Zack & Nick's Culture Cast

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Game of Thrones Season 2, Ep 5: The Ghost of Harrenhal Recap

As always, discussion contains SPOILERS!

More forward progress! After a stunted first few episodes, Game of Thrones has really picked up steam over the past two episodes. The most progress was made, perhaps, concerning the warring Baratheon brothers. Renly, the youngest brother and the most fit to rule the seven kingdoms, is sadly assassinated at Stannis’ behest (through a creepy dark magic that is yet unexplained). I should know by now not to get attached to anyone in Game of Thrones, but I really didn’t see Renly’s death coming. Like Eddard Stark, Renly was perhaps the best possible choice to be king, but his failure to consolidate his power led to his downfall. Had he allied with Robb Stark earlier, and attempted more than halfheartedly to repair his relationship with his brother, then he would have still been around. He will be missed.

I can’t say I blame Renly for his actions, as his brother is clearly a mental case. We haven’t gotten too great of a look into Stannis just yet (it’s coming for sure), but what we have seen of him is that he lives by a draconian code of justice (which he perverts without even considering that fact) and he is clearly manipulated by the sorceress Melisandre. When Ser Davos, his right hand man, points this out, Stannis can barely contain his medieval rage. Davos is an interesting character; sympathetic and honorable, he is clearly devoted to Stannis. But I see the day coming when Davos abandons his lord.

Back in King’s Landing, Tyrion discovers his sister’s plan to stock wildfire, a napalm-like instrument of war. After some great banter between Tyrion, Bronn, and the elderly alchemist (really, these three need their own spin-off), Tyrion is finally given access to the city’s wildfire stockade, and is shocked to see thousands and thousands of jars of it. Even though Bronn disagrees with him (saying wars are won by men, not magic), Tyrion seems eager to protect the city through the use of wildfire. Let’s call this stuff Chekhov’s Napalm or something, because it’s going to come back before the end of the season. And I can’t wait to see it in action.

One of my main problems with season two has been the lack of momentum in the Danerys story line. Now that she’s in Qarth, we’re finally getting more information and progress in this plot. The dragons finally make a reappearance, learning to feed themselves and getting stronger. The enigmatic Xaro, a self-made rich and powerful man of Qarth, offers an alliance of marriage and wealth to Dany. The thought behind this is simple and makes sense; if she marries Xaro, Dany can have an army at her disposal to take back the iron throne for the Targaryen family. At the advice of Jorah Mormont, however, Dany seems to back away from this proposed alliance.

Back in the Iron Islands, Theon is given a ship but his men clearly disrespect and mock him. At the advice of his first mate, Theon makes plans to raid a larger settlement than a mere fishing village. And as we later find out in Winterfell, he does just that. North of the wall, Jon Snow joins a small group of rangers to take out wildling signal callers. Not much movement here, but at least we’re gearing up for a fight. In Harrenhal, Arya learns the man she freed back on the road is Jaqen H’ghar, an assassin. As reward for freeing him, Arya is given the gift of three murders. The first man she chooses is the torturer of Harrenhal, who sure enough winds up brutally murdered. We’ll have to wait and see who her other two will be.

-Z-

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