I wrote these rewatches on the old site a few years ago, and now I’m posting them here. These recaps naturally contain spoilers.
Episode title: What is Dead May Never Die
Director: Alik Sakharov
Written by: Bryan Cogman
Summary: Tyrion tries to get Shae into the kitchens to work as a scullery maid, but she refuses. Cersei eats dinner with Sansa, Myrcella, and Tommen. Afterwards, Sansa is greeted by Shae, posing as her new handmaiden. Later, Tyrion tells Pycelle of his plans to forge an alliance with House Martell by marrying Myrcella to the Martells’ youngest son. Soon after, he has the same discussion with Varys, however in this version, he plans to marry Myrcella to Theon. Finally, he has the same discussion once more, with Littlefinger this time having Myrcella marry Robin Arryn. In all three cases, Tyrion makes them swear to keep the discussion a secret, especially from the Queen.
Unknown to all of them, Tyrion is using them to find out which one of them is Cersei’s spy. When Cersei later confronts Tyrion about sending Myrcella to the Martells, confirming that Pycelle is the spy, he along with Bronn and one of the hill tribesmen, confronts Pycelle and sends him to the dungeons but not before Pycelle confess he told Cersei that Jon Arryn knew about her affair with Jaime. When Littlefinger hears of this, he angrily confronts Tyrion, whom the latter instead assigns him to a new task; get Catelyn Stark at the Stormlands.
Craster returns with Jon Snow and orders the Night’s Watch off of his lands. Lord Commander Mormont reveals to Jon that he already knew of Craster’s offering of his sons to the White Walkers. Bran Stark has another dream in which he is his direwolf, Summer. When he asks Maester Luwin about the dreams, Luwin replies that, in spite of his own studies, magic is no longer real, the dragons are dead, and dreams do not always come true.
Self-crowned King Renly and his newly wedded wife, Margaery Tyrell watch a tournament in which her brother, Loras battles with Brienne of Tarth. Catelyn arrives in time to see Brienne win, and request a place in Renly’s Kingsguard. Later, Loras refuses to have sex with Renly until he consummates his marriage with Margaery. When Renly has difficulty performing, Margaery reveals that she is fully aware of her husband’s relationship with her brother, but insists that they keep trying in order to get her pregnant and secure their alliance.
Balon Greyjoy plans his war on the North with his children Yara and Theon. Yara tells Theon he must now choose where his loyalty lies; his adopted family, the Starks or his real family, the Greyjoys. A conflicted Theon writes a letter to Robb warning him of Balon’s plans to attack the North, though burns it, choosing to serve under his father. To make evident his new found loyalty, he undergoes a baptism ceremony for the Iron Island’s primary deity – The Drowned God.
Arya Stark talks with Yoren about her father’s execution, before they are startled by a nearby war horn. Ser Amory Lorch demands Yoren hand over Gendry, and when Yoren refuses, a battle ensues, and Yoren and his men are killed. Arya gives Jaqen H’ghar an axe to free himself, before being captured. Lorch orders the survivors taken to Harrenhal, but when Lommy says he cannot walk, he is killed. Lorch demands the survivors point out Gendry, but before he can give himself up, Arya tells Lorch that Lommy was Gendry.
My take: Tyrion pulls an old trick in this episode and also pulls a Batman gambit, relying on your enemies to do exactly what you expect them to. We also get the first appearances of Brienne and Margarey, perfectly cast. Gwendolyn Christie was a relative unknown, and Natalie Dormer (find out how to date her!) had appeared on The Tudors. We see the beginning of Arya’s list when Yoren tells her the story of his brother and how he deals with the horrors of his life which she will use to cope with the upcoming shitstorm to come. Is there any doubt that Renly would have made a terrible king?
Changes from the books: The scenes with Renly, Loras and Margaery never happen in the books. In fact, the relationship between Loras and Renly is never shown in any of the novels; it is only hinted. Another scene created for the show was the dinner between Cersei and the children, that was written with the purpose of reminding the audience who Myrcella was, since her potential marriages were discussed in the episode. Bryan Cogman included a scene of Theon writing a letter to Robb only to burn it afterwards, and the ritual baptism on the shores of Pyke.
Nudity: Margarey disrobes in front of her husband, Pycelle has a whore with him when he’s arrested
Locations on the Map : King’s Landing, Dragonstone, Pike, Winterfell, the Wall, Vaes Dothrak
Death count: Yoren and Lommy are killed by the Gold Cloaks
Quotes: Shea: Every man who tastes my cooking tells me what a great whore I am
Episode title: Garden of Bones
Director: David Petrarca
Written by: David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Summary: After hearing of Robb Stark’s latest victory, Joffrey orders Ser Meryn to deliver a public beating on Sansa. Tyrion and Bronn arrive in time to diffuse the situation. Bronn suggests to Tyrion that sex may calm the boy king, and Tyrion arranges for the prostitutes Ros and Daisy to service Joffrey. However, Joffrey instead forces Ros to sadistically beat Daisy to send a message to Tyrion. Ser Lancel visits Tyrion and informs him that Cersei has ordered the release of Pycelle. Tyrion tells Lancel that he is aware of his affair with Cersei, but will keep the truth from Joffrey in exchange for spying on her.
Robb meets a neutral field nurse, Talisa, while aiding in a leg amputation on a Lannister soldier. Littlefinger meets with Renly to discuss the siege of King’s Landing. He also meets with Catelyn Stark and tells her that the Lannisters have both Sansa and Arya, and want to trade them for Ser Jaime. Renly and Catelyn meet with Stannis and Melisandre. Stannis offers Renly the chance to surrender in exchange of becoming his heir, but Renly denies him, as he possesses the larger army.
Arya, Gendry, and Hot Pie are brought to the ruined castle of Harrenhal. Gendry is eventually selected to be tortured next, but before he can be harmed, Tywin arrives, orders the prisoners be put to work and recognizes that Arya is a girl and makes her his cupbearer.
Dany arrives in Qarth, and they are met by the Thirteen, the leaders of the city. One of the Thirteen, The Spice King, speaks for the group and bargains to see Danaerys’ dragons in exchange for food and rest inside Qarth. Danaerys refuses and demands her people are attended to first. The Thirteen decide to turn Danaerys’ group away and abandon them to the Garden of Bones, but one of the Thirteen, Xaro Xhoan Daxos, breaks with the group and vouches for the behaviour of Danaerys’ people through a blood oath, after which they are allowed to enter the city.
At night, Stannis orders Davos to take Melisandre to shore, and to be sure they are not seen. Once ashore, Melisandre reveals she is, impossibly, in late-stage pregnancy, and gives birth to a horrific, shadowy figure, which disappears in a cloud of smoke.
My take: This was the episode where Belle turned to me and said, “What the hell am I watching?” Can you imagine the casting session? “So Carice… this part requires a bit of nudity… and you give birth to a shadow baby. Any questions?” This is also the beginning of a lot of padding in Dany’s storyline. We also have to wonder if Joffrey is even interested in sex, or does he just prefer sadism? And speaking of sadistic. A cage of rats on the tummy? The thought of an amputation without anesthesia is horrifying. Talisa points out that Robb plans to overthrow a king without a desire to replace him, or an exit strategy to put it in modern terms. We also see Stannis the Grammer Teacher, part 1.
Changes from the books: The books have two shadow babys. The first was to break a siege, and the second was the Renly murder. The show combined the two incidents. Ayra and company are not captured by the Lannisters, but rather by Roose Bolton, a northern lord. There is no Spice King in the books; however, his alias is a reference to a merchant organization in Qarth, the Ancient Guild of Spicers, that does not appear on the TV Series. Dany and company are lead into Qarth without conflict. The scene with Joffrey and the whores is not in the book. In the books, Arya’s death list includes more people. The full list is: the Mountain, Dunsen, Polliver, Chiswyck, Rafford, the Tickler, the Hound, Amory Lorch, Ilyn Payne, Meryn Trant, Joffrey, Cersei and Weese. Sansa’s beating is toned down. In the books she is stripped naked, but Sophie Turner was underage at the time. The biggest change is the character of Talisa. In the books she is Jeyne Westerling, the daughter of a Lannister bannerman, but in the show she’s a nurse from Volantis.
Nudity: Melasandre giving birth to the Shadow baby. Ros is seen going down on Daisy and spanking her before Joffrey orders her to torture her
Locations on the Map: King’s Landing, Harrenhall, Pyke, Winterfell, the Wall, Qarth
Death Count: Grey Wind kills three guards in the opening scene, and several Lannisters dead. A prisoner is killed by a rat burrowing into his chest, escaping fire, a method of torture by the Mountain and the Tickler
Quotes: Tyrion Lannister: Bronn, the next time the Ser Meryn speaks, kill him.
Roose Bolton: In my family, we say “A naked man has few secrets; a flayed man none”.
Renly Baratheon: “Born amidst salt and smoke.” Is he a ham?