Last week’s Game of Thrones had its odd moments, but that was nothing to the many bzuh?!-tinged scenes from yesterday’s episode. Co-starring a werewolf reference, an unlikely sex god, and the juxtaposition of carnage and indie rock. Game of Thrones, you are so strange sometimes. I love you.
This episode’s first scene, the funeral of Catelyn’s father, introduces us to two new characters: Catelyn’s brother Edmure, whose schtick is that he messes things up, and her uncle Brynden, aka the Blackfish, whose schtick is that he has zero tolerance for Edmure messing things up. Edmure screws up his father’s funeral (awkwaaaard) by failing in his attempts to light the pyre via flaming arrow. So the Blackfish steps in, aims, looses an arrow, hands the bow to Edmure, and walks away before the arrow even lands, because cool guys don’t look at explosions.
Then the Blackfish and Robb rake Edmure across the coals for ordering an attack on Gregor Clegane’s forces that, while technically successful, screwed with Robb’s long-term strategy of drawing Clegane out into a trap. Edmure would’ve known that, Robb explains, had he been patient and waited for Robb to get to Riverrun and explain things before rushing off in pursuit of his own glory.
I kind of feel bad for Edmure here. He’s like a kicked puppy. But then it’s also kind of funny how he becomes Westeros’ number one screwup like ten minutes after we meet him.
In King’s Landing Varys emerges from the shadows for the first time this season to take part in a small council meeting. Cersei carries her chair to her father’s right hand, so Tyrion, engaging in a power play of his own, drags his chair to sit across from Tywin. At this point I’m thinking “Huh. Psychological warfare via chairs. That might be most weirdly random thing to happen this episode.” (As a later scene involving Podrick Payne would prove, I was wrong.)
It’s brought up at the small council meeting that Littlefinger’s courting Lysa Aryn of the Vale (Catelyn’s mentally unhinged sister from season one who breastfed her six-year-old son—remember her?). Littlefinger says “She has always been… positively predisposed toward me. *leer*” because he is incapable of having a conversation without being skeezy. Since Littlefinger’s going out of town to schmooze with Lysa and hopefully bring her to the Lannister’s side, the small council will need a new Master of Coin. Tywin gives Tyrion the job, which Tyrion perceives as an insult.
Then we meet up with Brienne and Jaime, who’ve been captured by some of Roose Bolton’s men. Jaime tells Brienne that when they set up camp for the night she will be raped—because he’s the prisoner of value, not her. She shouldn’t fight or they’ll kill her. Instead, he says, why doesn’t she just close her eyes and pretend they’re Renly? Jaime, you little shhhhiii—moving on.
Elsewhere in the woods, Arya, Gendry, and Hot Pie are still guests (not prisoners, Thoros of Myr explains) of the Brotherhood Without Banners. We get an all-too-brief bit where Sandor and one of the Brothers, Anguy, debate swords vs arrows. Sandor says he likes to be close to men when he kills them, to which Anguy’s clever riposte is “Why, to kiss ’em?.” Chair battles, random gay jokes. This episode is weird.
Hot Pie elects to stay behind at the inn where the Brotherhood’s been staying. In a moment that left me cooing at my screen, he gives Arya a wolf-shaped loaf of bread and tells Gendry not to get stabbed. Gendry’s response is “Don’t burn your fingers baking bread.” Gendry, Gendry, Gendry. Hot Pie is a commoner in Westeros. If anyone’s going to get stabbed, it’s him.
Back in Riverrun Catelyn has an emotional scene with the Blackfish where she talks about how she used to wait for her father to come home from battle. She wonders how many times Bran and Rickon waited for her to come home before breaking down into tears. A+ on your acting, Michelle Fairley. Cat is certain Bran and Rickon are dead. Blackfish says that Robb still has hope, though, and that she has to remain strong for him.
Then we get a scene where Talisa is talking to the Lannister hostages—both children—captured at Edmure’s ill-advised battle. She confirms to them the rumors that Robb can turn into a wolf at night and eats men, but he won’t kill kids unless it’s a full moon. Our “that was weird” tally can add a werewolf reference, then.
Above the Wall, meanwhile, Mance, Jon, and the Wildlings have come across the site of the battle between the White Walkers and the Night’s Watch. The only corpses there belong to horses, placed in a nice spiral. (Are the White Walkers secret art fans? Did the remaining members of the Night’s Watch take time to arrange their dead horses just so before running away? I’m confused.) Mance tells Tormund Giantsbane to prepare to climb the Wall and, when Mance gives the signal (a huge fire), to attack Castle Black. Jon is to go with him, because he can tell them about Castle Black’s defenses. If he doesn’t attack, he’ll be killed.
What’s left of the Night’s Watch (one of whom is played by Burn Gorman, aka Owen from Torchwood, oddly enough) find themselves back at the home of Craster, the Wildling from last season who marries his daughters. He’s not too happy to see them and jokes that they should’ve just eaten Sam. Sam’s not as offended as he might’ve been, though, because he’s distracted by the sounds of his Wildling crush Gilly screaming her way through labor. He goes to see her and witnesses the miracle of childbirth. Too bad the baby’s a boy and will therefore be sacrificed to the White Walkers, just like Gilly feared he would be.
Then we’re back to Theon, who escapes with the help of that nice gentleman from last episode. A few scenes later Theon gets recaptured, and that same mystery servant shows up out of nowhere and kills his attackers.
Back at Dragonstone Melisandre is embarking on a journey—to where, she does not know, but the fire will tell her—and Stannis begs her to stay and make him another shadow baby to kill Joffrey or Robb. Stannis accuses her of abandoning him and comes across as really emotional and obsessed with Melisandre and weird. Melisandre explains that it would help Stannis’ cause to sacrifice of the blood of a king. When Stannis objects that he’s the only real king, thank you very much, and sacrificing himself so he can win the war is slightly counter-productive, the priestess notes that there are others who share his blood. I do not like where this is going. Nope. Nope nope nope.
After an episode-long absence we catch up with Daenerys, who’s arguing with Jorah and Ser Barristan about whether she should buy a slave army. Ser Barristan says no, because it’s not the noble thing to do; Ser Jorah says yes, because she needs an army and the Unsullied won’t run around committing atrocities like a normal army would. While strolling around Astapor they come across the Walk of Punishment, where disobedient slaves are crucified as a warning to other slaves. Dany tries to give water to one, but he refuses, instead begging for death. Even though Dany realizes the practicality of a slave army, it doesn’t sit well with her—she’s not going to accept slavery lightly.
Dany takes both men’s viewpoints into consideration and decides, screw it, she’ll take all eight thousand Unsullied and the ones still in training besides. Plot twist: To pay for them, she’ll give the slave master her largest dragon. She also takes the slavemaster’s interpreter, Missandei, because she’s Dany and she can. She chews out Jorah and Ser Barristan for questioning her judgment in front of strangers. You tell ’em, Dany. Queen coming through.
Tyrion’s getting various financial papers from Littlefinger, who, surprise surprise, keeps them in a brothel. To reward Podrick for saving his life at the Battle of Blackwater, Tyrion buys his blushing, adorable squire the services of not one, not two, but three prostitues in a scene that had me rolling my eyes and saying “Oh, Game of Thrones, this is so very you.”
Then we cut to Tyrion reviewing the paperwork and talking about how Littlefinger borrowed a ton of money from Tywin Lannister and the Iron Bank of Braavos, the latter of whom will fund their enemies if they don’t get repaid, which they probably won’t be, because the Iron Throne is broke, yadda yadda yadda. And that’s very important plot-wise, I know, but then the weirdest thing ever happens: Pod walks in and reveals that, yes, he did have his share of sexy fun times, but the women wouldn’t accept his payment because apparently he’s some kind of sex prodigy. To close out the scene, Tyrion and Bronn sit Pod down and demand details about his apparently magic penis.
I just. I can’t even with this scene. It’s like it was from a totally different show, and I can’t even be mad about it, because it was so odd it shot right past “this did not need to be here” and circled around to “this is essential to my continued mental wellbeing.”
After that lovely bit of WTFery, we’re back to horribleness: It’s night, Jaime and Brienne’s captors have made camp, and Brienne’s taken away by a group of men to be raped. She fights like hell, but she’s tied up and there are several of them. It’s not looking good until Jaime tells the lead captor, Locke, that Brienne’s father is super-rich (he isn’t) and will give him his weight in sapphires (he can’t) if his daughter is returned to him “unbesmirched.”
For a while things are looking up: Locke bought Jaime’s lie hook, line, and sinker, so Brienne’s saved from a horrible fate. Jaime tells Locke that there’s no way the North can win the war, so he should just accept all the money Jaime’s father can give him as a ransom and let him go free. Locke’s seems receptive—he invites Jaime to eat dinner with him, even!—until he turns nasty, accusing him of being a total Draco Malfoy who turns to his daddy every time he needs help. To prove that Jaime isn’t immune to the horror-show that is Westeros because he’s a Lannister, Locke CHOPS OFF HIS HAND.
Fade to black.
Jaunty pop music plays!
- The Brotherhood Without Banners singing The Bear and the Maiden Fair!
- Who else fistpumped at their screen when Jorah said “Rhaegar fought valiantly, Rhaegar fought nobly, Rhaegar died”? Yay for famous book lines!
- Theon [book spoiler] thinking Ramsay Bolton is his friendly rescuer really creeps me out, which is 100% appropriate to the book. I love it, even as it’s absolutely, completely horrible.
- I don’t like how they’re changing Stannis’ character from the more inwardly-focused, less-emotional person he was in the books. I get why Book!Stannis might not play well on screen, where each character only get a few minutes per episode, if that, and so each scene has to have maximum impact. I understand and respect the need to make changes from book to show. But Stannis my favorite character, darnit, and I don’t have to like it when it comes to him. *grits teeth*