In what could very well be the most jaw-dropping episode in Game of Thrones history, Season 5’s Episode 8 has just completely blown our minds. We’ve known for a while now that the series was venturing into parts unknown to those who have read the books, but we weren’t expecting 20-odd minutes of White Walker, wight, and Wildling madness, especially in a season that’s been paced to the movement of a banana slug.
While some die-hards can still argue that the books are far better than the series, I think S5E8 pretty much renders all arguments moot, at least in terms of action, character development and actual plot movement. Until we’re holding The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring in our hands, let’s honor the 8 wonderful ways the series has whooped the books’ butt into oblivion:
For those who haven’t read the books, or are suckers for punishment, WARNING: Spoilers ahead! (Here, check out one of our other Game of Thones articles instead!)
8. Run, Sansa, Run
Book Sansa and series Sansa are two completely different people. Book Sansa remains at the mercy of Little Finger and the whims of Robert “Sweetrobin” Arryn, and is bethrothed to one of the Lords of the Vale, Harrold Hardyng. The Sansa in the series, however, is much tougher and harder than the Sansa we’ve come to expect from the last few seasons. From her debut last season as the dark, sexy arm candy to Little Finger’s puppet-mastering, she appears in S5E8 as very much unbroken despite Ramsay Bolton’s marital rapes, threats, and abuse – a far cry from the naïve, court-loving girl she used to be.
Our girl Sansa even calls Theon out on his bullshit, and walks away with more reason to find a way to escape Winterfell and her marriage now that she knows she has two more surviving brothers. TLDR; series Sansa is boatloads more interesting to watch than book Sansa ever could be.
7. Baelish ups his sneaky bastard game
After successfully winning our hearts last season and morphing into a being much more complex than the books allowed him to be, the series has turned Peter Baelish into a total bae (pun intended, because power is sexy, goddammit). Season 5 has revealed his surprising bid for the north and the true extent of his ability to manipulate, turning him into a true and worthy player of the game of thrones.
6. King’s Landing
Many have complained that Season 5 has felt woefully stagnant after the incredible season 4 finale, and we like to pin it on the lack of development in King’s Landing. While the circumstances of Margaery, Loras, and Cersei’s arrests are different from the books, the series failed to showcase the Faith Militant’s rise to power and their overwhelming support from the commonfolk of King’s Landing. While we do concede that it works as stark contrast to the urgency of the cold war happening in the North, things could be moving much faster to catch up with the pace and changes in the other story arcs. But hey, at least we found out that Tommen, sweet little thing that he is, was getting some! Also, hurray for more Lola Olenna screen time!
5. Ellaria and her Sand Snakes
Are we the only ones who are disappointed that we aren’t seeing Arianne Martell, Prince Doran’s daughter, in the series? Book lovers will also be the first the point out that there should be 8 Sand Snakes instead of just the 4. I mean, okay, the ones born from Ellaria should technically still be too young to contribute anything, but the Dornish story arc was a book favorite because first off, Ellaria wasn’t the assertive revenge-hungry character she was in the series – it was Arianne and the elder Sand Snakes that were endeavoring to subvert the system and fought for what they believed to be justice, helping to flesh out Dorne as every inch the feminist, liberal state that it was portrayed to be. On the one hand, the Sand Snakes in the series have so far been disappointing, and on the other, the series still wins for (so far) keeping the sad, marshmallow-y character and quest of Quentyn Martell (Prince Doran’s son) out of sight and out of mind.
4. Jaime’s quest for Myrcella
Whoa whoa whoa, the books said nothing about this! Now how will we ruin big plot twists for the people who haven’t read them? Book Jaime was incredibly far from Dorne when this all went down, but it’s nice to see his character portrayed as a man struggling with being a father/uncle. Maybe it’s our daddy issues, but a father on a doomed-to-fail quest to save his only daughter is heartwarming, and where S5E8 left us leaves loads of room for potential action in Dorne.
In the books, Tyrion encounters a string of unfortunate events before he even ends up in the general direction of Mereen. Don’t get us wrong, we love that he ended up with Jorah fairly quickly, but it leaves us wondering where the show creators will introduce Aegon, the secret Targaryen that Varys and Illyrio rescued and raised to be the leader they wanted. That is, if they even do.
2. Two Targaryens walk into a bar…
Due to the current lack of Aegon in the series, we like to believe that the show is running what we fondly refer to as the TTT, or the Tyrion Targaryen Theory. At this point, we’ve established that you’re a sucker for spoilers, so we’re pretty sure you’ve heard of the R + L = J theory, which posits that Rhaegar, the first son of Aerys The Mad King, had a child by Lyanna Stark, a child that she made her brother Ned swear to protect. Ned brought that child home and raised him as his bastard to protect him from Robert Baratheon’s wrath. Ding ding ding! Yup, we’re talking about Jon Snow.
Now, the TTT is basically that Aerys was infatuated with Joanna, Tywin’s wife, and had relations with her that resulted in the birth of Tyrion. If you take into account Tyrion’s physical description in the book, the theory makes sense. It also explains Tywin’s complete lack of responsibility towards him, his refusal to name him the heir of Casterly Rock, and statements like “I cannot prove that you are not mine.” Mind blown? Yup, ours too. If the show runners really are setting Tyrion up as a Targaryen, his meeting with Dany is all the more poignant for the plot. Remember in the House of the Undead when Dany is told that the dragon has three heads? If the theories are correct, Tyrion, Jon, and Dany are the three heads of the dragon because they are the last surviving Targaryens.
1. Winter. Has. Arrived.
The TV series officially wins for the very real presence of the White Walkers. Where the books refer to them only as The Others and mention them only in passing, they are the biggest threat to the Seven Kingdoms in the series. S5E8 gave the Night’s King and the other White Walkers more screen time than we were expecting, and showcased the sheer power and strength of their wight army. The revelation that Longclaw, the ancestral sword of House Mormont and made of Valyrian steel, has the same ability as Dragonglass to kill White Walkers could be game changing – it supports fan theories that Dany, along with Tyrion and the dragons, are crossing the narrow sea to take them on. The Targaryens are, after all, descended from Old Valyria, a civilization with its own customs and magic that may be as old and as strong as the White Walkers. We’re on the edge of our seats waiting for how this will all play out!
What are your feelings about the current season of Game of Thrones? Any other theories you think might play out? Share them with us!