One week before the season finale, “Game of Thrones” delivered one of the most spectacular — and gruesome — episodes of the series yet.
At the Battle of Blackwater, the conflict between Stannis Baratheon, the rightful successor to the Iron Throne, and the ruling Lannisters at King’s Landing went up in flames.
Rocks smashed heads! Tops of heads were sliced off! Sexual innuendo was made by a terrible boy king!
Since this episode focused on a single event, this week’s recap will break down this week’s winners and losers. Before we do, I’d like to single out Sansa’s pessimistic statement before the battle began: “The worst ones always live.”
Was dear Sansa right? Would good men fall, like her father Ned did? Read my list of winners and losers below, where the spoilers lie.
— Sansa was right and wrong. No characters whose names I can actually remember each week died in this episode, but many came mighty close. Including herself.
The eldest Stark daughter was subjected to the drunken rambling and usual cruelty of Cersei, who seems to have a glass of wine permanently affixed to her hand. She was told after a little deception that if Stannis took King’s Landing, Ser Ilyn would kill her — like he did another Stark — to avoid being captured. (Makes sense in a wacky way, I suppose.) Amidst the chaos, Sansa showed herself to be a brave and lovely person, and was rewarded with a potential savior — the Hound.
When Sansa was saved by the Hound from a pack of rapists a few episodes ago, I wondered where his loyalties stood. It seems when confronted with fire — the very substance that burned his face as a child — the Hound goes rogue. As the battle took a turn for the worse, the Hound dropped his proverbial mike and declared in less delicate terms, “I’M OUT, JERKS!”
But he did not forsake Sansa and offered to take her to Winterfell. (Update: So, I totally didn’t understand the end of this scene! Sansa declined the Hound’s offer. Love connection canceled!)
— Even though she was wasted and almost poisoned her kid, Cersei came out a winner as well. Barely.
Cersei was drowning in a sea of wine and self-pity, basically acting like the drunk relative you can’t escape at Christmas. As she was about to give Nightshade to her youngest son (see: the wrong son to poison), they were saved by Lord Tywin and Loras Tyrell.
Last we saw Tywin as he was going off to surprise Robb Stark. But it seems he couldn’t allow his family to suffer like the Targaryens. This round was a win for the Lannisters. But will it cost them in the end?
The (momentary) losers
— Stannis Baratheon may have the “old powers” on his side, but his ships were no match for the wildfire, which leaked into the water and was set ablaze by Bronn. Tyrion dubbed Stannis a “serious man,” which he proved as he climbed the wall while rocks rained down on his army like extremely deadly drops of water. But in the end he was captured by Tywin’s men. Perhaps leaving behind Melisandre, a woman who can give birth to a shadow creature, wasn’t the best idea.
— Ser Davos was caught off guard by the wildfire, which claimed his son’s life. Which — can we be honest for a minute? — I was really happy to see. The guy was sort of a drip. But Davos is a good man and it was difficult to see him lose so much so suddenly.
The ones who neither won nor lost
— Joffrey lived through the battle, but he did reveal what color his belly is. (Spoiler: yellow.) He was happy enough to watch men burn alive, but when he was told that his mommy wanted him to come inside when the going got tough, he ran.
He also did other awful stuff like make Sansa kiss his sword, hilariously named hearteater, then told her she’d kiss it again when he came back from battle, which ... ugh. Good innuendo, Joffrey! Way to go being related to people who are willing to let you not die the slow painful death we all want to see!
— Tyrion took us on a roller coaster ride. From the highs of planning a successful attack on the ships and rallying the troops through the tunnels, to the lows of being slashed across the face, Tyrion showed true bravery. Thank the gods for his squire Podrick, who swooped in to save his lord.
But as Lord Tywin rode in to save the day, it seems a shame that Tyrion couldn’t enjoy the victory. At least he’s still alive.