When one stops to consider the scope of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, its easy to understand the amount of time it takes for specific information to travel from kingdom to kingdom – not to mention how long, and through how many more channels said information has to travel in order for it to be disseminated amongst what amounts to be common folk.
Certainly, one of the highlights of Game of Thrones has always been the use of information as power, and in 'Garden of Bones,' this continues to be the case.
However, much of the information dispersed amongst the main characters happens to be comprised of rumor and conjecture – which appears to be a unique currency in its own right. Naturally, there are those such as Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), Varys (Conleth Hill) and Lord Baelish (Aiden Gillen) who, were it not for the combined power of information, disinformation and misconception would be largely powerless against their more sword wield-y adversaries. And as Tyrion demonstrated during 'What is Dead May Never Die,' lives and positions can be obliterated as easily with words as they are by the edge of a sword. On the other hand, some, like Robb Stark (Richard Madden) unwittingly see a benefit to the level of miscommunication that seems to mutate the truth as swiftly as his attacks on the Lannisters.
Word has spread to King's Landing that Robb Stark is attacking with an army of wolves and that the bodies of the dead are being eaten. Surely, this kind of exaggeration can only benefit the King of the North as he marches his army ever closer to Joffrey (Jack Gleeson). The only trouble is, as Robb freely admits to a woman he's only just met, once the king has been dethroned, there is no official plan to replace him. Making clear that though Robb may be skilled at war, he's woefully lacking in any knowledge of what comes afterward.
Speaking of the poster boy against inbreeding, Joffrey has taken to punishing Sansa (Sophie Turner) for her brother's victories in battle, having his betrothed beaten for little more than his own pleasure. Thankfully, Tyrion steps in, refers to his nephew as a half-wit and eloquently demonstrates the difference between educating someone and threatening to end their life. For her part, Sansa seems to be one of few in King's Landing capable of learning any sort of lesson that may ensure a longer life. When Tyrion offers her an out she brushes it aside, professing loyalty to Joffrey.
Curious as to how Joffrey could have turned into such a – well, let's just say, sadist – Tyrion and Bronn (Jerome Flynn) come to the conclusion that it must be teenage hormones and decide to send two prostitutes to his bedchamber, as a little belated nameday gift. Unfortunately, King Joffrey only likes seeing pain inflicted on others. This time, however, Joffrey knows that his actions will also serve as a message to his uncle.
Elsewhere, Petyr Baelish arrives at Renly's encampment and is poorly received by everyone he encounters. First by Renly (Gethin Anthony), based on their history with one another, then with Renly's wife Margaery (Natalie Dormer), after Baelish presses her for details concerning rumors that Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones) is more acquainted with Renly's tent than his new wife. Things continue to go south for Baelish during his encounter with Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley). Naturally, Baelish calls the rumors he deceived Ned at King's Landing pure rubbish, but plays his hand in winning Catelyn's love too soon, earning nothing but rejection. Undaunted, Baelish negotiates with the lives of Sansa and Arya (Maisie Williams), in exchange for Jaime Lannister (Nicolaj Coster–Waldau) – despite Arya's whereabouts being unknown. As a token of good faith, Baelish even delivers Ned's bones to Catelyn.
Given all the trouble brewing in and around King's Landing, it's easy to forget that Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and her small group of Dothraki have still not escaped the expanse of the Red Waste. As luck would have it, though, the Thirteen of Qarth have taken an interest in her dragons, and despite a brief misunderstanding, Daenerys and her followers are granted entry into the city.
Things don't turn out as well for the other beleaguered travelers, Arya and Gendry (Joe Dempsie). Instead of a beautiful, lush city, the pair are instead greeted by ancient stone once melted by the fire of dragons in the allegedly haunted fortress of Harrenhal. Essentially waiting for a horrible death, Arya and Gendry are saved by an unlikely source: Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance). Tywin puts Gendry back to his trade as a blacksmith, while putting Arya to work as his cupbearer. For those counting, that makes two Starks who are saved by a Lannister in one episode.
The challenge to the iron throne gets positively supernatural, as Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) resorts to underhanded trickery to remove his brother from the equation. After a very brotherly squabble that resulted in an impasse, Stannis tasks Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) with smuggling Melisandre (Carice van Houten) ashore so that she may demonstrate her labor-intensive way of producing an assassin.
Game of Thrones continues next Sunday with 'The Ghost of Harrenhal' @9pm on HBO. You can watch a preview for the episode below.