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Grantland on Ser Pounce and why the HBO show will spoil more things not yet published in the books.

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Andy Greenwald on the appeal of Ser Pounce:

I didn’t want to make a big deal about the cat. Can you blame me? The Internet has a funny way of overreacting to anything even remotely feline. (Peggy Olson sat next to a tabby for five seconds on Mad Men once and the damn thing has its own Twitter account.) And so my first thoughts upon the introduction of brave Ser Pounce, defender of royal virginity, scourge of House Mouse, were negative. On a show that traffics in the kind of hacking that ends in dismemberment, not hairballs, was there really room for something so cute? Yes, direwolves are furry, but they also will turn a human limb into kibble. I had real concerns that three-plus years of epic drama and heavy dread would suddenly be washed away in a sea of snuggly GIFs. Would the fearsome reign of the Lannister lions be undone by a persistent kitten? (Can you imagine Jaime Lannister using his gold hand to open fresh-forged tins of Fancy Feast?) And how do you say “I can haz lemoncake” in High Valyrian, anyway?

Clearly, I was being irrational. (Though it is worth noting that Ser Pouncecurrently has nearly 11,000 more followers on Twitter than the writer of the damn episode that introduced him.) The truth is, Game of Thrones needs fuzzy distractions like Ser Pounce, particularly as it continues its bleak luge into the depths of winter. Last year, before lopping off Theon’s littlefinger, Ramsay Snow announced, “If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.” The same could be said of any fan who thought the savagery of the Red Wedding represented some sort of floor for how low this show could possibly go. Last week alone featured mass rape and crucifixions, the sight of a mentally challenged man chained to a post and being stabbed in the leg, and the abduction of a crying, innocent baby whose reward for not freezing to death was transformation into a glittery-eyed ice demon. Game of Thrones is devoted to depicting the very worst humanity has to offer. Who could fault its audience for latching on to Ser Pounce like the shedding life raft he is?

I’d even take it a step further. One of the things George R.R. Martin’s readers decry above all else is the way beloved characters and scenes are continually discarded by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss due to time constraints. But even though I (say it with me) haven’t read the books, it’s not hard to imagine that the real crime of Game of Thrones, as is the case with any literary adaptation, is the painful, if necessary, loss of the sort of atmosphere and culture that can be captured only in writing. Even without knowing any of the specifics, I’m sure there’s been a consistent ignoring or at least eliding of all the little world-building details that keep true fans enthralled and Wikipedia in business. This is entirely understandable, but also a little bit disheartening. Some people wish HBO’s generous budget allowed for more epic battles, but I’d settle for a little extra time to sink into the society that exists around the characters, a better sense of the stray pleasures and everyday routines that are apparently worth dying for. It’s why I appreciated the Arya/Hound rabbit stew scene and even the brief mention of the deliciousness of boiled potatoes before Random Citizen No. 5 got a Wildling arrow stuck in his throat. Ser Pounce may not seem like much — and, in fact, we’re unlikely to be seeing him again anytime soon — but in his inimitable, purring way, he’s representative of the compelling little lively details that make a vicious, death-dealing show so appealing.

netw3rk on why the HBO show will keep spoiling the books:

If a spoiler falls in an icy forest north of the Wall, and some portion of the people watching on television don’t know it’s a spoiler, is it actually a spoiler? The answer is an emphatic “kinda.” After last Sunday night’s episode of Game of Thrones — which, as you may have heard, was the most drastic departure from the source material yet — HBO’s official show synopsis page used a name, familiar to book readers, to identify the Darth Maul cocaine-finger White Walker who appeared in the episode’s end reveal. Now, I won’t reveal that name here, because I don’t want any (alleged?) spoilers on my conscience, but this is the Internet, and if you really want to find out what the name is, you know what to do. HBO quickly altered the page, replacing the name with “A Walker,” leading book readers into a sort of logic-argument ouroboros where altering the website meant the detail was either a huge spoiler or a typo or retcon or all of those at once.

If the name used by HBO on its show page really corresponds to the book character of the same name — and, again, sorry for being vague, but if you have to know, Google exists — then this would be the first time the show has ever spoiled the story for book readers instead of vice versa. The reaction on the various ASoIaF Internet gathering places was a mixture of “Oh, cool” and “HOW COULD THEY DO THIS?!?!” This is interesting because HBO’s revelation of the character’s identity has spoiler value only because fans of the books created that value through years of kabbalah-esque parsing of the text. The character has not yet appeared in the books and is mentioned only briefly as being a possibly legendary figure. Finding out who this character is isn’t like finding out about the Red Wedding or Ned’s death; it just negates a few alternate realities that exist only as fan speculation by removing that barely mentioned character from the lists of possible suspects featuring in various other fan theories about other characters’ identities. Which is to say, as the show increasingly blows by George R.R. Martin’s writing pace, book readers better get used to this feeling.

Cool -- how White Walker makeup happens:

Jon Hamm and Bill Simmons discuss Game of Thrones:

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