‘Game of Thrones’ Recap (Season 2, Episode 9): “Roar of the Lions”
In the second to last episode of season two, the Game of Thrones showrunners finally delivered the hotly anticipated Battle of Blackwater, a massive battle that was arguably touted as the centerpiece of this season. What’s surprising about the execution itself is that for one of the first times since the show’s inception, Thrones didn’t skip around to multiple plotlines during the episode–the entire hour is devoted to the various perspectives during the bloody siege of King’s Landing. We never venture North of The Wall, to Qarth, or to Robb Stark’s army.
Right away we get some short, tense scenes of Stannis’ warships approaching King’s Landing in the darkness. Stephen Dillane’s portrayal of Stannis suits these scenes like a glove–Stannis has laser focus and is frighteningly, immutably zoned in on seizing that Iron Throne.
Back inside the imperiled kingdom, Joffrey is strutting around like the proud, fearsome lion he isn’t. He goes up to Sansa and demands that she kiss his blade, which he’s named “Hearteater.” He then tells Sansa that she’ll kiss it again after it’s drenched in his Uncle Stannis’ blood. This elicited big laughs from the audience I was a part of. Joffrey is beyond preposterous if he thinks that he’s going to slay Stannis in the midst of battle.
As Joffrey, Tyrion, and the troops wait for the ships outside, Queen Cersei, Sansa, and the women and children of King’s Landing are all sequestered inside some secret hold that’s supposed to keep them safe from the savage rape parties that will ensue if the kingdom is successfully sacked. Cersei is getting drunk and subjecting hapless Sansa to her cruel mock-guidance. She tells Sansa that a woman’s best weapon is “between her legs,” but the chances of her seducing Stannis are hopelessly slim, given the man’s stone-like moral constitution (which is kinda weird, because Melisandre disrobed and seduced him very successfully earlier this season).
As Stannis’ ships approach the shore, Tyrion unleashes his clever gambit: he’s sent out an empty ship leaking tons of wildfire. When the ship gets close enough to Stannis’ fleet, Bron fires a flaming arrow into the combustible goo. A massive eruption takes place in the water, and thanks to great special effects we’re treated to a luminous green light show. Tyrion’s ingenuous trick is a smashing success, as a number of ships are obliterated.
Naturally, this doesn’t stop or even phase Stannis, who tells one of his soldiers that thousands will die, and basically he couldn’t care less. When they hit the shores gruesome sword combat ensues. Necks are cut open, torsos severed, limbs decapitated.
Back inside Cersei’s hold, the icy queen continues to get wasted and ridicule her compatriots. She also reveals to Sansa that the man she told her is there to protect them is actually there to execute them should Stannis win the battle. Cersei would rather die on her own terms then face the litany of humiliations that would come with Stannis’ coronation.
As Stannis’ men begin the sack of King’s Landing with ladders and a battering ram, the Lannister’s troops are shaking in their boots. Fortunately, Tyrion makes a rousing speech and inspires his troops to defend the kingdom, not for their contemptible king, but for themselves.
During the battle, perhaps the Lannister’s greatest combat asset, The Hound, forfeits. He hates his king, is possibly terrified of the fire strewn across the battlefield, and all in all is a more complex character than I’d given his credit for. During his departure he finds Sansa, who he valiantly saved a few episodes ago from a trio of rapacious pond scum. He offers to take her with him and deliver her to Winterfell. At first she turns down his offer, clearly skeptical about the intentions of a scarred, drunken warrior who has abruptly gone unhinged.
On the battlefield, Tyrion is leading his men when one of his knights suddenly attacks him, slicing his face open. While we rifled through the possible turncoats, a cavalry swoops in and staves off Stannis’ army, who must retreat to their ships.
In the episode’s final scene, Cersei is sitting on the Iron Throne with her young son Tommen, telling him some arrogant fable about lions ruling kingdoms. But as she comforts him with her haughty fairy tale, she’s putting a vial of poison to his mouth. As she’s about to pour it in, Tywin Lannister busts into the room to declare they’ve won! Cersei throws the poisonous nightshade to the ground.
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