TV Recap: Game of Thrones Season 4 Episode 2

The Overthinkers recap Game of Thrones Season 4 Episode 2, “The Lion and the Rose.”

Pete, Ryan, Shana and Matt recap Game of Thrones Season 4 Episode 2, “The Lion and the Rose.”


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6 Comments on “TV Recap: Game of Thrones Season 4 Episode 2”

  1. BastionofLight #

    What do we make of the difference in characterization of Melisandre and Stannis between the books and the show?

    In the show, not only does it appear that Melisandre has a good deal more influence with Stannis than Davos, but she is portrayed as being a good deal less sympathetic, both in the sense that she is not sympathetic towards other characters, and that the portrayal of her is does less to ingratiate her with the audience.

    Notably, in this episode, (and please correct me if I’m wrong), the people being burned are being executed for unspecified “infidelity”, whereas in the analogous scene in the books, it is more clear that people are being executed for attempting to turn coat to the Lannisters, which is treason.

    Why would the writers make this choice, and what does it portend for the future of these characters in the books?


    • fenzel OTI Staff #

      This is a hard conversation to have without spoilers. I will do my best, but BE WARNED ABOUT SPOILERS.

      Stannis is often seen in the books through the eyes of people who like and respect him — Davos and Ned Stark in particular. But it’s also outright stated many times that most people in the realm neither like nor respect Stannis — that he’s seen as tyrranical, self-obsessed and petty, that he doesn’t inspire followership, and only a spare few people actually want him as king.

      Large groups of book readers have come to a different conclusion – in somewhat of a self-reinforcing act of interpretation. Stannis is broadly beloved on /r/asoiaf and several other major discussion boards. Moreso than he has been beloved on over time, I think it’s safe to say.

      It’s worth noting that the places where Stannis is beloved are overwhelmingly male and overwhelmingly high-school and college-age. Stannis is the rightful king, he does what he says, he puts people in their place. The only women in his life serve him and offer him sexual favors merely because he is so awesome. There’s an attraction to that simplicity and orderliness, and to the fantasy of control, I don’t doubt it. And, as I mentioned, the people we see him through in the story generally like him too.

      But I think it’s important to the story that most people in Westeros don’t like Stannis at all. It’s especially important in events that haven’t happened yet on the show, which in the books get pretty confusing.

      The show in general, and in particular this season so far, has shifted a bunch of the perspective on things toward a more comfortable, bourgeois sort of “neutrality.” Tyrion is a much more sympathetic character and nicer guy. Shae is a much more sympathetic woman, who is clearly wronged by things outside her control. Littlefinger is a sneering schemer in season 3, despite in that point of the books him still being generally affable seen as and relatively harmless by everybody buy Tyrion and Varys. Ygritte is much nicer and more comfortable in general, and much more in love – down to her pseudo-Dickensian accent. And of course as we mentioned last week, Arya’s turn for the murderous has been robbed of most of its tragedy and pathos and has been made action-movie-awesome well ahead of the books.

      This is, I think, mostly in service to the twists and turns in the story — ones that have happened already, and ones that are coming up.

      With the books, the pacing of these twists and turns are different, and their importance is somewhat less. The books turn like a battleship — the carnage of the Red Wedding takes several pages, and the reader has a lot of control over how fast they take them in.

      In the show, turns in the story are rooted in time — they will pass in the same period of time for everyone (barring SLOW MOTION JOFFREY DEATH REPLAY!!!). And in order for them to have emotional effect, the show runners and writers have decided to make the character motivations for them clearer and more obvious.

      Book readers know from her point of view chapter later in the story that Melisandre is a more sympathetic sort of character in the books than she has been in the show so far. Well, by making her more villainous now — if she then turns around and acts more sympathetically, it’s a surprise. And it’s an obvious surprise.

      The same with Stannis — they make him meaner in the times when he’s mean so that in the times when he’s nice and good and heroic, it’s more of a shock.

      But really I think what this gets to is the challenge of A Dance With Dragons — and really the challenge of the 4th and 5th books together.

      Because in those books, the point of views become far more problematic, and the main characters are far more oblivious to what is actually happening around them. Almost all of A Dance With Dragons is extremely unreliable — I highly recommend the Myrennese Blot blog for unpacking the major story arcs and explaining a more independent interpretation of events.

      So, without spoiling too much AND DON’T READ THIS IF YOU CARE ABOUT SPOILERS — later in the story someone important is going to meet some of the characters we’ve been talking about, and he or she is going to form some important opinions about them, and those opinions are going to be either wrong, fundamentally misled, or merely inadequate to the situation.

      And it’s one of the most confusing story arcs in the books, which has the potentialy to be really disappointing and make no sense unless the TV show tips its hand a little more and explains to the audience more directly than the books do what is actually happening.

      For the purposes of this upcoming arc, it will be useful for the audience to have seen people in Stannis’s cadre be actually nasty and villanous. Because that’s how everybody else in Westeros sees them, and that will play an important role later in the story.

      Related to this is the Thenns being identified right away as cannibals, which does not happen in the books. The Thenns are also being set up as less sympathetic, because of some of the same events that will take place in this rather messed up and confusing future story arc.

      We can take this to the forums under a spoiler warning if you want to talk about it more!


      • fenzel OTI Staff #

        It’s also worth noting that George R.R. Martin wrote Sunday night’s episode himself, so if we care about authorial intent (which really we shouldn’t, but hey why not), he’s signed off on a sinister Stannis.


        • BastionofLight #

          Now, there’s a puzzler. If one author is responsible for two separate texts in different media, purporting to tell roughly the same story, how should an audience use one text to inform another?

          Should they be read as one cannon, or as distinct adaptations of the the same (non-existent) text? Death of the Author suggests the latter, though it feels very weird given that Martin is involved in both simultaneously.


          • Ben Adams OTI Staff #

            I think the answer depends at least in part on what kind of question the audience is trying to answer. If you’re looking backwards on a completed work of art, then the Death of the Author thesis has some strong appeal.

            On the other hand, if you’re an audience member/book reader trying to *predict* what GRRM will do in Books 6 and 7, then the choices he makes in the TV show are extremely relevant.

            For example, prior to the Red Wedding on the TV show version of GoT, there were a variety of book fan theories which suggested that Rob Stark had fathered a secret child on his wife before dying; in the books, she doesn’t die at the wedding, so she was still “out there,” ripe for speculation. Arguably the fact that she was…dispensed…in the TV show is good evidence that she won’t amount to much in the books – it seems unlikely that Book 7 is going ot be all about the EARTHSHAKING impact of the existence of a Prince in the North, because in the TV show at least, she’s gone.

            At the very least, we are all desperately hoping that there will not be an Actual Death of the Author.

      • BastionofLight #

        Thank you for the link to the Myrennese Blot, I will definitely have to dive into that.

        So, without saying anything spoiler-y, if you were placing odds on the future of the novels, would the more sinister portrayal in the later-written show increase the probability of future (roughly) heroic action with the show’s characterization being largely contrast, or would you increase the odds on future (roughly) villainous action as being consistent with Martin’s newest writing?

        I suppose, given the infamous tendency of Martin for subverting tropes, it might be consistent with that for him to play up the villainy of characters only to make them more heroic later.

        I would like to go to the forum to discuss the alluded-to future events and Arya’s future.


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