Ugh, Bran: Really, we're starting the episode with Bran? Okay, I'll go with it. I know it's not Bran's fault that his plot lines have paled in comparison to others, and from the looks of things he's going through some mean puberty, so I'll be nice to Bran. Anyway, Bran was running through the forest so we instantly knew that this was oh, but a dream. He ran and ran and ran, until a three-eyed crow nearly bonked him in the face. He tried to shoot it, with the dream ghosts of Jon Snow and Robb giving him instructions (aww, be still my heart!) but missed. Then he heard the laughter of Theon Greyjoy, and the words of his father from the pilot episode: "And which one of you was a marksman at ten?" So long ago, it was.
And then, holy Liam Neeson, came another ghost: the ghost of the precocious kid from Love Actually, who hasn't aged a day since "All I Want for Christmas is You." "You can't kill it you know," the boy said. "Because the raven is you." Bran awoke, and thank the heavens, he was safe and sound with Rickon, Osha, and Hodor. "Hodor," said Hodor, with a keen sense of worry.
Osha was none too happy that Bran was having his black magic "wolf dreams" again, and didn't want to hear nothin' about no three-eyed raven. The Wall was far enough away, getting distracted by dreams and wishes would only hurt them. So — now we know they're headed to the Wall. Keep that in mind. Hope they packed long johns.
Later in the episode, Liam Neeson's son from Love, Actually appeared in the flesh: Ladies and gents, meet Jojen Reed, one half of the so-called "Frog-Eaters" from House Reed. Osha came after him with a big stick, but then Jojen's sister Meera surprised her with a dagger. "If you kill me, that wolf will tear you to bits," Osha snarled. Then Jojen approached Summer and made besties, so now we know that he's the "special one."
"We've come a long way to find you, Brandon," Jojen said. "Though we have much farther to go." The Reeds joined the gang, and Jojen explained to Bran that he was a warg, which is someone who can control the souls of animals. This explains the wolf dreams that Bran has been having since Season 1. Jojen explained that once Bran was "trained" he would be able to expand his abilities, and not only perform them in his sleep. He also confirmed that he had, in fact, been there for the three-eyed raven scene at the beginning of the episode.
The raven was what they were after, clearly. Jojen said the raven brings the "sight," or the ability to see the past, present, and future. I guess that's what each eye is for? Whatever it is, I'm sure that Bran is happy to have a mission of sorts after being practically useless for two full seasons. Viewers should be happy, too — he was getting tiring, in my book. Anyway, they're off to find the three-eyed raven! See you (maybe) next week.
Camp Stark: Robb was still moping over his situation and hopefully, if he's still a good son, his ill treatment of his mother. Talisa tried to perk him up with some "interesting" verbal foreplay, but Robb has gone full Ned now so you're not going to get too many smiles out of this one.
In came Lord Bolton, with good AND bad news, from Winterfell and Riverrun (his mother's home). The good? Not sure, but since I THINK the bad was that Catelyn's father had died at home in Riverrun (a huge departure from the books), I'm going to guess that it was the fact that Theon Greyjoy had been captured and there was no news on Bran and Rickon. No news is good news, says that saying that is typically wrong.
So, off they went to Riverrun, Catelyn Stark's childhood home. Lord Karstark, one of the Stark's main banner men, expressed his displeasure to Robb as they led the way. "You lost this war the day you married her," he said, referring to Talisa. (Again, if you remember, Robb Stark was promised to a daughter of Walder Frey, another influential, if grumpy, figure in Westeros.) "Brood brood, grump grump" Robb replied. He's boring now, but oh-so-handsome, so we forgive it.
Then Talisa and Catelyn sat down for a rest and some girl talk, as Catelyn was preparing some sort of jenky dream catcher that she had made in the past to watch over her children. She had done it twice successfully, she explained. Once for Bran after his fall, which we already knew. The other time? For Jon Snow! I'm surprised Catelyn even remembers his existence. let alone dwells on it. But Jon had come down with the pox as a child after Catelyn jealously prayed for his death (wow), so she, ravaged by guilt, stayed with him through a long night until he made it through. She'd even begged Ned to give him a real name — a Stark name — and told the gods she'd be a real mother to him if he made it.
Of course, as we saw long ago, she couldn't keep her promise. Michelle Fairley's acting was superb in this scene, as she explained to Talisa that every horror that befell her family came because she was unable to love a motherless child. It was powerful, it resonated, and it was another huge departure from book Catelyn Stark, who I don't believe (correct me if I'm wrong) though much about Jon at all after he left Winterfell.
50 Shades of Theon: Oh man. Oh man oh man oh man. This is the part that is going to be extremely divisive for book readers, since in George R. R. Martin's source material we spend books 3 and 4 thinking that Theon Greyjoy is dead. He is revealed in book 5 to be exactly where we see him now — in a dungeon being tortured. The reveal there is pretty excellent, but I'm not blaming Game of Thrones' writers for wanting to keep Theon in the game. Also, the s**t that happens to him is extremely messed up, so his journey should be an "interesting" one to behold. And after last season, I'm sure not many viewers will mind seeing him get his. A man stabbed him in the hand, and so it begun.
The men asked him repeatedly why he had taken Winterfell, but nothing that he said satiated them. They had him up, Jesus-like, on a tilted cross, and kept jamming his feet further into the wood with some Westerosi screws, or something. I honestly couldn't look, because it was disgusting.
Anyway, the important part came when a young man took off Theon's hood after the tormenters had left, promising to free him later in the night. He claimed that Yara had sent him, but we shall see. I don't like the smell of this. We all know Yara could give two s**ts less about Theon.
Jaimienne: Oh joy, I love these two! Jaime and Brienne wandered through a field on their way to King's Landing, and Jaime — who is still unbelievably handsome, no matter how hard they try to dirty him up — was, naturally, making the journey torturous for Brienne. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau's acting is so damned wonderful that I'm warning you, I don't think I'll ever be able to say one negative thing about Jaime in these recaps, ever. Watching him verbally spar with Brienne — who has the sense of humor of a Stark — is just comedy gold.
Anyway, Jaime was mad that they were having a "dull walk." If there's one thing Jaime hates, it's not being amused. But he's resourceful, so Jaime is typically able to enjoy the company of the funniest man he knows — himself. "No one enjoys the company of humorless mute," he said to Brienne, who remained unwavering. He bitched and bitched and pissed (literally) and taunted, trying as best he could to get a rise out of the large woman. My favorite line: "Do you think Lady Stark is going to want a giant, towheaded plank following her around for the rest of her life? A week's journey with you, and she'd order you to fall on your sword." Sick burn, braugh.
Then he made some digs at Renly, basically referring to the deceased king as a big, giant p***y — definitely unfit to rule (agreed). He immediately sensed Brienne's crush, then quipped that she was not Renly's type. Brienne, definitely, has NO gaydar. "His proclivities were the worst-kept secret at court," Jaime teased. "It's a shame the throne isn't made of cocks, they would have never got him off it." This FINALLY got Brienne going, and boy did Jaime love it.
Later, as the pair was crossing a bridge, Jaime finally got the better of Brienne, emerging free and engaging in a cute little sword fight. I don't think he actually wanted to kill her, but he certainly relished having that sword in his hand again. They fought and fought and fought, and he taunted, taunted taunted, until, ultimately… the two idiots were captured by "The Flayed Men of House Bolton" which is pretty much the worst family in Westeros to be captured by. They're known for torturing people by slowing cutting off pieces of their skin. So, way to go, you two. You could have just walked across the bridge, and none of this would have happened.
King's Landing: Joffrey Baratheon does not like flowers on his clothing. When we first met the Lannisters this week, Cersei was not-so-casually prodding Joffrey (who was getting fit for new threads) for information on Margaery. Joffrey likes her, which is not entirely good news for the Queen Regent. "Her concern for the well-being of the common people is interesting" Cersei said with disdain. Joffrey did not like his mother's digging. "This is becoming one of the most boring conversations I've ever had," he sneered.
So Cersei just got right into it: It was all an act. The love of the poor, the skimpy clothing, the marriage to Renly — Margaery was power-hungry, a trait that Cersei knew all too well. Joffrey scoffed at this. Margaery married Renly because she was told to do so, he claimed. "That's what intelligent women do: What they're told." Oh Joffrey, you so do not have the women's vote in the next election.
Meanwhile, Sansa was excited at the prospect of Littlefinger whisking her away from King's Landing. Shae, wisely, insisted that his intentions were not pure — he would surely want something from her in return. Something of the sexual variety. "If he does ask you for anything, or try anything, or touch you, I want you to tell me," she said. "I will make him stop." (Aside: Why is this show making us love Shae so much? No spoilers, but my fellow readers will understand that this is not the Shae of the novels. I like this Shae, and am intrigued to see what they do with her.)
But their girl time would have to wait: Loras Tyrell came a'knockin, inviting Sansa for a lunch with Margaery and their grandmother, Lady Oleanna, who will now and forever be referred to as the Queen of Thorns. She is one to watch out for folks. Oh, and before we get started, it must be said that — like Brienne — lady Sansa STILL has absolutely no gaydar. She swoons over Loras like he's in One Freaking Direction, or a pre-meltdown Bieber. It's absurd.
So Margaery and the Queen of Thorns were, wisely, only there to prod Sansa for information on Joffrey. We knew that the QoT was the HBIC when she starting ragging on Renly, and stated how ridiculous her family was for ever letting Margaery become married to him. Margaery expertly played the politician, but you know she's just as cunning as her outspoken grandmother. QoT told Sansa that she had wanted to avoid this whole throne mess all along, but, "Once the cow's been milked, there's no squirting the cream back up our udders, so here we are to see things through."
They presented Sansa with her favorite treat — lemon cakes — letting us know that the ladies had clearly done their research. "I want you to tell me the truth about this royal boy, this Joffrey," the Queen of Thorns said. "We've heard some troubling tales. Has this boy mistreated you?" Um, understatement. But Sansa was still afraid of Cersei, so she went into the same old BS about Joffrey being her lion and her one true king and blah, I'm over it. "Yes, all Lannisters are lions, and when a Tyrell farts it smells like a rose," the Queen of Thorns replied. Got, this woman is just oh-so-quotable.
The Tyrells weren't getting anything particularly juicy from Sansa, that poor little emotionally mutilated dove. But they could see it in her face, and when her father's name came up, she offered a nugget of the terrible truth: "Joffrey," she seethed. "Joffrey did that. He promised to be merciful, and he cut my father's head off. He said that was mercy. Then he took me up on the walls and made me look at it." There you have it.
"He's a monster," she continued, before begging that they keep her tattling quiet — she also made it clear that she did not want them to cancel the wedding. I mean, obviously. Margaery, again, is just a first-class politician — her face didn't flinch throughout the entire conversation. She knew her Grandma would make sure that no harm would come to her. If only the Starks had been this cunning, instead of just honorable all the time. Ugh, Starks.
Later, Margaery went to see Joffrey, who was sitting in his room with a crossbow. (Aside: You are not Daryl Dixon, Joffrey. Not by a long shot.) Joff was about to go hunting, and he wanted to see if his lady had everything she needed before he left. However, it seemed as though he had taken Cersei's warnings into consideration, because he grilled Margaery about her relationship with Renly. She said that she had tried to do her "duty" with Renly, but that she had failed. Joffrey didn't like this — no one had any duty with a traitor.
But Margaery, as always, saved herself: She gave a sweet speech, saying that the duty of any wife to any husband, traitor or no, was to give him a child. Feminism! She continued: "Renly… I don't believe was interested in the company of women." Didn't everyone in King's Landing already know this? Then, to bring her point home, she said that Renly never wanted to sleep with her, except for on that one night when he got super drunk and requested something that sounded "very painful and would in no way result in children." Oh Margaery, you are so so good. I doubt that this is even true, but she knows how to make herself seem childlike and innocent, or sexy and intriguing, depending on the company.
Joffrey was now satiated. "He was a known degenerate," he said. "I considered making his perversion punishable by death." How very Iran/Mauritania/Sudan/Saudi Arabia and Yemen of you! Margaery smoothly tickled his ego, saying that doing so was his God-given right as king. Even though that would totally kill her brother, right?
So here is when things got really weird and ridiculously good. Joffrey moved on and showed off his new toy (the crossbow) and Margaery just ate it up, feigning interest as a wise woman should. "Would you take me hunting some time?" she purred. Oh boy, Margaery has Joffrey wrapped around her little finger, and Cersei is going to hate it. "I imagine it must be so exciting to squeeze your finger here, and watch something die over there," she cooed. Oh man, you could practically feel Joffrey getting "excited," and as soon as I type that I instantly regret it, because it's gross.
He asked her if she thought she could kill something. "Do you think I could?" she replied. "Would you like to watch me?" Would he ever! I could just imagine the two of them torturing prostitutes together, then having sex over their blood. God, even Sansa! This show is so sick. And so are we.
Elsewhere, Tyrion was upset because Shae kept sneaking into his chambers, which was a surefire way to get herself killed. But she was there with good reason: She was worried about Sansa, after Roz' warning that she should not trust Littlefinger. She got jealous over the fact that Tyrion had f**ked Roz way back in the day, which was kind of adorable in a whore type of way. But anyway, she is super protective of Sansa right now, and I like that. Sansa could use someone in her corner. She's like, literally never had one. Naturally, this scene ended in a blow job, and that was that for King's Landing this week.
The Wildling Camp: Everyone hates the cave people. That's lesson one if you want to march in Mance Rayder's army, a clusterf**k militia of multiple tribes that speak a whopping seven different languages, all thrown together because Mance Rayder told them they'd die if they didn't march south. I'm already digging this Rayder fellow — he has an extremely commanding presence onscreen, and you can see why thousands upon thousands of people (and giants, and wargs, etc. etc.) would listen to him.
But the only man he was interested in listening to last night was Jon Snow: he's still testing the waters when it comes to the traitorous bastard. He asked Jon if it was hard to kill Halfhand (yes), and asked if he had liked the man (also a yes). Rayder replied that he liked Jon too, but it wouldn't be hard to kill him if had to — it would be for the sake of his people, his ragtag group of crazy-ass people. Jon is so in over his head here, you guys. He looks like a lost puppy.
Anyway, Jon then met his first warg. Ygritte, of course, thought this was hilarious — and like, we get it Ygritte. Jon knows nothing, you know everything, just hit it already. This particular warg was a better one than Bran, and was scouting for Rayder's army. When he awoke, he said that there were dead crows (men of the Night's Watch) at the Fist of the First Men. But, we already knew that.
The Night's Watch: Everyone was being mean to Sam. This has been happening for three seasons now, so we're all pretty used to it. They marched on and on through their icy hell, back to the Wall, and he just dropped on his knees, crying. "You left me," he said. "When the White Walkers came, you left me." Whine whine whine. It was because you're fat and slow, the assholes explained. I mean, they sort of have a point?
Commander Mormont came over to save the day, again, and told the men that if Sam didn't come back alive, neither would they. Oye. I get that Mormont is trying to be the good guy here, but Sam's going to have to stick up for himself if he wants to defeat the bullies. This isn't middle school, it's an icy, practically lawless war-torn kingdom where everyone has a sword and loose morals.
Arya Stark and the Merry Band of Misfits: Oh yes, Arya is on this show! How we love our Arya. When we last left my favorite Stark, she, Gendry (swoon) and Hot Pie had escaped Harrenhal, with the help of the mysterious, face-changing assassin Jaqen H'ghar. Now, hilariously, Gendry was saying what everyone else was thinking last year: "If he could kill anyone you named, why the eff didn't you say King Joffrey?" But you don't mess with Arya Stark. "Shut up," she said. Discussion over, Gendry.
So anyway, the three remaining members of the Boxcar Children were lost, and super dirty. They heard a man singing what sounded like "The Rains of Castamere" (the Lannister song), and hid behind a tree. There were two men, it seemed, and Arya immediately threatened to kill them, because that is what she does. The men were amused by this — they wanted to meet this little girl, and her friends, too!
Arya, Gendry, and Hot Pie jumped out into the road, and the singing man introduced himself as Thoros of Myr — and he and his men (who had multiplied) were that Brotherhood Without Banners we'd heard about all last season, but never actually met. You know, the men that the dicks at Harrenhal were torturing people everyday for. With the rats? You get it.
Anyway, the BwB fight for neither wolf nor lion nor stag. They just wanted to know how two boys and a very dangerous girl had managed to escape Harrenhal, and invited them over for some stew. To show their hospitality, they almost killed Hot Pie.
But hey, they weren't lying about the grub. They headed over to an inn, where a drunken Thoros continued to press Arya about how they escaped Harrenhal. She said that it was due to Gendry and his smith skills, but Thoros and his men weren't buying it. They laughed at everything she said, until she — naturally — pulled out her sword. Arya Stark does not take well to mockery. Thoros wasn't about to fight her, but he knocked Needle out of her hand right quick. Arya did not like this, either. She did not like this Thoros of Myr, one bit. But he said that he'd free them, which was all she wanted to hear. A genial fellow, for sure.
… BUT WAIT. Some other men of the Brotherhood entered the inn, clearly celebrating, as they had captured a hooded figure. "That's an uncommonly large person," Thoros observed. They tore off his hood, and Arya (and the audience) nearly s**t herself when she saw that it was the Hound, or Sandor Clegane if we're being nice. She tried to walk away, but no go:
"Girl," the Hound said. "What is seven hells are you doing with the Stark bitch?" BOOM.
What did you think of the episode, readers? Are you happy that Bran is getting more to do? Are you loving the Tyrells, or is the Joffrey stuff too icky for your taste? What do you think will happen to Arya? Let us know in the comments!
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[PHOTO CREDIT: HBO(3)]