OBLIGATORY SPOILER WARNING
The nerdosphere is aghast with fury at the news that Lady Stoneheart, a character in the Song of Ice and Firenovels will not be in the Game of Thrones TV series. As someone who has watched the series but not read the books, I’ll throw my two cents into the already chock full well of public opinion.
WHO IS LADY STONEHEART?
Novel readers will probably correct as I mangle this explanation, but here goes. After the Red Wedding, Catelyn’s body is dragged out of a river. The Brotherhood Without Banners brings her back to life as a zombie who can barely speak due to her throat having been cut. A shell of her former self, she basically becomes a new character – Lady Stoneheart. She travels the countryside on a quest for revenge, killing anyone whoever did the Stark family wrong.
Michelle Fairely, the actress who played Catelyn, recently announced that Lady Stonheart won’t be featured in the HBO series. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of that decision:
PROS – NO LADY STONEHEART IS GOOD
I’m not a book reader but I am a self-spoiler. Unable to wait to find out what happens next, I often check A Wiki of Ice and Fire. I’m like the dumb jock that doesn’t read the book but doesn’t want to fail so I read the cliff notes. Although, after self-spoiling the Red Wedding, the Purple Wedding, and Tyrion killing Tywin, I have pledged to not self-spoil anymore in the upcoming seasons.
When I self-spoiled the news that Cat becomes a zombie, I have to admit my first impression was, “Umm…really?” The Red Wedding was just such a powerful scene. George RR Martin weaves you into such a false sense of security. It really appears as though the Starks and Walder Frey have made up and are letting bygones be bygones. The wedding starts out as a joyous occasion, Robb’s uncle is happy to be marrying what appears to be Frey’s only attractive daughter (Sidebar had Frey let Robb know of her existence this whole mess could have been avoided). Then, out of nowhere, all Starks and Stark men in attendance are brutally executed. Quite an unexpected event. On the show, it was quite emotionally disturbing to see all hope drain out of Lady Catelyn’s face just before her throat is cut. That was some great acting on Fairely’s part.
So in some respects, I feel like it would be somewhat silly to say, “OK, Cat’s back as a zombie now!” Zombie Cat takes something away from that powerful Red Wedding scene. One of George RR’s ongoing themes in this story is that life is unfair – bad things often happen to good people, that you want the heroes to overcome but in real life, the heroes don’t always come out on top. So in some respects, Cat coming back to life takes away from the power of the Red Wedding scene.
Plus – overall, the HBO showrunners have done a great job so far so surely their judgment must be understood here. There must be some technical reason why they felt Lady Stoneheart would not play well on screen. As discussed in the nerdosphere, I don’t think it’s any kind of contract issue. I think they could get Fairely to come back and do it. If they couldn’t, well, the character is a zombie, so they could stick any old chump in zombie makeup.
I wonder if the issue is they just think that a Zombie Cat would just be too cheesey. They have this as-realistic-as-the-fantasy genre gets TV show and then all of a sudden they have this zombie version of one of their characters running around. Although I’ve never heard that explanation offered. Most of the explanations have been that they just could not fit her in because they want to do too much else and they only have 10 hours a year and can’t fit in every little detail…
CONS-NO LADY STONEHEART IS BAD
…but this isn’t a little detail! We want revenge for the Starks and without Lady Stoneheart, how does that happen? I agree that TV/Movies can’t always 100 percent mirror their book source material, but this is a big plot line to just overlook. Lady Stoneheart’s path of destruction causes a lot of ripples in the GoT world and it would seem like to not include her would be to have to constantly change the overall GoT storyline. Thus far, the showrunners have remained faithful to the books and that has yielded some powerful results in terms of viewership and show popularity. Admittedly, Lady Stoneheart seems like an unusual idea to me, but I haven’t read the books. I trust George RR’s judgment and writing abilities and I’m sure he took this unusual idea and ran with it in a powerful and amazing way that would be fantastic to watch unfold on screen.
In other words, my fear was Lady Stoneheart would be too much – “Grrr…argh..me zombie…me must kill Lannisters” but from what I hear, the character is much more moving and scary than that.
Plus, it’s not like the Red Wedding scene is taken away from that much. It’s not like she comes back and is all happy like “Hey, look at me, I’m Zombie Cat!” From what I hear, Lady Stoneheart is very sad and tortured – to the point where Cat would have been better off having been better off left dead.
How is this an extraneous character or plotline? It’s not like this is an issue where Tyrion wears blue shoes in the book but they make him wear red shoes in the TV. This is a major character in a major plotline. To take her away means the need to make many changes to the show to the point where it may become like True Blood where the show bears no resemblance to the source material whatsoever. While we can debate all day on source material deviations, I think we can all agree that in this case, remaining true to the source material has paid off for both HBO and the viewer.
With today’s make-up and CGI capabilities, I’m sure that an awesome looking Lady Stoneheart could be produced and surely a Zombie Cat on a revenge quest could make for riveting television. Ultimately, none of us run the show so this is like complaining into the wind, but I hope the HBO suits have not made a bad decision here.