|Bronn (Jerome Flynn) lights up the Wildfire|
Courtesy HBO/ EW.com
This was probably the most anticipated Game of Thrones episode of the season - and it certainly did not disappoint. HBO put up the big bucks to have the battle between Stannis Baratheon’s (Stephen Dillane) 20,000 men versus King’s Landing’s meager 7,000 men look completely breathtaking. It worked! Who were YOU rooting for, though? Stannis technically is the rightful owner of the Iron Throne and Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) is a major douche, and a horrible king, but this is more of a Team Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) situation, isn’t it? Admit it, you were routing for Tyrion because he may be a Halfman but he’s fully awesome.
The entire episode takes place in three settings: Blackwater Bay, the shore of King’s Landing and Maegor’s Hold Fast (which is basically the Red Keep’s panic room). It begins on the stormy Blackwater Bay with Ser Davos (Liam Cunningham), his son Matthos (Kerr Logan) and Stannis’ men preparing for the attack on King’s Landing. Ser Davos has faith that he will be Stannis’s hand soon. Stannis looks on with an odd smirk on his face.
If you didn’t already love Tyrion Lannister, this episode sealed the deal. His first scene is a tender and vulnerable one in bed with Shae (Sibel Kekill). She asks, “Are you afraid my Lion?” and he replies that, of course he is, because if the city falls, Stannis will find and burn every Lannister. By the look on his face, we could see that he has fearful and restless. Shae makes it all better by doing to him what he requested on their “first date”: making love to him like it’s his last day.
In a brief exchange with Cersei (Lena Headey), Grand Maester Pycelle (Julian Glover) provides her with some counsel and a vile of efficacious nightshade. One drop calms the nerves, 3 drops provides dreamless sleep and 10 ... well, Cersei knows what 10 drops can do. Great, give the unstable queen some poison.
At the King’s Landing watering hole, Bronn (Jerome Flynn) and some men-at-arms are singing “The Lannister Song” and celebrating what may be their last night. At least there are naked women for them to look at and tell stories to, right? In walks major buzzkill, The Hound (Rory McCann) and even though Bronn offers to buy him a round, they verbally square off. You could tell that “hard” Bronn just wants to drink some more and hang with his whore anyway. As a knife is about to be drawn ... saved by the bells!
“I’ve always hated the bells. They ring for horror. The dead King. The city under seige...”, says Varys (Conleth Hill). Tyrions replies “...a wedding.” Ha, exactly! Tyrion is being prepared for battle and a map is given to him. It shows the 50 miles of tunnels that the Targaryens built for an escape if there were ever a siege of the city. Varys tells Tyrion that he thinks he is the only man who could stop Stannis and his Lord of Light induced army of men. Tyrion is given a kick-ass ax to help him along. He also shakes hands with his “friend” Bronn and they vow not to get killed.
Tyrion then greets Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Shae (Sheila? He’s so smooth). Sansa is beckoned by Joffrey to “kiss his sword” he calls Hearteater. It’s big and shiny, and she gets to kiss it again when he returns. Paging Dr. Freud! Sansa knows he’ll unfortunately come back because “the worst ones always live."
Stannis’s fleet plays against the bells with their drums. It’s like a medieval Battle of the Bands. Citizens of King’s Landing scurry. Tyrion, Joffrey and Lancel (Eugene Simon) engage in a nervous verbal power-play and Davos is preparing to land. Davos and his men are in for a big green surprise.
Back with the women and children, Cersei introduces Sansa to their “defender," Ser Ilyn Payne (Wilko Johnson). He’s actually the executioner who beheaded Ned Stark and Cersei sends him out to behead some small folk who stole a horse and were trying to flee. Keep drinking that wine, Cersei, it’s making you even more fun to despise. She’d rather be a man out there fighting than cooped up with the hens. Cersei berates Sansa for praying with the other girls and tells her the story of when she was little, and praying after her mother’s death and how she was confused. What it came down to is a little life lesson for Sansa. “The best weapon is between a woman’s legs. Learn how to use it.” Yes. ma’am!
“There they are!”
Davos is curious (and so is everyone else but the knowing Tyrion and the pyromancer) as to where all of the boats are. There’s just one crewless boat with a bad leak. Wildfire! A perfectly shot flaming arrow is sent towards the glowing green water, and ... BOOM! One of the coolest shots ever in a battle sequence. The wildfire explodes and wipes out much of Stannis’ fleet, including Davos (is he really dead?). Stannis is unharmed and he prepares to take on the city. He comes ashore and arrows fly. Major bloodshed ensues in one of the bloodiest GOT episodes to date. It’s so awesomely choreographed. Lancel gets hit by an arrow and retreats.
Lancel enters Cersei’s lair as she is questioning Shae about her background and her inability to properly curtsy. Lancel informs her that the Imp has set the river afire and the fleets have been destroyed but the rest have descended on the city. She orders Lancel to bring Joffey back to his chambers immediately. When he returns again with the news that Stannis is at the gates and Joffrey should keep fighting, she pushes him down right where the arrow hit him. She needs to switch to coffee and lay off the wine.
The bloody battle rages on and Bronn saves The Hound from certain death. The Hound has pretty much had it, though, and wants some wine and a rest. Meanwhile, Stannis brings in the ladders, the battering ram (stag) and climbs up the wall and kicks some ass. We need to give him credit, he’s fighting for himself, unlike wimpy Joffrey who probably has a load in his pants by now. Joff is relieved to hear that mommy has ordered him back to his room. The men see that Joffrey orders a replacement and become complacent. Why should they risk their lives when their king isn’t there to fight by their side? Tyrion rallies the troops with an awesome speech to fight for their city, not the king. They come back to life and continue to fight.
Sansa is urged by Shae to run to her chamber and lock the door. She is certain that Ser Ilyn will hurt her (yes, he will). She listens and returns to her room but only to find The Hound cowering there. In a clear case of PTSD, he wants to flee the burning city. As a child, he was burned badly by his brother and this just isn’t sitting well with him. He offers to take Sansa back to Winterfell but she is sure that if Stannis wins, he won’t hurt her. She really can’t win here. The Hound reminds her that they’re all killers but he won’t hurt her.
Meanwhile, the battle continues and Tyrion sees that it’s getting worse and utters “Oh f*** me.” His squire saves his life (from a Lannister bannerman/assassin!) but Tyrion is then sliced across the face and collapses. Is he dead? He better not be ... he has all the best lines! A huge army and a white horse charge forward and we find Stannis being captured. What’s going on?
Leave it to GOT to leave us with an epic final scene. Cersei is sitting on the Iron Throne with her little son, Tommen (Callum Wharry) on her lap. She is holding back tears and telling him a proverbial tale about a lion cub and a mama lion and how she won’t allow anyone to hurt him. She is holding the vial of nightshade and gives it to him as she hears the battle raging on. Oh please, no! Put that down, Tommen! The doors burst open, and it’s Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones). Huh? She stands up when she sees that her daddy, Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) has saved the day! He and Renly’s massive army assembled and instead of going after Robb Stark, he came to King’s Landing. He proclaims that “we have won!” and the vial of nightshade drops to the ground.
We’re happy about this right? This is good? Next week’s final episode of the season should leave us with not only some clarification but also some major cliffhangers.
Don’t miss the season finale “Valar Morghulis” next Sunday at 9pm ET/PT on HBO.