Monthly Archives: April 2012

A man owes three: The Ghost of Harrenhal

I do give the show credit, Game of Thrones clings to reality as often as it can. We’ve been introduced to White Walkers, Direwolves, Wights, Dragons, and now – A Shadow That Kills. Yet, we still don’t know how far the rabbit hole goes. And in Ghost of Harrenhal we realize some of the characters are just as clueless as the viewer.

The episode opens with the death of Renly Baratheon, who is killed by the shadow that Melisandre birthed. Both Lady Catelyn and Brienne of Tarth were in the room when Renly died and are accused of murder by Renly’s guards – because no-one understands how a shadow killed Renly. Faced with the choice to fight or die, Brienne kills three guards in outrage. Stunned, Lady Catelyn talks Brienne into fleeing the camp. Brienne pledges loyalty to Lady Catelyn, and the two agree to head north and tell Robb Stark of the news.

Littlefinger makes an appearance at Renly’s camp to talk with the Tyrells about Stannis. He knows Loras is outraged at Stannis for Renly’s death and would never follow Renly’s troops to join Stannis. Littlefinger asks the Tyrells to come to King’s Landing, hinting that Margaery could become the new queen. “What do you desire most in this world,” Littlefinger asks Loras. “Revenge,” Loras says.

Tyrion has managed to gain power in every episode, yet still does not have control over Cersei. Believing that he can scoop Cersei, he brings news of Renly’s death. Cersei, monotone and unsurprised,  shows bold confidence towards winning the war with Stannis, claiming that the side with the most coin will win. At first, Tyrion is puzzled by his sister’s foolishness. He shows a genuine interest in helping her, when Cersei drops a bomb – she has already been working on some “secret” project to prepare for the war and is not about let Tyrion in on it.

To uncover this “secret,” Tyrion consults cousin Lancel in Flea’s Bottom, the poorest part of King’s Landing. Tyrion reminds him he knows of his affair with Cersei, and could totally screw him over by telling Jaime about it. When Lancel tells Tyrion that a substance called “wildfire” is being made, Tyrion is in disbelief. Apparently this wildfire stuff is very dangerous and hasn’t been used since the Targaryens ruled Westeros. As Tyrion says: “Piss on wildfire, and your cock burns off.”

As Tyrion is leaving Flea’s Bottom, he sees a peasant speaking public criticism about a new “twisty demon” controlling the Throne. Tyrion realizes that he is the “twisty demon” and that the people of King’s Landing are blaming him for their hardships. The irony in the situation is that Tyrion is the only person on the King’s Council who actually cares about the peasants. When Tyrion sees the pots of wildfire, he is both horrified and amazed. Knowing the advantage wildfire would give to King’s Landing, Tyrion takes over production of the substance.

Davos Seaworth, the honest smuggler, has known Stannis Baratheon his entire life. He is uncomfortable with Stannis’ new religion, and discusses Melisandre’s shadow with him. But Stannis refuses to speak about it. Stannis believes that using Melisandre is the only way he can win the war, but does not care to know about the details. When he tells Davos to prepare for battle, there is a genuine look of question on Davos’s face as to who is really in charge: Stannis or Melisandre?

In the Iron Islands, Theon Greyjoy gets no respect. He is emasculated by his crewmates and his sister. His sister makes it a point to remind him how many ships she has (29 more than him). Theon has been commanded by his father to raid fishing villages, an insignificant task, but gets the notion to sack Torrehn’s Square, a small town north of Winterfell. Theon knows that doing so would give him the respect he needs to be a prince, but it would also sever his ties with the Starks forever. Right now we’re asking ourselves “how far will Theon go?” Will he actually go to war with the Starks, the same people who raised him? Or will he redeem himself…

Arya has become very good at the only thing that is keeping her alive: lying. She is a cupbearer for Tywin Lannister at Harrenhal. Tywin, the richest man in the Seven Kingdoms, asks where she’s from. When she falters, we wonder if this could be the end of her false identity, but she quickly saves herself. Tywin is impressed, and for a moment it seems as though he can see through Arya’s deception.

The true mystery of this episode is Jaqen H’ghar. He was locked up in a cage when Arya released him and his two cellmates, but surprises Arya dressed as a soldier. Jaqen is perhaps the most puzzling character yet; he talks in third person and knows of Arya’s identity without her revealing it. “A girl says nothing,” he says. “Friends can talk in secret. A girl keeps secrets.”

Arya has no idea what to think of Jaqen or why he wants to help her. He has somehow transformed from prisoner to soldier, has a streak of silver hair and speaks in riddles. “A man owes three,” he says. The line is disturbing, even for Arya. She has wished the death of many different characters, but has never been presented the opportunity to act. Arya names The Tickler, perhaps because he is the cruelest person she knows, and possibly to save her friends.

At Winterfell, Bran is acting as Lord. He has been having increasingly disturbing dreams and reveals to Osha, a wildling captive, that he dreamt the sea would flood Winterfell. Also, Bran hears news of an attack at Torrehn’s Square, a small town to the north of Winterfell.  Osha, who has taken an interest in Bran’s three-eyed-crow dreams, is greatly upset by what this change in dream means, and knows something is not right. Now that we know Theon is in Torrehn’s Square, would he dare take Winterfell, the same place he was practically raised? Do Bran’s dreams predict the future?

Past the Wall, a new character emerges: Qhorin Halfhand, a tough man of the Night’s Watch who is familiar with the wildlings. Qhorin announces the wildlings have become more sophisticated, and that he will lead a small party to scout out the wildling camps. Jon Snow sees a chance to prove himself, and asks to go along. Commander Mormont questions Jon, knowing full well that this could be the last time the two see each other. In the end Mormont lets Jon make his own decision.

Commotion erupts in Harrenhal when The Tickler is found dead in the middle of a crowded street. Arya sees Jaqen H’ghar smiling at her from a window above the street. Smiling, he makes the motion of a single tear running down his cheek. If Jaqen did kill The Tickler, he must have done so with extreme skill. And now Arya has two more deaths to deal.

Who’s Who?: Game of Thrones Season 2

HBO’s Game of Thrones, based on the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin, is quite complex. This is because it does not focus on a single protagonist, or event, but rather several interconnected character’s stories.

Tyrion Lannister; the smartest character in the show and also a dwarf. He has taken Eddard Stark’s place as Hand of the King and hides a prostitute named Shae in his bedchambers. Tyrion despises his sister, Queen Cersei, and has recently discovered that she has been paying off the City Watch to do her bidding. He also suspects that Lancel Lannister, a young cousin, has been having an affair with Cersei, and blackmails him into spying on Cercei. Tyrion has a good relationship with the Night’s Watch and Jon Snow, and has shown increasing interest in the North. He discovers that Cersei is contracting the pyromancers to make a substance called wildfire and takes over production.

King Joffrey Baratheon; a psychotic immature brat. Not only is he the spawn of incest between Cersei and Jaime Lannister, but he’s the king of the entire Seven Kingdoms. He refuses to believe that Jaime Lannister is his real father, and has anyone who disagrees put to death. Joffrey is engaged to Sansa Stark, but has no interest in marrying her. Instead, he verbally and physically abuses her. Joffrey is both cruel and quick-witted. He is slowly taking control back from his mother and the other members of the King’s Council.

Queen Cersei Lannister; an unhappy control freak. She had a hand in the death of her unloving husband, and is in love with her brother. Cersei has been paying off the City Watch and controlling the Seven Kingdoms through her son, Joffrey. Cersei has begun an affair with Lancel Lannister, her young cousin. She consults Littlefinger, Varys and Maester Pycelle for advice. In preparation for the war with Stannis, she has been contracting the pyromancers to make wildfire, a deadly substance that spreads quickly and cannot be put out.

Jaime Lannister; the most notorious knight in the Seven Kingdoms. He is derogatorily called “Kingslayer” by the people of Westeros because he assassinated the Mad King Aerys II Targaryen, when he was only 15. Jaime is in love with his sister Cersei. He has been captured by Robb Stark’s army and is currently in a cage somewhere.

Robb Stark; the guy we like. His father was killed, his brother paralyzed, his sisters are desperate for help, so what does he do? He rounds up all his father’s bannermen and claims himself “King in the North.” Robb Stark has the qualities of a true leader. He fights in his battles, and is fair to his men. Oh, he also has a giant wolf that terrifies his enemies in battle.

Stannis Baratheon; the rightful King of the Seven Kingdoms. He also has no sense of humor. Stannis lives on an island and has recently put his faith behind Melisandre, a red priestess of the Lord of the Light, who tells Stannis she can see the future. Stannis believes he can take control of Westeros by commanding a fleet of ships to surround King’s Landing. Melisandre lures Stannis into having sex with her in exchange for power, but Stannis is a man of steel and is only concerned with the outcome.

 

Renly Baratheon; Stannis’ younger brother and also gay for Laurus Tyrell. He believed the Iron Throne should’ve been his because he loved his people and commanded a small army. He was killed by a black shadow resembling Stannis. His army, except for the Tyrells, joined forces with Stannis.

 

 

 

 

 

Game of What?

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It’s finally here: the second season of HBO’s Game of Thrones. The season 2 premiere left off pretty much right where the first season ended, and mostly served to re-introduce the characters and set up the plot. Even if you haven’t read the books, HBO does an excellent job of capturing the story. It’s not critical to watch the first season either-this show is going to be around for awhile. Like the first book, season 1 is mostly character introduction and backstory. Lots of backstory. Read this guide to catch yourself up.

IN A LAND CALLED “WESTEROS”

Place yourself in an old land reminiscent of medievil Europe.  Also known as the “Seven Kingdoms,” Westeros is a continent ruled by the Iron Throne. Westeros is a relatively narrow, but long continent, extending 900 miles at its widest point and 3,000 miles in length. The climate and terrain of Westeros vary immensely. The North is home to snowfall and bleak winters while the most southern regions are more tropical. Seasons in Westeros can last various periods of time, even years. It is revealed that the winter season is coming, and is expected to last especially long.

THE NORTH

The first region of Westeros we are introduced to. The North is ruled by Eddard “Ned” Stark, the Lord of Winterfell. Winterfell is a castle situated at the center of the North, and is home to House Stark. The North is bordered by the Wall, a monsterous structure of ice 300 feet high, which serves to separate the Seven Kingdoms from the far North, a frigid area called the Haunted Forest. A group of men known as the Night’s Watch, made up of criminals and bastards, are stationed at the Wall to patrol the area, and sometimes go on rangings beyond the Wall into the Haunted Forest, a large forest home to people known as wildlings, who obey no kings, and creatures believed to be nonexistent called the “White Walkers.”

MEET THE STARKS

We are introduced to the Stark family at Winterfell preparing for the upcoming winter. Eddard Stark is an honest family man who believes that “he who passes the sentence should swing the sword.” He exhibits this belief when his men come across a member of the Night’s Watch who has deserted and claims to have seen the White Walkers in the Haunted Forest. Eddard beheads the man, saying that deserting the Night’s Watch is a crime punishable by death, and that the White Walkers have been gone for thousands of years. He even makes his sons Robb, Bran and Jon watch, while his wife, Lady Catelyn of House Tully, stays home with daughters Sansa and Arya and little boy Rickon. The Stark boys come across five baby wolves known as “direwolves,” because they are larger than regular wolves. The five direwolf cubs are taken by the five Stark children for good luck because the direwolf is the sigil of House Stark. Jon takes the runt of the litter, white with red eyes.

We learn that Eddard’s eldest son Jon was born a bastard from another woman and is hated by Lady Catelyn. Jon has the last name “Snow,” which is given to all the bastard children in the North. Because he is a bastard, he cannot inherit land or titles. Knowing that his bastard name would severely limit his future in life, Jon decides to join the Night’s Watch, where his uncle, Benjen Stark, serves as First Ranger. Jon is especially fond of his sister Arya, a tomboy more interested in swords than sewing needles. Before leaving, Jon gives Arya a small sword, joking her to “stick with the pointy end.” Arya names the sword “needle.”

Eddard “Ned” Stark.

Lady “Cat” Catelyn.

Robb Stark.

Jon Snow.

Bran Stark.

Sansa Stark.

Arya Stark.

Rickon Stark.

MEET THE LANNISTERS 

The Lannisters are an aristocratical family from Casterly Rock. They are the wealthiest and most powerful family in the Seven Kingdoms; their sigil is a lion. Tywin Lannister is the head of House Lannister and Lord of Casterly Rock. He has two sons, Jaime and Tyrion, and a daughter Cersei. Jaime and Cersei are twins and Tyrion was born a dwarf; their mother died giving birth to Tyrion.

Cersei serves as Queen of the Seven Kingdoms and is married to King Robert Baratheon. The two have a strained relationship, due to Robert’s apathetic attitude towards ruling and his dispassion for his wife.  When Robert was younger, he led Robert’s Rebellion, a conquest war against the Targaryen’s, a family that ruled the Seven Kingdoms for centuries. Cersei and Robert have three children: Joffrey, Tommen and Mrycella.

Ser Jaime Lannister is a knight of the King’s Guard, an elite group of seven soldiers known to be the best in Westeros. He also has an incestous relationship with Cersei, a secret the two keep well hidden. Jaime is often called the “kingslayer” by people of Westeros. This is because while being a member of the King’s Guard during Robert’s Rebellion, he killed then-king, Aerys II Targaryen.

Tyrion Lannister is a quick-whited dwarf with a fascination in books and prostitutes. He faces prejudice from many characters and is often referred to as “the imp” or “half-man.” When Tyrion was younger, he married a peasant woman named Tysha. Eventually it was discovered that Tysha was a prostitute that Jaime had paid to keep Tyrion happy. Upon discovering this, Lord Tywin had his men rape Tysha and send her away. This incident has lead to a stressful relationship between Lord Tywin, Tyrion and Jaime.

Cersei Lannister and Robert Baratheon.

Ser Jaime Lannister

Tyrion Lannister.