With all of the hacking, raping, rioting and stealing that dominated last week’s episode, it was nice to take a breather and further the plot with fantastic dialogue instead of violence. Much of the action this week was in direct reaction to the multiple traumatic events we saw last week: Inspector Dany had to figure out which of the Qartheen overlords stole her dragons, Theon was reeling over over Bran and Rickon’s escape, and Sansa and Cersei were still processing the bloody riots that had confirmed their loss of the people. Still, a second betrayal in Qarth and the reappearance of the Kingslayer allowed Game of Thrones to reach its weekly bloody benchmark, and powerful moments with Ygritte and Jon, Tywin and Arya, and Jaime and Cat made up for any lack in ice and fire.
Theon woke alone in bed, which is something he should probably get used to, because he’s terrible. But losing Bran and Rickon was far more embarrassing than losing his wildling lover, so Theon took to beating his subordinates to somehow make things better. (Aside: I added a point to the “Theon” column on my “Theon vs. Joffrey Stupid/Evil Comparison Chart” when he bitched that when he was the Stark’s captive, he never ran away. Because the situations are totally the same.) Still, Theon was in relatively high spirits — once he found the boys and Yara’s never-promised men arrived, he would hold Winterfell better than the Starkiest of the Starks.
Later, Theon and his men were able to track Bran and Rickon to a friendly farm in the countryside, but there his hounds lost their scent. His spirits were considerably lowered again, so he took out his rage on old Maester Luwin, who made the mistake of suggesting a night’s rest. Theon didn’t want to be the guy who couldn’t catch a cripple, a child, and a half-wit, he explained. “It is better to be cruel than weak,” he said in a panic. “I’m looking at spending the rest of my life being treated like a fool and a eunuch by my own people.” Fortunately for Theon, his man found the walnut shells Bran and co. were munching on during their voyage. You’d think Osha would know better.
Beyond The Wall:
Kit Harrington’s numerous fans probably loved every second of his screentime this episode, because seeing the typically dour bastard both embarrassed and sexually frustrated was a much-needed treat that amped up a previously stalling plotline. Anyway — caught! Jon and Ygritte woke to find his hand groping her very-well covered breast, but multiple layers of fabric would not quell Ygritte’s taunting. “Did you pull a knife on me in the night?” she asked. “Can’t be the first time you pressed your bulge against a woman’s ass.” Jon, as usual, was not amused. (Aside: Ladies who are interested — do NOT refer to male genitalia as “bones and stones” in front of Jon Snow. Won’t go over well. Promise.)
But it actually was the first time Jon had laid with a woman, and Ygritte’s shocked and borderline repulsed reaction to his virginity was enough to finally draw some anger from the poor guy. She half-jokingly listed Snow’s potential sexual partners back on The Wall — Girl crows? Other men? Sheep? These suggestions had Jon fuming, and probably very horny. “No homo!” he cried.* (*Actual quote: “It was my choice to say the words. Of course I like girls.”)
Jon and Ygritte’s little scuffle also provided some exposition about the Wildlings. Basically, they’re Westeros’ version of our Native Americans — In 1492, some Targaryen or other landed on Westeros, called its people “Indians”, and confined them to the world’s worst reservation on a giant ice cube. Jon said that as a Stark, he shared the blood of the First Men, so he and Ygritte were one and the same. “Then why are you fighting us?” she asked. Good question, given the frozen zombies that are wandering around.
The pair continued down their walk of frozen shame, and Ygritte spoke of the wonders of Wildling life. If Jon joined her, she said, he could have plenty of sex, and she could “teach him how to do it.” Like a high school senior being taunted by the popular kids, Jon replied that he already knew how to do it. I don’t think internet porn exists in Westeros, so I highly doubt that this is accurate. Ygritte is right there with me: “You know nothing, Jon Snow,” she said. (Aside: In the books, this is Ygritte’s well-known catchphrase. She didn’t first use it as a sexual come-on, but still — I think Rose Leslie delivered the line very well.)
As they went on, Jon’s chances of finding his friends became bleaker, and Ygritte’s sexual advances became even more overt. At one point she flat-out said she was warm and wet, then offered to take him right there on the ground. He looked tempted but refused, which was probably a good thing: Ygritte attacked and ran, leading Jon straight to her Wildling friends.
Unfortunately for the peasants of the Harrenhal House of Horrors, Lord Tywin thought that Jaqen’s poisoned dart was meant for him. Twenty innocents had already been killed in the search for the assassin, but Twyin didn’t care if they hanged 100 — Wolfsbane was a rare, serious poison, and he couldn’t have that s**t circulating on campus.
A Song of Ice and Fire loyalists *might* be a little miffed that the show is devoting so much airtime to Tywin/Arya scenes that never took place in George R. R. Martin’s books, but this pairing is so compelling that if so, they should probably just shut up already. Arya was becoming a bit too brave with Tywin: First she almost took the sure-to-be-fatal risk of snatching his knife, then she came about yay close to giving away her noble birth. In all of their scenes it feels like Arya is testing Tywin’s waters to see just how much she can get away with, but this time her Stark-brand pride (and pre-feminist beliefs) nearly got in the way. She feigned stupidity when Tywin asked her if she knew what “legacy” meant, but when he told the story of the Targaryen conquest of Harrenhal, Arya couldn’t help but add that it wasn’t just Aegon, but Aegon and his sisters, who had flown in on their mighty dragons.
This, of course, was curious to Tywin: How could a peasant have any, let alone detailed, knowledge of history? Most girls, regardless of birth, dreamed of knights and maidens and Justin Bieber and things, he said. “Most girls are idiots,” Arya replied. Tywin enjoyed this one, and complimented her by comparing her to Cersei. If Arya was affected by these repulsive words, she certainly didn’t show it, but there is some truth to his statement: If Cersei didn’t have to endure the pomp and circumstance that came with being Queen, she would most likely wear a knight’s armor and behead her damn handmaidens herself.
Anyway, Tywin — who is just as crafty as Arya, but with many added years of experience — reminded her to say “M’Lord” instead of “My Lord” from here on out. “If you’re going to pose as a commoner, do it properly.” Again — caught! Arya didn’t give in, and tried to back it up with a lie about her mother teaching her how to speak “proper” — but her upbringing had her quickly correcting herself with “properly,” so her trick didn’t really work. Tywin seemed to be amused by this game: He’s not 100 percent sure that Arya is of noble birth just yet, but testing her to find out has been quite a trip. I’m super excited to see where this goes, because their scenes thus far have been brilliant.
Sansa tried to thank The Hound for saving her last week, but all she got was a lecture on the joy of cold-blooded murder. When she asked him why he was always so hateful, he responded: “You’ll be glad of the hateful things I do someday, when you’re queen and I’m all that stands between you and your beloved king.” Hmm. Does this mean he’d be willing to do hateful things to Joffrey to protect Sansa? Somehow, I find this doubtful.
The next morning, Sansa woke from one bloody nightmare only to find herself right in the midst of an actual bloody nightmare: Her first period. She instantly knew what this meant — she was now required to have sex (and children) with Joffrey. Join with me here: Ewwwwwwwwwwww. Shae helped her flip the mattress and nearly attacked a passing handmaid, so maybe I was wrong in doubting her motivations last week. Either way, The Hound found the evidence, leading to the most awkward “first period” sequence since Larry David tried to help a girl scout with tampon instructions on Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Cersei’s advice to Sansa was as follows: Joffrey would always be a little s**t, just like his fake-father Robert. Jaime was valiantly by her side for every delivery, but Sansa wouldn’t be so lucky — and she would just have to deal with it. “The more people you love, the weaker you are,” she said. “You’ll do things for them you shouldn’t do. You’ll act a fool to keep them happy and safe. Love no one but your children. On that front, a mother has no choice.” Happy Mother’s Day from Cersei Lannister!
At the very tail end of the episode, Tyrion made his one and only appearance: He and Cersei discussed Stannis’ impending attack, which Cersei continued to take way too lightly. “We’ll rain fire on them from above,” she said, referring to the wildfire she thought she had been gathering. Interestingly, Cersei confessed to Tyrion her disappointment in Joffrey. “He doesn’t listen to me,” she said. “I always hoped he’d be like Jaime.” Instead, she had birthed a little monster — and she was beginning to think that Joffrey was the price she had to pay for her sins with her brother. Yes, the Targaryens had wed sister to brother for years, but half of them were mad: “Everytime a Tarygaryen is born, the gods flip a coin,” the saying goes. Tyrion pointed out that Tommen and Myrcella were good people, so Cersei had beaten the Targaryen odds. This was a very rare tender-ish moment between these two, and I highly doubt we’ll see more like it in the future.
Over in Qarth, Daenerys was still fightin’ mad about her dragons. In another scene where Dany sounded far too weak and bratty for my liking, she refused Xaro’s offer to aid her in her search. According to Xaro, a man was only what others said he was. If the citizens of Qarth knew that Xaro didn’t help Dany after he took her under his roof, his reputation would suffer. This is terrible advice, particularly for high school girls. Teens: Don’t listen to Xaro. Also — why are you watching this show?
Later, Ser Jorah Mormont returned, ship-less, to help his beloved. She was not particularly grateful, as she was still in the midst of an “I can’t trust anyone” tantrum. So, how could Jorah re-earn her trust? Oh, that’s right — by finding her f***ing dragons. His quest began with the mysterious masked woman, who somehow knew that Jorah had betrayed Dany to Varys months before. She made him swear to never betray Dany again before offering up her answer, which I guess makes her some sort of spooky guardian angel to Dany. “The thief you seek is with her now,” she said.
This didn’t exactly narrow things down, as Dany was currently in a room with her blood-riders, and every single member of the Thirteen. The nasty-as-ever Spice King was particularly happy to see her dragons gone, as they would “bring the world nothing but death and misery.” True, but still — we want her to win. Suddenly, the warlock with the tiny head who pulled that double-trouble trick back at the party — Pyat Pree — confessed to taking the dragons to the House of the Undying. He had made an arrangement with the “King of Qarth”, and this King had then procured them for him. This was a confusing tidbit for Dany and the rest of the Thirteen, because there was no king in Qarth.
…Until now. Xaro had indeed betrayed Dany — by making some sort of deal with Pyat that would make him the king. Somehow, stealing Dany’s dragons and luring her back to them so she could “mother” them was part of their plan for Qartheen liberation. Suddenly, eleven identical versions of Pyat surrounded the remaining councilmen and slit their throats. “A mother should be with her children,” Pyat said, very creepily. Dany, Jorah, and her blood-rider ran away in completely understandable horror, but they are still royally screwed here. A warlock and the richest man in Qarth are hiding their dragons in a magical place called The House of the Undying, so my guess is that things are going to get really freaky in Qarth next week.
In not-so-important news, Robb asked Talisa to accompany him on his upcoming journey to a castle known as The Crag, to raid for medical supplies and make out. All you really need to know from this scene is that Robb’s advances will probably not sit will with Catelyn and the Freys, and also that Robb has much better game than his half-brother Jon. Eye contact, Jon. Eye contact.
Anyway, remember weeks ago, when Cersei tore Robb’s letter of demands in half? Well, the deliverer of said letter — Ser Alton Lannister — finally returned with that news. Robb thanked him for his honor, and when he learned that Alton’s former cage was occupied, he let him bunk with his distant cousin Jaime for the night.
Now, when I was a teen like Alton, I loved cousin sleepovers. I always got to sleep in Erin’s room, where we would stay up all night and listen to ’90s boy bands. I worshipped her because she was older and more stylish than me, so these nights were always very special. I know that Alton and Jaime’s sleepover party took place in a cage, but I can fully imagine how exciting this must have been for him. Alton was a little-known Lannister from a distant cousin’s cousin, destined for a whole lot of nothing. And here he was, imprisoned with the Jaime Lannister. The Kingslayer. The smooth-talker. The — regular man with doubts and insecurities just like the rest of us? It can’t be!
And alas, it wasn’t. Alton kept inching closer and closer to Jaime, as the craftier Lannister manipulated him into some sort of bonding session. When Alton finally got close enough for comfort, Jaime killed him, and the Karstark guard on duty. He didn’t get very far, and when Robb’s men dragged him back to camp, Lord Karstark asked for his head to pay for the murder of his son. Cat, who knew that Jaime was still their only ticket to Sansa and (so she thought) Arya, begged for Jaime’s safety until her girls were returned.
Jaime, for his part, just found the whole thing very amusing. Sick of being imprisoned, he all but asked Catelyn to kill him — by hitting way below the belt, at Cat’s Achilles’ Heel. “I’ve never been with any woman but Cersei,” he taunted. “So in my own way I have more honor than poor old dead Ned. What’s the name of that bastard he fathered?” Just hearing the name “Jon Snow” always puts Cat in a murderous rage, so she drew her sword and … To Be Continued.
Theon had returned, giddy, to Winterfell — where a crowd of peasants was gathered. “I told you what would happen if you served me loyally,” he proclaimed. “And what would happen if you did not.” Maester Luwin was then dragged to the scene, so that he could witness two small, burned bodies hoisted up on display. Gasp! Horror! The bodies were unrecognizable so it’s unclear whether they were Bran and Rickon’s, but either way we have confirmed that Theon is capable of child-murder. Those bodies belonged to someone.
Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna