John Bradley Talks Thrones while Conquering his Fear of Dogs

Photo: Helen Sloan/HBO

Photo: Helen Sloan/HBO

Game of Thrones star John Bradley (Samwell Tarly) recently joined Emily Dean on the Times’ podcast Walking the Dog. The decision seemed counterintuitive, given the fact that the actor has maintained a fear of K9s spanning back to his early childhood.

Luckily for us, Bradley seemed comfortable around Dean’s Shih Tzu, Ray, as they strolled around London’s Waterlow Park and discussed, among other things, some of the star’s experiences over the last seven seasons of Thrones.


Bradley’s first audition for the show came while he was still in drama school. As the actor explains, at that time he was completely unaware of just how big a show like this could one day be:

“I didn’t really get the kind of magnitude of it [while auditioning] because I had never heard of the books at that stage. So I didn’t really know the kind of big deal it was. All I knew was HBO and I associated HBO with very high benchmarks of television over the last 10-20 years.”

After landing the part of Sam, Bradley says that one of the first actors he befriended was none other than on-screen bestie Kit Harington (Jon Snow). This blossoming friendship actually proved to be helpful to the show, as Bradley explains:

“There’s a scene in that first episode that I’m in where Jon and Sam are cleaning tables and they talk about girls. That was a really nice scene between two people, and that came much later in the production. That wasn’t in the first draft of that episode. [The writers] wrote that episode and gave us the script and then as they noticed how Kit and myself were getting on and the chemistry that was emerging, they gave us this extra scene to do…[the scene] does really cement their friendship.”

Sam Tarly_2Bradley also recalls some humorous times on set. One time in particular emerged when the lift at the Castle Black set got stuck with he and Kit inside, suspended 100 feet in the air. Their initial reaction to this unfortunate luck was lighthearted, but upon peering down at the crew, that quickly changed:

“We looked down through the floor of the lift to see every single crew member standing in the courtyard looking up at us absolutely terrified…we were having such a laugh about it until we saw how terrified everybody else was.”

Certainly humorous now, but that the time? Probably not so much…

Dean also asked Bradley about his role in the show’s upcoming season. Bradley chose his words wisely: “The thing about Sam is, if he’s still around at this stage, you do suspect there’s going to be a point to keeping him around.” After Dean asserts that this has to be a spoiler, Bradley responds, “don’t take that as a spoiler alert, don’t take that as anything. This is the glory of it, I don’t know.”

Along with Thrones talk, their chat is littered with plenty of anecdotal stories about the actor, including why he’s scared of dogs, a run-in he had with David Beckham, and his relationship history with Dean.

The entire hour-long interview is definitely worth a listen. Check it out here and let us know what you think!

59 responses

Jump to (and Always Support) the Bottom

    1. Except for Kit, no one in the cast answers direct questions in interviews. I understand why they can’t answer, but still is very frustrating. I hope the trailer comes out soon.

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    2. I miss Sam’s early funny interactions with his black brothers. My fave is when he asks Pyp to sing him a song to make him go away.

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    3. Mel,

      I’m re-watching the show with Saner Half, who’s never seen it. He’s really taken a liking to Sam, and just about died laughing at the end of that scene: “So… you didn’t know where to put it.”

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    4. Wolfish,

      Haha definitely one of the best lines in the show. I loved how emo and moody Jon was talking about not wanting a accidental child being a bastard like him and then Sam just bringing such a light and laughter to the entire mood making it hilarious with his “So… you didn’t know where to put it.”

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    5. don’t take that as a spoiler alert, don’t take that as anything.

      lol good luck with that

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    6. Love John Bradley. He seems a genuinely nice person and is hilarious in commentary and panels. Here’s hoping for more scenes with Kit!

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    7. Love John Bradley. He has such an easy-going manner in interviews. I also love his performance of Sam and can’t wait to see what he uncovers at The Citadel. I agree that there is a point in keeping him around.

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    8. Wolfish,

      I liked the scene (S5) in which Jon senses that Sam, though pummeled, hooked up with Gilly (“very carefully”), and Jon observes:

      “I’m glad the end of the world is working out for someone.”

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    9. I’ve been meaning to ask everyone what they thought of GRRM’s comment about “deliberately disguising” who the major characters are. (Excerpt from 2011 interview below; see last line)

      John Bradley’s statement that if Sam’s “still around at this stage, you do suspect there’s going to be a point to keeping him around”, suggests that Sam may be an important character going forward.

      But who (else) do you think GRRM was referring to ??? What “major characters” were disguised early on?

      —————–

      Excerpts from Time Magazine
      April 15, 2011
      “George RR Martin Interview: Part 1
      Game of Thrones, from Book to TV”

      ———-

      Q: What it was that persuaded you that these books would work well as a serial TV drama as opposed to being adapted for movies, which I understand was also considered in the past, right?

      GRRM: That was the first thing that came up. But I knew the minute my agent started giving me those inquiries and I started getting inquiries from studios and producers and screenwriters, that it couldn’t be done as a movie. It was simply too big. ….

      I mean, most of them wanted to do, ‘Well, we’ll do one and we’ll see how it does.’ Which is a chancy proposition at best. And then you wind up with a story that’s not finished.

      ***

      So, just with the three books I had out at that time, it would take like nine movies and I thought what studio is going to guarantee nine movies. Well, they’re not. They’re going to do one movie and we’ll see how it goes. And in the one movie you’re going to lose 90% of the characters and subplots. I mean, I’ve been a screenwriter myself. You have to go into a big book like this and you have to say, “Well, what’s the arc? Who’s the major character? We’ll focus on him and/or her and we’ll follow that major character through and we’ll pare away all these secondary characters and secondary stories and then we’ll get a movie out of it.”

      Not only didn’t I want that done, but I didn’t think it could be done because in the early books, I’m deliberately disguising who the major characters are.

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    10. Just glad Sam’s hair doesn’t look as ridiculously greasy as it was styled the first few episodes. Drove me slightly NUTS.

      I understand and am aware were it real life it probably would look like that. But it still annoyed me.

      Sam’s character has grown maybe more than anyone else has in the show and. books. Jamie Lannister is a close 2nd.

      Looking forward to his Citadel readings and who he interacts with this coming season.

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    11. Flayed Potatoes,

      Right, but when he says he was “deliberately disguising who the major characters” are [going to be], who is he talking about ?

      Naturally, a studio would want to focus on Daeny and/or Jon and discard most subplots involving other, seemingly minor characters. I understood GRRM’s comment (last line) to mean such a stripped-down adaptation simply wouldn’t work because some of those other seemingly minor characters would turn out to be major characters later on.

      Note: I don’t think at this point my question pertaining to GRRM’s 2011 comments about books 1-3 would involve “spoilers”, but if anyone thinks it would, please don’t hesitate to use spoiler coding.

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    12. Ten Bears:
      Flayed Potatoes,

      Right, but when he says he was “deliberately disguising who the major characters” are [going to be], who is he talking about ?

      GRRM’s pitch letter to his publisher that was leaked makes it clear who the main characters are : Jon, Dany, Tyrion, Arya and Bran. I have to assume they are who he is talking about. Anybody reading the first couple of books wouldn’t have easily guessed that these are the biggest characters (especially Jon, Arya and Bran) . A big part of the first book revolves around Ned and Catelyn, and the prominence given to the other characters keeps changing book to book.

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    13. Ten Bears,

      Oh I see. Well looking at the books there’s a lot of emphasis in Book 1 on Ned and then on the characters involved in War of the Five Kings + KL, so that’s something that would distract from the endgame story, particularly from arcs like Bran’s and Jon’s for example. Book 2 has a lot of War of the Five Kings and Tyrion, book 3 is pretty well balanced and book 4 meanders a lot and skips the povs from the likes of Jon, Dany, Tyrion.

      The show did something similar: D&D focused a lot on Ned in s1 and then shifted the focus on Robb in s2 and s3 and once they were out of the picture the real protagonists started to emerge. For example, it wasn’t until mid-season 4/season 5 that Jon finally got something more to do and now hopefully Bran will get there as well. Also, if you look at most viewers who start watching / binge viewing the show (the reactors who have been marathoning the show on youtube are a pretty good example), most of them are strictly invested in the KL storylines (Ned, Tyrion and the Lannisters) and Dany/dragons, so the initially low-key storylines such as Jon or Bran’s get sidelined until much later in the show.

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    14. ghost of winterfell,

      To me from the first book Jon’s POV screamed protagonist. It’s like he had “hero” branded on his forehead. I knew there was something special about him. The show downplays him a lot and is going for the Average Joe characterization. I think GRRM used AFFC to disguise the importance of certain characters, seeing as their POVs are absent from that book. The more the story grows in the telling, the more GRRM meanders and hides things.

      Bran is interesting because he definitely has a lot of protagonist hints in book 1 and 2, but then GRRM reduced his chapters so drastically in 3 and 5, so he’s clearly disguising something important about him. I assume it must be difficult to write from the pov of a character who is becoming all-knowing. Figuring out what can be revealed and how must be challenging.

      I totally agree about Arya in book 1.

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    15. Flayed Potatoes,

      I started reading the books while S3 was going on, by which time I had already spoiled myself about r+l=j. So going in, I already knew he was going to be important. I can’t say if I would have gotten his importance in the first book itself if I had gone in blind.
      Still, unless I am mistaken, I feel it was GRRM’s intention to hide his importance in the earlier books? Whether he succeeded in that is a different matter.

      As for Bran, I agree he had a few protagonist hints early on and I was initially kinda surprised when his story lost steam.

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    16. Flayed Potatoes,

      Thanks! As GRRM was talking about the point at which only the first three books had been released, so I was curious which characters we now deem “major”, had been “deliberately disguised” as minor or supporting characters.

      From the show only — and not knowing how far the story had progressed through Book 3, or how much GRRM focused on particular characters — I had been guessing GRRM was referring to characters like Davos, who started out as “sidekicks” or underlings but emerged later on to have more significant roles.

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    17. Ten Bears,

      My guess is Jon, Arya, Bran were disguised by Ned and Cat (and Robb on the show). I just looked up Cat’s chapters and she has 10 in book one (in second place after Ned). Tyrion has always been at the forefront and has the most chapters in total, and Dany’s story has a lot of big moments and is so geographically removed from everyone else that you know it has to build up towards something, otherwise what’s the point (plus those dragons).

      I consider Sam and Davos to be minor pov characters, whose importance has increased and will likely play key roles. But in no way are they at the same level as the big 5. Davos was introduced in Book 2 because GRRM needed someone to give us insight in what Stannis was up and I believe he had 3 chapters there. Sam was introduced in book 3 I think, as we need a POV in Oldtown when he gets there and he’ll likely find out some information and meet some other significant characters.

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    18. ghost of winterfell,

      As far as his parentage is concerned (since that’s a major hint that tells readers he’s super important), there are a truckload of hints in book 1 compared to the books that came after, probably because when GRRM was writing book 1 he thought the series would just be made up of 3 books, so the reveal would have come in book 2 or 3. The loss of Ned as a POV also contributes to that, since a lot of evidence that points to Jon’s importance comes from Ned chapters. So in that way Jon is cleverly hidden.

      I think you would have gotten it regardless. Jon is an outsider in his family and an orphan; it’s kind of a fantasy/bildungsroman staple, so that’s a big hint there’s something special about him and his origins. Ned refusing to tell him who his mother is raises questions. Not to mention he is heavily featured in the POVs of other characters. Bran is the first POV we get and the people most heavily featured in it besides him are Ned and Jon, with Jon getting the really special and distinctive wolf right at the end of the first chapter and giving the closing line.

      As an aside: I just had a look at the chapters that come before Jon’s first one in AGOT and they’re pretty fascinating, especially Eddard I (Jon I follows it), where you get the entire Robert’s Rebellion and Lyanna/Rhaegar backstory from the rebels’ pov. Prior to that you get Danerys I and the same story from the Targ pov. It’s a pretty clever connection.

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    19. How often do you think actor John Bradley does a double-take during a scene with both him and John Snow when he hears his name?

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    20. Flayed Potatoes,

      Yeah he does fit so well into the “unloved bastard” trope, it’s a giveaway to his future importance. GRRM laid the hints, but he tried to not be too overt about their significance.

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    21. Genghis Khan:
      Will that guy finally shut up about the writer’s strike now ?

      Jack Bauer 24. He was way too ‘concerned’ about it and got single-minded on the topic. I suppose we can’t blame anyone for worrying that there would be delays but pretty much everything we were hearing was that GoT wouldn’t be effected.

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    22. “I also love his performance of Sam and can’t wait to see what he uncovers at The Citadel. I agree that there is a point in keeping him around.”

      Let’s not forget

      the major reveal in the books, when Sam arrives in The Citadel. If the Maesters do succeed in that stated aim, The Wall and everything beyond it will be profoundly affected.

      This has not happened in the show, although it still might. If it does, Sam’s role in the story could become pivotal.

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    23. Re: My 9:26 am comment w/ GRRM quote from interview

      As an aside, I understand his concern that if he had agreed to a series of films, with the studio releasing the first one to see how it was received before committing to make any more, the film version of ASOIAF could easily have been left open-ended and unfinished. Audiences are fickle, and you never know if a good movie will underperform. Sometimes, bad marketing, studio financial problems, crappy distribution deals, or a host of other unforeseen problems can sink a movie.

      I was just thinking about a bunch of movies I’d seen that were supposed to be the first in a series, or the origin story for a franchise — but didn’t do well enough at the box office in the minds of the bean counters, forcing the producers to shelve plans for the next installment(s).

      There was one movie with Lena Headey and Lily Collins (Mortal Imstruments, City of Bones???) that was not terrible; I would’ve liked to see what happened next, but the “franchise” died after one film.
      The same thing has happened with what I thought were quality TV series: impatient suits pulled the plug after one season – or even just a few episodes – and fill the time slot with garbage “reality” shows.

      In this regard, I can imagine how it would’ve sucked if some executive decided to kill GoT after one season. These days, it’s a rarity when a show is allowed to actually tell a story.

      (BTW: I was never a big fan of “Penny Dreadful”, but I loved Eva Green’s performance. I’m glad I stopped watching because apparently, it was prematurely terminated right in the middle of developing stories, with what came off as a hastily patched-together “ending.”)

      I don’t know why I went off on this tangent…. I’m just glad GoT is one of the handful of TV shows with intelligent, complex story lines that I’ll be able to watch from start to finish over several years.

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    24. Ten Bears,

      It’s 100% about ratings with every channel these days. If a new show doesn’t become the most popular thing ever, it tends to be aborted. This is why the History Channel has nothing to do with history anymore, why ESPN barely shows sports highlights anymore, etc., etc…

      Apparently, a majority of people want to watch others argue and scream at each other over stupid and petty shit on tv, so those are the shows and styles that currently drive ratings.

      Thankfully HBO knew that they had something special in GoT and that they did not interfere too much with the creative vision of the show.

      If only the news channels were not so ratings driven, society might not be as shitty as it is today. All the 24 hours news channels competing with each other for ratings has absolutely killed objective journalism. Back in the day, the channels that carried the news actually LOST money showing the news because it was considered public duty to do so, no matter the cost.

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    25. Ten Bears: Right, but when he says he was “deliberately disguising who the major characters” are [going to be], who is he talking about ?

      Ned and (to a lesser extent) Catelyn. Ned is a classic “faux protagonist,” although there are “tells” that he’s not a true protagonist when you read it. For example, the fact that GRRM does not right the details concerning Lyanna and exactly what Ned regrets so much is (in retrospect) a huge tipoff that he’s not really a protagonist: after all, you have to develop a protagonist as fully as possible at the outset so that the audience can appreciate the full character arc. In contrast, the real protagonists constantly think about these sorts of things in detail: we quickly understand from Jon, Tyrion, Daeny, etc., are coming because they lay it out.

      This is true to a lesser extent for Catelyn. She gets here-and-now development (albeit quite different from the show!), so that we can appreciate her evolution from shrew to involved mother. However, unlike the main protagonists, she’s not driven by something from early in her life. Catelyn is not quite a faux protagonist: but she’s a second-tier one despite getting the narrative prominence of the first-tier protagonists.

      It is possible that he also means Sansa. She was very prominent in the narrative of the first three stories, but actually not very prominent in the stories. And then she basically dropped out of both narrative and story in Crows & Dragons. However, GRRM might have plans for her to be important in the final two stories: the TV show certainly suggests so.

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    26. Mr Derp: It’s 100% about ratings with every channel these days.

      heh, that has been true since the 1950’s. Many of the early “hit” shows got cancelled as soon as TV spread from the major cities because NYC humor played well to the entire TV audience when only the East Coast of the US had TV: but it did not play in Peoria.

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    27. Mr Derp,

      I’ve noticed that. Even 60 Minutes is filled with fluff stories and celebrity interviews. Meanwhile, the ice caps are melting, oil companies are getting ready to frak and drill in national parks, and foreign hackers’ malware and propaganda bots have infested the “information highway”, but broadcast “journalists” are more concerned with what the Kardashian-Jenner sisters are up to.

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    28. Ten Bears: Meanwhile, the ice caps are melting, oil companies are getting ready to frak and drill in national parks, and foreign hackers’ malware and propaganda bots have infested the “information highway”, but broadcast “journalists” are more concerned with what the Kardashian-Jenner sisters are up to.

      Bah! That’s all fake news from so-called intellectuals: if those scientists were so damned smart, then how come none of them can find a way to declare bankruptcy multiple times and still claim to be multimillionaires?

      Seriously, all I see from journalists these days is discussion of whether Trump’s latest untruth is a lie, bullshitting, or ignorance! It does raise the interesting philosophical question: can an ignoramus truly lie? I would add “theological,” too: but I cannot imagine that anyone pretends that Trump has a soul!

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    29. Flayed Potatoes: I consider Sam and Davos to be minor pov characters, whose importance has increased and will likely play key roles. But in no way are they at the same level as the big 5. Davos was introduced in Book 2 because GRRM needed someone to give us insight in what Stannis was up and I believe he had 3 chapters there. Sam was introduced in book 3 I think,

      I just happened to pick up book 2, A Clash of Kings, the other day during an attack of frustration that GoT hadn’t started yet. I needed something GoT to ease me. I only read 1-3, back in 2011, after I started watching the series and found out it was based on this series of books. I originally read them so fast, that a lot of the detail went unnoticed. Then they got stashed on a shelf. But during this reading, the following passage, a conversation between Jon and Sam starting on page 71, opened my eyes. To me, it’s a sign that Sam (and through his diligence, Gilly) really IS destined to discover something amazing/world changing in all his beloved books. See if it means anything to you. BTW, I loved character Sam and actor John Bradley, early on. John plays a dedicated book nerd so very well, and I can identify. Anyway, this is what I read:

      “Mormont wanted those maps a little sooner than that.” Jon plucked a scroll from a bin … A corner flaked off … as he unrolled it. “Look, this one is crumbling.”
      “Be gentle.” Sam came around the table and took the scroll from his hand, holding it as if it were a wounded animal. “The important books used to be copied over when they needed them. Some of the oldest have been copied half a hundred times.”
      “Well, don’t bother copying that one. Twenty-three barrels of pickled cod, eighteen jars of fish oil, a cask of salt . . .”
      “An inventory,” Sam said, “or perhaps a bill of sale.”
      “Who cares how much pickled cod they ate six hundred years ago?” Jon wondered.
      “I would.” Sam carefully replaced the scroll in the bin from which Jon had plucked it. “You can learn so much from ledgers like that, truly you can. It can tell you how many men were in the Night’s Watch then, how they lived, what they ate . . .”
      “They ate food,” said Jon, “and the lived as we live.”
      “You’d be surprised. This vault is a treasure Jon.”
      “If you say so.” Jon was doubtful. Treasure meant gold, silver, and jewels, not dust, spiders and rotting leather.
      “I do,” the fat boy blurted. … “I found drawings of the faces in the trees, and a book about the tongue of the children of the forest. Works that even the Citadel doesn’t have, scrolls from old Valyria, counts of the seasons written by maesters dead a thousand years.”

      Reading this now, after all the seasons of watching Sam annoy his NW brothers with endless chats full of info learned from beloved books, I feel that we are being shown how well Sam remembers what he reads, no matter from where or when he found the info. I believe that he will connect a piece of information he or Gilly reads from the ledgers at the Citadel, to something he might have read at Castle Black. Maybe that pic we saw of him surrounded by ledgers and Gilly apparently reading aloud from some old tome, is when he hears a bit of info that makes something wildly useful click into place. Why else would so much emphasis be put on the library at the Citadel AND Gilly’s being able to read. Can’t wait for the new season. Can’t effing wait.

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    30. Wimsey,

      Well, it looks like we’re back to Tyrion’s Orson Lannister conundrum: Was there really some inscrutable reasoning behind what looked like the mindless actions of mentally incapacitated m____n?
      Are our efforts to make sense of it all as frustrating as trying to read a book written in a language we do not understand?

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    31. Thronetender,

      I know I sound like a broken record here… At least one of the things Sam will discover has to do with Dragonglass. He’s already the world’s foremost expert.

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    32. Wimsey,

      Perhaps someone’s taking cues from GoT:

      Like Cersei told Joffrey: “Someday you will sit on the throne. And the truth will be what you make it.”

      Sure enough, he’d later boast: “They know I saved the city. They know I won the war.”… “I broke Stannis on the Blackwater.”

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    33. Ten Bears: I know I sound like a broken record here…

      You’ll get no argument from me on Sam and the dragonglass. I believe that too. Since the WW were created by the Children of the Forest pushing a piece of dragonglass into the heart of a human, that part about Sam reading something about the language of the CotF will be especially useful in decoding a secret about the WW and dragonglass that will be meaningful.

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    34. Ten Bears: Are our efforts to make sense of it all as frustrating as trying to read a book written in a language we do not understand?

      Er, is there a language Khal Trumpo can read?

      Thronetender: that part about Sam reading something about the language of the CotF will be especially useful in decoding a secret about the WW and dragonglass that will be meaningful

      That seems improbable, simply because Bran already knows how obsidian was used to create the White Walkers. We know that it makes them, and that it unmakes them. There isn’t too much more to add that wouldn’t just be trivia.

      My bet is still on Sam finding out that Rhaegar actually was married to Lyanna. That would to a lot more to drive the story along.

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    35. Wimsey: There isn’t too much more to add that wouldn’t just be trivia.

      I was thinking along the lines of learning something that would make dragonglass an even more potent weapon, or something else that will make the WW weaker. You think the dragonglass gun was hung and shot and is now spent? That would make dragonglass more of a spitball than a bullet. Or are you saying that you believe that dragonglass is more of diversion and won’t be shown to be of much use in the endgame?

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    36. Wimsey,

      Sam knows DG is lethal to WWs (but I guess by now, so does Meera, Jon, and the Wildlings if they believed Jon who believed Sam.)

      However, Sam does know from Stannis about DG deposits on Dragonstone. Not sure if anyone else does – or if those deposits are in plain view for anyone to find, or hidden from view unless someone knows where to dig.

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    37. Wimsey,

      Forget Dragonglass for a second. What I don’t know, and what I think Bran doesn’t know, is:

      •. How the hell did the Night King see and touch “Avatar Bran” when he was invisible to everyone else during his tree tripping ?

      •. How was the Night King able to imprint a tattoo on the arm of passed out Real Bran just by touching Avatar Bran?

      •. Does this mean the Night King has some kind of ability to peer into the time-space
      continuum like Bran?

      Did I miss something ? Was it explained why the Night King was able to see and touch Avatar Bran in the first place, and mark Real Bran’s arm?

      (Before someone gives me the obvious snarky response, I’ll say it first: stamping Bran’s wrist was not to verify that he’d paid the cover charge to get into The NightClub.)

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    38. Thronetender,

      That’s such a good passage. I totally agree.

      Sam can notice things that other characters can’t and he’s so dedicated to finding new things, that he’s bound to make some discoveries. The Citadel library is huge. Who knows what old books are hidden and ignored in favor of newer ones.

      As for Gilly, she has a very simple/common sense interpretation of things and as an outsider she can make sense of some things that seem complicated at first. All the scenes of her reading have to come in handy. I don’t think D&D added a scene of Shireen teaching her how to read just because it was cute.

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    39. Ten Bears,

      I am not entirely sure on all those things, but the 3ER warned Bran a couple of times not to stay too long. I think it is because if you stay too long you will be able to influence the past. And maybe even get stuck there and actually become visible. We saw hints of that at the Tower of Joy.

      Or as you say it just might be the powers of the NK or it is a combination of both.

      Those are my 2 cents.

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    40. The Wolves of Winter,

      I thought 3ER told grumpy Bran if he stayed too long it’d be like being under water and he’d drown, or something like that.

      Bran was whining that he was back home and enjoying himself when the 3ER pulled him out. Can’t blame the kid. Who’d want to be a paraplegic stuck under a tree in a freezing cave in the middle of nowhere, when you could be walking around back home watching happy family members in their youth riding horsies and playing in the courtyard?
      And on the other occasion, 3ER pulled him out of the ToJ scene just when Young Ned was about to find out what or who was inside the tower.

      That 3ER sure was a buzzkiller. He did pay the ultimate price for being a party pooper – though I suspect he knew all along his time was up.

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    41. The Wolves of Winter,

      Were there hints at the ToJ that he might become visible ? I thought the only revelation was that when Avatar Bran cried out “Father!”, Young Ned turned around and thought he heard something.

      But the only time Avatar Bran became “visible” was a couple of minutes after he foolishly went on a solo trip – and wound up in the middle of the Army of the Dead. (Why he didn’t immediately think to himself, “Oh, f-ck me! I’d better get outta here pronto!”, is beyond me. )

      Nevertheless, you raise an interesting possibility: what would happen to RealBran if Avatar Bran stayed too long in a tree-trip? Would Avatar Bran become corporeal? Would RealBran become permanently comatose or die?

      Also, as others have noted, it would’ve been nice if 3ER had expressly warned Bran: “Rule #1: The White Walkers can see your Avatar. Rule #2: DO NOT go on solo quests – you could land in the middle of a dangerous situation, and cause all sorts of problems for your teammates back on the real world. Rule #3: If you stay too long in a trip, X, Y, or Z can happen. Rule #4: Do not throw sh-t at me while I’m sleeping.”

      Actually, just like Jojen foresaw his own impending death, I suspect 3ER knew that Bran was destined to screw up and get everyone killed except for Meera; it was just a matter of precisely when and how he would initiate the chain reaction clusterfu-k.

      Anyway…I’m still confounded by the Night King’s abilities to see, touch and interact with Avatar Bran AND affect RealBran.

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    42. Ten Bears:

      Actually, just like Jojen foresaw his own impending death,I suspect 3ER knew that Bran was destined to screw up and get everyone killed except for Meera; it was just a matter of precisely when and how he would initiate the chain reactionclusterfu-k.

      I have wondered this as well.

      Thoughts – when the 3ER and Bran come out of their vision of Ned/Benjen sparring (with Lyanna and Hodor/Wylis appearing), Bran says that the 3ER “finally” showed him something he “care(d) about” and that he wants to go back. In 603 when they leave the ToJ, the 3ER clearly states “the past is already written; the ink is dry.” He then says that Bran must learn “everything”.

      The visions chosen by the 3ER were chosen for a reason; the 3ER wanted Bran to know that the ToJ (and therefore what was inside it) for a reason and he wanted Bran to be familiar with the events of the 602 vision for a reason – so he would have some understanding when the time came, of what needed to happen. Clearly the 3ER knew something relating to Hodor “holding the door.” So, yes, I think he knew when and how he was going to die and did his best to ensure Bran knew as much as possible before then.

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    43. Thronetender: You think the dragonglass gun was hung and shot and is now spent? That would make dragonglass more of a spitball than a bullet. Or are you saying that you believe that dragonglass is more of diversion and won’t be shown to be of much use in the endgame?

      Not quite either, but closer to the second than the first. Again, my thought all along is that this is a political story and thus the big climax is going to be one that we can describe in political terms. What obsidian gives them is at least one weapon to use against the Walkers. That’s good: and they already could make “weapons of mass destruction” against the Walkers simply by making a lot of arrows with obsidian tips. The threat of force is part of politics. However, the essence of the SoI&F stories is compromise: the protagonists always have to compromise with themselves because part of their mind says “Do X, not Y!” and the other part says “Do Y, not X!”

      The fact that Jon & Sam know about obsidian and Valyrian steel means that “annihilation” is an option. They don’t need to learn anything more about obsidian for this to be true. What we still need to get is: why is Jon or Tyrion or Arya going to think that annihilation is wrong? We have a good hint as to why Daeny and Bran will think/feel this: the Walkers are Unsullied on steroids (Daeny) and humanity is the “evil” that walkers are supposed to eradicate (Bran). However, we still need this for Jon in particular.

      I doubt that Sam will learn anything at the Citadel about this. After all, the citadel will have nothing that the is not in word-of-mouth stories by the Northerners. Instead, Bran is going to be the one to provide any key “facts”: he still has access to the Weirnet, and because he can see some of what actually happened, he can learn much more than would be present in Andal translations of First Men myths!

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    44. Ten Bears: I thought 3ER told grumpy Bran if he stayed too long it’d be like being under water and he’d drown, or something like that.

      Well yes, but that is what I thought he meant by drowning.

      Ten Bears: Were there hints at the ToJ that he might become visible ? I thought the only revelation was that when Avatar Bran cried out “Father!”, Young Ned turned around and thought he heard something.

      Like I said maybe. But given the fact what happened with the NK, I think YN did in fact hear Bran and that he can influence the past. And it wasn’t just the NK that saw him, it was all the wights too. Plus the NK didn’t seem to notice Bran until he was in front of him.

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    45. Ten Bears: I thought 3ER told grumpy Bran if he stayed too long it’d be like being under water and he’d drown, or something like that.

      Jojen tells Bran much the same with regard to warging: if Bran spent too much time in Summer, then Bran would lose himself. That was relevant to some of our discussions a year ago when some people posited that Jon would “warg” into Ghost, and then Ghost would go around with a human mind for a while. However, both show and books tell us that when living humans spend too much time doing that, the “human” disappears into the host. And that is relevant here because Weirnetting seems to be warging on overdrive. It would seem that they build up some stamina over long periods of time, but that might mean decades, not just a year or so.

      Ten Bears:That 3ER sure was a buzzkiller. He did pay the ultimate price for being a party pooper – though I suspect he knew all along his time was up.

      In a sense, it had already happened to 3ER: he probably had already seen why Hodor was Hodor. We know that the future can be altered when R’hllor (or other powers) provides glimpses, but we have no indication that the past can be altered in GRRMverse. If not, then 3ER might well have known that he was caught in a temporal tautology.

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    46. Ten Bears: Actually, just like Jojen foresaw his own impending death, I suspect 3ER knew that Bran was destined to screw up and get everyone killed except for Meera; it was just a matter of precisely when and how he would initiate the chain reaction clusterfu-k.

      Alba Stark,

      Well D&D have said as much in Inside the Episode. And they also said that it all happened much sooner then the 3ER expected it to happen. So I think he also knew Bran would fuck up.

      Everything that happened there was completely FUBAR and I have been scratching my head ever since.

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    47. Re: Samwell Tarly/John Bradley

      I’m wondering….

      Although Sam seems right at home in the Citadel Library & Records Archives, will he come face to face with the WWs (again)?

      • As I recall, he first saw one up close and personal when he was left behind and hid under a boulder (?) at the end of S2, I think.

      • He took out a WW with a DG dagger – earning the sobriquette “Sam the Slayer”, the first human to kill a WW in recent memory.

      •. He told Jon he wanted to go with Gilly to the Citadel in part because he’d wind up fighting for, and letting down Gilly, if he stayed at Castle Black. He said [something like] he’d rather face a horde of White Walkers than die looking at Gilly’s face as she realized he’d failed her.
      On GoT, that kind of pronouncement can function as foreshadowing.

      •. It may be a Hollywood cliche (but a good one, in my view) that the geeky scientist with the specialized knowledge and skill to defuse a WMD, has to suit up and join the elite military unit on their mission. (See, eg, “The Rock” w/ N. Cage and S. Connery; “Executive Decision” w/ Kurt Russell and/or Oliver Platt?; “Independence Day” w/ Jeff Goldblum). Yes, I know GRRM likes to subvert tropes; however, I’ve read – and tend to agree – that in many respects Samwell Tarly is GRRM’s fictional counterpart. For that reason alone he might want to place Sam in the middle of the action, instead of having him watch from the sidelines as the “warrior” characters get all the action.
      •. In the “fog of war”, there’s bound to be some unforeseen complication that requires brains, not brawn, to avoid catastrophic mission failure.
      •. In many respects, Tyrion provides the “brains” for Team Targaryan. (“That’s what I do. I drink and I know things.”). Davos may be a good judge of human nature, but Team Stark needs its own “book smart” operative. Who else but Samwell Tarly?
      • Perhaps GRRM intends to have Sam radio in to the front lines from a comfy command center in the Citadel. As a non-book reader, I’m vaguely aware of some kind of potential “glass candles” communication network, but so far nothing like that has been introduced on the show. To provide input in real time, Sam would have to be on the scene.
      • Despite Sam’s self-effacing label as a “coward”, when the chips are down he’s entered the fray, eg, killing a Thenn (?) in the Battle of Castle Black, and of course, summoning the courage to go one-on-one with a WW.
      • It’d be great if Samwell, sitting at a desk in a library, finds a cure for greyscale; uncovers Jon Snow’s parentage and legitimacy; discovers how to weaponize Dragonglass and forge Valyrian steel; finds a Rosetta Stone enabling humans to communicate with the WWs; ascertains the WWs’ motives; deciphers the significance of the WWs’ “artistry” with corpses and horse heads; AND solves all of the riddles posed by all of the ancient “prophecies.”
      However, it wouldn’t be realistic or dramatically satisfying for the climax of 73 hours of GoT and all of its mysteries to boil down to … research.

      I’m not saying we should expect Sam to go full-on Jon Snow like the Tasmanian Devil with a sword, at Hardhome and Battle of the Bastards. I’m just speculating (hoping) that Samwell’s not stuck sitting on the bench for the impending (?) Humankind vs. WW showdown.

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    48. Darn it. I just typed out a “Samwell Tarley, Science Officer/Mission Specialist” comment, but it’s stuck in moderation. (Did I use the word “Ni!” ?)

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    49. Since we’re on the subject of the 3ER…I guess I understand why the show chose not to show the link

      to the 3ER being Brinden Rivers in the world of ASOIF. Color me mind blown since I JUST realized they’re the same person in a ASOIF.

      I suppose I understand why the TV adaptation doesn’t have it since it’d take a lot extra scenes for it to payoff.

      Anyways…I’m still over here like whhhaaaat, why isn’t it in the show? Seems important.

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    50. The Wolves of Winter,

      Well D&D have said as much in Inside the Episode. And they also said that it all happened much sooner then the 3ER expected it to happen. So I think he also knew Bran would fuck up.

      Everything that happened there was completely FUBAR and I have been scratching my head ever since.

      I also wonder how Benjen’s “The Three-Eyed Raven sent for me” fits into this – and how much interaction the two of them had between when Benjen went missing in S1 and when Bran met up with the 3ER in S4. Maybe we’re not supposed to completely understand it?

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    51. Ten Bears:

      • Despite Sam’s self-effacing label as a “coward”, when the chips are down he’s entered the fray, eg, killing a Thenn (?) in the Battle of Castle Black, and of course, summoning the courage to go one-on-one with a WW.

      This reminds me of one of Robb’s S2 scenes (can’t remember which episode) in which he recalls Ned telling him that a man can only be brave when he is afraid – Sam is not the coward he claims to be, but the bravest of them all because he overcomes great fear rather than giving into it. As Gilly kind of points out to Randyll and Dickon in 606. Also loved the scene in 409 where – after Sam has fought in battle, he goes down to the larder to find slimy Slynt hiding with Gilly and baby Sam.

      Also – Sam and Jon are the only two characters to have killed both a White Walker AND a Thenn. A very exclusive club!!

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    52. Wimsey,

      You wrote (excerpt):

      …However, both show and books tell us that when living humans spend too much time doing that, the “human” disappears into the host.”.

      So what would happen to the human body left behind if his or her “human” self is trapped in the warged animal or time-traveling “avatar”? Does the body become a brain-dead, comatose vegetable? Does it die? Does it repeat “lock her up” over and over? Does it lapse into a deep sleep, and dream about whatever its avatar is experiencing? Is there anything in the books that sheds any additional light on what’s been illustrated in the show ? * Is there any indication that the Citadel has any “research papers” pertaining to greenseers and wargs?

      And what about the “avatar” traveling in the time-space continuum that gets “trapped” there? Does it become a spectral, incorporeal, invisible entity – capable of uttering only barely perceptible whispers that sound like rustling trees to the people nearby, or projecting fragmented “snapshot” images?

      If so…. Is it conceivable that our friend R’hillor is the misunderstood, misinterpreted “avatar” of a greenseer-warg human from long ago who stayed too long in a tree-trip?

      (*takes off tinfoil fedora*)

      BTW… In my mind, R’hillor + the Church of R’hillor = the big “wild card” whenever I try to come up with a “Chekhov-Occam” simple explanation for the show’s “mysteries.”

      *I know it all sounds silly, trying to figure out the biology of fictional events in a fantasy universe. But there should be basic “rules”, even with invented science.

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    53. Ten Bears,

      I should probably answer my own dumb question:
      The 3ER’s death demonstrates that, like in “The Matrix”, if your real self dies, your tripping avatar disintegrates.
      Therefore, if a “tripping” greenseer/warg stays too long and gets trapped in his avatar form, he or she will dematerialize as soon as his/her comatose corporeal body dies – or is easily killed.
      Possibly even euthanized by a loved one, like Khal Drogo.

      Never mind me. …

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