Game of Thrones Season 2, Episode 5: "The Ghost of Harrenhal" was notable not because a major character died — that's par for the course with this show — but because it featured exactly zero sex scenes. Not even a boob. No nudity! Nix! Nada! The closest we came was a brief, gratuitous glimpse of Gendry shirtless, but that's so tame it would be ABC Family approved.
Gawker recently posted an article calling the episode dry, but I couldn't disagree more: I found the lack of sex refreshing. I've said before that I don't mind the show's use of sexposition on priciple. I even agree that it can be illuminating. But like any narrative tool, if overused it can become grating, and I was happy to see Game of Thrones prove it can be just as engaging without the nudity.
Like every episode of Game of Thrones, this one required a lot of information to be conveyed, but this week the writers trusted their characters to be interesting enough to carry exposition laden scenes on their own merits, and I think it worked.
For example, we were given a lot of information about wildfire all at once, but Bronn's gruff, snarky take on the weapon gave his character something to do, made me laugh, and kept the info dump lively. Up beyond the Wall, Sam's chatter with his brothers about the First Men helped establish Westeros history while also giving viewers a sense of the Night's Watch's dynamic and drilling home the point that Sam likes to read.
And, of course, Tywin's discussion with his advisors filled us in on Robb's war while fleshing out Tywin's role as a tough, practical leader and frightening foe. His stare-down with Arya was the best moment of the episode; it was far more enthralling than any sex scene the show's had.
I'm not saying sex should be removed from the writers' toolbox entirely, but for me, it was definitely not missed this week. I hope the writers continue to move away from falling back on the same trick week after week, and instead allow their characters to carry the scene, sans naked bodies, when appropriate.
What do you think? Was this episode as entertaining as ever, or did you find all the talking a bit dry? Voice your opinions in the comments below.
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Catch the next episode of Game of Thrones on Sunday, May 6 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.
Rebecca Martin is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @BeccaMartin47.
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