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Game of Thrones: A Novel Approach to "Valar Morghulis"

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Spoiler Alert, for those who only wish to watch Game of Thrones as a TV show:

This column will explore the highlights and shortcomings of the Game of Thrones Season 2 finale as it compares to the books on which the series is based. Are they two separate entities? You better believe it!

GoT Novel Approach

After last weeks incredible portrayal of "Blackwater" I had a sinking feeling that the season finale would be left lacking. I was right. Before I break down how well the content held up, I'll tell you why I think this week fell flat: Too many jumps.

We could have easily done without Robb's wedding. It's already fabricated material, and saving it for next season would not have made the slightest difference to the episode. Nor would leaving out the scenes between Stannis and Melisandre or Varys and Ros. 

Where did they really fit in to the overall narrative of the evening? Nowhere. These were time wasters that should have been sacrificed in lieu of more valuable, weighty stories. Ros was a necessity, I suspect, for boobs. Letting an episode go by without a boob might confuse people. 

A great - if new to readers - scene was Shae telling Tyrion they were meant for each other. The way this typically sarcastic little man collapsed into her arms was extremely touching. The question is just how much of what we're seeing is acting on her part? If she's not pretending to love him, then what will come about to change that as the story progresses? Another possibility is their love will remain true and an obstacle of a different sort will provide their conflict, betrayal and rip them apart. 

While Dany's walk through the House of the Undying was nothing like I would have expected, offering no foreshadowing or mystical messages for her to decipher, she did see her husband again.

A fan favorite was brought back for his swan song, and perhaps she didn't need all of the mumbo jumbo and double talk, only her old life to be in front of her eyes and her new life to be singing in her ears to push her into the future with a new sense of fortitude. This version of the Undying didn't just have her beloved Drogon saving her life, but all three of her children in a lovely spectacle of flame.

Wasted life of the season? Keeping Doreah alive just to have her betray Dany. She might as well have succumbed in the Red Waste, still a loyal friend, than even make it to Qarth. It reminded me of the Gemma storyline on Ringer. Bring her back, then, hey... kill her! In this case, let's just let Daenerys know that she was betrayed by her very best friend. Why?

Personally, I loved the scenes between Brienne and Jaime. As far as I've read, I keep hoping for a full on romance between the two, and they are quickly making that a viable option on screen. It's as if Jaime has met his true twin. Shhh...don't tell Cersei. The look on his face when she slaughtered three men as if it were nothing was perfection. Bring on Game of Thrones Season 3 and more of them please!

There has been some controversy that I've read where people find it confusing what happened between John and the Halfhand. I thought they set up the play very well. It took time, but Qhorin made it very clear what he expected Jon to do and why. If it didn't play off on screen as well as expected, then viewers were just unable to follow the nuances. 

As for Theon? Great speech, better ending.

What happened at Winterfell before Bran came home? How do you feel about Joffrey's accepting Margery to join their families in marriage? Sound off on these topics below and weigh in on whether, with this Margery, Sansa will end up as well off as she does in in print. I seriously have my doubts.

I look forward to hearing your musings on the finale and your ideas on the season overall now. Also, remember to check out Matt Richenthal's newbie-based Game of Thrones finale review as a rundown of events by someone unfamiliar with the source material.

Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (270 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.

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    22 Comments New Comment Subscribe

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    LOL When Peter Jackson does the movie version, (6 3 1/2 hour films), we will get almot every nuance of the books. Until then we have to be content with the TV version. Sort of like a wine tasting party, where you get a quarter glass of each vintage, and you wished you could have a whole bottle.
    I was underwhelmed with the finale. Especially after "Blackwater".
    I would have liked to have seen the season end with ***spoiler alert! Don't read the next line*** The "Red Wedding" and then end of the "King of the North", rather than the wishy-washy Rob/Jeyne wedding that wasn't even in the books.
    All in all, the series is full of amazing character actors who will never get their due in the Enema (oops ;) awards.
    Did you realy think Dinkage was THAT good of an actor before you saw his Tyrion?
    Is anyone but me waiting for him to say, "Call me an elf one more time... I dare you!" ROFL.

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    Before I start I do want to say that I am properly enjoying the show but I have issues with the some of the turns they're taking. Agree with 'where the hell is Ramsey Snow/Bolton - he's kind of core going forward. Think they've humanised Tywin too much with his interactions with Arya. Dany should have seen her visions - they may foreshadow the future but us readers are still discussing what they all mean. Where the hell is the backstory of Rhaegar etc - this is also pivotal. They better stay true to Tyrion's story as that is fundamental to his character and stick with what happens at Kings Landing. I didn't have a problem with Robb's wedding scene given that its setting up a central turning point. My worry is that because GRRM hasn't finished the novels some early stuff that is vital to the final books will be missed.

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    Bolton is the problem here. He should have been cast and we should have seen him beside theon hunting down the stark boys. It was his plan to kill the miller's boys, he brought the clothes and schemed it all. Poor/failed introduction to such a pivital character.

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    I knew that the HotU would be greatly changed, but they can't have the same depiction as they would in the books because it would be too specific and visual and explicitly give things away in the seasons to come. I thought the way they handled it was the best course of action. Plus, it was great seeing Drogo again, a great character played by a great actor that probably would have had an amazing run on this series had the story not required him to die off.

    Best moments not in the book, but in season 2: Bronn hanging out with the Lannister soldiers in Blackwater and the moment when Catelyn realized what was in the chest Littlefinger presented her. That moment made me pretty misty-eyed.
    Worst moment not in the book, but in season 2: When Littlefinger approached the queen with saying he knew about her and Jaime in the first episode. Littlefinger is way too sly to simply throw that at Cersei without a purpose.

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    part 3 oops, sorry!

    They also took out the roles of Lollys and her sister Falyse, who is tortured and killed by Qyburn. Why not give that grisly death an on screen moment and let Ros be that character? The last part that solidifies my argument is Littlefinger and Ros' discussion in episode 2.2. He explicitly tells her he sold a former client of his to someone who used her in unthinkable ways. Foreshadowing?
    I just think everyone should stop bitching about Ros. She is a character now, and the hate needs to be over with. And why bitch about a scene with Varys? He is the best

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    PART 2

    So cut Ros some slack. I like her, and I'm sure other readers do too. And I've read all the books.
    They have already made her a necessity by combining characters to get the same story across, as well as backstory we might not get otherwise.
    For example, Ros lets us see into many characters we have already been introduced to, without the context being awkward given by another character. She's a whore after all.
    Next, they have been building her role since season one. The golden lion neckless to replace Tyrion's fake whore. That wasn't just spur of the moment.
    Which leads me to my final point, after watching the finale i am pretty sure about but cannot prove.
    My theory is they are building up Ros to give to Qyburn. So here me out.
    Ros is a character. She moves from Winterfell, to Littlefinger, and now to Varys. After book 3(Season 4?) Varys, leaves and is replaced with Qyburn as the Spider. What is Ros to do with Varys gone and Cersei hating her?
    They also took out the roles of Lollys and her sister Falyse, who is tortured and killed by Qyburn. Why not give that grisly death an on screen moment and let Ros be that character? The last part that solidifies my argument is Littlefinger and Ros' discussion in episode 2.2. He explicitly tells her he sold a former client of his to someone who used her in unthinkable ways. Foreshadowing?
    I just think everyone should stop bitching about Ros. She is a character now, and the hate needs to be over with. And why bitch about a scene with Varys? He is the best

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    Hi all, [TWO PART POST]
    Now being literally obsessed, I read near all GoT reviews, including these. While i agree to an extent with most of it, there is one discussion that comes up in EVERY review, and that is in regards to Ros.
    I had to get over my view of the show being a duplicate of the books after watching the finale(and the rest of season two), because it no longer is. It is an adaption.
    That said, the introduction of a new character should not be held against the show just because it is not a part of the books. Neither are a lot of the scenes we get.

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    John, you answered you own question. You have a city burning and empty of life, and you have a missing army led by a character no one has met yet. 1+1=season 3.

    I agree, that it was a bit of a jump, but it's a scene that if you watch the 2nd season again, it'll probably make complete sense. Just like the 'Halfhand' and Jon.

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    Question On the Winterfell ending how did the Stark boys go out alone??? what happened to the 500 troops rob sent to get the place back how did 20 guys sack the place after they knocked theron out and stabbed the old man?? they show it on fire but where was the troops and the guy blowing the horn... it doesn't make sense... the place was surrounded the greyjoy where offered a deal if they walk away and give up theron they could go home... next they show the oldman stabbed sitting by a tree place on fire telling them to go north to Jon snow for protection??? where are robs men???????? doesn't make sense

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    I guess they didn't introduce the Bastard of Bolton, because his character wasn't cast for this season. It's probably for the better, probably wouldn't have ended well if they'd cast him for just one episode. Since he's such a major character in later books, they'd better do it right.
    What I wondered, if I recall the Daenerys storyline from book two, didn't it end with Strong Belwas and Arstan Whitebeard introducing themselves? Of course, Strong Belwas hasn't been cast yet either, but he is a minor character, and Arstan Whitebeard has already been cast in season one. I could have lived without the Xaro strongroom scene in exchange for that. Especially if they'd have made a good disguise for Arstan and have the viewer wonder where they've seen him before.




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