GAME OF THRONES, SEASON 2: THE HEAVY METAL REVIEW — EPISODE 2.8, “THE PRINCE OF WINTERFELL”
Game of Thrones cake courtesy of reader Conor Shanley
Welcome to the calm before the storm. This week’s theme is desire. And desire is generally pretty metal, even if this episode isn’t.
Everybody wants something this week.
In Winterfell, Theon Greyjoy — described by his own sister as “the dumbest cunt in the kingdom” — wants something he can never have: respect.
North of the Wall, the big dude wearing a skull helmet is the Lord of Bones, a wildling badass also known as Rattleshirt. (That helmet is a giant’s skull, by the way. Yes, giants still walk the earth, and they’re bigger than Hodor, the Andre-the-Giant-sized guy who carries Bran around.) Rattleshirt wants Jon Snow’s heart in his hands, and it doesn’t look like he’s going to get that, either. Blood and revenge might make you feel better, but they won’t always get you what you need.
In the book, this whole Great White North plot has a terrible, bone-chilling momentum. In the TV show, the plot comes off as groups people walking around some snowy badass landscapes. Take our word for it: It’s more interesting than it looks.
Back at the war front, Robb Stark wants to behead King Joffrey — for a start. Lord Karstark, the old guy with the big white beard who’s the head of a powerful clan who’re far-removed cousins to the Starks, wants vengeance after Kingslayer Jaime Lannister killed his son and once again escaped, under murky circumstances.
We find the Kingslayer on the road with Brienne of Tarth, the amazon she-knight. And while we quickly figure she’s been tasked with returning him to King’s Landing to exchange him for Lady Stark’s daughters, it’s not clear why or how. In the books, this is a profoundly compelling plot, and the TV show has not launched it gracefully.
Over in Harrenhal, there’s a fresh host of hung bodies. Management wants answers for who done tried to do in Lord Tywin Lannister. Arya Stark wants vengeance and some quick service for her on-demand assassin. And when she can’t have the death she wants, she’s forced to settle for freedom. And it’s not a bad trade. The mysterious Jaqen H’ghar, Arya’s kill-on-command buddy, has some very metal words of wisdom for young Lady Stark before he provides the week’s only fresh corpses: “Death is certain; the time is not.”
In King’s Landing, Tyrion’s mercenary bro Bronn has a long list of what he doesn’t want: He doesn’t want to wear a heavy, shiny gold cloak, and for good reasons. The battle-hardened fighter knows that the trappings of power won’t help him when the city is under an imminent siege. “Things get bad enough, the poor start eating each other,” Bronn warns. And it’s very metal to warn the comfortable masses about the evil that lurks in men’s hearts. Bronn is The Most Metal Guy in this week’s episode.
Back at the front, King of the North Robb Stark wants someone to drink wine with. And one drink quickly leads to other things. Thinking with your dick is metal. It’s dumb, but it’s metal.
Not everybody thinks with his dick; sometimes, it’s not even an option: Varys the bald eunuch wants… something. And, if the TV show follows the book closely, it’ll be some time before we learn exactly what that is. Even the gods want something. The Lord of Light wants his enemies burned alive. The Drowned God wants his enemies drowned. The Khaleesi wants her dragons back. And if you haven’t put it together yet: When you want something, that’s how you put yourself in harm’s way.
Take Stannis Baratheon. As ever, on the sea, the would-be king wants to do his duty. And now he wants his due — namely, the kingdom itself. And he’s about to throw down to get it, with the aid of Sir Davos Seaworth, who got a nice shipboard origin story. Next week, the previews tell us, will be the Battle of Blackwater. If you’ve spent the last two months worth of Sundays hankering for some violence and bloodshed, war is coming, and it can’t get here soon enough.
The week wraps with a return to Winterfell for some resolution. Dagmer Cleftjaw, Theon’s advisor, dispenses some very metal wisdom: Dead men tell no tales. Then they untwist the most poorly executed twist in the show’s two-season run to date.
At the end of last week’s episode, the young Stark Lords Bran and Rickon were presumed dead and burnt. Now, wonder of wonders, they’re alive and hiding in the crypts beneath Winterfell. Huge surprise, I know.
In the book, the Stark kids totally seemed dead and gone. Their survival wasn’t revealed until the very end of the book, and it seemed like a miraculous gift from on high. Based on the conversations I’ve had with TV-only fans, nobody bought Theon’s body-switching ruse.
Did you think the kids were really dead? Or has the show taken a massive plot turn and squeezed it into a fart? What’s your favorite Game of Thrones website or podcast? Tell us in the comments section.
STATS, WEEK OF MAY 20:
Body Count: 3, sorta, but they were killed off-screen.
Boobs: Two halves don’t add up to one, sadly.
Butt: 1. And a fine one it was.
Rating: Kinda Metal, Sorta, A Little.
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.
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 here, here, and here.