*SPOILER ALERT*SPOILER ALERT*SPOILER ALERT*SPOILER ALERT*SPOILER ALERT*SPOILER ALERT
Everything has been building to this and the waiting is finally paying off. Episode 9 simply titled “Blackwater” is a mini-epic all of its own. In a departure from the usual multiple story arc, this episode centered on the Lannister’s of King’s Landing and the pending invasion of Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) and company. The episode played out in spectacular fashion subtly unraveling the Lannister clan and getting to the real heart (or lack thereof) of the main players in the family we love to hate.
Running on his guts and heart, Lord Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) shines as the de-facto strategist using the “wildfire” we learned about earlier in the season. In a calculated move, Tyrion implements the power of the weapon and turns a good part of Stannis’ fleet into a blaze of glory. Brilliantly staged and executed, the explosions and battle scenes are something that big budget summer movies can take a cue from. (I’m talking to you BATTLESHIP!) I was leery at first of their only being one story arc but soon realized that this was the perfect onion to peel as every layer was better than the last. And to have G.R.R.M at the helm writing the episode really did make a difference as these are his characters. He is inside their heads and hearts and it translated extraordinarily well. There were exceptional turns by The Hound (Rory McCann), a veteran of battle and a killer at heart who just does not seem to know what he is fighting for anymore. If anything he seems to be taken with protecting Sansa (Sophie Turner), the only person in King’s Landing left who is pure and innocent. The rest of the lot is wicked in every sense and the old dog is at the end of his rope eventually renouncing King Joffrey.
Again we see that young Joff is nothing more than a figurehead and a coward. Joffrey was laughable on the battlefield and receded into the night at the behest of Cersei. With only Tyrion to lead, he again shows his mettle providing the troops with the motivation they need to continue the good fight. What I liked about his rousing speech to the troops was that it did not feel forced. He is just a man who inherited a situation and is doing what he thinks is best for the good of the throne. Although taken out of the fight by a nasty slice to the face, Tyrion has run away with the popular vote of the people…and us fans.
Cersei seems to be on the edge of sanity during the battle as she and the other women find shelter within the walls of the castle. With each new glass of wine, she loses another coating of her own armor and becomes more and more jaded. Notably she continues to pick at Sansa in an almost jealous manner over her loyalty to the throne and the sexual politics of being a Queen. Seeing her on the throne with her youngest boy telling a story and presumably readying to poison him was eerie. Sitting there in the iconic piece of set decoration that defines the series made me think that Cersei herself feels that the only place for her is the throne. The way Lena Headey turns that Cersei charm on and off is frighteningly effective. This episode had it all from the drama to the blood and guts to the snappy dialogue and pacing that we have become accustomed to. One episode left this season and only one throne.