Game of Thrones: Season 2, Episode 9. Blackwater
Game of Thrones is based on A Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin. The content of Season 2 in this television adaptation by HBO is drawn from A Clash of Kings. As before, the production is helmed by David Benioff and D B Weis. Here is the link to my retrospective overview of Game of Thrones Season 1. This is a spoiler-rich discussion of what happens in each episode, so do not read this if you want to watch without prior knowledge.
Well, for better or worse, here comes the battle for Kings Landing. Believe me when I tell you, watching this serial has become a chore. The first series was beautifully structured to give a direct plot line development to confirm the death of the King and his Hand, leaving the field open for the claimants to fight. This was something we could all relate to and cheer on. Sadly, the set of episodes to date has been all over the map without any clear idea of where it’s going. As evidence of this, welcome to the battle that should be the climax to this season. What we should have seen is all the dead wood cut away and a simple series of events leading to the failure of the primary claimant to take Kings Landing. We could then have gone away, licked our wounds, and considered what was happening north of the Wall and in other parts of the world as the start of the next season. As it is, we have to sit through an hour-long battle, only then to have a further hour to see what’s happening elsewhere. What should have been a real cliffhanger with everyone who has not read the books uncertain as to whether Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) survives, is going to be dragged out with redundant information in the final episode.
So with Neil Marshall, a film director, brought into play in the hope his visual style can make a television hour of fighting a watchable fifty minutes, we’re off with Ser Davos Seaworth (Lian Cunningham) and his son leading the Navy towards King’s Landing. His son has naive faith they will win. Ser Davos has the experience to know it will not be easy. Tyrion lies with Shae (Sibel Kikilli) and reflects on his fear. But he’s a Lannister and he doesn’t have a choice. Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) gets some poison — just in case. Bron (Jerome Flynn), Tyrion’s sell-sword, and Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann) as The Hound exchange pointers on killing as they put the whores to one side and get ready for battle. Varys (Conleth Hill) gives Tyrion a map of the tunnels under the city. The captain of the ship always says he will go down with it when the ship is still afloat. But Varys offers the encouraging thought that Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) is being helped by dark forces and having such a man on the throne would be a disaster. So Tyrion had better win. Cersei keeps order by killing those who would run away. She keeps herself calm by drinking wine. Lots of wine. She mocks Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) for praying.
Ser Davos wonders where the opposing fleet is. Then only one unmanned ship comes into view and the wild fire is released. Stannis and some of the army survives and they press the attack on the walls. The Hound decides he’s had enough and leaves the field with a sack of wine. Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) has enough sense to see he’s losing and makes a strategic retreat. This leaves Tyrion to rally the citizenry as troops. “Don’t fight for honour. That’s your city he’s attacking, your women he’s going rape.” he tells those who will listen. When put to it, Tyrion has a nice inspirational line for those daft enough to still be around to listen. Sansa also starts a choir singing hymns but, on Shae’s advice, runs to hide in her room where, to her surprise, the Hound is waiting. He proposes to leave the King to die on his own, and offers to take her to Winterfell, to keep her safe.
When Tyrion’s last play seems to have failed, Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) and his troops suddenly show up and drive off the remnants of the invading army. So near and yet so far. So much for the powers of the seer! Now Cersei need not commit suicide and we’ve another season of her witlessness to suffer. Even Joffrey survives! If only Tywin could have kept his deus in the machina and killed off Robb, we could have had a great Season 3 with him fighting Stannis to recover the Iron Throne. As it is, we have a city siege on the cheap with a lot of running around in the dark with mist to help conceal the small number of extras in the attacking and defending armies. It shows what can be done with flair and style on a shoe-string budget. Thanks to whatever divinity you believe in there’s only one more episode to go.
For reviews of Season 2, see:
Game of Thrones: Season 2, Episode 1. The North Remembers
Game of Thrones: Season 2, Episode 2. The Night Lands
Game of Thrones: Season 2, Episode 3. What Is Dead May Never Die
Game of Thrones: Season 2, Episode 4. Garden of Bones
Game of Thrones: Season 2, Episode 5. The Ghost of Harrenhal
Game of Thrones: Season 2, Episode 6. The Old Gods and the New
Game of Thrones: Season 2, Episode 7. A Man Without Honor
Game of Thrones: Season 2, Episode 8. The Prince of Winterfell
Game of Thrones: Season 2, Episode 10. Valar Morghulis
Game of Thrones: Season 2 — the HBO series considered
This episode is nominated for the 2013 Hugo Awards for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form.