Game of Thrones Season 2 Episode 8: “The Prince Of Winterfell”

Here be spoilers. Also if you haven’t got past A Storm of Swords Part 2 it’s best to give this a wide berth until you have.

Late again, but a nice sort of late, like being ten minutes late to a tea party when the cakes are all out and the tea’s been poured. This is the one and only time anyone will compare Game of Thrones to a tea party, I bet.

Things feel a bit off this week as everything’s ramping up for the finale and everyone knows dark things are occurring so everyone’s kinda waiting for the shit to go down. The writers get to show off their ability to write the strongest scenes when they’re multipurpose without detracting anything from the whole or from any characters, but there’s something unfulfilling about this episode – quite rightly, because there will be big firey ‘splodey things next week. The pay-off will be massive.

No Sansa this week, but almost everyone else shows up, so I’ll have to cope I suppose.

– Yara rides rings around her brother, who isn’t the prince of Winterfell. Literally. “You were a terrible baby, did you know that?” Theon hasn’t got any better. It’s nice giving the repeatedly ass-kicking Yara a soft side like that, making her a bit less of a cut-and-dried figure who just turns up to prove how much of a pissy child Theon is; there’s a point to her, as we read in the books, and although she’s been absent much of the time every scene she’s in makes that point very well. I still don’t really care for the change of name, mind, but it’s a trivial thing compared to the other changes they’ve made.

– Woohoo for the mention of Mance Rayder! Woohoo for Ygritte! “We’re even now, Jon Snow.” Not even close. And then there’s Qorin Halfhand, who isn’t the arse-kicker of the books purely because of the time constraints. “They died because of me?” “See that it wasn’t for nothing.”

– YES KING ROBB LET’S DISCUSS THE LADY YOU ARE ENGAGED TO MARRY. LET’S TALK ABOUT THIS. BEFORE, YOU KNOW, YOU FORGET, OR SOMETHING. “I’m sure you’ll be very happy.” *LAUGHTER*

– I need to be reminded every week that she’s called TALISA. And she’s played by Oona Chaplin, descendant of the great Charlie. And she’s excellent.

– Lovely if slightly Shakespearean moment as he wanders along rambling eloquently about how awesome a lord Eddard Stark was, showing that he was what the ideal ruler should be, showing that he’s got a lot of it himself, slowly drawing his own doom upon himself. “He’d have liked you,” he tells the not-Jeyne, because everyone does like her, she’s great, and she’s perfect for him, and she’s also unintentionally the most dangerous person who isn’t a Lannister. “He didn’t care much about gold or glory.” And Eddard Stark died. “And you?” “You think I’m fighting this war so they’ll sing songs about me? I want to go home. I want the men following me to go home.” “Then why don’t you?” “Because we’ll never be safe until the Lannisters are defeated. And because I believe in justice.” Safety before Justice. Robb, you Prince Hal, you. A lovely scene to hold and compare with Jaime’s reintroduction at the end of last week’s episode. Here we have Robb neatly and perfectly captured in one scene. Honourable like his father, but more politically canny; his family’s safety is foremost in his mind, but he wants safety for everyone; he minds the people around him with no station even remotely compared with his own. Oh, he’s a lovely boy, and a perfect ruler. He’s doomed.

– The Kingslayer’s escaped! OMG! Robb does the perfect D:< face right here and I have it paused and I include it for your delight:

D:<

– Oh Catelyn. “Why?” “For the girls.” Never mind everyone else. FOR THE GIRLS. Other people have plenty of excuses for disliking Cat but this is my one and only reason, because she’s a good woman and a wonderful mother but this is a terrible thing to do. Understandable, sure, but wrong. For once, Lord Karstark’s complaints – pointing out the deaths of his children while hers still live – are perfectly valid. Horrible, but valid. “I would carve out my heart, and offer it to the Father if he would let my sons wake from their graves and step into a prison cell.” It’s a compelling point, and she’s acting like a true, honest, and above all desperate mother in this action, but Robb sums up why it’s just not right: “You’ve weakened our position, you’ve brought dischord into our camp, and you did it all behind my back.” Your son is your son, but when he’s a king, there are so many other things to consider. Your son must be a king first, and as the mother to a leader of men, you’re playing the game as much as he is. Also I refuse to believe she’s so short-sighted about her daughters as to think they’re not capable of fending for themselves. She’s not heard a word from Arya but takes this massive risk. Sansa’s threat isn’t as straightforward as death, she should be aware of that. She’s not acting in anyone’s best interests but Jaime’s.

– Though this leads to Brienne and Jaime scenes so as much as she annoys me there, I thank her, because OH BRIENNE.

– Check her out. She is wicked. He’s rude. She doesn’t cope well with rude. They’re marvellous. She’s far too pretty but she does a fabulous gurn which at least tones down the general pleasantness of her face.

😐

“Have you known many men? I suppose not.”

D:

“I didn’t mean to give offence, my lady.”

“Your crimes are past forgiveness, Kingslayer.”

“All my life men like you have sneered at me, and all my life I’ve been knocking men like you into the dust.” Jaime’s not a knight in Sansa’s understanding of the term, though he’s the best; Brienne is a knight, a true knight, though she’s a woman.

– Also I quite like how this looks like a romantic punt down the River Cam gone horribly, horribly awry:

– YES LOOK NEW COMPUTER LETS ME SCREENGRAB AT THE TOUCH OF THE BUTTON, I SHALL HENCEFORTH BE ABUSING THIS FACILITY

– Making Tywin a major character this season has been a supremely excellent move and it’s worked so well to fill in the exposition gaps without making it too obvious. It also serves to outline Arya better; she’s quick, we know that, but now she’s armed with the details of warfare and rule that no other little girl her age would have been exposed to. This doesn’t fit her trajectory in the books, though, where she’s more a nascent ninja killer – less about the wider world, more about that secret little prayer of names she wants dead.

 

“He’ll risk anything at any time,” says Tywin of Robb, “because he doesn’t know enough to be afraid.” IS THAT DOOM I HEAR.

– Clegane tasked with tracking down and destroying the Brotherhood as Tywin rides off to save the day. OH NO I LIKED HIS SCENES WITH ARYA this is a shame. But yay plot movement. He calls out her good service in front of everyone. “See that he doesn’t get drunk in the evenings. He’s poor company when he’s sober, but he’s better at his work.” UGH HIS WORK.

– Oh good, Biter (?) being mean to Arya. There’s a man who’ll totally make it to old age.

– HOT PIE TALKING PIES THIS IS DELIGHTFUL

– Hello Gendry, how you doin’. Hot, apparently. He’s doing hot. Because he’s a blacksmith. Yeah.

– And there goes Tywin with no pomp or circumstance at all. He’s so low key.

– I find Jon Snow a drag. I have to watch his scenes twice because I end up just watching his face. It’s a nice face. I approve of his face. Here, have a great tumblr find:

– The Halfhand plot is nice. I like how it’s visibly convincing Ygritte, partly because she wants to be convinced.

– HELLO TYRION. HELLO BRONN. “Do you have to do that here?” “I like to keep my hands clean.” Sparkling dialogue is being all shiny. This whole exchange is gold (heh) because how often is Tyrion argued into a losing position? Never. That’s how often. Until Bronn.

“A cloak slows you down in a fight. Makes it hard to move quietly.” A generation of people remember the superhero in a cloak and the jet engine in The Incredibles.

“What?” “What?” “What?!”

– The defence of King’s Landing. “Stannis will he here any day.” Mustn’t forget, because that will be THE NEXT EPISODE OMG SO EXCITED

– OH VARYS YOU HAVE BEEN MISSED.

“It’s just the unknown thieves we need to worry about now.”

“We could throw books at his men.” “We don’t have that many books.” “We don’t have that many men either.” My three favourite King’s Landingers in a room do not disappoint. Team Awesome. They’re like the Avengers of Westeros except they’re anything but.

– Oh my god Samwell Tarly. Refusing to believe Jon Snow could have met his end: “He’s got a Valyrian steel sword!” “So did his father.” Dolorous Edd needs more screen time.

– Wow, this carving thing is pretty awesome. It’s the obsidian! Dragonglass! Yes, I am pleased, they’ve made it a MOMENT so it stands out in a way it doesn’t in the book. Ace.

“Where were you?” “A man has patrol duty!” That’s it, Arya. Give the superb secret killer of Harrenhal all the attitude you can. Although we do get to see him boot a chicken out of the way:

Chicken Meet Boot

Casually removing a chicken from this situation

“Death is certain. The time is not.” It’s been done well, setting things up so Arya’s gift of death from Jaqen doesn’t look frivolously used.

– HELLO PODRICK PAYNE. Aww baby. “Odd little boy,” says Cersei, when he’s still in earshot, because she’s Cersei. “I have a certain sympathy for odd little boys,” says Tyrion, who never misses an opportunity, because he’s Tyrion.

– Oh god they’re eating lampreys. THEY ARE DINING ON A CREATURE FROM NIGHTMARES.

“He’s only a boy,” Cersei says of Joffrey. “Younger boys are off fighting his war,” says Tyrion, and there’s a clanging moment when you remember Cat doing stupid things because she’s a mother in a not entirely dissimilar situation. Although all mothers in Westeros are too – these just happen to have power to go with their motherly concerns.

– Varys is dangerous “because he doesn’t have a cock.” “Neither do you!” “Perhaps I’m dangerous too.” Cersei’s lethal, but not in the same way that Varys, Tywin, Joffrey or even Arya are lethal. Hubris, love. You reek of it. She’s got more in common with Theon at times – though unlike Theon, brought up by noble old Ned, Cersei has the benefit of Tywin’s influence.

– Scene underlines how horrible this woman can be. Joffrey’s not that unique a flower in the Lannister family tree.

– OH HELLO ROS. Well, book readers knew this was coming. No one’s really surprised except Tyrion. Peter Dinklage and his awesome subtle moment of relief rock so hard. “I’m sorry they hurt you. You must be brave.” Cersei grins as she thinks she wins this round, but Tyrion’s absolute fury burning around his edges is wondrous to behold.

“I will hurt you for this. A day will come when you think you’re safe and happy, and your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth, and you will know the debt is paid.” “Get. Out.” Oh hey Cersei! Doling out the speeches promising revenge but unable to face one down. She’s afraid. He’s angry. She’s got this one wrong but doesn’t know it. He does. She’s not quite lost this roll of the dice, but it’s close.

“I would kill for you, do you know that? I suspect I’ll have to before this is over.” Yes, yes you will. “You’re mine.” “I’m yours.” That quote could come with a question mark because she almost seems unsure. “I’m yours. And you are mine.” Fitting that Tyrion gets another semi-wedding between a girl’s legs, but let’s let that pass for now.

– Bolton mentioning his Bastard. Grrr. “Send word to your son. Any Ironborn who surrender will be allowed to return safely to their homes.” “A touch of mercy is a virtue, your grace – too much…” “Any Ironborn with the exception of Theon Greyjoy. He betrayed our cause. He betrayed me. We will hunt him down no matter where he runs.” Like he tried to do to your brothers, though you don’t know it. Theon’s life is about to get exceedingly hard.

“How am I? I’ve had to arrest my mother. The Lannisters have my sisters. The man I considered my closest friend has seized my home and my brothers. I’m fighting a war and I don’t know if I should march south or north.” “Sorry. It was a stupid question.”

“You have every right. You’re a king.” “That’s not the kind of king I want to be.” I’ve just been reading Richard II, Henry IV Part 1 and Henry IV part 2 and now all I can see is PRINCE HAL PRINCE HAL PRINCE HAL every time Robb mentions his rule.

– There’s sex coming, isn’t there.

– She has a lovely scene. I liked it. I can’t add anything to it. “I decided two things that day; I would not waste my years planning dances and masquerades with the other noble ladies and, when I came of age, I would never live in a slave city again.” Yes here’s even more reason for Robb to fancy the pants off her.

“I don’t want to marry the Frey girl.” “I don’t want you to marry her.” CHARACTERS SPEAKING FOR ALL THE VIEWERS OMFG and yet and yet.

– Line of the night: “I hope it’s a very beautiful bridge!”

– Oh look, here be shagging. Avert your eyes, give them some privacy. She’s easier to disrobe than he is, I’m fairly sure they’d have given women more layers, but okay, I know, this show has a thing about naked ladies.

– Aww Hot Pie still calls her Arry.

– The dead guards are quite creepy. Winning creepy points: Mr Jaqen.

– WELL HELLO DRAGONSTONE CREW. They’re on ships. I wonder where they’re heading.

– Discussing what they ate to survive at the siege of Storm’s End: “First we ate the horses. We weren’t riding anywhere, not with the castle surrounded. We couldn’t feed them, so, fine, the horses. And the cats. Never liked cats. So, fine. I do like dogs. Good animals. Loyal. But we ate them.” I CAN’T THINK WHY SO FEW PEOPLE WANT YOU TO BE THEIR KING, STANNIS. MAYBE IT’S THE CHIP ON YOUR SHOULDER THE SIZE OF A WEIRWOOD TREE.

– Much as I like Liam Cunningham, Ser Davos isn’t as good in the tv series. He’s one of those characters who doesn’t make the transfer from book to screen very well.

– Oh god it’s Joffrey.

“They say Stannis never smiles. I’ll give him a red smile, from ear to ear.” *Joffrey stalks off, pleased* “Imagine Stannis’ terror,” Tyrion comments, a bit delighted at this show of sheer silly from his nephew. “I am trying,” Varys says wryly.

“You’re quite good at being Hand, you know. Jon Arryn and Ned Stark were good men, honorable men, but they disdained the game and those who play it. You enjoy the game.” “I do. Last thing I expected.” “And you play it well.” “I’d like to keep playing it!”

“The Lord of Light wants his enemies burnt. The Drowned God wants them drowned. Why are all the gods such vicious c*nts? Where is the god of tits and wine?” WHERE INDEED. At least Varys mentions the Summer Isles. Nice.

– Varys also mentions Qarth, and Daenerys and her dragons. “One game at a time, my friend,” says Tyrion, possibly not understanding that this kind of game happens to you, you rarely get to choose to partake.

– Daenerys. Because this episode is packing everyone in save Sansa. “A mother does not flee without her children!” “They are not your children,” says Jorah. WELL. “They are the only children I will ever have.” OH STOP PINING JORAH IT’S UNSEEMLY.

– Bit tired of Dany’s turn-to-the-camera-to-emote scenes. It’s very samey. Emilia Clarke is capable of more subtlety than that, we’ve seen it, so they could totally make these scenes work better. Also. She has dragons. I get it. Can she have another plot to play with please?

– Lovely, gentle reveal there, with Osha. I mean cinematically, thematically, and, regarding the uber-whump of exposition that’s just been dumped in the dialogue. It worked, but no one was convinced the bodies were the boys, so it’s got no tension about it whatsoever.

“The little lads have suffered enough.” Umm.

NEXT WEEK:

I am eagerly awaiting the scene with Sansa, Cersei and all the high-born ladies. And, you know, all the BIG WAR SHIT.

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3 thoughts on “Game of Thrones Season 2 Episode 8: “The Prince Of Winterfell”

  1. Lessie

    i don’t think Jon spends his entire life being uncomfortable around people. i think he does so prior to the wall but i think that makes sense as he’s given all the advantages that Ned’s trueborn children are given but he wouldn’t be able to utilize those advantages. In some ways, he would have been better off if Ned hadn’t raised him at Winterfell. i think after his foray beyond the wall with the wildlings and post-asos, he becomes more settled in himself. When he’s cursed as a bastard and whatever else in adwd, he shrugs it off instead of brooding over it.

    Jon and Sansa are my two favorite characters for different and for some of the same reasons: identity arcs. Identity arcs are among my favorite things (and I don’t have a distaste for heroic farm boy archetypes nor for princess archetypes whether played straight or deconstructed). On a side-note, the heroic archetype has been played straight for Jon thus far with a little greying in ADWD and the promise by GRRM of more greying. So it seems as has been done with all the characters, Jon will be deconstructed further.

    So why Jon counts among one of my favorite characters goes thusly: identity arc, the sense of him never fitting in his skin (until adwd I think), his character, what he will do when faced with harder and harder choices and when those choices conflict with his pre-existing honor/ideals etc. I enjoy characters whose identity is shaped before our eyes and whom we see grow from privileged/entitled (which Jon was) people.

    I don’t think it’s inexplicable why Jon is among anyone’s favorites. I didn’t have strong feelings for him till ASOS/ADWD and then I realized how much I loved him. He grew on me as his arc and his character matured. People stan for everyone and anyone. Tyrion annoys me (as does his misogyny) but I’ve never questioned why he has fans.

    This is a long message and I’m sorry for that. I’ve just got to respond when people say ‘Jon’ and ’emo’ because dismissal of characters who brood as ’emo’ is a personal pet peeve.

    I love Ygritte so much because she’s a huge part of why he matures. But if he’d just said, “fuck it” and slept with Ygritte in the last ep. without him being conflicted, he would lose the few things that define him as a character. Jon uses his honor/his vows as a shield just like Stannis uses the law and duty. They cling to it as parts of their identity and without it, the characters would be adrift IMO. Okay, now I’m really done.

    Reply

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