Game of Thrones S02E04 – Garden of Bones

New locations are presented to us in this week’s always brilliant opening credits, we get a glimpse of Qarth and Harrenhal.

The episode begins in the Riverlands with a successful night time raid on a Lannister camp by Robb Stark, his dire wolf and his men.

In the blood-strewn aftermath of the assault, Robb tours the battlefield, and renders aid to A Lannister soldier with the help of a nurse who introduces herself as Talisa.

She knows who Robb is, but is neither frightened or put off by him, and in return he is rather intrigued by them.

Traveling south, we come to King’s Landing, where we, like Sansa are subjected to extreme wickedness at the hands of that little bastard known as Joffrey.

The boy king is angry over his defeat at Oxcross by Robb’s army, and has Sansa beaten in open court until Tyrion arrives, and saves her, openly defying the whiny king, and as he says, ‘educating’ him.

Bronn and Tyrion think that Joffrey is at an age where he may need some female entertainment, so Tyrion arranges for two whores to attend to Joffrey.

But that goes wrong for the ladies, as Joffrey reveals how horrific his sadistic streak is in a rather disturbing scene.

Tyrion (still my favorite character) is later visited by his cousin Lancel Lannister, with the demand from the Queen Mother Cersei, that Pycelle be released from his black cell. Tyrion quickly deduces that the knight is now bedding his sister Cersei.

Threatened with blackmail, Lancel agrees to be loyal to Tyrion, and serve as his spy, informing him on everything that Cersei gets up to.

Across the Narrow Sea, one of Dany’s Dothraki riders returns with news of a city three days away, and that they will be received should they travel there.

So Dany and her company arrive in the garden of bones, the outlying desert of the city of Qarth, where, at the city gates, they are met by The Thirteen. This governing body initially refuses her entry to the city until Dany reveals the dragons to them.

She refuses, and swears to raze the city to the ground when her dragons are grown, The Thirteen seem unimpressed until one of them, Xaro, vouches for her with his own blood.

Along the King’s Road, the captured Arya (my other favorite character), and her friends arrive at Harrenhal, which is being overseen by Gregor ‘The Mountain’ Clegane, who chooses one of the surviving townspeople, now prisoners, each and every day. He tortures them while asking where the town’s gold and silver is hidden and the whereabouts of something known as “The Brotherhood.”

This torture is committed in full view of the prisoners, and is conducted with a bucket, a rat, and a torch. Let’s just say… OUCH.

This sequence also sees the introduction of Arya’s nightly list. The list of people she recites, night after night, of those she wants dead.

Just as Gendry is about to have the bucket strapped to his chest for his turn, Tywin Lannister arrives, and chastises his men, and deduces that Arya is a girl, though he has no idea who she is. He decides though that she will serve him well as a cup bearer.

Petyr Baelish (Little-Finger) has been dispatched to Renly’s camp in the Stormlands, where he confers with the potential King, and then with his wife, as they tour the camp. Through some verbal sparring, Baelish hints that he’s aware of Renly’s true sexual desires.

Margaery fences verbally with him, neither confirming or denying any of Baelish’s suppositions and reminds him that he is going to be Petyrs’s king as well.

Baelish then visits with Catelyn Stark, still in Renly’s camp, and delivers to her the offer of a prisoner exchange, Sansa and Arya for Jaime. Cat tells him that Robb would never agree to that deal, but he reminds her that he came to her, and that she’s a mother. As a measure of good faith, he returns Ned’s bones to her, so that they may be buried in Winterfell.

Later, Cat and Renly ride out to meet with Stannis, Melisandre and Davos. Cat tries to remind them that they are brothers and should work together, not fight over the throne, but both ignore them, Stannis rides off with an ultimatum to surrender before sunrise, and Melisandre warns Renly that “the night is dark, and full of terrors.”

We learn this first hand, as Stannis sends Davos on a mission with Melisandre, rowing her to shore in the middle of the night. Finding their way through caves, they come across a barred door, which the Scarlett Woman tells Davos will not stop them.

She strips naked, revealing a swollen, slightly moving belly, and settles on the ground, and in the last horrifying scene of the episode gives birth to some form of shadowy creature that crawls out of her, grows and stands before them.

GAH!

(I do know what it is, and what happens, but I’m trying to take these things episode by episode, but that was a disturbing sight).

That and of course how evil Joffrey is.

The series continues to entertain and impress, it’s a wonderful adaptation of the novels, and I look forward, eagerly to each and every episode. I know it’s an expensive series, but I honestly think HBO is getting it’s moneys worth out of it.

I love the sweep of the story, and I love the cast of characters, and I know that both get bigger, and that there are unexpected deaths coming… And yet, I’m sure it’ll still affect me when they happen.

This show is awesome.

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Game of Thrones S02E03 – What Is Dead May Never Die

The politics and machinations are well under way at this point of the season, as parties maneuver to gain control of the Iron Throne and the lands of Westeros.

North of the Wall, we rejoin Jon Snow as Craster delivers him to Lord Commander Mormont after catching Snow spying on the fate of Craster’s male children, murdered and delivered to the White Walkers.

Sam in the interim is obviously quite taken with Gilly, one of Craster’s daughter/wives, and leaves her one of his mother’s items as a promise to return.

From North of the Wall we travel south to Winterfell, to check in with the young, lame Bran. He has been having dreams, where he can run, walk, hunt and eat. He is beginning to suspect these are more than dreams, that they are real, that he is somehow connected with his dire wolf.

We travel further south to find Lady Stark arriving at King Renly’s camp in the midst of a gladiatorial game, in which the flamboyant Loras, the so-called Knight of Flowers, is bested by a towering knight, who upon winning reveals herself as Brienne, a much-loved character from the book series. Though I will say, she is not as ugly as she is described in the books, but that is the wonder of television one supposes. The victory earns her a spot in the illustrious King’s Guard.

We also learn that not only is Renly married to Margaery, though he’s yet to consummate the marriage, he is also sexually involved with her brother, Loras.

Margaery is aware of the relationship, and takes it in stride, but counsels Renly that if he fathers a child with her, it cements their union and strengthens their hold, denying their enemies.

From there we travel to Pyke, where the Greyjoys are developing battle plans to slip behind Robb Stark’s line of attack across the south and seize the North behind him. Lord Greyjoy questions where Theon’s loyalties lie because of his friendship with Robb while he was a ward of Ned Stark. Theon is given one ship to go raiding with, but his sister Yara is given a fleet of 30 and will do the bulk of he fleet action. Theon temporarily toys with the idea of warning Robb, but commits himself to his family and is baptized with salt water as he proclaims his faith in the Drowned God.

Meanwhile in King’s Landing, Tyrion is weaving webs of his own, to ferret out who the spy for his sister is. Telling each of his suspects, Little-finger, Varys, and Grand Maester Pycelle that he plans to marry Cersei’s daughter, Myrcella,  off to three different men. Knowing that whatever story he hears from Cersei will reveal the spy to him.

He also arranges for his mistress, Shae, to become Sansa Stark’s new handmaiden, hiding her in plain sight, so Cersei won’t know who she is.

Sansa, meanwhile is beginning to realize how truly trapped she is becoming amidst the Lannisters, and is closing very quickly in on despair.

Tyrion’s machinations pay off, revealing Pycelle as the spy, when confronted by Tyrion and Bronn, he proclaims his allegiance to House Lannister, always House Lannister, but Tyrion banishes him to one of the infamous black cells.

Finally we venture along the King’s Road, where we find Arya spending a sleepless night, and attempts to engage Yoran in conversation. She wants to know how he can sleep at night when he has seen so many horrible things.

The two are interrupted as a group of soldiers, loyal to the Lannisters stumble upon them, seeking Gendry.

Urging Arya and Gendry to escape and go north, Yoran is slain by the soldiers, who then proceed to ransack the convoy, and slay many of those on their way to The Wall.

Arya, helps the prisoners in the convoy escape, but then is set upon by a soldier who capture her and others,  steals her sword, and uses it to run through one of her young traveling companions.

When the soldiers demand that they tell them where Gendry is, Arya points out Gendry’s helmet next to her slain companion, saying you already got him.

This show gets better and better, and even having read the books, and knowing what’s coming, seeing it unfold on the screen is a spectacular ride, the production continues to be lush and stunning, and the characters grow and change from week to week – the death of Ned Stark hangs over everything as a reminder that anyone can die at any time.

How long will your favorite character last?

Game of Thrones S02E02 – The Night Lands

The Song of Fire & Ice continued this week, with the incomparable fantasy series Game of Thrones.

And you know you’re addicted, and a geek, when you notice and pick out new locations that you’ve read about and imagined appear in what may well be my favorite opening credits for a television series ever.

This week, the much missed Arya, is seen on her way along the King’s Road with the intention of returning to Winterfell. However, when soldiers from King’s Landing stumble upon the convoy, she’s afraid they are seeking her.

She’s surprised to learn that they are looking for Gendry, both of whom have no idea that he is the sole remaining bastard of Robert Baratheon’s womanizing ways.

It does give them something to talk about though, and you can see the beginning of what will be a great friendship.

Gendry, in his time, reveals that he knows Arya is a girl masquerading as a boy, but won’t let her secret out.

They also have one of the best lines of dialogue this week.

Gendry: You shouldn’t insult people taller than you.

Arya: Then I wouldn’t get to insult anyone.

The Lannisters, Tyrion and Cersei, back in King’s Landing spar with one another, attempting to solidify positions of power over one another, planning, scheming and being treacherous with one another, through the course of their banter, and towards the end, Cersei actually hurts Tyrion, though he hides it well. Tyrion cements some of his own power by exiling Janos to the wall for his part in the betrayal of Ned Stark.

Tyrion cements some of his own power by exiling Lord Janus to the wall for his part in the betrayal of Ned Stark. He also verbally jousts with Varys, The Spider, possibly one of the most treacherous and conniving characters in King’s Landing, letting him know that, unlike Ned, he doesn’t see himself as an honorable man, and will destroy Varys if he moves against him.

Cersei destroys the first list of demands that Robb Stark sends her, and they also receive word, while in council, that there are rumors of White Walkers afoot north of the Wall. A threat that Cersei promptly laughs at, and discards despite Tyrion’s words of warning.

North of The Wall, the men of the Night’s Watch are still encamped at Craster’s home. Sam and Jon meet Gilly, one of his wives/daughters (eww), who is pregnant. Sam wants to help her get away, and Jon while against it, may well be on his way to changing his mind when he sees what becomes of the children born to the wives that are not female. No sooner does Jon discover this secret, when he is rendered unconscious by Craster who catches him spying.

Theon Greyjoy, who was kept at Winterfell as a ward of Ned Stark’s, to keep the Iron Islands in check, specifically the rulers at Pyke, returns home after 9 years, as an emissary from Robb Stark, and hopes to reclaim his role as heir to the throne there.

He arrives, not to the throngs he expected to greet him but an old man, and an attractive woman who agrees to escort him to the keep. Unfortunately for those of us who read the book, we know her identity already, and watching him fondle and caress her is troubling, especially once the audience and the story catches up and we learn that this woman, is his sister Yara.

Yara has taken the role meant for him, proving herself to their father Balon, who seems almost to despise his returned son, thinking him Stark’s man instead of his son.

An uncomfortable family reunion all around.

Stannis Baratheon’s man Davos, is out attempting to recruit men, armies, navies, and finally meets the likeable and fun character of Salladhor Saan, who agrees to serve Stannis in return for certain promises.

Melisandre, meanwhile, seduces Stannis with the promise of a son, something his sickly wife cannot give him, and in a highly symbolic moment, they copulate atop a table-top map of Westeros.

We are given brief glimpses of Little-finger, and an equally brief moment with Dany and Jorah, as they await the return of the Dothraki riders she sent out. When of the horses returns riderless, with a severed head in its saddlebag. Dany comforts the mourning wife, but you know she will have revenge on those who killed the blood of her blood.

But that’s at least a week off…

Hurry up Sunday!

Until then, I’m just going to sit and marvel at the gorgeous production values of this show. The acting continues to be top-notch, the story is being masterfully adapted, the locations are lovely, and the sets look like anything but. Everything I’ve seen on this show is trying to convince my brain that Westeros is a real place, and that is one of the highest compliments I can pay this show. It’s amazing to watch and look at, and although I’ve read the books, I still get excited seeing what makes it to the screen, what does it, and how it’ll be interpreted for television, and so far it has not disappointed!

Game of Thrones airs Sunday evenings on HBO.