Ep-80 Game of Thrones (1996 novel & 2011 TV series) Chapters 17–46, Episodes 3–6

Note: The Ink to Film Podcast is conversational and intended to be heard, not read. We strongly encourage you to listen to the audio, if able, for tone and inflection. Our transcripts are generated using a transcriptionist but may contain errors. Please refer to the corresponding audio before quoting anything written here.

This episode aired on March 7, 2019 and was made possible by our generous patrons. 

James: Welcome to the Ink to Film podcast, where we read the book…

Luke: …and then see the movie.

James: I’m James.

Luke: And I’m Luke.

James: And this week, we discuss Chapters 17–46 of the book and Episodes 3–6 of Season 1 of the TV series Game of Thrones. <music plays>

Luke: Here we are: Game of Thrones, week 3. We’re in the heart of it now.

James: I wanted to ask you, do you think we live inside the eye of a blue-eyed giant named Macumba?

Luke: <laughs> Old Nan would have us believe, that’s for sure. Yeah, I love that. I think that was a show-only detail, too. I don’t think that was in the book, so I like it.

James: Yeah, I think  you’re right. I love the Old Nan stuff, and getting the differences between Old Nan in the book and the show is really cool. 

Luke: Old Nan is the best, and she gives a speech, I think in the first episode. Ah, maybe we’re jumping ahead, I’m not sure. She gives a speech about the long night and…to Bran? 

James: Oh, yeah.

Luke: That speech was played over the very first Game of Thrones trailer that ever came out. And I remember that…still to this day gives me chills, just thinking about how excited I was when I saw that very first trailer before Season 1 ever came out. It was crazy. So much hype. I know you came in Season 2, so you probably missed some of the hype, but man, was it wild. And you can imagine, because I had read all the books that were out to that point. It was so cool to just be like, “Oh, my God, they’re actually doing it!” Of all the characters, Old Nan was in the trailer basically. It was wild.

James: Yeah. We gotta talk about Old Nan in more depth here soon, because I just…how can she see all of these…I guess it’s just stories, right? 

Luke: Yeah. She just collects stories, I think.

James: She has some sort of future sight in my opinion, as well.

Luke: Maybe. She might have a touch of the Green Sight or whatever. But yeah, we should talk about how we’re going to do our coverage here. So, last week we did the show—the first two episodes. And we really dived into the show runners and some of their history in the industry, and the week before that, we did the opening to the book. We talked about George R. R. Martin at length, and his backstory and how he came to write this series. So, if you’re interested in that stuff and you haven’t checked out those episodes, definitely check them out. But now we’re through all that, and we’re into the point where we can just talk about, basically, what happens. So, in that sense, we’re going to accelerate our speed a little bit. We’re going to not be quite as granular, but we’re going to try and touch on each episode and make some comparisons to the book and just move through Season 1 here, and we’ll finish it up next week. 

James: Yeah, and there’s plenty of differences to talk about. I mean, entire characters are completely different already. And this is such a…supposedly such a faithful adaptation, and I agree with that, but it is something to think about going forward. As they start to get away from the template of George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire novel.

Luke: Yeah. They added some scenes that I actually really like, and I’m definitely going to touch on those as we go through, as much as we can. I did want to make a clarification in reference to last week’s episode, because I think we both hit the showrunners pretty hard over some of the decisions they made with the added sexuality and the added nudity and the sexing up of, like, particularly, some of Dani’s scenes. I just wanted to clarify…because listening back to the episode, I’m not sure if I made it clear…I’m not against having nudity in the show. I’m not against having sex in the show. I’m not, like, going to have some sort of prudish take of, “Oh, my God, don’t show me boobs or I’m gonna…” You know what I mean, like, it’s not…or cock, or whatever…like, it’s fine. Show all the cocks you want. In fact, I’m all for equity in nudity. You know, I’m fine with that, too. And I think there’s a place for that kind of stuff. And, like, this entertainment can be that way, it’s fine. I wanted to make sure it was clear that what I reacting to is when I think they’re being lazy with it, and they’re using it to dress up a scene that is otherwise boring. That can be kind of frustrating. But, really, truly, the egregious stuff is when they’re trying to make a sexual assault sexy. And that’s where I took umbrage with, particularly, the Dani scenes. But, yeah, I didn’t want to come off like I was saying, “There shouldn’t be nudity in the show” or what-have-you. I hope it didn’t come off that way, because that’s definitely not what I meant.

James: I didn’t get that impression, because I also feel the same way. I don’t mind it, and I think that, done well and tastefully, I think that it adds something to the show. But, like you said, if it’s just thrown in there as a way to keep people entertained, I don’t think it really adds much.

Luke: Yeah.

James: But I do want to say reading these next chapters that we hadn’t up to last week’s episode and the first episode, we get a little more…I thought that everything that was over-the-top sex stuff was all Weiss and Benioff. George R. R. Martin has some of that…there’s some of that he put in there, obviously as well. Like, there’s clearly some problematic things that are going on in George R. R. Martin’s writing, as well. And I don’t think that…and I think I was kind of putting it all on Weiss and Benioff. 

Luke: Right. Yeah, that’s true. I do think there is some shared blame there, but…to me, I still feel like the books, in general, come off looking better. Like, looking like the choices were made more carefully, and less exploitatively, so… Plus, it’s written versus, you know, actually having actors play these things out, so I feel like it’s always going to be a little more striking on the screen. But, yeah…so, I think we touched on that stuff a lot last week. I’m sure we’ll brush up against it again here through the episodes, but let’s get into it. Let’s get into this first episode. I think what we’re going to do is do a little description of the general plot very briefly, and then we’re just going to touch on things that stood out in the episode. So, we won’t be doing a scene-by-scene, but hopefully we’ll still hit on all the major things we want to talk about and share with you guys.

James: Yeah, so I have a synopsis of Episode 3, “Lord Snow” here that I’m going to read. 

Luke: Okay.

James: Ned joins the king’s small council at King’s Landing and learns just how poorly Westeros is being managed. Catelyn tries to covertly warn her husband but is intercepted by an old friend, Littlefinger. Bran learns he will never walk again. He does not remember the events leading to his fall. Jon struggles to adapt to life on the wall as he trains with a number of lowborn recruits who are not impressed by his bloodline. Lord Commander Mormont asks Tyrion to plead with the king to send more men to the Knight’s Watch. Daenarys learns that she is pregnant and begins to stand up to Viserys. 

Luke: Cool. Yeah, that’s the episode. There’s an opening shot, I think it was very early on, I don’t know if it’s the opening of the episode, but… When Ned is first walking into the throne room, like for the first time, and it’s the introduction of the set in some ways. It’s such a great set. We come in, and we see him passing these doors, and when he enters the throne room, there Jaimie Lannister is on the steps. Which is such a cool…because that doesn’t happen in the book. But it’s in reference to something that did happen in the book in history, where you know, that’s where he found him during Robert’s rebellion, basically. And so it’s reminiscent of this historical scene. And then we get a great additional scene that isn’t in the book, and that’s Jaimie and Ned having this sort of confrontation in the throne room, and it builds something between these two characters that I think is a nice, welcome addition to everything that goes on in King’s Landing.

James: Yeah, and you talked about added scenes. I think this is a great added scene. There’s many of them that we’ll talk about, but the show does a great job of really homing in on characterizations, characters, and setting up who they are and where they’re from and what their motives are. And then, ultimately, letting us get to know the characters without having, you know, extreme events unfolding all of the time. And I think that’s a good way to set up someone like Cersei, who will have a long history that people will love and hate. 

Luke: Yeah, and here we see…this is one of those scenes that even plays better now because of how much we know about Jaimie that we didn’t know at this point in the show. You know, with his sister with the Mad King. Because we see Ned really laying into him about breaking his oath and killing the king, and I remember…I feel like if you’re a show watcher for the first time, and you’re watching this, you’re probably fully on Ned’s side and just hate Jaimie. 

James: Oh, I know I was, yeah. I hated Jaimie, and then he’s…he’s easily one of my favorite…conflicted…characters.

Luke: Yeah.

James: But easily one of my favorite arcs in the show.

Luke: He does a lot of shitty stuff in Season 1, for sure. 

James: Yeah, he’s awful.

Luke: Yeah, but man, like you can…and they do a brilliant job with the acting, because I feel like you can see it behind his eyes as he’s thinking about how he actually saved people. And nobody gives him credit for that. But it’s like…he’s conflicted, because he does also know he broke an oath, and we know that’s one of the things with Jaimie is that he’s had to live with that broken oath now, and how that’s affected him. And the legacy that it’s given him, and how he’s considered this dishonorable knight now. And I think he’s really internalized that, even though we learn that he did it for good reasons. 

James: And I want to know how you feel…do you think that he actually 100% was…do you think that he killed Aerys because he was he really felt that he was saving everyone, or was it partially looking out for himself, because he knew that the rebellion was going south for them?

Luke: I think the later scene says that, you know, the “burn them all” rant. And him knowing about the caches of wildfire. And Aerys gave the order. He was going to burn all of King’s Landing. And so, in that moment, he basically killed the guy who was about to press the nuclear option button. And, so, in that moment, he did save people. And I think that was a big part of it. Now, can you say that any of that might have been tied to the fact that, you know, it was an opportune moment, and he was looking to, you know, make it so that his family could prevail? Sure. I bet that was bound up in that some, but I think it was mostly just to save people, yeah. I think he felt that was the right thing to do in that moment. I do believe that.

James: Do you get the sense that Ned, well, actually, I know that Ned feels like Jaimie, having been a King’s Guard, should have just gone down with the ship.

Luke: That’s what Ned says, but…

James: He doesn’t have all the details…

Luke: Well, he wasn’t in that situation. I think it’s one of those things where it’s easy for Ned to say, “You swore an oath, and you should have done it.” But the same argument…he’s like shitting on Jaimie for just standing by while Aerys killed his father and brother. 

James: Mmhmm.

Luke: But Jaimie swore an oath to not stand up to the king, right? So, he would have had to break his oath to do anything about it. So, you know, how can Ned say, like, “How could you just stand by while that was happening?” Because he would have had to break his oath to do anything about it. 

James: Mmhmm.

Luke: So, I think it’s easy for Ned to say, like to pick and choose. Like, “Oh, you should have just followed your oath throughout, no matter what.” But if Ned was in that situation, you know, what would Ned have done, honestly?

James: Well…

Luke: Because I think Ned would have broken his oath, too.

James: Well, to extrapolate out on that, we kind of get a mini-version of that when Ned doesn’t agree with what Robert wants to do with Daenarys. 

Luke: Yeah.

James: And the assassination. He breaks the…technically, he’s taken an oath to serve Robert in whatever he wants done, and he’s saying, “No, I don’t want to. I’m breaking the oath, I’m handing this back to you, and I’m leaving.” So, really you can see that he probably would have done the same as Jaimie.

Luke: Ned’s idealism and his honor is absolutely something that gets examined throughout the course of these events, and we see that it is not unfailing, and we see that he can’t just have this simple view of the world, and it won’t work in every situation. And I think that’s some of the brilliance of this writing on Martin’s part. The fact that he’s able to take…and that’s something that is more of a larger point I was going to make…but, throughout these episodes, we see Ned…he makes the right decision, almost every time, in my opinion. We see Ned constantly making the right decision, yet we know where this leads.

James: I was going to say, I think he makes one wrong decision.

Luke: Okay, so that would be interesting to talk about. Where does he actually make the wrong decision? I’ll be interested in when we get there. But…

James: So, since we’re talking about this scene so much, I did want to ask you, what do you think about the theory that Bran warps into Aerys and kind of goes the whole Hodor moment, where Hodor keeps saying, “Hold the door, hold the door” and turns into Hodor. What do you think about the fact that Bran is inside Aerys and doing the “Burn them all, burn them all” thing? Do you think there’s any sort of truth to that, maybe? That theory that Bran is going through the history and warping into people at certain times and doing this kind of stuff, or do you think it’s just the Hodor moment?

Luke: So, you’re talking about…there’s kind of a “Bran the Time Walker” theory, where he has sort of been there for everything, right? And maybe he even is the reason the Mad King went mad and all that stuff. I mean, it’s dark to think that, and it’s definitely very Terminator-ish because it’s very much like…

James: John Connor?

Luke: Yeah, it’s a paradox, right? It’s time paradoxes that are being introduced. It’s very sci-fi. This is a very sci-fi plot introduced into our fantasy. It’s kind of weird, but I mean Martin’s a huge sci-fi guy too, so I can see it. I mean, he also has a lot of horror influences strongly, you know, with our Frankenmonster we get later. We see…

James: Well, the Walkers…the White Walkers.

Luke: Yeah, the White Walkers are ice zombies. Roos Bolton is basically a vampire.

James: In the book.

Luke: Yeah, in the books. More strongly in the books than in the show, but…you know, debatably, he maybe even is a skin-changing vampire in the books. It’s, yeah, it’s possible. I guess I’m not a huge fan of that theory. But, on the other hand, where is the Bran storyline going? If not there.

James: Yeah, so…I mean there’s also the theory that Bran ultimately is the Night King.

Luke: Right. I don’t know, man.

James: So, it’s like, it all loops back around, and maybe it’s like…

Luke: Yeah, there’s a lot. I mean…

James: I think we’re going to run out of time just to talk about this episode, so we should move on to some other stuff that happens in this episode?

Luke: Yeah.

James: Something specific is Jon Snow at the wall now, and he’s full-on training, and the way that they build the relationships between these characters, and how they all hate him, they all attack him, ultimately just for them all…for him to realize that if he’s the bigger man, that shows leadership, and it shows that brotherhood will start to form, and then they’ll all watch each other’s backs… I always loved that about the Night’s Watch. It’s just like that kind of military mentality, brotherhood. You’re not fighting necessarily for the greater good, you’re fighting for that guy standing next to you to make sure he makes it out. 

Luke: Yeah, and you see…I know Donal Noye is the blacksmith. He’s the one-armed blacksmith in the books. He’s the one who sort of gives John a rude awakening about, you know, these men that are here aren’t high-born like you. They weren’t trained by a man-at-arms. They know how to fight in the streets but not, you know, not with a sword. And that’s sort of like the rude awakening and also establishes Donal Noye as a character who is a pretty interesting one in the books. He’s famous for forging Robert Baratheon’s hammer. He was…had a storied career, I guess, and then he lost his arm and ended up taking the black. Those scenes are all given to Tyrion in the show, and Donal Noye is sort of written off, but I’m kind of fine with that, because it’s…there’s a certain amount of economy of characters that you have to strive for in a show, right? 

James: Yeah.

Luke: And we need to establish that Tyrion and Jon have a friendly relationship and why, and this is a good opportunity to sort of give him this. Because, in the books, Tyrion definitely gives him great advice when he’s at the wall. So, they’re able to make it into a moment where he saves him from getting mystically murdered by his brothers on Day 1, later on, right?

James: Yeah.

Luke: For outshining them in the yard. Yeah, so I like that change ultimately, I guess is my final point there. I do recognize it’s a change, and it’s one of those things that I think was a smart one. Okay, so episode 4 is called “Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things.” Tyrion makes saddle modifications for Bran that will allow the paraplegic boy to ride. Ned searches for clues to the unexpected death of his mentor and predecessor, Jon Arryn, and in the process discovers King Robert’s illegitimate son. Robert and his guest witness a tournament honoring Ned. Jon takes measures to protect Samwell Tarly, an awkward and friendless boy, from the abuse of the Night’s Watchmen. A frustrated Viserys clashes with his newly-empowered sister. Sansa dreams of life as a queen, while Arya envisions a far different future. At a chance encounter in a roadside tavern, Catelyn rallies her father’s allies and has Tyrion arrested for conspiring to murder her son. 

James: To touch on kind of the end of the last episode, some of this episode…

Luke: Mmhmm.

James: Tyrion and Jon’s last interaction together, I much preferred it in the book.

Luke: Yeah.

James: They shared this moment where Jon was saying, like, “You helped me so much,” and Tyrion says, “No, I didn’t. I just gave you some words of wisdom…some words.” And, basically, Jon says, “Can you share those words with Bran?” And kind of help him out as well. I love that interaction. I love the handshake. In the show, it’s fun because it’s like he’s pissing off the wall, and then they share a moment where…

Luke: They do shake hands. 

James: They shake hands, and they say, like…basically, they talk about how they’re friendly with one another and how they like each other and then shake hands, and then that’s it.

Luke: Yeah, because I think Tyrion just takes it on himself to share the saddle thing.

James: Ah, right. Yeah, he just decides he’s going to try to help out Bran.

Luke: Yeah. It’s less specifically tied to that scene. Yeah, I mean, it’s one of those…yeah, I agree. I think the book does it slightly better. Speaking of the Night’s Watch, though, this is the introduction of Samwell Tarly, who I love as a character. 

James: And I love Sam in fantasy novels. 

Luke: Yeah, that’s true. He is very Samwise Gamgee, isn’t he?

James: Yeah, he is. It’s gotta be a little bit of a nod, right?

Luke: I think Martin has said as much. I believe.

James: Yeah. I want to see Samwell on the Iron Throne. I’m just going to say it. I think he would be our greatest leader, so let’s get that going.

Luke: There was an interesting bit that I hadn’t noticed until this rewatch, where he’s…in the book, Samwell gives the story of why he joined the Night’s Watch, and in the story he says that his father was skinning a stag and was holding its heart when he told him, “If we go on a hunt, you know, there’s going to be an accident, and that’s what I’ll tell your mother, and you have to join the Night’s Watch.” Now, we get that story in the show, but the stag thing is omitted, and that’s because they used it later. We haven’t seen it yet, but they use it later when they introduce Tywin. So, I thought that was interesting that they kind of, like, cherry-picked this scene that they liked that was told through this character, and they said, “We’re going to make this a scene, and we’re going to have it be Tywin Lannister.”

James: Great introduction.

Luke: It’s a great…it’s a cool scene, right? He’s skinning the stag, he’s…it’s very bloody as he’s talking to Jaimie. I think I was like, “Oh, that’s where they got the idea for the scene.” Because I felt like it was a wholly invented scene, but it’s not really. It’s just been stolen from this other backstory and introduced here. Which I think is…it’s a clever way to maintain that scene. It’s cool.

James: Something about Jon saving Sam. You can already see the leadership in him, realizing people’s worth, not just through physical strength and being in the Night’s Watch. He realizes Sam is someone to be protected, and we’re going to watch over him, and he’s going to help us in other ways.

Luke: I do like that there’s…when Sam is first walking up to stand with him on the wall, Jon kind of looks away from him and sort of groans. He’s like, “Oh, this fucking guy.” And it’s not until he learns Sam’s backstory, where he like, truly…because he took pity on him, but he still was like, “Man, you shouldn’t be here. This is not…you should not be at the wall.” 

James: Well, it’s the kinship of not belonging anywhere.

Luke: Yeah, when he finds out he has no options…exactly. He’s like, “Okay, now I’m going to truly stand behind you.” Because of your backstory. Which, yeah, I like that. It’s more true to life, I think. And it’s definitely right out of the books, too. I love that we’re seeing Jon grow up. You know what I mean? Every one of these moments is showing Jon learn about the way the world is. This is, I think, an example for him to back up what he’s learned about Tyrion, which is, just because you’re a true-born heir to a major house doesn’t mean your life is necessarily going to be rosy. And, also, he learns at the same time, that the commoners who are his brothers now, in many ways weren’t as privileged as he was. So, in a lot of ways, he has to sort of check his privilege, right? And growing up, even in his sort of “less than” spot in the Stark family is still way better than most people ever get.

James: Mmhmm.

Luke: So, he’s forced to confront that as well. There is a scene here that I wanted to…just because we talked about the sex and nudity. There is a scene that comes up here with Viserys that’s added, that I think is one of the more egregious. There is one that stands out in my mind later that we haven’t gotten to yet. With Littlefinger. Where a phrase got coined in reference to the show and a sex position. And we see that, for sure, in the Viserys scene here, where they’re giving the history of the Targaryen line while he’s in a bathtub with one of the Dothraki girls…I can’t remember what her name is, if we even know it. “We’re going to give you all this backstory, and we’re going to make it interesting because they’re naked,” essentially. And it’s kind of groan-worthy, but…

James: Yeah.

Luke: It’s like…I could see that they thought they were being really clever. I do think it’s interesting that they got called out for it, right? Like, at a certain point, you can only do that so many times before people will notice that you’re doing it.

James: Right. And like I said in one of the other episodes, it feels very much of that. Like, if you think of the other shows that were on HBO at the time, or other major subscription-based cable networks and things like that…if you think of shows like True Blood and Spartacus. They were shows that were doing this exact same thing, at the exact same time period. Right at 2010-2011, that were getting away with it. And I think the massive popularity of Game of Thrones had people who had more diverse perspective on stuff maybe coming in and just saying, “Hey, clearly they’re doing something to manipulate the audience in a certain way.” And they’re completely right. It’s distracting you with one thing to dump a bunch of information on you and make the scene feel really engaging.

Luke: Yeah. So, in these situations, I don’t find it, like, problematic as much as it is…lazy. I guess is what I’m trying to say. It’s like they couldn’t come up with a better way to make the scene interesting, so they just sexed it up. And it just feels kind of lazy to me.

James: It does show Viserys being a total asshole at the end, too, again.

Luke: Of course, yeah. But he’s kind of not throughout a majority of the scene, and then he turns at the end to be an asshole. We already knew he’s an asshole, so I don’t know.

James: Well, let’s talk about his and Daenerys’ relationship crumbling and how she’s starting to stand up for herself…she’s feeling empowered. 

Luke: Yeah. I think it’s cool to see her growing. It is unfortunate that it’s kind of…

James: It feels a little bit problematic, just that she’s becoming empowered just because she’s with this super-powerful man, kind of for now. It kind of feels like that’s where her power lies.

Luke: I think that works for the story, though, because that issue is exactly the problem she faces when Khal Drogo dies later.

James: That’s where it flips it on its head, and that’s where it makes it, I think, a little…I think that’s where it really becomes unique and interesting. 

Luke: Well, so Game of Thrones is all about power, right? Like that’s the thesis of this show: where does power come from. In effect, it’s spelled out eventually, I think Varys has a talk about it. We haven’t got there yet. But who holds the power in this parable of the man with the sword, and I think there’s a man with money, and then like an honored lord or something. And there’s like a sell-sword in the room. And, like, who holds the power? Is it the man with the sword, is it the man with the money? And, you know, he says it’s an illusion. It’s shadows on the wall, and it’s really interesting to think about. Like, where does the power lie? And I think that’s the thing with Dani here. Yeah, her power lies in her husband, yet regardless of the fact that that’s where it lies, she still has it. And so a lot of it is like, it lies in the hearts and minds of people. And, you know, later when she loses Khal Drogo, she is able to retain some of that power, I think partly through, obviously, the magical means that we’ll see at the end of the show, but I think that’s something we can touch back on, you know. Because she does sort of inherit some of her husband’s power.

James: There’s a certain amount of earning her own respect through the Dothraki. Like, she is doing things that they like, and she’s basically showing and…to them, showing why she’s to be respected and why she’s powerful.

Luke: Yes.

James: And, like, Jorah even at one point is like, “You’re beginning to speak like a queen.” So, she’s coming into it on her own, as well. But it’s also Khal Drogo. Until Khal Drogo dies, it’s really tied to him, I think.

Luke: Yeah, I agree with that. So, another part here is I think we get the start of the Hand’s Tourney. Which I love how Ned is like, “You can call it the Hand’s Tourney all you want, it’s not my tournament, it’s the king’s tournament.” But they keep calling it.

James: Yeah, he’s so conflicted by it. And he’s like, “I will not allow this.” In, I think, the last episode, or in this episode, he’s like, “I will not allow it to happen. It’s an expense we can’t afford.” And, ultimately, like they say, everything…Robert gets everything he wants, so it goes off, even though he doesn’t want it to.

Luke: Yeah, and we’re getting into the heart of Ned’s investigation here. It’s really getting going, and I love that there is this mystery plot in the heart of this fantasy novel, right? Why was Jon Arryn murdered? What are the bread crumbs we can follow for the information that got him killed? And we can see that there’s this important squire that Ned used to talk to, but he dies before he can talk to him. So, it’s very mystery plot-ish, right? Going on at the same time here, and it’s…in some senses, Game of Thrones is a blend of genres here, right? Like it brings in that mystery/thriller element, and to great effect, I think. 

James: I think you could say Game of Thrones basically encompasses almost every genre, ultimately.

Luke: Yeah. In some ways.

James: It really does. It’s a blend in almost every way. Clearly mostly fantasy.

Luke: We don’t see a really pure romance in here, though. That turns out well, at least.

James: Well, Jaimie and Cersei.

Luke: <laughing> Yeah. You know, the old Jaimie/Cersei twin relationship, twincest romance, sure.

James: Right. 

Luke: Yeah, but no, I agree with you, it does have a lot of those genres, and it’s played with. Like, the idea of Sansa—she wants the fairytale romance, so badly that she’s willing to overlook so much of what’s going on with Joffrey.

James: So, how about Catelyn rallying her father’s allies in the tavern?

Luke: Yeah, that’s such a cool scene in the book. To me, it didn’t quite live up to it in the show. I’m curious to know what you thought of it. 

James: I still enjoyed it in the show. But I agree. Some of these major scenes feel like they have a lot more weight to them because seeing them, I think, sometimes is less impressive. Like, seeing a couple of guys stand up and point swords versus your imagination of how she’s, like, “This bannerman and this bannerman,” and everyone is coming together.

Luke: Yeah.

James: But it is…so, as much as we like Tyrion, it’s cool to see him as the villain fairly early on in the show. As far as her plot line is concerned. And to see him at sword point. I think, at least me during my first viewing, I was very much Stark…everything Stark. They can do no wrong. So, I was on her side. And I was like, “Whatever she thinks that Tyrion may have done, he may be guilty here, so let’s hear her out.” 

Luke: Yeah. So, I would argue that this is one of the most egregious errors made by the Stark family. I think that this is a big mistake.

James: And I would also say that it’s not the Stark family, it’s Catelyn.

Luke: Yeah, well, she’s one of the heads of the Stark family, so…but yeah. And Ned makes the honorable decision to own it and say that he ordered it, when he clearly didn’t. And he backs it up, which like, I get that’s really the only option you have. But, truthfully, this is kind of a dumb move. Because…and Tyrion points it out. He says, like, “I am not a stupid guy. Why would I hire someone to try and kill your son and use my own dagger? It makes no sense.” And when he says that, she doesn’t really have a good answer for him. And I think that’s something she should have thought about and should have led her to realize that it’s not Tyrion. And I think some of it is that she’s caught up in the reputation of who The Imp is. Like, she’s believed the press about how he’s such a terrible guy. And some of that is just pure reputation, right? And I think she’s caught up in that, where she wants to believe, like…as soon as she hears it was his dagger, she’s ready. She’s leaping to the belief that he’s the one who did it. I don’t know. It’s like she blames the Lannisters, and so her eagerness to blame the Lannisters leads her to capture Tyrion, whereas I don’t think she’s fully separated out him from the rest of the family and realized that he might not be fully in line with their thinking. Because she…I think she just arrested him because he’s like the nearest Lannister she has, and she has this proof she can lay at his feet, but it just doesn’t…it doesn’t fully line up to me, and to me she didn’t think it all the way through. So, I think that was the mistake.

James: Well, I think her…I agree with you, and I think that’s a big thing throughout…people just assume that their…whatever your name is, you’re going to go along with whatever that house is currently doing. So, I think that Tyrion is an example of somebody who is obviously not usually in line with his family 100%. But I also think that she was so blinded by just the passion of her son being attacked. I think that, even if it wasn’t Tyrion with the reputation, I think that whoever it was, she was going to blindly pursue that person, given the opportunity. Because I think that’s part of her character. I think that she’s, like…because she makes this rash decision, and like you said, ultimately it is the Starks, but it’s Catelyn, and she doesn’t necessarily fall in line with the Stark values and kind of, like, motives. Whereas, like, a true Stark, like someone like Ned would have potentially thought it out a little more and not acted so rashly. She was ready to jump, given the opportunity. And, like you said, I think it’s a little premature. She could have thought it through a little better. 

Luke: Yeah. And one of the reasons it is such a bad decision, in my opinion, is we see the fallout. Because in the next episode, we can talk about it, the fallout with Jaimie, and once he finds out what’s happened. So, in fact, let’s…I think we’re ready to move onto the next episode here.

James: Episode 5 is “The Wolf and the Lion.” Ned refuses to participate in Robert’s plan to assassinate the pregnant Daenerys Targaryen and resigns as Robert’s Hand, angering him. Catelyn and Tyrion, whom she has taken as her prisoner, arrive at her sister Lysa’s home in the Eyrie. News of Tyrion’s capture reaches King’s Landing, where Jaimie Lannister demands answers from Ned. A vengeful Jaimie orders Ned’s men killed and fights Ned until Jaimie’s man stabs Ned in the leg from behind, leaving him wounded. And this is the difference. In the book, he falls off a horse.

Luke: Yeah, in the book he falls off a horse. Also in the book, Jaimie leaves. He doesn’t actually stay and fight. So, there’s some things that are like…you know, we always say, “What was better? What was the better decision?” I actually like the way the scene plays out better in the show. 

James: Really? I was going to say the opposite.

Luke: Really? So, I liked that Jaimie stands and fights. And he says, “Take him alive,” is all he says. But I like…to me, it’s like Jaimie being a little more brash. Which I think plays into his character. He’s eager to fight in the show, and wants to fight Ned and actually have that one-on-one with him. I think he’s eager for it. And so I liked seeing that. It’s kind of dumb that his man steps up and stabs him, when he should know better, but we see that he basically knocks him out with the bottom of his sword…with the end of his sword, because he’s like, “Dammit, you fucked this up for me.” And then, yeah, ultimately him ordering the death of his men is a cold-blooded thing, definitely a dastardly thing for him to do. But he also…he does it himself. He kills Jory himself in the show. Whereas in the book, it’s just like…he gets swarmed by Lannister men. So, what’s your reason for liking the book version better, I guess is my question.

James: I think it was mostly the second part of what you were just saying. Just like, in the book, Jaimie is…he thinks it through, you know. Like we were just talking about with Catelyn, I think he thinks it through, like “What is the fallout of these actions?” And he knows…I think that he realizes that if he does fight Ned or attack Ned in some way…if he is killed, then there’s no way they’re getting Tyrion back, and to see that guy jump in and stab Ned in the leg, it’s just…to me, it seems a little ridiculous. Because in what way could that person have possibly thought that’s what Jaimie wanted?

Luke: I mean, yeah, just because he’s like…he could be like, “I’m going to protect my lord here, and I have an opportunity to end this thing, so I’m going to take it.” I can see somebody being dumb in that moment, I guess. 

James: So, in the book, I think we get…it really played up how great of a swordsman Jaimie is, and how smart Ned Stark is. 

Luke: Yeah.

James: And I think having the two of them actually clash in that scene is less exciting than a fight between them would have actually been in my imagination. And I think that keeping it a mystery…George R. R. Martin keeping that away from us rather than showing them actually fighting in some capacity, keeping the “what would that be like?” away from us, I think, leads to more legends and you think of Jaimie a little more highly or you think of Ned…it kind of lends itself to that debate, like Ned or Jaimie.

Luke: Well, that shows…I mean this is an early difference in the show and the book, right, like on display. We get…Martin’s decision is to completely withhold that confrontation from us. And instead of seeing it, Ned gets injured falling off a horse. And so now we’re not going to ever see a healthy Ned versus Jaimie. 

James: Which is like a complete subversion…

Luke: Yeah, it’s a complete subversion. Whereas in the show, we get a taste of it, and then it gets taken away from us. So, yeah, I think it just shows the difference in Martin’s writing style. Because that is Martin to a tee. To completely withhold something like that, which we thought for sure we were going to get. 

James: Right. If he does that with the Cleganebowl, I’m going to die…I’ll die.

Luke: <laughing> Yeah. But like we talked about last episode, every now and then, Martin comes through and he gives you the thing that you thought he wasn’t ever going to give you, and it’s those moments that can be really exciting. But, yeah, one of the other things I just really want to say about this scene is that there’s another moment that was in the trailer that looked so good. And that’s Jaimie drawing his sword and all of his men lowering their spears at the same moment. I remember that was in that first trailer, or maybe like the second trailer because I think the first one might have just been a teaser. But, regardless, it was an early moment in the trailers that just got me so excited for the show because that was…the look of Jaimie Lannister was so perfect, and I think that was really good casting, and…yeah. Just that scene was epic-feeling, right, and I was excited to see it.

James: I think it is this episode where we get another added scene where Robert is having sex with a bunch of prostitutes, and Jaimie is standing guard outside. And we get this scene where Jory comes up and talks to him about a battle they were in together at the Pike, right?

Luke: Yeah, and I love that Jaimie all of a sudden then remembers him. He’s like, “Yeah, I do remember you.” Because that’s…which just shows that Jaimie really is all about the glory of battle. Continue what you were saying.

James: I just thought that was such a great interaction when he was like, “I don’t remember you,” and he’s kind of so dismissive. And he’s like, “We were in a battle together,” and then they’re like old war buddies, and he was like, “Remember that moment where…”

Luke: Thoros of Myr charged through the breach with his flaming sword.

James: Yeah. Exactly. That’s such a fun addition, and kind of a nod to some of the details in the book that we get but we don’t see in the show until a little bit later.

Luke: Yeah, it’s cool, and it’s such a perfect Jaimie moment. They do a lot with this character. Because a lot of Jaimie…people may not remember if it’s been a while since you read the books…but a lot of this Jaimie stuff comes in Book 3. I think that’s where we really start…I think that might be the book, unless I misremember, I’m pretty sure it’s Book 3…maybe Book 2, but I’m pretty sure it’s Book 3, where we actually get Jaimie’s point of view for the first time. And so much starts to happen once we get his point of view. We learn his backstory, and we learn…but instead they’re setting all that up early here. So, Jaimie is more of a sympathetic character in the show, I think, than he is in the book. Where he’s just kind of this villain off page a lot of the time. I think it’s in this episode, too, where Robert calls him in, and he’s talking to Barristan Selmy, and they’re talking about their first kill. And we can see Barristan’s respect he has for Jaimie, I think is another telling moment, right? They have respect for each other, but Barristan definitely says, “I was there the day that you killed your first bandit,” or whatever. And he was, like, “You were talented even then,” kind of thing.

James: Yep. Just the respect between the warriors. I mean Barristan Selmy is so awesome as a character, as well. Especially in the book. 

Luke: I think they did a great job with him in the show, too. I really do.

James: The reason I said that was just because I wasn’t a huge fan of how he went down in the show.

Luke: Oh, well, sure, yeah, that could be true. But we’re talking early, early here. I think it’s good.

James: Yeah. I’m sorry, they do a good job with his character, and I think that the actor pulls off a great performance as him, and he seems like he’s got that old school…Ned talks about how Ned’s father would talk about how great Selmy was and how he was the greatest swordsman he’d ever seen, and he wasn’t one to exaggerate when it came to combat. That was also another great added scene.

Luke: So, before we move past this scene completely, this made me wonder, and I wanted to ask you, where does Robert Baratheon in his prime stack up against a lot of these other great warriors?

James: For me, I think that…do you want me to talk about strength versus skill versus, like….are we just having a melee or is it one-on-one?

Luke: Yeah, yeah. Melee. Let’s just say, like, yeah, a melee.

James: Okay. I mean I think The Mountain is definitely in there. What would be interesting is to see someone like Robert Baratheon versus The Mountain. 

Luke: Yeah, because it’s strength versus strength.

James: But, I mean, yeah, there’s a lot to be said for someone like Arthur Dayne, or like Selmy, or…

Luke: Jaimie.

James: Jaimie, yeah exactly. I would love to see…or The Viper…um…

Luke: Yeah.

James: Who also was another…because he technically beat The Mountain.

Luke: And he ultimately…I think part of the fun that Martin plays with here is the answer to those questions are kind of less fun than the thinking about them. Like, what would happen if we saw Robert Baratheon in his prime against Jaimie Lannister? Or against The Mountain? Or against Khal Drogo, for example?

James: That’s another great one.

Luke: Being a warrior. Like, where does he line up against Jaimie Lannister or somebody like that? These are all really fascinating kind of matches and, of course, we’re not going to get them. And I think one of the reasons is, like I said, it’s more interesting to think about rather than, like, if it actually played out. Somebody wins, somebody loses, and in some sense it’s kind of less interesting.

James: Yeah, and I think to answer your question in some sort of way, I think I would put Robert Baratheon like top three strongest…in  his prime…strongest characters in the show because he basically, with his might, took on anyone who would come at him, and revolted and led his revolution and took over the Seven Kingdoms. 

Luke: Yeah. And I agree with that. And I think it’s also important to differentiate between show Robert. Because, if you see the show Robert, I think there’s a reading of it where you think it’s a lot of bluster, because he just isn’t a very impressive figure in the show. Because he’s a lot shorter, doesn’t seem to be quite as powerful. They get the fat part down, you know. And I love the actor. I think it’s Robert Addy or something is his name…um…Mark Addy. I don’t know, I probably got that wrong.

James: Mark Addy.

Luke: But I think he does a great job. But he’s not very imposing. And book Robert is like 6’6”, we have to remember, and he’s supposed to be this huge figure. And, yeah, I think at the heart of that character is a warrior who wanted to fight, and he wanted to win, and then he got everything he ever wanted, and now he’s being sort of like…that’s the poison now…that he’s gotten everything he wants and he has nothing left to fight for. And now he just is faced with the boredom of having to rule, and it’s really…it’s too much for him. He’s not built for that.

James: And this viewing had me thinking a lot about Robert and how, had he just been more of an engaged leader or more of a…because he seems like a caring man, ultimately. He was, like, bloodlust…he was after the war and he was in his prime, and he was in his element when he was fighting, but at the same time he seems like he genuinely cares about being a good king, at least in the things that he says. And it just makes me think of an alternate timeline or alternate universe where he is, you know, engaged, and he doesn’t let himself be surrounded by yes-men and people who are not looking for the same thing he is. 

Luke: I don’t know that I believe he ever could have been a great king. I think he was way more caught up in wanting vengeance for Lyanna, and then just wanting to win. And I don’t know that he ever really wanted to rule. Now, there is, I think an alternate, where you could think, like, if Lyanna had loved him and they had ended together, could she have been somebody who could have helped him to, like, rein it in and actually care? And been that figure in his life that he needed? Or would he have, because I think there’s a part in the book where she says, like, “He was never going to change,” and Robert says, “Oh, you never know. Once he gets married to you, he’ll change his ways, and he’ll be a good man.” But Lyanna wasn’t convinced. And she kind of said, like, “He’s never going to be different than he is now.” What I love about that is that it comes right back to Jon Snow, and it comes right back to that…and it’s so funny because I feel like at the point in the show where we got the reveal of Jon’s Snow’s parentage, it’s like…so much had happened and so much had moved on that I think a lot of people were like, “Wait, why is that important?”

James: Exactly.

Luke: But it is the most important thing. It’s the heart of this all. It’s what started Robert’s rebellion, which is what started everything. Which is why…it’s why Cersei Lannister was married to Robert Baratheon and, they have shown through the show, why their relationship could have never worked because Robert was in love with another woman. And, you know, maybe it never would have happened anyway, but I think the show wants us to believe that it had a shot. Had that not been true. Because the implication is that Cersei actually did care for him at one point. I think we get that in the next episode. 

James: And speaking of Cersei makes me think of Jon Arryn. And we’re supposed to see Jon Arryn, especially since he raised Ned and Robert, we’re supposed to see him as this really honorable and really knowledgeable person, yet he makes a lot of mistakes. He appoints Cersei…like he appoints that marriage between Cersei and Robert, which like you say, may have worked out in different circumstances. But he also, as much as he wasn’t…I just can’t believe that he wasn’t able to rein in Robert Baratheon. Because he was like a father to him, so for him to not just listen to Jon Arryn is really surprising, and the fact that they’re going bankrupt because they’re borrowing from everyone and they’re just hemorrhaging money, and it’s just surprising that a man like that, that we don’t know that much about…but I always thought of him as a character that would be similar to Ned, would be just like, “I’m walking away if you’re not going to listen to me.” But it seems like he put up with it and continued to just let him get, time after time…make the wrong decision.

Luke: Yeah. So, I have three quick things that I want to touch on for this scene before we move on…or for this episode before we move on. One is the added scene of Littlefinger and Varys in the throne room, and they’re sort of like sparring. They’re sparring, but they’re using information and what each person knows and what the other one doesn’t, and I love that it’s just back and forth between them, and they just have a great onscreen chemistry in their sort of animosity but respect they have for each other. It really works, and I think Varys was a character that was good in the books, but I love his portrayal in the show. I think that actor really nails it. 

James: Mmhmm.

Luke: It’s very good.

James: And it did a great job of showing audiences these two characters at odds with each other, even more so than the book does. Until a little bit later, maybe. And I, like you said, it’s such a huge scene, and when you think of Varys and Littlefinger, you think of that scene. 

Luke: Yeah. There was a few things…so, we talked about, I think in our Fellowship episode for the movie, I talked about some of the Hollywood cliches that always happen in fantasy, and I just wanted to touch on a few of them here that stood out to me that definitely…Game of Thrones is not above them. There’s a few. I’ll just go through them quickly. We see nobody wears a helmet in this show when they’re fighting. They just kind of have all the actors’ faces out, which we talked about that. There’s a moment where Bronn sheathes a blood sword, which I cringe. 

James: I saw that, yeah.

Luke: I cringe because you would never want to do that. It’s very bad. That’s a good way to have a sword that doesn’t draw when you need it next time. As the blood dries and it gets stuck in the scabbard.

James: Not to mention it’s going to tarnish the blade, right?

Luke: Yeah, it’s not good for the blade, but then, yeah, I mean like it’s going to gum up in there. It’s going to dry, and that’s going to be bad. You would definitely want to clean that blade. These are all little nitpicks, right? There’s another thing where Jaimie and Ned’s fight, they do…I think it’s the light saber push is what I think it’s been coined as, because it’s famous…Star Wars does this a lot, where two characters lock swords and push at each other and kind of like mug each other over their swords.

James: But it’s so dramatic and cinematic…

Luke: This is a very TV thing. This doesn’t happen in actual swordplay. It would be dumb for it to happen.

James: Anything that has sword fighting in it, usually there’s going to be that push moment, though, because it’s so good to get both characters in frame at each other’s throats.

Luke: Is it good, though? Or is it cliché?

James: Well, I don’t see it going away anytime soon.

Luke: No, you’re probably right. I just…it’s just a very unrealistic sword moment. Yeah, there’s just a few things like that I felt like I had to sort of highlight that this show still does. The other one, the helmet thing, that’s never going away. As much as that’s the primary…we talked about if you could wear one piece of armor in a battle, you’d want to wear a helmet because your head is the most important part of your body to protect. Yet, we see so many times people fighting without helmets and going into battle without helmets, and it’s just because you want to see the actor’s face. And I get it, and I know that it’s not going away. Okay, but nitpicking aside, if you want to…if you want to get more of that swordplay nitpicking, there’s a YouTube channel called Scholagladiatoria, and I’ll put a link in the show notes for it. He breaks down a lot of these fights in different TV shows and movies, and he’ll talk about where it’s realistic and where it’s not, and he gets into a lot of these little things that are, like, not historically accurate. Cool channel, I really like it. But, so the one final thing I want to raise, I’m going to raise now, but I want to talk about it at the very end of the episode as our final thing, and that is the idea that George R. R. Martin has, through the success he’s had in his career…this occurred to me as I was watching it…but has he put himself in a position where he is now basically the Robert Baratheon of fantasy? <laughing> Do you like that?

James: Oh, God, yeah. I actually really like that.

Luke: Do you like that observation? I don’t know if it’s fair, but I want to, like, unpack that a little bit at the very end. 

James: Yeah, that sounds cool.

Luke: Okay, so let’s get into the final episode here that we cover. Okay, Episode 6 is called “A Golden Crown.” Robert reappoints Ned as Hand and tasks him with running affairs until Robert returns from hunting. Villagers from River Run arrive in the throne room with news of atrocities committed by raiders who Ned deduces were led by Gregor Clegane, a Lannister retainer. Ned sentences Gregor to death and sends a message to Tywin Lannister, summoning him to a trial. Ned decides to send Sansa, who has now reconciled with Joffrey, and Arya back to Winterfell. Ned discovers that Joffrey and his siblings are not Robert’s biological children. Bran, while out testing his new saddle, is attacked by Wildlings. In the Vale, Tyrion demands a trial by combat, which Lysa grants. She chooses Ser Vardis, and Tyrion asks for a champion. The sell sword and mercenary Bronn volunteers, kills Vardis, and thereby obtains Tyrion’s release. Meanwhile, Viserys becomes enraged with Drogo for not honoring his promise and threatens to kill Daenarys’s unborn child. Drogo kills Viserys himself by pouring molten gold onto his head. So, this is a great episode. A lot happens in it. So, yeah, let’s talk about it.

James: What was the last thing you said…so, I do want to say that one of the things I’ve always loved is that they can’t spill blood in Vaes Dothrak, and the fact that he pours the gold on his head to kill him without spilling any blood has always been such a great detail to me.

Luke: Yeah. I have always felt like…I don’t think he would die immediately from this. I think he would die eventually, but I think it would be a long, agonizing death, probably due to infection.

James: Really? You don’t think he would burn…it wouldn’t burn through the skin and into the…burn the bone and get in there?

Luke: I don’t think so. Gold melts at a pretty low temperature compared to a lot of other metals. I think he’d get really nasty third-degree burns, and then I think it would cool and harden, and then he’d have this hardened face of gold. Over third-degree burns that are really, really bad. I think he’d be…I just think he’d be in terrible agony for, like, hours, if not days, and then eventually die. I don’t think there’d be any coming back from it, and I think it’s easier just to have him fall, drop dead in the moment. I just don’t see because it’s nothing…no vital organs are actually getting killed here. You know what I mean? It would have to seep through his skull to actually...which I don’t think it would do. I think this is all soft tissue damage. And it’s bad, but honestly, it might be infection that eventually kills him. But it would be fucking nasty, and I definitely think he dies, but yeah, I don’t think he dies in this moment. But I could be wrong. I just know that I spent a long time in the ICU after my car accident, and there was a guy next to me who I would hear all the time, who had been badly burned. He had third-degree burns all over his body because…and I believe this is true…I heard that he had like a canister of gasoline, and he tried to pour it on a fire or something, and the canister itself exploded in his hands. He was covered in gasoline and had third-degree burns all over his body, and you know what I mean? He was still alive. So, yeah, metal is definitely like…you can’t get away from it in that sense, but yeah, I think it would eventually cool, and he probably wouldn’t have died. Anyway, that’s getting pretty gruesome. Let’s move on.

James: Wow, man, brutal.

Luke: But yeah, so I want to talk about The Mountain a little bit here, because I think we kind of glossed over him. Him and Sandor and their backstory, and him killing the horse, chopping his head off nearly…

James: Huge moment, yeah.

Luke: Yeah. Big, big moment. Sandor getting cheered by the crowds, which I love. Because he had this perfect expression in the show, where he, like, doesn’t know what to do, and even in the book it talks about how it’s the first time that’s ever happened, right? The small folk actually cheering for him. 

James: Mmhmm.

Luke: And, yeah, it’s just him standing up to his brother. Now, one major difference, and this is touching on last episode. We get the backstory through Littlefinger, whereas in the book it’s actually Sandor himself who tells Sansa. Yeah, so that’s a little different. What did you think of that change?

James: Well, I think that…So, I don’t know if it’s just book…I can’t remember if it’s really played up in the show. But there is this…for some reason Sandor has this soft spot for Sansa, and I think that this is setting that up…

Luke: Yeah, in the book. 

James: For the rest of the book.

Luke: Yeah.

James: And I think that’s kind of something that’s lacking. So, if it is in the show where…because he does have that…I don’t know if he’s attracted to her or if it’s more of like a fatherly thing, trying to protect her, but he definitely has some affection for Sansa, and I think this is setting that up. 

Luke: Yeah. I think in the show it is definitely more fatherly almost, protective kind of thing. Whereas in the book, I think there is some implication that maybe there is actually an attraction there, which is definitely, you know…weird. But sometimes that’s…I don’t know. It could just be that Sansa is inferring that or something. I don’t remember the specific scenes. I’d have to re-read them. But yeah, I guess it’s okay. They’re giving it to Littlefinger to give him more to do to make him more of an important character early on. We see…I see Littlefinger’s scheming is a lot more on display here, right, as he’s continuing to just fan the flames between the Lannisters and the Starks. And, so a lot of him helping out Ned, to me I can see very clearly, “Okay, you’re just doing this because you know that’s going to give him more fuel to then turn on the Lannisters,” right?

James: And they do a good job of making Varys seem like that for the first, like, two or three…maybe like the first two episodes that we meet him. And then, like very quickly, we’re like, “Oh, Varys seems to be really actually on board for the realm.”

Luke: Yeah. Which is interesting, though, because he’s backing the Targaryens, right? 

James: Illyrio.

Luke: He’s backing Illyrio, and they have this whole thing where they’re going to try and have the Targaryens.

James: Yeah.

Luke: To me it seems very…

James: He’s playing both sides.

Luke: Varys is kind of a Targaryen loyalist, though. You know?

James: Yeah.

Luke: Let’s talk about some other big things that happened here. Oh, in relation to Gregor. Gregor leaves, and he’s turned raider, and we see Ned order his apprehension and murder…or not murder…execution. And he sends Beric Dondarrion, played by a very different actor at this point in the show…a little skinny guy. 

James: Yeah, I’m glad they recast it.

Luke: It’s a cool moment, and I remember reading it and not realizing how important it is. And how big it is later, because the whole Brotherhood without Banners thing, right? That’s what they’re called, right? I think.

James: Right.

Luke: Who Beric Dondarrion leads, and it’s all like…their whole thing is that they got an order from the King’s Hand to do this thing, and so they’re out here doing it forever.

James: Right.

Luke: Even though Robert’s dead and they’re all still out there doing it. It all starts at this moment right here with Ned doing this.

James: Oh, and it’s also a huge moment because it’s kind of a secondary statement after he says, “I’m stripping him of all land” and all this other stuff, but he’s also calling Tywin out, and he’s like, “Tywin, get to King’s Landing, and you’re on the hook now.” It’s like, “And if you’re not here in 24 hours…” or however long, if he doesn’t reply back in 24 hours, then he’s going to be an enemy of the crown, which is a huge deal, because clearly Tywin has a ton of influence over the crown at this point. Not even just money-wise, but also influence with his kids. 

Luke: Yeah. And so there’s a moment in the book, which I don’t think we get in the show yet, but I think is coming, and it’s where Ned feels bad for…because he’s proven that he is not okay with the killing of children. And he has a moment where you can totally understand why he does it, but he warns Cersei that they’re coming for her and that Robert is going to be furious, and that he’s going to probably have her children killed over this. Once he learns that Joffrey is not the son of Robert, right? Which he finds out through the whole “seed is strong” hair thing. 

James: Well, that’s what I mean…that goes into what I was talking about before about…his big mistake was kind of warning her and being as open…he should have done it more…

Luke: Subtly.

James: He should have done it more subtly, exactly.

Luke: Yeah. But when I say that he still is making decisions that, to me, are still right… Because you can see that he doesn’t believe in murdering children for political reasons. And so he is warning Cersei to give her a chance to flee, but clearly it blows up in his face, because she warns him…or he warns her, and it gives her the opportunity she needs to do everything she can to turn… So, would the right thing to do here be let her children die? So, that’s why I’m saying I love that Martin is able to, in my opinion, basically make Ned make the right decision every moment, up until the point at which he dies. And it’s like he can make the right decision…

James: If you’re talking morally, I think you’re right, yeah.

Luke: Yeah, exactly. Like, he makes the right decision all…I mean, yeah, obviously somewhere in there are mistakes because it led to his death, but he still is making the honorable and moral decision more often than not. In fact, every moment, I would say. And it leads to his death. And we see that all the way up to the very end, which we’ll definitely touch on when we get back to it. You know, in further episodes. 

James: So, another massive part of this episode is Bran out on the saddle that Tyrion had designed for him, and he’s with Rob, and he gets attacked by these Wildlings, and I think this is great because it’s going to set up Rob as a character for us. Because we haven’t been able to see him all that much up to this point. 

Luke: Hmm.

James: Because Catelyn’s been gone, and Bran’s been injured, so…to see him stand up and show that he actually is a capable warrior and, like, he’s…and also, interestingly enough, to see Theon’s loyalty at this point. 

Luke: Yeah. Yeah, man, Theon. Theon is like…I guess they do a lot to just set him up to be kind of a shit in the show that they need to do, because he definitely is one. Every scene he’s in he’s pretty awful. Even early on, right?

James: But approaching this not as a book reader, you’re kind of happy that Theon stepped up to pull that arrow and shoot the Wildling. 

Luke: Yeah, I think in the book he does the same thing, and Rob points out, like, “What if your shot hadn’t been a killing shot? What if you’d missed in some fashion?” You know what I mean? Because Bran could have died there.

James: What if he did nothing, though?

Luke: Yeah. That’s a fair counter-argument, for sure. Because, like, what was going to happen in this moment? It seemed like it wasn’t going to go well, regardless. I guess I mean more like, he has all these scenes with Ros that are super-cringy.

James: Oh, right, yeah. Well, I gotta say Tyrion’s wrapped up in that, too, a little bit. The whole Ros and…they have a conversation as Tyrion’s leaving, and he throws him a coin, and he’s like, basically says, “I’ll try not to wear her out, and this is for your next tumble with Ros.” 

Luke: Oh, yeah, yeah. Then there’s like a weird jealousy thing going on there. And then that’s also the girl Jon is referencing.

James: Yeah.

Luke: When he’s talking to Sam. It’s all Ros. And she’s an added character for the show. And I guess it’s fine. It’s like they’re taking multiple different prostitutes, and they’re making them into one character, basically, in the show. Which for economy of characters sake, I’m okay with it. But yeah, there’s just some really cringy stuff that goes on there. But I want to talk about one of the other major scenes that happens here, and that’s Bronn stepping up and defeating Ser Vardis in the epic trial-by-combat…the first trial-by-combat we get in Game of Thrones, and it’s a big one. Yeah, what did you think? There’s some changes here. The moon door being in use, and I think in the book the fight plays out a little differently in like him wearing him down and making him tired is played up in the book more. Whereas in the show, it feels a little bit more of like a…I don’t know…like less trickery is involved. Although there is some. 

James: Yeah, it seems like…I do like the addition of the moon door, and I gotta say The Vale is one of the most extravagant…I guess every kind of stronghold is cool in its own way, but The Vale is crazy with the moon door and how it’s built up…it’s like how could you ever hope to attack that stronghold? 

Luke: And the sky cells in the book are some really good stuff. The description of it. They do a good job showing Tyrion almost rolling off at one point and stuff, but I love the idea…I think in the show they change it to make him fly or something is what’s written on the wall. But in the book it’s like, “God help me, the blue is calling,” or something. To me it’s more chilling in the book. Like what’s written on the wall.

James: Yeah.

Luke: It’s all good, though. I like…the way they handled it in the show was clever. And I love Tyrion’s whole thing with the jailer and then paying his debts eventually when he does get out is cool. The Lannisters always pay their debts.

James: Yeah.

Luke: Which is funny, too, because we later learn that the Lannisters are actually broke. And so I love that, once again, this ties back to that idea of power and stuff.

James: It’s all an illusion.

Luke: What you can spin, and the illusion of…they have this whole motto around their house that makes everybody believe they’re rich even when they’re not.

James: They’re definitely not just talking about money, though. You know what I mean? Their debts. They’re absolutely talking about acts of debt. Like being indebted to somebody like Bronn. Not necessarily money. He is looking for money, but they’re indebted to him, just basically…the relationship Tyrion and Bronn share going forward is definitely built on that kind of, like, Lannister paying his debts, but kind of over and over again.

Luke: Well, and “Rich as a Lannister” is like a saying in the realm, which, you know…to me that’s very Trumpian. Like…

James: Yeah.

Luke: Like, how much money does Donald Trump actually have? You know. Yeah, it’s just built around the name.

James: Exactly. 

Luke: It’s something, man. If you think about how this intersects with our real-world politics is another whole thing you could really think about, too, with crazy backroom deals and…

James: Well, yeah, and how about the honorable person getting totally screwed? The person who wants to stand up for the right thing and being honorable. That’s very much…I feel like it’s tough to do in our political system…be honorable and push through for all the right reasons.

Luke: Yeah. Right, like you have to play the game, you have to be the politician. You can’t just be an idealist. 

James: That’s true.

Luke: Because that’s the way the game is set up. Yeah, and this is one of the reasons I think Game of Thrones feels more fresh and, you know, applicable to the modern world in some ways. And we’re still just in the middle here. I know our next episodes are going to be where the real shit goes down. So, I’m looking forward to those. But I think this is a good place to leave these episodes, unless you have anything else.

James: No, I want to talk to you more about George R. R. Martin as Robert Baratheon thing. 

Luke: Yeah, okay. So, let’s save that for the very end. All right, we wanted to thank one of our newer patrons, JD Cook. Thank you for supporting us and for helping us keep this show going. If you want to find out how to become a patron yourself, go to Patreon.com/InkToFilm. You can find out about our bonus content that we’re offering and all sorts of other goodies. 

James: If you wanted to connect with us on social media, we’re on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, all those @InkToFilm, and we have a Facebook group called The Council of Inklings, as well, where we post polls and other information about coming adaptations or anything we find interesting. So, check that out. 

Luke: Yeah, and if you wanted to send us feedback otherwise, you can always send us an email at InkToFilm@gmail.com, and we would be glad to respond to that and check it out and maybe even talk about it on the show. 

James: Also, if you wanted to support the podcast, you could leave a rating or review on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Luke: Yeah, that would be awesome. Please do that. Also, make sure to subscribe if you’re not subscribed, to make sure you get all of our content as soon as it comes out.

James: Thank you to Jennifer Della’Zanna for providing our transcripts, and thank you to Rameses B for the use of our intro and outro music.

Luke: All right, man, so let’s get into it. I proposed the idea…I don’t even know if I believe it…that perhaps Martin has become a Robert Baratheon-type figure. What do you think of that now that I’ve just hit you with this out-there idea.

James: So, my initial reaction was that I kind of get it. But I also think that he’s still…it’s not that he’s…so you’re saying in terms of, like, he’s mastered this amazing accomplishment, and he has this huge series under him, but in terms of getting it finished, he’s slowing down and kind of just…

Luke: He’s reached the pinnacle, and I think…and the way that I’m comparing it is that, like, the thing that was driving him, I think, was…wanting to reach the pinnacle, wanting to get to where he’s at now, and now that he has it, I think that is one of the reasons why he’s slowed down. I think…there’s a lot of pressure, no doubt, to stick the landing, and that’s gotta be crippling. But I also think maybe some of that drive is just different now. It’s maybe a little bit absent. 

James: I think, yeah, I think you’re going to change based on…your motivations might change based on the success of something like this, so, you know, if it hadn’t become a huge success, The Winter would probably be out by now. But he also…I would say that he’s not completely Robert Baratheon-esque because he’s at least still engaging with the material and putting out new books to further flesh out other things.

Luke: Yeah, and I think he cares, whereas Robert Baratheon, you could argue maybe he doesn’t care that much.

James: Right.

Luke: Yeah, and the other thing is he wrote that character. So, I think he is aware of the dangers of getting everything you want and then having to deal with it, and having to live with all that success. You know, but maybe just because he wrote the character doesn’t mean that he’s immune to it, but at the very least, I would hope that maybe has an awareness about it. His situation, I mean.

James: Right. 

Luke: To where hopefully it wouldn’t completely control him.

James: Yeah.

Luke: I don’t know, I just thought it was kind of a fun comparison to make, right? I could see some parallels there. 

James: Yeah, I get that. It’s funny. Who’s his Ned Stark?

Luke: Who’s his Ned Stark? Uhh…I don’t know. I can’t think of anybody. Maybe he just needs one.

James: Yeah. 

Luke: Maybe he needs a Ned Stark to help him out. Maybe that’s the problem.

James: Is Tolkien his Jon Arryn?

Luke: <laughs> Tolkien as Jon Arryn. Yeah, that’s…maybe. I don’t know, man. We’ve stretched this metaphor about as far as it can stretch without breaking, so I think it’s about time to wrap this one up. We hope you join us again next week when we get to the final episodes and final chapters of Game of Thrones, Season 1, Book 1. We wrap our coverage of this project…for now. Until we possibly return to it in the future. But, yeah, I’m really looking forward to it, and I hope you guys come back next week for that.

James: All right. Until next time…

Luke: Thanks for listening!

<music plays>