Game of Thrones

Season 2 Episode 6

The Old Gods and the New

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM May 06, 2012 on HBO
out of 10
User Rating
362 votes

By Users Episode Review


    Game of Thrones: Grinding Away

    In "The Old Gods and the New," Robb Stark and Jon Snow found love or something like it as war took a backseat to characters getting to know each other.

  • Episode Summary

    Theon moves in on Winterfell. In King's Landing, Tyrion acknowledges the effects of the war and makes arrangements for Cersei's daughter. Joffrey and the royal court learn exactly what the public thinks of them. North of the Wall, Jon and his brothers kills a band of wildlings, save for one woman named Ygritte. In Harrenhal, Arya is taken aback by an unexpected visitor.


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    • The Old Gods

      There were some dull parts in this one, but there was another strong, suspenseful ending and if they can keep this up every week they'll continue keeping me as a loyal fan.
    • Unnecessary small flaws can't prevent it from being this season's best episode yet

      It's clearly best to watch "The Old Gods and the New" without knowing what to expect from it, so I won't get any specific with the plot and I'll limit myself to saying: it's awesome. The first Game of Thrones episode to be directed by Emmy winner David Nutter (who later went on to direct the undisputable #1 of all GoT episodes "The Rains of Castamere") is an important turning point in season two, as everything points in the direction of war due to the events in this episode.

      In the Winterfell story part, things start to go down right from the beginning. And that is actually my problem with it: that it happens right at the beginning. I'm convinced that I'm not alone with the opinion that the breathtaking intensity overshadowed the whole subsequent scene which is a well-written argument between Jon Snow and Qhorin Halfhand that should definitely not be overlooked. I'm being extra harsh on this subject and say that this is really bad editing because the Winterfell scene would've worked palpably better if used as the finale of an episode (either this one or the one before it). And while not as huge, the same applies for the King's Landing riots, however in this case, the next scene features Emilia Clarke even more feisty than usual and will gain your attention right away even if you can still hear your heart beating as a response to what just happened. But I guess I really can't judge too hard considering the vast amount of things happening, with a lot of them differentiating from the source novel quite a lot. And in this case, I have to say that I enjoyed the version of Benioff and Weiss more than George R. R. Martin's.

      Besides those two scenes, which genuinely affected me, I had two other favorite moments in "The Old Gods and the New": the great suspense that comes up when Lord Baelish visits Tywin Lannister at Harrenhal who, as we know, is not aware of having the youngest Stark daughter as his cupbearer, and what happens beyond the Wall after the aforementioned Jon Snow scene. Introducing Rose Leslie as a new guest cast member, we meet the wildling Ygritte who is able to lift up the show's sex appeal (yeah, that fairly diminished with Brienne of Tarth) even though she has like half a dozen layers of clothes on. The first scene with here features one of this episode's logical goofs, but I connived at that as well since what follows is an icy pursuit that is one of the simplest but also most entertaining action sequences in season two thus far. But topping anything else is the bedtime scene with Jon and Ygritte and what I reckon to be the show's loveliest love story initiates. Not on the same level, but still surprisingly adorable to watch was Robb Stark continuing his flirtation with field nurse Talisa (sex appeal still rising). In the meantime, Jaqen H'ghar climbs higher and higher on the ladder of Game of Thrones' most awesome characters and the climactic situation at Qarth reaches a new apex with a shocking crime.

      You see? The plot is really fascinating in this one and the small flaws can't ultimately mar the entertainment I had while watching "The Old Gods and the New". Outstanding performances by Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark), Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister), Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen), and newbie Rose Leslie additionally help it to become this season's best episode yet.moreless
    • A Lesson in Dishes Best Served Cold (Book and Show Spoilers to Follow)

      A superior offering of Game of Thrones this week as we see Theon take Winterfell. He's clearly out of his depth in doing so. Luckily Maester Luwin was able to send off a raven to Robb Stark for aid though. The execution of Ser Rodrik may have gone against the books but did certainly offer a fitting end to his path as well as a fitting beginning to Theon's eventual fall. Osha really shone this episode proving duplicitous as can be and where her loyalties surely lie having to (gag) sleep with Theon to earn his trust and then killing that other Ironman in a moment of passion very brutal. A real scene stealer this week was Arya continuing her service as cupbearer to Tywin Lannister. As one of Tywin's flunkies Ser Amory Lorch screws up and accidentally sent troop movement messages to one of the Houses loyal to the Starks instead of his intended since he can't read. We also got a bit of a backstory from Jaime having to learn to read and how he is dyslexic. Catelyn returns to Robb's camp where he learns of Theon's betrayal and contemplates marching back North to retake Winterfell since a King needs to have his castle to be a King. He continues ogling the Lady who treats the wounded and the dead and Catelyn tells him that he can't follow his heart since he has taken up the crown and owes the Freys his hand of marriage. Arya, after stealing a message detailing Stark military movements, gets caught by Amory Lorch and he rushes to go tell Tywin. Arya manages to find Jaqen and tells him to kill Lorch and he does so in the nick of time. But now there is surely wind of an assassin in Harrenhal due to the dart found in his neck. In King's Landing while seeing Myrcella off to Dorne Cersei promises Tyrion that she will take someone dear to him in a very venomous Cersei-esque casual way as if she were talking about the weather. While on the way back to the Red Keep someone throws a cow pie at Joffrey and he orders all of the people executed which incites a riot. Many don't make it out alive. As the Lannister troops scramble to get Cersei and Joffrey and Tyrion away from the chaos many don't make it out. The High Septon is town limb from limb (literally) and Sansa gets engulfed in the crowd. Once they reach a safe haven Tyrion asks for Sansa and orders people to go find her. He also gives Joffrey a much needed pimp slap for being an idiotic king and a mad one. Sansa's almost rape scene made me rather squeamish since it didn't occur in the books but the Hound saving her was fitting since he did protect her in the book. The Hound telling Tyrion that he didn't do it for him shows that Clegane is indeed a force to be reckoned with and has his own agenda aside from protecting Joffrey. Jon and the other Rangers north of the wall look for Wildlings before night fall and find a small encampment and kill off the few wildlings there. But one turns out to a red headed woman and Jon says he'll deal with her on his own so Quorhin and the others leave him to it. The wildling's name is Ygritte and she gives Jon the slip almost but he chases her down but they get separated from the others. They agree to lie close to each other to stay warm but no fire so as to not attract any attention. She teases Jon with hip gyrations and she lies that she's not doing anything meaning that there is probably something there and she can lead them to Mance Rayder and his army. In Qarth Dany visits the richest merchants of the city and promises them triple repayment in exchange for ships. All of them say no especially the spice king who says that he markets in practical ways and not in promises although he does not doubt her intentions. Infuriated, and without Ser Jorah, she confides and speaks to Xaro about her needing to conquer the Seven Kingdoms but how can she do that without ships. He asks for marriage again and shows that he is most persistent. A twist is thrown in when they return to Xaro's estate though and she finds that most of her khalasar is dead and her dragons have been stolen but by whom we don't know. Very interesting change since it didn't happen in the books and the Mother of Dragons truly has nothing without her dragons and almost no khalasar she really is rendered powerless this season. Osha retreating with Bran and Rickon was a good "almost tricked us" kind of way that made us think she almost turned sides but her recognizing Bran's dream and trying to self preserve herself was very wildling of her. Also another really great scene was Littlefinger arriving in Harrenhal to talk to Tywin and their talk of Renly's passing and what needs to happen to win the war and how the Tyrells can be the key to their victory now that Renly is gone. Excellent offering and Peter Dinklage continues to astound with his superb take on Tyrion and hopefully will sweep another Emmy for the show's benefit. But sadly no Stannis or Davos this week but they got enough last week so I guess that's ok.moreless
    • And welcome to King's Landing! We hope you enjoy your stay...

      Season 2 of Game of Thrones has been a bit iffy when it comes to how the show relates to the book. Some people don't care about this. Some understand that the show doesn't have to copy the book word for word. Others, however, more notably the crazed book fanatics, get upset at any deviation from the books, only to tune in again next week.

      This episode is no different. As a matter of fact, I actually LIKE the changes they made from the books in this episode. Well, except for Jon's storyline, but in Qarth I thought stealing Dany's dragons was a great way to lead her to the climax of her story in the House of the [censored for spoilers]. Let's face it, Dany is extremely boring in Book 2 with nothing to do but get eaten by the sharks in Qarth. No badass Khal Drogo to guard her and no Viserys to treat her poorly. She shined in season 1. But in season 2 she is put on the backburner because season 2 is all about the war in Westeros.

      So making stuff up to make her story more intersting is actually better for the drama of the TV series. I like it. What I don't like is the changes they made to Jon. For him it all starts out fine. They raid the Wilding camp, some nice fight scene for a few seconds, and then Jon captures a wildling woman...but that's where it starts to change. In the book, Jon decides to be merciful and let her go. In the show...we don't know what the hell he's thinking. He swings the sword, but doesn't kill her. She runs away, but he follows with intent to kill her. He captures her, and still doesn't killer. WTF is he doing? Horrible scene in the show, awesome in the book. (Though Ygritte is pretty hot).

      The real meat of this episodes happens in King's Landing and Winterfell. King's Landing is total mayhem when a riot breaks loose thanks to Joffery deciding to kill a man for throwing a piece of cake at him. Seriously, if there's one change they should have made that they didn't, it's killing Joffery in this episode. Lol, I HATE him sooo much, he deserves a good spanking. Well, he got one, from Tyrion, (<3) but I think he should have gotten more than that.

      Winterfell, *** goes down. Theon comes out of nowhere, kills Ser Rodrik, takes the castle, and everything goes crazy from there. Osha shows of the goodies (she's hotter than I thought she would be) and womanizes Theon into bed, only to use her womanly powers to take Bran, RIckon, and Hodor out of the castle.

      One thing I am worried about, however, is the changes they are going to make to the Winterfell storyline.

      [Book Spoilers Ahead]

      Specifially with a character named Reek. Pretty sure Roose Bolton says his bastard at the Dreadfort can raise an army and retake Winterfell. In the book, this bastard Reek is in Winterfell already, and joins Theon. I really hope they don't ruin the huge twist at the end of the book in Winterfell like this. But we will see.

      [End Book Spoilers]

      Anyway, great episode. Some nice action scenes north of The Wall and in King's Landing, but the changes of the book bring this one down to a 9, as opposed to a 9.5. It's not that I'm such a fan of the book that ANY change is bad (again, I like Dany's change), but the changes happening in most of the storylines I just don't agree with. Arya being Tywin's cupbearer is a change that makes for some interesting scenes, but again, nothing too great. Dany's twist...well we'll see where that goes. Jon and Winterfell's changes gave this episode a grade less than the past two episodes, 4 and 5, which I consider the best of the season, but this too was great.

      Season 2 is now entering the final act. Tease for what I expect to happen next week: Arya will be more badass than ever with her final kill choice, Theon and "The Little Lord" will play Cat and Mouse, and King's Landing will try to recover from the unrest building inside. I cannot wait to see how they play out the final 4 episodes, which IMO will get better and better. (ESPECIALLY EPISODE 9)

    • The Old Gods and the New

      The Good:

      -"Theon, did you hate us the whole time?"

      -"Strike hard and true, Jon Snow, or I'll come back and haunt you."

      -"...I want you to know what it's like to love someone, to truly love someone, before I take her from you."

      -"We've had vicious kings and we've had idiot kings, but I don't know if we've ever been cursed with a vicious idiot for a king."

      -"...Don't you understand? I'm no ordinary woman; my dreams come true."

      The Bad:

      -The show seems to be straying from the books more and more.moreless
    Peter Dinklage

    Peter Dinklage

    Tyrion Lannister

    Lena Headey

    Lena Headey

    Cersei Lannister

    Michelle Fairley

    Michelle Fairley

    Catelyn Stark

    Emilia Clarke

    Emilia Clarke

    Daenerys Targaryen

    Aidan Gillen

    Aidan Gillen

    Petyr Baelish aka "Littlefinger"

    Kit Harington

    Kit Harington

    Jon Snow

    Nicholas Blane

    Nicholas Blane

    Spice King

    Guest Star

    Simon Armstrong

    Simon Armstrong

    Qhorin Halfhand

    Guest Star

    Fintan McKeown

    Fintan McKeown

    Amory Lorch

    Guest Star

    Donald Sumpter

    Donald Sumpter

    Maester Luwin

    Recurring Role

    Ron Donachie

    Ron Donachie

    Rodrik Cassel

    Recurring Role

    Natalia Tena

    Natalia Tena


    Recurring Role

    Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


    • TRIVIA (2)

      • The title of this episode "The Old Gods and the New" refers to the two main religions in Westeros. The Old Gods are worshiped in the North and the Faith of the Seven, also known as the New Gods, elsewhere in Westeros (except for the Iron Islands which has its own religion, the Drowned God). There are occasions where people swear oaths by "the Old Gods and the New" as well.

      • In the opening credits, Jack Gleeson, who plays Joffrey Baratheon, mistakenly has the Stark direwolf sigil next to his name.

    • QUOTES (6)

      • Shae: (to Sansa) Don't trust anybody. Life is safer that way.

      • Daenerys Targaryen: (to the Spice King) Do you understand? I'm no ordinary woman. My dreams come true.

      • Tyrion Lannister: (furiously to his nephew Joffrey) We've had vicious kings and we've had idiot kings, but I don't think we've ever been cursed with a vicious idiot for a king!

      • Ygritte: (as Jon Snow hesitates to cut off her head) Strike hard and true, Jon Snow, or I'll come back and haunt you.

      • Cersei Lannister: (to her brother Tyrion, as she watches her daughter Myrcella being ferried to a ship) I want you to know what it's like to love someone, truly love someone, before I take her from you.

      • Daenerys Targaryen: I'm not asking you for the Kingdoms, I'm asking you for ships. I need to cross the Narrow Sea.
        Spice King: I need my ships, as well. I use them, you see, to bring spices from one port to another.
        Daenerys Targaryen: Whatever you grant me now will be repaid three times over when I retake the Iron Throne.
        Spice King: Retake? Did you once sit on the Iron Throne?
        Daenerys Targaryen: My father sat there before he was murdered.
        Spice King: But if you did not sit on it yourself, would it not be correct to say "take the Iron Throne"?
        Daenerys Targaryen: I didn't come here to argue grammar.
        Spice King: Of course not, you came to take my ships!

    • NOTES (0)

    • ALLUSIONS (0)