I can finally start to see the end of the tunnel in regards to the year long GOT hiatus. I’ve read all the books and the upcoming season is the only season where I genuinely don’t have a clue how they will write a very pivotal scene from the books. I’m not talking about the purple wedding, I’m talking about… [SPOILER WARNING IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE BOOKS]
… the one where Tyrion kills Shae.
First of all, his actions in the book are triggered by Shae seemingly betraying him during/after his trial. I say seemingly because it’s not unlikely that she was coerced by Tywin or Cersei, but book!Shae’s actions makes a lot of sense even if she’s just acting out of self-interest. Shae’s character in the books was a lot less sympathetic than show!Shae. We didn’t know much about her and it was always clear that she was a prostitute who was payed good money to act as Tyrion’s girlfriend. He took her at swordpoint and laid down the rules for their relationship when they first met, it’s not exactly the most romantic set-up. Tyrion had a lot of money and went looking for a prostitute who could give him the best “girlfriend experience” money could buy and that’s what she provided. In the show, Shae shows repeatedly that she’s genuinely invested in Tyrion and not just his money. We see how conflicted she is when he marries Sansa. Tyrion and Shae’s arguments makes them seem like a more equal couple than in the book; Shae is more like Tyrion’s paramour or sugarbabe, someone who is enjoying the benefits of sleeping with a royal, but isn’t afraid to tell him off or do her own thing.
Another difference from the books is Tyrion’s shady past. In the books, Tyrion has an extremely traumatic experience as a child/early teen, where he marries a woman he has just met, but is then forced by his dad Tywin to watch as his soilders rape her and is forced to do so himself. He was told that the woman was actually a prostitute and that the entire marriage was a scam set up by his family, which probably contributes to his issues regarding women later on in life. It’s revealed that this is a lie just before he kills Shae, the woman he married was never a prostitute and she was never set-up to marry him, something Tywin Lannister made up to punish Tyrion and/or protect the family name. While it’s clear in the books that Tyrion murders Shae in cold blood, which is indefensible, it makes sense from a character point of view due to his past experience with sexual abuse and issues with women. Book!Tyrion was always a “grey” character, who did quite a lot of questionable things. I think it’s pretty telling that book!Tyrion never expresses regret over murdering Shae, after the deed he is only obsessed with her betrayal. Show!Tyrion is lewd and arrogant, but he has been whitewashed to be more likeable and more of a good guy than in the books. His issues with women isn’t as obvious. I just don’t think it makes sense for show!Tyrion to kill Shae in a jealous fit, especially not since show!Shae is far softer and lovable than book!Shae. Not that it makes book!Shae’s murder any less reprehensible, but having Tyrion murder Shae in the show is going to cause so much more backlash towards Tyrion’s character since both are popular characters.
I don’t know how they will make Shae’s betrayal realistic in relation to the way she’s been portrayed on the show before, or how Tyrion’s actions will make any sense without any focus on his traumatic backstory. But seeing as Shae’s betrayal and murder acts as a catalyst for Tyrion’s arc in the later book, I can’t see an easy way around it without rewriting some major components. Granted, Tyrion’s arc in the latest book is pretty boring and if the show writers can come up with a more exciting story, I’m all for it. I don’t have faith that they can though. I think they’re going to pick one of these scenarios.
1. Shae is coerced by Tywin or Cersei to betray Tyrion to protect either Tyrion or Sansa. Shae is then murdered by Tywin/Cersei before Tyrion finds out the truth and he goes on believing she betrayed him.
2. Shae is coerced by Tywin or Cersei to betray Tyrion to protect either Tyrion or Sansa. As Tyrion murders Tywin, he also lashes out at Shae and inadvertently kills her before the truth is revealed.
3. Shae becomes more and more jealous of Tyrion’s marriage to Sansa and eventually betrays him out of vengeance or self-interest. In the show, Shae is very fond of Sansa so I’m not so sure about this, but something would have to chance about Shae’s character for her to betray Tyrion the way she did in the books.
Anyhow, can’t wait to see what’s going to happen. The show isn’t perfect, but I enjoy watching it and seeing the books come alive, especially as we probably have to wait another couple of years before the next book in the saga. Plus, Charles Dance makes me swoon and slightly more age-appropriate Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is an effin’ dreamboat. The Lannisters are like poisoned honey.