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Garden of Bones

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"Garden of Bones" is the fourth episode of the second season of Game of Thrones. It is the fourteenth episode of the series overall. It premiered on April 22, 2012.[1] It was written by co-executive producer Vanessa Taylor and directed by David Petrarca.

Tyrion attempts to restrain Joffrey's cruelty. Catelyn attempts to broker a peace between Stannis and Renly. Daenerys and her followers arrive at the great city of Qarth and hope to find refuge there. Arya and Gendry arrive at Harrenhal, a great castle now under Lannister occupation.



War in the West


A Silent Sister working on a casualty at Oxcross.

The Northern army under King Robb Stark leads a surprise night-time assault against an encamped Lannister army, with his direwolf Grey Wind causing a large amount of damage. The Battle of Oxcross is a smashing victory, following through on Robb's promise to give Queen Cersei "another Whispering Wood".[2] The next day Robb surveys the battlefield as Silent Sisters tend to both Stark and Lannister wounded, while his bannerman Lord Roose Bolton of the Dreadfort argues that they should kill all of the Lannister soldiers they took prisoner, because they're having trouble supplying their own army and prisoners will slow them down. Robb disagrees, saying they will fight honorably and follow the laws of war. Bolton concedes that some of the Lannister officers might have useful information they could be tortured into revealing, but Robb refuses, not wanting to give the Lannisters an excuse to torture the Stark prisoners they have, such as his sister Sansa. Robb helps a nurse saw off the leg of a wounded Lannister soldier. The nurse, who introduces herself as Talisa of Volantis, criticizes Robb for not having a replacement king to take the throne if they defeat Joffrey (having declared for neither of the Baratheon brothers). She points out that for all the bloodshed they've caused, he isn't pursuing a plan to decisively defeat Tywin Lannister, just bleeding his secondary armies. The men they slaughtered weren't Tywin's main army but green boys and conscripts from the Westerlands who didn't ask for any of this.


The prisoners arrive at Harrenhal.

Arya Stark, Gendry, and Hot Pie are taken by Ser Amory Lorch's group of soldiers to Harrenhal, a vast but partially ruined castle which was badly damaged during the Targaryen Conquest three hundred years ago by dragons' fire. Arya's group is herded in with many other prisoners the Lannister soldiers have taken, primarily peasant refugees from the Riverlands. The commander of the entire Lannister force is Ser Gregor Clegane, "the Mountain That Rides", previously declared an outlaw by Eddard Stark for his raiding in the Riverlands. Now the positions are reversed, with Clegane having the support of the Iron Throne to brutalize the rivermen. The stench of corpses is so strong that Arya notices it as soon as they are in sight of the castle. The Lannister soldiers under Ser Gregor - particularly one known as The Tickler - sadistically torture many of the prisoners they have taken. One method used is to tie a bucket containing a rat to a man's abdomen, and then to hold a flame to the back of the bucket so the rat will chew its way through his guts. The prisoners are for the most part simple peasant refugees with no knowledge of the war, and the Lannister soldiers are savagely torturing them just because they want to know where they may have hid the few valuables they have. However, some are also asked if they know anything about a group known as "The Brotherhood". Just as Gendry is about to be tortured, Lord Tywin Lannister arrives with the main host of his army, who have retreated to Harrenhal to regroup after their loss at the Battle of the Whispering Wood. The main Lannister army group led by Lord Tywin is settling in to use Harrenhal as their new main base for the ongoing campaign in the Riverlands.

Tywin orders an immediate halt to the tortures (saving Gendry), rationally pointing out how disproportionate it is relative to what little wealth the peasants might be hiding, and it would be far more efficient to put them to work around the castle. As a blacksmith's apprentice, Gendry's skills are of particular use to them, and he is set to work. Tywin instantly notices that "Arry" is really a girl dressed up in boy's clothing, criticizing his soldiers for being such idiots that they didn't realize she was a girl in all this time. When he asks her why she's dressed as a boy, Arya simply explains that it was safer to be traveling as a boy than as a girl. Tywin is impressed with her intelligence, and says he is going to take her on as his new cupbearer while his army is based at the castle.

In King's Landing


"Leave her face, I like her pretty."

In King's Landing, King Joffrey Baratheon is furious when he hears of Robb Stark's decisive victory against Lannister forces. He has Sansa Stark brought before the assembled court in the recently redecorated throneroom, which now boasts iron spikes on many surfaces and roaring fires surrounding the pillars. At first, Joffrey sadistically menaces Sansa by brandishing a crossbow, aiming at her and openly toying with the thought of killing her right in front of the throne to send Robb a message. Despite being clearly petrified, Sansa again refuses to show fear and continues to firmly pledge her loyalty to the king, greatly annoying Joffrey. He reluctantly concedes to his mother's insistence that they need Sansa alive, lowers the crossbow and orders her to stand. Joffrey then sits down on the Iron Throne and orders Ser Meryn Trant beat and strip her as punishment, but insists that he "leave her face. I like her pretty." The guard then proceeds to rip apart Sansa's gown and beat her violently before the entire horrified court, including Sandor Clegane, who appears particularly disgusted. Despite being filled with dozens of knights and officials, one intervenes out of fear of Joffrey's wrath.


Sansa, beaten and stripped in front of the entire court

Just as Sansa is about to be hit with the flat-side of a sword, a furious Tyrion Lannister enters and puts a stop to the spectacle. Sandor immediatly steps forward, taking off his cloak and proceeds to gently cover Sansa up as Tyrion berates Joffrey as a halfwit who doesn't even pause to think how politically disastrous it is to be seen having his guards beat his future wife and queen (as well as a valuable political hostage) to a bloody pulp in front of his court. A furious Joffrey proclaims that he is punishing her, to which Tyrion retorts that she has committed no crime and has no control over Robb's actions (actions that Joffrey himself unleashed when he foolishly ordered Ned's execution). Now completely enraged, Joffrey bellows that as king, he can do as he pleases, but Tyrion again coldly counters that the Mad King thought he could do as he pleased too and his tyrannical cruelty led to him being overthrown and personally killed by Jaime Lannister. Tyrion then comforts the shaken Sansa and personally escorts her out of the hall. He asks her whether she wants to end her engagement to the king, but she continues to parrot the lines that she loves Joffrey and will uphold her duty. Impressed, Tyrion remarks that she has learned how survive around Joffrey and might just make it out of her situation alive, respectively calling her "Lady Stark".

Joffrey torments Ros

Bronn suggests to Tyrion that as an angry young man, maybe what Joffrey needs is to have sex with a woman, and that they should set him up with a prostitute. Tyrion agrees that maybe this would give Joffrey a chance to release his frustrations away from Sansa. Indeed, he might even be grateful for the gesture: given that he didn't have much of a father figure in Robert Baratheon to set him straight, doing something nice for the boy might even be the second chance Joffrey needs to re-establish a relationship with a male family figure. So Tyrion decides to use the carrot instead of the stick, and arranges for two prostitutes from Littlefinger's brothel, Ros and Daisy, to entertain Joffrey. Unfortunately, the attempt fails horrifically: instead of trying to have sex with the prostitutes, Joffrey brings a loaded crossbow into the bedchamber. At crossbow-point, Joffrey forces Ros to beat Daisy unconscious, and then to dump her body in Tyrion's chambers, to send his uncle a message warning him not to interfere with his handling of Sansa again. Despite being upset about the girls' treatment, he refuses to be intimidated.

As Tyrion works in his chamber late at night, his cousin Lancel Lannister knocks on his door delivering orders from Cersei to release Grand Maester Pycelle from the dungeon at once. Despite their blood relationship Lancel clearly holds Tyrion in contempt and openly calls him "Imp". Curious, Tyrion asks why Lancel is so late delivering the message. Blundering into a rather obvious trap, Lancel retorts that he always delivers messages immediately and is never late. Tyrion then simply points out how odd it is that Lancel would be coming from Cersei's bedchambers in the middle of the night. Lancel quickly wilts under the implication, but Tyrion also notices that he reeks of Cersei's favorite lavender oil perfume. Tyrion then bluntly asks if Lancel was made a knight before or after he started sharing Cersei's bed. Lancel falls apart, saying that Cersei's father ordered him to obey her every command when he became a squire to King Robert, to which Tyrion sarcastically asks if Cersei forced him to have sex with her too. Tyrion wonders aloud what Joffrey would do to Lancel if he found out that he was sleeping with his mother. Lancel gets down on his knees and pleads for his life. Tyrion gently instructs Lancel that he won't tell, but from now on, Lancel must report everything Cersei does back to Tyrion. As Lancel leaves, he also casually agrees that he will accede to Cersei's request and free Pycelle if she wants him as a "pet", though he doesn't want him back on the Small Council.

Across the Narrow Sea


The main gate of Qarth opens for Daenerys.

On the return of her bloodrider Kovarro, Daenerys receives word that the city of Qarth is nearby, and they are willing to welcome the "Mother of Dragons". Ser Jorah Mormont cautions that Qarth is located in the "Garden of Bones", a brutal desert which those who've been turned away by Qarth have perished in. Daenerys and her Khalasar leave the Red Waste and reach the city of Qarth. The Thirteen, a group of wealthy nobles and merchant princes, the leaders of Qarth, emerge to greet her, guarded by a group of shielded spearmen. One of the Thirteen, the Spice King, speaks for the group. They request that the "Mother of Dragons" present her children, but Daenerys insists that her people be fed and sheltered before she reveals her dragons. The Thirteen decide to turn Danaerys' group away and abandon them to the Garden of Bones. Danaerys swears vengeance on Qarth should they not comply, and one of the Thirteen, Xaro Xhoan Daxos, chooses to vouch for Daenerys through a blood oath, and on his word, she and her Khalasar are let into Qarth.

In the Stormlands

Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish arrives at King Renly Baratheon's camp as a political envoy from King Joffrey Baratheon at King's Landing. He tries to gain Renly's trust by implying that if Renly does march on the capital, he will help take down the Lannisters from within (it is unclear if he is lying, but he is also ready to jump ship if the Lannisters lose); Renly is tempted by the notion, despite expressing his open dislike for Littlefinger. Littlefinger then has a conversation with Queen Margaery Tyrell in which he tries to intimidate her by hinting that her husband is a homosexual. He does not anticipate that Margaery seems to already know and not to care. Margaery is not a naive ingenue like Sansa Stark but versed in court strategies: she honestly believes that Renly is the best candidate for king, and voluntarily entered into a paper marriage to secure the political alliance between Renly and House Tyrell. Baelish then moves on to meeting with Catelyn Stark, who is upset at his betrayal of her husband to his death. Baelish presents Tyrion's offer that the Lannisters want to make a prisoner exchange with the Starks: if they release Jaime Lannister, Queen Cersei will release both Sansa Stark and Arya Stark (about which Baelish lies that they still have Arya). Catelyn insists that Robb would never allow the exchange but Littlefinger tries to manipulate her love for her imprisoned daughters. As a show of good faith from Tyrion, Baelish brings forward a pair of Silent Sisters carrying a box containing the returned bones of Ned Stark.

King Stannis Baratheon then arrives at Renly's camp, along with the Red Priestess Melisandre and Ser Davos Seaworth in his retinue. Stannis has come to treat with Renly and give him the chance to willingly relinquish his claim and serve his older brother. Renly, along with his Kingsguard members Brienne and Ser Loras Tyrell, counters that no one wants Stannis to be king. Renly also scoffs at Stannis' conversion to the religion of the Lord of Light. Catelyn Stark criticizes both brothers for acting like sulking children. Stannis counters that it is odd that Catelyn is standing alongside Renly, given that her own husband Ned Stark rejected Renly's initial plan to claim the throne and supported Stannis as Robert's rightful heir, even at the cost of his own life. Renly states that the 100,000 soldiers waving his banners makes him king, and Stannis' small army is hopelessly outnumbered. Stannis says they shall see the next morning when their armies clash, and he departs. As she leaves Melisandre warns, "Look to your sins Lord Renly, the night is dark and full of terrors."


The shadow wrenches itself free from Melisandre's womb.

At King Stannis' command, Ser Davos rows Melisandre to some caves located near Renly's camp. Davos knows these caves from his old smuggling days, but finds the way through the caves is blocked by metal bars. Melisandre reveals that she is heavily pregnant and promptly 'gives birth' to a creature made entirely of shadow, as Ser Davos looks on in horror.


Main: Garden of Bones recap

A detailed recap of the episode scene by scene.


  • The title appears in dialogue in the episode. When asked about Qarth, Ser Jorah tells Daenerys that "The desert around their walls is called the garden of bones. Every time the Qartheen shut their gates on a traveller, the garden grows." Daenerys negotiating entry to Qarth is a major plot point of the episode.
  • Oona Chaplin was announced as playing Jeyne Westerling, however her character introduces herself as Talisa.
  • Jon Snow and the Night's Watch, Jaime Lannister, the Greyjoys, as well as Bran Stark and other characters at Winterfell, do not appear in this episode. The plot mostly centers around the continuing campaign in the war between Starks and Lannisters in the Riverlands, and the political machinations involving House Baratheon at Renly's camp.
  • Tywin Lannister stated in his last scene in the Season One finale, "Fire and Blood", that he intended to regroup his army at Harrenhal.
  • This is the first episode since "Winter is Coming," the series opener, in which Vaes Dothrak is not shown in the title sequence.
  • TV-first fans who didn't expect to see or quite understand what the Shadow-monster is that Melisandre gave birth to and the end of the episode made quite an uproar on Twitter when this episode aired, with various disparaging comments about its horrifying birthing process. Actress Carice van Houten sarcastically responded to all of these on her own Twitter account by saying, "Thanks for all your lovely comments on 'the baby'."[3]


Main: Garden of Bones/Appearances


First appearances




Guest starring


Cast Notes

Image gallery

Promotional video

In the books

  • In the books, Renly punctuates his scorn for Stannis during their final parley by flippantly offering a peach to his older brother. This particular exchange does not happen in the TV episode. However, Renly does pick up and eye an apple while he is walking around in his tent meeting with Littlefinger.
  • Roose Bolton reports that five Lannister soldiers died for every Stark soldier killed in the Battle of Oxcross. In the books, few Stark soldiers died, and it was more of one-sided massacre of 10,000 green Lannister conscripts taken by surprise.
    • One of the Lannister generals in the Season One finale argued that their current strategy should be to try to use Tywin's surviving army to hold off Robb while they raise new conscripts in the Westerlands. Now that Robb has slaughtered this raw new army group, the Westerlands are wide open to his assaults.
  • The TV series has truncated several of the movements of Robb Stark's army in the overall war. In the books, the combined forces of the North and Riverlands serving King Robb are divided into two main army groups: the main cavalry group personally led by Robb in the west, and the main infantry group led by Roose Bolton in the east. The TV series changed it so that the Battle of the Green Fork in Season One was a feint in which the entire force of 2,000 Northmen were killed. In the books, the attack was a feint and they did lose men, but Roose Bolton then retreated in good order. Functionally this also means that Roose Bolton never directly interacted with Robb Stark while their armies were in the field.
    • This does not necessarily remove the possibility that Robb will order Roose to take his contingent east later this season; the TV creators may have just wanted to establish Robb interacting with Roose before separating them for over a season.
  • Joffrey's ordering the Kingsguard to beat and ultimately strip Sansa in front of the entire courtroom is not an invention of the TV show. Indeed, it is somewhat toned down from the book version, in which Sansa is struck with the flat-side of a sword so many times that she loses count, and her entire body (except for her face) is covered in severe bruises. The longer duration of the beating in the book also emphasizes that in all that time, none of the knights in the court tried to stop it, even though they are sworn to protect women, the defenseless, and the innocent.
    • The TV version also toned down Sansa's nudity in this scene. In the book, her gown is quickly ripped off down to the waist, and she is left covering her breasts with her hands as Meryn continues to pound away at her bare flesh with his sword. This was probably removed for legal reasons. The series films many of its scenes in Northern Ireland, and the legal age of consent in the United Kingdom is 16 years old. Actress Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa, actually turned 16 in February 2011, before major filming on Season 2 began. However, as several members of the production team have explained in interviews, the way underaged nudity laws in the UK work is that what matters is how old the character being portrayed is, regardless of the actor's actual age in real-life. In other countries with different decency laws for cinema, a 22 year old can portray a 15 year old character in a nude scene, albeit unconvincingly. "Sansa Stark", the character, is about 14 years old during Season 2 of Game of Thrones, and thus did not meet the legal requirements for decency laws in the United Kingdom.
  • In the books, Tyrion did suggest setting up Joffrey with some prostitutes to try to divert his attention from Sansa, and possibly even make Joffrey grateful for the favor. The actual results of this weren't shown, but ordering one prostitute to beat another unconscious at crossbow-point for his own amusement is in keeping with Joffrey's penchant for sadistic gratification. D.B. Weiss points out in the behind-the-scenes featurettes that Joffrey doesn't do this out of just blind rage but because he wants to send a message to his uncle Tyrion, though it still shows the depths of cruelty that Joffrey is capable of.
    • It is possible that the scene with Joffrey and the prostitutes was specifically added as a stand-in for Joffrey's more graphic humiliation of Sansa in the book version.
  • Xaro Xhoan Daxos of Qarth is not black in the book series: the TV series explains this by stating that he is from the Summer Islands, which are off the shore of Sothoryos (essentially this fantasy-world's equivalent of Africa). It is actually not unusual for dark-skinned people to be seen in the locations of Essos, either as slaves or descendants of freed slaves who have risen to become soldiers, pirates, or powerful lords and merchant princes. Therefore, it isn't particularly implausible for a Summer Islander to become a leader of a merchant guild in Qarth.
  • Daenerys pronounces the city's name as "Quarth" and one of the Qarth officials angrily corrects her that it is pronounced "Karth". This may be a shout-out to fans of the books: author George R.R. Martin has notoriously not given a comprehensive pronunciation guide to the proper nouns appearing in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, resulting in many fans being surprised when various pronunciations which Martin and the TV series officially use are different from how they assumed they are pronounced.
  • Doreah, the slave girl from Lys that was supposed to instruct Daenerys in pleasing a man, has survived to reach Qarth. In the books, she died in the Red Waste due to a combination of disease and exhaustion, and was personally buried by Daenerys. The TV creators apparently liked her performance enough that they've decided to keep her alive. In the books, Daenerys' other two handmaidens Irri and Jhiqui act as a pair and support Daenerys through her travels. Jhiqui has been drastically truncated in the TV series, to the point that that original Irri/Jhiqui duo seems to be replaced by an Irri/Doreah pairing.
    • Conversely, Rakharo died crossing the Red Waste in the TV series, but lived in the books.
  • In this episode, Stannis offers to name Renly as his heir, until a son is born to him. In the books, Stannis indeed has no sons, but he has one daughter: Shireen Baratheon, a sickly young girl the same age as Arya Stark.


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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