Game Of Thrones Recap: The Kids In The Harrenhal


It’s Game Of Thrones Season 2, episode 5 entitled “The Ghost of Harrenhal”. Will this version of “Ghost” involve two lovers spinning pottery together then a rat tunneling through the pot and into the couples’ stomachs? You’ll have to read on to find out. Nahh, I can tell you now: It literally does!

We pick up right where the last episode left off, with the show’s magical element jumping from “omens, prophetic dreams and unlikely powers” to “witch lady giving birth to magical shadowy deathmonster”. Needless to say, Stannis’ closest companion Davos is still shaken up by the unusual birth he witnessed, and confesses his doubts about Melisandre’s intentions to his lord:

Regardless of Davos’ irrational concerns about a woman capable of giving instant birth to a smoke-assassin, it’s hard to argue with the creature’s effectiveness; while Renly is in his tent calmly rejecting Catelyn Stark’s pleas to reach a truce with Stannis, the creature appears, effortlessly stabs Renly through the chest with a shadow-shiv, and vanishes instantly:

Some of Renly’s soldiers rush into the tent and attack Lady Brienne, assuming she’s the killer, and she promptly devours them. Brienne and Loras Tyrell both swear revenge against Stannis (this kind of goes without saying, no? Everyone on this show is currently trying to get vengeance against everyone else: Arya on Joffrey, Balon Greyjoy on the Starks, Craster on Bran for some reason, Maester Pycelle on a raven who stole his Werther’s Original, etc) but Littlefinger successfully convinces them to retreat and seek vengeance another time, because Stannis’ ships are on their way to regular-human-stab them.

Loras Tyrell initially flips out at Littlefinger, because everything Littlefinger says sounds shady even when it’s clearly the correct advice:

Littlefinger is basically Game Of Thrones’ Ben Linus: Even if he calmly told a character “It’s twelve-thirty pm” you’d be thinking “Is it really twelve-thirty?? What’s he secretly trying to do here? NOOOOOO, DON’T TRUST HIM, it’s probably 12:25 and those five minutes will somehow make you explode!!!!” But again, in this case, he’s right, and the Tyrelles cut their grieving short and agree to flee.

Stannis successfully converts the bulk of Renly’s bannermen to his cause (“Ionknow, let’s follow this dude now, he’s a Baratheon too, and either way my life is a relentless storm of garbage, so whatever”), and he prepares the second phase of his military strike against King’s Landing:

King’s Landing is aware of Stannis’ advances, and Joffrey has already concocted a defense plan: Decapitate Sansa and pee on her corpse and hope for the best. And if that doesn’t work, throw a bunch of ‘wildfire’ at Stannis’ armies. Tyrion gets wind of the Joffrey/Cersei “Wildfire” plan and goes to visit the city’s alchemist, the only dude in King’s Landing old enough to get Maester Pycelle’s constant “Little Orphan Annie” references, and the alchemist explains that the mystical concoction is hot enough to melt wood, steel, and the flesh of Stannis’ armies (but can it burn through Captain America’s shield? Gonna throw that question on Yahoo answers.)

To Tyrion’s surprise/horror, they’ve already stored up more than enough wildfire to destroy all of Stannis’ armies, or, in the wrong hands, all of King’s Landing:

Over at Pyke, Theon prepares to command his first-ever ship, but has trouble getting the unruly crew to listen to / have sex with him:

The ship’s current captain and former champion on the gameshow “Who’s More Grizzled?” tells Theon they have no need for his leadership, but just when Theon’s first command is looking hopeless, he gets a brilliant tactical idea from the unlikeliest of sources:

It’s Ralph Ineson, aka Chris Finch from the U.K. Office! He and Theon decide to attack a settlement near Winterfell, and when Winterfell sends its few remaining soldiers to take it back, to then storm the town. Finch then proceeds to hump the air doggie-style for two minutes:

Could this be the first-ever instance of an actor’s Game Of Thrones character being LESS AWFUL than their character on another show? It’s clearly a momentous occasion.

Back at Winterfell, Bran and Luwin continue to field complaints from the townsfolk:

A watchman rushes in with news of the nearby settlement being attacked by the Pyke sailors, and Bran instantly tells him to round up the remaining Winterfell forces to aid their bannermen. Good call, Bran!

Bran then tells his witch-friend about his increasingly vivid dreams of “the sea flooding the walls of Winterfell”, which is either a prophetic allegory to Pyke’s impending conquest of the town, or he really had to pee in the middle of the night.

So, Theon’s plan worked instantly. Will Winterfell be able to defend itself with its regular and reserve armies both dispatched elsewhere? We’ll find out next week, but I’m confident:

Beyond the wall, Jon Snow and his group meet up with a crew of returning rangers, who’ve scouted ahead and witnessed Mance Rayder’s large, organized group of wildlings (now organizedlings?) preparing to mount an attack on the wall. The group’s leader, legendary ranger Qhorin Halfhand, briefs them on a strategy:

He decides to take a small group of rangers to take out Rayder’s lookouts so they can scatter the army before they’re able to mount an organized attack, and Jon volunteers to be part of the group and his commander reluctantly allows him. Jon’s clearly proud to be included, but noticeably uneasy about the ominous, impending situation:

In the town of Qarth, the only not-relentlessly-awful 3+ square feet on the entire show, Daenerys attends a quasi-Eyes-Wide-Shutty party hosted by her ultrawealthy benfactor Xaro, and keeps getting confronted by a series of Phantom Tollbooth characters:

Xaro eventually pulls her aside and proposes a deal: He’ll open his giant vault of money so she can purchase ships and soldiers to take back the Iron Throne in exchange for her hand in marriage. It is, by severe default, probably the most romantic thing anyone’s ever done on Game Of Thrones, but Jorah warns her of Xaro’s intentions (this show might as well be called Game Of Warning People About Other Peoples’ Goddamn Intentions), telling her “Rich men don’t become rich by giving more than they get and also I love you wait scratch that last part just remember the ‘rich men’ part gotta go over here now cool dragons by the way seeya!”

At Harrenhal, Arya assumes her tense position as Tywin Lannister’s cup-bearer, but fortuitously comes across one of the three prisoners she rescued from the cage-fire, and just when you think something truly awful is gonna happen (raise your hand if you assumed the dude was gonna force himself on her and she was gonna grab a nearby dagger and slice of his penis super-bloodily!), Jaqen offers her a proposal:

Jaqen tells Arya that he owes her “three lives,” which he’ll repay to her in the form of killing three people of her choice. So basically, since he can ONLY kill people, he’s the inverse genie from Aladdin:

Arya tells him to kill The Tickler, the creepy dude who tortured the prisoners last week, and Jaqen agrees, and just when you were wondering if it was stupid for Arya to trust this shady-seeming dude who really has no official reason to follow through on his word to her, there’s a loud scream, and everyone gathers to find the lifeless body of The Tickler.

The episode concludes with Arya looking up to the tower above the body, and sure enough, there’s Jaqen, signalling to her very subtlely:

Game Of Thrones Episode 5 thoughts? Reactions to Renly’s death? Thoughts on the impending Winterfell / King’s Landing battles? Sad grievances for the passing of The Tickler? Confused reactions to what may have been the first boob-free episode in Game Of Thrones history? Throw ‘em all in the comments.

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