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Game of Thrones Episode 205, The Ghost of Harrenhal

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Game of Thrones 205, The Ghost of Harrenhal

Every character’s trajectory was altered in this week’s pivotal episode. From exotic Qarth to the frigid north, all the aimless meandering stopped as plans shifted and lives diverted (or just ended). So who is the Ghost of Harrenhal?

We dive right in with a crucial scene that leads right off from last week’s bizarre shadow-monster birthing incident. Renly is in his tent with no one around but Brienne, there to protect him, and Catelyn Stark, there to forge an alliance between Renly and her son Robb. Catelyn succeeds! With Renly’s victorious armies, they can defeat the Lannisters and bind Westeros just like Ned Stark and Robert Baratheon. O Happy Day!

Then the shadow monster shows up, and before Brienne can say, “Benjamin Linus,” it puts a shadow knife through Renly’s big gay heart. Brienne is sad, but the guards assume she killed him, because of course that’s what she would do after waiting her whole life to become a knight in his service. So Brienne is forced to go all Kill Bill on the hapless guards, and Catelyn sends her off lest she be hanged from an unusually tall tree. Later, we see the two traveling together, Cat convincing Brienne to let her vengeance simmer. Brienne is impressed by Cat’s “woman’s courage,” and melodramatically pledges herself to Catelyn’s service. You get the impression that Brienne lives in a bit of a fantasy world, populated by honorable knights and pure intentions. Cat is a bit taken aback at first, yet also taken by Brienne’s sincerity and loyalty. I loved how much of this scene happened simply with the actors’ faces.

With Renly dead, all his bannermen vow to fight on in his memory. No, sorry. They switch sides to Stannis quicker than one of Melisandre’s trimesters. Margaery Tyrell and her brother Loras are at loose ends. Loras seeks vengeance, Marg is a bit more pragmatic (I told you she was cunning). She doesn’t want to be a queen, you see. She wants to be the queen. So clever. If the Tyrells can’t throw in with Stannis, who do you think they’ll side with? Their options are limited, but I’d suggest that the quickest way to becoming the Queen is to marry the King.

We get our weekly dose of Tyrion and Cersei’s venomous banter. Most significantly, Tyrion learns of wildfire, an alchemical substance that explodes on contact, and that some maesters have been stockpiling at Cersei’s request. It’s handy to have the incest-loving queen regent’s hapless cousin under your thumb. Seriously, what is up with Cersei’s incest fetish? Makes you wonder about her father.

Speaking of Tywin Lannister, we find him back at Harrenhal looking rather like Grand Moff Tarkin. Seems Tywin and his bannermen (well, most of them) have decided that they’re really going start getting serious about this whole war thing now. Arya steals the scene though. Does she think it’s true that Robb Stark is an immortal werewolf? She stares right into Tywin’s steely eyes and says, “Anyone can be killed.” And they stare. And stare. And for an awesome moment, they stare some more. And it’s Tywin who blinks.

The mysterious man Arya rescued from a burning cage sings her a little song. “Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you.” He grants her three wishes, except she can only wish for murders. That’s what happens to genies when they grow up on the streets, man.

There’s a brief visit with Theon, who’s ready to go off to war as captain of a pirate ship, except his crew are all Iron Islanders (which would be an awesome nickname for the New York Islanders if that team wasn’t a total laughingstock. Billy Smith, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you). Not only are they dipped in shit each morning, they don’t really care if the king’s son is their captain. Fortunately, the first mate points out that the best way to prove yourself on the Iron Islands is by not doing what you’re told. A small, low-wattage bulb gradually flickers to life above Theon’s grime-encrusted head. It rhymes with Geek.

Bronn and Tyrion discover still more brewing unrest amongst the unwashed masses of King’s Landing. Then they discover just how much wildfire Cersei’s been stockpiling. Bronn plays the, “I’ve actually been in wars,” card and skewers the wildfire catapult plan. Tyrion seems to agree, but wants the maesters to keep making wildfire. Bronn is grizzled and wise, but he doesn’t quite have the vision that a man like Tyrion has.

North of the wall, Jon Snow broods. This was some serious X Games brooding (brooding at the edge of a cliff). Then Qhorin Halfhand shows up, twice as grizzled as anyone we’ve met yet. Mance Rayder is out there, and there’s no way the black brothers can fight his Wildling army head to head. He suggests an assassination squad. Jon Snow broods. Then scowls. Then volunteers. Lord Commander Mormont hesitates, but he’s been grooming Snow for leadership all along, and a hard, bitter, brutal adventure north of the wall is the kind of stuff that hews strong leaders from the soft rock of callow youth. Or chisels it from the melting ice of unfounded sentiment. Or squeezes the juices of leadership from the moldering husks of overwrought metaphors. Leave me alone, I’m brooding.

And what of fair Daenerys Targaryen? How is life in Qarth? Seems pretty nice. Lavish parties. Cute servant girls. Adorable dragonlets. Pretty dresses. She meets a magician and receives a marriage proposal. There’s a sneaky woman with the coolest mask I have ever seen. Then Jorah Mormont does that thing where you’re having a slightly personal conversation with your boss, then you take it a little too far and mention your historical fantasy costume fetish, and your boss stares off into space looking vaguely unsettled and says, “Uh, so, can you come in and work extra hours for inventory on Sunday? The quarterly sales report is due.”

In this case, “inventory” is “find me a ship with a captain,” and “quarterly sales report” is “sail to Westeros and conquer the Seven Kingdoms.”

quaithe mask cool

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Posted by on Sunday, April 29th, 2012. Filed under Dark TV, Headline. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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