One of the most obvious differences of the first season to the second one is the lack of a character we can focus on, a central character. The first season, we mostly follow Eddard’s Stark’s journey into finding out who killed Jon Arryn, and why. The second series, while jam-packed with a lot of key characters and story lines, took us all around Westeros, and completely made sure that each character’s timeline does not overlap.
Like the books, the struggle is always the connection between the different point of views. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss compressed 300 pages or so into 10 hours brilliantly, and it proved to be quite a joyride, too. One of the main predicaments is how to bridge that different event happening all across Westeros. For instance, Lord Varys, the spider who knows all, is an important element in keeping each character focused in making clandestine decisions. There is also Petyr Baelish who proved himself useful, just as long as he rewarded handsomely. But characters such as Arya Stark, Jon Snow, and Daenerys Targaryen would be somewhat unfaed by the influence Varys and Littlefinger had, so knowledge of what is happening in the Seven Kingdoms will still make them relevant.
Valar Morghulis becomes an almost 2-hour epilogue for Blackwater, as we travel around Westeros, and across the ocean to Qarth, and check-in on the characters after the Battle of Blackwater bay. It opens with Tyrion Lannister who was badly injured after battling Stannis’ men. The huge slash across his face is a small matter, compared to learning that he is no longer Hand of the King, and it was Maester Pycelle, of all people who told him the news. Shae proposed that they both flee King’s Landing and live in Pentos where they can do whatever they like, but it seems Tyrion enjoys playing the game and has no plans of backing out.
The same can be said to Sansa Stark who was first offered an escape by The Hound, and yet another offer to help her flee comes from new lord of Harrenhal, Petyr Baelish, which turned down as well. Margaery Tyrell becomes engaged to King Joffrey, of course, after much convincing done by Cersei and the council that it would not be wise to wed the daughter of a traitor. Baelish warns Sansa that Joffrey is not one to give up his toys.
Arya Stark, Gendry, and Hotpie were able to escape Harrenhal, of course, with the help of Jaqen H’ghar. He offered to teach Arya a way to croos out the names of her list, tempting as it may be, she refused it. Jaqen gives her a special coin, taught her to say Valar Morghulis, and tells her that if she needed help (most especially if she is in Braavos), that she utter the words, and help will find her.
Roob Stark marries Talisa, which will eventually end the Stark-Frey alliance which was only made because Robb promised to marry one of the Frey women. Of course, Catelyn advised her son not to push through with it because it would insult Lord Frey, but because she freed Jamie Lannister and lost the upperhand, Robb did not listen to her.
Theon Greyjoy, after reflecting on his life as the ward of the Starks, and his unwelcomed coming to his real home in the Pyke, discovers that he really does not have any place he can call home. Maester Luwin advised and offered to help him to escape and to go the The Wall where he is beyond the laws of the Kingdom, but he refused and instead planned on attacking the northmen poised outside the gates of Winterfell. However, his men prefer to live and is knocked unconscious by them. Bran and Rickon emerged to a Winterfell in ruins, and Maester Luwin near death. The Maester asked Osha to help Bran and Rickon escape.
Daenerys’ encounter in the House of the Undying proved to be a real treat, after going through emotion inducing visions, she was able to recover her dragons, and has successfully killed Pyat Pree. She proceeds to Xaro Xhoan Daxos’ house, and locked him in a vault never to be opened again.
Jon Snow convinces the Wildlings that he a turncloak when he has slain Qhorin Halfhand. This gives him an easy infiltration of the Wildling camp. Finally, on the Fist of the First Men where Lord Mormont’s camp is located, reanimated corpses lead by White Walkers were set to attack.
The secon series proved to be much better than the first one, which is truly rare for something as popular as this. We were able to take part in the event in Westeros, and it was a ride some of us would be still be talking about until the next season. Brilliantly written and directed, Game of Thrones ended perfectly.
Ever felt completely confident about yourself during competitions, presentations and whatnot? Confidence that borders on arrogance; this is a quality people usually have when they are sure everything will go as planned, and mostly all players go through this phase. But when arrogance becomes worry, that’s when the real game starts.
As Stannis Baratheon inches ever closer to King’s Landing, those who understand the magnitude of the trouble they will be facing in a matter of days scramble to make sure the city will be well-defended when the time comes. Joffrey, however, is completely blind to the worries of the people around him. Tyrion will have to use whatever power he has to outwit Stannis.
Speaking of power, it seems Tyrion is enjoying his position as Hand of the King. It overwhelms him, and would like to stay as Hand for more than he should, at the cost of being with his sister Cersei, and his nephew Joffrey, which clearly he does not enjoy. The relationship with these three revolves around threats and plotting schemes behind each other’s backs; although Joffrey does little scheming and more on shouting orders.
But this impending strike to King’s Landing made Tyrion question their defences, which is why when Varys spoke of Daenerys and her Dragons which are currently in Qarth, Tyrion can only shrug and say, one game at a time.
Elsewhere, a different game is being played. In each game there is but only one winner, and a number of players who will have to lose. In such a conflict, people create ideas of grandeur, ambitions that are mostly beyond reach.
In Winterfell, Theon Greyjoy is digging his own grave, and his sister knows it. Yara is not impressed with what Theon did, and expressed what we can only describe as tough love, or iron love, for lack of a better description, tries to convince Theon to leave with her whilst he is still alive. The Ironborn take only what they need, but what Theon did made him a locked target by all Northmen. Yara can only wish that he would not die far from the sea.
On a slightly brighter side of things, the burnt corpses were revealed to be not of Bran and Rickon, but of the farmer’s boys. Theon, it seems, is finding it hard to blend in wherever he goes. He cannot be a Stark to these people in Winterfell, and still be a Greyjoy for his father’s cause.
Theon may not be the only one to make poorly thought decisions. Catelyn Stark freed Jamie Lannister, a treasonous act that forced Robb to arrest his own mother.
Robb grows more fond of Talisa, and finds out that he has a lot in common with her. He gives in to her, knowing full well that this might not be well met by the Frey men sworn to fight with him because he is betrothed to a Frey.
Tywin Lannister in Harrenhal gets ready for battle. He is to attack the Northerners, and Arya has a way to stop it. But Jaqen was nowhere to be found, and her last death wish has not yet been fulfilled. Instead, when she finally sees Jaqen, she utters a name that made Jaqen cringe: Jaqen H’ghar. Jaqen asks to be unnamed, but Arya takes advantage of this moment by telling him that he will be unnamed if he will help Arya, Gendry, and Hot Pie escape Harrenhal.
Beyond the Wall, Jon Snow becomes a captive of Rattleshirt, the lord of bones. He sees Qhorin Halfhand in the Wildling company as well, telling him that the other Rangers died looking for Jon. Ygritte was able to repay Jon’s mercy by telling Rattleshirt that Jon might be of interest to Mance Rayder since he knows the strength of the Rangers who have come to fight them off, and that because he is Eddard Stark’s bastard son. Halfhand may have yet another Ranger trick up his sleeve, he tells Jon to learn about Wildlings from within the company.
In what we midgardians can only describe as a diva-ish behaviour, Daenerys Targaryen refuses to heed any of Jorah Mormont’s request to flee Qarth so that they can be safe. She is determined to be with her dragons, and if going to the House of the Undying is what she has to do, she will do it. This smells of danger, obviously, but she will not leave Qarth util her dragons are with her.
Next episode, Blackwater
This show has gotten more depressing as ever. A Man Without Honour shows how each of our characters struggle to do what is honourable, and for some, what they think is honourable.
As expected, things still did not go well in Winterfell now that Theon took over, especially when he found out that his Stark hostages were able to escape the castle. But Theon learned early on that the only way to gain respect from his men and from the people of Winterfell, he had to intimidate them, and constantly threaten them. Which is why when he was accused by one of his men of losing focus because of Osha, he gave the soldier a beating he won’t soon forget.
Bran and Rickon, due to their night departure, and of course with the help of Hodor and Osha, are now miles away from Winterfell. But Bran realised that the only way to be safe is to avoid asking for help to anyone because he knows that Thoen will not only punish them, but also the people they asked help from. Theon, however, upon visiting a cottage in the woods, found food scraps that came from Rickon. He then sent Maester Luwin back to Winterfell, and we can only assume something bad happened for when he came back to the castle, he showed two charred corpses of children.
Jon Snow is still looking for the other Rangers with his wildling captive, Ygritte. Other than trying to scare Jon into doing it, he explains to Jon that freedom means you get to choose your own way, and make your own decisions, and that your actions are not bound by rules or vows. Jon brushes off offers and threats coming from Ygritte, but still ended up in the hands of Wildlings.
Of the Stark kids, Arya at this point, is lucky. Her conversations with Lord Tywin made the Lannister lord like her. Sansa, on the other hand, is now at that age where she can bear children for Joffrey. And Cersei gives some motherly advise: She knows full well how difficult Joffrey can be, going far as to telling Sansa that she laboured for a day and a half just to get him out. But she tells her that loving people will make her weak. And although there is little chance of Sansa ever loving Joffrey, she will have to love her children because her children deserve her affections more than anyone else.
Cersei seemed to be uncomfortable with Joffrey being a cruel king as well. In a very surprising change of tides, she was not pushing or screaming at Tyrion, she actually and genuinely laid out her emotions, her doubts to Tyrion. She tells him that maybe all this chaos in Westeros is the punishment for what they did in the past.
We can probably add Family-Slayer to Jamie’s nicknames now that he killed a cousin to escape Robb’s prison. He was found by Robb’s men and was saved by Catelyn from a mob who wanted to kill him. After delivering a speech about Ned’s bastard son and his infidelity, and oddly comparing it to his faithful relationship to his own sister, it seems Catelyn is still determined to free Jamie in return for her daughters.
And finally, Daenerys found out who stole her dragons, and getting them back proves difficult as initially thought. She saw the death of the eleven members of the Thirteen of Qarth, snd found out that Pyat Pree and Xaro Xhoan Daxos has her dragons. It is then revealed that the two orchestrated the whole affair to make Xaro, king of Qarth.
This episode not only illustrated how each one value honour, it showed us how even the toughest, meanest people, can put their guards down and attempt to reach out and express what they are really feeling, as what happened to Cersei.
Next episode, The Prince of Winterfell
The Old Gods and the New seem to mirror real life mistrust among friends, loved ones, and even children. One can never really know someone, completely know them. People will still surprise you, no matter how long you have been with them.
The show opens with Then Greyjoy successfully capturing Winterfell, and forcing Bran to yield it. Other than the fact that he was able to do it, what is more surprising, for the people in Winterfell at least, is that this man grew up in that very castle, and the betrayal still confounded some of them, Bran even more.
The conditions were to yield the castle, lest there will be bloodshed. But even when Bran completely surrendered Winterfell to Theon, people seem to react as if he was not a threat. This lead him to make an example of Ser Rodrick Cassel by executing him. The beheading was amateurish, he had to hack a few times before the head fell off.
Through a raven Maester Luwin was able to send off before he was subjugated by Theon’s men, Robb Stark found out about the betrayal. Weighing the consequences of leaving his troops in the midst of their battles against the Lannisters, Robb agreed to send Lord Roose Bolton’s bastard son to recapture the castle, with the condition that Theon be brought to him alive. However, Osha was able to play Theon and his men, giving her, the Stark boys, and Hodor time to escape. Whosoever plans to recapture the castle might be surprised to see that the princes are gone.
In King’s Landing, Joffrey encounters one of the worst threats to his reign as King on the Iron Throne; the people he rules. It would seem that Joffrey needs to make sure he is surrounded by well trusted guards, because they would probably be the only people who will ensure him a lengthy reign.
As far as the North is concerned, they used to think Theon was a friend, and his betrayal shocked all of them; but those in the South could not care less about Joffrey’s title, and Joffrey is wrong to assume that his kingship means the people would loyally kneel to him. After sending off his sister Myrcella to the Martells of Dorne, Joffrey and his party were surrounded by people who showered him with insults about his parentage first, then proceeded to throw excrement at him. Enraged, he ordered the man who did it to be killed which also angered the mob; thus a riot breaks out. Anyone who the people can get their hands to were literally killed limb from limb. Sansa Stark got lost in the mob and was about to be raped and murdered, when Sandor Clegane saves her and kills her captors. Tyrion gave Joffrey a hard smack on the face, showing him that his title can never protect him from those who want to see him dead.
Elsewhere, outdside the Wall, Qhorin Halfhand tells Jon Snow that because they are in wildling country, every wildling threat should be dealt with, lest they be killed themselves. When they encountered a small group of wildlings, Qhorin and the Rangers killed each and everyone of them, except for a wildling girl named Ygritte. Jon Snow, who initially volunteered to execute her, finds himself not able to do it. He soon lost track of Qhorin and the Rangers whilst chasing Ygritte, so what he does instead is to tie her up, and if he is lucky, to find the other Rangers in first light.
Arya Stark in Harrenhal dutifully serves Lord Tywin Lannister, impressing him even more when Lord Tywin found out that she can read. However, she was almost compromised when Petyr Baelish visited Lord Tywin. Either Baelish recognized her, or he does and is just hiding it, Arya was able to get out of that predicament only to get herself into another one. She got into trouble by one of the illiterate Lannister knight, and had to use her second kill wish care of Jaqen H’ghar to save herself.
In Qarth, Daenerys Targaryen is also not in the best of moods. She could not find any of the rich trade kings in Qarth to sponsor her ships bound for Westeros. Xaro Xhoan Daxos tells her to accept his marriage proposal so that she could get all the ships that she needs, which Daenerys quickly shunned. When getting the ships to sail through the Narrow Sea seemed to her biggest predicament, worst things happened for the Mother Dragons, she found her Dothraki men killed, and her Dragons stolen.
That is all that happened in The Old Gods and the New, next up, A Man Without Honour.
From the first four episodes, we have seen how each of the characters in play are scrambling to get an advantage over those that threaten them. The Ghost of Harrenhal shows their motivations, and for some, their plans for vengeance.
The final minutes of Garden of Bones, we saw Melisandre giving birth to a shadow assassin. This shadow carried out its mission with no haste, immediately at the start of the fifth episode, Renly Baratheon was killed in the prescence of Lady Catelyn and Brienne. His death would mean that the hopes of a Baratheon-Stark alliance ending the war is gone. They have not only lost a player in the game, but someone who might have helped end it. Of course, his death would mean that the primary threat to King’s Landing becomes Stannis Baratheon since all Renly’s bannermen flocked to Stannis’ side upon his death.
Brienne of Tarth is most affected, not only was she not able to protect the king she swore to give her life to, but his death was pinned on her. Guards from the camp thinks she killed Renly, which led to Catelyn forcing Brienne to leave with her, lest she be hanged. Her loyalty to Renly led her to vow that she will kill Stannis. But Catelyn talked her into delaying her plans. Instead, Brienne swore fealty to Lady Catelyn, gaining an ally for the Stark camp.
Of course, a death of a would-be king is a queen’s loss. Renly’s death places Loras and Margaery Tyrell in a difficult situation. Loras lost his lover, Margaery lost her crown, and Baelish knows just what to say to calm them both. As Loras swore to avenge his king, Margaery thinks of her lost chance to become the Queen. It seems Margaery and Baelish are on the same wavelength, and we might see these two working together in the future.
As for King’s Landing, Tyrion fears that Renly’s death and the allegiance of his men Stannis would mean their sure defeat. He found out from Lancel that Cersei plans to defend King’s Landing using stocks of wildfire made by the pyromancer, Hallyne.
Theon Greyjoy is likely to come from the rear, and would probably surprise even those from King’s Landing from what seems like a plan to take over some of the houses in the North—even Winterfell, if he is successful. After pledging allegiance to his father he barely knows, Theon, who was only tasked to ransack the villages, plots to attack Torrhen Square, which would lead to the Northern army to defend it. And it seems bringing the remaining Northern soldiers to Torrhen Square is part of Theon’s plan.
Elsewhere, Daenerys Targaryen, Ser Jorah Mormont, and the khalasar is in the care of Xaro Xhoan Daxos in the city of Qarth. Xaro lays out the price for helping Daenerys carry out her plan to get to the Iron Throne, she is to marry Xaro, and in return he will fund her assault plans. Fortunately, before Daenerys could make a decision, Jorah talks her out of a possible trap, and promises her that he will find a ship with a trustworthy captain. We can connect Stannis and Daenerys a bit, both their trusted advisers are telling them to make their own way. With Melisandre onboard, Davos is certain that she has a hidden agenda, and obeying her commands might be a cause of their downfall.
Outside the Wall, however, the path the Night’s Watch are trudging is becoming more and more dangerous, and more exciting. Jon Snow volunteers to accompany Qhorin Halfhand to face wildlings under Mance Rayder’s command.
In Harrenhal, Arya Stark serves Tywin Lannister. Jaqen H’ghar reminds her of how she saved him and two others with him, and promises to kill three people for her, all he requires is a name. The Tickler is the first name she mentions, and with his death, Arya sees this as an opportunity to shorten her list of people to take out.
Next episode, The Old Gods and the New
Episode 4: Garden of Bones
Episode 3: What is Dead May Never Die
Episode 2: The Night Lands
Episode 1: The North Remembers
A Song of Ice and Fire: A Clash of Kings
Rumours, and the power of rumours. It is the only thing that can manipulate the war without having to resort to weapons and battle strategies, and this is what Garden of Bones is about.
Lucky for Robb Stark, misinformation plays to his advantage. It was rumoured that he attacks with an army of direwolves, and that he lets the direwolves eat the bodies of the dead. This benefits him, striking fear into Lannister men as he inches his way to King’s Landing to meet Joffrey and his men in battle. Although the King of the North has been winning battles left and right, he admits to a woman he met treating a wounded Lannister soldier, that he has no clue what to do after defeating Joffrey. At this point, we can only assume that he does not have any long term plans.
Joffrey punishes Sansa for his brother’s victories by publicly humiliating her. Ser Merryn, under Joffrey’s command of course, strips Sansa and hits her. Thankfully, Tyrion comes to her rescue, and has magnificently shown both Joffrey and Ser Merryn the difference between educating and threatening. He offers Sansa an out, asked her if she wants an end to the engagement. But Sansa refuses the offer and professed her love, once more, to Joffrey, her king. This is a stubborn act, but Sansa might actually be prolonging her life and those she loved by refusing Tyrion’s offer. One might not want to know what Joffrey will do to innocent people if she ends the engagement.
Tyrion still wonders why Joffrey is acting like this, a sadist, for lack of a better word. So Tyrion and Bronn conclude what most parents think when teenagers act up, hormones. He sent two prostitutes to his chamber as a belated birthday gift. Turns out, Joffrey really is just a sadist and not even the powerful hormonal changes can be blamed for it. He let the girls beat each other and present themselves to Tyrion as a message.
In Storm’s End, Petyr Baelish’s prescence makes everyone uneasy. Renly Baratheon hates him, given the history both men have. Margaery Tyrell, too, seemed uncomfortable with having him around, but remains undaunted when Baelish is grilling her about Loras Tyrell frequenting Renly’s tent more than her. Moreover, Catelyn Stark receives him with a fiery hate, even brandishing the knife that almost killed Bran. Baelish’s attempt to win her love might have been done in haste, he quickly denies rumours about him betraying Eddard Stark, and is rejected by Cat again. But remembering the task at hand, he negotiates Sansa and Arya (who they haven’t found yet), with Jamie Lannister, he even brought Ned’s bones as a sign of good faith.
Daenerys Targaryen makes an appearance, with her khalasar and Ser Jorah Mormont. One of the envoys that she sent to scout the wastelands came back with great news. The Thirteen of Qarth are willing to welcome her and her khalasar into the city. After a brief debacle, they managed to gain entry into the city, with the help of one of the Thirteen, Xaro Xhoan Daxos.
Elsewhere, Gendry and Arya were brought to Harrenhal, ancient stones melted by dragon fire, the dead wailing, and those alive screaming in pain. Since prisons were flooded with, well, prisoners, the newly captured are sent to a pen where one by one, The Mountain chooses who will be killed. However, Gendry and Arya were saved by none other than the Lord of Casterly Rock, Lord Tywin Lannister. And just like that, Gendry was back to smithing, Arya served as his cupbearer, and all the other prisoners were sent to work. And just to note, two Starks have been saved by Lannisters in this episode, amusing if you will think about it.
The last few minutes of the episode, however, veered away from reality and leaned on magick as the Red Lady Melisandre gives birth to a shadow when the Onion Knight Davos and her were sent by Stannis for a dirty task. This shadow sneaked in the castle at Storm’s End, and it is going to get really creepy after that.
And so ends Garden of Bones. Watch out for The Ghost of Harrenhal.