Game of Thrones Season 2 Episode 18 'The Prince of Winterfell' ReviewMay 22, 2012
"How can a man be brave if he's afraid? 'That was the only time a man can be brave', he said."
This week's episode of Game of Thrones, 'The Prince of Winterfell,' revolved around two main themes; fear and love. Nearly every primary character is experiencing one or the other and, in some instances, both.
Theon has really made a mess of things and seems to be conflicted within his self. Instead of receiving more men that he had asked for, he gets his sister insisting that he give up Winterfell and return to their home. She points out that not only do the Greyjoys only take what they need, but that their strength relies in being close to the coast where they have ships. Winterfell is hundreds of miles away from water and, due to Theon's taking of it and betrayal of Robb, he's sure to find Winterfell and his quest for approval to be his undoing.
On the other side of The Wall, Jon Snow is still walking about the frozen wasteland, now he being the prisoner. After meeting up with some other wildlings, including the awesomely monikered Lord of Bones, Snow has his life spared thanks to Ygritte. Her flirting the past few episodes may have been stalling to help her escape, but some true feelings have definitely emerged, if only slightly. Snow also learns that because of his failure to return to his men, they have all but one met untimely ends. Halfhand, the other remaining ranger, insists that Snow not let their deaths have been for nothing and seems to have a plan.
Over in Harrenhal, Tywin Lannister is posed with a difficult decision. He has Stannis on the verge of attacking Kings Landing, while Robb Stark approaches. He decides that a sneak attack on Robb and his men is the best course and immediately saddles up his men. Arya immediately begins searching for Jaqen to honor the last death he owes her and take out Tywin. Jaqen is quick to point out that killing Tywin whilst he's amongst his men would be next to impossible. After a brief back and forth where Arya names Jaqen himself to be his own next victim, Jaqen at least concedes to help Arya escape that night and hopefully get word to Robb.
Speaking of Robb, he's in a bit of a tough place. Along with everything that's gone on recently, from his father's death to his brothers and sisters (as far as he knows) being held captives to his best friends betrayal, he's had a lot on his plate. As he returns to camp with Talisa, whom he is growing more and more fond of despite his being betrothed to another, he finds out that not only did Jamie Lannister escape, but that it was his mother that allowed it to happen. Having to imprison his own mother was the last straw and he has to break somehow, and he does by giving in to his feelings for Talisa. Whether it be love or lust, I will say that their flirting and fornicating have a bit more heart and romance than the typical Game of Thrones love makings.
The star of the episode, and the whole show for that matter, remains Tyrion. Tyrion has several interactions with various people throughout the episode and each one reveals a bit more of his character and his overall motives and intentions. He and Bron sit around with old books hoping to plan against Stannis' impending attack on Kings Landing. He discusses with Varys how he never thought he'd have any real power, and now that he has it he's even more surprised at how much he likes it.
The prime encounters begin with Cersei. After sending off her daughter, Cersei made a promise that she would hurt Tyrion one day, and she has attempted to make good on that promise. She informs Tyrion that she has found his "whore." You can see Tyrion's heart sink, but he still puts on a strong demeanor. When Cersei reveals her captive, it's a different kind of shock as it is revealed she does not have Shae, but Rose. Instead of correcting Cersei, he plays along, as does Rose, and you can see the pain on Tyrion's face as he silently promises Rose to get her out of this mess.
After uttering some threatening words at Cersei, who has no idea how badly she's messed up, Tyrion rushes for his room and is beyond relieved to find Shae safe and sound. He seeks her reassurance and offers his own. He truly does love her and fears a life without her.
I throw a lot of praise Peter Dinklage's way in his portrayal of Tyrion, but this episode may have been some of his strongest work. In a short span of time, he passes through so many varying emotions, each one coming off as sincere and heartfelt. Tyrion is normally on top of the world, seemingly fearing nothing. His uneasiness with Cersei and his exasperated joy with Shae show off emotions we have not seen from Tyrion, and it simply adds even more layers to an already well-rounded character.
Other notable moments and quotes:
- Yara's story about young Theon, referring to him as a "terrible baby". He definitely still is.
- Jaqen and his way of speaking has easily become one of my favorite parts of the show
- Arya's shoulder shrug
- I don't know anything about him, but Lord of Bones is the best nickname ever.
- "I hope it's a beautiful bridge."
- I could watch a Tyrion, Bron and Varys show every day and never tire of it.
- Stannis and Davos finally getting a bit of back story
- Sam and our other Black Watch friends stumbling upon Obsidian shards. What is their purpose?
- Brienne and Jamie Lannister are sure to make the next big buddy comedy of the year.
- "The Lord of Lights wants his enemies burned. The Drowned God wants them drowned. Why are all the Gods such vicious cunts? Where are the Gods of Tits and Wine?"
- Although the scene felt a bit tacked on, Danaerys touching Jorah's face said a lot without saying anything at all.
- I felt the episode ending "reveal" that Bran and RIckon are still alive was a bit of a miss. No one actually believed those burnt bodies were them, right?
Overall, this episode merely served as a setup for the final two. That doesn't make it a bad episode by any means, and I'm sure in the long run it will serve as an excellent step into the end of the season. Some of the settings have just started to become a bit "done" and leave the characters and the narrative feeling like they aren't making any progression. Next week's episode, though, titled 'Blackwater,' promises that war has arrived. Being directed by Neal Marshall (The Descent, Dog Soldiers) and written by George R. R. Martin himself, we are all in for what could be the best episode of the series.
As always, feel free to comment and discuss Game of Thrones down below. Please do refrain from leaving or revealing any book spoilers or those comments will be deleted.
- Matt Hardeman