Game of Thrones, Season 2, Ep 9 “Blackwater”

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

There’s a lot less to say about this episode than usual, since the entire episode is taken up with Stannis Baratheon’s attack on King’s Landing. And much of it is action scenes of battle, with relatively little character interaction.

It begins on the sea at night, with Stannis discussing the imminent assault with his captain, who he plans to make Hand of the King once he has the throne. Inside King’s Landing, they know the attack is coming, and the mood is fearful. It seems nobody trusts Tyrion to be capable of organising an effective defence. Pycelle gives Cersei a small vial containing nightshade and tries to advise her euphemistically of what it will do – Cersei snaps and says she knows what it does. Bronn is having a pre-battle drink and singsong with some of his soldiers, when “The Hound” Clegane walks in and starts making threatening remarks to Bronn. This seemed a bit out of nowhere, because I hadn’t registered any animosity between them before. Maybe I missed it. Anyway, it looks certain to escalate into a brawl, but then bells ring out, signalling that Stannis’s fleet has been spotted approaching under cover of darkness. Everyone runs to defend the city.

Okay, so now it’s clear that Hound and Bronn hate each other, presumably they both survive this attack and will in the future engage in more mutual hostilities. I’d wager they have a fight at some point later in the story.

Joffrey is behaving like a spoilt brat as usual, strutting about as the King, boasting how many of the enemy he’s going to slaughter. And here Sansa gets one of the best lines of the series so far:

Sansa: So you’ll be outside the gates fighting in the vanguard?
Joffrey: A king doesn’t discuss battle plans with stupid girls.
Sansa: I’m sorry, Your Grace. You’re right, I’m stupid. Of course you’ll be in the vanguard. They say my brother Robb always goes where the fighting is thickest. And he is only a pretender.

My wife and I high-fived each other when Sansa said that. So sweet. I really hope Sansa eventually gets away from Joffrey and doesn’t end up killed tragically before she can escape. Speaking of Sansa, there’s an odd moment when she wishes Tyrion good fortune in the battle and hopes he comes back alive, and Tyrion sort of tilts his head and looks at her curiously, then Joffrey asks if she wishes him well too, and she parrots, “Yes, of course,” with her more usual blank feeling. I wonder… Tyrion is the only person in the city who’s treated her decently since she got trapped; maybe she sees him as some sort of potential saviour. I think his heart’s in at least the right enough place that he would step in and try to save her if Joffrey decided to have her executed or something.

Anyway, the women of the court go into an inner chamber to wait out the battle. Cersei has nothing to do but drink too much wine and badger Sansa with stories about how Stannis’s soldiers will rape them all when they win the battle. Meanwhile, outside Tyrion executes his plan to defend the city. He sends a single unmanned ship out to meet Stannis’s fleet – it’s loaded with the Wildfire stuff that he took from the alchemist guy a few episodes ago, and dribbles it onto the surface of the sea, surrounding Stannis’s ships. A flaming arrow sets it off, and dozens of ships go up in balls of green fire.

But Stannis himself lands and a few other ships deliver men onto the shore, where they storm the beach and attack the castle wall. The defenders take a heavy toll by raining arrows and rocks on the atackers, but Stannis has too many men and they start bettering down the gate door, as well as climbing ladders onto the walls. Stannis himself climbs onto the battlements and starts fighting troops there. Joffrey by this time has bolted for safety, of course, leaving Tyrion to lead the men. The man are very reluctant to fight after their so-called king has abandoned them, but Tyrion surprises himself by making a rousing speech and they rally around him. he leads them out through a small gate to attack the ram from behind, removing it as a threat.

In the ladies’ chamber, they can hear the fighting. Cersei panics and wanders off, leaving Sansa with the rest of the nervous ladies. Sansa again performs admirably, leading them in a song of prayer to lift their spirits. Even in her awful situation she’s a better queen than Cersei. But Shae urges her to go and take refuge in her own bedchamber, because then when Stannis arrives he’ll know who she is and won’t harm her because he knows how valuable she is. But when Sansa arrives, The Hound is there… and offers to help her escape the city, keep her safe, and take her north back to Winterfell. I wasn’t expecting that! It’s an offer too good to refuse, but I question Hound’s motives. I’m afraid Sansa will find out at the worst time that he has some other dastardly plan in mind for her.

Back on the beach, Tyrion is hit by a sword and goes down – not dead, but wounded, so presumably he’ll recover later. But he misses the arrival of The Cavalry, in the form of an army flying the lion banner of the Lannisters. Inside the throne room, Cersei sits on the throne with her youngest son (I don’t know his name), and hearing the sounds of people at the door she readies the nightshade to have her son drink, presumably followed by herself. But the door opens and in walks Tywin, her father, and declares the battle won! Cersei drops the vial, which shatters slowly on the floor…

Well, it seems Tywin was actually riding to King’s Landing, and not to meet Robb’s army after all. So hopefully that means Arya will make a clean getaway from Harrenhal, without bumping into Tywin again. There’s a lot of clean up after this battle. We don’t know the fates of Tyrion (though I’m sure he’ll live), Stannis, Bronn, and some other people. Heck, Joffrey ran off and we never saw him again, so he might turn up somewhere unexpected next episode. (Hopefully he tripped over and impaled himself on an errant spear, though I doubt we’ll be that lucky!)

And Stannis’s force seemed unbeatable. I wonder what the red witch Melisandre will have to say about this. No doubt she’ll be very unhappy that Stannis’s captain insisted she not come on the attack – she probably could have helped materially and possibly won it for them. I expect her wrath will be something to see. The other question is what Robb will do with Tywin distracted – perhaps this is his chance to capture more Lannister territory elsewhere.

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