In one of Game of Thrones’ earliest epic battles, the “Battle of the Blackwater” — the penultimate episode in the show’s second season, proves to be one of the most fiercely fought wars in the War of the Five Kings.
Synopsis: After the Red Woman eliminates Renly Barratheon (Gethin Anthony) from contention for the Iron Throne, Stannis Barratheon (Staphen Dillane) prepares a seige on King’s Landing with a naval assault from Blackwater Bay. With the capital left in a vulnerable position in the absence of the Lannister Army, Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), who serves as the Hand of the King is left to plan for the city’s defenses in the face of Stannis’ overwhelming forces. Meanwhile, King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) brags that he will have his uncle’s head on the stake after he defeats him soundly in battle.
In “The Battle of the Blackwater,” Tyrion Lannister proves once again why he is one of the most interesting characters in Game of Thrones. What he lacked for in height and fighting capabilities, he more than made up for in intelligence and determination. These were qualities that helped him survive the insanity of Lysa Arryn at the Vale, and this was also what made him the best person to lead the charge as Hand of the King.
I must admit that most of my memory about The Battle of the Blackwater was mostly centered around Tyrion’s brilliant strategy in halving Stannis’ fleet with the use of wildfire and keeping his men from swarming the city’s gate with their overwhelming numbers. Tyrion’s tactic proved to be enough to dampen Stannis’ morale for a bit but the tenacious Barratheon proved to be relentless in his claim to the throne. The parallels in their character was a key point in this episode. Tyrion’s intelligence made him realistically look at the looming battle and make do with what he had, while Stannis was confident in his skills as a military leader and the legitimacy to his claim for the Iron Thone. Desperation vs Determination is truly an interesting thing to watch.
During the battle, Tyrion proved that he had the courage and the heart of the lion that is his family’s sigil but in the same vein, Stannis proved that in terms of being a warrior, he was actually the best bet for the throne. His skills in battle and his bravery in leading the charge actually made me root for him at this point (If he had not burned down his own daughter to secure the crown, I would have been #TeamStannis all the way).
I felt really bad once again for Tyrion, who was once again showed up and belittled by Tywin when, all things considered, he was actually doing a good job holding off the enemy forces. The mere fact that the city was not yet taken upon the arrival of the Lannister and Tyrell army was an accomplishment in itself. It only gave me comfort that these villains would eventually get their due as the series progressed.
King Joffrey proved to be consistent in being a blowhard momma’s boy with this entire episode. Not once did he show any sign of deserving the crown so viewers feel compelled to root for the other contenders of the crown. Unfortunately, it was not Stannis’ day and with this battle, he suffered his first major defeat in the war. Considering the amount of frustration accummulated by the Lord of Dragonstone throughout this series, it would become quite understandable why he never smiles or expresses any emotion. His life is one of tragedy, that’s for sure.
All in all, the Battle of the Blackwater was one of the ultimate underdog victories in the Game of Thrones universe (well, next to the Battle of Castle Black and Battle of the Bastards) and managed to establish the characters of the contenders for the Iron Throne in an exciting and effective fashion. There were many layers to this battle, both tactically and politically and there is no question why so many characters from this masterful episode have fallen on the wayside of the continuing war in Westeros and beyond.