The latest instalment of everyone’s favourite fantasy show/political drama took a sharp departure from its typical format to deliver a powerhouse of an episode. Instead of the usual flitting about from location to location to check in with the majority of the vast cast, Game of Thrones S02E09 focussed solely on the battle for King’s Landing.
Right from the off the episode was thick with tensions as we got to see all the characters preparing for the fight of the season: Tyrion admitting to Shae that he was terrified; Bronn getting drunk and amorous; The Hound getting drunk and less than amorous; Joffrey posturing ridiculously; Sansa trying to goad Joffrey into following through on his posturing and getting himself killed; Cersei prepping for some suicide/filicide; Davos prepping to lead the fleet into battle; and of course Stannis prepping himself to sit on the Iron Throne (or so he thought).
The tension was built up to a rip roaring crescendo as Stannis’s war drums beat ever nearer while Joffrey was just about having a panic attack and Tyrion waited resolutely for perfect moment to play his ace in the hole. When Bronn finally loosed his arrow to engulf Blackwater Bay in devastating green flame the Lannisters looked like they had won the day with a single crushing blow. However, as with many things in Game of Thrones, it was not going to be anywhere near that simple.
Stannis and most of his men had survived the assault still fully intent on beating down the gates of Kings Landing and mounting Joffrey’s vile little head on a spike. Sadly, the sadistic, cowardly mini-monarch managed to survive the battle with his head still on his shoulders. Interestingly though, he did lose his right hand (man), when The Hound finally snapped back at his master. The combination of his growing disgust with Joffrey, infatuation with Sansa and all too understandable aversion to fire, lead up to the best dialogue of the show. I’ll just sit back and let Ser Sandor Clegane do the talking himself:
So far with Stannis all we’d really seen was a grim, obstinate man determined to see a crown on his own head. In Blackwater we got to see the legendary Baratheon battling qualities in all their wall scaling, castle storming, sword swinging glory. He might be dour, grim and joyless, but Stannis is undoubtedly a badass.
Tyrion did a great job of rousing the troops and leading a sneak attack from behind, but in the end, it took the combined might of Lord Tywin Lannister and Tyrells to crush Stannis’s troops and end the brutal, bloody battle. You never saw the scheming, duplicitous Littlefinger in this episode, but his oily prints were all over the developments; if you remember, it was he who suggested an alliance with the Tyrells in the first place. I’m sure he’ll pop up next week looking pristine and perfectly groomed.
The show had been building up to this much anticipated battle for some time and in terms of plot developments, performances, action and direction it certainly didn’t disappoint. For me the only real downside was the continuing attachment of Joffrey and Cersei’s heads to their shoulders.