The Old Gods and the New (Season 2, Episode 6, Game of Thrones)

2 The Old Gods and the NewTywin Lannister: What killed him?
Arya: Loyalty

Halfway through Season Two, and I find myself still missing Ned Stark*.

Outside of Robb’s victories, things are not going well for the Starks. In a beautiful exchange of information between Tywin Lannister and Arya, he asks her about her father. Arya lies and says her father was a stonemason. When Tywin asks what killed him, and Arya answer with the single true word “loyalty” – which is so poignant. Ned’s absence looms so large in the face of all that happens to his family in this episode.

I miss Ned!

I miss Ned!

The unusual relationship and wary respect between Tywin and Arya, reminds me of the when Tyrion and Jon Snow struck up a similar relationship on the way to The Wall in Season One.

*(I’m trying to remember if there ever was a character, whose death and absence from a show, lingers as much as Ned Stark – and the closest I can come is Lem in The Shield and Adrianna in The Sopranos.)

Attacks and Tears at Winterfell and Kings Landing

The episode opens with Theon Greyjoy laying siege on Winterfell. The exchange between Bran and Theon is so wonderfully acted by Isaac Hempstead-Wright and Alfie Allen. Instead of being dramatic and confrontational, it plays out like two people who have known each other all their life and the quiet calmness of it doesn’t diminish the magnitude of the betrayal. Instead the scene builds and builds as it moves to the Winterfell courtyard and the execution of Ser Rodrik.

When Ser Rodrik tells Bran, “Hush now, child. I’m off to see your father” we’re reminded once again of Ned.

1 The Old Gods and the NewVicious Idiot

Tyrion Lannister has never minced words when it comes to Joffrey. In The Kingsroad when conversing with Jon Snow on the way to The Wall, Tyrion refers to Joffrey as his “repulsive nephew.” And Joffrey never fails to live up to Tyrion’s depiction of him.

3 The Old Gods and the NewJoffrey is at his nasty best when the royal family is gathered to see Myrcella depart to Dorne. Young Tommen is crying as his sister sails off, and Joffrey picks on the young boy. Sansa lets it slip, “I saw you cry,” referring to Joffrey’s encounter with Arya and her direwolf Nymeria on the Kingsroad.

As the royal entourage is walking back to the Red Keep, some starving peasant soul chucks and nails Joffrey with a cow pie. Joffrey’s measured response of “Kill them all!” ignites a riot.

Tyrion’s dressing down of Joffrey is priceless. But it’s obvious that in addition to want to secure Sansa’s safety because it’s the noble thing to do, Tyrion is terrified about the possibility of never getting Jaime back should something happen to Sansa. Tyrion and Jaime seem to have a genuine fondness for one another, while in contrast, Cersei (like her father) cannot stand to be around Tyrion.

“What other brilliant insights have you brought for me today?” Tywin Lannister

I can’t get enough of Tywin Lannister. What a masterstroke for Benioff and Weiss to land Charles Dance in the role. Since he first came on the scene in ‘You Win or You Die’ dressing a stag and dressing down Jaime, he has stolen every scene he’s been in.

In the clip below we see him deal with yet more incompetence within his ranks (last episode he sent his cousin Reginald home for lack of ambition and energy). Do you think Tywin knows who his cup bearer is? I don’t think he does – he knows she is not being truthful about who she is, that she is from the North, and she is probably high born – but if he believed that he had a Stark under his roof, I think Tywin would treat her very differently.

It seems pretty obvious by Ser Petyr Baelish’s reaction that he does recognize Arya. I’m going to have to watch the remaining episodes very carefully – because I can’t remember Littlefinger ever using this information in the episodes to come.

In other news around the Seven Kingdoms

Daenerys meets with the Spice King. She is negotiating with him for ships since she has refused to marry Xaro. The Spice King, inelegantly but correctly points out that Daenerys has no army, no allies, and (unless she can come up with something to warrant his investment) no ships. Later, Xaro and Daenerys return from a walk, where she share that the Copper King offered her one ship if she agreed to sleep with him – only to enter her quarters to find slain servants and the dragons gone.

Robb and Talisa’s courting continues. He even introduces her to his mother. Catelyn gives Robb a glance that conveys that she understands everything. “You are promised to another. A debt that must be paid,” she reminds him.

Their conversation is interrupted with an ominous with news from Winterfell. Rather than have Robb take the army North, Roose Bolton recommends that his bastard son, Ramsay, liberate Winterfell and deal with Theon. Robb insists that Theon be taken alive.

Sigil Notes

Lion (Lannister):

  • We learn through a discussion between Tywin and Arya that Jaime was dyslexic and that Tywin taught him to read.
  • “Ah, the late King Renly. Rather a short reign.” Tywin Lannister

Direwolf (Stark):

  • Circumstances force Arya to share a second name with Jaqen H’ghar, that of Amory Lorch who catches her with Lord Tywin’s letter regarding Robb’s troop movements.
  • “Theon. Did you hate us the whole time?” Bran Stark
  • Shae tells Sansa not to trust anyone (this echoes the advice Littlefinger gave to Ned Stark in Season One)
  • “You’re all right now, little bird. You’re all right.” The Hound speaking to Sansa.

Dragon (Targaryen):

  • “She has a talent for drama, this one.” The Spice King regarding Daenerys.
  • “Where are my dragons?!” Daenerys Targaryen

Further Reading:

The Ghost of Harrenhal (Season 2, Episode 5, Game of Thrones)

Garden of Bones (Season 2, Episode 4, Game of Thrones)

What Is Dead May Never Die (Season 2, Episode 3, Game of Thrones)

The Night Lands (Season 2, Episode 2, Game of Thrones)

The North Remembers (Season 2, Episode 1, Game of Thrones)

AV Club:,73410/

Watch along with me: Game of Thrones: The Complete Second Season