Game of Thrones S2E5 “The Ghost of Harrenhal”
After the bizarre ending to “Garden of Bones” introduced us to the first instance of magic in the show, “The Ghost of Harrenhal” sees that magic put to use and turns this war of five kings into a war of four kings. The shadow demon Melisandre birthed last episode kills Renly while Renly’s men, save for the Tyrell’s, pledge fealty to Stannis afterward. Alongside this game changer is plenty more to talk about including but not limited to Tyrion preparing the defense of King’s Landing for the upcoming battle, Theon making an uncalled for move, and Dany receiving a tempting offer. Let’s begin.
We start with the big news as mentioned in the introduction, Renly has been killed by a shadow demon that Melisandre birthed. In his tent when this happened was Brienne and Cat. Before his untimely death, Renly had agreed to form an alliance with the North, allowing Robb to be King in the North and have their own nation as long as they teamed up to destroy the Lannisters and Robb swore him an oath of fealty. Alas it wasn’t meant to be as the shadow demon kills Renly, shocking everyone in the tent.
The other members of the Kingsguard come in and assume Brienne did it as she holds Renly in her arms. They aren’t sitting around waiting for her side of the story so Brienne has no choice but to get blood on her hands as she kills the other members of the Kingsguard. Filled with grief, Brienne doesn’t know what to do but Cat tells her to come with her back to Robb’s camp, telling Brienne that Renly and Robb shared common enemies. The two flee and on the way, Brienne is impressed by the courage Cat has shown with how drastically her life has changed recently. Brienne offers her service to Cat on the condition that she let her kill Stannis when the time is right. Cat agrees to this and Brienne is officially aligned with Cat and willing to give her life to save Cat’s if it comes to that.
Back at the camp, the reactions are just as frantic to the news of Renly’s death. Loras is outraged at Renly’s death and is the only one that doesn’t blame Brienne for Renly’s death, correctly blaming Stannis for it. His sister, along with Littlefinger plead for him to retreat so he can have his chance for revenge later. Reluctantly, Loras agrees to flee before Stannis arrives.
The Tyrell’s are the only house to pull out of the war right now, as the houses that made up Renly’s army all go over to Stannis. With those one hundred thousand men and the ships that Davos secured for Stannis earlier, things are looking to turn in Stannis’ favor for the upcoming attack. Davos has the upcoming siege of King’s Landing on his mind and warns Stannis to not bring Melisandre with them when they attack the capital. Davos says that there are already rumors that Melisandre is using Stannis to achieve her own ends and he will be viewed as a puppet if he takes King’s Landing with Melisandre at his side. Stannis ultimately agrees with Davos and informs him that he will be in charge of the fleet when they attack King’s Landing. Smugglers generally focus on avoiding other ships instead of attacking them, so Davos might have a bit of a learning curve to be a successful naval leader. He’s going to have to learn quickly though as we receive conformation that the attack on the capital is drawing close.
While Stannis and friends mean to attack King’s Landing, Tyrion and friends will have to defend the capital if they wish to remain in power. The defense of King’s Landing becomes Tyrion’s primary objective in the episode. After extorting more information from his cousin Lancel, Tyrion finds out that Cersei had been visiting with the pyromancer Hallyne. Tyrion and Bronn pay Hallyne a visit and learn that he’s been making wildfire for Cersei. Wildfire is a highly flammable substance that can burn through almost anything. They currently have over seven thousand pots of the substance which is a lot, but Bronn remains skeptical about their practicality on the battlefield. Tyrion ends up agreeing with Bronn upon hearing that Joffrey’s plan is to catapult pots down towards Stannis’ fleet. Tyrion tells Hallyne that he will be making wildfire for him instead of Cersei now. Tyrion’s probably got a better idea for this wildfire, what exactly that is, remains to be seen.
After taking the week off, we return to Theon over at the Iron Islands. Theon is preparing to depart for the Stony Shore along with the crew of his one ship, the “Sea Bitch”. Theon should be used to cold welcomes on the Iron Islands by now but he isn’t, showing disappointment when his crew doesn’t follow his orders and even leave without him. The one loyal member of the crew turns out to be Theon’s first mate, Dagmer Cleftjaw. Dagmer gives Theon a dose of reality, letting him know that the only way to earn respect on the Iron Islands is to ignore orders and seize something greater than you were told to get. Dagmer suggests they take Torrhen’s Square, a town not too far off from Winterfell. Theon is originally confused at Dagmer’s plan here, pointing out that the forces from Winterfell will immediately come to take it back. Theon then realizes that this is the point of the plan, and the two set sail.
The plan works, as word of the capture of Torrhen’s Square reaches Bran in Winterfell rather quickly. Bran agrees to send men to take back the town, leaving their own forces suspect at best. Afterward, Bran tells Osha of his most recent peculiar dream. A much grimmer one as he has dreamed that the ocean has come to Winterfell and drowns his people. That three eyed raven also continues to plague his dreams. You have to think that these dreams are going to have a pay off as he’s had them in both seasons. Hopefully we find out what they’re all about soon.
All the way over in Qarth we spend some significant time with Dany for the first time all season. Dany and her khalasar have been accommodated rather well and Xaro is hosting a party to celebrate their arrival. Xaro then pulls over Dany and reveals his ulterior motive that I figured he would have. Xaro is a man of tremendous wealth, as seen by his house, possessions, and his bank vault which is protected by a Valyrian stone door. Xaro offers Dany half of his wealth if she will take him for a husband and will also fund her attack on the Iron Throne. To further sweeten the pot, Xaro tells Dany that this is the best time to attack Westeros as Robert has died and her enemies have all been divided, fighting for the throne themselves.
Dany brings the offer to Jorah to see what he thinks of it. Jorah is hesitant to accept the offer and much like Davos said to Stannis, points out that if Dany goes down this route, she will not be given credit for the conquest and merely be viewed as a puppet of a powerful foreigner. Asking what alternative Jorah has in mind, he says that all they need is one ship and he himself will find it for her. Dany seems to agree with Jorah for now but maybe this isn’t the end of that.
Over at Harrenhal, Arya gets used to cup-bearing for Tywin but is put on the spot when Tywin asks where she’s from. All that time ditching geography and history to practice archery comes back to bite as she can’t complete a lie about serving a southern house, forgetting the sigil. She falls back on a simpler lie, stating she served a northern house, nailing all parts of that lie. Tywin asks her what she’s heard about Robb. Arya tells him that Robb is sort of a legend around the North, riding into battle on the back of his direwolf and that he cannot be killed. Tywin asks Arya if she believes the stories and she promptly says no, “anyone can die”. Its a great scene between the two and I hope we get to see more of them together. The scene ends as Tywin asks Arya to fetch water for him and his guests.
On the way to the well, Arya runs in to a familiar face. Jaqen H’Ghar has been put to work as a guard and Arya shows her discontent at Jaqen for being made a guard. After some more no name third person speech, Jaqen reveals himself to be a priest of some sort. He tells Arya that she took three lives from the Red God when she saved him and the two other men from the cage. The Red God is now owed a debt and Jaqen intends to pay it by killing any three men that Arya wishes. Arya jumps at the chance and names the Tickler as the first victim. Sometime after, people flock to the center of Harrenhal to see a dead man with a broken neck. Arya heads on over and sees that is in fact the Tickler. Arya looks up to the castle walkway to see Jaqen hold one finger to his face, indicating the first debt has been paid. This guy is for real and Arya has been given an absolute sweet power, the only question is, who’s next?
Jon and the rest of the Night’s Watch make it to the Fist of the First Men, a landmark from the first men, a long time ago. There they meet up with the legendary ranger Qhorin Halfhand. Qhorin says that the wildlings are more organized than ever under new king Mance Rayder and recommends stealth tactics to get by their guards. Jon asks to join him and he gets his way. Also, this plot line is being shot in Iceland and I have to agree with Sam, it’s absolutely gorgeous.
Sam reminds us of the horn code. One horn for returning rangers, two for wildlings, and three for white walkers. Three hasn’t been used in thousands of years, but I don’t think it’ll be much longer now.
Jorah receives a warning from the mysterious masked woman Quaithe. She warns Jorah to watch out for Dany as many will want to harm the mother of dragons now.
What was up with that warlock Pyat Pree and his magic trick? He invites Dany to The House of the Undying. Sounds creepy.
How adorable was Tyrion’s dwarf sized carriage? Lancel having to cramp inside it during his conversation with Tyrion was great to watch.
Not so adorable is when Tyrion finds out that the common folk think that Tyrion is the one behind Joffrey’s cruelty. Not cool common folk, Tyrion is trying to save you!
Taking what I can only assume is the longest break any starring cast member has had to this point is Jaime, who has now been a no show since the season two premier, “The North Remembers”. I know he’s still a prisoner so his scenes can’t be super exciting, but a check in would be nice.
I wouldn’t count out the Tyrell’s just yet just because they’re not pledging to Stannis. Margaery showed some sass to Littlefinger when she states she doesn’t want to be a queen, rather, the queen.
Word of the Day is “Dracarys” which is High Valyrian for dragon fire. Dany gets her dragon, Drogon to breathe fire for the first time after saying Dracarys.
“The Ghost of Harrenhal” proves to be a busy episode as battle preparations are made by numerous sides and we check in with some of the less violent plot lines as well.