This post contains spoilers for the Game of Thrones finale and the book A Feast for Crows.
While the fourth season finale of Game of Thrones had everything from shocking deaths to gruesome fights to dramatic entrances, fans of the books were disappointed by one key absence: Lady Stoneheart. Despite being rumored to appear at the end of the episode like she did during the epilogue of A Storm of Swords, the former Catelyn Stark was nowhere to be found, leaving many confused and worried about the upcoming seasons. However, according to director Alex Graves, she was never scheduled to pop up at all this season, as there were far too many significant moments to cram into the last hour. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Graves revealed that her resurrection was never in the cards for Season 4, and it was instead an Internet rumor that gained traction. (If they’re looking for a point of origin, Lena Headey’s Instagram seems like a good place to start.) No matter where it came from, fans felt let down when the episode came to a close without Lady Stoneheart killing the Frey’s men in a bloody act of revenge.
Though she only makes a few small appearances in the novels, Lady Stoneheart is a vitally significant character, and not just because she used to be Catelyn Stark. Her resurrection and reanimation by Beric Dondarrion – who himself was resurrected by Thoros and the Lord of the Light after he was fatally wounded by the Hound – connects several plots and characters together. She’s one of the last ties that anyone has to the character affected by the Red Wedding, her plan for revenge brings both the Freys and the Lannisters into the picture, her resurrection through the Lord of the Light ties her to Stannis and Melisandre as well as the Brotherhood and her most notable interaction in A Feast For Crows involves Brienne and Podrick Payne. Keeping her out of the finale simplifies things somewhat, and keeps many of the other shocking events from losing their impact, but it does mean that adding her into the fifth season will now be less dramatic and shocking. Now that book fans are counting down the time until she reappears and show-only fans know to look out for “Lady Stoneheart,” the writers are going to have a difficult time finding a way to introduce her character so that it has the same weight that her first appearance does in the books. And that’s if she even appears at all.
Graves went on to reveal that he had no idea if show runners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have plans to incorporate her into the ensemble at all in the future, citing the difficulties of working her character into the show, and the fear of wasting Michelle Fairley on a bit part. But cutting out Lady Stoneheart completely will have a major impact on the events of the next few seasons, particularly on Brienne’s plot, which culminates in her arriving face to face with the woman she swore allegiance to. Without Lady Stoneheart, Brienne and Pod are just wandering aimlessly on their journey to find the Stark girls. Their encounter with Lady Stoneheart gives their journey a final destination for the next season to work toward, while still leaving plenty of room for the writers to change and add new elements to their trek, like last night’s fight with the Hound.
Of course, it might not make sense to work Lady Stoneheart into the show at all at this point. Brienne and Pod meet the Brotherhood without Banners after perusing the Hound, who is rumored to be travelling with one of the Stark girls. However, based on the finale, she now knows that the Hound is likely dead and that it is Arya, not Sansa, that he was with and she doesn’t plan on going with Brienne at all. They could still run into the Brotherhood on the way to the Vale, but it doesn’t have the same potential for shock that the original plot in the books had, with the Brotherhood rescuing them from Rorge and Biter, only to have Lady Stoneheart turn around and threaten them with death.
Outside of this important scene with Brienne and Pod, Lady Stoneheart has no significant moments in the books. She travels around the woods with the Brotherhood, killing anyone even tangentially associated with the Freys and Lannisters as revenge for killing her son and spooking everyone with her curdled-milk skin and inability to speak without holding her slit throat shut. While it would be worth it for many fans to have her pop up occasionally to terrify and torture people, it does bring the issue of wasting Fairley to the forefront. With an actress as talented and beloved as Fairley is, the writers would likely want to give her as much screen time as possible, which means adding in original scenes for her, and considering how many plots they will attempt to incorporate next season as well as the original plots and arcs that the show has been developing, it makes adding her into the show a lot more complicated. There’s also the issue of explaining Beric Dondarrion’s importance as well as the magic that helped him and Lady Stoneheart cheat death. Though the show has dipped into some of the magic and mythology behind the Lord of the Light, it has mostly been brought up in vague, general terms during Stannis’ few scenes with Melisandre. In order to properly explain how Catelyn became Lady Stoneheart, the show will have to delve into a lot of the fantasy elements that they have thus far shied away from.
Though working Lady Stoneheart into the show at this point will involve some creativity from the writers, thanks to the many plots and twists they’ve added this season, she would be a worthy addition to the show. After all, she represents all of the bloodlust and desire for revenge that the writers love focusing on and it would give them the opportunity to stage numerous vivid, horrifying deaths. Both she and Catelyn are also fan favorites, and her return is a moment that fans have been impatiently waiting for. To deny them a character this interesting, compelling and violent, especially after all of the controversy that seemed to rage this year, would be a terrible disappointment.
Besides, Headey’s already posted about it, so it has to happen now; her Instagram is law.
Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection
Here's a feat: taking what is likely the oldest, most well-known story in the world, and making a retelling feel inventive. Over the course of its two-and-a-half-hour runtime, Darren Aronofsky's Noah takes many forms — Tolkien-esque fantasy, trippy psychological thriller, merciless dissection of the dark points of abject faith — never feeling too rigidly confined to the parameters of the familiar tale that we've all experienced in the form of bedtime stories, religious education lessons, and vegetable-laden cartoons. As many forms as the parable has taken over the past few thousand years, Aronofsky manages to find a few new takes.
The director's thumbprint is branded boldly on Russell Crowe's Noah, a man who begins his journey as a simple pawn of God and evolves into a dimensional human as tortured as Natalie Portman's ballerina or Jared Leto's smack head. Noah's obsession and crisis: his faith. The peak of the righteous descendant of Seth (that's Adam and Eve's third son — the one who didn't die or bash his brother's head in with a rock), Noah is determined to carry out the heavenly mission imparted upon him via ambiguous, psychedelic visions. God wants him to do something — spoilers: build an ark — and he will do it. No matter what.
No matter what it means to his family, to his lineage, to his fellow man, to the world. He's going to do it. No matter what. The depths to which Aronofsky explores this simple concept — the nature of unmitigated devotion — makes what we all knew as a simplistic A-to-B children's story so gripping. While the throughline is not a far cry from the themes explored in his previous works, the application of his Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, and Black Swan ideas in this movie does not feel like a rehashing. Experiencing such modern, humane ideas in biblical epic is, in fact, a thrill-ride.
Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection
Although Aronofsky accesses some highly guttural stuff inside of his title character, he lets whimsy and imagination take hold of the world outside of him. Jumping headfirst into the fantastical, the director lines his magical realm with rock monsters — "Watcher" angels encased in Earth-anchored prisons as punishment for their betrayal of God — and a variety of fauna that range in innovation from your traditional white dove to some kind of horned, scaled dog bastardization.
But the most winning elements of Noah, and easily the most surprising, come when Aronofsky goes cosmic. He jumps beyond the literal to send us coursing through eons to watch the creation of God's universe, matter exploding from oblivion, a line of creatures evolving (in earnest) into one another as the planet progresses to the point at which we meet our tortured seafarer. Aronofsky's imagination, his aptitude as a cinematic magician, peak (not just in terms of the film, but in terms of his career) in these scenes.
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With all this propped against the stark humanity of his story — not just in terms of Crowe's existential spiral, but in character beats like grandfather Methuselah's relationship with the youngsters, in little Ham's playful teasing of his new rock monster pet — Aronofsky manages something we never could have anticipated from Noah. It's scientific, cathartic, humane. Impressively, this age-old tale, here, is new. And beyond that feat, it's a pretty winning spin.
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Damned promotional tours! Sharlto Copley was all set to join his third big-budget blockbuster in three years when the inevitable happened: a conflict of interest. Variety reports that, due to his responsibilities to promote 20th Century Fox's The A-Team (in which he plays 'Howling' Mad Murdock), the South African actor will have to bow out of Michael Bay and D.J. Caruso's sci-fi actioner I Am Number Four.
His role as protector of the teenage aliens from James Frey and Jobie Hughes novel will instead be played by Timothy Olyphant. It's a blow for the actor, who has turned the success of District 9 into opportunities to join high-profile projects. Still, I enjoy Olyphant's work - from Deadwood to Live Free Or Die Hard to The Crazies - immensely, so getting to see him in another sure-to-be hit is a plus, and it's not like more roles won't come around for Copley, who now has a genre-loving fanbase eager to see him in new things.
Written by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, I Am Number Four will be released sometime in 2011.