Guest Essay: Exploring the Red Wedding and Dead Fetuses
By Winter Is Coming on in Editorial.

After perusing interviews with the cast in the wake of “The Rains of Castamere”, writer and editor Marc N. Kleinhenz came across a couple of sentiments that he fundamentally disagreed with, which brought to mind the larger question of necessity-vs.-gratuitousness, particularly around the way the Red Wedding was depicted. He decided to sit down and write an essay on the subject and we here at WinterIsComing.net are happy to bring it to you.

Robb and Talisa

Why the Actors Have It Wrong: Exploring the Red Wedding and Dead Fetuses

By Marc N. Kleinhenz

The single biggest difference between “The Rains of Castamere” and George R.R. Martin’s novel, A Storm of Swords, is, of course, the addition of Queen Talisa Stark to the Red Wedding’s guest list, sealing her fate along with that of all the other Starks’. (Which is not to mention that Talisa herself is, obviously, a major deviation from the source material, featuring a different personality, backstory, and, even, name. The fact that she is carrying King Robb’s unborn child may also be a departure from the books, although the jury is still out on that one – and on whether having a newborn Stark will matter in the slightest down the narrative road if she is.)

Having Queen Talisa – and her royal fetus – be the first to drop may seem, on the surface, to be only a minor deviation. Certainly not as important as making Arya Stark be Lord Tywin Lannister’s pampered cupbearer as opposed to suffering as the Lannisters’ abused house slave during most of season two. However, the consequences from the change-up can be quite profound, depending on where Martin takes his last few novels and how many further changes the HBO series has in store.

The question then becomes, simply, why? Why make the change at all?

“I think it was important for her to die,” Richard Madden, the actor who played Robb Stark, told Zap2It.com in a “http://blog.zap2it.com/frominsidethebox/2013/06/game-of-thrones-richard-madden-cried-over-robb-starks-death-at-the-red-wedding.html/”>recent interview. “I think it’s more tragic that there’s nothing left over” for the Starks, as far as the wider world of Westeros is concerned. “There’s no possibility that Talisa’s in hiding and going to have a baby, and, one day, that baby will take over as King of the North. There’s something tragic about it just all being cut short instantly.”

This is certainly true – and was even a motivating principle for Martin writing the scene in the first place, 13 long years ago. He explained it to Entertainment Weekly like this:

“I’ve said in many interviews that I like my fiction to be unpredictable. I like there to be considerable suspense. I killed Ned in the first book, and it shocked a lot of people. I killed Ned because everybody thinks he’s the hero and that, sure, he’s going to get into trouble, but then he’ll somehow get out of it. The next predictable thing is to think his eldest son is going to rise up and avenge his father. And everybody is going to expect that. So, immediately, [killing Robb] became the next thing I had to do.”

Like the American military, shock and awe are two of the most fundamental elements of A Song of Ice and Fire (even if constantly relying upon them at nearly every turn may end up resulting in the opposite effect, making the unexpected quite, in fact, expected), and adding to House Stark’s body count at the end of “Castamere” does, indeed, up the shock quotient, even for those grizzled literary veterans.

But there is a logical fallacy hovering behind Madden’s words: since Talisa had to be pregnant, he contends, she had to be offed. Yet there is no narrative, thematic, or even character drive behind her pregnancy; showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss could have just as easily left her without child, as she seems to be in the novels. Taking this one step further, in fact, there was no combination of factors that had to make her character be so fundamentally different from Jeyne Westerling, her literary counterpart, or to make her and her regal husband have so much expanded screentime over the course of the past two years. The showrunners definitely and deliberately set her up to be as big of a gut-wrencher – both figuratively and literally – for the audience as humanly possible.

This is where all those pesky, persistent arguments of how gratuitous Game of Thrones can be come into play, but the issue at hand is a far more serious consideration than, say, how many extra boobies are thrown into any given scene. The Red Wedding as depicted in the series falls much more closely in line with how Craster’s babies being sacrificed to the White Walkers or how each and every single one of King Robert Baratheon’s bastard children being executed just has to be shown instead of simply referencing or alluding to it, as in the books. At a certain point, doesn’t the law of diminishing returns take effect? Aren’t the deaths of Robb and Lady Catelyn enough without also having to throw Talisa and her bloody womb into the mix?

“Obviously, there’s more at stake in the television series because you have more characters there,” Michelle Fairley, the actress behind Cat, told The Huffington Post, explaining the necessity of the addition. “The stakes are higher.” Except, of course, that they’re not. The number of named characters in the Ice and Fire novels was just recently tabulated at over 1,000 – there is simply no conceivable way that Game of Thrones can even remotely compete with this figure, particularly in this one specific scene, which features many noticeable absences from the printed page ranging from the major (the Greatjon) to the minor (Dacey Mormont, Lord Commander Jeor Mormont’s niece, who has never even appeared on the show). And while one could certainly argue that the stakes were, indeed, raised by having the next generation of House Stark wiped out at the Twins, it seems to be a bit of dramatic overstatement, especially considering that TV-Catelyn believes that Bran and Rickon are still alive.

Although the absolute, ironclad necessity of Queen Talisa’s death – at least, as espoused by the cast and crew – is fundamentally unsound, there is still reason enough to accept, if not outright embrace, the alteration: there is a rather vocal and demanding element of the fanbase that has read Martin’s work and still wants the TV show to surprise and delight and, yes, even shock them, and the only way to achieve this is, of course, through changes in the narrative in ways both small and large.

It’s just hard to tell which one “The Rains of Castamere” is right now.

Marc N. Kleinhenz is the editor of Tower of the Hand: A Flight of Sorrows and the author of It Is Known: An Analysis of Thrones. He has written for IGN, Theme Park Insider, and Westeros.org, among 16 other sites.


199 Comments

  1. HellFell
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Please no Hodor

  2. Kingslayer
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Mi lord, episode 10 plz

  3. Ren Snow
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Simply to point out that Dacey Mormont isn’t Jeor Mormont’s granddaughter, she’s his niece

  4. tumblefell
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Interesting read, as always.
    …it seems to be a bit of dramatic overstatement, especially considering that TV-Catelyn believes that Bran and Rickon are still alive.
    Except, she doesn’t. She expressed her belief that they were dead to Blackfish earlier in the season.

  5. Watson
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Asking the actors why the writers made the writing choices they did and then criticizing the actors’ answers is like asking a doctor to explain physics and then mocking his or her best attempt to do so.

  6. Ryodin
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    I do feel that D&D made up Talisa to play the role she did specifically because of the Red Wedding scene they’ve been salivating over to film since before the show was even greenlit. She was a calculated fabrication, given a more endearing back story and way more scenes with Robb so as to build her up in the hearts of viewers. This way, when the inevitable happened, it would punch home that much harder. The creators have stated that the whole purpose of wanting to bring the books to the screen was for this moment, anyway. So naturally they wanted to take great care in establishing just the right amount of emotional punch to really sell that scene. And they did. Making her pregnant for no other reason that to up the emotional ante does seem rather manipulative, yes. But I actually understand the need to do so, and must admit that it did make the scene far more brutal and shocking. Even for those of us who have read the books.

    Especially so for us, in fact.

  7. Ali Kat7
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    tumblefell,

    Yes its Robb that claimed to believe they were still alive. Blackfish even tells Cat she must let him believe that even though she does. And Michelle has said in interviews that she believes all her sons are dead and her daughters are either dead or in Lannister hands.

  8. Winter Is Coming
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    Ren Snow:
    Simply to point out that Dacey Mormont isn’t Jeor Mormont’s granddaughter, she’s his niece

    That one is on us, not Marc. He had it correct in the essay he submitted and we mistakenly changed it. Hard to keep that Mormont family tree straight! It is fixed now. Sorry!

  9. superkick
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    waaah gratuitious violence. call the waaaahmbulance. waaaaahhh

    crybabies.

  10. serum
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Ryodin,

    agreed, definitely made the entire scene more impactful. I liked that change.

  11. queenofthorns
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    I guess I mostly agree with you about i tbeing gratuitous, but… what did you expect the actors to say? It would have been hella unprofessional for them to diss the writers/producers/directors choices or even imply they were anything less than briiliant. You just dont do that as an actor unless youve been personally wronged (and sometimes not even then).

  12. Jentario
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Keep in mind that George and the show’s head writers have already talked about where the series is going and if Jeyne Westerling was to become a major part of the story, they would know.

  13. abYsss
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think the character comparison to the show is fair. ASOIAF may have it’s 1000 named characters, but most of them aren’t more then a name in the book. So if you go by the logic of the books having 1000 characters, you could count every single extra in the show as well and get to a similar number.

  14. MUGger
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Simply to point out that Catelyn in GoT believes that Bran and Rickon are likely dead — it’s discussed in the episode and Catelyn tells Walder Frey “he’s my only son!” before Roose gives his regards from the Lannisters.

  15. FiveTwentyTen
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Once the decision was made(whether you like the change or not) that Talisa would be pregnant, her death fit in perfectly with the motivations of those that carried out and planned the Red Wedding. As Tywin said in an earlier episode, “Sansa is the key to the North”, so long as Robb had an heir that wouldn’t remain quite true.

  16. Bernard
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    It’s an interesting read, but I have one nit to pick. I actually agree with Fairley on the number of characters. In a literal sense, the books have hundreds more characters. However, the show has made a lot more of them into fully rounded characters about whom we actually give a damn. Look at Bronn – with the charismatic Jerome Flynn and the subsuming of Jacelyn Bywater – the show has developed a more well rounded interesting character. The streamlining of some dense areas lets us spend more time with Littlefinger, the Tyrells, Varys, among other ‘non-perspective’ characters, that makes those characters matter more.

    So, literally, Fairley is wrong, but from a practical perspective… I feel like I give a damn about a lot higher percentage of characters on the show.

  17. Mister Stark
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    The reason for Talisa to be pregnant and killed first is for the book readers who knew what was coming.
    I knew what was coming, but I didn’t know that she would be killed first and in such a violent way.
    But guess what? When they did that, it gave me the SAME sick feeling I had when I read the chapter in the book.
    So, EVERYONE had the same feeling during the Red Wedding. Readers and non-book readers at the same time.
    It was, now that i’ve had a few days to think about beautifully done.
    It was the surprise that we would not know about, even if we had read the books.

  18. Winter's Lion
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    I think part of the reason for the addition of Talisa’s baby is how child centric certain aspects of our society have become. If you look at news coverage of most accidents/disasters/etc., a lot of the focus will be on any children that were involved. Or, if a child wasn’t involved, they’ll talk about how one of the adults that was involved is a parent with children at home – almost as if it’s not a real tragedy unless someone under the age of 18 can be tied to it. It’s along the same lines as how celebrity websites are all about “baby bumps” and the like. Making Talisa pregnant was how they could get a bigger reaction out of some people, so they did it.

  19. mpn1010
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Marc makes some good points in his essay, but I feel that he is falling into the “fidelity” trap; though he asks several interesting WHY questions regarding Talisa’s death and other issues, these questions never really delve into anything truly substantive and instead simply take us back to something that we constantly hear from purists: the show deviates from the books.

    I would point out that although Michelle was incorrect in saying that the show has more characters than the books, she is absolutely correct in hinting that the stakes re: characters are oftentimes raised when adapting a text into a live action medium because that character is now being transformed from words on a page into a human being. Of course, I am not suggesting that a character in a literary work is automatically less powerful than a character onscreen. Nevertheless, a gifted performer (and God knows, the TV show has a great many gifted performers) can certainly raise the stakes regarding our investment in that character and his or her journey. If you watch interviews with Dan and Dave, they suggest that the reason they made Robb a more central character is because they loved the way Richard played him; thus, deviations from the text are not simply based on a whim, nor on a desire to “shock,” nor to make something more “gratuitous” or “explicit”; rather, they might simply be based on the fact that transitioning from text to live action automatically prompts significant alterations to the source material due to the fact that there are now MULTIPLE authors crafting the story (the writers, directors, actors, etc. are all working together to bring the text to life, and through collaboration and improvisation, things will inevitably change).

    Granted, I’ve not addressed Marc’s very valid assertion that Talisa’s death only seems necessary in light of her pregnancy, and her pregnancy is NOT essential to the story. However, I would argue that it IS in fact essential to the story as it was told on the show — Robb did not marry Talisa because he took her virginity (as in the book with Jeyne) but rather because he loved her. Robb was willing to compromise everything (his honor, the war effort, etc.) for his love of Talisa, and her pregnancy was a sign of hope in the midst of all the turmoil that the marriage created — whatever the problems it engendered, Robb would have a family and a legacy. The death of Talisa and her baby marks the death of ALL of Robb’s hopes. The way in which the scene plays out (with Robb focusing entirely on Talisa the entire time until he faces his mother) conveys this; when he says “Mother,” he says so in a way that conveys total resignation. He knows they’ve lost the war, and perhaps even more significantly for Robb, he has personally lost EVERYTHING at this point, for Talisa and the baby were EVERYTHING to him. Thus, the stakes were much higher for Robb in the show. As horrific as the Red Wedding is in the original text, there is not the same sense of personal loss for Robb; the personal loss is centered entirely on Catelyn. On the show, it is built around both Robb and Catelyn, and again, this made sense given that Robb had become a more central character due largely to the talents of the actor playing him (Michelle deserves all the credit she’s been receiving over the past few days, but Richard was also incredible in this scene in spite of the fact that he had virtually no lines after the massacre stats.)

  20. Hounded
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    I think Talisa’s death gave a shock to even us hardened book readers. I kept expecting her to nip out like the Blackfish but… nope.

    Anyone saying anything about gratuitous violence can shut the flip up.
    The violence is all there in the books. Its what Game of Thrones is. If you don’t like it – don’t watch. This story is brutal, cruel and shocking and written in blood as much as ink.

    Its like watching a show about Jack the Ripper and being upset that there is violence towards women in it. Well what did you expect!?!?!?!?

  21. Maxwell James
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    That link in the middle of the essay (“end up resulting…”) is broken. And seems to just be pointing back to the essay itself.

  22. Listen 2 Ghost!
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    I think the changes to Talisa’s character were done to add some mystery for the book readers to the most shocking event of the series. Given the number of wild theories circulating the internet about Talisa prior to her death, i.e. she’s really a Lannister honeypot, she’s taking Jeyne Poole’s place in Season 5 they largely succeeded.

  23. Summer
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    This article is annoying. I didn’t know it was possible for someone to be this flipping whiney. Jeez. First of all, the actors are allowed to have their opinions, just because you believe they’re wrong doesn’t mean they actually are. Secondly, what I think Michelle Fairley meant by saying there are more characters is that there are more characters you become emotionally invested in through the tv series because in the books sometimes they just get a mention or a chapter. You’re seeing the characters so you’re obviously going to become attached to them in a different way than when you read their stories in a book. Thirdly, I think the death of Talisa was supposed to add some shock to those of us who have read the books. And GRRM is a producer on the show so I’m sure he was consulted and agreed to what was happening.
    Lastly, if you have this many problems with the show, why are you even still watching? Do you even get any enjoyment out of it? Because if you don’t you should stop posting silly whiney essays about your issues with the show and let the rest of us enjoy it.

  24. SerBob
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    You’re over-thinking it. They simply made the Talisa character replace Jeyne Westerling to simplify how they would meet – given that they wanted to follow his character. They didn’t want to stage a battle, him getting wounded, being nursed, introduce parents etc.. It was off-screen in the books because it wasn’t thought an important story.

    The important story point is just he loves her and she isn’t a Frey. And why would they have killed all the Starks and spared her and the baby?

  25. Ms. D. Ranged in AZ
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    His entire argument rests on the fact that he thinks that the stakes are not higher as the actors indicate. His proof to support that hypothesis has weak foo. He says

    especially considering that TV-Catelyn believes that Bran and Rickon are still alive.

    This isn’t true because it’s not made clear whether she thinks they are alive or dead. She fears they are actually dead and she fears that they are alive out there without her protection and guidance. So it seems in her utter despair at the end, that it doesn’t matter. She knows she is going to die in that room and if she can’t escape to find Bran and Rickon then how can she protect them until they reach adulthood and lead the Stark family to it’s revenge. In her mind, Bran and Rickon might as well be dead because she can’t get to them. That’s an important part of her descent into despair and catatonia.

    Then he says that the Stark supporters who were at the wedding feast (Mormont, Greatjon, etc) that are missing in the show also support his argument. However, he himself admits that the show can’t include them all. Yet he fails to consider the fact that all those bannermen represent hope for house Stark and so did Talisa. It seems as if D&D were using Talisa as a stand in for all those characters, to represent hope for the future of House Stark and by killing her destroy that hope. And making her pregnant exponentially increases that symbolism, certainly to a level more than sufficient to symbolize the dozen or so bannermen who died in the book. They had to increase her importance and she had to die precisely because those other characters can’t be in the scene.

    Although we see unnamed Stark men dying in the scene that is VERY different than characters we’ve come to know and care for like we would have with someone like Greatjon. And the close-up filming of their individual deaths would be too time consuming and difficult. If Talisa and her unborn child’s death (particularly in the way that it occurred) had occurred on top of all those named bannermen…..now that would have been unnecessary and egregious. In short, I disagree with Kleinhenz.

  26. SerBob
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    SerBob,

    ps if they hadn’t had her and the baby killed that would have introduced a potential heir storyline that doesn’t exist in the books.

  27. Listen 2 Ghost!
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    I also think they wanted to lay to rest one of the more tinfoilish ASoIaF theories on web, that Robb’s wife is secretly preggers (based on some of the flimsiest evidence possible). If this is the case, I think Martin himself may have approved the change .

  28. Rhys
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Goodness me, people in this “fandom” really know how to overuse a word, don’t they?

    Gratuitous this, gratuitous that. Let’s get a few things clear here:

    Firstly, nothing is necessary. This is a television show, it’s not necessary in and of itself. Showing someone dying on television? That’s horrific. Actually think about that. Showing someone dying is just about the most horrible thing you can do on television, and yet what dramatic television show hasn’t done it?

    This whole idea that introducing Talisa, making her pregnant, and then killing her was “gratuitous” is so unbelievably laughable and unsound. This is entertainment. The books are supposed to be hurtful and dramatic, the books are supposed to make you feel the pain of a character’s death. It is such a sexist idea to suppose that pregnant women are somehow exempt from this. One person’s sexism and idealism about pregnant women should never influence a television show’s direction. The show can show whatever it wants, so long as the people who die never actually die.

    Besides, the concept of “it wasn’t even in the books therefore it was gratuitous” is so very tiring. I’ve read and loved the books, but the books don’t need to describe people’s deaths either, but they do. It doesn’t need to be as violent as it is. But it is. So why are we complaining? Because this particular act of violence wasn’t in the books? Get over yourselves and just enjoy the show.

  29. UhOhSpaghettios
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    I had just assumed that “Talisa” was simply collateral damage. She’s the catalyst for the Red Wedding, and because she’s an important well liked character, she couldn’t have been given the same fate as “Talisa” gets in the books. If she was simply left at Riverrun like she was in ASOS, the show fanbase would wonder what exactly was going on with her, it seems easier to just kill her with Robb.

  30. Dzerards
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    mpn1010,

    Can we have more essays from you instead of Marc N. Kleinhenz!

  31. Bruce Tyrell
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    I wasn’t a big fan of the Talisa change, though Oona Chapman was wonderful in the role and I enjoyed seeing more of Robb in the story. That being said, I think it would have been a mistake to leave her alive with a Stark child as that would be a major change in the story line. Her death, while really brutal, is just one more reason to hate the cursed Freys. I really hope Nymeria eats them all.

  32. Deric Bonberrian
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    I think Mister Stark is right, the addition was in part to catch book readers off guard. It worked on my entire viewing party.

    I do watch the show with the father of a newborn, and after the show he did comment on the shows reliance on hurting children to elicit shock. With this exception, almost all of them are from the book, albeit off screen. But for a show that has to spend so much time with exposition, it surprising they take every opportunity to show instead of tell?

    Fan theories aside, the books also make it clear that Robb leaves no son, so Talisa’s death does dovetail with that, in a much simpler way the books did with Jeyne Westerling. As for why she’s not Jeyne Westerling, I don’t think its anymore complicated than wanting to introduce Volantis to viewers minds, since Tyrion, Jorah and many others ends up there in Book/Season 5.

  33. WeirwoodTreeHugger
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    The death of Talisa might have actually been the only worthwhile part of the change. I still would have preferred it to be like the books. I think they thought creating this love story and then destroying it would be more tragic. However, the book version was for me more tragic because the marriage was completely pointless. Robb utterly destroyed his cause because he felt guilty about taking the virginity of a highborn girl. Also, by making show-Robb marry for love D&D somewhat took away Robb’s culpability in what happened because doing anything for love is so appealing for people. The change took away the complexity from the story a bit. I never bought the “Jeyne is secretly pregnant” fan theory so for me it wasn’t a big deal that the show quashed. It was the change in Robb’s motivation for his marriage that sucked.

  34. Redking
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    The reason Talisa deviated from the book characters?
    1. The Westerling plot was cumbersome to the TV storyline.
    2. Without the convoluted Westerling element, Robb’s decision had to be something simple that an audience could grasp: romantic love.
    3. POSSIBLY (doubtfully) some as-yet unknown Volantene connection that fits with some as-yet unpublished story concept in the books.

    The reason she was pregnant and both she and the unborn died?
    1. It upped the dramatic tension.
    2. It made even less flexible Robb’s position. No going back now.
    3. It absolutely SQUASHED the speculation of a Westerling/Stark heir, which really seems to annoy GRRM in interviews.
    4. It culled the cast and left no loose ends. Benioff and Weiss are not just writers, they are showrunners. She had to go. The baby had to go. They’re already casting for S4.

  35. Not Today
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    However, in the books not only Robb and Cat are killed but also a LOT of secondary characters whom we also mourned about. Without the loss of The Greatjon, Dacey Mormont etc. in the show I think it’s absolutely okay for them to kill off Talisa instead.

  36. Ludwig
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    “Like the American military, shock and awe are two of the most fundamental elements of A Song of Ice and Fire (even if constantly relying upon them at nearly every turn may end up resulting in the opposite effect, making the unexpected quite, in fact, expected) [...].”

    “The single biggest difference between “The Rains of Castamere” and George R.R. Martin’s novel, A Storm of Swords, is, of course, the addition of Queen Talisa Stark [...].”

    You are wrong, Mr Kleinhenz, in assuming that the addition of Talisa is the biggest difference in the Red Wedding. And it is this error that makes you fail to properly assess “the most fundamental elements” of GRRM’s fiction as far as this particular event is concerned.
    The biggest difference is not to be found in the cast of characters (Talisa) or their dispositions (being pregnant) but in the framing of the Red Wedding itself: In A Storm of Swords, the Red Wedding is not merely a ‘shock and awe’ device, but a meticulously prepared event. GRRM alludes to it in numerous dialogues and even in one of the novels’ infamously unreliable but always important prophecies. Additionally, the pivotal Catelyn chapters (#49 & #51) are amongst GRRM’s most accomplished works of horror fiction (a pre-ASOIAF genre of his). The chapters’ atmosphere is one of foreboding, rising tension and dread, full of horrific images and metaphors. Readers get a distinct sense of wrongness culminating in the chaotic battle sequence and ending with Catelyn’s breakdown and death – all of which we experience through her perspective in a most compelling way. The novel’s Red Wedding comes as a surprise but it doesn’t come out of the blue. Instead, it falls into place after careful preparation and foreshadowing.

    In the show, neither this kind of foreshadowing nor the POV narration from Catelyn’s perspective are present – the first by choice, the second by necessity. This difference in atmosphere (or better: genre-specific style) is the main difference between the novel’s and the show’s Red Weddings. It is understandable that the show cannot employ the same literary tools GRRM used and it had to chose another stilistic approach than GRRM’s horror. It is understandable, too, that the show simply cannot include all or even most of the novels’ minor characters. Therefore, the producers took the opportunity to include Talisa in the casualties. And since GRRM’s Jayne Westerling is neither an interesting nor an important character (at least after Robb’s demise and her almost-confirmed nonpregnancy), Benioff and Weiss were right in using their ‘own’ character as a substitute for the novel’s missing minor characters (keep in mind that they know where GRRM’s story is going and can plan and plot accordingly).

  37. MW
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    ” since Talisa had to be pregnant, he contends, she had to be offed. Yet there is no narrative, thematic, or even character drive behind her pregnancy”

    They had sex. If you don’t kill her, everyone would be wondering whatever happened to Talisa and is she pregnant, just like they do with the books with Jeyne. Then they would have to waste screen time with the whole Tansy tea story just to avoid the plothole.

    The only reason Jeyne/Talisa exist is to create the RW. To not kill her, leaves a pointless loose end in the plot that needs to then be resolved. Screen time is valuable and I would rather not have to watch them explain how Talisa’s Mom made a deal with Tywin to make sure she didn’t get pregnant, and somehow make the whole thing seem plausible.

  38. Skipjack
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Nobody seems to be addressing his central argument that the changes made weren’t necessary. That there didn’t even need to be a change to a Talisa, much less one carrying another Ned Stark, and much less the first person killed at the banquet stabbed repeatedly through her womb.

    He isn’t saying the actors are wrong because of X reason, as much as he’s saying discount what the actors are saying, they aren’t book readers, and this is a worrying change. I tend to agree that something was lost here. Though I am not bothered by violence as a rule I find the first image the most lasting one. In a primary way it takes focus off the emotional impact on Catelyn. I know we don’t have POV chapters in the show, but she’s the last one standing and the show has generally embraced a limited POV approach to the storytelling, like how Arya still couldn’t overhear all of Varys and Illyrio’s conversation and neither could we.

    Anyway, now that Talisa is gone I have to say that I find the change to include her diminished the storyline in my estimation. She wasn’t a compelling character to me, her whole modern shtick seemed unbelievable as a contrast to all the other women who had been so carefully scripted to exist in this male dominated world. Then when she became queen she was more appealing, but never had a chance to be anything but a plot device, and extraordinary hamstrings.

    Likewise she diminished Robb, who fell in love not with the wrong woman as much as the wrong fairy tale. As someone else pointed out, Robb is a fairy tale hero’s journey type himself, and his match here was not some everywoman Cinderella to appeal to the inner fangirl, but some impossibly accomplished superwoman from another land and, as I said, era. It clashed and never fit for me, and Catelyn was diminished as well in so many well documented ways, like releasing Jaime before hearing Bran and Rickon were dead, and trying to relate to this full grown Talisa who was making nice but never talked to her about anything at all except Cat’s own grief.

    I’m going to stop myself here, sorry for the length, and I’m sure some other people will want a word in.

  39. Mark
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    The thing I think that, as a book reader, irked me the most about Talisa’s inclusion wasn’t the brute fact of it, but the sequence. If shew as there to be surprise candy for readers, I don’t like the choice of having her go down first. It’s dramatically off kilter. I doubt it felt this way to non-readers, but if that was her essential purpose, it should have been followed through better. It would have been much more dramatic if Robb got shot up with arrows first, and things proceeded more like they did in the books, and then in the middle of it Talisa was killed. Killing her at the very beginning took me out of the moment and made me immediately reflect at how different her arc had come to make Robb’s, since it happened before the drama peaked. If the drama peaked first, I would have been much more immersed in the events, and it would have much more faithfully come off as a dramatic shock.

  40. RhymeswithWeak
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Ryodin,

    Absolutely, I believe Talisa was built up to still be able to give us book readers a jolt at the red wedding…since we didnt know where they were going to go with it.
    It was possible before (in the books) that Jeyne had an heir and that something might happen down the road….but GRRM either just wanted us to think that or figured he could go a different way now.

    The Talisa vs Jeyne was all just to make us Sullied unsure….

    I think all I can be sure of is that Theon IS important in TWOW….and the Blackfish will do something yet himself….

  41. Uete
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Hey!

    I guess what you intended with this really well-written piece was to point out how changes from the source material will direct the way the TV series develops as its own entity. While I agree with the fact that shocking the Sullied fanbase should be perceived as positive, yet controversial at times, I can understand what the actors and the writers meant.

    To me, Talisa’s pregnancy felt like a natural plot development. I mean… she and Robb had an active sexual life from the very beginning and there was no Mother of Talisa around to plot with Tywin and give herbs to her daughter so that she would not get pregnant. It was bound to happen. In retrospect, I think we can understand why D&D decided to change her character: they simply were not going to use her later and there might be no point in doing so book-story-wise. Just like GRRM did with Robb and Cat, they already knew they’d be killing her along with her husband and mother-in-law. Which gets me to the second point of criticism: The number of character deaths. It’s true there were more characters whose fate was sealed in the book, but the TV series has consistently simplified them, sometimes at the expense of the show’s consistency and/or character building. Was it cheap to concentrate the many murders in the central core of Robb’s family? Maybe. But it was a helluva shock when I saw the Freys butchering the Queen through her belly. And I personally think Madden was spot on: It was more crippling for Robb to see all his happiness and his future taken away so helplessly and graphically.

    I was hoping for a pregnant Jeyne Stark to appear later in the books, even to use some blood magic (since she’s the granddaughter to Maggy the frog) to bring Robb back with Greywind’s head an all, but even GRRM has made a point against it: Robb’s (hypothetical) son or daughter won’t be able/is not meant to avenge his father, just like the King in the North wasn’t ever meant to avenge Ned’s.

    In a nutshell: Book purism should be left aside and just have fun with the ride. The TV series is more constrained than the books and we all should learn to enjoy it as it is.

    Congratulations for the essay by the way! It’s made me think in several aspects of the whole book vs. TV series dilemma, and that good in my (ehem) book.

  42. Maxwell James
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for fixing the link. As to the essayist: I think you’re going down a rabbit hole.

    There’s no doubt that the brutal murder of Talisa increased the horror of the Red Wedding, which was already plenty horrible in the book. And it means that her role doesn’t fundamentally change the plot vis a vis the books.

    But if her death was gratuitous and unnecessary, the same could easily be said of Catelyn’s. After all, she comes back from the dead, in a plot twist many readers find problematic. Why not just have her escape? She’d be plenty bitter even without having died. Her death has no real impact on the plot.

    My point is: instilling horror in the reader/viewer is a legitimate tactic for an artist. It has value in and of itself, and does not have to be justified by plot devices.

    Is there a danger in getting too repetitive or predictable with it? Sure – that’s what we saw with the Theon storyline this year. Going into this season, I remember thinking “Surely they’re not just going to torture him all season long,” and yet that’s exactly what they’ve done, to predictable effect.

    But I found the impact of Talisa’s death to be quite different, in that it had one at all. Her death was horrifying, and signified the incredible fragility of love in Westeros. If that point just gets reiterated over and over again, sure it’ll lose its power – and you’re right, broadly speaking, that the books & show live on the edge of doing that. But I don’t think that’s happened yet – and the continuing interest in the series suggest that millions of others don’t think it has either.

  43. Lou Reed
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    I am kinda sad they didnt get the scene, where Wyman Frey comes into the room in full platemail, after the fighting is almost over, and is kinda, “Wtf, you started without me?”

  44. boyo71
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    This is a ridiculous article

  45. jasonw
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    With her dying it gives Robb a focus during the slaughter. If she is not there what does he do? get shot stand up and die? that’s not dramatic (well it is but…). Having him going to her as she dies and after having him stand up looking so lost, was great. I thought that scene was amazing and am glad they added it.

  46. ZRagone
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Disagree entirely with this. The inclusion of Talisa as a character, the inclusion of the Pregnancy, AND their death was necessary to convey the proper horror of the Red Wedding.

    The essays author suggests that there is a law of diminishing returns. That Robb Stark and Catlyn’s deaths would’ve sufficed. I suggest that is ludicrous.

    Wendel Manderly. Smalljohn Umber. Dacey Mormont. Donnel Locke. Owen Norrey. Robin Flint. Lucas Blackwood. Raynard Westerling. Along with the capture of The Greatjohn!

    While some were very minor and others, like Dacey or The Greatjohn, were favorite secondary characters of people. But all were in some way important and meaningful characters if for no other than the family names they represented. Had the Red Wedding simply been the death of Robb, Catlyn, and Grey Wind in the book it would’ve been heart breaking…but it would not have had the HORROR that it had, as Robbs whole host was potentially still intact to exact revenge.

    It was the gratuitous slaughtering of all those around that truly made the Red Wedding what it was. However, that was simply impossible to pull off well on the show. This is a television series already largely suffering from a cast too large. For all the complaints on the internet about the “gratuitous” nature of the show, I’d dare say the complaint of it being too slogged down with names and characters is just as consistent of one. Add in the natural issue with keeping secondary characters on season to season (which caused us to lose The Greatjohn) and it becomes even more difficult.

    So the method in which Martin allowed the Red Wedding to go from a tragic and horrible event, like Ned Starks execution, to a scene of abject horror was through the sheer enormity of the situation and the killing of so many names the reader had grown to know. The method the show did it was to embrace the TV shows more narrow focus by expanding upon the STARK tragedy itself.

    It is ridiculous to suggest the same type of horrific impact could be imparted in the show as it was in the book by just killing Robb, Cat, and Grey Wind as “named” individuals while in the book we had nearly a dozen slaughtered. There needed to be a greater loss for the Starks for it to resonated similarly.

    Enter Talisa and specifically enter EDDARD STARK. There are few things more human and primal than the instinct to protect and care for children. The image of the Frey stabbing Talisa’s stomach immediately impacted the viewer with the feeling of “Horror” that the Red Wedding is meant to instill. This is because we IMMEDIETELY see that it will not just be Robb and Talisa paying for his breaking of vows, but the LINE of the Stark name suffers. Children are HOPE, hope in a bleak world such as this, and it’s through the destruction of that most base of human hope that the true horror of the scene can play out.

    Robb, Cat and Grey Wind die in both adaptations. Talisa and baby Eddard was the TV’s emotional analog to all the names I gave before, her death’s purpose was the same as theirs…to ratchet the situation from a tragedy to something horrific.

    In terms of why go with her instead of Jeyne, this one is simple in two ways. The first, the entire subplot of the Westerlings relies on even more screen time and even more characters. On top of that, it is simply yet another string of questions and answers that must be interwoven into an already difficult tapestry. Could they simply have kept Jeyne but been largely rid of said plot and the trappings of the entire “Westerlings and their Lannister connections, etc etc”? Yes, but that leads to issue two. Up there with the complaints about gratitious nature of the show is the immense whining and complaining of the Book purists. For all their hatred of Talisa, there is little to reason that a girl who would be JINO (Jeyne in Name Only) would be equally disdained if not more so since it’d be more difficult to justify in ones head that it’s a “different character”.

    No, due to the constraints of Television and the goal to properly impart the horror of the Red Wedding, the inclusion of Talisa, her child, and their murder was absolutely required.

  47. Ms. D. Ranged in AZ
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Redking,

    3. POSSIBLY (doubtfully) some as-yet unknown Volantene connection that fits with some as-yet unpublished story concept in the books.

    Actually that occurred to me. With Talisa’s death her family in Volantis (weren’t they noble? how powerful we’re not sure) has every reason to support anyone that can exact revenge upon the Lannisters. Remember she wrote that letter to her mother and I’m assuming sent it off. Since we have multiple major characters in Volantis in later books, I’m willing to bet that Dany will get an unexpected ally (in the form of money, ships and/or Talisa’s family members) in her conquest of Westeros. It won’t be in the books because GRRM hasn’t set it up or if the alliance in the books is not explained enough and GRRM approved the change to support a weak bit of writing on his part. But it would be a nice multi-season tie in and wouldn’t require too much effort. AND it will give the book readers a nice jolt of surprise plus satiate all of our needs for revenge.

  48. GreatJon of Slumber
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    WeirwoodTreeHugger:
    The death of Talisa might have actually been the only worthwhile part of the change.I still would have preferred it to be like the books.I think they thought creating this love story and then destroying it would be more tragic.However, the book version was for me more tragic because the marriage was completely pointless.Robb utterly destroyed his cause because he felt guilty about taking the virginity of a highborn girl.Also, by making show-Robb marry for love D&D somewhat took away Robb’s culpability in what happened because doing anything for love is so appealing for people.The change took away the complexity from the story a bit.I never bought the “Jeyne is secretly pregnant” fan theory so for me it wasn’t a big deal that the show quashed.It was the change in Robb’s motivation for his marriage that sucked.

    You (and the author of this essay) make a couple of salient points, but to me there are a number of factors that motivate these changes and make them more appropriate for the show itself, not necessarily for the book.

    It’s hard to have this great Stark-Lannister war exist without getting some semblance of the commander on one side, that being Robb Stark, especially on a TV show.

    To further that, if you’re going to make the King in the North more of a presence, you have to give him human qualities, a personality, and Richard Madden handled that expertly.

    It’s hard to then have him essentially “Yadda Yadda” a marriage and not have that come into play within the story, and have it happen off-screen.

    The love these 2 feel for each other – and the tragic nature of it, given the importance of social contracts in a medieval society like Westeros – serves as a rare moment where two characters can (however briefly) feel free to express their emotions and desire separate from their duties. This is of course Robb’s downfall, and to make it the result of a misguided sense of honor seems a little cheap. To me, instead, I don’t think it negates his culpability at all — and Rickard Karstark, a bastard or not, wasn’t wrong when he said he lost the war when he married Talisa. Marrying Rosalin Frey may not have won Robb the war, but this decision definitely doomed him (along with plenty of others).

    It provides a smart contrast to Cat and Ned, who, as she said, saw their love grow over time even though it was an arranged marriage to bring the Riverlands and the North together. Robb grew up with (oddly for Westeros) loving parents, but they didn’t start out as star-crossed lovers.

    There are so, so FEW moments when people can just let go with emotion. One other one, and it’s a real, great, EARNED moment, comes at the end of “The Climb,” which some say is cheesy but I say is earned because of the struggle for Jon and Ygritte to make this climb – metaphorical and literal – together. And for that moment, they deserve their embrace.

    Robb’s end is a direct counterpart to Jon Snow in the same episode. After the Queenscrown incident, the look of betrayal on Ygritte’s face is palpable, and she can’t believe what’s happened. But in terms of a self-preservation instinct, it DOES at least show that Jon has a bit more of that than Robb does. If he couldn’t kill an innocent man just to keep his cover, well, he wasn’t then going to stick his neck out for a woman and then get himself killed, either. And Ygritte’s tearful “We’ll die. But first we’ll live.” said to Jon shows her willful disregard of what’s in front of her, and in that sense if anyone is the one with their eyes open, it’s Jon, who all too often came across as a naif, but no more.

    People may want to have had just the Red Wedding here in this episode, similar to Blackwater, but the personal growth of Jon Snow here is a direct contrast to Robb, which is why it’s so necessary. (Ok, maybe we didn’t need Yunkai, but I like Jorah, Daario and Grey Worm kicking some asses.)

  49. blatz
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Was Talisa’s pregnancy and death necessary? I guess not. But I don’t want to watch a version of GoT where only the necessary makes it to the screen.

  50. Ours is the Fury
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    If she isn’t there, then yes, he gets shot, stands up, and dies. That’s the tragedy. Robb doesn’t get a hero’s death. He gets taken out by treachery, and it sucks.

    I think Marc makes a lot of good points, and this is not him simply complaining about the show deviating from the book. I loved the episode overall, but Talisa is not a successful character, for a host of reasons. Creating a pregnancy that was not in the books solely for the purpose of stabbing a pregnant woman in the belly to add more drama to an already jam-packed with emotion event was unneccessary. It feels a little cheap, and that is why it strikes some as gratuitous. Not because it was a bloody murder. There is lots of that in GoT. But the why of her murder is a little pointless.

  51. Balon01
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Worst WiC essay ever.

  52. Skipjack
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Maxwell James,

    Regarding your statement that Cat’s death has no effect on the plot, I’d say we don’t know this yet. One of my personal speculations is that in AFFC she really does go through with hanging Brienne (and Pod), and kills her, but may well bring her back to life and pass on the fire wighthood and whatever purpose that grants. GRRM confirmed that Brienne’s ‘single word’ is “sword”, that she would serve Cat.

    I think you are making a good point about horror, and it is in the mind of the viewer, but I agree that shock can diminish horror and it is my opinion that not just repeated shock but that very first time of shock with the fetuscide diminished the horror of the Red Wedding, I was focusing on the fact of the pregnancy, which is given such prominence, but is in truth a bit of an afterthought for Walder Frey- I suppose it is a visual symbol of the forbidden union itself, but is not Frey’s main gripe.

    For instance, not showing Theon castrated even after showing all that torture I don’t think is chickening out but letting the viewer build the horror in his/her own head. I don’t think I’m going to forget the shape of that knife and how it might work anytime soon.

  53. Maester Ch'vyalthan
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Is this essay just written by Lindaaaaaaaa under a pseudonym? trollface.jpg

  54. Baramos
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    I’m starting to think this show attracts a lot of people who are not used to premium cable. No viewer of say, Spartacus (which features two fetus deaths!) should even blink at this.

  55. Ms. D. Ranged in AZ
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Maxwell James,

    Her death has no real impact on the plot.

    You make some good points. But the statement about no impact, I disagree or I believe it remains to be seen. I think GRRM is using these “raised from the dead” characters for thematic and plot related reasons….for the them,, I just haven’t wrapped my brain around it. But for the effect on plot, we know Lady Stoneheart does some things later in the story that are NOT something Catelyn alive would have done affecting the lives of major and minor characters.

  56. dizzy
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Didn’t Fabio have a Talisa theory a few weeks ago that he was reluctant to share?

  57. Hawk
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    I don’t interpret any deviations from the books taken by the TV show as having any relevance to what might or might not happen in the books…if Talisa is pregnant in the TV show and dies I don’t see how that means automatically that Jeyne in the books is or is not pregnant w/ Robb’s potential heir…

    at this point I see the books and the TV show as two separate entities entirely…and, for my money, Jeyne is not pregnant in the books, and that was my take before Talisa ever came on the scene in the TV show…

  58. Yellow Dog
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    WeirwoodTreeHugger,

    Dead on.

    I would add that the impression I got from the books was that grief over the “deaths” of Bran and Rickon added to Robb’s need for solace in the form of sex with his nurse, just as Catelyn’s grief led to her releasing Jaime in the hopes of saving her daughters from the same fate.

    Thus supporting my theory that the Red Wedding is, at bottom, Theon’s fault.

  59. NOTABOOKREADER
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    mpn1010,

    Nailed it!

  60. Worthing
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    SerBob,

    Yep. Robb is offscreen in Clash of Kings. They wanted him onscreen in season 2. I have never thought there was much to the change but efficiency, and now for her to serve as somewhat of a stand-in for all the other minor northerners killed at the wedding. Don’t see anything “gratuitous” at all in how her story arc was executed.

  61. Alan
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Disagree on so many levels:

    1) The Use of “Necessary” in art/entertainment is pointless. The story itself is fundamentally unnecessary; you can posit anything within it is unnecessary or necessary given whatever levels of tolerance for change you need. Did Catelyn really need to be killed at the Red Wedding? Did Robb need to die there? Couldn’t he have died in battle? With a few changes, something much easier to watch could have preserved the important plot and thematic elements.

    But wait! What else isn’t necessary? I’d say Dany’s entire arc. Jon Snow can be Azor Ahai. And Arya’s, really. Probably Bran’s. They are low on thematics and seem to only play supporting roles. Isn’t this just Jon’s story anyway? Or Tyrion’s?

    2) Gratuitous means “without reason.” Talisa’s death and pregnancy may be excessive or in bad taste to someone, but it’s not without reason. There’s a lot of reasons for both her death and pregnancy to occur. To all watchers, the pregnancy sets up a bigger tragedy and fall. Talisa’s death eliminates a character and unnecessary loose end without wasting time. Talisa’s death also gives book readers something to dread/be shocked at above and beyond what they knew what was happening — something often seen as important to adaptions to do. Lastly, a lot has changed since ASOS was published — and heightening the visceral nature of the scene may have been necessary because audiences are used to more now.

    I know a lot of people who think it was too far — but wasn’t this the reaction we were going for? Dread, shock, sorrow, loss — Talisa’s pregnancy and death magnify that. Was it in bad taste? For some people, I guess so. For me, eh. There’s a lot worse going on in Africa right now. I save my indignation for that, personally (not saying others shouldn’t be shocked, but I’m not horribly upset over it).

    Either way, though, “necessary” is a pointless word here and it wasn’t gratuitous. Perhaps excessive, but not gratuitous.

  62. Hodor Targaryen
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    I think the pregnant-Talisa’s murder was important for a couple of reasons, most of which have already been stated.

    The main reason why I appreciated it was because it actually SHOWS how far Tywin, Frey, Bolton etc. would go to make sure there is no competing line of succession for Lord of Winterfell and leader of the North in general. In the books the reiterated story of how Tywin had his men kill Rhaegar’s children, including crushing a kid’s skull against a wall, shows just how deep into the moral muck Tywin will go. A show is more visual, and people will remember what they see more than what they read or hear. That’s the reason why, similarly, seeing Craster sacrifice his baby was more appropriate for the show than merely having someone allude to it. I think some show-watchers like Tywin somewhat, because of his scenes with Arya, his badass nature, his putting down of Cersei, and engaging in war is just not bad enough a crime to see him in a more villainous light. We forget things like the murder of innocent children that we have maybe heard about, but we are not likely to forget the brutal stabbing of Talisa’s fetus.

    Also, depicting the brutality of war in general is a pretty good reason to have the brutal violence in the first place. “Gratuitous” violence, in my mind, is a high level of blood or violence just because it’s fun to have a lot of blood and violence. Think Hobo with a Shotgun. If you felt uncomfortable watching what happened to Talisa…well, I’d say that’s the desired effect, and kinda justifies them stabbing her in the stomach. Maybe that’s too uncomfortable for you, and that’s fine. There’s something that comes up shortly after the Red Wedding that I hope they skip because the image was too uncomfortable for me when reading. But neither of us should say it’s objectively gratuitous to have those scenes that actually do have a point.

    Also: shock’s the readers, which has already been talked about.

  63. Ryan
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    I am so sick and tired of hearing people say that I only dislike the Talisa storyline because it’s different from the books. Different is fine. The problem is that it’s WORSE than what’s in the books. I never cared about Talisa, because all I could think about during her scenes was how badly the story was told, and consequently her death didn’t increase the shock at all.

  64. fuelpagan
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    To be honest the Talisa character instead of Jeyne bothered me up until I saw how her story ended. Bringing Talisa in as Robb’s romance and just killing her off simplified the story for television. As someone already pointed out, the additional conspiracy between the Westerling’s and Tywin just wasn’t needed.

    The addition of Talisa being pregnant enabled D&D to ramp up the drama, not necessarily just for shock value. Just before the action starts, Talisa and Robb are discussing baby names. They’re discussing the future of their family and the hope for a time when the war is over. Then in an instant that future is decimated with a stab to her belly. Much in the same way Cat was thinking about the future after leaving the Twins just before the action started in the book.

    I’m not saying creating Talisa didn’t cause other problems, but I do think they way she was utilized in this scene was brilliant in luring the viewer into thinking everything was ok right before snatching that dream away.

  65. SerBob
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    … I thought the major deviation from the book this episode was that Rickon was heading to the Umbers – rather than Skagos. Unless he bypasses them that will alter the dynamics/allegiances/motivations of the Northmen in later books.

  66. Rhys
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    blatz:
    Was Talisa’s pregnancy and death necessary?I guess not.But I don’t want to watch a version of GoT where only the necessary makes it to the screen.

    Exactly.

  67. Dunk
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Skipjack
    Nobody seems to be addressing his central argument that the changes made weren’t necessary.

    Actually, I think both

    Redking

    and

    mpn1010

    address that quite eloquently, based on the statements made by the showrunners etc.

    What I do not get from Mark’s essay is a clear statement of what he thinks is “wrong” with the change (other than it being different from the book).

    Is it because it may lead to a “large change in the narrative”? The show runners have met with GRRM and we have to trust that it does not significantly impact the end game

    Is it “gratuitous “? That’s in the eye of the beholder – BTW the comparison to Craster’s sons seems specious, since there was never any violence shown for those babies – The killing of Robert’s bastards was brutal, but TV is not the medium where having someone discuss it later works well – it would probably have led to more sexposition anyway ;-)

    Is it as you seem to say later (assuming it’s the same Mark

    Mark I don’t like the choice of having her go down first. It’s dramatically off kilter.

    that’s probably because you don’t want to to see her as a semi-major character – Talisa is definitely a bigger character in the show than Jeyne Westerling in the book and deserved some focus, rather than dying with the random northern bannermen in the background, in my opinion. Also, by having her die first, our attention can then completely transfer the Robb, then to Cat.

    BTW – Arya was not a “house slave to the Lannisters”, she was cupbearer to Roose Bolton

  68. Rhys
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    SerBob:
    … I thought the major deviation from the book this episode was that Rickon was heading to the Umbers – rather than Skagos. Unless he bypasses them that will alter the dynamics/allegiances/motivations of the Northmen in later books.

    I think change may be to allow Ramsay something to do next season, ie, chase Rickon and Osha.

  69. LordStarkington
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Ms. D. Ranged in AZ,

    In the show, Talisa hints they are important/nobility, but we don’t get many details

    Book spoilers:
    A Maegyr is one of the Triarchs of Volantis. Whether this is relevant or not to the show (or simply a reference/nod to the books from D&D) remains to be seen

  70. Omar
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    killing a pregnant Talisa was necessary because of the fact that they didnt have all the other major/minor Lords present at the RW since their characters simply didn’t exist and/or the actors were busy.

  71. Mark (MH)
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Dunk,

    Not the same Mark, my bad, I keep meaning to start posting under a different name to avoid confusion. My point was about how I didn’t like that Talisa went down first. I don’t mind that it was a major focus point, I just would have preferred the events unfolded a bit before she was taken out. Having her death be the beginning of the action felt discordant to me, as a book reader. Again, it was probably fine for non-book readers, but if the point of her character was to add a layer for people who had read the books, I think it would have played better if Robb got shot up with arrows first, and then as he hit the ground he saw Talisa get stabbed.

  72. NomadicDirewolf
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    no disrespect, but i think that this guy’s points aren’t great. Personally, I feel it raised the stakes, for me if not for the average viewer, due to the fact that, with the announcement of her pregnancy a couple of episodes back, i knew that the whole jeyne pregnant theory in the books would be dependent on whatever happened in this episode of the show. That raised the stakes for me, and i’m sure it did for other book readers who were aware of the theory. I truly think if that theory didnt exist, D and D wouldnt have written it in. It provided something i didnt know about but at the same time didnt come with the added frustration of thinking “that didnt happen in the books” (of course i knew it didnt but that wasnt my first thought, because it was unexpected and impacted on the books anyway)
    As for the whole ‘gratuitous’ aspect of it, i think maybe some times in the past the show has been guilty of this, but not in the violence department, more in the nudity and sex department. Sure, stabbing a pregnant woman in the belly is shocking, but GRRM bases his writing off the kinds of things that happened in medieval europe, and i’m sure thats the way he would have written it if he had had a pregnant jeyne at the wedding. In medieval times, its well estabilished that most noble ladies had two functions in the eyes of powerful lords:
    1. to get married to reinforce political alliances
    2. to have kids (preferably sons) to carry on the family name
    Tywin in aSoS and then Jaime in aFfC emphasise the importance of the fact of making sure that jeyne is not pregnant, so if she was pregnant, then the freys would want to make extra sure that she cannot have a child to carry on robbs king in the north thing. or avenge him. By stabbing her in the belly, they acheive this, because behind robb, his child would be target number 2 in this. Without her womb, Talisa has no importance to the high lords of westeros. I’d also like to further add that the name of ned for her and robbs child was inspired by the books, it was mentioned in a conversation catelyn had with jeyne here’s the direct quote
    ” I told robb i’m sure to give him twins. An Eddard,and a Brandon, he liked that, I think.”
    No question Ned would’ve been the name of robb’s first born son, so this is a nod to the books.
    Also, this has been pointed out already, tv catelyn is convinced bran and rickon are dead, she mentions that in a scene with the blackfish earlier on this season. She probably wouldnt have reacted the way she did to seeing robb killed, that is, just giving up, had she believed all four of the rest of her children to be alive.
    Whilst i feel some aspects of the RW disappointed me (namely small details) this was one change i liked. On the whole though, the Red Wedding was one of the best show scenes of all time (although worse than the books when it was the best scene in my opinion)

  73. Darquemode
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Personally I agree with the author on a number of levels and think Talisa was a failed character that only served to distract.

    Ask viewers of the series why he Red Wedding was terrible and inevitably the first response will be about Talisa. That one brutal stabbing, especially being the first act of he slaughter stole the show from everything else. The impact was moved from the Starks to Talisa, who was only a Stark through marriage and the important aspect of the scene.

    There was a reason GRRM never concentrated on Jeyne much, she herself was not very important. By making Talisa the focus of the RW, the first target and the most brutal kill, they made Talisa the most important character killed. That was a mistake.

  74. SerBob
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Mark (MH): My point was about how I didn’t like that Talisa went down first. I don’t mind that it was a major focus point, I just would have preferred the events unfolded a bit before she was taken out. Having her death be the beginning of the action felt discordant to me, as a book reader.

    OK but I’m sure it made perfect sense to Walder Frey to stab her first in front of Robb. It was a very pointed statement.

  75. Ours is the Fury
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Ryan: I am so sick and tired of hearing people say that I only dislike the Talisa storyline because it’s different from the books. Different is fine. The problem is that it’s WORSE than what’s in the books. I never cared about Talisa, because all I could think about during her scenes was how badly the story was told, and consequently her death didn’t increase the shock at all.

    Yeah, this. I’ve championed quite a few changes for the show, so when people immediately fall back to that reasoning, it’s quite annoying.

    The episode was great. Examination and discussion of some aspects doesn’t change that. I think some may perceive any critique of it as an attack on their own love of the episode, which is just not the case.

  76. Dunk
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Mark (MH)

    Thanks for clarifying – I actually like the way you explained your reasoning better than the original “Mark” – even if I disagree with you.

    The original essay never clearly states what the major concerns are.

    I am a book reader as well, but I try as much as possible to judge book and show on their own terms.

    For me, the Blackfish being present, and then conveniently having to “find a tree” was more discordant – hopefully there is some payoff for that in the next episode

  77. WeirwoodTreeHugger
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    It’s funny how dying makes a person likable. It seemed like just about everyone disliked the character and now it seems like everyone is defending the change.
    That being said, I do agree with the above posts stating that Talisa was a stand-in for Robb’s companions and therefore she had to be killed. As much as I miss Dacey Mormont et al it would have taken too much time and money to cast and introduce them all. What they could have done is make “Jeyne” pregnant and cut out the subplot with the Westerling co-conspirators and the moon tea. They could have spent season growing more and more fond of each other. The same horror and tragedy would have been accomplished. It wouldn’t have taken any longer to introduce Jeyne than Talisa. They still could have cast Oona Chaplin. Jeyne’s grandmother is foreign so casting an actress that doesn’t look waspy would have worked just fine. This way they could have kept the intent of the book intact without giving us a tired old star crossed lover story we’ve all seen so many times.
    Also the contrast between Robb and Jon is still there. Jon fulfilled his duty to the NW by killing Qhorin to go undercover and later escaping to warn Castle Black. Jon’s deceit of the wildings and entering into an affair with Ygritte knowing he would leave her wasn’t honorable but it was his duty. Robb was the exact opposite. He did the honorable thing in marrying Jeyne to preserve her honor. In doing this he shirked his duty as a king by not fulfilling his pact with Walder Frey. This is much more interesting and challenging than Robb chooses love over all vs. Jon doesn’t choose love over all.
    Sorry for all the long posts. Normally I don’t mind most of the changes made for the show. They mostly make sense. But this one just irks me and always will.

  78. Mark (MH)
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    SerBob: OK but I’m sure it made perfect sense to Walder Frey to stab her first in front of Robb. It was a very pointed statement.

    Different line of argument. Yes, stabbing Talisa first makes sense from a character-motive standpoint, but that’s much easier to construct. There are 10 different ways the scene could have played that would have been consistent with each characters behaviors. There are much fewer that are dramatically rhythmic, and I think taking Talisa down first was off-beat in this regard, specifically to book readers, who apparently Talisa was designed for. They still could have had Talisa’s death be significant and had Robb focus on it as it happened without using it to open the action.

  79. gosensgo
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Darquemode: Personally I agree with the author on a number of levels and think Talisa was a failed character that only served to distract.
    Ask viewers of the series why he Red Wedding was terrible and inevitably the first response will be about Talisa. That one brutal stabbing, especially being the first act of he slaughter stole the show from everything else. The impact was moved from the Starks to Talisa, who was only a Stark through marriage and the important aspect of the scene.
    There was a reason GRRM never concentrated on Jeyne much, she herself was not very important. By making Talisa the focus of the RW, the first target and the most brutal kill, they made Talisa the most important character killed. That was a mistake.

    As a non book reader – I actually didn’t think that Talisa’s killing stole from the Stark’s. The scene after where Cat begs for the life of her son, and then he turns to her and says “Mother” – stole the show, stole the episode, and the series thus far. Thinking about it bring tears to my eyes, not to mention Cat’s scream at the end.

    You book readers are wayyyy too over analytical. Its taking away from the goodness of the show

  80. Eddward
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    mpn1010,

    Excellent comment on the post. I agree fully.

  81. LittleCatPaws
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    People posting here have already disagreed with this essay in brilliant, eloquent ways so I just want to add my blunt two cents worth; this essay seems pedantic and whiny. I don’t see how anything in Game of Thrones can be called gratuitous; many events and characters are inspired by real history, which has more tits and blood than one of Bronn’s dreams. Why go for ‘minimalist’ as if this was some arty farty symbolic play, just pack it all in there and let’s fasten our seatbelts! I want to be shocked and surprised and made to cry and laugh. I loved the Red Wedding set up, I thought the actors were perfect, I watched with my friends and we went through a range of emotions that episode, mostly anguish. Days later we still seem to be in a stage of grief, GoT is powerful, heady stuff indeed.

  82. Mark (MH)
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Dunk,

    Fair enough! Yeah I somewhat agree about the Blackfish issue too, but there’s still more time for that to pay off. I kind of picture them chasing him down the halls and then having him dive off into the Trident. At least that would set up a second siege of Riverrun if he can book it back there. I can’t imagine what Jaime’s going to have to do in season 5 if they cut that out. But it’s still funky to have the Blackfish attend the wedding just to escape and proceed along the same arc.

  83. Redking
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Dunk: Redk

    Adding to your point regarding the narrative order of death, there is a logic to Talisa “going first”, and in killing her the way they did: Walder Frey needed Robb Stark to see it.

    Also, keep in mind that the Starks and their bannermen within Lord Frey’s hall were all unarmed and (except Bolton) unarmored. So the Freys could kill them in whatever order they pleased. And they did.

  84. GreatJon of Slumber
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    WeirwoodTreeHugger:
    Also the contrast between Robb and Jon is still there.Jon fulfilled his duty to the NW by killing Qhorin to go undercover and later escaping to warn Castle Black.Jon’s deceit of the wildings and entering into an affair with Ygritte knowing he would leave her wasn’t honorable but it was his duty.Robb was the exact opposite.He did the honorable thing in marrying Jeyne to preserve her honor.In doing this he shirked his duty as a king by not fulfilling his pact with Walder Frey.This is much more interesting and challenging than Robb chooses love over all vs. Jon doesn’t choose love over all.

    I think the contrast does exist both ways, even if you add love to the mix. Plus, the human emotions of people in desperate situations was something that one would think should come across in a filmed series, as it did in this case. And Robb’s dumb decision in the books, to me, always made him seem more of a sap – being unable to distinguish the honor of one person and the honor of his position as a king.

  85. SerBob
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Mark (MH),

    No. If Talisa or Jeyne or whatever Robbs love is called is at the wedding (if they choose to do it that way) then Walder Frey is always going to kill her first. Ten times out of ten.

    “You- Robb Stark have insulted me by breaking our deal and marrying this woman. You did it because you love her? OK watch this.”

    Any self-respecting evil murdering scumbag would do the same.

  86. Handmaiden of Dany
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    I think all of these deaths were necessary in order for the viewer to cheer their fucking asses off when Tywin gets his next season.

  87. Handmaiden of Dany
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    LittleCatPaws,

    Here here!

  88. melianns
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    I disagree on one point. I haven’t read the books, but as I have been watching s3, I have always thought that Robb might get rid of Talisa, or make her his mistress and take a Frey wife. He might do this to keep the peace, gain a military advantage, Cat might insist. When Talisa becomes pregnant with his heir, the audience knows that this will never happen. The Red Wedding, and the murder of the Stark heir become an inevitability.

    From a storytelling point of view, it makes perfect sense. Otherwise, why wouldn’t Cat or the bannerman insist that Robb marry a Frey?

  89. nocuzzlikeyea
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    I don’t have a problem with general gratuitous violence (other than in cases in which it detracts from the power of the story, as any creative choice has the ability to do).

    I do have a problem when that violence is directed at a specific population group without any self-awareness or commentary on that choice. If you subtract out the violence from the source material and just take a look at the violence D&D has added in, the choice to continue to perpetrate and exploit violence against women as a form of shock value becomes troubling.

  90. db
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Am I the only one who thinks that the Frey’s would’ve been better off keeping Talisa ALIVE, at least until the baby was born? Strategically, that would make so much more sense because that way the Frey’s would have the North int he form of Robb’s child and then possibly kill Talisa afterward. It honestly makes no sense that they would kill his child other than for fucking D & D to pat themselves on the back for depicting a pregnant woman being stabbed in the uterus multiple times on TV for shock factor.

  91. James
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    Really liked “mpn1010″‘s response. It is possible to be respectful and disagree, people!

    Reading his response made me realize that Robb and Catelyn have a shared bond that is unique to the show: they both die as parents whose children/child have been murdered before their time. Yes, Robb’s child isn’t yet born, I’m not saying it’s the exact same thing. But he is still a father and he is seeing his unborn child murdered. The death of all of his hopes and dreams in one swift moment.

    It’s easy to cry “gratuitous” when we are dealing with something as shocking as the baby-stabbing scene was. But I think in this case such analysis is a little shallow. There are multiple things at play here that define the RW as a tragedy, and Robb literally seeing his legacy be snuffed before his eyes (along with his wife and mother) is a part of what makes the end so tragic to behold.

  92. Nagga's Kin
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    If Walder Frey had merely wanted to exact his revenge on Robb alone, he could have taken him prisoner and be done with it. That, however, was not his intention nor Roose Bolton’s. This was a coup d’etat, a drastic step aimed at replacing the leadership in the North and possibly also in the Riverlands, de facto if not de iure.

    IMHO, these two lords want to end the war of secession and sue for peace. The “Rains of Castermere” playing and Roose saying to Robb that “The Lannisters send their regards.” were strong hints that Tywin was at least aware this coup was going to happen. At this stage, with the realm deep in hock to himself as well as the Iron Bank of Braavos, he may also be more interested in peace than in punishing any of Robb’s former allies. Moreover, Tywin has called Sansa “the key to the North”, i.e. he wants her to be the legitimate heir to Winterfell so Tyrion can rule the North. As far as he is aware, Bran and Rickon already died there. As a bastard and a member of the Night’s Watch, Jon Snow has no claim to succession.

    By the brutal logic of promogeniture, Robb, Catelyn, Talisa and her baby all had to die to make way for Sansa and Tyrion, as a prerequisite for peace. If Robb had been as dynastically astute as Bran, he would have sent Talisa off to a trusted bannerman as soon as he found out she was pregnant. Her child, regardless of sex, would then have become the legitimate heir to Winterfell upon birth, pre-empting all of Robb’s siblings. Talisa, a foreigner, would have become the Lady Regent of the North in the event of Robb’s death. Of course neither Walder Frey nor Roose Bolton nor Tywin Lannister were going to let that scenario happen if they could help it. Perhaps that’s why stabbing her womb was the very first action in this coup.

    IMHO, the more interesting issue here is actually an one from last season: Talisa wasn’t from one of the minor noble houses in Westeros. She was from House Maegyr in Volantis, though we don’t yet know how powerful (forget the books for reference in this case since the character of Talisa was invented for the show). Given that Talisa herself told us the Volantene nobles – whose social station relies on that city’s economic and legal system – all live in a restricted part of the city, you’d imagine that her parents would want to control who she married. Her story about escaping because she didn’t want to live in a place that practiced slavery sort of made sense – until she wrote that letter to her mother. You’d think there would be significant estrangement on both sides, especially since she had at that time not yet told her parents that she actually managed to bag herself a king. In his latest post over on Dothraki.com, David Peterson indicates he will publish the English version of that letter soon, perhaps next week.

    It will also interesting to see what happens next season once news of the Red Wedding reaches her parents in Volantis, as it surely will. Of course, there’s still the remote possibility that Talisa’s whole identity was a fabrication after all. However, if she was a spy, it almost certainly wasn’t for the Lannisters.

  93. mariamb
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Watson:
    Asking the actors why the writers made the writing choices they did and then criticizing the actors’ answers is like asking a doctor to explain physics and then mocking his or her best attempt to do so.

    Agree. Why discuss the reasoning of the cast? They aren’t the writers. Did he interview them directly or is he picking and choosing comments from independent interviews?

    MW:
    ” since Talisa had to be pregnant, he contends, she had to be offed. Yet there is no narrative, thematic, or even character drive behind her pregnancy”

    They had sex. If you don’t kill her, everyone would be wondering whatever happened to Talisa and is she pregnant, just like they do with the books with Jeyne. Then they would have to waste screen time with the whole Tansy tea story just to avoid the plothole.

    The only reason Jeyne/Talisa exist is to create the RW. To not kill her, leaves a pointless loose end in the plot that needs to then be resolved. Screen time is valuable and I would rather not have to watch them explain how Talisa’s Mom made a deal with Tywin to make sure she didn’t get pregnant, and somehow make the whole thing seem plausible.

    I didn’t like the Jeyne Westerling character. I also didn’t like the elaborate, off-page plotting between her mother and Tywin. Jeyne served her purpose in the books (to set-up the RW) and, hopefully, we will not see her again. Equally, Talisa served the same purpose in the show.

    For whatever its worth, I questioned the change from Jeyne to Talisa early on. However, in the end, Talisa became a much more interesting character than Jeyne ever was. Her end was terribly violent and sad but not out of line with all of the other violent, sad things in this show.

    Who is Marc N. Kleinhenz anyway?

  94. Mark (MH)
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    SerBob:
    Mark (MH),

    No. If Talisa or Jeyne or whatever Robbs love is called is at the wedding (if they choose to do it that way) then Walder Frey is always going to kill her first. Ten times out of ten.

    Any self-respecting evil murdering scumbag would do the same.

    So you’re saying if Cat slaps Roose, Roose runs off, Lothar grabs Talisa (maybe even stabs her or cuts her once), Robb gets shot with arrows, and Robb looks up to see Talisa get taken out, you would have found that somehow implausible because it doesn’t satisfy your notion of Walder Frey’s sadism? (note: no offense, but this question is rhetorical).

  95. WeirwoodTreeHugger
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 3:16 pm | Permalink
  96. cmn8
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    My best theory on Talisa’s death? They wanted to get rid of her. Despite rampant fan conjecture, Jeyne hasn’t really existed since the Red Wedding. By killing her off, or her equivalent off, they get out of having to explain what happened to her and having to pay the actress for not doing anything–because really, if she’d lived, you’d have to film her reaction shot to the news at the very least. And as long as she’s dying, might as well make her be pregnant.

    That being said, I didn’t much like her death–I felt like it was just the culmination of her stealing Cat’s storylines (though I am a rabid Cat fan, so take that with a grain of salt), and the way that they stabbed her stomach looked kinda cartoonish. Still, I understand the purpose. I feel like it’s harder to make characters just sort of disappear in a TV show than it is in a book–see Theon having a storyline this season.

  97. Mark (MH)
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    db:
    Am I the only one who thinks that the Frey’s would’ve been better off keeping Talisa ALIVE, at least until the baby was born? Strategically, that would make so much more sense because that way the Frey’s would have the North int he form of Robb’s child and then possibly kill Talisa afterward. It honestly makes no sense that they would kill his child other than for fucking D & D to pat themselves on the back for depicting a pregnant woman being stabbed in the uterus multiple times on TV for shock factor.

    This is an interesting point, and it kind of harkens to The Mystery Knight, when John the Fiddler aka Daemon Blackfyre Jr. was taken hostage rather than killed for this very reason. However, The Mystery Knight also serves as a reminder that this often was not the first instinct of the winners in these situations. The only reason this was done in TMK is because John’s appearance made it clear that killing Blackfyres only lead to an inheritance issue to the remaining Blackfyres in exile, so instead they imprisoned John so no other Blackfyres could claim rights to the throne.

  98. Hawk
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Nagga’s Kin,

    I would not hold out hope that you will ever get any resolution in the TV show regarding Talisa’s death in her homeland…her character in the TV show was, in one sense, a smart way to dispense with having to do any follow up to her fate (if she had remained the same Jeyne as in the books), so it would be self-defeating for D&D to truncate things going forward by reimagining her only to have to spend screen time and cast actors to show us how news of her death is received in Volantis…

  99. Dan
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    I, for one, loved that change. Going into the episode I wasn’t quite sure if Talisa was a spy or not, so her presence added to the tension for me. Before the episode started I was just thinking about how the RW would look, and whether they would pull it off. I also was kind of dreading seeing Robb and Cat get got, but I wasn’t really expecting any surprises. Then when the episode got going and I was watching Talisa, I found myself looking for signs she might’ve been in on it. It definitely added some suspense to go with the dread I was already feeling. And her stabbing was an absolutely shocking moment for me that I wouldn’t have had if they had just stuck to the books.

    I get other people might not feel the same, but for me it was a nice addition that let me experience a similar reaction to what I had reading the books. Plus, based on the reaction and buzz around this episode, it would be kind of hard to argue that D&D made the wrong choice.

  100. JR
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if Talisa might have lived if the actress that played her didn’t complain about all the nudity on the show. I know it sounds petty, but it’s a possibility. I honestly did not care much for her character in the show or books. It also helps end all the speculation of her being pregnant which gives Robb’s story closure.

  101. Ser Lyonel the Laughing Storm
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    This essay is bush league nonsense is you don’t like sex and violence maybe this show isn’t for you the rest of us love it, grant it this is coming from a person who thinks sexposition is a clever move

  102. Nancy
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    mpn1010,

    Can I love your post 1000x over? I agree with everything you said. I just want to add that if Michelle and Richard had come out and said they thought the death of Talisa and the unborn child was too much and unneccesary, the media would have made a big controversy about that. It would have looked like them criticizing the show and the writers.

    I can’t seem to link to the poster who called the Red Wedding a coup, it is exactly that and you expressed my thoughts on it much more elequently then I could. I think George set it up in the books that Walder Frey would easily betray Robb if it benefited him. Even if Robb did honor his marriage pact.

    Michelle and Richard were terrific in this episode, they both deserve all the kudos.

  103. Ser Lyonel the Laughing Storm
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Just look as Talisa’s death as a replacement for cat not clawing her eyes out and its not entirely fair to say Talisa didn’t work as a character the majority of non-book readers I’ve spoken to actually enjoyed their relationship

  104. fuelpagan
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Sometimes I do feel sorry for D&D. Here we are debating on whether Queen Talisa’s stab to her belly was added for gratuitous violence, meanwhile most of the readers are looking forward to the head swapping scene. Like non readers wouldn’t view that as completely unnecessary and gratuitous.

  105. Dan
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Ours is the Fury,

    It’s not pointless. Obviously, it didn’t do anything for you and that’s fine, but every bit of her being pregnant and also her being a possible spy added a lot to the scene for a bunch of us. I think the way you wrote that response makes it come off as you thinking your opinion is fact, but clearly Talisa and her pregnancy wasn’t pointless to the vast majority commenting on here about why it improved the scene for them.

  106. Fani
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Honestly,I prefer the book version of the story (how Robb met Jeyne and the reason for marrying her) to the tv show version.If the showrunners wanted Robb to fall in love with her,couldn’t they have Robb marry her and then start having feelings for her just like what happened with his parents?I have to admit I was a little disappointed that Talisa didn’t turn out to be a spy for Tywin.All this pure love thing they had was so boring and most of their scenes in s2 and 3 were unnecessary.This was a great article.

  107. Nagga's Kin
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Hawk: Nagga’s Kin,

    I would not hold out hope that you will ever get any resolution in the TV show regarding Talisa’s death in her homeland…her character in the TV show was, in one sense, a smart way to dispense with having to do any follow up to her fate (if she had remained the same Jeyne as in the books), so it would be self-defeating for D&D to truncate things going forward by reimagining her only to have to spend screen time and cast actors to show us how news of her death is received in Volantis…

    I agree that it would make no sense to fire up yet another storyline in Volantis merely to follow up on Talisa’s death. This is especially true if Talisa’s family is of the lower nobility there.

    However, there’s a possibility that Talisa’s family is actually powerful and that Dany will end up in that city before her army lands in Westeros. If and when that might happen is, of course, unknown. I wouldn’t expect it until the latter half of season 4 at the very earliest, if at all.

  108. DavidBC
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Can we discuss the fact that Talissa’s pregancy does not change the symbolic motives of the Frey’s … because they did not know she was definitely pregnant.

    At this point in the show the only person who knows of the baby is Robb… He or Talisa never share the information with anyone… And therefore the stabbing of the womb just becomes more of a symbolic gesture against the future of the North… Which is very significant from a storytelling persepctive.

  109. Winter's Lion
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    JR,

    Oona Chaplin wasn’t the one that complained about the nudity, she just revealed that another actress had. I read the article on The Telegraph website, and she (Chaplin) said:

    She adds: “The objectification lies in the eye of the beholder, just like beauty. I’m really comfortable getting my kit off, so, if they want to, I’m like, ‘yeah, bring it, I’m naked, no problem.’ ”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/10066239/Game-of-Thrones-star-rebels-over-topless-scenes.html

  110. Seonaidh Ceanneidigh
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    mpn1010:
    Marc makes some good points in his essay, but I feel that he is falling into the “fidelity” trap; though he asks several interesting WHY questions regarding Talisa’s death and other issues, these questions never really delve into anything truly substantive and instead simply take us back to something that we constantly hear from purists: the show deviates from the books.

    I would point out that although Michelle was incorrect in saying that the show has more characters than the books, she is absolutely correct in hinting that the stakes re: characters are oftentimes raised when adapting a text into a live action medium because that character is now being transformed from words on a page into a human being. Of course, I am not suggesting that acharacter in a literary work is automatically less powerful than a character onscreen. Nevertheless, a gifted performer (and God knows, the TV show has a great many gifted performers) can certainly raise the stakes regarding our investment in that character and his or her journey. If you watch interviews with Dan and Dave, they suggest that the reason they made Robb a more central character is because they loved the way Richard played him; thus, deviations from the text are not simply based on a whim, nor on a desire to “shock,” nor to make something more “gratuitous” or “explicit”; rather, they might simply be based on the fact that transitioning from text to live action automatically prompts significant alterations to the source material due to the fact that there are now MULTIPLE authors crafting the story (the writers, directors, actors, etc. are all working together to bring the text to life, and through collaboration and improvisation, things will inevitably change).

    Granted, I’ve not addressed Marc’s very valid assertion that Talisa’s death only seems necessary in light of her pregnancy, and her pregnancy is NOT essential to the story. However, I would argue that it IS in fact essential to the story as it was told on the show — Robb did not marry Talisa because he took her virginity (as in the book with Jeyne) but rather because he loved her. Robb was willing to compromise everything (his honor, the war effort, etc.) for his love of Talisa, and her pregnancy was a sign of hope in the midst of all the turmoil that the marriage created — whatever the problems it engendered, Robb would have a family and a legacy. The death of Talisa and her baby marks the death of ALL of Robb’s hopes. The way in which the scene plays out (with Robb focusing entirely on Talisa the entire time until he faces his mother) conveys this; when he says “Mother,” he says so in a way that conveys total resignation. He knows they’ve lost the war, and perhaps even more significantly for Robb, he has personally lost EVERYTHING at this point, for Talisa and the baby were EVERYTHING to him. Thus, the stakes were much higher for Robb in the show. As horrific as the Red Wedding is in the original text, there is not the same sense of personal loss for Robb; the personal loss is centered entirely on Catelyn. On the show, it is built around both Robb and Catelyn, and again, this made sense given that Robb had become a more central character due largely to the talents of the actor playing him (Michelle deserves all the credit she’s been receiving over the past few days, but Richard was also incredible in this scene in spite of the fact that he had virtually no lines after the massacre stats.)

    Excellent post. Loved it. Robb’s “mother” line is delivered with such resignation… he sounds like a child again. He is utterly destroyed. It was hard to watch, especially when followed by Catelyn’s cry of anguish. You never really get to know Robb in the text, and certainly not his feelings during the Wedding. I think the show capitalised on Madden, the TV format, and the extended storylines perfectly.

  111. Zack
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    I felt like Talisa at the wedding really validated the character’s existence in the story overall. I was grateful they let Robb have a genuine relationship and some moments of joy before everything happened, and then I was crushed utterly when fucking Lothar performed the nastiest abortion ever. I pretty much shouted at my TV and didn’t cry but my eyes definitely got a bit juicy. It almost made up for the lack of named bannermen. To me, something can’t be gratuitous if it’s having their intended emotional effect and it helps sell the story.

  112. Ivana Miloradovic
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    I think the invention of Talisa character was a vehicle of distraction. Throughout season 2, the show writers have been dropping hints leading a significant part of fandom to believe that she was actually a Lannister spy, a relative even. Hence, the same fandom has not thought about the real traitor whose identity has been successfully hidden in the series because: a) we do not know the identity of Theon Greyjoy’s torturer; b) we do not know the history of feuds between northern houses. The first real idea about the identity of the traitor was given in the episode “The Bear and The Maiden Fair”. However, the extent and the roots of this treachery will probably be revealed in episode 10. I agree that Queen Talisa’s gruesome murder added to the drama, but it tells us that GRRM does not plan to advance the real Robb’s wife’s story further since the show writers always consult with him in order to avoid “the butterfly effect” in the show.

  113. Fani
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    (cont) even though I don’t agree with everything he says.For example,I think the Baratheon bastards getting killed ‘had’ to be shown rather than told because it made this fictional world more realistic and easier to care about.If we were told about it,maybe we wouldn’t have cared about it so much.But as far as Talisa and her pregnancy are concerned I agree with him.

  114. gosensgo
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Winter’s Lion,

    Its Emilia Clarke I believe.

  115. Hodor Targaryen
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Ours is the Fury:
    If she isn’t there, then yes, he gets shot, stands up, and dies. That’s the tragedy. Robb doesn’t get a hero’s death. He gets taken out by treachery, and it sucks.

    I think Marc makes a lot of good points, and this is not him simply complaining about the show deviating from the book. I loved the episode overall, but Talisa is not a successful character, for a host of reasons. Creating a pregnancy that was not in the books solely for the purpose of stabbing a pregnant woman in the belly to add more drama to an already jam-packed with emotion event was unneccessary. It feels a little cheap, and that is why it strikes some as gratuitous. Not because it was a bloody murder. There is lots of that in GoT. But the why of her murder is a little pointless.

    I think people are mixing up “unnecessary” with “gratuitous,” or “without valid reason.” The pregnancy of Talisa and eventual womb-stabbing was meant to add another layer of tragedy to the Red Wedding, shock book readers, and (I’d argue) continue to show the brutality war, specifically on innocents that are next in a line of succession. Those are all valid reasons to make a change. Now, it might still be a bad change, but not one without reason.

    Was it necessary for Talisa to be pregnant and then get womb stabbed? Probably not. The tragic deaths of Robb and Catelyn would have been enough. But who cares? I think most people approach book changes with the question “why?”, which leads to this extra level of scrutiny over things like killing Talisa and whether it was “necessary” to the plot. I tend to ask “why not?” Some have mentioned that it diminishes Robb and Catelyn’s death. I respectfully disagree. But in general I think the discussion needs to be less on whether Talisa’s death was necessary to tell the story, and more one whether it entertained/captivated someone, or why it diminished what could have been more entertaining/captivating.

  116. Fani
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    mpn1010,

    Your post is more heartbreaking than the episode.

  117. Tom M
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    Darquemode,

    Ask viewers of the series why he Red Wedding was terrible and inevitably the first response will be about Talisa

    Interviewed them all have you? Talisa made as much sense as Jeyne for Robb’s motivation to break his oath. Which, after all, is the only important point. One of them had to exist and a mature Oona Chaplin worked for me as a book reader and show viewer.
    She also simplified the story a bit now and in later books.

  118. Sh4rp3
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    GoT is fantastic television and is often frustrating for book readers when parts are altered but my biggest gripe is the shows running time, it’s under an hour with adverts and that leaves very little time for exploring the many plots in full. My point is that Talisa was a device to get us into that particular story line quicker and she worked perfectly , the scene was amazing , everyone involved deserves a slap up meal at white harbour .

  119. A Storm of S-Words
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    The real reason Talisa exists, of course, is that her parents had intercourse and conceived her (although Melisandre would say it was because the Lord of Light willed it).

    But since everyone is insisting that the events of Westeros are somehow predetermined by deities known as “writers” and “showrunners” for purposes of making the tales of Westeros more compelling and/or logical, I’ll play along and give my reasons why she should be in the show (others have said much the same).

    SHOW IS BETTER WITH A LOVE STORY. People love a love story. Even LOTR (Tolkien spoiler for the three people who haven’t read it) had Aragorn and Arwen. And like comic relief, it’s a break from all the death and plotting (until the comic is massacred). Danaerys and Daario are harder to relate to.

    NEW CHARACTER GIVES READERS AN UNKNOWN. I hate being a greenseer.

    DEATH SHOCKS READERS, NOT JUST VIEWERS. Not seeing the Greatjon there doesn’t count as shock. I cried out when she was stabbed. And if Talisa doesn’t exist, she doesn’t die.

    SHOWS HOW THE FREYS REALLY FEEL. Her manner of death was a way to show us how personal this was for the Freys. Tywin would be content to slit her throat or shoot her.

    DEATH OF AN INNOCENT. Killing Talisa doubled the sense of brutality because she was so innocent, beautiful and pregnant.

  120. fuelpagan
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Ours is the Fury,

    Sorry but I just don’t see it as creating a character who’s pregnant simply so they can stab her in the belly for shock value. I see it as her pregnancy representing hope and a future after the war that is suddenly stripped away. If you know how to represent dreams and hopes for the future in a few seconds of television seconds before stripping it away then please let us know.

    Simply having Cat talking about it with Roose Bolton wouldn’t have been as powerful as Robb and Talisa thinking about little Eddard right before the tragedy begins.

  121. BobJ
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Well, as a book reader and knowing what was coming, I certainly didn’t expect to see the pregnant queen stabbed in the belly over and over right off the bat. My, “Oh, jee-zus!” when it happened was certainly a result of being shocked and startled. I certainly didn’t have the smug I-know-what’s-gonna-happen countenance after THAT happened, I can tell you. So bravo, D&D. You got me good.

  122. The_Wanderer
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    I liked the decision to have Talisa be pregnant and then be killed. TV is a different medium for telling a story, and in order to adapt a TV show from a book requires some liberties to be taken.

    The best thing that a screen adaption of a book can do is capture the emotions and spirit of the story, and the Red Wedding on the tv show did a great adaption of the Red Wedding from the book. The Red Wedding is primarily two things: shocking and emotionally devastating.

    Talissa starts the violence of the Red Wedding on screen, and she is the perfect character to do this with, since she is significant, but not Robb and Catelyn significant. Getting stabbed in the womb multiple times gives viewers the initially shock value the scene in the book does because it happens to a significant character. It also leaves room for hope that the other bigger characters, Catelyn and Robb, may have some chance of getting out of this alive…which they play up when they return to this setting to conclude the episode.

    Symbolically this makes sense because the entire episode (and some of the previous episodes) have been pointing towards a rebirth or resurgence of Stark power. Babies are often seen as a symbol of starting anew. By killing Talisa’s baby first, the show is symbolically killing the Stark rebirth. This makes sense within the context of the Red Wedding, and furthermore it’s emotionally devastating.

    The Red Wedding on the show, and like in the books, is more than killing just for the sake of killing. It’s a well executed and brilliant plot in both mediums.

  123. Andrew
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Book purists are not book purists; they’re zealots/fundamentalists. They can’t accept any change or different interpretation (or adaptation) from their sacred text.

    (For the record, I’ve read the books and enjoyed them immensely.)

    It’s embarassing. It’s a TV show that is very largely based on this series of books. What major plot lines have been altered in any significant way?

    The answer: zero, nada, nilch.

    It’s all rhetorical masturbation to make themselves feel better.

  124. GeekFurious
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    She “had to” be pregnant and “had to” die because she and her unborn child are the only innocents in the massacre.

    People who couldn’t give two twits about the people who died at the Red Wedding definitely understand the emotion of seeing a wife and expected mother murdered, along with her fetus, with such deliberate action and have her husband watch it happen and there as life left her.

    The other big reaction we can see in all those YouTube videos happens when his wolf is killed. Barely anyone seems to be reacting to Robb being killed (other than of course after the episode is over). Why? Because he is a warrior. He is the king. He isn’t an innocent.

    And while we definitely feel the weight of the Red Wedding in the books with the material given, on-screen it just works better to up the stakes to an idea (if not person) we all can empathize with. That is also why that final shot also receives a big reaction. Because a mother has lost her son and believes all is lost. We may not care about her (granted, I was definitely rooting for her in the book and show, even though I knew she was going to die) but we care about her loss.

  125. JoffreyStone
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    From a showrunner’s perspective, Talisa wasn’t killed off because she was pregnant. She was made pregnant because they had decided she would be killed off.

  126. boomboomboom
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    I vehemently disagree with this essay, for many of the reasons people have already stated. I loved the whole Talisa-pregnancy part; it made the Red Wedding feel visceral, even though I knew what was coming.

    People have been complaining about the fact that the show didn’t explain “guest-right” and so new viewers wouldn’t understand just how shocking the Red Wedding is. In my opinion, the knife in Talisa’s belly took the place of that bit of exposition. Killing a pregnant woman like that is brutal, even for Westeros. Talisa’s death visually articulated the horror of it all, and rendered lengthy explanations of Westerosi custom unnecessary.

    It was a brilliant move by D&D.

  127. Bittersteel
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    Sure watching a pregnant woman being stabbed elicits horrified reactions but the book version was a wholesale slaughter of not just Starks but his loyal lords. Axes to the gut, crossbow bolts to the mouth, heads being chopped, etc were the fates of the these characters. The episode was tame compared to the books because we only get the horror the Starks went through instead of the whole Northern nobility who suffered the same fates.

  128. Omar Brown
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Pretetious article. Saying the show is gratious? One example, in the book a baby gets swung by his feet into a wall, bashing his brains in. And I could mention countless more, this guy is a tool.

  129. Shock Me
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    I like the replacement of Jeyne with Talisa because we trade the Tansy Tea (abortion juice) and evil Westerling mother plot line with a really engaging back story that tells us more about slave holding in Volantis and Essos in general.

    I’m just sad she didn’t escape with the Blackfish back to Riverrun. I really like the idea of her and Robb’s unborn heir maybe being rescued by the escaped Blackfish after Riverrun is conquered by the Kingslayer.

    Oh well, goodbye Oona!

  130. Isabella
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Listen 2 Ghost!: I also think they wanted to lay to rest one of the more tinfoilish ASoIaF theories on web, that Robb’s wife is secretly preggers (based on some of the flimsiest evidence possible). If this is the case, I think Martin himself may have approved the change .

    This.
    I suspect Martin was the one who suggested it.

  131. Isabella
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Skipjack,

    Skipjack: Anyway, now that Talisa is gone I have to say that I find the change to include her diminished the storyline in my estimation. She wasn’t a compelling character to me, her whole modern shtick seemed unbelievable as a contrast to all the other women who had been so carefully scripted to exist in this male dominated world. Then when she became queen she was more appealing, but never had a chance to be anything but a plot device, and extraordinary hamstrings.Likewise she diminished Robb, who fell in love not with the wrong woman as much as the wrong fairy tale. As someone else pointed out, Robb is a fairy tale hero’s journey type himself, and his match here was not some everywoman Cinderella to appeal to the inner fangirl, but some impossibly accomplished superwoman from another land and, as I said, era. It clashed and never fit for me, and Catelyn was diminished as well in so many well documented ways, like releasing Jaime before hearing Bran and Rickon were dead, and trying to relate to this full grown Talisa who was making nice but never talked to her about anything at all except Cat’s own grief.I’m going to stop myself here, sorry for the length, and I’m sure some other people will want a word in.

    I didn’t like the Talisa change for these reasons as well.

    However, I liked how they handled her at the RW. First, I liked her view of the bedding custom from an outsider’s eyes as this barbaric thing- reminiscent of Dany’s wedding. Also, I appreciated that there was some element of the story that I didn’t know how it would turn out. I was genuinely shocked at her death, and the brutality of it. Also, I agree with those who say she and her pregnancy represented the future and hopes and dreams for Robb. Him watching her die was heartbreaking.

  132. Fani
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    Mark,

    Darquemode,

    Yes,exactly!I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t as devastated as I ‘d thought I’d be before watching the ep and maybe that’s the reason:Talisa’s death became the center of it all because she went down first and it distracted me from paying attention to the characters I did care about and mattered more to me and the plot.They could have Robb get injured first,then kill his men and his wife,Robb being still alive,crawling to her and then Bolton killing him,etc. This small change could have changed everything for me.

  133. Ours is the Fury
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    Omar Brown,

    The name-calling is uncalled for, Omar.

  134. WompWomp
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    Watson,

    Totally. This is straw man territory. I find a lot of editorials regarding violence in pop culture resort to this.

    I, for one, found Talisa’s stabbing to be one of the single most horrific moments I’ve ever laid eyes on in television. It was genuine horror, and it was affecting in a way I didn’t anticipate going into the episode as a reader. I think a lot of emotional arguments are being made against that change in reaction to the intended turmoil these vocal viewer-writers are meant to experience with the rest of us, but in the end I appreciated sharing in the horror of non-readers, and I find it easy to reconcile the infanticide with the fiction. The act tied in very well with Lord Walder’s earlier insistence on knowing what is going on under a dress. It’s haunting, and ends Robb and Talisa’s genetic legacy, which is of particular importance in Westerosi culture, the ultimate death. Tywin would certainly agree. As far as he and his allies are concerned, the Stark name as it was is now dead, with Sansa married to Tyrion and her family slaughtered. It wasn’t random pornographic violence for pure shock value no more than a similar stabbing in Spartacus none of these journalists seem to know about. These people just can’t seem to accept that they’re supposed to be broken and pissed off about what they just saw.

  135. Isabella
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    Hodor Targaryen: The main reason why I appreciated it was because it actually SHOWS how far Tywin, Frey, Bolton etc. would go to make sure there is no competing line of succession for Lord of Winterfell and leader of the North in general. In the books the reiterated story of how Tywin had his men kill Rhaegar’s children, including crushing a kid’s skull against a wall, shows just how deep into the moral muck Tywin will go. A show is more visual, and people will remember what they see more than what they read or hear. That’s the reason why, similarly, seeing Craster sacrifice his baby was more appropriate for the show than merely having someone allude to it. I think some show-watchers like Tywin somewhat, because of his scenes with Arya, his badass nature, his putting down of Cersei, and engaging in war is just not bad enough a crime to see him in a more villainous light. We forget things like the murder of innocent children that we have maybe heard about, but we are not likely to forget the brutal stabbing of Talisa’s fetus.

    P>

    This is a good point. I think having seen Talisa’s pregnant belly stabbed will stick in viewer’s minds, and when someone mentions that Tywin had Rhaegar’s babies (well, baby and toddler) viciously killed, that piece of information will stand out more. (Given that the Red Viper is being cast, that incident will probably be mentioned next season.) Not only does it convey Tywin’s moral muck, but it provides a way to “illustrate” something that happened during Robert’s Rebellion.

  136. Sh4rp3
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    I don’t mind the changes , the books are sprawling and a huge chunk of the novels are spent in the minds of the protagonists . Reynes is a pivotal episode and was handled without rambling to explain , Talisa was made immediately likeable and as viewers we had hope, then the Freys * spits on floor * and Bolton * dry wretch * wipe it out. Gutted there wasn’t a fight back but I see the writers’ point .

  137. Hawk
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    I did not like Talisa’s character, or her love story w/ Robb, from the very beginning, entirely b/c of what it did to Robb’s character…his decision in the book is a poor one, but one done w/ a sense of honor behind it, and not selfishness…Robb’s part of the love story was entirely selfish in nature in the TV show…

    However, having seen her arc play out now, I would commend D&D for it on a number of levels…it truncated that part of the story, and avoids having to deal w/ the messy aftermath of Robb’s wife still being alive…by changing her from Jeyne to Talisa, from house sworn to the Lannisters to a family not from Westeros, they don’t have to deal w/ any of the fallout from having kept her a Westerling only to kill her at the RW…the fact that she was pregnant adds to the poignancy in the TV show, though stabbing a pregnant woman in the belly like that is all on the minds of D&D…

    For the show, Robb’s entire arc is over now, and D&D don’t have to expend any resources to conclude it…I don’t think it means anything in relation to what might go down in subsequent books, just as there not being any mention of a final will in the TV show means anything w/ that part of the story in the books…It was a choice that was bound to make a great many fans howl, but played out for me as acceptable in the end…

  138. WompWomp
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    Isabella,

    Great parallel.

    I think people are also quick to paint Talisa’s death as a misogynistic detour just because she didn’t “need” to be there (according to the books) or be pregnant. I agree not every change on the show is for the better and there are some cases of diminished female agency exclusive to the show, but the fact it’s happened doesn’t make it a rule. Part of me wanted Talisa to be a spy so her uncertain portrayal could be made clear, but knowing who she is (confirmed through her death) makes it clear that she was one half of a young couple that hadn’t outgrown their honeymoon period. The Red Wedding solidified her identity to me as a non-reader, and seeing her and Robb fall onscreen meant more than I thought it could.

  139. Nagga's Kin
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    DavidBC: Can we discuss the fact that Talissa’s pregancy does not change the symbolic motives of the Frey’s … because they did not know she was definitely pregnant.

    At this point in the show the only person who knows of the baby is Robb.

    Uhm, IMHO Talisa was already showing a bit when she got to the Twins. Walder Frey made a point of inspecting her and point blank said he could guess at a woman’s curves even through her clothes because he’d spent his whole life leering at them. Considering two of his granddaughters were clearly showing when he presented them, I think he was talking about spotting pregnancies as well as sexual attractiveness. As Joffrey and Tywin keep reminding us, producing an heir (and a spare, presumably) is a top dynastic priority for newlywed noblefolk in Westeros.

    Wily old Walder may not have been 100% certain that Talisa was already pregnant, but he wasn’t going to take any chances.

  140. Chris77
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    I think the Talisa/Jeyne swap was also a result of Robb being older in the show. The whole Robb/Jeyne storyline happened offscreen in the books and would have been boring and unbelieveable in the show, so I embraced the change (and Oonas lovely buttocks), her death was shocking for the bookreaders as well as the unsullied and with her writing letters they sure fooled a lot of us into making us think of her as a spy… They killed of two characters that annoyed the purists the most this season, I really wonder whatthey will have in store for us in S4…

  141. Hawk
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    Nagga’s Kin,

    I agree w/ you 100% about Walder…he knew she was pregnant…

  142. DjWeideman
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    The author’s discomfort with a pregnant Talisa’s stabbing is what colors this entire article. His whole argument is structured around that one point, that Talisa’s death disturbs him, therefore the change from the books is invalid.

    Sorry, but I completely disagree. As others have pointed out, Talisa was a necessary change to get Robb’s poor political judgement in marriage front and center much sooner in the plot. Trying to construct Jeyne Westerling’s part in the story would have required more exposition than ten episodes would have allowed. Meeting Talisa on the battlefield is now what moves Robb to make his key mistakes in the war, that much sooner, the point of which, is to get Robb, Cat & Talisa to the Twins.

    And we now realize that Talisa isn’t the spy many of us feared she would be, but Robb’s genuine love and soon to be the mother of his child. Her death accomplishes precisely what GRRM intended, to kill Robb and his heirs, to kill off any chance of succession in the North, and to bring the war to a final, brutal end, regardless of the cost. That innocents die is part of the bargain, bloody as it is. But Tywin Lannister and Walder Frey have already shown they don’t care about the cost, only that they win in the end.

    Some plot changes to the books have definitely been for the better: Barristan’s introduction to Danaerys, for example. The one change that I consider a vast improvement to the books is Theon’s execution of Ser Rodrick Cassel. In the books, Rodrick’s death happens ‘off-screen’ and his body is dragged into Winterfell. Putting the sword in Theon’s hand was a masterstroke, because it makes his fall that much more spectacular, and even though some people are complaining about his torture, you can’t help remembering that Theon’s own actions put him there(“Gods forgive you, Theon Greyjoy. Now you are truly lost!”) .

    Some book purists will never be satisfied with how much of the original story is brought to the screen. That’s the price of episodic television, you can’t shoehorn everything in, however much you want to. But I think what we’ve gotten is pretty amazing, despite the restrictions and realities of series production. This was the moment fans have been anticipating/dreading for three years, and Dan & Dave pulled it off masterfully. There’s no higher compliment than that the response was so strong to the Red Wedding, that readers and non-readers alike, got a truly groundbreaking, no-going-back, moment on the show.

    Ned Stark’s death started the war. Robb and Cat’s death just ended it. But the battles, and the adventures, are far from over. Hold on tight, folks.

  143. Ours is the Fury
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Dan: I think the way you wrote that response makes it come off as you thinking your opinion is fact, but clearly Talisa and her pregnancy wasn’t pointless to the vast majority commenting on here about why it improved the scene for them

    Of course I write my opinions as though they are things that I believe to be true. How else should I write them? With deference and insecurity? ‘Ours is the Uncertainty’ doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, does it. :)

    There may be many here who like the change, but I saw an overwhelming dislike for the Talisa/pregnancy stabbing on Tumblr and other places, so people have different opinions in different parts of the fandom. It’s interesting to discuss the episode from every angle. Where’s the fun in getting angry at someone who presents an opposing view point? Even if an essay doesn’t change your opinion, sometimes it provides a good avenue for realizing why we so strongly feel the opposite way as the author.

  144. Lyanna_Targaryen
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    I agree with everyone who is saying this guest writer needs a WAHMbulance, and the specific reasons why. And this is coming from a young woman with a small child, that this particular scene could possibly trigger serious emotions for.

  145. Jeffrey
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    I read the books long ago but I disagree with a lot of the book readers when it came to Talisa/Jeyne storyline.

    How could Jeyne ever be portrayed in the series? If my memory serves me right, she just came out of thin air. There was no buildup when we met Jeyne. Imagine doing that in a TV series? How are you going to introduce a character to the viewer and build up a romantic relationship without introducing her from somewhere.

    Killing Talisa was the right thing to do. Taking her to the wedding was the right thing to do. That would’ve just signaled the whole TV viewers that something was up.

    I loved the character of Talisa and how she was Robb’s wife. I just wish they gave a little oomph into that romance after they got married. It really didn’t hit me when they tried to connect. I guess that is one of the problems with adapting GRRM’s novels. Too little time to get everything in the book

  146. Sh4rp3
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    DjWeideman:
    The author’s discomfort with a pregnant Talisa’s stabbing is what colors this entire article. His whole argument is structured around that one point, that Talisa’s death disturbs him, therefore the change from the books is invalid.

    Sorry, but I completely disagree. As others have pointed out, Talisa was a necessary change to get Robb’s poor political judgement in marriage front and center much sooner in the plot. Trying to construct Jeyne Westerling’s part in the story would have required more exposition than ten episodes would have allowed. Meeting Talisa on the battlefield is now what moves Robb to makehis key mistakes in the war, that much sooner, the point of which, is to get Robb, Cat & Talisa to the Twins.

    And we now realize that Talisa isn’t the spy many of us feared she would be, but Robb’s genuine love and soon to be the mother of his child. Her death accomplishes precisely what GRRM intended, to kill Robb and his heirs, to kill off any chance of succession in the North, and to bring the war to a final, brutal end, regardless of the cost. That innocents die is part of the bargain, bloody as it is. But Tywin Lannister and Walder Frey have already shown they don’t care about the cost, only that they win in the end.

    Some plot changes to the books have definitely been for the better: Barristan’s introduction to Danaerys, for example. The one change that I consider a vast improvement to the books is Theon’s execution of Ser Rodrick Cassel. In the books, Rodrick’s death happens ‘off-screen’ and his body is dragged into Winterfell. Putting the sword in Theon’s hand was a masterstroke, because it makes his fall that much more spectacular, and even though some people are complaining about his torture, you can’t help remembering that Theon’s own actions put him there(“Gods forgive you, Theon Greyjoy. Now you are truly lost!”) .

    Some book purists will never be satisfied with how much of the original story is brought to the screen. That’s the price of episodic television, you can’t shoehorn everything in, however much you want to. But I think what we’ve gotten is pretty amazing, despite the restrictions and realities of series production. This was the moment fans have been anticipating/dreading for three years, and Dan & Dave pulled it off masterfully. There’s no higher compliment than that the response was so strong to the Red Wedding, that readers and non-readers alike, got a truly groundbreaking, no-going-back, moment on the show.

    Ned Stark’s death started the war. Robb and Cat’s death just ended it. But the battles, and the adventures, are far from over. Hold on tight, folks.

    Job done my friend, now until the writers mess something up I think we should all just trust them, they are bringing these books to life for me and if I really need to see a certain scene as GRRM wrote it I can simply re-read that chapter .

  147. Chickenduck
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    +1 what DjWeideman said.

  148. LadyStone
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    Fani,

    Mark,
    I find it interesting that some people found Talisa’s death starting off the action to be a poor choice, because although I wasn’t completely happy with the scene, I thought having her killed first made perfect sense. As many have said, it provides a shock for the book readers who weren’t sure where they were going with the character; but also (and I feel like a bad person for saying this) she was the character I cared about least, so she was quickly “out of the way,” leaving the rest of the scene to focus on Robb and Catelyn who I was more invested in.

    Also,

    JoffreyStone:
    From a showrunner’s perspective, Talisa wasn’t killed off because she was pregnant.She was made pregnant because they had decided she would be killed off.

    Absolutely. I have to agree somewhat with Ours is the Fury that Talisa was not a successful character. This is largely because, as others have said, she really only exists both in the show and in the books as Jeyne, as a means to bring about the RW. Although they tried to give her a compelling backstory, etc. for the show, it never really worked for me. Making her pregnant ensured that even if we didn’t care much for Talisa, her death would still be as affecting as possible.

    All that said, my biggest problem with it was the multiple stabbing . . . That it was in the stomach was shocking and horrifying, but when it went on to like 5 or 6 times? It just seemed over the top and honestly kind of silly.

  149. Faux Facts
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    WeirwoodTreeHugger,

    WeirwoodTreeHugger:
    It’s funny how dying makes a person likable.It seemed like just about everyone disliked the character and now it seems like everyone is defending the change. That being said, I do agree with the above posts stating that Talisa was a stand-in for Robb’s companions and therefore she had to be killed.As much as I miss Dacey Mormont et al it would have taken too much time and money to cast and introduce them all.What they could have done is make “Jeyne” pregnant and cut out the subplot with the Westerling co-conspirators and the moon tea.They could have spent season growing more and more fond of each other.The same horror and tragedy would have been accomplished. It wouldn’t have taken any longer to introduce Jeyne than Talisa.They still could have cast Oona Chaplin.Jeyne’s grandmother is foreign so casting an actress that doesn’t look waspy would have worked just fine.This way they could have kept the intent of the book intact without giving us a tired old star crossed lover story we’ve all seen so many times. Also the contrast between Robb and Jon is still there.Jon fulfilled his duty to the NW by killing Qhorin to go undercover and later escaping to warn Castle Black.Jon’s deceit of the wildings and entering into an affair with Ygritte knowing he would leave her wasn’t honorable but it was his duty.Robb was the exact opposite.He did the honorable thing in marrying Jeyne to preserve her honor.In doing this he shirked his duty as a king by not fulfilling his pact with Walder Frey.This is much more interesting and challenging than Robb chooses love over all vs. Jon doesn’t choose love over all. Sorry for all the long posts.Normally I don’t mind most of the changes made for the show.They mostly make sense.But this one just irks me and always will.

    I will never understand why people think Robb did the “honorable” or right thing in marrying Jeyne. Maybe they feel more comfortable thinking on him in that light instead of just being naive and selfish, even kind of shallow.

    Let’s get things right he didn’t just betray his pact to Lord Frey he dishonored and insulted the entire house-hold, men that had fought and die by his side the for the last year or so. Because in his mind it was more important trying to preserve the honor of one girl, the daughter of an enemy’s banner-man, that he supposedly didn’t even knew very much and basically just had a one-night stand.

    So how was he making the honorable thing? How is keeping the honor of this girl instead of the the one of his allies that had been by his side pretty much the start the right thing to do?

    The obvious answer to me is that he had feelings for her. It might not be as passionate as in the show, it might just be a superficial thing -both in the books and in the show it’s he asks about the Frey girls to Cat when he breaks Walder Frey proposition to him and is fairly annoyed by her answer- and he might not be as honest about in the books but in my mind that always was one of the key factors in him in making that decision.

  150. Rebecca
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    I think this scene was added to make the whole thing more tragic, and I found it really upsetting, but that may be because I’m trying to have a baby so really anything like that would particularly affect me right now.

  151. Bittersteel
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    Faux Facts,

    Where was Lord Frey’s honor when the Riverlands were being attacked? Is House Frey not sworn to the Tully’s? Why weren’t they already fighting with the other River lords? If they had any honor they would’ve welcomed an army led by the grandson of their liege lord. Instead Frey blackmailed them into marrying his stoats into one the most ancient and powerful families in the Kingdom.

  152. Faux Facts
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    Bittersteel,

    They still fought and die by Robb’s side, that’s what should mater to him. Stevron Frey (the heir to the twins) died of injuries on the Battle of Oxcross so did many of them. They didn’t supported Edmure but they did support him. Do you really think Robb thought: “to hell to them, they didn’t support my foolish uncle when he was making blunder after blunder on the battlefield and they blackmailed me to marry one of his ugly Daughters” That would speak very poorly of him. A person of honor is the one that keeps his word, more so to people that had shed blood for him.

  153. Lujo
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    Eh, I’m not sure why I’m posting this but here goes…

    I’m not a fan of ASOIAF. I’ve read all the books, even the nice Dunk and Egg novellas (and comics), and enjoyed playing the boardgame which conveys the atmosphere superbly. However, I’ve also read too much stuff Martin got inspiration from/deconstructed/put a twist on/stole from before I’ve read any of the books in this series and he never managed to sell me any of his “bold and unexpected” stuff like Ned Starks murder or the Red Wedding. You see he couldn’t sell me all the stuff I already liked, like Miles Vorkosigan transported into a fantasy setting – because I bought all that stuff from other people already.
    All he really had to sell was rather gory and unexpected “fell off a horse” soap opera gimmicks which only really works if you’re just watching a soap opera in the intended way (to take your mind of things). But that particular device is never used in it’s originating genre for in-story reasons. You do that to characters when their actors contract runs out. There’s no way to justify doing it in a book except “but then there’d be no plot”.
    It sort of works in case of Ned Stark – because there would really be no plot. Really, there wouldn’t be any. It’s only shocking if you’re not aware of how long the saga is going to be. But the Red Wedding is mortifyingly hacky because a whole side in a war “fell off a horse”. Really, I wasn’t invested in Cat emotionaly, I didn’t find her a likeable character I didn’t care for her, or for Rob or for any of his bannerman – yet there were no reasons whatsoever to have any interest in the Lannisters (Tywins more interesting in the show, and Tyrion is Miles lost in a bogged down yarn). So when the entire Stark army just up and died on me – what was left? Two semi-good guys stuck in perfectly skippable or read seperately plots, a few orphans who aren’t really going anywhere, a boring by default Stannis and more villans than anyone needs, and they could only top Joffrey and Tywin by cheap slasher/gorn routines.
    (And the hound, but the show really, really wasted the hound.)
    There is no logical point to reading a book about horrible people where the good guys get shafted the way Rob did. So they didn’t fit in too well with the customs of Westeros? Who cares? Would you fit in? Would you want to? If I wanted to watch/read about decent people getting slaughtered because they were surrounded by scum I’d turn on the news.
    My wife and I were enjoying the first two seasons because it looked like it was going somewhere (I knew it wasn’t, but I liked watching a high quality soap-opera with my wife). But when I told her what happens at the red wedding two days ago her reaction was a perfectly sane one: “That doesn’t make any sense.” No anger, no “Damn you Martin!”. Her explanation was: “Ok, why have we been watching this show? Why do we keep watching it?”
    And she’s right – we’ve watched a season full of scenes where Theon gets tortured. There’s no way around it – nothing happened there, it was unpleasant and redundant, the “monster” was introduced out of nowhere and had to top Joffrey, the show allready had the perfect villan (or two… or three), and so on and so forth. Danny took 2 cities over – that’s 3 now – did her story get anywhere? No it didn’t, she’s out there, a samey city is introduced, she conquers it, big whoop. Will her story go anywhere? Not for the next couple of years…
    What do we watch the show for now? What do we hope for? I mean, we haven’t watched the episode yet, and I know what happens. But when somebody sane asks me after watching the RW “what does this guy have planned that can make up the time I already lost for no reason at all following these characters?” – what do I answer?
    We’ve been strung along with promises of closure until we’ve invested so much time into the series that you might as well watch the next episode? Buy the next book? I mean, noone’s making anyone do anything, but there’s no way to justify this s**t. It works in the same way a soap opera works, but anyone who quits on “I don’t have time for this” grounds after this season is probably saner, more responsible, more imaginative, has more self respect and more respect for his or her time than anyone who doesn’t.

    Oh, and I liked what Beinoff and Weis did in many places – Martin somehow misplaced an editor somewhere and many of their amalgamations were fine. I don’t like what they did with the Hound because it steal one of the few guys you keep reading for, and the fact that Tullys were only introduced in this season (and the Freys weren’t seen but 2 times so far) just makes it obvious how hacky the whole RW thing really is. Pretty much this guy turns up and the stark army disappears – he really tried to make a good buildup towards it in the books, except no buildup in the world can make it less… of a swindle, I guess…

  154. Omar Brown
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    Ours is the Fury:
    Omar Brown,

    The name-calling is uncalled for, Omar.

    Apologies, the wounds are still fresh so to speak. :)

  155. Alen
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    I completely disagree with this essay. The books are full of gratuitous moments, but the moment the TV show has a gratuitous scene that’s not in the books you call it unnecessary. The show made me care about Talisa more than the books made me care about Jeyne. There are so many characters that died in the RW in the books. A lot of those characters are not in the show. So I think they used Talisa to get that extra shock, to get that extra emotional punch that would be missing otherwise.
    And did you just say there’s no character drive behind the pregnancy? What the hell is that supposed to mean? As far as I know, babies often just happen. Especially if you’re married and want to have an heir as most lords and ladies do.
    Anyways… I really can’t get behind your reasoning. Yes, some changes don’t really make sense. But this one is not one of them.

  156. Ser Lyonel the Laughing Storm
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    The Mountain cut a pregnant woman in half in book 2 unnecessary violence is kind of a series staple
    Ours is the Fury,

  157. Lujo
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    Ser Lyonel the Laughing Storm,

    It seems like too much because the series has actually toned down the violence quite a bit. Also because the whole event as such is offensive to the mind – why did we spend time with these people when this was going to happen to them?

  158. Ours is the Fury
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    Ser Lyonel the Laughing Storm,

    I’ve read the books, I’m familiar with the violent content. You didn’t read my posts if you think you need to state that.

  159. Fani
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    LadyStone,

    I believe they could have shocked the readers more if they killed her second.Robb gets hit first (that’s sth the readers do expect) and then Talisa which is sth they couldn’t be 100% sure of would happen.Walder Frey wanted Robb to see his wife get killed,but he could have his soldiers throw arrows at Robb’s legs and while Robb was on his knees,they would bring her in front of him and slash her throat or sth.Talisa was not my favorite either,so getting her out of the way by killing her first should have worked for me like it did for you.The thing is,they didn’t get her out of the way:like you mentioned she was stabbed like 6 times.The camera lingered on her.Robb was shot with arrows but it was all at once.And then,he crawled to her side.Somehow,the scene became more about her than Robb and Cat,the people who were together from the start trying to free Ned and then trying to avenge his death and reunite their family.

  160. WildSeed
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    Ms. D. Ranged in AZ:
    His entire argument rests on the fact that he thinks that the stakes are not higher as the actors indicate.His proof to support that hypothesis has weak foo.He says

    This isn’t true because it’s not made clear whether she thinks they are alive or dead.She fears they are actually dead and she fears that they are alive out there without her protection and guidance.So it seems in her utter despair at the end, that it doesn’t matter.She knows she is going to die in that room and if she can’t escape to find Bran and Rickon then how can she protect them until they reach adulthood and lead the Stark family to it’s revenge.In her mind, Bran and Rickon might as well be dead because she can’t get to them.That’s an important part of her descent into despair and catatonia.

    Then he says that the Stark supporters who were at the wedding feast (Mormont, Greatjon, etc) that are missing in the show also support his argument.However, he himself admits that the show can’t include them all.Yet he fails to consider the fact that all those bannermen represent hope for house Stark and so did Talisa.It seems as if D&D were using Talisa as a stand in for all those characters, to represent hope for the future of House Stark and by killing her destroy that hope.And making her pregnant exponentially increases that symbolism, certainly to a level more than sufficient to symbolize the dozen or so bannermen who died in the book.They had to increase her importance and she had to die precisely because those other characters can’t be in the scene.

    Although we see unnamed Stark men dying in the scene that is VERY different than characters we’ve come to know and care for like we would have with someone like Greatjon.And the close-up filming of their individual deaths would be too time consuming and difficult.If Talisa and her unborn child’s death (particularly in the way that it occurred) had occurredon top of all those named bannermen…..now that would have been unnecessary and egregious.In short, I disagree with Kleinhenz.

    I agree with your points, for the most part. However the author here makes a
    strong point for just as well not including certain people in the premise, which
    would illicit the same impacts of fate ( for the Starks at the Tully-Frey wedding ).
    I’m not quite certain if I’d apply ” the law of diminishing returns “, entirely to
    last week’s episode or the past three seasons, but he does make a good point
    many of here have been asking , ” what necessitated these revisions from the
    ASOIAF books, if the end result remained the same ?” Was it to ” up the ante ? ”
    for cinematic effect ? A twist that only book fans would give a nod to, or not ?

    As a whole, I view the book series and show as similar but separate entities
    that I respect and appreciate. However, as GoT has failed to forward certain
    well described scenes and characters from the book source, I continue to
    separate the show even further, however a measured success that it has been,
    in of itself. It may also be noted that if the script reflected the books verbatim,
    the challenge and flavor of the would be uninspiring from the producers
    perspective. I especially hoped for revisions that would enhance or extent
    impressions about ASOIAF and it’s characters, that may not have made it’s
    way to the book page ( implied ). I supported the revision for Talisa’s
    character on GoT, and hoped it would add something of value, it did not.
    In the end, her grizzly murder did no more to depict the gruesome murder
    of the Starks & Northmen, than those mind bending pages of ASOS. The
    difference was the cinematic mind bleed effect. Jeyne Westerling, Talisa Maegyr,
    who cares? Except the screen version was definitely pregnant while murdered.

    Robb and Catelyn’s storylines could not be redeemed in any way, since script
    debacles occurred in S2. The only thing of serious impact would be the Red
    Wedding, quite a big gamble, but it paid off, big time. Even readers felt agony,
    not one person unaffected on a global scale. In the end, Benioff & Weiss
    prevailed. Thankfully Brynden Tully excused himself to take a pee. If he’d
    been murdered, I would later wake up to realize it was a fuck up after all….
    that did not happen.

  161. Family, Duty, Hodor
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    Don’t have the time to read all these comments, but I thought the Talisa stabbing was necessary.

    Ultimately, the Red Wedding is about mass slaughter on a scale above and beyond just Robb and Cat. Since we don’t know the bannermen that well, Talisa was the only possible substitute.

    I do however blame D&D for not fleshing out the bannermen. But given the position we were at in Episode 8, Episode 9 did an excellent job conveying the shock, the horror and the brutality of the event.

  162. WildSeed
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    Ours is the Fury:
    If she isn’t there, then yes, he gets shot, stands up, and dies. That’s the tragedy. Robb doesn’t get a hero’s death. He gets taken out by treachery, and it sucks.

    I think Marc makes a lot of good points, and this is not him simply complaining about the show deviating from the book. I loved the episode overall, but Talisa is not a successful character, for a host of reasons. Creating a pregnancy that was not in the books solely for the purpose of stabbing a pregnant woman in the belly to add more drama to an already jam-packed with emotion event was unneccessary. It feels a little cheap, and that is why it strikes some as gratuitous. Not because it was a bloody murder. There is lots of that in GoT. But the why of her murder is a little pointless.

    I nearly forgot about Robb until Catelyn’s agonizing words. In fact I had focused so
    much on the overall gruesomeness of the entire scene ( cinematic effect), that I
    nearly forgot altogether Robb’s heroic death. Honestly I couldn’t watch another
    scene that involved beheading him and Greywind. Talisa’s death scene made up for
    all of that, up the ante, so to speak.

  163. WildSeed
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    Family, Duty, Hodor: I do however blame D&D for not fleshing out the bannermen.

    The Northmen have been poorly represented throughout the season. Aside from
    disappointment in Robb and Catelyn’s S2/ S3 scripts, I gave up on them and
    started paying attention to Roose Bolton. I’m reminded by Danerys’s Khalasar
    of Dothraki, there’s not even a brief scene or nod to their existence. All cue in
    to pretty boy Daario.

  164. Valdred Dethstorm
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    Meh. If you wanted rainbows and puppies you’re watching the wrong show.
    There’s nothing “gratuitous” anyway. It’s not like they ripped her belly open and threw the fetus in the air. It’s a violent scene, yes, but it’s nothing like Hostel or Feast. Or even the lame Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, where the belly of a pregnant woman bursts open and gore flies everywhere, and it’s implied that the Chestbursters ate the fetuses.
    That’s gratuitous.
    Give me a break, and thank you for contributing to the overuse of the word “gratuitous”.

  165. Valdred Dethstorm
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    WildSeed: The Northmen have been poorly represented throughout the season. Aside from
    disappointment in Robb and Catelyn’s S2/ S3 scripts, I gave up on them and
    started paying attention to Roose Bolton. I’m reminded by Danerys’s Khalasar
    of Dothraki, there’s not even a brief scene or nod to their existence. All cue in
    to pretty boy Daario.

    The show is already packed with a bunch of different storylines. They can’t pay attention to everything that’s in the books, much less to unimportant, interchangeable characters who are going to croak anyway.

  166. WildSeed
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    I wish I’d read through most posts here , a bit more thoroughly before commenting.
    I responded to the subject post at first. Quite a few here make excellent points,
    and given me something more to think about. While I found some of the points
    made in the post, as interesting, I did not agree with the “gratuitous” aspect.
    The grizzly scenes at the Twins were gruesome on page, any depiction would
    have been enhanced a cinematic effect. On the other hand, it could have merited
    an debate for less is more.

    I must admit that while reading ASOS, I had come to know the intelligence
    and heroics of both Robb and his mother, the fierceness of his Northmen
    and the ultimate determination to broker a truce so that he and his men may
    return to the North. I never perceived Robb with blind ambition and without
    the counsel of his men ( not his wife ). GoT Robb was certain for a tragic
    end, not a shock for one victorious in battle and respected by his men, even
    after Karstark’s beheading. GoT Robb was stupid enough to believe he could
    only now ask for additional men from Walder Frey, that should have joined
    him early on in S2. I anticipated last weeks’s episode as the tragic ending
    and prepared to view it without surprise. My biggest fear was Bryden Tully
    dying along with the rest of them. Talisa’s murder shocked me, that’s all I
    can say. As I became little invested in the on-screen Robb and Cate, I
    had no expectations of a heroic goodbye. Michelle Fairley’s performance
    brought my senses back to the moment from the books, where a mother
    pleads for mercy for her first son, and thus loses her compassion towards
    life afterwards. She was dead before she was done with, as she watched Robb
    die. Game of Thrones , made great impact last week, a gamble that paid off
    big time……… everyone is still reeling from it. I expect a hit parody will come
    along soon.

  167. WildSeed
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    Valdred Dethstorm,

    You misunderstand me, the camera sweeps over groups or individuals.
    Featuring individuals, say Talisa or Daario, means concentrated footage.
    Where Martin may have needed a paragraph or a page to enlighten us, a
    single sweep of the camera informs the viewer in short order.

    ASOIAF is loaded with detail that holds the reader attentive, television employs
    cinematic effect to further the cause for interest. A meaningful story of intrigue
    and conquest pushes the envelope for great success and script development.

  168. Ser Lyonel the Laughing Storm
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    The woman was cut and half for pure shock value, Talisa was created and killed for pure shock value seems pretty similar to me
    Ours is the Fury,

  169. WildSeed
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    Rebecca:
    I think this scene was added to make the whole thing more tragic, and I found it really upsetting, but that may be because I’m trying to have a baby so really anything like that would particularly affect me right now.

    My neighbour said this as well. I guess I really had hoped for a hero’s death
    for Robb. Some say this gruesome scene overshadowed much else. I’m
    dumbfounded that a questionable percentage consider Talisa’s death
    dismissible, and cite movie theatre films as an example of grizzly torture.
    Who says we were watching a 2 hour movie ? Those folk are either confused or
    grew up watching too many horror genre films than reading a good book.

  170. Nagga's Kin
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    Bittersteel: Faux Facts,

    Where was Lord Frey’s honor when the Riverlands were being attacked? Is House Frey not sworn to the Tully’s? Why weren’t they already fighting with the other River lords?

    IIRC, Walder Frey actually committed some number of troops to Robb’s cause back in season 2 when the original marriage bargain was struck and the Stark army first crossed the Twins. Considering how he gave Roose Bolton his daughter’s weight in silver, I imagine he also helped fund Robb’s war. The money issue was never discussed for the Northern side, though.

  171. WildSeed
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    WompWomp:
    Isabella,

    Great parallel.

    I think people are also quick to paint Talisa’s death as a misogynistic detour just because she didn’t “need” to be there (according to the books) or be pregnant. I agree not every change on the show is for the better and there are some cases of diminished female agency exclusive to the show, but the fact it’s happened doesn’t make it a rule. Part of me wanted Talisa to be a spy so her uncertain portrayal could be made clear, but knowing who she is (confirmed through her death) makes it clear that she was one half of a young couple that hadn’t outgrown their honeymoon period. The Red Wedding solidified her identity to me as a non-reader, and seeing her and Robb fall onscreen meant more than I thought it could.

    Meant more indeed . Never read the books ? You’re comments always appear
    insightful as one studying the source material ( unlike me ).

  172. Redking
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    db: Redk

    The idea that it would have been useful for the Freys to keep a pregnant Talisa around to have her eventual child as a hostage ignores the motivations of Tywin Lannister and Roose Bolton.

    Tywin Lannister? They were playing “The Rains of Castamere”, if that’s not enough reminder as to how he feels about loose ends. And the little tale about The Mountain smashing a Targaryeon baby apart?

    Roose Bolton? (Assuming you haven’t read the books,) think for a moment about what’s in it for him. He didn’t betray his liege lord for shits and giggles. Consider what his reason might be, and why a Stark heir would be a hindrance to him.

    As for the Freys? Walder Frey clearly factored spite and pride into his actions.

  173. Winter's Lion
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    gosensgo,

    I thought it was Emilia too, but then she did that bathtub scene with Daario, so I’m not so sure anymore.

  174. scout
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    Leaving Jeyne Westerling in the show exactly as in the books: 1) is too unwieldy, 2) requires too many additional characters in an already too-large cast, 3) requires too much screen time dedicated to the rather complicated plot (battle, injury, recuperation, taking of virginity, guilt, marriage), and 4) is completely unnecessary if Jeyne doesn’t show up later on in the unfinished books (since D&D already know the end, I’m assuming this is the case).

    So if we don’t need to keep Jeyne’s character as she is in the books, but we do need a wife for Robb so as to prompt the Red Wedding, then what is the kind of woman Robb would likely break a vow to wed? Or, why would Robb break a vow?

    In the books, he broke his vow because he dishonored Jeyne by taking her virginity, and he had to marry her to keep her from being further dishonored. Robb is just too honorable a person to do that to a woman without some kind of extenuating circumstances. In the books, his battle wounds left him in Jeyne’s care, they grew closer, and finally in a moment of weakness from his illness he slept with her. We’ve already established that the show doesn’t have the luxury of setting up that situation (if they did, they’d have kept Jeyne intact and we wouldn’t be discussing this in the first place!).

    So outside of a fall from grace requiring Robb to marry, what other motivation would a man like him have?

    Love.

    So now the showrunners need to create a character that Robb would be likely to fall in love with, and then place her smack dab in the middle of his camp, because they don’t have time/money for a new set and back story.

    I think Talisa is a good portrayal of that woman. Making her a medic from a foreign land explains why she’s in the middle of Robb’s war. Making her a noblewoman gives them something in common and makes a marriage between them plausible. Giving her a brief back story that explains why she wants to help people tells us why she’s there and makes us care about her (and, more importantly, makes Robb care about her). Their love must be believable if he’s going to break that oath.

    As for making her pregnant just to stab her in the belly, I think many people have already explained this well: it’s surprising to the readers who [think they] know what’s coming, it devastates Robb completely moments before his death, it brings a definite end to the war and line of succession, it dashes any hope Catelyn might have left in those final moments, it brings an end to the Jeyne-Westerling-is-secretly-pregnant theories, and it further reiterates how un-precious life is in this world. Being hero doesn’t give you a pass. Neither does being pregnant.

    That’s my take on it!

  175. WildSeed
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    Nagga’s Kin,

    You now, I ‘m experiencing a bit of amnesia about Walder Frey’s troops towards
    Robb’s cause ( in exchange for marriage, etc ). I remember the offer, and Frey
    holding onto to a reasonable number of men for the Twins security. What I
    don’t remember is whether they were to join up with Robb at a later time.
    With the distractions of Robb’s courting scenes, and fantastic stories in other
    locales, I lost track. This hasn’t been helped much by the shows non reminder
    of the Frey contingent . I wasn’t confused when reading those chapters.
    So , if what you mention is accurate, Robb was about to ask for More Frey
    troops, to augment those lost by Karstark and others. Oddly this was just the
    opposite from the books.

  176. Bittersteel
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    Faux Facts,

    I would think not coming to the aid of their liege which happened to be Robb’s grandfather would give him pause about the Frey’s honor. The marriage pact was born out of the Frey’s oath breaking and lack of honor to the Tully’s in the first place. And still Robb made amends by forcing Edmure to marry one of his daughter who had the war been won would be the second most powerful man in the North.

    Nagga’s Kin,

    In the books the Freys committed troops but was that ever said in the show? It seemed to be more about a bridge than anything else.

  177. Omar Brown
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    You book readers are wayyyy too over analytical. Its taking away from the goodness of the show

    Hey don’t compare normal book readers to fundamentalist book readers, we want nothing to do with those guys! Loved the ep myself, haunted me for days! And I knew it was coming!

  178. Nagga's Kin
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 12:24 am | Permalink

    Bittersteel: Nagga’s Kin,

    In the books the Freys committed troops but was that ever said in the show? It seemed to be more about a bridge than anything else.

    I’ve been trying – without success – to find a YouTube clip of the 1×09 (Baelor) scene in which Cat returns to Robb after negotiating passage across the bridge at the Twins with Walder Frey. However, according to the wikia synposis of the episode, the deal was that House Frey would join Robb’s cause in return for his hand in marriage. This makes military sense: there’s little point in taking 18,000 men across a bridge if you can’t resupply them nor be certain you have a way to retreat if need be. Besides, simply by letting Robb’s secessionist army cross at all, Walder aided and abetted an act of high treason against the realm.

    Therefore, it makes sense that Walder would have committed some troops at that time, both as a show of good faith and to give himself eyes and ears on the front he was joining. I’m almost certain Cat explicitly mentioned this as part of the deal before Robb agreed to it, but can’t prove it right now.

    Keep in mind that in a feudal agrarian society there is no such thing as a large standing army, those always had to be raised ad hoc from the peasantry with the help of the bannermen. The original Frey contribution, then, would have comprised at most a few hundred professional guards/soldiers plus logistics support. What Robb later asked in return for Walder’s forgiveness plus Harrenhal and Edmure’s hand was a peasant army of thousands to backfill for the departed Karstark host. The map in Robb’s discussion with Cat at the beginning of 3×09 indicates both the Bolton and the Frey troops were supposed to be held in reserve, covering the rear of the planned assault on Casterly Rock.

  179. WildSeed
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 1:03 am | Permalink

    Nagga’s Kin,

    Your explanation reminds me of GRRM’s logic , so many pages and years ago.
    I’ve not re-read the books as most here have, but I do recall many pivotal and
    some specific moments. With GoT onscreen moments of strange pacing between
    eye catching scenes with Danerys and Tyrion, non promoted scenes went by
    with a whimper. Worst, there was little reminder, as book passages often do.
    I’d hardly consider the deal with lord Walder as a small deal, even for the show.
    It could have been deliberate, leaving some uncertainty, to promote an even
    sinister finish with lord Walder’s wrath. The Northmen conquest on GoT has
    disappointed me in every way up to the wedding at the Twins, but never
    dimmed interest in other locales and characters ( except Jon ). I would not rule
    out my amnesia because of disinterest in Robb’s scenes.

    Thankfully the pacing between different environments has been close to flawless
    this season .

  180. Lord Selwyn
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 1:07 am | Permalink

    Excellent comments in response to the essay, especially from mpb1010.

    Of course Talisa had to die first, and saying that the timing and manner of her death in the show was ‘gratuitous’ misses the point. The RW itself came about not just because of Tywin’s plotting, but because Walder Frey is a bitter, very vindictive old man – he personally has nothing to lose, so he is determined to exact every ounce of revenge possible from the situation. Looked at from his POV, not only has ‘King’ Robb broken his word, but he was silly / provocative enough to bring his new wife to Edmure’s wedding, and basically flaunt that broken oath to the Freys. (In the books, this was one reason why Cat insisted that Jeyne didn’t accompany them). So of course Walder has Talisa killed first – he does it precisely so that Robb does suffer by seeing her killed in front of him before he too is killed. And Cat dies last: she was the one who did the original negotiating on Robb’s behalf, so she too needs to be made to suffer in the worst possible wayby seeing her eldest son and her new daughter in law killed in front of her. There is nothing at all ‘gratutious’ in the manner or the order of the RW deaths: they make perfect sense for TV and in the context of this old man’s revenge.

  181. Ser Lyonel the Laughing Storm
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 1:35 am | Permalink

    Can we all at least agree that Talisa getting stabbed in the stomach is a strong hint that Jaime does have the real Jeyne Westerling?

  182. MichelleR.
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 2:03 am | Permalink

    SerBob,

    Mark (MH):
    Dunk,

    Not the same Mark, my bad, I keep meaning to start posting under a different name to avoid confusion. My point was about how I didn’t like that Talisa went down first. I don’t mind that it was a major focus point, I just would have preferred the events unfolded a bit before she was taken out. Having her death be the beginning of the action felt discordant to me, as a book reader. Again, it was probably fine for non-book readers, but if the point of her character was to add a layer for people who had read the books,I think it would have played better if Robb got shot up with arrows first, and then as he hit the ground he saw Talisa get stabbed.

    We’re talking about the difference between wanting to kill someone right away and wanting them to suffer first. Frey wanted Robb to suffer, to die knowing he couldn’t save his pregnant wife — the wife he chose over one of Frey’s daughters. The idea is that he loses what matters most in a moment, and there is no fight left in him. His remaining moments are a nightmare, because he knows just how much is lost.

    The order seems a very deliberate choice, and any other order changes the heart of the scene.

  183. 3eyes
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 2:11 am | Permalink

    I’m still convinced that Talisa was sent to derail the Stark rebellion. There was that guilty look on her face in S2 when one of the soldiers came to report Jamie’s escape to Robb, and if she ended up in love, married and pregnant with Robb’s heir, then she would have had to be eliminated in any case. The character did grow on me though, and by the time she registered her distaste for the bedding ceremony, and showed more class than her husband by seeking to be discreet in front of their hosts, I was really warming up to her (a beautifully nuanced performance from Ms. Chaplin), which made the unexpected outcome even more devastating. Well played, D&D, I will take “Boy”s words to heart from now on.

  184. Mrs. H'ghar
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 2:12 am | Permalink

    ZRagone:
    Disagree entirely with this. The inclusion of Talisa as a character, the inclusion of the Pregnancy, AND their death was necessary to convey the proper horror of the Red Wedding.

    The essays author suggests that there is a law of diminishing returns. That Robb Stark and Catlyn’s deaths would’ve sufficed. I suggest that is ludicrous.

    Wendel Manderly. Smalljohn Umber. Dacey Mormont. Donnel Locke. Owen Norrey. Robin Flint. Lucas Blackwood. Raynard Westerling. Along with the capture of The Greatjohn!

    While some were very minor and others, like Dacey or The Greatjohn, were favorite secondary characters of people. But all were in some way important and meaningful characters if for no other than the family names they represented. Had the Red Wedding simply been the death of Robb, Catlyn, and Grey Wind in the book it would’ve been heart breaking…but it would not have had the HORROR that it had, as Robbs whole host was potentially still intact to exact revenge.

    It was the gratuitous slaughtering of all those around that truly made the Red Wedding what it was. However, that was simply impossible to pull off well on the show. This is a television series already largely suffering from a cast too large. For all the complaints on the internet about the “gratuitous” nature of the show, I’d dare say the complaint of it being too slogged down with names and characters is just as consistent of one. Add in the natural issue with keeping secondary characters on season to season (which caused us to lose The Greatjohn) and it becomes even more difficult.

    So the method in which Martin allowed the Red Wedding to go from a tragic and horrible event, like Ned Starks execution, to a scene of abject horror was through the sheer enormity of the situation and the killing of so many names the reader had grown to know. The method the show did it was to embrace the TV shows more narrow focus by expanding upon the STARK tragedy itself.

    It is ridiculous to suggest the same type of horrific impact could be imparted in the show as it was in the book by just killing Robb, Cat, and Grey Wind as “named” individuals while in the book we had nearly a dozen slaughtered. There needed to be a greater loss for the Starks for it to resonated similarly.

    Enter Talisa and specifically enter EDDARD STARK. There are few things more human and primal than the instinct to protect and care for children. The image of the Frey stabbing Talisa’s stomach immediately impacted the viewer with the feeling of “Horror” that the Red Wedding is meant to instill.This is because we IMMEDIETELY see that it will not just be Robb and Talisa paying for his breaking of vows, but the LINE of the Stark name suffers. Children are HOPE, hope in a bleak world such as this, and it’s through the destruction of that most base of human hope that the true horror of the scene can play out.

    Robb, Cat and Grey Wind die in both adaptations. Talisa and baby Eddard was the TV’s emotional analog to all the names I gave before, her death’s purpose was the same as theirs…to ratchet the situation from a tragedy to something horrific.

    In terms of why go with her instead of Jeyne, this one is simple in two ways. The first, the entire subplot of the Westerlings relies on even more screen time and even more characters. On top of that, it is simply yet another string of questions and answers that must be interwoven into an already difficult tapestry. Could they simply have kept Jeyne but been largely rid of said plot and the trappings of the entire “Westerlings and their Lannister connections, etc etc”? Yes, but that leads to issue two. Up there with the complaints about gratitious nature of the show is the immense whining and complaining of the Book purists. For all their hatred of Talisa, there is little to reason that a girl who would be JINO (Jeyne in Name Only) would be equally disdained if not more so since it’d be more difficult to justify in ones head that it’s a “different character”.

    No, due to the constraints of Television and the goal to properly impart the horror of the Red Wedding, the inclusion of Talisa, her child, and their murder was absolutely required.

    Well said friend, well said. All excellent points. A woman only disagrees with one point, that the Westerling sub-plot would have been overly complicated for TV audiences to comprehend. In a world where even small children can tell you the names of EVERY Pokemon and the Transformers and what they morph into…complicated sub-plots are understood quite readily. The Westerling sub-plot worked because it wasn’t ONLY Cat that was upset that Robb married a non-Frey…but Jeyne’s family as well, since they had been Tywin Lannisters’ bannermen and this would appear to be a betrayal of their own oaths to the Lannisters. That aspect added a Romeo and Juliet type spin to the tragic love story of Robb and his Queen, as they came from warring families in addition to Robb’s breaking his oath to the Freys. IMO, both versions worked, but the original book version was slightly more “layered” in effect. D&D did what they could with what they had to work with, and did quite well. It was their choice to give Robb more time, at the expense of the minor characters perhaps but whatevs. A solid performance in this woman’s eyes. Each version worked in its’ own genre.

  185. Lars
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 2:55 am | Permalink

    The reason for including Talisa at the Red Wedding is elementary simple:

    Talisa was the emotional replacement of all of Robb’s bannermen/women who were slughtered at the Red Wedding. They needed her death to try to reach a similar level of despair among the audience – Otherwise it is just Robb, Cat, and a host of nameless extras who are killed.

    …And we would have even more moaning among purists that the show RW lacked the punch of the book RW. You just can’t win with these people.

  186. Bittersteel
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 3:34 am | Permalink

    Nagga’s Kin,

    To be honest troop strengths and their lords have been simplified so much for TV that its hard to even guess at the actual numbers. In S1 we see dozens of lords but by S3 were told his army consists of Karstark and Bolton men for the most part. They mishandled Robb’s campaign so much its kind of futile trying to make sense of it.

  187. Pau Soriano
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzz more whining…

    I personally never liked Talisa much but I was genuinely shocked by her death and I applaud D&D for making me feel disgustaed with the red wedding 12 years after I read it for the first time. Well done guys!

    PS: I would change the title to “Why I think the Actors Have It Wrong: Exploring the Red Wedding and Dead Fetuses” or “Why the Actors Have It Wrong (in my opinion): Exploring the Red Wedding and Dead Fetuses”. That “The Good Wife” judge would prefer the second one no doubt :P

  188. Ours is the Fury
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    His essay, his title. He doesn’t have to add uncertainty or quibbling to it to mollify readers who are angry he disagrees with them. The author believes in his opinions clearly. You’re of course entitled to your own, and that’s what the comments section is for. :)

  189. Michael Bolton
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    The author goes on about Talisa being overkill (pun intended), yet if all those other characters he mentions from the book were in the show then theyd all get slaughtered. The whole idea of the red wedding is gratuitous and over the top in its very nature. A lot of book readers seem to be upset that a lot of the smaller house lords and bannermen werent in the show, and this is where I feel talisas character played an important role. OOther than making the RW more dramatic from the perspective of her being pregnant with little ned stark, her role as I saw it, was to replace the emotional value that was attached to all those other non-tv characters from the book that got slaughtered.

  190. gosensgo
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Winter’s Lion,

    I think its going forward — so next season… probably

  191. Chickenduck
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    This essay makes a mistake that a lot of other armchair analyses of the show do:

    They’re dissecting changes from the book and asking if they worked – but on the assumption that the book itself was perfect. Would they have complained if GRRM had written a pregnant woman getting stabbed in the womb? Almost certainly not, and to be honest it would not have been at all out of place in something GRRM had written.

    Since the show has come out, genuine discussion about the books’ strengths and weaknesses have largely petered out, replaced by book vs show comparisons that are all based on a presumption of the books’ inherent perfection.

    Take for example Strong Belwas. Let’s reverse the roles for a second… imagine that GRRM had never given Whitebeard a sidekick, then D&D had come up with an overweight generic exotic foreigner wrestler character, who talked in broken English, slapped his scarred belly for comedic effect occasionally, then took a crap in front of a crowd after winning a duel.

    Can you imagine what the internet would have thought about that? Can anyone picture what people would be calling D&D?

    There are plenty of serious flaws in the logic of the books. As I’ve ranted before, the two biggest issues I have are that 1) Essos as written by GRRM is full of cartoony “random foreigner” types (Daario, Xaro etc), at least on TV they’ve been made human and 2) people complain about the sex on the show, but the sex in the books is full of teenage boy fantasies, like strong women characters such as Dany and Cersei having lesbian dalliances because, y’know, that’s what teenage boys like to think hot chicks do sometimes…

    I love the books anyway, we all do here, but seriously…

  192. Chickenduck
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    gosensgo:
    Winter’s Lion,

    I think its going forward — so next season… probably

    Here’s a rumour for discussion (can’t remember where I read this, but it seems plausible), the actress who said no more nudity and wanted to be taken more seriously as an actress was… Esmé Bianco.

    Who (possibly not coincidentally) isn’t around anymore.

    Dany and Talisa still got nude a few times… But Ros didn’t this season, did she? Maybe she did and I’ve forgotten.

  193. Kelly O
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    UhOhSpaghettios,

    For me, Talisa was a huge change in Robb’s character. One of the reasons Jeyne stays behind is because Robb KNOWS that her presence would anger Walder Frey. He doesn’t want to do anything to cause unnecessary reactions. That’s what didn’t make sense to me about Talisa being there, or Robb being so open in his affections for her during the wedding and feast.

    Book Robb was much more conscious of that reaction that TV Robb. It was disappointing, to be honest. Book Robb’s actions were based on doing the honorable thing, the thing that was *right* to him in that moment. TV Robb is much more impulsive.

  194. Dan
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Ours is the Fury,

    Angry? I’m not sure why you thought I was angry. I just was pointing out that your response was written as a fact rather than what it actually was, an opinion. I didn’t say that you shouldn’t write your opinions as though they are things that you believe to be true. It doesn’t bother me if your view is different than mine. What I experience watching the show isn’t affected by differing opinions from other viewers, and I actually like seeing what other people thought about the show even when they disagree with my thoughts.

  195. Ours is the Fury
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Dan,

    All I’m getting out of this exchange is that you want me to word my responses in a way that you prefer, and that you wish I would express myself less confidently. These are things that will not happen.

  196. WildSeed
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Bittersteel:
    Nagga’s Kin,

    To be honest troop strengths and their lords have been simplified so much for TV that its hard to even guess at the actual numbers. In S1 we see dozens of lords but by S3 were told his army consists of Karstark and Bolton men for the most part. They mishandled Robb’s campaign so much its kind of futile trying to make sense of it.

    Exacto ! Mishandled likely, but I would not rule out intentional with respect to the
    Frey contingent. That query was left to build up the crescendo for the Tully-Frey
    wedding. All else, as you say, was mishandled or poorly conceived about Robb’s
    story. GoT Robb dissed all of his bannermen, was barely acknowledged as heroic
    and respected, and put his wife above all else. He even so did battle strategy with
    her……. bewildering I must say. Really disappointed in GoT Robb’s impulsiveness
    above all.

  197. Joshua Taylor
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    WildSeed,

    I wonder if D and D had a much more elaborate depiction of Robb’s campaign planned and had to scrap it for budget reasons. Why couldn’t they bring extras of Northern Lords back for the show? Did losing the Greatjon set them back in a way that they had to change things? They must be aware that there is too much confusion in the portrayal of Robb’s campaign.

  198. SwordoftheEvening
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    Chickenduck,

    I find this pretty offensive. “Teenage boy fantasy?” I’m a bi-sexual girl and a pretty damn hot one at that, so the notion that you think this only exists in “teenage boy’s minds” is just wrong. I’ve also known plenty of attractive girl friends (and girlfriends) that have experimented with other attractive women in the past.

  1. [...] I don’t want to reopen this can of worms.  If you want to discuss this more, then please do it here.  I just want to say that this is a Game of Chaos is a Ladder, NOT a Game of Chutes and Ladders.  [...]


  • Recent Comments

  • Archives

    • 2014 (860)
    • 2013 (679)
    • 2012 (550)
    • 2011 (512)
    • 2010 (309)
    • 2009 (174)
    • 2008 (47)
  •