Game of Thrones 2.5 – Ghost of Harrenhal

Tywin Lannister? You just got TOLD, son!

Previously! Oho, so there was no Dothraki in the opening map this week—we’ve moved on for good, it seems? Oh, Khal Drogo; I will not forget you. Nor your promise to make a throne out of the tongues you had ripped from your enemies. (He was such a romantic.)

By the way: I’m not a book reader and I’m spoiler free. Fun, right?

We start this campaign in Renly’s camp where an ill wind bodes no good. Also, there are no ponytail holders in Westeros, so they’re all eating their hair. Catelyn is with Renly explaining that Robb doesn’t want the iron throne. He has a throne of ice in the North, after all. Well…as long as he isn’t going to challenge Renly, then of course the two families should combine forces!

Brienne The Bad Ass is removing Renly’s armor as Lady Cat asks him to try and make nice with his brother again. Ha, no chance, no how. Renly knows how petulant and sour his brother can be. So take the terms of Robb swearing allegiance to Baratheon (just like Ned did with Robert) when SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!

No, seriously. You should have shut the front door to your tent, Renly! A black mist blows in and it’s the Eldritch Horror, aka Nazgul Venom, aka the inky effluvium what done slithered out of Fire Crotch Mage’s…er, crotch. It takes human form for a moment and stabs Renly right through his heart, killing him (as heart stabs tend to do) as Cat and Brienne look on in horror.

Guards rush in as Brienne grabs Renly, screaming, and they assume she killed Renly, and so draw their swords. One, she’s got a good 9-inch reach on the both of you and two, she’s Brienne the Bad Ass. She didn’t get that name by knitting, fellas. She quickly disposes of the two of them (piercing some dude’s spinal column through his armor, which gives her +20% to Two-Handed Weapons) and Cat uses her brain and says they need to get the hell out of Dodge. After a moment, Brienne shakes herself and leads the way out safely.

The next morning, Littlefinger stands on shore and watches a fleet of cool sailboats nearing the shore. Stannis! He tells a mourning Loras and Margaery that if they want to live to see Stannis’ head on a spike, they need to make like Brienne and GTFO. Loras is too upset over his dead lover (poor curly-haired dear!) to think clearly, so Margaery does it for him. “You can’t defend him from the grave,” she says. “Bring the horses.”

Loras heads out, and Littlefinger refers to Margaery as the Queen. She scoffs. Just because some watery bint tossed a scimitar at Renly didn’t make him the King, which means she wasn’t the Queen. She levels her gaze at Littlefinger and says, “I want to be The Queen.”

Now…I ain’t sayin’ she a gold digger, but she ain’t messin’ with no broke-broke.

In King’s Landing, Cersei watches Sansa have one flipping moment of joy playing Pin the Tail on the Weaselteat with her handmaidens, when Tyrion tells Cersei the news: Renly is dead. So now that Stannis is growing in power, they actually have to pay attention to him. Except Cersei seems to really not give a shit about anything as she’d rather piss and moan at her brother about his wanting to send Myrcella to the Dorne.

I like that it was a plot to find out who Tyrion could trust and he planned on following through with it. This is why Tyrion is awesome, folks. Also, Tyrion truly wants Myrcella to be safe, because he’s that uncle: the awesome one. The “I’m not secretly your father” uncle. Cersei’s kids could use a little of that.

Cersei would rather cling to her spite than her brother’s intelligence, and blows off his inquiries into Joffrey’s plans at defending King’s Landing. Oh, they have a weapon planned. A sort of Doomsday device you might say, so run along, Little Man.

Which means Tyrion puts the thumb screws to Ladyboy Lancel, who is still sleeping with Cersei (I mean, I can’t blame him, but it seems like Cersei’s ladybucket gets more business than Mos Eisly – it entertains a large and wretched hive of scum and villainy, you feel me?).

Tyrion reminds him that if the rumors about Jamie and Cersei are true, then Jamie is probably going to kill Lancel if he finds out. Lancel tugs on the neck of his armor. Lancel is intelligent (it seems there are two types of Lannisters: the smart ones, and the ones that like good wine and being rich) and believed Tyrion’s threats.

So here’s the deal: Cersei has the Pyromancers working on a li’l something called “Wildfire.” It’s Expert Level and requires a 75 minimum on Destruction to concoct. The idea is to load up catapults (tsk for not using the superior trebuchet) with buckets of this stuff and launch them at Stannis’ ships and watch them melt into the sea. And then everyone in King’s Landing has to swear off seafood for a half-life or two. Radiation makes the oysters taste dreadful.

Davos follows behind Stannis, still freaking out from the vile penumbric miasma what poured out of Fire Crotch Mage’s bag o’ tricks-n-birthing. So…can they talk about it? Nope! Stannis just wants to be king at all cost, doesn’t want to discuss things. Davos does have the decency to say, “Sorry about your brother being heart-stabbed by your magical horrorshow child and all,” to which Stannis shrugs. Eh, it happens.

We learn that all of Renly’s bannermen are now supporting Stannis, so once he gets all of the new troops consolidated it’ll be time to take King’s Landing once and for all. And…that sounds great, Stannis? Really? But…there’s word on the street that Fire Crotch Mage is telling you what to do, and they’re not very keen on her Yoko-ing this whole sitch. Stannis will be damned is he’s the John (he always saw himself as the George, the quiet one who thinks of the memorable hooks) so he agrees to leave Melisandre on shore while the menfolk storm the castle.

Stannis also informs Davos that he’ll be the one leading the charge. Even though Davos has no experience in such matters. Look, Stannis, I get that you don’t like being challenged, but that is some piss-poor leadership just so you can assert dominance. You should just pee on his leg and bare your teeth and call it a day. Boys.

In King’s Landing, Tyrion wanders through the muckity-muck with Bronn and comes across a crazed man preaching to the people. “Rivers and seas boiling! Earthquakes! The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice! Brothers and Sisters living together…mass hysteria!”

Tyrion turns to Bronn. “I love that movie.”

The street preacher continues. “And it’s all at the hand of a demon monkey!”

Bronn nudges Tyrion. “He’s talking about you, you know.”

“Not once have I ever flung my own poo!” It’s upsetting to Tyrion because he’s actually trying to save these stupid people.

Theon Greyjoy—who somehow manages to live surrounded by water, yet can’t wash his damn face—approaches his new crew. “I am your Captain and I order you—”

Surly Bastard: Well I didn’t vote for you!

Theon Greyjoy: You don’t vote for Captains!

Surly Bastard: Then how’d you become Captain, then, eh?

Theon Greyjoy: (looks off at the sea) The Lady of Pyke rode astride her noble beast with me behind her as my hands began to wander of their own accord down her—

Surly Bastard: THAT’s…eh, that’s enough of that. And fingering a lady ain’t no reasonable basis for a system of governance. Look, kid. I’ll do what I like, I’ll say what I like, and I don’t need no puking kid telling me how to run a ship.

Theon Greyjoy: (pouts)

Yara Greyjoy: Good work on getting people to trust you, wonk. Laters—I have 30 ships waiting for me!

Theon’s Gilligan shows up and seems to have Theon’s best interests at heart by explaining that a “true Iron Islander” either does what he’s told, or does what he likes. That’s all the encouragement Theon needs. Why, screw the whole raping and reaving the Stony Shore! He’ll sail up-shore to Torrhen Square, much closer to Winterfell and cause havoc there! That will thin the Winterfell line and do some real damage. Good plan, even though I don’t like you, Theon.

In Harrenhal, Arya waits on Tywin and his council (which includes one of the “I just like being rich and staying in Gee-pa’s Hampton’s compound drinking good scotch” Lannisters) as they talk about how awesome Robb Stark is. Well, that’s how Arya hears it, as well she should. Robb has these old guys stumped.

Tywin notices Arya listening and asks her where she’s from. She makes up something quick, but didn’t think it through and fails the “What’s their sigil?” question. Ouch. But she’s a quick learner and when he asks her again if she’s actually a Northerner, she says yes, spouts off a lesser house that she’s aware of and gets it all in one. Tywin believes her. He then asks her what they’re saying about Robb Stark.

“They call him the Young Wolf. They say he rides into battle on a giant direwolf, that he might even be able to change into a wolf. And he can’t be killed.”

Tywin’s amused by that and asks her if she believes it. And Arya, little young girl Arya stares him in the eye and says as cool as you please, “No, my lord. Anyone can be killed.” And then stares him down. He realizes after a tense moment that he was just intimidated by a young girl and sends her off to get him some water.

When she leaves, she passes by Captain Cupcake, the prisoner whom she saved with the creepy manner of speaking. His actual name is Jaqen H’gharone, which I had to look up, so we’ll continue to call him Captain Cupcake for his creepy hitting on Twinkie the Kid, Arya. She’s not sure what to make of him, which is smart, because this guy is slippery as fuck. He smiles and explains that she stole three lives from the Red God and they’ll have to give him three more to keep things balanced.

Huh? She tells him three names, he’ll kill them, and then they never have to speak to each other again. Capice?

“Tywin, Cersei, and Joffrey, in that order!” Done! And he kills them all and everything is fine and the story’s over.

Sigh. She says The Tickler (specifically the rat-scrabbling torturer), and he tells her that so it was said, so it shall be done, and melts into the background like the greatest assassin ever (which I assume he is).

Way up north, the Black Watch treks across the great expanse of snow and ice while Red Leader Porkins waxes romantic. “Gilly would love this! She loves snow and ice and nothing. Have you seen her house? It’s like this! But this is even less! Also, loads less incest. Bet she’d love that.”

Mormont is looking for a former Watch-member called Half-hand, who apparently is the only person they know who ever survived an entire winter beyond the wall. Jon is impressed and also thinks he could totally do that. Mormont rolls his eyes and continues to watch the horizon. They can see way off in the distance that a group is approaching. They have no idea if it’s friend or foe, though. (Always bring an elf with you, if only for their eyesight and ability to walk on top of snow banks.)

Porkins, finished with telling everyone how Gilly’s lack of teeth made her beautiful and her sloped shoulders remind him of sacks of flour in his mother’s kitchen, explains that the stones sticking up everywhere are the Fist of the First Men—the oldest known men in Westeros? It’s not totally clear. At any rate, he bet they were really cool, while Jon thinks they came here to hide—and were unsuccessful at it.

Porkins is all, “They’re older than everyone! Well, except the White Walkers. Everyone remember the Predefremen baby eaters? They’re probably the oldest things ever.” He has the Monster Manual, you see.

Back in sunny King’s Landing, Tyrion chills in the Alchemy wing learning about Wildfire from an old geezer who manufactures it. Wildfire is like molecular acid, it eats through everything: wood, stone, steel, flesh. (I’m thinking that you could have stopped at steel before finishing with flesh, Mr. Pyromancer. I think that’s a given.)

This was the key to the Targaryen power after the dragons died off, which is a cool little tidbit. Bronn ain’t impressed. He knows how scared troops can be in battle. Say one of them shits himself and drops it? Now there’s fire inside King’s Landing. This is a terrible idea. Tyrion seems to agree with him when the Pyromancer throws open a door revealing just how much Wildfire has been made at Cersei’s order. 7,811 jugs, to be exact. Holy. Shit. Nobody sneeze; nobody trip. And for the love of the old and new gods, do not slam that fucking door.

Tyrion is stock still. “This could completely destroy King’s Landing. Stop making this for my sister.”

Dramatic pause… “Make it for me.” Superior fire power = WINNING.

Even further south is Qarth where Daenerys teaches one of her baby dragons (Dracayrs—Trogdor is napping) to scorch his own food. Aww, computer animated babies of death, so cute! Her handmaiden is all, “Him’s just a widdle guy!”while the other handmaiden (a native Dothraki) seethes at not being Handmaiden #1 anymore.

Dany wants to learn more about this Xaro fellow, so she sends the first lady out to flirt and get intel. Native handmaiden encourages Dany to wear the pretty dress that Xaro sent over to be polite. Dressed and lovely, she heads to a garden party where two other women are wearing her dress. (OMG, how embarrassing.)

The warlock who looks like Archduke Sebassis’ blood slave (seriously—it’s that or that and a cross with “The Gentlemen”) approaches all creepy and blue-lipped and offers to do a parlor trick for Daenerys: look into this gem! (It’s a trap!) No, it’s just some Criss Angel stuff where he makes replications of himself stand at different places in the party and look ominous. He tells Dany she’s welcome to stay with him in the House of the Undying and yeah, that sounds awesome? But…no thanks.

SERIOUSLY. “Circle of the Black Thorn” slave dude, right?

He wanders off to applause from the crowd and whispers of, “He did my son’s name day and was fabulous.” Xaro finds Dany, and when they wander off (making Jorah nervous) a chick with chain for a face approaches Jorah. She knows who he is, she knows how special Dany is, and guess what? So does everyone. Dany needs to watch her back. Oh, she does? Gosh, I bet they didn’t think of that at all! Thanks, Chain-Face! I did like the line, “Dragons are fire made flesh. And fire is power.”

On the road to Robb Stark’s encampment, Lady Cat and Brienne stop for the night. Brienne is insisting that Stannis killed Renly (she’s not wrong) and Cat says, no, it was shadow in the shape of a man (she’s not wrong, either). Cat tells her that once they’ve delivered the message to Robb, she’s going home to pay attention to her two youngest children, finally. Brienne offers to serve her and when Cat promises to not keep her from killing Stannis when the time comes, Brienne swears a vow, kneeling and laying her sword at Lady Catelyn Stark’s feet.

“I vow that I will shield your back and give my life, if it comes to that. I swear it by the Old Gods and the New.”

Cat takes her hand and swears back intently, “I vow that you shall always have a place in my home and at my table. I will ask no service of you that will bring you dishonor. I swear it by the Old Gods and the New.”

Gang? Got a little choked up there. Brienne seems like she just needs to be loved and accepted, and Cat is more than willing to take that broken bird (destructive, powerful and STRONG broken bird) under her wing, and I like it.

In Winterfell, Bran hears the complaints of the citizens and has learned a lot in his short time as leader. He makes good, swift decisions that please the peasants. He’s about to wrap it up for the day when Ser Rodrick busts in: their bannermen at Torrhen Square are under attack. It’s 40 leagues away, which is far too close for comfort.

Bran decides Rodrick should take who he needs as, “if we can’t protect our bannermen, why should they protect us?” Good kid; good kid! Roderick is all smiles and “Regulators? Roll out!”

Bran heads out for a ride with Hodor and Tonks, when Tonks gets all over-emotive and bug-eyed about Luwin’s claim to not know what three-eyed ravens mean. Oh, she totally knows, but she’s not saying. Bran? You need to put the thumb screws to Tonks and get her to talk. You’re the leader, yo. He also mentions a dream he had where the sea rose to Winterfell’s walls and spilled over, bringing dead bodies (like Rodrick) into the yard. I think we all see where this is going. (Anything like an octopus in that dream? Because that would say everything.)

Back north of the wall, it’s realized that they’re looking at an encampment of Wildlings. And Mance Rayder (I’m assuming this is the real name of Half-hand?) is their leader, and he’s told the Wildlings all of their secret ways. So the smart thing to do is to flip it around on them and act like Wildlings themselves. Qhorin—the guy breaking this all down for us—tells Mormont he’ll take three guys with him, they’ll assassinate Rayder and scatter the rest, then head home.

Jon volunteers himself but Mormont isn’t having it. But Porkins sidles up and gives Mormont puppy-eyes. “I’ll do Jon’s chores for him so he can go have a battle?” He even makes heart eyes at Jon, all, “Be my friend?” Oh, Porkins. You’re probably going to die soon. You’re too sweet to live. While Mormont doesn’t want to hear Porkins talk about Gilly all night (and she has the most adorable corns on her feet, and her spine’s all twisted like a curly ribbon on a present!), he consents to let Jon go.

Jon walks off with determination and sultry eyes. It could also just be the wind blowing shit into his face, I’m not sure—they look a lot alike.

In Qarth, Xaro has led Dany into a chamber of some sorts, wondering how long Jorah’s been all heart eyes and “Khaleesi!” over her. What? No! It’s not like that at all! Mm hm, tell yourself that. Xaro may not be a smart man, Dany, but he knows what love is. (And that life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get. Unless you look at the printed card that comes with all chocolates telling you what you’re freaking getting.)

He likes that she’s a conqueror. Oh, he’s one too, she points out. Exactly. Now come look at this bad ass vault of Xaro’s: the door is made of impenetrable Valerian stone. Can’t be cut, blasted, lock-picked, nada. He is the only one with the key, and he shows it to her. She jumps astride him, snaps his neck, takes the key, and opens the vault, and is now the richest woman in all of Westeros. Hooray!

Oh, right, that’s just what she should have done. Instead she listens to his proposition: marry him, let him fund her campaign, and they’ll make many princes and princesses to rule for ever.

Dany: You’ll give me all of this?

Xaro: Woman, you can have half!

Now I ain’t sayin’ she a gold digger, she has needs. She don’t want Dothraki starving, cause they all need eats. They go out of Qarth, Xaro pays, she can’t leave. There’s riches in the vault, she’s gotta roll up her sleeves, but while she’s plotting: watch him! Jorah’s gonna get a ship out of Baron Harkonnen! He got that ambition, Dany, look in his eyes! This week he breathing heavy, next week he gone sigh, so: stick by his side. I know he’s all “I love you” and yeah, that’s nice. But he gone keep flirting and trying, but you stay right, girl. And when you get on, Jorah’ll still be following you because he’s seriously into you, Daenerys.

In Harrenhal, the gods favor me by showing shirtless and sooty Gendry banging on some metal, and no, that isn’t a euphemism, as much as I wish it was. He’s very pretty. Look, I have needs, okay? Sweaty, muscly blacksmith needs. He starts swinging a sword (again, a literal sword) when Arya tells him to stand side-face. Huh? EYEROLL, GENDRY. Arya tells him the same advice Papa Ned gave her about making a smaller target, and I love the saucy banter between these two. They’re like siblings. (Uh oh, I know what that means in Westeros. Is there going to be sexy times to come? SHE IS A CHILD.)

They hear a scream and run to investigate: The Tickler lies dead on the ground. He’s either been pushed to his death or was killed and pushed. Arya immediately scans the area and sees Captain Cupcake all casual with an apple and “Who, me?” expression on his face. He makes a number one with his finger and smiles at her.

So…it’s pretty bad ass to have a personal assassin, right? Arya totally agrees. Now be smart and set him on Tywin, sugar! Bloodthirsty little girl, isn’t she? Nice.

And I really didn’t want it to fade to black here. MORE PLEASE! Oh, right, six more days. Okay.

Click here for Ep 6: The Old Gods And The New