"Game of Thrones," Season 2, Episode 5

Season 2, Episode 5


If the first episode of “Game of Thrones” had been like this one, would the show have so successfully drawn in fantasy detractors and non-fans? Early episodes kept magic to a minimum and offered so much sexuality, the show popularized the term “sexposition.” “A Ghost in Harrenhal” features a baby dragon, a warlocks, a pyromancer and a supernatural assassin made of shadow, and mentions direwolves, three-eyed ravens and zombie-like White Walkers. And unless I missed an uncovered body part, there’s nary a bit of gratuitous nudity this week. Maybe the creators are showing more confidence it the viewers’ attention spans.

It begins as an ill wind roars through Renly’s camp, although things look optimistic for Catelyn’s negotiations. In his tent, Renly seems willing to ally with Robb Stark and will allow him to be King of the North as long as he swears fealty to Renly. And after they overthrow the Lannisters, of course. The negotiations hit a snag, however, in the form of a blade jabbed through Renly’s chest by the wraith we saw birthed by Melisandre last week. It swoops in, kills Renly and dissipates, leaving Catelyn and Brienne the only witnesses. Guards rush in and, not unreasonably, assume that the armed Brienne was the murderer, and she messes them up good in self-defense. Christie movingly captures Brienne’s grief for Renly, while Catelyn convinces her to flee: “You can’t avenge him if you’re dead.”