Game of Thrones S2E8 “The Prince of Winterfell”
Season two of Game of Thrones has centered on the war of five kings, and more directly, the imminent attack of King’s Landing by Stannis Baratheon. That battle is no longer just a blip on the radar, Stannis sets sail for Kings Landing in this episode as a large focus of the episode is spent on the defense of the capital. “The Prince of Winterfell” isn’t a particularly calm “calm before the the storm”. There may not be a huge action sequence in the episode but the frantic pace of season two only picks up even more steam in “The Prince of Winterfell” as the Starks have a huge loss, Arya calls in her final debt with Jaqen in a very clever manner, Theon receives cold reception from his family yet again and the previously mentioned battle preparations heat up. And so we begin.
Let’s kick it off in Winterfell. Earlier on, Theon had asked Luwin to send a note to his sister Yara, asking her to bring five hundred men for the defense of Winterfell. Yara makes her arrival to Winterfell but it’s not quite what Theon expected. With her, Yara has brought a group of maybe twenty men. Theon asks her sister what the meaning of all of this is and Yara gives her brother a harsh dose of reality. Iron Islanders get their strength from the sea, from their fleets. Winterfell is hundreds of miles from the sea, there’s no way they can actually defend it. That presents quite the problem because they would need to defend it as every northerner is going to want to come up and chop Theon’s head off for killing the Starks and taking Winterfell. Instead of funding a doomed to fail defense, Yara offers her brother some advice, come home with her. The odds are so greatly stacked against Theon actually being able to hold and defend Winterfell that it’s not even worth the risk. Theon’s a stubborn fellow though and he doesn’t listen to his sister, saying he’ll lose all the respect he’s earned if he leaves. Theon’s looking like the captain of a sinking ship right now
Afterward, Theon gives Dagmer some gold to give to the farmer from the last episode for his “trouble”. Theon won’t be able to clear his conscience though because Dagmer revealed that he also killed the farmer, so he wouldn’t reveal the identities of the bodies. Turns out the two burnt bodies are not Bran and Rickon, they are the orphans Bran sent to the farmer to help on the farm earlier in the season. Luwin finds the whereabouts of the Stark children when he spots Osha stealing food from the kitchens and taking it into the crypts. Osha then tells Luwin that after a day’s hike, they doubled back to Winterfell and have been hiding in the crypts, suspecting that would be the last place Theon would check, she proved correct in that regard. Luwin then tells Osha of what Theon did to the orphan boys and asks Osha not to tell Bran about it because he’ll only blame himself. It’s too late to hide it though as Bran and Rickon are on the other side of the wall listening to the whole thing. Better alive and feeling guilty than dead, right?
Beyond the wall we check in with both Jon and the rest of the night’s watch back at the Fist of the First Men. At the first, Sam makes an interesting discovery while digging latrine pits with Edd and Grenn. A night’s watch cloak is found with some interesting contents inside of it, weapons of dragon glass, or obsidian. Edd notes that they must have left it there for someone to find. Why would they do that though?
Meanwhile, Jon is brought into a wildling camp, still the prisoner of Ygritte. Here he meets the Lord of Bones who wants to kill him, he’s already got a crow so there’s no use in interrogating him. Ygritte returns Jon’s favor of not killing her by convincing the Lord of Bones that their king, Mance Rayder will want to talk with him. A discontent Lord of Bones relents and lets Ygritte have her way. As they march towards Mance’s camp, Jon meets up with Qhorin who is also being taken as prisoner. Jon asks about the rest of the group and Qhorin reveals they all went back to look for Jon when he didn’t come back, the rest of the group died in the effort. Qhorin doesn’t want that effort to go to waste though, telling Jon he should pretend to defect from the night’s watch to gain the wildlings trust. Jon doesn’t seem too keen on this spy mission and doesn’t fight back when Qhorin starts a fight with him to make the ploy look real. We’ll see if Jon changes his tune later on.
We head down south to Harrenhal where Tywin is feeling conflicted about his next move, drive off Stannis from King’s Landing or attack Robb now that Winterfell isn’t even his anymore? After mulling it over for a bit, Tywin decides that they will attack Robb and leaves Arya with the holder of the castle in his absence, Gregor Clegane. Arya quickly runs off to find Jaqen, realizing it’s now or never to kill Tywin but it turns out that Jaqen is outside the castle doing patrol rounds. When he does return to the castle, Tywin has already departed and Arya has to change the plans for her last debt.
Arya surprises the viewers and Jaqen himself when she names Jaqen as her last name. For the first time we see some emotion out of Jaqen who is visibly upset and pleads Arya to unname her. Arya agrees to do this on the condition that Jaqen helps her, Gendry, and Hot Pie escape. Jaqen says that this will require much more than the agreed upon one death but Arya insists that if he doesn’t do this, she won’t unname him. Jaqen gives in and tells her to be at the front gate with her friends at midnight. Arya and her friends do their part and the camera pans out to show us that every single guard is dead, allowing the three to escape. They’re free but the question now becomes where do they go? I would assume towards Robb’s camp but that is a question to be answered for another episode.
Speaking of Robb, he has made his return to the camp and is outraged to hear the news that Jaime Lannister has escaped. He runs over to his mother and Cat admits to sending Jaime along with Brienne, to Kings Landing in exchange for her daughters. Robb quickly runs through the multitude of reasons why that was an incredibly stupid decision and he effectively puts his mother under house arrest, having guards on her at all times. In an ironic twist, Cat’s move to free her children has isolated the only child that she already has free and turned him against her.
Afterward, Roose Bolton assures Robb that his son is on his way to Winterfell to take it back from Theon. Robb tells Roose to send word to his son to offer all the Iron Islanders except Theon, peaceful exile back to the Iron Islands, hoping they’ll turn on Theon. Roose does as he’s told and leaves as Talisa comes in. This inevitable romance hits its point of no return as Robb admits that he doesn’t want to marry a Frey girl and hooks up with Talisa. He’s got a fair amount of Frey men in his army right now so don’t be surprised if they march on home after this betrayal. With the momentum the Starks are losing in the war, the last thing they needed was dissension in their own ranks. Robb isn’t doing himself any favors here.
Over at King’s Landing, defense plans are very much underway. Tyrion is going through a book that has recorded the history of sieges in Westeros for some inspiration. Bronn is skeptical he’ll find anything and says throwing the books at Stannis’ men would be more useful than any information Tyrion could find in there. Varys comes in and compliments Bronn’s work as head of the city guard, noting that thievery has been lowered dramatically. Tyrion asks how Bronn accomplished this and we learn that Bronn has been in a city under siege before as he rounded up all the thieves and arrested them as a precaution. During a siege, the thieves steal all the food and sell it for a fortune, he says. With Bronn taking care of the internal threats, Varys asks Tyrion what he has planned for the external threat, Stannis. With seemingly nothing else to turn to, Tyrion decides that he’s going to have to use wildfire. That should be interesting.
Tyrion and Varys are joined by Joffrey along the city walls and Tyrion is shocked at Joffrey’s stupidity. With everything that’s going on, Joffrey insists that the time to attack Robb is right now. Tyrion convinces him that Stannis is the immediate threat and needs to be taken care of first. After Joffrey leaves, Tyrion admits to Varys that Joffrey is a lost cause. Varys has a “later problem” of his own when he tells Tyrion news of Dany and her dragons. Tyrion defers that problem as well, telling Varys they will “play that game later”.
As for the game at hand now, Stannis and Davos have set sail and the attack of King’s Landing is most likely happening next episode. Stannis and Davos reminisce about how Davos saved Stannis by bringing him onions when they were under siege at Storms End during the rebellion. This act from Davos turns him from a poor smuggler into knighthood, but the high born lords would never let him forget that first part. Stannis tells him it doesn’t matter that the high born folk think because when they sack Kings Landing, Stannis is making Davos his hand of the king. This is quite the impressive climb for Davos as Game of Thrones really is the story of high born nobles. A low born peasant and former smuggler could become the second most powerful man in the Seven Kingdoms? Now that’s a great story. Will he get to be hand for King Stannis? That’s a question that we’ll soon know the answer to as the battle we have waited all season for is finally about to be fought.
So, Robert really didn’t like his brother Stannis. Stannis held Storms End, the Baratheon’s home, while Robert was fighting and when Robert became king, he gave Storms End to his youngest brother Renly, who was only a child when Stannis was holding it. That’s not cool.
Cersei is worried that Tyrion is making Joffrey fight in the battle to get him killed so she comes up with a plan, seize Shae. Luckily for Tyrion, Cersei captured the wrong girl and actually got Ros. Tyrion promises Ros that she won’t be hurt and later tells Cersei that she will pay for this. She didn’t get Shae, but it’s about the intent, and it truly is a bad intent.
It was cool to see Arya adopt Jaqen’s way of speaking when she was talking to him. She learns quickly.
Check in with Dany. Jorah pleads her to leave her dragons behind and set sail for Astapor as he’s already booked passage on a ship sailing there. That scene was a waste of time because we all know she isn’t leaving without her dragons. She asks Jorah to take her to the House of the Undying, where her dragons wait. Going to be honest, Dany’s plot line has been a major step down from season one.
Grenn complains that digging latrine pits at the end of the world is the worst thing ever. Dolorous Edd says he always envisioned himself doing something worse. What could possibly be worse?
Brienne and Jaime start their long journey to Kings Landing by rowing down a river. Good thing Brienne has a thick skin, it seems like Jaime is going to try and provoke her the entire way to Kings Landing.
Quote of the day comes from Tyrion, complaining of the cruelty of the gods. “Why are all the gods such vicious cunts? Where is the god of tits and wine?” If only we knew Tyrion, if only we knew.
In “The Prince of Winterfell”, the countdown to the battle for Kings Landing reaches its final moments as the plot lines outside the capital prove to be just as frantic as the ones inside.