Thoughts on S6's History and Lore, "The Great Tourney of Harrenhal"
One of the most popular features, I believe, of the Game of Thrones’ DVD/Blu-Rays is the annual set of History and Lore videos. Unsurprisingly, Season 6 has continued in the same vein, and the first tease of that season’s collection was just released - a video on the Great Tourney of Harrenhal, narrated by Meera Reed. I’m always curious to see how the show tackles events outside the show’s scope, in the histories of ASOIAF, and so I was very interested in what the show might say about the greatest tourney Westeros had seen in ages, perhaps ever. It was - odd.
I will say, as a positive note to start, that the quality of these videos has improved tremendously since their humble beginnings in Season 1. The artwork has gotten much better, and particularly here, the watercolor style approach to this story is expertly suited to the dreamy, almost fantastical storytelling atmosphere of this tale. Ellie Kendrick as Meera relates the tale with charm and surety, very fit for the not-inconsequential task of retelling a very popular moment from not simply ASOS, but the series in general.
But it was an odd adaptation overall, for me. First, Meera begins by saying that Howland only told this story to his children once, and would never speak of Harrenhal again - an assertion she repeats at the video’s end. If this is true, why would book-Jojen be so shocked Bran had never heard this story from his father, and book-Meera so sure that Bran had heard this story before? Their book reactions seem to suggest that Howland told this story multiple times, and that it was a familiar one to the Reed children (which might make sense, since Meera is able to recall the many specific details of the story with clarity and sureness, even smiling at Bran with the confidence of a rehearsed storyteller). I can’t think of a reason why the show would want Howland to be reticent about revealing the details of Harrenhal to his children, unless the showrunners want some reveal from Harrenhal - about Rhaegar and Lyanna, I presume - to be that much more dramatic (though even this reasoning fails, as I’ll get to later).
The story continues as you expect: in the year of the false spring, Howland travels to Harrenhal to see the great tourney a “southron lord” was throwing (no mention of the Whent name, although you can see Whent banners at this point - an interesting choice that will be repeated later). Howland is then attacked by three squires, until Lyanna Stark intervenes with her book lines, chases them off, and brings Howland to her tent. The show’s adaptation of the story largely drops the somewhat fanciful nicknames book-Meera employed, though I have no quarrel with that decision. While book readers might easily recognize the “wolf maid” and the “crannogman”, among others, because of their experience with the text, such subtleties might escape and unnecessarily confuse show watchers. This adaptation also adds at points some minor details, but again, nothing that isn’t or couldn’t be implied in the text, or that I find particularly odd or wrong, so I won’t point those out.
Just as in the book version of the story, Meera says here that Lyanna then takes Howland to her tent, introduces him to the three other Starks, and insists that he join the feast with them, since he too is of noble birth. This adaptation also includes some of the details seasoned book readers will recall from that feast: a black brother still calls for recruits, Robert still drinks down the “knight of skulls and kisses” (in a strange clinging to the nicknames of the book - was the show afraid people wouldn’t recognize “Lonmouth”?), and Rhaegar still sings a song so sad it makes Lyanna cry (and she still pours wine over Benjen’s head for teasing her).
Here again, however, the show makes an odd decision: when talking about Ashara Dayne, Meera says that she danced with “Barristan Selmy and others”, before accepting Brandon Stark’s request for a “last dance” with Ned. The singling out of Barristan I don’t particularly mind: although I don’t think the text supports that interpretation (Barristan, who spends a good chunk of his internal monologue pining for Ashara, never thinks about the dance her shared with her?), I don’t mind if the show wants to make this change to connect Ashara with Barristan, the most well-known Kingsguard member to show watchers (besides Jaime Lannister, of course). I also don’t mind leaving out Jon Connington: like ignoring Richard Lonmouth’s name, I get why the show might think mentioning JonCon would only confuse watchers. What I am confused about is why the show neglected to bring up a mention of Oberyn - one of its most popular secondary characters - who is almost certainly the “red snake” who danced with Ashara at Harrenhal. Surely show watchers wouldn’t mind a quick mention of fan favorite Oberyn dancing with Ashara; I can’t fathom why the show neglected to mention him here.
In another odd moment, Meera then notes that at that moment, Aerys entered with his Kingsguard. Why Aerys didn’t come with the crown prince, I’m not sure, but at least the adaptation emphasizes Aerys’ monstrous appearance and erratic behavior. Oddly, though, Meera then says that Aerys pointed to Jaime Lannister and commanded him to kneel and swear the oath of the Kingsguard. It struck me as a strange choice, as though the show were trying to imply that Aerys just suddenly chose Jaime for the Kingsguard at that moment, which certainly is not accurate to the books. I don’t know if that was intentional or not, and I can’t recall if the show ever told the story of Jaime joining the Kingsguard, but it struck me as needlessly confusing.
The story then proceeds as you might expect, and here I’ll note one of the biggest concerns I could see for the show trying to adapt this story. In the books, the author can imply that Lyanna was the Knight of the Laughing Tree subtly (and let’s be real, she absolutely was). This adaptation correctly translates the book’s details of the Knight - small, in makeshift armor, who beats the three knights whose squires bullied Howland (as with the Whents, the knights are not named, but their sigils are seen when the Knight challenges them - a nice touch) and commands them to “teach [their] squires honor” before disappearing the following day - but fails to share in that greater context. Obviously, in a visual medium, the show would have to be careful being too obvious about the Knight’s identity, but I felt that this video went too far in the other direction and made it more of a mystery than GRRM intended. The show doesn’t have that quote from Jaime that jousting is nine-tenths horsemanship; doesn’t have the quotes from Barbrey Dustin and Roose Bolton and Harwin about Lyanna being a supremely talented rider; doesn’t have the example of Elia Sand “the girl jouster”, a girl of Lyanna’s age at the time of the tourney. Most glaringly, the show pointedly rejected a big piece of evidence right in the story itself - Jojen and Meera’s amazement that Lord Eddard had never told Bran this story, all the more bizarre if the story was really about Ned’s beloved sister and Bran’s late aunt. Again, I simply can’t fathom the show’s reasoning here; I sympathize with the difficulty of making the Knight of the Laughing Tree an engaging but solvable mystery in a visual medium for non-book readers, but that last point really makes the decision to create this video at all strange.
And then we get to what is, for my money, the most bizarre decision of all with this adaptation. The Knight disappears, as book and story agree, and later Aerys commands Robert Baratheon to challenge the Knight the following day (book-Meera notes that Aerys urged men to challenge him, and that both Robert and Richard Lonmouth separately swore to do so, but I don’t know why the show conflated the two details). And - that’s it. There is no mention of the “dragon prince” being tasked by his father to find the Knight, nor of Rhaegar coming back with Lyanna’s shield; Meera simply vaguely mentions that “they” only ever found the shield with the laughing weirwood face. Meera also briefly notes that Rhaegar won the tourney (without adding that he crowned Lyanna), and recalls the rumors of Rhaegar setting up the tourney to depose his father, but mentions that her father would not comment on these or the prince’s intentions.
I don’t get it. I don’t understand this decision in the least. I would argue that the main Doylist reason this story exists in the books is to add more evidence to R+L=J; the combination of Lyanna weeping for Rhaegar’s song, Lyanna’s probability as the Knight of the Laughing Tree, and Rhaegar’s probable implied meeting with her after she disappeared as the Knight all set up a connection between the doomed pair that aid in suggesting Jon’s true parentage. I don’t doubt that the show will have the same parentage for Jon as the books (not exactly subtle it was, when focusing on Jon as Aemon lamented about Targaryens alone in the world and immediately cutting to Jon after the tease of the tower of joy). Why, then, would the show voluntarily choose to tamp down a further connection between Lyanna and Rhaegar? Again, considering the medium (and the, well, lack of subtlety the show has engaged in before), I would have expected the opposite to be true - that the show would be almost explicit in naming Lyanna the Knight of the Laughing Tree and setting up her and Rhaegar’s meeting in the godswood of Harrenhal. This adaptation only leaves me wondering why it exists at all: sure, it’s a popular chapter from the books, and a fan favorite story, but how does the way it was adapted serve the needs of the show, or appeal to show watchers? Odd, that’s the only word that can describe it.
If you can buy the Game of Thrones DVD/BLU-RAY of Season 6, please do and do yourself a favor and watch Battle of the Bastards with the commentary of Sophie, Kit and Miguel. It will make you happy. I´ve watched the episode like three times this week just to listen to them hahaha
mijn vrije dag om lekker lui laat op te staan en te beginnen met een nieuwe
serie, Game Of Thrones. Said heeft tot en met seizoen 5 op dvd, “hogekwaliteit Blu-Ray
perfecte staat gepirateerde dvds, weliswaar.” Ik besef om 12 uur dat ik toch
nog graag naar buiten wil, dus vraag ik de andere om af te spreken. Het wordt
afspreken om terug binnen te zitten in de cinema. Op woensdag is het 2 voor 1.
We kiezen voor Valerian, bij almuerzo zeg ik het plan. Said waarschuwt me dat
ticketten snel uitverkocht zijn. Ik vertrek dus maar om half 4 om ticketten te
gaan kopen bij de cinema. Ik ga te voet, iets wat ik de laatste tijd meer en
meer doe. Gene velo, te voet dan. Veel leuker met koptelefoon met goede muziek
door de straten wandelen dan puffend op de micro te zitten. Bij de kassa krijg
ik te horen dat de voorstelling is uitverkocht… . Ik wil een bericht sturen
in de whatsapp, maar heb geen krediet meer.
Toch nog even een stukje schrijven over de gsmkosten hier. Goedkoop,
maar niet echt vertrouwenswaardig. Voor 8 Bolis (nen euro) kan ik een week
ongelimiteerde whatsapp kopen. Nu de kredietkaartjes komen in stukken van 10.
Dus 2 over normaal gezien toch? Nope, krediet vergaat na 1 dag. Alles op de dag
zelf opdoen dus. Zo heb ik dus wel al wat geld “verloren” wanneer ik krediet
kocht, maar niet voor whatsapp gebruikte. Snapje?
Na ik terug krediet heb gekocht wacht af op een antwoord van de groep op
de vraag of planet of the apes ook goed is voor iedereen. Planet of the apes om
7 uur wordt het. Nu… het is half 6? Naar huis gaan om dan direct terug te
komen, nee eens vragen of er niemand op de plaza is. “De plaza, daar waar
iedereen altijd is. Je moet maar een toertje rond het plein doen om iemand van
school of andere tegen te komen. Jakob zegt dat hij er binnen een halfuur is.
Ik neem plaats op een bankje, 5 minuten later kom ik al mensen van school
tegen. Ik ken ze niet, maar zij mij wel. Jakob komt me dan tenslotte redden uit
een awkward conversatie met 14 jarigen.
Samen gaan we op zoek naar eten en wachten we de andere op. Op weg naar de cinema komen uit een
dode hoek “letterlijk”, “M” tegemoet gelopen. Eigenlijk heet hij Pathipan, maar
hij noemt zichzelf M, dus wij ook. Hij komt net terug van een retiro met zijn
klas, hetzelfde wat ik had gedaan op mijn verjaardag. We vragen of hij niet mee
wilt naar de cinema. Hij zegt ja. We haasten ons naar de voorste rij in de
cinema, de film was al begonnen en de zaal zat zo goed als vol.
Planet of the apes was precies wel een film op onze maat gemaakt, de
film was uiteraard in het spaans, maar veel werd er niet gesproken. Eerder
gebarentaal tussen de apen. Dus we konden toch nog ongeveer volgen. Mooie, heel
Game of Thrones is one of the best and most influential shows currently airing!
Me, owner of a successful Game of Thrones related blog, with all the available seasons on Blu Ray, while making gifs of the show:
THIS TRASH SHOW IS OVERRATED AND HORRIBLE I HATE THIS SHOW WHY DOES IT KEEP WINNING AWARDS I HATE THIS SHOW @HBO STOP IT I HATE IT
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Yo, Amazon’s a great thing. Today the entire Cowboy Bebop (Blu-ray) series dropped from $60 down to $35 – the cheapest we’ve seen the price so far. It says they’re temporarily out of stock, but if you purchase the deal now Amazon will lock-in that price.
There’s also a handful of collections on the low-low, too. Check ‘em out: