Previously on Game of Thrones: Petyr dumped Sansa at Winterfell so she could marry Ramsay Bolton, Jorah snatched Tyrion so he could take him to Dany, and the Sons of the Harpy ambushed Barristan and Grey Worm.
Hey, Grey Worm’s alive! Yay! He’s unconscious, being tended by Missy. Barristan, on the other hand, is quite dead, lying in state in Dany’s throne room. She looks down at him sadly and tenderly as Hizdhar comes in and gives his condolences. Dany angrily says this man was a loyal friend who was butchered by cowards. Daario lays out his plan to start combing the city street by street, until all the Sons have been flushed out but Dany’s in more of a hurry and also eager to prove that she can be a ‘leader’ in the Joffrey mode and orders all the leaders of Meereen’s great families be rounded up. Hizdhar is like, ‘uh, I’m the leader of a great family.’ That’s right, and here are some guards to take you away! He protests as he’s dragged off that he had nothing to do with this. I think Dany needs to go have a refresher on the notion of ‘justice’.
The men are brought to the dungeons where the dragons are chained up and Dany has them marched closer to where the dragons are stashed. Damn, Dany, this is pretty messed up. She tells the men that the dragons’ll go ahead and eat them, in case they hoped the creatures had gone vegetarian or something. She continues that she’s told that she should give up on her children, but a good mother never does that, she just disciplines them. One man is thrown further forward, and after a moment, one of the dragons comes out, immolates him, and starts to eat him. Dany watches, impassive. She muses whether to let the men live or die, or maybe she’ll just let the dragons decide. As she says that, she starts creepily stroking Hizdhar’s shoulder, like she’s not sure whether to execute him or do him right then and there. He remains brave in the face of this craziness and just says that all men must die. Dany’s like, ‘eh, don’t want to give the kids too many snacks right before bed. You all get a 24-hour reprieve.’ The men are taken away. The dragons continue to enjoy their barbeque. Well, clearly the Targaryan insanity hasn’t completely skipped this generation, then.
Up at the Wall, Sam reads aloud a bulletin on the Dany situation to Maester Aemon whom, you’ll recall, is a Targaryan. Aemon frets about her being alone and under siege, with her only relation far away and useless.
Jon comes in and asks for a word alone with Aemon, so Sam makes himself scarce. Jon politely asks how Aemon’s doing before asking his advice on an order he’s about to give that’ll make most of the Night’s Watch hate him. Aemon points out that most of the men already hate him, so he might as well go ahead and do what needs to be done. He urges Jon to grow up, because winter is coming and winter is no time for children.
[cryout-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”33%”]Well, clearly the Targaryan insanity hasn’t completely skipped this generation[/cryout-pullquote]
Jon summons Tormund and offers to set him free if he’ll persuade the Free Folk to join with the Night’s Watch in fighting off the White Walkers. He admits that the Night’s Watch has been ignoring the Free Folk too long, leaving them to fend for themselves. Tormund tells him his life will be worth nothing if he asks them to do this but Jon reminds him that he’s condemning his people to a fate worse than death because he’s too proud or cowardly to make peace here. Tormund stands and says it’s easy to call a chained man a coward, so Jon undoes the chains. He tells Tormund that his people need a leader and they need to get south of the Wall soon, before the White Walkers come. The Walkers will hit the Free Folk first, and it’ll be bad. He urges Tormund to make peace to save his people and Tormund seems to seriously consider it. He tells Jon where most of the Free Folk are and Jon offers him men and ships to get Tormund to them as quickly as possible. Tormund tells Jon that he’ll have to come along to sell this idea, to reassure the people that they aren’t being led into a trap.
Jon gathers the Night’s Watch to tell them what he’s planning, and it doesn’t go over very well at all. One of the men points out that a Wildling apocalypse will mean less enemies for them to fight. ‘Fewer,’ Stannis grumbles from the back. A man after my own heart. Sam points out that there’s farmland going begging and having some Wildlings to make it productive wouldn’t be a bad thing. The others shout him down and Alliser reminds them that the Wildlings have slaughtered villagers and brothers of the Watch.
Jon: Jesus, WHAT PART OF ZOMBIE ARMY DO YOU PEOPLE NOT UNDERSTAND?
Still no. Jon returns to his rooms and gets a nice helping of sullen attitude from little Olly. He asks the kid what he wants to say to him and Olly reminds him that the Wildlings cut his parents down right in front of him, along with everyone else he ever knew, so he really can’t get behind this notion of making peace with them. Jon totally understands the kid’s bitterness but also understands the notion of the greater good. He tells Olly that they can’t face this threat alone. I think it’s going to take time for Olly to get behind this.
Brienne and Pod are holed up at an inn within distant sight of Winterfell. Pod brightsides that Sansa’s far from the Lannisters and back home, so maybe she’s better off now?
Brienne: With the Boltons? Are you high? Didn’t you hear about what they did at the Red Wedding? Pod, use your brain!
The innkeeper comes in with dinner or something and Brienne asks if he knew Lord Eddard. He did. She tells the man she knows Sansa is at Winterfell and that she needs to get her a message. He suspiciously asks who she is and Brienne tells him that she swore to keep Sansa safe.
Ramsay’s psycho girlfriend is sulking by the window in his bedroom, naked, presumably post-sex. She’s all pouty because Ramsay’s going to marry Sansa, even though once upon a time he promised to marry her. He claims he totally meant to marry her, but now he’s been de-bastardized and things are different. I’m extremely distracted by how alarmingly thin that girl is. Her hip bones are jutting out so sharply she could probably cut paper with them. I feel the strangest urge to force feed her about a dozen burgers.
Ramsay rolls his eyes and walks over to her and promises he’ll still have plenty of time for her. She spitefully suggests she might marry as well. He sniffs that she’s the kennel master’s daughter, so who’s she going to marry? A stablehand? He tells her that she’s his and she’s not going anywhere, unless she fails to shape up, because right now she’s boring him, and remember what happens to people who bore him? She kisses him, biting his lip hard enough to make him bleed, which, of course, he finds a turn on. They get back to having some rough sex.
Sansa broods in her room until a serving woman comes by to refill the washbasin and deliver Bree’s message: if she’s ever in trouble, she’s to put a light in the top of the broken tower. The one Bran fell out of? That’s kind of cruel, Bree.
Sansa walks over to the tower and stands looking up at it. She’s joined by Ramsay’s girlfriend, Myranda. This can’t go well. Myranda pretends to be all girlfriend-y with Sansa, complimenting her dress and telling her how sorry she was for what happened to Catelyn. She then offers to show Sansa a little surprise.
She takes Sansa to the kennels, which look like dungeons—what the hell kind of dogs did they keep at Winterfell? She directs Sansa to the cage down at the end. Now, I think most people would take one look at the crazy snarling dogs and get the hell out of there, but Sansa’s never been great when it comes to self-preservation, so in she goes, all the way to the end, where she finds Reek curled up on the floor. He startles awake and she suddenly recognizes him. When she breathes his name he shakes his head and tells her she shouldn’t be there. Sansa evidently agrees and hurries out.
That evening, Reek helps Ramsay dress for dinner. Ramsay asks what’s bothering him and Reek admits that Sansa saw him. Ramsay tells him not to keep secrets and orders him down on his knees. As we all start wondering what part of Reek he’s going to cut off next, he takes the poor creature’s hand…and forgives him.
Family dinnertime! Ramsay pours wine for Sansa and for his stepmother, Walda, before proposing a toast to his and Sansa’s wedding. Sansa just puts her goblet aside. Walda tries to make some inroads with her, saying it must be hard for her, being in a strange place. Sansa points out that this is her home, it’s the people who are strange. And how. Ramsay smiles and agrees and calls for Reek to bring more wine. Sansa looks away from him. Ramsay says he likes to imagine that the last time Reek and Sansa spoke it was in that very room and asks if Sansa’s still upset with Reek for having killed her brothers. He promises he’s punished him for that and he’s a new man, right? Well, kinda. Reek agrees. Sansa asks why he’s doing this and Ramsay calls Reek forward and makes him apologise to Sansa for killing her brothers. She has no patience for this awful performance. Ramsay’s like, ‘Excellent! That relieved some tension, amirite?’ He then muses that Reek’s the closest to living kin Sansa has left, so he really should give away the bride at her wedding. Jesus.
Roose breaks in to announce that he and Walda are expecting a baby, and the maester is sure, from the way she’s carrying, that it’s a boy. That’s a total old wives tale, the whole ‘carrying like a boy/girl’ thing. Sansa shoots an awesome smug little smile Ramsay’s way.
Later, Ramsay pouts a bit about this incoming sibling and wonders how his father could have managed it, because Walda’s so fat (and clearly Ramsay likes ’em thin almost to the brink of emaciation). Roose tells him that he disgraced himself at dinner. Ramsay ignores that and asks what’ll happen to him when this baby comes along. Roose decides to regale him with a charming family tale about Ramsay’s mother. She was the wife of a miller, and they married without Roose’s consent, so he had the miller hanged and raped the woman underneath the swinging body of her husband. She had the nerve to fight him and he sniffs that she was lucky he didn’t hang her too. She probably wishes you had. A year later she showed up on his doorstep with a baby, insisting it was his. He nearly had her whipped, but then looked at the kid and knew instantly it was his. I guess crazy shows early.
[cryout-pullquote align=”left” textalign=”left” width=”33%”]Roose looked at the kid and knew instantly it was his. I guess crazy shows early.[/cryout-pullquote]Roose tells Ramsay that Stannis will be marching on them soon, and he and Ramsay will have to work together to defeat him. Ramsay is so ready for that.
Gillie peruses the books and scrolls in the Castle Black library while Sam reads. He tells her that the Citadel has the largest library, because that’s where they train the Maesters. He wanted to be one, once, but he was sent to the Night’s Watch instead. But it all worked out, because otherwise he’d have never met her. Aww. Stannis comes in and Gillie immediately leaves. Stannis talks about Sam’s dad, who defeated Robert in battle, the only battle Robert ever lost. He notes that Sam doesn’t look like a soldier, but he killed a White Walker. Sam says he just used a piece of obsidian. He has no idea why that worked, but he’s looking for answers. Sam tells Stannis he’s seen the army of White Walkers, and they need to know how to defeat them. Stannis agrees and tells him to get back to his studies.
Downstairs, Stannis tells Davos it’s time for them to march south. Davos urges him to wait until the Wildlings arrive, in the hopes of swelling their army, but Stannis informs him that every day they wait the odds shift in Bolton’s favour, so they need to act now. Davos suggests leaving Selyse and Shireen at Castle Black.
Stannis: You realize the Night’s Watch is roughly half rapists and murderers, right? I think we’ll take them with us.
Stannis’s army gets ready to head out the next morning. Shireen’s looking forward to exploring the crypt at Winterfell. Davos tells her they need to take this one step at a time, and win the battle first. Selyse snaps at him to stop talking about battles, because he’ll scare the child. Shireen reassures him she’s not scared. He says that he is, and when the battle comes, he hopes she’ll protect him.
Stannis is lending Jon his ships for this trip to the Wildlings. Jon promises he’ll get them back soon and wishes him a safe journey. Stannis mounts up, riding beside Melisandre, who gives Jon a knowing smile before they move out. We get a nice shot of Stannis’s massive army snaking up the road. Wow, where did they house all those people at Castle Black? The encampment must have been huge. No wonder Jon was eager for them to leave. Sanitary arrangements alone must have been a nightmare.
Grey Worm comes to at last and learns he’s been out for three days. He asks after Barristan and Missy sadly shakes her head. Grey worm says he failed the man and the others and Dany and turns away in misery. Missy reassures him he fought bravely despite having been ambushed and outnumbered. He tells her he’s ashamed because when he was stabbed he was afraid. Not of death, but of never seeing Missy again. Aww. She blinks back tears, then climbs into bed beside him, kissing him gently.
Later, Missy goes to act as Dany’s sounding board. Dany complains that if she gives all the men of the leading families what they deserve she’ll have no one left to rule. Uh, how about you not just assume that everyone is guilty, then Dany? Maybe try Daario’s method, which at least focuses on trying to flush out the people actually doing bad things, instead of just punishing whomever happens to be nearby? Dany says that Barristan counseled mercy, whereas Daario now thinks they should just kill everyone and let the city fall into complete anarchy. Yeah, that’s a good option. She wants to know what Missy thinks. After some hesitation, Missy says she’s seen Dany listen to council and lean on the experience of others, and sometimes totally ignore the council because there was another choice that only Dany could see.
Dany goes to see Hizdhar in his prison cell. He gets down on his knees and pleads for his life.
Dany: What about all men must die?
Hizdhar: Just because I’m aware of the idea doesn’t mean I want to move straight to the front of the line!
She acknowledges that it takes courage to admit fear, and mistakes. She’s come to tell him that she was wrong and he was right: she needs to acknowledge their traditions to bring the people of the city together. She plans to reopen the fighting pits to free men and marry herself to the leader of an ancient family. Congratulations, HIzdhar, you’re on deck!
Jorah and Tyrion sail through Valyria, which, from the sound of it, was basically the Pompeii of the Seven Kingdoms. The two men recite a poem about the destruction of the city as they float past the ruins, and then suddenly they spot Drogon flying overhead, flapping majestically. Tyrion stares, amazed.
Behind him, there’s a move, then a splash. A moment later, a creature drops into their boat, then another. Stone men, afflicted with the same disease that nearly killed Shireen. They swarm the boat as Mormont yells for Tyrion not to let them touch him. Tyrion begs for Mormont to cut the ropes binding his hands, but Mormont’s kind of busy fighting a few of them off. Tyrion is backed up against the edge of the boat by a stone man, then has no choice but to drop over the side. He struggles with his ropes under the water, and then a stone man comes from below and grabs his ankle, dragging him down, down, down…
Tyrion comes to on the shore, having been miraculously retrieved by Mormont. Mormont asks if any of them touched Tyrion (presumably touched exposed flesh). Tyrion shakes his head and comments that it would be kinder to just put a dagger in the hearts of these men than to send them off to this place to live like animals. He thanks Mormont for saving him, but points out that he wouldn’t need saving if he hadn’t been kidnapped to begin with. Jorah tells him they’ll have to continue on foot, but first he’ll gather wood for a fire so they can get some rest. As he turns away, he pulls back his sleeve and reveals the greyscale already starting on his wrist. Oh, poor Jorah!