Game of Thrones – Episode 2.9 “Blackwater”

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Synopsis: Stannis’ ships near King’s Landing. Davos and his son, Matthos prepare for the coming battle, but argue over their different opinions on religion. In bed with Shae, Tyrion can’t sleep. He fears the threat of Stannis. Cersei awaits the battle as a newly freed Pycelle visits her. He gives her a vial of poison, in case the battle doesn’t go the way she intends. She takes the bottle but sends Pycelle on his way. Bronn leads a group of men in the brothel in singing “The Rains of Castamere,” the Lannisters’ song. The Hound stops in bringing the merriment to a quick end. As the two men stare each other down, and size each other up, they share a drink before the war. Varys brings Tyrion a map of the secret tunnels in the city, to provide an escape plan if necessary. Varys lets Tyrion know that Stannis has joined forces with Melissandre, the Red Woman, and is using the dark arts to support his cause. Bronn and Tyrion see each other off as they prepare to man their respective fronts. Tyrion sees Sansa and Shae before he leaves and they wish each other well. Joffrey shows Sansa his new sword, Hearteater. Sansa passive aggressively taunts Joffrey by suggesting he should fighting on the front with his men like her brother Robb. Joffrey joins Tyrion at the wall and is surprised that their fleet is gone as Stannis’ fleet approaches. Tyrion indicates he has a plan. Cersei holds court with the other women and children in a safe chamber guarded by Ser Ilyn. Cersei invites Sansa to drink with her.

As the boats approach, Tyrion commands his archers to stand at the ready. One small boat approaches the fleet, dripping wildfire. Tyrion gives the signal. Bronn lights an arrow and sends it into the ship. The wildfire blows apart the fleet, Matthos is killed instantly, Davos goes under. Green fire lights up the fleet, as the Tyrion and the others look on. Stannis and the remaining members of his fleet continue on to the land. Cersei continues to drink while the younger girls pray. She explains the Lannister philosophy on religion and as she gets drunker she continues to taunt Sansa under the guise of educating her on what it’s like to be a woman and the queen. Tyrion commands his men to rain fire down on the Baratheon army as Stannis makes his way on land. The Hound and his men take on Stannis’ army on the ground. Lancel takes an arrow but continues to fight. Cersei, even drunker meets Shae and questions her on how she came to King’s Landing. Lancel arrives to give Cersei an update on the battle, and Cersei demands that he bring Joffrey back to his chambers. Cersei shares with Sansa that Ser Ilyn is there to ensure that they aren’t taken alive if Stannis wins. On the battlefield, The Hound defeats a number of soldiers, but stops cold when he sees fire around him. He retreats.

Joffrey and Tyrion are upset to see The Hound back behind the gate and demand he return to the battlefield, but he says fuck them all, including and especially the king. The battle wages on as Stannis men approach with ladders and battering rams to get over and through the city walls. Lancel finds Joffrey and tells him Cersei has sent for him. Though Tyrion shames him, Joffrey retreats to the Red Keep. Tyrion takes command. He rallies the troops, and says he knows another way to get around the Baratheon army. Lancel tells Cersei the battle is almost lost and he wants to bring Joffrey back to the front to give hope to the troops. She punches him and escapes with Tommen. Sansa rallies the women to sing a song in support, but Shae convinces her to sneak back to her chambers. She is startled to see the Hound there. He says he’s escaping and offers to take Sansa to Winterfell, but she declines, although she does realize for the first time that the Hound will not hurt her. Tyrion’s men get the jump on Stannis’ army and take them out from behind. Before they can celebrate a new horde of Baratheon’s approaches. Tyrion is sliced in the face and is shocked to see its Mandon Moore of the kinsguard, but Podrick fells him before he takes Tyrion out. On the phone, Cersei sits with Tommen and she tells him a story as she debates on using the poison on both of them. Another group of men approach, led by a man dressed in Renley’s armor. Stannis’ men drag him away from the battle as Tywin enters the throne room. The battles is over. They have won.

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Comments: After so many battles taking place off screen it was great to finally get a full episode dedicated to an important fight. It really did feel like it could turn either way, and the juxtaposition between the harrowing and bloody fight with Cersei’s descent into drunken madness was wonderfully executed. With so many episodes jumping all over the world there was something freeing about sticking with one location the entire time, especially as there was certainly plenty of story to cover in the battle. It should be noted this was another episode written by author George R.R. Martin and he does better than most at translating his work into a different medium, though I wonder how much credit should go to the editors for the excellent pacing. Tywin only appears for a moment, and the importance of his role and the machinations that had to have taken place off screen (the Tyrells joining up with the Lannisters and then coming to save the day in King’s Landing) were an acceptable loss for the culmination of the episode. It wasn’t immediately clear to me about Loras being in Renly’s armor and the relevance of that, so it’s one of the benefits of hindsight.

Memorable Moments: That first moment of wildfire as the green flame erupts and destroys the fleet of ships was worth however much HBO paid for it. Every moment with Cersei being drunk, as well as the tension in her final moments with Tommen and the poison.

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Quotes:
Tyrion: You can’t fuck your way out of everything.

The Hound: You’re just like me…only smaller.

Varys: I’m not entirely sure what you’re suggesting.
Tyrion: I’m entirely sure you’re entirely sure what I’m suggesting.

Sansa: The worst ones always live.

Davos: Lord Varys knows what you had for breakfast three days ago. There are no surprises here.

The Hound: Any man dies with a clean sword I’ll rape his fucking corpse.

The Hound: Fuck the kingsguard. Fuck the city. Fuck the king.

Tyrion: Those are brave men knocking at our door. Let’s go kill them.

Tyrion (to Bronn): Just because I pay you for your services doesn’t diminish our friendship.

The Hound: Someone bring me a drink. Fuck the water. Bring me wine.

Cersei: Tears aren’t a woman’s only weapon. The best one’s between your legs.

Cersei: If the city falls, these fine women should be in for a bit of a rape.

Tyrion: Oh, fuck me.

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Foreshadowing: That first use of wildfire strikes home how dangerous it is, which we will learn the full depth of in a few more years. The first union of the Tyrells and the Lannisters, but it won’t be the last. The Hound’s softness towards Sansa will translate to another Stark soon.

Title: The bay where the battle takes place, spoken by a number of characters.

Deaths: Too numerous to list, with the hordes of men dying on the battlefield. Mathos is engulfed in the flames of the wildfire. And Mandon Moore is Tyrion’s assailant whom Podrick spears.

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