Previously on Game of Thrones: Margaery started winning over Joffrey and the people of King’s Landing; Theon was released from his tormentors, almost recaptured, and then rescued again; Jaime found himself one hand shorter; and Daenerys bartered one of her dragons for a massive army.
No new locales in the credits this week. Thank God, because it’s hard enough to remember all the ones we already have.
Jaime’s former right hand is now hanging around his neck like a particularly horrific charm necklace as he rides along, slumped in the saddle and looking so deeply depressed that even Bree’s alarmed. Their captors taunt Jaime, but he doesn’t respond. Bree notices that he’s about to fall off his horse, but the captors don’t give a crap. He does, indeed, fall, flat on his face in the mud, and begs for water. One of the men dumps water over his head—nice, guys, like the guy isn’t sufficiently broken for you yet? Another offers him a canteen, and Jaime drinks deeply, and then the guy tells him it was horse piss. Guess he wasn’t broken enough for them. Jaime gets upset enough that he grabs one of their swords and tries attacking the men, but he’s clumsy with only one non-dominant hand, and he gets the shit kicked out of him, even as Bree yells at them to stop.
Tyrion seeks out Varys, who’s just taken delivery of a large crate that’s making strange noises. Tyrion wants to know if Varys has any idea who tried to engineer Tyrion’s death during the Battle of Blackwater. Varys says he has no firm proof of who was behind this. He goes about prying the lid off the box and asks Tyrion if he wants to know how Varys came to be cut. Tyrion’s not exactly scrambling for the story, but Varys tells it anyway: back when he was a kid, he travelled with a troupe of actors, and in one city a rich man offered a lot of money to buy Varys. He then proceeded to drug the kid with a paralytic, cut off the cock and balls, and burned them in a brazier. The flames turned blue, and a voice answered the sorcerer as he chanted. Varys still dreams of that voice in the flames—he has no idea what it was, but it made him hate all sorts of sorcery, hence his eagerness to join the fight against Stannis and Melisandre.
Tyrion turns the conversation back to himself, telling Varys he wants some sort of revenge against the person who tried to have him killed, but that’ll take influence he doesn’t possess just now. Varys tells him influence comes with patience. That’s how his influence came. The sorcerer turned him out into the street, so Varys brought himself up from the gutter, quite literally. And his patience and influence both bore fruit: he managed to find that sorcerer and have him delivered in that big box he’s got in his room. Even Tyrion seems amazed and a bit horrified by this.
At Craster’s settlement, the Rangers have all been put to work mucking out pigsties and the like. A few of them are getting rather tired of sitting around shoveling shit and getting downright impatient with commander Mormont.
Sam takes a little break to visit Gilly and the baby. He’s adorably enamoured of the baby and asks if Gilly’s named him yet. She doesn’t see the point, and furthermore she’s not interested in the thimble Sam gave her when they first met. She’s only interested in saving her child.
Bran dreams of chasing down the three-eyed crow through the woods to a tall tree. He climbs after it, but once he gets to the top he finds Cate there, yelling at him for climbing against her wishes. She yells and yells until he falls, and wakes himself up. From the other side of the fire, Jojen watches him intently, and silently.
After being nearly absent for the last few episodes, Varys is definitely making up for it now. He’s meeting with Ros to find out about why the whores turned down Poldrick’s payment. Apparently the girls claimed he was so amazing they couldn’t possibly take payment, which of course is bullshit, and Varys knows it. So does Ros, but she knows better than to ask too many questions. Talk turns to Littlefinger’s impending departure for the Eyrie and what will become of Sansa when he goes. Ros suspects he means to take her along, as she’s discovered he ordered up two feather beds for his shipboard cabin.
Wedding planning is underway at King’s Landing’s cathedral/crypt, where Joffrey’s rushing around, excitedly showing Margaery the graves of various Targaryens and gleefully telling her of all the gruesome ways they died. She seems just as childishly enthralled as he is, but I suspect it’s more that she’s playing along and not that she’s also a complete psychopath, though we’ll just have to see about that. Oleanna and Cersei, meanwhile, discuss logistics and guest lists and reminisce briefly about Cersei’s wedding. Oleanna also craps on her son for a little bit, talking about how much he’s failed to be a real warrior.
During their exploration, Joffrey and Margaery can hear the crowds outside, and while Joffrey briefly looks terrified, Margaery suggests they go outside and wave to them. Noting his lack of enthusiasm, she builds him up heavily by reminding him (falsely) that he led the defense of King’s Landing, and the people adore him. He orders the doors opened, and they go out together, even as Cersei protests. Margaery smiles and waves to the surprisingly cheering crowd, which is shouting her name. Joffrey looks amazed and, after some hesitation, he starts waving too. Cersei looks pissed off to have her star eclipsed in every way imaginable.
Theon’s on the move with his savior, who explains that he remembers the day Theon was taken away from the Iron Islands, as a child, which I guess made him sad when he saw Theon being tortured. He takes Theon to an underground passage into a castle, and as they walk through the passageway Theon bitterly recalls how his father rejected him when he came back and how he was always silently reminded that he wasn’t a Stark. He says sadly that he’s Ironborn, and that’s what he was born to be, but now he doesn’t seem to belong anywhere. He admits, suddenly, to having killed those two orphan boys from the farm so he could make his father proud by holding Winterfell. Saviour thinks it’s not too late to make Greyjoy proud, but Theon says it is, because his real father lost his head at King’s Landing. He realizes now he chose wrong, and he’s ruined everything. Well, look who’s getting a bit of character depth here! Saviour opens a gate and ushers Theon through to a darkened room. A torch is lit, and all Theon can see is that giant X he was chained to earlier. Savior calls out that he’s brought Theon back, and that Theon killed the others. Theon starts to protest as he’s set upon by a group of men. So, what the hell was the point of all that? Why free him, only to get your own men killed, and then bring him back? What a bizarre setup here. With a demented smile, savior tells the others to put Theon back where he belongs. Back up on the X he goes.
Jaime sulks by a fire, until Bree tells him to just eat already. He says he wants to die, but she urges him to stop whining like a little bitch, buck up, and start plotting his revenge. Revenge is big with the Lannisters just now. When she snaps that he sounds like a bloody woman (but not the women this episode), he finally starts eating. In a gentler tone, she mentions that Tarth, her hometown, is called the Sapphire Island because of the blue of its water, not its rich mineral deposits, which Jaime must have known. She asks him why he lied to help her.
Cersei waits, a bit impatiently, while her father writes a letter and half ignores her, just in case we weren’t entirely sure what the power dynamic was in this family. He asks her what she wants and she wants reassurance that they’re doing whatever they can to get Jaime back. He reminds her that he started a whole damn war after Cate Stark took Tyrion hostage, so naturally he’s doing a lot more to get back the son he actually gives a shit about. He puts an enormous seal on his letter and starts another one. Cersei moves on to another topic: her, or, specifically, why Tywin should be confiding in her instead of her brothers. She actually doesn’t make much of a case for herself, to be honest, mostly just whining about the fact that she’s not the confidante, instead of explaining why she should be. Tywin sits back and tells her to make her case. She immediately starts complaining about the Tyrells, claiming they’re a problem, because Margaery knows how to manipulate Joffrey. ‘Good,’ says Tywin, and absolutely everyone watching. ‘I wish you knew how to manipulate him,’ he continues. He goes on to tell her bluntly that she’s not as smart as she thinks she is, and she’s allowed Joffrey to get completely out of control. Thank God someone said it.
One of Oleanna’s granddaughters shows her a rose embroidery she’s been working on—it seems that the rose is the Tyrell sigil. Oleanna, as is her wont, starts on a tear about how lame the sigil and their family motto (Growing Strong) are. God, this woman hates her family. She must have made a huge scene when she found out she had to marry a Tyrell, all those years ago. I wonder who her people are. As she expresses some admiration for the Stark motto, perhaps she’s a minor member of that family, or a member of a Stark bannerman’s family? The poor granddaughter’s a bit crestfallen. Oleanna sends her off so she can talk to Varys, who approaches, claiming he wanted to welcome her personally to King’s Landing. She sees right through him and his flowery compliments and tells him to get to the point. He mentions she’s taken an interest in Sansa Stark and says he hoped they shared the same ideas for her future. They stroll, so as not to be overheard, and talk about what a poor innocent little Sansa is. Varys hopes to help the girl and comments that she’d make a good match for the right suitor. He tells her that it looks like Littlefinger may get his claws into the girl, unless some alternative can be found, and if he controls Sansa, he could end up controlling the North, and who wants that? She thinks this is some sort of vendetta, but Varys claims it’s not at all personal. He admires Littlefinger, but knows the man would destroy everything if that’s what it took to come to power.
Margaery finds Sansa out praying and tells her guards to get lost. She links arms with her new BFF and tells her a story about how she once prayed a lovely cousin would come down with something called porridge plague and lose her looks, and then it happened. Sansa actually buys this, but it’s all a good-natured joke, and she laughs. It’s kind of nice to see poor Sansa get a chance to actually act like the teenage girl she is, instead of an emotionally abused robot. Margaery earnestly says she wants to be friends with Sansa, and she really should go see Highgarden sometime. Sansa doubts Cersei will let her leave, but Margaery suggests she marry her brother, Loras, in which case her place would be at Highgarden. And they’d be sisters! Margarey gently asks if Sansa would like that, and Sansa, who’s lost all her family, for all intents and purposes, and is looking for someone to cling to, tearfully nods, both happy and relieved.
North of The Wall, the Rangers bid farewell to one of their own, who’s recently died. After Mormont walks away, some of the discontents say that Craster starved the man to death. As they watch the body burn on its pyre, one of them comments that he didn’t know the man could smell so good. Damn, they must be really strapped for food at this point.
Mormont and some of the others go into the main building, where Craster asks when they’ll be moving along. Mormont says they’re waiting for their wounded to be well enough, so Craster suggests they just kill the weak and wounded ones. The main discontent comes in and starts complaining about the food. Another one joins in, which pisses Craster off, and he rather outrageously claims to be a godly man. What kind of gods would those be, Craster? He threatens to cut the hands off the next man to call him a bastard, so, or course, one of the discontents goes ahead and does it. Craster lunges and gets a knife in the belly, and when Mormont pulls his sword, one of the other men knifes him in the back. And now we have what is best described as a melee, as Rangers turn on wildlings and other Rangers and Sam, wisely, gets out of there. Mormont, being more badass than most, takes a while to die, and takes a few men out with him. Sam collects Gilly and the baby and they run, as the fight starts spilling out of the main building.
Arya and her hosts arrive at some secret place, which appears to be a series of caves beneath a waterfall. It’s time for the rather poetic interrogation of the Hound to begin. Hound comments that they all look like a bunch of swineherds. One of them says that some of them were, and some were masons, etc. Hound scoffs that they’re still swineherds, and carrying a crooked spear doesn’t make them soldiers. One of them says that being in war does, so they qualify. He recognizes one of the men, who wears an eyepatch, and gathers that they’re all deserters. Eyepatch reminds Hound that he was deserting himself, so way to go there, hypocrite. He goes on to say that Ned Stark ordered him to execute the Hound’s brother in Robert’s name and the Hound says he’s fighting for ghosts. Eyepatch says they themselves are ghosts, hiding and waiting to hunt down those who pray on the weak. They are the Brotherhood without Bounds, and they really need a snazzy theme song, don’t they? Oh, and apparently they’re followers of Melisandre’s Lord of Light, so that’s great. Hound gets bored and tells them to just get on with killing him already, and one of them says he’ll die soon enough, but first he must be subjected to this scene, which is almost like watching an ancient Greek play or something, everyone standing around trading barbs and words of wisdom. One of the men says the Cleganes are all murderers, but Hound protests he’s not like the other Cleganes and that he had nothing to do with some awful battle one of the men mentions. Yes, but you were involved with others, right? I seem to recall you telling Sansa that you were a murderer, just like her father. Am I wrong about that? He tells them not to call him a murderer and pretend that they’re not. At this point, Arya speaks up, reminding him that he killed her little friend, the butcher’s boy, waaaaay back at the beginning of season one. Hound remembers him, because he was ‘a bleeder’ and says he did it because the kid attacked Joffrey. Arya says he did no such thing, she was the one who went after Joffrey. Hound is sentenced to trial by combat. Hound seems to relish the opportunity and asks who the lucky opponent will be. It’s his old acquaintance, Eyepatch (sorry, his name was actually mentioned, but I couldn’t understand it. I’ll try to track it down.)
It’s time for Dany to collect her new army. The trader suggests she sack some nearby cities to break in some of the newer soldiers. He even offers to buy any captives she might take for a good price. Well, isn’t he feeling generous today? Stony-faced, Dany opens up a small litter and takes out one of her little dragons, which takes flight, held to the earth by a chain attached to its leg. Dany hands the chain over to the master, who hands off a ceremonial whip that indicates she is now in command of the Unsullied. ‘The bitch has her army,’ he says, in his language. Dany gives him a fabulous look that says, ‘honey, you have no idea.’ She turns and starts addressing the Unsullied in their language, shocking everyone, because of course this whole time she’s been pretending not to speak the language of Astapor. The master’s too distracted by her fractious dragon to notice, but then Dany turns and tells him, again, in his language, that a dragon is not a slave. He has the nerve to be angry that she speaks his language, which is Valyrian. Dany coolly tells him who she is, and informs him that Valyrian is her mother tongue.
Back to the Unsullied, she orders them to kill all the masters, everyone who holds a whip, but not to harm any children. They immediately begin spitting the masters as they stand. While that’s going on, she turns back to her dragon. ‘Drakaris,’ she says to it. The dragon obediently immolates the master. I totally saw all of this coming, but that doesn’t make it any less satisfying. The dragon wheels around the edges of the fortress, breathing fire everywhere. Shame you couldn’t tell him/her to spare anyone not carrying a whip.
Some time later, Jorah takes in the smoldering bodies and wreckage of the area. The Unsullied are once again all lined up, awaiting their orders. Dany mounts a horse and rides amongst them, telling them that they’re all free, and anyone who wants to leave can do so without fear of punishment. Or, they can choose to fight for her as free men. Since these men have all been trained and brainwashed into complete obedience, they agree to follow her. Jorah and Barristan exchange a total ‘awwww, yeah,’ look. Dany and her massive army ride out of Astapor, she dropping the whip as she goes, the dragons wheeling overhead. She’s gonna need a bigger boat.