Previously on Game of Thrones: Sansa was married off to Ramsay, and it was awful; Stannis marched on Winterfell; and Cersei armed some zealots and used them against the Tyrells.
Let’s start with Jon getting ready to ride off to collect the Wildlings and bring them South of the Wall. Tormund is brought out to accompany him and there are some long, hard looks sent his way by Olly and other men of the Night’s Watch. Jon goes over to Allister, to tell him he’s officially in charge while Jon’s away. Alliser tells him he thinks this is a terrible idea and Jon pretty much shrugs and says, ‘noted,’ before getting a much warmer send-off (as well as some dragonglass) from Sam. Just in case. Aww.
Gillie takes Little Sam to see Aemon, who’s now so weak he’s bedridden. He delights in the child and says he laughs like Aemon’s little brother, Aegon, did when he was tiny. Back then, Aemon called him Egg. He warns Gillie to take the child south before it’s too late.
You know who it might be too late for? Sansa. She’s now being kept locked in her room, covered in bruises, her only contact with the outside world her food deliveries from Reek. As he brings her something to eat, she stops crying and gets up from the bed long enough to beg him to help her. He just tells her to do what Ramsay says or he’ll hurt her.
Sansa: Will you look at the state of me? That ship has sailed!
Reek: It can get worse. Believe me.
She pleads with him to light a candle at the top of the broken tower, and she tries to pull him back to humanity by reminding him that his name is Theon Greyjoy, not Reek. He takes the candle she offers…and goes right to Ramsay with it. Sigh.
Meanwhile, Brienne stands outside Winterfell’s walls in the snow, staring at the broken tower.
Aemon’s singsongingly calling for Egg, saying that mother’s looking for him. Gillie quietly urges Sam to get some sleep, because he’ll be giving a eulogy in the morning. Sam insists on staying, because Aemon’s always been kind to him and he can’t just leave him now. Aemon calls for Egg again and says he dreamed that he was old. Sam holds the old man’s hand as he dies.
And he does, indeed, give a eulogy the next day, and it’s a nice one, before lighting the funeral pyre. The remaining brothers of the Night’s Watch have gathered, and several of them take turns lighting parts of the pyre. Alliser decides this is the time to be an asshole and whispers to Sam that he’s losing all his friends. And Dany’s just lost her last living relative, that we know of.
[cryout-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”33%”]Sansa may cry in her room, but Ramsay won’t see her scared.[/cryout-pullquote]Ramsay sends for Sansa, greeting her with a kiss on the cheek and taking her on a stroll around the castle grounds. As she passes a barrel, she grabs something lying on top of it—a knife? A cross of some kind? Ramsay doesn’t notice, focusing instead on telling her that Stannis is marching on Winterfell, but he’s not concerned, because the weather has turned and it’s snowing now and the northern men are more accustomed to fighting in the snow than Stannis’s army. He continues that someday he’ll be lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North. Sansa reminds him of his incoming sibling, and wonders what’ll happen if it’s a boy, since Ramsay, a bastard, was only un-bastardised by Tommen, who is, himself, a bastard. That’s pretty ballsy of her. I really have to commend her for not being cowed right now, considering what this man’s done to her. She may cry and shake in her room, in front of Reek, but Ramsay won’t see her scared.
Ramsay points out that bastards can rise high: just look at Jon, now Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. That’s news to her.
But Ramsay hasn’t sent for her to have a nice chat: he has something to show her. He’s gone and flayed the old woman who was waiting on her and who passed along Brienne’s message. Sansa is sickened and horrified by the sight of the poor woman, and Reek, hanging around nearby, looks ashamed. Still, she manages to hold back her tears (barely) as Reek takes her back to her room.
At Stannis’s camp, things are not going very well. Davos reports that all their supplies are running low, everyone’s cold and miserable, their horses are dying by the dozen, and they’ve lost 500 sellswords. Davos suggests heading back to Castle Black to wait out the storm, but Stannis won’t be the man who retreats again and again. Also, we already know that Castle Black can’t keep and supply all these people for any length of time, so that’s not really a viable option anyway.
Davos leaves and Stannis starts to express some doubt in Melisandre’s visions of victory. She reassures him that their time has come, that she’s seen herself walking along the ramparts of Winterfell, amongst downed flayed man banners. But that victory will come at a price: they need to let some kingsblood flow, just as they did with Gendry, to bring down Joffrey and Robb Stark (hey, what ever happened to Gendry, anyway? If I recall correctly Davos let him go, but then what? Will he ever show back up again, or is he done? Seems like a rather abrupt departure.) Stannis reminds her that Gendry is gone and she reminds him that they have someone else—someone better. Stannis’s daughter. He can’t stomach the idea of sacrificing her to buy himself a throne. Would she really have to die? Gendry only had to lose a bit of blood, right? I guess you keep needing more and more, because it seems like Melisandre’s suggesting a full sacrifice, and Stannis won’t even consider it. He shortly tells her to get lost.
Gillie’s at work in the kitchen when two guys from the Watch come in and start harassing her. As we viewers gird ourselves for the weekly rape scene, Sam comes in and demands they leave her alone. The others mock him for being weak, but Sam won’t step down. So, they start beating him savagely, clearly intending to beat him to death, even as Gillie screams. Sam, not one to back down when it comes to Gillie, keeps trying to get up and defend her, but this is clearly a losing battle. Fortunately, Jon’s left Ghost behind, and in the direwolf comes, snarling, and that’s all it takes to send those two assholes running. Gillie rushes over to Sam, who says he’s fine, and then passes out.
Gillie puts him to bed, treats his wounds, and tells him to just leave well enough alone the next time he comes across two thugs attempting to molest her. He scoffs at the very idea of just abandoning her, and he does it really sweetly. Gillie thinks about that, and probably thinks about everything else he’s done for her and just how great Sam is, and helps herself to his virginity. I doubt he’ll miss it. Also, those chastity vows aren’t worth the wind they’re spoken on, are they?
Jorah and Tyrion are taken to a slave auction, where Jorah is easily sold off for a pretty good price (20 gold honours). As he’s led away, Tyrion jumps forward and insists Jorah’s new owner buy him as well, since they’re a team. Everyone laughs at his claim that he, too, is a great fighter, so Tyrion uses his chains to yank one of the guards down and beats him, no doubt fuelled by a significant amount of pent-up anger and frustration. Jorah’s owner hands over some more coins and takes Tyrion as well. Tyrion then makes the mistake of trying to barter with his new owner and just gets a smack in the face.
[cryout-pullquote align=”left” textalign=”left” width=”33%”] ‘I’m a queen, not a butcher,’ Dany says. ‘All rulers are either butchers or meat,’ Daario replies. True.[/cryout-pullquote]Dany’s marriage apparently hasn’t put a stop to her affair with Daario, and when he asks about that, she explains that her marriage is purely political. She needs the city on her side, before her enemies come knocking. Daario suggests she put Hizdhar aside and marry him instead. She tells him she’s not at liberty to do that and he says she’s the only person in Meereen who’s not free. That puts a bit of a damper on the mood. He suggests that, on the day of the great games, she gather all the masters together and slaughter them en masse. ‘I’m a queen, not a butcher,’ she says. ‘All rulers are either butchers or meat,’ he replies. True.
Oleanna goes to the Sept and finds High Sparrow there, scrubbing some stairs. She immediately accuses him of doing Cersei’s dirty work for her and he shrugs that people always have to do dirty work. She says she’s there for her grandson and granddaughter and he reminds her that they broke the law and we all must answer to the law. She offers him whatever he wants and he tells her he has no ulterior motives, the gods demand justice and he’s there to serve the gods. Oleanna informs him that the Tyrells are ready to stop sending their food to the city, and when everyone starts starving she’ll make sure they know who’s to blame. He chuckles and says that the Tyrells are so far removed from the lives of the common people that they don’t even realize they’re very much in the minority, and when the majority stops fearing the minority, well…
On her way out, Oleanna’s handed a message with Littlefinger’s seal on it.
At the Red Keep, Cersei urges her son to eat. Tommen instead shrieks about the fact that his wife’s in prison and he’s powerless to help her. She takes his hands and tells him that everyone eventually faces circumstances beyond their control, and he can’t blame himself for what’s happened. He suggests calling in the army and taking back the sept and killing every last sparrow but she quietly points out that such a move would be seriously dangerous. He whimpers that he loves Margaery, and he can’t help her. Cersei offers to speak to the High Sparrow on his behalf and try to help Margaery and Loras, because all she wants is for her son to be happy and safe. She embraces him, telling him that he and his sister are the only thing that matter to her anymore. And she clearly means it too. As Tyrion once said, she genuinely loves her children.
Myrcella is brought to see Jaime and asks him what the hell he’s doing there. He explains that Dorne is too dangerous for her and he’s there to take her home. She protests that this has been her home for years (years? Really? How long has it been since she left King’s Landing? It couldn’t have been that long, unless time in this world acts in seriously bizarre ways). She insists that she loves Trystane and she’s going to marry him and stay right where she is.
Bronn’s been locked up in a cell across from the Sand Snakes. He’s singing a bawdy song (Jerome Flynn has a great voice, by the way). Ellaria’s daughter, Tyene, asks how his arm is (it was slashed in the fight) and he says it’s doing fine, but he’s happy to convalesce for a while, since Dornish women are the most beautiful in the world. Not the Sand Snakes, though. Tyene starts taunting him, baring her breasts and trying to get him to tell her she’s the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen. He’s distracted by the magic of bewbs and she asks again about his arm, and then about his head, a she opens her tunic. He starts to get all woozy and struggles to stay upright, then slumps to the floor. Tyene gleefully tells him that her dagger was coated with a poison that works very slowly. Fortunately, she has the antidote, and she’ll give it to him, if he tells her how hot she is. He does, and she tosses it to him. He takes it quickly, thankfully, because I’m definitely not ready to say goodbye to Bronn yet. ‘I think you’re very handsome as well,’ she cheerfully tells him. Heh.
Littlefinger has summoned Oleanna to the wreckage of his former brothel, apologizing insincerely for the locale. She tells him he’s not sorry at all, because she doesn’t deal in bullshit, this woman. He wants to discuss the future of House Tyrell, which he should be rather interested in, since he’s very closely tied to Oleanna, having helped her bring a king down and all. She warns him not to try anything funny with her, like he doesn’t know better. He says that Cersei summoned him back to King’s Landing and he had to play along, but he has other information of which she is unaware, and he’s willing to share it with Oleanna. He offers the old lady a gift—the same kind he offered Cersei: a handsome young man. I knew this was coming sooner or later.
Jorah and the other slaves get ready to enter one of the minor fighting pits. If they survive this, they’ll move up to the main pit and fight in front of the queen. The master selects some slaves to fight, and neither Jorah nor Tyrion are amongst them. I thought only free men were supposed to fight in the pits? Was there no mechanism put in place to ensure that? Poor form, Dany, way to half-ass this.
Oh, what do you know, Dany’s decided to swing by this pit with her fiancé (husband? I’m not entirely clear on whether they’re married yet or not). He explains that it’s the custom for the rulers of Meereen to make the rounds of the minor fighting pits. She’s like, ‘whatevs, let’s get this over with.’ The fighters come out and the master is astonished and delighted to see Dany and Hizdhar (who is, apparently, her fiancé). He coaches the men in a phrase: ‘we fight and die for you, our glorious queen,’ which they say before commencing the slaughter. Jorah hears them and runs to a window, through which he can see Dany. Dany is not enjoying the melee, but the Meereenese are. Dany tries to leave, but Hizdhar tells her that it’s tradition for the ruler to stay until a victor has emerged. She’s still ready to split, but then Jorah gets tired of waiting and goes out there to start kicking ass. He just renders everyone unconscious instead of killing them, as the others had done and Dany stops to watch the show. Back in the cells, Tyrion manages to get his hands on a file or something and gets to work on his chains. Some much larger fighter sees what he’s doing and cuts through the chains with the scimitar he’s holding.
Out in the pit, Jorah has emerged triumphant. He removes his helmet, revealing himself to Dany, who orders him removed from her sight. He begs for a moment of her time, shouting that he’s brought her a gift. Tyrion comes rushing out and offers himself, introducing himself and explaining that he’s the gift.
Cersei goes to visit Margaery in the horrible, miserable cell she’s been locked in. Cersei insincerely declares this completely unacceptable and offers Margarey some of her leftovers from the night before. She lies that they did everything they could for her, that Tommen even went to the High Sparrow himself, but nothing could be done. Margaery, no idiot, rasps that she knows Cersei was behind this and that everything she says is a lie. She also sucks at being decent or genuinely concerned, and maybe that’s why Tommen was so eager to glom onto another woman? Cersei condescendingly offers to visit when Margaery has calmed down, but Margarey says she doesn’t want to see Cersei again. Cersei airily says she has to be going, because her son needs her now more than ever. Margaery throws the stew at her and shouts for her to get out. Cersei smirks and leaves.
She’s taken to a rather plain chapel under the sept where the High Sparrow is waiting. He asks if she’s seen Margaery and tells her that the Tyrell siblings will soon be brought to trial, with himself as one of the seven judges. Cersei, clearly still thinking this man is her creature, looks pleased and asks what happens if one of them confesses before the trial. Well, then they’re shown some sort of mercy. Cersei thanks him for bringing them to justice. He starts to tell her about the chapel, which is one of the oldest structures in King’s Landing. He points out that the people who built it didn’t leave their names on it, because they didn’t do it for vanity’s sake. Their faith was clean. If you strip away all the gilding and fripperies, this is what remains: something simple, solid, and true. He then wonders what they will see when Cersei’s finery is stripped away. Her smile freezes.
[cryout-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”33%”]People have been saying that Cersei’s blinded by a lust for power, but I think she’s just aggressively stupid[/cryout-pullquote]High Sparrow goes on to say that a young man came to them some time ago, needing so much stripped away, and he gradually unburdened himself and now his soul is so light. But he has a lot to say about Cersei. Lancel suddenly materializes behind High Sparrow and Cersei loses the smile, then turns to leave, only to find her way blocked by a septa. Cersei orders her to move, but the woman wrestles out of her room, even as Cersei screams that she’s the queen and they’re to let her go. Oh, karma’s a bitch, isn’t it? She’s tossed into a cell and she tells the septas that her face will be the last thing they see before they die. They don’t seem to care.
Ha ha. Yeah, I’m pretty gleeful about this, because I knew it was coming and feel like Cersei deserved it. Also, I really don’t care in the least about Cersei or what happens to her. She’s a boring character to me. Most of the others have shown some kind of character growth, but not her, she’s just as bitchy, petty, small-minded, and moronic as she was at the beginning of the show. And while people have been saying that she’s blinded by a lust for power, and that’s why she makes all these poor decisions, I don’t feel like that’s it: I think she’s just aggressively stupid and unbelievably incapable of anticipating even the most obvious outcomes of her actions. She had Robert killed, which allowed Joffrey to run amok. She (probably) sent someone to kill Bran and kicked off a frigging war. She mistreated Barristan Selmy and sent him running to Dany’s side. She set the sparrows to cleansing King’s Landing of sin, despite the fact that she knew her former lover/accomplice in Robert’s death was one of them and would almost certainly eventually turn on her. How could she not see any of that coming? What an idiot. I look forward to her penance (though, really, considering all the treason she’s committed, she should just be beheaded immediately).