40 Days. 40 Episodes. Game of Thrones, S2E4

Am I tired of writing up Game of Thrones episodes? Kinda. But I’ve come this far. I started looking up images to use here and all the indicate that a lot of stuff is going to happen in this episode. Get ready.

I didn’t remember this opening. It starts with Lannister soldiers discussing the Mountain, Jaime, and even joke about Renly. They are gathered around a fire. Their horses start fidgeting. One of them jokes about something being out there. Then the other says, no really, there is something out there. Then Grey Wind eats them.

It cuts to the battlefield where Robb is getting the update on their success from Roose Bolton. Roose advocates torture. Robb declines. Then we meet Talisa amputating a wounded man’s leg. Robb speaks with her and she begins to weave her seductive web by disagreeing with him. (If you want to take this opportunity to watch “Roose Change,” go ahead. But I think you should wait til the end of Season 3.)

At court, Sansa is on her knees as the Lannisters question and accuse her while Joffrey points a crossbow at her. Joffrey wants to kill her but his mother has told him to spare her. So instead he orders Meryn Trant to beat her. Tyrion walks in as he begins and puts a stop it. Which seriously peeves Joff. Tyrion teaches the little dumbass a lesson. Joff, for his part, echoes his step-father, King Robert, by saying “a king can do whatever he wants.” When Tyrion asks Sansa privately to tell him the truth, does she want an end to the engagement, she just swears her allegiance and love. Tyrion remarks that she may “survive us yet.”

Bronn diagnoses Joffrey’s psycopathy as mere blue balls so Tyrion sends Joffrey some whores–Roz and another. Joff begins ordering Roz to abuse the other woman. Leave it to Joff to take what’s heretofore been a mostly libertine good time (the “pleasure houses”) and make it violent and murderous. More than previous events, this moment marks when the show’s sex and violence merged into sexual violence. Though the scene cuts just as Roz hits the woman with a heavy staff, its tragic end occurs off-screen.

Littlefinger visits Renly who (despite having served on the Small Council with him) seems shocked that Littlefinger is part of the Lannister court. Littlefinger is making an offer to Renly. Petyr also takes the opportunity to weasel up to Margaery. He makes some vulgar insinuations and Margaery puts him in his place: “My husband is my king and my king is my husband.”

Back in the desert, a rider returns to Dany. I think this part of his story is sort of clumsily done in the show. I just don’t think it’s entirely clear that she sent riders to find a safe haven for them. The one who has returned visited Qarth. Jorah gives the usual warning. Dany looks worried.

Arya, Gendry, and Hot Pie arrive at Harrenhal in another storyline that I believe got confusing at this moment. At least, in the show, I didn’t understand exactly what they were doing there or why. The kids witness the torture and death of another prisoner and that night as she tries to sleep, Arya recites her prayer for the first time.

Littlefinger pays a visit to Catelyn in her tent among Renly’s host. Why she doesn’t stab him to death right here is yet another missed opportunity. She almost does when he reaches for her. But then he uses her girls as leverage to get her to play along with his game. He sings his song for her and she’ll make a terrible mistake for it. He’s brought her Ned’s remains. Which makes his gamble for her affection even crazier. She kicks him out. But he’s already planted the seed of releasing Jaime.

At Harrenhal, the Mountain is choosing which prisoner to torture and kill that day. Hot Pie pees himself. The main question of the torturers is “where is the brotherhood?” By which they mean the Brotherhood Without Banners whom we have not met yet. Neither has anyone at Harrenhal. So it’s a real no win situation.

Arya prays.

On a hill somewhere, Stannis and Renly meet up accompanied by Melisandre and Catelyn. The two brothers do a little theater in pretending to negotiate. Renly points out that Stannis has no friends. Stannis doesn’t respond but merely gives Renly an ultimatum. So Stannis is another terrible politician.

It is amusing to recall when everyone was so caught up in who will be king during these first two seasons. It’s one of the consequences of calling the show “Game of Thrones” while the books are called “A Song of Ice and Fire.” All that matters is the Long Night or Winter which is coming with the undead and a lot of Ice. Jeez, if only someone had some fire-breathing something-or-others.

Dany meets the thirteen at Qarth. After some boring chit-chat, the guy who greets her dismisses her request. Dany tells him that “where I come from, guests are treated with respect…” Does she mean where she comes from in Westeros, where her dad was burning everyone alive? Or where she stayed with Illyrio who sold her to a warlord? Or where her warlord-rapist-husband’s horde viciously attacked, raped, and pillaged any town they discovered along their endless ride? Where would she ever have learned respect? It’s honestly remarkable that she practices any kindness.

So Dany threatens to burn the city down. That’s when Xaro Xhoan Daxos vouches for her.

At Harrenhal, Gendry is selected for torture. He honestly says he doesn’t know what they’re talking about when questioned. And just as they strap the rat to his chest, Tywin arrives and tells them to stop killing prisoners. He also hilariously says, “This one’s a girl. You idiot.” to one of his men who threatens Arya. That’s pretty great.

I cannot remember the name of this Lannister with whom Cersei is sleeping. But anyway, he arrives at Tyrion’s door to deliver a writ of habeas corpus so Tyrion will release Pycelle. Tyrion invites the boy in and really pointedly accuses him of being intimate with Cersei. Tyrion then just works the dude over with information. What will Joffrey do if he finds out? The kid is terrified. And just like that Tyrion has another spy on his side. This dude knows how to do extortion. It’s almost as if he imprisoned Pycelle just to play this game.

Aboard his ship, Stannis calls Davos to “smuggle” the Red Woman somewhere. Davos rows her to shore to a dark inlet. Once they’re ashore, she’s naked and way pregnant and… well that’s when she gives birth to a shadowy demon.