The episode starts out with a rather amusing scene in which Greywolf catches a Lannister guard in a rather vulnerable position. It then changes to the aftermath of a great battle in which Robb was victorious. It is here that we first meet Talisa, who saws off a wounded Lannister soldier’s leg as Robb holds him down. They have a brief exchange about the young Stark’s plan after the war is won, and we learn that Robb has no desire to sit the Iron Throne. We also see that Robb is starting to take on certain traits his father had, such as loyalty and honor. Talisa hops on the back of cart and Robb asks where she is from. She says that she is from Volantis.
Meanwhile in King’s Landing, Joffrey is punishing Sansa for her brother’s recent victories. He holds her hostage while pointing an ornate crossbow at her, threatening to kill her for Robb’s treasons. However, he says his mother doesn’t want Sansa dead, so Joffrey begins to humiliate her instead. He begins by having one of his King’s Guard spank her with the broad side of his sword and then, at the orders of the King, begins to rip apart Sansa’s dress. It looks like she is in for a terrible beating until Tyrion walks in to rescue her. Along with Bronn, he gives the evil young king a nice scolding and threatens one of the King’s Guards, Ser Meryn. While walking out of the Great Hall, Tyrion makes a proposition to Sansa that she can end her betrothal to Joffrey. Even after all the torturous beatings and humiliations, Sansa maintains her ever-lasting devotion to King Joffrey. She has learned to play the game well, so well that Tyrion himself seemed impressed. In an attempt to tame Joffrey a bit, Tyrion sets up a late name day present for his nephew. Joffrey ends up using it to send his uncle a nasty message. The present turns out to be two prostitutes, Ros being one of them. Joffrey goes through a sick, twisted display of sadism and points his crossbow at Ros, demanding that she beat the other girl.
Arya, Gendry, and Hotpie arrive at Harrenhal, where we see the new Mountain and get introduced to the Tickler. Arya and the others are placed into a torture cell and she begins to recite her nightly prayers for the first time. The Mountain selects Gendry to be tortured but Tywin Lannister rides into Harrenhal and saves him. He complains to his soldiers that he needs laborers and they should not be torturing the captives. Along with saving Gendry, Tywin notices that Arya is a girl and orders that she become his cup-bearer.
Across the narrow sea, Daenerys is becoming quite desperate. Her followers are out of food and water, but Kovarro returns with news of a great city named Qarth, not “Quarth” but “Qarth”. Kovarro informs Khaleesi that it is only a three-day ride and that they will receive the Mother of Dragons. She asks Ser Jorah Mormont what he knows of this place, to which he replies that the area outside the city gates is known simply as the “Garden of Bones”. Upon arriving at Qarth, Daenerys is met by The Thirteen. She gets into a heated argument with a man known as a Trader of Spices, who wants to see her dragons before letting her through the city gates, which Dany refuses. It is only after Xaro Xoan Daxos appears and invokes “sumai”, vouching his life that they won’t lay waste to the city, that Daenerys and her followers are allowed to enter.
In the Stormlands, Littlefinger visits Renly’s camp and brings a proposition to Catelyn: Tyrion will trade Arya and Sansa for Jaime Lannister. Of course the Lannisters don’t have Arya, but Catelyn is led-on to believe that they do. Catelyn also knows that Robb will not give up the Kings Slayer for two girls, even if they are his own sisters. As a gesture of goodwill, Tyrion arranged for the delivery of Ned’s remains so that he can be buried in the crypts beneath Winterfell. The next day, Stannis meets with Renly and threatens to kill him if he does not bend the knee by night fall. When no word of Renly’s surrender arrives, Davos smuggles Melisandre into a cave underneath Storm’s End and, in impressive fashion, she gives birth to a shadowy demon figure.
Finally, back in King’s Landing, Tyrion receives a visit from his cousin Lancel. He has come to deliver a warrant for the release of Grandmaester Pycelle, but not without a little bit of drilling from Tyrion first. Tyrion gets Lancel to admit that he has been sleeping with the Queen and threatens to tell Joffrey of the affair. Lancel pleads for mercy and his request is granted, except now Lancel belongs to Tyrion and must spy on Cersei’s every move.
Likes (a whole lot!)
Harrenhal – I absolutely loved the Harrenhal scenes in this episode. The old woman describing the death of her family was spine-chilling and I found the part where Hotpie stares at the Mountain hilarious. It was as if Gregor didn’t want to a trend to start, so he purposefully picked the guy Hotpie was copying. Arya begins to recite her nightly prayers. She says them while lying in the rain and the look on her face makes me truly believe she could kill every single person on her list. I am happy to see Arya getting more screen time, considering Maisie Williams is killing it this season. The next episode, “The Ghost of Harrenhal” should be a great one for Arya as her story is about to get much, much more interesting.
The most badass moment at Harrenhal was when Tywin Lannister rides in and takes charge. He saves Gendry from the Tickler’s wrath and puts Arya to work serving him wine. The way in which Tywin carries himself and the respect he commands from his banner men is second to none. He has a real presence on the screen and I’m quite excited to see the interactions between him and Arya in the coming episodes.
Daenerys – The whole stand-off in the Garden of Bones was brilliantly done. First off, we got to see both sides of Dany’s personality, the loving mother and the vicious Targaryen. It never fails to amaze me how strong the women in this show can be. Most of the time, they have to overcome the biggest challenges and always seem to be at a disadvantage. They have to be tough and gritty in order to survive in this cruel world but end up doing so in order to persevere. Secondly, her threat to burn Qarth to the ground was simply heroic and I can’t wait until her dragons are big enough to lay waste to whole cities. Also, when the gates opened, I have to say, Qarth looked pretty damn awesome.
Cat and Littlefinger Stand-off – While at Renly’s camp, Littlefinger surprises Catelyn in her tent. It seems that this is the first encounter these two have had since Ned’s untimely death. Cat calls Petyr a traitor and scolds him for how he betrayed Ned. Not to my surprise, that snake in the grass makes excuses and blames Ned for being too much of an honorable man. Especially concerning was the fact that Littlefinger even tried to declare his devotion to Cat, to which he was met with a dagger in his face. I thought the acting and dialogue between Michelle Fairley and Aidan Gillen was really impressive. Cat goes through such a wide range of emotions in this scene and the strong acting by Fairley really shines through.
Tyrion – For the casual Game of Thrones viewer, Season 1 really didn’t do Tyrion a whole lot of justice. Sure Peter Dinklage killed it as far as acting is concerned, but it was hard to be a big fan of the character. This season, however, we have seen the true nature of the Imp. The show has done a great job of showing just how witty and clever he is and each episode we see a new layer of Tyrion unfold. The mastery of turning Lancel into his spy was incredibly brilliant and you have to love the only person who seems to be able to put Joffrey in his place. With the constant undermining of Cersei and the quickness at which he takes control of situations, Tyrion knows exactly how to play the Game of Thrones and plays it well.
Melisandre’s Demon Baby – Now it’s time for the elephant in the room. More specifically, what in the hell did Melisandre give birth to? Some shadowy demon figure is what it looked like and it obviously has something to do with the sex ritual between her and Stannis a few episodes back. Whatever it is, I sure would hate to be Renly right about now.
As for the scene itself, I thought it was perfect and exactly how it was portrayed in the books. With such a powerful and important scene, I’m glad HBO decided not to deviate here. The look on Davos’s face was priceless as he looked like he was going to scale the wall of the cave backwards. If I was him, I’d want to get out of there too! My only problem with the graphic nature of the scene is that it may turn off some casual viewers of the show. However, this is A Song of Ice and Fire. It is, possibly, the most unpredictable piece of fiction around right now. As a result, you never know what you’re going to get. It’s not about the nudity, the sex, or the graphic content. This show is about the amazing complexity of characters and the wonderful imagery of this made up world. Those other things are there merely as a shock factor, another tool the show is using to catch your interest and spark viewers’ emotions. From the reactions from fans I’ve seen so far this season, it seems to be working.
Dislikes (not much!)
The New Mountain – For those that didn’t notice, myself included, the Mountain was in this episode. He was the one picking the Tickler’s torture victims. I actually didn’t notice him until I re-watched the episode to write this review. The character was re-cast for Season 2 and I am rather disappointed. Most of all, he isn’t anywhere near as intimidating as the old Gregor Clegane from Season 1. He is as tall as a tree, but didn’t look to be the massive beast that is “The Mountain”. He certainly didn’t look strong
enough to chop a horse’s head off with one swing of his sword.
No Peach – So for those non-book readers, the scene in which Renly and Stannis meet on the cliff was almost exactly as portrayed in the novels. Except in the books, Renly is chomping on a fat, juicy peach while talking with Stannis. This may seem like a minor change, but the peach was almost like a character in itself. The peach dominated the scene in the books and I bet there probably isn’t one person who wasn’t a little disappointed that it didn’t make an appearance.
Joffrey’s Sadism – To me, this is more indifference than a dislike. In my opinion, the producers wanted to show an even more evil side to Joffrey than the books ever depicted. Of course we saw the cruel, spoiled child but never the insane wickedness that was revealed in this episode. This is just another example of the show expanding on GRRM’s material and exploring how evil this character can get. Did they go a little overboard? Maybe. One thing is for certain though: if you didn’t want Joffrey dead before, you do now.
No Battles – So far in this series, we haven’t gotten to see any battles between the Starks and Lannisters. No battles at all really. Seeing the aftermath is really the important part, I know, but I can’t help but wish I could see Robb hacking people to bits.
Book Deviations (no spoilers!)
Harrenhal – Mostly the Harrenhal scenes went along with how it was depicted in the books. One difference is that Arya and the others were locked in a torture cell while on the road to Harrenhal, not at the castle itself. The most significant difference, and one that I am extremely curious about, is Arya becoming Tywin’s cup-bearer. In the novels, Arya is sent to work in the kitchens with Hotpie while Gendry works as a smith. This is a fairly large deviation from the novels and I think it will be very interesting to see Arya’s interactions with Tywin. The “Ghost of Harrenhal” is almost among us and I can’t wait to see Arya start checking people off her list.
Talisa – The introduction of Oona Chaplin’s character in this episode is very significant. First, her character was never in the novels. Talisa is actually loosely based on a character named Jeyne Westerling, a western girl who cares for Robb after he is wounded in a battle. Second, it seems that the only similarity between the two characters is their relationship with Robb. By the way, Oona Chaplin is related to Charlie Chaplin, seriously.
HBO takes you inside this episode:
Favorite Quotes from Episode 4
“Is he a ham?” – Renly Baratheon
“This one’s a girl…you idiot!” – Tywin Lannister
“What’s that smell?
– Dead People.” – Hotpie and Arya Stark
“There’s no cure for being a cunt” – Bronn
“That was a threat. See the difference?” – Tyrion Lannister
“You want to see what’s underneath this robe, don’t you? And you will.” – Melisandre
“Oh, save it for Joffrey. He loves a good groveling!” – Tyrion Lannister
“You think a few bolts of cloth will make you king?” – Stannis Baratheon
“The Mad King did as he liked. Has your uncle Jaime ever told you what happened to him?” -Tyrion Lannister
“Joffrey, Cersei, Ilyn Payne, the Hound. Joffrey, Cersei, Ilyn Payne, the Hound.” – Arya Stark
Overall, I thought this was a very good episode but not great. However, to this point I think the stage has been set and from here on in, this season will be epic!
What did you think of the episode, Game of Thrones fans? Leave us a comment below with your reactions.