Game of Thrones, Season 2, Ep 2 “The Night Lands”

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

I forgot to mention last time that Tyrion had reached King’s Landing and assumed the role of acting Hand of the King, after showing the written order from Tywin (whom Joffrey had earlier appointed Hand of the King in absentia, probably thinking he’d never show up and so wouldn’t actively meddle – ha!).

And again we get treated to another new location in the opening credits map: a small group of islands with the name “Pyke”. I assume this is the Iron Islands and Pyke is the capital. But let’s begin at…

Dothraki-land: I still don’t have a better name for this land, across the Narrow Sea. Daenerys and company are dying of starvation and thirst, when one of the scouts she sent out returns. Or at least his head does, in a saddlebag on his horse. Jorah says it could have been any of a number of other Khals. Khal is the Dothraki word for “king”, and Khaleesi, Daenerys’s title, means “queen”. (I figured this out some time ago, but never mentioned it before.) A distraught relative/wife of the scout says the other Khal has denied the man his passage to the afterlife by not burning his body. Daenerys orders a pyre built and promises the man will ride with his ancestors this night.

King’s Landing: A lot of politicking goes on here this episode. Tyrion lets Cersei know he too has heard the “rumours” about her relationship with Jaime, and that Joffrey might not be Robert’s son at all. He also plays a deft hand in the court power politics by banishing the old captain of the guard (loyal to Cersei/Joffrey) to the Night’s Watch and replacing him with Bronn, the guy who championed Tyrion in the trial by combat in front of Cat and Lysa. I still don’t know why Bronn is so loyal to Tyrion, or if they knew each other before he volunteered to be champion.

Varys (the eunuch royal advisor), however, shows he has dirt on Tyrion, by meeting with the woman Tyrion has brought to King’s Landing, against the orders of Tywin. There is some verbal byplay worthy of Shakespeare in his most vulgar allusions, and we (and Tyrion) know that he won’t have it all his way at court so long as Varys is around.

Petyr Baelish shows just how ruthless and greedy he really is when one of his whores is too upset and crying to work because of the way Joffrey’s guard came in and slaughtered babies last episode. Petyr gently tells her a story of the last whore who was unprofitable to him and the gruesome end she met, then tells her to take the night off and be back ready to work tomorrow.

Caravan heading north: Arya is busy pretending to be a boy in the group of ne’er-do-wells heading north to Castle Black (the home of the Night’s Watch). She has a run-in with three prisoners confined to a cage and bravely says she’s not afraid of them. The blacksmith’s apprentice (whose name I now finally catch as Gendry) warns her that she should be afraid of these three.

Time for a prediction: The three cage guys will escape at some point and threaten Arya, and she’ll have to either fight for her life against them, or possibly be rescued by Gendry.

Gendry knows Arya is a girl but says he’ll keep her secret, and Arya reveals to him that she is Arya Stark. Gendry’s attitude changes instantly, because she is “high-born”, and he even calls her “milady”, prompting protests from Arya: “Don’t call me milady!!” I think this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship between these two as they watch out for one another in their current dangerous circumstance. This is highlighted when a patrol from King’s Landing arrives and demands they hand over Gendry, but the leader of the caravan (whose name I don’t know yet) threatens them effectively and dismisses them, saying everyone is now the property of the Night’s Watch, which puts them out of reach of King’s Landing.

Gendry is almost certainly the bastard son of Robert Baratheon, and so has a fairly strong claim to the throne – hence the reason Joffrey wants him captured and/or killed. Gendry himself seems unaware of his status, or perhaps is just wilfully ignoring it. He reminds me a lot of Captain Carrot from the Discworld novels, both in outlook and in understated strength. He looks humble, but I’m sure if it came to a fight he could wipe the floor with anyone who challenges him. What’s holding him back is that he’s unaware he could be king and/or he doesn’t want to be king.

Dragonstone (I think): Meanwhile, Robert’s brother Stannis makes war plans. He has a problem: his younger brother Renly has a lot more men than he does. He plots with his advisors, then dismisses them when the red-haired, red-clothed witch woman (who directed the burning sword ritual last episode) demands time alone with him. She seduces him right on the war-planning map table, scattering wooden ship models and Carcassonne meeples everywhere, despite his protests that he is married. (She points out that he’s married to a sickly woman confined to a tower – there’s obviously more story to be told about this.)

I’m not sure what’s going on here. I guess this woman, whoever she is, is mostly just using Stannis to further her own mysterious goals? Is there a secret cabal of magical women across the lands, infiltrating themselves into positions of power? Could Tyrion’s mysterious lady companion be one of them? What if Cersei herself is also a witch, and part of this cabal? She clearly worked her way into power years ago by marrying Robert. And perhaps Tywin is at least partly aware of all this – thus his seemingly unjustified but very firm insistence that Tyrion not take his lady friend to King’s Landing. And maybe Cat’s sister Lysa is one of these witches too, now clinging to the power that her late husband Jon Arryn granted her. It all makes sense!

The Iron Islands: Theon Greyjoy returns to his ancestral home on a ship. Given his suggestion to Robb last episode, it seems he’s here to try to convince his father Lord Greyjoy (first name unknown so far) to provide naval support to Robb’s attempt to take King’s Landing. Theon lands at a port and seeks transport to Pyke, his father’s castle. He tosses some coins at a fisherman to bring him a horse, but before the man can get one a mysterious woman shows up and offers Theon a ride on her horse.

Theon is filled with lust and gropes her while they ride to the castle, which she seems happy enough about. But surprise: she turns out to be his sister Yara! Their dad is a snide old guy with stringy hair who reminds me of Argus Filch, the caretaker of Hogwarts, crossed with Denethor, the Steward of Gondor. He thinks his daughter is a more capable leader than Theon, who has spent the past 9 years gallivanting around with the Starks. (I don’t know the backstory of why Theon left for or was assigned to the Stark household instead of staying with dear old dad on the Iron Islands. Presumably this has something to do with Lord Greyjoy’s disapproval of him.) Anyway, it’s clear Lord Greyjoy isn’t going to rush to Robb’s aid any time soon. And could Yara be another member of the witch cabal??

North of The Wall: Oh dear, oh dear, Samwell. I knew he’d get into trouble with one of the wildling guy’s daughters. No, he doesn’t go as far as touching one of them, but he brings one to Jon and says she needs help – she’s pregnant and wants to get away before the baby is born “in case it’s a boy”. More ominous foreboding of what happens to the sons. Jon tells Sam they can’t help her, it would be far too dangerous, and besides they’re headed further north into more danger, not back home to safety.

I’m starting to get a real Heart of Darkness vibe about this mission to find the missing Benjen. There’s some rumours about someone setting themself up as a “king north of the wall”. Yeah, you see where I’m going? The horror! The horror! I reckon Benjen may have “gone native” and is now lording it over a bunch of wildlings and white walkers. It’s going to be a big shock to the men of the Watch when they find him.

The episode closes with Jon hearing some noises in the dark forest at night. Stupidly, he goes out alone to investigate. Yeah, good move, Snow – that’s worthy of a character in a cheap horror film. He tracks the noise through the woods and comes across… well, it’s so dark and happens so quickly, I’m really not sure what we saw. And then the credits roll.

I think Jon might have just found out what happens to newborn sons in this wildling outpost – and it’s not good.

3 Responses to “Game of Thrones, Season 2, Ep 2 “The Night Lands””

  1. Javier says:

    I think this is not a spoiler, just giving some context, from the books on which this TV series is based… bastard kids can’t inherit anything, nor any lordship, lands and of course not kingdoms, so Gendry can’t be king. He has king’s blood, that’s what makes him special, but just that.

    For a bastard to be able to inherit he most be first official recognized as legitimate, and given the circunstances, Joffrey, nor Stannis, nor any other candidate for the throne would legitimate him, so that’s what the thing is for him. He just has king’s blood and his life is in danger because of Cersei’s order to kill all Robert’s bastards. This order came just to ‘clear evidence’ about Robert’s kids having all black hair, and not allowing anyone to point out that, effectively, Joffrey nor his sister and brohter has black hair.

    That’s it! :D

  2. Javier: Hmmm… well that’s telling me some things I didn’t know and hadn’t figured out yet, so in some sense it is a bit of a spoiler for me. I appreciate you didn’t intend anything bad, but for the purposes of this blogging exercise, I’d prefer to figure out my misconceptions on my own. Cheers!

  3. Javier says:

    Sorry :-(

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