SPOILERS for Game of Thrones through season 7 episode 5 follow.
Last week’s episode of Game of Thrones, Eastwatch, was awesome! It had terrific moments from the call-out to the “Gendry is still rowing” fan theory all the way up to the moment when Jon shuts down the bickering of his would-be allies by telling them, “We’re all on the same side… We’re all breathing.” Those last scenes in Eastwatch sparked many imaginations beyond that line, though.
Many people are drawing comparisons between this crew and the Suicide Squad which makes sense because both stories feature the sudden mashing together of storylines and characters which have always existed in the same universe but never really seemed all that connected to each other. They’ve also all been set on a mission none of them want to perform which will likely lead to their death. The even spent time revisiting years-old wounds inflicted by some party members on others which does a great job both entertaining the viewers and reminding them that though recently we’ve viewed all of these men as “good guys” that has not always been the case.
It was a great moment not just for setting up the personality clashes but for how it was done. It is always terrific to see the writers show you that they haven’t forgotten what came before and they do it in spades here. You’d be forgiven if you had forgotten that Gendry was only at Dragonstone to be rescued because the Brotherhood Without Banners sent him there. While it shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone to see Jorah compared to his father for the third time in recent weeks, the way in which Tormund did it may have been. From a viewer perspective Jeor Mormont was a tough, smart, and honorable leader who only wanted to protect the seven kingdoms; but from the Wildling perspective he was a cruel oppressor and murderer. All the pieces were there to be added together but many probably hadn’t done so because Jeor was so focused on the white walker threat by the time viewers met him that there was no time to stop and consider that he was the guy in charge while the Night’s Watch was building or maintaining the hatred of the Wildlings that eventually led to Jon’s death and resurrection, last season.
In fact The writers did such a good job bringing up old conflicts that it could seem a little surprising that Jorah hasn’t figured out that Jon’s sword – Longclaw – used to belong to the Mormont family. This would have been another contention point for them to play off during this scene as family heirlooms are important and Jorah used to wield that sword before he was exiled and it was given back to his father. However, it does make sense that Jorah doesn’t immediately recognize the sword – Jeor replaced the bear pommel with a direwolf pommel when he gave it to Jon, after all.This also opens the opportunity for Jorah and Jon to have a bit more conflict in the next episode which may very well be an important moment
All that said, a group of specialists working together for the first time toward a common goal through and despite numerous personal conflicts is a staple trope of the heist genre. So while everyone else pictured team-up movies like Suicide Squad and The Expendables I was first struck by the similarities to Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn: The Final Empire, TNTs’ Leverage, and Ocean’s 11 starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and a host of other recognizable actors.
To that end I thought it might be kind of fun to compare the Game of Thrones characters with the Ocean’s 11 team and see if I could find any similarities:
Jon Snow – Danny Ocean – Leader
Jon and Danny are both the guy’s with the plan, the leaders of their gangs, and they both did time – Danny in federal prison and Jon as part of the Night’s Watch at The Wall. They’re tall, dark, and handsome and while their ultimate goal is to steal something precious from their enemy neither one of them would be upset if their deeds managed to impress a certain blonde lady involved in the whole affair.
Tormund Giantsbane – Rusty Ryan – Right-Hand Man
Tormund and Rusty both serve as competent advisors to the Leader. They don’t do the overall scheming but they know how to help their guy build his crew and to fill in the gaps in his plan. They both have interesting personality tics, as well. Rusty was always eating on screen while Tormund seems to be obsessed with somehow wooing Brienne of Tarth.
Gendry – Linus Caldwell – Inexperienced Idealist
Gendry and Linus are both young guys who idolize and despise their fathers. They also really want Jon/Danny to teach them. They have a lot of promise in the same arts as their leader – conning and thieving for Linus, fighting for Gendry – but very little practical experience compared to many in the crew. They’re both earnest and they talk sometimes when maybe they oughtn’t.
Thoros of Myr – Virgil Malloy – Bickering Brother 1
Sandor “The Hound” Clegane – Turk Malloy – Bickering Brother 2
While the Game of Thrones counterparts aren’t actually related the characters are constantly bickering with each other similar to how the Malloy brothers argue in Ocean’s 11. The Malloy brothers share also a talent for mechanical work and driving while the two Brothers Without Banners share a talent for killing people and special relationships with fire.
Ser Davos Seaworth – Saul Bloom – Old Conmen
Davos and Saul are talented actors and can deceive law enforcement at will. They also both feel like they’re far too old for this crap.
Jorah Mormont – Basher Tarr – Foreign Specialist
These two are the crew members from across the sea with unique talents and boundless egos. Basher has a thing with explosives while Jorah thinks, for some reason, he could be the key to getting a “living” wight from north of The Wall all the way back to King’s Landing.
Cersei Lannister – Terry Benedict – The Mark
The Game of Thrones Crew isn’t trying to rob Cersei like the Ocean’s 11 crew wants to rob Terry. However the purpose of both crews is to do something that affects the Mark. In Game of Thrones they think they can convince Cersei to accept a temporary armistice so they can fight the undead army; in Ocean’s 11 they want to divest Mr. Benedict of both his cash and his girlfriend.
Daenerys Targaryen – Beatrice Ocean – Leader’s Love Interest
Dany and Beatrice are the love interests of the Leader but this is still a stretch of a comparison. Beatrice doesn’t really do much throughout the first movie and Dany at least has impetus of her own to affect the world around her other than just acting as a prize to be fought for by two men – though she seems primed to be that as well. They’re also both blonde but very different types of blonde.
Brienne of Tarth – Isabel Lahiri – Right Hand Man’s Love Interest
Not only do these two characters match up as love interests for Tormund/Rusty but they both prove resistant to their charms, at least to start. Even more important they’re both lawful good ladies in stories largely lacking those kinds of characters.
You’ll notice some people are missing. There were never going to be enough member’s of Jon’s crew to equal Ocean’s and some of the tasks for Ocean’s crew just can’t exist in Jon’s. Jon doesn’t need a computer hacker like Livingston Dell, a financial backer like Reuben Tishkoff, or a grifter like Frank Catton.
There’s also one man missing from Jon’s team: Ser Beric Dondarrion. The problem with Dondarrion is that his only real defining characteristics are that he leads the Brotherhood Without Banners and he has died multiple times and been resurrected by Thoros/The Lord of Light. Since their gang has been folded into Jon’s that first characteristic isn’t even all that interesting, right now. The closest comparison I could come up with for him was to The Amazing Yen; Yen is a contortionist and Dondarrion frequently sees his body do things that seem impossible as he’s killed time and time again.
There are comparisons in the plot, too; both stories feature incredibly stupid plans. In Ocean’s 11 the idea is to rip off Terry Benedict but for Danny Ocean to draw his attention and be obviously not the guy who stole the money. The problem is that it’s so obvious he couldn’t steal the money that he must have been part of the plan to make it happen. Sure it prevented Benedict from wielding the legal system against them, but it in no way prevented him from knowing who to leverage whatever extralegal resources he had. That’s part of what sets up Ocean’s 12 when Danny and his crew are forced to perform another heist to repay him.
In Game of Thrones Jon and company somehow think they’re going to be able to separate a single wight from the entire undead army without being noticed, take it not just back to the wall but all the way down to King’s Landing without it freeing itself and killing them, and then present to Cersei who will also, for some reason, not kill them but possibly believe in this threat and allow them to deal with it or even offer resources to help. None of those things seems likely on their own, much less together. It should still make for compelling TV, though. At least assuming you haven’t already watched the leaked episode and spoiled it for yourself!