Game of Thrones · NIU · Scholars of the Throne

Valar Morghulis

As we end season 2, we face lots of blood and gore as the war wages on. Just remember, Valar Morghulis.

This week’s blog covers:

S2 Ep 7: “A Man Without Honor”

S2 Ep 8: “The Prince of Winterfell”

S2 Ep 9: “Blackwater”

S2 Ep 10: “Valar Morghulis”

 

This Week’s Highlight(s):

This week’s first highlight goes to Bronn who graces our ears with a lovely rendition of a Lannister anthem, “The Rains of Castamere.” Jerome Flynn, who plays Bronn, is no stranger to singing. In the 90’s, Flynn was a part of the successful duo, Robson and Jerome. This British duo had three #1 hits, including the gem below, “Up on the Roof.”

I’d also like to commend Bronn’s bravery at the Battle of Blackwater. He puts his life on the line to protect his friend, Tyrion and ultimately, the kingdom. Tyrion tasks Bronn with shooting the flaming arrow at the lone boat that fills Blackwater bay with Wildfire. In one of the greatest tactical moves of the series, the wildfire ignites ferociously laying to waste Stannis’ fleet.

The Battle of Blackwater sequence remains one of my favorite of the series. As Stannis and his fleet draw nearer, we hear the sounds of the ships and their men fighting seasickness preparing for the battle. With Ser Davo’s command, the Baratheon fleets begin to pound the war drums. The singing of the “Rains of Castamere, the ringing of the great bell, and the pouring of wine as Cersei speaks about the reduction to sex objects facing women, mix with the approaching fleet and we see and hear the two worlds collide in a spectacular showdown. These sounds unite “into a male-coded battle serving as background audio for female-coded scenes in the interior of the Red Keep” (Verma, 79).

Although, I do not understand the Hound’s motivations throughout the series, his protection of Sansa and stunning words to King Joffrey during the Battle of Blackwater, lands him as a highlight of the week. Since S1, Ep4 “Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things,” where Baelish tells Sansa about how the Hound got his scars, I have had a certain level of sympathy for this character. After the Hound saves Sansa from the rapists, she thanks him for his bravery in “A Man Without Honor.” The Hound retorts that bravery had nothing to with it and assures Sansa that she’ll “be glad of the hateful things [he does] some day, when [she’s] Queen and [he’s] all that stands between [her] and [her] beloved King.” Whether the Hound’s protection of Sansa stems from a sense of chivalry, his previous abuse from his older and more sadistic brother, the Mountain, or from a secret desire for the unattainable princess, we may never know, but I truly feel that the Hound would protect Sansa until the end. I really wish that she would have taken up his offer to escape with him and head North.

During “Blackwater,” the Hound is forced to face fire again. King Joffrey sends him to defend King’s Landing on the ground. The Hound’s fear of fire overcomes him as he loses half of his men. He stares off into the fire and it’s all he sees and hears. Succumbing to this fear, he retreats. In one of the most epic lines of the series, the Hound boldly and unapologetically tells King Joffrey to his face, “Fuck the Kingsguard. Fuck the city. Fuck the king.” These words will inevitably produce negative consequences for the Hound, but I bet it was absolutely satisfying and well worth it.

My final highlight goes to none other than George R.R. Martin himself. As per usual, he writes one episode a season. For season 2, it happens to be “Blackwater,” the 2nd most expensive episode of the series yet. This episode had some incredibly funny parts. From Cersei’s cynical humor to Tyrion’s witty quips to Joffrey, the writing in this episode is extremely successful and, arguably, more insightful and deeper than others.

This Week’s Lowlife(s):

This week’s head lowlife is none other than Joffrey. In a pitiful display of valor, Joffrey flees the Battle of Blackwater, leaving Tyrion to rally the troops and fight Stannis’ army. When Lancel gives word to Joffrey about the status of his mother, he asks if there is urgent business that needs to dealt with. He uses his mother as an excuse to run away like a scared child. If it were not for Tywin Lannister and Loras Tyrell arriving, King’s Landing surely would have succumb to the Baratheon troops and Joffrey’s head would have ended up on a spike somewhere, which ultimately would be a great sight to see.

My final lowlifes of the week actually come as a triple play starring Pyat Pree, Xaro, and Doreah. Together they try to put an end to Dany’s saga. Pyat Pree, the warlock of the House of the Undying, remains one of the most terrifying characters of the series. When he multiplies to slit the throats of the Thirteen, you are left to think that Dany has met an unbeatable match. Fortunately, in the next episode, Dany reunites with her dragons and is able to defeat the warlock by burning him with her dragons. While I was glad to see Dany escape, I was really disappointed with how simply Dany was able to kill Pyat Pree. I feel like the writers rushed through this scene and could have developed more of a fight. As for Xaro, I feel like I should have realized his true character much earlier on. When Dany finds Doreah in bed with Xaro, there is nothing that will stop Dany’s vengeance. Dany locks Xaro and Doreah in his empty fault. Although it is quite disturbing to imagine them starving to death in that pitch black vault, it seems like sweet justice.

Thought Provoking Theme(s):

Motherhood is a strongly utilized theme throughout the final four episodes of season 2. In “A Man Without Honor” we find Sansa in a PTSD induced nightmare from her assault and attempted rape. She awakens to find that she has gotten her first period. As Karin Gresham discusses in her article, Cursed Womb, Bulging Thighs, and Bald Scalp: George R.R. Martin’s Grotesque Queen, the appearance of Sansa’s “blood is presented not only violent and vile but also a betrayal of the girl’s safe status by the advent of uncontrollable femininity represented as a rampage of violence.” (155). Sansa now can “fulfill” her duties as a mother of King Joffrey’s children. Cersei discovers the news and meets privately with Sansa to discuss her budding womanhood. Cersei advises Sansa to love no one other than her children and that, “the more people you love, the weaker you are.” Sansa’s role in life is deduced to only that of a mother.

On the other side of the Game of Thrones universe, Dany is also facing issues with Motherhood. As her dragons have been taken from her in “The Prince of Winterfell,” she states “a mother does not flee without her children.” She fiercely protects the only children that she will ever have, as she has become barren from her stillbirth of Rhaego. Dany does what is necessary to find and rescue her children, even fighting to escape Pyat Pree’s dreamlike House of the Undying. The power of a mother is unmatched in this series.

Legacy is another another powerful theme this week. In “A Man Without Honor” Tywin discusses his legacy. He knows that this war will be his last and whether he loses or not. His legacy and his family’s legacy depends on this war. Robb also discusses his legacy. While he was born and raised to become the Lord of Winterfell, he never imagined, nor prepared, for a legacy that would deal with him becoming King of the North. Stannis also fights for his legacy. Melisandre convinces him that although he will destroy everything he once held dear, it is the power of legacy that keeps him engaged in the war for King’s Landing. We will have to wait to see who’s legacy will stand strongest.

We start season 3 next week, so make sure to keep coming back for more highlights, lowlifes, and thought provoking themes.

Resources:

Gresham, Karin. “Cursed Womb, Bulging Thighs, and Bald Scalp.” Mastering the Game of Thrones: Essays on George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire.” Jefferson: McFarland, 2015. 151-169. Print.

Verma, Neil. “Wall of Sound: Listening to Game of Thrones.” Critical Quarterly 57.1 (2015): 71-85.

 

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8 thoughts on “Valar Morghulis

  1. I have to say that I felt the same way about Blackwater. It was an amazing sequence in the series. It was a great visualization and it was a way to see into the life at sea. I really liked how Tyrion used the wildfire to stop the fleet. The Hound is an interesting character because of his actions. He fled the fight because he was afraid of fire and yet he was willing to take Sansa out of the city and get her home. The Hound has surprised me this week and I am interested to see how he will act.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very interesting to note that Martin writes an episode a season – also, I’d agree. There’s some depth and value to the Blackwater episode. Is this because it’s a sort of climax? Is this because it features Tyrion so extensively? Or is it because the writing of Martin is truer than that of others? Either way, I’d agree it’s one of the best episodes.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello Aimee Bornes,

    I am curious to see what happens with the Hound as you said there would be consequences for him saying what he did in the vanguard. He’s becoming one of my favorite characters, which means he’ll probably being dying soon. I also noticed a bit of PTSD with him as well when he was looking at all of the fire. Something that him and Sansa both have in common.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes how is it so easy to kill a dude that can multiply himself? When I first saw it, I thought for sure it was going to be pretend and he would spring up behind her with like a bunch of himselves to confuse her.

    Why doesn’t Sansa go with the Hound?! I figure she doesn’t know who to trust, but he already saved her and has had her back a few times. If anything, I’d go with him. Can’t be worse than being Joffrey’s plaything.

    Love love love that Bronn is the singer of “Up on the Roof”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The Rains of Castemere creeps me out, it totally makes sense that it’s a Lannister song. But I think legacy is huge as well. As much as Tyrion would say he isn’t like his father, I feel like the reason he is going to stay in King’s Landing rather than flee with Shae is to preserve his legacy; maybe he feels like he has to get credit for saving the city.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That was a really good catch on Martin’s writing credit–I had missed it. Can you keep an eye out for the other episodes he’s done as we go forward? I am convinced that it is sensibility that makes this episode stand out so well–plus a whole lot of green wildfire.
    I just reread the scene where the dragon fries Pyat Pree. It’s much more psychedelic in the book, quite a bit of prophecy about where Dany’s journey is going. While there isn’t any more of an extended battle between the two than there is in HBO, it has the same kind of shock in that now the dragons are real, they kill someone and not someone unimportant. I don’t think the bit about Xaro and Doreah is in the book, although not 100% sure. HBO makes Xaro more heterosexual than the book did.
    Loved that you brought Gresham in, maybe we can put a link to the bibliographic entry there?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. First of all- thank you for that gem of a music video. Great find! I also find the battle of Blackwater to be an interesting sequence. It reminded me a bit of Helm’s Deep from LOTR. I’m not sure if anyone else had this association, but something that it made me think about was how violent the fight appeared to be when the enemy army storming the city wall was made up of mere men rather than orcs. In the Helm’s deep battle scene, they use a similar tactic of throwing large pieces of rock down upon the approaching army. In Helm’s deep, this seemed to be a good strategy, however, while watching the Battle of Blackwater, I realized how violent it seemed to have heads smashed by the falling rocks. Just an odd little thought I had while viewing it. I also like your comment about “hearing the two worlds collide,” in the battle. I thought it was interesting that the ringing of bells in the city was answered by the sound of drums from the ships. It made an interesting visual backdrop to what was happening on the screen.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I just reread the Blackwater scene in the book and they actually use the catapaults to fling bodies of prisoners at the attacking ships. I think I am glad HBO skipped that one.

    Like

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