Game of Thrones Recap: A Long Shadow

Previously on Game of Thrones: Lots and lots of sex. Tyrion made Bronn the new commander of the watch at King’s Landing, Theon didn’t get the homecoming he was hoping for, and Jon might have let his curiosity go a bit too far.

Thank God, no new locales in the credits. I’m having trouble keeping everything straight as it is.

Jon gets bundled into Crestor’s hut by Crestor himself, who tells Mormont he wants all the Night’s Watch men gone immediately. Mormont sends Jon out, and a little while later he joins him and demands to know what he did. Jon tells him about following Crestor into the woods and how Crestor’s killing the baby boys. Well, yeah, obviously, Jon. Where did you think the boys were going? Mormont knows all about it and says the boys are sacrifices to the Wildlings’ gods. He doesn’t like it, but they need men like Crestor on their side. Jon apologizes and mentions seeing something pick up the baby. Mormont says he’s pretty sure he’ll see that thing again and adds that they’ll be leaving at dawn.

Daybreak. Sam loads up the sledge and sees that young wife (Gillie?) come out to gather some wood. He gives her a gift of…a pencil? Something to do with sewing, according to him. It belonged to his mother, who used to let him read to her while she sewed, until his douchebag father found out and put a stop to it. He asks her to hold onto it until he comes back, and she takes it. Aww, poor Sam has an impossible crush.

Winterfell. Hodor’s dispatched to fetch Bran for his lessons, but when he gets to the kid’s room, he finds him staring down a direwolf standing on his chest. Later, Bran describes his recurrent dream in which he’s a direwolf to Luwin, who says this is just a dream. Bran thinks his dreams are different, because they tend to come true. Luwin reminds him that not all his dreams come true. He tucks Bran into bed and tells him magic doesn’t really exist anymore, though it might have done, once.

Renley’s watching a pair of knights go at it in some sort of exhibition show. He’s up on a dias and seated beside him is…Anne Boleyn? Seriously, it’s Natalie Dormer playing the woman, and she’s all half-exposed breasts and bloodlust. Renley, meanwhile, is quiet and wearing his own version of the king’s rather cool-looking crown. Oh, Renley. Walking around all blinged out isn’t going to help improve your street cred. One knight overcomes the other, as Cate Stark arrives and watches, and when the victorious knight removes her helmet, she reveals she’s…a she. And her name’s Brienne, which is close enough to my own for me to get rather excited. Her sex is no surprise to Renley, who grants her request that she join his King’s Guard. Natalie, by the way, is his wife, apparently, and she seems to be the sister of Renley’s lover, the Knight of the Flowers. Her name’s Margery.

Cate’s brought forward and Margery expresses her condolences. Renley promises to make the Lannisters pay for what they’ve done to her and her family. The men cheer and the Knight of the Flowers looks pissy. He sniffs that Robb should come himself to beg for Renley’s help and Cate spits back that her son’s a bit busy running a war instead of playing at one.

Trailed by Brie, Renley and Cate walk through his encampment and he brags about how many men he has. Cate pities them, because she thinks all this fun won’t last. Wow, way to insult the guy you’re asking for help, Cate. Renley smiles tightly and tells Brie to show Cate to her tent. Cate commends Brie’s fighting skills and Brie says she fights for her king. And she’s not to be addressed as “Lady” because she isn’t one. Arya would LOVE this woman.

Theon returns to his father’s great room, where he’s found by his sister (Yara, not Kiara, sorry about that). He’s pissed at her for not telling him who she was and she laughs and says she wanted to see who he was first. And she sure did. Their dad arrives and goes right to a map and tells Yara and Theon that with Robb distracted in the south, the North is theirs for the plucking. Theon’s clearly a bit horrified by that, but he nonetheless volunteers to do something. His dad gives him one ship (to Yara’s 30) to raid some fishing villages. Theon argues that he’s a proven warrior but his dad doubts his loyalty to the Iron Islands. Theon keeps arguing that it’s much better to just ally themselves to the Starks, and furthermore, it’s not his fault he was sent away to live with the Starks. That pisses his dad off, and he slaps Theon so hard he sends him flying halfway across the room. Theon won’t back down, though, and shouts after him that he gave his last son away, and now he’s treating him like crap just because he came home. The old man stomps out and Yara scolds Theon and tells him to make his choice between his two families.

In Tyrion’s rooms, Shay is getting annoyed at being trapped in the room all the time. Tyrion tells her she won’t be stuck there all the time, he might be able to slip her into the kitchens and get her work as a scullery maid. She’s not happy about that, so he lays it out for her: his sister will exploit any weakness she sees in her brother, and his feelings for Shay are a weakness. She’s still not appeased, and she won’t take the crappy job in the kitchen.

The royal family, minus Joffrey but plus Sansa, are having dinner together. Joffrey’s sister Marcella asks when Sansa and Joffrey will be married and Cersei says it’ll be soon, when the war’s over. With some prodding from Cersei, Sansa says she can’t wait until the war’s over and she gets to marry the king. Joffrey’s brother quietly asks if Joffrey will kill Robb and Cersei says he might, and would he like that? Little brother’s not a psycho, somehow, and he says no. Cersei says that, whatever happens, Sansa will do her duty.

Later, Sansa’s in her room when Shay shows up to act as her new handmaiden. She clearly has no idea what to do, so Sansa lists a whole slew of unpleasant tasks and guesses that Shay has never been a handmaiden before. Shay tries to lie her way out of it, but Sansa knows better. She’s stressed out and snappish, which is understandable given the way she’s living, but Shay remains calm and Sansa finally chills a bit and asks her to brush her hair.

Tyrion goes to Pycelle for a fantasy version of Metamucil and to confide that he’s brokering a marriage between Princess Marcella and the House of Dorn. He says frequently that the queen mustn’t know. He then goes to Varys and tells him the same thing, except that he’s marrying Marcella to Theon. And then he goes to Petyr and tells him Marcella’s going to be married to crazy Lysa’s weirdo son. But since Lysa’s “not fond” of Tyrion (there’s an understatement) he wants Petyr to broker the match. In return, he’ll give him a whole bunch of really, really rich land. Petyr’s cool with that.

Renley and his handsome boytoy are getting hot and heavy in bed, and when Renley takes Flowers’s shirt off, he notices the bruises Flowers got fighting Brie earlier. Seeing them makes Flowers pissy again and he sulkily says it was embarrassing for her to be made a member of the King’s Guard. He’s so mad, he decides to withhold sex, urging Renley to go sleep with his wife, instead, since it’s about time she dropped a kid. Flowers takes off and fetches her.

Margery shows up, all boobs again, and Renley admires her and her gown, which is an excuse for her to take it off. She kisses him and he tries to get into it, but he’s doing a terrible job. He apparently can’t respond and blames the wine he drank. She tries to help him out but it’s no good. She asks if he wants her brother to come in and help. In this world, that suggestion doesn’t surprise me at all. She knows all about his relationship with Flowers and thinks they should just be honest with each other and do what they need to do to get this done. She reminds him their enemies are annoyed at their marriage and want to tear them apart, and the best way to keep that from happening is to get her pregnant.

Of course, someone talked to Cersei (Pycelle) and she’s pissed. Tyrion says it’s necessary to make peace and end this war her son started. Plus, it’ll keep her safe if the city ever falls. Cersei, knowing it’s useless to argue, shouts at him to get out and he obliges.

Theon tries to write a letter to Robb, telling him his father’s rejected the alliance offer, but then he burns it. Guess he’s made his choice, then.

On the beach, Greyjoy and Yara watch as Theon is blessed and baptized with salt water and, I suppose, washed of his Stark alliance. Guess he’s all Greyjoy now. Yara doesn’t look too thrilled at that.

Tyrion sits somewhere in the palace, looking pensive, until Petyr finds him. Petyr’s heard about the game Tyrion was playing with Cersei and he’s pissed. He tells Tyrion to leave him out of his next plot and Tyrion says that’d be a shame, since Petyr was pretty important in the next one, which involves Petyr somehow getting Cate to release Jaime. Bronn arrives while they’re discussing it and apparently he’s just returned from a person-finding mission. A successful one. That mission was finding Pycelle, which doesn’t seem like it should be so hard—he lives in the palace, after all. Tyrion joins Bronn as Bronn busts down the door, surprising Pycelle with a girl. Tyrion scolds him for tattling to the queen and carelessly tells Bronn to castrate the guy. Pycelle freaks and is only too happy to start talking. Tyrion asks him how long he’s been spying for his sister. Pycelle insists he’s only loyal to Tywin. Tyrion has the man’s beard cut off and asks how many Hands he’s betrayed. Pycelle keeps insisting he’s only ever been on the Lannisters’ side, and Tyrion has him tossed in one of the Black Cells. That sounds terribly unpleasant. As he’s dragged away, Tyrion gives the girl a coin for her trouble, then adds an extra coin on top of it. Heh.

Varys sits down for a drink with Tyrion and tells him that Shay’s doing well with Sansa and this last gambit was rather clever of him. He is a bit worried about the rapidly shrinking Small Council, though. Tyrion says he’s just getting rid of people who have betrayed Hands in the past. Varys presents a riddle that serves to explain how power works: it exists where men believe it exists. It’s a mere shadow on the wall, and even a small man can cast a very long shadow.

While the others sleep, Arya cleans and sharpens her sword. She’s joined by Yoren, who tells her she should be sleeping, because they have a long march ahead. She says she can’t sleep, so he offers her booze. She doesn’t like the flavor, and he smiles and tells her that’s not why you drink it. She asks how he can sleep, after all the awful things he’s seen. He realizes she’s talking about seeing her father’s execution, which she didn’t actually see, but she saw enough to have some nightmares. He tells her that, when he was about her age, he saw his brother killed on their front doorstep and the murderer got away. He doesn’t really remember what his brother looked like, but he clearly remembers what the murderer looked like, and he thought about him often. And one day, that murderer came riding back into town and Yoren killed him pretty thoroughly, then took the guy’s horse and rode to the Wall. “That’ll help you sleep, eh?” he chuckles.

Further bedtime stories are put on hold when they both hear the sound of men shouting and far-off horns blowing. He shouts for everyone to wake up but quietly tells Arya and Gendry to hide. The ruffians run out and Yoren confronts the lead rider, who says he’s there on behalf of Tyrion and orders him to drop his weapon. Naturally, Yoren refuses to do so, so the lead rider orders him killed. One of the soldiers shoots Yoren in the chest with a crossbow, and he reels, then says he hates how long it takes ot load crossbows, and starts swinging his sword. Damn, that’s pretty badass. Arya always manages to find the toughest guys to protect her, doesn’t she? Eventually, he’s overcome, and a fight breaks out between all the lost boys and the soldiers. In the melee, a fire breaks out near the cart holding those really dangerous prisoners, and the polite one begs Arya to help them. She grabs a nearby axe and hands it to him through the bars. Gendry, meanwhile, proves to be one hell of a fighter. Arya comes running around a corner and is punched to the ground by one of the soldiers, who takes her sword and taunts her. The leader tells the others to round up the survivors and they’ll take them to Harron (??) Hall. That one blonde kid that had a few lines last week is wounded in the leg and tells the soldier who caught Arya that he can’t walk, they’ll have to carry him. What a moron. Instead, the guy stabs him through the throat with Arya’s sword. The leader announces they’re looking for Gendry and orders the others to give him up. To their credit, they don’t. Arya finally speaks up and tells them that the blonde kid was Gendry. Conveniently, he happened to be right next to Gendry’s signature bull-shaped helmet. Well played, Arya. Of course, at some point this story’s probably going to fall apart, because surely someone knows that Gendry has dark hair and is several years older than the dead kid is, but they’ll have time to formulate another plan by then, right?

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