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Recap: Game of Thrones, Episode 2.8, “The Prince of Winterfell”

Assault, blackmail, cat-eating, dead ravens, emotional declarations, failure, and guilt: it’s the full alphabet in this week’s episode of Westeros: the War of the Five Four Kings years.

SOMEWHERE IN THE RIVERLANDS

Robb and Talisa take a leisurely stroll through the woods; he tells her what Ned taught him about ruling: that it’s like being a father with thousands of children to worry over, who you are afraid for when you wake and when you sleep. Robb also tells Talisa about his engagement; and she tells him why she does what she does (a slave once saved her brother from drowning, which was more important to her than dancing or parties, which was her life as a high-born girl in Volantis).

And they declare their love and get nekked!

Close up of Robb and Talisa staring into each other's eyes, her lying on him
Damn, I forgot to take my trousers off.

I totally wanted more of this scene: after all the transactional and incestuous sex we’ve seen, it would be nice to see two (unrelated) people get it on because they are genuinely into each other. I also think that it’s a relief for Robb to have a relationship with someone who isn’t tied to him by blood or feudal obligations, because those are definitely not stress-free for the Young Wolf at the moment.

Defying Robb, Catelyn freed Jaime, fearing for the lives of her daughters if he is killed by Lord Karstark or his men, and sent him heading for Winterfell with Brienne as escort (expect more back-and-forth with these two on the journey). However, Robb is pissed. Like, seriously pissed:

You’ve weakened our position. You’ve brought discord into our camp. And you did it all behind my back.

As is Lord Karstark:

I don’t want your grief, I want my vengeance! And you stole it from me.

Robb sends more men after Jaime, sets a guard on Catelyn, and tells Bolton to tell his son that any Ironborn who surrenders will be allowed to go home – except Theon.

WINTERFELL

Ah, Theon. The self-declared Prince of Winterfell, he’s still obediently taking Dagmar’s suggestions – don’t bury the burnt bodies, do kill the ravens so Luwin can’t tell anyone what they’ve done– but he’s delighted to welcome big sis Yara to Winterfell so he can show off the castle he took over ALL BY HIMSELF. But he doesn’t get a pat on the back, just a serious dressing-down from Yara:

Which one gave you the bigger fight, the cripple or the six-year-old?… You’re the dumbest cunt alive. A dumb cunt who killed the only two Starks in Winterfell. You know how valuable those boys were?

And then, in private, a heartfelt plea to return with her to the Iron Islands:

Theon, you are my blood. We both loved our mother. We both endured our father. Come home with me, don’t die here alone.

Wow, Yara has the emotions. And pardon me for interrupting, but how does this proposed retreat fit in with Balon’s plan for Westerosi domination? How clueless is Theon about his ability to hold Winterfell against the Bolton forces? And when Dagmar tells him that the farmer, the orphaned boys’ foster-father, was killed, too, it really revealed for me how naive Theon still is, despite all the horrible things he’s done. Does it come as any surprise that Theon was a difficult baby?

Last week’s moment of suspense is ended near the end of the episode, when Luwin sees Osha sneaking into the crypts at Winterfell. Bran and Rickon aren’t actually dead – just hiding in the crypts. Maester Luwin tells Osha who the bodies really were and makes her promise not to tell Bran – but he’s awake and listening. Bran, the real prince of Winterfell, has already learned what Robb didn’t until he became king: ruling is responsibility, guilt, and fear.

THE WALL

Robb is doing well with his ladyfriend, but Jon’s is much less friendly. Ygritte brings Jon to the wildling Lord of Bones, who wants to kill him: but Ygritte steps in, firstly because Jon could have killed her and didn’t, and secondly, because his Stark blood may be useful – in some unspecified way – to the King Beyond the Wall, Mance Rayder. I personally hope his blood is most useful in his body rather than out of it.

Jon sits beside a beaten-up Qhorin
Sorry probably isn’t going to cut it.

The wildlings already have Qhorin – he was captured and the other Watchmen were killed when they went back to look for Jon, so all the Stark boys are suffering from a bad case of the guilts this week. Qhorin wants him to pretend to go over to the Wildlings’ side and learn what he can, while he himself pretends to hate Jon for getting them all killed, but for the moment, they are on the way to see Mance Rayder.

Back at the Fist of the First Men, Grenn finds a buried Watchman’s cloak containing…lots and lots of blades of dragonglass, a.k.a. obsidian, as Sam helpfully explains. Who buried it there and why? Also, quick question: where is Ghost? A direwolf would come in handy for Jon right about now…

 


Close up of Arya, with text "Blackmail: you're doing it right".

HARRENHAL

In contrast to her brothers, Arya doesn’t seem to feel at all guilty for the Lannister men who were hanged because of her actions, draped about the set like so many discarded curtains. She certainly doesn’t feel guilty for threatening Jaqen into helping her, Gendry, and Hot Pie escape the castle – which results in more deaths.

Jaqen is very good at what he does, but he clearly never expected Arya to get one up on him. But how did she persuade Gendry and Hot Pie to leave with her? And how is she planning to get to Robb before Tywin’s army can?

QARTH

Dany is bored and anxious so she’s baiting Jorah with accusations about how he’s not loyal to her and doesn’t believe in her magic – the first time she’s used that word about herself. He’s found a ship going to Astapor and wants them to leave – she wants her dragons, because they’re her children. The only ones that she’ll ever have… HEY JORAH, THAT’S A HINT FOR YOU. Yet she neither goes to the ship nor to the Houses of the Undying. One wonders why they put her in this episode at all, because pretty much nothing happened there.

KING’S LANDING

Cersei thinks she has gotten revenge for Myrcella’s engagement by having Ros imprisoned and beaten: for every injury that Joffrey may suffer in the upcoming battle, Ros will suffer, too. Cersei thinks Tyrion wants to have Joffrey killed, and Ros, whom she thinks is Tyrion’s lover, is her insurance. She thinks she’s been fabulously clever, but seriously, did Cersei really think Tyrion would send his own lover to sex up Joffrey, whom she thinks he hates more than he actually does?

Ros with a beaten and bloody face, stares at Tyrion
What is it that a Lannister always does?

Also, give Ros some serious props for this scene: she is defiant but subtly so; she doesn’t give the game away; and she recognises that trusting Tyrion is a better hope for her survival than pleading for mercy Cersei doesn’t have.

Joffrey, on the other hand, actually thinks he’s capable of slitting Stannis’ throat. Like his mother, his self-delusion knows no bounds. Tyrion declares his love for Shae – and she does in return – while warning her they must be careful. Relying on Varys keeping his mouth shut, though, may be dangerous, as Varys has now heard about Dany’s dragons and tells Tyrion. Tyrion is more bothered by existential questions:

Why are all the gods such vicious cunts? Where’s the god of tits and wine?

And, oh yeah, trying to defend the city from Stannis’ coming invasion. Still, though, if Tyrion and Salladhor Saan meet during the battle, I hope they recognize each other as kindred spirits, as, in an odd way, Tyrion and Varys are. As Varys says, they both enjoy playing the Game: and Tyrion is one of the few people we see who refers to Varys as a man without pretension or qualification.

Bronn does not like gold cloaks or books on siege warfare, but he knows how to deal with thieves:

Varys: Did you know there has been a marked drop in thievery?

Tyrion: I did not know. And how did you accomplish this marked drop in thievery?

Bronn: Me and the lads rounded up all the known thieves.

Tyrion: For questioning?

Bronn: Ah, no.

Something he did to preempt the inevitable scarcity of food due to thievery during the coming siege, though he thinks the poor will still start eating each other. Lovely.

ON A BOAT

Speaking of Stannis, he’s on a boat, motherfuckers, don’t you ever forget (that he ate cats once). He and Davos reminisce about the Siege of Storm’s End during Robert’s rebellion: first they ate the horses, then the cats, then the dogs, which upset Stannis a bit, because dogs are loyal. Like Davos. Ominous, much?

Night shot of Stannis
I’m on a boat AND I’m going fast AND I have a cat to eat. Life is good.

Stannis tells Davos he’ll make him the Hand when he becomes king. Surely, with three other kings still left, it’s not a foregone conclusion – but one of Stannis’s powers is his iron self-belief. Robert told him to hold Storm’s End 17 years ago, so he held it. Now he’s said he’ll be king, so…

 

 

All this is leading up to next week’s GRRM-written Big Battle Episode, when (at least) two opposing forces will battle for control of King’s Landing and the Seven Kingdoms. Although, given what we’ve seen and heard from the Starks this week, who knows why they’d want it. NB: we haven’t seen Littlefinger or the Tyrells for a while, and you know they’re not just sitting in a tent somewhere, knitting quietly.

Questions? Predications? Rants? Join me in the comments.

Spoilers note: anything from the first book or first TV series is fair game. Mention of future plot points and/or characters from the rest of the ASoIaF series is a spoiler: please use these tags, with the *s removed, to talk about them: [*spoiler*] <blah blah> [*/spoiler*].

12 replies on “Recap: Game of Thrones, Episode 2.8, “The Prince of Winterfell””

Thanks very much for this. Out of sheer frustration I watched a horrible crappy stream. I’m losing my fun in watching GoT because it’s so hard to get. Why can’t I just throw my money at a series-subscription?

Anyway, I still have to get a bit used to the changes. I really don’t like where Cat/Robb went.

Message me and maybe I can hook you up with a better way… I bought the Season 1 boxset and intend to do the same this time when it came out.

To be honest I think the TV version of Robb, and Robb+Talisa, is much better than the books, and with other changes I can see why they made them and they by-and-large work. There would have been no way to make a series of the books and keep things the way they were written, it would have been unwatchable: I hope as the series goes on book-readers are more able to keep the two more separate in their experience of them.

I’m definitely enjoying getting to see some things from Robb’s perspective, since he wasn’t a POV character in the book!

I’m wondering how they’re going to handle some of the 3rd book stuff with her, though:

[spoiler] Is her presence going to somehow be part of Tywin’s schemes, like Jeyne was?[/spoiler]

I guess now we know why Show kept Ros around.

Every episode, I’m reminded how much I love Tyrion.  “It’s not that little” had me rolling.  PD could use a voice coach for his English accent but I adore him.

Also, I got really excited when The Adventures of Brienne and Jamie began but then they just disappeared into the river.  Boooo.  I want more!!

I can’t help thinking Ros has more to do. She must know a lot, and can’t be too loyal to Littlefinger any more.

Agree with you on Tyrion 100% :)

Jaime is such a cocksure asshole, I can’t help but admire him. I just want Brienne to whack him one, as well.

Asha/Yara’s whole “cunt” conversation with Theon struck me as wrong because in the books, I remember a whole thing she had about not calling people or being called a cunt. I think I’m going to have to just let go of what happened in the books and enjoy the TV ride.

I figured out why this season has been frustrating me: all the changing they’ve been doing to make it so the last two episodes are Super Ultra Climactic (TM) has meant that none of the episodes BEFORE the last couple have much in the way of payoff. This is kind of antithetical to how the first season went, because while there were super dramatic things in the last couple episodes, we had a lot of smaller payoffs throughout.

But it basically means that some of my favorite characters aren’t DOING anything, and some of my favorite interactions have been changed in order to make for a bigger climax (in our pants).

My hope is that the payoffs in the last couple episodes will satiate me and make it feel like the changes were worth it.

Also, I was PISSED that they cut out one of Arya’s most bamf things from book 2:

[spoiler] Naming Jaqen to have him help her instigate a takeover of Harrenhal. Making it just an escape was sucky. I want to see more of these strong female characters, and sometimes I feel like they sacrificed the female characters’ facetime for the male characters. I know that sometimes things need to be cut because there is a limited amount of time, but the plethora of strong women is one of the reasons why I love the A Song of Ice and Fire series.[/spoiler]

Also, put in spoilers for things connected to book 3. Don’t read if you don’t want spoilers for big events that happen in the next book (and consequently the next season)

[spoiler]Watching Robb decide to break his vow to the Freys was really really hard for me. I keep wanting to shout at him “DON’T DO IT, ROBB! YOU’RE GOING TO DIE FOR THIS.” It’s totally in-keeping with customs for the time for a king to have a lover on the side. He COULD do that. I just hate watching it knowing that this is the action that costs him in the end.

Also, in a similar bent, watching Tyrion declare his love for Shae was very painful for me. I got the impression from the books that Shae did not actually return that love. (And I felt like, in the episode, her confession of love seemed a little forced, like she didn’t really mean it) And her betrayal of him, coerced or not… Again, knowing how all that turns out makes it very difficult to watch.[/spoiler]

My God, Ros really can’t catch a break, can she? She was a popular and successful prostitute, makes a move that she thinks will increase her fortunes and instead ends up being beaten, threatened and forced to brutalize another woman. I hope she gets some sort of revenge on someone.

 

 

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