A man watches Game of Thrones. He sees the latest episode, "The Ghost of Harrenhal," and thinks the season is gathering steam. The power structure has shifted once again in one of the strongest season two episodes yet.
Renly's Camp: A windy night on the eve of Renly's big battle with Stannis as the would-be king meets with Catelyn, accompanied by his trusted knight Brienne. Catelyn has an offer: Robb will back Renly and will not contest his claim to the Iron Throne. In exchange for Robb's loyalty, Renly agrees to allow Robb to remain "King of the North."
"Then I see no reason for hostility between us," Renly says. "Together we can end this war in a fortnight."
Well this is great news. Renly and Stark are both reasonable people. Together their armies will easily defeat the Lannisters. With Renly, Westeros will get fair-minded king, while the Starks can rule the north from Winterfell. Fantastic, nothing could possibly stop--
Smoke monster! Melisandre's baby (which might as well be named Deus Ex Machina) appears behind Renly, stabs him, roars like Imhotep in The Mummy, then vanishes. Brienne gives a derp-faced wail. Two guards rush in, assume Brienne is the assassin and attack her -- she slaughters them. This whole crime scene doesn't look good for either of Brienne or Catelyn, so they take off.
So that's one of the five prospective kings down. We'll miss the dryly witty Renly, but at least this will make the storyline moving forward easier for some viewers to follow.
Later: Loras mourns the loss of his lover. Margaery mourns the loss of her husband. Thankfully the Tyrell siblings still have Littlefinger on hand to give them some advice. Say what you will about Littlefinger, the man knows how to survive. He urges them to flee before Renly's men switch their loyalty to Stannis and turn on them.
"Do want to be a queen?" Littlefinger asks Margaery.
"No," Margaery says, "I want to be the queen."
Littlefinger gives a slight smile. Ambition. Now there's a motive he can work with.
King's Landing: Tyrion is tormenting his family members with his sharp wit, but he's concerned about the prospect of Stannis attacking the city. "Aren't you always so clever with your schemes and your plots," says Cersei and Tyrion cannot resist pushing her: "Schemes and plots are the same thing." Baiting Cersei is an indulgent misstep, however, because she takes some delight in refusing to tell Tyrion about Joffrey's siege preparations.
So Tyrion enlists his newly drafted spy, cousin Lancel, to give him the scoop: Joffrey and Cersei are cooking something called wildfire that they plan to launch from the city walls at Stannis' ships. Tyrion believes him, but makes Lancel grovel anyway. "Even torturing you is boring," Tyrion says, then makes Lancel tell Bronn: "Please kill me if anything should happen to Lord Tyrion."
NEXT: Tyrion the "demon monkey" ... Theon gets an idea.