How’s everyone doing tonight? I trust you all had a pleasant and respectful Memorial Day. Those of you living in America, at any rate. The rest of you, who cares?
Let’s get to it.
Game of Thrones, Season 2 Episode 9
This was the one we were waiting for. They’d been building up to this episode all season long, and delivered in a huge way. This was about as epic as an hour of television’s ever going to get. I was riveted.
I love the way this episode had such a slow burn to the massive events you know are coming. The sense of impending doom touches every scene, and it’s fascinating to see how the different characters respond. I thought we’d be treated to non-stop action this week, but there was quite a lot of buildup as the various players girded themselves for the climactic scenes.
Out at sea, Davos and his annoying holy-roller son Matthos talk about the weather. Davos is nervous about the tide, but God-boy Matthos assures him that their victory is God’s will. Because it’s that easy. I’m sure that your boundless faith will be rewarded, Matty. You should buy some lottery tickets or something.
Tyrion is in his refractory period with Shae, and you can tell he’s not feeling too happy about the assload of ships that are approaching. Shae wonders how he can be so nervous, but Tyrion knows that Stannis will kill every Lannister he gets his hands on. And I’m thinking “how can anyone want to kill Tyrion??” but you realize he can’t escape the curse of his last name. He’s the only non-asshole in the family, but nobody seems to notice. Even the ingrate citizens of King’s Landing hate him.
Cersei is pounding flagons of wine in Maegor’s Holdfast, resplendent in a golden bustier ensemble. She’s got all the noblewomen holed up with her as they hide out from the marauding hordes of Stannis. She’s in full-on drunken bitchface mode, and teases Sansa about being on the rag.
Cut to an invented scene in a tavern. Bronn is showing off his singing chops, regaling us with an a capella version of “The Rains of Castamere.” Talk about your eerie foreshadowing. That’s one of the cruelest, creepiest songs ever. So nice to see it used in the show. I’m wary of too many sings being used, as I don’t want this to turn into boring Tolkien shit, but they’ve been used very sparingly so far. Sparingly and effectively.
The Hound shows up and starts picking a fight with Bronn. I don’t know what he’s so mad about. Maybe he just needs to kill something. Don’t fret, Sandor, there’ll be plenty of killing to go around soon enough. That would be a good fight to watch, though. The Hound’s big, but he’s not slow. And he’s not overly armored. Bronn’s quicker than just about everyone. I’d pay to see that battle.
Bronn also gets the second-best line of the night, when he promises that jizz-faced prostitute she’ll have his nose all the way up her ass later that night. They can invent scenes like this all they want. More Bronn is always a good thing.
Varys and Tyrion have another one of their catty scenes together, as Varys shows all the interesting escape tunnels under the city. Tyrion makes a condescending joke about Varys’ interest in young boys, which was a good line but felt unfair. Varys is asexual. As in, he literally has no junk to speak of. He’d have just as little luck with boys as he would with girls.
Neither man seems to have much use for weddings.
In the great hall, Joffrey shows up in his battle armor, and no one’s impressed. He’s also given his sword a cornball name (Hearteater) and makes Sansa kiss it. That girl sure plays the meek weakling well. I can’t wait to see her get some spine. She does get in a couple good digs at Joffrey, as she slyly mocks him for not leading the vanguard into battle. Watch it, Sansa. Joffrey’s going to have Ser Mandon tan your hide for that.
Cersei’s really holding court now. She’s in her cups, and lectures Sansa about using her vagine as a weapon. She can’t stand Sansa’s goody-goody routine, and it’s certainly hard to argue with that. Spooky Ser Ilyn lurks in the background, as Cersei’s insurance policy. Insurance against what? Against being captured alive. He’s there to execute everyone before Stannis’ troops can have a rape-a-thon. Cersei really does think of everything.
The bells start chiming, which freaks everybody out. Davos tells his guys to start drumming in response, and it makes for a nice mash-up.
Then we see Bronn climbing a hilltop somewhere far from the city limits. He has a special role to play, and it involves flaming arrows. Anyone who complains that Bronn’s role was different in the books must think it was really interesting that he spent the whole battle in a winch tower.
And then this happens.
Davos and God-boy get blown up real good. Stannis’ fleet is decimated. They’re left with a bunch of rowboats, which they use to storm the beach at Normandy. It’s going to be hand-to-hand combat from here on in, with Stannis leading the way. That’s another excellent deviation from the novels. Stannis just sat on his boat the whole time in the book. Not so in this show.
This Stannis is a leader and a man of action. He’s never going to be confused with Joffrey, who hides behind his mother at the earliest opportunity.
Stannis doesn’t hide. He does this.
Things eventually get so dire that Tyrion himself has to lead the vanguard. You know it’s bad when the half-man gets his hands dirty, but it had to happen. Joffrey was hiding. The Hound got scared of the fire and ran away. Someone had to rally the troops. Who better than everyone’s favorite?
With the best line of the night by far, “Those are brave men knocking on our door. Let’s go kill them!”
Tyrion’s so much fun to root for, you almost forget that the Lannisters are the ones you want to lose. And then Ser Mandon had to go and cut Tyrion down with his sword. Thanks, Ser Mandon. At least he then got a spear through the face from Tyrion’s squire Podrick.
Anyway, the Lannisters do end up winning. Grandpa Lannister shows up at the last, allied with the Tyrells. Those social-climbing bastards. Loras dresses in Renly’s armor and spooks half of Stannis’ army into surrendering, and after that it’s mostly bookkeeping. You really shouldn’t have pissed him off, Stannis. You drove him right into Tywin’s camp. Tyrells and Lannisters together now. Who knows what perfidy they’re capable of.
This was simply a great episode, the culmination of two seasons worth of story. This was redemption for all those slow exposition scenes and all the boring crap in the whorehouse. Along with the penultimate episode from last season (“Baelor”), this is what good TV is all about. Now I’m sad we only have one more to go.
Any complaints I may have had (and there were some) were forgotten quickly; and vanished completely after my second viewing. If you find that you still have grumblings, forward them to George R.R. himself. Not that he’d listen, since he wrote the script for this one.
One more week and it all wraps up, as much as anything in this labyrinthine saga ever wraps up. Sorry, no Xaro Zohan Ducksauce this week. We’ll probably get lots of him next time around.
Special thanks to the irreplaceable warmingglow for their excellent gifs.
And now, a song!