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: SPOILERS ALL THE WAY THROUGH “A DANCE WITH DRAGONS” BEYOND THIS POINT. ABANDON ALL HOPE OF IGNORANCE, YE WHO ENTER HERE.
Oh man, was that ever a satisfying hour of television! I don”t care if “Hardhome” spoiled parts of “The Winds of Winter” or if they merely deviated wildly from the source material. The end result was an immensely watchable episode that left me wanting more.
#1. Tyrion gives Daenerys some much needed advice.
In the books: Tyrion has yet to meet Dany. In his stead, Ser Barristan continues to advise the Targaryen queen on matters of state and tries to mediate between her and the nobility of Meereen.
On the show: For the first time in her life, Daenerys is being spoken to by one of her peers. Ser Barristan was a loyal advisor and guard, but a man of a minor house and from a different generation. Tyrion might only be able to tell Dany things about her family from secondhand knowledge, but he knows the ins and out of the current Westeros political climate. With Tyrion not being in love with her or in awe or her lineage, it should give the last Targaryen the balance needed to finally have some sense knocked into her. You know, right up until the dragon kidnapping.
#2. Winter is here.
In the books: All of this happened/is happening “off screen.” As Jon does not go to Hardhome, the only knowledge readers have is through a dispatch saying the Wildings are starving and have resorted to eating their dead and Melisandre”s vision of the White Walker army in her flames.
On the show: This was one of the most relentless, arresting sequences on television I”ve ever seen. From the moment the mist rolls in off the hills to the Night”s King raising his arms while adding to his army of the undead, it”s non-stop action that should have given “Game of Thrones” history nerds multiple loregasms. It”s now clear WHY the show had to send Jon Snow to Hardhome. In order for the viewers to get a firsthand experience with what the White Walkers are capable of. This is also a fantastic shorthand way to get the Wildings to trust Jon and upped the ante with the skeptical and disgruntled men of the Night”s Watch that await their return.
One of the best moments of the night came when Jon and a Walker met in battle and Mormont”s Valyrian steel sword refused to shatter like so much glass. Now we know that not only can Dragonglass kill the mysterious invaders, but the ancient swords of Valyria will as well. That many Houses of Westeros have or had Valyrian swords for centuries yet have completely forgotten their purpose is just icing on the lore cake.
Though it”s worth noting that perhaps Valyrian steel only works against the White Walkers when being wielded by a descendant of Valyrian blood.
#3. Sansa knows the truth about Bran and Rickon.
In the books: Sansa is not here, she is not bullying Theon into spilling his dark secrets, she has no idea her brothers live.
On the show: All the ducks are lining up in a row. Sansa now knows that Bran and Rickon are alive. She knows her half-brother Jon Snow is the Lord Commander at the Wall. She knows she can”t stay here. She knows Stannis Baratheon is coming to either break the siege at Winterfell of die trying. “Game of Thrones” appears to be mixing up three or four individual characters here. Best bet? Sansa escapes Winterfell – with or without Theon and Brienne – and head”s north to Jon. At some point Ser Davos will join them. Once at Castle Black, Jon will send the Onion Knight to look for Rickon. What happens with Sansa depends on whether or not Lady Stoneheart shows up in the season finale entitled “Mother”s Mercy.”
Odds & Ends
• With Bowen Marsh taking a backseat in the show narrative, it definitely looks like they”re setting up Olly to take a stab – literally – at Jon Snow. Sam”s advice that “Sometimes men have to do the right thing when other people think it”s wrong” PROBABLY isn”t going to be taken the way he intended. Add to that the juicy narrative of Olly having already killed Ygritte and it becomes even more obvious where this is headed. Either that or it”s the biggest red herring in recent “Game of Thrones” history.
• Infected with greyscale and headed to the fighting pits? My guess is Jorah”s gonna get a face full of Drogon fire by the season finale.
• If Ramsay and Stannis meet in the field, we might finally discover if the Bastard of Bolton was telling the truth or not when he wrote to Jon Snow to say Stannis is dead.
• For a hot second I thought that Wilding woman was going to be the HBO version of Val.
• Either we”re skipping over Arya becoming Cat of the Canals and the whole “going blind” plot, or it”s happening out of order.