Game Of Thrones Season 2 Episode 6

After hearing comments as recently as this weekend that fans felt like the stories weren't as edge of your seat as last year, this episode of GOT literally left you breathless and barely able to speak.  And that's even without commentary on Joffrey.  Without further rumination ...

Bran's tutor Luwin hides from something outside the stables.  He's followed by a raven as he scribbles a note out and sends it off with the bird seconds before he's confronted by three knights.

And Theon Greyjoy bursts in on a sleeping Bran to tell him he's taking over Winterfell.  I cannot tell you how...nonplussed Bran is over Theon's claiming of the castle.  Honestly, as he wakes up and confronts what's happening, he's like, eyerolly over it. There's a bit of sulky teenager vibe.   And it gets more surreal when Theon sits down on his bed and brotherly explains that Bran will give over in order to protect his people. This is twisted, and feels a little like a "Very Special Episode" of Game Of Thrones.  Even when Bran yields, he's kind of rolling his eyes over it.   Theon, of course, is exactly as obnoxious as you all said he was, and I was one of the last to admit that he was kind of a douche.    

It doesn't change when we get outside to find that his “conquering victory” appears to consist of Rickon and about two dozen others.  Osha approaches, says she wants to be Theon's and pledges her allegiance to him. Under other circumstances she might have a prayer, but he's in imperious obnoxious mode, and screeches that she shouldn't take him for a fool, and kicks her away. Bran, whispering to her, wants to know why, and she explains it’s his dream coming true: the sea is swallowing the castle.  Ser Rodrick appears - and it took at least three of Greyjoy's men to bring him in. Bloodyfaced but not broken of spirit, he promptly calls Theon a common whore. So cheers to that. He invokes what Ned Stark would say if he were here to see what Theon was up to and, after some “raised with his children but not as one of them”, Theon works himself up to a fever pitch, then Rodrick spits in his face for his troubles. Theon calls for Rodrick to be locked up but one of his soldiers tells him he has to pay “the iron price”.  Right. That.  Theon is just flailing here, desperately swinging about trying to look important, and looking ever more awkward as a result. Oh - and did I mention he's screeching to be called "Prince Theon"?  Under pressure, Theon concedes, and Rodrick is sentenced to death.  Luwin tries to counsel Greyjoy and avoid this fate, not least because Bran has given up any tween angst and is sobbing pitifully in the background.  But Theon can't be moved, so Rodrick is bent over a stone, and he's brave to the end, taunting Theon not to delegate the task, but to execute him himself.  He knows, of course, that Theon will suffer somehow for doing so.  Which he does almost immediately - unlike the power that would be implied from a good, clean stroke of his sword, it takes many swings and a rather brutal foot stomp before Rodrick's head falls.  Bran sobs.

North.  Ghost runs away as Jon Snow yells for him to slow down. This is like my weekend.   Anyway, Snow talks to his colleague, Qhorin, who somehow looks like he's doing a Connery impression, and wants Jon to know he can't make this his home out here in the frozen tundra.   Snow points out he was born for this and will gladly die for his cause, but apparently he can't “gladly die” either.  Qhorin says he has to curse and scream and bitch and still not be thanked or acknowledged for his sacrifice, because that is the life Beyond.  As Jon processes this, we get a good look at his face and man, he is NOT the little boy he was last year.   

Arya! Arya with Tywin who's demanding of one of his men whether he can read.  A letter was sent to the wrong houses.  Dormand, not Dorn.  Arya gets sent for a book, and almost gives herself away again when she snatches it with ease.  Anyway, if Arya was worried she was going to get a little leniency, it's dashed when we learn the Dormands report to the Starks of Winterfell, who indeed have Tywin's son.  He crows about how all this is to get his son back, and I have to wonder whether the actor playing Jamie Lannister knew the vast number of episodes he was going to...have lots of time to hit the gym?  Anyway, as Arya contemplates all this, she hears that Petyr Baelish is coming in and she does a terrified, complicated dance as she serves him and Tywin, so Baelish doesn't see her face.  In the actual conversation,  Baelish talks to Tywin about how maybe Renly Baratheon was killed by something ...other ... but the elder Lannister is not hearing it.  He points out the Tyrells are the third most powerful family now and they have two ambitious children.   But even Petyr is distracted, because his mind is half having this conversation, and Petyr is half wondering why the cupbearer looks so familiar, or if he's imagining things.  But in case if there was any doubt about what he knows, he lands hard on the word “daughters” when the conversation moves to Catelyn Stark.

Jon and the others take down the locals in what is frankly some gorgeous magic hour light.  Jon grabs a wildling girl who refers to herself as Ygritte and hopes they'll burn her colleagues.   Anyway, when she confesses to Qhorin that her people would indeed kill him, he decides she has to die; Snow says he'll do the honours.  It's clear it's time to prove himself, so Qhorin and the others nod, and take off, saying Snow'd better not take all day, and to meet them soon.  If you've watched TV before, this is the point where you'd expect him to let her go and so does she, despite never having watched any.  But before he can really waver, she gets mouthy and lippy about how he probably won't kill her and it's just what he needed to have her bend over the rock and expose her neck.  He's taking forever, and  she begs him to hurry up but calls him a bastard.   Maybe that's why he strikes but misses (...on purpose, one assumes, but still) and THEN she finally takes off.  Footrace: Mountain Edition begins, and it's still so completely gorgeous, and she's better at getting around these hills than he is, but he does a giant ice slide and catches up with her, and she's getting an awful lot of screen time, Ygritte is. (This is partially because she's played by Rose Leslie, whom you loved in Downton Abbey.)  We leave Snow with a sword pointed at her neck...

King's Landing.  A flat, fabric-roofed boat floats away, a tearful Myrcella within, being sent to the Dornish.  Cersei watches, standing beside Tyrion. Her eyes are dry, but she quietly murmurs that she can't wait for the day when she can hurt Tyrion by taking away someone he loves so much. Would that she knew...   Meanwhile, as his brother Tommen cries, missing his sister,  Joffrey scoffs; then FOOLISH SANSA says she once saw him cry but when he whirls on her, she thinks better of it and eats her words, saying she saw her brother cry when she left home. Joffrey could care less because her brothers aren't princes, and princes don't cry.  Tired of the whole discussion, he storms off and takes the Dog with him.... he walks through the street.   The catcalls from the people of King's Landing are not what you'd call calm, and in a moment of prescience that I wish we'd seen more of, Tyrion screams for “the prince” - Tommen - to be taken back to the castle immediately.   Oh Tyrion, I love that your schemes and plots (same thing) are always in action. He's not a moment too soon because someone throws a cow patty at Joffrey, which is exactly as satisfying as you'd expect, and from there there is an immediate full-on riot.   People are killed and, in a first for me as a viewer, dismembered while still living. Tyrion is doing all he can to move Cersei out of the way and Sansa's kind of left for herself, and Joffrey's screaming for people's heads. The Dog is doing his best here, stabbing and swording everything in sight, and we see Joffrey, then Cersei, rushed to safety.  Sansa, on the other hand, is caught between two horrible men.  And only Tyrion knows she's missing...

I cannot even discuss for you how amazing the following scene is, in which Tyrion and Jofrrey fight. After Joffrey's predictable screaming about how he is the king and they must obey him, Tyrion hauls off and slaps him.  Followed by "My hand didn't fall off!"  After schooling his nephew he turns back to the issue at hand, and demands Trant to go find Sansa but he snipes that he only responds to orders from the king, and Joffrey sniffs, and Tyrion is helpless.

To the next, in which Sansa is trapped in a corridor by one, and then at least three men who drag her around.   I cannot say enough about this scene, which is difficult to watch, except to be straightforward in that it is depicting the early parts of a very brutal, vindictive, brutalizing rape, and that Sansa's fear seems extremely real, which is why it's hard to feel as much when the Dog comes in and slices up one man so his entrails spill out, and quickly disposes of the other two.   When the previous violence was about to be administered with so much hatred, the businesslike way The Hound kills her three attackers almost seems...lackluster.

As Sansa is returned, bruised but fine, Tyrion is grateful and the Hound reminds him he didn't do it for him.

In far calmer news, Daenerys is getting the Lorne Michaels treatment while waiting for the Spice King, who is apparently very, very tardy.  Xaro wants her to reconsider and marry him, since then she'd be rich and powerful, as well as incredibly beautiful.  She snots that she is immune to flattery, but she's still pretty young and innocent looking, and somewhat relieved to have someone to be a constant ear.  Anyway, now the Spice King emerges - you remember him from the other day, don't you? Outside of Qarth? He sings the Khaleesi's  praises and apologizes for not being so welcoming the other day, it was that she was so dirty she couldn't be recognized as a Targaryen with silver hair.  Daenerys is not having the flatter, though, and gets down to it straight away, asking for ships so she can claim her birthright, the Iron Throne.  The gorgeousness of this scene and its staircases and elevations is doing its best to make her look tiny, but she still is kind of an imposing presence, which is saying a lot.  

Nonetheless, the Spice King is all “you have no armies, supporters, or plans, so...” and then Daenerys tells her “mother of dragons” story, that she knew she would emerge from the fire unscathed, and it's the first time we've heard it spelled out like this, and the point she chooses to emphasize is that her dreams come true. But though she's extremely endearing, the Spice King pulls a Dragon's Den on her (pun fully intended) and tells her he doesn't engage his money with passions.  

Arya is reading things in Tywin Lannister's chambers.  Specifically, a note that catches her eye because it includes the word "Robb".  He wants to know who taught her to read, then tells her how Jamie had dyslexic tendencies.  When schoolmasters couldn't deal, Tywin taught Jamie his reading by rote, and he hated him for it for years. (Jamie hated Tywin, but I'm sure the feeling was mutual).  Then the grilling portion begins, as Lannister asks where her father is and what he did. She says he was a “stonemason” and was killed by “loyalty”. Tywin is, of course, charmed by her intelligence.   She escapes by sheer cunning, asking whether Tywin grew up with his father.  And, smart girl, as he reminisces, she snatches the note about Robb from the table.   

Later, we see her reading it.  Lots is indecipherable but it has indications of Robb's movements.   She goes to take it to the armoury, but is stopped by a knight who wants to know what she wants there and rightly suspects her story is a fake.  She twists away and, as he's in her pursuit, she goes off in search of old SnakeMouth - and when she finds him (Jaqen, that is) she wastes NO time invoking her second name.  He agrees to take care of him - but she insists it has to be now. He's about to tell Tywin!

Her wish is her command.  He's dead before Tywin opens his chamber doors.

Um, Robb Stark looks like he's eating well while in his battle movements. Seriously, this guy looks like he came from a day spa. Oh, and he sees that girl Talisa he was liking. They discuss whether or not she is of noble birth.  He swears it's obvious, she more or less admits it after a moment of faux tension.  Were her eyes not lighter last episode?  She's much prettier here.   Anyway, he's thoroughly charmed, until, that is, he gets cockblocked by his mother (and Brienne), who have arrived back at camp. She has exactly the eyebrow cock you would expect, and wants to know the girl's last name (Mygere), which doesn't ring a bell for Lady Stark.   She drags Robb away and tells him “she's just not so suitable”.   She issues this under the guise of “oh, you're promised to another” but man, I know a judgy mother's face when I see one.  She does NOT like this girl. Either way, they're interrupted by the news from Winterfell.

Jon and Ygritte are traipsing along - she's tied up and trailing him - but he wants to stay where they are, because there's no sign of his other crew. She snots that they've left Jon to die and then, when he throws her down and tells her to sleep, does that “we should cuddle for warmth” thing that you've read about in literature class. Eventually Jon sees her point, and consents to be the big spoon, and she calls him stupid and brave.  Then, as they try to sleep, she wiggles her hips all “maybe I can get him to f*ck me and that'll save my life”.  This has middling results as he doesn't take the bait but is definitely aware of her, shall we say.

Back at Stark camp, Robb is horrified to find he's been betrayed by Theon. When they hear Rodrick is dead, Catelyn screeches that she told him not to trust a Greyjoy.  Robb is ready to get up and go home, but learns that the great art of delegation is one he has to learn here.   Robb's advisor has a son who would be happy to bring Greyjoy to Robb - alive, as he specifies.

Greyjoy, meanwhile, is talking to Osha.  This woman never holds her head up straight, and is always looking up at you from under her forehead.  It's annoying and yet completely evocative of the character, and the general wiliness of her.  Anyway, she tells Theon she knows things - more than most.  She pulls open her robe, and drops it to reveal a hot bod that even Theon can't help but comment on.  She wants her freedom in exchange for “serving” him “well”.

Sansa sits while Shae cleans her forehead, ostensibly the only wound she sustained today.   Sansa, still working through the shock, tries to understand why the man who was trying to hurt her could so obviously have hated her.  Shae tries to explain that no matter how nice a person Sansa is, she's still, in and of herself, the enemy.  But when young Lady Stark gets a little too free with her words, Shae, perhaps feeling a little guilty, warns her not to trust anyone at all.

And then Theon Greyjoy sleeps as Osha creeps out of his bed.  I swear to you, the way she backs out of the bed, she looks like she's in a performance of “Cats”.  She's caught by one of the guards, and kisses him long enough to slit his jugular.  Then a whistle - and here come Rickon, Bran, Hodor! - and the two dire wolves. Adventure!

I'm sorry, you know I love Daenerys, but her bitching about which kings won't give her what capital seem like high class problems relative to what the rest of Westeros is going through, you know?  Xaro is still on his whole “you gotta do dirty things to be rich” tip, and trying to sell his point to her.  But as they walk into the gardens, she gasps and we see that all her Dothraki people have been slaughtered.  Daenerys runs around, frantic - and screams - because of course, her dragons are gone.

Her dragons are being carried, against their will and sounding disturbingly like children crying, to a tall, tall tower.