Season four episode 6 of Game of Thrones, called “The Laws of Gods and Men”, really threw me a curve ball (or ten). Where do I begin?
Now, the episode was already off to a weird start, because of the thing with
Asha Yara trying to rescue Theon. I honestly thought that it was going to happen, not based on anything in the books (no such commando raid happens in them) but based on my own guesses for where Benioff and Weiss were going with their deviations from the book. And man was I wrong. After building up to a rescue, with Yara and her gang of handpicked Iron Islands badasses making it all the way to the Dreadfort*, the rescue fails when Theon basically refuses to go along with his sister. So much for that storyline. Now Theon is probably going to help Ramsay take Moat Cailin, in some version of what basically happens in the book. Now, I did not expect Yara to kill Ramsay, because there’s plenty of story left with him. So once he showed up to personally fight off the Iron Islanders, I figured they were probably screwed. And sure enough, they were indeed, pretty much. Yara and the handful of other survivors fled to their boats and Theon, now thoroughly identifying as Reek, stays behind. Still, it was a bit of a disappointment for Yara and her pseudo-Viking psuedo-commandos to get built up so much, and then just fail spectacularly.
Now it is true that the Iron Bank of Braavos does decide to assist Stannis with money in the books, although the specifics of how that happens are totally different from how it happens in this episode. But this telling of the tale was still pretty cool, because I love Davos and seeing him give such a spirited verbal defense of Stannis was pretty cool. And in the show, we have already seen how Cersei could not care less if the Iron Bank gets its money back, and this is when even Tywin Lannister is shown to be concerned about the Seven Kingdoms’ debts to the Iron Bank. So you know that it is not something to just blow off. But the timeline has been dramatically advanced, as we don’t see Stannis negotiate with the Iron Bank in the books until A Dance With Dragons. But that is the way of it in the show, it seems, shifting some of the timelines in order to facilitate the story moving along.
But some things don’t change much after all. And the one thing that I should have seen coming and yet was still utterly blown away by was the reappearance of Shae. Yes, it happens in the books, but in the books Shae is also a much more plastic, shallow, two-dimensional character. Her portrayal on the show by Sibel Kekilli is so amazing and nuanced that she is WAY more interesting that she was in the books, like several other characters that come to mind.**
Anyway, this post is way late and I didn’t get to finish it until recently, but I didn’t want it to be wasted effort.
*Just getting there would be an epic trip, if you look at a map of Westeros. The Iron Islands are off the western coast, and the Dreadfort is WAY up on the northeastern coast. There is no Westerosi version of the Panama Canal, so in theory Yara and her crew would have had to sail all the way down the coast through the Sunset Sea, then east across the Summer Sea, then north all the way up the eastern coast until they reached the mouth of the Weeping Water, then paddled their way to the Dreadfort. That is a hell of a trip.
**Seriously, that is why the casting people should be getting cookies for their birthdays and Christmas, hand-made and hand-delivered by GRRM himself. Not to take anything away from GRRM’s creation, but many characters are better on the show than in the books: Robb Stark; Osha the wildling; Talisa Magyr (way better than Jeyne Westerling); Ros; and, dare I say it, Stannis Baratheon. Say what you want about it, but I like the guy WAY better than his teeth-grinding counterpart in the books.