True to the title, this episode of Game of Thrones is full of cryptic magic and creatures that stalk in the darkness. The episode begins with one of the more startling developments in A Clash of Kings, the assassination of Renly Baratheon by the red woman’s shadow child. The scene is fast and spares no time for explanation, true to the chaotic quickness of Renly’s death in the novels. We see more of Brienne of Tarth in this episode, namely in her painful reaction to Renly’s death and her oath of fealty to Caitlin Stark. The union of two of the most powerful women in the series will indefinitely lead to some interesting scenes down the line, as fans of George R.R Martin’s novels are well aware of.
Another ghost making an appearance in this episode is the mysterious killer Jaqen H’ghar, who plays the role the titular vengeful spirit of Harrenhal. Jaqen bumps into Arya Stark in Harrenhal in the uniform of a Lannister soldier. He promises her three lives in exchange for his own and his companions whom Arya saved when their party was attacked by Lannisters looking for Gendry. Arya jumps on the opportunity, naming the Lannister torturer known only as “The Tickler.” Shortly thereafter, The Tickler is found dead in the courtyard, thrown from Harrenhal’s walls. Jaqen’s methods and abilities are as shady as his personality, and the viewer is left wondering who will be next on Arya’s list.
More magic is seen in Qarth when Daenerys meets the blue-lipped warlocks for the first time. A strange man introduces himself as one of their order, then makes a show of his power by producing a double of himself further away in the crowd. Whether it is illusion or real magic is not yet determined, but Dany seems intrigued although her Qarthean protector Xaro tells her the warlocks are naught but an act. The reasoning behind Xaro’s suport for Dany is finally revealed. He wants to marry her, merging his funds and her claim (and dragons) to assure dominance over the seven kingdoms. This idea initially seems appealing to Dany until Jorah Mormont talks her out of it. The romance brewing between Mormont and Dany is hinted at some more, and will certainly be explored in the next episodes. This Sunday viewers will likely see Jon Snow encountering Mance Rayder’s wildlings for the first time, Theon Greyjoy’s men making a move on the north, and the merging of Stannis and the late Renly’s forces.
View HBO’s video recap of this episode below.