ASOIAF vs GoT, Second: Tyrion and Penny

Rob Bricken at i09 has a list of Game of Thrones sub-plots that appear to have been omitted from the show, and for the better. He seems to have based the list of divergences on preview materials, and we won’t know for sure what’s left out of the show until we see Season 5. Even then, it’s still possible that they’ll bring some book-derived subplots back for Season 6. Either way, assuming he’s right about what’s being left out, I mostly agree with Bricken that these omissions are for the better. I would like to add that I am grateful that Lady Stoneheart has so far not appeared in the show. She is…unpalatable. Her absence means they’ll have to come up with some other misadventures for Brienne, but they appear to already be coming up with different stuff for Brienne to do (example: nearly all of what she does in Season 4 is original to the show, mostly because Brienne doesn’t have much page time in the latter half of A Storm of Swords), so thumbs up! There’s enough material in Books 4 and 5 to write 3 seasons, so it’s not out of the question that Lady Stoneheart will show up in Season 6, but TBQH, I don’t see it happening. Game of Thrones doesn’t seem to mind showing us disturbing shit, but Lady Stoneheart is not just disturbing, she’s…gross. Her presence, and the events around her, would not make for good television.

But anyway! I agree with Bricken that leaving the Greyjoy uncles out is a good thing. I honestly do not give a fuck about the Greyjoys. I care at least a little about Theon and Asha/Yara, though not nearly as much as I care about my Lannister brothers and their ladies. Uncles Aeron, Euron and Victarion, however? Can frankly bite my ass. Same thing about Quentyn Martell; seems like a nice kid, but I just couldn’t get attached to him. I will differ on this one point: Quentyn has indeed died of his burns from his encounter with the dragons. He took a good long time to die, poor kid, but Barristan Selmy confirmed that he eventually succumbed. He will not be taking up any more space in the books, except to the extent that Prince Doran and Princess Arianne are upset about his loss.

If they have omitted Young Griff (“Faegon”) from the show, then I guess that means he’s not all that important to the plot of the series, though actually, I did enjoy the cast of characters around Young Griff. I enjoyed Griff (Jon Connington) even though he was a big poopyhead to Tyrion, I liked Septa Lemore and Duck. I thought it was rather funny how all these different guys were converging on Dany and thinking they’d marry her, but that only goes so far before it gets ridiculous. Young Griff, though? He’s very meh. If he’s left out of the show entirely, I won’t miss him. It’s kind of weird that he waited until the fifth book of seven to show his face.

(For GoT fans who haven’t read the books: Jon Connington was one of several Hands under Mad King Aerys, and a good friend to Prince Rhaegar, but he was exiled during Robert’s Rebellion because he disappointed the Mad King. The official story around Westeros was that he ran off to Essos and drank himself to death, but all this time he’s been very much alive, calling himself Griff, and raising a boy with the help of several oddballs. The boy, Young Griff, poses as his son but is actually Prince Aegon Targaryen, the son of Prince Rhaegar and Elia Martell, switched with a pauper baby shortly before the Sack of King’s Landing. The pauper baby was killed in the Sack, and Prince Aegon was spirited across the Narrow Sea to be fostered by Griff and his associates. He’s Daenerys’s nephew, though slightly older. Hoping to marry his Auntie Dragon. That sort of co-sanguineal marriage seems normal in Westeros, but it grosses me out.)

(Another digression, while we’re on the topic: if Lady Stoneheart doesn’t ring a bell, Google the name and find the first Wiki link that pops up. Prepare to get the heebie-jeebies.)

This is the part where I think a bit differently:

4) Tyrion’s Walk of Shame

After Tyrion kills his dad and flees King’s Landing in the books, he has nowhere to go. Eventually he ends up at Illyrio Mopatis’ place, who sends him to Meereen along with Faegon to meet with Daenerys. As the trailers for the new season have shown, Tyrion seems to meet up with Daenerys very soon — a very different scenario from the books, in which Tyrion still hasn’t met the Mother of Dragons.

What Tyrion has done, in the books, is had a massive series of misadventures, none of which are particularly noteworthy. He’s captured by the exiled Jorah Mormont, and then they’re both captured by slavers, and eventually bought by a mercenary company. He’s also met a fellow dwarf named Penny, and forced to mock-joust each other, just as Joffrey had a troupe of dwarves do at his wedding feast to Margaery. Given how awful fate has treated Tyrion so far, forcing him to participate in this dwarf mocking seems just too insulting, and it’s likely a scene that actor Peter Dinklage is probably very happy to avoid altogether.

While we’re all for spending time with Tyrion, it’s obvious that his time as a slave and/or captive is going to be temporary, because he obviously has to meet and join up with Daenerys eventually. We’re very happy the show seems to be getting right to it.

*nods* Probably for the best if they skip over the part where Tyrion, Jorah and Penny are captured by slavers and purchased at an auction. I do hope the show doesn’t omit Penny entirely, though. In the books, the dwarf-jousting entertainment at Joffrey and Margaery’s wedding is actually just two dwarfs: Penny and her brother, Groat, though we don’t learn their names until Penny shows up in A Dance With Dragons. Cersei has offered a lordship to whomever brings her Tyrion’s head, with the effect that dwarfs are being killed all over the known world and Cersei is getting horribly annoyed with stupid guys bringing her heads that were not Tyrion’s. One dwarf who was mistaken for Tyrion and accordingly killed was Groat. So, when Penny first sees Tyrion, she’s kinda peeved at him. Maybe just a little. They become friends soon enough, though.

Their act was to mock-joust and perform silly antics while mounted on animals. Penny rode a pig named Pretty Pig, and Groat rode a large shaggy dog named Grunt. It’s the kind of act that’s cute at first, but it grows stale in a hurry. For the Purple Wedding scene on Game of Thrones, they had to modify the dwarf-jousting because it was impossible to find a pig that could serve like Pretty Pig does. (Listen to the commentary on Episode 4:2, and they tell us: they could not find a single pig in Europe who could be mounted and ridden like a horse.) So, if we see Penny on the show, that part of her story will have to be different. She will not be someone Tyrion has already seen at Joffrey and Margaery’s wedding, because those performers were all men. She will not be performing on the back of a pig, because the Game of Thrones producers cannot find a pig to play that role. We have already established that I am the kind of person who thinks play-jousting dwarfs are hilarious, but if Peter Dinklage shies away from performing that, I don’t blame him. HOWEVER. Penny’s performance skills are not entirely superfluous to the plot; it’s only pretend fighting, but Tyrion notes that she’s very good at pretending, and therefore thinks she may be useful in combat. This is a good thing, as there’s about to be a lot of combat going on.

Those functions could be shifted over to other characters, and Tyrion’s story could be modified to such an extent that he doesn’t need a friend who knows how to mock-fight. The main reason why I think it would be a bad move to keep her entirely out of Season 5 is that Penny is a love interest to Tyrion. She’s a love interest who could actually work out in the long term. Unlike the Shae in the books (who is nowhere near as interesting or sympathetic as TV!Shae), she actually fancies Tyrion regardless of his financial assets and social position. Unlike Sansa, Penny is past the age of majority, does not have the baggage of having her family torn apart by the Lannisters, and she thinks Tyrion is perfectly attractive as he is. Penny is another Tysha, except now there’s no Tywin to get between them!

(Oh, and this is the subject of a much longer post, but I should also add here that Tyrion’s first wife, Tysha, did not come to him as a sex worker hired by Jaime. She was exactly as she presented herself to be, and she really loved Tyrion. Tywin persuaded Jaime to lie about her to Tyrion in order to split them up, but he did not warn Jaime that he intended to put Tysha through a massive gang rape and force Tyrion to participate. Tysha was a perfectly sincere, viable partner for Tyrion, and Tywin ruined her life because she was lowborn and poor. This is a revelation from late in A Storm of Swords that the show left out. When we get back to Tyrion in A Dance With Dragons, he is royally pissed off at Jaime, and the reason for his anger is what was done to Tysha. On the show, he has no reason to be angry at Jaime, because he still doesn’t know that Tysha wasn’t a whore. I think the omission was a mistake.)

As of the excerpts we’ve seen of The Winds of Winter, the Tyrion/Penny relationship is nowhere near consummation. She’s offered to fuck him at least once, she’s snuck in a kiss or two, but Tyrion still doesn’t trust her and that’s mostly due to his rage over Shae’s betrayal. Tyrion’s letting his own issues get in the way of a potentially satisfying relationship. He also has his own hang-ups regarding dwarfism. He doesn’t agree with Penny’s approach to getting along with tall people, and he may have the right in that, but Penny appears to have a much healthier view of their dwarfish bodies than he does. Still, a romantic storyline is definitely in progress. Oh yes. Oh fucking yes.

With Tyrion being one of the most significant characters in both books and show, and with his love life having caused him so much angst, I think it would be a bad idea for the show to chuck out the part where he finally meets someone who wants to be with him, and could be with him. I feel like Season 4 made Tyrion/Sansa seem more viable, but it is not a viable relationship. The marriage is a complete non-starter, and, assuming they both live through the series, I’m sure they’ll have it annulled. I think it’s viable for Tyrion and Sansa to become friends! It would be really sweet if they could get un-married and then enjoy visiting each other at Winterfell and Casterly Rock later on, but to have them make the marriage work in the long term would be both implausible and unsatisfying.

It’s also possible that the show will treat Tyrion’s love life the same way it treated Robb Stark’s marriage, which is to create a totally different character with a totally different story around her, but still make a romance happen. Maybe they think Penny is too cutesy and Tyrion should be with someone more glamorous. Or maybe they’ll wait until Season 6 to introduce Penny, gently adapted for the changed circumstances. Hell, maybe they’ll bring back Tysha, have her tell Tyrion he’d been lied to, and let her be the new Lady of Casterly Rock once Tyrion is released from his marriage to Sansa! I like Penny, though. I think she warrants a place on the show.