From The Maester’s Desk: The Dynamic Duos of Game of Thrones

Jaime Bronn Spoils of War

From the Maester’s Desk is a weekly column about the book-to-show adaptations of the characters, world and other elements from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books. Apart from analyzing the differences between the two mediums, it offers bits of trivia, speculation and educated guesses about the future of the story in both the books and the TV show. The article contains spoilers from ASOIAF.


“See? We [Lannisters] pay our debts.”
“Right. Just not to me.”

Last Sunday’s episode, “The Spoils of War”, was a big one for Jaime Lannister and Bronn (of the Blackwater, formerly from whatever nameless shit heap he’s from), but fans who haven’t read the books could be surprised to discover this jolly pair of rascals and their highly-quotable lines are nowhere to be found in George R.R. Martin’s version of the story.

Well! The characters certainly do exist, but they aren’t working together. In fact, the last we see of Bronn in the books was when he went to visit Tyrion to tell him he wouldn’t be his champion against The Mountain, agreeing to marry Lollys Stokeworth instead.

After that, Bronn disappears from the page (so far, at least) and we only are informed that he went on to become a lord (after the immediate heirs were disposed of) and even parents a bastard son, named Tyrion (much to Cersei’s chagrin). So, ironically enough, the book version of Bronn got the castle his show counterpart is still yearning for.

So who’s traveling with Jaime in the books? Why, none other than Ned Stark’s executioner, Ilyn Payne. The king’s justice was first recruited to help Jaime train with his left hand, the reasoning being that he wouldn’t be able to tell anyone how much of a bad fighter Jaime is now, since Payne had his tongue removed with hot pincers (courtesy of the Mad King).

Ilyn Payne Ned

Ilyn Payne disappeared from the show after Season 2, because actor/singer Wilko Johnson was diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic cancer, and it seemed like he only had around nine or ten months to live. Fortunately, doctors discovered Johnson really had a less aggressive form of the disease that could be treated, and after a radical surgery, Johnson announced he was cancer-free.

>He’s still touring and playing music, and has said he’d love to return to the show. His character is still alive, so hopefully Wilko will be able to return for the show’s final season.

Though it can be assumed that Bronn replaced Ilyn because of Johnson’s absence, perhaps that was always the plan. Even if there are a few amusing moments, like when Jaime tells Payne to go find a spear and shove it up the arse of a man called Shitmouth (imagine how Bronn would react to that name) after said man used the expression “Bugger me with a bloody spear”, Ilyn would be a rather dull companion in the TV adaptation.

Now, I can see some comedy gold material in the idea of a one-handed man and a mute one traveling together, but it’s really not in Payne’s character to be “funny”. And it would be really difficult to deliver some exposition or any kind of meaningful interaction when only one character is doing all the talking. It certainly wouldn’t flow the same way as with Bronn. And the “bad pussy” moment wouldn’t have happened otherwise!

Edmure Jaime Riverrun

Jaime didn’t go to Dorne in the books, however. He was ordered to travel to the Riverlands to deal with those who still supported Robb Stark’s rebellion. The way he takes Riverrun is similar to the TV version, threatening Edmure with catapulting his newborn son against Riverrun’s walls, but the Blackfish decides to escape instead of making one last stand against his enemies. His current status and whereabouts are unknown.

After dealing with the sieges of Riverrun and Raventree Hall, Jaime and his men spend a night at Pennytree, a small village in the Riverlands, and there he’s visited by Brienne of Tarth, who asks for his help to rescue Sansa from the Hound.

Wait, what? How did that happen?

Podrick Brienne Spoils of War

Brienne’s adventures with Pod in A Feast for Crows are rather different, and way more harrowing, as opposed to the show’s uplifting version, in which she’s able to avenge Renly Baratheon’s death and also fulfill her vow to Catelyn Stark.

Her path never crosses with Sansa’s or even Arya’s, and she never gets to fight the Hound in single combat. She does meet a minor character whose name would make Bronn’s day (Nimble Dick, no less. And let’s not even talk about Dickon Manwoody. Yes, he’s a real character. Maybe he’ll appear in season 8?). Dick helps her to find a fool, believed to be Dontos Hollard, who may provide a clue regarding Sansa’s location, but instead they find Shagwell and some other members from the Brave Companions.

The Brave Companions and their leader, Vargo Hoat (who ordered a fat Dothraki named Zollo to cut Jaime’s hand off in A Storm of Swords), don’t exist in the show per se. Their role was given to Bolton soldiers, and Vargo morphed into Locke.

I knew it was a long shot, but before Season 3, I was hoping for the Brave Companions to appear in the TV adaptation. But perhaps they were too eccentric for the (let’s say) more realistic version of the story, which has also eliminated some of the more outlandish elements from the books, like the purple eyes, the blue beards and Yezzan’s morbidly obese self (not to mention his freak collection). What works in the novels doesn’t necessarily translates well to a visual medium. Keeping it simple as a Bolton unit instead of splintering it in two different factions was more effective for the screen.

Dick is slain by the Companions, but Brienne makes short work of them and then sets off to find The Hound, since the sellswords tell her he’s the one who “stole the Stark girl”.

GOT607_082415_HS_DSC_3307[1]

She doesn’t find Sandor, but comes really close after she stumbles upon an itinerant septon named Meribald, and his dog (named Dog). Said septon takes her to Quiet Isle, a refuge for sworn followers of the Seven and men who want to atone for past sins through contemplation, prayer and silence. There lives a gravedigger with a limp and a hidden face who seems to be fond of dogs.

The presence of Sandor’s horse, Stranger, in the stables of Quiet Isle seemed like a dead giveaway that the gravedigger was truly the Hound, and fans debated this for years until the sixth season of the show confirmed everyone’s suspicions: that an itinerant septon found the gravely injured Clegane brother and nursed him back to health.

Only that Meribald, same as Vargo, didn’t make it to the show intact. Instead, he was turned into a new character who kept some of his book traits, Brother Ray.

Things inevitably get lost in the adaptation process, but perhaps the biggest loss in regards to the Brother Ray character was Meribald’s “Broken Man” speech, one of the most iconic speeches from the books. I think it would’ve been difficult to accommodate in the context of the scenes Ray was in, however. And the limited time was indeed better spent in addressing how Sandor came back to the show after having disappeared for two seasons.

The speech Ray does give (I’ll call it the “Never too late to come back” speech) was better suited for Sandor, and it conveyed mostly the same idea: that war is horror and suffering, but it adds what could’ve been the seed of the Hound’s path to redemption, so to speak. That it’s never too late for people to change their ways and start doing some good. We started to see some of that in Sandor during the Season 7 premiere, when he showed regret and gave proper burial to the family he robbed from back in Season 4.

Meribald assures Brienne that the Hound is dead, and so she’s left unsure of where to go next. It all goes downhill from there.

More Brave Companions show up, Rorge and Biter among them. The latter has been using the Hound’s helmet and posing as him while raping and murdering and looting in the Riverlands with his “partners in crime”. Rorge is easily dispatched, but Biter wounds poor Brienne, biting the flesh off her cheek, disfiguring her as a result.

Beric DOndarrion The Hound

She and Pod are rescued by Gendry and the Brotherhood without Banners, who are now being led by the undead Catelyn Stark aka “Lady Stoneheart”. So there we have yet more differences with the adaptation, since Gendry wasn’t sold away to Melisandre and Beric Dondarrion gave his life force to Catelyn, who came back from the dead, in the words of Martin, as a vengeful wight.

Oathkeeper, the Valyrian steel sword that Brienne obtained from Jaime, is seen by Stoneheart as proof that Brienne is now working for the Lannisters and has forsaken her vow. Brienne is given an ultimatum: either she kills Jaime Lannister, or she hangs, along with Podrick.

It’s safe to assume Brienne does not wish to kill Jaime, but obviously the alternative isn’t a particularly attractive one. So, when she goes looking for Jaime at Pennytree, what’s her plan? Will she explain everything to Jaime in the road back to where the Brotherhood and Stoneheart are waiting? Perhaps in order to stage a farce and rescue Pod somehow?

Stoneheart has been a constant source of controversy among the GoT fandom. Personally, I feel like the showrunners made the right choice. The return of Catelyn in undead form would’ve diminished the impact of the Red Wedding. As Cersei would put it, the finality of death. Her absence also helped to make Jon Snow’s resurrection an eventful moment, even if many fans never believed he would remain dead. It would have felt as an overused resource otherwise.

It’s not clear what’s the endgame for the [Stoneheart] character in the books. If it is to take revenge and annihilate House Frey, giving that role to Arya instead worked beautifully. Up to that moment, Arya had only slain minor characters and needed a bigger fish to fry. The scene(s) in which she kills Walder and his family also serves to showcase the mad skills she learned in Braavos.

And I have to say: for a character as sensitive and caring as Catelyn Stark, being turned into a bitter and restless zombie seems like a worse fate than death.

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As for Jaime, there’s another major difference from the adaptation. Show’s Jaime is still very much in love with his sister, and remains loyal to her, but the book version already lost faith and practically abandons her when she’s imprisoned by the High Sparrow. After taking Riverrun, he receives a letter from Cersei, asking for his help. He burns it and doesn’t reply.

His disillusionment is easy to understand, considering that Book Jaime is aware of how Cersei took many men to bed during his time as Robb Stark’s prisoner, including their own cousin, Lancel. In the show, Jaime never finds out. Whether or not he’ll end up abandoning Cersei or will remain by her side to the bitter end remains to be seen.

Jaime and Brienne already met again in the show, during the siege of Riverrun, and parted on good terms despite being on opposite sides in the war. It is likely that they will meet again in a future episode, and maybe not in a good way. Will they be able to fight each other in a battle? Fans of the show already had a taste of how torn they’ll feel in this past episode, when Daenerys’ army finally clashed against the Lannisters.

Inevitably, some of the characters we love will fight each other and die. The stakes are higher than ever, and for many people it’ll be next to impossible to root for someone in particular.

53 responses

Jump to (and Always Support) the Bottom

    1. Thank you! I’ve forgotten so much of the books. It’s definitely time for a reread.

      And I have to say: for a character as sensitive and caring as Catelyn Stark, being turned into a bitter and restless zombie seems like a worse fate than death.

      I’d always thought of Catelyn as a bit of a bitch and LSH as a full-blown bitch. Yes, Catelyn loved her children and would do anything for them. So would Cersei. But how one treats those who aren’t family better defines a character. How Catelyn treated Jon Snow (in every other instance but the pox night, where she later broke her promise to love him) and Tyrion made me think she was a bit of a bitch.

      On a different note but still speaking of dynamic duos, I’m really missing last season’s “The Game Revealed” Docuseries put out by HBO to analyze every two episodes: 1 & 2, 3 & 4, 5 & 6, 7 & 8, and 9 & 10. Was that only Season 6? Did they opt not to do something similar this year?

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    2. Ginevra:
      How Catelyn treated Jon Snow (in every other instance but the pox night, where she later broke her promise to love him) and Tyrion made me think she was a bit of a bitch.

      How one treats your husband’s bastard child who was brought into your house without your consent or the man you suspect of having tried to murder your son is hardly a particularly good measure of one’s general niceness either. I doubt most people would take a favourable view in either case.

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    3. Ginevra:
      Thank you!I’ve forgotten so much of the books.It’s definitely time for a reread.

      I’d always thought of Catelyn as a bit of a bitch and LSH as a full-blown bitch.Yes, Catelyn loved her children and would do anything for them.So would Cersei.But how one treats those who aren’t family better defines a character.How Catelyn treated Jon Snow (in every other instance but the pox night, where she later broke her promise to love him) and Tyrion made me think she was a bit of a bitch.

      On a different note but still speaking of dynamic duos, I’m really missing last season’s “The Game Revealed” Docuseries put out by HBO to analyze every two episodes:1 & 2, 3 & 4, 5 & 6, 7 & 8, and 9 & 10.Was that only Season 6?Did they opt not to do something similar this year?

      I miss those too. Seems like it was just last year.

      Catelyn is an amazing character I think. A complicated, fascinating woman. Not incredibly pleasant, but admirably strong, despite the tragedies she has to deal with.

      She’s a brilliant portrait of a medieval woman, a wife and a mother, grieving, but remaining strong, and supporting her son who has now become a young king.

      How she thinks, how she feels about Jon, how she makes decisions, all of that is incredibly flawed at times, but it only makes her more fascinating.

      And at the end of the day, she remains a good and decent woman. I like book Catelyn more and more with time, it’s a shame she was such a background character during her last season on the show.

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    4. Surprisingly, the thing that has had me worrying about the book-show differences is how Jon NEVER mentioned Arya in the show(Arya does with needle), they were supposed to be so close and I always thought their connection might have an impact on their endgame.

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    5. In my opinion the best duo in the tv series was Arya and Tywin followed by Jaimie and Brienne. I cannot understand the appeal that Bronn has. I suppose it is the 15 ys old that like him but seriously he has gone too long in the series. He is a convenient partner for Jamie to have some “funny” dialogues but I think that it is time for Bronn to die. In the last episode I was impressed by the well done chiseling Dickons character got from D&D. I was expecting a smug or uncouth young aristocrat but they seemed to have devoted some time to layer this apparently easy character. He could make a better duo with Jaimie but it seems there is not much time left. But in any case I would like to see him survive and Bronn die, soon I hope so.

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    6. Ah, thank you for another great article. WotW really is spoiling us this year. (Not spoiler spoiling but indulging us.)

      I’d like to point out that in the books, LSH was hanging Brienne, Pod and Ser Hyle Hunt.

      Ser Hyle hasn’t made the show but he was important in Brienne’s journey of self-discovery. Ser Hyle was part of the cruel wager in Highgarden or wherever Renly’s camp was. Randyll Tarly put a stop to it but blamed Brienne.

      Anyway, Ser Hyle is sorry, regrets the silly game they played before all of them experienced real war. He even comes to have respect for Brienne’s prowess after he witnessess her despatch three Bloody Mummers at the Whispers. He speaks up for Brienne against Randyll Tarly and gets sacked.

      His sticking with Brienne and her quest for Sansa is mainly self-serving but he does come to know and appreciate Brienne. His marriage proposal is self-serving – a mere knight from a minor house in the Reach, and Brienne, the heir to Tarth, one of the main Stormlands houses would be a great match for him – but it’s not entirely cynical. He’s come to appreciate Brienne for what she is and like her.

      This is where the show Brienne/Tormund thing comes in. The books have Ser Hyle but he’s not in the show, so Tormund takes the role of Brienne’s admirer. Brienne needs someone else to appreciate her, want her, to believe it could be possible… Book or show, Brienne rejects these “suitors” because her heart belongs to one particular soiled knight.

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    7. I would’ve liked to see both of Brienne’s fights (mostly for the setting). The Whispers somewhat but especially the lightning battle with Rorge and Biter. It was so vivid.

      There just wasn’t a way to fit them in the adaptation.

      The Dorne plot needed a complete overhaul or scrappage. The “middle ground” approach then “scrappage” did not work for me.

      I greatly appreciate FfC. It explores the psychological effects of SoS’s brutality. It also has my favorite one off characters. Unfortunately for me, those are the first roles cut in the adaptation process (generally).

      Heck, Peter Jackson couldn’t even give me Tom Bombadil’s merry-singing self.

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    8. dothrakian raven: I cannot understand the appeal that Bronn has. I suppose it is the 15 ys old that like him but seriously he has gone too long in the series.

      Nope, I am most definitely not 15, way over 15, but I am delighted by Bronn. Maybe it’s his tendency for absolute survival, maybe it’s his total irreverence for all things “royal,” it is absolutely his earthy, to-the-point wit. Bronn is unscrupulous, but still has a code of loyalty and service, shown in his behavior during the Loot-Train-Massacre. He told Jaime to return to Kings Landing, but he stayed to fight, even leaving his precious gold behind (which I’m sure he will go back to look for at the first opportunity. Practical man.)

      I didn’t know that in the books he got his castle – it made me happy to read that. I’m hoping we see Bronn all the way to the end of the show, and that he does indeed get his castle and high-born beauty, and the last scene of him is overlooking his lands and little sons with a big-ass smile on his face.

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    9. Stoneheart,

      To be accurate, in the show, Arya never mentions Jon, not verbally. The scene when she cannot give up Needle is wordless. Maisie Williams’s acting was just amazing. Not a word but all book readers knew what she was thinking. “Needle was Jon’s smile, the way he’d muss her hair and call her little sister.”

      Even show-only watchers would remember that farewell scene and Jon giving Needle to her, the huge importance.

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    10. Thronetender,

      I know that many expected Bronn to die in Dorne, since there was no more book material for him, but he is still alive 2 seasons after that. I don’t think that he will die at all now.

      I think that D&D have better sense of humor than GRRM so his character is something they would like to use more than original writer.

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    11. Grandmaester Flash:
      Aw, I wonder what happened to Lollys.She was adorable.

      Show Lollys was adorable. She was so excited about her wedding, planning it all, the flowers, but not yellow ones because she hates yellow (while wearing a yellow dress) and Bronn was being so nice to her (while eyeing the Stokeworth castle).

      Book Lollys is far more tragic. She’s a “lackwit”, so presumably one with developmental disabilities. She’s gang raped during the bread riots, gets pregnant and her mother, Lady Tanda Stokeworth is so desperate to find a husband for her that she accepts Ser Bronn of Breakwater. Bronn then works his way to eradicate Lady Tanda and the heir, Lady Falyse… Yes, book Bronn isn’t a loveable, one-liner rogue, he’s very selfish and grasping. But he may yet play a part in the books to come.

      Jerome Flynn is brilliant as the show Bronn, and I’m glad the show has used his talents and expanded his role.

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    12. mau: I think that D&D have better sense of humor than GRRM so his character is something they would like to use more than original writer.

      I agree with you about D&D sense of humor. I also forgot to say that the major part of Bronn’s popularity is in the way he is portrayed by Jerome Flynn. He brings the character to joyful, hilarious life, and for that I thank him.

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    13. Thronetender,

      Well his character is monotonous. The same thing all the time. He had some great scenes. The moongate fight, the sanddunes fight, the Hound moment, the Tyrion betrayal, the Lollys walk, the bad pussy minute and last episode. But there is nothing more in all this than give my money, my castle and a wife clever lines. I don’t buy your defense. He is boring and his bad boy wit has died long ago, as Mau says two seasons ago. So what is left? I could see him die with great pleasure. I hope Drogon takes his proper revenge for the scorpion bite….

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    14. Tycho Nestoris,

      The thing about Brienne’s fight against the Bloody Mummers in the Whispers… In the books, it’s her first kill, and it’s huge for her. She’s really rattled about becoming a killer.

      The show made her a competent, ruthless and unconcerned killer in S2 when she killed the sneery Stark soldiers who’d hanged barmaids for serving and servicing Lannister soldiers, and then realised she was transporting the most wanted fugitive in the land, i.e. Jaime.

      Different mediums, different plots. Stories probably remain the same.

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    15. Thronetender: Nope, I am most definitely not 15, way over 15, but I am delighted by Bronn. Maybe it’s his tendency for absolute survival, maybe it’s his total irreverence for all things “royal,” it is absolutely his earthy, to-the-point wit. Bronn is unscrupulous, but still has a code of loyalty and service, shown in hisbehavior during the Loot-Train-Massacre. He told Jaime to return to Kings Landing, but he stayed to fight, even leaving his precious gold behind (which I’m sure he will go back to look for at the first opportunity. Practical man.)

      I didn’t know that in the books he got his castle – it made me happy to read that. I’m hoping we see Bronn all the way to the end of the show, and that he does indeed get his castle and high-born beauty, and the last scene of him is overlooking his lands and little sons with a big-ass smile on his face.

      I like Bronn as a character for many of the reasons you state. He has been fun to watch. Still it’s hard to like him as a person, remember he did imply he would murder children for the right price. And while he has a code of service (whoever pays him the most) I don’t think he has a code of Loyalty. He certainly has a fondness for Tyrion, enough so he named his son after him. I that Jerome has brought that to life in the show more so than his book counterpart although it’s harder to get a read on Bronn in the books since he is not a POV character. But still he took Cersei’s offer of Lordship over fighting for Tyrion. That was probably the right move for his survival but it certainly wasn’t being loyal to Tyrion. I don’t see him having the same fondness for Jaime. You could argue the only reason Bronn asks Jaime to leave the battlefield and later saves his life is because if Jaime dies so does Bronn’s chance at getting a castle. I wasn’t necessarily rooting for him to die in the battle but if he had I wouldn’t have been too upset by it.

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    16. I adore the show, but it is the sanitized safe version of this tale. I disagree about the Jaime/Dorne thing. Had it stuck to the book side we wouldn’t have gotten bad Dorne plot and Jaime wouldn’t have been wasted for a season.

      I look at LS and Beric as the foreshadowing to Jon. Dying has a cost. Show Jon really hasn’t incurred the same price for dying that Beric did. Heck, he side-eyes my boy Davos for even mentioning it. Show Beric originally was intended to foreshadow the cost and then they changed their minds.

      The show is pandering a tad and I don’t mind it at all. We aren’t going to be pandered to by GRRM and I am glad we have a version of it where we get a few more fist bumps and hollers for characters we like that we will most likely never get from George. I also appreciate the books for being able to paint such a more intricate picture than the show could ever hope to do. People are missing out if they skip out on one or the other.

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    17. ManderlyPieCompany,

      The last two books are about 70% shit. The show is, for all its faults, canon.

      I actually couldn’t care less if Martin never finishes it. He’s made me not give a flying shit about almost everything that’s happening.

      I think he’s both a brilliant writer and a terrible one for different reasons.

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    18. Tycho Nestoris,

      the LSH has been beaten to death, but still would have been interesting to see how it played out on the show.

      At the very least I am curious to see how it plays out in the books and what her arc will be at the end.

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    19. I don’t know why but I’m a huge Bronn fan, to me he is actually one of the most realistic characters and he has stayed true to his nature, he isn’t stoic and doesn’t overemphasize virtue which gives it a certain weight and balances the other characters. You have characters like Jon and Dany that are so high on virtue and they are incorruptible that it’s a breath of fresh air to see Bronn who is the opposite. I think he is so relatable and that’s why he has become a fan favorite, nobody wanted to see him die in the last episode and I think it added some really great drama to the scene, and on top of that he is funny as hell…lol. I actually think he has shown character development, and you can tell that he actually does care about the people he is working for, you can see that in the build up to Tyrions trial, and he does make a good point as to why he wouldn’t fight for Tyrion. You can see that he has a soft spot for Jamie or else he wouldn’t have saved him from the dragon blast.

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    20. Chuck,

      I wasn’t even referring to her. I was thinking of ND, Tom o sevens, the citadel kids…I am also very much looking to her and others when George gets it done. 🙏🏻

      Now, I certainly would have liked to see her on the show. I would have like to see what the costume and writing teams (and Michelle) could have done with it.

      Not to rant, but Ramsay and Joffrey were one dimensional villians. I would have liked to see more grey villians, especially horrific ones with appearance and subtlety to boot. Joff and Rams were not subtle. Imo their barrage of brutality and cruelty is meaningless when there’s no depth. I see no depth to Ramsay or Joffrey. Their sole purpose is to elicit hatred.

      talvikorppi,

      I agree. I still would have liked those settings, (especially) a lighting battle.

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    21. dothrakian raven,

      I think it’s quite intentional. Bronn is a side character, he doesn’t have a “character arc” like the principal characters do. Bronn might’ve been around since S1 but he’s still essentially the same. Tyrion isn’t, Jaime isn’t. Bronn is a convenient tertiary character for the principles to bounce off.

      He’s a great side character, we care about him. But he only exists in relation to one or the other Lannister brother. He’s a greedy, selfish sellsword. No matter how well he got along with Tyrion – and they did have a great, witty rapport – he sold out, was quite honest about it to Tyrion.

      Bronn and Jaime is different. It starts with training, Bronn keeping the secret. Bronn and Jaime never have the rapport he and Tyrion had, but Bronn knew which way his bread was buttered.

      Which brings me to one of the amazing sequences in the Loot Train battle. Jaime tells Bronn to go to the scorpion/ballista. Early on, Bronn loses his gold… but he remains loyal to Jaime (maybe “I won’t get paid if we lose, fuck!”)

      Whatever Bronn’s cynicism and pragmatism, he abandons his gold and fights for their cause… and is there to save idiotic Jaime. So the sellsword actually has some feelings of loyalty, no?

      Just give him a castle, now! Oh, and the highborn bride? Yeah, give hime one or two or three of them as well. The man’s earned it. Jeez.

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    22. I don’t blame Bronn for not fighting for Tyrion , we saw what happened to Oberyn. I don’t think that he really sold out in that instance either, he was just paid to not do something that he wouldn’t want to do anyway.

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    23. Tycho Nestoris,

      That is why book Euron intrigues me…..I believe you have read the books so you know what I mean. Looks like he will be an important figure in the end…in the show…who the hell knows.

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    24. Benioff and Weiss’s decision to pair up Jaime and Bronn as training partners in Season 4 was a brilliant choice, regardless of whether or not it was prompted by Wilko Johnson’s gravely unfortunate health problems. And their subsequent decision to keep them together from Season 5 onward has paid off in spades. Not only did that arrangement allow them to keep Bronn around as an active character in the story, but those two have been absolute gold together every second that they’ve shared the screen. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Jerome Flynn have great chemistry, and their well-established rapport is a highly significant element of what made the Field of Fire/Loot Train sequence in “The Spoils of War” such a resounding, unequivocal triumph.

      I had completely forgotten that in addition to all of the other horrid shit that Brienne has to endure in AFFC, she also gets a chunk of her face ripped off by Biter. Christ. I’m so damn glad that the show did away with that. I’ve come to appreciate Brienne’s journey in that book more upon subsequent re-reads (even though I remain very glad that the show took the character’s quest in another, more successful direction). But that particular beat always struck me as needlessly cruel. And much like Tyrion’s facial scar from the Blackwater, forcing Gwendoline Christie to act through several layers of prosthetic makeup for the rest of the series would have been thoroughly counterproductive.

      On a similar note, I’m in complete agreement with Morgoth about the show’s decision to cut Stoneheart, and the reasoning provided. I’ve always felt that way, but I found myself particularly appreciative of that choice this week, when Brienne (face fully intact) got to witness Sansa, Arya, and Bran strolling together through the Winterfell courtyard, and embrace the idea that her oath to Lady Stark had been fulfilled. I touched on this in the Glass Candle thread, but as of this episode, Catelyn Stark’s memory has achieved more peace than one might have ever dreamed possible, and far more than her book counterpart will ever know. For that, I’m grateful.

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    25. ManderlyPieCompany:
      I adore the show, but it is the sanitized safe version of this tale. I disagree about the Jaime/Dorne thing. Had it stuck to the book side we wouldn’t have gotten bad Dorne plot and Jaime wouldn’t have been wasted for a season.

      Erm… what would Jaime do if not Dorne?

      By books, he went into the Riverlands and ditching Cersei, but it’s too early for the show.

      The show’s Dorne storyline was always Jaime’s story, not Dorne’s. They needed something meaningful for him to do.

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    26. The thing about Bronn, book or show, is that he is who he is and he makes absolutely no pretense otherwise–“I sell my sword; I don’t give it away.” (SoS, Tyrion 9)

      The thing about show Bronn is, as others have noted, Jerome Flynn. I am also significantly older than 15 and I’ve adored pretty much every minute of his*, with the exception of his scene with the Hound (that particular confrontation just didn’t resonate for me at all; it just seemed odd that Sandor would pick a fight with him in the first place: for one thing, Sandor isn’t really a guy who needs to prove he’s badass to anyone, and for another, Bronn is not a guy who ties a ribbon around his sword and acts like that means he’s not a killer–especially since at that point, Bronn wasn’t a knight), and my unlove in that case wasn’t anything to do with either Bronn or Jerome (or Rory, for that matter, whom I also adore).

      *It should be noted that significantly (and I mean SIGNIFICANTLY) over 15 + Jerome Flynn = adoring Bronn probably makes a tremendous amount of sense. Significantly over 15 + Jerome Flynn + NCW = I’m totally okay with the Jaime and Bronn Roadshow, too.

      So I’m pretty much enjoying all the extra Bronn on the show (he was easily the best thing about Dorne), and I think Morgoth nailed it about Bronn being much more fun as a traveling companion than Ser Ilyn, who is really quite ominous, even as a silent sparring partner, and pretty much never lightens the mood of any scene he is in.

      In defense of book Bronn, although he is not one to allow friendship or relation by marriage to get in the way of opportunity, I am not sure he was actually responsible for Lady Tanda’s demise, and I think he did have a soft spot for his former employer–I had the feeling he named his stepson after Tyrion not so much to do Tyrion honor per se, but to piss Cersei off in Tyrion’s honor, if that makes sense. And really it was Cersei who engineered the events that led to Lollys inheriting from Tanda, since she “hinted” to Falyse’s husband that they should arrange an accident for Bronn (and it was Cersei who gave Falyse to Qyburn for his experiments after their jousting plan failed and Bronn killed her husband). Book Bronn doesn’t have the charm that Jerome Flynn brings to the character, but I don’t think he’s without his own sort of loyalty. 🙂

      Random other thing:

      Not only does the Book!Blackfish escape from Riverrun, Edmure is entirely complicit in that escape, and entirely smug about it, even knowing it means he will be made to pay for it. I feel that Edmure’s character really got short shrift in the show. He may be a sucker for a pretty face, he may be bad at sussing the intent behind Robb’s directions, he may even be a crap strategist, but he’s the only Tully, and just about the only character south of the Neck, who actually considers that protecting the smallfolk in time of war is his job as their lord, and he sacrificed his own well being to make sure his uncle remained a thorn in the Lannister side. Where Hoster, Catelyn, and even the Blackfish seem to consider that it’s Family Duty Honor in that order, he really holds himself accountable for all three. Show!Edmure is kind of a letdown.

      However, I would like to know what the heck ever happened to him. 😉

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    27. Fantastic column! I prefer Book Jaime, personally, but I love Jaime’s actor and I’ll always have a soft spot for his amazing third-season escapades. I hope he finds a fitting, memorable fate.

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    28. On a completely random note, I wish you guys had done up a site like this for The Wire. Rewatching it again after all these years and it is so damn good.

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    29. I’m very proud to announce I’ve cracked the code!!

      Tyrion said flee you fucking idiot because he knew the water was deeper than it appeared!

      These little tidbits are why I watch the show. So much attention to detail!

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    30. Weirdly, I didn’t like Jaime and Bronn’s relationship in the beginning but I like it better now that it’s become positively bromantic. It makes no sense, but it works in the context of the story.

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    31. Chuck:
      On a completely random note, I wish you guys had done up a site like this for The Wire. Rewatching it again after all these years and it is so damn good.

      When I was watching/re-watching The Wire, I stumbled upon “What’s Alan Watching?”–an indepth blog/review by Alan Sepinwall. I think it’s probably what you may be looking for.
      http://uproxx.com/sepinwall/the-wire-links-for-reviews-to-every-episode/

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    32. mau:
      I think this weekly column should stay even in off season. There is so much that could be written.

      I think there’s enough material for something like that. Even if there wasn’t, Morgoth could pull it off. Truly a nerd’s nerd.

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    33. OK this is probably insignificant but I just saw a gif of the Theon/Jon meeting and Davos is standing there looking, I remember when I watched it on the show having a brief thought of why are they focusing on Davos? Does he have any link to Theon or any greyjoys? Just curious why they had Davos react to Jon’s approach with Theon. Thanks in advance!

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    34. Thronetender: I agree with you about D&D sense of humor. I also forgot to say that the major part of Bronn’s popularity is in the way he is portrayed by Jerome Flynn. He brings the character to joyful, hilarious life, and for that I thank him.

      I agree , Jerome Flynn, has made a great character out of Bronn as the reluctant wise cracking side kick of Tyrion and then Jamie.
      Last episode Flynn was particularly good as craggy weather beaten action hero, emoting the difficulty of handling of a large ballista.
      I think they missed a beat here, Jamie rightfully assigned Bronn to do the work, but Bronn should of had an assistant. They had an actor on hand to do this , Dickon would have fit the moment and lent a air of realism.

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    35. Violator,

      “I think he’s both a brilliant writer and a terrible one for different reasons.”

      I agree to some extent. It must be a personal foible of mine that I’m not that interested in sumptuous medieval feasts – well not that I have to have every ingredient of every course described in detail. I even felt a bit turned off by the detail right in the prologue of the book AGOT with the description of the minutiae of Weymar Royce’s boot leather. GRRM can create convincing characters and make one care about them. He’s not the first to write grimdark fantasy though you’d think so to hear how some people go on. The ability to make one a hate a character at one stage in the story and then see a different side to them later on (e.g. Jaime) is well carried out. GRRM’s writing style reminds me of Walter Scott – not identical to WS but reminiscent of it (to me at least). While I enjoyed AFFC and ADWD less than the first 3 novels I thought AFFC (partly through Brienne’s meanderings) did show how the poor folk were suffering) and near the end of ADWD the release of Viserion and Rheagal and their marauding through Mereen (the show didn’t go into them going on the rampage after being released) and the bumping off of the Small Council in Kings Landing (again done differently to the way it was done in one in the show) did contribute to a sense of chaos. I’m not shedding any tears for the omission of the Griffs though – or that confounded river cruise down the Rhoyne!

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    36. Chuck: That is why book Euron intrigues me…..I believe you have read the books so you know what I mean. Looks like he will be an important figure in the end…in the show…who the hell knows.

      When every I think of the books , I don’t think of Euron, I think of Victarion . As of now Victarion has more page time than Euron, we even know that he has more in Winds of Winter (tho we don’t know how much Euron may get in WoW).
      I like Victarion’s Long John Silver pasteup , GRRM’s Robert Newton facsimile amuses me. I notice D&D have rolled some of ol Vic into Euron.

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    37. Thanks for the feature, Morgoth.

      Now, some legends and myths changed and developed over time so that there is more than one version (e.g. in variants of the King Arthur legend Morgause is sometimes Mordred’s mother, sometimes Morgan Le Fay; I tend to go with Morgause because that was the version I read first). There are often numerous versions of folk ballads – the songs “The Twa Corbies” (Scots)http://www.twocrows.co.uk/twa_corbies.html and “The Three Ravens” and “The Three Ravens” (English) are similar and yet very different in their outcome http://williamseaton.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/the-three-ravens.html

      With ASOIAF having an epic sweep about it, I tend to think of the TV show version (since it adopted major divergences from the source material anyway) as a retelling or alternative variant reminiscent different tellings of traditional tales that have a common source somewhere back in history or even prehistory. I think an Unsullied show watcher can enjoy the show for itself; I can enjoy the show even though I am Sullied though I know some Sullied now have a problem with it.

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    38. I really had no liking for Bronn in the books, not sure why but I couldn’t take to him at all. However in the show, although I am not a fan of Jerome Flynn particularly he has brought a great deal of charisma to the role, plus he has very good timing when delivering the funny one liners (There’s no cure for being a cunt!”).

      So, for me, his partnership with Tyrion was far more enjoyable than in the books; plus the show only partnership with Jaime was an inspired addition.

      It’s slightly ironic now that he has evolved from a chancer mercenary with a good sword arm into aspiring into the nobility – which he beforehand most likely had some contempt for except as a source of work and pay…

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    39. I would add the two guards, Goofus and Gallant, who tried their best to keep Arya from entering Winterfell last week and failed miserably.

      Catelyn Stark would’ve had them sent to the Wall, but kind-hearted Sansa probably kicked them upstairs to management.

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    40. Boojam,

      I notice D&D have rolled some of ol Vic into Euron.

      The ship ambush was very similar in tone to a Vic scene in DwD! I like Vic’s PoV (mostly for Moq and Euron). I did just bash “one dimensional” villians though and Vic isn’t exactly an onion or an ogre.

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    41. Violator,

      “The last two books are about 70% shit. The show is, for all its faults, canon. I actually couldn’t care less if Martin never finishes it. He’s made me not give a flying shit about almost everything that’s happening.

      I think he’s both a brilliant writer and a terrible one for different reasons.”

      I reluctantly agree. IMO GRRM is a great world-builder, generates unique and fascinating characters, and brings finesse, complexity, and some damned fine prose and dialogue and occasionally verse. But in Books 4 and 5 he lost control, continued the world building rather than start condensing and consolidating in preparation for a rousing and moving conclusion. Just adding whole extensive storylines like Dorne, fAegon, etc which were obvious digressions or red herrings and felt like a waste of time. A good editor might have soothed his ego and persuaded him to cut a lot of that but instead he’s still fumbling towards the finish line with WoW. I dislike many of D&D’s changes, especially when they’re inimical to well-developed characters. Jon and Arya especially have been eviscerated to boost Sansa, who was rather vapid in the books and still bores me on the show. But no one can deny that D&D are galloping towards the finale.

      My favourite duos are Arya and the Hound, Tyrion and Bronn, Arya and Tywin, and Jaimie and Bronn. D&D replacing Roose with Tywin was a brilliant move, and since A & T stretched over only a few episdoes, it did not seriously distort GRRM;s narrative.
      Jaime and Bronn is also a huge improvement over J & Ilyn Payne.

      Speaking of Payne, if Wilko Johnson returns next season, Arya might kill him. More mature now, she seems to have mellowed regarding Listees who acted on orders or without malice, so perhaps she won’t.

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    42. Speaking of Wilko returning as Sir Ilyn Payne (glad to hear he’s OK)… I hope he shows up for a quick scene so he can be de-listed by Arya…

      Which made me remember Podrick is Ilyn’s cousin! I wonder how Arya will react to finding out there’s a Payne in Winterfell? “Oh! You’re from House Payne? A house sworn to the Lannisters? Do you think you could deliver this very important bottle of wine to Sir Ilyn? He was very kind to me during my stay in King’s Landing. And I totally didn’t see him execute my dad or anything. Yup, nothing but fond memories…”

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