Game of Thrones S2E6 “The Old Gods and the New”
While Renly’s death in “The Ghost of Harrenhal” was a big deal, the episode was so densely structured that his death never had a chance to breathe, it never gave us a good indication of how big the event was. In “The Old Gods and the New”, Game of Thrones fixes the mistake and gives us the next huge event of the series, Theon’s capture of Winterfell, plenty of screen time and noting its significance. Another scene that was maybe less significant to the plot but equally gripping to watch was the riot at Kings Landing that Joffrey really has been asking for. While those two scenes seize their screen time excellently, there is plenty more to talk about including Jon getting lost in wildling country, Arya putting her free assassin to work once again, and Dany running into multiple setbacks. Let’s start.
The episode starts off with this plot line and it is the most surprising one of the episode so I guess we’ll begin with Theon’s capture of Winterfell. As you may recall, Theon and Dagmer took Torrhen’s Square, wanting Bran to deploy what little remaining men he had to take the square back. This goes according to plan and Theon uses this opportunity to seize control of Winterfell at night, forcing Bran to yield the castle to him. Bran’s initial reaction to the news is one of surprise and while he hasn’t had a whole lot of tangible things to do in the series, he gets some good moments in here. His line asking Theon if he hated them all along was a great one and would have offered some wonderful insight if Theon answered the question. Instead, Theon tells Bran to get dressed and to have Hodor bring him outside to formally announce to his people that he is yielding the castle to him.
During the changing of the guard, the Winterfell master of arms, Rodrik Cassel has been captured and is fuming at the betrayal of Theon. He recalls training him like he was a Stark boy and Ned raising him like he was a Stark boy but Theon holds on to the claim that he was a prisoner all along. Theon’s hand is forced when Rodrik spits in his face with contempt. He wants to throw him into the dungeons to rot away but Dagmer tells him he will lose face with the Iron Islanders if he doesn’t make Rodrik pay for his actions. Theon is far from an Iron Islander though, he wasn’t going to swing the sword himself until Rodrik reminds him that a real man personally executes the people he sentences to death. Theon asks Rodrik if he has any last words and Rodrik coldly tells Theon that he is truly lost now. In a scene that horrifies everyone in attendance, Theon horrendously butchers Rodrik’s beheading, needing several slashes and a kick to behead him. Winterfell may be his, but nothing about it was pretty and if that beheading is any piece of foreshadowing, Theon’s holding of Winterfell will be rough.
Theon’s rocky start in charge of Winterfell continues when he lets his vice get the best of him, sex. Osha offers herself to Theon for a night in exchange for her freedom afterward. Theon agrees to the terms but little did he know that it was all a trick. In the dead of night, when Theon is asleep, Osha sneaks out of his bedroom and kills the nearby guard doing rounds. Now in the clear, it is revealed it was Osha’s plan to get the Stark boys out of Winterfell safe and sound. She signals that the coast is clear as she, Hodor, Bran, Rickon, and their two direwolves sneak out of Winterfell. When Theon awakes, he’ll be out two extremely important hostages. Rough first day in charge as Lord of Winterfell.
Over at the Stark war camp, Robb scouts out Talisa again, looking to talk to her some more but before that really goes anywhere, Cat arrives as mother and son embrace after a long time apart. Moms know best and Cat reminds Robb that he can’t pursue marriages out of love, he swore to marry a Frey when Walder allowed him and his men crossing of the Trident. As they are having this conversation, Robb’s banner man Roose Bolton brings them news of Theon’s capture of Winterfell. Robb reacts as you think he might, with anger and rage, wondering why Theon would do this. Robb is so mad, he plans on marching home to take back the castle but Roose advises against this. Roose instead says he can write to his bastard son and tell him to gather whatever men are left back at the Dreadfort (castle and home of House Bolton) to take back Winterfell. Robb agrees to this, telling him the safety of his two brothers is the most important thing. Robb also asks that Theon be taken alive and brought to him personally, so he can ask Theon why he betrayed him before he personally executes him. Now that is a scene I personally am looking forward to.
Another captivating sequence featured in the episode took place at King’s Landing. The royal entourage, including Joffrey, Cersei, Tyrion, Sansa and The Hound, go to the docks to see Princess Myrcella Baratheon off as she is going to Dorne to be a ward and fulfill the marriage alliance with House Martell when she comes of age. On their way back to the Red Keep, Joffrey is heckled by the commoners and things get real bad when one of them flings manure at his face. Joffrey has never been a level headed person and we get yet another example of this as he orders his guards to kill everyone instead of just finding the one person who flung the manure at him. A riot ensues as the common folk aren’t taking this command lightly. Sandor sums it up quite nicely when Joffrey again insists that he wants them all dead, telling the king that they want the same of him.
Tyrion, Cersei, and Joffrey miraculously make it back to the Red Keep unscathed. Once there Tyrion berates Joffrey for how stupid he is, blaming the riot on him, noting that the people are starving because all the resources are going to a war that wasn’t needed and was started only by Joffrey himself. Tyrion immediately turns his attention to finding Sansa. Joffrey again shows his lack of political intelligence, stating he doesn’t care what happens to her. Tyrion reminds him that they’ll never get Jaime back if they lose their last Stark but Joffrey is a lost cause who won’t command his guards to go look for her. Sandor shows a bit of compassion and goes about the task himself. He finds Sansa just in time, as she was about to get gang raped. Sandor makes quick work of the men, killing them all and then carries Sansa back to the Red Keep, quickly asking hand maids to take care of her. And with that, our chaotic check in on Kings Landing comes to a close.
Over at Harrenhal, Tywin is hosting a war council and is quite mad that Amory Lorch let confidential war information get sent to a Northern house due to a reading error. Trying to teach a lesson to him, Tywin discovers that Arya can read. She gets herself into a bit of trouble when she mentions her stone mason father taught her to read as masons usually aren’t readers. Before that goes any further, Tywin has a guest. Littlefinger arrives to discuss the news and aftermath of Renly Baratheon’s death and Arya is terrified that he may recognize her. Littlefinger tells Tywin that they could secure the support of House Tyrell in the war if they do certain things, all the while Arya has to serve the two wine and she has to look to the side so Littlefinger won’t get a good look at her. She ends up spilling wine for Lord Baelish and he waves it off as no big deal, but he does get a good look at her. Littlefinger makes nothing of it though and leaves after his discussion with Tywin. Crisis adverted.
While clearing the table afterward, Arya sees a letter concerning Tywin’s war plans and wants to take a look at it. She seizes an opportunity when Tywin requests more firewood to take the letter with her and read it outside. While she’s reading it, Amory Lorch comes by and questions her about the letter. Growing suspicious, he decides to take her to Tywin to settle the matter. Arya manages to run away before he can grab her and she tracks down Jaqen, pleading to use her second kill on Amory and to use it immediately. Jaqen proves how great of an assassin he is as he makes it in the nick of time. Tywin opens the door to find Amory Lorch dead with a poisoned dart in his neck. That leaves one more.
Beyond the wall, Qhorin, Jon, and the rest of the party manage to sneak up on a group of wildlings and they kill all but one, a woman by the name of Ygritte. They interrogate her and learn a little more about Mance and his intentions but Qhorin decides that the best thing to do with her is to kill her. Qhorin offers to do it himself, but Jon insists that he will do it. Qhorin leaves with the rest of the group, telling Jon to meet them at the top of the hill. Jon can’t bring himself to kill her though and when his sword hits stone instead of Ygritte’s head, she takes the chance to run away. Jon gives chase and manages to track her down but the chase leads them to the middle of nowhere, the rest of Jon’s group nowhere in sight. With night and the bitter cold kicking in, Jon ties up Ygritte so she can’t run and the two sleep next to each other to keep warm. Jon sure caused himself a lot of trouble for this girl.
Over in Qarth, we learn that Dany took Jorah’s advice and declined Xaro’s marriage offer. While Jorah is off looking for a ship, Dany decides to do the same as she meets with the Spice King to see if she can convince him to offer some ships. The Spice King is a man of business though and the logistics of Dany’s offer just don’t add up to a successful and profitable investment for him. A disappointed Dany returns to her chambers at Xaro’s house where a much bigger disappointment awaits her. She returns to find all of her guards dead along with Irri. Worse still, her dragons are missing as we end the episode with a hooded person taking the dragons towards a tower. Who and where are the questions that come to mind.
How great was it to see Tyrion slap Joffrey again? Joffrey is speechless, he knows that everything Tyrion just told him is true, but he doesn’t want to give his uncle the satisfaction of knowing that so he just leaves.
Sandor has actually looked out for Sansa quite a bit in her terrifying time in King’s Landing. I wonder if either of them will acknowledge it.
Those Tywin and Arya scenes continue to be awesome. It’s almost always the same exact set but the acting is just brilliant so you don’t really notice or don’t really care.
Poor High Septon. He was literally torn to pieces during the riot. Wrong place, wrong time.
Quote of the day comes from Tyrion (who would have guessed), dropping truth bombs all over his nephew. “We’ve had vicious kings, and we’ve had idiot kings…but I don’t know if we’ve ever been cursed with a vicious idiot for a king!” Tyrion has owned this season, he didn’t even have a whole lot to do in this episode but he still owned the precious few minutes he was on screen.
Chaos is everywhere in “The Old Gods and the New” as Winterfell is under new management and Joffrey escalates the situation to a whole new level.