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This article is about the season 2 episode, for the river see Blackwater Rush.

"Blackwater" is the ninth episode of the second season of Game of Thrones. It is the nineteenth episode of the series overall. It premiered on May 27, 2012. It was written by co-executive producer and writer of the novels George R.R. Martin and directed by Neil Marshall.

A massive battle rages for control of King's Landing and the Iron Throne.



Bronn 2x09

Bronn fires the arrow that triggers the Wildfire explosion.

Tyrion Lannister leads the defense of King's Landing against an assault by King Stannis Baratheon in the Battle of the Blackwater. He spends the night before the expected siege in bed with Shae. Tyrion has Varys provide him with a map of the tunnel network beneath the city. Varys tells Tyrion that he is all that stands between them and defeat. Stannis plans a naval assault aiming to overcome the city's small defensive fleet and land his troops at the walls of the city near the Mud Gate. Tyrion has anticipated his strategy and does not field his fleet. Instead he sends a single ship filled with Wildfire into the heart of Stannis' fleet. He tasks Bronn with detonating the ship; he goes outside the city to the shores of the bay to fire the burning arrow that triggers the explosion. The ensuing conflagration devastates Stannis' fleet and destroys the ship of his High Captain, Davos Seaworth.

Stannis responds by putting his men ashore inside row boats, landing further from the walls to avoid the still burning inner bay. With less protection for his troops he predicts that thousands will die. He leads the assault personally and is the first to reach the walls. Tyrion orders Sandor Clegane to lead a sortie beyond the Mud Gate to repel the attackers. Sandor does as asked but is terrified by the fire and breaks down emotionally. Ser Lancel Lannister accompanies him and is wounded by an arrow. Bronn joins the fight in time to save the Hound's life. The Hound retreats after losing half of his men and refuses to go out again. He walks away from the battle and his place in the Kingsguard.

Queen Regent Cersei Lannister offers protection to the ladies of the court in Maegor's Holdfast. She obtains Essence of Nightshade from Grand Maester Pycelle and keeps the headsman Ser Ilyn Payne at her side at all times, preparing for the worst. She drinks heavily during the assault and torments her captive Sansa Stark. When Lancel comes to tell her that Stannis has reached the walls Cersei orders him to bring Joffrey back to the Red Keep, ignoring his protests that it would damage morale. Sansa remains quietly defiant and tries to keep up the morale of the other women.

Joffrey willingly leaves the defensive line with Lancel and charges Ser Mandon Moore and Ser Boros Blount of the Kingsguard to fight in the King's name. The gold cloaks' morale is broken by his departure. Tyrion steels himself to lead a sortie of his own. He rallies his men by telling them to fight for their city, their homes and their women, if not for their king. He leads his men through the tunnels beneath the city and is able to defeat Stannis's troops manning a battering ram at the Mud Gate. Tyrion is betrayed by Ser Mandon while fighting against a group of reinforcements. Mandon slashes Tyrion across the face with his sword. Tyrion's squire Podrick Payne is able to intervene and kill Mandon saving Tyrion's life. At this point, the battle seems lost.

Lancel returns to Cersei to warn that they are defeated unless Joffrey returns. Cersei ignores his counsel, causing him pain by pushing his injured side. She takes Tommen to the throne room. Shae tells Sansa to go to her chambers and await Stannis. Sansa finds the Hound waiting in her room. He offers to take her north to Winterfell but she says she will be safe there. The Hound explains that she will be surrounded by killers and promises to protect her. Cersei sits on the Iron Throne and prepares to poison Tommen in order to prevent him from being taken captive.

The forces of Tywin Lannister and his new allies in House Tyrell join the battle. Their cavalry charge is led by a warrior dressed in the armor of Renly Baratheon and decimates Stannis's army. The survivors flee to their ships. Stannis is dragged from the battle by his guards, screaming for his men to stand and fight. Tyrion collapses into unconsciousness as the battle turns in his favor. Tywin goes to the throne room to announce the victory, stopping Cersei from killing Tommen in time. Ser Loras Tyrell reveals himself as the knight wearing Renly's armor.


Main: Blackwater recap

A detailed recap of the episode scene by scene.


Main: Blackwater/Appearances






Guest starring


Cast notes


GoT Battle of Blackwater Bay

A promotional poster released by HBO to especially promote this episode.

  • This is the second episode of the series written by George R.R. Martin, the writer of the novels, following on from "The Pointy End" in the first season. It was also the first episode of the second season to be named, with Martin revealing the name "Blackwater" in a blog post on June 1, 2011, a year before broadcasting.[1]
  • The episode is named after Blackwater Bay, the location where the featured Battle of the Blackwater takes place.
  • George R.R. Martin especially announced on his blog that director Neil Marshall would be helming this episode, noting that he was a fan of Marshall's feature film work, particularly the 2005 horror film The Descent.[2]
  • It was reported that co-producer Vince Gerardis had said that the titular and iconic Battle of the Blackwater will take up 16 minutes of the finished episode. However, this was later corrected to a general statement that it takes up a notable portion of the episode and is impressive, but likely not as impressive as some fans would like it to be.[3]
  • Producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were disappointed at not being able to film the large-scale Battle of the Green Fork in Season 1, so always planned to shoot the Battle of the Blackwater. At one stage budgetary restrictions made it look like it would not be possible and the battle would have to take place off-screen, but the producers were able to convince HBO to provide a larger budget for the episode.[4]
  • Despite the larger budget and a creative decision to move the battle to the night, there was still not enough time or money to film the battle as depicted in the books. George R.R. Martin was aware of this and pared the battle down significantly in his script. However, it still retained several elements that the producers then had to remove to make the budget work.[4]
  • The original director for the episode pulled out at short notice. Neil Marshall was a last-minute replacement, although the producers were familiar with his feature work. Marshall ended up adding more elements and sequences to the battle than the producers had envisioned after the script rewrites.[4] Marshall has not read the books, but marathoned Season 1 for two weeks prior to the beginning of the month-long filming of the episode. According to Marshall, none of the specific instances of gore during the battle scenes were specifically written into the script (The Hound cutting a man in half, Stannis cutting the top of a man's head off), but were improvisations he was left to develop on his own.[5]
  • This episode has the largest budget and largest number of visual effects of any episode of Game of Thrones to date.[4]
  • The song playing over the end credits is "The Rains of Castamere" performed by The National.

Memorable Quotes

"Fuck the Kingsguard. Fuck the city. Fuck the king."
Sandor Clegane
"Any man dies with a clean sword, I'll rape his fucking corpse!"
―Sandor Clegane
"The gods have no mercy, that's why they're gods."
Cersei Lannister
"Tears aren't a woman's only weapon. The best one's between your legs."
―Cersei Lannister
"Those are brave men knocking at our door, let's go kill them!"
Tyrion Lannister
"Someone bring me a drink. Fuck the water, bring me wine."
―Sandor Clegane
"The worst ones always live."
Sansa Stark regarding Joffrey Baratheon
"I'm entirely sure you're entirely sure what I'm suggesting."
―Tyrion Lannister to Varys
"That would make me the quarter man, and that just does not have the same ring to it."
―Tyrion Lannister after Joffrey Baratheon threatens to have him chopped in half
"Don't feel sorry for him, he'll be half-way up your ass before the night's through."
―Bronn to Armeca, referring to his nose
"Come with me and take this city!"
―Stannis Baratheon


Promotional images

Promotional video

In the books

  • The episode covers material from A Clash of Kings, book 2 of A Song of Ice and Fire. The episode is adapted from the following chapters of A Clash of Kings:
    • Chapter 57, Sansa V: Sansa talks with Tyrion; Joffrey then forces Sansa to kiss his sword immediately before the battle. She takes refuge with the women of the court in Maegor's Holdfast. Sansa and Cersei talks about why Ser Ilyn is present.
    • Chapter 58, Davos III: Davos sails towards King's Landing with the fleet behind him, their drums sounding the call to arms. The Wildfire explosion throws Davos overboard.
    • Chapter 59, Tyrion XIII: Tyrion sees the destuctive power of his Wildfire. The Hound flees the battle. Tyrion decides to lead a counter attack.
    • Chapter 60, Sansa VI: Sansa and Cersei are talking when Ser Mandon Moore announces the capture of some traitors. Cersei commands Lancel to fetch Joffrey back to his chambers. She reveals that she lied about Ser Ilyn and says that he is there to ensure that Stannis will not take them alive.
    • Chapter 61, Tyrion XIV: Tyrion is attacked by Ser Mandon Moore in the midst of the battle. He is rescued by Podrick and passes out in the squire's arms. Stannis scales the castle walls.
    • Chapter 62, Sansa VIII: Lancel tells Cersei that their troops are routing. She ignores his pleas to return Joffrey to the front and storms out of Maegor's Holdfast. Her guests panic and Sansa is left to calm them down. Sansa returns to her chamber where she is found by the Hound. He tells her that he is leaving.
  • The battle takes place by day; Stannis's fleet lasts much longer and is destroyed by the combination a chain that is raised at the river entrance and the Wildfire. Bronn plays a crucial role in the battle by raising the chain across the mouth of the river, to prevent Stannis' ships from fleeing the Wildfire. The TV version condensed this down for time and budget, so that Bronn still plays a vital role in destroying Stannis' fleet: he fires the flaming arrow which sets off the explosion of the ship filled with Wildfire.
  • In the TV series, Stannis' entire attack is launched from the sea. In the books, Stannis' 200 ships are filled with as many men as they can hold, but the larger part of his 20,000 man army has marched up the coast from the Stormlands to the southern side of Blackwater Bay, across from King's Landing which is on the northern side. The intent was for Stannis' fleet to land an initial invasion force to secure a landing zone on the northern shore, then for the fleet to ferry soldiers from the main army back and forth from the south shore to the north shore. Only eight of Stannis' ships survive the Wildfire to land troops. Thankfully for Stannis, Imry Florent didn't think much of Salladhor Saan due to his status as a pirate, so he left his sellsail fleet of thirty ships in reserve to guard the rear entrance of Blackwater Bay. As a result, Salladhor's fleet is not trapped behind the chain with the Wildfire, and plays a vital role ferrying troops to the northern shore after the main fleet's destruction.
  • The Hound does not offer to escort Sansa North.
  • It is Garlan Tyrell, not Loras Tyrell, who wears Renly's armor and breaks the siege. Garlan is Loras' older brother, Mace Tyrell's second son, but he hasn't been introduced in the TV series, so they just condensed these actions into Loras' role. Wearing Renly's armor convinced many of Stannis' soldiers, who had once served Renly, that it was the "ghost of Renly" riding out for revenge, at which they panicked or threw down their weapons and surrendered.
  • In the TV series, when people in the city are discovered trying to steal horses to flee, Cersei orders Ser Illyne Payne to behead them. In the books, several wealthy merchants of King's Landing attempt to hand over the city to Stannis by opening the gates. When they are discovered, Joffrey has antlers physically nailed into their heads - for the stag of Stannis' House Baratheon - after which the bloody men are loaded into the catapults and launched over the walls at Stannis' army. They are later referred to as the "Antler Men".
  • Cersei notes that Shae is from the Free City of Lorath, as she recognizes her accent from a Lorathi handmaiden she used to have. In the books, Shae isn't actually from the Free Cities at all, she's just a camp follower of the Lannister army and her backstory is never gone into in detail, but she is from Westeros. The TV producers stated that they changed it so that when she is introduced in Season 1, Shae is stated to be "from the Free Cities" (they hadn't settled on which one yet) because they enjoyed the audition of actress Sibel Kekilli, but wanted to have some explanation for why she speaks with a German accent. What's curious about this is that five novels into the series, no named characters, save from Jaqen H'ghar, whose origins are unknown, come from Lorath and very little is said about it, due to its relative lack of importance. Identifying Shae as Lorathi, however, also serves to explain Jaqen's similar accent.

See also


Game of Thrones Season 2
#01 "The North Remembers"#06 "The Old Gods and the New"
#02 "The Night Lands"#07 "A Man Without Honor"
#03 "What is Dead May Never Die"#08 "The Prince of Winterfell"
#04 "Garden of Bones"#09 "Blackwater"
#05 "The Ghost of Harrenhal"#10 "Valar Morghulis"

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