Game of Thrones – Season 2 Episode 5 – The Ghost of Harrenhal – Review
From a shocking ending last week to a shocking opening this week, the Game of Thrones continues to move the chess pieces on the board for the clash of kings this season.
Stannis makes his move on Renly. Tyrion makes war plans at King’s Landing. Theon gets his ship. Daenerys settles in Qarth. Arya settles in Harrenhal. And Jon Snow and the night watch move further north beyond The Wall.
The recap and review with Inside the Episode video:
Season 2 Episode 5 – The Ghost of Harrenhal
Renly Baratheon and Catelyn Stark discuss the coming conflict with Stannis Baratheon and the siege of King’s Landing.
“My son has no interest in the Iron Throne.” says Catelyn.
Renly says that Robb can be the king in the North if they swear loyalty to him. In exchange, he will destroy Stannis Baratheon’s army in the morning and then House Baratheon and Stark will destroy their common enemy (the Lannisters) together — the way Ned Stark and Robert Baratheon did against the mad king.
Cat however wants Renly to negotiate peace with Stannis. He says that he’ll have better luck debating the wind with him.
“I believe we are natural allies and together they can end the war in a fornight,” he says.
Then Stannis Baratheon’s shadow demon child which was born last episode enters the tent… and kills Renly!
Lady Brienne, the King’s Guard, is beside herself.
The other guards storm the tent — and immediately accuse Brienne of killing Renly. She kills them both.
Brienne wants to kill Stannis, but Cat advises her to flee (as the guards think that she is responsible).
“You can’t avenge him if you’re dead,” she says.
They both flee the camp.
In the morning as Stannis’ fleet arrives, Margaery Tyrell and Loras Tyrell mourn the death of Renly with Lord Baelish looking on.
Loras believes Stannis killed Renly. Margaery says Brienne of Tarth did it.
“Who gained the most from our king’s death?” he asks.
“Stannis,” says Baelish.
Margaery and Baelish advise Loras to flee with the horses instead of fighting Stannis.
In a bit of a foreshadowing, after Margaery laments that she is no longer a queen now that her king is dead, Baelish asks her: “Do you want to be a queen?”
“No. I want to be the queen.”
Later, Stannis Baratheon arrives at the camp without resistance. Renly’s bannermen have now joined Stannis and Tyrell’s army has fleed.
His right hand man Ser Davos warns that Lady Melisandre should not be with them when they attack King’s Landing — for victory will be hers. He’s paranoid because of the shadow demon birth he had seen last episode.
He says the “hard truth” — that Melisandre is a foreigner and people think that she is giving orders to Stannis. He mustn’t lose Renly’s men to her.
“We set out for King’s Landing without Lady Melisandre. And you will lead the fleet to Black Water Bay,” says Stannis.
Davos says the he is trained to evade not to attack. But Stannis counters that the “hard truths” cut both ways. Did he just send Davos to his demise with this attack?
Later, Catelyn and Brienne are fleeing the Stormlands for The North.
Brienne says: “It looked like Stannis.”
“To me it just looked like a shadow in the shape of a man,” says Cat.
“In the shape of Stannis.”
Cat says that she will tell Robb what she had seen, and then will go to Winterfell immediately to take care of her two young sons Bran and Rickon.
Brienne tells Cat that as soon as she escorts her back to her people if she would give her leave to kill Stannis.
Cat says that Stannis’ has a great army around him. She’ll serve no one by following Renly into the earth.
“Renly’s enemies are Robb’s enemies as well,” she says.
“I do not know your son my lady, but I could serve you if you would have me,” Brienne offers. “You have a woman’s kind of courage. And I think when the time comes you will not hold me back from Stannis.”
“When the time comes, I will not hold you back.”
“Then I am yours.”
Brienne pledges allegiance to Lady Stark.
I love her! Brienne FTW!
Tyrion and Queen Cersei learn that Renly has been killed. They don’t know who did it, but the suspects include: Catelyn Stark, the King’s Guard Brienne and Stannis Baratheon.
Cersei is happy, but Tyrion warns that Renly’s men have now joined Stannis, giving Stannis superiority over them in land and sea.
“They are going to attack us,” he says.
Cersei says not to worry because the king (meaning her) has already made plans for the siege. But she refuses to tell him the plans. Their relationship has been strained even further after Tyrion ordered her daughter to be sent to Dorne to be married.
Not to worry of course — Tyrion has a new spy Ser Lancel from last episode’s interrogation. Lancel tells him that Cersei is making wildfire and has met with the pyromancer.
Tyrion discusses with Bronn how the city is unprotected from Stannis’s army. His father Tywin’s army is not available because he’s busy losing fights against Robb Stark. Then they observe the commoners mocking him and Joffrey. They called Tyrion a “demon monkey.”
Could there be a civil uprising in the future at King’s Landing? That would complicate things even further of course.
Later, Tyrion meets the pyromancer. Apparently, wildfire is magical fire that can melt everything: steel, wood, stone and flesh.
Bronn warns that the city will burn with their own wildfire because the best soldiers are with Tywin Lannister. Jars will be dropping left and right while they defend the city.
The pyromancer then shows Tyrion the amount of wildfire they have made since the Queen ordered them: 7,811 jars!
“This is a shit idea,” says Bronn.
“I’m afraid I have to concur with my advisor. The contents of this room can lay King’s Landing low. You won’t be making wildfire for my sister any longer… you’ll be making it for me,” Tyrion tells the pyromancer.
Yes. I love Tyrion. And it looks like Ser Davos may be doomed indeed.
A happy Theon Greyjoy finally gets to captain his own ship: the Sea Bitch.
The men under him however are not impressed! Poor guy. They openly mock him while they head for the ship. He will need to prove himself to these men as well, not only to his family.
His sister even passes by to mock him some more. It looks like they gave Theon the worst crew in the fleet.
Thankfully, Theon’s first mate Dagmer arrives.
“They are not going to respect you if you don’t prove yourself,” he says. “Iron Islanders do as they are told or do as they like.”
This gives Theon an idea: They’ll attack Torrhen’s Square instead of the fishermen at the Stony Shore.
After Theon gets apprehensive at his own sudden enlightened plan, Dagmer asks “You think we can’t do it?”
“We could. We couldn’t hold it for more than a few days. As soon as Winterfell gets word that we’ve taken Torrhen’s Square, the Starks would send their men to take it back. And then… (pause)… take me to my ship!”
Omigosh, is he going to attack Winterfell??? No! Traitor! They treated you like a brother, Ned treated you like a son! Don’t do it!
Bran is attending to the needs of his people while Rickon is bored and smashing nuts at the table.
Ser Roderick says that Torrhen’s Square is under siege. Luwin wonders how the Lannisters could strike so far up north so fast. Roderick says that it maybe paid sympathizers.
“We have to help them,” says Bran. “If we can’t protect our own bannermen, why should they protect us?”
He sends 200 men to Torrhen. They think it’s going to be an easy job.
Oh no, there will be no more guards at Winterfell!
Before going on a horse ride, Bran tells one of his servants Osha his most recent dream.
“I dreamt that the sea came to Winterfell. I saw waves crashing against the gates. And the water came flowing over the walls. Flooded the castle. Drowned men were floating here, in the yard. Ser Roderick was one of them.”
Argh. No, please don’t let this happen. Damn you Theon!
North of The Wall
The Night Watch is now further north of The Wall. They are headed for Qhorin Halfhand, one of their rangers. They set up camp at an ancient site.
A single horn blast sounds. This indicates that a friend is coming. Two would have meant a foe and three for white walkers.
He talks about Mance Rayder who has aligned with the wildlings and is ready to attack south. He says that Mance used to be one of them and is teaching the wildings their ways. In order to defeat him, they must use the wildings’ tactics.
Qhorin arranges to have a ranger party to ambush Mance’s lookouts.
Jon Snow volunteers to go as a ranger, while Sam volunteers to take his place as lead steward.
Yay, Jon Snow gets to fight now, what he always wanted.
Daenerys trains one of her dragons to cook it’s food!
OMG I want one. It’s like a fire-breathing puppy.
Daenerys commands one of her girls to get info on Xaro – the richest man is Essos and their sponsor, while another gets her ready for a social gathering. They are so loyal to her — but have conflicting ideas on how they should protect her.
At the gathering, her men want to steal items from Qarth for when they leave the city. She and Ser Mormont stop them from looking around. Unfortunately, not only does she need to feed her people, she needs to educate some of them with social etiquette.
A member of the Warlocks of Qarth invites Daenerys to visit the House of the Undying. Then Xaro takes her aside.
Ser Mormont talks to a mysterious woman in a mask who tells him that Daenerys needs protection now more than ever.
Xaro tells Daenerys that Ser Mormont likes her and isn’t “only” her adviser. He asks her what she wants.
“To cross the Narrow Sea and take back the Iron Throne. The Iron Throne is mine and I will take it.”
Then Daenerys asks what Xaro wants.
Xaro shows her a door that can only be opened with a key around his neck. It is impenetrable.
He offers her half of what’s inside — more than enough to buy horse and ships, etc. to invade Westeros.
“All I have to do…” asks Daenerys.
“Is marry me,” responds Xaro. “I already married once for love. Marry me and I will give you the seven kingdoms.”
Daenerys goes back to her quarters and is convinced by Xaro’s offer. She’s not listening to the advice of Ser Mormont.
He argues that Xaro is just going to use her. She tells him to stop talking to her like a child.
Then he tells her why he wants her on the Iron Throne:
“You have a good claim. But you have something more than that. You have a gentle heart. Your will not only be respected, you will be loved. There are times when I look at you and I still can’t believe you are real.”
“So what you would have me do as my adviser?”
“Make your own way. Make your own ship, we only need one. The allies we need are in Westeros, not Qarth.”
He says he will find her a ship with a good captain.
“I look forard to meeting him.”
Nice. Ser Mormont is really in love with her! The romantic tension here was really good.
Arya Stark is now the cup bearer of Tywin Lannister.
Tywin’s generals are tired from planning how to defeat Robb Stark which annoys Tywin. They do reveal that Robb’s army is now spread thinly, but they still need to defeat him as his reputation as “King in the North” grows stronger.
Arya serves Tywin some wine but he stops her. He wants water since they will be up for a while. He then asks her where she is from. She says Maidenpool.
“What is their sigil?” he asks.
Arya doesn’t know.
“A red salmon. I think a Maidenpool girl would remember that. You’re a northerner aren’t you? So again, where are you from?”
Arya lies again, but this time with better facts from a northern town.
“And what do they say about Robb Stark in the north?”
“They call him the young wolf. They say he rides into battle on the back of a giant dire wolf. They say he can turn into a wolf himself when he wants. He can’t be killed,” says Arya.
“And do you believe them?”
“No my lord, anyone can be killed.”
“Fetch that water.”
Wow. Tywin and Arya had a stare-off and if Tywin only knew what is really going on. (I hope he doesn’t for Arya’s sake.)
Arya goes out to get the water and is met by Jaqen one of the “dangerous” men that she freed from the cage while heading to The Wall. He’s a soldier now.
He offers to kill three lives for saving him and the two others in the cage.
“Speak three names and the man will do the rest,” he says.
Arya names the Tickler, the one who tortures everyone.
Later, we see that the hot shirtless Gendry is now a blacksmith practicing swordsmanship. Arya gives him some unsolicted advice: “You should stand sideface… smaller target.”
There is a thud offscreen and they both check it out. The torturer had dropped dead. Arya makes eye contact with Jaqen who is looking down at the courtyard.
Who will Arya name next?
I love this show so much! I can’t believe Renly is dead. I will miss the gay sex scenes.
The episode gave us a great setup for the upcoming battle between Stannis’ army and the Joffrey’s army, which already looks to be epic. I haven’t read the books so I don’t know what will happen, but it looks like Stannis is going to screw this up big time even if he has the superior army (or not — I didn’t think Renly would die so soon, so what do I know?)
The one glaring weakness in the episode was the way Brienne’s accusation by the guards was handled. The guards just stormed in — and without real visual reason to — just attacked her. I think that if she had a knife in her hand it would have been believable, but without anything it just seemed arbitrary.
Most of the episode was spent setting up different plot elements for the future with Theon attacking the North, and Tywin Lannister continuing his fight against Robb Stark. Just like in season one, Jon Snow and Daenerys have their own story within the story having zero contact with the rest of the main characters.
Extra extra plus points though for dragons and Jon Snow’s direwolf making an appearance.
Next week: Theon makes his move! Argh!
Inside the Episode:
Latest News on Game of Thrones
All News on Game of Thrones