Game of Thrones

Season 2 Episode 5

The Ghost of Harrenhal

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Apr 29, 2012 on HBO
out of 10
User Rating
346 votes

By Users Episode Review


    Game of Thrones: The Winter of Everyone's Discontent

    Tension is building as King's Landing prepares for war, and everyone wants a piece of the action.

  • Episode Summary


    Catelyn and Renly come to an agreement. At King's Landing, Cersei assures Tyrion that siege preparations are well under way. In the Iron Islands, Theon sets sail but faces a difficult crew. In Harrenhal, Arya meets a mysterious captive. North of the Wall, the Watchmen arrive at their camp. In Qarth, Daxos has a proposition for Daenerys. In Winterfell, Osha sees something in Bran's dreams.

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    • The Ghost of Harrenhal

      Strong episode here, wisely with a heavy emphasis on Daenerys. The absurdity of Qarth was both aesthetically-pleasing and did create further drama for the show this season.
    • "Anyone can be killed" - applicable as well for the show's flawlessness (SPOILERS!)

      Sure, Tywin Lannister's conversation with Arya Stark, his new cupbearer whose identity he's unaware of, was phenomenal work by the screenwriters and the actors.

      Agreed, Qarth is just as fabulous in this episode as it was when we got a quick glimpse at it in "Garden of Bones".

      Just as important, the mindblowing landscape shots in Iceland, the setting used for the trek of the Night's Watch.

      And as always, the debate between Tyrion and Cersei is such fun to watch.

      But there is another major story part that ruined the whole episode for me: Renly's death. I disliked the ending of the previous episode already, however, the story worsens again and I ended up being more disappointed than at any other occasion in the whole series. It's not that I'm enraged about his character dying, but in my opinion, this was so cheaply done by George R. R. Martin and had me losing my faith in Game of Thrones for a moment. A mythical shadowy creature coming into Renly's tent, killing him, and then disappearing again? Are you kidding me? I couldn't help but laugh at the silliness of this scene and even more so the ones that followed. Brianne pledging fealty to Catelyn somewhere in the woods looked like the beginning of a bad lesbian porno movie, Finn Jones did a terrible job at portraying the emotions of his character after his lover died, and Aidan Gillen bugged me due to him reading his text like a vegetable. Natalie Dormer was very interesting, however, as we unexpectedly got to see a new side of her character.

      Stannis and Davos conversing wasn't especially well-made either and the protracted scene got a bit boring. Same goes for little schoolboy Theon getting repeatedly bullied by his pals, his sis, and his daddy lame! But then, the pros of "The Ghost of Harrenhal" made it worth my while after all, even though it took some time to get them. During the episode's first 20 minutes, we were presented an assemblage of everything I disliked about it and the quality only slowly improved after that. Near the end, though, we got Jaqen H'ghar defeating Tyrion in terms of awesomeness, while the very token imp was busy discovering a huge secret Cersei tried to hide from him. Informant for that was, by the way, the prettiest girl in King's Landing: Lancel Lannister.

      What made me fell in love with at least the second half of this episode were the scenes at Qarth. The rich independent city somewhere in the complete desert gives us some of the coolest character introductions of the whole season and one of television's most beautiful settings with its market place. Additionally, Khaleesi Daenerys finally gets to be pretty again and, as we've seen in parts of season one, her impersonator, Emilia Clarke, is extraordinarily talented at that as long as she isn't stranded in the dirt without anything to eat.

      Now, how profound are the scenes I disliked in my rating? It adds up to the worst rating I've ever gave a Game of Thrones episode, yet the looming war makes me stay positive about the series' and this season's future.

    • Well, Hello Gendry!

      Remember those awkward last days of childhood when you first started to check out the shirtless blacksmith boy? Of course not, but now thanks to HBO magic Arya can!

      Seems weird but these first few signs of normalcy turn out to be the lighter side of the episode, for the shadow man sired by Stannis kills Renly before the poor thing knows what hit him, Brianne is so devastated that she takes upon herself the task to avenge her King as a renegade knight at the service of Lady Catlyn.

      Back at Winterfell, only the calm before the storm sets among the little lords. Rickon oblivious to Bran's grimm visions of the future in a way his servants aren't. For only those who have lived beyond the wall can understrand the boy's hiden wisdom as he's starting to understand it himself.moreless
    • The Ghost of Harrenhal

      The Good:

      -"Do you want to be a queen?" "No. I want to be THE queen."

      -"They say all sorts of crazy things north of the wall."

      -Jaqen H'Ghar makes his intentions known. Perfectly cast, he is one of the most engaging new characters.

      -"...There are times when I look at you and I still can't believe you're real."

      -Yet another flawless episode. Season two has raised the bar of excitement extremely high!moreless
    • Best episode so far (this season)

      The first season of game of thrones took a lot of time to get the plot moving but got simply awesome around the 5th episode. The second season is similar. With all the pieces finally in check, the plot is finally moving.

      The strange thing is, this is the first episode this season where the show didn't seem rushed. I haven't read the books, but I got the impression that we were jumping around all the characters way to fast in the first four episodes. Here, the scenes are long and fantastic, and the show doesn't waste our time with pointless sex scenes either. Tyrion is awesome in KL and Arya's scenes are also great. Jaqen seems totally badass. As for the first scene, I was sort of dissapointed because I really liked the character, but I guess it moves Stannis's storyline forward.

      Anyways, great episode.moreless

    Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


    • TRIVIA (1)

      • The title of this episode is a direct quote from the books. Arya Stark refers to herself as "The Ghost of Harrenhal" in "A Clash of Kings", Chapter 30.

    • QUOTES (5)

      • Jorah Mormont: (to Daenerys) There are times when I look at you and I still can't believe you're real.

      • Jaqen H'ghar: A man pays his debts. A man owes three.
        Arya Stark: Three what?
        Jaqen H'ghar: The Red God takes what is his, my lovely girl. And only death may pay for life. You saved me and the two I was with. You stole three deaths from the Red God. We have to give them back. Speak three names and a man will do the rest. Three lives I will give you, no more, no less. And we're done.
        Arya Stark: I can name anyone? And you'll kill him?
        Jaqen H'ghar: A man has said.

      • Tywin Lannister: And what do they say of Robb Stark in the North?
        Arya Stark: They call him the Young Wolf.
        Tywin Lannister: And?
        Arya Stark: They say he rides into battle on the back of a giant direwolf. They say he can turn into a wolf himself when he wants. They say he can't be killed.
        Tywin Lannister: And do you believe them?
        Arya Stark: No, my lord. Anyone can be killed.

      • Tyrion Lannister: (about Joffrey Baratheon) The king is a lost cause. It's the rest of us I'm worried about now.

      • Margaery Tyrell: (about Renly) He was very handsome.
        Petyr Baelish: He was, Your Grace.
        Margaery Tyrell: Your Grace? Calling yourself king doesn't make you one, and if Renly wasn't a king, I wasn't a queen.
        Petyr Baelish: Do you want to be a queen?
        Margaery Tyrell: No, I want to be the queen.

    • NOTES (0)

    • ALLUSIONS (0)