Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Gabbing About Game of Thrones, S02E08: The Prince of Winterfell

In this week's edition of Gabbing About Game of Thrones, Steven of Race for the Iron Throne and I compare children's cartoons skull helmets, debate the value of martial law, and explore why I probably shouldn't be put in charge of a billion dollar franchise.  We also get into what actually  happens in Season 2, Episode 8 of Game of Thrones:


Entertained Organizer:
Season 2, Episode 8: The Prince of Winterfell
In which it’s a bad day to be a raven or Theon Greyjoy, Ygritte makes her case and Jon learns about consequences, Robb tells his girlfriend about his fiancé and then discusses the burdens of leadership, Cat commits treason like a mom and ends up her son’s prisoner, Jaime and Brienne discuss their families and fighting then go canoeing, Tywin ponders strategy and pawns off Arya, Arya seeks a Man and Jon must be prepared, Bronne annoys Tyrion and points out the worthlessness of books, Sam contemplates Jon’s fate then makes a discovery, Arya is a hard negotiator and a Man relents, Cersei scares Tyrion but makes a mistake, Robb gets worked up about Theon and then gets laid, Arya has faith and escapes, Stannis and Davos discuss sigils and job offers, Joffrey is Joffrey and Tyrion tries to have an honest conversation with Varys, Jorah finds a ship and Daenerys wants her children, and Maester Luwin figures out a secret and Bran overhears the truth.
Race for the Iron Throne:
I'm running a bit notes-light this episode, due to having gone to a wedding in the Bay Area and having just watched this, so it's a bit of an experiment.
Entertained Organizer:
and I'm running a fever and had to look up a surprising number of names I should know by now, so this'll be fun
Race for the Iron Throne:
Fuck it, we'll do it live! So the SPCA goes nuts as a basket of dead ravens are dumped out into the Winterfell courtyard. And then we get some really good blocking as the Ironborn come riding in.
Entertained Organizer:
I felt bad for Theon, then I remember that he's Theon
Race for the Iron Throne:
That almost goes without saying. Yara yaras. (To Yara = to verbally emasculate a close relative)
Entertained Organizer:
I'm not sure if that's actually a verb
Race for the Iron Throne:
It is now.
Entertained Organizer:
also she is kind of sweet this time which is new. I mean, it's Yara sweet, so it's about wanting to strangle Theon as a baby, but still
Race for the Iron Throne:
She does call him the “dumbest cunt alive”. But it's because he doesn't grasp the basics of Viking military strategy.
Entertained Organizer:
stay near water?
Race for the Iron Throne:
If you are an amphibious shock assault force, do not attempt to hold castles hundreds of miles from the shore.
Entertained Organizer:
I think mine was more viking-y
Race for the Iron Throne:
And Theon is really in an ego death spiral. I think he realizes he's going to die, but can't figure a way out that gives him any sense of how he's going to live a life worth living.
Entertained Organizer:
I think he just wants a single person to tell him he's a good person and they're proud of him. First he wanted it from Robb, now it's his dad, he even kind of tried to get it from Maester Luwin last episode
Race for the Iron Throne:
And now he even tries to get it from Asha/Yara. Not happening.
Entertained Organizer:
Exactly, because he's Theon. And Theon is terrible. Should we talk about how stupid his plan is now or at the end of the episode reveal?
Race for the Iron Throne:
And I like how Yara really can't stand him, but has enough residual kinship that she doesn't want him to die poorly. His plan was idiotic regardless of the reveal.
Entertained Organizer:
ok, but it's even stupider with the reveal
Race for the Iron Throne:
The reveal was just the cherry on his sundae.
Entertained Organizer:
screw it, Bran and Rickon aren't dead (no one's reading this who hasn't seen the episode)
Race for the Iron Throne:
And a lot of people guessed right last episode.
Entertained Organizer:
so what the hell was the point of faking their deaths? to make sure that the North extra special wants him dead?
Race for the Iron Throne:
Because he thinks it makes him look tough. He's basically a beta male who beats the crap out of the weaker kids because he think it'll stop him fro being bullied.
Entertained Organizer:
hint: nothing will ever stop Theon from being bullied
Race for the Iron Throne:
So...RATTLESHIRT. Boom. Just when you'd got comfy, crazy-ass bone suit.

Entertained Organizer:
it reminded me of those mouse guys with masks in Yoshi's Island
Race for the Iron Throne:
It reminded me of Skeletor. He even had a staff.
Entertained Organizer:
Readers, decide who's right in the comments
Race for the Iron Throne:
A sack of potatoes or diamonds to the winner!
Entertained Organizer:
but ya, he's creepy looking
Race for the Iron Throne:
Other than that, I found this scene really annoying.
Entertained Organizer:
why?
Race for the Iron Throne:
Because now they've made both Quorin and Jon Snow kind of incompetent. In the books, Snow just lets her run off, the rangers get up close to Rayder's army, but a shaman-guy's spirit eagle spotted them, they tried to escape, killed a bunch of wildlings in their retreat, before this scene happened. As it was, Jon Snow got punked, and then Quorin got captured looking for him.
Entertained Organizer:
I just felt all the Jon scenes this episode were kind of perfunctory
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yeah.
Entertained Organizer:
they're clearly setting him up for stuff in the finale but not a lot really happens, it's just moving the pieces around the board
Race for the Iron Throne:
And where is Ghost in all of this? Maybe he's in the scene but we don't see him?
Entertained Organizer:
oh wow, I honestly forgot about Ghost
Race for the Iron Throne:
Because of the snow.
Entertained Organizer:
ya, I think the answer is just that they really have problems making the wolves work in the show
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yep.
Entertained Organizer:
though he really should probably be savaging everyone right now
Race for the Iron Throne:
So now the other virgin and his girlfriend have a chat.
Entertained Organizer:
about his fiance no less
Race for the Iron Throne:
And another of our Game of Thrones rules: never talk about your fiancee with your girlfriend.
Entertained Organizer:
I dunno, it kind of works out for him
Entertained Organizer:
better than anything Jon's ever done anyway
Race for the Iron Throne:
True, but I think it's because Robb has effectively communicated his total disinterest in Whatshername Frey. Which helps. I really liked the insight we get into how Robb has absorbed Ned's theory of rulership.
Entertained Organizer:
Game of Thrones Rule: If you want to cheat on your fiance, tell your girlfriend that you don't like her at all
Race for the Iron Throne:
And the sad thing is that Ned's paternalism is about the best the smallfolk can hope for...unless the smallfolk rise. Go Team Smallfolk!
Entertained Organizer:
haha, to be fair paternalism is pretty much miles ahead of any other theory or rulership being espoused anywhere else in the show
Race for the Iron Throne:
True. I am quite confused with where they're going with Talissa. I was sure when they mentioned the Crag that they'd do the reveal, but apparently that's being saved for the finale too. But she has daddy issues.
Entertained Organizer:
who doesn't in this show?
Race for the Iron Throne:
Gendry, suprisingly. He's really well-adjusted for an orphan.
Entertained Organizer:
he made himself a bull helmet
Race for the Iron Throne:
And?
Entertained Organizer:
I don't know how that relates to this discussion, I just think it's awesome
Race for the Iron Throne:
It's even cooler in the books. Basically, people called him as stubborn as a bull (which he is) and rather than get pissed off, he just rolled with it.
Entertained Organizer:
see, awesome
Race for the Iron Throne:
So now Catelyn has some 'splaining to do. And despite having a better case for it than she did in the book (the delay in the Bran and Rickon news is confusing me), she doesn't really make her case very well.
Entertained Organizer:
I felt her decision would have made more sense if they'd heard about Bran and Rickon being "executed"
Race for the Iron Throne:
On the other hand, her decision at least seemed to have more logic behind it, given the high probability of losing the captive altogether.
Entertained Organizer:
that's true, Jaime wasn't seeing morning the way things were going
Race for the Iron Throne:
Robb lays out the strategic picture, however, and his logic is hard to fault.
Entertained Organizer:
Definitely, I don't think this was ever supposed to be a "rational strategic decision.” It's a mom grasping at what may be the last chance to save her children
Race for the Iron Throne:
True. The Jaime and Brienne scene is awesome. Jaime goes to his basic two patterns:
If awake AND (not)Cersei, mock.
IF mock=fail, THEN challenge
And it completely doesn't work.
Entertained Organizer:
it's also the first time the show has actually taken me up on one of my proposed odd couple spinoffs
Race for the Iron Throne:
And come on, "maybe one day, kingslayer" - that's a big old softball. If anyone doesn't get that one, I'm embarrassed for them in advance.
Entertained Organizer:
you mean that's not never going to come up again ever?
Race for the Iron Throne:
...
Entertained Organizer:
you want to get your fantasy tournament hat on for a second and tell us who the three guys Jaime thinks could take him are?
Race for the Iron Throne:
Selmy and the Cleganes, probably. Possibly Garlan Tyrell.
Entertained Organizer:
I think Jaime could take the Mountain, but that sounds like a list
Race for the Iron Throne:
The thing with the Mountain is that it's chancey. Remember, he says three men who COULD take him. If the Mountain connects, Jaime's going down.
Entertained Organizer:
ok, I'll buy that
Race for the Iron Throne:
If Jaime can play keep away, he can probably wear the Mountain down.
Entertained Organizer:
I just think 9 times out of 10 Jaime's got the skill and the Mountain mostly gets by by being a giant
Race for the Iron Throne:
Although the Mountain (in the books) has some sort of reduced pain signal thing. He doesn't feel pain as much as others. Bit like that giant in Girl Who Played With Fire.
Entertained Organizer:
Tywin?
Race for the Iron Throne:
I like that Kevan wants to play it safe, abandon King’s Landing and fall back on Casterly Rock. Whereas Tywin is going to go for the brass ring. Sums up their characters perfectly.
Entertained Organizer:
agreed, but I think Tywin's right, if they fall back to Casterly Rock they're ultimately going to lose everything: Stannis will take King's Landing, Robb will seige Casterly Rock, bend his knee to Stannis, and then they'll team up to wipe the Lannister's off the face of the earth
Race for the Iron Throne:
Counter-argument: King’s Landing has very little in the way of resources or troops. Casterly Rock is incredibly rich and if it falls, it means the Lannisters have no ability to reinforce or resupply. It's a gamble.
Entertained Organizer:
I don't think it's about King's Landing's military strategic value
Race for the Iron Throne:
It's the larger political value.
Entertained Organizer:
exactly
Race for the Iron Throne:
But Casterly Rock is House Lannister. If you lost that, you'd be hamstrung.
Entertained Organizer:
if Joffrey is not physically seated on the Iron Throne, they lose everyone not named Lannister currently on their side
Race for the Iron Throne:
Which at the moment is no one.
Entertained Organizer:
Huh, that's true isn't it
Race for the Iron Throne:
Right now, yes.
Entertained Organizer:
not a good time to be a Lannister
Race for the Iron Throne:
Tywin is gambling on his ability to move decisively and quickly and then quickly back up his military success with political alliances. But it could very easily backfire.
Entertained Organizer:
ya, I just don't see Kevin's plan as viable at all
Race for the Iron Throne:
It's the defensive strategy. And he's a defensive man. So...the army rides out to TBD. Clegane is set to hunt down THE BROTHERHOOD. And for some reason Rorge and Biter show up.
Entertained Organizer:
and Arya is set to keep him sober
Race for the Iron Throne:
I have no idea why.
Entertained Organizer:
it is a mystery
Race for the Iron Throne:
Possibly it's trying to suggest that Harrenhal sans Tywin is going to suck for Arya? But if so, it's not working.
Entertained Organizer:
I'm going to miss their chats
Race for the Iron Throne:
True, but it reached a natural conclusion.
Entertained Organizer:
ya, the only other option probably involves one of them being dead
Race for the Iron Throne:
True, true. So now we get a bit of Top Chef Hot Pie.
Entertained Organizer:
he's accurately named
Race for the Iron Throne:
Well, he's a baker's apprentice. of a baker with no imagination.
Entertained Organizer:
truly Hot Pie was wasted on him, and Arya has a plan!
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yes. And in this next scene, Jon Snow is dumb. Let us not speak of it.
Entertained Organizer:
I liked this next scene
Race for the Iron Throne:
The Tyrion and Bronn scene?
Entertained Organizer:
Bronne is smarter than he looks, Tyrion is getting desperate, and Varys just appears out of the shadows and no one is phased at all
Race for the Iron Throne:
They're the Westerosi odd couple. I love how Varys makes every scene better. Bronn's cloak bit was sensible. I'm really hoping that the hammering outside means what I think it means, because if a certain detail is left out next week, I will flip. BTW, recapping next week is going to be hard. "Some dudes fight, and then some other dudes fight."
Entertained Organizer:
I have faith in our amazing powers of awesome recapping, or it'll be a trainwreck. One or the other
Race for the Iron Throne:
Bronn apparently has a zero-tolerance approach to crime.
Entertained Organizer:
I was actually impressed by his logic
Race for the Iron Throne:
It's ok short-term logic.
Entertained Organizer:
well, they might all be dead in a week
Race for the Iron Throne:
In the long term, it means that thieves will now kill guards rather than surrender or runaway. There's a reason why the cops aren't allowed to shoot everyone on sight.
Entertained Organizer:
They basically are when martial law is declared. I'm not saying this is a great plan, I'm saying at first I was horrified that he was summarily executing thieves, and by the end of his explanation I was thinking "huh, that makes an amoral kind of sense"
Race for the Iron Throne:
In general. I'm just saying Bronn is definitely a war-time consigliere.
Entertained Organizer:
oh definitely
Race for the Iron Throne:
So I think I know how Tyrion is going to handle his second-line defense.
Entertained Organizer:
spoilers or guessing?
Race for the Iron Throne:
Guessing. Based on a siege that Oliver Cromwell fought. One of the few he lost. Damn. That's a perfect parallel for Stannis. Why didn't I use that one?
Entertained Organizer:
haha, you going to clue the rest of us in?
Race for the Iron Throne:
I'll come back to it next week.
Entertained Organizer:
but how will everyone know if your guess was brilliant or stupid? And judge you
Race for the Iron Throne:
But as far as Oliver Cromwell goes - an uncompromising, brilliant general with bad p.r. With links?
Entertained Organizer:
nah, we can save that for if you're right, just the gist
Race for the Iron Throne:
The gist...one sec. It was a siege during Cromwell's conquest of Ireland. AHA! Siege of Clonmel.  Basically, Cromwell made a breach with cannons. And then the defending general built a wall around the corner that turned the breach into a cul-de-sac. And then mowed everyone down with cannons. One of Cromwell's very few defeats.
Entertained Organizer:

Race for the Iron Throne:
So Grenn, Edd, and Sam find some dragonglass and a horn. Totally unimportant. Never going to come up again. Move along, nothing to see folks.
Entertained Organizer:
I'm curious what you think of the next scene
Race for the Iron Throne:
Jaqen and Arya? Loved it.
Entertained Organizer:
wasn't it pretty different in the books?
Race for the Iron Throne:
No, same request. But in the books, she used his help to free the Northern prisoners and help take Harrenhal. Here there aren't any Northern prisoners.
Entertained Organizer:
ok, that was it, and yes, her blackmailing him into killing more people was amazing
Race for the Iron Throne:
And I love that Jaqen actually says please. And Arya gives that great shrug when he says she has no honor. Finally, a Stark without honor.
Entertained Organizer:
her shrug when he accuses her of having no honor, cements Maisie Williams as the best new young actor I've seen in years (you're going to want to jump to 2:40 in this video)
Race for the Iron Throne:
She actually got discovered through that troupe.
Entertained Organizer:
and she learned to swordfight left handed even though she's a righty
Race for the Iron Throne:
For which we owe Nina Gold and Robert Sterne a huge debt. She's just awesome and only going to get more so. But enough fanboying! So now a great scene with CerseiClassic and Tyrion.
Entertained Organizer:
she hates him so much
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yes. And I'm choosing to ignore her comments about her son in last episode.
Entertained Organizer:
I think she can realize he's a monster and still instinctively want to protect him as his mother
Race for the Iron Throne:
Meh. I say, inconsistent.
Entertained Organizer:
because Cersei has been otherwise so rational up till now?
Race for the Iron Throne:
She's got hatred of her brother, her gender issues are in full effect, she's hurting people out of spite. It's great. And in a season of Peter Dinklage Emmy Reel scenes, this is the emmiest of them all. God he acted the hell out of this.
Entertained Organizer:
I have no idea how one begins to act out completely masked relief but he does it somehow
Race for the Iron Throne:
And the complicated feeling of being upset that a woman has been tortured while being very glad that it was that woman who got tortured. By the way, I actually felt bad for Ros. 5/21/2012 folks. Write that down.
Entertained Organizer:
Wow, I honestly never thought I'd live to see this day
Race for the Iron Throne:
But to be precise, I felt bad for her because she finally fell into a canon-shaped hole. Or Alaya. Ros = Chataya. Whichever.
Entertained Organizer:
she's always served a purpose, this was just a better purpose than sexposition, and now we know how the series ends: Tyrion will free her as promised, and then we have Queen Roz, first of her name
Race for the Iron Throne:
I'm not mad, I'm just disappointed. Anyway, I actually liked Shae in this next scene. What did you think?
Entertained Organizer:
honestly I feel like a broken record talking about scenes with Peter Dinklage in them, and my favorite Tyrion scene of the episode is a little later in the episode so I'll save my effusive and excessive praise for then
Race for the Iron Throne:
True, but what did you think of Shae in this scene.
Entertained Organizer:
oh she was great, but I've never actually disliked her performance
Race for the Iron Throne:
Robb and Roose come to something of a modus vivendi. United by their hatred for Theon Greyjoy.
Entertained Organizer:
and then Robb sublimates his anger into sex usually it goes the other way
Race for the Iron Throne:
Well, first Robb gets a backstory that I find INFURIATING and probably made up anyway.
Entertained Organizer:
why is it INFURIATING?
Race for the Iron Throne:
Because she's clearly Jeyne Westerling.
Entertained Organizer:
maybe this is who Jeyne Westerling is in this show?
Race for the Iron Throne:
Then why bring up the Crag? If she's really a Volantine?
Entertained Organizer:
to make you angry for their amusement?
Race for the Iron Throne:
Possibly. But I still think it's a cover story. In any case, her story of near death gets Robb turned on.
Entertained Organizer:
to be fair, if I ever get put in charge of a beloved franchise worth hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars, that's what I would do
Race for the Iron Throne:
What? Deliberately pick a fight with an entirely over-intellectualizing fan?
Entertained Organizer:
it would be like a hobby: make small, but deliberate arbitrary changes and see how many death threats I get. This may be the reason I'm unlikely to be put in charge of a beloved billion dollar franchise
Race for the Iron Throne:
One of many.. So, they have a sex scene which manages to be both realistically awkward and really hot. There were just a lot of great details - how over-laced medieval clothing was, forgetting to take off various items of clothes, him finishing early but getting his second win, a bit of nervous laughing.
Entertained Organizer:
it also felt less gratuitous than they've been in a while
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yes, that's because they actually built up a rapport ahead of time.
Entertained Organizer:
who knew that's what makes the difference?
Race for the Iron Throne:
Human beings.
Entertained Organizer:
and now it's Prison Break: Arya Edition
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yep. Although it turns out to be Prison Stroll. And apparently Jaqen gets really creative with his homicides.
Entertained Organizer:
it was a walk of faith, like in Indiana Jones
Race for the Iron Throne:
He's like the Martha Stewart of mass murder.
Entertained Organizer:
you need to decorate your castle walls with something
Race for the Iron Throne:
Except that Arya knew he's a maestro of murderization. Still, that must have took a huge amount of effort. But that's the sign of a great hitman. He goes that extra mile.
Entertained Organizer:
well, his alternative is his honor requiring him to commit suicide, that's a pretty decent motivator
Race for the Iron Throne:
So now we get a great Stannis and Davos scene that personally I felt should have been moved for the most part to episode 4. When Stannis sends Davos out.
Entertained Organizer:
I'm a little surprised they waited this long to flesh out the backstory too
Race for the Iron Throne:
They've been dribbling it out. But I feel that it really worked well to show why Stannis likes Davos - because he feels as marginalized and ignored as Davos. And why Stannis resents Renly so much. I feel that would have been better when Renly was still a going concern.
Entertained Organizer:
agreed, it humanized Stannis and showed just how important Davos is to him, though I guess maybe they just didn't want to humanize Stannis
Race for the Iron Throne:
I hope they haven't left out a great exchange about him becoming Hand from the book:
“Your Grace, you cannot… I am no fit man to be a King’s Hand.”
“There is no man fitter.” Stannis sheathed Lightbringer, gave Davos his hand, and pulled him to his feet.
“I am lowborn,” Davos reminded him. “An upjumped smuggler. Your lords will never obey me.”
“Then we will make new lords.”
Entertained Organizer:
I think this was probably as close as you're going to get
Race for the Iron Throne:
La la la, not listening.
Entertained Organizer:
haha, now we get to my favorite Tyrion scene of the episode
Race for the Iron Throne:
I call dibs on being the god of tits and wine.
Entertained Organizer:
with a brief introductory interlude of Joffrey not seeming to realize how screwed he is
Race for the Iron Throne:
And possibly him going out and fighting not being such a good idea. I liked the "I wish" exchange and Varys planting the seed about Dany. Which is new.
Entertained Organizer:
in what world does he believe he's going to get to personally give Stannis a Glasgow smile?
Race for the Iron Throne:
The one in his head where the world is full of meat puppets with no souls.
Entertained Organizer:
he spends a lot of time there. As great as the exchange about the god of tits and wine was, the part that belongs in Dinklage's Emmy reel was a bit later
Race for the Iron Throne:
The bit about him liking power now that he has it?
Entertained Organizer:
where he talks about all his siblings have accomplished, how he was put in charge of the plumbing at Casterly Rock, how he never expected a chance at real power, and he doesn't want to lose it: "the water never flowed so well, and the shit went straight to the sea"
Race for the Iron Throne:
Ayup.
Entertained Organizer:
I don't even think it's necessarily about him liking power, it's just his entire life he's lived in the shadows and expected to die without ever having the opportunity to really do anything important
Race for the Iron Throne:
True. But he likes the game. And the game is power.
Entertained Organizer:
it's a fun game
Entertained Organizer:
so ya, Peter Dinklage has my vote in this years Emmy, even if I don't actually have one. I felt the same way about Daenerys' scene as I did about Jon's in this episode
Race for the Iron Throne:
Filler.
Entertained Organizer:
it just feels like setting things up for the finale
Race for the Iron Throne:
Could very easily have been tucked into last episode.
Entertained Organizer:
since next episode is going to be consumed by the siege of King's Landing
Race for the Iron Throne:
True. 60 glorious minutes.
Entertained Organizer:
you're aware there's a non-zero chance that all of it's in the preview, and that Tyrion's going to get knocked out again, right?
Race for the Iron Throne:
Given the interviews with the showrunners, I'm going to put it below zero.
Entertained Organizer:
and yet you having that gnawing doubt in your gut
Race for the Iron Throne:
Nope. I'm zen. I'm a leaf on the wind, see how I fly.
Entertained Organizer:
last scene reveal?
Race for the Iron Throne:
Bran and Rickon aren't dead, surprise surprise. I don't know if Bran heard btw.
Entertained Organizer:
he totally heard, he got a serious face and everything
Race for the Iron Throne:
He pretty much always has a serious face.
Entertained Organizer:
what would be the point of having him awake if not to show he heard? If he didn't hear he could have been passed out like Rickon and the effect would be the same
Race for the Iron Throne:
I don't care enough to argue.
Entertained Organizer:
I’m calling that a win, just FYI
Race for the Iron Throne:
So in terms of stuff. I was on a podcast. And will have another essay on Tower of the Hand up tomorrow.
Entertained Organizer:
very cool. I will be sleeping and hoping that the fever breaks and I don't get winded walking to the bathroom. So, we both have stuff going on. Any last thoughts on this episode?
Race for the Iron Throne:
Not as good as last weeks. But the slower pace probably will make Episode 9 all the better
Entertained Organizer:
I actually liked it better than last weeks, but agree that it's definitely the calm before the storm. Till next week then

6 comments:

  1. I thought the reveal that Bran and Rickon are still alive, while everyone predicted it, was kind of redeeming. They managed to sneak back into winterfell. Who saw that coming? It's very "The closer we are to danger, the farther we are from harm. It's the last thing he'll expect" as Pippin says in LOTR.

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  2. Steven, I love all of your work with Ice and Fire, from Race to the Iron Throne to the recent essays on Tower of the Hand, and I pretty much treat everything you say about the novels as gospel. However, I'm not sure I totally agree with you that Theon's plan to fake-murder Bran and Rickon was "idiotic regardless of the reveal." Actually murdering them would have been the worst of terrible ideas. But assuming that he believes he's lost Bran and Rickon for good, he's faced with looking either the terrifyingly cruel murderer or the pathetically incompetent captor who can't even track down a cripple, a halfwit, a wildling woman and a six-year-old. Regardless of just how misguided every other aspect of his supposed "plan" is, I'm not so sure he made the wrong decision between those two choices. Had he just come back and admitted he lost the Stark boys, I think he would have lost so much face that he couldn't have even held Winterfell against its current inhabitants. And maybe it's different in Clash of Kings, but since he already beheaded Rodrick Cassel on the show, it's not like he has any goodwill with the Northerners left to lose. Sure, there are a million other places he could have made better decisions, but I think in this specific instance he actually made the right one. Any thoughts about what he might have done better in this case?

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    1. At least to me, the problem with faking the murders is that it dramatically escalates things. While before Robb did want Theon personally dead and had sent troops to expel him from Winterfell and the Greyjoys from the North, murdering his younger brothers is in many ways worse than what the Lannisters did to the Starks. And murdering Ned/crippling Bran was enough to get Robb to declare himself King of the North and seek the extermination of their House. If and when he finds out about the "murders" of Bran and Rickon, it's hard to believe that Robb won't rededicate himself to doing the same to the Greyjoys.

      In terms of what else Theon could have done, he could have still killed all the ravens (to keep news of the escape from getting outside Winterfell), continued searching (the show doesn't make it entirely clear but it doesn't look like his search lasted more than an afternoon before he jumped to the fake murder plan), actually told his sister what was going on so that she could add her troops to the search, tortured Winterfell residents both for information and to inspire the same fear accomplished by showing he's willing to burn children to death, or even faked Bran and Rickons capture and just keep the farm kids locked up (the Lannisters have managed to keep anyone from finding out that they don't have Arya all season).

      Basically Theon's decision to fake their murders threatens him with maximum reprisal from the North to him and his House, while still risking looking like a fool and completely undermining his reputation if they turn up anywhere else (he doesn't know they're hiding in the basement, and should probably be operating on the assumption they're making their way to one of Robb's bannermen).

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    2. Hey Patrick, thanks for the reply. Looking back, I didn't mean to leave you out in the cold... it takes two to tango on these sorts of things, right? Love these weekly sessions, I hope you and Steven keep them up as long as the show's running.

      I'm not sure I 100% agree on the escalation. If the Lannisters were to toss Joffrey, Cersei and Jaime (the three guilty parties for Ned and Bran) out onto a field for the Starks, don't you think Robb would probably call off the hounds (direwolves)? Since Theon's resolutely decided to hold Winterfell, logic be damned, I'm not sure that killing Bran and Rickon makes the situation any worse for him than it already is... Robb's pretty much already said he's going to behead him himself. If the Starks catch and punish Theon, I think Robb's unlikely to carry too much of that vengeance over to the rest of the Greyjoys, beyond what they're already due for invading the North. Now if the Greyjoys harbor Theon back at Pyke, that changes things. But Theon's made his call, so I don't think the effect on his family plays out. THAT's where his stupidity truly lies, but given that the stupid decision is already in the bag, the fake-murder isn't really making things worse for him personally (how do you get worse than beheading?), while he might at least reap some benefit of now keeping the rest of Winterfell's inhabitants in line.

      (By the way, I realized over the course of writing that paragraph, that it may have been the most nit-pickingly insignificant argument over semantics every made. Moving on.)

      I do think that going through with a fake-capture plan would've been infinitely smarter than the fake-murder. Telling Asha/Yara would have certainly alleviated the situation a bit. And you're absolutely right that if/when Bran and Rickon turn up, he's up shit creek.

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    3. Being hung by your entrails from a hearttree is probably worse, a punishment northerners sometimes use (per ADWD)

      I agree that the stark murder plan was stupid, but keeping the kids locked up would have backfired the moment someone who wasn't an ironborn brought the kids a meal or tried to talk to them or asked where the giant and the crazy wildling lady went

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    4. Ya, I'm not really saying that Theon has a lot of good choices. But locking up the farm kids still seems the best play to me. And he could simply forbid anyone except ironborn from having access to kids (correctly claiming that they'd just try to help them escape again), and say that Hodor and the wildling lady were killed for their involvement in the first escape. That's unlikely to escalate anything while still inspiring fear.

      Though that still leaves him with the problem of what happens if they turn up somewhere alive.

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