Openings and Closings: Episode 7, Season 4 Game of Thrones Recap

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The skies opened up over the Vale. Image: Helen Sloan/HBO.

The “Mockingbird” of Game of Thrones focuses on openings and closings: a conflict over a tunnel passage into Castle Black, an opening for vengeance, a new beginning for Daenerys, and an emotional opening up of the Hound. There is a hole in Tyrion’s line-up for a champion. And, once again, we see that Petyr – “Littlefinger” – Baelish is truly the master of the game.

There are some obvious historical allusions in this episode, including one to the mythology surrounding Richard III’s birth and, I believe, another to the peasant raids during the Hundred Years’ War. Robin Arryn’s fears may provide insight into the emotional landscape of some hereditary princes in the Middle Ages.

King’s Landing

Tyrion Gains an Unexpected Ally

After hearing Shae’s testimony at his trial, Tyrion lost his cool – and now he may lose his head.

Tyrion’s rash choice of trial by combat has upset Jaime. (In Westeros, trial by combat is an option the accused can choose instead of a judicial trial, as described in this article.) Jaime tells Tyrion he has “thrown away his life” on a brilliant speech people will soon forget.

Perhaps, Tyrion is assuming that Jaime will stand for him as his champion. But, Jaime delivers the first blow. He can’t stand as Tyrion’s champion. His training with Bronn isn’t going well, and he can’t even beat a stable boy with his left hand.

All of Tyrion’s hopes now rest on Bronn, whom he assumes will stand for him for enough money.

The blows keep coming for poor Tyrion. Ser Gregoy “the Mountain” Clegane will stand for Cersei in Tyrion’s trial by combat. The Mountain  — Sandor “the Hound” Clegane’s brother — is nearly eight feet tall, doesn’t feel pain, and is monstrously strong.

We get a quick reminder of just how lethal the Mountain can be in a quick scene when Cersei finds the giant of a knight training on hapless prisoners. The Mountain slices the scrawny ragged men down one-by-one, their guts spilling all over the sand. The message is clear: the Mountain is unbeatable.

**

After waiting for days, Bronn finally pays Tyrion a visit in his cell. The sellsword won’t give Tyrion what he had hoped.

Cersei has raised Bronn’s price. She is giving Bronn a titled wife – Lollys Stockworth — a prize he can’t claim if he fights the Mountain.

Bronn is hoping Tyrion can beat Cersei’s offer. But, Tyrion really has to make it worth Bronn’s while: fighting the freakishly strong Mountain is risking death: one misstep and he’s dead. To chance it, Bronn wants a bigger castle than the one he might get from his bride-to-be’s family.

Tyrion can’t beat Cersei’s offer. When Tyrion asks him to fight because for him because he is his friend, Bronn makes a good point. When has the high-born Tyrion ever risked his life for his hired hand?

As much as we may hate Bronn for it, he is being fair.

**

Later on, Prince Oberyn approaches Tyrion with an unusual offer: he will stand as champion for Tyrion.

Oberyn reveals that Cersei came to him on the pretext of inquiring about her daughter Myrcella: in reality, she tried to persuade Oberyn to condemn Tyrion.

When Tyrion bitterly informs Oberyn, Cersei has wanted Tyrion’s death for a long time. Oberyn already knows that and tells Tyrion a curious tale of when he visited Tyrion as a baby.

In an interesting parallel with the legends of Richard III’s birth, Oberyn had heard stories that Tywin’s newest son was a terrible monster –with claws for fingers even.  (For centuries, rumors persisted that Richard III was born with hair, had a full set of teeth, and lingered in the womb for two years.)  In actuality, neither Richard nor Tyrion were monstrous babies.

Oberyn then recalls Cersei’s seething hatred for the baby Tyrion, whom she blamed for killing her mother. She tortured Tyrion in the cradle and hoped he would die soon. As Oberyn wryly puts it, “It is rare to meet a Lannister who shares my enthusiasm for dead Lannisters.”

Oberyn has come to visit Tyrion because he wants justice for his sister and her children – and he is willing to fight for it. Oberyn will be Tyrion’s champion.

An Opening at Castle Black

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Image: Helen Sloan/(c) HBO.

It’s snowing at Castle Black but that’s not the only threat in the air. Jon warns the Night’s Watch council that 100,000 men – and giants – are about to descend on the thinly protected Castle Black.

Jon urges the council to seal the tunnel gates with ice and rock. If not, the tunnel gates present ready access to Castle Black for the Mance Rayder’s army. The 4” thick cold-rolled steel bars on the gates of the tunnel entrance won’t withstand a giant’s might. The men of Castle Black cannot defend a siege against an army of 100,000 men.

Ser Alliser Thorne, the gruff master-at-arms who taught Jon and his fellow recruits to fight, scoffs at the idea the castle could fall. It had never been taken in thousands of years. Thorne sneers at Jon’s proposal. Thorne publicly challenges the leader of the Builders – the order responsible for the tunnel — not to agree with Jon. Falling in line, the Builder leader does not.

Thorne punishes Jon’s warning by putting Jon and Sam on night patrol at the top of the Wall until the next full moon.

The Wolf Girl and Her Beaten Hound

In what may be another homage to the Hundred Years’ War – and the savage effect of its peasant raids —  Arya and the Hound come across a dying, possibly once prosperous, landowning peasant farmer. An invading army has burned his farm to the ground – and left the farmer with a lethal gut wound.

Despite his incredibly painful wound and his hopeless situation, the man has not taken his life yet. Perhaps, he doesn’t have the will or courage – when Arya asks him why not, he says “Habit.” In what may be a nod to Arya’s emerging nihilism, she replies, “Nothing isn’t better or worse than anything. Nothing is just nothing.”

Compassionately, the Hound puts the suffering farmer out of his misery. “That’s where the heart is,” the Hound says as he stabs him. Could the brutalized Hound’s emotions finally be thawing?

The Hound’s kindness is not repaid. A bounty hunter jumps him and bites a chunk out of his neck. The Hound reflexively dispatches him. But he has a friend – a criminal who threatened to rape Arya en route to Harrenhal.

The would-be rapist tells the Hound that the Lannisters have put 100 silver stags on his head for killing their soldiers. But, the stupid oaf doesn’t appear to get that he is now truly in danger – from both of them.

As soon as Arya learns the man’s name, she adds him to her kill list. Swift as an arrow, Arya darts out her sword and impales the bounty hunter.

Later on, Arya wants to cauterize the Hound’s wound. Refusing, he shares the reason he is scared of fire, how his brother fried his face. The deepest scars are within though:  not only did the brother inflict such cruelty – and the scars are far, far worse in the books – his father betrayed him. Rather than turn over the Mountain to authorities, his father concealed his crime: not only wouldn’t his father protect him, the Hound had to live with the monster who harmed him.

As their storyline progresses, both of their characters are changing. The Stark girls have unwittingly taught the Hound to feel again. In exchange, Arya is learning to survive without her family – and what better teacher in that than the man who never had one.

Daenerys Beds Daario

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Daenerys is in a great mood after her night with Daario. She wears a more revealing gown with scales on the bodice – a nod to her heritage as mother of dragons. (Image: Helen Sloan/copyright HBO).

Daario Nasharis breaks into Daenerys’ private quarters through an open window to offer her wild flowers. He claims he is restless and wants more action – either on the streets or between the sheets.

Daenerys pours a silver goblet of wine and invites him to do what he does best – with her. Sadly, the scene ends far too soon.

DB Weiss comments in HBO’s “Inside Episode” that Dany came into her own – and came to control her destiny – by opening to her own sexuality with her first husband. Perhaps, tonight marks a departure for Dany: she is no longer the grieving widow martyring her personal desires for the sake of leadership.

The next morning Dany is in a great mode when she meets with Jorah – and unveils a ruthless scheme to squelch slavery. Jorah does not approve of her tryst – and approves even less of her ruthless plans to deal with the slavers of Yunkai. She has instructed Daario to round up thousands of the Wise Masters for execution. Jorah dissuades her by reminding her that if Ned Stark had been so harsh he would not be there.

Melisandre Seduces Selyse

Queen Selyse enters into Melisandre’s candlelit quarters as the Red Priestess is bathing. Melisandre pours a glowing cobalt blue potion in her bathwater – and begins to seduce Selyse.

If Selyse wasn’t so crazy, perhaps she would be more alert. Melisandre shows Selyse her many potions and explains their ability to cast illusions and confuse men’s minds.

Melisandre invites Selyse to look into the flames. The Red Priestess guides Selyse to divine the future through fire – or at least leads Selyse to believe she can.

Melisandre wants Selyse to bring her heretical little scale-faced daughter Shireen with them on their upcoming journey. Ominously, Melisandre tells Selyse “the Lord of Light” needs Shireen. Let’s hope he doesn’t need Shireen the way “he” needed Gendry.

Brienne & Pod Learn Some Crucial Information

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Brienne and Pod explore new paths. (Image: Helen Sloan/(c) HBO).

Brienne and Pod learn some vital news when they stop at the Inn of the Crossroads to take a break from Pod’s burnt-to-a-crisp cuisine.

While savoring a delectable kidney pie, Brienne makes the mistake of complimenting the cook on it. It turns out the cook is Hot Pie, whom the Brotherhood  Without Banners left at the Inn of the Crossroads (the Inn of the Kneeling Man in the books) – just before they sold Gendry to Melisandre.

Much to Brienne’s obvious annoyance, Hot Pie regales them with the finer points of cooking kidney pie. (It’s all about the gravy.) Brienne asks if he has seen a pretty red-haired girl named Sansa Stark.

The next day, as Pod and Brienne prepare to leave – and just after Pod ironically chastising Brienne for telling people they are looking for Sansa — Hot Pie reveals he has seen Arya. She is with the Hound. In fact, Hot Pie is hoping they will find her: he even baked her a second wolf biscuit.

The long-believed dead Arya is alive astounds Pod and Brienne.

Tyrion’s lessons in the Houses of Westeros might pay off for Pod. He suggests they go to the Vale since he that is Arya’s last living relative with money and that could be where the Hound might go to sell Arya.

An Opening at the Vale

Sansa is getting closer to discovering the truth about why Petyr killed Joffrey – and the reason has monstrous consequences for her. As a purifying snow coats the Vale, her voyage into truth begins.

Sansa is having a rare moment of joy – she is soothing her wounds by building a snow castle of Winterfell – when Little Lord Robin, the next husband waiting in the wings, arrives.

Channeling what may well be the fears of hereditary kings over the age, Robin echoes a sentiment likely at the heart of kings like Henry VIII’s behavior. Robin tells Sansa: he has to keep himself safe. (During the period after his mother and brother’s death, Henry VII kept his last heir locked away from the world to ensure no harm came to him — especially from rival claimants. This fear of nobility may have emerged later in life and manifested itself in Henry’s proclivity towards judicial homicide.) But, back to the episode.

Robin tells Sansa the instructions he presumably grew up hearing: “I have to keep myself safe. Because I’m the lord of the Vale and the Lord of the Vale is a very important person.”

People are a threat to the princeling. The moondoor protects him by showing anyone he chooses a quick and permanent exit.

Rather than being sympathetic to Sansa’s sadness over the destruction of Winterfell, Robin’s main preoccupation is with his own safety were he to ever to go there: “Does Winterfell have a moondoor?” Robin is upset that Winterfell does not have a moondoor because it means he can’t protect himself from the bad, scary people that he doesn’t like.

Note those last words. Anyone Robin doesn’t like will be “whooshed” through the moon door.

Winterfell is a scary place without a moondoor, so in an ironic bit of foreshadowing, Robin unsuccessfully tries to add a moondoor to a tower in Winterfell and, then in an incredibly destructive rage, smashes Sansa’s old home. What happens next will destroy her new home.

Furious, Sansa impulsively slaps Robin sharp on the face. After Robin storms off, Sansa realizes her impulse may cost her dearly. Joffrey would never forgive such an act.

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Image: Helen Sloan/copyright HBO.

Petyr comes upon her. He reassures Sansa he will prevent any repercussions from Lysa. Plus Robin has long needed such a slap from his own mother. (See my controversial princeling hypothesis.)

Petyr’s master scheme is unfolding perfectly for him. He now has an even more beautiful Catelyn reborn in his grasp, along with possibly Winterfell.

Why did Petyr kill Joffrey? Sansa demands an answer.

Petyr obliquely replies that he loved her mother more than she could ever know and wants to avenge her death. Petyr tells Sansa she might have been his child – and then he KISSES her. Vomit.

And, there’s our answer. Petyr has realized if he eliminated Sansa’s husband he could claim a Catelyn-reincarnated and the North in one fell swoop.

Unfortunately for her, Lysa’s worst fears were realized tonight. She spotted Petyr kissing Sansa. And, then she makes a fatal mistake.

Lysa summons Sansa to the moondoor. She loses it. How could her beloved Petyr favor this empty-headed child? Lysa calls Sansa a whore. Lysa forces holding Sansa’s head over the moondoor and makes her look at her potential fate on the rocks miles below if she doesn’t stay away from Petyr.

To save Sansa, Petyr swears on the gods he’ll banish the girl. After Lysa relents and releases her,  Petyr consoles Lysa, as she sits on the bench surrounding the moon door. Trusting in her love completely, Lysa rises. Her back is now to the open moondoor with nothing in between her and the gaping opening.

As Lysa looks at Petyr, her eyes full of love, he tells her, “I have only loved one woman my entire life: YOUR SISTER.” And, then Petyr pushes Lysa out the moondoor.

Petyr has dealt with the obstacle that prevented him from remarrying – his bothersome wife. He may be only one little princeling away from having both Winterfell and the Vale.

 

 

Jamie Adair is the editor of History Behind Game of Thrones, a website about the history behind George RR Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels and the hit TV show, "Game of Thrones."

42 Comments

  • Reply May 19, 2014

    Watcher on the Couch

    Melisandre had better keep her mitts off Shireen or she’ll have me to contend with. I usually find “cute” child actors/actresses annoying but Kerry Ingram’s portrayal of Shireen is (to me at least) absolutely adorable. Although I didn’t particularly like Lysa as a character, I must give praise to Kate Dickie who played her so convincingly (especially as Ms Dickie’s natural accent is Scots and not English – though she is not the only cast member to be playing with an accent other than her natural one). Poor Sansa really is out of the frying pan and into the fire. Aidan Gillen was actually not bad-looking in the Irish series “Love/Hate” (about drug criminals in present day Dublin) but he is seriously creepy as Lord Baelish. The Oberyn-Tyrion scene was moving; Peter Dinklage’s accent slips (ever so) slightly at times but I can overlook that for his “acting chops” and Pedro Pascal was pretty good as well.

    • Reply May 19, 2014

      Jun

      Must agree on Kerry Ingram. She played Matilda on stage to critical acclaim. I don’t think Shireen went to the Wall in the books though (oops, spoiler). Why would they make this change?

      Gillen’s Irish accent comes and goes. I don’t know if there’s any subtext in that. Does he have more accent the farther he is from King’s Landing?

      Dinklage’s American accent especially slipped out during the trial in episode 406, but I figured the director left the reel in because the performance was otherwise so good.

      Talk about accent, it is something that cannot be clearly conveyed in the books but can be in the TV series. For example, the Starks all have a Northern English accent, while the native Essos characters all have a sort of middle eastern accent (or dark-skinned, which is another can of worms).

      Pedro Pascal put on a fake Spanish accent for Oberyn Martell, which is consistent with Martin’s claim that Dorne is sort of based on southern Spain and Italy. I always mentally equate Dorne with the Basques.

      • Reply May 23, 2014

        Connie

        Another fan of Shireen here. She’s got quite the presence for such a young child. I hope she grows up to continue in acting.

        Your spoiler from the book is close, but not quite right 😉 I won’t go further since I might spoil things further!

        Part of what intrigues me about the Stannis-Selyse-Shireen story is the deformity of Shireen and the stillborn children of Selyse. It’s dramatic, sure, but I think it has its roots in the Spanish Hapsburgs, with Selyse’s story reminding me of a blend of Juana La Loca and Mariana of Austria, Spanish queens plagued by mental illness, inbreeding, and stillborn children, and Stannis’ personal life story being influenced by Charles II of Spain (“the Hexed”) who endured multiple childless marriages (though he probably was the cause of that issue), and Stannis’ professional life mirroring Charles II as the prospects slowly dry up around him for carrying on the Baratheon name.

        Love your blog, its one of the few that really makes me think about all the connections, references, inferences, and interesting details that have been woven in the GoT story.

        • Reply June 2, 2014

          Jamie Adair

          Connie – if I didn’t say it before – thank you for your kind words. BTW, I find Selyse fascinating too. I hadn’t thought of Juana the Mad but that’s a good comparison. I wrote a post briefly comparing Selyse to a “phantasmagoric” Catherine of Aragon. I don’t know if this is completely fair to Selyse or Catherine, but if you look at the jars behind her in the screen shot, it is downright creepy. http://history-behind-game-of-thrones.com/tudors/anne-boleyn-series

  • Reply May 20, 2014

    Jamie Adair

    AFAIK, the actors are directed to speak with certain accents. For example, Rose Leslie does *not* speak with Ygritte’s “You know nothing Jon Snow” accent in real life. I believe it is a Northern English accent? While Rose is from Scotland, when you see her interviewed she does not sound at all like Ygritte. In the interview I saw with her, and I wish I could find the link, she said she learned dialects in acting school. So presumably, her GoT accent was by request.

    http://youtu.be/zPdPTY_-icQ?t=53s

    http://youtu.be/kikALj7IcJU?t=1m33s

    • Reply May 20, 2014

      Jamie Adair

      Rose Leslie talks about her accent more in this link – which for some reason WordPress didn’t show an image for when I first posted it:

      http://youtu.be/zPdPTY_-icQ?t=53s

    • Reply May 21, 2014

      Jamie Adair

      Btw, I’m mention this because I’m fascinated by accents – and because
      I think it shows the HBO Showrunners are deliberately trying to make certain connections with history, which is really cool. The historical connections aren’t just background noise to them (IMO).

      • Reply May 21, 2014

        Jun

        I agree. I also think the accents are done intentionally (but not consistently). Obviously not all actors can do regional accents and, if they fit the roles, should not be dismissed on accent alone. To begin with, Sean Bean has a native York (northern English) accent, which naturally fits the geography of the Stark family. The other Stark kids are then nudged into that direction.

        I’m disappointed that Rose Leslie was instructed to do also a norther English accent instead of her native (but not displayed in her interviews) Scottish accent. Martin has explicitly explained several times that the Wildlings are largely based on the Scottish. Perhaps it would be difficult for other Wildling actors to follow suit.

        And the “foreigners” in the novels are usually cast with non-native-English-speaking actors (except Ilyrio in Season 1, IIRC): Jaqen Hagar, Melisandre, Shae, even the made-up Talisa. A comment about “accent” was even made in a recent episode between Varys and Oberyn Martell.

        The historical and regional references are of course not limited to accent but also artistic design and costumes, etc. So I would say the historical parallels are definitely front and center in the TV show.

        I would love to get your impression on the historical parallel of Dorne. A chapter from “The World of Ice and Fire” was recently released to describe a mass migration of the Rhoynar (in Essos) to southern Westeros, led by Queen Nymeria, to establish Dorne. Perhaps a reference to Venice? Or other major migrations? Certainly there are plenty of those occurrences throughout history.

        • Reply May 22, 2014

          Jamie Adair

          (I’ve read that GRRM based Dorne on Moorish Spain and the Welsh borders, but I haven’t delved into it yet. Key word – yet. I definitely want to. 🙂 )

          By flight, do you mean the founding of Venice? Eg fleeing from the Barbarians? It would fit with the Mediterranean theme. The are lots of other forced marches and exoduses though… Hmmm… I haven’t read the chapter yet. Now I want to! I can’t wait for that book to come out. I think it is October, right?

  • Reply May 22, 2014

    Martine

    Brilliant blog Jamie. You go from strength to strength!
    The accents are a rather fascinating aspect of GoT for me. Coming from the UK, I often smile at U.S TV shows and movies with ‘British ‘characters. They either have no understanding of ordinary British accents and use either US actors who have not really mastered them, or substitute Australian actors who do it passably- but of course we can always tell. I think the show ‘Frasier’ is a great case in point- although I do feel that as they knew the show was incredibly popular here in Britain, that they did this deliberately tongue in cheek as a kind of ‘in joke’ for UK fans.
    Anyway, to digress. Rose Leslie is of course Scots, but she is from more of an aristocratic family
    ( Wikipedia is your friend) so she would in no way have a regional Scottish accent in real life. Scots people of that class generally attend public schools as we call them here ( Private Schools in the US ) and have what you would hear as upper class English accents- but they would not like to be called ‘English’ at all! Confusing for those outside the UK.. but we all get it.
    Sean Bean is not from York as in the City of York, he is from Yorkshire the county, but his native city is Sheffield ( also in Yorkshire). His accent is beautifully ‘Yorkshire’ though.
    As for Aiden Gillen, like many in the GoT cast he is Irish and I enjoy that his native accent kind of fluctuates as Baelish . Some have suggested that this is deliberate and reflects Baelish’s ‘all things to all men’ tendency as well as to reflect the fact no – one can pin him down. I think that’s an interesting point, as an actor of AG’s calibre would probably have no difficulty sustaining a continuous accent for his character. IMHO, there are traces of the West Country of England, as well as some Welsh inflections in the accent AG uses.
    As a viewer for whom most, if not all, of the actors are really familiar, I enjoy seeing certain really well known Scots actors like James Cosmo and Ian Glen (as the Mormonts ) or famous Welsh actors such as Robert Pugh,Owen Teale or Iwan Rheon ( Craster, Alliser Thorne and Ramsay Snow) use their acting chops and different English accents.

    • Reply May 24, 2014

      Jamie Adair

      Martine, thank you. I absolutely love this comment – and as always thank you for your very kind and charming compliments. 🙂
      Martine, I don’t know if you’d know, but in Scotland is it controversial for upper-class people to be taught to speak with a posh accent (=RP accent?)? Is it perceived as elitist or a rejection of the local culture?
      The reason I ask is because in Canada, where I’m from, it used to be very controversial that, in Ontario, native English speakers (at “English” (anglophone) schools) were taught Parisian and not Québécois French. Teaching Parisian French implies that Quebec French is inferior and not simply a language or dialect that evolved differently because it was in a different geographic location.

  • Reply May 22, 2014

    Watcher on the Couch

    I don’t know why, but I had assumed Martine was French (maybe the name) though of course there are quite a few British Martines and Martinas. (So sorry to Martine for the misconception – not that there is anything wrong with being French). I know what she means about “Frasier”. The actress who played Daphne is English but she is from the south of England and her “northern” English accent was somewhat unconvincing. One thing I have wondered about in GoT is why Robb and Jon had northern accents like their Dad, but Sansa and Arya and Bran had more “standard” English accents (though I think the odd bit of West Country slips out of Maisie William’s mouth – not enough to be a serious issue though and I think she is a very competent actress). We never heard Rickon speak that much though one could hear his actor’s Northern Irish accent slightly but I wouldn’t jump down his throat for that given his youth and his otherwise convincing performance. I suppose the Stark girls’ standard accents could be accounted for by being more under their mother’s influence than their father’s (though maybe with Arya being such a tomboy it should be “allegedly” under her mother’s influence). Why Bran spoke more “posh boy” than his big brothers, I was puzzled. Jack Gleeson as the late unlamented Joffreye and Michael McElhatton as Roose (hope I’ve spelled that correctly) cover/ed their native Irish accents convincingly, as do the actors who play Ser Barristan and Mance Rayder.

    • Reply June 2, 2014

      Jamie Adair

      Oh this is very interesting as well. Unlike many North Americans, I can somewhat detect the difference between UK regional accents. (I spent roughly four years in daily phone meetings with my last employer’s UK office.) However, I didn’t notice the Stark children’s mismatched accents until you pointed it out. Perhaps, the showrunners are okay with the accents since much of the US won’t notice them?? I have no idea, but it is interesting. It is also interesting that people in the UK can detect Daphne’s fake Northern accent.

      BTW, I think that the actor who plays Ramsay – Welsh isn’t he? – is absolutely amazing. Truly an underrated treasure. I can never get over the subtlety of his performance. He can (IMO) convincingly go from cunning sadist to the boy who just wants daddy’s approval.

  • Reply May 22, 2014

    Jun

    Thanks for the clarification, Martine.

    I think the TV series made an effort to do regional accents when they can, but it would be too much to execute consistently, especially with little kids who haven’t gone through drama school, like those who play Sansa, Arya, and Bran.

    Also there is the US and worldwide market to consider. Yorkshire and a bit of Irish are understandable, but cockney or Welsh or, gasp, Glasgow accents could be a big problem for American ears.

    • Reply June 2, 2014

      Jamie Adair

      @Jun/re: the accents
      Absolutely. Just today, I was speaking with a coworker about last night’s episode. She’s from New York originally – I live in Boston – and she said that she has a terrible time understanding the actors on Game of Thrones. In fact, she often watches it with the closed captions on.

      I had a boss from Glasgow years ago. I was once in a meeting with that boss, a Southern coworker (from Texas or Atlanta maybe), and another coworker from Central America — none of them could understand each other! No joke. 🙂 They kept having to say pardon to each other and I had to “translate” at some points. :>S

      The people I know in the US struggle with thicker Yorkshire accents or any Northern accent. Based on some of the phone meetings I’ve been on, I think they might even have trouble with RP sometimes. Jun is absolutely right – heavier regional accents would be really tough for North American viewers. People aren’t necessarily used to the UK accents over here – we don’t get as much British television as you get American television. (I think you really only see a few British shows on PBS, which is the non-profit station and has fewer viewers than the commercial network stations.) BTW, some people I know at work watch the marvelous BBC Sherlock with the closed captions on. I’m sure all of this sounds crazy to anyone from the UK reading this, but it is true! 🙂

  • Reply May 22, 2014

    Martine

    All fair points. No I’m not ( officially) French, Watcher.:)
    I agree about the kind of RP accents the younger Stark children have in comparison to Ned ( and even Robb and Jon), I still love it though.
    Agree with you too Jun, there have been many times in the less metropolitan areas of the US where I realise I do have to slow down and enunciate carefully- which is fair enough. It’s understandable. Either that or I sometimes slide into a clear cut glass accent that would shame even our dear Queen Elizabeth!
    There is so much to love about this show, though isn’t there? Jamie’s blog is yet another one of the reasons I love it! x

  • Reply May 24, 2014

    Watcher on the Couch

    My own speaking accent can tend to be all over the place sometimes. My Mum, who was Welsh, brought me up to speak RP (received pronunciation) when I was little but as soon as I went to school in Staffordshire (north-west midlands of England I was teased for being “posh” – I was at a “normal” school not a “posh” one) so I learned to speak with the local accent PDQ (pretty damn quick). I haven’t been abroad outside Europe -and that has mostly been France – but have been in a handful of places in the UK. For some years I was in London because of work. Now I am back in Staffordshire but I sometimes say “barth” like a southern (English) person rather than “bath” with “a” as in “apple”. It’s not even a conscious decision. There are of course people in my town who have come from various other parts of the UK but some of my native townspeople [not all] give me a funny look if I say “barth”, though I think a person should be free to speak how they wish.

    Although I haven’t been to the USA I worked in the same office for just under two years as young woman from America (married to an Englishman). “Knickers” for “panties” was a difference she could never become accustomed to (knicks are knee-breeches in the States I believe). Also the expression used in British hotels for an early morning wake-up call (“Would you like me to knock you up?”) caused great laughter. “Knocked up” means pregnant in North America it seems. Here is a link to an explanation on Wikipedia as to what a “knocker-upper” did http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knocker-up
    Having worked in London, I thought Tatiana Maslany’s “estuary” English accent as one of her personae in “Orphan Black” was not at all bad, though some of said they thought she sounded Australian. Maybe it would need a native Londoner to judge properly. Aside: some months ago there was something on TV about the British take on blues music and it seemed really strange to hear Wilko Johnson (Ilyn Payne) speaking in his normal “estuary” English voice. He is a gifted musician in the band “Doctor Feelgood” and I was sorry to hear that he is now very ill (which is why Bronn has taken over some things Ilyn Payne does in the books I guess).

    Thinking about young actors, from the limited amount he has done in the show so far, I feel Brennock O’Connor (the village boy Styr scares and sends to Castle Black) might be one to watch. He was also in an advert about CPR making a serious point in a jokey way as “Minnie Vinnie” as in a mini version of Vinnie Jones, playing a character with much more swagger than the village boy. So he is more than a one-trick pony.

    As Martine says, there is much to be enthusiastic about regarding “Game of Thrones”. I only got “into” the series last year. I am up to speed on the first three books now. I don’t know whether that is a good thing or bad. I just couldn’t wait a whole year to find out how things continued but of course now (at least up to the end of the adaptation of “A Storm of Swords”) I don’t have the delicious sense of wondering what will happen next…though the show has changed a few things.

  • Reply May 24, 2014

    Watcher on the Couch

    Edit to my post above, in my reference to “Orphan Black” I typed “some of said” when I should have said “some have said”. I always find I am better at proof-reading other folks’ work than my own.

    Looking at Connie’s post above, I remember a history teacher saying that the wife of Louis XIV (14th) of France was a Spanish Hapsburg and she was an unhappy result of inbreeding generation after generation after generation. Louis did have an eye for the ladies as the expression goes (more than just an eye). I can’t speculate as to whether he would have been a more faithful husband if his wife had been more healthy. Maybe not…royal husbands through the ages have not been particularly faithful, though there have been exceptions, for example Edward I (1st) of England seems to have genuinely cared about his first wife Eleanor of Castile, having had memorial crosses set up at the places where her body rested overnight when it was taken for burial. Charing Cross in London takes it name from having had an “Eleanor Cross” there though I am not sure that the original “Eleanor Cross” is still there – probably not. I’m getting off topic here so will finish my post.

  • Reply May 25, 2014

    Martine

    This is a lovely comments thread! Lots of fabulous and really funny points ! @WATCHER, I’m giggling at the whole ‘knocked up’ phrase ( that brilliant example of trans Atlantic phrases that don’t travel! I will forbear to say ANYTHING concerning having a cigarette…LOL)
    @JAMIE. Well, all I know about the Scots accent issue is only gleaned from when I lived there ( 7 years) rather than my own heritage. However, in my own experience, any Scots people I met who were of the more ‘aristocratic’ or upper class all had what would be heard as Upper Class English accents, I’m talking of those I encountered who were anything from a Duke, Duchess,Baronet etc down to kinds of Landowners and such. That was, again in my own experience, totally normal that this was the case. It’s just how they all spoke.The former were all very proud of their ‘Scottishness’ and did not wish to be perceived as at all ‘English’.
    I have many Scots friends who are ‘ordinary’ like me, and they speak in their beautiful native Scots accents. I don’t especially like the Class System but it is what it is, and I didn’t invent it! LOL.
    I will continue to be fascinated by the accents of the GoT world… it’s an absolute treat! xx

    • Reply May 25, 2014

      Jun

      How fascinating about the Scots. I have sort of a crush on the Scottish accent from the moment I first visited Edinburgh over a decade ago.

    • Reply June 2, 2014

      Jamie Adair

      Martine, I meant to reply to this earlier, but I haven’t had a chance. Thank you for such an interesting comment. I had no idea about the class differences in Scottish accents. I’ve never been to Scotland and would love to go – hearing about these types of things combined with the GRRM’s extensive “borrowing” (to use his word) of Scottish history makes it even more intriguing.

  • Reply May 25, 2014

    Martine

    P.S @WATCHER. The latest news I heard about Wilko was that he had been having some new treatment which had slowed the illness down a great deal, That was in the last month or so. I love him so much! I was a huge fan of Dr Feelgood and Wilko has got to be one of the best guitarists to have ever been. It was a huge treat to see him as ‘Ser Illyn’.
    Also, it was fascinating what you had to say about the Eleanor Crosses. Say what one will about ‘Longshanks’/The Hammer of the Scots, he really seemed to totally adore his wife and was a loving husband, yes. I always see a little bit of Edward I and Edward II in the Tywin/Tyrion relationship. Charles Dance would be an amazing ‘Longshanks’ wouldn’t he? xx

  • Reply June 2, 2014

    A fan in Starfall

    The interaction of Littlefinger, Lady Lysa and Sansa reminded me a little of how Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron of Sudeley acted around 14-years-old Princess Elizabeth (future Queen Elizabeth I) and his wife, Catherine Parr (Henry VIII’s widow). Thomas Seymour was ambitious like Littlefinger and seemed to like the future Elizabeth I more than was appropriate. Catherine Parr was blind to the scandalous behavior until she got pregnant and birthed a daughter, then she got as insanely jealous as Lady Lysa shortly before she died.

    We’ll see if Littlefinger gets a similar fate as Thomas Seymour and if red-haired Sansa rise as high as red-haired Elizabeth I.

  • Reply June 2, 2014

    Martine

    @Fan in Starfall. That’s such a superb point.
    I’ve been seeing echoes of Elizabeth the 1st and Thomas Seymour for a long while in the Baelish/ Sansa relationship. I was also really struck by the image of Sansa being rowed away from Kings Landing by Ser Dontas. She looked almost regal sitting in the boat, as it sailed under a bridge, shrouded by grey mists and with her vibrant red hair shining in the gloom. It immediately made me envision the young Elizabeth the 1st passing under the Traitor’s Gate on her way to the gloomy Tower of London.
    I’m writing this after the screening of ‘The Viper and The Mountain’ episode, where I think your link to Elizabeth and Seymour is even more powerfully illustrated. You may have been to Sudeley Castle, where Catherine Parr , Elizabeth and Seymour all dwelt- if so forgive me. I was there last month and it is so incredibly atmospheric.

    • Reply June 2, 2014

      Jamie Adair

      I strongly agree with you Martine and Fan in Starfall about Sansa/Eliz I and Thomas Seymour. Martine the comparison to Elizabeth I passing under Traitor’s Gate is wonderful — I might have to replay that episode just to see that again. It hadn’t occurred to me when I watched it

      I find the story of Elizabeth and Thomas Seymour so creepy I hate to think of it. Yuck. But, I think it is spot on and with Petyr’s guardianship of Robyn it reinforces the parallel even more.

      • Reply June 3, 2014

        Fan in Starfall

        I agree with the parallel of Petyr’s guardianship of Robin since King Edward VI was a sickly boy with a cruel streak as well.

  • Reply June 3, 2014

    Watcher on the Couch

    I hadn’t made the connection to the Thomas Seymour/young Elizabeth. I will have to see if I can re-watch one of the mini-series about Elizabeth, though I’m not sure if the ones I like go back that far in Elizabeth’s story (I particularly like the ones starring Helen Mirren and Anne-Marie Duff – not so keen on “Elizabeth”). A co-worker of mine from the early 1990s had a Canadian son-in-law (her daughter had emigrated). When he came to “meet the parents” he was, she said, flummoxed by the English accents, not so much from a point of view that he didn’t understand them, but that they changed so radically over not really vast distances (well the UK is not that big really). I know when I worked with somebody from Michigan she said that State was bigger than the whole UK.

  • Reply June 3, 2014

    Watcher on the Couch

    Addendum to the above. Of course “Elizabeth” and its follow-up “The Golden Age” are films, not mini-series. I cannot comment on “The Golden Age” as I have never had any desire to watch it.

    Thinking about accents, although I was never a massive “X-Files” fan, I have noticed that Gillian Anderson seems to be able to slip seamlessly between her American accent and an English one (I think she lives in London at present) depending on which country she happens to be spending time in at the moment. One of the UK TV channels which re-runs old series recently ran a repeat of “Great Expectations”. Gillian Anderson played Miss Haversham (though she’s a bit glamorous for Miss Haversham in my opinion) but she had an excellent English accent. I read somewhere that she was approached about playing Catelyne Stark in the early days but felt she couldn’t commit as her younger children were VERY young at the time. Much like Jennifer Ehle. Of course Michelle Fairley did a sterling job (I’m not one of the whingers on the wall who moan that book Catelyne is “hawt” and there should have been a “hawt” actress to pay her). I think Michelle is an attractive lady anyway. Slightly off-topic, but in that adaptation of “Great Expectations” Ray Winstone played the escaped convict, Magwitch and his daughter Lois played the prostitute who was being mean to Gilly in episode 8 Season 4. This is slightly off-topic and in all honesty I don’t think they’ll cast a flashback to Robert’s Rebellion but I’ve sometimes thought another of Ray Winstone’s daughters Jaime might make a suitable Lyanna (she can do “northern” although she’s southern in real life). I’m not sure whether they are an “item” currently and I know this is an intelligent blog and none of us EVER read the gossip columns (or tell lies) but her name has certainly been linked with Alfie Allen’s in real life.

  • Reply June 3, 2014

    Jun

    I would love to learn more about Thomas Seymour and Elizabeth I and their parallel to Littlefinger and Sansa Stark. Will you write something on it, Jaime?

    • Reply June 4, 2014

      Jamie Adair

      Hey Jun,
      I was about to say “sure it would be my pleasure” but Olga of Nerdalicious has offered to do it. She actually knows more about Elizabeth I than I do. (I haven’t read about her in any depth in five years or so.) It might be a few weeks before Olga’s article appears.

      • Reply June 4, 2014

        Jun

        Great! Look forward to Olga’s article.

        • Reply June 4, 2014

          Olga Hughes

          I just got some new reading material on the Seymours Jun so it is good timing. I hope I can come up with some interesting ideas for you, I think the Baelish/Seymour parallel could be quite complex.

        • Reply June 5, 2014

          Martine

          Oh yes we *LOVE* Olga! We SO do.:)

          • June 5, 2014

            Jamie Adair

            Yes! Have you ever seen any of Olga’s history articles on Nerdalicious.com.au? They’re awesome.

          • June 5, 2014

            Olga Hughes

            Thanks Martine 🙂

  • Reply June 3, 2014

    Martine

    Thanks Jamie. Maybe it was just me, but in the exact moment I saw that scene my mind went straight to a visual image of Elizabeth 1st. Then again- ‘The David’s’ ( Weiss and Benihoff) do not miss a trick, let’s face it!If George RRM has hinted at it- they will take it and run with it!
    A fellow blogger mentioned the Samuel Beckett ( Irish writer as opposed to Thomas A.. LOL) connection. I believe the showrunners both spent semesters at Trinity College, Dublin at the same time ( ?) and it has been noted that they often allude to Beckett either visually or in the script. That’s for another post so I’ll spare the details….
    However, if you did ever decide to explore the Sansa/Baelish- Elizabeth/Seymour idea as Jun suggests, that would be amazing. I’m only speculating that there’s going to be more material to work with on that in the next season …..

    • Reply June 4, 2014

      Jamie Adair

      Martine, isn’t that interesting. I went on a tour of Trinity College a few years ago and I absolutely loved it. As a writer, Dublin was a wonderful experience. I truly believe that Dublin is the spiritual home for writers. I’ll have to look into that Samuel Beckett connection. I love that idea. The showrunners and crew do quite a bit of artistic stuff that is not in the books. I’m thinking of doing a series of articles in praise of the showrunners actually. I know this might seem perverse but they don’t get enough credit in some ways. Fans are tough on them.

      • Reply June 4, 2014

        Olga Hughes

        Guilty 🙂 I do always point out what I like though, some of the departures from the book have worked brilliantly. I think we all loved Tywin and Arya, that is one of my favourites.

        • Reply June 5, 2014

          Jamie Adair

          I really liked the Climb speech Baelish gave last season – after Roz’s death. That blew me away.

  • Reply June 5, 2014

    Jun

    I am one of those notorious book purists. Most of the TV-only elements I like are early in the series, such as the scene of Tywin Lannister skinning a deer and having Arya witness Ned’s beheading and the look between Ned and Yoren.

    The more changes they made the more I feel numb to them. I understand most of these changes are necessary, because the characters’ inner thoughts cannot be shown on screen, and the audience has a bigger need to have themes spelled out for them. Most recent examples include the Waiting-for-Godot dialogue and Tyrion’s beetles speech, aka, the tale-by-idiot-sound-and-fury speech.

    However, given all the rumors about Season 5, it looks like the series will definitely break off and go down their own path toward the GRRM-provided ending. It’s difficult but I will have to detach myself completely from the novel if I want to continue watching the TV series…

    • Reply June 5, 2014

      Olga Hughes

      IMO Mockingbird has been the best episode this season, and that is one of the episodes where they have actually stuck very closely to canonical dialogue. Not coincidental I am sure.

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