Recap of Season 2, Episode 5: “The Ghost of Harrenhal”

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It’s nighttime at Renly Baratheon’s camp and Catelyn and Renly are agreeing to terms. Robb Stark can continue to call himself King in the North and the Starks will have dominion over all lands north of Moat Cailin so long as he swears his fealty to King Renly. Renly will destroy his brother Stannis’ army. The Baratheons and the Starks will then battle their common enemy, the Lannisters. Catelyn presses Renly to make peace with his brother rather than fight him, but Renly won’t consider it.

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All of a sudden, the wind blows and something enters the room, comes up behind Renly and kills him. It is the dark specter Melisandre just gave birth to and neither Catelyn nor Brienne can do anything to stop it. The guards outside think that Brienne killed Renly and she battles them, kills them all, and then starts sobbing over her dead king. Catelyn gets her to snap out of it and escape before she is captured and killed for his murder. The two run away.

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Ser Loras Tyrell is sitting with Renly’s body as his sister tries to encourage him to leave. Littlefinger comes in with word that Stannis is on his way. Loras doesn’t want to leave, he doesn’t believe that Brienne killed Renly and knows Stannis had something to do with it. But his sister Margaery convinces him they should return to their family home of Highgarden in the Stormlands. Margaery and Littlefinger discuss what each wants and Margaery makes is very clear where her ambitions lie – she wants to be queen. Not “a” queen, “the” queen.

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Back in King’s Landing, the current queen is celebrating the death of one of the many pretenders to the throne. Tyrion tells her not to celebrate too soon, most of Renly’s bannermen are flocking to support Stannis Baratheon and the combined army outnumbers the Lannister army. Cersei tells her baby brother not to worry his pretty little mind about war planning, his nephew has it all under control. Shockingly, that does little to comfort Tyrion.

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So Tyrion goes to his newest spy, cousin Lancel. Lancel tells Tyrion that Cersei is considering the use of something called wild fire. The alchemist’s guild has been commissioned to make it; they have thousands of pots so far already stored in their vaults. They are planning on launching it from the city walls into Stannis’ ships.

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Speaking of Stannis…. Davos wants to talk to Stannis about what he saw in the cave…the demon baby birth…but Stannis does not want to talk about it. Renly is dead and it’s time to move on with plans to attack King’s Landing. They will take their ships to Blackwater Bay and from there, bring their troops ashore to take the city. Davos tries to discourage Stannis from bringing Melisandre with him, saying that if she is there, the victory will be hers and not Stannis’. Stannis doesn’t like hearing what Davos has to say, but Davos believes that to serve loyally is to tell hard truths. Stannis listens to what Davos tells him, and agrees to leave Melisandre behind. Davos is charged with the responsibility of leading the attack. Davos is concerned, he never led an attack before (his expertise as a smuggler was in evading ships), but Stannis believes in him.

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Tyrion and Bronn are walking through the streets of the capital and come upon a speaker who is rallying the people against the king. Now, Tyrion has no love lost for his nephew, and he tends to agree with the disgruntled man’s assessment. But when the speaker starts taking aim at the “twisted demon monkey,” which Bronn tells him is meant to refer to Tyrion, now it’s not so funny.

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Theon looks out at a beautiful ship in the harbor and looks forward to setting sail with his crew on the Sea Bitch. He sees the men and starts to shout orders as their commander, but they ignore him. They don’t respect him at all and are brazen in their disdain. His sister doesn’t help, mocking him and talking about her command. A sailor named Dagmer Cleftjaw comes up and tells Theon he needs to earn his men’s respect. He comes up with the idea of going after Torrhen’s Square instead of sailing to the Stoney Shore. Theon thinks this is crazy; they could only hold it for a few days before the Starks would come to defend it. That gets Theon thinking and all of a sudden he loves this idea. Attacking Torrhen’s Square will pull the Stark forces from Winterfell, leaving the Stark home undefended.

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At Harrenhal, Arya is quickly falling into her new position as cup bearer for Tywin Lannister. She is privy to all his war discussions. She has to like what he’s saying about her brother Robb – that he has a great mind for warfare and his people love him. Tywin asks Arya some questions and gets her to admit she’s from the North (if not other truths) and he asks her what she’s heard about Robb. She said that he’s called the young wolf and can’t be killed – but she doesn’t believe that, anyone can be killed.

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She leaves to go fetch some water when she bumps into the man whose life she saved – Jaqen H’ghar. He tells her that she helped save three lives so he owes her three lives. Apparently, the red god takes what is his. She stole three deaths from the red god, they have to give them back. Arya can tell him three names and it will be done. So she tells him one name – the one who tortures everyone. The Tickler. He says that is all he needs and she should get back to her master.

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Grab your parkas, we’re heading back North of the Wall. Mormont is leading his rangers to an area called the Fist of the First Men to meet up with Qhorin Halfhand. Sam is enjoying himself, thinking about the historical significance of the place. It’s old, as in before the Targaryens, before the Andals, thousands and thousands of years ago this was where the first men stood. They hear a horn sound. One blast is for rangers returning. Two blasts means wildlings. Three blasts…you don’t want to hear three blasts. It means white walkers. Sam tells them it’s been a thousand years, but that’s how you’d warn of white walkers. How does Sam know this if it’s been a thousand years…”I read it in a book” (they all say in unison). The horn was for Qhorin Halfhand.

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Tyrion visits the pyromancer and learns all about the properties of wildfire. it burns so hot it melts wood, stone and steel. And of course flesh. Bronn is dubious, but the alchemist is not a charlatan and he is not selling a bill of goods. He shows Tyrion the vault where he and his fellow alchemists have been working feverishly to make wildfire ever since Cersei commissioned them. They have nearly 8,000 jars already. Tyrion is amazed by what he sees. He tells the pyromancer to stop making the wildfire for his sister, from now he is working for Tyrion.

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Dany is training her dragon to cook his own food. She tells him “dracarys” and he coughs out a little puff of fire enough to char a crudite. Doreah and Irri are with her as she readies for a night out on the town in Qarth. Xaro Daxos has left a beautiful blue gown for her to wear, but Dany is wary of rich men and their gifts. There is a little tension between the girls over who is the BFF and who is the number two friend. Doreah is from Lys and was bought by Dany’s brother as a handmaiden for his sister (and to teach Dany how to please her husband). Irri is Dothraki and was also given to Dany as a handmaiden, but to teach Dany the Dothraki language and customs.

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Dany meets Pyat Pree, head of the warlocks at Qarth. He is a scary looking, purple lipped guy who does parlor tricks at the party much more involved that pulling quarters from behind your ears. He invites her to the House of the Undying and that is one invite that she should probably decline. Xaro comes and saves her from the creepy guy and that leaves Jorah alone to be hit on by a woman wearing a chain hoody down over her face. She is mysterious and all knowing and you wonder if being stranded in the desert was really all that bad.

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Catelyn Stark is on the run with Brienne of Tarth and her plan is to go to her son, tell him what she saw, then head back to Winterfell. Though there is some question about just what it was that they saw. They know there was a shadow in the shape of a man and it killed Renly, but Brienne is convinced the shadow was in the shape of Stannis. Brienne blames herself for Renly’s death (she had been his guard for about 12 hours before he was killed, so that’s not a great record) and besides avenging his death, she really doesn’t know what to do with herself. A knight needs someone to serve. So she asks if she can serve Catelyn and Catelyn agrees (would you say no to an armed Amazonian who’s a little emotionally unstable?).

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Back in Winterfell, Bran is acting Lord, listening to people’s complaints and offering help as he can. One of the men complains that with his sons off fighting with Robb, he has no one to watch his flock and they are being attacked by wolves. Bran offers him two orphan boys who, in exchange for room and board, can help him watch his flock. While Bran is coming up with sensible solutions, his little brother is smashing nuts on the desk and otherwise being a pest and for a moment you with Bran had a little Joffrey in him.

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Word comes that Torrhen Square is under siege. Most of the soldiers are with Robb’s army, but Rodrik Cassel says he can find a couple hundred men to send to defend Torrhen Square. Maester Luwin urges caution, he’s worried about leaving Winterfell so poorly protected, but Bran says we have to defend our bannermen if we expect their loyalty. So he lets Ser Rodrik take the men to repel the attack.

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Bran talks with Osha the wildling about his dreams of the three-eyed raven. He wants to know what it means, but if she knows, she’s not saying. He tells her that in his dream, the sea came to Winterfell. It flooded the castle and drowned men were floating there, including Ser Rodrik.

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North of the Wall, Qhorin Halfhand is telling the rangers about the wildlings. They have all joined Mance Rayder. They have lookouts on the mountain ridges who signal to him using fire to let him know if the Night’s Watch approaches. Mance has organized and trained the wildlings to fight like rangers. To combat this, the rangers have to be more like wildlings. They need to infiltrate the wildlings’ camp, kill Mance, and break up the wildlings before they march on the Wall. The first step is to kill the lookouts. But they need to put together a small, swift attack to do this, so he calls for three recruits, but Jon asks if he can join them. It’s his uncle they’re looking for, after all. At first, Mormont and Qhorin are reluctant, but Sam offers that he’ll take over Jon’s duties as a steward if they let him go, so he’s allowed to join.

Is Dany really that oblivious to Jorah’s feelings for her? Xaro points out the obvious, that Jorah is in love with her and she claims not to realize. Xaro asks what it is that Dany wants and she’s clear – she wants to cross the Narrow Sea and take back the Iron Throne. No hesitation. She asks him the same question. He takes her to a vault protected by Valyrian stone behind which, he claims, are riches beyond imagining. Half of this can be Dany’s if she agrees to marry him. Enough for her to buy armies, ships, everything she needs to take the Iron Throne. And, he adds, the time is ripe because Robert Baratheon is dead.

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Dany has a discussion with Jorah about the offer. He is reluctant for her to marry Xaro and set sail with an army she bought from a Qarthian merchant. To win Westeros, he says, you will need their support. He wants her to sit on the Iron Throne, he thinks she would be the best ruler because she has a gentle heart. But he is not convinced this – marrying Xaro – is the way to accomplish this goal. All she needs is one good ship and a captain to lead it. He will get that for her.

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Arya is chilling with Gendry and he assumes a fighting stance (she corrects his form – if you’re going to practice, you might as well practice right) when they hear a thud and a woman’s scream. Arya runs over and see the Tickler, dead on the ground. She looks up and sees Jaqen H’gar up above. That’s number one.

Favorite lines:

Renly (to Catelyn): Negotiate with Stannis? You hear him out there. I’d have better luck debating the wind.

Tyrion (to Lancel): Tell my friend Bronn to please kill you if anything should happen to me.
Lancel (to Bronn): Please kill me if anything happens to Lord Tyrion.
Bronn: It’ll be my pleasure.

Dany: When my dragons are grown, we will take back what was stolen from me and destroy those who wronged me! We will lay waste to armies and burn cities to the ground!

Jorah (to Dany): There are times, when I look at you, I still can’t believe you’re real.

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