Yesterday Holly gave some thoughts after the end of Game of Thrones Season 4. Like her, I have read the books and watched the show and wanted to share something I loved, and something I didn’t, from the season. It’s interesting to think about, because it’s a book that has been split into two seasons – and it’s working its way towards two books that split up and became two books simultaneously. At this point, the show really has a life of its own and a pacing of its own… which can be good and bad.
For one thing, it’s good because it gives us characters like Oberyn Martell. On the other hand, it’s bad because to avoid introducing too many new characters, it left out a scene I think is important. To say more would be spoilers, so let’s head on to spoiler-land below!
The Red Viper – Oberyn Martell
Now here’s a character who, in the book, serves an important purpose, but from whose perspective we never get to see. Oberyn Martell, our introduction to the Martell family and to the nation of Dorne. In the show, as well, he is our introduction to the people of this southern desert, as well as to the last of the noble houses running the seven kingdoms.
In the book, he is clouded in whispers and rumors and opinions and stereotypes and all the bad expectations – but he is not given much of a space to show whether they are true or not, or to really give much depth to it. In the end, I don’t remember much about him as a character, other than the important role he plays, which Holly mentioned yesterday – as Tyrion’s champion in the trial by combat.
In the show, meanwhile, he became an instant fan favorite, and the Internet has been abuzz with him. Attractive, charismatic, bisexual – people loved him. I have seen some great stuff on Tumblr, but it’s harder to share here, so I’ll give some links.
He presented us with the rage of a kingdom, at the brutal murder of his sister, the previous princess of the Seven Kingdoms. And, in combat, he shows us one of the best fighters in those Seven Kingdoms. It’s certainly my favorite fight of the show so far… he’s a good gifset of some of it: http://thewritersramblings.tumblr.com/post/87936231212/today-is-not-the-day-i-die
That all just makes it the more heartbreaking when, at the heart of the battle, Oberyn is caught off-guard by the Mountain, and brutally murdered himself. I think all three of these are great reactions:
- Reactions to the fight: read the book or not: http://thewritersramblings.tumblr.com/post/87738653102/reactions-to-the-oberyn-martell-vs-the-mountain-fight
- Viewer Release Form: http://edwardspoonhands.com/post/88087537558/kateoplis-game-of-thrones-viewer-release
- Caught Monologuing: http://thewritersramblings.tumblr.com/post/87864843477/chryswatchesgot-chrys-watches-got-x
I think this death might be the one that is most reminiscent of last year and the Red Wedding reactions. It’s just so sad. But what’s great is that the actor seems to still be reacting to it, too. I think he has a solid future full of fans who love him, so hopefully he has an agent looking out for him. Check this little clip out: http://tealeafgamer.tumblr.com/post/87744213324/pedro-pascal-on-oberyns-funeral-x
Overall, they made us care far more about this death in the show than in the book. They made the character matter, they brought him to life. Sure, he’s kind of the same character you hear about in the book, but we got to really see it, not just be told about it hearsay like in the book. It makes the fight more awesome, and the death more meaningful.
The Usurper – Balon Greyjoy
Hey, it’s been a while since we’ve done much with the Greyjoys, other than a useless assault on the Dreadfort, and more scenes of Theon/Reek that were not in the book – only implied. However, lest we forget, one of the kings in that whole War of the Five Kings that Joffrey was laughing about right up until he bit it was Balon Greyjoy.
When Stannis, with Melisandre, get the blood of a king (in the form of leaches from Gendry) and throw them in the fire, which I am now thinking was last season (but same book, A Storm of Swords), he named the three usurpers left, with Renly dead – Robb Stark, now dead, Joffrey Baratheon, now dead, and Balon Greyjoy… seemingly forgotten?
In the books, it’s even a small thing, not really seen, but talked about later. Balon falls to his death from the bridges on Pike. Not at a wedding, so he doesn’t quite fit the theme… but still, he dies, and it matters.
It matters for the Ironborn, of course, because then they need a new king. It brings in new characters, Balon’s brothers, since his son is lost to them. It leads to unresolved plotlines about where these brothers are off to at sea in the later books. I can see not wanting to dive into all of that just yet, and leaving that for next season.
The other place where it matters, however, is with Melisandre. There’s some question, both for the audience and for Davos and Stannis, about how much power Melisandre actually has. About whether she actually is channelling divine power, or whether happenstance is leading to the death of all of these kings. The death of Balon Greyjoy helps to muddy this question, makes you wonder if all of these things – even the very-human-caused deaths at the Red Wedding and Purple Wedding – are the result of Melisandre’s spells, of Stannis’s prayers.
I also feel like the timing matters. That all the other kings end up dead, but in the end, it does not help get Stannis any closer. It does not get him the Iron Thrones. Or really much closer to it at all. And that realization helps turn them all to a new frame of thought – let’s go North, to the Wall, where the real fight is happening. Because the Game of Thrones going on in the South is pointless and never-ending in comparison.
Maybe it’s nit-picky, but I was really expecting the death of Balon Greyjoy this season, and it didn’t happen. What do you think? Does it matter? Let me know in the comments below! Or weigh in on Oberyn – and share any great finds from the Internet about him!