“If war were arithmetic, the mathematicians would rule the world.” – Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish, clearly a fan of Broadway, reminding us that you gotta have a gimmick!
One has to wonder if the beard-stroking cartographers at the Mercator Society get HBO. Has there ever been a time in the history of television when a glance at a map has been this exciting?
Episode four of the second season of Game of Thrones, “Garden of Bones,” opens with not one but two new locations in the realm of Westeros. The first, not far from King’s Landing, is Harrenhal – the place Tyrion Lannister teased might one day belong to Peytr Baelish (though after seeing it, I’d definitely refer to it as a fixer upper.) The second, across the Narrow and Shivering Seas (and, one would be correct in assuming, where Daenerys Targaryen, her Dothraki followers and her dragons are headed) is the awesomely spelled Qarth.
But before we visit either place, we open on the Lannister Camp. Two guards are gossiping about some of the other claimants to the Iron Throne (turns out Renly Baratheon and the Knight of Flowers’ alternative lifestyle is hardly a secret in the Realm) when Robb Stark and his Dire Wolves attack.
The next morning the field is littered with Lannister dead, but Robb Stark shows he’s still a good guy, aiding in the field surgery of one of his fallen cannon fodder enemies. He also makes small talk with a hottie Westeros version of Molly Pitcher from the other side (Jeyne Westerling), who seems to be the only one who realizes that the King in the North doesn’t have an endgame in mind after he defeats King Joffrey. Extra points for casting Charlie Chaplin’s granddaughter Oona!
Meanwhile, over in King’s Landing, King Joffrey is upping the dickbag ante by pointing a crossbow at his finance, Sansa Stark. He’s demanding that she “be accountable” for her brother’s treasonous behavior. Then he orders her stripped and beaten. (HBO takes a bit of the high road here, considering that Sansa “has not yet bled,” last we checked, so she is photographed tastefully.)
Luckily Tyrion busts in before it gets too ugly and breaks everything up. When accused of being threatening he responds “I am not threatening the King, I am educating my nephew.” But when Dinklage says it, it sounds really cool.
Wisely or not, Tyrion and Bronn decide that, perhaps, the comforting touch of a woman might chill Joffrey out. They send him a late gift for his name day – a pair of succulent wenches. (There was a special.) At first Joffrey seems shy, then, when he realizes they were a gift from his Uncle, he forces one to beat the other. Way to spoil it, jerk.
As this is going on, Petyr Baelish shows up at Renly Baratheon’s camp. Like Catelyn Stark, he’s hoping to get the dead King’s brother (and the backing of House Tyrrel) to join forces with him. Much like with the Starks, Renly plays it coy.
Baelish takes a walk with Renly’s Queen (who is wearing, like, an upside-down lampshade dress) and he reminds her that, while Renly may have numbers, he isn’t made of Regal stuff. (This is a none-too-veiled reference to the fact that they sleep in separate beds.)
Later, Baelish puts his nose inside of Catelyn Stark’s tent. He tries to put the moves on his old flame, and she pulls a knife on him. (Considering her husband was just decapitated, it may not have been the best of times.) He offers her an exchange – Jaime Lannister for her two daughters. (Yes, he lies and says he as Arya as well as Sansa.)
Catelyn kicks him out, but when he offers her Ned’s remains in a sign of good faith, you can tell she’s reconsidering.
A day or so later, Stannis Baratheon shows up. (Boy, this is, like, the worst hidden rebel base in history. Does he have a page on Yelp or something?) The two brothers bark at one another, while Catelyn tries to broker a peace. It ain’t gonna happen. War is coming.
So what’s going on with Arya Stark, you wonder? Well she, Gendry (the dead King’s bastard) and the other surviving prisoners have been taken to Harrenhal, which ought to be called HarrenHELL. No, actually it shouldn’t, that’s dumb.
But it is a terrible place, and here they are tortured one by one by Lannister troops looking for “gold and silver” and for local rebels. As Arya sleeps in mud and pig blood, she starts listing off the names of her enemies she wants to destroy. Girlfriend is growin’ up HARD, snap snap snap.
Just when it looks like Gendry is about to get killed (by having burning rats tossed down his shirt… it’s a little odd) Tywin Lannister shows up. It’s kinda like the Principal breaking up a wedgie circle. He quickly recognizes that Arya is a girl and is “special” and whisks her away to be his new cup-bearer.
Across the seas, good news finally comes to our starving Khaleesi, Daenerys Targaryen. There’s a town not too far away called Qarth. And they will receive her.
She and her band of Dothrakis stumble on over, where a fat prissy man representing the “Thirteen” wants to let her in, but only if she shows her dragons first. The Khaleesi is all “F you, I’m the Khaleesi, I’ll show you my dragons when I’m good and ready.” And the fat dude’s like, “No dragons, no food.” When it appears that they are at a standstill, a Afro-Westerian named Xaro Xhian Daxos (he sounds like a member of the Green Lantern Corps!) vouches for her.
The gates open, and the enter what, from the outside, looks like the coolest city since Avatar: The Last Airbender‘s Ba Sing Se.
Back to King’s Landing real quick. Queen Cersei sends Lancel (the little twink that was the dead King’s dopey aide) to ask Tyrion to release Pycelle from prison. Tyrion is quick to recognize that Lancel (his and Cersei’s cousin) has taken Jaime Lannister’s place as Executive in Charge of Regal Incest. (In other words, he’s boning the Queen.)
Tyrion threatens to tell King Joffrey, unless he agrees to be eyes and ears on Cersei. He does, and Pycelle is sprung. So now Tyrion has a mole with the Queen and with Sansa. There’s a reason Dinglage won that Emmy!
We conclude on Stannis Baratheon’s ship, where he plans a war and corrects peoples’ grammar. (I’m with him, though, people use the word “less” when they should say “fewer!!”)
He asks Davos, the former smuggler, to take the “red Priestess” Melisandre off the ship. He does and they row to a spooky cave somewhere. Just as he starts asking her if this “Lord of Light” business is all bunk, his lantern brightens.
Melisandre disrobes, shows a pregnant stomach and gets down on the ground. Her belly gurgles, and with her legs spread, black mist emerges from her womanly area. While my wife and I shouted “holy shit!” on the couch, a demon-like figure grows.
Yeah, that’s one way to grab someone’s attention.
Like I thought, episode 3 was a necessary set-up and while widespread warfare isn’t happening yet, the sex and violence on display in episode 4 is pretty intense. I give this one 8 Demonic Snatch Mists out of 10.
Photos courtesy of HBO