Episode two brought us the first of Bran’s Weirwood flashbacks - introducing us to his ill-fated aunt, Lyanna Stark, the catalyst of Robert’s Rebellion, the war that saw Robert Baratheon triumph over Mad King Aerys.
In the story so far, Lyanna is presented as a victim of an evil Prince Rhaegar. The flashback however, shows that Lyanna was in fact an accomplished young horsewoman and quite capable of kicking ass, more akin to tomboy Arya than the ladylike Sansa. This supports various testimonies throughout the books, including Ned’s assertion to Robert that “you saw her beauty, but not the iron underneath.”
At the Tourney of Harrenhal, the Starks encounter Howland Reed for the first time. Small and mercilessly teased, he took delight as the mystery knight with a tree sigil thrashed the knights whose squires had been his bullies, wherein the Laughing Tree Knight bade them chastise the squires. The knight was never identified, but rumour strongly suggests that it was Lyanna in disguise.
Which begs the question - how could Prince Rhaegar, to all intents a gentle man, have managed to kidnap this strong and capable young woman? One he’d already made weep with his song, the one he’d crowned the queen of love and beauty with a wreath of blue winter roses? The one that launched a thousand horses as Rhaegar’s action caused “all the smiles to die”, by-passing his wife, Elia of Dorne, for Robert Baratheon’s betrothed.
Was theirs a true love story? There are so many pointers to the R+L=J theory, from Dany, visualising blue winter roses in the House of the Undying, to Ned’s nightmares of blood and winter roses, and acquiescing to his sister’s dying request: “Promise me, Ned”. Episode 3 will bring us even closer to seeing how these theories pan out, as we’re promised a visit to the Tower of Joy, where Lyanna breathed her last.
Elsewhere in Westeros, we finally meet Euron, who appeared in Book 5 after the death of Balon - but with strong hints that he may have been responsible. In Episode two, there’s no may about it, and we await the Kingsmoot with interest, since not all the Ironborn have made it into the series.
As for Roose - well, what was he thinking? Ramsay genuinely pleased for him being a new daddy? We’re way ahead of the books here and it’s hard to see where a surely irredeemable Ramsay can go. Walda and child, fed to the dogs: Old Walder Frey will be rethinking his strategy. And I can’t see the Umbers sticking with Ramsay, especially with Sansa heading for the wall - and a resurrected Jon. Didn’t I mention that? Yeah, Melisandre did her thing this week - but he’s woken up all alone, no-one apart from Ghost knows!
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