Okay, I touch lightly on book spoilers…
All the show plots are condensed — trim down minor characters and foolish subplots to have more major characters running into each other. THis seems smart…even bringing Lancel back after a few years needs major reminders for some fans. THe tightened plots are facinating and fun as they heighten tension, and also identify which annoying minor characters really AREN’T needed.
In book four, Cersei sends Ser Aerys Oakheart of the Kingsguard to watch over Myrcella, then a troop to bring her home. This time, rather than introduce new characters, Jamie and Bronn are going themselves. We lose the plot of Jamie traipsing uselessly through the Riverlands meeting minor characters and tidying up Cateyln’s brother and uncle who are still holding onto their castle. But admittedly, without the Starks, they’re not that significant to us. Jamie is certainly riding into a climate where everyone hates the Lannisters, and the plot against Myrcella in book four will likely swallow him up — Sand Snakes hate all Lannisters. Seeing him actually interact with his daughter would be interesting as that moment really hasn’t appeared yet.
Cersei appoints a new High Septon herself, clearly to go after Margaery (though Margaery hasn’t left ny evidence of infidelity). Obviously, the drunk and paranoid queen will fabricate the evidence and get caught in her own trap. Nice touch foreshadowing the Walk of Shame with the previous High Septon, though he really could have had more time in other episodes establishing his existence. Also, Cersei’s childhood flashback shows her panic at a younger more beautiful queen (does she REALLY need more motive to hate Margaery?) but NOT death at the hands of her brother. Is that not guaranteed on the show? That was the most significant moment of the prophecy for me.
As early as episode three, Qyburn is building Frankenstein. He seems a wholly vile creature, despite his kindness to Jamie.
As with the books, Daenerys isn’t doing much. Though episode two did an excellent job of establishing the difficulty of imperialism.
Arya’s training with her old season two friend, which makes more sense than with strangers. Of course, in both stories, all the face-switching ensures that she can’t really be sure who’s training her. It’s a nice return though.
All of Varys puppet princes have been skipped in favor of Varys himself. This is a nice streamline which also gives Varys more to do (in the books, he’s vanished by now). There’s also no sign of Penny (whom some of us thought was sappy) or Tyrion’s obsession with his childhood wife. His meeting with Ser Jorah emphasizes that more characters are coming together.
Some of us really want to see Yara, her father, and all their mess start up.
Brienne in the books hopelessly trails after Arya and Sansa and finds neither. She teams up with lame minor characters and ends at a stalemate with Lady Stoneheart. In a more fulfilling moment on the show, she finds both girls, long enough for them to send her off. While anything with Jamie/Lady Stoneheart might wait, or be skipped, Brienne may actually accomplish something this time. If Sansa gets Lady Jeyne’s plot, she’ll need a rescue.
In the books, Sansa and Littlefinger stay with little hapless Robin. Littlefinger intends Sansa to marry Robin’s heir, thus uniting Vale and North. He’s technically lord of the screwed-up Riverlands by this point, giving him enormous amounts of territory if he pulls this off. He’s complicit in dressing Sansa’s childhood friend Jeyne as Lady Arya and sending her to marry Bolton Jr, so he knows that he can finally prove that his Lady Stark is the real one.
The question is, who will win in a fight, Sansa or the Bastard of Bolton? Anyone reading the books would say Bolton, no question. But Lady Macbeth, brought north to be an assassin by Littlefinger, is by this point believable as a savage killer in the night, with poison at least. Why does Littlefinger want this? Is he trying to mold a perfect lady of cruelty to match him – a mate as viciously elegant as he is? Or is this one more attempt to innocently keep his hands clean? We’ll certainly believe he’s ditching the Lannisters — without Tywin, everyone seems to be abandoning ship.
Now, Brienne hates Stannis (as episode 3 reminds us). She and Podrick (almost the only character with no agenda) are heading to Winterfell, as are Stannis and Co. Sansa, Littlefinger Theon and the Boltons are already there. Currently, Sansa believes Lord Bolton killed Robb and her mother (true) and Theon killed her brothers (technically untrue). Theon of course could take the opportunity to be a hero. Jon is being goaded to attack the Boltons as well. Will he try to stop Sansa’s wedding? THe Karstark girl hasn’t been seen, though all her family were established on the show. No wildling princess Val. And Melissande is kicking around and keeping little Shireen for some special destiny. No sign of Mance Raider’s baby and wife from the books (ah, streamlining), but Gilly and Sam have more plot to come.
While episodes one and two were quite slow, three had a LOT of foreshadowing. Did anyone catch that Aemon is ill? And a cameo by Cersei’s boy toy Lancel? And that the Lannisters look weak? Quick cameo by Lady Frey-Bolton. And that the Volantine slaves plus a red priestess want Daenerys to save them next? We know what’s coming…
By the way, has anyone noticed that it normally takes weeks to make all these instantaneous journeys? Well, they only have 30 episodes to cover the big books and epic war. How quickly will Tyrion make it across the sea?
I’m the author of five different books on Game of Thrones and many on pop culture if people would like more insights. amazon.com/Valerie-Estelle-Frankel/e/B004KMCLQK/