After last week’s busy episode, there wasn’t a lot of plot development happening in “Garden of Bones”. There were some great characters moments … but also some terrible character moments. Let’s break it down:
Apparently Joffrey’s previous psychotic behaviour was him ‘showing restraint’ because he comes completely unhinged in this episode. After learning of Robb Stark’s latest battle victory, Joffrey drags his betrothed in front of the court and uses her as a whipping post. But to clarify, Joffrey doesn’t actually administer the beating – he orders his equally sadistic Kingsguard to swat her around. Joffrey is the type of sicko who just likes to watch. And watch he does – gleefully – as his knights unburden Sansa of her clothes and reduce her to a helpless, quivering mess. Thankfully Tyrion marches into the throne room and puts a swift stop to the cruelty.
Bronn suggest that perhaps Joffrey is simply experiencing some ‘blockage’ (of the sperm variety in case I wasn’t being crass enough) and Tyrion sends his nephew some brothel girls to loosen him up. Yeah, that does not go well. Joffrey doesn’t take kindly to their attempts at being ‘friendly’ and instead orders one to whip the other while he aims a crossbow at them and smirks disgustingly. The horrified girls have no choice but to obey their repulsive little monarch. It may be a sign of how much this show has warped my mind that when Joffrey picks up a giant wooden scepter and tells one of the prostitutes to use it … my mind went somewhere worse than beating!
So Tyrion’s attempts at ‘managing’ Joffrey were less than successful, but he has much better luck with another cocky Lannister boy. Lancel, Cersei’s cousin and Jaime 2.0 is sent to Tyrion’s chambers to demand Pycelle’s release from prison. He enters puffed up like a peacock, but is soon begging for mercy after Tyrion threatens to reveal his incest. “Have you ever given any thought to what King Joffrey will say when he finds out you’ve been bedding his mother?” Tyrion blackmails the weak, pliable young man into spying and informing on his lover/cousin.
We got a new location in this week’s episode, which meant a new pop-up in the fantastic intro! The Mountain and his goons drag Arya, Gendry and the rest of the prisoners to Harrenhal, a giant black fortress, burned by Dragonfire. It’s a bleak and desolate place that most people swear is haunted.
But ghosts are the least of Arya’s worries as she watches members of her party tortured and killed during brutal interrogations. The questions are pointless and inane and it seems to make no difference that no one knows the answers. One person is chosen everyday to meet a gruesome fate, but every night Arya lies down in the dirt to sleep, whispering the names of everyone she wants to see dead, “Joffrey, Cersei, Ilyn Payne (executioner who murdered her father), the Hound, Polliver (interrogator), The Mountain”.
Tywin Lannister becomes Arya’s unlikely savior when he pays an unexpected visit to the camp and chastises the Mountain for killing prisoners who could be used for free labour. Better to slave than slaughter I always say! Hilariously, he immediately recognizes that Arya’s a girl and makes everyone else feel stupid for not seeing it. Arya covers by saying she travels as a boy because it’s safer and Tywin makes her his new cupbearer. Of course, he was no ideas she’s a STARK girl.
Renly and big brother Stannis arrange a meeting, but it’s no warm and fuzzy family reunion. Renly mocks his brother’s choice of bedfellow … err … priestess and Stannis remains belligerent and unmoving. He gives Renly one night to come to his senses and declare his loyalty to the one true king or he’ll destroy him. With a flock of banners and 100,000 men behind him, I can’t blame Renly for scoffing at that.
Littlefinger pays Catelyn an unwanted visit and she goes red-hot ragey. He stood by and watched as her husband was murdered. He also helped it along, so it’s a good thing she only knows half the story! Somehow Littlefinger misses all the signs – the venom in her voice, the KNIFE she’s brandishing – and tries to hit on her?!? So um, now that your husband is out of the way, what say you and I…? When that half-baked plan fails, Littlefinger moves on to Tyrion’s proposal. If Catelyn releases Jaime, he’ll give Catelyn her daughters. Littlefinger also presents her with a chest full of Ned’s bones as a gesture of good faith from Tyrion.
Sidenote: What is it with Margaery Tyrell’s outfits? Did someone paint a lampshade, turn it upside down and shove it over her shoulders? There are some incredibly beautiful wardrobe pieces this show, but all we’ve seen from Margaery is high-class call girl and alien chic!
As night falls on the Riverlands and Renly has still not conceded to Stannis, Davos Seaworth takes Melisandre on a smuggling operation under a castle. There she gives birth to a terrifying shadow creature. I say ‘terrifying’ because I’m assuming that’s what the writers were going for. It’s hard to tell because I was laughing too hard to focus. Really, GOT writers? REALLY?!?
One of Dany’s bloodriders returns to with good news of a magnificent city willing to welcome the Mother of Dragons, but Qarth has a dark reputation. The ‘Garden of Bones’ outside its gates grows with every traveller turned away. When Dany arrives, armed guards bar her entrance and she’s greeted outside the gates by ‘The 13’ – powerful men who govern the city. They refuse her entry until she shows them her dragons. Uh-uh boys! Buy a Khaleesi some dinner first! Dany tries pleading with them but loses patience as they calmly disregard her starving followers. She threatens to burn them to the ground when her Dragons are grown, but her desperation is showing. The 13 merely chuckle and bid her adieu … except one. A man named Xaro Xhoan vouches for her and she’s allowed to enter the city.
Sex and Violence
You know how when you read a book and there are these enchanting mysterious scenes that play beautifully on paper and inspire your imagination? And you wonder how someone could stylistically portray them on screen in a way that’s captures their magic in a subtle way?
For Game of Thrones, the answer is sadly – they can’t. Instead they choose to have the 1991 Demi Moore cover of Vanity Fair give graphic full frontal birth to a Ringwraith. Horrifying and hysterical at the same time. Melisandre giving birth to a shadow could have been intriguing and eerie if twisted around a little. Instead there was absolutely no mystery, just an awful, laughable labour scene. If someone ever wants an example of why literal interpretations don’t always work – point to this scene!
By the way, are we all clear on the fact that Renly is gay? Was his complete disinterest in his sexy wife and his groping of Loras’ man parts obvious enough? Because, just in case it wasn’t, GOT really, really wants to make sure you get it. Littlefinger needles Margaery about why she’s not sleeping in the same tent as her husband: “I did notice your brother entering his Grace’s tent.” Two Lannister soldiers playing Deadliest Warrior with a notorious knight decide Loras can’t be that great with a sword because “He’s been stabbing Renly Baratheon for years and he ain’t dead”. Renly = Gay. Got it?
The violence factor was really high in this episode. It was so brutal that I’ll have to take my boyfriend’s word for what happened during a few scenes because I was covering my eyes and ears. Some poor boy lost his leg on the battlefield, rats burrowed through people’s chests (apparently this also happened in a scene in The Fast and the Furious, but all I remember from that film was a lot of cars and then … zzzzzzzz), and I accidentally saw a guy’s head being hammered onto a stake. I’m not saying TV violence is bad per say, just that I’m a wimpy baby and can’t watch it.
Everything with Tyrion. This was definitely a mediocre Game of Thrones episode, but he almost made up for it with his swagger.
I love how he defended Sansa when Joffrey was abusing her: “She’s to be your Queen. Have you no regard for her honour?” Swoon. He toed the line carefully, belittling his nephew king without outright threatening him. And when one of the Kingsguard accuses him of using threats he orders Bronn to kill him if he speaks again: “That was a threat. See the difference?”
The scene with Lancel added a brilliant bit of comedy to the episode as well. I love that Tyrion’s mind is always working and he’s constantly coming up with new plots on the spot. When he received the order to free Pycelle, you could see the wheels turning as he tried to figure out how to swing the power dynamic back in his direction. Then he turned on poor little Lancel and you just knew he was done for. I was killing myself laughing when Lancel started protesting that sleeping with Cersei wasn’t his fault. “Did she take you against your will? Can you not defend yourself knight? Oh yes it must have been terrible.”
When Renly tells Littlefinger, “I don’t like your face.” HA! They were using that one back in ye olde days? Guess some insults stand the test of time
Photo Courtesy of HBO