Game of Thrones Recap and Temperature Taking: The Ghost of Harrenhal

Game of Thrones Recap and Temperature Taking: The Ghost of Harrenhal

I'm in the position of watching Game of Thrones each week with someone who has read none of the books. So while I'm all, "Oh my God! That's Jaqen H'ghar over by there!" John's all, "Tell me, which one's Bran again?" And while I know that Clash of Kings, the book upon which this season is based, is mostly a big setup for all the good action that happens in Book 3, John just sees this season as a big slog with no real storyline to latch on to.

He had some good thoughts:

  1. In the books, each chapter kicks off with a big, bold name to help you orient yourself. So you can be like, "OK, this is a Dany chapter. I know my brain can take a rest and dream of Khal Drogo and interesting storylines gone by." The show does a nice job of showing us the geography of Westeros in the credits, but is it enough? I suppose we're all supposed to get our bearings based on the characters in the scenes, but maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to kick off every scene Law & Order style with a chung-chung and a title card: "Winterfell, 8:36 PM."
  2. Since there are so many characters, it's hard to get a handle on all of them, hard to root either for or against them. John says his favorite characters are Tyrion and Joffrey, just because we've spent enough time with both them and they're straight-up archetypes. Joffrey = sniveling Draco Malfoy-type. Tyrion = wise and saucy imp.
  3. Too many characters look too similar to each other. Davos and Stannis. Robb and Jon and Theon.
  4. So, I'm wondering, if you haven't read the books, are you totally bored/lost this season?

I'm going to Cliff's Notes this episode for those of you who may be lost or bored. Do not fret. Battles are coming. Betrayals, too. And sexytimes. And if you have any questions (even if your question is, "Why am I supposed to care about Hot Pie?"), feel free to ask them in the comments.

Here's who's hanging out at each of our settings (I'm bolding the POV characters from the book, i.e. the people whom you should be latching on to):


  • Bran the Cripple: He's now the Little Lord of Winterfell and he has dreams about being a direwolf. He also had a dream about the sea coming to Winterfell and Ser Rodrick ending up dead. THIS IS IMPORTANT.
  • Rickon: He's the youngest Stark child. Apparently The Powers That Be do not want to pay the actor who plays him, so he never says anything ever. In fact, we hadn't seen him at all this season until this episode, in which he sat at Bran's lord table and cracked walnuts.
  • Osha: You know her better as Tonks. She's a wildling who now works at Winterfell and interprets Bran's dreams.
  • Hodor: He's the big guy who says "Hodor."
  • OTHERS: Maester Luwin


  • Theon: You know him better as Alfie from the song "Alfie" by Lily Allen. You can tell him apart from Robb and Jon because he's nearly always surrounded by boats and he has freakishly wide-set eyes. His father wants him to invade some sad little villages in the northlands, but Theon has some ideas of his own...
  • Yara: Theon's sister. She likes to captain ships and all of the salty old dudes on the Iron Isles listen to every word she says.
  • OTHERS: Balon Greyjoy (Theon's dad)


  • Arya Stark: She's the girl pretending to be a boy who's now back to being a girl. She's acting as cup bringer for Lord Tywin, which gives her some insider knowledge about what the Lannisters are plotting. She says a prayer every night, naming all of the people she'd like to see dead.
  • Jaqen H'ghar: He's the guy who always talks in third person, calling himself "a man." He was one of the three prisoners Arya saved during the raid, and now he has offered to kill three people for her to appease his god. All she has to do is whisper a name to him, and that person gets killed. Just like...
  • The Tickler: AKA the guy with the lethal rat bucket. He gone.
  • Tywin Lannister: Father to Cersei and Jaime and Tyrion, grandfather to Joffrey. He's hanging out at Harrenhal, showing his hand, letting Arya bring him water.
  • Gendry: He was the hottie playing with a sword while wearing no shirt. He's also one of Robert's bastards.
  • OTHERS: Hot Pie, bitches!


  • Renly: The Clash of Kings just got a little less clashy because Melisandre's shadow baby took down Renly. RIP, dude.
  • Catelyn Stark: She was with Renly when he died. She saw the shadow baby. To avoid being accused of killing Renly, she fled, taking with her...
  • Brienne of Tarth: She's the tall lady who looks like what would happen if Tilda Swinton mated with Toni Collette. She's one of the most principled people in Westeros. She's a little like a female Ned Stark, if you're looking for someone to root for.
  • Stannis: He's that milquetoast looking guy who had all the sex on the Risk board. He's the rightful heir to the throne, considering Joffrey's bastard status, and he now has the full strength of Renly's army behind him, except for...
  • Loras Tyrell: Renly's lover and rainbow guardian is now heading back to King's Landing with Littlefinger and...
  • Margaery Tyrell, Renly's widow: She doesn't want to be *a* queen. She wants to be *the* queen. Watch yo'self, Cersei Lannister.
  • OTHERS: Melisandre, the lady who births shadows, and Davos, the man who warns against the lady who births shadows. Stannis trusts Davos and has decided not to take Meilsandre with him to attack King's Landing.


  •  Tyrion: You know who he is. He's basically still trying to undermine his sister, this time luring the wildfire-making pyromancer away from Cersei's clutches.
  • Cersei: She's the queen, and she's banging...
  • Lancel Lannister, her cousin: He's informing Tyrion about all of the queen's goings-on.
  • Bronn: The head of the city watch and Tyrion's partner in bullying Lancel.
  • OTHERS who are in King's Landing, but whom we did not see last night: Joffrey the King, Sansa Stark, Varys, Shae, The Hound, countless others.


  • Jon Snow: He's everyone's favorite bastard. And he's about to take down some wildlings with...
  • Qhorin Halfhand, a bad ass black brother who has been staking out Mance Rayder's army.
  • OTHERS: Samwell Tarly, Old Bear Lord Mormont, Craster, Gilly, Mance Rayder, the wights (you know them as "zombies")


  • Daenerys Targaryen: The mother of dragons. She's not doing anything of interest at this point.
  • Jorah Mormont: Her right hand man, who thinks she doesn't need rich men's moneys. He may be giving her said advice out of jealousy.
  • Xaro Xhoan Daxos: Rich man in Qarth who wants to make lots of babies with Dany.


  • Robb "King in the North" Stark, Jaime Lannister


  • I'm thinking -- I'm hoping -- now that good time party king Renly is dead, the stakes and action will ramp up. At the very least, Cat and Brienne will be heading back to Robb, and Stannis and his buddies will be heading over to King's Landing. Camp Renly Fun Time will be out of the picture. That's one place you no longer need to keep track of.
  • The theme of last night's episode, which was repeated no fewer than THREE times: You can't seek REVENGE if you're dead. Are you listening, Emily Thorne?
  • How cute was Loras last night? He's looking better and beefier. Good on you, Loras!
  • Tyrion cutting down Cersei's plans: "Schemes and plots are the same things."
  • Warning on the label: Piss on wildfire and your cock burns off.
  • Unfortunate comparison: Every moment in Qarth feels like we're visiting the fairy land with Sookie Stackhouse.
  • Scary man wants Dany to visit the House of the Undying, which should make Roger's LSD trip look like a vacation to the Dells.
  • Cat on childbirth: "What comes next is even harder." Word, sister.
  • COULD BE IMPORTANT: Lord Bran gifts a few orphan boys to an old sheepherder.
  • Bran also asks Osha about the three headed raven, which is also something that will probably come up again.
  • Am I the only one who thinks Dany should at least consider marrying Xaro? He seems sweet!

What did you think of this episode of Game of Thrones? Does the show need to find its focus during the latter half of the season?

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