Game of Thrones Season Two: The Ghost of Harrenhal

Shall we get right to it? Last week I grumped that we had too damn many “Your Graces” running about. Within the first five minutes of tonight’s episode we had that problem lessened by one. Our little smoke baby done grown up and (according to Brienne) looks like his father, while killing like his mother. And that my friends, is the end of Renly.

That’s too bad, since Renly seemed to be the most agreeable to the Stark’s way of thinking. Robb had it pointed out to him last week that he had no idea what to do with the Iron Throne once he won the war. Renly would have taken care of that. In Renly’s words, it would have been the same arrangement that Robert Baratheon and Ned Stark had, just with some extra self styling kingly titles thrown into the mix.

Sadly, that’s all gone now. Instead we have Cat and Brienne on the run back to the Stark stronghold, with Brienne as Cat’s Liegewoman. I was a little sad that Cat’s pride in having a liegewoman and her thought of “If Ned Could Only See Me Now” wasn’t made more explicit. I like Brienne’s statement that Cat was strong “…but woman strong.” It’s good to see Brienne recognize and respect that. It certainly was the thing that kept her alive when she would have stayed and been hanged for Renly’s murder like a fool. Cat’s advice is true: “You can’t avenge him if you are dead.”

Funny to hear nearly the same words come out of our other strong intelligent female, as Margaery stands by watching Loras cling to Renly’s dead body much the same way Brienne did. They too need to get the hell out of dodge. The Tyrells backed the wrong horse. This one was brought up lame and was shot before the gates ever even opened. Margaery is right in her words to Littlefinger–calling oneself a monarch does not automatically make it so, and if Renly wasn’t King, then she was never queen. She may have refused to give him an inch last week, but with the tides turning quickly, her ambition needs a new direction–and if there’s one thing Littlefinger knows like his own name, it’s the word “Ambition.” I do believe this might be the glimmer of a beautiful relationship.

Sadly, there are no glimmers of a beautiful relationship between Cersei and Tyrion. Tyrion needles her, Cersei drinks. Cersei needles him, he points out reality. She rejects reality and refuses to tell him what is going on. He needles her, she drinks and the cycle continues. Tyrion is right about one thing though. Cersei believes the money they have helps shield their power from falling. You think shadows can be bought?

Thankfully, Tyrion’s in with Lancel helps break this irritating impasse and gives us the hilarious image of the poor teenager cramped inside Tyrion’s tiny litter, and then being forcefully spilled out of it. Apparently, the litter was only there for humiliation purposes, since Tyrion chooses to walk with Bronn after that. A walk that serves to give him the first glimpse of what the people think of him–that he’s a demon monkey who controls the king. Tyrion might be trying to do the right thing for the people, but–like Ned Stark before him–what he really needs is a good publicist.

Instead what he gets is wildfire. Pots and pots and pots and pots of Westerosi napalm. There is no mention in the scene–and I forget if we learn it there or later in the books–how the making of wildfire was almost impossible, until a very few short months ago when it suddenly became far more powerful and easier to conjour than ever in living memory. But apparently we’re not tying these sort of things back to the rebirth of dragons. Not yet anyway. Instead we are planning on catapulting these jars of wildfire into the ships attacking by seas. An attack to be led by poor Davos, we discover, in his one short scene with an in-denial Stannis as they take over the late Renly’s tent.

We now turn northward to check in with Jon and Sam and watch them trudge through snow and mountain passes to a rocky outcropping called “The Fist of The First Men.” And I want to take this moment and give a rowdy “huzzah!” for the writers finally giving us a scene of exposition in which everyone was fully clothed. They even got in the bit about One blast friend, Two blast foe, Three blast white walkers, which will come in so handy later on. We also met Qhorin Halfhand, who decided to be magnanimous and take Jon with him. I’m with Mormont– I too hope Jon makes a better ranger than he does a steward.

As for people who are not adjusting, Dany is having a hard time getting her Dothraki to behave while guests in other people’s homes. Considering who they are though, waiting to ransack the place until after they leave really is showing remarkable restraint. But once again, we’re really just waiting around for Dany to hit up the House of the Undying and get some prophecy on in this place. Not only were we given our first taste of the Undying at the social Xaro threw in her honor, but we even got our first run in with Quaithe, the masked woman. Speaking of Xaro–I like this version better than the languid teary-eyed pedophile. This is Dany’s first run in with men who are going to propose her marriage in hopes of making her and her dragons) their property, and I think it helps to have strong masculine man as our first introduction to that in the TV version. meanwhile, I really want a  better look at that door. Did it look like the opening GoT logo to you?

Over on the Pyke, we continue to pity Theon, as his people, his sister, his crew and everyone roll their eyes at him. He needs to gain their respect, and fast. The first mate puts the idea into his head that the way to respect is to disobey the orders of his commander, after all–Iron islanders don’t do what they’re told, they do what they like. So instead of going and harassing some fisherman, Theon turns his sights on a bigger prize.

This bring us to Bran (and Rickon!) still bored in the throne room, when word comes that Torrhen’s Square is under attack. Bran impresses everyone by taking immediate and decisive action to send men with the man who brought the news–Ser Rodrick–off to defend it, thinking these are the Lannisters attacking. If only he knew… “I dreamed the sea came to Winterfell,” he tells Osha “and the courtyard here was filled with the dead.” Yes Bran, the sea is coming.

This, last but certainly not least brings us to Arya–and a shirtless Gendry! I DEMAND MORE SHIRTLESS GENDRY! Arya, as Tywin’s latest cup barer, is now privy to his war counsels, and how surrounded by idiots poor Tywin really is. “This is war, no one’s content.” he snarls at the spy who brings him news that those in Robb’s camp are “discontent.”When he decides to have a little fun by seeing what a nothing like Arya knows of Robb, she tries to lie and say she’s from Maidenpool down south. She should have known better. A man who could see she was a girl could easily see she’s a northern lass as well. Caught out, she declares herself to be from a town just outside of Winterfell she knows well. The staredown they have as he quizzes her about what they say of Robb is utterly epic. She does not fear him. Instead she proudly tells him Robb is known as “Young wolf” and repeats the rumors of him riding his direwolf into battle and his supposed immortality. “Do you believe that?” Tywin asks “No, sir,” She says. “Anyone can be killed.”

And three of them are about to be. Because she saved Jaqen, who somehow has morphed from prisoner to Lannister guard. But, as he rightly points out, Arya’s not only morphed from boy on his way to the night’s watch, to Tywin’s personal servant, but switched genders while doing so. So who’s judging? She saved the lives of Jaqen and the two in the cart with him–his god demands three lives in return, and she gets to name them.

This is a moment where Arya can change the whole of history. But being an 11-year-old girl, she doesn’t think big enough. Instead she names the Tickler–a horror-show of a human being, to be sure, but such small potatoes compared to say oh, i don’t know, say JOFFREY?!? HELLO?!

No such luck. Instead we have the Tickler, dead, as if killed by a ghost. The Ghost of Harrenhal.


One thought

  1. The thing which I was going to say on twitter, which is probably less funny without the timing of the moment: “So basically Brienne and Catelyn just got married in the woods.”


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