There Will be Blood: ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 2: Episode 4 Review and Recap

NOTE: This review/recap contains spoilers for “Game of Thrones” Season Two, Episode Four. I have also added a batch of seven images from this episode at the bottom of this post.

If Episode Two was all about the sweet lovin’ then Episode Four was entirely about the pain. The pain? Yes, the pain, that sensation “Game of Thrones” gives you when it’s through coddling and means to show the true consequences of life’s cruelty. Indeed, “Garden of Bones” was enough to make you want to stay home and hold your significant other. We start with a boo scare, never a nice open, as Robb Stark (Richard Madden) commences his vanquishing of another Lannister army. The young wolf is on a roll, but the fortunes of war aren’t glossed over. As with all “Game of Thrones” episodes, there is rarely glory, just the awful reality of trying to have it one’s way. Regardless, the scene (and episode) gains some momentum with a moral lesson and a question. How exactly are The Stark’s going to pull this thing out? As with all invading armies throughout time a larger question looms. They might have a shot at winning the war, but do they have a legitimate plan for the sustaining the peace?

Then there is Joffrey. He’s got it in for Sansa (Sophie Turner), and his relatives, and all the women of the world. Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) comes to Sansa’s aid, but very little is gained for his humanity as Joffrey remains a monster. Monsters don’t grow up, they only grow worse… and more emboldened. Still, you’ve got to hand it to Jack Gleeson. If he’s not actually the worst person on Earth, then he’s a hell of an actor.

Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) pays a visit to Renly (Gethin Anthony), but it’s all in the service of handling another business matter on the sly (in typical Littlefinger fashion). The best scene of the episode comes rather early, and it’s again involving Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer). She parries and plays politics with the best of them. Additionally, Littlefinger remains one of the captivating characters of the season, whenever he’s on-screen good things tend to be happening.

Guess who makes a return visit in Episode Four? Our old friend Daenerys (Emilia Clarke)! It’s not summer without her, and we get to see a bit of her future ambitions in her two scenes. She’s laid low and stripped of pride, but she’s learning fast. This remains a touchstone of predicting “Game of Thrones”. Adversity will find you, but can you adapt? Fellow strong female protagonist Arya (Maisie Williams) also holds a prominent role here, she’s been captured and things have gone all to hell. The price one pays for “losing” in “Game of Thrones” remains staggeringly high, and even more (is that even possible?) psychological damage is inflicted upon our little heroine. It makes one pray she gets her vengeance, Kill Bill style. We also see her repeating her mantra here, one of the hallmarks of the books.

Renly and Stannis (Stephen Dillane) meet (or at least pre-funk) on the battlefield. More “Lord of Light” posturing is presented, and religion remains one of the more prominent and complicated features of “Game of Thrones”. The world according to Stannis is again presented (harsh, resolute, unyielding), though it’s fun to see the difference between the styles of the siblings. “Game of Thrones” continues to emphasize that varying leadership styles have a shot at working, and there’s more than one way to achieve one’s ambitions.

Still, heads on spikes, torture, forcible sodomy, rats eating hearts, and demon ghost babies – this wasn’t an episode built around kindness or joy. Interestingly enough, the structure behind the power (Tyrion, Tywin, Littlefinger, Daenerys) often implies that true power abhors waste and seeks efficiency. It does no good to “rule” over everyone if you’re merely aiming to eventually murder or mutilate them. Some greater ambition must be at play, and the carrot and the stick must remain fluidly interchangeable.

Unfortunately, for my tastes, this episode was far too much stick, and it couldn’t be fully salvaged with the machinations of Tyrion and Littlefinger. Cleverness goes a long way toward entertainment, but a head on a stick leaves a lasting impression.


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