Stuff that Game of Thrones Season 3 can absolutely not afford to fuck up

Part One* of A Storm of Swords is a strange but beautiful book. While it’s relatively calm in terms of action (and by that I mean as calm as things can get in the middle of a war), it’s an absolute goldmine when it comes to the characters, and the relationships between them. I only noticed this when I started to write this post, and realised that I was about halfway through and hadn’t said much about plot, only the effect of plot on characters. So I suppose this isn’t going to be a ‘what will the best moments of GOT Season 3 be?’ post. It’s more about the interaction between characters, the development of characters and a deep-rooted desire that some Easter eggs relating to future events will be strewn everywhere for our entertainment and delight. Here’s my top 5 in no particular order.

Jaime and Brienne
This is probably my favourite pairing in the entire saga, and the producers of the show having already demonstrated (in very little screen time, I might add – awesome!) that they’ve got the chemistry between these two exactly right, I think it’s safe to assume that it would only take letting a trainee write the script or Nikolaj Coster Waldau being hit by a train to fuck this one up. Nevertheless, keeping things exactly right is different from getting them right for five minutes, so let’s look at the challenges. Jaime and Brienne’s relationship is incredibly complicated. They collide on virtually every way of looking at things, Brienne with her idealized chivalry and righteous condemnation of Jaime’s conduct, Jaime with his cynical and brutally realistic views of an institution that he deep down detests. Once they’re captured by the Brave Companions, however, and the striking off of Jaime’s hand plunges him into a suicidal depression – the first stage of the psychological transformation that comes to define his character – things change.577012_305164182904122_116906515063224_670836_1755205543_n Forced intimacy, like Brienne having to clean Jaime up when he soils himself and Jaime’s deeply personal advice that she should ‘go away inside’ in the likely event of her being raped by their captors, creates both a grudging respect and a deep bond between them that often characterizes the relationships of comrades in arms, of people who have to kill and be killed together. It’s a love-hate relationship on the surface, but the undercurrent is much more interesting. We have Jaime’s Kingslayer and family issues and the primal sense of purpose that is cut from him with his hand. We also have the baggage that Brienne carries as a swordswoman, along with her idealism, her innocence and her naiveté being torn from her as she gets deeper and deeper into a world that she thought was black and white. They balance each other out. They annoy the hell out of each other. They fight for different things, but their purpose always ends up being the same. This is a thing too good to mess up.

All things Tyrion
Poor Tyrion has gone from occupying the most influential position in the Seven Kingdoms (I won’t count Joffrey by virtue of sadism and general punchableness) to occupying a tiny cell somewhere in the Red Keep where he’s stripped of all the power he had before and can therefore not prevent Cersei and her minions from doing their damndest to fuck up the country. Tyrion’s acute feelings of abandonment and cruel unfairness bring him a step closer, psychologically, to the pitiable mess that he becomes in A Dance with Dragons. In this respect, he’s quite unhinged and takes to the bottle and to Shae (may she dance on coals in hell for all eternity) with unusual enthusiasm, even for him.
TyrionSansaHe still manages, however, to maintain his characteristic compassion for the downtrodden in his admirable conduct to Sansa Stark before and after their marriage. Sansa fucks this one up monumentally for herself, and though grateful that Tyrion doesn’t force consummation, she’s incapable of seeing that she’s landed herself the brightest spark in Westeros because she can’t see much except his height and his scar. I think falling in love with someone that smashes her cutesy vision of matrimony to smithereens would be very healthy for Sansa, and I wish to goodness it would happen. Anyway, their marriage is an absolute agony, with each party behaving impeccably behind their sullen castle wall of courtesy. Peter Dinklage and Sophie Turner have both proved that they can act incandescently, and an interesting sort of dynamic has already been created in the previous season: let’s see if they’re given adequate space and screentime to make us want to strangle them, as we do in the books, or whether their marriage is fobbed off as a cutesy love story or a one-dimensional disaster.

Littlefinger and Sansa
Both the Stark girls seem to have a predilection for getting into creepy relationships with older men where sexual tension smolders hotter than Viserion’s latest meal, and since the producers of the show have been so obliging as to make Sansa’s godswood Florian Littlefinger instead of Ser Dontos, there is potential for all sorts of mischief/eye fucking to take place.
AjlfYKnowing as we do that Littlefinger eventually becomes Sansa’s mentor in ‘playing the game’ while sexually harassing her from time to time, and knowing that a whole bunch of people in the fan community optimistically believe that Sansa’s going to learn all she can from him, and then probably avenge her family by disgracing him and chucking him out the Moon Door (that’s when she’s finished seeking refuge in whining and crying), it doesn’t take much to imagine clandestine meetings in godswoods and under dragon skulls taking place this season, thus furnishing those of us who ship them as a couple to make infinitely more numbers of fanvids on YouTube. Then again, the books operate on the medieval system of appropriateness, which most modern people consider to be paedophilia: this element has often been tuned down in the show, particularly in the child actors’ ages, so it’s also likely that absolutely zip of interest will go on between these two. Let us pray that this is not the case and that a solution is found that works!

Jon and Ygritte
Jon always looks like he needs a hug and has absolutely no sense of humour, Ygritte is talkative, rather raucous and very argumentative. Opposites attract is a difficult thing to get right on screen because there’s generally too much recourse to staring and slow motion, especially when it comes to an extended period of time. Fortunately, as with Jaime and Brienne, producers worked hard to get the chemistry right in season 2, so half the work is already done and messing up will only occur with poor script or too little screen time.
Screen-shot-2012-05-19-at-1_40_43-PMAlso, their sex scene in a cave is by general consensus rated as the greatest in the saga, so that’s another vitally important thing to get right: but sex is one thing this show is quite experienced with, so no problems there. Then there’s the fact that a lot of fans of the book find Ygritte INCREDIBLY annoying, so catch 22: be faithful to the book and get stuff thrown at the screen each time she comes on, or cut down on the ‘you know nothing, Jon Snows’ and get die-hard fans howling in indignation.

Daenerys sacks Astapor
It’s a fortunate thing that Emilia Clarke is so utterly mesmerizing as Daenerys that she keeps you watching, no matter what, because when it comes to the books, LORD how she irritates me! Getting the sack of Astapor right is important for many reasons, the most pressing of which is this: if Daenerys manages to conquer one city, she might shut up about taking what is hers with fire and blood for one second and actually DO SOMETHING!!
740586_GOT_EP210_100411_PS519521 Last season, things just didn’t work out: in an attempt to spice up Dany’s frankly boring plotline in A Clash of Kings, what emerged was a convoluted plot to steal her dragons, Xaro possessing a safe with a door made of Valyrian stone (did he walk to Valyria to get it and somehow return alive? Anyone who might know this, please advise.) and Doreah being turned into a traitorous skank instead of getting a heartbreaking death out on the Red Waste. It was…amusing. Dany needs her street cred back (and while the House of the Undying was very pretty and sad, it does NOT count) and doing the glory and freedom thing seems like a step in the right direction in attaining that goal.

*Richard Madden having stated that he’ll be back for season 4, which implies that the producers aren’t going to try to fit the whole of ASOS in one season, I’ve only dealt with Book 1 of ASOS in terms of predicting stuff.

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Kick Ass: Elizabeth Bennet

Kick ass is a new series of stuff I’m going to be writing in praise of people from TV who, well, kick ass, from BBC to HBO and everyone in between. I will start with a classic.

jennifer-ehle-pride-and-prejudice-jennifer-ehle-16177700-1986-1980Name: Elizabeth Bennet
Show: Pride and Prejudice (1995, BBC)
Played by: Jennifer Ehle

Elizabeth Bennet is the heroine of every thinking woman from about the age of five and up (it’s about then that kids can put DVDs into players by themselves, isn’t it?). Lizzy is the second (and by far the most intelligent) of five sisters who don’t have the right to inherit any of their Dad’s shit because of a loathsome thing called an entail that happily doesn’t exist anymore, so the only major expectation Lizzy and her sisters have in life is to get married and have kids, though that probably won’t happen either because her Dad isn’t exactly rich. So, while her dotty and scatterbrained Mom devotes her life to humiliating herself in any kind of way to get her daughters married, and her younger sisters have nothing but what Lizzy calls ‘love, flirtation and officers’ on the brain, Lizzy pledges that she’s not going to just marry any arsehole for the sake of getting married and that ‘nothing but the very deepest love will induce [her] to matrimony.’

If somebody was writing this story in the 21st story, they’d probably turn her into some kind of bookish version of Arya Stark so as not to confuse viewers. Refreshingly, however, Lizzy manages to maintain these extraordinary views while still being graceful, polite, witty, sensible and perfectly ladylike. She knows how to tell idiots off in a way that is so seethingly well-mannered that the average person would probably prefer a simple ‘fuck off’ to one of her tirades. She also engages in a number of very admirable activities, like scampering about the country because her sister has a cold and improving her mind by extensive reading. She’s a compulsive people-watcher and prides herself on being able to read people a lot better than that black market copy of Tom Jones that I’ve always suspected her of hiding underneath her pillow. She adores her Dad, as well as her elder sister Jane, whom she admires deeply for being able to think well of everyone and for always trying to find the good in people, no matter how repulsive they may be. Dear Lizzy finds the latter impossible for a number of reasons, the most poignant of which is ‘the more I see of the world, the more I am dissatisfied with it.’ Furthermore, instead of shutting up or turning red as a beetroot when in a tight argumentative spot with Mr. Darcy, she either throws his shit right back at him or simply smiles enigmatically, something the divine Fitzwilliam doesn’t quite know how to respond to. And then there are those absolutely delicious scenes with Lady Catherine (who is by all accounts a snobbish pain in the ass) in which Lizzy stuns the great lady and delights us with numerous examples of respectful irreverence, from politely refusing to confess her age to kicking Lady Catherine out of the house. All of this is accomplished with the demeanor of a highly-bred woman who would almost certainly have had her own salon had she lived in Paris rather than in Hertfordshire.

One of the many great things about Jennifer Ehle’s performance as Lizzy is that she portrays all of these things the way Miss Austen meant them to be portrayed and understood. Lizzy is a perfect Regency lady, but without any of the silliness, naivety and willful lack of education or desire to improve that often bear the brunt of Miss Austen’s satirical side. Lizzy’s intelligence, education and naturally outgoing personality have led to all the characteristics described above. Fortunately, however, they haven’t turned her into a stereotype: she is what this kind of person, belonging to this class in society, would have been at that period in time, something that Ehle plays to perfection and something that later interpretations of the character just don’t seem to understand, probably because in the 21st century we have difficulty imagining independent thought and general awesomeness wedded to dresses, curtseys and good behaviour.

There is something irresistible about an intelligent woman who never forgets her manners. She’s smart enough to know when she’s surrounded by fools and annoyed enough to know that she can’t put up with them with too long, but as a child of her time, she knows that being taciturn and insolent will probably land her in the same boat as Mr. Darcy, who shares both her intelligence and her intolerance and isn’t shy to express either one, making him a willful social exile on more than one occasion. For Lizzy, staying put is a lot more fun. It’s through her politeness and her wit that the Mr. Collinses of this world find themselves shaking their heads long after she’s gone, unable to ascertain whether they’ve been insulted or praised.

(Image credit to http://satoriandsilence.files.wordpress.com)