Game of Thrones: The Prince of Winterfell   First Watch 
May 15, 2015 7:54 AM - Season 2, Episode 8 - Subscribe

The impending clashes take shape: Stannis vs. King's Landing. Dany vs. The House of the Undying. The Lannisters vs. Robb Stark. Northerners vs. Iron Islanders at Winterfell. Wildlings vs. The Night's Watch. Arya vs. Jaqen.

Longer Summary (contains spoilers)
- In Winterfell: Luwin sees Osha sneaking into the catacombs and discovers Bran and Rickon are still alive. Yara Greyjoy arrives at Winterfell with a small band of men instead of the reinforcements Theon requested. She calls him the "Prince of Winterfell" tells him the castle is too far from the sea, they can't successfully defend it with so few soldiers and the North is rising against him. She pleads with Theon to abandon the castle and return home with her, (“Don’t die so far from the sea.”) but he refuses.
- In The Westerlands: Catelyn has sent Brienne to escort Jaime to King's Landing to exchange for Sansa and Arya. Robb is furious that his mother freed the Kingslayer and orders her placed under guard over the betrayal. Roose offers Robb a way to retake Winterfell from Theon: send his bastard Ramsay Bolton to attack. Robb abandons his betrothal to House Frey in favor of Lady Talisa Maegyr.
- At Harrenhall: Tywin marches west, leaving Arya Harrenhal to serve Gregor Clegane. Realizing that she has missed her chance to kill Tywin, Arya pressures Jaqen H'ghar into aiding her escape from Harrenhal. She forces him to help her by giving him his own name as the third death he promised and says she will only relent when he agrees to break her and her friends out of the fortress. Jaqen kills the Lannister guards, props them up by the gate and Arya, Hot Pie, and Gendry walk through the gates at midnight.
- Across the Narrow Sea, in Qarth: Jorah advises Dany to leave her dragons and flee Qarth. She refuses and demands he leads her to the House of the Undying
- Beyond the Wall: Ygritte brings Jon Snow before the Lord of Bones, who orders him executed, because he has already captured Qhorin Halfhand and doesn't need two "crows" for questioning. Ygritte convinces him to spare Jon because of his Stark blood. Qhorin tells Jon he must spy on the Wildlings. Grenn and Samwell discover a cache of ancient obsidian weapons at the Fist of the First Men, which they call “dragonglass."
- Stannis Baratheon's fleet of 200 ships carrying 20,000 men-at-arms, mounted and dismounted knights and light cavalry sails toward Kings Landing.
Stannis offers Davos the position of Hand of the King once he takes back his throne.
- At Kings Landing: Tyrion scours history books for plans to defend the city. Based on advice from Bronn and Varys, he decides to use wildfire. Cersei believes Tryion is trying to orchestrate Joffrey's death in battle, so she tries to ensure his safety by kidnapping and threatening to execute Ros, believing wrongfully that she is Tyrion's lover. Tyrion is relieved that Shae is safe but vows revenge against his sister.

Tyrion [to Cersei]: "I will hurt you for this. A day will come when you think you are safe and happy, and your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth. And you will know the debt is paid. "

Introduced in this episode
* Rattleshirt, the Lord of Bones. An infamous Wildling raider.

Varys: "You're quite good at being Hand, you know. Jon Arryn and Ned Stark were good men. Honorable men. But they disdained the game and those who played. You enjoy the game."
Tyrion: "I do. Last thing I expected."
Varys: "And you play it well."
Tyrion: "I'd like to keep playing it. If Stannis breaches the gates, the game is over."
Varys: "They say he burns his enemies alive to honor the Lord of Light."
Tyrion: "The Lord of Light wants his enemies burned. The Drowned God wants them drowned. Why are all the gods such vicious cunts? Where is the god of tits and wine?"
Varys: "In the Summer Isles, they worship a fertility goddess with sixteen teats."
Tyrion: "We should sail there immediately."
Varys: "This morning I heard a song. All the way from Qarth, beyond the Red Waste. Danaerys Targaryen lives."
Tyrion: "A girl at the edge of the world is the least of our problems."
Varys: "She has three dragons. But even if what they say is true, it will be years before they are fully grown. And then there'll be nowhere to hide."
Tyrion: "One game at a time, my friend."

Notes (Cribbed from here and here.)
* Tyrion and, by extension, Varys, become the first ongoing characters west of the Narrow Sea to be aware of the survival of Daenerys Targaryen and the existence of her dragons.
* Talisa's speech to Robb Stark explaining her backstory in Volantis is an invention of the TV series. In the books, Talisa's equivalent character is Jayne Westerling, a noblewoman from a minor Lannister vassal family, House Westerling. This is the only scene in which Talisa ever explains her altered backstory, but the changes do not appear to be fully researched and contain several contradictions
* This episode won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Costumes for a Series.

[After Jaqen has stated he cannot kill Tywin Lannister in time]
Arya: "…Jaqen H'ghar."
Jaqen: "A girl gives a man his own name?"
Arya: "That's right."
Jaqen: "Gods are not mocked. This is no joking thing."
Arya: "I'm not joking. A man can go kill himself."
Jaqen: "Un-name me."
Arya: "No."
Jaqen: "Please?"
Arya: "I'll unname you."
Jaqen: "Thank you."
Arya: "If you help me and my friends escape."
Jaqen: "This would require more than one life. This is not part of our bargain."
Arya: "Fine. Jaqen H'ghar."
Jaqen: "A girl lacks honor."
[Arya shrugs]

Comments (contains episode spoilers)
That’s one of the great themes of the series: How you want to appear is rarely how you actually apear, and the more you do to chase after what you want to be, the more you doom yourself. All of the characters in the series want something they can’t have, and trying to grab hold of it is almost always disastrous for them. Cat wants her daughters back and her sons released, but the action she takes to get them back—releasing Jaime—turns the one son who remains free against her. (He actually puts an armed guard on her.) Robb wants [Talisa], but he’s stuck having to marry a Frey to maintain the alliance that got him that very important (but not especially beautiful) bridge. Everybody in the series, seemingly, wants the Iron Throne, but the pursuit of it causes it to fall further and further from their reach.

People will always want to be seen as something greater or more powerful than they actually are, of course, but Game Of Thrones makes this attempt seem like a tragic flaw in every single one of its characters, no matter how noble they are. Even poor little Arya asks Jaqen to help her escape from Harrenhal, only to find that he has to kill all of the guards to allow her to exit at midnight as she asks. The cost of what you want is often paid in blood, and it’s usually paid in far more blood than you’re entirely comfortable with. Arya’s just starting to figure that out, but the other characters are all realizing at roughly the same time that the course they’re on is one that sails directly into the heart of war, a place of blood and horror where few of them can hope to survive.
Tyrion: "And how did you accomplish this marked drop in thievery?"
Bronn: "Me and the lads rounded up all the known thieves."
Tyrion: "For questioning?"
Bronn: "Uh…. no. It's just the unknown thieves we've got to worry about now."
Tyrion: "We talked about this."
Bronn: "Aye, we talked about it. Have you ever been in a city under siege? Maybe this part's not in your books. See, it's not the fighting that kills most people; it's the starving. Food's worth more than gold. Noble ladies sell their diamonds for a sack of potatoes. Things get bad enough, the poor start eating each other. The thieves, they love a siege. Soon as the gates are sealed, they steal all the food. By the time it's all over, they're the richest men in town."
posted by zarq (9 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This is a First Watch with Books thread.

Please do not reveal spoilers for subsequent episodes from any source.

Thank you.
posted by zarq at 7:54 AM on May 15, 2015

Okay, so who are the 'only three men' Jamie thinks can beat him in battle? The Mountain? Ser Barristan?
posted by zarq at 7:58 AM on May 15, 2015

I think Jamie could take the Mountain; the Mountain relies on brute strength and ferocity to win the day, and a smart fighter like Jamie could find a way to string out the fight and wear him down.

Ser Barristan is likely one; Barristan the Bold even in his old age is a formidable warrior. Beyond that, I'm trying to remember the context of Jaime's comment - is he talking about three men who are still alive?

From the AV Club review:

A Clash Of Kings didn’t satisfactorily answer why the Greyjoys were so uninterested in Theon’s “triumph” at Winterfell, but the show makes a better go of it

I find that comment interesting because, in the end, I felt that how A Clash of Kings portrayed Theon in Winterfell was better. Asha does point out that he is too far from the sea, and she makes the even better point - if he had left Winterfell with Bran & Rickon as hostages and returned to Pyke, the war would be won. Theon would have gotten tremendous respect for a daring raid and a strike that left the Starks negotiating for the return of two of their sons. It would've been a feat the Ironborn would have sung of for years; he would have had the respect and prizes he dreamed of.

Instead, Theon is focused on the wrong things - Asha gets a castle, so he must have a better castle; he has to have the place where he was held "hostage" as some kind of retribution/retaliation and proof of his true Ironborn nature. The boys as hostages could have been parlayed into all manner of things, but Theon can't grasp what is truly valuable and what isn't in a given situation.
posted by nubs at 8:33 AM on May 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Youtube has the scene. Jaime tells Brienne that there are only three men in Westeros who stand a chance of beating him in a fair fight. It sounds like he means they're still living.
posted by zarq at 8:54 AM on May 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Ha! I am at work, so I watched that scene with CC on:

" there are three men in the Caymans might have a chance against New York not gonna"

which I'm assuming is "there are three men in the Kingdoms who might have a chance against me, you're not one" and that whatever is creating these subtitles for the clip is having trouble with the accents.

So my guesses, based on the "might have" and characters who have been introduced to this point:

Ser Barristan - this would be an awesome fight, I think; lots of skill and experience going up against each other
Loras Tyrell - Loras is supposed to be good, but he is a summer knight (i.e., he hasn't really done much beyond tourneys; a real fight against someone like Jamie would be fascinating)
The Mountain - because while I think Jamie could beat him, you make one mistake against that monster, and you are done. And sometimes events conspire against you.
posted by nubs at 9:14 AM on May 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'd go with Barristan, The Mountain and a fighter to be named later.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:42 AM on May 15, 2015

I suspect we are thinking of the same fighter TBNL, who would also be my choice over Loras.
posted by nubs at 9:57 AM on May 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

What about Bronn? I suppose the "fair fight" bit might disqualify him, but I can see him having a chance against Jaime.
posted by rocketman at 2:57 PM on May 18, 2015

Also, I just need to drop here how much I love Bronn. The grim comedy he brings to this show, week after week, is much appreciated.
posted by rocketman at 2:58 PM on May 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

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