[Review] - Game of Thrones Season 2, Episode 5, "The Ghost Of Harrenhal"

Courtesy of HBO

Here we are, exactly half way through season 2, and you know what has struck me the most? The tendency to name episodes after plot points or lines of dialogue that only marginally have to do with the episode. Last week's Garden of Bones, taken from Dany's all of two scenes, and this week's The Ghost comes from Arya, who again, gets only two scenes.

Fortunately for her, those scenes are two of the highlights of this episode. An episode that features nearly the entire cast and every setting from this season, for the second time. Unlike in the premier episode though, it doesn't feel cramped, and knowing that from here on, we're working towards the finale, things seem all the more tense. Hard truths indeed.

Hit the jump for the spoiler-escent review.

So, fans of only the show now know Melisandre's name, spoken not once, but twice, from Davos and Stannis. After last week's exchange concerning her, before the... unpleasantness... I thought perhaps the writers were playing the long game with the reveal, but nope. They just couldn't find an organic way to say her name, apparently. And they didn't here, either. The placement was correct, but the delivery was awkward and the whole thing felt very shoehorned. 

You have to give the writers credit, not many other shows would have started the episode off with a major character getting shanked through the chest by a shadow monster. Most would have saved that for the cliffhanger at the end of the episode, and I did wonder myself which they would choose, between the shanking and last week's birthing scene. I think they made the right choice, the death setting the tone and the pace for the rest of the episode. As news of the departure stretches across Westeros, you can see the shape of the war change. This is no longer the war of five kings, not in number, and not in execution.

In an excellent moment that really highlights exactly how isolated and out of her depth Dany is, as the world reacts to Renly's death, Dany learns of Robert's, something that happened about this time last year. That is stirs such a fire in her belly too was evidence that, despite what she says, she's still just a child in her room, listening to whispers through the floorboards.

The show continues to use reputation to influence characters, a brilliant way to get around having every actor appear in every episode. Cersei's drunken spat with Tyrion this episode, rather strangely for GoT, mostly repeated information covered last week. But it did show us another way in which Joffery is growing more and more out of control. As Tyrion himself says, "the king is a lost cause."

Robb, too, has made few appearances this year, but his name is cause of great joy (in the North), and equal parts fear and scorn (in the South). What a budget saver it must be, not having to actually show any of his great victories, his head for battle, when you can have his enemies complain about loosing. Which leads to the best scene of this episode, not surprisingly led by Charles Dance. The Lannister war room is officially the worst lit in the Seven Kingdoms, and lacking the sort of kick ass table the others all seem to have gotten on sale at "War Maps of Westeros-KEA". The interrogation of Arya, learning the mindset of the average Northerner, was almost music. The dialogue built to a crescendo, and peaked with perfect elegance, the two actors, one a 65 year old man, the other a 15 year old girl, the perfect partners. The silence was deafening, and the words wonderfully underplayed. I wished that scene could have went on for ever, and I wish for more scenes between those characters.

It wasn't as good as last week's episode, but few could be, as enjoyable as it was. This episode was more about setting the stage, getting ready for the next act. Because everyone has fire on the mind, be it bottled and waiting in the basement, growing inside a dragon, at the mercy of a new god, or in the heart of the betrayed. Someone is going to burn.

Best Line: Tyrion's disbelief and confusion at being called a 'demon monkey'. The exasperation in his voice was great. More chillingly delivered was Natalie Dormer's cool, smooth declaration that she didn't want to be a Queen, she wants "to be The Queen."

B*tchslap of the Night: None? Holy hell, way to drop the ball, show. You're going to have to make up for it next week. Two, right in the kisser.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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