This is one of those episodes that will give you whiplash. It moves so quickly from place to place, it never really takes the necessary time to fully explore any one location long enough. I get that there is so much tell and such a limited time to tell it, but if this season is to be as incredible as last, they need to slow it down. The Ghost of Harrenhal marks the halfway point of the season already. Starting next week we’re on a downhill slide to the finale and it seems to me that they are going to cram the next five episodes with a whole lot of story. I don’t normally mind information overload, but when it comes at a cost, that’s when I get frustrated.
Last week left off with that wretched shadow birth scene and with it, a visual to chew on for the rest of the week. Talk about leaving you with something to think about….that was just….yeah.
This week starts with Cat and Renly discussing the finer points of war and truces. Cat tells him that Robb has no interest in taking the Iron Throne and suggests that the two combine forces. Renly tells her that once he defeats Stannis and King’s Landing, Robb can remain King of the North and hold title to those lands he already rules. Cat mentions how both of their houses have always worked together when a harsh wind blows in, and with it, black smoke. Cat looks upon this and notices how the smokes takes shape of a man, and stabs Renly in the heart, killing him. Brienne is there as well and screams as she sees her King slump to the ground. Guards enter and think that Brienne killed him and immediately try to cut her down. They’re no match for her though. She dispatches them both and hovers over Renly’s dead body. Cat convinces her that they need to get out of there and that she can’t avenge his death if she’s dead. She agrees and the two women flee Renly’s camp.
Rumors of Renly’s death swirl as the two women make their way to Robb’s camp. Cat tells Brienne that Stannis will cut her down if she tries to get to him on her own. After a bit of back and forth, Brienne swears fealty to Cat, but asks that when the time comes, Cat let her go. Cat agrees and accepts her service.
Meanwhile, Stannis gets word of Renly’s death and he and Davos go back and forth about Melisandre. Davos tells Stannis that if he takes her to King’s Landing and wins, it’ll be her victory not his. Surprisingly, Stannis listens and tells Davos that he will not bring Melisandre with them. He also tells Davos that he’ll lead the ships in the attack on Blackwater Bay, which surprises Davos because as a smuggler, he’s spent his life fleeing from ships, not leading them.
Loras and Margaery look upon Renly’s dead body and Loras is beside himself. He too, wants revenge for Renly’s death. Margaery and Littlefinger give him the same speech that Cat gave Brienne: You can’t seek revenge if you’re dead. Littlefinger asks Margaery if she wanted to be Queen and she tells him no. She wants to be THE Queen.
Meanwhile, across the narrow sea, Dany teaches one of her dragons how to singe his food and two of her handmaidens get a little bitchy with each other. I’m not sure what purpose this scene served except to maybe appease the dragon lovers out there. Anyway, later on, Dany sports a dress given to her by Xaro. He takes her to show off his impenetrable vault, and then asks her to marry him. He tells her that he would give her everything she needs in order to take the Iron Throne. Meanwhile, Jorah is approached by a masked lady who knows all sorts of information about Dany and offers words of wisdom as well as warning.
Dany finally learns about Robert Barantheon’s death, but knows nothing of Renly’s death or what exactly is happening in Westeros. She tells Jorah of Xaro’s proposal and Jorah is not happy with this news. He suggests that Dany do it on her own because he suspects Xaro has ulterior motives. He tells her that he’ll get her a ship and that she’ll only need one because she has a good claim. Once they make it to Westeros, people will follow and fight for her. He tells her that she has a good heart and Westeros needs someone like her to lead them. He also tells her that sometimes he looks at her and can’t believe that she’s real. Awww! He doesn’t like Xaro putting the moves on his Khaleesi and he tells her, but not in so many words. Really he’s just mad because he wants to get with her, but with her being his Khaleesi and all, he has to just be her advisor. Bummer.
Not much happened here this week, with the exception of Theon getting taken down another notch or two. As if he hasn’t been humiliated enough by his sister and his father, now he has to take the disrespect of his new crew. Dagmer Cleftjaw cajoles him and the crew of his ship, the Seabitch, pay him no mind when he tells them he’s their captain. They just load up in the row-boat and head toward the ship leaving him ashore. Then Yara shows up and humiliates him even more. Finally his first mate arrives and seems friendly enough, then the two hatch a plan to show Theon’s worth. And it’s all about working against the Starks. It doesn’t even seem to bother him because he’s so wrapped up in being a worthy son. Robb is going to be pissed when news of Theon’s betrayal gets to him. Theon frustrates the hell out of me. I want to slap his face off and tell him to man up.
North of the Wall
Meanwhile, in the great white North, the Night’s Watch make camp at the Fist of the First Men when they hear a horn blast signaling the return of other Rangers. One of those Rangers is Qhorin Halfhand. He’s a legend amongst the Night’s Watch and he tells Commander Mormont that a small group should head out to put a dent in Mance Rayder’s army. Mormont agrees and Jon wants to go with him. Mormont tells him no at first, then Sam steps up and tells Mormont that he’ll serve as squire in Jon’s absence. Mormont reluctantly agrees and Jon prepares to take his leave. I love that Jon is hardening with each episode. He’s still one of my favorite characters and I really wish we got to see more of him.
And we’re back in King’s Landing with good ole Cersei. She and Tyrion discuss Joffrey’s plans for war, and by discuss I mean she doesn’t give Tyrion any information at all. She’s SUCH a bitch but Lena Headey is so great at playing her. Unbeknownst to her however, Tyrion gets the information she wouldn’t give him from Lancel. His spy and her boytoy. Lancel tells Tyrion that he overheard Cersei talking to a Pyromancer and she’s having them make wildfire. Apparently this is like the GoT version of napalm…and I’m sure Joffrey will love the smell of it in the morning.
Tyrion and Bronn walk through town and stop to listen to a guy on his soapbox feeding into the hate for the royal court. Tyrion doesn’t care that they hate Joffrey or even Cersei for that matter but is shocked when he learns that they hate him as well and think he’s behind all of the bad deeds. They also call him a demon monkey, to which he takes particular offense.
Tyrion and Bronn then make their way to the Pyromancer and Bronn is skeptical at best. That is until they see just what the Pyro has been cooking up. Tyrion tells him that he’s no longer making wildfire for Cersei, he’s to make it for Tyrion himself.
I love the scenes with Tyrion and Bronn. Peter Dinklage is just amazing and Jerome Flynn has got Bronn’s dry sense of humor down to an art form. I could watch them both for days.
Meanwhile…at the Legion of Doom….aka Harrenhal….aka Lannister HQ…Arya is working as Tywin Lannister’s cup-bearer. She goes about her duties as Tywin and his counsel discuss Robb’s victories and Tywin seems impressed by his cunning ways. Arya tries to just bleed into the background when Tywin calls her out front and center and asks her where she’s from. She lies and tells him one place, but can’t name the commanding house’s sigil. He asks her again and tells him another lie, but knows the house because it’s one of Winterfell’s sworn houses. He grills her about what they say about Robb Stark in the North and she tells him all sorts of rumors. The exchange is heated but she stands her ground and he seems almost pleased by it. He then sends her to fetch water for them.
At the water barrel, she’s confronted by Jaqen H’Ghar, who was one of the men she helped save when Yoren was killed. He’s now one of the Lannister soldiers, but tells her that a man doesn’t forget. He goes on to say that because of her, the Red God was cheated out of three deaths and they must be paid back. He tells her to name three names and he’ll kill them, but once the three are dead, their deal is done. She names the Tickler, the soldier who was responsible for torturing and killing the prisoners she was with.
Later on, Arya is with Gendry watching his swordwork. She offers bits of advice that she learned from her time with Syrio, but really this served as a gratuitous, shirtless Gendry shot, but I guess we need those from time to time. All of a sudden a scream is heard and Arya goes to see what the fuss is about. She finds the Tickler on the ground with his neck broken and looks up to see Jaqen looking on from above. He motions to her, signaling that one of the three has been taken care of. We end the episode on Arya giving a bit of a smirk as the realization of what just happened hits home.
A lot of ground was covered in this episode, literally. We saw quite a bit, but aside from Renly’s death, there wasn’t anything ground breaking. While I got my Jon, Jorah and Arya fix, we had to go with out Robb. Not to mention Jamie. He’s been absent since the premier. The 10 hour-long episode format worked last season, but at this point in the story I think this format is exploiting the show’s weaknesses. There is simply too much ground to cover. I’ve been following BBC’s Being Human since the first season and their episodes run about 1:15. I really think that GoT would benefit from longer episodes like these. I’m sure it would cost a boatload more cash, and HBO would have to approve, but if episodes continue to be weak and tear through the material at break-neck speed, people are going to get fed up because the show won’t be doing the source material any justice at all. Of course this is all my personal opinion and hey, I could be wrong. We’ll see how the back five play out and I’ll keep my fingers crossed that those episodes have as much impact as the last half of the first season.Tags: Game of Thrones, Game of Thrones 2.05, Game of Thrones recap, Game of Thrones Season 2 Episode 5, Game of Thrones The Ghost of Harrenhal, HBO, Iain Glenn, Kit Harrington, Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage, Richard Madden