re not as thematically minded as I am. When I’m trying to figure out why a storyline doesn’t work, I try to break it down thematically. With the books, I at least liked the progressive “girl power” component. There are bastards who are accepted and have a proper place in society, Dornish culture is much more sexually liberated, and the plot hinges around a woman breaking all the rules to crown a princess queen. I didn’t like that Dorne was framed in such a negative light in the show. The women weren’t there to vouch for the princess, but to kill her.

Luka: Arianne wasn’t interested in crowning Myrcella to vouch for her, empower women, or for any other altruistic reason. She was using her as a pawn. In the fifth book, when Tyrion is deciding whether to go to Daenerys or not, he considers traveling to Dorne instead to crown Myrcella, but he quickly casts this idea aside because “to crown her is to kill her.” Arianne may as well be signing Myrcella’s death sentence.

Petra: True. Altruism is pretty sparse in Game of Thrones. Still, I can’t help but read into the fact that the showrunners took a storyline in which a woman tries to crown a girl queen of a patriarchal society, removed her character and framed her cousins as antagonists to – and I’m just going to emphasize this again – a blonde white guy.

6 Ellaria Oberyn Purple Wedding 4x02

Petra: Also, the status of the bastards and the sexual freedom weren’t really addressed.

Luka: Well, they were, but back in season four. We heard Oberyn and Ellaria discuss these issues at length, in their many brothel scenes and at Joffrey’s wedding.

Petra: Ellaria’s sexuality was framed differently from Oberyn’s, though. She murdered Myrcella by kissing her. That’s a telling way for a bisexual woman to kill someone. There’s a long history of female villains killing their victims with sex, from succubi right on up to Batman’s Poison Ivy. I think it’s interesting that Oberyn’s pansexuality was part of what made him a fan favorite yet Ellaria used her sensuality to assassinate a young woman. Though, to be fair, she did have that wonderful conversation with Jaime where she reminded him that no one would have had a problem with his relationship with Cersei if it were a hundred years ago and his name was Targaryen. And they reframed her sexuality in season seven through her interactions with Yara.

Luka: Yes, that was great. And we got the line “A foreign invasion is underway!” At last, the writers learned to lean into the Dornish cheessiness appropriately.

7 Ellaria Dragonstone 7x02

Petra: I think the writers took pains this past season to readdress the problems that people had with the Sand Snakes, and to a lesser extent with Ellaria, as best they could, provided they couldn’t go back in time and slap their former selves silly.

Luka: They resolved that plot as well and as quickly as they could. The Martells’ involvement was boiled down to the bare essentials. Ellaria and Doran’s conflict came to a bloody conclusion and the remaining characters joined Daenerys’ armada. They did as little as they could in order to not fuck it up further, which may have been wise.

Petra: Yeah, I don’t think spending more time in Dorne to try to retroactively flesh out those characters would have worked but provided how quickly they tried to tie it all together, I thought they did a good job. I like the poetic irony of the Sand Snakes’ deaths; the fact that they were all killed with their signature weapons was a nice touch.

Luka: Their fight with Euron redeemed their fighting ability too! Their choreography was some of the best we’ve ever seen on the show. It made up for that horrendous courtyard kerfuffle in season five. Granted, it wouldn’t have been that bad as a casual fight; it was so disappointing because the confrontation had been set up for episodes.

Petra: I’d assumed they were going to die in the sea battle and I’d wondered ahead of time how these supposedly highly trained warriors weren’t going to come across as incompetent (again) if they were all killed by a single man. So, I liked that Obara and Nymeria both got in some really good hits before they died. Their deaths were also afforded some poignancy. We got that beautiful shot of their bodies on the ship’s prow. The show gave these deeply unpopular characters as good a send off as they could.

8 Obara Euron Sea Battle 7x02

Luka: If we all had somehow missed their original scenes and then watched their last ones, I don’t think anyone would have any inkling of how poorly received these characters had been. I think they were handled very well as tertiary characters supporting a secondary starring cast member, which is what they should have been all along. In a way, they always were, but we didn’t expect that. Book fans got a Jaime storyline with a subpar Dornish backdrop when they were expecting an actual Dorne story; whether you thought it was good or not, there was a Dornish-centric story there.

Petra: Part of me wants to like the Sand Snakes more than I do for the sake of the actors.

Luka: Oh, me too!

Petra: I feel so bad for them. Especially Keisha Castle-Hughes. She was a fan of the books and campaigned hard to get the role.

Luka: Yeah, each of them developed detailed backgrounds for their characters. It’s a pity. I think the actresses did a good job with the material they had but the writers didn’t do enough with them. They just weren’t interesting enough foils for Jaime and Bronn. They worked better in season seven as supporting characters in Daenerys’ storyline.

Petra: The Dorne storyline, in both versions, is a hodgepodge of squandered concepts and characters. That’s sadly my lasting impression of Dorne: missed opportunities.

1 Oberyn Ellaria 4x01

Luka: Let’s talk about how all of this began: with Oberyn Martell. He had one of the best character introductions in the show, I’m sure you’ll agree, but I don’t know how you felt about him in the books. He didn’t make much of an impression on me, truth be told.

Petra: I’ll be honest: in my reading of A Storm of Swords, Oberyn was lost in a sea of new characters. There were so many new names getting thrown at me that Oberyn didn’t stick out. Before that, I knew through cultural osmosis that a guy eventually got his eyes popped out but I didn’t know it was Oberyn. All I really remembered from him in the books was his story about meeting baby Tyrion, because it was so hauntingly sad.

Luka: Which was very cleverly adapted, delaying it to the perfect moment, when Tyrion is at his lowest point, instead of during their very first meeting, which fell a bit flat.

Petra: And in the book he recounts this in a really callous way, as if he’s trying to antagonize him. I absolutely love the way they adapted it to be so emotionally affecting.

Luka: As he begins speaking, you might think that he’s trying to kick him while he’s down, but then that line comes in: “That’s not a monster. That’s just a baby …”

Petra: It works on so many levels. There is the plain, original reading that little Oberyn was disappointed that he wasn’t getting the freakish entertainment that he’d been promised. But also, while children aren’t sweet, empathetic angels in Westeros or real life, they are children, so little Oberyn and Elia could see how nonsensical the grownups were for thinking that Tyrion was a monster for being different. And Pedro Pascal’s delivery just … rips my heart out and eats it in front of me every time.

Luka: And his scenes with Tywin, Cersei and Varys were absolute gold. Classic Game of Thrones one-on-one conversations. I think that’s part of the reason many of us were so disappointed in Dorne. Oberyn had set the bar for Martell characters pretty high. What we got wasn’t good; but the fall was higher because Oberyn had risen so high.

9 Oberyn Ellaria 4x03

Petra: Do you think Oberyn played too much into the exotic, sexy Hispanic stereotype? The most hypersexualized male character was coded as a Spanish moor. But it’s not my place to feel one way or another about it. As a Spaniard, did it strike you that way?

Luka: Not really. With Dorne, Martin and Benioff & Weiss wanted to show more of a Mediterranean culture, and that kind of sexuality is a real aspect of it.

Petra: Alright, then. That was easy. I certainly like how Dorne accommodates its sexual liberation into its culture; the way Oberyn tells Cersei and Tywin that Dornishmen don’t despise their bastards. They love their children and that’s all there is to it for them.

Luka: I would have loved to see Oberyn interacting with his daughters. If I took the reins of this adaptation, which, to be fair, is a tad beyond my abilities —

Petra: We’re nerds on the internet; imagining we’re writing the story is what we do.

Luka: I would have had one of the Snake Snakes, or an amalgamation of the three we met, to accompany Oberyn and Ellaria to King’s Landing, so we saw their relationship. That’s kind of why Ellaria had a larger role in the show, too; to set up the revenge plot. I know a lot of people missed her speech about the cycle of violence, but that really was her only relevant scene in the books. I don’t consider the changes made to her in the show character assassination because she wasn’t much of a character to begin with.

10 Ellaria 5x02

Petra: The Ellaria on the show was certainly more interesting. Now that she’s gone and her arc is complete I can say that she was probably one of the most dynamic characters on the show. In season four, though she had some venom against the Lannisters, on the whole she was pretty laid back; she was a woman I’d like to go on vacation with.

Luka: She loses that when Oberyn dies.

Petra: She cuts her hair, which is an age-old symbol for “something horrible’s happened.”

Luka: It symbolizes a rite of passage, or a reaction to trauma, especially for women.

Petra: So now she’s full of hate. She kind of cooled off in season seven, when we see her with Yara and we had her death, which was simultaneously richly deserved but also tragic. You can’t not feel sorry for someone in that situation. We already discussed it in our dialogue for “The Queen’s Justice.” There’s always something compelling about a character who is determined to avenge a loved one and, in doing so, loses another person they love in the process. I don’t want to get schmaltzy but it’s sad to consider that if Ellaria had accepted Oberyn’s death then she and her daughter would still be alive and well in Dorne. In trying to avenge one person she loved, she lost everyone else.

Luka: And herself too, if not her life. Though she probably wishes she’d died.

11 Ellaria Tyene 7x03

Petra: In the end, Ellaria’s arc is this really poignant story about the cycle of revenge and how it never ends well for anyone. For loss of Lyanna, Elia died; for loss of Elia, Oberyn died; for loss of Oberyn, all the Martells and their Sands died — Doran, Trystane, Obara, Nymeria and Tyene, — except for Ellaria, whose fate at Cersei’s hand was arguably even worse. The Dornish storyline turned out to have thematic value after all.

27 responses

Jump to (and Always Support) the Bottom

    1. Petra & Luka: Great, great GCD again! You’ve got me looking forward to them with the same anticipation I feel on Sundays in-season at 8:59 pm.

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    2. Luka (about Oberyn’s speech to Tyrion):

      “….you might think that he’s trying to kick him while he’s down, but then that line comes in: “That’s not a monster. That’s just a baby.”
      ————————————

      The line that got me?
      “I will be your champion.”

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    3. The biggest mistake of the series was not ending the Dorne side of things with Oberyn. Pedro Pascal was so good, and so well-loved as Oberyn, that they tried to cram in more of it, and it sunk faster than Jaime in the lake. Ellaria’s nonsensical revenge craze over Oberyn’s 100% voluntary death wish, the complete waste of Alexander Siddig’s Doran and Areo Hotah, and the cartoonish trio of Sand Snakes…just no. And Trystane was a piece of furniture. The actors, most of whom I like in other shows/movies, were badly used. Ugh. I didn’t have a ton of love for Dorne in the books (Ellaria and Doran were much better, Quentyn was a non-story), but wow. Ah well, onwards and upwards.

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    4. I really look forward to your GCD. You always try to find “the good the bad and the ugly” of the story.
      Dorne certainly had all three, it’s as if the writers just totally lost it. The actors where the good, the dialogue was generally bad, and it left an ugly clunking story line. It started with promise with Oberon but after his death (which was his fault) and they returned home the story went down hill on the show.
      The actors including Jamie and Bronne did the best they could but the script let them down.
      Once the Queen of Thorn’s arrived the story bucked up and the deaths of the sandsnakes was good and fitted each girl just right, and Ellia’s fate was well done.
      Thanks you for the artical, looking forwards to the next.

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    5. To have a great dialogue about a much maligned aspect of the books/show could not have been easy but you two managed it quite well. Kudos to you.

      Since analyzing themes are not my thing, I’ll simply say that if Dorne had to exist in either medium, I preferred the show version simply because there was less of it than in the books. With the exception of Oberyn, I found Dorne to be a waste of my time. Fortunately there was much and more to hold my interest.

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    6. Interesting conversation. Two points. First as one of the Unsullied, all I know about Dorne is what I saw on television. Second, as a fantasy nerd of color, I was increasingly annoyed by the criticism of the Sand Snakes and Ellaria. It was hard to know whether the dislike was because this group of villains were all female; whether they all had dark skin; or because they were a bit two dimensional? They weren’t as bad as the hyenas in the Lion King, but that’s not saying much.

      What I enjoyed was the opportunity to see three female actors play very, very bad girls in the same ways that male actors have played with the vicious villain archetype, well forever. The Sand Snakes were the vicious version of comic relief. The tormenting of Ser Bronn worked on so many levels that I thoroughly enjoyed because well it was so totally outside of the box. Its a male fantasy to have a group of comely women responding to him sexually. Add murderous intent on the part of the women and you have for lack of a better word, some very good fun indeed.

      As for Varma’s Ellaria, I went from hating her to really getting behind her as a tough girl who has it in for the toughest of girls — Cersei. The way things ended for the Sand Snakes and Ellaria was consistent with the adage bad girls never win, but they do get to go everywhere!!!

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    7. There were a few tweaks that could have been done to improve Jaime’s storyline in Season 5, I suppose. I agree one Sandsnake would have been enough. I still do not understand why they cast Areo Hotah – most useless book character, most useless show character. I don’t mind the “white prince saves the girl from exotic ladiez” thing since he completely and utterly failed (and repeatedly) so I think we can call this pretty well subverted. 🙂

      I do think people get caught up a bit with Dorne with this idea that Ellaria is out for “revenge” for Oberyn and I think that misses the mark a bit. It occurred to me while watching some of the Season 5 extras about the founding of Dorne – and shortly after watching season 6 episode where Doran and Areo die – that the line which best defines Ellaria is: “Now weak men will never rule Dorne again”.

      She doesn’t care as much about Oberyns’ death and getting vengeance for it, as she does about the fact that Doran absolutely refuses to take the next step and destroy the Lannisters – the step that she is sure Oberyn would have wanted and that she herself wants. Ellaria wants Dorne to be strong, ruthless, independent as it was in the time of Nymeria, and when it resisted the dragon kings of old. “Pacifism” is unacceptable to her. It may not be what Oberyn would have done, but Oberyn is dead.

      Riverhawk2055,

      Hey it’s always interesting to hear unsullied viewpoints on Dorne… they seem to be few and far between for sure.

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    8. QueenofThrones:
      There were a few tweaks that could have been done to improve Jaime’s storyline in Season 5, I suppose.I agree one Sandsnake would have been enough.I still do not understand why they cast Areo Hotah – most useless book character, most useless show character.I don’t mind the “white prince saves the girl from exotic ladiez” thing since he completely and utterly failed (and repeatedly) so I think we can call this pretty well subverted.🙂

      I do think people get caught up a bit with Dorne with this idea that Ellaria is out for “revenge” for Oberyn and I think that misses the mark a bit.It occurred to me while watching some of the Season 5 extras about the founding of Dorne – and shortly after watching season 6 episode where Doran and Areo die – that the line which best defines Ellaria is: “Now weak men will never rule Dorne again”.

      She doesn’t care as much about Oberyns’ death and getting vengeance for it, as she does about the fact that Doran absolutely refuses to take the next step and destroy the Lannisters – the step that she is sure Oberyn would have wanted and that she herself wants.Ellaria wants Dorne to be strong, ruthless, independent as it was in the time of Nymeria, and when it resisted the dragon kings of old.“Pacifism” is unacceptable to her. It may not be what Oberyn would have done, but Oberyn is dead.

      Riverhawk2055,

      Hey it’s always interesting to hear unsullied viewpoints on Dorne…they seem to be few and far between for sure.

      Thats a goof point about the political aspect of her arc. Was introduced to in that first conversation with Doran when she mentions “how long will that be”

      Luca and Petra amazing job as always. I agree whole heartedly. What was really neeeded was just one Sand Snake. That would give more time to develop her and spend more time with Ellaria.

      Then they needed to get rid of the whole fight scene in the middle. Just have Jaime captured. Then Ellaria and Tyene could have still pulled off what they did at the end by poisoning Myrcella.

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    9. Riverhawk2055: Second, as a fantasy nerd of color, I was increasingly annoyed by the criticism of the Sand Snakes and Ellaria. It was hard to know whether the dislike was because this group of villains were all female; whether they all had dark skin; or because they were a bit two dimensional?

      Thanks for your defense of Ellaria and the Sand Snakes! I always thought the show gave them short shrift, and also was surprised and disgusted by the amount of (dare I say it) venom they inspired. As if it’s somehow absurd and also criminally wrong that there be tough women who are competent at arms. I’ve read the books, and the SSnakes aren’t demeaned like that there. Far from it. The show gave Brienne the Beauty the respect she deserved; also Arya – why not Oberon’s little snakes? Not to mention Ellaria, another tough, non-prissy woman. And yes, revenge for Oberon was always the big thing for those gals.

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    10. OT: if you haven’t seen Kit’s April Fool’s prank yet, be sure to check it out!

      Poor, poor Rose, she knew nothing 🙂

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    11. zandru,

      Greatly appreciate your comment. One of my favorite characters is Tarma in Mercedes Lackey’s short story collections Oathbound and Oathbreakers. Perhaps what is needed is more exposure to fantasy characters who aren’t necessarily Northern European in appearance or attitude.

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    12. QueenofThrones: I don’t mind the “white prince saves the girl from exotic ladiez” thing since he completely and utterly failed (and repeatedly) so I think we can call this pretty well subverted.

      We missed that. Very good point!

      QueenofThrones: I do think people get caught up a bit with Dorne with this idea that Ellaria is out for “revenge” for Oberyn and […] the line which best defines Ellaria is: “Now weak men will never rule Dorne again”.

      She doesn’t care as much about Oberyns’ death and getting vengeance for it, as she does about the fact that Doran absolutely refuses to take the next step and destroy the Lannisters. […] Ellaria wants Dorne to be strong, ruthless, independent as it was in the time of Nymeria.

      GREAT point. I wish we had touch on that. I always loved what she told Doran as she killed him. It was very telling. You’re right: it’s more than revenge.

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    13. Pigeon:
      The biggest mistake of the series was not ending the Dorne side of things with Oberyn. Pedro Pascal was so good, and so well-loved as Oberyn, that they tried to cram in more of it, and it sunk faster than Jaime in the lake. Ellaria’s nonsensical revenge craze over Oberyn’s 100% voluntary death wish, the complete waste of Alexander Siddig’s Doran and Areo Hotah, and the cartoonish trio of Sand Snakes…just no. And Trystane was a piece of furniture. The actors, most of whom I like in other shows/movies, were badly used. Ugh. I didn’t have a ton of love for Dorne in the books (Ellaria and Doran were much better, Quentyn was a non-story), but wow. Ah well, onwards and upwards.

      It’s puzzling , D&D seemed enamored with taking Oberyn’s story further, so to speak, set Dorne up, and then seemed to lose interest in it Four seasons in , D&D are almost old hands with the story now, and they create a side bar and don’t seem to have the imagination for a good mesh. Odd.
      In the books Dorne is one of those GRRM ‘gardening’ spin off’s , George is such a spell binding story teller that is only later one looks around and says ‘we needed that?” Quentyn does serve a narrow plot point, but seems more like a shaggy dog story. The dragons could have escaped without him.

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    14. zandru,

      Obviously I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I would summarise the criticism of the Sand Snakes as follows:

      1) Oberyn repeatedly says “we don’t hurt little girls in Dorne”. The Snakes’ plan is extremely against the ethos of the very man they want to avenge. This is either stupid, or outright psychopathic.

      2) They kill their own uncle and cousin. Kinslaying is never taken lightly in Westeros. Jaime hasn’t forgotten the time he killed a distant cousin, and clearly isn’t proud of it. Tyrion even says he regrets killing Tywin. Ramsay Freakin’ Snow is visibly trembling after murdering Roose. But the Snakes – kill their blood and laugh about it, the same as they killed that ship’s captain. (And the ship’s captain was an informant on their side, who came to help them.) Did I use the word “psychopathic” already?

      I’d go on, but I’m afraid I’d start concussing myself with all this head-desking. Suffice to say, none of this makes the Sand Snakes sympathetic or “strong” characters.

      I’m not a book reader, but it does seem that the Sand Snakes were given a very bum deal in the adaptation process. The whole scenario seems to have been badly written. A bit of extra thought and a rewrite could have fixed so many of these problems.

      One thing I like: the theme that revenge only makes more ruin, ultimately did come across strongly. I don’t need Ellaria’s speech to see that – just the look on her face. That is a master case of “show don’t tell”. Props to Indira for that last scene!

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    15. Em: none of this makes the Sand Snakes sympathetic or “strong” characters.

      Who says they’re meant to be sympathetic? I thought they were obviously villains (Ellaria too).

        Quote  Reply

    16. QueenofThrones,

      Good point! Maybe I should be comparing them to Walder Frey? But something about the framing is awkward. Watching the show as-is, I get the feeling it wants me to root for them, and I just can’t. (And I gleefully root for Cercei, so…. condemn me as you wish, ha ha.)

      As I said, ultimately, I do appreciate the supreme tragedy in this ending. Oberyn taught his daughters to fight, so they would never be defenceless in a misogynist world. Instead, his daughters took that power and used it to brutalise an innocent girl, in his name… Now that *is* cold.

      (Apologies to those of you who do actually like the Sand Snakes)

        Quote  Reply

    17. Em,
      You make good points! B&W had the Sand Snakes doing things that just were not done, in order to hack through and be done with the Dorne part of the plot. And it’s both unfortunate and annoying, because I, like Petra, really looked forward to seeing a kind of Moorish Spain in Westeros.

        Quote  Reply

    18. Tar Kidho:
      OT: if you haven’t seen Kit’s April Fool’s prank yet, be sure to check it out!

      Poor, poor Rose, she knew nothing 🙂

      Sorry to go off topic too…

      I wanted to thank you for that link to Kit Harington’s interview with the video of his prank on Rose Leslie. My reactions and observations:

      1. Ygritte: What’s “fainting”?
      Jon Snow: When a girl sees my head in the fridge and collapses.

      2. So Rose didn’t know what “April Fools Day” is? Now she does. Kit had better be on guard. At their wedding, when she walks up to the altar where he awaits, she could very well:
      (a) Tell him with feigned sadness “I’m so sorry, Kit, I can’t do this”, run off and leave him standing there… then return two minutes later and announce: “April Fools!”; or
      (b) Enlist the aid of the GoT prosthetics department, so when she lifts her veil he sees the face of ancient wrinkled Melisandre, ol’ Walder Frey, or his bff the Night King; or
      (c) Leave it up to their mutual friend Emilia Clarke to come up with a brilliant counter-prank. (As we know, she has a great, creative sense of humor. I was going to suggest Emilia in full Khaleesi costume under the wedding dress and veil, but she could undoubtedly think of something better. ); or
      (d) Arrange for Mackenzie Crook to appear in character dressed up as jealous Wildling Orell; so when the minister asks anyone who objects to “speak now or forever hold your peace”, Orell stand ups and berates Kit as undeserving.

      3. I couldn’t help but notice: Rose Leslie is carrying a full pitcher of ice water when she opens the refrigerator. Despite her fright upon seeing the “severed” head, she never spills the pitcher: before falling to the floor, she instinctively walks over to the counter and carefully sets the pitcher down. Etiquette on autopilot. She’s all class. 💋🔥

        Quote  Reply

    19. For me, Oberyn was Dorne, in the show as well as the books. Once he was gone, Dorne and the Martells fell flat. Pedro Pascal’s performance will always rank among the best in the show, IMO.

      With the books, I at least liked the progressive “girl power” component.

      Same with me. The initial introductions to the women of Dorne in the books held my interest for awhile but it quickly went off the rails with the crowning of Myrcella, Dark Star and the numerous references to blood oranges. And poor Quentyn…that was forgettable.

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    20. I am in full agreement with much of this assessment, and the disappointment with the adaptation. I’m always surprised though, when I hear that book Oberyn didn’t make any kind of impression on people. I read the books between seasons 3 and 4, and Oberyn instantly became and remained one of my very favorite book characters. I will admit that I spent quite a lot of time fantasizing about who would play him in the series, and imagining The Mummy-era Oded Fehr in the role. So much so, in fact, that I was angry when I saw stills of Pedro Pascal during filming. Of course, all of that changed the moment he opened his mouth, and the rest, as they say, is history. I still believe he was completely robbed of an Emmy.

      As for the rest of the Dornish plot, I preferred it in the books to the Ironborn sections, but that’s not saying much, and it still seemed like somewhat of a sidetrack or waste of time. While I liked Arianne and found her interesting, I disliked the Sand Snakes in the books, and I disliked them in the show, period. Alexander Siddig was criminally wasted in the show adaptation, as was Keisha Castle-Hughes. When it was all said and done, the showrunners’ decision to combine Euron with Victarion was a wise one, and benefited the overall pace and plot of the show, but their decisions regarding the Dorne plot and characters were an almost complete failure. (Except for not including Quentyn)

      The only misstep I find less forgivable is their casting of Rhaegar Targaryen. I might just hate Dan, Dave and Nina Gold forever for ruining that one for me. 😉

        Quote  Reply

    21. StringerBelle:

      The only misstep I find less forgivable is their casting of Rhaegar Targaryen.I might just hate Dan, Dave and Nina Gold forever for ruining that one for me.

      I admit that I, too, was underwhelmed with the casting of Rhaegar but I blame myself for that. I was so hyped by the prospect of seeing this guy that I’d heard about for years that my expectations were too high.

      I can’t rank it up there with Dorne, though, or the Winterfell plot of S7.

        Quote  Reply

    22. Em:
      zandru,

      Obviously I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I would summarise the criticism of the Sand Snakes as follows:

      1) Oberyn repeatedly says “we don’t hurt little girls in Dorne”. The Snakes’ plan is extremely against the ethos of the very man they want to avenge. This is either stupid, or outright psychopathic.

      2) They kill their own uncle and cousin. Kinslaying is never taken lightly in Westeros. Jaime hasn’t forgotten the time he killed a distant cousin, and clearly isn’t proud of it. Tyrion even says he regrets killing Tywin. Ramsay Freakin’ Snow is visibly trembling after murdering Roose. But the Snakes – kill their blood and laugh about it, the same as they killed that ship’s captain. (And the ship’s captain was an informant on their side, who came to help them.) Did I use the word “psychopathic” already?

      I’d go on, but I’m afraid I’d start concussing myself with all this head-desking. Suffice to say, none of this makes the Sand Snakes sympathetic or “strong” characters.

      I’m not a book reader, but it does seem that the Sand Snakes were given a very bum deal in the adaptation process. The whole scenario seems to have been badly written. A bit of extra thought and a rewrite could have fixed so many of these problems.

      One thing I like: the theme that revenge only makes more ruin, ultimately did come across strongly. I don’t need Ellaria’s speech to see that – just the look on her face. That is a master case of “show don’t tell”. Props to Indira for that last scene!

      This. So much this!!!

        Quote  Reply

    23. Sorry to be so late to the party but I’ve been abroad and offline, so just catching up.

      Once again, I want to thank Luka and Petra for a great discussion. I really love this format, new this year. It really works, especially when tackling “controversial” subjects, not just fanboying/girling. Your insights and ideas, presented as a dialogue, fuel a good dialogue BTL, people exploring different points of view, different ideas.

      As to Dorne… I don’t think it was quite as awful as people like to say. Dorne wasn’t great on the show but it seems it’s become the thing to bash the hell out of it just for the heck of it.

      Take that fight in the Water Gardens… uhm… maybe I’m just exposing myself here but I didn’t see anything wrong with it, physically or choregraphy wise, when watching it. Character motivations were a bit dodgy but the fight itself I had no problems with. But then, I’m not really a fight or battle connoiseur. 🙂

      I agree that Dorne wasn’t the best part of GoT, but especially in the light of S7, it wasn’t so bad.

      Thanks again for this GCD, looking forward to many others in the future!

        Quote  Reply

    24. Pigeon,

      Took the words right out of… off the tips of my fingers. I understand that page-to-screen adaptation almost always involves a lot of editing and the creation of composite characters. But it’s unforgivable to me when the spirit of a place or character is lost in adaptation, and that’s what happened with Dorne. And, yes, the waste of great actors was painful.

      On that note (and slightly OT), a few days ago The Atlantic published this wonderful article about one of the best Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episodes ever aired, which happened to feature Alexander Siddig (Dr. Julian Bashir on DS9, Doran Martell on GoT): https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/10/star-trek-deep-space-nine-past-tense/542280/

        Quote  Reply

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