ASOIAF vs. GoT, Fifth: Tyrion’s First Wife

 There’s a recent article at Cracked, by Michael Hossey, featuring “5 Scenes on Game of Thrones That Make No Sense.” The first one he describes concerns the characterization development that I want to discuss today: Tyrion and his first wife, Tysha. Hossey’s article gives some examples of why I feel the need to write these books/show comparisons. It’s not because I think the show is  inferior to the books, or that every deviation from the source material needs to be explained and justified. Some changes actually make the show better! Some are perfectly harmless. That adorable conversation with Tyrion and Jaime reminiscing about their poor brain-damaged cousin Orson, for example, contributes absolutely nothing to plot development or characterization, but I love it. No justification needed there! Sometimes, though, the showrunners change things in ways that honestly don’t add up very well. I wrote that incredibly long post on Jaime losing his hand, with that even longer citations file, because the show left us with a cheap and flimsy explanation for why the sword hand had to be chopped. I didn’t go to all that trouble because I’m so pleased with myself for reading the books! I started with the show before I tried the books, and I’ve only just now read (most of) the first one. With Tyrion and his relationships to Tysha and Shae, I think the showrunners left out valuable information, and truncated an important conversation, in ways that sell the characters short. Bear with me, and I’ll show you what I mean. Here are the citations. Everything I talk about in this post is backed up in the file.

With the way he’s written in the first book, Jaime appears to have basically no redeeming qualities except for his relationship with his brother. Sure, he’s a homicidal piece of work who fucks his own sister, BUT, he’s also a loving big brother to everyone’s favorite wine-swilling dwarf. It’s even more remarkable when we remember how their father and sister have spent all of Tyrion’s life hating him for having survived his own birth when his mother didn’t. If Jaime is good to him, then there must be something warm and decent about Jaime after all. The first time in the books that we see Jaime behaving like something more interesting than a sword-wielding, child-tossing sociopath is near the end of A Clash of Kings, when he has that infamous conversation with Catelyn Stark just before she hands him over to her big swordswench. Even then he’s still behaving like an asshole, but he’s finally showing some glimmers of humanity, including this gem here:

“I made no such claim. The Starks were nothing to me. I will say, I think it passing odd that I am loved by one for a kindness I never did, and reviled by so many for my finest act. At Robert’s coronation, I was made to kneel at the royal feet beside Grand Maester Pycelle and Varys the eunuch, so that he might forgive us our crimes before he took us into his service.”

The “finest act” is, of course, when he killed the Mad King. There’s no mystery about that. We don’t learn what he means about being “loved by one for a kindness [he] never did” until much later. By this point in both books and show, however, we have learned about Tyrion’s early marriage.

That much is mostly unchanged from the text. He was 13, riding from Lannisport back to Casterly Rock with Jaime, when a young girl came running terrified into their path with two men chasing her. She was a recently orphaned crofter’s daughter, with nowhere to go, slightly older than Tyrion, named Tysha. While Jaime rode off to go all Valar Morghulis on her assailants, Tyrion stayed with her and bought her some food and drink at an inn. They ended up in bed together, fell in love, and swiftly got married when Tyrion paid some silver to a drunken septon. Tyrion set her up in a cottage because there was no way he could get away with bringing his lowborn wife to Casterly Rock, and they lived in that cottage as man and wife…for two weeks, until the septon sobered up and told Lord Tywin about the marriage. His father had Jaime tell the truth to Tyrion: the girl was a whore, Jaime had paid double to get a virgin, the whole situation on the road was a setup to help Tyrion get some sexual experience, and so their marriage was a sham. Then Tywin makes Tyrion watch while the Lannister guards run a train on Tysha and pay her a silver for each of them. And then the Lord of Casterly Rock makes his younger son fuck the girl after all the guards are done with her, and makes him pay her a gold piece, because Lannisters are worth more than others. The  marriage is annulled, Tysha goes off somewhere else, and Tyrion never sees her again.

This is the story he shares with Bronn on the road from the Eyrie back to Tywin’s war camp. A little while later, he meets Shae. That’s another area with major differences between books and show, but I’m not going to get too far into that divergence here. I’m focusing on Tyrion’s relationship with Tysha, and how that relates to his bond with Jaime.

So, a brief rundown of Tyrion’s early marriage: 1. He and Jaime encounter a poor girl on the road with a couple of attempting rapists on her heels, 2. Tyrion comforts her, falls in love, marries her, houses her in a cottage outside of Casterly Rock, 3. Tywin finds out about his son being married to a poor, lowborn girl, 4. Jaime tells Tyrion it was all a setup and the girl’s a whore, 5. Tywin subjects the girl to a massive gang-rape and makes Tyrion participate, 6. Boom, marriage over, girl is never seen again.

Back to Jaime, in his final conversation with Catelyn:
“Oh, it’s truth you want? Be careful, my lady. Tyrion says that people often claim to hunger for truth, but seldom like the taste when it’s served up.”

Tyrion’s own words: People claim to hunger for truth, but seldom like the taste when it’s served up.

I’ve remarked before that A Storm of Swords has Jaime return to King’s Landing at a somewhat later stage than on the show. Joffrey’s already dead, Tyrion’s been arrested, and Sansa’s disappeared before Jaime shows up at the Red Keep with Brienne and a bunch of northmen assigned by Roose Bolton. Jaime watches Tyrion’s trial, but never interacts with him, never goes to visit his cell. He does conspire with Varys to help Tyrion escape and flee to Essos, but when Jaime shows up in the wee hours to get Tyrion out of his cell, it’s the first time the brothers are seeing each other since the family departed from their visit to Winterfell. It’s been over a year, probably closer to two, since they last saw each other. All those adorable conversations between the brothers in Season 4? Up until episode 10, they’re all original to the show. Finally, when Tyrion’s about to be executed the next morning, Jaime shows up with the jailer’s keys and leads Tyrion out towards Varys. It’s the first time Tyrion sees Jaime’s stump, and Jaime sees Tyrion’s facial wound from the Battle of Blackwater Bay. Squats down, gives his little brother a nice hug and kiss, Tyrion says thank you for saving him. Their conversation is really quite sweet, but it takes an ugly turn when Jaime serves up some truth:

He did not hire Tysha as a whore to pleasure Tyrion. Their chance encounter on the road was not faked, and Tysha was exactly as she presented herself to be. Tywin instructed Jaime to lie about her, because she was lowborn and therefore not fit to be married to a Lannister. Tywin’s thinking on the matter was that Tysha was only interested in Tyrion for his gold, so in a way, she really was a whore.

(If you haven’t read the books, I highly recommend you look at the citations file and read the exchange from the text. It’s intense.)

With that revealed, Tyrion isn’t grateful to Jaime for telling him the truth at long last. Tyrion is pissed as fuck at his loving big brother. Tyrion says some really unpleasant things to Jaime, some of which are true. He says that he really did kill Joffrey–“Yes, I killed your vile son.”–which is, of course, malarkey, but the intent here is to hurt Jaime, not to reward him for honesty. He also tells him: “Cersei is a lying whore, she’s been fucking Lancel and Osmund Kettleblack and probably Moon Boy for all I know.” The bit about Moon Boy is nonsense, but we know by this point that Cersei really has been fucking Little Cousin Lancel, and there’s also a new Kingsguard knight named Osmund Kettleblack. Has Cersei been spreading her legs for him? Why, yes. Indeed she has. And now Jaime knows the truth: HIS SISTER HAS BEEN FUCKING OTHER MEN.

(This is where I feel sorry for Jaime: the twincest relationship is disgusting, but let it never be said that his love for her is not sincere.)

All that, and Tyrion’s also threatening to kick Jaime’s ass if they ever meet again. It’s a more viable threat now that Jaime has to fight with his left hand. Cripple vs. Dwarf: the Battle Royale!

We all know what happens next: Tyrion climbs up to the Tower of the Hand, finds Shae in his father’s bed (the same father who had previously threatened to hang the next whore he found in his son’s bed), they have a confrontation, and he strangles her to death. He takes a crossbow off the wall, finds his father in the privy. This is where book and show diverge again, and where Michael Hossey remarks that the scene makes no sense on the show. Tyrion just killed Shae! Why the fuck would Tywin have to die for having insulted her?

I could talk about how maybe there’s a part of Tyrion that insists on defending Shae’s honor (although…since Shae actually was a sex worker, it’s kind of weird that Tyrion objects to Tywin calling her a whore) even while another part of him determined that she had to die for having betrayed him. But seriously? I’m kinda with Hossey there. The book made Tyrion’s final confrontation with Tywin all about Tysha, not Shae. I get that the show has made Shae into a much more sympathetic and interesting character than the way GRRMartin wrote her in the books, and they’ve given her a better-developed relationship with Tyrion. I respect those changes, and since they’d already chucked out Jaime’s revelation of the truth about Tysha, by that point in the episode the Privy Patricide had to be about Shae rather than Tysha.

Why did they omit Jaime’s serving up the truth to Tyrion, though? Why was that revelation not present on the show?

Hossey is mistaken in saying that there’s no apparent reason for the omission: I’ve listened to the audio commentaries for S4:E10, and the director says, basically, that they changed the final Jaime/Tyrion exchange the way they did because the revelation about Tysha made it too dark and depressing. So much nicer to show the brotherly hug and kiss, the thanks, and then the goodbye.

This is the part where I say: SERIOUSLY? You didn’t like that their conversation got so DARK at that point? The show gives us Tyrion getting his face slashed open, Jaime getting his right hand chopped off, Jaime raping his sister, and Tyrion killing his lover, but we can’t have Jaime confessing to his little brother that he once helped their father do something shitty. Game of Thrones, what the fuck?

Anyway. Tyrion kills Shae in his father’s bed, grabs the crossbow, and finds his father in the middle of taking a dump. And he asks Tywin: what did you do with Tysha? Tyrion’s first wife. What happened to her? Tywin calls the girl a whore, and THAT is when Tyrion says: next time you say that word, I’ll kill you. Asks again: what did you do with her? Was she killed? Tywin says no, she wasn’t killed. The steward must have sent her off somewhere else. Tyrion asks where the steward sent her to. Tywin’s answer?

“Wherever whores go.”

THRUM, goes the crossbow, and BANG goes the arrow into Lord Tywin’s lower abdomen. When Tyrion has seen that his father is truly dead, he goes back to Varys. ROT IN SEVEN HELLS, TYWIN LANNISTER.

My objection to the changes in this turn of events is not a matter of interest in Tysha herself. I don’t expect we’ll ever see Tysha again, and that’s fine. My objection to cutting out the Truth About Tysha is that the brothers’ last exchange implies so much about Tyrion’s past and Jaime’s future. Jaime serves up one truth bomb to his brother, and Tyrion serves up another truth bomb (as well as some lies and abuse) in return. Now Jaime knows Cersei’s been cheating on him with their cousin and some greasy Kingsguard knight, and it becomes an ideé fixe for him: “She’s been fucking Lancel and Osmund Kettleblack and probably Moon Boy for all I know.” When we see Jaime in A Feast for Crows, those words keep on coming back to him. His relationship with Cersei has already nose-dived, and that truth-bomb of “Lancel and Osmund Kettleblack and probably Moon Boy” drives an ever bigger wedge between them. Cersei doesn’t know that Jaime knows that she’s been fucking other men, but we know he knows, and he will never trust her again.

After the confrontation with his father, Tyrion gets a new mantra of his own: “Wherever whores go.” One might say perhaps that Tyrion has been so fond of visiting whores for all these years because not only did Tysha’s departure leave him with the idea that no one but a whore would ever touch him, but there’s also a part of him that keeps hoping to find his long-lost wife in one of those brothels. When we see him in A Dance With Dragons, he keeps asking various people: “Where do whores go?”

I will finish off this post with Tyrion’s last words to his father. They are such epic words. Maximum devastation in minimum syllables.
Tyrion gestured impatiently with the bow. “Tysha. What did you do with her, after my little lesson?”
“I don’t recall.”
“Try harder. Did you have her killed?”
His father pursed his lips. “There was no reason for that, she’d learned her place … and had been well paid for her day’s work, I seem to recall. I suppose the steward sent her on her way. I never thought to inquire.”
“On her way where?”
“Wherever whores go.”
Tyrion’s finger clenched. The crossbow whanged just as Lord Tywin started to rise. The bolt slammed into him above the groin and he sat back down with a grunt. The quarrel had sunk deep, right to the fletching. Blood seeped out around the shaft, dripping down into his pubic hair and over his bare thighs.
“You shot me,” he said incredulously, his eyes glassy with shock.
“You always were quick to grasp a situation, my lord,” Tyrion said. “That must be why you’re the Hand of the King.”
“You … you are no … no son of mine.”
“Now that’s where you’re wrong, Father. Why, I believe I’m you writ small. Do me a kindness now, and die quickly. I have a ship to catch.”