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Bran Stark: I'm Flying


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I don't think the show did a very good job with Bran's story this past season (other than "The Lion and the Rose," which, unsurprisingly, was written by GRRM), but Bran's journey has been one of my favorite parts of the show. I think the first few seasons were the most powerful, as we still saw him with his family, and at Winterfell. Isaac Hempstead Wright added such emotional power to scenes like Bran begging Theon not to kill Rodrik. Even last season, when he had to tell Rickon goodbye, we saw some of this. Season 4, there was his almost seeing Jon again, but the rest was a little too disconnected emotionally.

 

I sometimes hear people say Bran is arrogant or that he uses the people who are with him, and I can understand that to a point, but he's also a boy who was slowly but surely left behind by everyone he loved, and now only has an identity based on prophecies and what he thinks destiny wants to be. He had to make that break once and for all when he left Jon behind, and I wonder how much of his humanity will be left. 

 

 

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I think Bran's scenes last year came off worse with just wandering and talking, but the material for him probably lends itself the worst for screen adaption so I'm not sure what else they could have done better this season. The fight with skeleton wights was cool enough for me, and

Bloodraven

aka tree roots dude looks freaky enough. This series is fantasy, so to me the only issue with Bran's plot is keeping the fantasy elements stimulating. 

 

I also thought Ser Rodrik's beheading and Bran/Rickon's goodbye were two very effective scenes. I was surprised by being moved by the youngest Starklings' goodbye more than anything else in ep 3.09, since I do not want to give a shit about Rickon. If the show can make me care that much even without the excitement of Theon sloppily beheading people, they should be able to make Bran as Northern savior interesting by keeping him connected to the Stark legacy and the story at large.

 

I am really uncomfortable with Bran possessing Hodor and think that absolutely should not be a habit, but I have to roll my eyes at anyone reducing Bran to a selfish and sullen child.  I feel like that comes from not even taking into account what life as a cripple means, especially in a medieval society like Westeros. I'm not paralyzed, but I do have a disability and have spent time in a wheelchair, which gives me a trapped feeling, and Bran doesn't even have the limited freedom of a wheelchair. I don't want to imagine having to struggle in the world of Westeros the way Bran has, he's all of 9 years old in the books and has no responsible adult to teach him how to use these newfound powers, so as bad as I feel for Hodor I'm not going to condemn a little boy who is otherwise more compassionate than most as some kind of mini-despot.

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(edited)

I don't think he's evil at all. I mean, he's only Hodorg'd when it was actually immediately necessary for any of them, including the Big H, to actually survive the situation.

I just think he's gotten stuck in a miserably boring arc slump. And his supporting cast is not what is used to be. When it comes to comedy relief in the "wandering around looking for a tree" storyline, Hodor was never really the money guy that everyone online seemed to act like he was. That was what Osha was for.

Edited by CletusMusashi
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Bran's storyline has been tedious since he left Winterfell, and, with the exception of the cool Ray Harryhausen skeletons, the fantastical elements introduced in the S4 finale as part of his story were the worst in the series to date.  The kiddie of the forest looked like something Gene Roddenberry would have rejected for Stark Trek 45 years ago, and the dude in the tree reminded me of nothing so much as a slightly baked homeless wino.  I kept looking for a brown paper bag with a bottle of Thunderbird next to him.

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I just think he's gotten stuck in a miserably boring arc slump. And his supporting cast is not what is used to be. When it comes to comedy relief in the "wandering around looking for a tree" storyline, Hodor was never really the money guy that everyone online seemed to act like he was. That was what Osha was for.

My favorite was that time in s3 when she tried to complain to Hodor about the Reeds like they were co-workers at a watercooler. And the look she gave Rickon when he talked about Old Nan telling him wildings drank blood from human skulls, too bad the ridiculous Thenns actually gave that story some plausibility.

 

I'm not a big fan of Bran's plot's fantastical elements but I don't see how they're any worse than a shadowbaby killing Renly or the multiplying warlocks of Qarth who looked like the Dean from Community.

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(edited)

The only way in which they're worse is how long they take. Mel's ability to queef out shadow assassins rakes up so little screentime that, during the scenes where Stannis is arguing tactics and politics with Davos, the extreme fantasy elements of the story are simply filling a power niche. A niche which could just as easily be filled by more mundane things, such as Mel's political influence or whatever. But if they'd rather write her to have a shadowbaby, no problem. Bran's story, however, has become nothing but "young boy quests for his magical destiny," which, frankly, is such an old schtick that it has to be done brilliantly if I'm expected to care.

Dany's story is pretty cliched as well, but holy crap did they work their asses off to sell it! Dany went through hell, figured out the rules of magic a bit, and earned her dragons. Bran seems like a nice enough kid, but ultimately I feel like the only reason the Exposition Wizard wants to teach him to fly is that it's in the script.

For the amount of time they spend on Bran, they should try harder to make him not suck. The character does not suck. The actor certainly does not suck. But the scenes... generally suck. Maybe having the actors occasionally talk about something other than boring ass crow dreams would have helped?

Edited by CletusMusashi
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(edited)

For the amount of time they spend on Bran, they should try harder to make him not suck. The character does not suck. The actor certainly does not suck. But the scenes... generally suck. Maybe having the actors occasionally talk about something other than boring ass crow dreams would have helped?

Dude, 4 eps this season is hardly a time suck imo. He had, I think 6 eps in s3, but the total screentime was certainly less than the other Starks and probably most of the main cast. But I think you nailed it with the line about Dany earning her dragons, post-s2 his sl has been all about reaching that tree cave and the show has treated the journey to get there as pure filler, the Raper's Keep detour was filled with something the show loves: action and gratuitous sexual violence but was still meaningless in the long run. Part of the problem is just the source material not making for easy television, but the other part is that the show writers are just as bored with this plot as their audience is and don't even try to further develop it along the way or flesh out the Reeds' characters, when they're perfectly capable of expanding and going beyond the textual foundation when they feel like it. We can get an interminable monologue about beetle crushing or a running plot about Pod's sexual prowess, but storylines outside the King's Landing soap opera just don't have their attention the same way.

Edited by Lady S.
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I'm not a big fan of Bran's plot's fantastical elements but I don't see how they're any worse than a shadowbaby killing Renly or the multiplying warlocks of Qarth who looked like the Dean from Community.

 

Shadow baby clutching Melisandre's ankles as she's giving birth to it was majorly cool, as well as a bit scary.  I think that effect really sold it, plus Brienne stating that the shadow brat looked like Stannis.

 

Pyat Pree was a bit underwhelming but watching the baby dragons torch him was cool.  Plus, at least once so far, there was cool warlock follow-up when in the S3 premiere the girl warlock tried to assassinate Daenerys with the scorpion with the face on it.

 

Skeletons excepted, Bran's fantasy elements just don't cut it at that level.  They're boring.  I should be asking myself who or what is Mr Tree, not is he a Thunderbird guy or a Wild Irish Rose guy.

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(edited)

Shadow baby clutching Melisandre's ankles as she's giving birth to it was majorly cool, as well as a bit scary.  I think that effect really sold it, plus Brienne stating that the shadow brat looked like Stannis.

 

Pyat Pree was a bit underwhelming but watching the baby dragons torch him was cool.  Plus, at least once so far, there was cool warlock follow-up when in the S3 premiere the girl warlock tried to assassinate Daenerys with the scorpion with the face on it.

 

My problem with the Pyat Pree scenes was him just standing there casually letting baby dragons burn him alive when we'd already seen him teleport when he had to do so. The Renly stuff bothered me mostly just because the whole death scene was so incredibly lackluster. I thought these scenes were probably the biggest "all hat no cattle" sequences on the show thus far.

 

I think effects in of themselves work mostly when the story or scenes are there to back them up. Other than the bizarrely low-key death scene for Jojen, I liked the skeletons because I thought the battle was lively and it was nice to see Meera getting to be so physical. I do think the cheap makeup for Bloodraven got in the way (I didn't mind the styling for the little girl because it's what I'd assumed they would look like...I'm afraid that if the show went for some fairy creature it would end up like one of those annoying Zelda NPC characters). but what most got in the way was lack of emotional stakes. Bran should have been more emotional that he'd given up on reuniting with Jon (and he likely knows that was his last chance), and he watched Jojen, his close friend, die for him. Instead it was just done with a shrug.

Edited by Pete Martell
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Part of the problem is just the source material not making for easy television, but the other part is that the show writers are just as bored with this plot as their audience is and don't even try to further develop it along the way or flesh out the Reeds' characters, when they're perfectly capable of expanding and going beyond the textual foundation when they feel like it. We can get an interminable monologue about beetle crushing or a running plot about Pod's sexual prowess, but storylines outside the King's Landing soap opera just don't have their attention the same way.

 

I'm sure some of it is down to showrunner apathy, but then, this season should have provided a goldmine of material in King's Landing and instead they managed to make the whole thing a muddied, lethargic exercise, and through Jaime, did one of the biggest unintentional hack jobs I've ever seen.

 

I think D&D struggle to get the inner life of characters onto the screen. When we're seeing their thought processes and where this will lead them, when it's not so much about these big events that happen to them. And Bran not having these big events means the show visibly struggles with how to make his story compelling, because they don't know how to do that much imagery or emotional nuance.

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(edited)

I am going to say it. I kind of miss Bran and Co this season. I don't disagree with GoT decision to not feature him this season and wish they would do that more of the cast, even if they fan favorites, but still, I know his is quieter (or as some would say,boring) but I can relate to having your dream path (Bran being a knight) not work out, and trying to follow a new path to ones place in the  to the world . I liked him and Meera, Jojeen, Hodor, Osha and Rickon. 

 

On one of the threads here, someone mentioning a theory that the White Walkers are going to turn out to be the good guys, because compared to everyone else in power, they are not that bad. They basically adopt the babies into their clan and at least when they enslave someone, they do them the courtesy of killing them before hand. While I wouldn't go that far, if Bran uses his power to see the full scope of humanity, I wonder if it would lessen his desire to want to save the realm. What's he going to see: a bunch of powerful assholes (and with the rise of House Greyjoy, it looks like it will just get worse) basically trampling on small folk or outright enslaving them like in Essos. That Ned Stark was the exception and not the rule. Heck, he can see how being a King or Queen corrupts Dany or his own brother Robb. He can see how the enemy of the Other, the "good" Lord of Light likes to do human sacrifice and be like to the Three Eyed Raven, "I know you want be to help save humanity, but why?" or "Jojeen pretty much died for people who either aren't worth it or wouldn't benefit from it." Bran helps save the realm, and these people will just go back to hurting the majority of the people one way or another. 

Edited by Ambrosefolly
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That is an interesting point. I don't know if Bran would see it like that, but if he did I wonder if he could do something about it.

I don't know what. It seems all of my predictions lately is that the story will end with a change from monarchy to something else. But there really doesn't seem to have been any set up for something like that. I keep thinking that it will happen though. Maybe Bran can be part of it somehow.

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Considering Jon being named the King, I wonder if down the line, if he doesn't die, if the books or show solve the problem if eventually (if they survive/defeat the White Walkers) the Citadel becomes interested in him. He pretty much is tapped into all space and time, especially the lost achievements of Valaria. 

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Can I ask a few questions that are likely ignorant ones, but I have missed the meaning (if there is any) to them.

  1. Why does Bran become a three-eyed raven?  Why him? And why during that time and why while in a coma?
     
  2. Bran tells Jaime at the tree that if Jaime hadn't pushed Bran, Jaime would be the same person he was prior and Bran would still be Bran.   

    Bran's words imply that the push and Bran's resulting change to the Three-Eyed Raven are the first and second things to set all other things in motion because Jaimie lived/evolved from them to be who he is today.

    Is this what we are supposed to take away from the line? Or am I reading too much into it.

    The WW and Dany wouldn't/couldn't be included since they were mobilizing independently of events in the 7 kingdoms.
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On 4/27/2019 at 5:25 PM, Jextella said:

Bran's words imply that the push and Bran's resulting change to the Three-Eyed Raven are the first and second things to set all other things in motion because Jaimie lived/evolved from them to be who he is today.

I don't entirely get Bran's time looping. We know his time travel caused Hodor to lose his speech. Or rather the Three Eyed Raven. Maybe the Three Eyed Raven needed to be Bran Stark so he could lure the Night King to Winterfell where Arya could kill him. Bran/Raven said the Night King had tried to kill many Ravens. We don't know how those Ravens survived but maybe the Max Von Sydow Raven realized he needed a Stark. Rickon was too young and dumb. Sansa wasn't open to it. Arya is too Arya. Bran in a coma was perfect. And it still took nearly 8 years for him to become enough of a Raven. But now what is the point of him? Who will come after him? Does he represent the great oral tradition of history before writing? Is the Sam the future? 

I actually love Isaac in this role. He figured out how to be warmer without losing that remoteness. He is overtly weird instead of just robotic.

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On 4/27/2019 at 5:25 PM, Jextella said:

Can I ask a few questions that are likely ignorant ones, but I have missed the meaning (if there is any) to them.

  1. Why does Bran become a three-eyed raven?  Why him? And why during that time and why while in a coma?
     
  2. Bran tells Jaime at the tree that if Jaime hadn't pushed Bran, Jaime would be the same person he was prior and Bran would still be Bran.   

    Bran's words imply that the push and Bran's resulting change to the Three-Eyed Raven are the first and second things to set all other things in motion because Jaimie lived/evolved from them to be who he is today.

    Is this what we are supposed to take away from the line? Or am I reading too much into it.

    The WW and Dany wouldn't/couldn't be included since they were mobilizing independently of events in the 7 kingdoms.

We'd all like to know the answers to most of these things, and in some cases have been waiting nearly 20 years to find out.

Will the show provide answers?  Doubtful.

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2 hours ago, Umbelina said:

Excellent recap on Bran, published today.

Thanks.  This is a fascinating way of viewing Bran.  I enjoyed Bran's story in the books and explaining Bran's ability during the last episode would make him much more interesting.  

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That video analysis was really helpful about Bran's purpose and abilities. I wasn't quite sure if he could alter the past (the Hodor issue). I like the idea of him following the line of a person's life to see what they are likely to do. That said, it might be nice to see him surprised. Genuinely surprised. 

I had a horrible thought that Bran was going to be revealed also as evil. Like the Night King had a just reason to go after him and all the other death was just collateral damage. But if that were the case then the Night King needed more people at that tree and Meera's dragging ability is mighty impressive. 

Bran as master Nudger (since he can't entirely know what will work) fits with the show. "Using" Theon in that moment just the right way. Reminding Sansa about her marriage night did what? Focused her to protect the castle more? To get ready? 

His line to Jaime, "How do you know there's an after?" Maybe he saw Jaime in the rubble? 

I feel cheated we did not get more Tyrion/Bran chats. I knew the wheelchair comment wasn't random. It might be to hint he's been watching the Tarygarian family too. 

But beyond his own survival as the memory of this world, what does he want specifically? He isn't a Stark anymore so it isn't to protect his family. Why should he care about any of it so long as he can boogey off and hide in a place that feeds him? (A tree again?).

Unless he is lying and he does care. I don't feel like he's a liar however.

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On 5/16/2019 at 10:10 AM, jeansheridan said:

That video analysis was really helpful about Bran's purpose and abilities. I wasn't quite sure if he could alter the past (the Hodor issue).

He definitely can affect people in the past as we saw with Wylis/Hodor, so I'd say it's more the changes he made were already set and there could be no chance of them not happening. Hodor had been like that Bran's entire life and years before,  so there's no chance the hold the door moment wasn't going to happen. That had to be why MvS-Raven brought him back to that otherwise unimportant point in time in their final moments together. Similarly, when Bran goes back to the ToJ Ned looks behind him again, which doesn't have to mean that that wasn't in response to Bran trying to call out to him the first time, but that because he heard something the first time, however indistinct, his looking back in response had to always be the same even though Bran said nothing when he traveled there the next time. Basically, the past would not be the same if it weren't for Bran's abilities and one person was forever altered, but he can go back and fix events and create different outcomes which were not already determined.

I don't answers about anything else regarding Bran's destiny, though.

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This is why time travel always , always confuses me in shows. I just have to turn off my brain to inconsistent rules because I feel like authors never play by a strict set of them. 

If Bran can't change outcomes by going to the past what is the point of the ability except knowledge? I feel like Hodor is the only incident when he impacted the future and past, maybe at the same time? Making Ned's head turn just seems like a random act. 

I don't see D&D using it in the finale. I think they liked the idea of being able to show flashbacks so it suited them to explore that ability. But I hope Martin puts on his SF hat and sets down harder rules for how it works.

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Affecting the past is dangerous.  Bran ruined Hodor's life.  After that experience, I expect him to be reluctant to do anything that might change the past.  I don't think we need an expository scene where he explains that.

I don't expect Martin to give hard rules for how Bran's powers work.  This is an author who avoids giving specific dates and distances so that he can avoid getting bogged down in the details of whether travel times are feasible. 

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21 hours ago, RobertDeSneero said:

Affecting the past is dangerous.  Bran ruined Hodor's life.  After that experience, I expect him to be reluctant to do anything that might change the past.  I don't think we need an expository scene where he explains that.

I don't expect Martin to give hard rules for how Bran's powers work.  This is an author who avoids giving specific dates and distances so that he can avoid getting bogged down in the details of whether travel times are feasible. 

He's also talked about liking the magic to be mysterious, "a sword without a hilt" as Mance's wife put it. I can't imagine any part of the story becoming more like sci fi than fantasy. I assume book Bran would be meant to be more useful in the Long Night than just bait (would, not will, because I don't expect to ever read it), but I think the flashbacks work pretty much the same as in show. 

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On 5/18/2019 at 10:22 AM, RobertDeSneero said:

Affecting the past is dangerous.  Bran ruined Hodor's life.  After that experience, I expect him to be reluctant to do anything that might change the past.  I don't think we need an expository scene where he explains that.

I don't expect Martin to give hard rules for how Bran's powers work.  This is an author who avoids giving specific dates and distances so that he can avoid getting bogged down in the details of whether travel times are feasible. 

I don't think that's the case though.

Bran did ruin Hodor's life, but that was something that was always done. Like Bloodraven tells him, you cannot change the past, the ink is dry. 

A good example is when he sees Ned at the Tower of Joy. The first time he visits he calls out for Ned and Ned turns around, the second time he visits he doesn't call out, but Ned still turns around. Bran can't change the past, anything he does is something that he's already done, he just doesn't know he's done it. 

In a way that has to be kind of liberating, Bran knows he can go back and dick around in the past all he likes, anything he does is something that has already been done, and no matter what he cannot change the past of the world he currently resides in. 

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I can see how it makes sense, The whole ending was literally about the characters who started out in a comparatively weak or outsider position (or were put in such position pretty soon, like the Stark Kids) coming out on top: The bastard, the imp, the hostage, the illiterate smuggler, the unloved son, the girl with boyish interests in a medieval society etc. Bran the cripple becoming king could be symbolic of this. But retrospectively I don't think the show developed the character enough to earn this ending. Particularly after he became the three eyed raven.

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Bran had to be dehumanized for magic reasons but haha his only use in the Long Night was to sit as bait and his real destiny was to win the game of thrones.

I feel pretty vindicated for hating what they did to Bran post-hold the door while other people insisted that's just how his powers had to go and his humanity never mattered.

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https://www.vulture.com/2017/08/game-of-thrones-season-7-isaac-hempstead-wright-interview.html

Despite his power, the finale revealed that Bran doesn’t know everything. He didn’t know about Rhaegar and Lyanna’s wedding.
That was a bit confusing. The way I understand, it works like Bran has access. It’s like he’s got a Kindle library of every book of everything that’s ever happened in the world. He can access any of it in a heartbeat, but he hasn’t yet sat there and read it all. The old Three-Eyed Raven had a thousand years to sit in that cave to read every single page of everything that’s happened in the universe, and therefore be completely all knowing. Bran isn’t completely omniscient. He can look up anything he wants, but he hasn’t got it all by heart yet.

At that moment [in the finale], Bran was like, “Oh, yup, Rhaegar was [Jon’s] dad,” but he doesn’t think to explore it further. When Samwell Tarly says that [Rhaegar and Lyanna] were married, he can then confirm it. When his sisters come to him offscreen and go, “Can you look up what is the real deal with Littlefinger?” He can go, “He said this and this and this.”

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Bloodraven, which is important because Bran takes over for him, and of course, he's also now King.  Interesting stuff about Jon, and the Direwolves importance too.  This is from late 2018.

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