Joe Concha of Mediaite wrote me to point out a few things I got wrong in my post responding to his review of Sunday’s Game of Thrones episode.
Concha rightfully points out that the character of Robb Stark’s wife who was killed on Sunday is different from the character in George R. R. Martin’s series of books. He adds that her death, and that of her unborn child, was added by HBO writers to add “shock value” to the scene.
The main point in my post is that the violence in Sunday’s episode — while graphic — was par for the course for the show and shouldn’t have been unexpected. The entires series is popular becasue of its “shock value.”
We see characters beheaded, tortured, castrated, raped — and I could go on. The stabbing death of the pregnant woman on Sunday was definitely shocking, but so was the scene from last season where two orphan boys were killed, burned, and hung in a castle courtyard. So was the scene with a full-grown boy breastfeeding (Vanity Fair called their piece on the episode “Still Shocking.”) Or, even more disturbing, there’s crazy old Craster, who lives north of the Wall has sex with dozens of his daughter-wives and only allows baby girls to live, leaving any newborn boys to be carried off by the abominable-snowmen-zombie White Walkers.
As for the killing of the wolf, which Concha objects to, this is actually the second of the Stark family direwolves killed off on the show, the first being in season one.
The HBO version of the “Red Wedding” is no more shocking than the version that appears in A Storm of Swords. You can read the summary here. Don’t click on the link if you are reading the books and don’t want it spoiled — if not, scroll down to see what they do with the wolf, if you don’t believe me. Imagine if that was on television.
So, that was my point. HBO’s Game of Thrones, since its first episode, has been a graphic, disturbing show filled with violence, sex, and torture. And as for what happened on Sunday, it was supposed to be disturbing. George R. R. Martin calling the Red Wedding “. . . probably the most powerful scene in the books.”
If Concha feels Sunday’s episode is cancel-your-subscription worthy, that’s fine. But he should have known what he was getting into.