WARNING: there be A Song of Ice and Fire spoilers below, to and through A Dance with Dragons. I will keep them as vague as I can, but this discussion is moot without them.
Wherefore, Riverrun? Will we even see you? We caught our first whiff of you in season one; mighty Riverrun, ancestral keep of House Tully, “childhood home of Catelyn Stark,” as Lord Tywin Lannister himself stated. A siege was made, and Riverrun was surrounded by the Kinglsayer’s forces. We did not actually see the siege, no. But we knew it was happening!
Season one saw a few Tullycentric scenes that had, in the books, taken place inside Riverrun. Yet the television series moved them elsewhere; Robb was crowned King in the North at some nameless holdfast, and Jaime was questioned by Catelyn (a Clash of Kings encounter on top of that) outside whilst tied to a prisoner pole. So even though we were supposed to have glimpsed Riverrun by the end of season one, that didn’t happen.
So what of season two? Traditionally, Catelyn begins ACoK at Riverrun, and from there goes to seek out a certain Baratheon. I suspect she will not go to Riverrun at all, and will simply begin season two en route. That probably introduces us to Brienne and Margaery, et/al, very early in the season. Which is fine. However…
Catelyn doesn’t return to Riverrun until the last quarter of ACoK, which could be where they intend to finally introduce the fortress to us… if they want to. But what if they don’t? What if the Trout is indeed out? What is lost here?
1. No Edmure? This is the biggest loss overall, since him and his hangdog persona are largely responsible for more than a few Tully gaffes. But if we take a closer look… he’s only really important down the line in future books. You could easily lose Edmure from season two and not lose much of anything at all. But if they cut him altogether, then we could have problems. Without Edmure we don’t get his pitiful yet darkly comical attempts to hit a barge with an arrow. We don’t get a certain wedding (it would have to be someone else’s wedding). And we don’t get multiple lynching attempts by a certain family.
2. No Lord Hoster? Sure, you can have his dying be off-camera if you want, but there are mysteries remaining, even today, in his deathbed “Tansy” ramblings that still aren’t 100% clear. (They’re probably 90% clear.) These are important because they have a great deal to do with Lysa and her motivations. Are there other ways to tell it? Sure. Petyr Baelish can steal Hoster’s lines like he stole the Hound’s. That dude’s a crook! But without Hoster, you also miss some potentially good scenes with Michelle Fairley. And she has little enough to do this season as it is.
3. No Blackfish? Yeah, we’ve been over it. No Blackfish = no conflict with Lord Hoster while he’s still kickin’. It’s all “after the fact” conflict. Do we need it? Probably not, in the grand scheme of things. Do we want it? Sure! And he’s freaking vital in A Feast for Crows, necessary to Jaime’s story. Or you replace him with someone else at the siege (Edmure has been suggested). I don’t think they want to stunt Jaime though.
The Trout may be out of season two, it’s certainly possible, and the story is certainly workable without it. But if we don’t see Riverrun by season three, the story’s going to smell a little fishy to me.
Other people MIA:
Still no word on Jojen and Meera Reed, and season two could probably survive without them. They can pop up in season three just fine, acting as a sort of rescuer for Bran on the road… or even be cut altogether. The production team may simply decide, after having read the first five books, that they’re not really sure of their purpose either, and simply replace Jojen’s morbid prophesies with an extra crow dream or two. Certainly the Reed family has a long and storied history with the Starks, but whether or not the siblings hold some sort of actual importance remains to be seen.
Podrick Payne… well, unless they want Bronn to save Tyrion’s ass at the Battle of the Blackwater (which is entirely possible), they need a Pod.
Dammit, I want Pod. We need someone to blame.
What do you all hope for? And more importantly, what do you think they’ll do?