It’s not Quarth, it’s Qarth
Game of Thrones Season 2 Episode 4 recap
I'm starting to get the goosebumps, and not just because we're finally going to see the terror or bliss that is Harrenhal. Things are moving, finally, although I could never have predicted where…
Rainstorm. Lannister soldiers debate who's going to win the war of kings, if only so they can insert a joke about how Loris Tyrrell has been “stabbing” Renly Baratheon without killing him, so how good a killer can he be? Har de har. Jamie Lannister gets the “if he ever gets out” vote. Anyway, the horses are fussy, and one guy goes to see what's up. Music is tense and...one of them lets loose a giant fart. Guffaws from the farter whose name is Reddick. But his friend yells in fear and suddenly Reddick is jumped by something. A split second face of a wolf - and then we realize it's Robb Stark, calmly attacking.
Daylight. Carnage. Bodies lie everywhere. Robb's advisor tells him to torture the survivors but Robb is not for it, because that isn't Stark behaviour. (Lainey: is this about “honour” again, like his dead dad? Because, find, if Robb’s about to die, could he please have a lot of sex first? That girl looks promising.) Meanwhile, a nurse battles with a knight who doesn't want his rotted leg amputated and is begging them not to cut it off, even though it'll kill him if they don't. Extremely graphic biting on handkerchief and sawing of leg is interrupted by Robb suddenly noticing how beautiful she is. As she sends the wounded off in a wagon, he finds out she's Talisa, and won't say her last name. She tells Robb it's his fault the boy lost his foot, even though Robb protests. He lays out his simplistic plan - take Joffrey down and then...just go home. He doesn't want to sit on the throne. She's from Valantis and thinks he's an idiot. "The boy was lucky you were here!" Robb calls as her wagon carries her away. "He was unlucky that you were" she sasses. It's love. (Lainey: Yay! SEX! Because in the Game Of Thrones, Love actually does = SEX!)
Speaking of love, Joffrey has a bow and arrow aimed at Sansa who is begging forgiveness for her traitor brother's recent treasons. It isn't even hard for her to spit the words anymore. So how to send Robb a message? Joffrey's method of choice is to have his henchmen rough her up, though they're instructed to "Leave her face. I like her pretty". We're shielded the first view of Sansa being punched, which is interesting. Then Sansa's dress is ripped open and Meryn Trant prepares to slice some flesh, maybe some hair…
But along comes Tyrion! “What kind of knight beats a helpless girl”, he demands. "She is to be your queen!" Joffrey screams that he's punishing her and Tyrion calls him a half-wit. In short order he berates the knight who was hurting Sansa and commands Bronn to kill him if he moves again. It should be noted that the vibe here isn't necessarily that they all respect the Hand of the King but that they are completely at a loss as to what Tyrion will do next. A short man can cast a long shadow. Also, Bronn is awesome. After verbally eviscerating them all, “That’s a threat. See the difference?” Tyrion walks Sansa out all “do you want an end to this?' She spits "I am loyal to King Joffrey, my one true love". And this is where Tyrion realizes more fully that she's made of stiffer stuff than he thought, and I love his face while he does so. Anyway, Bronn believes Joffrey is “backed up” from balls to brains and they should get him someone to relieve himself with to “get some poison out”.
Joffrey arrives in his chambers, with the Hound outside, informing him Tyrion left him a name day present. He enters and discovers said present is a couple of lovely ladies. They try to get down to business, but he says no, all uncomfortable and twisted - although he starts to rethink and says he wants them to hit each other. Of course he does. Some playful spanking gets a lot less fun when he demands one be whipped with a leather belt, and of course Joffrey grabs her and insists she use it ever harder. Then, as the girl screams in pain, because he's a f*cking sadist, Joffrey hands Ros a giant, spiky sceptre with which to beat (or rape, according to your interpretation and the strength of your stomach) the other girl and then cocks an arrow at her. Oh, and the finished product – i.e., the girl’s maimed body - is to be dropped off to Tyrion. Are you turned off the idea of lighthearted sex forever now?
Camp Renly Baratheon. He greets Littlefinger as "my favourite whoremonger" and as they begin to talk, it becomes evident quickly that there's no love lost here. "I don't like your face, I don't like the words that come oozing out of your mouth..." But despite what Renly thinks, LIttlefinger's not there to save his own ass. Instead he tells him the attack on King's landing may not be as hard as he thinks.
We get that finished quickly enough so that Littlefinger can talk to Queen Margaery who has a slip of the tongue re: "MY tent" (not “our” tent) in about three seconds, and Littlefinger pounces. He thinks her marriage is quite interesting, and so does the realm. He just can't stay away from gossip, can he? Who legitimately loves it more, just for their own delight? Him or Varys? Anyway, Margaery quite efficiently and calmly schools him in few words, to the effect of he won't be getting anywhere with his salacious queries about Loris. The woman doesn't even break a sweat.
Desert. Khaleesi! She turns, exhausted, to the sound of a rider. But when he arrives, he notes his new horse was given to him by the Thirteen, elders of Qarth, who are three days to the east, on the sea. (Reminds me of “second star to the right, then straight on till morning”.) Anyway, they would be delighted to receive the Mother of Dragons. Jorah sniffs that the area around their walls is named “the Garden of Bones”, which they add to each time they have visitors. So that's encouraging. Jorah's affection for the Khaleesi, by the way, seems to have faded in direct proportion to the amount of water in his body. He's barely holding it together.
Kidnapped coterie of boys. Arya and Gendry stare at melting stone, and Arya says dragons did it. She also says the smell they notice is dead people. Worldly girl. Harrenhall is some sort of prison where all are in shackles and chains. We hear a man screaming in pain (sounds like he's on the rack) and a woman informs us he was her son, following her husband and sister earlier this week. Each day someone dies. Arya wants to know if anyone lives, and does not enjoy the silence that ensues.
Later, as the young boys try to sleep while they're rained on, she murmurs the names of her enemies to herself. "Cersei. Murmur. The Hound. Joffrey." The names of her enemies as she was taught. I rewound this 12 times and could not get the second name. (Updated: Final tally now up to 20 rewinds) Any of you?
Catelyn. Ugh. She kind of sucks the energy from a room, doesn't she? (Lainey: YES! I hate her SO MUCH, why can’t she DIE already? God!) She rises as Littlefinger comes in and rails that he betrayed Ned. Littlefinger swears he didn't but Catelyn is not hearing it, particularly when he starts confessing his love, and threatens him with a knife. All he can say is “do you want to see your girls again'? He says both girls are healthy and safe for now, which is, to be generous, a blatant lie. But he follows it up with “who knows for how long” and Catelyn caves, lowering her dagger. Littlefinger says the trade is Jamie Lannister for the two girls, and when she protests, reminds her she may not have another chance. He finishes by dropping off a gift from Tyrion - it's a chest. Catelyn kneels, all tense and opens it to find...oh, of course. Ned Stark's remains. That's nice. So he can be buried at home. Shudder.
In the morning - Arya, still in chains, has finally fallen asleep after her mantra of enemies. All the boys are awakened and Arya's pudgy friend - his name, I've learned, is HOT PIE, so that'll shake off your Catelyn stupor - notes the executioner coming. He tells her his blue-eyed neighbour says the way to escape being chosen for torture is to look straight at The Mountain. He does and Arya doesn't, but it's the blue-eyed individual who's chosen to be strapped into a chair, looking terrified. They ask him to betray the location of the brotherhood, and he swears he doesn't know anything. So a rat in a bucket is applied to his chest. Then, as the guy continues to swear he has no helpful information, they burn the bucket so that they rat looks to escape the only way it can - through his sternum. Even after he offers up some names, they don't stop. I have permanent cringe marks in my brow as Arya takes all this in. Safe indeed. Arya watches - and in that night's mantra, adds "The Mountain" and "Holliver", one of their torturers, to her mantra.
Ooh! Standoff! Stannis and his crew meet up with Renly and his (including Lady Stark). Renly refers to Stannis as a religious Johnny-come-lately as well as kind of a fanatic. Melisandre jumps in to talk about how great “King” Stannis will be and Renly all but rolls his eyes, mocking her when she says he was "born amid salt and smoke", vis a vis "Is he a ham?" Heh, Renly has a sense of humour.
Anyway, Stannis says Lady Stark is wrong to be with Renly since Ned supported his heirdom, but she's annoyed with them both. Stannis screeches that anyone who denies his right to the throne is his foe, so Renly points out that's the entire realm, then. Stannis gives Renly one night to surrender and will even let him be an heir (until he has a son; cue look from Melisande) but Renly snorts, and, as Stannis rides off, muses "Would you believe I loved him once?" Renly might be my new favourite character, if for no other reason than he seems he's living a sort of Westeros Dawson's Creek kind of life.
Qarth. A very choreographed group of knights march out to meet the small, sadly bedraggled Dothraki posse. A portly man rolls out to greet the Khaleesi. He has no name but “spice merchant”. He knows she's the mother of dragons, he's one of the Thirteen, and together, they take care of Qarth, the greatest city ever. Danaerys tries to ingratiate herself but says "Quarth", which seems like it's a real faux pas. The Spice Merchant wants to see her dragons before the Dothraki get fed, and the Khaleesi gets irritated at this. Jorah tells her to be careful, which Danaerys interprets as a cue to spit a threat about who her dragons will burn if the Qarth do not let them in. Spice Merchant sasses back that she's going to die of lack of food, but then a man so tall it seems impossible he was hiding in the crowd until now appears. He's Xaro Xhoan Daxos and he vouches for them. Spills his blood and all. At which point, what can SpiceMerch do? The doors to Qarth open, and it looks like a storybook picture of paradise that was in a children's book in your dentists' waiting room, or the first time you saw a movie in Technicolor.
Harrenhal. Yesterday's victim has his head planted on a spike. Today they grab Gendry. They ask if there's gold or silver in the village, and where the brotherhood is. Gendry doesn't know the answers and gets a rat-bucket strapped to his chest. But before they can continue - lo! Tywin Lannister rides in! He looks at the penful of prisoners and thinks it's an awful waste. Gendry is still terrified but is able to answer that he has a trade. Arya gets distracted looking at Needle, tucked against the waist of one of the knights, but he spots her and threatens to carve her lungs out. Whereupon Tywin, ever calm and cool, points out that he's an idiot and she's a girl. Then he calls her smart and extracts her from the prison cage. She's gonna be a cupbearer.
A knock! It's cousin Lancel at Tyrion's door. He’s there on behalf of Cersei who wants him to release Pycelle, and he's got an official order. Tyrion just invites Lancel to have a drink with him. Lancel snottily calls him “imp”. And THEN, Tyrion points out that Lancel is spending an awful lot of time with Cersei in the middle of the night, and points out that Joffrey will not be pleased with the news of Lancel sleeping with his mother. Lancel finally looks sick. He swears up and down that he was only obeying her (sexy) orders but when Tyrion threatens to get Joffrey, Lancel begs on his knees for mercy. Tyrion shows it - he has a plan. From now on, Lancel's going to be a stuck-like-glue-to-Cersei spy who tells Tyrion everything. Having effectively gotten everything he wants, he quite easily agrees to release Pycelle in the morning. There's a “hair on his head” joke but it's not up to Tyrion's usual standard.
Stannis, staring into the distance. He mutters about how Sir Davos has no hand; Davos is fine without it. But still gets a grammar lesson, which seems pretty petty at this point in the game. After some more muttering, Stannis asks him to smuggle "the red woman" ashore. Davos swears he can manage it, but surely there are cleaner ways? Stannis mutters that cleaner ways don't win wars.
And we cut to our man with Melisandre in his boat. She's pushing at him, kind of mocking him, pointing out that he has carried much more unpleasant cargo than her before. Then she calls herself a knight of sorts, and it's just about all he can take, so he just keeps rowing. Ashore, she wants to know whether he loves his wife and whether he's known other women. Oh, here we go. She's got that smile on and declares - not asks - that he wants her and wants to know what's under her robes. And that he shall.
Inside a cave, Davos and Melisandre walk with lanterns. He's worried about some bars preventing them from continuing their path. But Melisandre is unconcerned. She's just there to take off her robes, reveal a giantly pregnant belly, light a lantern by magic, and then go into what would appear to be immediate labour. If she's not pregnant, this is an excellent prosthetic.She screams, groans, her necklace glows, and her belly pulsates. Ultimately she gives birth to...a lot of black smoke and...a wheezing, skinny, long, black...set of two legs, possibly with a torso beyond the confines of our television screens.
Jesus. Okay. Wow. (Lainey: it reminds me of the Black Smoke from Lost)