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Another LGM podcast: Game of Thrones, “Kissed by Fire,” with SEK and Steven Attewell

[ 42 ] May 2, 2013 |

In this episode we discuss many things before short-changing you on the subject of religion. If the podcast seems to end abruptly, that’s because there’s another ten minutes we tabled for a later discussion. Watching it, I must say I’m very disappointed in the manner in which I presented my Grand Theory of Significant Asses. It deserves to be taken more seriously than the words used to refer to the human bum allow. Enjoy!

Avoid knowing what I do with my hat by listening to the .mp3 version of this podcast.

Our very civilized discussion of the premiere (S03E01).

Fancy-talking about “Dark Wings, Dark Words” (S03E02).

Here we are blathering on about “Walk of Punishment” (S03E03).

Don’t watch — because you can’t — us discuss “And Now His Watch Has Ended” (S03E04).

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  • SEK

    Note to self: the more tired you are, the more obviously it is that you took eight years of speak therapy. My words are labored, hilariously, above. (Thinking about where to move your tongue while trying to pronounce a word is about as easy as trying to explain how to use a fork to someone while using one. It doesn’t sound difficult, but those parts of your brain just don’t like each other, and the result is, as above, hilarious.)

  • Leeds man

    Grand Theory of Significant Asses

    Callipygian Hypothesis sounds better.

  • Ropty

    [The Kindly Man] cupped her chin. “Who are you?”
    Arya answered, “I’m Batman.”

    • I’m honestly surprised I scooped SEK on that one.

      • SEK

        You didn’t “scoop” me on that, I’m just trying to be unpredictable.

  • I’m taking the unusual step of posting before I read, because I wonder if you delve into the things that struck me

    How do the two bath scenes play off against each other?

    Jon and the Hound kissed by fire in different ways.

    Bad day all around for the Lannister siblings.

    The Jon – Ygritte scene uses non-gratuitous nudity and is tastefully erotic. But as Jon is embracing naked Ygritte in his huge, furry great-coat, I had to laugh, ‘cuz all I could think of was the bear and the maiden fair.

    Stannis’ wife in the books is portrayed as unattractive. In the show, she doesn’t look bad. The daughter, IIRC was sort of a non-entity. Here she is quite a charming child, and rather daring. A bit like Arya, maybe? It’s been a while since I read book III, so this could be all wrong.

    One little hint of the coming attraction at the Twins.

    Cheers!
    JZB

    • So it comes down to identity and loyalty, and how one can influence or even define the other. Interestingly [at least to me] there are defining moments for most of the characters – loyalties and identities are either honed, redefined, or challenged in this episode for almost everyone except Arya, who is static here [despite getting extremely pissed off], but in the long arc has her identity almost totally dissolve.

      In the Jaime-Brienne bath scene, just before she stands up for the bum-shot, Jaime utters something – and I believe this is what he apologizes for seconds later. I’ve replayed it about a dozen times and cannot make out his words. Does anybody know what he said there?

      • David Hunt

        Don’t have access to it at the moment, but IIRC, it was something to the effect of “No wonder Renly died with you guarding him.” That’s enough to make Brienne momentarily want to get up and beat him senseless regardless or her being naked.

  • @ 21:38 musical theme — recapitulation of a theme presented in the exposition.

    • Aha – SEK!

      You find the word at 38:48.

    • “Leitmotif” may have been what he was looking for, too.

      • That is the association of a melodic theme with a specific character. Something rather different, I think.

      • Thanks to Loony tunes, I’d never forget the leitmotif.

        Spear and magic helmet….spear and magic helmet!

        Oh Bwumhilda, you’re so wuvvlly…

    • Yes! Thank you, that was driving me nuts.

  • Sly

    I actually liked the Olenna/Tyrion scene quite a bit, because it juxtaposed two people who have similar problems yet approach them in different ways (with Olenna, in at least this case but probably many others, being the more successful of the two). The short of it is this; Tyrion sees his dwarfism as a vulnerability to be mitigated, while Olenna sees her gender and age as advantages to be exploited.

    Tyrion’s frustration is that he’s considered, at best, half a Lannister by his father. What he doesn’t realize is that this is Tywin’s problem (because in Tywin’s own mind he himself is the only genuine Lannister), and not his own. So Tyrion’s principle motivation is to overcome that gap in credibility, and it steers him in all sorts of productive and not-so-productive directions. So he takes what he thinks is the source of his own alienation and tries exceptionally hard not to let it bother him. He expresses this sentiment best with Jon Snow in S1; “Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.” But the truth is it’s constantly used to hurt him, and he’s never absolutely successful in preventing that, especially when it comes to interactions with his sister and father.

    Olenna, on the other hand, uses her alienation as a weapon, not a shield. While Tyrion’s ultimate goal is not to be underestimated, Olenna wants to be underestimated. She wants everyone to think she’s a doddering old woman that no one need pay any real attention to, because then they’re coming at her completely unarmed (as Tyrion was in the scene, and similarly with Varys in an earlier episode) and she can have her way with them. Even if she’s going to give them what they want, she still gets to do so on her terms and not theirs.

    The really interesting thing I found in the scene between Tywin, Cersei, and Tyrion is that when Tyrion mentions his previous marriage, it’s the first time we see real emotion on Tywin’s face. In every other scene with Tywin, he’s only mildly expressive. Somewhat playful with Arya, impatiently indulgent with all three of his children (so long as he turns the tables on them and brings them back to his agenda), etc. But there’s something about Tyrion’s marriage to a “peasant” that causes Tywin to barely contain his anger. He grits his teeth, purses his lips, his nostrils flare a bit, and he gives Tyrion a complete stare of death. He doesn’t say “All to well” to Tyrion when the latter asks him if he remembers the marriage, he spits the words at him.

    Which then sets him up to explode at Cersei when she objects to the notion of her marrying Loras.

    People who’ve read the books know why this is, and it’ll be expanded upon later, but its nice to see those little hints of the Shakespearian-quality narcissism that drives Tywin, and Charles Dance has been absolutely phenomenal in the role.

    • Sherm

      Great comment. Thanks for the insight. I haven’t read the books, but I’ve been really enjoying the show.

    • Good stuff!

    • rw970

      Olenna, on the other hand, uses her alienation as a weapon, not a shield. While Tyrion’s ultimate goal is not to be underestimated, Olenna wants to be underestimated. She wants everyone to think she’s a doddering old woman that no one need pay any real attention to, because then they’re coming at her completely unarmed (as Tyrion was in the scene, and similarly with Varys in an earlier episode) and she can have her way with them.

      I don’t know. This seems like a trick that can only really be played once. Who’s going to think she’s a doddering old wealthy dowager after they’ve talked to her for like, five seconds? Is there anyone in the show or in the books who doesn’t think she’s the brains in Highgarden?

      • Sly

        He age lets her get away with it over and over. She’s like a grandfather who walks into a room spouting racist gibberish, and the result is that everyone just laughs nervously and tries to pretend it never happened. And then it happens again, and again, and again, and… what are you gonna do? Not invite grandpa over for family gatherings?

        • rw970

          IMHO, I don’t think anyone forgets about it.

          SPOILERS

          Littlefinger certainly doesn’t. Cersei doesn’t. In the show, I suspect Varys and Tyrion won’t either. Sansa does, maybe, but Sansa at this point is still in idiot mode and thinks that she and Margaery will be sisters and the very best of bosom friends.

          If anything, Olenna’s “play” is to pretend that she is an acerbic smack-talking old lady who can’t keep a thought to herself, while in reality, playing her cards very close to her vest. Her deception is not that people think she is a doddering old lady, but that people think she’s lacking in the requisite tact for skullduggery. And that’s a well she can go back to over and over, because the skullduggery remains secret.

          It’s like Baelish’s “I’m a lovable rogue who takes nothing seriously, but is basically well-meaning” shtick, or Pycelle’s Grandpa Simpson routine.

          • It’s also the case that Olenna has a lot to back it up. Even if you don’t believe her, she’s still got House Tyrell’s 80,000 men behind her, and all the food of the Reach.

  • Uncle Ebeneezer

    One thing that bothered me with the Jaime-Brienne bath scene was the fact that Jaime never washed the dirt and blood off his face. I thought that given the circumstances, that would have been the first thing he would have done after weeks (months?) with no chance to wash himself. Otherwise, great scene.

    • David Hunt

      I wondered if that had something to do with some sort of problem keeping the distribution of dirt on his face the same from take to take. The stump being so obviously held out of the water was effective visually but also makes sense in a “keep the bandages dry” way

      • Uncle Ebeneezer

        That makes sense from a continuity standpoint. I also think the dirt on his face helped emphasize his humanity/vulnerability etc. so I’m guessing it was intentional. But I couldn’t stop thinking about a 10 hour back-country hike I did, where the only water source we had was when we finally reached a lake at the end of the day. After dropping our heavy packs, the first thing we did was wash the grime off our faces.

    • He looks to have been washed while unconscious in the preview for next week.

  • William Berry

    Not a lot worth reading on Salon these days, but there’s a pretty funny lampooning of GoT up today.

    http://www.salon.com/2012/07/24/lame_of_thrones_salpart/

    Funny pix and captions, esp. the first one, w/ Martin.

    Martin writes a mean short story, btw. His The Way of Cross and Dragon is an elegant meditation on the power of belief. (P.Z. Myers should read it; he might learn something about things he apparently doesn’t understand all that well.)

    • Sly

      [picture of Joffrey] “Face it, Potter: Gryffindor sucks, and Hermione’s a whore.”

      I chuckled.

      • William Berry

        Yeah, that was a good one.

        And I am totally down with the hair-washing.

  • Uncle Ebeneezer

    Here’s an interview with the Executive Story Editor for GOT.

    To get started: halfway through the third season, Game of Thrones remains largely true to George R.R. Martin’s novels, but there are diversions in both plot and characterization. As the story editor, I’d be curious what the conversations about those changes look like. And in the case of characterization changes, do they tend to be driven more by the actors cast in the roles? The need to pace the story? Or a mix?

    Oh, good you started with an easy one! Well, for one thing, now that we’re in Season Three — a lot of the changes stem from changes/alterations we made in previous seasons. Now, Margaery Tyrell, as we’ve talked about before, is an important character in the novels in terms of plot but she isn’t a point of view character and you don’t really get to know her until later in the saga. And even then, she’s not really driving her own storylines. Now, in Season Two, we always planned to go behind the curtain, if you will, with Renly and his relationships, but even with that, Margaery was still planned to be (more or less) a minor character. Now, Natalie Dormer was original considered for another role. I’m not sure who’s idea it was to have her be Margaery, but casting her immediately changed the character and the possibilites for her before we even started writing. It allowed us to move up the Cersei versus Margaery dynamic–that’s a big part of a later book).
    And this solved a few problems we needed to deal with as we started adapting A Storm of Swords. If you break down A Storm of Swords, there isn’t a ton of King’s Landing story in the first half of the book, and virtually nothing for a few characters (Cersei, Littlefinger, Varys) to do. So having Margaery be a greater presence on the show (coupled with her arrival of grandmother, Lady Olenna) allowed us to dramatize the arrival of the Tyrells and their effect on the Lannisters (and Cersei, Joffrey) in particular. And the idea of Margaery as a sort of Princess Di type was very interesting–and that’s definitely in the books–her popularity with the people is mentioned, we just took that ball and ran with it.

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  • Bad hair day?

    Seriously, though, another fun and edifying discussion. I particularly liked the note about the camera angles going progressively up and down on the two characters in the Olenna-Tyrion scene. I hadn’t noticed what was happening, but of course I did “get” the effect (“What the hell is the matter with you, Tyrion?”).

    Those sneaky visual experts; they can make us feel anything they want! ::mutter grumble harrumph::

    I was disappointed that you didn’t get to the religion part. That is getting SO interesting. When do you think you’ll get around to that “Supplemental”? Ever?

  • Lars

    A good discussion as always…

    But I have to take umbrage against SEK’s portrayal of the Sansa & Arya – and the stereotypes they are portraying or heading towards.

    SEK’s claim is that Sansa is a stereotype, while Arya is heading into something unknown.

    I think this is a very problematic claim to make.
    – Sansa is indeed a deconstruction of a fantasy/medievalist trope (as was pointed out by your co-host – this is what GRRM loves to do)
    – Arya, on the other hand, is the ULTIMATE stereotype. Doubly so. She is the tomboy AND has the heroes journey. Two exceedingly common stereotypes all combined into one character. (Try this challange – think of a recent fantasy show or film that does NOT have an “Arya” character – it isn’t easy)

    I’m probably in the minority, but this is why Arya’s chapters in the book are the most boring to me. She is so utterly predictable.

    Sure, people latch on to her character as someone they can identify with – but she is very much at odds with the narrative and setting that GRRM has created. She is not a deconstruction, nor is she complex, she is simply popular because people want to live vicariously through her.

    • SEK

      Arya, on the other hand, is the ULTIMATE stereotype.

      Of what, exactly? This is what I always ask my class: what is Arya growing into? Who in her world — or in high fantasy generally — is she becoming? The answers I typically get are undeniably odd, ranging from “Bruce Wayne, if he’d been Buffy” to “Elektra,” if she’d been a character before she became an assassin. I suppose that’s what I’m emphasizing: the fact that she begins her arc as one kind of character, a tomboy, but she becomes something far more than even most male characters become by the end of … and now we’re in spoiler territory so I’ll shut up.

      • Lars

        I’m not necessarily disagreeing with you – I guess my primary objection is how you (in the podcasts) contrast Arya/Sansa as characters up unto *this point* in the story. Arya still hasn’t progressed beyond the “tomboy with tragic background” stage.

        I get that a lot of people identify with Arya so far – as your students seem to. But IMO that is more due to GRRM’s lazy shortcut of creating a very familiar stereotype, rather than his nuanced writing that builds most of the characters in the story.

    • They’re both deconstructions.

      If you pay close attention to Arya’s story, while she goes through the steps of the hero’s journey, she doesn’t gain self-knowledge or empowerment from them. The causal link between the steps on the hero’s journey and the normal effect on the protagonist is broken. Instead, she gets increasingly traumatized and loses her identity, just as much as Sansa does.

      And given that GRRM invented both Arya and the narrative and setting within which she exists, I think baldly claiming that her story has no deeper purpose is short-sighted.

      • Lars

        Yes, they are both deconstructions in a way – although Arya’s primary deconstruction stage (if there is such a thing) :-) starts later – a bit after the events of this episode. (trying to be vague here)

        But up to and including ACOK and ASOS, she is very much the ultimate tomboy adventurer – and this is something I personally do not find very interesting.

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  • Rhino

    I have been re reading the books, over the last few months, and one of the things I am struck by is how almost everyone is a stock character. Not only do they come straight from central casting, but they remain essentially unchanged by the momentous events that unfold.

    All except one. Jaime Lannister. He’s the only one that changes, learns, develops (and diminishes), and actually reacts as a thinking and autonomous being. Even Tyrian, who on first glance is truly the hero of the tale, is only revealed to be remarkable, rather than becoming remarkable.

    Anyway, I’m more a reader than an analyst, so I will shut up, adding only that I enjoy your essays on GOT enormously. In particular the specifically visual rhetoric bits. Love them, hope you will do more in written form, since I find the podcasts entertaining but haven’t the time to watch them.

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