Recap: Game of Thrones: Ep. 19: Blackwater
Remember how back when this show started, each week you could look forward to new places being revealed on the map in the opening credits? Iron Islands! Qarth! What’s a Qarth? Miami, it turns out. The only thing more complicated than family allegiances in this story is the geography. But now we’re at the literal seat of the drama, the Iron Throne, King’s Landing, and shit’s about to go down.
Stannis and his men are sailing for King’s Landing under cover of fog and darkness. Or at least, I think that’s what happening; my TV is not much bigger than your laptop screen and is not HD (it has a convex screen) and has a weird fuzziness we can’t get rid of, so any scene that takes place in relative darkness is the equivalent of watching dimly lit 3-D scenes in a theatre if you’re over 40 and forgot your glasses.
Everyone in King’s Landing is preparing for war. Tyrion and Shae are having some pillow talk. Cersei is obtaining some nightshade should she need to kill herself and her kids. Bron and his buddies are drinking and singing. Tyrion and Varys go over a map of King’s Landing one last time.
Stannis begins to (literally) beat the drums of war. BYOD to B, in Westeros!
Joffrey demands Sansa kiss his “new blade, Hearteater.” Something-eater, alright. Tyrion, the brains behind this operation, prepares to execute his plan.
Sansa goes to hide out with her mother-in-law-to-be and other high-born ladies. She’s already drunk, as evidenced by her ramblings. “Is your red flower still blooming? Funny isn’t it, the men are bleeding out there while you’re bleeding in here. MORE WINE!” Hooooo boy.
Tyrion demands his men hold fast as they watch Stannis’s fleet approach. Only one ship from the Lannister fleet is heading towards them. IT’S A TARP!
This scene really made me wish for a better TV/sound system, because the effects are pretty glorious. As Davos boards the empty Lannister ship and realizes it’s unmanned and filled with unknown vessels, Bron launches an arrow, aflame, towards them. Zzzzzzooooooooooom! Everything is on fire / exploding with wildfire, aka ye olde napalm. Stannis doesn’t care and pushes his men onward as their fellow soldiers are floundering/burning alive in the water.
Back in the red keep, Cersei is still drunkenly rambling. This whole scenario is the awkwardness of a drunken family dinner with unresolved tension x 10. Sansa is hesitant to drink, but Cersei’s depraved insanity/true colors eventually make her throw back like she just turned 21. “If the city falls, these fine women will be in for a bit of a rape!” Drink, Sansa, drink.
What follows is probably the most grotesque montage of injuries/killings this show has seen that would be pointless to recount.
Cersei notices Shae and interrogates her regarding her origins. Uh-oh. Shae is saved by the bell, and by bell I mean the weird Lannister cousin alerting Cersei of the city under siege. She commands him to bring Joffrey back inside to safety and informs Sansa that if the city falls, she’s going to have them all killed.
Back on the shore, Bron saves the Hound from a Baratheon soldier, aflame, running towards him. PTSD sets in. He meanders through the battlefield inside the walls. Stannis’s men put their ladders up to scale the walls. Tyrion and Joffrey demand he go back outside. “Fuck the king’s guard, fuck the city, fuck the king!” Drop the mic, Clegane OUT.
Joffrey flees despite Tyrion’s pleading with him to lead his troops. Forced to lead them himself, Tyrion gives an inspiring speech and leads the remaining troops out through the secret tunnels to attack Stannis and his men from behind.
Weird Cousin comes to the keep to beg Cersei to let him take Joffrey back to the battlefield. She punches the arrow lodged in his chest deeper in, and flees. A terrified Sansa begins to lead the other ladies in a hymn. Shae implores her to escape to her chamber lest Cersei kill her. Shae won’t come with her because she wants to say goodbye to Tyrion. “No one is raping me,” she says, showing Sansa the knife she’s got stashed under her skirt.
In her room, Sansa discovers the Hound is there drinking, having retired from battle. He offers to take her to Winterfell. He explains to her that “The world is built by killers, so you better get used to looking at them.” She drops her doll and follows him.
Tyrion and his men attack Stannis and co. The member of the king’s guard that Joffrey appointed to represent him slices Tyrion’s face open, and Tyrion’s squire stabs him through the face.
Cersei is sitting in the dark on the iron throne with her youngest son, telling him a creepy story about a lioness and her cub who live in the King’s Wood. Her story provides the narration for the sudden approach of an unnamed army coming to attack Stannis. Tyrions’ squire cradles him as he lays dying. Just as Cersei is about to poison her son and herself, her father strides in. “The battle is over,” says Tywin. Cersei drops the nightshade. Stannis’s men pull him away from the bloody battlefield as he struggles to continue fighting.
Cue reprise of the Lannister theme sung, heard earlier being sung by Bronn and his men, this time sung by The National’s Matt Berninger, a song about Tywin’s former glories in battle.