Clashing Kings: The Night Lands

The second episode of the season starts where the first left off, with Arya, Gendry, and a lot of unpleasant folk making their way to Castle Black and the Night’s Watch. She talks to a few particularly unsavory characters in a cage, the most intriguing of course being Jaqen H’ghar. He makes conversation in the third person, which took me forever to get my head around on the page for some reason.

A couple of city watch types come looking for Gendry, but Yoren scares them off with threat of death. Not as bad as the castration it looked like he might have been aiming at for a moment, there.

Varys chats with Shae in King’s Landing, and barely has the decency to pretend she’s not a whore. Tyrion makes it very clear that he’s no Stark: He knows a threat when he hears it, and reacts accordingly, so the eunuch better watch himself.

Cersei is bad at diplomacy. And most other things.

At Craster’s Keep Sam takes a shining to one of the girls, which is a pretty bad idea considering the old wildling’s jealousy as a husband is matched only by his protectiveness as a father. He takes the girl, Gilly, to an understandably irritated Jon. She’s pregnant, and worried that the baby will be a boy. Too scared to tell Jon why, as well. It’s probably just going to end up being something she’s blown out of all proportion, like adoption or zombie sacrifice.

Theon Greyjoy, in a sex scene that’s not really any more ridiculous than the equivalent chapter in the book, degrades a ship captain’s daughter as he makes his way back home, explaining some Ironborn mentality in the process.

In the Red Wastes, one of Dany’s messengers returns sans body. I was going to make some kind of decapitation pun, but then realized that would have been in poor taste.

In the ass-kicking department, Tyrion demotes Lord Janos from head of the City Watch to Night’s Watch recruit for his rather…let’s say “blunt” handling of the bastard issue at the end of the last episode. Are you getting it now, everyone in King’s Landing? Unlike the last couple guys, the new hand of the king is more than willing to play the game. To cap it all off he promotes Bronn to head of the Watch. That’ll be fun.

Arya and Gendry chat about their pasts. Gendry is less than aware of his noble blood, and when he realizes Arya isn’t just any girl (he’d at least worked out the gender for himself) but a highborn lady, he’s mortified, and reverts to his cowed commoner instincts. Oh that wacky, oppressively brutal class system.

Theon arrives home, but there’s no one at the dock to greet him at first save an unimpressed old man. That is, until a woman whose appearance complements his rather nicely shows up. They head off to see his father, Balon Greyjoy, as he fondles her. She doesn’t object.

Littlefinger watches a client through a peephole, like a boss. He learns dear Ros hasn’t been that savvy on the whoring since that whole “baby getting murdered in front of her” thing. Kindly Lord Baelish is very understanding, and even gives her the night off after threatening to sell her to a violently perverse psychopath if she doesn’t get her shit together.

Theon arrives at Pyke (new opening credits addition), where his dad nearly brings him to tears with his unwelcoming attitude and accusations of Stark allegiance/womanhood. His sister Yara (Asha in the books) doesn’t help things much by entering the room and revealing simultaneously that she A) usurped him and B) allowed him to feel her up for laughs. Balon implies he’ll go to war all right, but not by any means on the side Theon was hoping for. Because there aren’t enough factions already.

In Dragonstone, Davos recruits the pirate Salladhor Saan to Stannis’s cause. He’d like to do all manner of things to/with Cersei as payment, and doesn’t consider for a second that she wouldn’t be interested. Even in the crushingly brutal Westeros, there are suave, swashbuckling pirates. Almost brings a tear to my eye.

Davos talks with his son about faith. The kid’s a true believer in the Lord of Light, but the Onion Knight (Davos’s unofficial title, if it hasn’t already been mentioned) doesn’t put much stock in belief, save for what he owes his king.

Cersei’s very upset about the little matter of Janos getting banished, but Tyrion is less than apologetic. He chides her for murdering children in the streets, then realizes that it was actually Joffrey who gave the order. You know what? I’m starting to think I might not be too fond of that kid. Cersei is clearly upset, and burdened by her responsibilities. Tyrion jokes about incest, of course, and she comes back with a pretty low blow about how he killed their mother. To be fair, it wasn’t intentional on his part.

Melisandre shows Stannis her naked body and promises him a son. He fucks her on a map of the Seven Kingdoms. That’s a little less subtle than the allusions to their relationship I recall from the text…

Jon sees Craster carrying a newborn son out into the woods. He follows to witness one of the blue-eyed white walkers murdering or eating it or whatever it is they do. Craster gets the jump on Jon, giving us a 100% infant death rate for episode endings. Can the trend continue? Find out next week!

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