Sure, I have read the books. And sure, as a result I generally know what is coming in terms of the show. But every once in a while David Benioff and Dan Weiss really throw a curveball in there and it just totally takes me by surprise. So not only did they surprise me tonight, they hit me with a triple whammy.
Number one: Sam and Gilly kiss.
Yes, I am aware that certain things do happen later on in the books in regards to the two of them as a couple, but that does not happen until Sam leaves for Oldtown to become a Maester and brings Gilly and the baby along so they can stay with the Tarlys at the family castle, Horn Hill.
But regardless of what happens, their first kiss may well be the most adorable thing on the show, ever. It is the earnest kiss of two bewildered and inexperienced young people in love, like in high school or something. And I swear to God, I almost cried. I told Kelly I thought my heart was going to break. It was just so touching and genuine (those two are great actors) and it made such an amazing contrast between it and the rest of the episode, to put it mildly. Probably why the writers added it to the show.
Number two: Pyp dies.
Not supposed to happen. Definitely not in the books. In Book Five Pyp is alive and well and cracking wise. Most definitely not dead. So it was a bit of a shock to see him take that arrow through the neck (from Ygritte, of all people, and we knew HER death was coming*). He and Sam had been bonding a bit and I was looking forward to at least another season or two of the Pyp and Grenn comedy hour. So he dies quite suddenly, to put it mildly. Bleeds out all over Sam, who tries to comfort him but is trying to not totally lose it himself. Understandable, since I was trying not to lose it myself. Un-freaking-believable.
Number three: Grenn dies.
I had already resigned myself to the idea that Grenn was probably dead before they even made it obvious. At first, I was literally like “if they kill Pyp they will probably kill Grenn too.” In the book the one-armed blacksmith Donal Noye (former smith to the Baratheons, actually) is the one who dies defending the interior of the tunnel from a giant. So by the time Grenn is standing at the interior gate/portcullis in the tunnel trying to bolster the courage of the men with him as they wait for that giant to start breaking his way through, I knew that Grenn was taking Donal Noye’s place and he was not surviving the episode. And just like the book, when they go down the tunnel to see what happened, they find a dead giant and all the defenders dead too. But it wasn’t supposed to be Grenn. Grenn is alive and well in the books up through Book Six.
So yeah, the episode was awesome but things aren’t over yet. Lots going to happen in the next and last episode of the season. In fact, the scene when Stannis and his army arrive at the Wall is one of the most memorable scenes of Book 3, and one of my personal favorites of that book.
So until next week. And sometime soon when I don’t have to get up early the next morning to go to work I will raise a glass of ale to the fallen brothers of the Nights Watch that we knew and loved. So long, fellas.
*Even if you hadn’t read the books, it should have been obvious that Ygritte’s days were numbered. They just set it up so carefully: the boy and his father in their village, enjoying a moment together; Ygritte kills the boy’s father with an arrow, and he sees her do it; the boy watches as Ygritte continues through the village, killing everyone who crosses her path; the boy is sent to Castle Black, where he is kept on and wants to fight; he mentions that he was the best archer in their village; when the battle at Castle Black is raging, the frightened boy sees a bow and picks it up (probably because of what Sam says to him); Ygritte lingers just a little too long staring at Jon without actually shooting an arrow into him; boy shoots her with an arrow with an apparently fatal wound.