Welcome to the weekly followup for non-readers. Even though we’re supposedly running out of source material, there’s still tons of trivia you might be interested in. Hope you find it helpful:

Back To The Roots

HodorHodor

Hodor’s name is actually Walder, but it was changed for the show for the sake of clarity. No two characters are supposed to have the same name, and we already have Walder Frey. George R. R. Martin has actually tried to go against this trend and bring some historical accuracy to his story – in our real-life history, English and French kings have all repeated the same named over and over again – which brings only confusion in a book or a movie. A Song of Ice and Fire tries to both break and uphold this tradition by using derivatives of the same name – Robb Stark is named after Robert Baratheon, Bran Stark is short for Brandon, his late uncle’s name, and Rickon (the youngest boy) is named after Rickard Stark, his grandfather. The TV show has decided to change names when needed – Asha Greyjoy became Yara Greyjoy (to avoid confusion with Osha the wildling woman), and Robert Arryn, already nicknamed Sweetrobin, became Robin Arryn. Jon Arryn and Jon Snow remained the same, though.

Bran connects to the Weirwood network and we’re about to get the big reveal next episode. What was the subject of the most popular fan theory in the history of fiction is about to get officially confirmed in the next flashback. We’ll talk about it next week. For now, note the people in the scene: young Ned Stark, young Benjen Stark and their sister Lyanna Stark. There’s also younger Rodrick Cassel in the background, and the woman taking Hodor back is Old Nan herself.

The courtyard scene was a throwback to S01E01, where It was the other way around: Ned watching Bran from above (with Arya showing off in place of Lyanna). As for the quote “Keep your shield up or I’ll ring your head like a bell”, Jon Snow says these words while training Olly at Castle Black.

The Mountain That Smashes

I fear the Father, the Mother and the WarriorHigh Sparrow, clearly respecting the threat from Lannister twins and the Mountain

There is so much meaning in that short take where Cersei fixes her dress. It’s the very same dress she wore for Joffrey’s and Tywin’s funeral. She, so famous for showcasing a wide wardrobe of dresses, all crafted in such a great detail that you could spend half an hour admiring the patterns embroidered onto the fabric. Not exaggerating here.

Book Cersei is getting fat. She’s drinking even more than what she used to and drowning her sorrows in wine. She knows it, her handmaidens and friends know it, and she knows that they know it – and it pisses her off. She’s toxic to all of her surroundings and the only reason I’m not bringing up specific events is that I hope we’re yet to see them on screen. That little sewing scene shows in one take what the book describes in long passages. Really well done scene.

From the plot perspective the events in King’s Landing, or lack thereof, classify this as a “filler episode”. It’s safe to assume we’re about to see more scenes like this one, which brings us to…

The Dragontamer

That’s what I do, I drink and I know thingsTyrion Lannister, every college student’s spirit animal

Daenerys is sitting this one out, and her crew at Meereen is having a theatrical chichat describing the scenery around them. The slave uprising is slowly burning out and Astapor and Yunkai went back to the old ways. The Queen is missing, the people who burned the ships are seemingly invisible, and the dragons are not eating.

So we get a money injection of sweet reptile CGI, a moving monologue masterfully delivered by Peter Dinklage, and a subtle recycle of an iconic book scene where Quentyn Martell, sent there by his father Doran to propose to Daenerys, decides to go into the catacombs, tame a dragon, and become the hero of Meereen, truly a worthy suitor to the Mother of Dragons. He brings his men and a whip.

His last words are “Oh.”, then some screams. It seems that Tyrion has too much plot armor to share his fate. That, and his wits wouldn’t allow him to use a whip against a fire-spewing lizard, I suppose…

The Blind Girl

A man has no quotelukeatlook, slightly annoyed with the fact that this week’s scene gave no grounds for witty quote captions

In last week’s Game of Thrones Follow-Up for Non Readers I noted that Arya’s little Daredevil moment doesn’t have much to be said about, but let’s at least sum up the few thoughts that we can gather here:

Arya still has wolf dreams. So does Jon throughout the whole story, actually. Nymeria, Arya’s wolf, is also mentioned by other characters wandering through Riverlands – there’s a mysterious pack of wolves roaming through the whole countryside, led by an uncommonly large wolf. The dreams are something that keeps reminding Arya of who she is even if she wanted to forget, but the show has clearly limited the scope of supernatural phenomena in the Stark family to Bran.

Her “combat training” is one of the many things she’s learned during her blind days, brought to the forefront in the show since it looks cool, but it’s not really a serious learning experience. What Arya learns ADWD is languages (High Valyrian and the languages of the Free Cities), detecting lies based on the tone of one’s voice (the “lying game” she played last season with the Waif), and eavesdropping on the sailors in the port (sort of happened last episode, but in ADWD she learns about events the reader doesn’t know about yet, such as pirate ships from Lys intercepting the wildlings from Hardhome and trying to sell them into slavery).

But that might actually get adapted in the following episodes, hence my initial reluctance to drop all the trivia at once. We’ll see.

Also – am I the only one who thinks that scene would have a lot more sense if Jaqen assumed a different identity, different voice, and truly tested Arya?

The Roose Got Rused

I prefer being an only childPoor orphan whose father had just been poisoned by his enemies

I’m still a little bit uncertain what the relationship between the Boltons and Walder Frey is in the show. Their rebellion against the crown hasn’t been met with any direct consequences yet, but sooner or later the South will have to either acknowledge the North’s existence or go to war. In the released promotional chapter for The Winds of Winter, Stannis is preparing for a battle against Hosteen Frey. And he actually has the head of Karstark family in captivity – the house Karstark which is present in this week’s episode in Winterfell. So in case this wasn’t obvious yet, we’re going full anime original ending now. The book plot involves heavy intrigues, with political marriages and treacherous Arnolf Karstark, planning to backstab Stannis but getting outmaneuvered by Jon (long story short, the conspiracy is unveiled and his plans crossed).

On a serious note, the war in the North is just getting started. Jon is back, free from the Night’s Watch oath, and he’s most likely going to pick up Stannis’s storyline from ADWD/TWOW – so even though there’s some events from the books that haven’t been adapted yet, there is no guarantee things will be even remotely the same.

The Late Balon Watch

The War of the Five Kings, they call it, well, the other four are dead!Balon Greyjoy, announcing formally his victory, achieved by doing pretty much nothing

“The Balon Watch” was a thing for quite some time now. Deceased in the middle of A Storm of Swords (book #3), right before Robb and Joffrey met their untimely demise, Balon Greyjoy was a dead man walking for two full seasons. Which is really funny when you contrast his second-to-die fate in the books with sole survivor status in the show.

Remember Melisandre’s leeches that Stannis threw into the fire, calling three usurpers? Balon was the first of them to fall (literally). It was the completion of all three curses that convinced Stannis to consider sacrificing Edric Storm (TV: Gendry) to “awaken the dragon from stone”. That plan never came into fruition thanks to Davos, but so far, Melisandre’s visions and prophecies are 100% on point without a fail. She’s just really really bad at understanding and using them.

So, Balon is dead for the rest of ASOS – but his remaining children, Theon and Asha (TV: Yara) are nowhere to be found. ASOS is entirely devoid of Greyjoy point-of-view characters, with Theon (POV in book #2, A Clash of Kings) mysteriously disappearing after the sack of Winterfell. The Iron Islands come back in book #4, A Feast for Crows, with the POV of Aeron “Damphair” Greyjoy, a drowned priest who announces the Kingsmoot. As for Greyjoy brothers (Balon’s brothers, to Theon they are uncles), both him and Victarion (the other POV) are written out from the show, with Victarion’s storyline being most likely (from what trailers hint) picked up by Yara. In the books she’s with Theon and Stannis, who is preparing for a battle against the joined Bolton-Frey forces. In the show, Stannis is dead and Theon is heading home on his own, changing the potential Kingsmoot candidate list to Euron, Yara and Theon (from Euron, Yara and Victarion).

Euron, however, was portrayed perfectly, mostly using quotes straight from the book. We never learn the true cause of Balon’s death in the books, with the most likely answer being the Faceless Men hired by Euron Greyjoy. Which makes the end result pretty much identical.

I dreamt of a man without a face, waiting on a bridge that swayed and swung. On his shoulder perched a drowned crow with seaweed hanging from his wings.Ghost of the High Heart, A Storm of Swords

Some drastic changes were required to make this redraft possible, but in a way we’re back on track and the long-awaited Kingsmoot is before us.

Oh and it’s Seastone Chair, not “Salt Throne”. Salt Throne sounds kinda unoriginal considering the Iron Throne is the focus of the story.

He Has Risen

“Thousands of years, the Night’s Watch has held the Castle Black against the Wildlings”
“Until you”Thormund Giantsbane, delivering a Red Priest grade burn

Okay, so what the hell just happened?

You will know next week why the story needs Jon specifically, but for now, how the hell did he come back? Was it just Melisandre’s magic? If so, why didn’t he wake up right away? What kept him?

The answer is not all that clear. Yes, the red priest mojo can bring people back to life, even multiple times, as seen with Thoros of Myr and lord Beric “7 respawns” Dondarrion. But Jon is not a regular person. He’s a Stark, for one, and all Stark siblings have a special connection to their direwolves. It is possible that Jon’s soul was “stored” inside Ghost for a while before going back to his body, and he just opened his eyes when he woke up inside Ghost and realized his human body was back up online. Starks in general are an ancient house with roots reaching beyond history and towards legends.

One of those legends is the Last Hero. The story, told by Old Nan to Bran, is interrupted by Maester Luwin, but it shares a similarity with another mythical characters – “the prince that was promised” and Azor Ahai. They all share the same pattern – a hero who thousands of years ago repelled the attack of the Others and ended the Long Night. A hero that is prophesied to return once more.

The story of Azor Ahai, if about to be repeated, is connected to some specific event. For one, he is supposed to be born amidst “salt and smoke”. There were many interpretations of this theory. Dany’s funeral pyre for Drogo was one, Jon’s assassination was second (to a person living halfway around the globe in the south-east, snow might be indistinguishable from salt), and we can’t ever be sure. The second important bit is the Lightbringer, the legendary sword that Azor Ahai had to forge. The first two attempts failed – when he tried to temper it in water, the blade shattered, and so happened again when he thrust it into a lion’s heart. The third time, he knew what he had to do – he called for his wife Nissa Nissa, asked her to bare her breast, and drove the sword through her heart, forging her soul into Lightbringer.

Who is Azor Ahai? Probably Jon. He’s basically Aragorn of this story, it seems (though knowing GRRM he will devise a way to twist this trope). Who is Nissa Nissa? Maybe it was Drogon, maybe it will be someone we don’t expect. Maybe initially it was supposed to be Arya. Maybe it’s Daenerys. Maybe it’s Cersei and Jaime will be the one forging Lightbringer… there are many, many theories about that. And they can all come true one way or another.

Oh and in the books Jon’s revival might involve Shireen. She’s still at Castle Black with Selyse, and Stannis is far away, definitely not dying and definitely not burning people just because Mel asks him to (though he burns cannibals, rapists and traitors). So while we’ve known that Shireen is supposed to burn sooner or later, it might rather be connected to Jon’s resurrection.

Footnotes

We are seriously running out of book material when it comes to some events… but some storylines are getting picked up, given to different characters and rewritten pretty much from scratch.

Season 6 seems to be based on A Dance with Dragons as much as on the upcoming The Winds of Winter. The Kingsmoot, the war in the North, Sam’s journey to Oldtown – it’s still all on the table. And the fact that Game of Thrones has been give two more seasons means that whatever the showrunners have planned most likely won’t be rushed.