The Library Fantastic

On Straying and Staying True

So, there we have episode four, with some real highs and real lows.

Talisa…well, the less said, the better, really. This is of course the scene I wrote about here. I am thrilled they changed the name of the character since they changed her back-story so radically. I am not thrilled with that cliché-filled scene. It just sucked, plain and simple. Not the acting, just the concept of the scene and the words being said.

Qarth…gone is the awe-inspiring, magnificent reception, not to mention the fairy-tale like way that Dany’s meeting with the three wise…well, the two wise men and the wise woman plays out well ahead of her getting to Qarth itself. There’s something very archetypal to Dany’s journey in A Clash of Kings and they have lost those elements entirely. I am also disappointed in Dany’s reaction here. Or rather, it may make sense in this desperate situation, but she just doesn’t get this aggressive in ACoK.  She’s still very much caught between that timid young girl she started out as in the first book and the young woman driven by magic and destiny to follow the red comet. I feel the way they decided to play this out sacrificed the actual storyline for some cheap drama.

Xaro…well, he’s not Xaro, in any way, shape or form. Why didn’t they just change the name of this character as well? He’s every bit as different from book Xaro as Jeyne is from Talisa. His appearance, his background and, most significantly for the rest of the storyline, his personality. He’s a warrior. I am dubious we’ll be seeing him crying at will to persuade Dany. Are they keeping his sexual preferences? I think it would be particularly inappropriate to change that and still keep the character’s name. But even with what we’ve sen so far, they really just should have renamed the character if they absolutely had to cast and write him so completely differently. And they had to go and invent some weird ritual…

The scene, as it is, is well acted. I just wish we got the scenes from the books and the characters from the books. Added scenes from non-PoVs are one thing, completely altered scenes another. I did thoroughly enjoy the performance of the Spice King, however. His correction of Dany’s pronunciation was priceless and I feel he really captured the way the Qartheen see themselves as so superior to everyone else.

This episode also has some wonderful examples of what happens when they really nail adapting scenes from the books. The scene with Tyrion and Lancel is hilarious, with great performances from both actors. You can’t help feeling sorry for Lancel here; he really doesn’t stand a chance, caught between Cersei and Tyrion.  And, of course, the final scene is everything it should be. Yes, they are conflating two events, but I am so relieved they really went for it with the shadow birth.

The Joffrey and Sansa scene is very good, both of them act it really well. I also think the added scene with Joffrey and the prostitutes was a good way of showing what the slightly older Joffrey might get up to; its clear from he way he orders Sansa stripped during the beating that there’s a sexual component to his sadism. I also liked the Harrenhal scenes quite a bit, both the way they handled the torture (even if I couldn’t actually watch that) and the terror and the brief interaction between Tywin and Arya. Again, they are conflating a lot of different scenes, but I think it kept true to the core of those scenes. I guess that is what I ultimately look for: does the adaptation stay true to the spirit of the storyline in the books? For the lows of this episode, I don’t think it does. For the highs, it very much does.

Comments
. I’ve gotta say, I am…

I’ve gotta say, I am linked from the Tumblr group that I know you dislike and while I often do NOT agree with your opinions regarding the books or the show I don’t think you are being racist when you say that Xaro, from what we have seen so far, is VERY different from the books.  Not to say this is necessarily a bad thing, as the show is simply a rendition of the books and not the books themselves (as a perfect creation would both be unappealing to a wide audience and impractical to create).  But this Xaro does not seem like the book’s regardless of race.  They could have had a black man play his character but one who had a slighter build and perhaps a silkier personality. Any way, cheers.

Posted on Apr 24 2012 at 01:39 CET by Kim
. That there’s lots of…

That there’s lots of different opinions on the books and the show, I take no issue with. It just shows they’re worth discussing. :)

But yeah, I do find it troubling that some people are so quick to call it racism. In Xaro’s case, the initial casting brought up two main concerns for myself and Elio:

1) Were they changing the world-building by making the Qartheen very different in appearance (making Lysa thin rather than overweight doesn’t change the world-building, as a comparison)?

2) How would this man, who is very different physically (and here I am thinking height and build), play the role? Would he be anything like Xaro?

We know now that they solved 1) by giving him a different back-story. 2) they didn’t solve as much as just ignore. His history is different, his personality is different, so yeah, now we do wonder why he isn’t a new character instead? They invented Talisa and Alton Lannister for similar situations, so why not do the same with Xaro?

If they really feel they have to make the show more diverse ethnically (which is something I personally find troubling for a pre-existing material), they probably should have looked at writing in more original characters rather than changing existing ones.

And, of course, they really ought to have kept Chataya and Alayaya. Maybe we’re seeing a trade-off here; they failed to get them in so they cast Xaro and Salladhor as Summer Islanders instead. Fine, I can see that, but they should probably have renamed them then.

Posted on Apr 24 2012 at 05:19 CET by Linda
. I agree with you on most…

I agree with you on most stuff. I agree about Talisa, Xaro and the Tyrion/Lancel scene.
I don’t agree about Joffrey - there is enough violence in the story as it is, I don’t want to watch more of that.

P.S. what’s happening in tumbr is just ridiculous. I think that tumblr is full of judgmental social justice assholes who are just looking for a reason to call everyone racist, sexist or otherwise ‘problematic’. Don’t pay them any attention.

Posted on Apr 26 2012 at 16:15 CET by Natasha
. It is a fair objection…

It is a fair objection to the Joffrey scene, though I think a lot of it had to do with them limiting what was done to Sansa, presumably because the actress is a minor.

On the other hand, it is also possible that the Joffrey scene was largely directed at those who criticized them for “happy hookers” last year. If so, I am concerned, because then they are allowing critics to affect the show too much. The risk is that they start making changes one way this season and one way next season to please critics. Better to just stay true to the book wherever it is possible and use that to heed off the critics.

Tumblr, and some elements of Livejournal (such as ONTD), does seem to have some pretty substantial issues with often rather misguided activism. That’s not to say other elements of the fandom doesn’t have issues—there’s definitely unpleasant attitudes towards women among som fans—but there’s a lot of over-reacting going on.

Posted on Apr 26 2012 at 16:32 CET by Linda
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