HBO Game of Thrones Review/Recap: Season 2, Episode 5 “The Ghost of Harrenhall”

Last week’s episode ended with the grotesque birth of a shadow-like monster, one of the rare moments of obvious magic in the series. The monster didn’t waste any time after being birthed to go ahead and take out Renly, leaving Westeros with one less King vying for the throne. Brienne’s anguished screams during Renly’s death were heartbreaking, but the speed at which she dispatched the knights that streamed into the tent to attack her helped remind us that her grief didn’t blunt her fighting edge.

The episode was packed full of plenty of other stuff beyond the opening act of regicide. To me, this felt like one of the busiest episodes of the season, maybe even of the series so far. Everyone but Robb gets screen time in this episode, and based on the plots being conceived by various characters (Stannis’s plan to invade King’s Landing via sea, led by “Admiral” Davos; Tyrion’s mystical Wildfire substance and how it factors into his plans for defense of the city; Theon’s sudden, cruel plan to fully betray Robb by striking into the heart of the North) it seems like episode 5 ends near the top of the rollercoaster, and the remaining half of the season will be spent flying down the other side at a breakneck pace. While the creators and writers of the show have done a great job squeezing a huge book into this season so far, ten episodes does feel a little short. I shouldn’t complain too much, because the show really has done a great job of fitting in character development and plot development into the same scenes, but I wish the show had more hours available so we could leisurely spend a little more time exploring these interesting people. Time waits for no one, though, on Westeros or Earth, so forward we go.

* The best scene, hands down, was Arya describing to Tywin how the people of the North view Robb Stark, and then coolly delivering the line “Anyone can be killed” while staring right at Papa Lannister. I nearly cheered.

* I really like how the series has expanded Margaery’s role a bit. I didn’t quite get her in the books, but in the series we see that she’s ambitious and motivated. Even though Renly’s gone, she’s not out of the game.

* The landscape beyond the Wall looks suitably frozen and desolate for Jon and the other Rangers. We’ve not seen much of him recently, but now that he’s on a mission to assassinate the King Beyond the Wall, I think his story will heat up (pardon the pun.)

* Poor Bran falls clear into Theon’s trap by sending most of Winterfell’s soldiers off to Torhen Square to repel an attack. Theon has been belittled and insulted by his family since he arrived on the Iron Islands. He knows that the only way to get their attention is to is to take a risk, and what better target is there than an undefended Winterfell, ruled by a crippled boy?

John is a TV blogger for Raked and an Entertainment and Sports contributor here at The TMR Zoo. You can follow him on Twitter at @raked_jc