Game of Thrones – Season 2 Episode 8: Recap

A prince of Winterfell

Disclaimer: Disclaimer: This is a recap of the eighth 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 8
Studio HBO
Director Alik Sakharov
Starring Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Etc.
Genre Fantasy
Rating TV-MA
Release Year 2012

The main centerpiece of this episode comes about through the necessity of bridges. Bridges come in many types, shapes, and forms – both tangible and abstract. While the entirety of the series could be examined for the various bridges between places, characters, and events, it’s a good enough starting place as any for this particular episode. But we’ll get to the inspiration for what I’m talking about in a moment.

Let’s start off with siblings: it’s one of the staples in terms of bridges (relationships?). First up, we have Yara and Theon. Yara adores putting Theon in his place, but this seems to be mostly due to Theon’s rampant ego and need to prove to everyone that he is a strong, intelligent, and honorable man. Note that, man. Rather than learning to pay his dues and working his way up the food chain, Theon decides to skip a few ranks (because he was born a prince, after all – he should obviously be treated accordingly!). Yara travels to Winterfell to collect her errant baby brother. Winterfell may be the heart of the north, but it’s hundreds of miles from the sea – and if there’s one thing Theon has forgotten, it’s that the power of the Greyjoys lies in the sea. Did he forget his own coat of arms? Yara has one parting bit of advice for her brother, which actually sounds a little sentimental: don’t die so far from the sea. In other words, don’t die so far from your family. His real family, as Theon is so apt to claim, even when Robb names him a brother in another scene. Luckily for Theon, Bran and Rickon aren’t really dead, but only a select few know this…

And then there’s Cersei and Tyrion. At least Yara shows some pity toward her younger brother – Cersei has nothing but cruelty for him. After Tyrion goes to great lengths to protect Myrcella (which Cersei can only see as a separation of mother and child) and encourages Joffrey to lead his troops in an effort to inspire them in a battle that is really not in their favor (obviously he’s plotting Joff’s death! As though the whole city wasn’t already!), Cersei finally plays her ace in the hole: she’s found Tyrion’s little whore. Oh no, she’s got Shae? Wow, maybe Cersei is dangerous after all, if she were able to ferret out Tyrion’s weakness. But instead of leading the mouthy brunette into the room, guards show a bruised and beaten Ros off to Tyrion’s well hidden relief. The only thing dangerous about Cersei is her ineptitude and heavy handed way of handling things.

Doesn't he just look like Father Christmas?

Though Robb and Jon aren’t even near one another in geographical terms, their current storylines can be well contrasted. Both are being offered temptations that they really should avoid, and yet both are finding it difficult to turn them down. In Jon’s case, it’s the wildings. Jon does his best to fight against Ygritte, but she eventually leads him into a trap that will quite possibly mean his death. We go on to discover that Qhorin Halfhand has also been captured by a character named the Lord of Bones. But Qhorin seems to have other ideas of how Jon can handle the dealings with the wildings: he wants Jon to gain the wildings trust, in order to warn those back on the Wall of Mance’s incoming horde. Qhorin won’t explain quite how this trust is to be gained, but one can gather a few ideas.

On the other hand, Robb is in the middle of losing his men’s trust. After his mother allowed his most valuable hostage to escape (Jaime Lannister, the Kingslayer) in the hopes that it will prove fruitful in the return of her daughters (again, the bridge between mother and child is a strong, powerfully influential one), problems just continue to crop up. Does he go back north to aid in the reclaiming of Winterfell? Does he go south to Casterly Rock and King’s Landing? As usual, Robb has the Lady Talisa to sooth his worries, which quickly becomes something much more (and I’m not just saying the usual flirtation). Their romance moves onto a physical level, which could make complications for Robb considering that he’s meant to be wed to a Frey in order to gain his all important bridge that will allow his troops to march on the Lannisters. Well, at least he’s not planning to wed this war nurse – though considering how honorable Ned brought home a bastard to his wife, and how much Robb is like his father, I suppose we can’t rule out anything just yet.

Subtext? What subtext?

The other Stark who appears in this episode is Arya, and she’s quickly running out of time. She’s decided to use her last name on Tywin Lannister (about time!) but before she can get to Jaqen, the Lord of Casterly Rock exits Harrenhal. In order to get her money’s worth, Arya tasks Jaqen with getting her, Gendry, and Hot Pie (ever going on about his cherry pies) out of Harrenhal as well. It takes some deft manuvering, but Arya eventually outlines the rules of their bridge in just the terms she likes. When midnight rolls around, she and the boys walk through the gates as per instructed – and do so without obstruction, for Jaqen has killed every guard around the gates in such a manner that it looks as though they are untouched and vigilant. They are like ghosts, guarding Harrenhal, but against dragons and armies that have long since past.

Spooky :|

While all of these previous bridges discuss people attempting to work in tandem, Brienne is refusing to do that with Jaime. Of course, this aids her in dealing with him, because all Jaime is trying to do is push all of her buttons, trying to discover which one is going to infuriate her enough to release his bonds and allow him to escape. Brienne, however, is smarter than that – she remains entirely detached from the situation, letting his comments (mostly) slide off of her back and focuses on getting them out of the area and away from prying eyes who would alert others of the Kingslayer’s escape. It’s a whole episode full of opposites, and a boat carrying the Good Knight and the Dishonorable Knight down a river toward who knows what is an intriguing prospect. Who knows where it will lead them? Of course, the actual adventure won’t be as interesting as their opposing reactions to whatever it could be. Maybe Brienne will have a good effect on Jaime and help him start becoming the White Cloak he should have always been.

Jaime looks like  damsel in distress, and Brienne a mustache-missing villain

And then there’s Stannis. Stannis has always ever done what was asked of him by his elder brother Robert. When he was asked to hold Storm’s End against the Targaryen armies, he did just that and almost starved to death in the process. But was he rewarded for his efforts? No, Storm’s End went to Renly at the end of the war; a young man who hadn’t even fought in the battle. Stannis has felt slighted by everyone his whole life, so he’s saying to hell with bridges, he’s going to build his own damned bridge, even if it’s on the backs of a hundred men who have been burned alive to please his new Red God. Davos is devote as ever, and is the strongest piece that Stannis holds toward bridge building. The ex-pirate is persuasive and understands situations, always offering Stannis the choicest ideas in approach and allowing the steely Baratheon to gain what he believes is rightly his. Whether this bridge burning will serve Stannis well or not proves to be seen as he and his men sail for Blackwater Bay.

Maybe she's taking "eyeing the prize" a bit too literally

Lastly, but certainly not least, the girl at the end of the world comes into play as she’s shown heading toward the House of the Undying in order to regain her children. Dany is fervent on regaining her dragons: not just as a symbol of her power, her dragons are her children. Jorah does his best to dissuade Dany of this idea, and while she may not have given birth to them from her body, she did walk through fire for them. For a Targaryen, isn’t that nearly the same thing?

So what will happen next week? What is this House of the Undying? And how about Blackwater Bay – what kind of plan does Tyrion have up his sleeve? I guess we’ll have to watch in order to find out!

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