A recap and review of this most epic of episodes, Blackwater
Here we go! I don’t know if you remember earlier this season when I talked about how HBO always builds up the season for an intense last, or in this case, second to last episode? Well, Blackwater has certainly been that. They deliver once again with this series, an episode heavy on action and only do they focus on the siege on King’s Landing by Stannis Baratheon. Which is the one major uncharacteristic aspect of this episode. Throughout the season and the first, we’ve watched several storylines interwoven within each episode, but this one wholly focuses on all the characters within and around King’s Landing. So don’t expect any Arya, Jon Snow, Daenarys, or Samwell Tarly.
The episode builds slowly, but once it gets going, it does not stop. While we focus upon the action and violence to come, we mustn’t forget Cersei, drunk and uninhibited, giving advice to Sansa in a tone that accepts the fact that she’s raised a monstrous boy in Joffrey and that they may well die in the siege. Not only that, but they may die at the hands of Ned Stark’s executioner, Ser Ilyn Payne, the mute butcher. Not so much known for his swordplay, but more so his ability to follow orders and kill without discretion. Cersei informs Sansa that Ilyn is present to put all the high-born ladies to death, and to make sure none of them fall in to the hands of Stannis Baratheon. Not a fun night for anyone in the know. She becomes quite the belligerent drunk, as we see her badgering Shae and Sansa during the siege, belittling and continually beguiling her for the facade of loyalty she has built around her husband-to-be, in Joffrey. Cersei really embodies the drunken housewife, dropping knowledge bombs and saying what everybody knows but is too scared to say.
All the while we’re treated to a healthy and kind of awesome dose of Tyrion, dealing out some great witticisms to his dolt nephew, Joffrey. Joffrey is just so good at making you hate his guts. While Joffrey parades about acting the arrogant warrior, Tyrion is the one that actually sees to the defense of the city. In the previous episodes when Tyrion and Bronn met witht the pyromancers and discussed at length Wildfire’s capabilities leads us to finally see that discussion come to fruition. Tyrion signals his right hand man, Bronn, to do the dirty work in lighting the Blackwater ablaze with a single fiery arrow. A mighty, green explosion ensues and consumes Stannis’ fleet along with Davos Seaworth and his son. Men and ship alike are burnt in the Blackwater. Which is terrific and horrible at once. You see the sentiment played out across Tyrion’s face as he plays witness to the horrible capability of Wildfire’s volatile power. And while truly terrible, that scene, when the wildfire erupts upon the river, is awesome.
Following the fires, Stannis, with his fleet in shambles, still manages to land the majority of his host upon the shores of King’s Landing. A massive fight for the mud gate follows with battering rams and ladders brought to shore in an attempt to breach the city walls. Once the fighting starts it doesn’t take much longer for pure chaos to take hold of the episode. Sandor Clegane and Bronn charged with leading the vanguard and the defense of the wall, do some great murderizing of Baratheon forces. Not until Sandor is faced with his greatest fear of fire, does the vanguard break, and so does the Hound. It would appear his loyalty does have boundaries and the prospect of burning is that boundary.
With the Hound turned tail, Tyrion is forced to lead. He offers the Lannister men and men of the Goldcloaks a simple and compelling speech that we’ve all come to expect from this character. Full of vim and vigor as always the Half-man’s wit boosts the morale of the troops and leads them to a small, short-lived victory. While they push back Stannis’ vanguard they are then met by the main part of his force that washes over them like a tidal wave. And just when things look as though they couldn’t get any worse for Tyrion, Ser Meryn of Joffrey’s Kingsguard tries to cut Tyrion down. If not for Tyrion’s squire putting a spear through Meryn’s head, Tyrion would’ve died in the battle at the hands of one of his own.
Just when you think things couldn’t get any worse for the Lannister’s and Tyrion, does Tywin show up with the Tyrells and a entire host of fresh Lannister troops. So, while Tyrion did his best to hold the city, it will be Tywin who will be celebrated for winning the day. But, I’ve gotta admit, it was a pretty badass way to come on to the scene.
Who’s it gonna be this episode? Who takes the cake? Is it Clegane or Bronn? The two bruisers responsible for some great action sequences or maybe Cersei with her drunken ramblings. Naw, it’s gotta be my man Tyrion, played by the always cool Peter Dinklage. His performance is great, and he proves once again to be a pretty efficient and vicious little fighter. The deck is always stacked against him and he just keeps on trying. It’s hard not to root for the underdog. And Tyrion, despite his noble bearing, will forever be the underdog in this series.