40 Days. 40 Episodes. Game of Thrones, S2E8, “The Prince of Winterfell”

When I watched yesterday’s episode, I was actually thinking, “nah, I’m not going to pay attention.” Then I sat through the whole thing. So this episode I think I’ll definitely pay attention to. We’re three away from the end of Season 2 and that means 5 away from the end of my long recaps.

The gates of Winterfell open and Asha (excuse me, Yara) and her men come riding in. Theon is quite confused. Why isn’t she impressed with her brother’s achievement? He took the great castle of Winterfell with only twenty men. So again, when all 20 of them were out hunting for Bran and Rickon, why didn’t the people of Winterfell just take the castle back? “You’re a great warrior,” she teases him. Yara criticizes his dumb ideas. Theon gets angry and Yara explains that she’s there to bring him home. Yes, Winterfell is the heart of the North, hundreds of miles from the sea. And every person in the North wants Theon dead. So good choices, T.

In Ice Town, Ygritte brings Jon to Rattleshirt, the Lord of Bones. Rattleshirt DGAFs. He’s got the Halfhand. So Ygritte has to talk him into keeping Jon alive by saying Mance will want to question him. As if Mance gives a crap about Jon. Halfhand and Jon get to have a short talk where Halfhand tells Jon that all the Rangers died searching for him. “See that it wasn’t for nothing,” he tells Jon. This is where I hated the crap out of the show instead of the book. Jon was just a screw-up over and over here. In the book, Halfhand tells him, I’m paraphrasing, “I knew you couldn’t kill her. If I wanted her dead, I’d have had someone else do it.” It’s part of a clever plan by Qorin to get Jon infiltrated into the Wildlings. But here, in the show, it’s just Jon being a major fuck-up.

Talisa and Robb are walking somewhere. Even though they have horses. They talk about Jon’s betrothed, whom he’s never met, and his father. If we believe Talisa is for real, this is where she’s really falling for him. But of course, she’s a spy. Just then, a soldier interrupts them to tell Robb that Cat let Jaime go.

So Robb has some mean words with her. It’s hard to say when things go from bad to worse. It’s all ultimately Ned’s fault for accepting the position of Hand of a drunken, lecherous king. Robb sends more soldiers in pursuit of Jaime and puts Cat under guard.

Brienne and Jaime begin their witty banter as she escapes with him from horse to boat.

At Harrenhal, one of Tywin’s generals pretty confidently says that when Stannis lands at King’s Landing, he’ll easily defeat the Lannister army. This scene is full of hints that Arya is getting some sort of inside information. Tywin decides to ride at night to get a lead on Robb. Arya goes looking for J’aqen. As she frantically searches, the Lannisters begin to depart.

Back at Hoth, Halfhand doesn’t exactly reveal his plan but he sorta tells Jon he needs an inside man. Then Qorin begins his little show of being mad at Jon.

Tyrion and Bronn discuss the coming siege and Bronn’s new techniques for dealing with thieves–killing all the known ones. When Varys arrives, they begin looking at maps of the city to figure out where Stannis will attack.

On the Fist, Sam and those other two guys that are always with him and Jon are…shoveling snow or something? This is where they’ll find the cache of Dragonglass which, again, I recall as being much more significant in the book. In this case, Sam keeps a dagger and that’s about it.

At Harrenhal, Arya and J’aqen discuss their deal. Arya wants to renegotiate the terms by naming J’aqen himself. Instead of one killing, Arya wants J’aqen to help her and her friends escape which will require more than one death. She’ll un-name J’aqen if he helps. So he agrees. Which takes a large chunk of agency away from Arya who–in the books–pretty much arranges the escape herself.

Cersei visits Tyrion in hopes that Tyrion will keep Joffrey out of battle. Tyrion has a pretty good argument that Joffrey needs to be seen in the battle. Cersei is, as always, weaker than she wants to let on. Cersei, however, is happy because she has found his “little whore.” Tyrion tries to play it off like he doesn’t care but he’s worried. Cersei threatens more violence against Tyrion’s whore if Joffrey gets hurt. But when they produce her, it’s Roz, not Shae. So, you know, more reason for Tyrion to be worried but at least it isn’t Shae. Tyrion tells her that he will repay her for this. Her “joy will turn to ashes in her mouth.” So yeh, no wonder she suspects him in that… later affair.

Tyrion visits Shae and gets all weepy about keeping her safe. It’s touching but, you know…Shae has other designs.

Roose tells Robb that his bastard is available to invade Winterfell. Robb authorizes Roose’s bastard to attack Theon’s “army.” Talisa arrives and Roose gives her a look. He knows. Robb and Talisa have another of those “meaning of life” conversations that gets them closer to each other. Talisa tells a story of how her brother’s life was saved by a slave in Volantis and it inspired her to become a nurse. This gets Robb so hot. He bursts out that he doesn’t want to marry the Frey girl and Talisa acknowledges she doesn’t want him to. They get naked.

At Harrenhal, Gendry, Arya, and Hot Pie are awaiting the word from J’aqen to escape. J’aqen told Arya to walk through the gates at midnight. So Arya walks even though they can see the guards (who it turns out are dead!).

Then Stannis and Davos are on a ship heading to King’s Landing. Stannis hears a bit about Davos’s background. Davos hears an earful of how bitter Stannis is about Renly getting Storm’s End and how he and his soldiers had to eat horses, dogs, and rats defending it. You get the feeling Davos has heard this a billion times. The number of times that Stannis calls himself “the rightful king” is enough to know he’s definitely not Azor Ahai.

At King’s Landing, Joffrey thinks he should attack Robb. Tyrion is all, you see that we’re preparing for siege, right? Joffrey leaves. Tyrion and Varys discuss things fairly honestly. Varys tells Tyrion about Dany’s dragons.

Jorah tries to convince Dany to sail to Astapor to escape all these crazy people. That really pisses Dany off.

Theon and his First Mate discuss things. Luwin sees Osha raiding the pantry. Then he approaches the dead farmer’s boys to inspect them. Osha and Luwin meet up under Winterfell where Osha, Hodor, Bran, and Rickon have been hiding. Bran will blame himself if he knows Theon killed those boys, Luwin says. They won’t hear it from me, Osha says. Cut to: Bran wide-awake, hearing everything.