'Games of Thrones' recap: 'Garden of Bones'

Sansa (Sophie Turner) punished by the young king
Courtesy HBO

How is it possible that each week, Game of Thrones manages to shock, awe, and inspire us? Well, once again, it has given viewers an episode to think about and beg for more.

The opening scene of this week’s episode, "Garden of Bones," contains some classic horror movie elements. Two guys on the edge of the woods, on a stormy night, gossiping and farting to break up the tension that something is "out there." And then ... a direwolf eats one of them. The next morning we find the gruesome aftermath of Robb Stark’s (Richard Madden) sneak attack on the Lannister’s camp and soldiers. We also get to see Robb’s head get turned towards a neutral field nurse who is amputating one of the opposition’s feet. What a fun story to tell their future grandbabies! Nurse Talisa (Oona Chaplin) not only catches Robb’s eye, but she also acts as a voice of reason by explaining the futile nature of this war. She heads back to her home of Volantis but bets are on that we see more of Robb’s lucky crush.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the Throne Room, King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) is blaming his poor future queen, Lady Sansa (Sophie Turner) for her brother Robb’s recent attack. He wants to send Robb "a message" by beating the pride out of her because Cersei (Lena Headey) wants to keep her alive. Joffey proclaims, "If we want Robb Stark to hear us, we’re going to have to speak louder!" Of all people to save Sansa, in walks - undoubtedly a favorite character - Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage). Tyrion reprimands his nephew by "educating" him on how he should treat a lady. He even offers Sansa an out but she proclaims her loyalty to her king. Bronn (Jerome Flynn) and Tyrion agree that Joffrey needs his "wick dipped" to get out all the poison that is making him so revolting. Tyrion buys Joffrey a belated Name Day gift of two of prostitutes but he chooses to use them to unload his anger and stress in a much more sadistic manner - which resulted in one of the most cringe-inducing scenes in a show that's become known for them.

King Renly (Gethin Anthony) has an unpleasant exchange with Lord Baelish (Aidan Gillen) whom he dubs his "favorite whoremonger." Baelish has been sent to do some dealings, and warn and prevent Renly from attacking King’s Landing. He also lets on to Renly’s new bride, Margaery (Natalie Dormer) that he is aware of their marital "arrangement," but she puts him in his place ("My husband is my king and my king is my husband"). Renly and Margaery’s cunning arrangement has provided Renly with 100K men and this is obviously troublesome to the neighboring enemies. Later, Baelish bargains with Lady Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) regarding exchanging Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) for her two safe and healthy daughters. Such a liar. To prove Tyrion Lannister’s good faith, Baelish gives Catelyn her husband’s bones so that he can be buried with his family. She orders him out and slams the trunk shut.

In a windy, seaside setting, Renly and some of his camp meet up with brother, Stannis (Stephen Dillane), some of his men, his new flaming stag’s head banner, and the seductive priestess Melisandre (Carice van Houten). Stannis declares that the Iron Throne is rightly his but Renly points out to him that no one wants him for their king. Stannis even offers to make Renly his heir to the throne, well, until he has a son. The alternative is that Stannis will "destroy" Renly. Catelyn plays the mom card and says that the boys should play nice. That’s not happening. Melisandre prophetically states that "the night is dark and full of terrors." She’s not kidding.

Things start to look promising for Daenerys Stormborn Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and her tribe when one of her riders returns to the Red Waste with a new horse. It was a gift from "The Thirteen" of Qarth and the rider informs the her that they would be honored to accept the "Mother of Dragons" into their great city. They take the three day’s journey and are greeted by this group of 13 who protect and govern Qarth. But the Spice King with the impossible name wants to see her dragons or they can’t enter the gates. Dany is offended and we see her strength and motherly nature come out when she threatens the city with destruction when her dragons are grown. Speaking of impossible names, one of the 13, a formidable merchant prince by the name of Xaro Xhoan Daxos (Nonso Anozie), vouches for Dany, her people and the dragons, and invites them into their mirage-tastic city. The Garden of Bones outside its gate will not be growing after all.

The Westeros Bureau of Tourism probably doesn’t have too many inquiries about the dragonfire-altered, haunted ruins of Harrenhal. Arya (Maisie Williams) and the gang are prisoners in this torturous city that makes the Saw movies look like Disney films. Each day, the “The Mountain” Gregor Clegane (aptly named Conan Stevens), picks a new prisoner to be questioned ("Where is the brotherhood?"), brutally tortured and beheaded. At night, Arya prepares a mental list of who needs to pay with their lives, including Joffrey and Cersei. Later, Gendry (Joseph Dempsie) gets picked but who should swoop in and save the day? Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance), that’s who, and he’s upset that the prisoners are not being put to good use. He notes that Arya is a girl and recruits her to be his cup-bearer. She’s one lucky little Lady.

Tyrion shows his mental stamina once again in an exchange with his cousin, Lancel Lannister (Eugene Simon). Lancel is a squire who was assigned to obey his cousin-Queen, and, oh yes ... lover, Cersei Baratheon. Cersei wants poor Pycelle (Julian Glover) released from the black cells despite him snitching about Tyrion’s plan, but Tyrion wants insider info from Lancel. Tyrion uses blackmail on the weakling. Now Tyrion has a spy in Lancel and he can threaten him with divulging to Joffrey, his knowledge of his and Cersei’s incestuous love affair. Genius!

In the most talked about ending so far this short season, Stannis orders former smuggler and "Onion Knight," Ser Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham), to smuggle Melisandre secretly to shore. He rows her to the shore and they enter a cave where she questions his honor with women other than his wife. She then shows him what is beneath her long robe...a big baby bump. A lantern magically lights itself, she assumes the position and starts birthing what looks like the spawn of the Smoke Monster. The lantern glows brighter, the black shadow starts to take shape, and then...lights out!

Certainly we’ll find out what Melisandre "produced" next week, won’t we? What do you think it is and represents? And regarding King S & M, whoops ... Joffey, do you think that power can make a such a monster or does it just help to bring out an existing monster? And, can we get a spin-off show with just Tyrion and his awesome quotes?

Next week, "The Ghost of Harrenhal" at 9pm ET/PT on HBO.