Game of Thrones Recap: Episode 202, The Night Lands

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Game of Thrones returned Sunday night and Season 2’s second episode picked up where last week’s premier left off. There is still turmoil in the realm and everyone, and their brothers, are gaming to take control of the throne.

After the king’s men brutally murdered the remainder of King Robert’s bastards we finally get a look at what Arya is up to. If you remember, she fled the city with a band of rogues headed for the Wall and the Night’s Watch. Among those rogues was Gendry, the last remaining bastard. The group is stopped when two of the King’s men approach claiming they are looking for Gendry. This surprised Arya as she assumed they were looking for her. After they leave she confesses her true identity to Gendry, who had already guessed she wasn’t a boy. He jokes about calling her “M’lady”, which she hates, and they seem to form a bond.

This week only gave us a brief update on Daenerys and her Khalasar, who are still lost in the desert. They are awaiting one of the four riders she sent off to come back with good news. It’s hot, they are thirsty and finally a lone horse returns. As they rise to greet it they realize it does not have a rider. The horse is carrying a satchel which contains the severed head of Rakharo, one of her most trusted men.

Not exactly the oasis they were hoping to find out in the desert.

This week’s episode focused mainly on two story lines. The first was Theon Greyjoy finally returning to his home island, The Pyke. Aboard a ship, as the island approaches, he brags to the captain’s daughter that he will be welcomed like the true heir to the Pyke that he is. She seems to like that and begs him to take her with him. He declines, but doesn’t let that stop her from taking his pleasure from her. We learned in season one that Theon was a bit randy, and it seems he still is.

When he gets ashore, nobody is waiting for him. When he tells an ancient looking man who he is, he gets no reaction. Then another woman shows up saying she can take him to the castle to see his father. They share a horse and Theon continues to talk a big game, even groping the poor girl as they ride. As creepy as that is, it gets even creepier when we discover later that she is really his sister, who has taken over his favor in their father’s eyes.

Theon’s reunion with his father does not go as he had hoped. Balon Greyjoy is old and still bitter that the Starks killed his other son’s and took away his crown. He insults Theon, claiming his Northern clothes make him look like a ‘Whore’ and rips a medallion off of him for not earning it. He declines Theon’s request to join the Starks and informs him that his sister, Asha, is more fit to command than he is.

Theon was always kind of a weasel and this episode did not do anything to change that.

The second main story line was back in King’s Landing where Tyrion begins to swing his new power as King of the Hand around a bit. First off he dismisses Lord Janos Slynt to be banished to the Night’s Watch. He does it in a classic Tyrion Lannister fashion. He invites Lord Janos to a lavish dinner and questions him about his role in the bastard killing, as well as what role he played in Ned Stark’s death. When Janos has heard enough he admonishes Tyrion for questioning his honor. Tyrion smiles and says “I am not questioning your honor Janos, I’m suggesting it doesn’t exist”. At which point he orders Janos’ former soldiers to take him away. Tyrion is playing the Game of Thrones like an expert.

Later he has another run in with his sister the queen and after he insinuates that he knows about her incestuous affair she cuts back by blaming their mother’s death on him. This scene further explains their rivalry and makes it clear that they are not going to play nicely this season.

Tyrion continues to be the character with the most depth on Game of Thrones. He is a member of the Lannister household, and they are clearly the bad guys here, but he has an underlying honor and you can’t help but think that deep down he is a good guy.

The show also gave us a look on what was happening with Stannis Baratheon and his desire to take the throne. He begins to gain allies to attack with, but bemoans the fact that his brother, Renly, has more men than he does. The priestess Melisandre is there to convince him it will all happen for him, and then seduces him by promising him a son. They end up having sex on his big map table while toy boats and soldiers fall to the ground.

Can you really trust a priestess who wants to do it on a map table?

The show ends in a creepy fashion with the Night’s Watch, who are still camped out at Craster’s Keep. Jon Snow had wondered last week what Craster did with the sons his daughter/wives bore him. Nobody seemed to know, but after one was born Jon follows Craster into the woods. Craster carries the infant and leaves it there. Strange noises start echoing through the forest and Jon draws his sword and runs towards the crying baby. When he gets there, a strange figure has the baby and turns to leave with it. This is the same strange creature that killed the Night’s Watchmen from the opening scene of season one. Jon turns to return to camp when Craster finds him and punches him.

Fans of the book will either love or hate this scene as it was not in the book. You may love that HBO is giving us a new look, or you may loathe the fact they strayed, even slightly, from the original text. Either way, it will get us watching next week.

In Memorium:

Well, it was a slow week for deaths on Game of Thrones this week. The only character we have to mourn is poor Rakharo. This was a tough loss as he was always there to protect Daenerys and we wonder who will do that now.

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