Last week on Game of Thrones:
Jon is being a pest in Craster’s Keep; Bran has yet another dream; Shae is emo!Sansa’s handmaid; Brienne of Tarth is introduced; Renly narrowly escapes a threesome with Loras and Margery; Margery doesn’t care he lurrrrves Ser Loras, she just wants to carry the next heir in her belly; Theon’s daddy issues escalate; Tyrion weeds out Pycelle, schemes with Littlefinger and riddles with Varys; Yoren bites the dust and his camp of misfits is seized.
Is your brain full yet? Who lives or dies?
Before I officially begin, it’s been awhile since the last Game of Thrones post, and though I love doing recaps, it can be really time consuming. I’ll follow my previous format and do the recap by location, then by chronology, so you get a sense of what’s going on so far in each district/province/continent as they happen “simultaneously”.
To make it easier to pin point who’s who, I’ll be including little character avatars after covering the events of each location so you have a clearer overall picture of who you should take note of in this giant saga, both major and minor.
Now on to the recap…
More places! Wooooosh. Like on the back of the dragon, we glide over the structurally cylindrical fortress of Harrenhal. It’s a very heavy contrast to the low-lying, widely-laid infrastructure of Winterfell. A nice touch, where Winterfell’s like, “Heck yeah, roam free!” and Harrenhal’s very own walls in the central structure seem to be caving in to keep anything from coming in… or getting out. It’s the perfect creepy ghost town.
While we say goodbye to Dothraki lands in the titles, we float across the Shivering Sea and hover above the fancy city of Qarth, foreshadowing the next destination of Dany’s khalasar. These titles are the most epic ever. Constantly updating, always detailed, gorgeous, and in character. Can’t wait to see what pops up from the Realm’s landscapes next.
At Wherever The Hell Robb Stark Is Conquering Now:
We begin with a little knights’ gossip at camp. Rennick, the fat one, makes fun of the gayness of Loras Tyrell and Stanley Baratheon. The horses are fidgety, Rennick’s buddy worries, Rennick laughs and takes a piss, and gets his face stuck between the jaws of Grey Wind. Ok, so that’s one less character to take note of. Thanks!
The prelude marks the arrival of Robb Stark‘s standard at a Lannister camp, to which morning brings much work to a medic of the battlefield named Talisa. You can obviously see it in Robb’s eyes that her blood-smeared face is up his alley, even as she severs the infected leg of a footsoldier, probably in a halo of glowing light through Robb’s love goggles. And she plays hard to get too. Will we get a naked scene of Richard Madden soon?
Roose Bolton, Lord of House Bolton sworn to Robb’s cause, makes his appearance alongside the king of the north as they stroll through the carnage. He seems a calm, collected type, a strategist unconcerned with soldier welfare or soft nonsense like that. A bit like Tywin Lannister, this guy.
Joffrey‘s being Joffrey again, this time pointing his crossbow at Sansa (in the literal sense, of course). He blames her for Robb’s recent victory and orders Kingsguard Commander Meryn Trant to hurt her, except for her pretty face. Joffrey likes her pretty face. As Trant strips her down and nearly carves her spine out, Tyrion Lannister picks the best time to show up and spoil Joff’s fun again.
I just can’t get enough of the Imp. Best timing ever. I don’t know why he’s the only person that befuddles our most hated child king with such ease. Again, his appearance marks the second time he swoops into a scene and saves Sansa’s life, and Bronn delivers some classic lines. Yes, we know there’s no cure for being a c88t. Tyrion’s apology to Sansa on behalf of his foolish nephew felt sweeter than I expected. Heavy on the pity side, obviously, but it was the inkling of sad sympathy in his voice that got me. After the tears, Tyrion is taken slightly aback that Sansa shows she knows how to play the game of survival as she gathers what’s left of her skirts and leaves the great hall with that fake “I love Joffrey” bullshit.
Girl, you need to get out of there!
Bronn then suggests that Joff could be acting out because he’s a little ol’ virgin. Could a whore help him spank the cruelty out of his monkey?
Tyrion thinks two could. The Hound, waiting outside of the king’s chambers, is probably glad about it.
This is a great scene. My stomach was coiling in terror watching Joffrey’s sadistic impulses escalate. As usual, I’m not happy that Ros happens to be one of the whores charged with pleasing the king, but all was forgiven when Joff was winding his crossbow up and ordered her to beat the crap out of the other prostitute to show his uncle that Joff got his money’s worth, which was really twisted. What a psycho. At first, I was flinching because I thought the worst when he handed her the stag scepter. After the whole infanticide fiasco, I didn’t think it was out of character for him to ask the whore to go so far as to sodomize her colleague with said scepter – eerily, I felt relieved that she was only being hit. Thank you HBO. Not only are you extraordinarily excellent at character building, you’ve made me a terrible human being too.
Back in Tyrion’s solar, Lancel Lannister is sent by Cersei to deliver an order for her brother to release Pycelle from the dungeons. At first it’s a simple squabble, then it evolves into a master move of manipulation on Tyrion’s part to coerce Lancel into being a double agent for him. What is it with Cersei and incest?! Lancel’s nothing like Jaime. We learn that he’s just an easy, malleable target for blackmail as our favourite dwarf threatens to tell on him. Tywin would not like to learn that his daughter is banging her cousin at all. Neither would Joffrey. My mind keeps wandering back to the deer skinning scene in season 1 where the great and intimidating Tywin Lannister made his cunning children feel small and stupid.
Renly’s camp, and Somewhere in the Stormlands:
Petyr Baelish and his smug mug moves about Renly Baratheon‘s encampment and finds its way to Margaery Tyrell. I thought their conversation was great. The way Margaery seemed to deftly evade Petyr’s veiled accusations and rumors of Renly’s problems in bed with a “mind your own business” was really precious. We all know how good he is at worming information out of people by playing complex mind games, so it’s fresh that someone other than Tyrion flexes their cleverness against the very cunning Littlefinger.
We learn that Baelish’s wandering around is not without purpose – he lets himself into Catelyn Stark‘s tent. Through a multitude of sexpositions we’re all familiar with how much he wibbles over her, and this time is no different, except that he lies to her face about having both Sansa and Arya captive in King’s Landing after being threatened at knifepoint. He’s got a plan for everything. Two Silent Sisters enter and offer what may be (as an implication, at least) Ned’s remains from Baelor for a proper burial in the Winterfell crypts. Smart! It may have saved him from a gash in his gut. Catelyn being sentimental over the chest is making me sentimental. And then she tells him to GTFO.
The Baratheon brothers meet for a final negotiation in the middle of nowhere to hopefully settle the bad blood between them. But who are we kidding? Renly makes fun of Stannis‘ banner design, flaunting his youth and the sheer number of soldiers pledged to his cause. Catelyn can’t stop mothering everyone and treats the situation like it’s just two squabbling kids. Stannis’ red priestess Melisandre is quick to protect her king whilst plugging her fancy Lord of Light, who is, until now, seemingly full of hot air. Nothing is achieved at the end except for a few bruised egos and a certainty that there is going to be war.
To win it, Stannis sneakily orders his right hand man Davos to do what he does best – navigate the treacherous waters and smuggle Melisandre into the camp to work her mojo. We don’t know what she’s going to do, or how this is going to win the war for Stannis, but Davos, being the ultimate loyalist, complies. Here we learn that grumpy Stannis is a grammar nazi (four FEWER fingers! ffs!) and as a king, not without mercy, which Davos is grateful for. This guy really takes pride in serving Stannis. Some parallels to Ned Stark here – Ned too was always the ignored voice of reason to Robert.
As Davos and Melisandre row into Renly’s territory, she makes a shameless pass at the onion knight, even after asking about his wife and son. How uncomfortable. He innocently checks out the barred under-passage that’s supposedly meant to lead to the surface of the encampment, and turns around to find the red priestess totally in the nude, and preggers. Like, third trimester preggers. And going into labour. Now. What?
At this point, I am speechless. She’s busting out a baby? Wait. That’s NO BABY. An inky, smoky creature is pushed from her womb, and Davos practically crawls up the wall to get away from the abomination. I understand you completely, Ser Davos. If I saw a Chris Hemsworth-sized black shadow beast emerging from someone, I would think of running away too.
After their capture, the band of misfits meant for the Wall are taken to the seemingly desolate city of Harrenhal and very quickly, they learn that someone is tortured for information each day. First, it seems to be the creaking expansion of the Rack splitting an old woman’s son apart. Then it’s the uber-creative rat-bucket-fire torture. Hot Pie barely escapes with pee in his pants when the Mountain, Ser Gregor Clegane selects the other guy stupid enough to be staring him in the face instead.
By now I feel so emotionally battered because of so much exposure to cruelty and violence; I can’t imagine what Arya must be thinking.
Expanding her hitlist is one of them. “Joffrey. Cersei. Ilyn Payne. The Hound. Polliver. The Mountain,” she recites through the night. Me too, Arry, me too.
The next day, the prisoners are up for picking again, and this time it’s Gendry who’s got the short straw. As they prepare a rat and strap him in, another Lannister demonstrates the art of impeccable timing – Original King’s Hand Tywin gracefully trots in on a white horse with his red cape wrapped about his armor. Very nice snarkiness going on in the scene where Tywin takes the imbecile torturers a peg down and makes them feel inferior about their level of intelligence. Extra point for being able to tell instantly that Arya’s a girl (although hereby outing her gender to the entire world), and another one for putting an end to the senseless torture the prisoners are subjected to. Because Tywin always prefers productivity over execution.
Arya eyes her precious Valerian-forged Needle tucked by Polliver‘s side, and narrowly escapes certain death for staring at him too hard thanks to Lord Tywin of Casterly Rock. Every Hand needs a cupbearer who isn’t a total idiot, so he takes Arya under his wing.
In the Red Waste:
One of Dany‘s bloodriders returns with a shiny new horse from Qarth, an exotic city in the middle of the Red Waste, thanks to the mysterious Thirteen. The generosity is met with suspicion and a dash of hope, but it’s mostly desperation that draws the khalasar to the Qartheen walls.
Outside, they are greeted by a jerk merchant who won’t give his name and a company of pikemen who monitor the meeting. The Thirteen really, really want to see the legendary dragons that have supposedly be born from the flames, but Dany knows better than to give the opportunity up so easily. Interestingly, it seems that Dany would rather die of starvation and the harsh desert elements than let anyone lay eyes on her babies, after making cringeworthy threats against the Thirteen. Even if it meant her people going down with her.
She reveals an inflated ego here, which comes across as foolish and naive (kind of in character I guess, but I don’t like this at all). Fortunately for khaleesi, Xaro Xhoan Daxos invokes something called “Sumai”, which involves in showing off how macho you are by slicing your palm with a kris. The rest of them are surprised and break into a murmur, whilst the jerk merchant retreats with a hissy fit. Apparently, Xaro’s head is on the line now that Qarth has opened its gates to the dwindling Dothraki, revealing what looks like a bustling, exotic oasis of trade, beauty, and comfort.