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Recap: Game of Thrones, 2.5, “Ghost Of Harrenhal”

Hi y’all! It’s CaitlinFace, filling in for QoB on this week’s Game of Thrones recap. I’m going to try keeping the format the same, going by location, and assuming you’ve seen the episode if you’re reading the recap. I’m on GoT overload, because my (new, bless him) boyfriend hasn’t seen any of it and I’ve put him through what is now fifteen hours of drama, swords, death, and nudity. So now I bring you: “The Ghost of Harrenhal.”

Storm’s End

Seven hells, this is dark. I mean literally, dark. And while we’re on darkness, we get to see the ultimate purpose of Melisandre’s demon shadow baby/man/creature! I read the book, at least to this point, so I knew it was coming, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I felt quite stabbed in the heart myself. I’m going to miss Renly, as he was the refreshingly Sassy Gay Friend of Westeros, along with Loras.


Shadowbaby Assassin
This. This is how the death of Renly made me feel.

Actually, Loras’ face might have torn me up more than Renly’s demise. He certainly loved the power and the prestige of being a member of Renly’s Kingsguard (and guarding Renly’s member), but he did truly love Renly. He truly believed in Renly’s ability to be a king.

And so did Brienne. I have to say, I love that they’ve not sexed up Brienne yet. With HBO’s transgressions on the part of Cat’s character, I’m surprised they haven’t tried to do such a thing yet to Brienne, but maybe I can retain at least a little of my faith in the writers. For now. They did handle their scene later on spectacularly, I will say. I love it in the book, and it was beautiful in the show. Though all this talk of the shadow demon being shaped like Stannis brings back all of the CSI: Westeros that’s been going on from the beginning. Amateur geneticists are all over the Seven Kingdoms.

The most I’ll waste on Petyr Baelish in this space is: Petyr, you should have chosen a toad, or a slug, or something similarly slimy as your self-made sigil. (I’d say a snake, but my Slytherin loyalty shudders at being associated with Littlefinger.)

 Beyond the Wall

Jon Snow! Is Kit Harrington the best Jon? No, not really. I don’t mind staring at his angsty open-mouthed pout, and his pretty hair. I’m sure that his internal monologue just consists of, “Why in seven hells did I come this far north, the wind and snow are RUINING my hair.”


L'oreal, because you're worth it.
"I'm too pretty for this."

Here’s a bad ASOIAF fan confession: I have to work to really enjoy anything to do with the Wall and beyond. I can’t figure out why. I want to like it, I really do, but I just don’t feel the payoff here. They keep talking about the wights, and White Walkers, and my theory is that we’re not staying interested because we’ve been shown what they are. It’s a middle ground that isn’t at all effective. The Reavers worked so well in Firefly because we heard all the talk about them, and got glimpses of what they did, but the rest was left to the viewer’s imagination.

And yes, I realize this is how GRRM wrote it. GRRM isn’t necessarily a good writer.

But I stick with everything beyond the Wall because of Sam Tarly. Sam is my raison d’être in this otherwise bleak and disappointing north. He reads about things in books! And he’s right most of the time. I’d bet money on the fact that he’s one of the few people left if this series ever reaches completion.


The face of the lone survivor.

King’s Landing

Well, okay, speaking of people who will be left when all is said and done, I’d also put money on Bronn and Tyrion. Bronn, mostly. I’m glad to finally see the wildfire come into play. It was at this point that my boyfriend remarked upon the sudden influx of supernatural influence in the show, or as he said, “Now there’s dragons and shadow monsters and shit.” And I agree! The sorcery part of sword and sorcery is coming into play. It’s changing up the dynamic, and has added a new facet to the overall theme of Trust No One.

Also? For a second I thought the alchemist said Jell-O rather than tarrow. Last week I heard someone say duck sauce, this week someone says Jell-O. Someone feed the poor writers. They’re clearly having some godawful munchies.


That does look a bit like a delicious, lime-flavored gelatin dessert.


There’s not much in this episode in the way of Theon and the rest of House Greyjoy, but it’s setting up even more treachery, conflict, and general “Theon why do you even exist?” He’s like a barnacle, honestly: unsightly, useless, and generally unpleasant. But you can’t get rid of him!

The rest of the Greyjoys, though? I love them. I adore Yara/Asha (sorry, book-reading and all that) because, as Balon said, she knows who she is. My problem with Theon is that he doesn’t know who he is, and rather than be interesting or complex about it, he’s just kind of a whiny git. I have little patience for whiny gits.

"There ain't no way, no WAY, that you came from my father's loins."



I wish we spent more time on Bran, because he’s got so much going on and this is the supernatural aspect that I actually enjoy. Bran is a facilitator of sorts with his dreams, a catalyst, a boy who is growing up and coming into his own without being able to fit the conventions of this war-focused society. I just want us to see more, is what I’m saying.


"Come on Tonks, don't you know about magic and all that stuff?"


So while I try to figure out if they’ve changed the names of Dany’s dragons on this show, or if she and Doreah are just saying something else entirely to get this dragon to eat (by the way, this one is Drogon if I recall correctly), let’s also try to figure out if they’re keeping the dragons to a minimum because of budget constraints. I’d actually like to see more dragons, thanks.

I don’t even have much to say here, which is disappointing, because I am the biggest Daenerys fangirl you will ever find. I want to love everything she does, but right now I can’t get behind anything she’s doing. She found herself, but now I feel as if she’s losing herself, and it’s a sad thing to watch.

However, Daxos (who is forever Duck Sauce) knows exactly how to win her over, so that’ll be fun. And how to plant the idea in her head that Jorah’s entirely motivated by love and/or lust. This is not entirely false, granted, but Jorah also has much better advice for Dany than any of the Qartheen. They all need to have a come to Jesus meeting, or a come to R’hllor meeting, whatever.


The moment Daenerys realizes that she sounds like her shithead brother.


And now! The segment of the show that gives me Feelings! I have feelings about Arya, about Tywin, about Jaqen H’gar, and about Gendry. (Most of my feelings about the latter two are admittedly in the pants area.)

Arya is still a badass. Brash, and treading close to Stark Stupid, but a badass nonetheless. She threatened Tywin Lannister to his face, for God’s sake, and you can tell that he respects her even more for it.

And then! Arya gets her chance at revenge when Jaqen H’gar offers up any three deaths she wishes to name. Does anyone else think she wasted it a bit on the Tickler?

A woman could make many Tickler jokes about Jaqen.


And speaking of men who give me tingly feelings, quick cut to Gendry, in the quintessential fanservice shot. Arya agrees with the rest of us.


The other reason I'd like to be Arya.

So! We’ve been damn near everywhere in this episode, and the frenetic pacing is starting to wear down on me. Anyone else feel this way? Anyone else wish we could just slow down for a second and spend more than two minutes on any particular character? Let’s talk about it in the comments!

Spoilers note: as before, anything from the first book or TV series is not a spoiler. Please use spoiler tags for anything else using the [*spoiler*] and [/*spoiler*] tags. (Remove the asterisks to make the tags.)

All images courtesy of

By Caitlinface

Caitlinface is a Caitlin, with a face. She reads things, sometimes writes things, and obsessively forces friends to watch her favorite things. She self-identifies as a Gemini Slytherin Targaryen, but don't worry, she's not really all that bad.

38 replies on “Recap: Game of Thrones, 2.5, “Ghost Of Harrenhal””

Of course Sam Tarly will be alive and well in the end. GRRM has a disturbingly obvious thing for maiming and/or killing all male characters described as handsome, fit and having good combat skills, but Sam is his Mary Sue, he never gets any lasting damage. (I wish I’d have kept a list of characters who should have been dead of exposure, Sam is definitely high on that one, but apparently dying of exposure simply doesn’t happen in this world.)

Also, discussion with BF who hasn’t read the books, after he downloaded this episode and discovered that Renly dies.

BF: “You didn’t tell me he would die!”

Me: “Of course I didn’t tell you he would die. When have I ever told you who’s going to die?”

BF: “But what on earth will they do now that he’s dead? …Wait. Don’t tell me.”

He is so hooked. I’m explaining backstories and stuff + pointing out characters and details that will be important. It’s great to watch together.

Side note, I’m not the biggest fan of book Bran somehow, but I like the cute TV Bran a lot. Methinks he’s likely to be very handsome when he grows up. Also, isn’t it about time for those two strange swamp kids to show up? I’m wondering if they have they been cut too.

“GRRM has a disturbingly obvious thing for maiming and/or killing all male characters described as handsome, fit and having good combat skills, but Sam is his Mary Sue, he never gets any lasting damage.”

How did I not see this before?! It explains so much.

I too would like to see more dragons – but then, I’d also like to see more direwolves. They felt like major characters in the books to me, as major as the Stark children – in fact, they probably contributed to love for the Starks. Joffrey’s role in Lady’s death was pretty much the point at which I regarded him as irredeemable.

[spoiler] I will be crying like a great big baby when we get to what I’m guessing will be Season 3 and the Red Wedding. Also, all these books later, I’m still dying for Arya to meet back up with Nymeria. I know it won’t happen. It’s been too long, plus I’m sure GRRM would never do anything that happy and heart-warming, but still. As awesome as Arya is and as much hell as she’s been through that girl deserves to get her goddamn puppy back. [/spoiler]

Anyone else think we got shirtless Gendry as an apology for the end of the Renly/Loras scenes?

Asha is the only piece of casting I’ve disagreed with so far.  I had a completely different, Valkyrie kind of vibe for Canon!Asha and this one isn’t doing it for me.  Maybe she’ll grow on me (or maybe they’ll recast her?  *fingers crossed*).

I love the Wall, though.  Love love love love love the Wall and Jon Snow and the colors of that world and the mysticism behind the Others and the Wights and oh, I love the Wall.  I could do with less Harranhal and more Jon Snow and the Wall.

Except that I’d love to be the creme filling in the middle of a  Jaqen H’gar/Brienne of Tarth Oreo.  Don’t judge me.  Y’all can have them when I’m done.  Well, maybe not Brienne.  I think I’ll keep her a loooong time.

When they show up at Harrenhal in the book, there is quite a bit of description about his hair, and the women in the castle talking about him. I think it doesn’t jump out so much in the book because the focus is mostly on what a scary dude he is. Not bad, not good, just scary, and working for Arya. For a little while.

1) I had an epiphany during this episode (maybe it was obvious to everyone else and I’m late to the party?) that part of the reason they made Margaery so obvious is because making her subtle would eat up a lot of time. Subtlety requires showing us both her public face and private reactions to the same event, which takes a lot longer than having her just speak her mind. I’d much rather have her stay blatantly ruthless and get more Tyrion and Arya time.

2) Tyrion’s face when he saw the storage room with the wildfire was perfect. That’s one of my favorite scenes in the book, when he’s realizing how much destructive power is sitting in those jars.

3) Glad to know I’m not the only one who’s getting tingly over Jaqen H’gar. Now if I could only figure out why I’m so inexplicably attracted to Littlefinger…

4) No boobs in this episode! I like that the only fanservice this week was for we who like to oogle men.


Random thought; interesting parallel between Loras and Jorah in this episode, no? Both in love with the person they think will make the best ruler of Westeros…

Also, Caitlin, love your point – that GRRM isn’t necessarily a good writer; or IMO, he is a good writer, but the way he wrote the stories aren’t necessarily the best way they can be told (which is where I think the TV series comes in and is doing a pretty good job). But I also agree with you that this episode felt quite rushed, as we hit practically all loci of action in one episode (excepting Robb and the Northern army). I hope they are able to be a little more sparing with that for most of the rest of the series, because [spoiler] if they don’t get a handle on it now, it’s going to be a lot worse when Dany is in Essos for FOREVER and the story also moves to Dorne. GAH BOOK-FRUSTRATION.[/spoiler]

Now, I haven’t read the 5th book yet since I’ve been waiting for it to come out in paperback to get it, but

[spoiler]while the Dorne stuff in the 4th book paid off well IMO in the end, I wish it wasn’t there. Seriously. I DID NOT WANT TO CARE.[/spoiler]

I still think that after the 3rd book,

[spoiler]he should have done that time skip so it didn’t feel like he didn’t know where the series was going.[/spoiler]

I didn’t like Renly’s death much. I like Littlefinger to regain his spine again. Besides that I thought it was a pretty okay episode and don’t know why so many people were whining about it. Maybe because the previous week was So Cool. And I really like the changes they made with Daxos.

Did not like Renly’s death scene at all. Both too sudden and too slow. And Margaery… waaaayyy too revealing to Littlefinger. Lady is supposed to be clever!

A woman could get used to saying filthy things about Jaqen in the third person.

The word that Dany was using with the dragon, “dracaris,” if I’m remembering correctly, was a High Valyrian word for dragon fire, and it is the word she used to teach her dragons to blow fire on command.

I also don’t really enjoy anything above the Wall, but I feel like it is partly because they don’t show very much. Sure, we see the wight walkers and such, but there’s a lot of Mysterious Threat that hasn’t paid off yet. I think part of the reason is, a lot of the threats in the book/show are very present, human, and tangible. And that’s probably partly why people so far south of the Wall don’t take the threat seriously, because they see no evidence for the Others coming.

But there’s just so much that is left unsaid about what the Others even are. They haven’t done much, but they’ve freaked a lot of people out, and I just haven’t seen enough of them in order to really grasp why everyone is so frightened of it!

Also, Kit Harrington is a bad actor. Or, at least, the way he plays Jon is bad. I don’t like it at all.


But, anyway, ARYA IS THE BIGGEST BADASS OF BADASSES. She does waste the first kill, but then again, she’s nine, and in the middle of everything she’s a lot  more focused on the cruelty immediate to her at the moment.

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