Sunday, June 17, 2012

Game of Thrones 2.08: "The Prince of Winterfell"

“I will hurt you for this. A day will come when you think you are safe and happy, and your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth. And you will know the debt is paid.”

Again, an episode of “Game of Thrones” advances all of the many, many plots only incrementally. It feels like they are just marking time before the big battle in the next episode, and it is rather frustrating. Also, again the episode showcased that the men Ned Stark raised are just plain stupid. They sort of (well Robb, mostly…the other two are just pure idiots) try to do honor to how Ned raised them, but they fail miserably. On the other hand the Stark daughter we see in this episode continues to acquit herself rather impressively, although I’m not sure Ned would approve of the murder for hire methods she has used to survive her trial thus far. There are only two more episodes left of this season of “Game of Thrones,” and I’m kind of glad about that. I’m hoping the creative team can regroup and produce a more cohesive product next season. For this season, I simply have to be content with the amazing (as always) production values and the wonderful performances by the true masters of the cast, like Peter Dinklage (when they’re allowed to actually be on screen). The new characters introduced this season have failed to move me. I’d rather we could just focus in on the characters I actually care about, which are pretty much just Robb, Daenerys, and Tyrion. I used to include Jon Snow on that list, but he’s just pathetic these days. Anyway, let’s just get through this recap so we’re one step closer to the (hopefully exciting) Battle of Blackwater in the next episode.

The episode opens in Winterfell, where Yara and some other Iron Islands riders are approaching. They enter the compound, and they kind of take over the place, much to Theon’s chagrin. Yara thinks Theon is an idiot for taking Winterfell, considering the strength of the Iron Islands is in ships, and Winterfell is nowhere near the water. She doesn’t think they’ll be able to hold Winterfell once Robb tries to take it back. To add insult to injury for Theon, Yara says that she’s been instructed by their father to take him back to Pyke. The North wants him dead for destroying the Stark family, and the Greyjoy’s don’t think Theon is safe at Winterfell. Theon refuses to leave. He’s going to seriously stupid levels to try and prove himself to his father. Yep, TV shows always come down to daddy issues. By the end of the episode, things manage to get even worse for Theon, although he doesn’t realize it just yet. Theon and his first mate are discussing what to do about Bran and Rickon’s “bodies,” and with the cruel first mate egging him on, Theon decides to let them hang for a little longer. They also discuss what to do about Maester Luwin, and the first mate thinks he needs to be silenced. Luwin himself spots Osha in the shadows. When he investigates he discovers a hiding place where Osha is keeping Bran and Rikon. She figures Winterfell is the last place Theon would look for them. The charred bodies do indeed belong to other children.

North of the wall, Ygritte delivers Jon to some Wildling higher-ups. Ygritte just barely manages to keep them from killing Jon on sight. She says that Mance, the King Beyond the Wall will certainly want to talk to Jon because he is the son of Ned Stark. The lead Wildling seems to think that the Halfhand, who is also being held captive, will be enough for Mance, but he eventually relents. When he gets to talk to the Halfhand, Jon learns that the rest of their Ranger detachment is dead. Later, Halfhand gets really pissed off at Jon (I don’t remember exactly why, but does it really need an explanation?). He pushes Jon down a hill as Ygritte looks on, kind of confused. Elsewhere north of the Wall, Sam and some of the other Night’s Watch folks are digging latrine pits. One of them hits something hard with a shovel, and it turns out to be a sort of tablet with runes on it. Inside is a Night’s Watch cloak wrapped around obsidian arrow tips.

Near the Craig, Robb and Talisa are preparing for the big surrender. They are talking about Robb’s promise to marry a Fray girl in exchange for permission to cross the river at the Twins. They also talk about Ned and how he was a good man and taught Robb important values. Before they can continue this conversation much farther, though, they get news that Jaime has escaped. They arrive at the army camp, and Robb has to confront Cat. She didn’t kill Jime when she trained her sword on him. She let him go in exchange for Sansa and Arya. Robb is (rightfully) extremely pissed off that Cat went against his wishes, and he says that she is considered under arrest, and she will be under guard 24/7. We quickly see what happened to Jaime in a scene with him and Brienne. Brienne has the unenviable job of escorting Jaime back to the Lannisters. They pretty much insult each other the whole way. As you do.

After the original chaos of having to arrest his mother has passed, Robb is in his tent talking to one of his advisors. They are discussing how to retake Winterfell and what to do with the Iron Born who participated in the betrayal. Robb wants to show all of them mercy except for Theon. Theon needs to die. And I say good riddance. Hopefully Robb gets his wish there. Talisa interrupts the meeting, and the advisor quickly leaves. She asks Robb how he is, which is kind of a dumb question considering his siblings are all held captive and he just had to arrest his mother. The conversation then turns to how Talisa ended up as a nurse. A slave once saved her brother from drowning at a big festival, and after that, she couldn’t stand to live in a country that allowed slavery anymore. So she moved to Westeros. Robb is clearly very impressed by this story, and he says that he doesn’t really want to marry a Frey. Talisa, of course, doesn’t really want him to marry a Frey either. This realization leads to much kissing and sex between Robb and Talisa, naturally. This can’t possibly end well.

At Harrenhal, Tywin is talking strategy with his top advisors yet again (we see to hear a lot more about strategy than actually see it). He wants to move on Robb while some of his troops are occupied with retaking Winterfell. Arya panics, and she runs to find Jaqen. I guess she wants Jaqen to kill Tywin before he has a chance to escape. She asks Gendry where Jaquen is, but Gendry hasn’t seen him. Nobody knows where Jaqen is, and the Lannister troops are starting to move out of Harrenhal. Arya does eventually find Jaqen, but by then it’s too late for Jaqen to kill Tywin. Arya tries to use Jaqen’s own name as her third name on the kill list, and when Jaquen begs her not to force him to kill himself, Arya says she’ll withdraw her request if he helps her and her friends escape Harrenhal. Arya and her buddies do indeed seem to be on the road to a successful escape by the end of the episode.

At King’s Landing, Tyrion is studiously trying to plan for Stannis’ immanent attack. While studying, he’s arguing with Bronn over Bronn’s refusal to conform more closely to Goldcloak standards. He even refuses to wear the symbolic cloak. Varys joins in on the conversation and divulges the information that all the thieves have been rounded up in preparation for the siege. Tuning the other men out, Tyrion finally figures out where Stannis will probably focus his attack. The Mud Gate. As Stannis and Davos approach King’s Landing, Stannis wastes time bitching about how Robert gave Storm’s End to Renly instead of him, even though Stannis endured horrors trying to hold the keep during a siege. He also says he’ll name Davos Hand once he is King.

Elsewhere in the Red Keep, Cersei is really pissed off to hear the news that Joffrey intends to participate in fighting the immanent battle, and she’s taking it out on Tyrion. Cersei thinks Joffrey is too young to fight, but Tyrion thinks it will boost troop morale. Then Cersei brings out the big guns. She says she has found Tyrion’s whore, and Cersei is going to torture her if anything happens to Joffrey. She then has the whore brought in, and it’s clearly not Shae. To protect Shae, Tyrion goes with it and pretends that this whore is the whore he brought with him to King’s Landing against Tywin’s wishes. After he plays his part, he runs back to his chambers and frantically calls for Shae. She’s there, safe and sound. They pledge their devotion to each other, and since this is “Game of Thrones,” I can’t see it lasting very long.

Later, Tyrion is talking battle with Varys and Joffrey. Joffrey is being really stupid about wanting to fight despite his lack of experience, and he runs off when he meets some resistance. This leads to a conversation between Varys and Tyrion about the future of the Seven Kingdoms. Varys says that Tyrion is the best Hand King’ s Landing has had in a while. Jon Arryn and Ned were both good, honorable men, but they didn’t like to play the political game. Tyrion loves the game, and he is good at it. Because he likes Tyrion, Varys gives him some important information. They had thought Dany was dead, but (as we know) she’s actually alive and very much a threat to Westeros, especially once her dragons are grown. Tyrion wisely says that they can only play one game at a time. Speaking of Dany, she’s still in Quarth, and Jorah has found her a ship and a captain. She’s not interested in leaving without her dragon’s though. Jorah reluctantly says he’ll take her to the House of the Undying to try and get them back.

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