Recap of Season 2, Episode 9: “Blackwater”

Buckle up, it’s time for the battle of Blackwater.  Stannis’ fleet is approaching Blackwater Bay and preparing to assault Mud Gate and take King’s Landing from Joffrey and the Lannisters.

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Hundreds of ships are sailing on the dark seas and it’s a tense, nerve-wracking time.  Mathos is standing with his father Davos and he tells him that he’s coming home at last, but Davos says King’s Landing hasn’t been his home for twenty years.  When he left, he was a smuggler trying to avoid the royal fleet but now, his son says proudly, he’s the captain of a royal fleet.  Matthos is a true believer, in the Lord of Light, in their cause, and in his Captain.  He believes they will prevail, but Davos is more wary.

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We pan across Tyrion’s bedroom where the Hand is having a fitful night’s sleep.  He knows if Stannis breaches the gate and makes it into the city, he will burn every last Lannister.  He is afraid and Shae’s promise to protect him is sweet, but not all that convincing.  She reminds him of the night they met (before he was going off to fight with Shagga and the Mountain Men), when he told her to make love to him like it was his last day on earth.  She can at least do that for him.

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Maester Pycelle is ready for any eventuality and presents Cersei with some essence of nightshade, a drug that she can use in the event the war takes an unfortunate turn.  A couple drops will relax you, even help you sleep.  But ten drops is a way to make sure that you are not captured alive.  Pleasant conversation!

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Bronn and men from the Lannister army are singing the “Rains of Castamere,” a popular song that immortalizes the Lannister’s successful (and brutal) destruction of the rebellious House Reyne.  Bronn jokes that he learned the song from drunk Lannisters.  Bronn does his version of the Jaws scene where they each discuss the origin of their scars, but this one involves his nose and a whore not shark bites and Robert Shaw.

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Into all this frivolity comes Sandor “The Hound” Clegane, aka Buzz Kill.  He glares at Bronn and seems to want to pick a fight.  He says Bronn may want to pretend that he’s a devil-may-care sort, but he loves killing just like The Hound does.  The Hound threatens Bronn, Bronn puts his hand on his dagger and gets prepared to respond, when they are literally saved by the bell.

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Varys does not like the bells.  They always ring for some bad news – a dead king, a city under siege… Tyrion adds, a wedding.  Such a kidder!  Tyrion’s squire Podrick is getting him ready for battle.  Varys is concerned about the rumors that Stannis has enlisted a priestess in the dark arts to work with him. Varys believes in these mysterious powers that Tyrion dismisses as ridiculous. Varys is particularly concerned about someone owing a debt to these dark powers sitting on the Iron Throne.  Varys believes that Tyrion is the only one who can stop Stannis.

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In this Glee/GoT crossover scene, Davos responds to the relentless bell tolling coming from King’s Landing by ordering his drummers to pound away.  The drums of war is a level 68 item that will increase their attack power by 60, so good choice, Onion Knight!  Meanwhile, back on land, Tyrion and Bronn are going over their game plan again and having a really nice moment together.  Then Tyrion sees Sansa and Shae (and how clever of him to pretend not even to now her name).  He expects that they’ll be safe with the other highborn ladies, but Sansa says that Joffrey wants her there to see him off.

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Joffrey comes in all false swagger and staggering naivete, thinking he’s fooling Sansa and others about his prowess.  But Sansa sees right through him and it’s entertaining watching her bait him to put his life at risk – will you kill your uncle yourself? You’ll be in the vanguard won’t you?  My brother always leads his army.  Joffrey is flustered, he wants to talk tough, he doesn’t actually want to be anywhere near where he could get an ouchie.  Sansa keeps playing along and you love the fight she has in her, she might manage to talk him into getting himself killed.

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The sound of Stannis’ approaching fleet is getting louder, Joffrey, Lancel, Tyrion, Sandor and the rest go up to the top of the castle to look into Blackwater Bay.  Where is our fleet, Joffrey asks?  Tyrion doesn’t have time for his questions (see the exchange in the quotes below), but tells him that he (Tyrion) needs to give the signal (which is part of the plan) to prevent Stannis from taking the city.

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On the ship, Davos is concerned that there is no Lannister fleet in the bay.  Matthos suggests that they have taken the capital unawares, but Davos correctly states that there is no way that the spider (Varys) wouldn’t know about the attack. Something is wrong.

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Cersei is in a safe room in Maegor’s Holdfast (a tower in the center of the Red Keep) with other noble women and children.  Sansa is there and tells Shae she doesn’t understand why Cersei wants her there considering she hates her and calls her stupid.  Shae says, “maybe she hates you less than she hates everyone else.”  Cersei calls Sansa over and Cersei is already three sheets to the wind and she wants Sansa to get blotto too.  Sansa asks why Ilyn Payne is there and Cersei says, for protection.  Word comes of some common folk already trying to leave the city and Cersei tells Ser Ilyn to take care of them.  But I thought he was here for our protection, Sansa says.  Well, traitors are a danger to us all, is Cersei’s response.  Let’s drink to that!

Stannis’ ships are almost there.  Tyrion gives the first signal, archers to their marks.  Hold steady.  There is only one ship in the harbor defending the city.   One.  And hundreds of Stannis’ ships.  Davos orders his archers nocked and ready.  There is no one aboard the King’s ship.

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The pyromancer is there, next to Tyrion.  He dips a torch into the flames and hands it to Tyrion.  Davos suddenly sees a green liquid pouring out from the empty ship.  He recognizes it.  Wildfire.  He starts yelling, “Steer clear.”  Just then, Tyrion heaves the burning torch into the bay.  Bronn sees the signal and dips his arrow into fire and launches it towards the bay.  It ignites the wildfire, buring a sickly green.  Davos yells to his son to get down.  But it’s too late and an explosion rocks the ship.

wildfire men

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The ships disintegrate, men go flying, green fire is lighting up the bay.  Men are screaming, falling into the bay, and those at the top of the Red Keep are watching in shock and amazement.

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But not all of Stannis’ forces are destroyed, and Stannis himself has survived.  He is taking his surviving troops and continuing with the planned attack.  The Lannisters have used their one trick – the wildfire – and now the battle will come to their door.  Stannis’ advisers warn that they will suffer great losses if they continue with the assault, but he will not be stopped.  He shouts to his men, “Come with me and take this city!”

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Meanwhile, Cersei has continued drinking and, sloshed, asks for Sansa to come over and talk with her.  She wants to know what Sansa is doing and when she explains she is praying, Cersei hisses, “you’re perfect, aren’t you?”  She asks what Sansa is praying for and she replies, “for the gods to have mercy on us all.”  “Even me?” Cersei asks.  “Even Joffrey?”  She knows what her son is and how Sansa must despise him and she continues to bait Sansa into admitting the truth.  But Sansa maintains the politically expedient answer.

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Cersei is just sad and bitter and miserable.  She hates being queen and everything that comes with it and she wants Sansa to know just how miserable she’ll be when it’s her turn.  She goes on to explain how she’d deal with defeat – how her usual M.O. would be to seduce the new king, but since Stannis is not the seducing kind, she’s worried about her future should he prevail.  She tells Sansa that should the city be sacked, the women will be raped and impregnated by the morning.  And a cute thing like Sansa will be first.

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Stannis is one stubborn man.  He is still coming ashore and Tyrion seems worried (though not as panicked as his nephew Joffrey).  Tyrion orders the men to rain fire on the approaching army and tells The Hound to form a welcoming party at Mud Gate.  Flaming arrows are shot at the approaching army, but most make it to the wall.  The Hound and Lancel lead the battle; Lancel is wounded when an arrow hits him.

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Cersei is complaining about sexism in the Lannister household growing up and the gender divide between her and Jaime.  Cersei turns her attention to Shae.  She is curious about her and starts asking questions.  She recognizes Shae’s accent as from Lorath, but she also recognizes that Shae was not of noble birth.  The girl doesn’t know how to do a proper curtsy!  How did she come to be handmaiden at the Red Keep, Cersei wonders.  Must be a very interesting story; Cersei asks to hear it.

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Just as Shae starts talking, Lancel bursts in the room to bring news from outside.  While much of Stannis’ fleet was destroyed, his remaining army has come to the gates of the city.   Cersei asks about her son and learns that he is at the battlements with his uncle Tyrion.  She orders cousin Lancel to take Joffrey to his chambers immediately.  He warns her that the king fleeing will hurt morale, but she’s not at all concerned with morale.  She wants Joffrey safe.  After Lancel is sent on his errand, Cersei tells Sansa the truth about why Ilyn Payne is there.  He is there to make sure that Stannis does not take the women and children alive.

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During the battle at Mud Gate, the Hound sees one of the soldiers on fire.  As you recall, the Hound has a particular aversion to fire thanks to his monstrous brother the Mountain who burned off half his face when he was a child.  So the Hound has a PTSD flashback and freaks out as this flaming man comes to attack him.  He freezes but is saved by Bronn.  The Hound loses it and has to get out of there, now.  Joffrey orders him to go back and fight; Tyrion tells him as Kingsguard it’s his duty to defend the city.  But the Hound is d.o.n.e.  “Fuck the Kingsguard.  Fuck the city.  Fuck the King.”  One of the better resignations on record.

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The attack on the city gate continues.  Stannis’ men use a battering stag to beat down the gate.  Lancel comes to the battlement and tells Joffrey that his mother has asked him to take Joffrey to his room.  Joffrey is excited at the prospect of getting the hell out of there and ignores Tyrion’s suggestion that he stay and lead his people.  He runs off to safety.

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Tyrion looks out at the army and sees his squire Podrick approach.  He says to himself, “I’ll lead the attack.”  Then repeats it, louder.  He asks for his helmet and addresses his men.  At first, they’re reluctant to follow and start walking away.  He begins, “they say I’m half a man.  But what does that make the lot of you?”  Someone shouts that the only way out is through the gates, and Stannis’ men are at the gates.  But Tyrion knows another way.  So he rallies the troops with a stirring speech:

“Don’t fight for your king.  And don’t fight for his kingdoms.  Don’t fight for honor.  Don’t fight for glory.  Don’t fight for riches, because you won’t get any.  This is your city Stannis means to sack.  That’s your gate he’s ramming.  If he gets in, it will be your houses he burns, your gold he steals, your women he will rape.  Those are brave men knocking at our door.  Let’s kill them.”

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Back at Maegor’s Holdfast, Lancel brings news that the city is about to fall.  He wants to take Joffrey back to battle and Cersei doesn’t care what he wants and hits him (he was already wounded, so that was pretty cold).  She storms off, and the “little dove” Sansa steps in to keep the rest of the women and children calm.  She is quite impressive, though lying through her teeth about her valiant king, and organizes everyone in singing a hymn.  Shae grabs Sansa and tells her to get out of there fast.  Stannis won’t hurt her if he takes over the city, but Ilyn Payne surely would.

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Sansa runs back to her room and picks up the doll her father had given her. Suddenly she hears a voice and turns around.  It’s the Hound.  He leaving, going “someplace that isn’t burning.” He offers to take Sansa with him, take her to Winterfell.  He says he can keep her safe.  He asks her if she wants to go home.  What to do if you’re Sansa, stay in a castle under siege, go with someone who has already shared his love of killing?  She says she’ll stay, Stannis won’t killer her.  But the Hound sees things differently.  Stannis is a killer, the Lannisters are killers, her father was a killer, her brother, even her sons some day.  His point is that he’s no different than anyone else, yet he’s the one everyone is afraid of.  But she’s not afraid, she knows he wouldn’t hurt her.

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Tyrion is in the middle of the attack on Stannis’ men, wielding an axe, the first time we’ve seen him in battle.  They have successfully held off the forces that were close to breaching the gate and entering the city.  The Lannister army starts chanting, “Halfman! Halfman!” but then a group of reinforcements come in to attack.  The battle rages on and Tyrion is about to be killed, when one of his men come to save him.  He relaxes for a moment, seeing Ser Mandon Moore, one of the kingsguard leading the battle, then Mandon slashes at him with his sword.  He raises it over his head to finish off Tyrion, but is killed…by Tyrion’s squire Podrick!

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Mommie Dearest is sitting on the Iron Throne with her little Tommen on her lap, as they hear the shouting outside the castle as the war is literally at their doorstep.  She tells him a story as she’s preparing for a nice murder/suicide to cap off the evening.  The scene is interspersed with scenes from the battle raging outside.  We see Podrick cradling an injured Tyrion.  Mounted soldiers slaughtering Stannis’ men.  One appears to be wearing Renly’s armor.  The cavalry has come to defend the city from the invaders.  Just as Cersei is about to give her son a lethal drink, Loras Tyrell bursts into the room, they are saved!

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Stannis still wants to stand and fight, but his men have other thoughts.  Back to the boats they go.  Back in the throne room, Tywin Lannister walks in, victorious.  Cersei is stunned.  He announces their victory.  And over the end credits, we again hear the Rains of Castamere.

Favorite lines:

Varys: I’m not entirely sure what you’re suggesting.
Tyrion: I’m entirely sure, you’re entirely sure what I’m suggesting.

Varys: You probably don’t entirely trust me.
Tyrion: Don’t take it personally.  I don’t entirely trust myself.

Bronn: (pointing to Tyrion’s axe): Do you know how to use that?
Tyrion: I chopped wood once.  No, I watched my brother chopping wood.
Bronn: I saw you kill a man with a shield.  You’ll be unstoppable with an axe.

Bronn: Don’t get killed.
Tyrion: Nor you, my friend.
Bronn: Oh, are we friends now?
Tyrion: Of course we are.  Just because I pay you for your services doesn’t diminish our friendship.
Bronn: Enhances it, really.
Tyrion: Oh, Enhances?  Fancy word for a sellsword.
Bronn: Been spending time with fancy folks.

Joffrey: Hound, tell the Hand that his King has asked him a question.
The Hound: The King has asked you a question.
Tyrion: Ser Lancel, tell the Hound to tell the King that the Hand is extremely busy.
Lancel: The Hand of the King would like me to tell you to tell the King–
Joffrey: If I tell the Hound to cut you in half, he’ll do it without a second thought.
Tyrion: That would make me the quarterman.  It just doesn’t have the same ring to it.  Cut me in half and I won’t be able to give the signal.

Tywin: The battle is over.  We have won.

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