OH HEY HI only read this if you a) have seen this week’s Game of Thrones and b) if you don’t mind me alluding to things that happen in the books that are a little spoilery but only vaguely and if you squint. If you want to go away and come back once you’re caught up, that’s fine, I don’t judge. x
Ladies and gentlemen and everything in between, I welcome you to episode 4 of season 2 of Game of Thrones, also known as episode 14 or ‘Garden of Bones’. YES, TIME FOR MORE SWEETNESS AND LIGHT ❤ it’s a packed episode so there’s LOTS of things that they’ve built towards with a few bits that those of us who’ve read ahead most likely weren’t expecting. But the pay-off is good and dudes I am so, so into this episode. It was satisfying. And dark.
This episode is packed with Starks (Bran, Jon Snow, Theon, Jaime and Cersei sit this one out, though the casket containing Ned’s bones gets a cameo) while Joffrey is being a little shit and Melisandre is completely naked again. And other things. Well, you know.
– HARRENHAL. In the opening credits! God it looks GOOD. QARTH! Oh hell I just squee’d.
– “Do you hear that?” “No.” Oh hi normal people of Westeros, it’s good to see you being real people. And dying. Well, shit.
– Golly, it’s so good to see Robb again. Missed him more than I thought. What a fabulous opening, effective and cost-saving as well (you just know the Battle of Blackwater is going to kick ass). Battle of Whispering Wood: DONE. Bolton is WONDERFULLY sinister, suggesting torture by referring to his family’s motto – the flayed man. After reading A Dance With Dragons, even his voice sounds dark and shadowy and full of malice. Amazing casting. I hate him.
– “Jeyne Westerling”? Is that you? She has an actual character now! She’s from Volantis! She’s critical of our hero! I approve. Sadly. I approve sadly. What better way to fall in love than over a struggling enemy soldier having his leg hacked off? I love you, Robb. You’d be killer at speed dating. Look at him being all nice and honorable and decent like his dad. Oh just look at him. My heart is so heavy for that boy.
– Oh poor Sansa. “Leave her face! I like her pretty.” She’s being beaten for being Robb’s sister, because this series is all about families and power, and now Sansa has none of either and is suffering for that exact reason. It’s brutal. Sandor Clegane rips his cloak off to cover her! What a detail.
– “LADY STARK. YOU MAY SURVIVE US YET,” says Tyrion, wonderingly, as Sansa walks from the room in which her betrothed has had her stripped and beaten in front of the court with her head held high. OH TYRION YES. I love Tyrion’s scenes with everyone, but he’s so good with Sansa. He understands, even if she doesn’t, and even though he feels awful for her, there’s a tinge of awe there as well. How many other teenage girls could have weathered an atrocious scene like that?
– “You think dipping his wick will cure what ails him?” “There’s no cure for being a c*nt.” Bronn, you star.
– Joffrey’s a little shit, but we knew that. He is brilliantly dark and menacing though, and Jack Gleeson REALLY deserves some kind of recognition for his acting. He is unsettling and frightening, which is crazy given how young he is. I love hating him, I really do, because in every scene he delivers both by being outrageously and subtly evil.
– “My favourite whoremonger” do you know many whoremongers, Renly? I love his loathing for Littlefinger, I’m not sure it’s in the books, but this tv series is just instilling within me a deep love for watching characters who hate each other force themselves to have a polite conversation riddled with barbs and sly insults. It’s SO MUCH FUN.
– WHAT have they put Natalie Dormer in. She’s been swallowed whole by that dress. “The marriage of a wealthy girl always breeds interest, if nothing else.” BURNNN.
– I love the world-building for the series, both book-wise and in the TV series; the details of the world are the best. The Garden of Bones indeed.
– HELLO ARYA AND GENDRY AND HOT PIE AND HARRENHAL oh god Harrenhal is a dump. An amazing dump. “What’s that smell?” “Dead people.” Arya’s already totally at ease with death. And this is clever plotting, having the events in the village with the torture/interrogation happen at Harrenhal. Wonderfully done, again, because EVERTHING IN THIS IS. And Arya’s little prayer, seen from above, as if the gods are watching. But she’s only a little girl, and that list gets longer.
– Oh my god they’ve put Cat and Littlefinger in the same room after his betrayal of Ned in S1 AND SHE’S DRAWN A BLADE ON HIM oh I used to not like Cat much but now I’m all hearts for her. “Both girls are healthy and safe, for now.” We all know he can’t be trusted, even when he’s declaring love for her, because he says crap like that. She knows he can’t be trusted because he misled her husband and Ned died as a result. But oh dear. Oh dear. He hits below the belt by praising Robb, and then even worse by giving her back Ned’s bones, because holy crap that not playing by the rules, that’s playing with her emotions. You bastard, Littlefinger. You’re awesome, but you’re a bastard. I hate how this isn’t Cat’s idea and decision any more; but at the same time, it makes sense, and it’s worth that scene where Cat gets to be angry again and Littlefinger gets to be shady some more.
– Garden of BONES yes very good. Also hello Ned, nice to not see you again, wish it were in better circumstances.
– Oh wow, rats! Steel bucket! Flames! What a torture scene. THANKS GUYS. REALLY. That’s just SO unpleasant.
– YES Renly, Stannis, Melisandre, Davos and Cat having a bit of a chat, this will be all pleasantries and compliments, won’t it! Oh, wait.
– So here’s the issues of families rearing its head again. Cat’s comment about how Renly and Stannis are behaving shows her love for her own family, and her utter trust in the emotional ties between her children – even though she and her sister are so distant from one another, and she’s rejected Jon so completely. “Would you believe,” says Renly, bitterly, “I loved him once.” Which makes next week and the ramifications of what is ultimately weakness on Stannis’ part all the worse. Much as Cat wants to believe otherwise, her family unit isn’t the best, and it definitely isn’t the most secure any more.
– It’s a little thing but Carice van Houten’s delivery of “the night is dark and full of terrors” thrills me every time.
– The Qarth plot I always found very weird in the books so I’m so interested in how this will go down onscreen. At any rate, I am glad as hell that Dany’s wanderings in the desert are over for the time being, because it’s a bit tedious and they’re a bunch of fab actors so they need something to do other than look hungry, stressed and smudged in bright sunlight. And OH GOD loved it, but of course I would, because those Thirteen were freaky cool and Xaro marvellous and the moment where the gates opened to the city was the best moment of special effects in the episode partly because of Dany’s expression of delight and satisfaction and RELIEF. Emilia Clarke does “angry” very well.
– GENDRY. God they actually had me worried for a minute there. Also: Charles Dance does the best Acting From A Horse In Armour. It’s quite splendid. He radiates imperiousness anyway, but on a horse, in armour, he’s unparalleled. Tywin meeting Arya and complimenting her for being smart and meaning it is just… it’s so perfect. And he doesn’t want just anyone for his cup-bearer, he wants the smart girl. Tywin likes people around him to be clever. You can see why Cersei is so determined to be like him, and how massively she’s failing – and you can easily imagine she never got told she was smart, not he just did to a stranger, a little girl in handcuffs. And clever villains are the most terrifying and the best sort of villains to have, really, from a reader/viewer perspective. Clever villains are obviously shit if you’re the hero.
– The complete and utter disgust with which Lancel treats Tyrion is hilarious given they’re cousins, Lancel is shagging Tyrion’s elder sister, and Tyrion is in all ways his superior. Talk about strong family ties. And then that moment of shock as Tyrion gets to the heart of the matter, which he dismisses as trivial because it’s Tyrion, and Tyrion is trivial in Lancel’s eyes. And then the utter panic as Tyrion’s all “dude, I get the jist, quit playin'”. “It’s not my fault!” he bleats, in a scene that is a classic Tyrion take-down and he strops out and has tears in his eyes and GUYS IT’S GLORIOUS. “Wait here,” he deadpans, “His Grace will want to hear this.” You troll, T. Iloveyou. Lancel’s exasperated face as he rubs the bridge of his nose, defeated, recruited, is a marvel.
– “I could swear that I have not harmed a single hair on his head, but that, strictly speaking, wouldn’t be true…” TYRION’S LINE OF THE NIGHT
– “Cleaner ways don’t win wars.” For all he’s a rigid, humorless ass of a man, Stannis is desperate. He’s all for rules when they work for him but the numbers are against him, so he’s fine with breaking the rules using some dirty tricks. Davos is a genuinely good man doing questionable things for his king, and Liam Cunningham gets his inner conflict dead on. Stannis is insecure, at heart, and so he has no problem doing bad, bad things to make things “right”. The lesser evil, to him, but the greatest thing about this show is how it shows that there’s no one true king, no one true way, no one truth, no one good. The Starks want to kill Lannisters, Lannisters want to kill Starks, Baratheons want to rip each other apart, the Greyjoys are a simmering mass of resentment, Bolton wants to flay a bitch, and Dany just wants to kill everyone – and we end up rooting for all of them in some way (except Bolton, obv). So Stannis thinks he’s right and will do anything he can to do that – even though it’s bad from almost every other perspective. But he’s so sure he’s right. And he’s an ass.
– Melisandre’s darkest moment so far, and it’s so well done I’m full of glee even though it’s, well, a demon birth. Hey, Cat’s a mum to real children, even Cersei’s children are human even if Joff’s a monster, while Mel is mother to the CREEPIEST DEMON SHADOW THING EVER. Obviously good things will happen now. OBVIOUSLY. Because when you give birth to demon shadow babies RAINBOWS AND UNICORNS OCCUR.
Next week is “The Ghost of Harrenhal”. Maybe my prediction of rainbows and unicorns is a bit premature.