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!
2.8 The Prince of Winterfell
The Prince of Winterfell is what Theon’s been calling himself, so it’s only fair that this episode kicks off with him. Yara shows up and does the same little ride around him in the same exact spot as Lyanna is seen doing around Ned and Benjen in one of Bran’s Season 6 flashbacks. Yara’s not happy with him, as he’s killed two Starks and very valuable members of the North that could have been used to make demands. Theon’s actions have given absolutely no reason for the North to support him or hand over allegiance. Then there’s the case of geography- Winterfell and the massive size of the North is utterly useless to the Greyjoys and their fleets, who are all skilled sailors and don’t do so well on land. Remember that the Greyjoy words are “We Do Not Sow”- they don’t take lands to settle on them; they’re just interested in taking valuables and moving on. Fed up with Theon’s decision to stay and see Winterfell through to the end, Yara leaves and takes all of her men with her, leaving Theon with only the twenty or so members of the Sea Bitch.
She hasn’t gotten too much to do, but I’ve always liked Gemma Whalen’s performance as Yara. She has a real affection for Theon, doesn’t smother him, and tries to guide him to the right decision. There’s a part of her that realizes that there’s no reasoning with him sometimes, but at the same time, remains protective of him. She’s such a bro- but it’s nicely balanced with these quieter scenes.
Beyond the Wall, Ygritte has a pissing contest with the Lord of Bones, who has captured Qhorin Halfhand and killed all the other Rangers from his mission with Jon. They argue bout who has the more valuable hostage- a pretty boy or a renowned Ranger. Ygritte points out that Jon is Ned Stark’s son and they he could be of value to Mance Rayder. Later, Qhorin tells Jon to make sure that their capturing was all worth it and begins yelling at Jon for abandoning his post to run away with a Wildling girl. It makes Jon look like he was in the process of abandoning his oaths- and Ygritte begins to believe that Jon has feelings for her. She might seem tough, but Ygritte is a romantic at heart- aren’t we all!? I know I AM when it comes to Rose Leslie.
Still at the First of the First Men, Sam, Grenn, and Edd are digging! How exciting. Grenn hits something that’s not snow and discovers a secret stash of obsidian, also called dragon’s glass. It’s all been carved up into daggers and wrapped in a Night’s Watch cloak.
Down… somewhere? I think they are outside Camp Stark. Talisa is asking Robb about his upcoming engagement in exchange for the Frey’s old bridge. Robb wants the war to end so he can take his men home, but knows they still have not received justice for Ned’s death, and this might give a little bit of something about what Robb finds in Talisa rather than just her looks- her presence offers him a bit of peace and reminds him that to be a good leader, blood doesn’t always have to be sought. She’s something other than the North and Robb is just sick of the fighting. Anyway, a rider comes up and tells Robb that Jaime has escaped and Robb finds out it’s none other than Cat who sprung him free in order to get the girls back. Cat tells Lord Karstark that the lives of her children are more valuable than his revenge- which… Aw, Cat. Not a good look.
Furious that his mother has gone behind his back and might have thrown the entire war away, Robb rightfully supports the grieving Lord Karstark, acknowledging that this was the absolute wrong decision and that Jaime was ten times more valuable as a hostage to make a direct trade. Robb then holds Cat, his own mother, as a prisoner.
On their way to King’s Landing, Brienne and Jaime start their own Roadtrip Movie and Jamie immediately hones in on Brienne’s size as her point of unattractiveness but Brienne is determined to not let him get to her.
Meeting with Robb, my man Roose says his bastard should be at Winterfell any day now. Robb wants any Ironborn who surrenders to be given the opportunity to go home with the exception of Theon and Roose clearly disagrees with this, being a fan of torture, flaying, and all. When Talisa enters, Roose immediately leaves as he knows that Robb is pretty much blinded to the North’s cause when she’s around and is quietly pushing for this to happen to drive further cracks into the North. I’d like to point out that Talisa never trusts Roose- she’s always a little suspicious of him when he leaves.
I’m not sure what her reasoning for visiting Robb is this time, but they chat and then admit their feelings for each other, before stripping down and doing it on the floor. I used to really like the Talisa/Robb angle until I realized that it made Robb look like a complete fool. It’s wholly inconsistent with his character. I’m not saying their romance isn’t cute and all, but Robb just shirks of his responsibilities so quickly and so willingly- it’s almost like this Robb and the one everyone keeps talking about are two different people and there’s no trace of Ned in this Robb, who would have grown up idolizing his father and trying to uphold his values. In the books, Robb sleeps with Jeyne, a girl of Westeros, only to discover she’s of somewhat-noble birth and marries her as to not bring her dishonor- which is much more in line with how Ned would have raised him and given an idea of how this belief of honor is what plays heavily into the downfall of the dead Starks. I think going this way might have brought more interesting Stark family discussion with Cat and with his men- but the showrunners really wanted to gut us and so we got the “real” romance instead, with the two obnoxiously hot people we have on-screen. Visuals!
Over in Harrenhal, Kevan Lannister is trying to convince his brother to abandon King’s Landing as Stannis, a tried and true war hero, will most certainly smash the city. Interestingly enough, Tywin says Joff is a LANNISTER- not a Baratheon- and will stand and fight. With Robb’s attention split between the Lannisters and Winterfell, Tywin takes a chance and orders his camp pick up and leave. He tells Arya to make sure the Mountain doesn’t get drunk- but Arya knows that this can’t be good for Robb and without Tywin, she’s doesn’t have any protection. Arya also finally realizes that Tywin should have been on her list the entire time and runs out to find Jaqan to use her last wish.
Let’s kick in that House of Black and White theme, as Arya looks for Jaqan and unfortunately for her, Tywin’s already left. When Arya finally finds Jaqan, she asks how long It would take to kill Tywin, but since he can’t guarantee an immediate result, she opts to name… Jaqan himself. It’s just a ruse though- she’ll unname him if he agrees to help her escape. And he does. Huzzah!
Up in King’s Landing, Bronn and Tyrion are trying to figure out a strategic defense for when Stannis shows up. Like an old married couple, they’re arguing about the way Bronn is dressed and how he needs to present himself better. Varys says that Bronn has been quite an effective commander as there has been a drop in thievery and Bronn shows that he’s not just a sellsword- he knows how war works and what the effect are on both sides- leadership will be fighting two battles, one with the enemy and one with the commoners.
Being served wine by the legendary Podrick Payne himself, Cersei and Tyrion discuss siege tactics but Cersei doesn’t want Joff anywhere near the battle, knowing that he’s not ready. Or brave enough. Or… skilled enough. Or anything, really. Tyrion points out Joff is the same age as Jaime when Jaime started fighting but he has nowhere near the level of XP. Tyrion just wants him there as a visual morale boost for the men, but Cersei is convinced that Tyrion will use the battle as an opportunity to off Joff. Cersei says that having penises makes men weak and threatens Tyrion with “his little whore,” but it turns out to be Ros and not Shae. Cersei is clearly pleased with herself and Tyrion repeats the line back to Cersei that he wants her joy to turn to ashes in her mouth- if this isn’t a note of how Cersei will die, I don’t know what it. I’ve always imagined that in a similar fashion to the Mad King’s death, Jaimie would be the one to kill Cersei, fulfilling the prophecy that Cersei would be killed by her little brother- and that both of them would be engulfed in dragon fire. It would evoke a very bittersweet moment as they both get to die with the one they love- so… ash in the mouth, quite literally.
Unwisely, Tyrion runs back to Shae to make sure she’s safe and declares his love for her, promising to always protect her, etc. Tyrion can’t stop pledging his devotion to her and makes her promise that she is his- “I am yours, and you are mine.” ADD IT TO THE SHOT LIST. It’s a cute scene.
Tyrion says that Tywin gave him the least valued responsibilities and had him oversee the sewage system at Casterly Rock and now he’s Hand. Who’d have thunk? Varys advises him that the Hands who refuse to play the Game, such as Jon Arryn and Ned, never turn up well- but Tyrion enjoys playing the game and that’s why he’s been successful. Varys finally confides in Tyrion that Dany is alive and Tyrion ponders this before focusing on the issues that are directly in front of him.
On their way to King’s Landing, Davos and Stannis are reminiscing about Davos’ poor upbringing and Stannis reminds him that Davos saved his life and is just as noble as any other man he knows. Stannis plans to make Davos his Hand- which is completely unheard of for someone of Davos’ background and a testament to how much Stannis trusts his judgement.
Ugh. Qarth. Jorah’s found a boat but Dany refuses to leave without her dragons. We get yet another few shots of Dany facing away from Jorah with welling eyes and Jorah looking at her longingly. Dany, I think, completely starts using this as a way to get Jorah to do what she wants and starts looking into his eyes and touching his face, knowing that he won’t say no to her requests.
Back at Winterfell, Theon gives some money to Dagmar to give to the farmer who was hiding the two young boys, but Dagmar pretty much says to save his money as they killed the farmer. The episode ends with Luwin and Osha expositioning the audience, discussing the two farmer boys that were killed in place of Bran and Rickon. Does this do anything long term for Bran’s character? Because I feel like it doesn’t.
I’d like to point out the overuse of fadeouts when closing the episodes in these earlier seasons. It’s somehow abrupt but also continuous at the same time. These early episodes, in general, feel so much more dependent on each other than later seasons do.
UP NEXT, we have the biggest episode (meaning the most expensive) of the series in the first two seasons: 2.9 BLACKWATER.