I think this is the episode that everyone who’s read the books have been waiting for. We’ve been hearing all season about the impending war, but this second to the last episode finally brings the battle to King’s Landing in the true fight for the Iron Throne. Normally the episodes, as well as my recaps, are split up by location. There is so much going on all over Westeros and beyond that the story is told in bits and pieces. This week however, marks the first time that the GoT series focuses on one location for the entire episode.
David Benioff and D.B. Weiss bravely and wisely stepped back from this episode and instead turned over the writing duties over to the man himself, George R.R. Martin. It’s rather fitting for the man behind the Song of Ice and Fire series to pen this episode considering it’s the biggest one so far. Neil Marshall took over directing duties and if his work on The Decent shows anything, it’s that he’s capable of doing a lot with very little.
The episode begins as Stannis’ fleet, led by Davos, makes their way to Blackwater Bay. Davos is apprehensive, and rightly so, but his son Matthos is convinced that the one true God will watch over them and Stannis will take his place on the Iron Throne. Davos doesn’t buy it however and even though he doesn’t know it yet, his apprehension is warranted. They haven’t seen any sign of the Lannister fleet, but the tactic that Tyrion put in to play is waiting for them.
The inhabitants of King’s Landing prepare for the coming battle in different ways. Tyrion spends what little time he has in bed with Shae, worried that it may be the last time they’re together. Cersei on the other hand prepars for the worst by procuring a bottle of nightshade from Maester Pycell. When asked, she refuses to tell him what it’s for, then abruptly dismisses him, but we can figure it out. Being the Cersei that we all know and love to hate, we know she has a back up plan in the works.
Bronn spends his last quiet moments singing with his men and feeling up the woman on his lap. The Hound walks in to have a drink and the two killing machines almost get into a pissing match with each other, that is until they hear the bells ring.
As Davos and Co. make their way to King’s Landing, those in King’s Landing prepare for the coming battle. Tyrion gets suited up while having a discussion with Varys. They soon hear the city bells which serve as a warning of the impending battle and Varys tells Tyrion that he’s always dreaded the sound. With it they carry bad news, such as war, death and marriage. Varys tells Tyrion that he’s the only one who can save them and in a moment stripped of all deceit, he tells Tyrion that one day Varys will tell him the story of how he was cut.
Soon the castle is bustling with activity as each person makes their way to their respective places. Sansa, along with Shae make their way to Maeger’s Holdfast. The two are stopped by Tyrion and she tells him that she was summoned by Joffrey, who wants her to bless his new sword, Hearteater. Sansa has gotten a bit more brazen with Joffrey, as well as Tyrion. When Tyrion asks her if she’ll pray for his safe return, she replies telling him she will, as much as she will pray for Joffrey. Ouch!
The bells are loud enough for Stannis’ fleet to hear and once they do, Davos orders up a helping of drums. The tension is escalated when Tyrion, Joffrey and the Hound take their place on the battlements. Joffrey freaks out at the fact that his fleet is nowhere to be seen but Tyrion keeps his cool and patiently waits for the perfect moment.
A lone Lannister ship is spotted and Davos knows something is amiss when they find that the ship is unmanned. A look at the back of the ship tells the viewer why. Green liquid is spilling from the ship and once Tyrion sees that the moment has come, he sends his signal by dropping a lit torch over the castle wall. Bronn sees the signal and fires a single flaming arrow at the unmanned ship. Davos knows instantly that the ship is filled with wildfire, but it’s too late. Soon the bay is filled with green flames and Stannis’ fleet, as well as his men, are burning. Tyrion looks on with horror and you can tell he doesn’t care for war at all. Stannis isn’t one to turn tail and run however and orders what’s left of his army ashore. The battle is coming to the castle whether they like it or not.
Meanwhile, in Maeger’s Holdfast, Cersei gives Sansa an education about what it’s like to be queen. She also becomes more and more drunk as the night wears on. Sansa notices that Ilyn Payne is also in the holdfast with them and Cersei tells her that he’s there to protect them. Later on, after more wine, Cersei tells Sansa that he’s actually there for them because if the castle should be breached, men drunk on war will turn to raping and she won’t go out like that. Payne is ordered to kill Cersei and Sansa before that happens.
The Hound is sent outside the walls to fend off any attackers from the water. All he sees however are men aflame, which he already knows all about. Up until now, we’ve never seen the slightest bit of fear from Sandor Clegane, but fire is just too much for him to handle. He decides enough is enough and flees the battle. After refusing an order to fight, he burns his bridges with Joffrey and the Lannisters and disappears.
As reports of Stannis’ landing make their way to Cersei, she orders that Joffrey be brought to safety inside the castle. Lancel takes the request to Tyrion and Joffrey, and Tyrion tries to convince him that he should stay with his army. Being the pussy that he is however, he flees and leaves a man in his stead. Knowing that it all falls on his stunted shoulders, Tyrion decides to take control of the men and lead them himself.
Stannis and his men make it ashore and soon assemble an invasion party. Stannis orders the ladders to scale the walls and is the first man up. Now that my friends, is a true leader. Meanwhile, his landing ships are put in place to assemble the battering ram. Knowing that the Baratheon army is right outside their gates, Tyrion tells the men to not fight for the king or the Gods, but to fight to keep their homes and city safe. Varys had given him a map of the city that showed a way in and out of the city that no one knew about. Tyrion leads the men out of this gate to take Stannis’ army by surprise from behind. Tyrion kills the first man by taking off his leg with an axe. The slicing and dicing continues in a most gory fashion and Tyrion takes his own licks as well. He gets sliced on the face but is saved by his squire, up until he loses consciousness just as he sees another army arrive on horseback.
Inside the castle, Cersei is convinced all is lost and flees the holdfast. The other women begin to freak out, but Sansa finds an inner strength and calms them down by reassuring them. Shae tells her that she needs to lock herself in her room because even though Stannis won’t kill her, Ilyn Payne will. Sansa takes Shae’s advice and flees to the safety of her room. Once locked inside, she comes face to face with the Hound. He tells her that he’s leaving and he wants her to come with him. He tells her that he will protect her and take her back to Winterfell. She’s still scared of him but tells him she knows he won’t hurt her, but doesn’t go with him. Stupid girl. We’ve always known that he’s got a soft spot for her and he was her way out. She tells him that she’s safe where she is and he leaves. I really hope that’s not the last we see of him.
Cersei sits on the Iron Throne with Tommen as she tells him a story to calm his nerves. She’s got the bottle of nightshade and it seems like she’s going to do them both in before Stannis can do worse to them. Just as she pops the tops of the bottle, the doors are thrown open and Ser Loras Tyrell takes off his helm to reveal himself. Following him is Cersei’s father, Tywin. Tywin tells her Stannis has fled and that the Iron Throne still belongs to them. Cersei stands and the bottle hits the floor, shattering into pieces.
I couldn’t wait to see just how they were going to film the battle, especially the wildfire. I was very impressed because it was amazing. The one thing that downs my vibe a bit is the fact that there is only one episode left and the fact that this episode was only focused on the events of King’s Landing, leaving only next week to get some resolution to the other locations. I’m worried that the storylines concerning Arya, Jon, and Robb are going to suffer from this and too much will be crammed into next week’s finale. That being said, I’m also glad that they did decide to stick with only one location for Blackwater. There is no way they could have done this part of the story justice otherwise.
A couple of notes…
I love Peter Dinklage. He’s so amazing as Tyrion and manages to surprise me with every episode. His exchange with Bronn before they went their separate ways was priceless. Clearly the two have a mutual respect and sense of friendship for each other that really came out in telling each other to not die.
Sansa used to bug the crap out of me, even in the books. But the last few episodes her tongue has gotten a bit more loose, especially with Joffrey. I love how snarky she’s gotten. She also showed leadership by calming the women down after Cersei left. It showed how she cares about how people feel and gave an insight into what kind of queen she would actually be.
I love how the Hound finally reached his breaking point and made it known that he was done for good.
A drunk Cersei, is a highly entertaining Cersei.
I hate the Lannisters so much, but can’t help but want them to stick around. That’s a sign of great writing.
I really loved the the song that played over the credits. It’s called “The Rains of Castamere” and it’s about how Tywin Lannister defeated House Reyne. It’s performed by The National. (via io9)Tags: Blackwater, Emilie Clarke, Game of Thrones, Game of Thrones 2.09, Game of Thrones Blackwater, Game of Thrones recap, Game of Thrones Season 2 Episode 9, GoT, HBO, Iain Glenn, Kit Harrington, Lena Headey, Maisie Williams, Peter Dinklage, Richard Madden, The National, The Rains of Castamere