I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is we are halfway through season two. The good news is these last 5 episode should be awesome. But what about tonight’s episode, “The Ghost of Harrenhal”? Head past the break for my thoughts and then leave your reactions in the comments!
Spoiler Note: This post is for those who have read A Clash of Kings. As such the post itself and the comments will contain spoilers. If you haven’t read ACoK yet, you can read our non-book-reader recap here. Thanks!
The episode opens in Renly’s tent… and everyone probably knew what was about to happen. Not 5 minutes into the episode and Renly is no more, thanks to Melisandre’s shadow demon. Brienne kicks some ass and then her and Catelyn hightail it out of there. Later in the episode, we get a great scene between Brienne and Catelyn, where an emotional Brienne pledges her loyalty to Catelyn Stark. A touching moment.
Back in Renly’s camp, the Tyrells have discovered what happened to Renly. Loras seems much more upset than Margaery. He’s ready to kill Stannis himself. Margaery advises caution, as does Littlefinger. Margaery is thinking only about the end game here, and Littlefinger looks like he has an offer for her…
Stannis has arrived in Renly’s camp and all of his bannermen, sans the Tyrells, have joined Stannis. Davos wants to know what the plan is now. Stannis tells him they sail to Blackwater Bay and Davos will command the fleet. Davos wants Stannis to leave Melisandre behind, he tells him he will lose his men to the Red Woman if they are victorious, that they will credit her for the victory. Stannis acquiesces.
In King’s Landing, Tyrion meets with Cersei about Renly’s death. Tyrion warns that Stannis is coming for them now. Cersei reveals that Joffrey has begun making siege plans, but she won’t tell him what exactly. No matter, Tyrion goes to Lancel to get that info. The King is making wildfire. Tyrion journey’s to the Alchemist’s Guild and meets with A Song of Ice and Fire audio book narrator Roy Dotrice (is he using his Wisdom Hallyne voice for the role?). Tyrion sees the potential in “the substance” and orders Hallyne to continue making it… for him now.
On the Iron Islands, Theon is preparing to set sail on his ship, the Sea Bitch. His crew doesn’t respect him. We meet Dagmer Cleftjaw for the first time, Dagmer suggests instead of raiding some fishing villages, they attack the under-defended Torrhen’s Square. Theon tells him they could take it, but couldn’t hold it once Winterfell sends forces to reclaim it. Dagmer’s look says “Exactly” and the lightbulb goes off in Theon’s head.
In Winterfell, we see Bran continuing to listen to the petty complaints of minor lords. There is a Rickon sighting! Rodrik bursts in and says Torrhen Square is under attack. He says he could round up 200 fighting men, so Bran orders him to do so and reclaim Torrhen Square. Later, he talks with Osha about his dreams. He talks of the three-eyed crow and then tells Osha about his dream of the sea coming to Winterfell.
In the far North now, the Night’s Watch has arrived at the Fist of the First Men. As they set up camp, Qhorin Halfhand arrives with a force from the Shadow Tower. Qhorin and the Old Bear talk strategy; the Halfhand wants to take a small force of men to eliminate Mance’s scouts. Jon wants to go with him. Commander Mormont resists at first, but relents when Sam offers to pick up Jon’s steward duties.
Across the Narrow Sea, Dany is a guest of Xaro Xhoan Daxos. We see she has learned how to feed her dragons. We also see that she feels comfortable in pimping out Doreah. Xaro throws a welcome party for Dany, one of the guests is the creepy Pyat Pree. He shows Dany a bit of magic and invites her to the House of the Undying. Then Quaithe makes an appearance and delivers cryptic warnings to Jorah. Later that night, Xaro demonstrates his immense wealth and then proposes to Dany. He also delivers some news: King Robert is dead. Dany consorts with Jorah, she wants to accepts Xaro’s proposal and sail to Westeros immediately. Jorah advises they wait, that their allies are in Westeros and they only need one ship to get them there.
In Harrenhal, Arya attends to Lord Tywin as he meets with his lords. They are discussing what to do about Robb, he is pretty much kicking their ass. Tywin calls out Arya as a northerner. He asks what they say of Robb in the north. She tells him the tales of Robb riding a direwolf into battle, or even turning into a direwolf, and that he can’t be killed. “Do you think he can’t be killed?” Arya gives him a look. “No. Anyone can be killed.” Tywin tells her to fetch some water. On her way, she runs Jaqen H’ghar. A man tells her she owes the Red God three lives, that she must give a man three names and a man will do the rest. Arya gives him his first name, The Tickler. Later, a scream and a thud comes from the courtyard. The Tickler lies on the ground, his head facing in the wrong direction. Arya looks up at the battlements and sees Jaqen. He holds one finger up to his face.
What I Liked
The Shadow Baby Does Its Thing – The special effects team did a great job with the shadow demon and Renly’s death scene. It was different than the books strong wind, then rush of blood from the neck, but this version looked badass on screen.
Hooray, It’s The Halfhand! – My favorite minor character made his first appearance tonight. Simon Armstrong isn’t exactly how I pictured the Halfhand (my pie-in-the-sky casting choice was Liam Neeson), but he seems like he will be able to portray Qhorin’s quiet confidence quite well. Can’t wait to see more of him. And while I’m on the subject of the Watch, let me just say that Iceland looks amazing. I know the Fist in the book is totally different, but the show’s version of the Fist is so epic and beautiful, that I completely understand the change.
Dany’s Magical Mystery Tour – I love that they aren’t shying away from the mysticism and mystery in Dany’s Qarth storyline. Pyat Pree, Quaithe, even Xaro with his Valyrian steel door. Qarth is clearly not Westeros and they are showing it in all its weird, wonderful glory.
A Man Likes What He Sees – We’re finally getting some good Jaqen action! Tom Wlaschiha is nailing it so far, in my opinion. His accent, his syntax, his whole demeanor is the Lorathi to a tee. And did any one else think of Inglorious Basterds when he flashed his German three?
What I Didn’t Like
Note: My dislike this week is going to contain some spoilers from A Storm of Swords. So if you haven’t read it yet, skip down to the comments now!
The Tickler meets the Many-Faced God – I had problems with the handling of Arya’s first “kill”. Ok, so I understand the need to cut Weese due to time constraints, so I knew she would be giving a different name. But did it have to be the Tickler? That moment in Storm, when she pounces on the Tickler and stabs him over and over while shouting “Is there gold in the village?”, is so intense and it’s the first time she gets to cross a name off her list due to her own actions. And now we won’t get to see that on screen. Plus, in the book, Arya’s first name is not “for the greater good”, but more about killing someone that has hurt her personally. Wouldn’t Polliver, who stole Needle and killed Lommy, be a better choice to illustrate that point? Lastly, Arya literally just came from talking with Tywin and basically threatening to kill him. Why wouldn’t her mind immediately go to him when Jaqen makes his offer? It didn’t make sense. I’m bummed that this moment wasn’t as great as it could have been.
So those are my thoughts. What about you? What did you think of “The Ghost of Harrenhal”? Leave your reactions in the comments and rate the episode in our poll question!