Game of Thrones, Season 2, Ep 5 “The Ghost of Harrenhal”

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

The Stormlands: Cat and Brienne are talking to Renly Baratheon in his tent, when suddenly a ghostly black shape enters and stabs Renly through the heart. This looks like the demonic thing that Stannis’s red witch woman (whose name I learn is Melisandre) gave birth to at the end of last episode. I thought Renly would last longer than this, but he keels over dead within the first minute of this episode! Alas, the guards rush in and assume Brienne killed Renly, so a fight breaks out. Brienne kills the two guards defending herself.

Brienne is distraught over the death of her liege, but Cat convinces her to flee and avenge him later, rather than die now. Later, as they travel away from Renly’s camp, Cat says she’s heading back to Winterfell. Brienne, impressed with Cat’s bearing, decides to swear allegiance to her. This gives Cat a formidable guard and ally. Perhaps she might need Brienne before much longer.

Meanwhile, Stannis is less than sad at his brother’s death, and Renly’s bannermen look to be switching to his side now. Stannis’s lieutenant (named Davos, the one who took Melisandre to give birth), questions what is going on, and obviously mistrusts Melisandre and her demonic connections. Davos insists that the campaign on King’s Landing not be accompanied by Melisandre, and Stannis agrees. I think he’s lying though… Stannis seems to think Melisandre is well worth having around. What happens next with the demon thing is going to be interesting to see… Was it a one-off thing just to kill Renly, or is it lurking around waiting to strike somewhere else??

Qarth: Daenerys is settling in and feeding her baby dragons. A couple of identical old shrivelled bald guys play an illusion trick on her during a cocktail party event, and make noises about being wizards of some sort. I’ll want to keep an eye on these guys – they seem to be the sort who would like dragons on their side. At some point someone asks Daenerys how long Jorah has been in love with her, which throws her into a bit of a spin. She treats him a bit differently after this.

The member of The Thirteen of Qarth who let her into the city talks to Daenerys and proposes that he marries her, to cement an alliance. (He has a really long name I had no hope of remembering, so I looked it up: Xaro Xhoan Daxos.) He has the ambition to become more powerful, and offers to help Daenerys in her campaign to gain the Iron Throne. Suddenly Daenerys has two potential personal entanglements to deal with. Which way she leaps will be interesting.

The Iron Islands: Theon takes captaincy of a small ship and crew, who are less than enthusiastic about serving him. The first mate introduces himself and says Theon will need to earn their respect, and that attacking a feeble fishing village isn’t really going to cut it, when there are juicier targets. Theon gets the hint and looks like he will attack a coastal town under the protection of the Starks (thus going against his prior friendship with Robb). It looks like Theon has made his bed and we’ll see how well he sleeps in it.

Winterfell: Young Bran is dealing with petitions by the peasants when news comes in of Theon’s attack. Bran is quick and decisive in assigning a couple of hundred men and a commander to go to the aid of the town. It looks like Bran is a real chip off the old block – he is smart and authoritative, like his late father. He calls Hodor to help him go out riding.

The wildling woman, named Osha, accompanies him and talks to Bran about the strange dreams he’s been having. He mentions the three-eyed raven, and clearly this has some significance to Osha, but she is coy about saying what she thinks it means.

North of The Wall: The Night’s Watch expedition makes camp on the most exposed spot they can find: a wind-whipped snowy ridge, protected only by a few old standing stones. What a stupid place to stop. The keen-eyed spot a small fire on an adjacent mountain top, and say it’s a guard post, and if the guards there spot the Watchmen, they’ll light the signal fire and all the hostile Wildlings will rush and attack them or something. The commander decides to send a small party to silence the guard post, and Jon volunteers to go with them. Commander Mormont releases Jon from his role as his steward so he can be a ranger for this mission.

Well, we know Jon is competent. I’d say he has a good chance of proving himself and everything will go swimmingly, but knowing how twisted things are getting, I wouldn’t be surprised if he got captured or something.

King’s Landing: Ohhh… hard to remember what happened here. There was more politicking by Tyrion and Cersei. Oh, Tyrion’s young cousin who he’s blackmailing reveals that Joffrey is stockpiling stuff called wildfire – sounds a bit like Greek fire, only alchemical/magical – to use to defend the city against Stannis’s army. Tyrion is sceptical, until he meets with an old alchemist who is making the stuff, and sees the storeroom, full of large jars. Tyrion decides, for some reason that’s not clear, that it’s all a great plan now, and wants to take charge of all the wildfire. Actually, probably a good move – we really don’t want Joffrey in charge of WMDs.

Harrenhal: Arya is settling into her role as Tywin’s new cupmaiden. He has no idea who she is, and asks her where she’s from. Arya lies, saying somewhere in the south, but Tywin asks her piercing questions about the ruling house and their banner and Arya doesn’t know. Tywin says he thinks she’s from the north. Arya switches her story, giving a fake town and reciting the ruling house and their banner, which seems to satisfy Tywin.

Outside Tywin’s tent, Arya meets one of the three prisoners she’d released during the battle with Gregor Clegane’s men. The man says she released three lives, so now he owes her three lives. She can name any three people and he will kill them. Digesting this info, Arya names the torturer who was torturing and killing prisoners before Tywin arrived. Later, in the middle of a crowded square, the torturer falls over dead. Arya looks around and sees the prisoner lurking nearby, giving her a silent “one down” sign with his hand.

You can see the gears working in Arya’s mind as she realises he was true to his word, and she still has two potential victims to name. I’m positive that number three will be Joffrey, after she names someone else as number two and the prisoner successfully deals with that person too. Gregor Clegane would be the most logical second name at this point. So I reckon Gregor is not long for this world. But Joffrey will be a much tougher mission, and will no doubt raise major complications.

Given Arya’s close access to Tywin and his foolish trust in her, Arya could easily take care of Tywin herself. I’m looking forward to her poking a sword through his throat while he sleeps at some point in the not-too-distant future.

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