Previously on Game of Thrones: Dany decided she wanted to free all the slaves in the next city in her path, Tyrion was forced into an engagement with Sansa, Gendry was handed over to Melisandre, and Arya found herself a hostage of the Hound.
Arya wakes, gets her bearings, and picks up a giant rock lying nearby before sneaking up on the sleeping Hound. She raises the rock above her head, ready to strike, but he wakes and tells her to go ahead and kill him, but if she fails to do so, he’ll break both her hands. She doesn’t kill him, and he doesn’t break her hands, by the look of it.
Later, they’re both riding along and he rather pleasantly tells her that she’s kind of lucky he found her, because far worse men than him could have laid hands on her. She asks him where he’s taking her, thinking they’re on the way back to King’s Landing, and learns that they’re on their way to the Frey place so he can ransom her back to her family.
Dany, Selmy, and Jorah watch as mounted mercenaries arrive at Yunkai. Selmy’s not too concerned, because he thinks sellswords have no honour, but Jorah points out that even men without honour will fight well if they’re paid enough. He tells her these men are called the Second Sons and they’re led by a man named Mero. There are about 2000 of them arriving, and they’re dangerous. Dany tells them to set up a meeting between her and the captains.
Three captains duly arrive for a meeting: Mero (who somehow reminds me of Titus Pullo from Rome, except without any charm whatsoever), some guy whose name I didn’t catch, and Dario, the pretty one. Mero swaggers forth and tries to rattle Dany by pretending to mistake her for some prostitute. He also orders Missy around, but Dany will not be thrown off by this jerk. He offers to give her the Second Sons if she strips and sits on one of their laps, and she responds by telling him to give her the Second Sons and she won’t have him gelded, though if she did I’d say she’s doing the world a favour, genetically speaking. She adds that she has many more soldiers than they do—though she lies about the number, and Dario corrects her. She says it doesn’t matter, because they still have more, but they’d be happy to have the SS join her. Mero grossly sniffs at Missy, who’s disgusted by him, and Dario says that she has no siege weapons. She reminds him that just a few weeks ago she had no army, and a year ago she had no dragons. This girl knows her acquisitions, which is why she’s moving on to mergers. She gives them two days to decide. Mero tells her to show him her ladybits, at which point Grey Worm offers to cut the man’s tongue out. He’s picked up the language quickly, hasn’t he? She tells him to stand down and offers the men a flagon of her wine to take away with them. If anything, she seems amused by this boorish man. They accept a barrel, and Mero slaps Missy on the ass as he leaves. Dany drops the smile and tells Selmy to kill Mero first, after the battle. He’ll be only too happy to do so.
Gendry and Melisandre arrive at Stannis’s place, where they find him in his main strategy room. He takes a hard look at Gendry and declares him half Robert, half lowborn. Melisandre tells the servants to take Gendry to his room. Once he’s gone, Stannis asks what she plans to do with him. Kill him, of course. Stannis asks why she’s bothering to bathe and dress him up, then and she tells him that animals going to the slaughter can’t be frightened, as it spoils the meat. Stannis is starting to look a tad creeped out by this woman.
In the dungeons, Davos is hard at work, practicing his reading on a story about the dragons. Stannis comes down, so he stashes the book. Stannis evidently started listening to his conscience and finally gets around to telling Davos he’s sorry about his son dying and all. He chats about Melisandre bringing Gendry back, and Davos immediately realises that this means bad things for the boy. Davos reminds Stannis that this is his nephew, and he’s done Stannis no harm. Stannis says that he has to, because this is his destiny. Davos asks why he’s there and Stannis says he’s going to free him, as long as he promises never to raise a hand to Melisandre again. Davos says he won’t, but he also guesses that Stannis came to him and told him about Gendry because he knew Davos would council restraint. He urges Stannis not to slaughter this boy.
Yunkai. The captains talk about Dany. Dario is apparently the sensitive one of the bunch and believes in beauty and having sex with women who actually want it. What a softie. He and Noname also don’t think they have a good chance against the hoards of Unsullied. Mero says they don’t need to deal with them, just deal with her. Slit her throat in the middle of the night and the danger is past. They pull coins to decide who does it, and guess who’s gonna be the lucky guy?
Sansa’s being dressed in her room when Tyrion arrives and is admitted by Shae. Apparently it’s wedding time. The two are kind of cutely awkward with each other, and Tyrion asks Poldrick to escort Shae downstairs so he can have a moment alone with his future wife. Off they go, Shae giving him a pretty fierce look as she passes him. Tyrion gently tells Sansa that he didn’t ask for this, and she dully responds that she hopes she won’t disappoint him. He says she doesn’t need to speak to him like a prisoner anymore, and then goes on to awkwardly tell her that he knows how she feels. Letting the mask drop briefly, she says she doubts that very much. He admits she’s right: neither of them have any idea how the other feels. He takes her hand and promises he’ll never hurt her. She smiles at last, and he escorts her downstairs.
The guests are filing into the cathedral and taking their seats. Margaery finds Cersei and tells her how lovely she looks, and then takes her arm in a girlish manner and says they’re going to be sisters soon. The look of ‘woah, what’s this now? Touching me?’ on Cersei’s face is priceless. Cersei takes her down swiftly by reminding her of some old family that got a bit too above itself and was destroyed by her father. Margaery’s smile is firmly frozen in place, until Cersei warns that if she ever calls the queen sister again, she’ll have her strangled. Would you prefer mother-in-law, Cersei?
The doors open and in comes Sansa, ready to walk down the aisle. She pauses at the door, as Joffrey strides over with a smug grin on his face. She asks what he’s doing and he reminds her that her father’s dead, so he gets to give her away at her wedding. Jesus, where dos he come up with this stuff? It’s like he spends all his spare time killing women and thinking of new ways to torture Sansa. They walk up the aisle together (Margaery gives her an encouraging smile as she passes), and as Joffrey leaves Sansa there, he grabs the footstool Tyrion was going to stand on. Nothing is too petty for this little shit. This makes the first bit of the ceremony–the husband symbolically cloaking the bride–rather awkward, and some of the guests titter until a glare from Tywin shuts them up. The wedding continues.
Gendry checks out his plush new digs. In comes Melisandre, who tries to establish a rapport through their shared history of being poor. She pours him some wine and proves it’s not poisoned by drinking it, not that that’s any reassurance with this chick. Not knowing her history, he starts gulping the stuff down. He’s his father’s son, all right. He says that his being there is sort of a mistake, because he only exists because Robert grabbed his mother and not the woman next to her. Melisandre says Robert grabbed his mother because the Lord of Light willed it, and that his blood is powerful. She starts to get really touchy-feely and begins undressing Gendry, saying the LoL wants this. She strips off her own gown and goes on to say that death is coming for everyone, but they can stop it. She leads him to the bed, lies him down, removes his trousers, and starts to have sex with him. And then things take a disturbing 50 Shades turn as she ties him hands and feet to the bed, pulls out some leeches, and starts calmly applying them to his chest and…other areas too. She calmly tells him not to fight, because they won’t take much. The door opens and Stannis strolls in, accompanied by Davos. Melisandre dresses and tells Gendry this is Davos’s doing. He didn’t believe in the power of kingsblood and wanted a demonstration. I don’t think that’s what Davos meant at all, but trust her to twist his meaning. She picks the leeches back up and hands them over to Stannis, who puts them one by one on the burning brazier, one each for Robb, Joffrey, and Balon Greyjoy, the three pretenders to the throne. One of the leeches gorily bursts and spurts blood.
Wedding feast. Tyrion helps himself to a lot of wine while Sansa tries to eat, unsuccessfully. Oleanna tries to work out exactly what their family tree will look like once Loras is married to Cersei and Sansa pops out a kid, which would manage to be Cersei’s and Loras’s nephew and grandchild simultaneously. Loras gets up and stomps out.
Tywin watches his son get very drunk, looking worried. When Tyrion wipes his face on the tablecloth, Sansa excuses herself. As she leaves, Joffrey, with a dangerous look on his face, gets up as well. Cersei suggests he talk to Margaery instead, but he shakes her off. Defeated in every way, Cersei sadly gets up and leaves. Tywin goes to attend to his newly married son, telling him he’d better sober up so he can knock a kid into his wife ASAP. Tyrion reminds his father that he thinks all Tyrion can do is get drunk and screw women, so he shouldn’t have anything to worry about. Tywin takes away his goblet and tells him to get himself together already. Seriously, is Tyrion trying to be as repulsive to Sansa as possible? This kind of louche behaviour seems somewhat out of character for him. Once he’s gone, Tyrion picks up the goblet again and raises it to Loras, who’s watching from the balcony above.
Loras turns and joins Cersei at a nearby window and starts trying to talk to her, but she cuts him off immediately and sweeps off.
Sansa and Shae head out for some air, and Joffrey immediately takes her by the arm, like they’re girlfriends, and congratulates her on marrying a Lannister. He suggests paying her a visit himself later that night, and when she doesn’t immediately accept that tempting offer, he shrugs that he’ll just get some guards to hold her down.
He returns to the feast and announces that it’s time for the bedding ceremony. Oh, god. Tyrion says there’ll be no such thing, but Joffrey’s on a roll and urges everyone to start stripping Sansa down so she can be carried off to bed. Tyrion repeats that there will be no bedding ceremony and threatens to give Joffrey a Full Theon if he doesn’t lay off. Joffrey gets ready to throw a wobbler, but Tywin calms everyone down and says they can dispense with the ceremony for once. Tyrion drunkenly laughs that this was just a bad joke and that this is just because he’s so intimidated by Joffrey’s manhood, since Tyrion’s is so tiny. That appeases Joffrey, and he lets Tyrion head off with Sansa.
Once they’re alone in their room, Tyrion immediately hits the bottle again, despite Sansa meekly asking if that’s such a good idea. He slurringly admires her neck and then asks how old she is. She’s 14. Yikes. He announces that his father has commanded him to consummate this marriage, and at that, Sansa goes and pours herself some wine. Poor girl. She takes a bracing drink and then starts to take off her dress, going over to a corner to do so. Tyrion watches, rather soberly, and when she starts to take off her shift, he tells her to stop and says he won’t sleep with her unless she asks. She hesitantly inquires what will happen if she never asks and he looks rather sad. And then he goes and passes out on a chaise lounge.
Yunkai. Dario sneaks into Dany’s camp in disguise. She’s in her bath, being attended by Missy, who apparently speaks an astounding 19 languages. Missy says that Dany apparently has an affinity for languages herself, having mastered Dothraki quite quickly. Dany starts to relax, but then Missy gasps, and she turns to find Dario holding a knife to her throat, telling Dany not to scream or the handmaiden dies. Dany briefly looks terrified, but she asks what he wants. ‘You,’ he answers. She orders him to release Missy, and he does, warning her not to scream. Dany correctly guesses he’s there to kill her and asks why he hasn’t done so yet. He responds that he doesn’t want to, and apparently the other captains won’t be a problem, because he’s brought her their heads. He rolls them out on the floor to show her. She asks why he did that and he explains that they had philosophical differences: her beauty meant more to him than to them. Dany rises from her bath, fully naked and unabashed, and Missy quickly fetches a robe. Dany asks him if he’ll fight for her and he nods. She makes him swear to her, and he does, on his knees, giving her his men, his sword, and his heart.
The next morning, Shae comes into the marital room, pissily telling Tyrion she’s brought breakfast, before helping Sansa into her robe. She checks the bed quickly and notes that there’s no sign of anyone having had sex in it. She gives Tyrion an approving smile, then disappears with the sheets.
Sam and Gillie are walking through the frozen wastelands, passing by a tree with red leaves and a face on it—is that the old Stark praying tree? But they’re still north of the Wall, aren’t they? Sam finds a tumbledown shack nearby and suggests they stay there for the night. Gillie hands him the baby and goes about finding firewood. Sam checks out some crows gathering on the branches of the trees. Are we about to go all Hitchcockian?
Later, Sam’s trying, unsuccessfully, to start a fire. Gillie suggests they just huddle under the furs together, and Sam looks briefly terrified, but he’s game. They sit next to each other and chat about the baby. Sam asks if she’s thought of a name, and she snaps at him for talking too fancy to her. She goes to work on the fire and he keeps on about the name. She doesn’t know any boys’ names, naturally, so he suggests a few. She proposes her father’s name, as well as Mormont, not realising that Mormont’s a last name, because she doesn’t understand this fancy people notion of first and last names. She catches on to Sam’s father’s name (Randall) and likes that one, but Sam begs her not to call the baby that. She gets the fire going and agrees not to name him Randall.
Outside, the crows start cawing frantically, so Sam hands the baby back to Gillie and goes to check on things, wisely taking a sword and torch with him. The crows are gathered thick on the branches, and then suddenly they all go perfectly silent as a White Walker makes its way through the woods towards them. Gillie gasps that it’s come for the baby. Sam holds his sword with both hands, warning it to stay back, but the WW grabs the blade with one hand and shatters it before sending Sam flying. It advances on Gillie, and Sam grabs the only other weapon he has: that shard of obsidian (or dragon glass, in this world) that he found north of the Wall. He desperately plunges it into the WW, which shatters just like the sword did. Well, that’s good to know. Sam grabs Gillie (but doesn’t think to take the dragon glass with him) and they run off into the night, accompanied by all the crows.