TV REVIEW: Game of Thrones Season 2 Episode 5 – The Ghost of Harrenhal

The assassin that Melisandre gave birth to at the end of the last episode of Game of Thrones wreaks havoc on King Renly and Catelyn Stark’s plans, Tywin Lannister quizzes his new cupbearer Arya about her origins, Daenerys receives an unexpected proposition in Quarth and Tyrion discovers the weapon his sister is creating.

Once again there is lots going on in this week’s Game of Thrones, but as the season has gone on, the show has sidelined certain storylines for an episode or two, to allow the others to grow and develop. That is precisely what is going on this week.

The smoky assassin murders King Renly Baratheon, sending the camp into chaos with Stannis Baratheon approaching, and Brienne and Catelyn on the run together. The alliance between Catelyn and Brienne is a sensible one; brains and brawn. The two swear loyalty to one another, and it is clear that Brienne, the warrior woman, is going to play a large part in the battle for the Iron Throne, even if she does just want revenge on Stannis for killing her king.

Tyrion discovers that his sister has been consulting a Pyromancer and has stockpiled Wildfire in order to defend King’s Landing from her brother in law Stannis. The death of Renly Baratheon is felt even this far away, as this means there is one less foe for Stannis to face before he reaches the Lannister’s stronghold. In typical Tyrion form, he commandeers the stockpile of Wildfire for his own, which begs the question; what is Tyrion’s endgame?

As Tywin Lannister’s cupbearer, Arya Stark is suddenly privy to a lot more information than she was before. Tywin believes her to be from the North, and quizzes her on her heritage, but Arya is quick enough to lie to her enemy. She then strikes up a bargain with Jacquen – one of the men she freed from the camp – who vows to kill three people of her choosing as payback for his freedom. Arya quickly chooses the torturer to be her first victim. Arya is quickly becoming one of the strongest, most sturdy minded and quick-witted characters in Game of Thrones. It is not just luck that has allowed her to survive for this long, and she is a world apart from her sister who cowers at the feet of her husband to be. So far this season, Maisie Williams has shown that she is an actress to watch, and she brings layer after layer of subtlety and nuance to her role as princess on the run.

Daenerys Targeryen is settling in nicely in the city of Quarth, and is beginning to have fun with the idea of training her dragons. She has been given the title of Mother of Dragons, and as such, is incredibly sought after. The House of The Undying want her for their own, as does Xaro; the man who vouched for her at the entrance to the city. Xaro proposes marriage, ships and horses, but Jorah quickly advises against it as the victory would not be hers. There has always been a strong relationship between Jorah and Daenerys, but now there is the idea that he is in love with her. It is probably true – he knows her better than she would like – but it doesn’t seem likely that she will fall into his arms any time soon.

Meanwhile, Stannis has to deal with the notion that Melisandre may not be the ally he believes her to be, Bran is still suffering from disturbing dreams, Jon Snow finally reaches the Wall and Theon Greyjoy must prove to his men that he is a worthy Captain.

This was a great episode of Game of Thrones that took out one of the contenders for the Iron Throne, forced some alliances to end and others to be forged. Arya is sure to be a threat to the Lannisters, and one that could prove invaluable, and it is always fun to wonder what Tyrion Lannister is up to; his loyalty lies with himself, first and foremost. With Stannis Baratheon on the horizon and a city close to Winterfell under siege, it is not going to be long before the battle for King’s Landing explodes on to our screens. We can’t wait for the scrimmage, and to see who will finally emerge victorious.

GS Reviewer: Brogen Hayes

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