Are you still reeling from Melisandre's horror-film-worthy birth? Then read on for Wetpaint Entertainment's in-depth recap of Game of Thrones Season 2, Episode 4: “Garden of Bones.”
The Stormlands: Brothers Fight, Monsters Are Born, It's All Good
The most exciting action this episode was in the Stormlands with the Baratheon brothers, so let's start there.
First, we have the adventures of Littlefinger, who is playing all kinds of angles. He tries to make nice with Renly, hinting that he could offer help from inside King's Landing if Renly makes it that far. Lesson: Littlefinger will always jump ship to what looks like the winning side. But don't worry, he's not playing too nice — he tries to intimidate Margaery with knowledge of her husband's gayness, but she's pretty unfazed. This girl will rock if she ever makes it to King's Landing. She is everything Cersei wishes she could be.
Littlefinger makes his way over to Cat, who's less than pleased to see him, what with him betraying her husband. Littlefinger tries the I love you angle, and when that doesn't fly, switches to a businessman approach. Tyrion is willing to trade the Stark girls — because they totally still have Arya at King's Landing in Littlefinger's made-up world — for Jaime. Cat's all, duh, but Robb would never allow it. Littlefinger tugs at her motherly heartstrings, and then makes a finale gesture of “goodwill”: he returns Ned's bones. Cat is moved, even though Littlefinger kind of ruins the moment by continuing to prattle on. Let her dead husband's body speak for itself, dude.
Next: Stannis is here! Did we know he was coming? Anyway, he has a new banner, with an added fiery heart, symbolizing the Lord of Light, of course. Renly's amused by the idea of his brother being a religious man, and calls him a charmless bore. Cat intervenes, telling them to stop acting like ridiculous children. It does not help. In fact, she just makes Stannis angrier since Ned — the one other person who liked rules as much as Stannis does — was on his side. Did you know the Iron Throne is his by right? Because he hadn't mentioned that yet this episode. Renly refuses to give in — he's the one with the army and the hordes of people who actually want him as King, after all. Stannis insists Renly has one night to reconsider, and rides off. “I loved him once,” Renly tells Loras. We find that a little hard to believe, but it's still sad.
Now, Stannis might have Right and Light on his side, but Renly clearly has Might. What does Stannis plan to do in the morning, since it's obvious Renly's not going to back down? The answer is probably not what you expected.
On Stannis' boat, Stannis gives the ever-loyal Davos a task: He needs to tap into his smuggler roots to get Melisandre onshore. Davos protests, calling whatever Stannis has up his sleeve unclean, but Stannis is undeterred. War is unclean, he declares. Fair enough.
So Davos and Melisandre go for a little late-night joyride in a rowboat; Melisandre philosophizes about good and evil, because you can't be a mysterious priestess without talking cryptically in every single scene you are in. They come to a cave, but the way is blocked. But that's fine, because Mel doesn't need to go further.
She disrobes, revealing that she's heavily pregnant. Then, in one of the most gorgeous, grotesque, and well-lit scenes on the entire show, she gives birth. Her stomach wriggles and ripples, and out crawls a shadow monster. Part claws, part flowing smoke, it rises, huge as the cave, and then flows through the gate. BAM.
Renly? Whatever this thing is doing, you are screwed.
Robb's War: Still Kicking Butt, and Killing Fishermen's Kids
Robb is still off kicking butt, as we see when he and his men ambush a Lannister camp in the middle of the night, surprising everyone with their manly stares and OMG WOLF ATTACK.
We fade to black (good job conserving the budget, guys), and then fade up on a field full of dead bodies and screaming men. Robb is being congratulated on his success by a man named Roose Bolton, a mild-mannered Stark bannerman who happens to think flaying their prisoners for information is great idea. Robb, being a decent upstanding guy who doesn't want to give the Lannister's a reason to torture his sisters, puts the ixnay on that. The Jack Bauer theory of information gathering does not fly up North.
In case you've missed the part where this is a grim, realistic take on a fantasy world, we're next treated to the lovely image of a boy getting his leg literally sawed off in the middle of the battlefield to prevent “the rot” from spreading. War is hell, y'all. War is hell.
Robb goes to chat with the pretty nurse who worked said saw, and she gives him a lovely populist speech. That boy was just a fisherman's son, he didn't know anything about fighting, nor did he have a stake in the battle. It's a good reminder that as much as life sucks for our heroes, it sucks about ten thousand times more for the common people who get caught in the crossfire.
The pretty nurse is not swayed by Robb's desire to rid the world of Joffrey, either, and points out that killing the King without a replacement in mind is a really irresponsible plan. We love you Robb, but this woman has a point. She rides off while Robb stares after her, wistful.
King's Landing: Welcome to Westeros Psycho
In this week's installment of “Joffrey is The Worst,” Joffrey is even even more The Worst than normal.
First, he takes his anger at Robb's continued success out on the one Stark he has handy, Sansa. He sadistically aims a crossbow at his fiancee and commands one of his Kingsguard to strip and beat her — but “leave her face, I like her pretty.” Seriously, where did he learn to be this awful? Did he secretly hang out with Roose Bolton as a kid?
Fortunately, Tyrion intervenes before the knight gets to hitting Sansa with a sword (WTF!?). The Hound gives Sansa a cloak to cover herself with while Tyrion “educates” Joffrey via calling him a halfwit (awesome) and telling him to stop abusing his future Queen in front of the whole court. On top of being a terrible thing to do, it's not particularly politically savvy, after all. Tyrion offers Sansa his hand and escorts her out. Despite everything that happened, she says she is still loyal to her “true love,” Joffrey. Girl is learning fast.
Bronn, being the simple man he is, suggests a good screw might calm Joffrey down. He is a horny teen, after all. Tyrion decides this plan is worth a shot, and sends Joff a couple whores (including our dear friend Ros), as a belated Name Day present.
The plan fails. Spectacularly.
Instead of Joffrey getting his jollies on, we're given a scene straight out of American Psycho, except starring a, what, fourteen-year-old? Fifteen-year-old? Do we know how old Joffrey is? We're focusing on that, because we don't really want to talk about the sadistic torture porn that happens here. Suffice to say, Joffrey has Ros do terrible things to the other prostitute, and then tells her to go leave the other girl in Tyrion's room as a message.
Let's not think about that scene ever again, okay? There are some things we just cannot unsee. Why, HBO? WHY.
Anyway, it's unclear if Tyrion ever got Joff's “message.” However, he does get a message from Lancel Lannister, the wimpy cousin Cersei is banging. Cersei wants Pycelle released from the dungeons. Tyrion agrees. One catch — he's not an idiot, so he realizes that Lancel delivering the message in the middle of the night + Lancel smelling like lavender oil = Lancel is totally boning his sister. Since Lancel is pretty bad at life, he caves and admits everything as soon as Tyrion starts threatening to tell Joffrey, who would probably shoot Lancel in the face with his crossbow if he ever found out. Lancel agrees to spy on Cersei for Tyrion.
Can we take a second to appreciate how much better at being Hand Tyrion is than Ned? No disrespect to the dearly departed, but Tyrion is just owning Cersei at this point. Too bad about Joffrey being an uncontrollable psychopath.
Qarth: Define “Receive”
Dany's back, and things are finally looking up for our favorite Khaleesi. One of her riders has found a city, Qarth, just three days away. The desert around their walls is called the Garden of Bones, but it's cool, because they said they'd be happy to receive the Mother of Dragons.
Turns out Qarth's idea of reception isn't exactly red carpet treatment. Dany is met at the gates...by a ton of soldiers. Accompanying the scary men with spears are “The Thirteen,” the rulers of the city. A skivvy, unnamed merchant speaks for all of them, demanding to see Dany's dragons before they let her in. They want proof that the dragons are real, but Dany's all No, my word should be good enough, and also we don't have the CGI budget for that. When that's not enough, she starts making a speech about how she's going to come back and burn their city when her dragons are all grown up. Way to win friends and influence people, Dany. The Thirteen are not impressed.
Fortunately, Dany gains an unexpected ally in a hulking Summer Islander named Xaro Xhoan Daxos, who breaks from the rest of The Thirteen. He invokes some rite or something, cuts his hand, and somehow that means they have to let her in. The details aren't important. Point is, Dany and her people have refuge! And like every new location so far this season, the city is breathtaking, a desert-yellow dream. We can't wait to see more scenes set here.
Harrenhal: So, This Sucks
Arya is brought to Harrenhal, a huge castle that towers gloomily, exactly like any cursed castle should. Just looking at it you can tell that, as Arya says, it smells like dead people. It's seriously well executed. This show you guys! How is it so good?
Arya and co. are herded into a pen with other prisoners, just in time to see someone tortured to death. Apparently one person gets picked every day for the honor of dying at the hands of the sadists in charge. That night, Arya goes to sleep whispering the names of all the people she hates: Joffrey, Cersei, Ilyn Payne (her father's executor), the Hound.
The next day, we re-meet the Mountain, the Hound's eviler, larger brother. He's the one who picks who gets tortured. Arya's buddy Hot Pie tries staring The Hound down, because one prisoner says he always stares and never gets picked. And then The Mountain picks the guy who stares. Not Hot Pie, the other one. So that theory's out.
Mr. Stare is subjected to a rat eating his flesh while he's questioned. So that's great. They want to know where the money is hidden in some village, and also where “The Brotherhood” is, whatever that is. The man eventually gives in and rats on one of the villagers, but that doesn't save him. Which...is kind of a bad strategy, right? Like, they just killed that guy in front of all the other prisoners, so now they know giving up information won't help them. How does that make sense?
The next day, Gendry gets chosen. OH NO. Fortunately, Tywin Lannister swoops in and saves the day. Seriously. See, Tywin is a dick, but he's a pragmatic dick, and he realizes killing off free labor is dumb. Gendry, for instance, is a smith — clearly he is more useful alive then dead. Tywin also quickly realizes that Arya is a girl, and is amused when she explains it's safer to travel that way. “Smart,” he concludes, and declares that she's to be his new cup bearer. Well, that should be a fun and enlightening experience for her.
- What was Margaery wearing?
- Loras's entire role this episode was once again to make bitch faces in the background while everyone else was talking. His sister is so much cooler.
- We love that Stannis corrected Davos's grammar. Way to keep everything in perspective, Stannis.
- “A naked men has few secrets, a flayed men none.” Man, even the Starks have sucky friends. Roose Bolton was in this for all of two seconds, but he was perfect.
- “The boy was lucky you were here,”/”He's unlucky you were.” Robb got told.
- Tyrion line of the week: "I could swear that I had not harmed a single hair on his head, but that would not, strictly speaking, be true."
Catch the next episode of Game of Thrones on Sunday, April 29 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.
Rebecca Martin is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @BeccaMartin47.