After a couple of slow, but nonetheless gripping and highly watchable episodes, the second season of the popular HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones is in full swing as the tensions rise and the battle for power continues between the Lannisters and the Starks. Episode 4 continues the pace that blossomed last week and furthers the fantastic character/family dynamics that have been established since episode 1.
War is most definitely here in the Kingdom of the Westeros as the fight continues for the Iron Throne. The episode opens with Robb Stark attacking a camp of Joffrey’s men, the atmosphere is tense among the guards before one of the Stark dire wolves attacks them and begins to tear the soldiers to pieces. In the morning Robb is victorious but not without loss as one of his men has a mangled foot amputated.
Upon hearing this news, the vile Joffrey blames his future Queen, Lady Sansa Stark, for betraying him and giving away tactics to her older brother. This leads to a public humiliation as one of Joffrey’s knights hideously beats her in front of his throne while the little git smirks. It then begins to go too far as the knight starts ripping off her clothes. Luckily, Lord Tyrion runs in to save the day.
I still find it remarkable how much of a shit Joffrey is, which is mostly attributed to the writers and particularly the actor Jack Gleeson, who manage to squeeze every ounce of loathsome out of the character in every imaginable way. For a young actor, that is quite a feat.
In order to quell the vicious Joffrey, Bronn believes that the best method of keeping him under control is getting him to “dip his wick.” In other words, he offers him sexual favours from prostitution. However, as Bronn also suggests, “there’s no cure for being a cunt” and this becomes blindingly true when the hideous Joffrey has two girls at his perusal but gets one girl to beat the other. It is apparent at this moment that only violence and degradation can satisfy the boy’s impulses.
Meanwhile, Arya Stark and the group have been captured and sent to Harrenhal castle, a ruin that is occupied by the Lannister army. Here, the Commander in chief has begun to torture and murder the captives. Just before Gendry is summoned for torture, Tywin Lannister arrives and puts the captives to work, saving his skin. Arya also gets into trouble when she begins to stare at a sword. One of the guards threatens her but Tywin again saves the day, recognizing she is a girl, he gives her the position of cup bearer.
In the Stormlands, Baelish meets with Renly Baratheon and Stark’s widow in order to discuss the siege of King’s Landing. The inquisitive and slimy Baelish, played excellently by Wire alumnus Aidan Gillen, begins to question Renly’s future Queen about his relationship with her brother. This is the first sign of someone truly suspecting the homosexual relationship between them both.
Lady Stark is insistent on getting her children back to her but the crafty Lord Baelish’s negotiating techniques demand her trust, which is offered to her when he presents the body of Ned which he says should be buried by the side of his ancestors and family.
Later, Renly and Lady Stark meet with Renly’s brother Stannis who refuses to co-operate with Renly, insisting his right to the Iron Throne and promises to make Renly his heir until he is born a son. This is the only deal he is willing to strike.
On their quest across the kingdom of Westeros, Danaerys hears that the city of Qarth is nearby and they will welcome the “Mother of Dragons”. When Danaerys’ brigade arrives in Qarth, they are met by the leaders of the city. One of the leaders bargains to see Danaerys’ dragons in exchange for shelter. Danaerys refuses and demands that her people are allowed to rest, the leaders turn them down and send Danaerys’ group away, sending them out to the Garden of Bones. Danaerys threatens to burn their city to the ground if they refuse to comply to her demands, at which point another of the leaders signs a blood oath regarding their behaviour, after which they are allowed to enter the city.
We then return to Tyrion who has a meeting with Lancel Lannister, his cousin who previously slept with Cersei when Jaime went to war. He informs Tyrion that Master Pycelle will be released under Cersei’s orders. Tyrion has an ace up his sleeve though, he reveals that he knows what happened between Lancel and Cersei and uses that as leverage against Lancel. He agrees not to tell anyone if Lancel spies on Cersei for Tyrion.
The closing of the episode is very strange but also very affective. On the high seas, at night, Stannis orders Melisandre to go to shore. Upon her arrival, she strips completely naked and gives birth to squealing shadow figure that evaporates into the night.
All in all a good Game of Thrones episode filled with intrigue, betrayal, lust and power. It’s what we’ve come to expect and may it continue.