Game of Thrones: The Winter of Everyone's Discontent

Game of Thrones S02E05: "The Ghost of Harrenhal"

Winter, you have company. The cold season is nigh, but war is also coming to Westeros, and that was the biggest takeaway from "The Ghost of Harrenhal," another excellent episode of television's greatest drama about horrible things happening to good people. I might suggest an alternate title for the episode, though: "The Shitshow is Coming to Westeros," because things are getting awfully chippy in Game of Thrones right about now!

We've seen the posters, we've seen Stannis playing with his miniature war pieces, and we've heard lots and lots of talk about the W-word ("There's a war coming, Ned!), but it wasn't until tonight that war felt actually real. Well, to everyone except Cersei, who can't be bothered. From the North where Winterfell stands vulnerable while men protect fishing towns from the Krakens, to the North of the North where Mance Rayder's assembling his army of hobos and mutants, to the South where Dany channels her dead hubby and rants about taking the throne, to the East where the S.S. Stannis and the rest of the fleet looms just offshore, war is on the brink. And the anticipation is killing me! I've never been more excited for a bunch of people to kill each other.

You can even argue that war has already started with the shocking assassination of Renly Baratheon (more on that later). Author George R.R. Martin is a total history nerd and has used real wars as inspiration for his A Song of Ice and Fire novels, and Renly could very well be his Franz Ferdinand (Austro-Hungarian heir whose assassination sparked World War I, not Scottish indie-rock band responsible for commercial jingles). But in Martin's world, there isn't an Axis or Allies. There are more axes than the 15th dimension and allies are only reliable until a better offer comes along. It's total mayhem. Or as the Greyjoys call it, "lootin' time."

As is the case with all wars, location is key. So it's probably as good a time as ever to check up on where everyone is in this wacky war-y world (after Episode 5). Here's a map of the central portion of Westeros, where most of the action is currently taking place. (click on the image to go full-res)

Pay particular attention to where Stannis and his newly acquired mega-army are (Storm's End, I believe) in relation to King's Landing. Geography will play a big part in all this. He's coming in with a ton of boats for a naval siege on King's Landing, and Blackwater Bay is the only place that can be done. Maybe he'll march his infantry through the Kingswood and attack King's Landing from both sides? This is going to be fun!

Now that you've oriented yourself, let's review what happened in "The Ghost of Harrenhal" in ridiculous detail because a ton of great stuff happened! This is a long one, folks. Best go to the bathroom now. I'll wait.


"I want to be THE queen."

Things took all of 0.3 seconds to get ridiculously awesome. Speaking for Robb, Catelyn told Renly that Robb has no desire to be king and just wants to be left alone, once the rat-faced weasel that killed his dad is out of power. Renly is pretty cool with the idea, given the history of their houses, and says let's run a tag-team on the Lannisters like the old days, brunettes versus blondes. It's a great plan and what could possibly go wro- UH OH SPOOKY BREEZE NEVER EVER MEANT ANYTHING GOOD.

Well that didn't take long. Shadow baby grew up before we even got a chance to squeeze its cheeks and crashed the party, shadow shanking Renly through the heart and ensuring that Westeros' fashion renaissance would have to wait. Brienne freaked out, because her only job was to keep Renly alive and boy oh boy the men who said she couldn't guard him because she's a girl are really going to have a field day with this one! Renly's other guards entered just in time to see Brienne standing over Renly's corpse, and being the detectives they are decided that Brienne killed Renly. Instead of arguing her innocence, she utterly destroyed those two fools in what was the finest display of swordsmanship we've seen in the series, and she did it with style! That little sword twirl at the end got high marks from the Braavos judge, but Brienne could care less. She was ultra-bummed that Renly got killed on her watch. She ain't pretty, but she's loyal to the point where it's clinical.

Renly's death pretty much changes EVERYTHING. Look, we all know Game of Thrones is going to kill about half the characters it introduces, but that doesn't mean we'll ever get used to it. There was no fanfare, no sentimentality. He died, and that was it. There was no time to reflect, because the story had to move on. Catelyn and Brienne had two options: get into a two-on-80,000 fight or run. They chose run.

Oh look! It's Stannis' fleet about an hour away ready for battle. That's what I mean by war being imminent. The next scene with Petyr, Loras, and Margaery was fantastic. Ser Loras might be gayer than a waxed chest on Fire Island, but when you mess with his man, he's as ferocious as anyone. Not going to lie, I got pretty sad seeing Loras so angry-sad. Margaery was bummed too, but more so because she has to go through all the trouble of finding another would-be king to fake-marry. By the way, what was she wearing? It's like she just rolled herself up in a rug and called it a dress.

Littlefinger was there to offer up some common sense (and perhaps win their favor so he can cash in later), and convinced Loras and Margaery that it behooved them to get the heck out of there. But before Margaery leaves, she and Petyr had a nice little chat in which Margaery said she wants to be THE queen. Guys, I think I'm falling in love with Margaery. She's like a mini-Cersei but more comfortable being topless.

Later, Catelyn and Brienne had a chat about their futures. Brienne is lost without serving someone, so after she asked a rock, some twigs, and a horse if she could be their sworn protector, she settled on swearing her servitude to Catelyn until they reached Winterfell. Then after that, she'll turn into the Briennenator! Briennenator kill! Briennenator smash Stannis! Catelyn accepted and had some pretty awesome words for Brienne, something alone the lines of "you can eat with me and I will try not to embarrass you." It sounded better coming out of her mouth, honestly, but that was the gist. Girl power!


"Nothing is worth what this will cost you. Not even the Iron Throne."

Stannis arrived ready for a battle but instead found an army ready to swear allegiance. Well that was easy. Thank you Melisandre and your spooky vaginal discharge! Davos wanted to talk to Stannis about what he saw, but Stannis didn't want any of that. Out of sight, out of mind. Stannis would rather put his fingers in his ears and yell, "LA LA LA LA LA LA!!! I CAN'T HEAR YOU" anytime someone said Melisandre is a black-magicking she-witch than accept the truth. Now not only does Stannis run unopposed as the only Baratheon, but he's got Renly's host on his side. Taking King's Landing should be a slam dunk or whatever equivalent sports metaphor there was in Westeros. Jousting against a no-armed man? What do they do for fun out there anyway?

Davos was seriously worried that his friend was way too pussy-whipped to be king. He's got a point. Who wants a king that is ordered around by a foreign chick practicing a crazy religion? Stannis was already facing an uphill climb winning over the people, Melisandre and her voodoo won't help things at all. Despite his "hard truths," Davos was given command of the fleet that will assault King's Landing via Blackwater Bay, which may as well be called Bottleneck Bay or Brokenship Bay, if you ask me. Davos says he's a pirate and his skills are in running away, but I think he knows that it's just dangerous. Seriously, it's gonna be a bloodbath. Not saying it won't work, but Ye Olde Westeros Corpse Removal Company is going to have plenty of business once the siege begins.


"Men win wars, not magic tricks."

Over at King's Landing, the Lannisters have finally stopped procrastinating about the impending war and are making preparations to defend themselves. If Joffrey spent half the time preparing King's Landing for war as he spent having hookers paint each other with bruises, King's Landing would be as impenetrable as Ros is penetrable.

Tyrion knew that King's Landing was as war-ready as a preschool, and he headed to Cersei's to get some scoop on what his nephew was planning to stop people from killing him. I love Tyrion and Cersei scenes, it's just spite on top of spite and passionately aggressive passive-aggressiveness. Cersei was in Real Housewives of King's Landing mode and just wanted to drink wine. Cersei! Put down the glass and take some crossbow lessons or something! Instead, she said Joffrey has it taken care of and even though you're Hand of the King we're not going to tell you because I put family disputes and grudges ahead of the personal safety of everyone because I'm a c*nt. Seriously, she said that!

Tyrion called an audience with his mole Lancel in his doghouse and got the truth: WILDFIRE! They're going to use wildfire! Quick question: who is prettier? Lancel or Cersei? Anyway, if you don't know what wildfire is, let me explain. If you could liquefy a two-dollar Tijuana whore's crotch and throw it at someone, that would be wildfire. It burns! And because Tyrion is the only smart one within the walls, he knew that wildfire was not to be taken lightly. As the old proverb says, "Piss on wildfire and your cock burns off." And how great was the Pyromancer's very serious response? "I have not conducted this experiment." Pyromancer is my new favorite character, that guy is a hoot. "Our order does not deal in pig shit!" Stop it man, you're killing me!

Even Bronn knew using wildfire was a stupid idea. Think about it: chucking jars of liquefied whore's crotch at objects really far away means you'll hit one target out of 10. If a guy throwing a pot happened to get pierced by an arrow, said pot could fall down and set fire to their own men. Not good. But then Tyrion got a look at exactly how many pots of wildfire the pyros had been making–7,811 pots to be exact–and he decided that the pyros would make the wildfire for him now. Does Tyrion have a plan? Of course (probably)! Tyrion always has a plan. And he's quite fond of whore crotches. Besides, it's in man's nature to look at stuff that blows up and catches fire and want as much of it as you can get because explosions are cool.

Tyrion (aka Demon Monkey) also spied a man on his soap box spouting off about Joffrey and those in power in King's Landing. Clearly the natives are restless, and that's never good for the ruling party. Especially when thousands of men are about to storm the castle.


"I have been reaving and raping since before you left Balon's balls, captain."

Theon continued to get absolutely roasted in his hometown of Pyke. It's not Theon's fault he got shipped off to Winterfell and started doing fancy things like shampooing his hair, but that don't mean squat to his men. All they saw was a dude wearing a pretty dress who was ordering them around. Theon just wanted approval from anyone, dad Balon, sister Yara, the citizens of Pyke. Ironically the only person who appreciated him was Robb Stark. But his desire to be respected is so consuming, that he came up with a plan: attack a castle in the north called Torrhen's Square, and when the men of an already deficient Winterfell run to help, it will leave Winterfell practically defenseless... gulp. I think Theon just hatched a plan to take Winterfell. Dickest of all dick moves, Theon. But won't those men who left come back? What then, Theon?


"Smart people don't find themselves in places like this."

Meanwhile in Canada, the men of the Night's Watch were headed further and further into Wildling territory on their quest to discover what Mance Rayder, the self-proclaimed King Beyond the Wall, was up to. One of the things that sets Season 2 apart from Season 1 is the location shots HBO is getting, and all these shots following Jon Snow's story are incredible! Even the producers of Frozen Planet were like, "I'm impressed." The production on this show continues to amaze me. And they even found time to CGI in Ghost in the background (he's in the picture above!). Game of Thrones, I am yours.

The gang was on the lookout for an old friend of theirs, Qhorin Halfhand. He's a total badass ranger that had the privilege of trekking through a bunch of snow looking for Jon's uncle Benjen and gathering whatever other intel he could find. They decided to meet up at the Fist of the First Men, an icy mountain top that Samwell totally geeked out over. If Sam were alive today, he'd be the biggest Game of Thrones nerd out there.

Qhorin Halfhand finally met up with them, and he told Lord Commander Mormont that Mance Rayder is gathering up his troops and preparing an assault on the giant ice cube we know as The Wall. Like the badass he is, he said let's run in there with a small group all sneaky-like and kill Mance. Like the idiot he is, Jon Snow said he wants to tag along. Jon, you're too handsome for guerilla combat! Your job is to wash out Mormont's chamber pot! But Mormont said Jon could go, and I'm guessing Jon's about to embark on one crazy adventure. First order of business? Sneak up on a nearby wildling camp. This will go well, said I, sarcastically.


"If we can't protect our own bannermen, why would they protect us?"

Bran's taken to this lording thing pretty well, hasn't he? Need some help around the house? Take an orphan! Toilet clogged? Take an orphan! Hungry? Take an orphan! Everyone that's not an orphan wins! His little brother Rickon, meanwhile, wasn't doing too great. You know how when you're frustrated you make mountains out of your mashed potatoes or rip the labels off of beer bottles? Rickon was torturing nuts on the table. The little guy needs his mommy.

Rodrick came to tell Bran that Torrhen's Square was under siege, but they didn't know from who. It's the Greyjoys, Bran! Weren't you watching the episode? So Bran tells Rodrick to take a bunch of men and help them, leaving two men, three sheep, and a couple of buckets behind to defend Winterfell.

But Bran already saw what's coming in a dream. He dreamed that Winterfell was submerged by water and waves crashed into the walls, killing everyone. Perhaps eating all those lemon cakes before going to bed wasn't a good idea, kiddo. If Osha knew a lick about dream analysis she'd be able to tell Bran that the water and waves represented the briney Greyjoy men and that Winterfell is, more or less, fudged. She does know what the three-eyed raven represents though, and... then she didn't tell us? YOU TEASE.


"The time is right, Daenerys Targaryen, first of your name."

OMG BABY DRAGONS BREATHING FIRE SOOOOO CUTE!! XD
Baby dragons just cracked my Top 5 cutest baby animals list, somewhere between baby cheetahs and baby puffer fish. Imagine how much tail you could get if you showed up to a bar and lit chicks' cigarettes with a baby dragon. TONS is the answer. Metric tons.

Life in Qarth seems to be working out pretty well for Dany. She's got some lip balm to take care of her chapped face, conditioner to untangle the platinum rat's nest that was on top of her head, and handing-out-medals-at-the-end-of-Star Wars-Leia outfits so she doesn't have to wear slave Leia outfits anymore. But are all these luxuries just the result of kindness, or is it something else? Of course it's something else. Dany told her girlfriends that she didn't know much about these people, and asked the slutty one to have sex with some guys to get some information on Xaro Xhoan Daxos, the big dude who vouched for Dany and got her accepted into Qarth. Seriously! She did that! And the girl was like, "Okay." Someone please give that woman an injection of self esteem.

At a garden party, everyone was looking to talk to Dany because she's the Mother of Dragons and she be looking fine in that blue dress. Andy Dick, looking well, approached her and pulled off a pretty sweet David Blaine-ish magic trick where he duplicated himself, and invited her to some club called The House of the Undying, which sounds of spooky. Okay, it wasn't actually Andy Dick. Sorry, Andy. It's Pyat Pree, and he's a member of an order of warlocks in Qarth and one of The Thirteen that rule Qarth. I know he's trying to be generous, but holy hell he just creeped me out.

Xaro told Dany that those people are weirdos, then proceeded to try and buy Dany's hand in marriage with his vault-load of wealth. Now who is creepy, Xaro? One of these days, someone in Westeros will marry someone because of love. However, Xaro's proposal is interesting. With Westeros a bunch of squabbling idiots all claiming to be king, it's a good time to strike. Xaro can provide her with the money she needs to get boats and men, but it will cost her half the Throne and she'll be stuck with kids that don't share her awesome porcelain skin. Decisions, decisions!

If only there were someone who actually did love Dany. Well hello there, Jorah Mormont! It's becoming quite clear that Jorah wants to be MTF (more than friends) with Dany, and when he said, "I still can't believe you're real," and told her how everyone would fall in love with her it was a major step for Team Jorny. But he's more than kind of old for her. This is awkward for all of us, Jorah. Still, he offered sensible advice and begged Dany to wait and grab allies in Westeros instead of these weird sand people. I'm siding on him with that, even if he's only saying it to cockblock Xaro. There are a lot of parallels between Jorah's advice to Dany and Davos' advice to Stannis. Don't share the power with someone who can get you the throne now, get the throne later and take all the power for yourself. It's like that joke between Robert Duvall and Sean Penn in Colors about cow-fucking.


"This is war, no one's content."

At Harrenhal, Tywin was explaining that war pretty much sucks for everyone. Especially during winter. He's pretty tired of Robb Stark kicking his ass, and that's got to sound pretty great to Arya, who was eavesdropping as Tywin's cup-bearer. And with apologies to baby dragons, the best part of this episode was when Arya stuck it to Tywin by praising Robb and telling tales of his legend as a hero that rides into battle on a giant direwolf and can't be killed. When Tywin asked Arya if she believed that he couldn't be killed, she said, "No. Anyone can be killed" with her mouth while her eyes added, "Especially you, motherf***er! Die! Die! Die!" Maisie Williams just won MVP for the episode with that exchange. Also, Charles Dance (Tywin) looked an awful lot like his role in The Last Action Hero right then.

We wondered what had happened to Jaqen H'ghar, the guy who talked funny in the cage, and now we know: he joined up with the Lannister men. But he's still an independent contractor and offered Arya a very interesting repayment plan for her saving his life. Since she saved the lives of three men, he'll kill three men of her choice, no questions asked. As a joke, I would have said "kill Jaqen H'ghar" to see if his head exploded, but instead she wanted revenge on The Tickler for torturing everyone and just being a jerk in general. He said, "Done and done," and sure enough, The Tickler ended up dead later on. Arya, couldn't you just have said, "Joffrey" and made the entire world happy? Also, Gendry swung a sword around shirtless. Hubba hubba.



Game of Thrones Season 2 Power Rankings

I'll be ordering the 10 episodes of Game of Thrones' second season from first to worst in terms of quality. But remember, these rankings are just, like, my opinion, man.

This Week: Another fantastic episode! "The Ghost of Harrenhal" pinched the world together by moving us closer to war. It's the feeling and anticipation of the war that this episode was so good at conveying, and I just don't see it slowing down. This was also an episode that checked in on just about everyone, Robb, Joffrey, and Sansa being the only main characters that didn't make an appearance, and it moved the stories it did follow forward a lot. Any pacing gripes should be non-existent now. Game of Thrones is on a roll. Still, I can't put this ahead of last week's masterpiece. It's close though.

1. "Garden of Bones" (Episode 4)
Joffrey entertains a few ladies by having them beat each other; Melisandre gives birth to the Smoke Monster from Lost; Dany meets a bunch of salesmen from Qarth.

2. "The Ghost of Harrenhal" (Episode 5)
Shadow Baby gives Renly a big hug, wildfire wildfire wildfire!, Theon sets out for the North, and Arya's new friend does her bidding.

3. "The North Remembers" (Episode 1)
Annnnd we're back! Joffrey orders death for Robert's bastards; Melisandre, Davos, and Stannis make their grand entrance; Robb sends an all tomato ultimatum to the Lannisters.

4. "The Night Lands" (Episode 2)
The Goldcloaks set out to find Gendry (and Arya); Theon gropes his sister and disappoints his dad; Jon sees something strange in the forest.

5. "What Is Dead May Never Die" (Episode 3)
Theon suits up for Team Greyjoy; Tyrion gives Pycelle the boot; Cat arrives to see Renly assembling a circus; Arya and Gendry get captured.


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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When Pyat Pree showed up, my wife yelled "Voldemort!"...to which I replied, "I'm pretty sure that's Governor Rick Scott."
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Few things...

If George R.R. Martin was trying to make parallels with a real war, I would argue that Renly's murder was not the spark that started the war. I would argue that the killing of Ned Stark served as a parallel to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. While Ned Stark was not the heir to the Iron Throne, his murder engendered Robb Stark to decide to RAMPAGE (Archer-style). This is what began all the trouble we see unfolding now. Even Cersei realized how bad a move this was and scolded Joffrey.



The Pyromancer kind of reminds me of Dr. Walter Bishop from Fringe.



The scene between Arya and Twyin was absolutely fantastic, the chemistry between those two was phenomenal and I could not tear my eyes away from the screen for even a second.



Lastly, I realize at this point we probably aren't supposed to like Theon anymore, but I've gone past that to loathing. I cannot stand him and (knowing from the books what is to happen next) every time he is on screen I just wish I could stab him repeatedly and then push him off a cliff.
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If anything, I thought Renly's murder was supposed to mirror Viserys's last season being both the siblings of someone with a better claim to the Iron Throne.
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Okay, so this was ridiculously awesome. Just caught up with it this morning. Note to self: Procure a baby dragon.



Renly's dead. I am fine with that. They are REALLY setting Margaerey up to be Cersei 2.0 here. Also fine with that. Davos is pretty awesome as a guy who actually understands life and crap like that, Stannis is going to start creeping people out before long. Renly certainly had that right, people do not like him. Tyrion's upset, as many people get, that despite the fact that he's doing the most good, he's getting blamed for the bad and others are getting credit for the good. But it's okay because he's got a plan forming. Also, how great was the score behind that reveal shot of the wildfire? Props to our composer Ramin Djawadi who has done an EXCELLENT job start to finish and deserves more mentions that we've had time to give him. Theon's being a dick surrounded by other dicks (when in Rome...), but unfortunately he's got at least half a brain and that bodes unwell for our friends in Winterfell. Drat. Jon Snow is getting set up for the awesome that'll continue. And, while we did see Ghost in a shot or two, I find myself missing more awesome Direwolf moments like that opening shot with Robb/Grey Wind/Jaimie. Another note to self: procure a baby dragon. Seriously cute. With a cute little jet of fire. Oh how I want one of those. And Dany's definitely not stupid, so she's weighing options, and has now seen very openly Jorah's love for her (it is kind of creepy, but in Jorah's defense, he's been surrounded by savages for years, and she's pretty AWESOME) so I doubt not that she'll be watching that closely, too.



And now for the Belle of the Ball: Arya. The girl is so awesome she deserves a new word. I can't think of one, but if you do, let me know. She will go up against anyone. Squaring off against Tywin, and what's more, coming out of it more respected. Then she has the gall to tell Gendry who could probably squash her with one of his hands that he may know swords but she's better at fighting and he's doing it all wrong. Lastly we see the man she freed by giving him an axe. So she picks up something and prepares to battle him if that's what he should desire. I am disappointed that they didn't include H'ghar's thing about his mother, and Arya's thing about him that was in the book, but other than that, it's starting off, how does it go "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship". And while she desires stuff to happen, it wasn't until the end where she truly realized what a dead guy at her hands is. No, she didn't do it with her hands, but, without ever actually knowing the guy's name, she sent him to his death. And that is our ghost of Harrenhall. The most awesome girl in the 7 Kingdoms. More Arya. Always.
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What really amazes me is that the warrior woma...err girl (she's still a tween methinks) is never the romantic heroine of the story, yet somehow Arya managed to do that without an actual romantic scene with the men around her (Gendry, Jaqen, Mycah last season, etc.). It's been nothing but a perfect dance between her and Tywin, Yoren and Syrio. She trully is the Belle of the Ball!
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Canada?! It was Iceland! They even had icelandic horses... :)
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Hooray for Davos trying to keep Stannis for falling prey to Melisandre's vagenda. For those of us who read the books though, not so hooray. I honestly couldn't think of one thing wrong with this episode -besides it not having a woman pushing a shadow from her poonaners- and that almost seems like a first, for ANY show. The pacing, the acting, the intensity. Gwendoline Christie is KILLING it as Brienne. That scene with her and Catelyn had me on the edge of my seat, just as Dolorous Edd had me rolling in it. If they keep this up, they're gonna have to give the whole cast Emmys just for being so spectacular!
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"I have not conducted this experiment." Pyromancer is my new favorite character, that guy is a hoot.



*cackle* last time I heard/read the word hoot was in Boston Legal from the hooty lawyer.



Good ep though.
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"Andy Dick, looking well, approached her and pulled off a pretty sweet David Blaine-ish magic trick where he duplicated himself, and invited her to some club called The House of the Undying, which sounds of spooky. Okay, it wasn't actually Andy Dick. Sorry, Andy. It's Pyat Pree"



so they dont have twins in GoT? it could have just been his twin
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Geez I haven't read the book in five years. I'm struggling to remember what they're getting wrong!
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There seems to be many differences from this season to its book-form predecessor. Hilarious recap of the last episode by the way, Tim.
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There seems to be many differences from this season to its book-form predecessor. Hilarious recap of the last episode by the way, Tim.
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Oh, this recap totally cracked me up. LOL Jorny sounds like horny but I'm totally rooting for it! Because Iain Glenn hmph.



Great episode, things are getting even more exciting.
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wow...first episode (i remarked) with no naked women in it? o_o

So they will change now to more action, acting and story instead of cheap tricks to keep the viewer? ;)
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I guess they realized many teenage kids must have been watching their parents's cable because of the rather immature nature of the complains.
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I mean, it's not like the book are exactly as pure and chaste as the Harry Potter saga to begin with ...HBO did not "invented" the Lannisters, Littlefinger's business or the savage nature of the Dothraki people.
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I was disappointed that Jojen and Meera Reed weren't in the show, as they are around at this point in the book, although I understand its important for condensing the book into 10 episodes. And they handled the vision (greendream) well. I just wonder how they'll handle the later developments of Bran's vision without the Reed children.
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Mance Rayder. Coolest Name in the Series. Period.

Seriously? Man's Raider?
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And there, you have ruined it.
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the softcore pornishness of the show is getting pretty tiring.
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you didn't watch the latest episode, I gather
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You take that back!
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I think I'm just going to fast-forward through the boob parts from now on.
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What aboutt the dream Bran had? Isn't Jojen Reed's dream? I wonder how they'll introduce Meera and Jojen's characters
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As far as i've read they might be introduced in season 3. Personally I think that the Reeds were the only think that spiced up Bran's story. Without them, all Bran chapters would have been "Look at me, I'm a cripple." They would have been a great addition to this season's character list. Let's see how Osha is gonna replace them.
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And now the fun begins in spades :)
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"I've never been more excited for a bunch of people to kill each other."--Tim Surette



This quote is quite possibly the best thing I have ever read, on this site or anywhere else. Thank you for that. As for Game of Thrones...



I don't care what happens, as long as they film it.



"Buy the ticket, take the ride."--Hunter S. Thompson



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Awesome episode with lots of development. I look forward to watching what happens next!
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Tim i like you, but i havent read the books and your totally hinting a lot lately, please dont do it. for example you totally went over board with the Jaqen H'ghar thing, i mean it was pretty obvious and now its ruined. so please chill with all the stuff you know, just comment on the things that where in the actual episode
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what did he say about Jaqen?
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I was half expecting Tywin to pull out a glass eye that looked like a happy face.
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Anticipation for the war is killing me too, thanks for the map, very handy!
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Xaro Xhaon Duck Sauce just wants Daenerys' dragons! Hopefully she listens to Jorah and makes her own way. Afterbuzz TV offers a unique perspective and review of the episode. I recommend checking it out if you guys haven't seen it. http://youtu.be/qCro_ConB0c
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Fantastic sets!
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LOOK LOOK HBO You can do an episode of Game of Thrones without gratuitous sex. Good Job.
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Well, it wasn't exactly a PG-13, but no one under 18 is able to caught the subtext among the Harrenhal scenes either.
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I felt something was missing...
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yea that was a pleasant change...
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Jaqen H'Ghar, though, totally living up to the books now! Double Badass!
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Where's Reek? I really don't see how the Theon story can be already close to it's climax without him at least getting a mention/set-up for appearance. Meera and her brother are one thing, but I can't see Reek's role being filled by anyone already in place.
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I believe Theon meets Reek near the end of his story for season 2. Maybe at the end of episode 6 or the beginning of episode 7. I don;t think they will leave Reek and his master out of the story.
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Yeah, I know, but in the book, Reek and The Bastard of Bolton were already mentioned and established. And he was already in Winterfell when Torrhen's Square was attacked, so should technically be on-screen by now.
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I'm pretty sure the role hasn't been casted yet so we won't see Reek and/or his master.
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What was Jon talking about when he said he killed a whitewalker? it wouldn't make sense if hews stalking Bout the one he saw in the woods. Washe talking about the dead night watch guy from last season?
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Yes, he was referring to the undead guy from season 1.
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Most likely. the wights haven't yet appeared this season.
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I guess they got rid of the term "wights" same as they got rid of "the others" and are calling everything whitewalker now. At first, it made me think Jon was saying he killed that baby stealing one in the woods.
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he does say he killed a wight not a whitewalker. I am still a little confused by this however... the wights are the risen dead yes? the others are the weird predator/banshee looking creatures yes? so are the white walkers the wights or the others, to me it would make more sense if they were the wights since they are ghost pale for obvious reasons and also the walking dead so whitewalker fits to the wights rather than the others or am I wrong?
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There seems to be a lot of confusion about the terms, I'll try to clear things up:



Wildlings = the humans who live beyond the wall (Mance Rayder is their king.)



Wights = undead "zombies" with blue eyes. This is what Jon killed with a lantern in Season 1 when it attacked Lord Commander Mormont in his room.



White Walkers = the things that decapitated the black brother in the first scene of Season 1. Also the things Craster was giving his infant sons to. They're called "Others" in the book, but they changed it to "White Walkers" in the show to prevent confusion... though I'm not sure it ended up preventing it at all.



Hopefully that helps a bit :)
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The things that are in the first scene of season one's pilot are White Walkers, it was also a White Walker seen at Craster's keep.

Wights are dead risen, like the ones Jon kills with fire at Castle Black, or the little girl from the very beginning who is a Wight not a Walker.

Wights= Zombie style attackers

Walkers= Much more cognitive
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No! There a lot of people getting it wrong, even people who have read all 5 books.

The Others = White Walkers (They have swords and yeah...some resemblance to Ice Predators maybe)

Wights = Undead with blue eyes. They often appear together with the Others (As seen in the 1st scene of the 1st episode). However, what exactly connects them is unknown. But as the Others seem to actually have intelligence and the wights not, it looks like they are some sort of servants to them.

But keep in mind that wights and Others/WW are a completely different thing.



BTW: I too heard them say Jon killed a "white". However it sounds a bit like "wight" so we both probably misheard?
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so what are the predator/banshee looking things we see take the rangers head in the first episode in the first season? Cos they don't look like the humans that rise from the dead with the blue eyes they look like something completely different.
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The wights/whitewalkers are the risen dead, and they are also referred to as "the others", while the people that live beyond the wall (like Crasterand his daughter wives ) are called wildings.
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JORAH JUST GOT FRIENDZONED!
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Worse; he got advisored.
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Thank you for adding more pics! But really? "As a joke, I would have said "kill Jaqen H'ghar" to see if his head exploded, "? Either admit that you didn't read the books, or proofread your ghost writer.
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i have read the first two books and it seems to me that the reviewer has also. However.........................................



!POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT!

His predicitions are a little too close to what usually happens for example the comment the OP has quoted above. If you have indeed read the books reviewer then you should be more careful about including possible spoilers in your write up cos I'd be pissed when Arya makes her third choice having read your review if I had not read the books. You also almost indicate difficulties Theon may face and I say almost loosely as anyone with a brain could decipher whats to come there from the end of that paragraph.
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It's funny cuz in the book they actually did talk about what would happen if she said Jaqen H'ghar.
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Good fun, but don't you think you are using the knowledge from the books in an inapropriate way (like making jokes and calling them yours)? Whining about differences is fine, but putting spoilers like your "oppinion" of what should have happened and what you think will happen is not... And some of your jokes were borderline rasist...
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Loved the scene between Davos and Stannis after Renly's dead. It really showed the relation the two of them have and why Davos is one of my favorite characters. Davos is the only person that stands up to him and Stannis knows he needs that, but hates it at the same time and it was conveyed beautifully imo.

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first 5ish minutes (recap and theme song take way too long IMO, GIVE ME EPISODE!) and it got awesome, stuff finally moving along and had some supernatural things, which I've been waiting for as I said last week. good episode this week.



also, baby otters are freaking adorable btw...
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I envy all of you who are watching the show without having read the books. After season 1 I promptly went out and read them all. I can honestly say that Sean Bean portrayed Ned Stark better then my imagination did. When reading the book I found him to be an ignorant twat always whining about honour, in the show he was a righteous man with an unfailing moral compass unjustly set upon. Kudos Sean Bean. Now in the second season I always have to stop myself from saying, 'but in the book this happened'. I read all the books so they kind of run together, but I feel like they are not 50% of the way through the book at this point. Arya I didn't really start to like until book 4 or 5, whichever one she was in, but Holy Crap is Maisie killing this role. AMAZING
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However you are spot on about Ned I also found him a bit more whigney in the books and a hypocrite. This is a man who helped Robert Baratheon avenge his sister and brother and take the iron throne from the long ruling and vastly powerful Targaryans. He also made Jamie step down from the Iron Throne and put a stop to the Greyjoy rebellion. The hypocrite part being that he fathered a bastard and dishonoured his wife and the Tullys (why do families berothed seem fine with people fathering bastards out of wedlock? If Cat was my daughter and I was Hoster or even Edmure Tully I would be rather pissed at Ned for this). Sean Bean did a greath job (as he always does) of portraying the badass but honest man that felt remorse for his actions toward Cat regarding Jon Snow but seemed very capable of achieving the past glories of Eddard we hear so much about. However in the book he seems weak and afraid at times and always feeling sorry for himself.
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have to disagree about Arya. I have only read books 1 and 2 so far, 50 pages into the 3rd but so far I have found that I ALWAYS enjoy an Arya chapter. Unlike many characters in the books there is ALWAYS something interesting going on in an Arya chapter where some of the characters sometimes don't really have a lot going on in their chapters. Sometimes even Tyrions chapters can be drab and uneventful. From my opinions of the second books I enjoyed it all but during Theon, Sansa and Davos chapters I regularly found myself hoping that the chapters were short and followed by an Arya or Jon Snow chapter.
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Was it Tynkler Arya chose as her first of three kills by Jaqen H'ghar? If so, why?
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The Tickler was the one in charge of questioning/torturing all the prisoners. He also seemed to enjoy making rats bore into people's chest cavity's. The guy was a dick and deserved to be killed.



BUT



In the book, Arya regrets the first name she tells Jaqen H'ghar because she realizes she should have chosen someone of more importance. Arya was super badass in this episode, but this little yet important detail being omitted is regrettable.
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Yeah, I see the point about Arya being badass enough---but still disappointing that The Tickler's death won't be played out in the books. It was awesome, the way (book spoiler]she yelled at him the same questions he was asking during the torture[/book spoiler].



A few of my friends are disappointed that so far she hasn't taken active part in the battles as she did in the books--like at the point Yoren dies--where she racked up a number of kills and now one of her major kills has been given else where. I am inclined to agree somewhat. Seems HBO are trying to make her less badass than the books and a lot less badass than the male characters.
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I hope we won't be deprived of Arya's wanderings in Harrendal. Besides, in the books the Tyckler gets killed in ASOS. Someone else was her fist choosing.
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Yeah that's right. And what a death it was!

However, her first kill was Weasel in the books and he was really a minor character.
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BTW, there was a Weasel character in ACOK that didn't make it to the script. She was a cry baby that Yoren found in his way north with the caravan. She was the only one that escaped from the Mountain's company that caught Arry, Hot Pie and Gendry.
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Haha sorry if I caused confusion. Yeah, I mixed up Weese and Weasel and also kill 1 and 2. Ok here's how it really was in the books:

1) Chiswyck (reason: gang rape)

2) Weese (reason: for striking Arya)

3) ... ;-)

(source: ASOIAF Wiki.)

Also: No, the Kingslayer was never part of Arya's prayer. I'm pretty sure the 2nd kill will be kind of random in the show, too as the 3rd really counts.

And last: Yes, there is a "weasel soup". Named after Arya's alias "Weasel". However the soup is a metaphor.
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I have seen many people questioning Aryas choices ("why not say Joffery or Cersie?") I think that Arya would have wanted to kill the most important people on her list herself. Joffery, Illyn Payne and Cersei she holds directly respoonsible for her fathers death and if I were her I would want to be the person to kill them so I could look them in the eye and see them regretting it before my very own eyes. I have lent the second book to a friend after finishing it so I am unable to look back but was Jamie Lannister in her prayer list? I don't recall him being on it but if i was her I would surely include him for the death of Jory and the rest of Eddards bannermen he slayed. Also the goldcloak who killed Syrio.
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Just looked it up and you are absolutely correct. Also, I get why you're disappointed Tickler was the first to die. I guess they figured Arya is badass enough.
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But seeing as Weese hasn't even been introduced, I do wonder who they will make her second kill now. Anybody else disappointed The Tickler was killed here, as his original book death was so badass, the way Arya carried it out.
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No, in the book, Weese was her second kill. Her first was Chiswick (sp?)---one of Gregor Clegane's men after she heard him bragging about a rape her had committed.
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I think Arya's first choice was Weese. The Weasel/Weese confusion is understandable.
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ummm... Weasel wasn't a "he." And also not one of Arya's choices.
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She said HER name was called Weasel, she chose the man who she worked for (i cannot remmember his name).
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Wasn't weasel a soup?
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"That little sword twirl at the end got high marks from the Braavos judge, but Brienne could care less"



it's "couldn't care less"
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Oh my God, Stannis?! Is that you?
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*ANNOYING WHINING ABOUT THE DIFFERENCES FROM THE BOOKS ALERT*



Alright, not taking anything away from this episode because it was AMAZING, but there was one scene I was very disappointed with.



Tyrion's visit to the Alchemists Guild left something to be desired. First of all, it wasn't Cersei's idea to equip the City Guard with Wildfire. She never talked to the Pyromancer and never briefly hid that fact from Tyrion. The show made it seem like the Wildfire was Cersei's baby, and Tyrion is only now learning of its existence. I don't like it when they minimize Tyrion's brilliance. Tyrion of his own behest was the one who first initiated an audience with the Alchemists Guild with the express intent of using it to defend King's Landing. Cersei had nothing to do with it. The Pyromancer , Hallyne, didn't have the "hmmmm" speech mannerism I was hoping to hear. I was also hoping to see green-flamed torches lining the walls and being the only sources of light as they descended to the vault. There was no mention of Tyrion's very smart precaution of practicing with paint before the men were ready to wield the real thing. I guess all this might seem like nitpicking, but I was really looking forward to this scene and it wasn't nearly as good as it was in the book.



Sidenote: What about Tyrion's chain?! I will be really pissed if they leave this out.
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regarding the catapult training with pots and the chain I am sure this is still to come as it is only now that the Lannisters at kings landing seem to be preparing for the war. As for the wildfire, I agree its a shame when they do this. My biggest gripe was the battle he is supposed to lead his mountain men into in the first season where they just trample him and he spends the battle unconscious. Why take away his glory and bravery in that battle and leave him seem a completely one dimensional advisary. Okay I'm not saying he should be as renowned as highly as the Kingslayer in battle but was it not his bravery and overcoming the odds and leadership qualities over his savage mountain men and sellsword in this battle that bestowed his fathers trust to rule in his stead upon him as Hand of the King?
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Really? I recall that part differently. I thought that defending the city with wildfire was originally Cersei's idea (because, after all, the Targaryens did it, so it must be the right thing to do), but Tyrion realized there was a better and safer way.
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Nope.
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And yeah, I you are right about Tyrion being the one that comes up with the idea, but I have the faintest memory of him being as surprised in the books by the amount as he appeared in the show. Can't remember why, though.
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he was suprised to learn of the quantity, unstableness and age of some of the wildfire and that Aerys Targaryan had it at his disposal if I recall correctly? as it was being made in vast quantity 18/19 years previous during the Targaryan rule.
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I think they were right to omit the catapult-training for the wildfire, as Tyrion's ultimate plan with it is more awesome, if you recall. I like they established how dangerous it was and risky to be catapulted--which, in the show, was probably Cersei's way. It serves to make it more awesome that Tyrion once again usurps her and comes up with something far safer and more genius.



I think him finding out about the Wildfire is the set-up for him devising the chain now.
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Also the line about the fact that all of a sudden it was so much easier to make.(coinciding with the birth of the dragons/red comet) I kind of missed. Little side notes that magic is returning.
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OMG yes the chain! When Tyrion said "You will stop doing wildfire for my sister" I thought he was gonna mention it. "You're going to make it for ME" however is a strange line. It's certain that Cersei will find out from the pyromancer and that might lead to unnecessary new scenes about Cersei and Tyrion arguing. So I agree that it was strange to include Cersei. I don't see the purpose yet.
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It seems to be just an excuse to have more screen time with Lena Headey ... I suppose I can't fault the writers for that.



Though, the chain is of monumental importance to the Battle of the Blackwater. It's unfathomable that the writers would leave it out.
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The chain is not only of importance for the battle but also probably the most genious thing Tyrion does in the whole story (well, apart from the last chapter of book 3 of course).



I'm pretty sure they will bring it as GRRM wrote the episode himself. I can't see any reason to just skip this.
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Plus, I think it is a way for the writers to cover themselves over whether they have even been worried about or preparing for the war. They haven't so far, but to show that so much wildfire was made, it's a short-cut to show, 'Oh look, see, in the background, unseen, King's Landing has been getting ready all this time..."



From here on, Tyrion steps it up, chain-link style.
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"Brienne could care less. She was ultra-bummed that Renly got killed on her watch. She ain't pretty, but she's loyal to the point where it's clinical."



Could be possible that Brienne was in LOVE with Renly? What you guys think about this?
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"Brienne *could* care less."



Couldn't! Couldn't care less!



Okay, now that I've firmly established myself as a grammar asshole, I'll inadequately answer your question.



Yes, it is entirely possible Brienne was in love with Renly. This is possible because in the book it is made explicitly clear. In the show it is definitely more subtle, so kudos to your observational skills.
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I haven't read the books, but I kinda got the idea when she fell on his chest after his death, and later said that she'd only held him that once... it actually made me wonder, so it's good to see here that she was indeed in (at least sort of) love with him.
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You are officially my grammar hero; people getting that phrase wrong has always bugged me.
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Especially when they get PAID to write. These reviews really need a solid proofreading, they've been riddled with errors this season.
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They don't get paid from US, so I don't get why WE should have the right to demand anything.
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The look in Arya's eyes at the end was so dope. As to say "yeah bitch, I made that happen."
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The episode was great but I cannot overclook the blatant sexism and racism of this article. For a site that usually calls out sexism and racism this was not good.
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Thought I was the only one who noticed "but it will cost her half the Throne and she'll be stuck with kids that don't share her awesome porcelain skin. Decisions, decisions! " and "a whores crotch."



To the other commenters, Polinara was not referring to the show, but to Tim's .... "indelicate" remarks.
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To be clear, if you're worried about "indelicate" remarks, you aren't watching this show. It's completely hypocritical to enjoy the show and criticize the review on a PC basis.
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Oh hon I'm not worried about "indelicate" remarks. You felt the need to defend Tim's extremely invidious remarks by discussing the merits of a Fantasy world not having bias (mind you the books are written by a man in ours) instead of addressing what was stated in this article.

To be very clear his remarks were extremely offensive and being able to call it like I see it does not make me a hypocrite. It simply means I'm not blind.
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I'm sorry, but I didn't think that Tim was racist. The show, and specially the books, are about families. Ned found out that Joffrey wasn't Robert's son because of that. And the house of Targeryan is famous for the marriage between brothers and sisters to preserve the family's traces (and power). Let us, please, just watch a good show and read good recaps without reading too much into it.
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Joking or not, I don't think Tim was racist at all. Neither the books nor the show have had a single word to imply that there's even a background of discrimination based on skin tone or ancestry other than the general us vs. foreigners. Acknowledging that the Targaryens have had an extremely restrictive (and inbred) genome and that Dany and Daro's children wouldn't have that "Targaryen" look isn't racist, although you could definitely say it was aware of genetics. And if Dany thought it worthwhile to consider the look of her children, it doesn't mean she found other look inferior. The Targaryens, unfortunately, were prejudiced in only one way: weaving the family tree into itself.



It's not valid to take our western world history, politics, and culture and cut-and-splice it with that of Westeros and then say "That's racist". If we can't acknowledge race and the effects it has (either here or in Westeros), we just shove any problems underground.
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People seem to of the opinion that Tim is joking, so it's all good. It might be just me, but I don't find that to be the best defense. A racist joke is still racist. A sexist joke is still sexist. I like to think I have a fairly open minded sense of humor, but in my opinion, a few particular jokes in this review aren't very funny and are more than slightly offensive.



Now calling Cersei a cu*t (because not even Abigail Adams could argue this point) and joking that beyond the Wall is Canada (however geographically incorrect it may be) is fair game, and I must say, also pretty hilarious.
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Love the site, but the writers like Tim are some of the biggest hypocrites around.
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Great article. However, I would argue that Ned Stark is the Franz Ferdinand of this story, rather than Renly. Ned's death was really the event that ignited the war...
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I'd be more inclined to opine that it was Catelyn Stark's seizure of Tyrion at the inn and her shanghaing him off to the Vale that kicked things off. It was that event that brought Tywin Lannister into things (as I recall from the books, he had Gregor Clegane and the latter's pet monsters begin to harry the riverlands).
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Yeah, you're right. But it would have been weirdly appropriate if Renly was the Franz Ferdinand of this story because of the name of the group responsible for the Archduke's death.



The Black Hand.
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Yup I would say so too.
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Seriously???? That's all you have to say about shirtless Gendry??? Like "Holy abs, Batman!!!" And where's my picture?!?!?!? Crack head Chris grew up to be an amazingly hot young man :D...All I need now is a naked/shirtless Robb and I can die happy!!!

And we all know (well...the curious ones) that someone from Westeros will marry for love....but we also know how that someone will end up!!!! So.....I'm sticking with the convenient marriages for now!!!
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You have shirtless Robb (in the same scene with shirtless Jon and shirtless Theon) in the very first episode of the show. Those kinds of things are hard to forget :D
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I called it. I called it a long time ago. This is a show where you're going to get the good guys getting dragged on their knees to their death and when you least expect it. I knew Renly was going to die, but surely not that soon. He died basically with having gained nothing, but playing being a king for a little while. I think he died even more miserably than Robert. I felt bad for Brienne, but i love her even more after this episode. I hope she doesn't die protecting that woman but i have a feeling she'll die too.



Next person that i called to die it's Robb, and it's starting to see that my prediction is going to come true, with two armies marching on his ass now. As for theon, i used to dislike the guy in the beginning but now seeing how hard he's trying to prove himself to his people make me want to root for the guy, and even more if it will shut her sister mouth for once.
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You know this was a great episode when Theon getting screwed over by his men and sister, wasn't even close to the best part. Too many awesome scenes!



Quick question for those who read the books: where are Meera en Jojen Reed? Shouldn't they have appeared already?
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I think they will appear later on this season.
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I don't think they're going to be in the show. Their whole point in the books is Jojen's "green dreams" and it looks like Bran has that power now (in the books Jojen saw the wave flood Winterfell). Also, I might be wrong but its seems like Osha is saying a lot of their lines as well.



Not sure who might accompany Bran in the future, but I'm guessing Martin had to tell the writers a lot of future details. This gets me to thinking whether the show is actually telling us who's going to die in the books by leaving them out of the show to save time?
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Yes, Martin told them a few things. Actually for a different reason; In case he would bite the dust before he will be able to finish the story.

It's a good question. And as things might change there will be the question how much of the TV series is canon. I hope one day we will get an answer.
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Great review Tim - and ignore the haters - I think your ep rankings are spot on. Game of Thrones and Fringe blow away every other show on tv these days - nothing can come close to touching either one in terms of quality acting, writing, and general bad-assery.
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I soo agree! There are other good shows on tv (for example: TVD, TSC and Revenge etc.) but Game of Thrones and Fringe are THE BEST and they're so much better than every other show on tv.
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urm Im at the end of season 1 of fringe (1 episode to go) but not blown away by it yet (I have heard it gets better, dont get me wrong I am enjoying it but its low down on my list of fav current shows atm. This may change). However Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy get better and better with each season and the last of each of their seasons have both been near Game of Thrones season 1 quality (I say season 1 cos 2 isn't over yet and also they all aired in 2011).

My top shows (ones that haven't aired their final episodes only)

1) Game of Thrones

2) Breaking Bad

3) Sons of Anarchy

4) Dexter

5) Fringe

6) The Walking Dead



Never seen Revenge or whatever TVD and TSC are though. But Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy are QUALITY shows.
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Valar morghulis
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Valar Dohaeris
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I disagree with ranking the episodes, even the worst episode of Game Of Thrones is better than 99.9% of the stuff on TV. They could make an episode where Tyrion is seated on a toilet arguing with his sister about Tax Amendments to the 4th quarter earnings of a commodities trader in Alabama and it would still be better than the best Jersey Shore.
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Watching a blank screen is better than the best of Jersey Shore.
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dude, whatever you're having before you write this.. I WANT IT !

i was laughing the whole time.. i thought the show itself was entertaining.. but i must say, your review i s a must-see for me.. keep it going Tim!
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Agreed. Tim's hilarious reviews are probably the main reason I stick around here.
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Um Brienne wasn't upset because she'd failed to keep Renly alive. She was upset because she was in love with him.
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