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Game of Thrones- Ghosts of Harrenhall

Written by Dr. Improbable on Monday, April 30 2012 and posted in Reviews

Who really wears the pants in Westeros?

What's that? It's time for another episode of Game of Thrones? Are we hopeful for battle and blood? Well, too bad, because mostly we're just going to hear a lot about strategy and who has the biggest army. I suppose it's the Westeros equivalent of driving a camero with 18-inch chrome rims. (Are those big? I know nothing about cars.)

Caution: For the night is dark and full of spoilers.

We open in Storm's End. Catelyn and Renly discuss the terms of Robb's potential fealty and the prospect of an alliance against the Lannisters. Cat doesn't seem to think Robb is going to go for the whole "bending the knee" thing again. Brienne is also there, disrobing Renly. It hasn't been conveyed too clearly here in the show, but she's basically in love with him. Of course we all know how well that's going to work out for her in the long run. Or in the short run really- for those of you who didn't have the memory of Mellisandre's shadowbaby birth etched permanently in the "do not want" section of your brain, that is still a thing that happened. And why did she birth a creature of smoke and shadow? Why, to kill Renly, pretender to Stannis's throne, of course! Said shadowbaby comes in and stabs Renly, much to the confusion and horror of Brienne and Catelyn. Guards come in, accusing Brienne of the murder, but she slays them pretty thoroughly before collapsing on Renly's body, crying. I have to admit, the actress they got to play her isn't what I pictured at all, but Gwendoline Christie does a pretty good Brienne of Tarth. Anyway, the two flee before they can be accused of murder again.

Still in Storm's End is Petyr Baelish (another thing not in the book, he never leaves King's Landing that we know of, and if he did it probably wouldn't be for this), discussing prospects with the Tyrells. Loras wants to avenge his lover's death, obviously, but Littlefinger points out that this isn't a terribly prudent decision. Margery seems displeased that this happened, but not sad. The best attitude I can describe for her is "disdainful." In the books, Margery doesn't prove to be so cunning until later on, and I like that the show has made her seem like more than just a pretty, pleasant princess early on. I do not like that they've put her in a cone of shame. Littlefinger asks her if she still wants to be a queen. She replies that she wants to be "The" Queen. Hell yeah, girl power.

The news has already reached King's Landing. Cercei seems over-confident about it, figuring her daddy will come save them. She's only really upset about the plan to ship Myrcella off to Dorne. Tyrion is suspicious of her confidence, and berates her for using the phrase "schemes and plots," since he says they are the same things. A lot of grammar lessons in this show! Outside, he torments Lancel for a bit, who admits that Cercei is hoarding wildfire. This whole sequence of events is out of order from the book, but probably makes more sense for our non-literate viewers.

Back in Storm's End, on Stannis's side of the water, he gloats that all of Renly's bannermen, save the Tyrells, have come to his side. Davos, who learned first hand how shadowbabies are made, tells him that he must not win King's Landing at the hands of Mellisandre. Everyone will think Stannis is her bitch and she's clearly evil. Davos believes Mellisandre aims to rule the kingdoms on her own. What I'm getting here is that even though this is a clash of kings, it's really the vaginas who are in charge.

Except for in King's Landing, where Tyrion manages to stay a step ahead of Cercei, who cannot manage to properly keep a step ahead of her son. Joffery is pretty awful in the books as well, but Cercei doesn't quite lose her grip on the situation so early in the game. Anyway, Tyrion debates Stannis's advantages over Joffery's men, which amounts to pretty much "all the advantages." Bronn points out that Stannis doesn't have Tyrion's brain. They see one of the crazy doomsayers preaching about what a bastard Joff is (works on two levels.) He calls Tyrion a "demon monkey," much to the Imp's offence.

Over in the Iron Islands, Theon can't get no respect. He's trying to command his men of the Sea Bitch. They laugh at him, which isn't helped when Asha comes by and emasculates him some more. Though his father has sent him to pillage and plunder some useless fishing villages, he (thanks to a mysterious stranger, who is probably not a stranger but I don't know who he's supposed to be exactly) decides instead to take Torrhen's Square, a northern stronghold. He realises that the Starks will send what few men they have left in Winterfell to defend their liege lords and... well, we'll get back to that in a little bit.

In Harrenhall, Arya eavesdrops on Tywin's conversation about strategy. Holy crap there is just so much strategy in this episode. After threatening the life of his cousin Reginald (I guess he's not as into the "love thy family" thing as his daughter), he asks Arya where she's from. When she tries to pass as a southerner, she can't remember the sigil of the house she claims. He knows she's a northerner anyway, though she isn't stupid enough to declare as a Stark. She delivers her "Anyone can be killed" line. I love Arya Stark. I want to hang out with her and Tyrion and maybe Bronn and we'll all go drinking and sing songs and pet our direwolves. Anyway, on her way out she runs into Jaqen H'ghar, who is now fighting on the side of the Lannisters. He gives her his offer of three lives, and she immediately says "The Tickler." Again, a divergence from the books, where the first life she asks for is one of The Mountain's men, Chiswyck. We'll see how that ends up playing out.

Way North of the Wall, the men of the Night's Watch discuss the prospects of survival this far north. Sam gives us a history lesson on the first men. Jon seems unnerved.

In King's Landing, Tyrion meets with the chief warlock of fire or whatever. He recruits the somewhat crazy pyromancer to his side, though Bronn seems dubious of the wildfire's effectiveness, pointing out that they'll probably manage to set King's Landing on fire.

In Quarth, Daenerys has a cleaner, brighter wig on, and her handmaids seem to fight over her. I wonder if we'll get to see the scene where one of them pleasures her? This episode is sorely lacking on gratutious boobs. Also, she calls one Doreah, and I'm pretty sure that one died in the desert. At a dinner party in Xaro's very swank pad, her kos contemplate stealing from their obscenely wealthy host. Jorah's outfit reminds me of both Scooby Doo and Pocahontas. Pyat Pree is creepy when he invites Danys to the House of the Undying while some masked woman tells Jorah to keep an eye on Danys. Like he already wasn't.

Somewhere between Storm's End and the Riverlands, Brienne and Catelyn take a break from their fleeing. Catelyn pities Brienne for loving Renly, though she has the grace not to mention it aloud. Brienne and she discuss motherhood, and how neither of them actually had a mother, and then Brienne swears to serve Cat, as long as she allows her to kill Stannis when the time comes. She thinks the shadow that killed Renly looked like Stannis. I think Brienne may have some abandonment issues.

In Winterfell, some lords bring news to Bran that Torrhen's Square has been attacked while Rickard misbehaves at the lord's table (presumably to remind us that there's a fifth Stark). Bran shushes him and insists that troops are sent out to defend their bannermen. Meanwhile, he asks Osha about the three-eyed crow (not the same as a one-eyed snake ZING!), and tells her of his dream about the sea coming to Winterfell. See? See what happened there? Because Theon is from the Iron Islands, and a Kraken? Bran and his clever warg dreams. Anyway, Osha pretends (very badly) that dreams mean nothing and scurries away, fooling no one. Also, Bran is supposed to be not quite nine. That kid looks twelve at least.

In the north, the Night's Watch espies the fires of the wildings. Mormont (Lord Commander, not Jorah obviously) worries that Mance will have prepared the wildlings to properly fight the organised "army" that is the Night's Watch. Seriously. More strategy. He sends a few rangers out ahead of his army to prevent the wildling scouts from warning of their coming. Jon wants to join, and though Mormont is loath to relieve him, Sam offers to take his duties (heh, he said duties) as steward. Thus, Jon sets forth.

Back in Qarth, Xaro spends some time talking about how great and wealthy and powerful he is, and then proposes to Danys. She later agonises over what to do with Jorah, who inadvertently admits he's in love with her. It's sweet but also sort of sad, not to mention creepy since she's fourteen. And one of the few actresses on the show who actually looks as old as she's supposed to be in the book, although in real life she's 24 or 25

Finally, in Harrenhall, Gendry and Arya are hanging out. I get that Gendry is Robert's bastard, but with all these other people trying to assume the Iron Throne, I just don't see how he is really going to make a claim, especially since he doesn't seem to realise he could maybe kind of have one. Oh, well, I'm sure someone will figure out how to use him. Anyway, The Tickler is found dead. Arya looks up to find Jaqen, who gives her a little nod. Awww, yeah, Arya Stark, striking men down with a word. Seriously, why aren't all 10-year-olds so badass? Then again, it'd be more badass if she killed him her damn self like in the book.

Oboviously from all the strategy we've had to endure this episode, we are inching closer and closer to battle. I promise, there will be fighting and blood and guts soon. Also, sorry if anyone's annoyed that I pointed out all the diversions from the book, but I'm finally caught up re-reading it to where we are right about now, though it's less exact that its predecessor. Besides, some of the changes are interesting (book spoiler warnings kind of)- Tyrion's chain still hasn't been constructed, Meera and Jojen are nowhere to be found even though they're kind of crucial for Bran, and we've lost a lot of background on the Iron Islands. Mostly I'm mad about that last one because I really wanted to see a scene with the Finger Dance thing. I guess we'll see where this all goes soon enough- we're solidly past halfway with the book, but we're right at halfway for the season. Who knows what crazy changes are in store for us yet.

Written or Contributed by: Dr. Improbable

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About the Author - DrImprobable

Before you ask, no, Dr. Improbable is not that kind of doctor, and will not be diagnosing your genital warts today. Seriously, put it away. The doc does more of the "mad science" brand of doctoring, though one day hopes to be that "time and space traveling" kind of doctor. In the meantime, Doc passes time cloning things, memorizing acronyms, and using large magnets. When not plotting all the terrible ways to destroy the human race (particularly those found on public transportation), the doc kills time by watching television and making sarcastic commentary on it.


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