The show opens with Bran’s vision of Winterfell.  The vision is set during his father Ned’s childhood.  It’s a lovely little scene, with the long-time Stark Master-at-arms, Rodrik Cassel overseeing young Ned and Benjen’s training.  Llyana also makes an appearance, showing off her horsemanship.  There’s also a young, but huge, Hodor, who speaks.  Here, he is a stable boy named Wylas, in the novels his real name is Walder, and according to Ned, he has always been “simple.”  Another difference is that in Dance, Bran has his visions through the Weirwood tree, as he does here, but can only see what’s going on the other side of a Weirwood as well.  His visions of Ned take place in the Godswood.  Bran hears Ned’s prayers in front of a Weirwood tree.  This is where we would have learned about Jon Snow’s parentage.  This will be shown on screen, through another vision.

Finally, the Tower of Joy.   When Bloodraven pulls Bran out of the vision, Bran immediately begins telling Hodor what he saw.  Of course, Hodor responded, “Hodor.”  Two characters I find interesting in the novels are Shireen’s jester, Patchface, and Hodor.  Much of their background is unknown, and who they might be and what they might know, a mystery.  There are theories that Hodor is named after the little known Norse god of Winter and darkness, “Hodur.”  In that mythology, he is controlled by Loki and tricked into killing his brother.  Bran is able to control Hodor, but the similarities end there.

Umm, how exactly did Bloodraven go from being a damn tree person, to an old man in a tree?  Leaf looks different as well.  Oh Speaking of Leaf, her conversation with Meera is a pretty big book spoiler.  Many readers assumed that Bran would never leave the cave, that he would, in the end, become tree person 2.0.  News that Bran will be leaving the cave is huge and opens the door for Coldhands.

In the novels, Ramsay is not Roose’s first born son, as Roose calls him in this episode.  In Dance, Roose remembers his first son, Domeric, fondly.  He was true-born, a great horseman, played the high harp, was quiet and enjoyed history.  After squiring in the Vale, he returned home missing the comradery and brotherly feeling he felt there with Lord Redfort’s sons.  He went against Roose’s wishes, and went to find Ramsay.  Ramsay later poisoned Domeric.  The Maester’s say it was an intestinal illness, but Roose does not believe this to be true.  There were other babies born, but Ramsay, the product of rape, is the only surviving son of Roose.  In Dance, Fat Walda is pregnant, so the show has surpassed the books as far as the death of Walda and the baby are concerned.  And yeah, I know, they didn’t show the bloody corpse, but I don’t think she and the baby survived.  Roose is still alive at the end of Dance, but it’s pretty evident that Roose is going to bite it.  In this fashion?  Taunting Ramsay?  Eh, I don’t think so.

In season 3, Robb beheads Lord Karstark.  This also happens in A Storm of Swords, but there, the remaining Karstark heir, Harrion, is held captive by the Lannister’s at Harrenhal.  This leaves Karhold withouit a ruler, being run by Lord Rickard Karstark’s Unclem Arnolf.  Ramsay’s new friend in this episode, Harald Karstark, appears to be some version of Harrion, not imprisoned, and heading up the Karstark armies.  In Dance, Ramsay does plan on attacking the Wall and killing Jon Snow, but there is not a Karstark present.  The infamous, yet show omitted, Pink Letter is received by Jon before he is stabbed, demanding “Arya” (actually Jeyne Poole, whom he marries in the novels), and Reek back.  This isn’t possible in the show now, leaving Ramsay to find a new way to provoke Jon into attacking.  The Karstark Lord’s presence at Winterfell could be our clue.  In the previews for episode 3, Harald has someone with him that he presents to Ramsay.  It has to be Rickon.

The events in Yunkai are similar to what goes on in the books, yet completely different as it’s Barristan Selmy in charge while Dany is gone.  The Masters are regaining power and pose a very real threat to Dany’s small council in her absence.  And while Rhaegal and Viseron are set free, it’s by Quentyn Martell, who is killed in the process.  This  is definitely furthering the theory that Tyrion is a bastard targ, especially for viewers. In the novels, Tyrion does ask for a dragon, this speech is almost word-for-word,.  Not a fan of how the show makes Tyrion come off as a person who just “knows things.”  Tyrion actually is a lover of books and has studied the history of Westeros, the Maesters, etc, since he was a child.  The comment on the show about the intelligence of the dragons is not one that has ever been mentioned, and after learning that Missendei, (a calm and gentle person), never feared them, and seeing Tyrion approach them in a friendly manner, it’s more likely they can simply sense dander rather than have a superior intelligence.

Screenshot (409)Screenshot (410)Screenshot (414)Screenshot (418)Screenshot (419)Brienne fills Sansa in on her encounter with Arya.  Why she doesn’t tell Sansa she was with the Hound, I have no idea.  Sansa definitely knows who he is, was it so they didn’t have to write Sansa’s reaction to his “death”?  That was just weird.  But what’s really infuriating, is Sansa damn near pleading with Theon to stay, to take the black.  Yeah, he may not have killed Bran and Rickon, but he still murdered two boys.  He would not have been sent to the Wall, Ned would have beheaded him.  Not only that, his betrayal caused the deaths of many Stark men, Rodrik Cassel and Maester Luwin.  Jon isn’t going to let vows wash away his sins.  That’s absolutely ridiculous, and Sansa, book Sansa, would know as much.  And what really, really irks me, is that Sansa is still acting as if she needs a man to survive.  Ffffuuuuuh that.  She has a perfectly capable, more than capable, knight.  She doesn’t need a man who allowed her to raped, showing her the way to the wall… a man who is barely alive, by the way.  And when he decides to ho “home,” he asks for a horse…that easy, huh?

Screenshot (442)Screenshot (445)As far as the Iron Islands go, it’s not exactly venturing into Dornish territory, and hopefully it stays that way.   In Dance, Deepwood Motte is held by Stannis, with him dead on the show, this change makes sense.  However, when it is taken by Stannis, Asha Greyjoy, err, “Yara” Greyjoy, is taken captive by Stannis.  In the novels, her two older brothers were killed when Pike tried to overthrow the Iron Throne.  When that rebellion was squashed, her younger brother, Theon, was sent to live as Ned Stark’s ward, ensuring Balon’s cooperation.  That left Yara, aka Asha, as Balon’s only surviving heir in Pike.  She was raised without the stereotypical gender roles, and is a great warrior and leader.  Here, while in the throne room with Balon, none of that is evident.  Also, why change the name of the Seastone Chair to the “Salt Throne”?  Why?  It’s just a stupid change for change’s sake.  Also, salt is water soluble, not the most intimidating name for a throne in a watery, damp, castle.   Balon dies in A Feast for Crows, as he does in this episode, thrown off a rope bridge in a storm, (an accident), however, it’s believed that he was killed by a Faceless Man assassin hired by Euron.

Screenshot (451)Screenshot (452)Screenshot (456)Screenshot (459)Screenshot (462)By right’s Yara aka Asha, should inherit Balon’s seat.  There’s no confusion on her part as to what a King’s Moot is, it’s disheartening that once again the show has made a capable, smart woman appear ignorant.  The King’s Moot is not something that is practiced any longer in the novels, and it’s her Uncle, the religious leader, Aeron Damphair, who requests a King’s Moot take place, not some random guy walking by.  With Theon going “home,” I think we can expect to see him at the King’s Moot, which does not happen in the novels.  With Euron there, Theon may not be long for this world.  However, the show does not have a Victorion.  It is this brother that is sent by Euron to woo Dany with a fleet of ships.  Without this character on the show, I am guessing that it will be Asha who is sent on this mission, as Theon is not a sailor and Asha controls a fleet of men.  I expect Theon’s death to take place after Asha has left, that or she leaves to meet Dany after Theon’s death, in order to form an alliance.

More blind Arya.  In the novels, she has her vision back, and it is not the waif that trains her, it is the “kindly man.”  Last year’s rogue killing of Meryn Trant that lead to her punishment of blindness, is similar to something that will happen in the novels.  Arya kills not Trant, but Raff the Sweetling, while in disguise of a young theater actress named Mercy.  Also omitted from the show is Arya’s ability to warg.  She warg’s an alley cat as well as Nymeria while she dreams.  She is able to see and sense everything Nymeria does as she leads a wolf pack.

Screenshot (420)Screenshot (425)King’s Landing is “meh.”  Showing unGregor killing the random commoner making crude jokes about Cersei was an effective way of showing his strength, but a little unbelievable, unless Cersei has her own “little birds” running around King’s Landing.  Tommen is so different on the show than in the books.  He’s playing with kittens.  He’s like…maybe 10 years old?  He isn’t trying to get revenge or asking his Mom how to be strong.

Screenshot (395)Screenshot (396)Screenshot (397)Screenshot (398)Screenshot (399)Screenshot (400)Screenshot (401)Screenshot (402)Okay, Jon’s alive.  That’s out of the way, and way earlier in the season than I could have imagined.

Screenshot (309) - Copy - CopyScreenshot (311) - Copy - CopyScreenshot (315) - Copy - CopyScreenshot (321)Screenshot (324)Screenshot (327)Edd showed up just in time to save Davos and the others from certain death.  I wonder how it was an entire wildling army, including a fucking giant, were able to sneak past all NW guards, without being seen, and Thorne never being alerted?  Worst.  Guards.  Ever.  In the novels, when Jon is stabbed, Wun Wun is smashing a knight to pieces, defending Mance Rayder’s sister-in-law from what could be unwelcome advances.    Since the character of Val does not exist on the show, we get the smashing of a Night’s Watch traitor, after he shoots the giant.  He slams him against the wall like a ragdoll.

**That knight is Ser Patrek of King’s Mountain.  He wears stars of white, blue and silver.  This is a reference to the Dallas Cowboys.  Wun Wun, pronounced the same as one-one, the number 11, a reference to Phil Simms, legendary Giants QB.  It’s a Cowboys vs Giants allegory, with the Giants winning.**

Screenshot (369)Screenshot (372)Screenshot (373)Screenshot (378)Screenshot (382)Screenshot (389)Screenshot (392)Here’s the miss.  When Davos goes to see Mel, he’s very meek and all, “Sorry, m’lady,” when he sees her staring into the flames.   Davos hates Mel.  He doesn’t believe in her Red God or her flames.  Yes, he could have possibly gone to her for help, but it wouldn’t have been in such a friendly way.  His words of encouragement to her were too much.  Unbelievable.  In Dance, Davos is not at the Wall.  He is trying to get Northern support for Stannis, and, quite possibly, is the person who finds Rickon.

It’s possible that Davos is unaware of Shireen’s cause of death.  He knows that his Lord and his family are all dead, but I think here he assumes it was in battle.  In the novels, Mel, Selyse and Shireen are at the Wall, only Stannis has traveled to Winterfell for battle.  It’s possible that the news of Shireen’s death, who Davos loved as his own, broke him.  That would explain his kindness towards Mel- he is just too sad to hate.  The death of Stannis, who he has served loyally for years, probably left a great hole in Davos as well.  When he states “They’re not the only ones who owe their lives to Jon Snow,” he is somehow referring to himself, yet I am at a bit of a loss at how this would include him, unless after finding out about the deaths of Stannis and Shireen, serving Jon would be the only thing to keep him going.

I’m guessing that Davos soon finds out about what went on outside of Winterfell.  It’s really weird he hasn’t already, since many of the men left Stannis’s camp after Shireen was burned.  Where did they go?  A messenger can get from Dorne to King’s Landing in no time, but not from Winterfell to the Wall?  I’m guessing that in the book, Mel takes it upon herself to burn Shireen at the Wall in order to bring back Jon, and Davos kills Mel when he returns.  It’s just…weird.  It’s out of character for Davos, who is one of the BEST characters in the novels.