Monday, April 30, 2012

Review: Game of Thrones ("The Ghost of Harrenhal")

by richmin3000

*my reviews/recaps will not have any spoilers in the main section as they relate to future events but will have many explanations or clarifications of events currently happening on the screen so if you want to figure it out for yourself, read with caution.

**due to several recommendations, i will be discussing some spoilery stuff at the tail end of the review so please pay careful attention.

read my review of episode 1, "the north remembers " - here.
read my review of episode 2, "the night lands" - here.
read my review of episode 3, "what is dead may never die" - here.
read my review of episode 4, "garden of bones" - here.

we've reached the half way mark of season 2 so it's time to reevaluate where things stand with our cast of wannabe kings and queens... we're also going to switch up our routine a bit.

king's landing
no joffrey this week after a lot of him last week. the main storyline in king's landing revolved around tyrion and his attempts to prepare the city's defenses in preparation for an imminent attack from stannis baratheon. he discovers that cersei and joffrey have secretly employed the pyromancers (a formerly powerful guild during the reign of the targaryens) to produce and store a shit-ton of wildfire which they plan on using to defend the city. the problem is that it's quite unpredictable and destructive so it has to be handled with care. obviously tyrion doesn't trust his sister or nephew to handle anything with care so he immediately assumes control of the situation.

season update: this season in king's landing has been mostly about the power struggle between tyrion, cersei and joffrey. all three are on the same side but each of them are also power hungry and somewhat distrustful of the other. it will be interesting to see whether this disunity will be a recipe for disaster. also this year, i think they've made a point of creating a disconnect (at least in passing comments and one minor scene in this past episode) between the lannisters and the common people they rule over in the city. this could be another recipe for disaster.

iron island/pyke
theon is getting ready to sail off to fight fishermen as per his father's orders when he realizes (with some help) that no one will respect him until he takes what he wants. and what he wants is his father's love. and in order to do that he needs to prove he's a true ironborn. and to do that he plans an attack on torren's square, which is a close holdfast near winterfell. he knows that he doesn't have enough men to hold it for long, but perhaps he'll hold it just long enough...

season update: the prodigal son returns but it's also a story of unrequited love... and attempted incest. the iron islands are like the cornell university of westeros with the bleak weather and all the frowny faces. the greyjoys feel left out and rush to join the race to be king.


winterfell
meanwhile in winterfell, bran (and nut cracking rickon) are listening to the people's neverending complaints when sir rodrick (the house castellan) brings news that torren's square is under seige (see above). bran gives rodrick a couple hundred men to take back the holdfast. also, bran regales osha (his wildling nanny) with tales three-eyed raven and the drowning of winterfell. then osha tells him to lay off the late nite pizza and ice cream.

season update: bran and rickon have been partying non stop with no parental figures, unless you count hodor as a parental figure. really though, bran has just been having some crazy dreams of three-eyed birds and wolfs.

stormlands
stannis and renly finally met face-to-face last week with neither backing down from an impending fight. i'm sure everyone was looking forward to a big battle but instead lady melisandre gave birth to a shadow demon baby that killed renly. that was cool too.

renly's death has some far reaching effects. first, most of his bannermen now have gone over to stannis which means he now has the biggest army. second, it seems like catelyn and/or brienne will be blamed for renly's death unless people buy the whole "a shadow demon baby killed renly" story. third, margaery and loras tyrell need to figure out their next move after they pushed all their chips into the renly camp. i'm sure littlefinger will help them sort it out.

stannis now is planning on invading king's landing with his newly massive army and navy. davos seaworth convinces stannis to leave behind the red priestess during the attack on king's landing because he fears that she might be given the credit for any victory.

catelyn and brienne escape renly's camp after his murder and are on their way back to robb's camp. along the way, brienne swears allegiance to catelyn. she's 0-1 with renly so catelyn might want to think this over.

season update: stannis has shown a willingness to bend the rules in order to sit the iron throne though he still expects everyone else to be upstanding citizens. renly's story ends here but his legacy will forge ahead, at least in the tyrell and brienne storylines. 

harrenhall
tywin lannister is obsessed with robb stark. arya is obsessed with revenge. jaqen h'ghar (the night's watch prisoner who speaks in third-person) gets arya started on the right path with a promise of 3 deaths. she chooses first someone named the tickler. next comes bashful.

season update: we just got here so not much to report. they figured out a great new torturing technique that keeps their rats well fed.

beyond the wall
jon and the rest of the crew have finally left craster's keep and meet up with qhorin halfhand, a fellow night's watch ranger. their next destination seems to be mance rayder's camp (self proclaimed king beyond the wall and former night's watch ranger as well) which they plan to invade like seal team 6 in order to "eliminate" mance rayder before he marches south with his massive wildling army.

season update: not much has happened really. at the end of last season they were marching north to find benjen stark and to figure out mance rayder's plans. mission half-accomplished! oh, and also, sam fell in love.  


qarth
daenerys is chilling and wearing nice clothes once again. she finally realizes that jorah mormont, her "adviser" might want to be more than just friends. she meets some interesting people like the warlock and gets proposed to again! i guess being the mother of dragons comes with benefits.

season update: dany was wandering the desert like moses trying to bring her people to the promised land. her dragons are still at the "i want one" age but now that they have some real food to eat perhaps they will start being a little more self reliant.


no hyperbole allowed ratingB+
i loved 90% of this episode but was not a fan of the first scene. i was very excited to see them execute the renly death scene (which was incredibly mysterious in the book) but i thought it was directed very poorly. it lacked the requisite amount of tension and intensity. and when they cut to brienne it looked like she was looking past renly's body as he was getting stabbed to death. the set up could have been paced better and catelyn/brienne's escape could have been a little more harrowing. in fact, a lot of the episode seemed rushed (even more so than other episodes) and it's probably because this was the first episode in which they visited every major location.

i'm excited to guide us through season 2 of game of thrones so would appreciate any comments or feedback to help structure these posts as we move forward. you can write to me at nohyperboleallowed@gmail.com, or via twitter @hyperboleNOT, or on our wall on facebook at facebook.com/nohyperboleallowed, or just write something in the comments section below.


****SPOILER SECTION**** (DO NOT READ AHEAD UNLESS YOU'VE READ THROUGH BOOK 2)

- i like how the show is setting up the eventual mini-riots on the streets of king's landing. it's obvious that cersei and joffrey have no idea how to be loved and assume fear will keep everyone in line.
- i assume that this season will end with the battle on blackwater bay which i can't imagine they will shortcut especially since wildfire has been introduced to us.
- i also can't wait to see people's reaction to the events in winterfell in next week's episode. i'm upset that the show is seemingly leaving out bran's friends (the reeds i believe) that end up traveling with him and teaching him about greenseers. though i am really excited to see theon do his thing and have at least one impactful scene with bran.
- i also can't wait to see the eventual return of jamie and his scenes with brienne. his witty remarks should prove to be quite entertaining.
- also, some more of robb's new girlfriend would be most welcome.

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