Conflicts major and minor as King’s Landing comes under siege
Season Two, Episode Nine
“There’s only one ship – where are the rest of them?”
Ratio of Stannis’ ships to Joffrey’s: 10:1
Ratio of Stannis’ army to Joffrey’s: 5:1
Essence of Nightshade dosage: one drop to soothe nerves, three drops for a deep sleep, ten drops, however…
Renditions of 'The Rains of Castamere': 2 (one by Bronn, one by The National)
With this entire episode focused on King’s Landing, it’s up to these two the Hound and Bronn to ramp up the tension, a job normally reserved for whatever dimwitted scheme Theon has alighted at. The literally cocksure Bronn and Joffrey’s Black Dog, Sandor Clegane, almost come to blows as their very different war preparations (sex and booze versus just booze) intersect at a local house of ill-repute. The Hound 0, Bronn 0.
Trivia: The Hound’s facial disfigurement was caused by his older brother, Gregor, in a fireside fight over a toy. Squabbling near flames is not good for The Hound’s disposition.
That creepy eunuch Lord Varys has always hated the bells – they ring for horror: a dead king, a city under siege or a wedding. As the enormous flotilla of King-ish Stannis advances within earshot of King’s Landing’s warning bells, Lord Davos starts off the naval drums, creating a cacophony that somewhat defeats the purpose of a night-time surprise attack. Although confident of widespread Westerosi support, Stannis is right to assume these bells do not toll for he. Bells 1, Drums 1, good night's sleep 0.
Trivia: Should Stannis sit the Iron Throne and name the fingerless Davos as his Hand, control of Westeros will switch from a Half Man to a Half Hand.
Nobody likes being upstaged by their uncle, especially when that usurper is twice your uncle and half your size. While the King-ish Joffrey has been preparing for battle by creating sword porn, his Hand, Tyrion has cunningly set an incendiary trap for Stannis. This embarrassment is good preparation, however, for Mother Cersei’s interference. Tyrion 1, Joffrey 0.
Trivia: Jaime Lannister killed King Aerys Targaryen and Cersei Lannister orchestrated to the death of King Robert Baratheon, so if Tyrion killed Joffrey, these three siblings will have killed the last three kings.
Not content with her bottomless glass of red wine, Cersei locks all the high-born ladies up to nominally protect them from the gruesome fighting outside the gates. Cabin fever sets in early, with Cersei using this Shining-esque setting to inflict more mental torture on her favourite voodoo doll, Sansa Stark. The presence of The King’s Justice, Ser Ilyn Payne – he’s the one who lopped off Ned Stark’s head – is not putting any of these lovely ladies at ease. Cersei 0, Sansa 0, sweet, sweet alluring booze 1.
Trivia: With Catelyn, Robb, Bran, Rickon, Arya and Jon Snow all absent, it is only Sansa flying the Stark banners in this episode.
The continued diversion of the TV show from the books’ storyline has proven a masterstroke, with careful changes making the adaptation even more enjoyable for long-time fans. George RR Martin made some of these changes himself – he wrote this episode – which adds authority to the new directions. There will always be some who want their pictures to be exact replicas of the words, but those who welcome change will be pleased: Blackwater is outstanding television. Reading 1, Watching 1.
Trivia: In the books, Tyrion uses the wildfire much differently, and there’s a ghostly cameo amongst the fighters: it’s recommended reading.