Boom. That was “Blackwater”. My recap and reactions to tonight’s epic episode are after the break.
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 discuss this episode in our non-book reader recap. Thanks!
Let’s start in King’s Landing (hehe). The episode opens with Stannis and his men sailing towards King’s Landing. Davos and his son Matthos share some words about the impending battle.
Back at the Red Keep, Tyrion lays in bed with Shae. He is scared and Shae comforts him. Cersei, meanwhile, gets a vial of poison from Pycelle. Elsewhere in King’s Landing, Bronn is looking to get some comfort of his own. The Hound shows up and him and Bronn exchange some words. Just when you think the story is going to deviate in a big way, the bells ring, signaling Stannis’ arrival. Back to Tyrion, who is donning his armor, while Varys talks to him about the supernatural. He then gives him a map of the underground passages in King’s Landing.
In the Throne Room, Joffrey is heading to battle. But before he does he wants Sansa to kiss his new blade, Hearteater. Up on the ramparts, Tyrion, Joffrey and the Hound wait for Stannis’ fleet. Joffrey is impatient, but Tyrion orders him to wait, he will give the signal. Davos is uneasy about the lack of any defense.
Cersei and the other women of the Red Keep, are holed up in Maegor’s Holdfast. Sansa asks why Ilyn Payne is there as well, Cersei says he is there to protect them. Cersei then shares with Sansa some tips on how to rule, when she orders the beheading of some maids who tried to run away with some stolen goods.
Back to the walls, Stannis’ fleet has come into view. Tyrion orders the archers to draw. As Stannis’ fleet approaches, one ship sails from the Blackwater out into the bay. Davos orders his archers to draw as well, but as the ship comes closer they realize it is empty. Tyrion gives the signal. Bronn notches a flaming arrow and shoots it at the empty ship. Davos sees the liquid green substance oozing out of the ship and into the river, he realizes what is about to happen. Bronn’s arrow flies overhead and lands in the trail of wildfire, igniting it with green flame. Davos screams at Matthos to get down. The ship of wildfire ignites. Ka-boom.
Back at Maegor’s Holdfast, where Cersei is well into her cups. She has another heart-to-heart with Sansa, talking about the mercy of the gods (or lack thereof). She then moves on to what would happen to the women if the city should fall.
Despite half of his fleet in flames, Stannis is not deterred. He leads his men out to storm the castle. They head for the Mud Gate, flaming arrows raining down on them. Tyrion orders the Hound and Lancel down to hold the gate. Lancel is wounded in the fight and scurries back into the castle.
Cersei is getting more and more drunk. She confronts Shae about her background (we learn she is from Lorath). She then reveals to Sansa the real reason Ser Ilyn is there, to kill them if Stannis should take the city. Lancel reports back to Cersei that the battle is lost. Cersei orders him to bring Joffrey back to the Red Keep.
Back to the fighting, where the Hound is straight cutting dudes in half. A flaming soldier comes storming towards him and he freezes in panic. The soldier gets an arrow through the eye, courtesy of Bronn. Sandor realizes all the fires burning around him. He gets spooked and heads back into the castle, the gates barred behind him. Tyrion and Joffrey order him back out there. Sandor curses them out and walks away. Stannis’ men bring in a battering ram and are smashing the gate. Lancel comes to tell Joffrey that the queen wants him back inside the Keep. Tyrion says he must stay, he needs to lead his men into battle. Joffrey looks scared, he tells Mandon Moore to fight in his stead and heads back to the safety of the Red Keep. Tyrion then decides to lead the men himself. He fires up the men with a speech. “Those are brave men knocking at our door. Let’s go kill them!”
Lancel comes to Cersei, tells her he wants to bring Joffrey back out to the fighting, to inspire the men. Cersei pushes him down and storms out of Maegor’s Holdfast. Shae tells Sansa she should not stay, if the city falls Stannis will not kill her, but Ilyn would. Sansa heads back to her room. Sandor is there. He tells her he is going to runaway. He tells her she can come with him. She declines. He tells her just must get used to people like him protectin her. “You are not going to hurt me?” “No, little bird, I won’t hurt you.”
Tyrion and his men are sneaking out of a hidden passageway to take Stannis’ men from the rear. They rout Stannis’ forces and burn the battering ram. Just when it looks like the battle is won, more of Stannis’ men storm towards them. Tyrion fights for his life and finds himself face to face with Ser Mandon Moore. Moore swings his sword at Tyrion, cutting him across the face. Before he can finish him off, Pod sticks a spear through his throat.
In the final sequence, Cersei sits on the Iron Throne with Tommen on her lap. She tells him a story of all the animals bowing down to the lion. As she tells him the story, we see Tyrion, slowly losing consciousness on the battlefield. He sees men on horses, riding in and killing Stannis’ men. Stannis’ forces retreat, with Stannis screaming at them to stay and fight. Right before passing out, Tyrion sees Renly on horseback, he is leading the charge. Back in the Throne Room, Cersei is giving the vial of poison to Tommen, certain that the battle is lost. The doors burst open and Renly strides in. He removes his helm…. and it is Loras Tyrell, wearing Renly’s armor. Tywin enters behind him, Cersei drops the vial to the floor, as Tywin declares, “The battle is over. We have won.”
What I Liked
Ka-boom. – Holy (pig) shit. Th wildfire looked amazing. The whole sequence was staged so perfectly. The one ship eerily floating past Davos, the wildfire pouring out, Bronn’s arrow and then the explosion. Wow, that explosion. Huge props to the VFX team on that one. And I loved the reactions to the explosions: Joffrey looks away, Tyrion looks on in awe and horror, Pyromancer Hallyne looks positively giddy, while Sandor mouths ‘Oh my god’. That was pretty much my reaction too, Sandor.
The Hound Steps Up – They finally gave Rory McCann some screen time and, man, did he step up to the plate. His reactions to the fire, and then his moment when he realizes it isn’t worth it. And then the quiet intensity in his later scene with Sansa. Sandor fans had a lot to like in this episode.
Cersei Gets Drunk – Lena Headey didn’t just step up to the plate, she knocked this episode out of the park. Her drunken revelations were a revelation. And her final scene was so well done, with her telling the story to Tommen as the final battle scenes play out, and then her reaction to Tywin arriving. Perfection.
We got a battle! – Hey look, battle scenes! And it is exactly what you’d expect from Game of Thrones: intense, gory, brutal. Hats off to Neil Marshall for his fine direction and to all the extras, crew and stuntmen that toiled for months in the cold, rainy Belfast nights to create these amazing scenes.
What I Didn’t Like
Nothing – If this episode isn’t perfect, than it is pretty damn close. I got no nits to pick, although I’m sure some of you all can come up with a few.
So, only one episode left. But first, let’s revel in “Blackwater”. Share your thoughts in the comments and rate this episode in our poll below.