All aboard the Hype Train! In preparation of Season 8 of Game of Thrones, Kelly is doing a rewatch for the greater good to refresh our memories, catch the things we might have forgotten, pick up the things we might have missed, and maybe make predictions! Hold onto your fur rugs from Ikea and AWAY WE GO.
Rules of this series: We’re deep diving into these episodes and I’m watching them on a per-episode base because I like digesting the episodes. Spoilers lie ahead. As much as I can, I am going to try and keep things episode/season specific. It’s out of respect to the narrative as well as the later seasons. Onwards!
2.4 Garden of Bones
The Garden of Bones! This is the area of desert directly outside Qarth (finally added to the opening credits instead of Vaes Dothrak), where people stand outside the city, beg for help and water, and DIE. To be fair, the new location Harrenhal also has lots of dead bodies with heads on spikes lining the walls, thanks to the Mountain.
We’ll get back to Harrenhal in a bit, but we’re going to kick this off over in the Lannister camp where two dimwitted soldiers are attacked by Grey Wind. Not sure if they were toying around with the idea of giving Robb the ability to warg, but it sure does seem like it. After a night time scuffle in the moonlight, we are FINALLY introduced to Roose Bolton, played by Michael McElhatton, one of favorite character, actor, and combination of those two on the show. Like, Top 5 Show Characters, I think it would be Brienne, Ygritte, Tywin, Cat, and Roose. No Ned, no Arya, no Tyrion… that’s a weird list, but it’s all mine. And generally, the North is a favorite overall show and book storyline, so the introduction to one of its biggest move makers is exciting…. To me.
Anyway, Roose is trying to talk Robb into flaying, or at least torturing some of the Lannister bannermen for information, pointing out, “A naked man has few secrets and a flayed man- none” which is the secondary phrase of House Bolton- much like how the Lannisters always drop that they pay their debts. Robb is very much against this- generally speaking, the Starks have a longstanding anti-flaying policy, having outlawed it when the Boltons bent the knee to them back in the day, but it is somewhat of a Bolton tradition to the point where they have a flayed man for their sigil. In fact, the Boltons supposedly love flaying so much, that they took the flayed skins and made them their cloaks and used them as banners in their great hall at the Dreadfort at some point. It’s fun! It’s not.
On his tour of the battlefield, Robb helps a young woman amputate the leg of a Lannister soldier because she’s cut and… yeah. Roose tries to have Robb focus on his own soldiers who need medical attention but Robb ignores him. It’s not a good look for Robb, as the North are extremely loyal to Northerners, no matter how well or personally one may know another- if you’re from the region, you have the loyalty. In helping (and then later falling in love with) Talisa plus the enemy, Robb’s telling his own men that his interests come first.
Down in King’s Landing, Joff is shaming Sansa and holding her responsible for Robb’s actions, having Meryn Trant slap her around and then even starting to strip her in front of a crowd. The Hound looks uncomfortable during the whole thing, until Tyrion comes in and orders it all to stop; and the Hound immediately steps forward to offer his cloak once commanded to. I’d like to think the Hound has already shift allegiances or his morals at this point but he’s unsure of how to go about it- he’s always been a bit protective of Sansa, having looked out for her since the second episode, and seems to really resent his role as Joff’s “dog.”
Upon escorting Sansa out of the Throne Room, Sansa chants that Joff is still her beloved and Tyrion again shows that admiration for her. Part of him sees an allyship in her resistance to Joff and I also think part of him is relieved that she is demonstrating that she has a mind of her own and not the same Sansa who had illusions about nobility and royalty that first arrived in King’s Landing. That particular Sansa was annoying.
Now, because Bronn is a big fan of the female form, he suggests to Tyrion that maybe if Joff was more experienced with women, he’d be more sensitive. Tyrion sees this as, “Hey! Joff needs to lose his virginity!” perhaps delving out the same favor to Joff as Jaime did for him with Tysha. Tyron sends Ros and another prostitute (who looks suspiciously like a prettier version of the boat girl Theon was doing) to Joff, but Joff just takes this as another opportunity to invest in his masochist interests. There is… something really clear about the way Joff views women and it is disturbing. He obviously thinks that they are there to satisfy a man, no matter how or what those desires are and part of him relishes in the fact that he has power as a man and especially as the king to do whatever he wants. I think in this specific situation, Joff is also taking the opportunity to upset Tyrion even more and is making a bit of a power move- no matter how Tyrion defies him or talks down to him, Joff will still find a way to do what he wants.
Later on, Tyrion opens his door to find Lancel standing there, saying that Cersei has sent him to demand that Pycelle be released and Tyrion can’t help but remark how late it is and how much Cersei likes to make her room smell like lavender. He’s pretty much figured out the affair and threatens to tell Joff, who would be humiliated that his mother would be committing adultery and incest. Tyrion tells Lancel to keep sleeping with Cersei but to feed Tyrion all the information she gives to Lancel. It gives Tyrion a leg up on Joff and Cersei and Lancel, being dumb, doesn’t realize that there are probably a few other ways he could have gotten out of this.
Somewhere in the Stormlands, Littlefinger has reached Renly’s camp under the orders of Tyrion to try and negotiate Cat for Jaime. Renly has fused the gold and sigil of House Baratheons with the green of the Tyrells- it’s a nice color combination. Margaery reveals that she sleeps in a tent separate from Renly and Littlefinger immediately hints to her that he knows about who Renly really loves from the Tyrell family. Marg throws a sick line about how she’d never take marriage advice from someone who had never been married and how confused he is by the notion of marriage.
Next door in Cat’s tent in the most “This isn’t how you woo her” fashion, Littlefinger tries to reason with Cat, and alludes to Ned’s death as fate’s intervention for them to have a chance to be together and DUDE- the woman is grieving her husband, the man you referred to as “an even more impressive specimen”- did you really think this would work? Did ya? Did ya really? Since that fails to work, he moves onto the idea that Cat can have her daughters safe and sound- if she gives up Jaime. Robb doesn’t haaaaaaave to know- but really, Cat is distracted by the short term and maybe the first ten minutes of a feel-good reunion time before it all goes to shit. Then, to add in some sprinkles and a cherry on top, he presents Ned’s bones to Cat so she can give him a proper burial.
The Baratheons have a quick family reunion and Cat pleads with them to get on the same page and to focus on defeating the Lannisters, a force who no one alone can take on. Unfortunately, Renly and Stannis are too proud to put aside their differences to briefly be on the same page. Renly sees Mel and implies that she must have seduced Stannis to make him so devout to the Red God and Mel says she supports Stannis because he is the savior and prophecy. This is an indicator of where Mel really aligns herself- it’s not with Stannis because he’s Stannis and has a believable claim and all that- it’s because he’s a message from the god that she follows. Her allegiance is to her faith- she’ll switch sides at the last minute if she wants.
Across the Narrow Sea and down south of Vaes Dothrak and past the Red Waste, Dany has finally arrived at Qarth, where the Thirteen landlords don’t really want to let her in or give her help. And this is where I really fell off the Dany train- she stands and whines that they’re guests being disrespected (no, you’re not- no one invited you in yet), they called her a liar (really, though, they don’t own you anything), and then she threatens to burn them once she’s conquered the rest of the world- which she just can’t do if they leave her out there to de or force her to turn around, in which case she’ll die… and… yeah. Dany is so short sighted in this season and it’s really hurting her character. This is the one season that kind of drove her into the ground and it was hard to recover from it.
Anyway, some dude comes forward and offers her pals Sumai, whatever the hell that is, and cuts his hand as- I mean, I GUESS- what’s to be an oath that he has faith in her or… takes responsibility for her… or it might be a promise to feed them. I don’t really know. And I don’t care. Qarth is lame. This season for Dany is lame.
HARRENHAL. Harrenhal is one of the largest castles in Westeros and was the seat of House Whent in the Riverlands. Apparently, King Harren thought that the taller the castle, the more defensible and impenetrable the castle- but then dragons made its way to Westeros, destroyed it, and those who died in the fire now haunt it. It might also be cursed- apparently, whoever holds Harrenhal is doomed to die. In the books, this order goes from Janos Slynt who gets sent to the Wall, then Tywin physically holds it, after him it’s Roose Bolton, then Petyr Baelish is made Lord of Harrenhal on paper so… Just look at who died on the show and we know if this is true or not.
Anyway, in this storyline, Lady Whent has surrendered to Tywin and hands over her property- I don’t think she ever physically shows up and it just seems that they happened upon a bunch of ruins and are recuperating there. Arya says her list of People to Kill for the first time and it’s kind of short- Joffrey, Cersei, Ilyn Payne, and the Hound. One track mind. Later, she adds Polliver to her list, the Lannister soldier who stole Needle.
Prisoners are getting tortured until they die under the hand of The Tickler, an interrogator and personal favorite of The Mountain V.2. He’s trying to figure out where “The Brotherhood” is, a reference to the Brotherhood without Banners, a rogue team of fighters who serve the Realm. Anyway, he tortures people by, uh…. Putting a rat on a bare chest, then a bucket over the rat, and heating the bucket so that in a haste attempt to escape, the rat will… eat through the chest and heart of the man. The bucket will only be removed if the right answers are given. I think they did this in one of the Fast and Furious movies, right?
Just as Gendry is selected for the next round of rat, in rides Tywin with another Epic Entrance. Seriously. He says they’re short on laborers and they should use some of the prisoners to their benefit- especially Gendry, as he’s a blacksmith. Smart move on Tywin’s part to show a bit of mercy. Tywin also immediately recognizes Arya as a girl and makes her his new cupbearer. Let’s remember that Arya and Tywin haven’t met yet, so he has no idea who she is. It’s the start of one of my favorite odd couples in the show.
Back at Storm’s End (I think), Stannis has his first grammar correction (“Fewer.”) and sends Davos to escort Melisandre somewhere beneath the castle for the Scene of the Episode, based off its WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING status. Davos finds his way blocked, but Mel says that’s good enough, strips down, and BIRTHS A SMOKE BABY. A shadowbaby. Whatever, it’s not human. End of episode. I mean, what the actual hell? We’ve had magic on this show, but never this explicit or… weird. I get the feeling this isn’t the first time Mel’s done this as she seems entirely unfazed, but I’m curious to know how many times a person can birth this thing.
Anyway. Stay tuned for 2.5 The Ghost of Harrenhal!