On the upside, we get to spend a lot of time with some of our favorites (Arya!), and we are given a deeper look at some of the new characters. So read on for Wetpaint Entertainment's recap of Season 2, Episode 2: “The Night Lands.”
Along the Road: New Friends, Old Enemies
Last week, we complained that there wasn’t enough Arya, but this week totally makes up for it with two fantastic sequences featuring the wolf in boy’s clothing.
First, the mysteriously well-spoken Jaquen H'ghar tries to befriend “Arry” through the bars of his cage, apparently amused by her bravado. However, their budding friendship is cut short by his barely-human cagemates. Arya gives up on chatting with him after one of them threatens to sodomize her with a stick.
It doesn’t really matter, though, because Arya already has a friend in Gendry, the blacksmith's apprentice. It's too bad Gendry, as we learned last week, has a target on his back. And whoops, here come Joffrey’s men. Arya immediately hides, assuming they’re looking for her, which tips her new companion off that there's something strange about her. But neither she nor Gendry needs to worry just yet, because Yoren — the Night's Watch member taking them all north — is a total badass. He manages to send the two riders off by threatening them with a single knife. Awesome.
Later, Arya wants to know why Joffrey's men are after Gendry, but he doesn’t have any idea — all he knows is that people keep asking about him, and then dying. What people? Oh, you know, just the last two Hands of the King. Arya manages not to give away too much when he mentions her dad, but her attempts at subtley end up being pointless. Gendry’s already figured out she’s a girl because he's not a complete moron, and when she can’t to whip out her non-existent penis to disprove his theory, she realizes the charade is over.
So she just goes ahead and tells him her identity. Because apparently she failed to learn the lesson about not trusting anyone. Fortunately, Gendry seems like a decent, trustworthy guy, and the scene dissolves into a rare moment of true sweetness as he gets all awkward about her being a lady. “All that about cocks, I should never have said that.” Arya pushes him over when he tries to call her m'lady and oh my god you guys. She’s a child, but they are still so adorable. They should totally get married when she grows up. You know, if he hasn’t been murdered yet.
Beyond the Wall: Don't Talk to the Daughter-Wives!
Sadly, the only other Stark (well, kinda Stark, anyway) we see this episode, Jon, is not having nearly as much fun as his half-sister. This week, he finds himself in trouble when Sam befriends one of Creepy Craster's daughter-wives, Gilly, exactly like he was told not to.
Gilly is pregnant, and she wants to run away with the Night's Watch because if her kid's a boy something bad will happen. What something? Oh, just something. Something bad. Jon's kind of a dick about it, but he's basically right that it's unreasonable for her to ask Jon and Sam to risk their lives spiriting her away from Craster without even telling them why.
Sam, ever the sweetheart, is upset at Jon for refusing to step up. Who cares about practicality when there's a pretty girl who needs his help? (Though we do give him props for pointing out that he wouldn't be stealing Gilly from Craster, because she's a person who makes her own decisions. It looks like we've got a little proto-feminist on our hands. Too bad this is not the world for that).
But lest we forget that Jon is one of the good guys, the episode ends with him following a baby-carrying Craster into the woods, where he discovers exactly that happens to the boys — they're left for the Others to take. How evil! Jon waves his sword around a lot, but only manages to achieve getting hit over the head by Craster. A+ work, Snow.
The Red Waste: Yep, Still Sucks Out Here
We only get one scene with Dany this week, and things are not looking good for the Mother of the Dragons. She and her people are still in the desert, starving, as they wait for her Blood Riders to return. Which one does — minus a body. Jorah assumes it's a message from another Khal; they don't like that a woman is running a Khalasar. “They will like it far less when I am done with them,” Dany declares, which would be way more convincing if she had anything other than a handful of starving Dothraki and some apparently useless baby dragons going for her.
King's Landing: Whores, Shakeups, and the Aftermath of Slaughter
A lot goes on in King's Landing this episode. Of course, a lot goes in King's Landing every episode. While everyone else is off trying to beat the elements and the Others, the Lannisters and co. spend their time playing a much more subtle game of survival, which takes a lot longer to explain. So. Onwards!
First, Tyrion and Varys have an amazing battle of words after Varys subtly threatens Tyrion about Shae. Tyrion makes it very clear that, unlike Ned Stark, he's not a man of honor, and he's more than ready to jump into King's Landing's intricate political fray. Varys, meanwhile, reminds Tyrion that he's a hard one to get rid of — the Master of Whispers is also a master of survival. These two should totally join forces, get Littlefinger on their side, and just straight up take over the world on the basis of their ability to talk alone.
Next: Small council meeting! The council receives Robb's demands, but Cersei is having none of it, and sends her poor cousin back to Robb's camp to deliver her giant F-you in person. But don't worry, she's not totally heartless: she expresses plenty of concern over her brother/lover. Yay? Then the council receives a letter from the Night's Watch begging for more men because the dead are literally rising and that's the kind of thing everyone should be concerned about. Despite Tyrion's insistence that Mormont wouldn't lie, Cersei dismisses the request because she doesn't believe it. We feel like there's a parallel to be drawn here about politicians and global warming.
For a random change of pace, we also see Littlefinger threatening a sobbing Ros, who's upset about the baby that Joffrey had killed last episode. Littlefinger basically tells her to suck it up and start working again or he's going to sell her off to some sicko for a profit. Except he does it way more subtly and at much greater length, and also there was a really unnecessary sex scene at the beginning of this sequence.
Back to Tyrion, who proves he is absolutely all kinds of amazing by firing Janos Slynt, the baby-murdering head of the City Watch. This move is brilliant because it kills two birds with one stone — it lets Tyrion install his sellsword friend, Bronn (yay, Bronn! Hi Bronn!), as head of the City Watch, which essentially puts Tyrion in charge of it, and it lets him send Janos off to The Wall, where his murderous disposition can be put to good use defending Westeros.
Cersei, of course, is furious when she finds out about this, since Janos was under her control. Tyrion doesn't care, because as far as he's concerned Cersei is completely incompetent, and having the City Watch kill Robert's billion bastards in broad daylight was basically the worst PR move since Watergate. Cersei tries to defend the slaughter, but Tyrion quickly figures out it wasn't her call at all — it was Joffrey's, which makes Cersei incompetent in a different way; her ideas might not be terrible, but her inability to control her literally sociopathic child is a major problem.
Cersei snaps back that Tyrion has never taken ruling seriously. This little speech almost makes us feel bad for her, but then she goes off on a tangent about how Tyrion's to blame for their mother's death. Which, dude. We understand that you've been psychologically warped by growing up without any sort of female role model, but there was really nothing Tyrion could do about being born.
Pyke: Welcome Home, You Pathetic Sissy
This episode also features a whole lot of Theon, whose role has already grown exponentially from back in the day when half the TV-only fans we talked to couldn't remember who he was.
Theon is headed home to the island of Pyke to convince his dad to team up with Robb. But first, he has to fuck some random girl on the boat-ride there. And be a totally asshole about it! For no reason! And ramble about how people from the Iron Islands are hardened killers, but in a good way! We'd accuse this scene of just being more sexposition, but it's pretty much word-for-word from the book. Theon really likes bragging during sex. It's an established character trait.
Once he makes it to the Iron Islands, Theon finds another seemingly random chick who is willing to give him a ride to Pyke. During said ride Theon continues to be a braggart and fondles her and acts like he's the greatest thing ever because he's the prodigal son returning home. The girl is all, “yeah, sure, whatever you say.”
So, Theon finally gets to Pyke, and goes to talk to daddy dearest, Balon Greyjoy. He lays out his plan — that the Greyjoys help Robb, and in return Balon gets to be King of the Iron Islands — and Balon embraces him and says it's the most brilliant idea ever. Then they have some father-son bonding over a giant feast in Theon's honor, and everything is wonderful.
Ha! No, that's not what happens at all. Have you watched this show?
If you haven't figured it out yet, the Iron Islanders are basically the Vikings of Westeros, and Balon thinks Theon has been turned into a pathetic sissy-boy, with his nice clothing and his jewelry that he bought instead of killing someone for (yeah, that's how they roll on the Iron Islands). As for the plan — please. Balon likes the idea of being king, but he ain't gonna have the title handed to him by some Stark. No, he will fight for the Iron Island's independence himself!
And Theon thinking he'll lead the Greyjoy forces himself? Yeah, not so much. Despite Theon's insistence that his blood is still iron and salt, Balon doesn't believe it. He may not have any other sons (because the Starks killed them all), but he does have a daughter, Yara. And Yara is...the girl Theon was fondling an the ride over! Because this show definitely needed more incest. Yara, unlike Theon, is a true Iron Islander, who knows the sea and how to kill a man. Balon would rather put her in charge than Theon.
When Theon insists that the Greyjoys don't stand a chance against the Lannisters alone, Balon responds, “who said anything about the Lannisters?” Uh-oh. Does this mean he's going attack the North again, like he did years ago? Either way, Theon's plan is an epic, epic failure.
Dragonstone: Give In to the Lord of Light
Over at Dragonstone, Davos is attempting to secure Stannis some actual men to fight on his side. Being a former smuggler, he turns to an unlikely ally: Salladhor Saan, a pirate. It takes some persuasion, but eventually the promise of gold, fame, and possible sex with Cersei wins Salladhor over.
This scene helps establish a few things: Stannis has the smallest army, but, unlike Joffrey and Renly, he actually has some experience with war; Davos has a son who is deeply religious; Davos himself doesn't care about any gods — Stannis is his personal savior, and the only thing he puts faith in; and Salladhor is hilarious.
To Stannis's credit, he's willing to take Davos's word that Salladhor is a worthwhile ally, and for him it's a given that Salladhor and his men will get their share of the riches if Stannis's attack on King's Landing succeeds. While Davos and Stannis are discussing this in the Room of Planning, Melisandre eye-fucks Stannis from across the room, so he tells everyone else to leave.
Stannis complains to Melisandre that he's done everything she's said, but he's still in a terrible position. He doesn't really have faith that the Lord of Light will solve all of his problems, and he's pragmatic enough to know that his tiny army puts him at a major disadvantage. He's especially hung up on the fact that his younger bro Renly has managed to raise a huge army — those men should, by all rights, be his, and he needs them to take down the Lannisters.
But it's cool, Melisandre has seen the path to victory in the flames, and Stannis just needs to give himself to the Lord of Light. Through her. By having sex with her. Because that's how magic works. Stannis protests that he has a wife, but Mel wins him over by promising him something his wife has yet to give him: A son. They screw on a giant map of Westeros, knocking little army pieces to the floor. Metaphorical? We'll find out in the weeks to come!
- The casting on this show continues to be astonishingly good. Most of the new characters are absolutely spot on.
- Tyrion line of the week: “I’m not questioning your honor, Lord Janos. I'm denying its existence.”
- The scene where Theon rides with Yara across the Iron Islands is absolutely gorgeous in a bleak way. The location scouts deserve major props.
- The fireplace in the Greyjoy's castle has an awesome image of a kraken carved over it. It looks great.
- “What is the world coming to when smugglers must vouch for the honor of kings?” Salladhor Saan is a smart man. We also love that he thinks he could charm Cersei into banging him. Clearly, he has not met her.
Check out all of Wetpaint Entertainment’s Game of Thrones coverage.
Rebecca Martin is an editor at Wetpaint. Follow her on Twitter @BeccaMartin47.
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