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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later. Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. Jarl
    March 28, 2016 @ 9:58 am

    But, of course, what else would you even use as an ending? The Jaime/Cersei reunion? Bran disappearing into the whiteout at the end of the tunnel?

    That second one would make a good callback to the first season, wouldn’t it? Though you’d have to strain to think of a reason for it to call back to that.


    • Aylwin
      March 28, 2016 @ 11:32 am

      There is a pattern going on with the tunnels anyway – we see people pass through the Wall in the last episode of each of the first three seasons, as well as at the very beginning of the series. Season 4 stretches it a little, as Jon goes through at the very end of episode 9, and emerges at the start of episode 10. I think those are the only times we ever see anyone go through (though I haven’t seen season 5 yet), so there’s definitely a structural game being played there.

      Also, we only ever see people going north (that is, the ones who actually make it through). That makes sense, given how the Wall separates the land of the living from the land of the dead (a point highlighted by the season 2 tunnel sequence, in Daenerys’s vision, where she passes through the tunnel to meet Drogo, an image which is itself foreshadowed by the juxtaposition of Drogo’s death with the tunnel sequence in season 1).

      The most basic explanation of associating those threshold-crossing sequences with the turn of the seasons would be that it simply denotes the end of each section of the story, though maybe something more thematically eloquent could be discerned with a bit of work. (Mind you, in this story the concept of the “season” has a certain thematic resonance in itself.)


      • Aylwin
        March 28, 2016 @ 12:06 pm

        Whatever the limitations of the Stannis section, “Because I’m a slow learner” is an air-punch moment for me. It comes across as Davos shouldering through the fourth wall to give two fingers to the writers.


        • Aylwin
          March 28, 2016 @ 12:11 pm

          Bother – that wasn’t meant to be a reply.

          While I’m here, though, I should have mentioned it was Daru who pointed out the juxtaposition of the season 1 tunnel sequence with Drogo’s death.


          • Daru
            May 10, 2016 @ 7:51 am

            Thanks yeah! Been ages since I commented, been reading certainly but been less able to keep up with commenting recently.

            I think yes, that the use of the image of passing through a tunnel or doorway would have been really evocative. Especially as Bran was making an actual magical transition of note. And I know it’s loose, but the theme or passing though would arise again with Jon resurrecting in season 5 and the title of the episode called The Door.

      • Aylwin
        April 25, 2016 @ 9:46 am

        So, I was rewatching season 4, and it turns out there’s a bit in the tunnel when Gren and Edd come back. So bang goes that theory.



  2. Aylwin
    March 28, 2016 @ 11:52 am

    I think “completely and utterly pointless” is an unfair description of the Jon-Ygritte scene. I mean, it casts the end of that relationship in a very different way from what would have been there if they had just left it after the previous episode. In that, they’re separated by the inconvenient practicalities of being in opposing armies (after a fight in which she would actually have taken his side – Jon knocking Ygritte down so that she won’t kill any of her people on his behalf is a lovely little understated detail). This takes it to Because He Was Her Man And He Done Her Wrong. Which may or may not be a good decision, but it definitely does something significant to that story. Also it works for me, though that may be just because I’m a sucker for Ygritte.


  3. Aylwin
    March 28, 2016 @ 1:16 pm

    The big Lannister-table scene is gorgeous (I love the moment when Tywin’s hand with the letter drops), but it represents the peak of my difficulty with Conleth Hill’s performance as Varys, which is that it’s, well, too much fun. He gives some great theatrical reactions to things, but it seems wrong for the character at times. A subtle court intriguer and master spy, and especially one whose gifts and approach are supposed to be informed by acting talent and training, really ought to be more inscrutable, better able to hide feelings which it would be impolitic to show.

    Take for instance his lemon-sucking expression as Littlefinger is promoted – in front of the whole court, he would surely make a point of not giving anyone the satisfaction of seeing him being the least bit bothered. Here, he not only gives away more than he should, but attention is actually drawn to it by having Cersei notice, and him notice her noticing.

    I realise there is a line to be trodden here between strict naturalistic representation of how such a person would behave, and the need to communicate what he is thinking to the audience. It is possible, though, in screen acting at least, to convey both inscrutability and the feelings it is concealing – Mark Rylance in Wolf Hall leaps to minf. Admittedly, it must be a lot harder to accomplish that without the screen time, close-ups and general attention accruing to a protagonist.


  4. Aylwin
    March 28, 2016 @ 9:59 pm

    Regarding the need to make endings for characters, of course it’s equally valid to make a beginning. Just about every character signs off season 1 with a beginning, and they’re about as common as endings in subsequent episode 10s. Stannis makes what turned out to be a false start here, but at least he got to the Wall eventually. The one that really turned out to be going nowhere was the King’s Landing strand, and that’s an issue concerning the season as a whole.

    Apart from the similarly abortive Tyrion-Sansa marriage, the whole King’s Landing plot this season seems to occupied with setting up a season 4 power struggle pitting Tywin against Joffrey and the Tyrells, with Cersei caught in the middle. The establishment of Olenna’s skills as a politician capable of measuring up to Tywin and of Margaery’s ability to handle Joffrey, Joffrey’s increasing distance from Cersei and nascent resentment of Tywin’s dominance, Cersei’s fear of losing Joffrey to Margaery and unsuccessful efforts to persuade Tywin of the danger posed by the Tyrells – it all seems to be laying the groundwork, and the eruption of open antagonism between Tywin and Joffrey here looks like the final preparatory step for it to get going properly next season.

    Then it didn’t happen, leaving me thinking “so what was the point of all that then?”


  5. Dan
    March 30, 2016 @ 11:33 pm

    I never noticed the “colonial overtones at the time, partIy wasn’t watching that closely, perhaps also because I’m focused on Game of Thrones world when watching, and just think “that’s what people in Essos look like”, and “Daenerys is a Targaryen, so she’s blonde” etc,

    It’s not that I’m so naive that I don’t know there’s an intersection between fantasy fiction and reality, more that in GoT I imagine the intersections to be oblique – perfectly inexact – while at the same time – at least with regards to the books, more or less expressly deliberate.


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