Game of Thrones: season 2 episode 5, The Ghost of Harrenhal

Halfway through the 2nd season in the daily rewatch of all 3 seasons.

This weeks rewatch discussion thread is here:

This week’s episode where the show takes more departures with the books, some for the better and some of which I do not know how it will play out.

The Arya and Tywin scenes are some of the best from the show, their scenes together while not in the books are some of the best examples on what the show has done better than the books.

Spoilers of below the read more break

One departure is the death of the Tickler, as an example of the 1st of the 3 names Arya needs to speak to Jaqen H’gar to repay the 3 lives she saved from the Red God. He tells her “only death may pay for life” and she owes 3 payback the Red God for the 3 she stole away from him. The Ticklers death is a departure in that it robs Arya of a very powerful scene in a “Storm of Swords” when she is able to take vengeance on the Tickler and the other men who tortured and killed people under the command of the Mountain at Harrenhal. It is a huge moment for Arya, as she is struggling with her identity at the time, because she takes reclaims some of the courage she held as Arya Stark, when she lost it while being Arry/Weasel/Nan.

The episode begins with Catelyn and Renly discussing terms for an alliance between Robbs forces and Renly’s. They are agreed to but is immediately broken when the shadow of Stannis stabs Renly and vanishes. Leaving Brienne holding the dead body of Renly and leaving room for no doubt in the eyes of the guards that burst in to check what’s going on. Brienne and Catelyn escape through the back of the tent.

Stannis’ fleets are showing closing in, he has a number of ships but no ground forces yet Renly’s camp is in chaos about his death and people afraid of what Stannis will do, he is not known for his mercy of traitors.

Margeary and Loras are mourning the death of Renly, and the knight of the Flowers foolishly wishes to stay and avenge Renly despite all off Renly’s banners except for the Tyrells defect over to Stannis. Littlefinger offer’s a chance at revenge with an alliance against Stannis to Loras, and finds out that Margeary wants to be the Queen, not a queen. And he now has what he needs to secure a Tyrell alliance with the Lannisters.

Cersei and Tyrion discuss the implications of Renly’s death. Cersei in a very short sighted display does not understand that Stannis know has a fleet strong enough to overcome the their own as well as enough ground forces to mount a siege against Kings Landing. The Queen also refuses to talk about a strategy that she is using in the name of Joffrey who really does nothing himself to defend kings landing. Tyrion has his new spy in Cersei’s camp, Lancel to tell him of the Queens scheme which is wyldfire. Cersei has the pyromancers creating huge amounts of the dangerous wyldfire to launch from catapults at Stannis’ fleet and forces. Tyrion takes over the preparations for the defense of kings landing and develops a cunning strategy. This is the other departure, in the books, Tyrion has every blacksmith in kings landing forging chain links for the first part of a trap for Stannis’ fleet. In the books, this is used to cut the escape of Stannis’ ships they are being burned with wyldfire and broken upon the shores of the blackwater. Instead, in the show, Tyrion has the pyromancers stop producing wyldfire for the Queen and make it for Tyrion instead, for trick to cripple Stannis’ fleet.

Tyrion takes up the responsibility for the defense of kings landing, noting the fool hardy notions of Cersei and Joffrey will just doom the city to a fiery death.

Tyrion and Bronn walk around kings landing to hear and see what the smallfolk really think of the high lords of kings landing, Tyrion is disappointed to hear that people think he is pulling the strings of the boy king Joffrey and that he is just as evil and cruel as Joff. This really bothers Tyrion as he is genuinely trying to do right by the people and keep them safe from Joffs cruelties and from the siege of the city that Stannis will unleash when he attacks.

Stannis and Davos have a talk about hard truths, which Stannis refuses to hear and is uncharacteristic from him as noted by Davos. Davos tells Stannis that loyal service means telling hard truths, and that if Stannis wishes to have the loyalty of his men he needs a victory over his foes that isn’t due to Melisandre and her power. Davos tells Stannis that the men are starting to believe that the Red Women is whispering orders into Stannis’ ears and he is obeying. Stannis asks what does Davos believe, the 3rd time some one asks him that, and he tells Stannis to leave the Red Women behind and sail for Kings landing and make that victory his own, not Melisandre’s.

Tywin has his counsel with his various relatives, cousins and nephews, a very limited war counsel and it shows, since they have been repeatedly defeated in the field by Robb Stark and have no strategy to defeat him. Tywin note’s that they have been waiting Robb to fail in some way and he hasn’t yet. Noting that they must help Robb fail in someway to defeat him.

North of the Wall at the fist of the first men, Lord Commander Mormont and his men wait for Qhorin Half Hand and his rangers, before they move against Mance Rayder and his vast army of wildlings.

From Sam, we learn that 3 blasts of the horn is to signify that the Others and white walkers are coming. They hear one blast, meaning rangers are coming. Qhorin reveals that Mance Rayder has taught the wildlings how the ranger of the watch fight and that they will be prepared for them. Qhorin suggests they adopt the sneak attack as well as hit and run raiding style of attack the wildlings use, and use stealth to kill Rayder and retreat. Without Mance to lead them, the wildling army will crumble and disperse. Qhorin asks for a small number of skilled rangers for this task and Jon volunteers to go. In the books, Qhorin asks Mormont to have Jon come with him, as he is impressed by Jon and his wolf, Ghost. Mormont agrees and they set off.

Catelyn and Brienne escape from Renly’s camp amidst the chaos, and make their way back to Robb and his banners. Brienne asks to be sworn into Lady Starks service, and has Cat promise that she will not hold Brienne back if when her chance for vengeance comes. She swears before the old gods and the new that she will be Catelyn’s sworn sword and shield until her death.

In Essos and Qarth, Dany is at a party in her honor and is approached by Pyatt Pree, who is there on behalf of the warlocks of the house of the undying to extend her an invitation to visit them. She is asked to look upon a crystal and note the reflections, then has her look at his own, a double of Pyatt Pree is shown. Everyone is shocked at this display but applauds it, thinking some trick and not real magic.

Jorah is approached by Quaith, a shadowbinder from Asshai, with a warning for Jorah for Danaerys. That many will come to see the dragons and lust for them, for Dragons are fire made flesh, and Fire is power. In the books, she gives this warning to Danaerys personally being the only person in Qarth who does not tempt her with offers, only a warning to mistrust all in Qarth and gives her a cryptic answer telling her “To go north, you must journey south, to reach the west you must go east. To go forward you must go back and to touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow.”

Dany is proposed to by Xaro, stating with their marriage he can give her the seven kingdoms. Dany acknowledges the offer but does not commit either way.

Dany and Jorah have a meeting to discuss Xaro’s offer, Jorah insists that in order to rule westeros she will need westerosi support, not that of Qarth. Jorah offers his counsel, telling her the slow way is the better way and that Dany should make her own way. To have anyone else do it for her would mean it could be taken from her. He offers to find her a ship so they can sail away from Qarth to find their own way.

Its another departure from the books, as she is supposed to be a guide of sorts to Dany, but Dany is unsure whether to trust to her warnings. It is later in the season why this has been changed, as the show heavily departs from the books by greatly changing how the House of the Undying plays out.

At winterfell, Bran is at court again, doing the day to day ruling of the lands of the Starks. He is about to finish when Roderick Cassel brings news of Torren Square being under siege by an unknown enemy. Bran insists that men be sent right away, noting that if they can’t protect the people, why would the people be loyal to them and protect them.

Bran tells Osha of his dreams, that the sea will come to winterfell and drown men like Roderick Cassel, In the books, Jojen Reed has this dream and tells Bran of it. The Reeds do not factor into the show until season 3 but their absence in Season 2 is another departure from the books, albeit a minor one. We miss out on explanation of green dreams and some history on the Reeds of Greywater watch.


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