A Game of Thrones

GAME OF THRONES, SEASON 2: THE HEAVY METAL REVIEW — EPISODE 2.5, “THE GHOST OF HARRENHAL”

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Outside a Marduk show, Jon Snow’s friends pressure him to see whether his older brother, Robb, can get them beer.

Even in a medieval world without electricity, Game of Thrones is the most metal show on TV. ‘Cuz you don’t need an AC current for power or strength – or to hammer out steel. Every Monday, Metal Sucks reviews the week’s episode of Game of Thrones in terms of how metal it is.

Episode 2.5, “The Ghost of Harrenhal”

One prominent theme in this week’s episode – and through the entire epic tale – is girl power. Brienne of Tarth notes that a woman’s courage isn’t necessarily the kind that will carry you through a battlefield, but grudgingly admits that womanly courage is formidable. And Lady Catelyn Stark concurs, noting that women know much about the kind of bloody, hard business that most men will never even imagine. As in the metal world, the women of Game of Thrones aren’t always the best-looking ones. But they’re the most awesome.

Once again, this week’s episode is light on action, but it does move faster than the books. So if you’ve only seen the TV show, trust us: If you’re tired of waiting for something to happen, you’re still coming out ahead in the deal. And while the onscreen body count rose, the T&A level dropped 100%, though there were still plenty of metal signifiers in play, including…

  • A supernatural shadow assassin, apparently a demonic one at that
  • A massive, ruinous castle, its spires melted from dragon fire
  • An (alleged) demon monkey
  • Her crew gathered on a stony shore, a raider ship primed for reaving, and driven by betrayal and greed
  • Some Mortiis-looking warlock who offers to take a hot girl to a rager at a place called The House of The Undying, where they serve absinthe from kegs. (Good news, new metal bands: TheHouseOfTheUndying are still available!)
  • Unanswerable questions about a raven with a third eye. But they will pry that shit open!
  • A bastard who looks like his dad might be Bruce Dickenson

As once character after another sees, “Fire is power.” Fire! Fire!

The blackguards patrol, a trail of weary warriors trudging to white mountains, where they find fire, but not the good, warming kind

Speaking of the Order of Blackguards, the Night’s Watch is the focus of the Random Dude of the Week. The new, grizzled, prominent Night’s Watch guy in the flat cap is Qhorin Halfhand, one of the Watch’s rangers, who surveil the wildlings, who are the people who live north of the wall. They’re just one more bloc of Westerosians who are massing, getting ready to start some shit. Halfhand – not his Christian name, by the way – lost half his righthand fingers in a scuffle with a wildling. Jon Snow’s uncle and Eddard’s Stark brother, Benjen, was also a ranger, before he mysteriously disappeared during book one, and (maybe) still hasn’t turned up since, even in the books.

And speaking of the Night’s Watch: As we’ve noted in previous reviews, the TV show admirably adapts the books — but every week, viewers see things on the screen that they cannot possibly understand unless they’ve read the books. If the TV version has one serious flaw in conveying crucial info, it’s this: It does a shitty job demonstrating exactly how boned the Night’s Watch are.

Sure, the show has alluded the the fact that the Night’s Watch are undermanned and outgunned – sorry, outsworded-and-axed. But you should know: These cats are in really dire straits. The first book, A Game of Thrones, gives some details about the Night’s Watch on pages 185-6.

According to the book, at a peak, the Night’s Watch had 5,000 fighting men, plus a full complement of their support staff; their numbers are now  around 10% of that. Earlier in the book, it says the Watch has about 1,000 members left. And The Wall has 19 fortresses, but now only 3 of them are manned and functional. This is all that’s protecting the North and the rest of the “civilized” world from an army of… well, we don’t want to spoil anything for you.

Also, the big ranging party that Jon Snow and pals have been on all season – they’re totally boned. It’s cold as shit in the north. The guys are low on provisions, and they’re all stumbling around, freezing, not a Chipotle in sight. That’s why they stayed with that Craster prick with the cattle skulls and daughter-wives for so long. So they’re screwed and they’re hungry and they may even be a little boring. But some of that’s gonna change soon. Stay tuned.

Stats for Episode IV: Onscreen deaths, 4 (basically). Incidents of Onscreen Magic Use: 2. Boobs: 0. Badass Dragons: 0. Adorable Li’l Dragons: 1. Hard Truths: 3. Badass Quotes and Aphorisms Like “Fire is Power”: 3.

Rating: Pretty metal. I’m tellin’ you: It might not seem like a very metal show. But Game of Thrones is like this badass underground  band who still have to work at a classy Chinese restaurant during the week to fund their music. The season may be half over, but every metal dude has to deal with Wednesday. Wait until the weekend gets here. As Arya said this week, “Anyone can be killed.” You’ll see.

So what’d you think about “The Ghost of Harrenhal”? It was nice to spend a week without that prick King Joffrey, right? Do you think all 6’3” of Brienne is hot in her own special way? Which story lines deserve more screen time… if not their own spinoff series? Tell us in the comments section.

SPOILER POLICY: Game of Thrones – the show and the books – is a helluva tale with some mindfuck twists that will rock your world, so please don’t ruin them for any new fans or casual readers. If you really need to reference one of the major developments that lurk in future episodes or later on in the books, please try be as vague as possible, and clearly label them SPOILERS. And if you’re new to the epic, be warned: If you read about the books or show long enough, you will learn something you wish you hadn’t, so just buy the ticket and take the ride.

-Ferris

D.X. Ferris wrote the 33 1/3 series book about Slayer’s Reign in Blood, writes & draws the webcomic Suburban Metal Dad, and runs Pentagrammarian,  the world’s only heavy metal grammar & usage website (that we’re aware of). You can follow his bullshit on Twitter herehere, and here.  

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