Game of Thrones Season 2 Thronedown: Episode 9 – Blackwater
May 2012 29

Oooooohhhhhhh…. Way to pay off on all that patient plotting eh? Well, after a series spent rhymin’ and schemin’, we finally got some violence to go with our nudity. Ok, it’s fair to say that as TV shows go, it’s been pretty violent so far, but an episode that’s pretty much entirely a battle? Way to change up the formula Game of Thrones, bravo! I believe it was that sacred text ‘Scott Pilgrim vs the World’ that had the tagline “An Epic of epic epicness” and I think this hallowed phrase is equally applicable to this penultimate episode of GOT. Neil Marshall, famed director of ‘Dog Soldiers’ and ‘The Descent’ is on directing duties, and he effectively ratchets up the tension to blood-pumping levels, whilst delivering some glorious goriness.

One of the problem with this series has been the comparative lack of tension compared to the first series, an accusation that could never be levelled at this episode. From one of the first scenes where Bronn and the Hound square up to each other, we’re on tenterhooks. Little did we realise that this was just an aperitif before the episode really got going, Bronn getting to fire the arrow that quite literally lights the fuse. Sansa giving Joffrey’s sword ‘Heart Eater’ a kiss was a brilliantly unsubtle metaphor, and if anyone ever used a sword as a penis replacement/extension/surrogate, it’s got to be Joffrey. As I said last week, we all love a 2D bad guy, but a lily-livered, cowardly spoilt brat bad guy? Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner!

... And so it begins...

As the knuckle-whitening tension sets in early, and this contender for best GOT episode ever made gets going, it’s always nice to have some levity to lighten the mood, and Tyrion’s exchange with Varys, followed by his superbly childish conversation with Joffrey (conducted through intermediaries whilst standing right next to each other) raised a chortle. Shae, Sansa and Cersei’s female bonding whilst openly decrying the sexist world in which they live (a running theme of the show) was enjoyable, especially once the wine flowed and Cersei started letting rip. It’s telling that in an episode dominated by action and battle, the talky moments very much live up to and complement the overall flow of the episode. Cersei seems to like Sansa, yet despise her, as she reminds her of herself when younger, but without a corrupting father like Tywin Lannister, and a cruel and flawed husband in Robert Baratheon to harden her.

Stannis’ undeniably brave penchant for leading his men himself (especially after the liquid fire bombing), was another illustration of his ruthless streak, even with the fate of his friend Davos unknown. This predilection for being in the thick of it could be his undoing, and couldn’t have contrasted more strongly with Joffrey’s cowardice. Probably will continue to inspire his men though, so this ain’t over yet. Maybe now he’ll let the red woman, Melissandre get involved… Best Stannis moment? Upon being accosted by a quavering lieutenant saying this of his plans to land on the beach:

“My lord, hundreds will die”

Stannis’ reply?

“Thousands”

The uncoolest Baratheon just went all tough-guy cool on us.

Tyrion: big up the little man

 

A bottle episode is when a TV series spends a whole episode in one, pre-existing location in order so save the budget for other episodes in the series. Given the usual globetrotting nature of this show, does this singularly-focused episode count as the world’s most expensive bottle episode? I know what you’re thinking: “that’s a bloody big bottle!”, and I’m cetainly glad they went for it on the budget, because this really does rival the Helm’s Deep battle from ‘Lord of the Rings’ for battlefield modelling. Maybe one day be it will even be seen as being of equal stature. Tyrion’s hero moment, with his sardonic, sexual-imagery-inflected speech was a well-earned and appropriate moment for the series, closely followed by seeing his squire take down the Kingsguard who killed Sirio Forel in the first series (*sniff*). Elsewhere on the battlefield, the Hound showed previously-unseen motivational skills (“any man dies with a clean sword, I’ll rape his corpse”) and then, just as his battlefield-svengali career was getting started, he only went and quit. Pretty emphatically too. His previously hinted at likeable moments culminated in a relatively sweet moment between him and Sansa, although it looks like she’s stupid enough to stay in King’s Landing.

Seeing Ser Loras Tyrell leading the charge was interesting and surprising, finally justifying Baelish’s annoying travelling circus of intrigue, as his Tyrell-Lannister treaty appears to be bearing fruit. Ironically Stannis having his brother assassinated only pushed these filthy rich families closer together, and now that’s a lotta moolah all under the same banner. Still, the charge of the knight brigade brought an unexpected denouement to possibly the most exciting GOT episode yet, and I plan to lead a Loras Tyrell-style charge towards the final episode if you care to join me, Throners. Comments below, if you want.

TA

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