Game of Thrones Review: “Garden of Bones”

Magic has been a dormant force for a long while in Westeros, but now as Game of Thrones marches on, it’s clear it’s going to be a bigger and bigger part of the story. I haven’t yet made up  my mind about whether that’s a particularly good thing or not. Dragons? Pretty cool. Um…other…things? A little iffy.

We’ll have to wait until after the jump to start talking spoilers, and there is a whole bunch of other non-magic ground to cover from this week’s installment.

Again, most would say this is yet another week where “not much happened.” I’d say that’s true in the sense that no major plot twists occurred, save for the end, but I don’t mind these build-up episodes the way most people seem to. The power of the show is in the characters, and I’m just as satisfied watching Tyrion bring his cousin to his knees with words than I would be if the Mountain was beating down the Knight of Flowers. A major character doesn’t need to die every week to make the show good.

I love Tyrion in the Capitol. We’ve seen him work his words all up and down the land, but it’s clear this is where he belongs. I do fear for his well-being however, as he’s made enemies of both Cersei and now Joffrey, publicly rebuking the lad for his mistreatment of Sansa, (which was an awesome scene).

“You may outlive us all, Lady Stark.”

Joffrey was indeed back with a vengeance this week, and naturally the one part of the show my girlfriend sits down to watch is when he’s ordering a whore to beat another whore to death with a club. Fantastic.

Thankfully no sign of Shae this week, but I stand by my claim that the way Cersei (or Joffrey) will get back at Tyrion is by having her executed in some gruesome fashion. That, I would not mind.

Speaking of gruesome, I’m not sure that there are many worse ways to die than to have a scared rat burrow its way through your chest cavity. Thankfully the arrival of Tywin, who I almost forgot was a character, spared Gendry that fate, and now Arya is his new cupbearer. This should be interesting. Did he have her sword, the Needle, somehow? How did that happen?

Nope. Nope. Nope.

I rather liked the part where the two Baratheon brothers fought over who should be king and who has the more powerful army. Catelyn had to interject and become the motherly figure, though it’s clear neither side is all that enamored with her. I kept yelling at the screen “WHAT’S IN THE BOX??” as Littlefinger presented her with what I have to assume was Ned’s head. Just a little Se7en humor for you.

I was glad to see Daenerys’ plotline finally crawl forward a bit. I had my suspicions confirmed this week that the opening map of the show sometimes shows you places where specific things are happening that week. Like we’d never seen Qarth before, but the map made sure to point it out. Very smart.

I like Qarth. I don’t know why, but it’s interesting. It just seems to be a far cry from any place we’ve seen so far in Westeros, and looks to be a vastly different culture. If this was present day, I imagine it’s something like Dubai, full of rich people with more money than taste. Unfortunately for me trying to review this show, all of the key players there appear to have impossible names, so this should be fun to try and keep track of their actions.


Daenerys’ dragons seem to have brought magic back into the world, which is what readers of the books keep hinting at. If that’s the case ,then did the Red Lady just get her magic powers recently? She must have been pretty pumped. I thought they were pretty limited in scope, the ability to just resist poison and such, but we were all in for a surprise this week when a demon came crawling out of her vagina, her just having been impregnated last week.

Needless to say, that was one of the most bizarre moments in the series so far. What the hell is that thing? Is it materializing as a man, or does it always travel around like smoke? Who is it going to kill in the Baratheon camp? I would imagine Renly, but perhaps Stannis just wants to send a message, and one of the Tyrell’s will die instead.

I’m not sure what the end game of all this is. It seems like a lot of people are going to have to die rather quickly to bring this giant war to a close. I expect it to last the season, which is fine, but it does seem to be something of a stalemate right now as the forces constantly circle each other, with no decisive moves taken.

Next week I expect we’ll go back up north where hopefully there will be some more significant developments in the realm of the White Walkers. I read somewhere that this is the war of five kings, and there are only four on the board right now. Might the fifth be the one way up above the wall they keep talking about?

Open for discussion and speculation, but please, no books spoilers.


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  1. Tywin did not have her needle, it was in the belt of another guard there (I think) , but I’m sure she will get it back somehow…

    Surely the red witch did not JUST get her powers.. but who knows… If you notice (which i’ve pointed out) every time ‘magic’ happens her ruby necklace GLOWS! It did when she was poisoned and it was glowing when she birthed the ghoul.
    I am assuming this is the ‘terror of the night’ she warned Renly about.


    “it does seem to be something of a stalemate right now as the forces constantly circle each other, with no decisive moves taken.”
    I don’t think the war is stagnate.. they did have a battle in last nights episode, it just did not show it. (remember, the wolf attacking the farting guys) That’s what made Joffery so mad at Sansa.

  2. I’ve seen that rat torture device used in a movie before, and I can NOT think of it. I believe it was a dirty cop that was being tortured to help the bad guy with something. Anyways, I thought that one of the torturers had Ayra’s needle, not Lannister. Not 100% sure though.

    And Qarth looks like Egypt to me…reminded me of The Mummy.

  3. Ned’s bones were contained in the box. Tyrion requested they be sent last episode, and Petyr says that he should be buried in the Winterfell crypts with his family.

    Also, though there is a “king beyond the wall”, I’m prtety sure the 5th king you’re referring to would be Balon Greyjoy.

  4. Many of the questions that you are asking in your reviews are all answered in small asides in the books that have been cut from the TV series, presumably for time and simplicity. All that seems to have happened is more confused viewers.

    I agree with you that Jack Gleeson is once of the best actors in it. Playing such a vile person and not ‘hamming’ it is difficult.

  5. Arya and Gendry had been captured by Ser Amory Lorch, leader of a group of Lannister soldiers. One of them, Polliver, took Needle from Arya. The prisoners were taken to Harrenhal, a ruined castle which was once the largest in Westeros. Ser Gregor Clegane, the Mountain That Rides (and brother to Sandor Clegane, the Hound), was having his prisoners interrogated by a torturer named The Tickler, who was asking them about something called the Brotherhood.

    My understanding of the Joffrey/Ros scene is not that he wanted Ros to actually kill the girl (Daisy?), but to either beat her or abuse her.

    The member of the Thirteen merchants of Qarth who agreed to help Dany is named Xaro Xhoan Daxos. His odd name was referenced in the Leap Day episode of 30 Rock a few weeks ago.

    I remembered the rat torture scene from 2 Fast 2 Furious, since it had Mark Boone Junior (Bobby Elvis!) as the victim.

  6. I love these reviews then the following comments, others seem to see things I miss!
    Like the necklace…never noticed that, and I find her fascinating. She promised Stannis a son – I’m dying to know what that ‘thing’ is and what it’s purpose is, and if it’s some ‘thing’ only she can do or if they’re common?
    I just have an overall sense of foreboding about Qarth…looks too pretty and perfect. I don’t want anything to happen to the dragons before they get strong enough to start causing Havoc.

  7. From what I remember Needle is in the possession of one of the Mountain’s men.

    Also, that magic is “coming back” is misleading. It’s always sort of been there, but dormant. I think the Red Priestess always had some limited magical abilities but it’s like now she tries to use it it’s supercharged.

    @Docdoom, totally right, the 5 Kings are Joffrey, Renly, Stannis, Robb and Balon

    Also, anyone who thinks GoT is about battles is missing the point. The books, and therefore the show, is about characters and people and how they relate between each other and though violence exists, when it is depicted it is generally personal in nature rather than the mass killing of the battlefield.

  8. @Laura – the rat torture device was used in 2 Fast 2 Furious. Cole Hauser’s character uses that trick to get a cop to agree to him turning his head the other way during a laundering run.

  9. Five Kings:
    Balon (Theon’s father)

    I’m pretty sure the Lannister soldier that used needle to that kid in the throat still has it.

  10. Also, everytime I see Lord Tywin, I hear Eddie Murphy’s voice in my head saying “You’re Sardo Numspa!”

    I think we can all agree that Sansa has become a sympathetic character. While I still think Arya is the more interesting of the two, I have a feeling the Sansa’s journey will end up being the more fascinating, merely since she has so far to come.

    Where the hell is Rickon?

    The Ice Wall extends all across the north, from one sea to another, but shouldn’t the seas be frozen that far north, the why can’t the wildings/white walkers just walk on the ice to get around it?

    Renly has some good quips “It’s good that you switched banners, otherwise the battles would get confusing”

  11. some background book info, without spoilers:

    the red woman, Melissandre, can also see the future in flames. there’s some question as to her ability there, and also some question about the extent of magic that was and is in the world. magic is related to dragons somehow, but it becomes a chicken-or-the-[dragon’s]-egg argument: did dragons come back b/c magic is getting stronger, or did magic get stronger b/c the dragons are back?

    other people were correct on listing the 5 kings, so i won’t repeat. Mance Rayder (the King Beyond the Wall) and Dany across the narrow sea aren’t counted in the War of the Five Kings.

    @earthwormjim: allegedly there is magic that extends beyond the physical wall, but it was built so long ago, no one really knows now.

    the one thing that confused me about the episode was why Davos was taking Melissandre below the castle to break in with her shadow baby. Renly’s group was still in the tents, and they didn’t introduce any other characters from the book or even name the castle (Storm’s End) in this episode, so…what was their reasoning for going there in the show?

  12. Additional to the five kings mentioned, there’s Daenerys who is Khaleesi (in the book appendixes she is referred to as ‘Queen Across the Water’ , and the King Beyond the Wall, Mance Rayder. So right now in the series, there are up to 7 kings, legit or self proclaimed.

    Also, the show is doing a great job alternating stories. In the book, there are moments when you feel there are SO many stories to keep up with at one moment, sometimes you can forget some details. I feel the series is keeping these stories summarized and is efficiently adding extra elements that build up characters which you do not get read about in the books in detail (Joffrey, Cersei, Pycelle, Robb). The series is becoming a great complement for book readers, and a great story for series-only fans.

  13. The way the shot was edited REALLY implied that it WAS Arya’s needle in Tywin’s belt. May not be canon from the books, but to blatantly frame it, then go back to Arya looking at it?

  14. A few notes on character names…

    This episode saw the subtle introduction of a family brought up in the article last year with the all of the family crests in the series. The person walking alongside Robb and suggesting the torture of Lannister soldiers is none other than Lord Roose Bolton. You might remember from that family crest article that the Bolton family sigil is a flayed man. “A naked man has few secrets, a flayed man has none.”

    Speaking of torture, the person asking the prisoners questions at Harrenhal is referred to as “The Tickler.”

    Needle is shown in possession of Polliver, the person who took it from her in the last episode and killed Lommy with it. You will notice that Arya has added his name to her list when she’s falling asleep, though I don’t recall his name being mentioned anywhere else in the show.

    @Bert: The impression I got was that Arya was considering doing something drastic, like grabbing Needle and rushing the torturers in a desperate attempt to save Gendry, hence her constant glances and the framed shots of Needle. I’ll have to re-watch the episode and make sure I got that right, I did a double take myself at the way that was edited, but I don’t think it’s possible for Tywin to have it, as he just arrived at Harrenhal and Polliver has had it since he took it from her last episode.

  15. @RBourn & @Docdoom & @bj:

    The Five Kings:
    The King Beyond the Wall

    As for Balon, he has not yet declared himself a king, and no one knows he is even a player (not even Rob, as he has not yet received any answer from him to the offer sent with Theon).

  16. @ Borgesian

    Really, really trust me. Balon is the 5th King not Mance Rayder. I don’t want to spoil so I can’t go into too much detail but Balon, or the Ironborn in general are the fifth player in this 5 way contest.

    Mance Rayder is not claiming to be King of Westeros, he is specifically King beyond the Wall because he and the wildlings have a distain for those who live behind the wall. The reason the Ironborn are not an obvious player yet is because they were smacked around by Robert and Ned before the beginning of the first series/book and so they don’t have the military capability to hand like the others.

    The implication with Balon is he never stopped thinking of himself as King, he was just forced to accept Robert’s Kingship by force. His very existence presupposes his claim to be King of the Iron Islands at least.

  17. @Borgesian:

    You are correct in that Balon Greyjoy has not yet declared himself a king to the realm as a whole, however his intentions have already been made clear on the show to viewers. “The War of the Five Kings” that Paul is referring to does indeed take place between Joffery, Renly, Stannis, Robb, and Balon.

  18. It’s so hard not to tell you what you what you’re guessing is right or wrong after having read the book. It is a little sad that you hadn’t notices the opening map changing locations until now though. They were doing that through all of season one, how’d you miss it?
    The plot is actually moving very quickly compared to the book. Many scenes are being compressed, moved up, or just omitted. It’s looking like two characters have been cut completely. But even still, there’s alot being added as. Littlefinger did go to see the Tyrels, but long after Catleyn had taken off to other plot lines. I’m all for it, though. In the book we get almost no insight to the character of Petyr Baelish, we only see him when Ned or Cat are around him. Same goes for most of the side characters, i.e. Renly, Loras, Cercie. Hell, Rob is only ever talked about in the second book past the one chapter he’s in, now it looks like they’re filling what he’s doing out on the battlefield (YAY, more Greywind!).
    Don’t worry if you are bored though, shit’s gunna get real pretty fuckin fast by the end of the season. Take my advice: anticipate ANYONE being killed off by the end of it.

  19. Arya wears her emotions on her sleeve. If she was in Sansa’s position in King’s Landing, she would have probably gotten herself killed even if Cersei ordered Joffrey not to. Sansa is playing the game better than her father. Having Tyrion say she might just survive us all, really gives weight to how much of a survivor Sansa is.

    I thought they were going to put the rats in a bag over their head. That was done in another movie, but I forget which one. My full thoughts on this episode are posted on my Game of Thrones blog.

  20. No comments about Robb’s infatuation with the “nurse”?

    Remember Robb promised to marry one of Frey’s daughters in Season 1.

    I just hope that they don’t pull a Sons of Anarchy, makes us hate Joffrey a buttload and then cop out, and NOT kill him.

    Meanwhile, I’m reading Book One furiously.

  21. I like how you are all saying I hope they “x” and I hope they don’t “y”, but everything that will happen was in the books written over 20 years ago…they can’t change any major plot points, though they do rework aspects of it and change the books to make it more dramatic for TV, and of course scenes have to be altered for legal reasons too, such as nudity involving characters like sansa (in the book she was stripped nude in front of joffrey), because of the age of the actors/actresses.

    If you really want to know what happens, you could no doubt read all 5 books before season 3 hits the air.

    Though, that’s if you are into reading.

  22. What’s the name of the actress that plays the battlefield nurse the young King Stark is infatuated with? I seem to have taken a shine to her myself, and someone told me she has a very famous actor father or grandfather.

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