HBO: Game of Thrones Episode Review and Recap – 2.09 “Blackwater”

Well, that was exciting wasn’t it?

This Game of Thrones episode felt more like a movie than a single episode of television. I love all the different characters in the series, and I love how the action constantly jumps to different people and settings to change things up. Sometimes, though, the constant perspective shifting can make things feel scattered and rushed. “Blackwater” instead focused solely on the battle at Kings Landing and how it was experienced by a number of different people. This laser like focus is what helped make this, in my opinion, the best episode the show has done so far.

I’m a big fan of this story. I’ve read through all five of the George R. R. Martin books at least twice. I know all the big plot points, and the fates of many favorite characters. Despite all this knowledge, though, “Blackwater” was an extremely tense, engrossing hour of TV. I was worried about the fates of characters I knew had to survive. I don’t have a minute by minute breakdown of the scenes right in front of me, but I seem to recall that the action didn’t really begin until close to halfway through the episode. The scenes before that, with Tyrion lying awake worrying, with Davos pacing around his ship while soldiers threw up into buckets below deck, just helped ratchet up the tension beautifully. By the time Bronn’s flaming arrow arched through the sky, I was wound up pretty tight.

Some things I liked:
* The following exchange between Tyrion and Varys was the best conversation of the night:

Varys: I’ve always hated the bells. They ring for horror. A dead king, a city under siege…
Tyrion: A wedding?
Varys: Exactly.

* I thought Tyrion’s use of the wildfire was very clever. A bit different from the books, but very effective. I also liked his speech to rally the troops. They don’t really care who sits on the Iron Throne; better to appeal to their civic pride, and to the defense of their homes and families, than to the honor of some cruel king who doesn’t know or care about their lives.

* The actor who plays The Hound did a great job showing his terror after seeing all the burning soldiers on the beach. Looks like he has a case of medieval PTSD.

* I also really liked seeing how Cersei, Sansa, and the other women reacted to the developing news of the battle as they were shut up inside the inner keep. Sansa was great in this episode; she looked appropriately terrified as a drunken Cersei explained how all the women in the castle would be raped once the city fell. I also loved how she subtly taunted Joffrey before the battle.

One more episode left to wrap up the season. It’s been a great one so far, and I’m looking forward to checking in with the rest of our favorite characters, and to see the aftermath of this huge battle.

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