How cold: ‘Game of Thrones’ fans go wild over plot changes

How cold: remember these guys? The White Walkers made a surprise appears Sunday on
How cold: remember these guys? The White Walkers made a surprise appears Sunday on "Game of Thrones." Photo: HBO

SAN DIEGO, April 27, 2014 – Sunday’s episode of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” threw longtime fans of the novels by author George R.R. Martin into chaos with significant plot changes from the original series.

In the episode titled “Oathkeeper,” the changes involve the characters in the North: Jon Snow and the Night’s Watch; Bran Stark, the Reeds and Hodor; the wildlings, the direwolves, and the White Walkers. There’s also a minor change in the storyline about Joffrey’s murder.

We won’t reveal spoilers here beyond what has aired on the show. None of us, readers nor viewers alike, knew before tonight that the White Walkers turn live babies into little blue eyed White Walkers, and that they don’t have to kill someone to make it happen. There is a touch of “True Blood” crossed with Voldemort going on here.

Book readers, who refer to themselves as ASOIAF fans (for the series title “A Song of Ice and Fire,” have long imposed a smug superiority over those who haven’t read the novels since they “knew” what was going to happen. No disrespect meant, I’ve read all the novels and it’s true.

There have been minor plot changes to this point, but nothing as major as introducing the twist about the White Walkers and what happens to the babies sacrificed to them, along with an apparently different path for Bran Stark, who is now captive with his friends at Craster’s Keep after having been lured in first by the cries of the baby left in the woods as a sacrifice to the Walkers, and by the direwolves being held captive. His brother Jon Snow knows he’s alive; this is not the case in the novels.

After the episode, ASOIAF readers were reeling. They took to Twitter, howling and disoriented. Several of the major fan blogsites crashed. They’re scrambling to unravel what they know, and figure out what these changes might mean to storylines they’ve picked over for a decade. Some are accepting, but many are infuriated.

It’s now clearer than ever that the HBO producers mean their interpretation of Martin’s novels as presented in “Game of Thrones” to stand as their own version of the ASOIAF storyline. Martin is an executive producer of the series; before fans get too crazed over the changes, keep in mind they were done with Martin’s full blessing.

It’s occurred to me that many of the minor changes made in the first three seasons might have been Martin’s version of revising the novels, a bit of a rewrite to correct problems or storylines he felt could have been improved from the original version. Every writers has things they would like to change about their work after the fact. The most significant change was Jaime Lannister being present at Joffrey’s wedding; he had not returned with Brienne in the novels by then.

Jaime Lannister made several significant decisions on Sunday's episode of GoT.
Jaime Lannister made several significant decisions on Sunday’s episode of GoT. Photo: HBO

Some ASOIAF readers find the fourth and fifth novels slow moving and boring compared to the first three. The Bran storyline isn’t a favorite. HBO series producers are perhaps correcting this criticism with Martin’s buy-in.

Readers need to gather their wits about them, get over being knocked off their high horse, and think of the HBO series as the new, improved version of Martin’s marvelous story.

Meanwhile, several other major plotlines advanced in the episode. Littlefinger reveals to Sansa Stark that he is taking her to the Eyrie, where he plans to marry Sansa’s Aunt Lysa, and become her guardian. Remember who else is heading there: Arya and The Hound. He also tells Sansa a stone in the necklace she wore at the wedding held the poison that killed Joffrey. Who put it there?

Lady Olenna tells Margaery Tyrell she wasn’t about to let her marry Joffrey the monster, and bluntly takes credit for killing him. This is implied in the novels, but Martin never has Olenna confess outright. Another plot change. Olenna urges Margaery to make overtures to Tommen so she may win his confidence and trust and become queen by marrying him. She sneaks into his room at night, and we learn Tommen is attached to his cat, Ser Pounce. He was instantly trending on Twitter. Prepare for a million Ser Pounce memes in the next 24 hours.

Jaime continues to train with Bronn. He pays a visit to Tyrion, and comes to realize his brother did not kill his son. However, Cersei is convinced Tyrion and Sansa are to blame. She asks Jaime to hunt down Sansa. Jaime agrees, but for different reasons. He asks Lady Brienne to do so for him, and she agrees. Jaime gives her his new Valyrian sword, which Brienne names “Oathkeeper.” Jaime also presents her with her own suit of armor, and with a squire: Podrick Payne, Tyrion’s former squire.

The battle of Meereen is won in a flash. It all takes place offscreen. Grey Worm, captain of the Unsullied, sneaks into the slave quarters and wins their allegiance. They turn on their masters, and next we see Danaerys and her newly freed subjects who call her “Myhsa” (Mother) as the freed slaves did in Yunkai. She exacts her revenge on them for killing 163 innocent child slaves as a warning to her by taking an eye for an eye, 326 of them.

Game of Thrones returns with Episode 5 of Season 4, “First of His Name,” on Sunday, May 4, at 9 p.m. Eastern Time on HBO East and HBO Latino East (with Spanish subtitles); followed by airings on HBO West and Latino West at 9 p.m. Pacific Time. All four channels repeat the episode through the evening.

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Media Migraine in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +


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  • Jessie

    I like the add-ins. It gives the T.V show its own personality. We as the readers get to enjoy the original, why not enjoy the “edited.” I am quite excited to see how everything turns out. I have been upset about certain things before now, but this one has intrigued me.

    • I’m with you. I don’t ever mind “alternative endings” to movies or novels. The fact that Martin is an executive producer gives this version 100 percent credibility with me. I’m fascinated to see where it goes.

  • Raketemensch

    As I was watching the show last night I was thinking that they’re doing a great job of telling the basic story of the books, while also fleshing out characters and minor stories that didn’t get covered in the book — like the Queen of Thorns enhancements last night… They developed an already awesome character. But then Vargo Hoat showed up at the wall. And then Bran got caught, and then yelled out “BRANDON STARK OF WINTERFELL”… That crossed a line. Bran’s storyline in the books is awesome, there’s no need for this stuff.

    • What I’m dying to know is what Martin himself thinks about all this. The fans seem split right down the middle. The Bran storyline is way off kilter, that’s for sure. And – I think the producers are going to redeem Jaime by getting him together with Brienne, something many novel readers always hoped for.

    • ANDS!

      Except his story goes nowhere for a LONG time. This isn’t a book that you can watch at your leisure. The showrunners have learned their lesson with LOST, they aren’t about to go down a path that takes 2 seasons to resolve.

  • sho_uesugi

    “Every writers has things they would like to change about their work after the fact.” – like confusing singular with plural?