Game of Thrones – Season 2 Episode 5: Recap

All men must die

Disclaimer: This is a recap of the fifth episode of Game of Thrones Season Two, and contains spoilers about the episode. Read only if you've already seen the episode, or care not about taking the train to spoiler town.

Screen Art
Title Game of Thrones - Season Two, Episode 5
Studio HBO
Director Alik Sakharov
Starring Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Etc.
Genre Fantasy
Rating TV-MA
Release Year 2012

If there’s one thing that has always been clear in game of thrones, it’s that death can come at any time, for any reason, to anyone. But even if they’re gone, their ghosts linger on, affecting events and people long after.

The major death in this episode (it’s not too hard to see coming if you were following along in the last episode) is that of Renly Baratheon. The youngest of the Baratheon brothers, Stannis plotted his death with his priestess Melisandre, who literally gave birth to the would-be king’s destruction. Since Renly was one of the five kings, his death will have a huge effect – it was already within the episode. Catelyn and Brienne of Tarth were in Renly’s tent at the time of his death, effectively killing the negotiations Cat was trying to secure for Robb, and ending Brienne’s career as a knight permanently. And the Tyrells now seem to be out of the game, since they bet on the wrong horse – though Loras swears revenge, Margaery is more pragmatic and looks to be making a deal with Littlefinger to secure herself the title of “THE Queen”.

Revenge is a dish best served Brienne style

Renly’s death is even felt in King’s Landing. Tyrion attempts to caution Cersei’s actions, as she is ecstatic over the demise of one of the pretenders to her son’s throne; of course, in this particular scene, she acts a bit more like it’s her throne, not Joffrey’s. She’s drinking, and I couldn’t help but be reminded of Robert, her late husband. When the weight of ruling got to him, he turned to drink in order to drown his anxieties. Cersei is obviously finding this to be a very effective balm, especially since Tyrion hit her with the news of Myrcella’s pending engagement to Dorne. For all of her faults, Cersei does seem to be a devoted mother, but that isn’t going to help her when it comes to ruling.

Tyrion quickly finds out that the people are growing discontented with the rulers, including him, even as he does his best to ferret out the tumors of the ruling class and aide the poor. He soon discovers that Cersei had been stocking up on wildfire, a combustible substance that is so corrosive that it will even eat through flesh, in order to battle Stannis’ growing fleet of ships. Now that he has Renly’s banner men, Stannis is a bigger threat than ever – something that evidentially convinces Tyrion that the seven thousand plus pots of wildfire stored underneath King’s Landing and thus posing a huge problem for the city itself is a worthwhile evil to keep around in case of an impending nautical attack.

Tyrion cannot believe the sh*t he's seeing

Perhaps the best example of deaths in this episode concern Arya and her new friend, Jaqen H’ghar, one of the men she saved from being burned to death earlier in the season. Jaqen, who presumably follows Melisandre’s R’hllor since he refers to a Red God, promises Arya that he will repay her kindness toward him and his fellows by killing three men of her choice. We all know, from her chanting in earlier episodes, that Arya has quite a long list of people she wants dead – so how will she choose? Quite possibly she doesn’t really believe Jaqen when he says that he will assassinate people, so she somewhat flippantly tells him to kill the man who’s been torturing everyone under the Mountain’s orders. Much to her shock, the Tickler is dead by the end of the episode, in just as gruesome a fashion as the way he would inflict pain on others.

Across the sea in Qarth, Dany isn’t quite encountering death as much as she is still figuring out how to be less of a pawn and more of a ruler. Much like Margaery, she doesn’t want to just be a queen: she has a specific idea in mind of what it is she wants to do when she is a ruler. Margaery didn’t really give us much idea of what she would do with all that power, but Dany shows quite clearly that she has a much softer heart. Jorah even exclaims that the whole reason why he supports her claim to the Iron Throne is that she would not be feared, but that the people would love her. This of course, is a revelation in itself, since Jorah’s feelings toward the young Targaryen are shown in a full light, making for an awkward situation. I would imagine that Dany is getting sick of people thinking of her solely as a woman – a trait she could share with Cersei, who has bemoaned her gender her entire life. Both women are determined to overcome their genders, but in massively different ways. Dany seems to have a foothold in Qarth, but everywhere she turns people are warning her to beware of others. Who she trusts can definitely affect whether or not she wakes up in the morning.

Pyat Pree wants to show you a magic trick

One side note, this episode also featured her young dragons, which was amazing to see. The CGI on them is fantastic – one scene shows Drogon (Dany’s black dragon, named for her late Dothraki husband Khal Drogo) taking a command from her to breathe fire and thus learn to feed himself. We also see a quick glimpse of the green dragon, Rhaegal, who was named for the brother she never knew (Rhaegar Targaryen). Small glimpses of the dragons seem appropriate at this stage, since the magical side of Westeros and the world that GRRM has created is slowly creeping into the setting to have an effect on major events.

The brothers of the Night’s Watch, with whom Jon is currently wandering far from the wall, even encounter the fact that death is inevitable. They reach an old settlement, and create camp amid the stones of what looks to be the remains of where the First Men used to live. Sam is ecstatic with the history of the place, while everyone else is more interested in getting fires going because it’s cold. But this contrast of time periods – the ancient with the current – merely reinforces that at one point, your time will past and someone else’s will come. It’s also a severe enforcement of the idea that the old ways are gone, replaced by new ways: those of the wildlings are quickly passing. These people, who live in barbaric ways according to the people of Westeros, are attempting to fight back against the changing times, but looking at the stone pillars of someone’s house sticking out of the snow as the only remnants of their existence serves to remind us that change is inevitable.

Oh, and Theon is still getting pushed around by his sister, but it looks like he’s hatching some nefarious plot to maybe attempt to sack Winterfell? What can this crazy kid be thinking? Also, Bran is having dreams about Winterfell being flooded and everyone drowning. There’s NO WAY those two things could be connected.

So what will next week have in store? Will Arya have the bravery to give Jaqen another name, and will it be someone more important than a lowly torturer? What deal did Margaery Tyrell make with Littlefinger? And just what is Tyrion going to do with all of that wildfire? Find out next week, on Game of Thrones.

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