The Problem of Two Brans

Bran in the form of Isaac Hempstead Wright on Game of Thrones , and as he appears in the 2013 ASOIAF calendar

Bran in the form of Isaac Hempstead Wright and as he appears in the 2013 ASOIAF calendar

by JoeMagician

This post contains spoilers from the Song of Ice and Fire series.


There’s something wrong with Bran Stark. No, not that he can’t display facial emotions or that he receives hugs like a dead fish. Or even that he calls himself the Three-Eyed Raven, describing Bran as his former self. What’s wrong with Bran is that Game of Thrones has greatly expanded his seer abilities, and that is severely limiting the story the writers can tell with him.

Bran has incredible gifts as a greenseer and a skinchanger (sometimes called “warg” on Game of Thrones). Not only can he skinchange humans (remember Hodor’s eyes turning white?), a taboo of the highest order in their culture, but he has supplanted the Three-Eyed Raven as the primary seer of the Children of the Forest. This gives him unlimited access to the sum total of their knowledge going back tens of thousands of years. Already that makes him a character of untold importance and power. This season and the last, however, the Game of Thrones writers have taken those abilities and wildly expanded them to the point that it has become a problem they must write around, instead a story asset.

In the books, George R.R. Martin writes Bran as having visions through the weirwood trees – visions that stretch back an untold numbers of years.

A man must know how to look before he can hope to see,” said Lord Brynden. “Those were shadows of days past that you saw, Bran. You were looking through the eyes of the heart tree in your godswood. Time is different for a tree than for a man. Sun and soil and water, these are the things a weirwood understands, not days and years and centuries. For men, time is a river. We are trapped in its flow, hurtling from past to present, always in the same direction. The lives of trees are different. They root and grow and die in one place, and that river does not move them. The oak is the acorn, the acorn is the oak. And the weirwood … a thousand human years are a moment to a weirwood, and through such gates you and I may gaze into the past.

[…]

He heard a whisper on the wind, a rustling amongst the leaves. You cannot speak to him, try as you might. I know. I have my own ghosts, Bran. A brother that I loved, a brother that I hated, a woman I desired. Through the trees, I see them still, but no word of mine has ever reached them. The past remains the past. We can learn from it, but we cannot change it. –A Dance With Dragons, Bran III

The key point in this passage from Bloodraven (replaced by the Three-Eyed Raven in the show) is that book-Bran can see into the past through the trees. But not on his own, the Three-Eyed Raven says; he can see the past through the trees he is connected to. Show-Bran, however, has blown past this limitation last season with the Tower of Joy scene.

In this scene, Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven see all the way into the deserts and hills of Dorne without the aid of a weirwood tree. They watch the battle between Eddard Stark’s company and the two Kingsguard members Arthur Dayne and Lord Commander Gerold Hightower as well as the follow-up scene between Ned and the dying Lyanna Stark. You could explain that perhaps these memories are being taken from one of the dead, maybe Ned himself, that has been sucked by the trees like so many others in the Weirwood collective.

However, in this past episode, Bran shattered that understanding with his slam on Littlefinger. Bran repeats back to Littlefinger that “Chaos is a ladder”.

This shocks Littlefinger silent, hearing his words come back at him. What these two scenes establish is that show-Bran’s ability is not bound by time or location. The original line is spoken in season 3, episode 6 “The Climb”. At this time in the story, Bran has not developed his powers and is still with Jojen, Osha, and Meera Reed.

He was able to see backwards in time to somewhere he shouldn’t have access to by the known rules Martin has laid out for him, all the way into the King’s Landing throne room years before. And this is where Bran’s exponential growth as the Three-Eyed Raven becomes a problem: Game of Thrones’ writers have established that Bran can and does see everything, everywhere.

Whether it’s Arya at the Crossroads, Littlefinger in the King’s Landing throne room, Ned at the Tower of Joy, all the information he could ever want is at his disposal. He knows who Jon Snow’s parents are, what songs Rhaegar Targaryen played to Lyanna on his harp, how Aegon the Conqueror spent his time, everything. And with the example of Wylis becoming Hodor by Bran’s mind time traveling:

And with Ned hearing him at the Tower of Joy, Bran can affect the past as well. This means that Bran could, feasibly, change or affect anything in history or in the present with a whisper.

That ability is so outrageously powerful that the writers have been forced to give him what I call the “Dorian problem”. Dorian is a character from the Night Angel series, who like Bran, has total access to the future but no control over it and it drives him insane to use it. This creates convenient moments where a character who should see the whole plot can’t. And, similarly, Bran has been given that weakness that he has little-to-no control over what he can see, based on what he has said so far. He describes it as clips and flashes, like he is an enormous, unsorted database of knowledge.

The dramatic tension in his story becomes, rather disappointingly, when does Bran finally piece it all together and master the skill? It’s more of a countdown than an opportunity for the character to continue to grow and interact. Book-Bran, as we know him, has much more limited omniscience in that, while he does have more information than anybody, it’s limited by the weirwood network. And also, as Bloodraven says to him:

“Once you have mastered your gifts, you may look where you will and see what the trees have seen, be it yesterday or last year or a thousand ages past. Men live their lives trapped in an eternal present, between the mists of memory and the sea of shadow that is all we know of the days to come. Certain moths live their whole lives in a day, yet to them that little span of time must seem as long as years and decades do to us. An oak may live three hundred years, a redwood tree three thousand. A weirwood will live forever if left undisturbed. To them seasons pass in the flutter of a moth’s wing, and past, present, and future are one. Nor will your sight be limited to your godswood. The singers carved eyes into their heart trees to awaken them, and those are the first eyes a new greenseer learns to use … but in time you will see well beyond the trees themselves.” – ADWD, Bran III

He will be able to leave the trees and see things live anywhere, but not going backwards in time unaided by the weirwoods and trees, according to Bloodraven. * There are interesting and exploitable gaps in those limitations. As a storyteller, you could hide important information in those gaps, make Bran solve for the missing information and also interact with other characters, notably Arya and Sansa, for what he is missing. As Show-Bran stands, the people around him are irrelevant except as pieces to move on a cyvasse board.

A convenient method for the writers to pursue would be to give Bran access to every piece of exposition you could ever want. In doing so, we can see how this has uniquely isolated him within the narrative. There’s almost no reason for him to be back in Winterfell and with his family other than safety. He could, like the Three-Eyed Raven, be off in a cave or almost anywhere else.

Bran Arya Sansa The Spoils of War

In terms of the current plotlines, this is notably affecting Littlefinger the most. By saying “Chaos is a ladder” to Littlefinger, Bran is communicating that he has seen anything and everything Littlefinger has ever done. He could know about Lysa, Brandon, Ned, Catelyn, Ser Dontos, Joffrey. Every horrible, selfish thing he has ever done. But, as established earlier, it’s possible he doesn’t because of the “Dorian problem” the show writers has introduced. So instead of a fascinating Cat (heh) and mouse, as Bran and Littlefinger circle each other, trying to find and hide information from each other, the only question is does Bran already know everything? Or has the show decided there is a convenient gap in Bran’s sight. It sets up an unbalanced dynamic that Bran will win at some point. Either he already has the information and is playing dumb or he will just recall the most damning information and his only real problem is convincing Sansa and Arya of it.

As viewers, we are losing a fascinating plot and character growth arc that book-Bran promises to have, with the known and logical gaps in his abilities that will force him to rely upon the rest of his family and companions as valuable resources. Imagine if Bran couldn’t just impress people with his knowledge and be robotic because he doesn’t really need them except as pieces on a cyvasse table; rather he’s an overwhelmed child who is struggling and finds strength, comfort, and insights from those around him. This not only loses out on aspects of his character, but those in Winterfell and across the story as well. Bran, once he masters his gift in the show, takes away importance and agency from other characters who are just playing in his game.

The Bran we should have is one who still struggles, needs other people, doesn’t know everything, and has an active but not overpowering role in the war against the dead- not the dispassionate exposition database and puppeteer we have.


JoeMagician is a moderator for the /r/asoiaf community, co-host of the podcast Maester Monthly, and lover of tinfoil. You can find him spinning new tinfoil on his blog The Clanking Dragon, on twitter @joemagician42 and at @maestermonthly with his fellow mods, and on reddit at /u/joemagician


*Edited for clarity

133 responses

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    1. So, that’s what happened in the book. I was skimming by the time I got to the Slog of Mush that is Dance With Dragons.

      I view Bran as I saw Season 1 Chuck with the Intersect. He has all the knowledge, but can’t control which nugget floats across his viewscreen at any given time. I view the “Choas is a Ladder” line as triggered by Littlefinger saying Choas and Bran not necessarily being able to access all of Littlefinger’s CV at that point.

      Bran’s role is to tell Jon who his mother is. And then to convince Dany by revealing some freaky thing about her. “You were so pretty when Viserys was fondling your nipples before Drogo raped you” or “Jeez, lady. Jorah is right there. Go help a brotha out and throw him a pity lay.”

      And then he’ll be done. Maybe even killed before he can upload the file to a new person and the world starts over totally fresh once ice and/or fire wipes it all out. (Although giving it to Jon would by hysterical… “You know…everything, Jon Snow”

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    2. Excellent, excellent analysis. I’ve had similar thoughts along the same lines. Because they’ve made Bran so powerful, they’ve had to make him socially idiotic. There are so many things he could do right now to move the plot forward like tell Jon he’s king of Westeros, for example. I’m not convinced Bran’s dealing with this sudden influx of information explains why he isn’t doing this. But even if it does, even if we were to suppose this is a realistic explanation, it’s still not satisfying. Why? We just don’t care about Bran anymore. He might be helpful to other characters we do care about, but how much sympathy can we feel for a monotone robot who talks about how beautiful his sister was when she got raped? And this is all a shame because I used to like Bran and his storyline. It doesn’t matter how realistic this change in Bran might be. It’s always a mistake in a story if you go from caring about something to not caring.

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    3. It’s rather disappointing to see such a “book is the bible” piece on watchers on the wall. Bran (or anyone for that matter) having access to all information in the world does nothing of use to him without a method to piece things together. There is a infinite amount of moments in history that he could be watching and he has a rather short life to watch all of them. He has to choose where to go (or be propelled to) and he needs a reason to go there. The need for a method of exploration of this hyperspace of information is key and his relationship with his family is what directs his interest. In a way, he has a nice parallel with Sam’s storyline ( access to all historical information, but can’t read all books In his lifetime, yet he needs the info on white walkers). In that sense, i fail to see how the argument of this piece applies.

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    4. You can’t really compare TV Bran to Book Bran because GRRM only gave him 3 chapters in the last two books and stopped slap bang at the beginning of Bran’s training arc

      Plus we know that Bran can affect reality in the books as well because Theon hears his voice in the wind in his Winterfell chapters and GRRM literally told them how Hodor becomes Hodor through Bran so that’s going to be in the books

      But no one knows the extent of his book abilities because he’s only had three chapters since 2001, and only one in Bloodraven’s cave

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    5. You are using Bran’s chapters from ADWD to discuss his story in S7, which is ADOS material.

      If someone can see everything, he is not human any more and he can’t act as a human. Simple as that.

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    6. We can discuss about what will happen in the books based on the show,but Bran affecting the past is something we know GRRM told D&D.

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    7. mau:
      You are using Bran’s chapters from ADWD to discuss his story in S7, which is ADOS material.

      If someone can see everything, he is not human any more and he can’t act as a human. Simple as that.

      mau:
      We can discuss about what will happen in the books based on the show,but Bran affecting the past is something we know GRRM told D&D.

      +1 to these comments

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    8. I’d agree that Bran, at this point, has basically ceased to be a character. He’s a plot-convenient exposition device.

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    9. CrazyHorse:
      It’s rather disappointing to see such a “book is the bible” piece on watchers on the wall. Bran (or anyone for that matter) having access to all information in the world does nothing of use to him without a method to piece things together.There is a infinite amount of moments in history that he could be watching and he has a rather short life to watch all of them.He has to choose where to go (or be propelled to) and he needs a reason to go there.The need for a method of exploration of this hyperspace of information is key and his relationship with his family is what directs his interest. In a way,he has a nice parallel with Sam’s storyline ( access to all historical information,but can’t read all books In his lifetime, yet he needs the info on white walkers). In that sense,i fail to see how the argument of this piece applies.

      I happen to disagree with this [extraordinarily well-written] piece. And that’s ok. There is room for dissent and disagreement here at WOTW, so long as it’s always respectful. I think show-Bran is good and I’m looking forward to seeing how it ties into the story at large. The phrase “book-is-the-bible” is your quote and your quote alone. I’m rather pleased that we have an open-minded group of writers.

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    10. David Rosenblatt,

      I don’t think I was disrespectful to the author. I just think the argument doesn’t hold and that the piece has undertones of holding the show to a different standard than the book. Maybe I’m wrong.. as you say, we can agree or disagree. It’s fine.

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    11. CrazyHorse:
      It’s rather disappointing to see such a “book is the bible” piece on watchers on the wall. Bran (or anyone for that matter) having access to all information in the world does nothing of use to him without a method to piece things together.There is a infinite amount of moments in history that he could be watching and he has a rather short life to watch all of them.He has to choose where to go (or be propelled to) and he needs a reason to go there.The need for a method of exploration of this hyperspace of information is key and his relationship with his family is what directs his interest. In a way,he has a nice parallel with Sam’s storyline ( access to all historical information,but can’t read all books In his lifetime, yet he needs the info on white walkers). In that sense,i fail to see how the argument of this piece applies.

      It doesn’t matter if it is book or show, if GRRM writes Bran story arc like this in future books, then he is dumb.

      His show character is stunted now with no more development. His arc with Meera….ends abruptly with no resolution. We’re talking about one of the central POV’s in the book ending as an expositional piece for Jon. He’s not a character anymore.

      To me, the show has ruined 3 characters:
      1. Bran
      2. Jaime
      3. Littlefinger
      (I din’t mentioned Dorne because I don’t care about Dorne)

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    12. In defense of Bran, I think he’s trying to sift out needles of important information from a haystack of unimportant information — and on top of that, how to identify what information really is important, and what isn’t — and on top of that, what information to disclose to others that will help and not hurt — and on top of that, when are where to warg to get necessary information. If I were him, I’d just snap “I’m too busy, stop bothering me!”

      I also think people are too harsh on him for what he said to Sansa. He had to say something that he couldn’t possibly have been told by someone, and the Boltons and others who attended their wedding are probably all dead, so that’s as good a subject as any. In contrast, Littlefinger, Robin, Brienne, etc., as still alive, so choosing something that happened to her in King’s Landing or the Vale wouldn’t work. Plus, Sanas generally had only miserable experiences to chose from anyway. And finally, given where they were outdoors at Winterfell in the snow, the wedding scene might have impacted Bran’s brain more strongly than other events.

      But is a character ruined if their powers are too great? In this case, I would say “no” because it’s a world where people come back from the dead. And we don’t know the Night’s King’s powers — can he see Bran in return? Maybe that limits what Bran can/wants to see, if it gives the KN additional information. I am actually looking forward to what the show does with Bran (sorry, I never read the books).

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    13. And with Ned hearing him at the Tower of Joy, Bran can affect the past as well. This means that Bran could, feasibly, change or affect anything in history or in the present with a whisper.

      That ability is so outrageously powerful that the writers have been forced to give him what I call the “Dorian problem”

      Uhh, Hodor? This was established by GRRM not D&D.

      You argument is well written but this premise is clearly false. As for the other premise that GRRM has established the rules for the TER as only seeing the past through the trees, I’m not sure that is correct either. We know the TER sees things through warged ravens as well (possibly any animal) which he can reach out to across vast distances presumably through the weirwoods. When the TER is doing this, I would imagine that what he sees would also be recorded in the weirwood net (cloud?). Remembering that Bloodraven well over 100 years old, all that he has seen over that time would be available to Bran. This potentially includes ToJ which I will predict Bran also sees in the books.

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    14. mau: If someone can see everything, he is not human any more and he can’t act as a human. Simple as that.

      mau, have you ever seen the movie “Lucy” starring Scarlett Johansson? Bran in S7 is kind of like that.

      She’s an ordinary person who, because of an advanced drug, ends up with god-like powers. The more her powers grow, the more detached she becomes. At the end her human side is gone. It’s a good movie. (Bonus: Pilou Asbaek appears at the beginning of it.)

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    15. I’m not a book reader, so maybe that’s why I’m not following along with the premise of this article. In the show, Bran has touched a weirwood tree for all of his greenseer visions (even right before the Tower of Joy vision). Yes, he may be able to re-access those visions later on but at least he has used a tree to originally acquire them. So the complaint then is that he’s supposed to only get visions of what other weirwood trees have seen? As in, an event had to happen within proximity of a tree to be able to get a vision of that event? And, since their are no weirwood trees in Dorne then he shouldn’t have been able to see Ned and the rest of the events there?

      If so, that’s a pretty crappy power for GRRM to have given Bran. I mean, nearly all weirwood trees have been chopped down in Westeros and have been for centuries. What good would this skill be to Bran if he can only get visions of what happened a thousand years ago before the First Men and then Andals chopped down nearly all the weirwoods?

      Also, it’s not like this just happened in the show. His past visions from seasons prior (even before he became “robotic”) included things like seeing the Mad King on the throne and their were no weirwood trees there either.

      And D&D worked in the Hodor plotline directly from what GRRM told them about Hodor’s history. So, it’s not like they made that up – Bran is supposed to have the ability to impact the past (even in the still to be written books).

      I guess I just don’t see any of this as a problem. And, while it’s all relative to the viewer, the Bran plotline has and still is my favorite of the entire show (season 5 was tough for me)! There doesn’t seem to a “problem” as this article suggests.

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    16. What has shocked me most about Bran’s story is that so many people have died caring for him as he matures, none of whom have died yet in the books. That is quite an intimidating and challenging fact for a disillusioned books-before-film advocate as myself. And one could infer (as did Meera) that Bran himself died as well for his cause.

      Then, as we shockingly discovered, his first act of true omniscient manipulation is to save himself (and Meera) via “Hold-the-Door”. Isn’t that what deities are famous for…having and enabling martyrs? Ugh. Another bittersweet aspect to this tale.

      It makes me wonder where Bran is headed and what he is capable of. Is he simply going to whisper things in the weirwood or is he in full-on manipulation mode? If that is the case, we must question the acts of deities in this story, to include R’hllor. Who can contest that visions in the flames aren’t Bran/Treegod manipulations?

      People have automatically assumed that the Hodor situation will go down similarly in the books, like the Shireen situation. I don’t believe so. I don’t believe Bran will simply override Hodor’s mind with Meera’s command. It was exciting in the show but I believe there will be a process involved, or perhaps it will be an unfortunate accident as a result of Bran’s abuse of power…and that will be Bran’s learning curve and curse, a process marked with careless/reckless/haunting mistakes. Perhaps even BR may be trying to manipulate him as well.

      Hopefully we get to contrast the book and show. I agree with the analysis that book!Bran will be less omniscient and will need others to put the puzzle together. Perhaps he will observe how lonely and isolated BR is and want to retain some humanity. In any case, that book/show difference may be significant. In both cases, I fear for Bran as he learns and utilizes his power more.

      Great reads from WotW these days!

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    17. 1111694:
      you cant deny that Bran in season 7 is in all ways TERRIBLE.

      Yes I can. I personally am enjoying Bran’s arc this season. His transformation makes complete sense and I’m glad D&D aren’t catering to the fans by making Bran completely normal after everything that’s happened to him. I’m excited to see how his powers will come into play against his fight with the Night’s King and whether he’ll ever be able to become the old Bran again.

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    18. Bloodraven, ADwD: Nor will your sight be limited to your godswood. The singers carved eyes into their heart trees to awaken them, and those are the first eyes a new greenseer learns to use … but in time you will see well beyond the trees themselves.

      So even in the books, Bran should start with only seeing through the weirwood heart trees but should, in time, broaden his sight to not be limited to the godswood.

      The key point in this [previous] passage from Bloodraven (replaced by the Three-Eyed Raven in the show) is that book-Bran can see into the past through the trees. But not on his own, the Three-Eyed Raven says; he can see the past through the trees he is connected to.

      I don’t agree that book-Bran can only see through the trees. Season 5 book-Bran, yes, probably only through the trees. But it is clear to me from the ADwD quote above that book-Bran will be trained to see “well beyond the trees themselves” and not be “limited to [his] godswood.” The implication to me is near-omniscience. He’ll be able to see anything and everything, everywhere and every time.

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    19. Hey, I’ve got a crazy idea. Work with me here. I know, it’s a wild thought, but…

      Let’s. See. What. Happens.

      There are nine eps and perhaps 15 hours (if all of Season 8 are double eps.)

      Maybe he gets better. Maybe Ghost has a role. Maybe Lady StoneNipples really is lurking around.

      I know. I know. It’s a stupid idea. I mean, actually waiting to see how something turns out before passing judgement? I know. Forgive me. But… it was just a thought.

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    20. 1111694: you cant deny that Bran in season 7 is in all ways TERRIBLE.

      I can deny it wholeheartedly. Bran’s story is my favorite in the entire show – has been and I think likely will be.

      “You’ll never walk again, but you will fly!” 3ER to Bran

      I can’t wait.

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    21. MoaKaka:
      In defense of Bran, I think he’s trying to sift out needles of important information from a haystack of unimportant information — and on top of that, how to identify what information really is important, and what isn’t — and on top of that, what information to disclose to others that will help and not hurt — and on top of that, when are where to warg to get necessary information.If I were him, I’d just snap “I’m too busy, stop bothering me!”

      I also think people are too harsh on him for what he said to Sansa.He had to say something that he couldn’t possibly have been told by someone, and the Boltons and others who attended their wedding are probably all dead, so that’s as good a subject as any.In contrast, Littlefinger, Robin, Brienne, etc., as still alive, so choosing something that happened to her in King’s Landing or the Vale wouldn’t work.Plus, Sanas generally had only miserable experiences to chose from anyway.And finally, given where they were outdoors at Winterfell in the snow, the wedding scene might have impacted Bran’s brain more strongly than other events.

      But is a character ruined if their powers are too great?In this case, I would say “no” because it’s a world where people come back from the dead.And we don’t know the Night’s King’s powers — can he see Bran in return?Maybe that limits what Bran can/wants to see, if it gives the KN additional information.I am actually looking forward to what the show does with Bran (sorry, I never read the books).

      Excellent post. I fully agree.

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    22. MoaKaka:
      In defense of Bran, I think he’s trying to sift out needles of important information from a haystack of unimportant information — and on top of that, how to identify what information really is important, and what isn’t — and on top of that, what information to disclose to others that will help and not hurt — and on top of that, when are where to warg to get necessary information.If I were him, I’d just snap “I’m too busy, stop bothering me!”

      I also think people are too harsh on him for what he said to Sansa.He had to say something that he couldn’t possibly have been told by someone, and the Boltons and others who attended their wedding are probably all dead, so that’s as good a subject as any.In contrast, Littlefinger, Robin, Brienne, etc., as still alive, so choosing something that happened to her in King’s Landing or the Vale wouldn’t work.Plus, Sanas generally had only miserable experiences to chose from anyway.And finally, given where they were outdoors at Winterfell in the snow, the wedding scene might have impacted Bran’s brain more strongly than other events.

      But is a character ruined if their powers are too great?In this case, I would say “no” because it’s a world where people come back from the dead.And we don’t know the Night’s King’s powers — can he see Bran in return?Maybe that limits what Bran can/wants to see, if it gives the KN additional information.I am actually looking forward to what the show does with Bran (sorry, I never read the books).

      Yes, that’s all true but what can you really say about Bran’s personality in the show? Aside from being a Stark, no one cares about on the Show. He has no development as a character, personality-wise. I think that’s what we’re complaining about. The OP powers aside.

      I followed the show since the start and would read “Unsullied” posts on Mondays as my routine. Like @1111694 has said, they cut out huge swaths of his story in the book and when this sudden change comes (robot-Bran), there’s no sympathy for a main character . The show watchers actually hate him now because how undeveloped he is.

      To me, the 6 central POV’s are Bran, Jon, Arya, Sansa, Dany, and Tyrion. While Jon, Arya, Sansa, Dany, Tyrion have extra scenes written for them on the show (there’s eps of eps. of Arya training), Bran’s story was cut and fast forwarded and this is the result. No arc, abrupt character development, no resolution. Just poor story telling.

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    23. Hiccup Targaryen:


      Uhh, Hodor?This was established by GRRM not D&D.

      You argument is well written but this premise is clearly false.As for the other premise that GRRM has established the rules for the TER as only seeing the past through the trees, I’m not sure that is correct either.We know the TER sees things through warged ravens as well (possibly any animal) which he can reach out to across vast distances presumably through the weirwoods.When the TER is doing this, I would imagine that what he sees would also be recorded in the weirwood net (cloud?).Remembering that Bloodraven well over 100 years old, all that he has seen over that time would be available to Bran.This potentially includes ToJ which I will predict Bran also sees in the books.

      Interesting and I like the theory. I mean, it makes absolutely no sense to me to limit Bran’s visions to only what happens next to a weirwood especially when there are hardly and weirwoods left. If GRRM meant to and does that in the books, then he’s the one creating a problem with Bran because Bran wouldn’t be able to contribute much of anything to anyone in the story!

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    24. I don’ agree with most of what is said here. Sure, they could have gone in an other direction with Bran, but they didn’t. Him being detached as more and more info downloads into his brain is believable. At first, he got all that shit downloaded in his brain, but wasn’t aware of it all, so by the time they met Benjen, he was still pretty normal. But I guess, as he tried to process all those info, and tried to actually look at all of it, he basically got lost among the pieces. That’s where he is now. I doubt he knows everything. As he said, he sees fragments. Just enough to confuse him, or pieces of the truth without understanding it.
      And in time, as he sees more, maybe he discovers some connections between events, and have a better understanding. And when the confusion part is sorted out, maybe slowly he can reconnect on an emotional level to the one who was once Bran Stark, and become more human.

      And I doubt he sees the future, like, he knows exactly what will happen. He may see tiny pieces. I bet that he saw something, connected to Arya and the dagger, that’s why he gave it to her. But he is unsure about what exactly will happen, or at least that was my understaning of the scene and Isaac’s acting.

      (side note: I also saw plenty of comments complaining about Arya being inhuman and crazy, but IMO she was perfectly normal. As normal as a human being can be after spending years away from home. Yes, she has a kill list and is able to off them. So what? That doesn’t make her inhuman, only able. and her reunion scenes were perfectly in-character for her. Even Bran was more human with her than previously with Sansa).

      Bran in the books: I am not sure about this, as I’ve read the books years ago, but I remember something along the lines “now you can see through the trees, but in time, you will be able to see more” so I think, that after his training session in the cave, he will be able to see through time and space, even without trees. The 3ER mentioned that he saw Bran (and Ned) being born. I doubt that their mothers gave birth just under the weirwood tree. but Bran is not there in the books (yet).

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    25. And as for Young Ned hearing Bran, we have lots of instances in the books of the whisperings of the trees and Theon hearing the heart tree in the Winterfell godswood. And here, Bran whispers to a Young Ned, as well.

      Lord Eddard Stark sat upon a rock beside the deep black pool in the godswood, the pale roots of the heart tree twisting around him like an old man’s gnarled arms. The greatsword Ice lay across Lord Eddard’s lap, and he was cleaning the blade with an oilcloth.

      Winterfell,” Bran whispered.

      His father looked up. “Who’s there?” he asked, turning …

      “But,” said Bran, “he heard me.”

      “He heard a whisper on the wind, a rustling amongst the leaves. You cannot speak to him, try as you might. I know. I have my own ghosts, Bran. A brother that I loved, a brother that I hated, a woman I desired. Through the trees, I see them still, but no word of mine has ever reached them. The past remains the past. We can learn from it, but we cannot change it.”

      Martin, George R. R.. A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5) (pp. 457-458). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

      Of course, just because it has never happened before doesn’t mean it can never happen. In fact, this could well be foreshadowing that it will happen. I mean, just look at Hodor. Hodor heard something, felt something, was touched by something. And Hodor happened in both books and show, though we may not know how it went down in the books.

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    26. +2 Cyvasse references? The “book purists” are taking over muah haha.

      Seriously. Bran’s power is a tough sell visually. So many “flahbacks” plus the telekinesis. It’s not simple but it is simpler to write imo.

      Afaik, only Akira has pulled it off well (at this power level) and being animated helped there imo. Am I missing examples of premonition/knowledge/telekinesis of this magnitude in live action that were more “bulletproof” in terms of explanation and presentation? Star Wars?

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    27. The community here is notorious for vehemently and aggressively defending the show no matter what, so I’m disappointed but not surprised that there’s so many people insisting the writing for bran isn’t egregiously bad.

      Isaac was given the Herculean task of selling a randomly emotionless character with literally zero narrative setup, unfortunately for all his efforts there’s nothing he could have done to fix the writing. I knew what was happening because I read interviews about this new character, and everyone here gets it too just because they’re more obsessed with the show than 99% of the audience, but so many casual viewers on social media didn’t understand why the hell bran was acting like that and assumed Isaac just became an extraordinarily bad actor between seasons 6 and 7. I feel bad for him, if anyone got screwed over here its isaac. I think he deserves more credit for how incredibly difficult his character is to play on so many different levels.

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    28. This means that Bran could, feasibly, change or affect anything in history or in the present with a whisper.

      He did and he didn’t change the past with Hodor. Hodor was Hodor from the beginning of our story because of what Bran does to him in Season 6. It’s a closed loop. So Bran can change what has already happened. It gets complicated and circular, but that circle has to be a closed loop. He cannot open up new possibilities.

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    29. Ginevra,

      “Bloodraven, ADwD: Nor will your sight be limited to your godswood. The singers carved eyes into their heart trees to awaken them, and those are the first eyes a new greenseer learns to use … but in time you will see well beyond the trees themselves.”

      Yeah, I remembered this quote. Thanks.

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    30. mau,

      I assumed (and so did you and everyone else) that he said that because he thought he was for sure about to die and there’s nothing they could do about it. When bran was talking to benjen he was normal.

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    31. GRRM said Bran is the hardest character for him to write and there is a reason for that. I don’t think he has that much character development in the books either. I mean we can read his thought and that helps, but you can’t compare him to characters that really had an arc in the books.

      I mean GRRM in ASOS used him for world building and history and lore.

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    32. mau,

      He said he’s the hardest to write specifically because he’s the youngest and it’s hard to get into a child’s head when they’re that young. You need to include context of his quotes rather than just citing them partially and then making an argument based on how you’ve spun that out of context quote.

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    33. Beth,

      He wasn’t normal. He wasn’t happy at all to see him. He had no emotion. And in Inside the episode Benioff said that Bran is not human any more, so that’s not something they invented for S7.

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    34. Beth:
      mau,

      I assumed (and so did you and everyone else) that he said that because he thought he was for sure about to die and there’s nothing they could do about it. When bran was talking to benjen he was normal.

      He’s about to die so he remains completely calm and matter-of-factly says “they found us.” Uhm, no, it was quite obvious that he’d changed after the massive, rushed data dump from the previous 3ER. I mean, Bran went from impatience and boredom in the tree (that’s why/how he got the mark of the NK). Then his next seen he calmly says “they found us” as dozens of wights are about to kill him? No, it was the beginning of his change right there. He may have been a bit more normal with Benjen, but he’s spent even more time having visions and assessing them since.

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    35. mau,

      He was pretty clearly surprised to see benjen and engaged by his story about being ressurected. Happiness isn’t the only emotion, you know. He also definitely had a reaction to the tower of joy, which is why they cut to his reaction quite a few times lmao.

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    36. David Rosenblatt: I happen to disagree with this [extraordinarily well-written] piece. And that’s ok. There is room for dissent and disagreement here at WOTW, so long as it’s always respectful. I think show-Bran is good and I’m looking forward to seeing how it ties into the story at large. The phrase “book-is-the-bible” is your quote and your quote alone. I’m rather pleased that we have an open-minded group of writers.

      Ditto! Even though I disagree with the majority of the post, I love, love, love how much it has made me think, question, and reminisce.

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    37. mau,

      Yeah I totally disagree with you that bran has had no development in the books and think you should probably do a reread. His whole story is about being brave and growing up and taking responsibility and accepting himself. If you didn’t get that that’s your problem.

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    38. Beth,

      His whole storyline in ASOS is created only for exposution. There is no plot there at all. And without his thoughts it’s not strange that it was really hard for the show to adapt that in S3 and S4.

      They put Osha and Rickon with him, introduced Reeds a bit later, they speed up his story, add drama at Craster’s Keep, but you can’t make an exciting plot from something that isn’t plot at all.

      I don’t think that Bran is deep character in the show, but he is very interesting because circumstances around him are interesting.

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    39. Beth,

      You’re being quite hostile towards the ones simply expressing their interest in show Bran. Instead of hurling generalizations to the ones defending the show you should also take heed in how you come across in your attempts to undermine it. Both sides need to check themselves and come to a healthy medium.

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    40. Bran absolutely has a fair amount of character development in the books.

      Plot development is definitely a bit on the slow side post-ACOK (GRRM ran out of Act 1 material for him faster than for other characters, since the growth of Act 1 was asymmetrical).

      The show has never done much with the character. The moment at the end of Season 4 where he meets the Three-Eyed Raven and asks if the Raven can make him walk again, for instance, comes pretty much out of nowhere, whereas in the books his insecurity, disappointment at not being able to be a knight, etc. is an ongoing feature of his story. The show pretty much skates over his initial fear of his destiny, too.

      mau,

      Only one of his four chapters in ASOS is expository. Those other chapters also develop his warging powers a fair bit.

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    41. mau,

      You’re arguing a different point, clearly moving the goalposts and now pretending that bran is the only pov character who had a slow book. But whatever, do you boo.

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    42. Sean C.:
      I’d agree that Bran, at this point, has basically ceased to be a character.He’s a plot-convenient exposition device.

      No, we’re watching him deal with the loss of his connection to people and the world as they interact with it. They see time and space as a continuum whereas he sees an endless database—for lack of a better word—of discrete moments that he can access without worrying about what came immediately before or after any given moment.

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    43. I do love the books more than the show, but I also love the show. The fanaticism for both is what I see as the heart and soul of this site. I fucking stood up and cheered when Bran said, “Chaos is a ladder.” So. Freaking. Awesome.

      I’m a bit confused by the robot nature and by what Bran does or doesn’t know, but with the gems we have been given in the show through Bran’s story, I have great faith that where they are going will be worth the wait.

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    44. IF anyone can think of a simple way of adapting Bran’s strange, supernatural, metaphysical storyline full of weird dream sequences, ambiguous imagery, and mind powers i’d like to hear it.
      This is by far the most difficult storyline to put on screen, especially when it is so removed from all the other storylines, and therefore almost impossible to justify spending ample screentime on.
      I dont mind this simplification of it, because… how do u do it otherwise?

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    45. Beth:
      mau,

      He was pretty clearly surprised to see benjen and engaged by his story about being ressurected. Happiness isn’t the only emotion, you know. He also definitely had a reaction to the tower of joy, which is why they cut to his reaction quite a few times lmao.

      I’m assuming you are talking about the 2nd TOJ vision, because during the first he was clearly still early on in his training and way more Bran than the 3ER at that point. But, did you ever stop to consider that – in a single vision he’s having – he can still emotionally react to that since he’s in the vision. When he’s in a vision that’s all he’s experiencing at that point. When he’s back to the “real world” he’s got this massive amount of data jumbling up his mind. Huge difference.

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    46. Sean C.,

      Every chapter is expository and used for world building and history tallk. And warging was explored in S3 and S4 as well.

      That doesn’t change the fact that the show didn’t have a material from the books to make an exciting plot and since we can’t read his thoughts there isn’t much that can be done with his character.

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    47. HelloThere:
      IF anyone can think of a simple way of adapting Bran’s strange, supernatural, metaphysical storyline full of weird dream sequences, ambiguous imagery, and mind powers i’d like to hear it.
      This is by far the most difficult storyline to put on screen, especially when it is so removed from all the other storylines, and therefore almost impossible to justify spending ample screentime on.
      I dont mind this simplification of it, because… how do u do it otherwise?

      So it’s a difficult story to tell they should cut it short and show even less?

      Why not show his AGOT scenes with the Reeds/bannerman and early Bran scenes? Then, people would actually care for his abrupt change.

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    48. HelloThere:
      IF anyone can think of a simple way of adapting Bran’s strange, supernatural, metaphysical storyline full of weird dream sequences, ambiguous imagery, and mind powers i’d like to hear it.
      This is by far the most difficult storyline to put on screen, especially when it is so removed from all the other storylines, and therefore almost impossible to justify spending ample screentime on.
      I dont mind this simplification of it, because… how do u do it otherwise?

      Some people are clearly ignoring this.

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    49. Wait, how does the author of this article know the future of Bran in the books?

      We do not know yet how much power and abilities Bran will develop in the books. It might be possible that he has less power in the books than in the show or that he may develop more abilities than Bloodraven and may go in the same direction as in the show. Bran may be one of the most powerful magical personalities in ASOIF but this is just speculation on my part and I am aware of this.

      But this is one of these typical articles assuming that GRRM will write like the author of this article expects him to do. BUT: This is just an assumption of the article’s author and NOT a matter of fact. And I do not like articles which give something as fact what is not even written.

      I am quite surprised that I read an article like that here. If I want to read stuff like that I can go to westeros.org.

      Is it just me or is the nitpicking in the comments regarding the show worse than in the years before? And now even nitpicking/”In the books” articles are published. Not sure if I like this development.

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    50. “The Bran we should have is one who still struggles, needs other people, doesn’t know everything, and has an active but not overpowering role in the war against the dead”

      This part is the biggest problem I have with this article

      I assumes that the Bran “we should have” is that one Martin is going to give us and Martin is not exactly known for giving fans what they want lol

      to use a famous Game of thrones quote

      If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention…

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    51. The singers carved eyes into their heart trees to awaken them, and those are the first eyes a new greenseer learns to use … but in time you will see well beyond the trees themselves.”

      Not having read the books, I am somewhat puzzled by this write-up. The above shows that if and when the subsequent books are written, Bran will be able to see beyond the weir woods. So I am unsure what the problem is. Bran does seem very powerful now, but all his abilities are confined to the past and the present. He can’t see the future, and he also can’t alter the past beyond a closed loop kind of alteration. Because he can’t see the future, he doesn’t know what will happen and can’t act to change the future. It makes sense he’s come to Winterfell, and south of the Wall, since the NK and his army are north of the Wall, and he wants to avoid being caught by the NK. I’ve long had a theory about Bran’s endgame, and that would involve another closed loop changing of the past, but that can only happen after something has happened in the future (future to current events of Season 7, I mean), which Bran doesn’t know/can’t see as of yet.

      Anyway, I have no problems with Bran’s story.

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    52. Beth,

      It’s not like they didn’t give him more scenes with characters like Rickon and Osha. That’s something people care about. And he had some scenes with bannerman in S2.

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    53. Most of you show defenders are ignoring the reality that generally, the audience hates bran, doesn’t care what happens to him any more, and can’t wait for him to die. If you dont believe me, go search him up on any social media platform that’s used by casual viewers and not just circlejerking GOT fandom. I really don’t think the intent for bran was to make the majority of the audience despise him, but that’s what happened. That’s a huge problem for a character we’ve been told over and over is the key to ending the war. Bran really really does not work as a hero anymore. There’s really nothing they can do with him that wouldn’t piss off most of the audience unless they turn bran into a villain. I guess we’ll see if that turns out to be the case, and if it is, hey, job well done.

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    54. Beth,

      you are making the same mistake that writer of this article did

      “Retconning a major character and forcing his huge change on the audience”

      There is ZERO EVIDENCE that that tv show has done this to Bran

      all Im saying is lets at least wait for the next book before hoping on the “Retconning a major character” train lol

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    55. Tamwell Sarly,

      And who’s to say he doesn’t show some emotion down the road. Dude is messed up, who knows what he has seen in his visions by this point. I’m not sure why it is important to show him gradually becoming emotionless.

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    56. roxas,

      There’s plenty of evidence. I’m far from the only person who thinks bran was acting normally in season 6 and is now randomly different. SO MANY PEOPLE were confused by why he randomly changed. It doesn’t matter how much you try to justify the writing, it was confusing for way too many people that it stops being exception.

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    57. Young Dragon,

      I agree. If you have a character that can see everything that ever happened, he can’t act like a normal person, he has completely different sense of space and time.

      Is it a good idea to even put a character like that in a story filled with relatively realistic characters and developments is a completely different question.

      GRRM and D&D want to balance fantasy and political story and for me it was really interesting to see those two parts of this story converging in Bran and LF’s scene.

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    58. jackieoh,

      As a poster above mentioned, Bran isn’t popular in the books either. A lot of people find his story arc to be boring and people have stopped caring for the character. The show has made vast improvements on his arc, imo, or at least they managed to hurry his arc along to the more relevant parts. My Unsullied brother said that in season 6, Bran’s storyline went from the most boring to one of the more interesting ones. Part of the problem is that Martin has only given us three Bran chapters in seventeen years. Martin hasn’t given his readers any reason to invest in Bran’s story because he has failed to convey why Bran is so important.

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    59. Young Dragon,

      Literally nobody said bran shouldn’t change at all. You guys are so quick to defend the show at all costs that you aren’t even defending the same points that were arguing. All were saying is they didn’t show brans change in a convincing or narratively satisfying way. It came out of nowhere and confused most of the audience. There was no setup for it or reason to care about bran before it happened so nobody cared after it happened. I don’t see how anyone can genuinely argue that they felt brans change was organic and elicited the emotion the writers presumably were going for.

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    60. Beth:
      ,

      Retconning a major character and forcing his huge change on the audience in such a hackey and awkward way is a little more than a nitpick.

      That’s your personal opinion, definitely not mine.

      I do not have any problem with the characterization of Bran in Season 7. Personally I find it quite smart to show the change from Bran to being the 3-eyed raven in a very drastic way, so that even casual viewers will understand this change.

      The people I know (book reader and non book reader) find his behaviour quite normal for an almost untrained teenager who transformed almost overnight and with almost no guidance into Westerpedia.

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    61. mau,

      I didn’t mean to imply people hated him, just that they’re not as interested in his story than they are in others. At least, that was my impression.

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    62. not realizing Brans limited and very tepid potential as a slightly more interesting character doesn’t bother me at all.

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    63. Beth,

      And as others have mentioned, Bran’s been different ever since he left the cave. And I don’t know where you’ve gotten the idea the general audience is confused. They explained Bran’s change very well, both with Sansa and Meera.

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    64. jackieoh:
      Most of you show defenders are ignoring the reality that generally, the audience hates bran, doesn’t care what happens to him any more, and can’t wait for him to die. If you dont believe me, go search him up on any social media platform that’s used by casual viewers and not just circlejerking GOT fandom. I really don’t think the intent for bran was to make the majority of the audience despise him, but that’s what happened. That’s a huge problem for a character we’ve been told over and over is the key to ending the war. Bran really really does not work as a hero anymore. There’s really nothing they can do with him that wouldn’t piss off most of the audience unless they turn bran into a villain.I guess we’ll see if that turns out to be the case, and if it is, hey, job well done.

      You will find from almost any character memes making fun of them in the internet even beloved characters like Jon.

      And when exactly when was Bran a hero? So far he is a secondary character in the books and in the show compared to e.g. Tyrion, Cersei, Daenerys, Jon.

      I read the books after watching season 1. The books gave me the strong impression that he may develop into a very gray character. So far the show does not give me these vibes.

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    65. And one important thing is that we don’t know that Bran will stay like this until the end of the story. Maybe he will find a way to deal with normal world and be someone who can see everything.

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    66. Some of you need to revisit the rules of moderation. I have no problem deleting posts that cross into personal attacks/name-calling. We’re all just here to have fun. So settle down, and engage in friendly debate.

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    67. David Rosenblatt: I happen to disagree with this [extraordinarily well-written] piece. And that’s ok. There is room for dissent and disagreement here at WOTW, so long as it’s always respectful. I think show-Bran is good and I’m looking forward to seeing how it ties into the story at large. The phrase “book-is-the-bible” is your quote and your quote alone. I’m rather pleased that we have an open-minded group of writers.

      David Rosenblatt,

      I totally agree with you, I find Bran really fascinating too, the Irony in his Omniscient ability is the fact that we the audience are still in the dark to a degree, as to what the possibilities are with him, what is the true extent of his power? Is Bran able to warg into other people that aren’t Hodor, I honestly think that the book Bran is going into the same direction that the show Bran is going into anway, I just don’t see any other way that it could go. Bran reminds me of Professor X from X-men in more ways than one. Professor X uses a device called Cerebro to get into the minds of all mutants, but there have been instances of him expanding his abilities without using Cerebro, I think the Tree’s are Bran’s Cerebro which allowed him to control and augment his abilities in some ways. Let’s not forget also that the “former three eyed raven” already downloaded all the knowledge he had into Bran before he bit the dust. I don’t think it’s too far fetched that he would have already known these things.

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    68. Jessica,

      FFS, there are multiple heroes in ASOIAF and GOT. And the show HAS painted him as one of them. “The only thing that matters is you”, “if we lose you we lose everything”, “all the kings of westeros and all their armies can’t stop the white walkers, but you will”, etc etc etc.

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    69. The bottom line is you (author) really don’t know what book Bran will be able to do, because the books aren’t out. You are a little trigger happy, it’s too early to accuse the show of screwing up that which does not yet exist. Patience grasshopper.

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    70. jackieoh:
      Most of you show defenders are ignoring the reality that generally, the audience hates bran, doesn’t care what happens to him any more, and can’t wait for him to die. If you dont believe me, go search him up on any social media platform that’s used by casual viewers and not just circlejerking GOT fandom. I really don’t think the intent for bran was to make the majority of the audience despise him, but that’s what happened. That’s a huge problem for a character we’ve been told over and over is the key to ending the war. Bran really really does not work as a hero anymore. There’s really nothing they can do with him that wouldn’t piss off most of the audience unless they turn bran into a villain.I guess we’ll see if that turns out to be the case, and if it is, hey, job well done.

      Yeah, and a good portion of the audience and casual fans that you reference also still think wights are white walkers and can’t tell the difference. Their 2 minute attention span and resultant opinions don’t take anything away from the fascinating character Bran has been and still is.

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    71. Also, unrelated sort of, I recall that the old three eyed raven laughed at the idea that bran would become him and assured bran that that wouldn’t happen, and there’s no reason to think he was lying, max von sydow didn’t play it like a lie and he’s a master actor so I doubt it was a fluke. However bran really is just like him now, he may not be physically attached to a tree but hes the same in every other way. So i dont really understand that.

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    72. I actually think the treatment that Bran is receiving this season is par for the course when dealing with powerful beings in fiction. Look at Superman and his Kryptonite, Dr. Manhattan and his apathy, professor X dealing with helmeted Super Villains (Magneto and Juggernaut) you definitely have to Nerf these all powerful characters in order to bring in some Drama and suspense, this is the exact reason why Bran can only see pieces and Fragments right now, I’m interested in seeing this develop more.

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    73. jackieoh:

      FFS, there are multiple heroes in ASOIAF and GOT. And the show HAS painted him as one of them. “The only thing that matters is you”, “if we lose you we lose everything”, “all the kings of westeros and all their armies can’t stop the white walkers, but you will”, etc etc etc.

      Stuff like that was said about Stannis in the show too e.g. by Melisandre and now he is dead ;).

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    74. mark0102:
      Also, unrelated sort of, I recall that the old three eyed raven laughed at the idea that bran would become him and assured bran that that wouldn’t happen, and there’s no reason to think he was lying, max von sydow didn’t play it like a lie and he’s a master actor so I doubt it was a fluke. However bran really is just like him now, he may not be physically attached to a tree but hes the same in every other way. So i dont really understand that.

      I think the old 3ER was, indeed, assuring Bran that he wouldn’t get stuck in a tree like him…not that Bran wouldn’t become the next 3ER.

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    75. jackieoh:
      Jessica,

      FFS, there are multiple heroes in ASOIAF and GOT. And the show HAS painted him as one of them. “The only thing that matters is you”, “if we lose you we lose everything”, “all the kings of westeros and all their armies can’t stop the white walkers, but you will”, etc etc etc.

      No that’s what Jojen and the Three Eyed Raven told Bran. We have no idea whether it’s true or not. Melisandre told both Jon and Davos that Jon was the key to defeating the Night King. Later she told Dany that she has a part to play. Stannis was once. There’s no one hero here just like in the books.

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    76. ShowTard,

      Lol. Shhh……

      I love Bran the character, he reminds me of so many of people. Who amongst us as a boy didn’t aspire to be something great in our culture? For him it’s a knight. For many more it’s being in the NFL, Premiere League, etc. Then, how he’s forced to cope with it, I enjoyed the journey.

      My biggest bummer with Bran right now is his lack of personality, but for all we know GRRM is going to do the same thing. We’re past the books now, so who knows.

      More than anything, when Bran is concerned…..I miss Summer!

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    77. HelloThere:
      IF anyone can think of a simple way of adapting Bran’s strange, supernatural, metaphysical storyline full of weird dream sequences, ambiguous imagery, and mind powers i’d like to hear it.

      Well, actually doing justice to his visions and dreams would be a good place to start. One of the biggest problems with Bran’s narrative from the start has been the total lack of visual imagination in conceiving his powers. They should be crammed with grotesque and interesting symbolism, akin to what Hannibal did with Will Graham’s headspace.

      The show has not done a good job with his characterization, either. For instance, the famous “you will never walk, but you will fly” line has no setup, to speak of. At no point in the multiple seasons of trying to get to the Three-Eyed Raven was there any indication that was what Bran was hoping for. We never saw him wrestle with the idea of his destiny, and how it was the opposite of what he wanted to do, he just sort of went along with it.

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    78. WorfWWorfington: “/… I mean, actually waiting to see how something turns out before passing judgement? I know. Forgive me. But… it was just a thought.”

      Just read the first few comments this time (and it’s very late at my present longitude) so please forgive me, if I repeat something already written. (Good article btw, though I don’t necessarily agree with everything).

      I completely agree with you on that one, WWW! At this point I don’t mind Bran being “all-knowing” at all times…AND leaving the fans in the dark about how/what he’s able to piece together. Without having this book-knowledge (not a book reader until GoT is done!) to compare with, I just presume his brains are fried from downloading so much information so quickly, when he had to take over as 3Eye. End of frustration 🙂

      Also I no longer demand of D&D to maintain an arc for Bran in the same way other human characters need it. Like he tells Meera, he is not really Bran anymore. He is 3Eye now…a non-human thing of the past, present and future all at once. He is gone!

      Like Dany’s dragons are almost physical nukes waiting to be deployed at her command, I think more of Bran/3Eye like a mental nuke waiting to explode – only problem is: neither he or anybody else know the launch codes yet… He’s gonna blow, but nobody knows when! Not the fans, not the characters and probably not Bran… I find that joker very exciting now and SUNDAY CAN’T COME SOON ENOUGH!!! 🙂

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    79. I think this is a fair criticism. I think Show-Bran may indeed be overpowered. I think it’s also fair to argue that, while perhaps simplifying the mechanics, the show is attempting an interesting interpretation. I believe ultimately it comes down to two issues that are hard to deal with, particularly as the show operates more and more as a movie and less like a serial television show (or series of books).*

      First, I think even in Martin’s books magic (and the supernatural in general) is a bit opaque. The rules aren’t clear (at least to me) and seem to evolve as the story goes on and it’s hard to know exactly how it will evolve further as the novel series continues. Many have noted that it’s not completely clear if the Three-Eyed-Raven can see through the Weirnet alone or through animals or other beings as well. Just as they’ve kind of said Arya can adopt whatever physical/psychological persona of a face she has, the writers have clearly decided that Bran has access to pretty much all information but a limited capacity to process it (at least for now). Both seem like reasonable approaches if not fully satisfying for those that need a deeper explanation.

      The second, and more challenging as it directly relates to Brand, is that God-power characters are notoriously difficult to write and often very boring unless you give them some (often convenient) limitation that makes it impossible for them to effectively use their powers. As some have noted, the obvious example is Superman, who is either an indestructible god or a completely useless non-entity if in the presence of Kryptonite. The writers (at least in the short term) have gone the Dr. Manhattan route, making Bran disconnected from humanity. It seems possible, and perhaps even likely, that this will change as he grows more accustomed to having the sum total of human existence bopping around his noggin. Personally, I find God characters completely uninteresting and would prefer if Bran just continued to offer random, seemingly useless information that characters have to interpret to their advantage, but that seems improbable.

      *Side note: I know time and distance has become more and more concerning for a lot of readers/watchers, and I completely understand and agree to some extent. I do, however, believe the nature of the show has changed, perhaps starting as early as Season 5, but definitely now in Season 7. Where in the beginning, it operated more as a serial television show and felt more novelistic, it’s now far more like a movie both in terms of scale and structure. We are generally far more forgiving of the elapsing of time and the traipsing of distances in movies than we are in serials. No one expects everything to be documented on screen in a completely logical manner in a movie. In its most basic form, characters routinely start a conversation in a car, for example, and then continue it (after a cut) walking up flight of stairs or whatever. This makes no sense, but we forgive it because (I think at least subconsciously) we know it’s more cinematic. On a bigger scale, we typically don’t care how characters get to the next important scene, we just accept that they do. This is not all to forgive GoT its temporal flaws, particularly since the show started off one way but has gone in another, but I think it’s useful, at least for me personally, as mindset to focus on what’s on screen rather than what’s not.

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    80. Young Dragon,

      I agree, I love him and the acting and the part he’s playing in the story.

      He’s presenting challenges of self identity to the characters who interact with him. Is Sanda truly over her rape? Is Arya really okay with being Consumed by vengeance? IS littlefinger still climbing? It’s an opportunity to see those characters confronted with their deepest defining moments and ask, hey is this what I really am?

      And frankly all of it is foreshadowing and preparing us and them for the big reveal; THE defining moment of Jons life, the truth of his birthrite and how it was hidden from him. Without laying this groundwork the other characters Wouldn’t believe Bran and we as the audience would be unsatisfied with it.

      It’s great TV.

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    81. You have no idea what book-Bran’s limitations are. We haven’t gotten to that part of the book yet where we see what Bran can and cant do.

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    82. mau:
      1111694,

      Bran didn’t seem normal at all in his S6 scenes. When he said “they found us” in E6it has the same tone as this season.

      Still, I think he responds with much more emotion, and a much broader range of affect, when he meets his Uncle Benjen in S6 than when he meets Sansa and Arya in S7. I think it’s fair to say he’s becoming progressively more detached. Less Bran, more 3ER.

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    83. MoaKaka,
      “This people are to hard on him.”

      He’s sitting there and he’s got all this info in his head, and he sees something and it charges a vision to come forward in his mind. The Winterfell scene of Sansa’s wedding, the snow was falling just like it was with bran and Sansa… so it made him see the vision. At least that’s how I took that scene and Littlefinger’s scene.

      I agree with all you said.

      Truth is there may be personal validity to criticize the show’s expression of Bran…to how you consume it. But don’t bring the books into this, we are so past that… there is NO TELLING what Bran will be like after he absorbs the 3ER/Bloodraven in books.

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    84. Lisa0527: Still, I think he responds with much more emotion, and a much broader range of affect, when he meets his Uncle Benjen in S6 than when he meets Sansa and Arya in S7. I think it’s fair to say he’s becoming progressively more detached. Less Bran, more 3ER.

      I think this is really what the previous 3ER was warning about when he said “It is beautiful beneath the sea, but if you stay too long, you’ll drown.”

      Ever since the attack at the cave, Bran has had to start learning “everything” very quickly, and he is drowning in the knowledge. He had some visions while he was escaping the cave, up until Benjen rescued him. He was already starting to become detached at that point, but not as much as he is now.

      Then he had more visions at the weirwood tree near Castle Black, and he has apparently been using the Winterfell tree to continue his visions. Seeing people or hearing words can trigger a particular memory/vision to surface, but he’s unable to think in a linear chronological manner like normal people while he’s “drowning”.

      He sees Sansa by the Winterfell weirwood tree, and other memories of her in that place surface in his mind. He hears Littlefinger say “Chaos”, and it calls up Littlefinger’s conversation with Varys in “the Climb”.

      His reaction to Arya makes me wonder a bit about the future. He mentions seeing her at the crossroads, and mentions her intention to kill Cersei, and it makes me wonder what element of his surroundings brought that particular image to his mind. The obvious one is the dagger, which he then gives to her.

      It’s also interesting that when Littlefinger gave Bran the dagger, Bran asked him if he knew who it belonged to. The answer to that question may be different in the book than in the show (the show seems to be giving the dagger far more significance than the book’s answer would seem to warrant), and I’m wondering if the show’s answer to that question is Cersei, and that Arya will eventually kill Cersei with the dagger, which is why the combination of dagger + Arya brought up that memory.

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    85. I think this is really what the previous 3ER was warning about when he said “It is beautiful beneath the sea, but if you stay too long, you’ll drown.”

      Yes, Jojen said something similar to Bran when he was warging into Summer, that he should not stay to long because he will loose himself. For me there is enough explanation in the series to understand Bran’s current behaviour.

      I guess Bran is still suffering from a brain overload and it may be possible that he will never fully regain his emotions and stays like that. But I do not see him as completely without emotions, he still seemed to react to Arya in a positive way when returning her hug and giving her the dagger. And he told Sansa in a very awkward way that he felt sorry for her regarding her wedding night.

      At the moment it seems that he can not properly access all information in his mind. As you pointed out it seems that trigger helps to connect him with a memory e.g. seeing Sansa in the snowy godswood reminds him of her wedding night, talking to Littlefinger and hearing the word chaos triggers “Chaos is a ladder.”

      I am really interested to see how this plays out in the show. I guess that he will finally learn to control the access to all this information or he can connect to the information when someone asks the right questions or he faces a situation which reminds him of something he already knows and he gets some flashbacks.

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    86. Tamwell Sarly:

      I totally agree with you – I’m not a book reader either, so perhaps non readers experience plots in a different way, because we don’t have the feedback that book readers do..

      I have written my views on Bran on another article so I quote myself :

      On another matter, that I’m happy you brought up here, Bran and his changed outlook. We need to keep in mind that the 3 eyed raven MUST be emotionless in order to do right by his job. It was Bran’s sensibilities and emotions that resulted in the destruction of the Cave and the death of the Raven, the Children, Hodor, Summer etc. So, seeing him reach a state of controlled emotion, is actually good news, he starts to become like the previous 3 eyed raven, he’s starting to understand how this job works. You can’t let emotion get in the middle of that: it’s far too important. You can’t look the past through emotion, but see it for what it is. This is the only way to harness his greenseer abilities and all the more his controlling of beasts and people’s minds.

      Yes, Meera deserved better – and in a way she was right saying that Bran died in that cave, but in the sense of the Bran she knew before. Bran is not who he was before: he’s the 3 eyed raven, his worldview, his perspective and priorities have completely changed; his gift comes with the responsibility for the fate of the living world and the burden of knowing things that one might prefer not to know.
      So, I’m personally glad to see Bran taking up his role with the graveness and soberness he must. This job is not a game. ‘

      I believe that Bran’s changed character, actually means that he has grown, he has grown -up violently, under the weight of what he has seen and what he knows and the responsibility he realizes that comes with it.

      That said, and in the light of this post – btw thank you for all the wonderful posts you guys, such a wonderful work by all of you here – perhaps the problem with Bran will be adressed in later episodes. I think the problem is that he sees too much without having the external feedback to piece things together at the moment, and he is struggling with his new role, trying to find a way to do this job.

      He has seen fragments of things we do not know whether they concern the past or the future or both (from his last connection with 3 eyed raven and the Heart Tree) – after the Cave’s destruction, and we have another piece of information from last season as the 3 eyed raven told Bran that he wouldn’t be stuck like him in that cave, and that he would fly. So the Bran plot is not ‘fixed’ yet, we have much more to expect from the show Bran, I think 🙂

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    87. nicely written but i also dont think we can conclude that bran’s show character has different or greater powers than in the books because the show is ahead of the books and the possibility of him seeing further than just through the trees has been given in the books, as has people hearing bran’s voice.

      GRRM has used bran’s character to become a dramatic device that allows elements of history and knowledge to be divulged to the characters and the audience. the show likely doing the same.

      it will be jarring when a character completely changes his persona but i can see how that is necessary, and i think it was spelled out with his talk with meera. viewers will come to terms with it, although it will take longer for those that were more attached to bran as a character.

      i would also like to point out that many accusations of ‘lazy writing’ are in themselves examples of lazy writing because the viewers making the criticism are unable to articulate their arguments succinctly.

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    88. There’s a theory that the Night King is also a greenseer and a warg. Its believed he raises the dead by warging into cold bodies. Last season’s episode ‘The Door’ certainly gives some credibility to this theory.

      Remember when Bran tried spying on the army of the dead? It might be the Night King’s greenseer ability that allowed him to sense Bran’s presence. Also notice how every one of the wights failed to take notice of Bran initially but all turned to see him at the precise moment the Night King sees him? Evidence of NK’s warging?

      This theory would also explain the animosity between NK and 3ER.

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    89. Casso: I think this is really what the previous 3ER was warning about when he said “It is beautiful beneath the sea, but if you stay too long, you’ll drown.”

      Ever since the attack at the cave, Bran has had to start learning “everything” very quickly, and he is drowning in the knowledge.He had some visions while he was escaping the cave, up until Benjen rescued him.He was already starting to become detached at that point, but not as much as he is now.

      Then he had more visions at the weirwood tree near Castle Black, and he has apparently been using the Winterfell tree to continue his visions.Seeing people or hearing words can trigger a particular memory/vision to surface, but he’s unable to think in a linear chronological manner like normal people while he’s “drowning”.

      He sees Sansa by the Winterfell weirwood tree, and other memories of her in that place surface in his mind.He hears Littlefinger say “Chaos”, and it calls up Littlefinger’s conversation with Varys in “the Climb”.

      His reaction to Arya makes me wonder a bit about the future.He mentions seeing her at the crossroads, and mentions her intention to kill Cersei, and it makes me wonder what element of his surroundings brought that particular image to his mind.The obvious one is the dagger, which he then gives to her.

      It’s also interesting that when Littlefinger gave Bran the dagger, Bran asked him if he knew who it belonged to.The answer to that question may be different in the book than in the show (the show seems to be giving the dagger far more significance than the book’s answer would seem to warrant), and I’m wondering if the show’s answer to that question is Cersei, and that Arya will eventually kill Cersei with the dagger, which is why the combination of dagger + Arya brought up that memory.

      Love, love, love! I’ve been perplexed as to why Bran seemed much better with Uncle Benjen than he did with Sansa and Arya and just now Meera, and this perfectly explains what is happening and why. I hope this theory pans out in the show, too.

      And yes, New Rockstars had hypothesized about the poetic justice of Cersei passing the dagger to an assassin to kill Bran and then Bran passing the same dagger to an assassin (SisterSsassin) to kill Cersei. The catspaw dagger into Cersei, I ship it! Of course, then valonqar gets thwarted, so I don’t know…

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    90. BranTheBlessed:
      There’s a theory that the Night King is also a greenseer and a warg. Its believed he raises the dead by warging into cold bodies. Last season’s episode ‘The Door’ certainly gives some credibility to this theory.

      Remember when Bran tried spying on the army of the dead? It might be the Night King’s greenseer ability that allowed him to sense Bran’s presence. Also notice how every one of the wights failed to take notice of Bran initially but all turned to see him at the precise moment the Night King sees him? Evidence of NK’s warging?

      This theory would also explain the animosity between NK and 3ER.

      When the Night’s King raised the dead at Hardhome, I thought of massive warging! Yes, this theory makes sense on many levels. In the books, the Night’s King was rumored to be a Stark, according to Old Nan. And everyone knows those Starks are wargs.

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    91. I agree that making a character all-knowing, all-seeing creates problems for the story, takes away dramatic tension, especially in a visual medium.

      We don’t know what the extent of Bran’s powers will be in the books. GRRM hints that Bran will be able to see without the trees. It’s also clear that even now he can make himself heard, c.f. Theon and Ned by the WF heart tree. Also, D&D have said they got “Hodor” from GRRM, it was one of the WTF moments they got. I doubt it’ll go down exactly the same as the show, but the implication is that also in the books Bran in the present/vision will be able to influence past events… er… always influenced them, something (this time loop stuff always makes my poor little brain fry, lol!)

      As to Bran in S7, his aloofness/social awkwardness/being robotic, and “why doesn’t he just tell X that Y did Z?” Firstly, Bran tells us that it’s all fragments. He’s downloaded all the data but he can’t connect the dots, doesn’t know what to look for, doesn’t know what is important and what is just “nice to know”. It’s just information overload. It needs shifting through, analysis, to actually make all this data and information into knowledge. (And eventually even wisdom.) His brain is overloaded atm. So that’s one thing.

      Another thing that has been pointed out in this interesting discussion is that Bran seems to realize and understand his new role and responsibilities as the Three-Eyed Raven. He has to be emotionally detached to be able to do the job. It’s not about him or his family, it’s about the survival of the humankind, the survival of all life as we know it. He can’t afford to be emotional about family and friends (or even human enemies – a Bran/Jaime encounter would be interesting!) if it distracts from his real job. Show!Bran says he remembers being Bran Stark but he’s the 3ER now, and Meera heartbreakingly says he (i.e. the Bran Stark we all knew and loved) died in that cave.

      Readers and watchers miss the Bran that was, that’s why it’s difficult seeing him like this, but it’d be really cheesy if his life-changing experience didn’t change him and he was just a convenient automat for some Stark fan wish fulfillment. (“Hey, Sansa and Arya, did you know what LF did to mum and dad? I know, and I’ll tell you because we’re the Stttaarrrkkks and we’re an awesome pack, and once I’ve revealed all, you can go and get momentarily gratifying revenge and it’s all gonna be awesome Ssstttaaarrrrkkks awesomenes, rah rah rah!”) OK, maybe not quite that, but exaggerated to make a point. 😉

      Thank you WotW for yet another interesting and thought-provoking article, thank you JoeMagician for writing it, although ultimately I disagree with a lot (but not everything) you wrote. Thanks also to all commenters with views, opinions, insights.

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    92. CrazyHorse:
      It’s rather disappointing to see such a “book is the bible” piece on watchers on the wall.

      If anything it’s really the opposite and they love the show for all its flaws and differences. Which is cool, people do the same thing for the books. I love both, although the last 2 seasons I’ve been less of a big time fan then I was, just because there are way less directions a finishing story can go and theories were the most fun part for me. So not their fault. I will say that there are lots of articles that are kind of written in a tome making it obvious who they are either rooting for or assume are the hero’s or winners, which sucks. I like to pretend it’s not set in stone yet still. Also I saw some statement basically guaranteeing Jon and Dany make love in one of the articles. I’d love to place a wager on that, because no, they won’t.

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    93. Still can’t decide if Bran is simply overwhelmed with his new role or is deliberately pushing away all those close to him. Either to protect them or to free himself for the deciding stand against the NK. Both are plausible, just hope the writers invested some thought in his plot. Too much of a central character to be dornished.

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    94. seenGhost?:
      Still can’t decide if Bran is simply overwhelmed with his new role or is deliberately pushing away all those close to him. Either to protect them or to free himself for the deciding stand against the NK. Both are plausible, just hope the writers invested some thought in his plot. Too much of a central character to be dornished.

      “Dornished…” Love it. Appropriate, too.

      We can mourn the Bran that was but I agree with you and some others; the detachment may be a side-effect of having this tremendous data-dump but may also be necessary for what’s coming. Love is the death of duty. The 3ER has much and more for which to prepare.

      As an aside? Do you think Bran will tell Jon about his real parents afterall? He may decide it would be too much of distraction for Jon, unless he tells him after the War is over….which means Jon survives? yay.

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    95. Love is the dead of duty, indeed. Could be applied brilliantly to Bran’s arc. Fingers crossed for that.

      Will he or wouldn’t he tell Jon about his real parentage… That’s a hard one. I can clearly see him postponing this for a better time, when it won’t distract Jon of the more pressing matters at hand. This brings the possibility for the secret to be revealed by another source ( The Citadel, Howland Reed… ), with Bran simply being there to confirm it. Not impossible – it’s big news, yet he hasn’t mentioned it to anybody so far ( and I don’t mean any one, just his sisters ). Depends on the turns the script will take, of which we don’t know. It will be made in such way to best serve some future situation.

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    96. So Bran is incapable of relating to people because he’s too distracted buy the history and stories of Westeros?
      Yeah… Been there.

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    97. Lots of interesting thoughts and comments under this article, despite a bit of heat, but that’s fair ; )
      I’d like to defend a little of Bran’s S7 reaction to Sansa and to Meera.
      For Sansa, he sent condolence for her abused experience with the Boltons in a subtle way, to me, that’s the opposite of disrespectful, cold-hearted and lots of people accused him for, that’s a help for an abuse victim, so that one more person knows it and feels sympathetic. Theon is another to know it, but he was affected too. I actually felt warm towards that conversation, I personally had some abused experiences in the past and I might cry if someone says he’s seen it and feels sorry for me, I actually thought Sansa went off to have a moment for herself : )
      For Meera, I might argue that he ‘doesn’t need her anymore’ meaning he doesn’t need to be protected like a little disabled boy anymore. He is strong enough as a 3ER on his own from now.
      Aside from the obvious detachment for study information/protect loves with minimal contacts, he might have also wanted to push her away because there’s most danger around him now that he is important for the end game. It might break Meera’s heart but perhaps she’s safer offscreen and not with these people, lol

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    98. Erica:

      As an aside? Do you think Bran will tell Jon about his real parents afterall?

      That’s a great question – I’ve been asking myself too! There are some problems on this subject:
      Firstly, I’m not sure Bran has seen all the info involved, or that he has pieced all the info together (there’s no reference of that event in popular Westeros history so Bran doesn’t have any feedback) – perhaps he has realized that Jon is the child of Lyanna but perhaps he’s not sure of the father. Or he can suspect who Jon’s father is, but he’s missing the external information about the circumstances, if they married or not etc so he wouldn’t tell Jon anything until he has something clear and concrete to tell him. I hope that there will be some help from Sam on that, which will help Bran clarify what he’s seen or provide some written proof of that.

      Secondly, even if Bran gets all that info, is it wise to tell Jon – or anyone? Will it benefit Jon (and the Living) or will it put him on harms way? That knowlege would drastically change the view of Northern Lords to him, and perhaps his own family’s view on him too. Not to mention the inherent problem of his new status to Dany’s claims, even if he doesn’t care about the Iron Throne. And how will it affect Jon’s psyche and his decision making from that point on?

      Lastly, does Jon knowing of his true parentage have a practical use in the game which Bran might be able to see?

      So, I think, that even after Bran has the entire truth of the matter, he’ll have to consider all the above factors before he reveals anything to Jon and who else he lets know of that truth.
      I think we might – hopefully- get a concrete vision that will clarify the truth this season and perhaps by the end of season 7 or perhaps early season 8, Bran might reveal the truth to Jon – and I’m looking forward to see what the aftermath of that will be! (Old Gods and the New, keep Jon alive and well till the end!) And of course I’m looking forward to see if Jon has special powers like Dany. That would be SO awesome! 😀

      talvikorppi:

      Well said, I totally agree with your view! 🙂

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    99. Yes, they don’t seem to know how to handle a complex main character and it makes me feel so sad. Hopefully there will be more than what we are seeing and he will develop or recover again.

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    100. Bran is no longer Bran. As a result, he does not feel vengeful about his father’s death, the catspaw assassin or even Jamie pushing him out the window. He feels no obligation to pass on information about such events unless questioned. He gave the dagger to Arya not because she is his sister, but she is the one who can put it to its best use, with the white walkers or anyone else, for that matter. However, the one thing he will support with all his knowledge is the war against the dead. As we see in the preview for this week, he will warg into a raven to scout the advance of the White Walkers and make sure this information gets to Jon.

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    101. Meera of Tarth: they don’t seem to know how to handle a complex main character

      That’s a preeetty bold view on the creators of ones of the most succesful and groundbreaking shows in tv history, isn’t it?!
      There’s always other sides to every story, so you could consider, that perhaps we are the impatient fans unable to comprehend a complex character in a groundbreaking fantasy show?! 😉

      Apart from maybe a few smaller blunders over the course of six years, D&D (and their entire phenomenal production crew) have shown us nothing but creative awesomeness! I’m confident they’ll have a couple of tricks left, we didn’t expect and that may lead to an aha-moment or two… At the least they deserve to cross the finish line in 12-18 months, before we pass the final judgement on their historic achievement 🙂

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    102. Dead Dane Walking: That’s a preeetty bold view on the creators of ones of the most succesful and groundbreaking shows in tv history, isn’t it?!
      There’s always other sides to every story, so you could consider, that perhaps we are the impatient fans unable to comprehend a complex character in a groundbreaking fantasy show?!

      Apart from maybe a few smaller blunders over the course of six years, D&D (and their entire phenomenal production crew) have shown us nothing but creative awesomeness! I’m confident they’ll have a couple of tricks left, we didn’t expect and that may lead to an aha-moment or two… At the least they deserve to cross the finish line in 12-18 months, before we pass the final judgement on their historic achievement

      Absolutely!

      I have plenty of patience for Bran’s role (new role) to develop and reveal itself. He’s too important for D&D to gloss over and I will not break faith in them today.

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