Each week, HitFix Harpy will be hosting the “Game of Thrones” book club. A safe space where readers of “A Song of Ice and Fire” can come to dissect the changes to the series and debate what will happen next. All without fear they'll accidentally spoil something for non-readers.
WARNING: THIS POST IS DARK AND FULL OF SPOILERS. DISCUSSION ALL THE WAY THROUGH “A DANCE WITH DRAGONS” BEYOND THIS POINT.
After last week”s episode, “Game of Thrones” leaves the politics of Dorne behind for the fermenting caldron of tension that is Castle Black. Jon Snow had to “Kill the Boy” which thankfully was only metaphorical (for now). Across the Narrow Sea, Dany lost her best advisor and must bumble through trying to be an adult on her own. And in what might be my favorite change from the books, Tyrion laid eyes on the smoldering ruins of Old Valyria.
#1. Our first glimpse ever of Old Valyria and the Stone Men zombies.
In the books: The Doom still reigns in Old Valyria and no men dare tread in her ruins. In other words, we ain”t seen it. The Stone Men hang out on the Bridge of Dream in Chroyanae instead.
On the show: With Jon Connington MIA from “Game of Thrones,” it”s up to Jorah to save Tyrion from the Stone zombies and up to Jorah to become infected with greyscale in the exiled Lord's stead. Combining Chroyane with Valyria condenses the plot in to a more manageable pace (the show even pulled visuals from the Rhoynish city), and it was a real treat to finally see Valyria brought to life! But seeing Drogon is no substitute for the eerie magic surrounding the Sorrows. Perhaps the show will find another place in which our heroes will become trapped in a loop, seeing the same landmark over and over again. There has been too much made of Greyscale for Jorah to not eventually meet the Shrouded Lord to rules over the Stone Men.
#2. Sansa and Theon together again.
In the books: To reiterate, NONE OF THIS IS HAPPENING. Theon has instead formed an uneasy alliance with Jeyne Poole who is pretending to be Arya Stark. The two of them are friends of necessity in the misery that is belonging to Ramsay Bolton.
On the show: Knowing that in the books Theon and Jeyne/Arya are forced into some compromising positions does not bode well for whatever Ramsay has planned for his new wife. However, if the plan is to have Brienne as the new savior there is a distinct possibility Season Six will be Brienne, Sansa, Podrick, and Theon on the road to the Wall. Perhaps even with Sansa on a pale horse.
#3: Hardhome is now the Wilding base.
In the books: Mance”s sister-in-law Val (who does not exist on the show) was sent to treat with Tormund Giantbane who is living on the other side of the wall with the remaining Free Folk. After the battle, the Wildings did not flee to Hardhome but remained in near the Wall…and as far away from the invading frost zombies as they can manage.
On the show: “Game of Thrones” has moved the timetable around. Instead of the tension being based around the Free Folk flooding through the gates to settle in the Gift, that”s been tabled to have Tormund and Jon Snow go rescue the remaining Wildlings via boat. This was originally the plan in “Dance with Dragons” until the knives came out for Jon…literally. Since the trailer for this season shows the Wildings standing pensively on shore as a boat rows towards them, it”s a safe bet Jon will make it to Hardhome. Perhaps in his absence from Castle Black the whispers of the coup will begin.
#4: Daenerys takes marriage into her own hands with no stipulations.
In the books: Instead of feeding the leaders of Meereenese noble families to her dragons, she takes noble children hostage. But it”s a hollow threat as she cannot bear to harm them. A Green Grace priestess named Galazza Galare (her role absorbed by Missandei in the show) suggests Dany needs to marry to keep her throne. Daenerys does offer to take Hizdar as her husband but under different circumstances. He is not a prisoner in her dungeons and Dany conditions the wedding on him being able to keep the peace in Meereen for 90 days first.
On the show: At first it looked like the death of Ser Barristan was laying the groundwork to let Tyrion or Jorah step into his shoes once Dany goes missing with Drogon. But taking the decision to reopen the fighting pits away from Hizdar as his first official act as the Queen”s betrothed allows him to be seen in more favorable light. Will Jorah return to Meereen with his prize only to discover his Queen is presumed dead and a Meereenese nobleman ruling in her stead?
Odds & Ends Changes
• This is the first week I really noticed the show is using Myranda as a substitute for Ramsay”s pack of wild and sadistic male friends.
• Davos Seaworth is headed to battle at Winterfell instead of to retrieve Rickon Strak from Lord Manderly at White Habor.
• Instead of fleeing to Oldtown to study to be a Maester and keep Mance”s infant son safe from Melisandre, it looks like Samwell might be going to find out how and why Dragon Glass kills Frost Zombies.
• Brienne utilizing the smallfolk's loyalty to the Stark family is a genius stroke of writing. Hopefully how these battles have affected commoners gets more of a role in upcoming episodes.