The Prince of Winterfell

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"The Prince of Winterfell"
Game of Thrones episode
Tyrion and Varys getting ready for the Battle of Blackwater Bay.
Episode no.Season 2
Episode 8
Directed byAlan Taylor
Written byDavid Benioff
D. B. Weiss
Featured musicRamin Djawadi
Cinematography byJonathan Freeman
Editing byFrances Parker
Original air dateMay 20, 2012 (2012-05-20)
Running time54 minutes
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"A Man Without Honor"
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Game of Thrones (season 2)
List of Game of Thrones episodes

"The Prince of Winterfell" is the eighth episode of the second season of HBO's medieval fantasy television series Game of Thrones. The episode is written by series co-creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss and directed, for the third time in this season, by Alan Taylor. It premiered on May 20, 2012.

The title of the episode refers to Theon Greyjoy as ruler of Winterfell after disposing of the Stark children, although this is only said in the books and is never explicitly mentioned in the series.


In King's Landing[edit]

Tyrion Lannister and Bronn plan the defense of King's Landing, with the aid of several old texts. When Lord Varys asks how they plan to hold off Stannis Baratheon's ships, Tyrion replies with "pig shit", referencing an earlier meeting with Pyromancer Hallyne and his pots of wildfire.

While dining with his sister Cersei, Tyrion is accused of plotting to have King Joffrey Baratheon killed during the defense of King's Landing. Cersei tells Tyrion that she has kidnapped his prostitute lover and intends to hold her to ensure Joffrey's safety, but when Cersei orders her brought into the room Tyrion discovers that she has mistakenly kidnapped Ros instead of Shae. After promising Ros that he will free her, Tyrion angrily swears to Cersei that she will pay for what she has done.

Later, Tyrion tries to get Joffrey to understand the danger they face, but Joffrey's inexperience and arrogance leave Tyrion fearful for the coming battle. Varys informs Tyrion that Daenerys Targaryen is alive and that she now has three dragons. Tyrion, skeptical about the dragons, says that they will play that "game" later, since Stannis is their main concern now.

At sea[edit]

Davos Seaworth and King Stannis plan the siege of King's Landing, during which Stannis decries the disrespect his nobles show to Davos due to his low-born status, despite his excellent service. They recall memories of the siege of the Baratheon ancestral castle Storm's End, during which Stannis held the castle even in the face of starvation, until Davos heroically broke through the siege line with food supplies. Stannis comments on his bitterness over King Robert handing over Storm's End to Renly after the war and not him, and vows that he will aptly reward faithful service by making Davos his Hand once he takes the Iron Throne.

At Harrenhal[edit]

Lord Tywin Lannister decides to fight Robb Stark's army now that their attention is on the Greyjoys' capture of Winterfell and departs Harrenhal, leaving Ser Gregor Clegane at its command. Arya Stark tries to have Jaqen H'ghar kill Tywin before he leaves, using the last of three "lives" she was owed, but she is not able to find Jaqen in time. Instead, she decides to ask Jaqen to help them escape. Jaqen explains that an escape would cost more lives than their current bargain, and after some thought, Arya names Jaqen himself. After he asks her to take his name back, she does so on the condition that he help her escape with her friends Gendry and Hot Pie. He tells Arya that the three will be able to walk out safely if they do so at midnight that night. True to his word, Jaqen kills the entire evening's watch guarding the entrance to Harrenhal, allowing the three to escape.

In the Westerlands[edit]

King Robb returns from the Crag with Lady Talisa Maegyr and is informed of Jaime Lannister's escape and his mother's involvement. When Robb confronts Catelyn, she admits to having her knight Brienne of Tarth escort Jaime to King's Landing to trade for Sansa and Arya. Angered with his mother's betrayal, Robb has Catelyn placed under guard. Later, Lord Roose Bolton assures Robb that Bolton's bastard son is only a few days from Winterfell; Robb orders that mercy be shown to any surrendering Ironborn except Theon Greyjoy, hoping it will give Theon's men incentive to betray him. Bolton shows distaste with his king's merciful attitude but obeys. Lady Talisa then enters Robb's tent where he confides in her about his problems. After she tells him a story about why she chose to leave Volantis and become a healer, Robb confesses that he does not want to marry one of Lord Walder Frey's daughters. Talisa also wishes the same, and the two consummate their relationship.

Beyond the Wall[edit]

Jon Snow is presented to the Lord of Bones by Ygritte and her companions. The Lord of Bones wants Jon killed, but Ygritte convinces him otherwise by saying that Mance Rayder will want to meet Eddard Stark's bastard son. Qhorin Halfhand, who was also captured, tells Jon he should pretend to defect to Mance's army so the Night's Watch can learn about Mance's plans. To make Jon's defection look real, Qhorin starts a fight with Jon.

At the Fist of the First Men, Samwell Tarly and Grenn discover an ancient Night's Watch cloak, which contains a strange horn and a cache of dragonglass weapons.

In Qarth[edit]

Ser Jorah Mormont advises Daenerys Targaryen to leave the dragons behind and to flee Qarth for Astapor, but she refuses to leave without her dragons. Daenerys asks Jorah to take her to the House of the Undying, where the warlock Pyat Pree has said they are being kept, and Jorah reluctantly obeys.

At Winterfell[edit]

Theon Greyjoy orders the messenger ravens be killed, so word of the deaths of Bran and Rickon Stark will not leave Winterfell. Soon after, Yara Greyjoy arrives with a few riders, which angers Theon, who had ordered his sister to send 500 men to help him hold the castle. Yara reveals she has come to Winterfell to bring him back home because his decision to execute the Stark boys will only bring the wrath of all the North down on his head. Despite Yara's pleas, Theon refuses because he fears that he will be seen as a coward if he abandons Winterfell.

Maester Luwin sees the wildling Osha stealing bread and retreating to the crypts beneath Winterfell. He follows her and discovers that both Bran and Rickon are alive and well. Osha explains that after reaching the farm, they had doubled back to Winterfell itself to evade Theon's patrols. Luwin deduces that Theon's men murdered a farming family and burned their sons' bodies in the Stark boys' stead. He asks Osha to keep it from Bran since he would blame himself, but Bran overhears their conversation.



The episode was written by series co-creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss.

The episode was written by producers David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, based on the original work of George R. R. Martin. "The Prince of Winterfell" adapts the content of chapters Arya IX, Tyrion XII, Theon V (48, 55 and 57) from A Clash of Kings, and also parts Jaime I and Catelyn I (2 and 3) from A Storm of Swords.[1]

Among the added material there are the relationship between Talisa and Robb (which in the books happen offscreen and in an entirely different context) and the Qarth plot (which is still only loosely based on the books). Other changes include Arya using her third "death" to flee Harrenhal instead of contributing to the fall of the castle to Bolton's Northmen, revealing the hidden cache of “dragonglass” found after Jon's departure, and having the wildlings capture Qhorin Halfhand alive.[1]


Edward Dogliani joins the guest cast of the show playing the wildling leader Rattleshirt, also known as "the Lord of Bones."



The first airing of "The Prince of Winterfell" matched the series high ratings with 3.86 million viewers and a 2.0 share among the 18–49 demographic. The second airing brought an additional 1.04 million viewers and a 0.5 share.[2] In the United Kingdom, the episode was seen by 0.892 million viewers on Sky Atlantic, being the channel's highest-rated broadcast that week.[3]

Critical reception[edit]

The episode received critical acclaim. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes surveyed 12 reviews of the episode and judged 100% of them to be positive with an average score of 7.25 out of 10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Though it's mostly concerned with moving its pieces into position before the finale, 'The Prince of Winterfell' is a pleasantly subdued episode that makes the most of its character moments."[4] The A.V. Club gave it a B+.[5] IGN gave it a rating of 8 out of 10.[6]


This episode won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Costumes for a Series.[7]


  1. ^ a b Garcia, Elio. "EP208: The Prince of Winterfell". Retrieved May 26, 2012.
  2. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda. "Sunday Cable Ratings: NBA Playoffs, + 'Game of Thrones', 'Keeping Up With the Kardashians', 'Ax Men', 'The Client List', 'Sister Wives', + More". TV by the numbers. Retrieved May 27, 2012.
  3. ^ "Top 10 Ratings (21 - 27 May 2012)". BARB. Retrieved January 19, 2017.
  4. ^ "The Prince of Winterfell". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 3, 2016.
  5. ^ ""The Prince Of Winterfell" (for experts) | Game Of Thrones (experts) | TV Club | TV". The A.V. Club. 2012-05-20. Retrieved 2012-09-16.
  6. ^ "Game of Thrones: "The Prince of Winterfell" Review". IGN. 2012-05-20. Retrieved 2012-09-16.
  7. ^ ""Games of Thrones" tops creative arts Emmys". CBS News. September 16, 2012. Retrieved September 16, 2012.

External links[edit]