Game of Thrones Season 2 Episode 14 'Garden of Bones' ReviewApril 27, 2012
If it hadn't been apparent by now, Westeros is truly a cruel, dark place.
This week's episode of Game of Thrones,' Garden of Bones,' was jam packed with darkness and cruelty in varying forms. Amputations, torture, public and personal shaming; this week had it all with very little in the way of hope. Even Melisandre, who speaks of a "Lord of Light," was revealed to have powers that truly reside within the darkest of places.
It's been easy to assume that Joffrey and his actions have been nothing more than a spoiled boy who was given reign over an entire kingdom simply reacting to the situations he was put in. Within this episode, though, it is shown that Joffrey's true heart and intentions are far more vile than anyone expected.
He begins by making a public scene of shaming Sansa, his supposed bride to be. Thanks to Robb's continued successes on the battlefield, Joffrey for whatever reason believes she helped him succeed and therefore must be punished. At his command, the guard gut punches Sansa and tears her clothes from her. He moves in with a sword but Tyrion arrives just in time to put his nephew in his place. Tyrion reminds Joffrey that he is to wed Sansa and that he should respect her honor. Tyrion offers his hand to Sansa, who despite it all is still playing the role of being devoted to Joffrey.
Joffrey heads to his room where he finds two prostitutes awaiting his arrival. At Bronn's suggestion, Tyrion has hired the two prostitutes to help Joffrey relieve some tension. Once Joffrey makes note that his uncle got these ladies for him, he decides to send a message to his uncle. He demands that one of the prostitutes, Rose, hit the other as hard as she can, escalating from hand to leather strap to giant antlered club. The beatings grow more severe as Joffrey's threats do the same. This kid is not merely out of control, he's sadistic with a blood lust that may be unmatched.
Arya, Gendry and the other young ones that we headed for the Wall find themselves at Harrenhal, which might just be the most unpleasant place in all of existence. Amidst the smells of death all around, they prisoners are all kept in tight cages, called upon one at a time to answer questions or, thanks to a horrifying form of torture, have a terrified rat burrow into their stomachs.
It is not long before Gendry is chosen and it seems that his time has come when none other than Tywin Lannister arrives. He doesn't so much as offer mercy or pity as he does make smart decisions in regards to the prisoners, finding some with at least a little worth. He immediately knows that Arya is a girl, and tasks her to be his cup girl. Arya and Gendry avoid the torture, but as long as they are in this place, I can't help but think that the worst will happen.
Daenarys and her Khal return this week and finally catch a break. One of her riders has come back from the fabled city of Qarth, bringing news that they will gladly welcome her and her people. Upon arrival, she is met by The Thirteen, a group that is eager to let them in, as long as they can see the dragons. When Daenarys refuses, The Thirteen are quick to turn their backs on her, leaving her and her people to die, which brings Daenarys anger to the surface and she promises that, once her dragons are grown, Qarth will fall first. One of the Thirteen admires her "fire" and takes a blood oath of sorts to vouch for her and her people.
The conflict between the brothers Baratheon is coming to a head. The two finally meet and hurl insults back and forth. Renly remains pompous and flaunts his numbers, but Stannis is the one that offers a 24 hour ultimatum. He knows that Renly will not give in, so he has other plans. In the dark of night, Stannis tasks Davos with taking Melisandre to shore, navigating some underground tunnels. Davos discovers the path to be blocked, but soon realizes that passage isn't exactly why they are there. Melisandre disrobes revealing she is way more pregnant than she should be. She lies down on the cave floor and begins "birthing" um, something. Black smoke begins spilling out of her and, as more and more releases, the smoke begins taking on a humanoid shape. Everyone that has not read the books, myself included, just had our first WTF moment of the season. I hope it's not our last.
Other notable moments:
- Has there ever been a better opening than a fart joke/direwolf attack?
- Did Robb seem oddly aroused by the nurse amputating the boy's foot?
- "There's no cure for being a cunt." Bronn, I love you.
- Rat Bucket torture might be the worst torture
- "Arya's list". I hope she gets to kill them all.
- Groundwork is being laid for Sansa to be one of the more intriguing characters of the show.
- Littlefinger being verbally shamed by two separate women was glorious
- "Born amidst salt and smoke? Is he a ham? " - an arrogant Renly
- "Could you believe I loved him once?" - also Renly, with sadness in his voice.
- Littlefinger giving Catelyn the trunk with Ned's bones in it.
- Tyrion's discussion with his cousin was marvelous from start to finish.
- Stannis being a grammar nazi seems apt to his character.
- Stannis and Davos' conversation reveals a friendship and respect between the two, despite Stannis' stoic demeanor.
- OH MY GOD, THE ENDING!
I must say, 'Garden of Bones' was an excellent episode from start to finish. The show is doing a wonderful job of covering ground and always feeling like it's going somewhere. Even scenes that are purely setup for something later still feel immediate and are just as engaging. Everyone seems to fit their roles incredibly well, another commendable mark seeing how little screen time some of them get each week.
Game of Thrones: Season 2 is almost half over and with what we've seen this week, I can't imagine where the show goes from here, but I can't wait to get there. What's everyone else think? Leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments. As always, no book spoilers!
- Matt Hardeman