Episode Five marks the halfway point in the ten episode story arc of Game of Thrones, Season Two: A Clash of Kings (mouthful much? Just wait until they split Clash down the middle and it becomes “A Song of Ice and Fire: Game of Thrones, Season Three: A Storm of Swords – Part Two.” No, really.) and finally starts to ramp up the anticipation levels.
For those of you who are familiar with the books, this week’s title is a dead giveaway for who the episode will feature. The central theme of The Ghost of Harrenhal is given to the viewer directly from the Horseface’s mouth, with Arya’s revelation to her captor, Tywin Lannister. “Anyone can be killed.”
The character POVs have grown dramatically since season one of Game Of Thrones, which means less time to see your favorite characters duke it out to a backdrop of warmongered Westeros. Episode five included all the character arcs I was dying to see, with the added bonus of baby dragons.
After the enigmatic cliffhanger of episode four, where we were left watching Melisandre extract an insubstantial, yet seemingly painful, creepy shadow baby from her vagina, the episode kicks off on a tactical conversation in Renly Baratheon’s camp, where he and Catelyn Stark draw up terms to unite their houses against the Lannisters in King’s Landing. Just as the meeting is coming to a beneficial end for both parties, Melisandre and Stannis’ creepy shadow baby billows under the door and stabs Renly through the back. It really struck me how, though I knew his ultimate fate, the death of Renly Baratheon had so much more power on screen. It’s only after his death that you stop to consider what kind of a king he could’ve grown into. Brienne of Tarth holds Renly as he dies and exhibits a bit of brutality when blamed for his murder, while Catelyn looks for an escape route
. And thus, an alliance is born! Though not the one Catelyn had initially hoped for.
In an interesting deviation from the original story, Petyr Baelish mirrors Catelyn’s tactics when advising the brokenhearted Tyrell siblings to Highgarden it out of Storm’s End and back to the Reach. As Margery laments on her ephemeral reign as queen, Littlefinger extends his version of comfort through a perfectly controlled expression, while the gears within are working working working to find a way to spin this situation to his advantage.
Baelish is so guarded with his friends and enemies both that at times it can be hard to guess his endgame, but what is Margery to him but a replacement? Margery’s wish to be “The Queen” could have far more dire complications than she realizes, especially when expressed to the likes of Littlefinger. With the sudden shadow regicide, the War of the Five Kings dwindles down to the much less impressive name, and having one king down and four potentials still standing is, for Margery, like watching the Westerosi version of The Bachelor with your hostile host, Petyr Baelish! As Margery’s original pathway to the throne, Renly, was fatally stabbed by someone other than his Knight of Flowers, we are left with Joffrey Lannister ne Baratheon, his uncle and kinslayer Stannis Baratheon, Iron Islander Baelon Greyjoy, and the Young Wolf, Robb Stark contending for the Iron Throne. Of those four options, only the youngest two are viable candidates as the eldest are already married. One is a Golden haired yet rotten product of a Twincest, and the other a Cold autumn Direwolf who hasn’t lost a battle in the field yet. Hmm… preference? I wonder. Add to the equation that Joffrey is already betrothed to Sansa Stark, her older brother Robb would seemingly be the only legitimate option and Margery would be safe, but don’t count Littlefinger’s scheming prowess out yet.
Meanwhile, back at Harrenhal where nightmares are forged by Hitler, Arya is the new cupbearer for Tywin Lannister and subsequently means the youngest She-Wolf is sitting in on all of the enemy’s warcouncils. Assuming she could escape Harrenhal and get that information to Robb’s camp, that information could very well change how the game is played. And with her new Lorathi personal assassin, Jaqen H’gar, the possibilities are endless. Arya does always seem to team up with the Braavosi, no?
North of the Wall, The Night’s Watch arrive at the Fist of the First Men to scout out the enemy terrain, while Sam bores his brothers to tears with a history lesson on the Andals and the Targaryen empire, and not really much else happens other than the lovable bastard Jon Snow pouts a little more and stands around IN snow and looks absolutely fabulous while doing it.
Over in King’s Landing, Tyrion and Cersei banter and bicker as only spiteful brother and sister can, and their scenes are the most fun to watch simply because the dialogue is so believable and real. Cersei is not quite the practical mother in wanting to keep Myrcella close to home with war coming at King’s Landing from all sides, and Tyrion dreams big and visits the Necromancers to continue production of wildfire. The Queen Regent is clearly not the best strategist, and it is good of Tyrion to keep her from meddling in the Hand’s plans for as long as possible.
Theon is experiencing a very large culture shock in leaving Winterfell to return to the home he never knew in the Iron Islands, and he once again lets Asha, I mean Yarra, one up him. It is his new first mate, Dagmer Cleftjaw, who pushes Theon to start thinking like less of a noble Stark and more of an Iron Born. You’re finally learning how to be a douchebag like dear old Daddy you didn’t live with. Bravo, Theon. This wont backfire at all. AT ALL.
Likewise, Bran, in the most beat-you-over-the-head-with-a-sword-hilt version of foreshadowing HBO has seen, recounts his dream of the three-eyed-raven to Osha. When pressed for more details, Bran admits that his dream is of the sea floods the walls of Winterfell and his bannermen drown in it. And who do we know who’s sigil is something of the sea and is also a MEGA DOUCHE?
For being the Mother of Dragons, we’ve only been given the teeniest of glimpses at Dany’s little kiddos. Dragon Count! In five episodes, we have seen Drogon twice, Rhaegal once and Viserion brings up the rear by never entering the picture. After the absolute epic dragon birthing season finale, HBO promised that we’d be seeing a lot more of the winged Trio, though they are falling flat of expectations by not even mentioning the dragons by name. As Dany and Doreah team up to help the little ones get the hang of their abilities, we are given a new language. The audience will mistakenly assume that since Dany is a Khaleesi, this phase would be uttered in Dothraki, however the term “Dracarys” is one of the only High Valyrian words that Martin himself came up with, and also means “dragonfire.” You’re welcome. This action of teaching Drogon is the dragon equivalent of teaching my dog how to speak…with fire…to lay waste to cities and conquer continents. Or something to that effect.
Either way, I wish more emphasis had been put on the language of High Valyrian and its roots in dragonlore. Xaro Xhoan Daxos proposes to aid and marry Dany, but as her hilariously titled “manservant” Jorah Mormont points out, rich men do not get rich by handing out favors. They will always want something in return, and Mormont is not sure that Dany is ready to shell out that kind of price in a foreign land.
Now that we’ve seen what incest breeds in the world of Westeros, can we take a moment to say Bravo to the Bastard Baratheon genes? With another addition to the sexy barrage of bastards this week comes in the form of smelting hot Gendry. For the record, the Gendry and Arya pair is the only couple that I have religiously shipped to the Old Gods, the New Gods, and the Red God since I began reading this series. Because one of them will eventually hear me. Though shirtless metal forging isn’t necessarily the most practical plan of action, Gendry and Arya have another super cute scene where everything about everything ships them, and for some reason Gendry has his shirt off. Oh, and the Tickler dies at the hand of Jaqen H’ghar and Arya’s plotting. But mostly Gendry has his shirt off.
- Once more. Gendry with his shirt off.
- Brienne of Tarth kicking ass and swearing fealty to Lady Catelyn.
- Jaqen H’ghar is everything I had hoped for and more.
- No glimpse of Joffrey’s pointed little face.
- Daenery’s Qarth gown. Absolutely stunning.
- Moar dragons!
- No Robb Stark means no Jaime Lannister.
- The brutal treatment of Ros and co was barely mentioned.
- The wasted time North of the Wall could’ve been used to expand other stories.
Final consensus? Four out of five warring Kings!
It is a large testament to not only George R. R. Martin’s original work but also the screenwriters David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and director David Petrarca that I can become so absolutely engrossed in a story that I already know. I would say thank you, but the Dothraki have no words for it. Me nem nesa.