Game Of Thrones Recap: Blackwater For Blackelephants

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Game Of Thrones Blackwater

It’s Game Of Thrones Season 2, Episode 9, the second-to-last episode of the season, entitled “Blackwater”, because it’s a shot-for-shot recreation of the brutal “Blackwater” battle depicted verbatim in the source material – this Doobie Brothers song:

You don’t even WANT to know how violent next week’s “What A Fool Believes” Season Finale is.

This week’s episode picks up where “The Prince Of Winterfell” left off, with Joffrey valiantly striding into battle with his new sword “Hearteater”, his new shield “Brainpuncher”, and his trusty dagger “Juguluarpeeronner”:

For the record, Joffrey’s sword is actually a nonfunctional prop purely for adorable purposes, not unlike baby shoes.

Stannis’ ships draw closer to King’s Landing, and Davos Seaworth’s son assures his father that they’ll be victorious, since they have King’s Landing badly outnumbered and “The Lord of Light” on their side (because gods, like GoT viewers, just can’t stand Joffrey’s face.) As a Season’s worth of tension prepares to come to a head, the bells at King’s Landing sound, and Stannis’ ships musically-counter by loudly drumming the opening to Marilyn Manson’s “The Beautiful People”.

As Davos’ ships approach the land, both he and Joffrey confusingly realize that the Lannister fleet is nowhere to be found, except for one single, extraordinarily curious boat floating on its own:

Surely enough, Davos has sailed right into Tyrion’s trap, and his ships are sitting atop an entire harbor full of wildfire. Joffrey keeps screaming to “attack them!” (He’s clearly one of those dudes who just mashes buttons when you play arcade fighting games, and thinks he’s really good because he beat the first two computer guys on Tekken 2 once), but Tyrion executes his plan perfectly, signalling Bronn from afar, and just as Davos recognizes the wildfire, Bronn shoots one solitary flaming arrow into the fray:

Bronn’s arrow hits the water, ignites the wildfire, and sets off THE MOST INSANELY EPIC F***ING SEQUENCE OF TELEVISION EVER (although full disclosure, we haven’t seen every Franklin & Bash episode):

A massive chunk of Stannis’ fleet is instantly hyperexploded, and Tyrion, himself shocked by the massive destruction caused by the wildfire, exchanges a hilarious silent glance with the old alchemist dude:

Stannis, meanwhile, has taken one on the chin:

Unfazed by the wildfire destruction, and perhaps somewhat extra-crazed by the embarrassment, Stannis rallies his troops, lands the ships, and charges for the Mud Gate on foot. I realize that at this point Stannis wasn’t exactly thinking 100% logically, but was anyone else a little disturbed by his refusal to wear a helmet, even when charging up a ladder with people dropping head-exploding boulders down onto him? He’s being thoughtlessly brave, sure, but the entire point of this war is to get him onto the iron throne, and it would’ve been awfully demoralizing (and hilarious) if Stannis just got hit in the head with a rock, died, and his tens of thousands of troops were just like, “Uh, so who wants to be king now? Drummy Joe?”

While the Blackwater battle is raging, an equally disturbing scene takes place within the walls at King’s Landing, where Cersei has rounded up all the city’s maidens including Sansa to keep them out of harm’s way (read: raping distance). Sansa prays for everyone’s well-being and continually re-assures herself and her comrades that they’ll be alright, which grates on Cersei to the point where she can no longer hold her tongue and tipsily explains to the ever-innocent Sansa what happens when a city loses a siege, and it’s juuuuust a tad more truth than she’s used to:

During those Cersei/Sansa scenes, I kept actually thinking to myself “This is really disturbing – can we go back to the dudes getting cleaved in half and having their heads exploded by rocks?”

Stannis’ force makes incredible headway through the gate, and Cersei, sensing defeat, instructs her lovercousin Lancel to pull Joffrey from the battlefield. Despite Tyrion’s urgings to stay for the morale of the troops, Joffrey’s like “Uh, sorry everyone, but I have to go over here and, uh, fight an EVEN MORE BRAVE battle on the other side of the castle, so seeya!”

Tyrion comes to the sobering realization that it’s up to him to lead the men, and he desperately attempts to rally them:

In the HBO ‘Inside The Episode’ feature, the GoT producers point out that it was Peter Dinklage’s gut-acting decision to repeat the line “I will lead the men” twice, once said under his breath and once said out loud to the soldiers; I really liked that little moment, where Tyrion basically said a sentence he knew he didn’t want to purely for the purposes of convincing himself of the grim reality, then realized it was his only option and had to proceed with this split-second decision without allowing himself to weigh the terrifying risks. It was an illogically-brave moment from a character who’s usually neither, but it was entirely truthful, and really played out awesomely.

Tyrion leads the men through the underground tunnels of King’s Landing to come out from behind Stannis’ troops and “F*CK THEM IN THEIR ASSES!” (“I didn’t mean literally, Mike!” “Sorry Sir!”) A giant second-wave battle flares up, and Tyrion is betrayed and stabbed in the face by Ser Mandon Moore (hehe, good name), who’s then brutally stabbed through the face himself by Tyrion’s trusted squire Podrick.

As Tyrion falls unconscious on the battlefield, the tide begins to turn, as a new contingent led by a man in Renly Baratheon’s armor joins the fray and scatters Stannis’ remaining forces, and with their defeat assured, Stannis’ cohorts physically drag him off the battlefield to safety, though really, it’s tough to tell who’s killing whom at this point:

Sansa retreats to her chambers and is surprised by the presence of The Hound, who’s deserted the battlefield and offers to take her back to Winterfell, but she politely/terrifyingly declines. Figuring that Stannis likely won’t hurt her if he takes the castle, she prefers to stay and roll the rape-dice (Cersei’s words! Not mine.)

The episode concludes with Cersei sitting on the iron throne with her child Tommen, comforting him with “The Story of the Wolf Who Poisoned Himself”, and just as she pulls out a vial of nightshade to save Tommen from capture, the door to the throne room bursts open, and Loras Tyrelle (in Renly’s armor) bursts in with Tywin Lannister, who announces that the Lannisters have successfully defended King’s Landing:

So, what does that mean for Tywin’s plans to pre-emptively attack Robb Stark? Did he change his plans mid-action, or did he deliberately declare false intentions in the war-room in order to throw off Arya or the thieves’ guild, knowing that there’s a leak at Harrenhall? I suppose we’ll find out next week when we deal with the other 37 stories we’re waiting to wrap up (most importantly, did Maester Luwin sneak Bran’s brother some nuts????)

Either way, holy crap, what an episode – it’s encouraging to see that HBO clearly has gotten the budget for giant epic spectacles for Season 2 (I joked earlier this season that Tyrion was just gonna get knocked out then wake up and the battle would be over every single time GoT needed to show a big battle scene), and they executed it ridiculously excitingly (I can’t believe how awesome the wildfire scene looked – I can’t think of a more impressively shot movie-like sequence on tv ever, including the Lost opening airplane scene).

The Lannisters won, Joffrey’s still king, and they all lived happily ever after! I assume the Season Finale will just be one big Star Wars-style medal ceremony, then Tywin and Cersei will high five, freeze frame, credits, end of series. Hooray! They did it!!!

Game Of Thrones “Blackwater” episode thoughts? Favorite/Least Favorite parts? Stuff we missed? Finale Predictions? Leave ‘em all in the comments!