Game of Thrones Review: Building to a Battle

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A battle is coming to Game of Thrones. The Battle of Blackwater, to be exact, and it will go down in one week's time when Stannis and his army reach Winterfell.

And "The Prince of Winterfell" prepared viewers for this epic event, moving various players in to place, yet not actually moving the story along in any exciting manner.

Varys and Tyrion

Heck, arguably the most memorable development from the hour took place off screen: Catelyn letting Jaime Lannister go.

This led to a number of fun (Brienne dealing with Jaime), emotional (Robb telling his mother off, nearly calling her a traitor and ordering her to be locked down) and naked scenes (Robb and hot nurse girl getting it on), but it also felt like something rather important was glossed over.

What, exactly, did Catelyn tell Jaime about his permitted escape? How did he react? What about the men?

Unfortunately, this wasn't the only example more action taking place off screen than on. Again, yes, it was entertaining to watch Arya bargain for Jaqen H'ghar's life with Jaqen H'ghar himself. But the season is making Jagen look like some mixture of Batman, Robocop and Chuck Norris.

He can apparently kill anyone at any time, in any way, no matter the number. It would have been nice to actually see this honorable man make work of those three guards, don't you think?

Instead, the storyline was rushed along in order to free Arya (and pals Gendry and Hot Pie, of course) so she could play a role in next Sunday's battle.

Most of the episode felt that way. We spent scat time with Jon Snow and Dany; just enough, really, to remind viewers of their predicament. We learned what we've all assumed since last week: that Theon did not really kill Bran and Rickon, and we were left to wonder how Bran will deal with the guilt of knowing just who he did kill.

The most in-depth storyline of the episode fell to Tyrion and the inner workings of King's Landing, which at least means it was fun and revealing to watch. It's impossible to say enough good things about Peter Dinklage at this point, but he positively killed every moment of the scene where Cersei led him to believe Shae had been captured.

He was confused... then shocked... then panicked... then you could almost see his mind churning as he realized the best course of action would be to pretend that the battered woman there was, indeed, his whore. And this praise is heaped on Dinklage before we even arrived his heartfelt plea to Shae soon afterward. Just great work all around by the Emmy winner.

And a fascinating alignment that may be forming between him and Varys, as each can foresee the fall of King's Landing if Joffrey is left in charge.

That's where we stand heading into next week. "The Prince of Winterfell" was definitely the slowest episode of season two, but it was a calm before what promises to be a bloody, gory, Westeros-altering storm.


Editor Rating: 3.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 (183 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


This episode should worth more than 3 stars. It has a nice build up to the great battle emerging very shortly.
Tyrion I agree killed all the scenes he is involved in. Peter Dinkage is certainly living within Tyrion it seems. Wonderful bit of acting.
Can't wait to see the next episode.
BTW mother of dragons is becoming boring with her cryin' about her dragon babies. Boo Hoo. Go and find them already.

Beverly brooks

Game of Thrones continue to interest me and I can hardly wait for next week and see just how Joffrey handles being attacked. As far as what Jamie was told, I think that he is on his way to save the 2 children which we found out were not killed. Peter Dinklage continues being the best actor in every scene that he is in.


Ed you are a pretender just like many of the characters in the novels. Don't pretend that you know the original story and then say the Catelyn Stark cut off the Kingslayer's hand. That was done later by Vargo Hoat and his bloody mummers, a sellsword company not introduced as of yet. Also to another post-Lord Tywin fights a character who is brother to catelyn- who is also not currently in the tv series, and being repulsed by her brother he learns of a chance to attack Stannis while besieging the capital. It's also funny that someone thinks stannis is trying to attack winterfell- that's a very strange conclusion.


Bah like the article suggests.. too much crap happens off screen and we are left trying to figure out wtf just happened. Catelyn cuts Jaimes king-slaying hand in the books to make him a more pliable prisoner for Brienne, why they ignored this on the show I'll never know. They've left out a huge part of the defense of King's Landing, the chain, which makes a significant impact on the outcome of the battle. Davos is a major character who is basically pissed on in this show. Dany and Jon Snow and Sansa are huge story arcs in the books but are essentially non existent on the show. Maybe I would like the show more if I never read the novels but comparing the two is like comparing Apple pie and a plate of crap.


@Alex Roggio: Regarding Tywin would've defended Kings Landing. Tywin defending Kings Landing would've been a tactical mistake. Tywin sat his forces at Harrenhal because that position allowed him to react to the largest number of threats.
Robb could not attack Kings Landing without going past Harrenhal. If Robb tried to attack Casterly Rock instead, Tywin could easily march West and intercept him. If Renly or Stannis moved towards Kings Landing Tywin could march South and be there after a days March. If Tywin had gone South to Kings Landing, Robb would've marched unopposed on Casterly Rock, and taken the Lannister seat of power and the Lannister gold mines.


Glad to hear I'm not going crazy. I was starting to wonder if maybe I had zoned out a time or two during last week's episode. I'm really puzzled about the purpose of leaving out the discussion Catelyn must have had with Jamie just before she had him released. It was such a big turn of events, yet it was brushed over as if it were an insignificant act. Very odd. Maybe they will reveal more in a flashback scene. Another thing that seemed peculiar was the scene between Theon and his sister, Yara where she bascially tells him he was a blithering idiot for killing the two Starke boys. Yet,he says nothing to her about it all being just a hoax. Why wouldn't he have told her the truth? It would have only served to have made him appear clever to his sister. Strange. Finally, I couldn't agree more about Peter Dinklage. The guy hits it out of the park every time he comes on screen - an actors' actor if there ever was one.


Stannis is aproaching king's landing not winterfell. Robb stark's splinter force is nearing winterfell. Robb stark himself is getting ready to attack casterly rock, the lanester power base. This and the fact that robb had jamie is probably why tywin is going after robb not relieving kings landing. I dont think robb and tywin fought in the book. I would be very disappointed if they do not fight in the series. The show has not done a good job building to the conclusion. Too many characters and situations loosely related to each other. Tyrion never fails to please. I almost wish they would change the name to I Tyrion. The court intrigue and his family fueds is great. Robb starks romance is also touching. The only love story on GOT that is not hidious. I dont think it will end well once again thanks to his mother. Here is hoping the ending was worth the wait.


I'm halfway through Book Five. Catelyn released Jamie after he swore to rescue her children, sending Brienne to guard him. Theon's big sister came to Winterfell on their father's orders to bring Theon home, not from any sisterly or maternal feeling. Theon had disobeyed his father's orders, which were to ravage the coast with one ship. His sister was given 30 ships to conquer important cities inland.To impress his sister and father who thought him a craven weakling, he brutally attacked Winterfell (left in the hands of a crippled child, Bran), where he's been Lord Stark's ward from childhood, and been best friends with elder sons, Rob and Jon. Lord Balon, his father, knew that he could not hold it and sent Asha to save him from further ignominy.


Catelyn letting Jaime Lannister go could be part of a secret we shall discover next season. Also the relationship between Jaime and Brienne is very interesting in the books. The plot twists are great and ultimately logical and are not abusive to the reader. These stories are so well woven and we are rewarded for our patience.


No mention in the review of "Little Prince" Theon's comeuppance at the hand of his sister. I can't believe she rode 200 miles from the coast just to deliver a simple message from the elder Greyjoy. Unless, as the last scene would have us believe, she, deep down, really has some deep, almost maternal, concern about his future. If she does care about him, and she realizes that dear old Dad will not defend Winterfell and Theon is due to fall along with it to the impending attack by a splinter force sent by one of Robb's lords, then her long ride there and back may have been one last attempt to save his life. Hard to tell amid the sibling rivalry and threats being bandied about.

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Game of Thrones Season 2 Episode 8 Quotes

I will hurt you for this. A day will come when you think you are safe and happy, and your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth. And you will know the debt is paid.

Tyrion Lannister

Has anyone ever told you you're as boring as you are ugly?

Jaime Lannister