Musing Review: Game Of Thrones – The Ghost of Harrenhal (S2, Ep5)
Things are changing quickly south of the wall in this week’s episode of Game of Thrones. I watched it twice and still am in a bit of disbelief as to how fast it went by. The action was non-stop and I never even looked at my watch once. A lot of stuff happened as we reached the halfway mark of the season. It was another wonderful episode in a show that I feel gets better and better each week. Things also happened north of the wall and across the narrow sea too, but none as exciting as what happened in Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.
There is now one less king vying for the throne. King Renly is dead. He was murdered by the creepy shadow demon that was birthed from Melisandre in episode four although the blame has been placed on Catelyn Stark and Brienne which forced them to run. All of Renly’s banner men, with the exception of the Tyrell family (Margaery, Loras) are flocking to King Stannis and now his army is much stronger for his impending attack on King’s Landing. Word is starting to spread around the seven kingdoms are people are starting to react.
Littlefinger is still in Renly’s (now Stannis’) camp (still divergent from the books) and he’s up to his old tricks. He’s still playing people and this time it’s Margaery and Loras. There’s one great scene when he asks her if she wants to be a queen where Natalie Dormer wonderfly responds “I don’t want to be a queen, I want to be the queen.” Very well executed and is a bit of foreshadowing of future alliances yet to come with the Tyrell family.
Taking a step back real quick I have to say the Renly death scene was very well done. The visuals were great. First a chill enters the tent and then you see the shadow monster attack Renly in the mirror. The mirror was such a wonderful visual effect. He gets stabbed right in the heart using a knife made out of its shadow body. Overall very well done.
We can’t forget about Davos Seaworth. Davos is extremely creeped out by Melisandre and the birthing of the shadow demon and he knows it’s tied to Renly’s death, although he’d never say it. He tries to talk to Stannis about it, but Stannis will hear nothing about it and tells him to stop talking about it. In very much a diversionary way Stannis then tells Davos that he’ll be leading the fleet in the attack on King’s Landing. That shut Davos up, for now, although the seeds of discontent are growing. They’re not quite seeds of discontent about Stannis but about the poison that the red priestess has brought to Dragonstone and the Seven Kingdoms.
Of course word of Renly’s death and Stannis’ increased strength has made its way to Tyrion and he is a bit concerned. He’s really not a self-serving person and cares very much about the city and the kingdom he is in charge of. I think it’s a combination of the fact that he wants to prove he’s more than just an imp along with the fact that he’s smart enough to know that government needs to take care of its citizens. He heard through his new spy (and cousin / sister’s lover), Lancel Lannister, that Cersei is building a secret weapon. Tyrion goes in search of it and find out it is something called dragonfire. Dragonfire is this green liquid that makes flames so hot and powerful that it can melt wood, steel, and stone. This substance was the key to Targaryen power after all the dragons died out. It could be King’s Landing’s savior though it’s a very dangerous substance. A secret order has been making a plethora of it on Cersei’s behalf. Tyrion decides it is too dangerous for Cersei and takes it on himself. He’s ready to defend King’s Landing at all costs.
Theon is still dealing with his daddy issues and tries to command his small boat, The Sea Bitch. His crewmen don’t respect him nor listen to him. Thankfully he has a better first mate who helps him crack a new plan, one that will allow him to finally prove his worth to his father. He’s going to attack an unsuspecting place, Thorrin Square, so he can draw men away from Winterfell and march on it. What?!!? He’s going to betray his friends of the past 10 years. I guess once a Greyjoy always a Greyjoy is a motto he follows, even if that means betraying your friends. What a little @#*@)@#*&!
Across the Narrow Sea Danaerys and her khalasar are enjoying the beauty of Qarth. Her fortunes are better but all is not perfect. One of her handmaidens is unhappy that she seems to be losing her Dothraki-ness. She hadn’t dressed in her riding clothes in quite sometime and didn’t like when the other handmaiden called her princess as opposed to khaleesi. Danaerys stopped some of her men from stealing a golden statue because she respected the fact that they were guests (not the dothraki way). She’s not exactly losing her Dothraki-ness but she’s becoming more, much more. She is the mother of dragons now and will use everything she’s learned in her life so far to be greater than just a khaleesi.
She was invited by Pyat Pree (I got it right this time) to the house of the undying so she can look into her soul. It’s a house of magic that the mystics of Qarth use. She was also proposed to by Xaro Xhoan Daxos. He offered to make her a queen by giving her half his riches. She didn’t exactly decline this week though she fully intends to. She does not want her birthright given to her, she’s a dragon and wants to take it herself. More to come on that in later episodes.
North of the wall the black brothers have reached the Fist of the First Men. It is an ancient strong hold of the first people to settle on the land that is Westeros, before the Andals and before the Targaryens. This place has been around for thousands of years. It looked like it’s been there thousands of years, and cold, and desolate and a little bit scary. The Night’s Watch is going to fortify the area to protect against the impending wildling attack. (Aside – I love the real life landscape that makes up the land beyond the wall and I’m so glad they filmed on location.)
We finally get to meet Qhorin Halfhand, a notorious ranger who’s spent lots of time north of the wall and is considered quite the senior expert. He’s Mormont’s contemporary and they advise each other. They hear horns in the distance signaling danger is close. Qhorin devises a plan that sends small surgical strike teams to defeat the wildlings by killing their leader, Mance Rayder – a former black brother himself. This is where the Jon Snow story really starts. The team is able to convince Mormont to let him go with Qhorin when Sam steps up to take his place as steward. They’re going to head deeper into wildling territory and a lot of stuff is about to go down. Jon’s really going to grow up now.
And we can’t forget what happened at Harrenhal. Harrenhal is in the episode title. More about that soon. Inside the creepy stronghold Arya is serving as cupbearer to Tywin Lannister. She’s an obedient little girl not making any trouble. When she’s questioned by Tywin Lannister about where she’s from she inadvertently reveals she’s a northerner, though she’s smart enough not to reveal she’s a Stark. The questioning continues and she’s asked how the northerners feel about Robb Stark (because he’s brooding over losing so many battles) and she answers that the young wolf cannot be killed. When prodded further she’s asked whether she believes that’s true and she answers so matter of fact “No … Why? … Because anyone can die.” She’s been through a lot as a little girl. Her father died, Yoren died, she’s a captive slave now and she’s just bitter about life. The character is being played perfectly.
Now onto the ghosts part. Remember Jaqen H’ghar, he’s one of the scary three that was locked up when they were on the road with Yoren? Well now he’s working with “the bloody mummers” and is free. He feels that he owes Arya a debt of gratitude and he will pay his debt by killing three people for her. All she has to do is speak there name and he’ll do the rest. Now this is what she’s been dreaming about every night, she has a death list she repeats before she sleeps but she hesitates. It’s a tough decision to decide who lives or dies, even if you do hate them. She’s also in a bit of disbelief. Then she says “the tickler” who is the torturer who’s been killing people. Jaqen says that’s all he needs and he vanishes just like that. Then right before the end of the episode the tickler just fell out of a window and died. Hmm, it must have been the ghosts of Harrenhal.
I wish there were more of this episode. There is so much story they could have told and it went by too fast. I loved it though. I can’t wait till next week.
Watch Game of Thrones Sunday night at 10:00PM on HBO. Five more episodes to go this season. Catch up On Demand or using HBO Go if you’ve got it.Tags: game of thrones, HBO, review, season 2