GAME OF THRONES - Episode 15 – 'The Ghost of Harrenhal' – RECAP:
We open the episode in King Renly’s tent as Renly talks war strategy & alliances with Catelyn Stark. Things sound somewhat promising but because of Melisandre's demon spawn birthing scene last week, everyone probably guessed that Renly's number was about to be up. Sure enough, but a few minutes into the episode Renly is driven through with the shadow demon's sword, falling into Brienne's arms and dying. Guards are upon her immediately but she quickly dispatches them. Then, with Catelyn's urging, she and Cat beat a hasty retreat. Later is a heart-rending scene between Brienne and Catelyn, where a still very distraught Brienne pledges her loyalty to Catelyn Stark. Perfectly played by both Gwendoline Christie as Brienne and Michelle Fairley as Catelyn.
Back in Renly’s camp, the Tyrells have discovered the fate of poor Renly. Loras seems much more upset than Margaery expressing his desire for revenge by killing Stannis himself. Margaery advises caution, as does Littlefinger. She though, is thinking only about the end game, and Littlefinger appears to be on the same page. Says he, 'You wish to be a queen?' Says she, 'No.'...pause...'I wish to be THE queen.'
Stannis has arrived in Renly’s camp and all of his bannermen except the Tyrells who have fled, have joined him. Davos needs to speak with Stannis of a 'hard truth' in the forthcoming battle strategy. Stannis tells him they next sail to Blackwater Bay and, despite Davos's protestations, Davos will command the fleet. Davos advises Stannis to leave Melisandre behind because, he tells him, he will lose his men to the Red Woman if they are victorious as she will be credited her for the victory. Stannis glumly acquiesces without argument.
In King’s Landing, Tyrion meets with Cersei about Renly’s death. Tyrion warns that they will be Stannis's next target. Cersei blithely responds that Joffrey has begun making siege plans, but she plays coy about what those plans are. Undaunted, Tyrion goes to Lancel to get the inside scoop. After verbally kicking around Cersei's boy-toy, Tyrion learns that the Queen Regent has ordered alchemists s make wildfire. Tyrion journeys to the Alchemist’s Guild seeing firsthand the potential in “the substance.” He orders Hallyne to continue making it under Tyrion's direction now.
On the Iron Islands, Theon is preparing to set sail on his ship, the Sea Bitch. His motley crew doesn’t respect him. He meets Dagmer Cleftjaw for the first time; Dagmer suggests instead of raiding some fishing villages, they attack the under-defended Torrhen’s Square. Theon tells him they could take it, but couldn’t hold it once Winterfell sends forces to reclaim it. The two men exchange knowing glances and Theon now sees a path to victory and the much-desired respect from his men.
In Winterfell, Bran is taking yet another 'town hall' meeting,' continuing to listen to the complaints of minor lords. To his irritation, little brother Rickon noisily mashes walnuts by his side. Breaking the staid process, Rodrik bursts in declaring Torrhen Square is under attack. Despite most of them off at battle with Robb, Rodrick tells Bran he could round up 200 fighting men. Bran orders him to do so and to reclaim Torrhen Square. Later, he talks with Osha about his dreams. He talks of the three-eyed crow and then tells Osha about his dream of the sea crashing over the walls Winterfell.
In the far North, the Night’s Watch has arrived at the Fist of the First Men. As they set up camp, Qhorin Halfhand arrives with a force from the Shadow Tower. Qhorin and Jeor Mormont, the Old Bear, talk strategy; the Halfhand wants to take a small force of men to eliminate Mance’s scouts and Jon Snow wants to go with him. Commander Mormont resists at first, but relents after an internal dialogue where he seems to remember his end-game with Snow. It doesn't hurt that Sam cheerfully offers to pick up Jon’s steward duties.
Across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys is a guest of Xaro Xhoan Daxos, the prince who vouched for her and her troupe at the gates of Qarth. Dany has finally figured out how how to feed her dragons or rather how they can now feed themselves (they like their meat singed). Xaro hosts a meet and greet for Dany including the shiver-inducing warlock, Pyat Pree. He shows Dany a bit of magic and invites her to the House of the Undying. Clad in a bizarre wooden mask, Quaithe makes an appearance, delivering cryptic warnings to Jorah of impending danger. Later that night, Xaro demonstrates his immense wealth and then proposes marriage to Dany. He also delivers the news that King Robert is dead. Dany consults with 'adviser and friend,' Jorah. She considers accepting Xaro’s proposal and setting sail to Westeros immediately. Jorah advises her that they wait, that their allies are in Westeros and they need just one ship, not three, to get them there.
At Harrenhal, Arya attends to Lord Tywin as he meets with his lords. They are discussing what to do about Robb, as he continues to make mincemeat of them at every battle. Tywin recognizes Arya as a northerner. He asks of her what they say of Robb in the north. She tells him the tales of Robb riding a direwolf into battle, or even turning into a direwolf, and that he can’t be killed. “Do you think he can’t be killed?,” he intones. Arya meets his eyes steadily: “No. Anyone can be killed.” Tywin tells her to fetch some water as the already long meeting will continue much longer. On her way, she runs into the enigmatic Jaqen H’ghar dressed as a Lannister soldier. He tells her she owes the Red God three lives, that she must give a man three names and a man will do the rest. Arya gives him his first name, the torturer nicknamed The Tickler. Later, a scream and a thud comes from the courtyard. The Tickler lies on the ground, his head twisted 180 degrees around, facing up. Arya looks up at the battlements and sees Jaqen. He acknowledges her by holding one finger up to his face.
My thoughts on 'The Ghost of Harrenhal':
Maybe because I'm new to the book series, currently at the beginning of 'A Storm of Swords', I'm not getting bent about the changes being made in the adaption from the A Song of Ice and Fire book series to the HBO telling of the story. The author of the books, George R.R. Martin is an advisor on the adaption process and it seems most choices are done in service to the process that must be gone through in order to come out the other side, so to speak.
I don't care who Arya chose as her first kill. It needed to be someone that she hated's name. She more or less just plucked out of the air as Jaquen sprang the three deaths for three lives offer on her and she answered quickly. In my mind, the Tickler was as good as any. Book readers fussing over 'what will they do when' in book 3 need to focus on the now (adaption of book 2). If you love the book version so very much, go back and reread it to assuage your feelings of being cheated.
Speaking of 'Arya', Maisie Williams is a fantastic Arya. She's acting at the level of the best adult actors on the show. When I read the books now I picture her and that's about as good as it gets.
Though he didn't impress me all that much in season 1, Isaac Hempstead Wright as 'Bran' is increasingly growing on me. He never overplays and his restrained performance serves the story quite well.
Tom Wlaschiha as Jaqen H'ghar is mysterious, strange and very alluring. He's an instant favourite of mine.
Finally, the scene in the aftermath of Renly's murder between Stephen Dillane as Stannis and Liam Cunningham as Davos was churning with tumult just beneath it's muted surface. Kudos to both actors.
Game Of Thrones Season 2: Episode #16 Preview
GAME OF THRONES NEXT WEEK: Episode #16: “The Old Gods and the New”:
Debut: SUNDAY, MAY 6 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT)
Theon (Alfie Allen) completes his master stroke. In King’s Landing, the Lannisters send Myrcella (Aimee Richardson) from harm’s way in the nick of time. Arya (Maisie Williams) comes face to face with a surprise visitor; Dany (Emilia Clarke) vows to take what is hers; Robb (Richard Madden) and Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) receive crucial news; Qhorin (Simon Armstrong) gives Jon (Kit Harington) a chance to prove himself.
Written by Vanessa Taylor; directed by David Nutter.
AFTER THE JUMP: Game Of Thrones Season 2: Inside The Episode #15