After what was one of the more shocking conclusions to an episode yet, that saw Theon Greyjoy standing next to what looked to be the lifeless, burned bodies of Bran and Rickon Stark, the life and death struggle for the Iron Throne has continued with the eighth episode “The Prince of Winterfell.” Considering this was somewhat of a “builder” episode to set the stage for all of the conflicts to be played out in the next two weeks, I have decided to make this recap nice and neat by separating the important locations into their own category, so that you are ready for the inevitable fireworks.
Following the macabre announcement of the Stark boys’ demise, Theon is dealing with the ramifications of what was considered to be an overall terrible idea. To add insult to injury, instead of the 500 men that Theon requested, he is paid a visit by his older sister. Angry about the lack of faith in his actions, Theon is having a hard time understanding how taking Winterfell could be considered a bad thing. Yara immediately sets him straight by condemning his actions and reminding him that his people are Islanders who do not benefit from being landlocked and that killing the Stark boys was foolish. Their conversation ends with her saying that they are both going back to Pyke so Balon “can have a word.”
Things are not looking good for the Prince of Winterfell.
From the north to “way up north,” we move beyond the Wall where Jon Snow has switched roles with Ygritte, who is now the captor of the Night’s Watch steward. She brings him to another Wildling, aptly named the Lord of Bones, with his armor made of those he has killed. Not quite as cool as the book suggests, but quality costume design nonetheless. Although, when you think about it, probably not the best strategic decision on his part, with all the rattling and what not.
The Lord of Bones, naturally, wants to kill Snow but they decide it would be better to bring him to the King-beyond-the-wall, Mance Rayder. It will be interesting to see if we actually catch a glimpse of Mance this season, considering that he was not officially present in the second book.
On the way to the camp, John reacquaints himself with the also captured Qhorin Halfhand. During the walk, Halfhand quietly tells Jon that one Night’s Watch brother as a spy inside the Wildling camp is worth 1,000 men openly fighting against them. He then loudly picks a fight with Jon, making it seem like Jon is a traitor, and consequently, of more use to the Wildlings than the Nights Watch.
This is a interesting strategy that a normal human may not have been willing to consider, but this is Qhorin Halfhand we’re talking about!
We then move south to Robb’s camp, where he and Talisa are continuing the unofficial courtship that they have been engaging in. During this alone time, they’re informed that Jaime Lannister, the Kingslayer, has escaped. Once back at camp, Robb speaks with his mother Catelyn and Lord Karrstark, both of whom have differing opinions on what to do with Jaime. Robb wants him as a bargaining chip, Lord Karrstark wants him dead and Cat proves that she was partly to blame for the escape by stating that she wanted to trade Jaime for her daughters.
Robb obviously has the last say and after realizing his mother’s deception, he tells her, “Jaime Lannister has played you for a fool, you’ve weakened our position, you’ve brought discord into our camp.” Damn. Then, in a bit of a domestic role change, he decides to send her to her room.
Later than night, Robb is back with Talisa and talking about the disturbing news from Winterfell. He laments about the fact that he cannot even protect his own land. Even though he is extremely angry at Theon, he does not think that he will hurt his brothers. Being a “just” king, but also a honorable Stark at the same time, Robb also states that any Iron Islander who surrenders will be able to keep their life, except for Theon. That’s nice of him. Robb is definitely the populist king of the contenders now that Renly is out of the picture.
After all of the war business is over, Robb then listens to the “siren song” of Talisa, who lets him know a little bit more about her. After he cannot take another word and is completely enraptured by the young noble, he mentions suddenly that he “does not want to marry the Frey girl.” Talisa responds with the obvious, “I don’t want you to marry her either” and “But you needed that bridge, I hope it is a lovely bridge.” There is something sexy about a lady who understands “the game.” Needless to say, they consummate their relationship.
The Kings Road
After hearing of the Kingslayers’ escape, we learn exactly what happened as we see Brienne of Tarth escorting Jaime Lannister to Kings Landing. This is a pretty funny pair, with Jaime making sure to get under Brienne’s skin the whole time with witty statements like, “you are as boring as you are ugly.” Ouch. He continually challenges her to a fight, but also knows that he is in a much better position than a few hours before and understands that he is moving in the right direction…South.
At Harenhall we see a newly resolute Tywin Lannister hearing word that Stannis is two days from King’s Landing. He immediately sets off to what seems to be Robb Stark, but this is not for certain. Arya hears this and is naturally alarmed by the news. She immediately tries to find the reliable Jaqen H’ghar to settle his final debt. After locating him, she pleads for him to kill Tywin, but the man from Lorath is not interested in that particular mark. Instead he asks her to choose another name, and being the smartass she is, she says Jaqen H’ghar.
Arya says she’ll only let him off the hook if he helps her and her friends escape Harrenhal. Getting them out means killing more than one person, which to Jaqen sounds like cheating. He accuses her of not being honorable, with which Arya gives a hilarious little shrug (she is defintitely different than the rest of the Starks). He tells her she must follow his instructions, which she gladly accepts.
Later that night, Arya, Hot Pie and Gendry make their way out of Harenhall after seeing that Jagen has dispatched of the guards in his own creative way. Where could they be headed?
On a side note, Jaqen is one of the characters who I definitely like more in the show than the book. Kudos to the showrunners for the character’s casting and for making him an engaging presence.
Meanwhile, in the capital, Tyrion and Bronne are hard at work developing the proper strategy for when the elder Baratheon makes it to their shores. While they fumble over their proposed plans to guard the vulnerable Mud Gate, Varys joins them in what may be the most entertaining group of three that Westeros can offer. During this meeting of the minds, Varys brings the usual profound and eye opening statements he is known for by saying that King’s Landing is more at risk of starvation than anything else, expanding the already difficult defense issues that the Lannisters are having.
Later, Tryion is having dinner with Cersei and discussing what a fool Joffrey actually is. Then, we see a little twinkle in her eye, subliminally stating that she is currently taking part in a sadistic little game that she is truly enjoying. The game she is playing, which she tells her brother, has to do with his beloved whore that he is hiding. Hearing this, Tyrion immediately become deathly serious and tries to get to the bottom of this in the least conspicuous manner possible, not leading on how much Shea means to him.
Happy with herself, Cersei brings in a beaten woman whom she thinks is Tyrion’s love, but luckily for the dwarf, she has chosen the wrong whore and has brought Ros in to the room. Relieved, yet still shell-shocked, Tryion makes it seem like she was right all along and swears to Ros that he will help her. Close call for Tyrion on this one, who immediately goes to seek out Shea to ensure that she is safe, which she is
Finally, we see Joffrey becoming more confident about his chances against Stannis, making some big pronouncements about what he is going to do.
Moving off the coast of King’s Landing to Stannis and his massive fleet of warships, we see him discussing the impending attack with Davos while also reminiscing past achievements. Here, we learn how The Onion Knight got his nickname, along with witnessing the vote of confidence given by Stannis as he tells Davos that he will be the Hand of the King if he claims the Iron Throne.
Across the sea, Dany and Joren are debating her intentions of going into the Hall of the Undying. She is adamant about being a “mother” and that she will not “flee without her children, because they are the only ones she will ever have.” When Joren argues this point, Dany does exactly what she needs to do and simply touches Joren’s face while comforting his anxieties, effectively making him puddy in her hands. Case closed. Off to the Hall of the Undying to take back the dragons!!
Back to where the episode started, we are in Winterfell again with Maester Luwin taking a nightly stroll when he spies Osha sneaking some loaves of bread into the castle tomb. He follows her to the underground crypts, where he discovers what many already suspected: Bran and Rickon are alive…and they are hiding right under Theon Greyjoy’s nose! And with that, the episode ends.
To be honest, I thought this week’s episode was great. I’m one of those people who enjoys the build up almost as much, if not more, than the big fight. That being said, I may be singing a different tune next Sunday since one of the best parts of Clash of Kings is the huge Battle of Blackwater Bay. This event gets an extensive amount of description in the book and I am interested to see how it translates to the screen. Although I am sure that the show will not be able to include all the action from the book, I believe that next week will have some of the highest quality television warfare that we have ever seen, and I simply can’t wait.