And we’re back, with another glorious episode of Game of Thrones. It doesn’t feel like we’re already halfway through the season, does it?
(SPOILERS AHEAD: READ AT YOUR OWN RISK)
We pick up where we left off with Arya, et al. The Hound has just been challenged to a trial by combat (which basically means that if you’re guilty, god will make sure you lose) versus Beric Dondarrion, and things are about to get underway. Thoros gives a prayer to the Red God and Beric lights up his famed flaming sword. The fight is fierce and wild, and Arya almost gets caught in the middle when they happen to get too close to her. And abruptly it’s over – The Hound’s sword has gone through Dondarrion’s shoulder and lodged in his chest. The Hound, therefore, has won. Immediately Thoros runs over to his lord’s body and starts frantically whispering over his body, almost too quickly to understand the words. Meanwhile, The Hound is distressed, trying to put out the flames on his body that were the result of Beric’s sword. Suddenly Arya sprints forward, trying to get at the Hound. Gendry is quick on his feet and pulls her back, while she screams at the burned man to burn in hell. A strangely familiar voice comes from over by the fire, saying “He will…but not today.” It’s Beric Dondarrion, and he is not only alive but completely healed. Thoros’ whispering wasn’t a prayer for his afterlife, it seems, so much as a spell to bring him back.
Now we’re back with Jon Snow, Ygritte, and the wildlings. After a brief confrontation with the warg, Ygritte steals Jon’s sword and sprints into an underground cave (complete with a heated pool and waterfall, it would seem). He follows, of course, and what waits for him is Ygritte stripping and telling him how much she wants him. As per usual, his response is “we shouldn’t” and as per usual Ygritte gets her way. Finally we start to see a guy going down on a girl (there’s been a real lack of sexual equality on this show) but almost as soon is you figure out what’s happening, it’s over. Ygritte says that she never wants to leave that cave (or him, I think is implied).
Oddly enough, we go right back to Beric and company. It seems the Hound feels he’s entitled to some money, but alas there is none to be had. “Go in peace, Sandor Clegane. The Red God isn’t done with you yet.”
Now Vargo Hoat brings Jaime and Brienne to Lord Bolton. Jaime goes to get his stump cleaned out. Stupidly, he denies the milk of the poppy that he is offered and decides to have the wound cleared of infected tissue and cleaned (with boiling wine) while completely lucid. Not his best idea, to be honest. Needless to say, there’s a bit of screaming on his part.
Cersei has decided to come to Lord Baelish with a request. She, of course, is convinced that the Tyrells are enemies. She would like the issue to be taken care of before Littlefinger leaves for the Eyrie, and she asks in her usual Cersei-ish manner (complete with references to prior failure and oh-so-thinly veiled threats). Lord Baelish looks as if he would like nothing more than to grab Cersei by the hair and hammer throw her into Blackwater Bay.
Tyrion is meeting with Olenna Tyrell, our favorite feisty grandma, to go over plans for the royal wedding. Obviously Tyrion does not quite know who he’s dealing with, trying to beat around the bush in asking for help paying for it. Eventually Olenna grows tired of the conversation and agrees that House Tyrell will pay for half of the wedding, just so she can leave.
Once again we head back to the cave where Beric and company have been holed up. Arya has come up to Gendry, asking what he’s doing. As it turns out he’s fixing Dondarrion’s armor (the man was fixed by R’Hllor but evidently his armor was not). But why? Evidently Gendry has decided to stay on as a smith for the Brotherhood Without Banners. He’s done serving men like his master in King’s Landing or Tywin back at Harrenhall. He wants to join the Brotherhood because they’re brothers, a family, and he’s never had one of those. Arya says that she could be his family, if only he’d come with her, but no. “You wouldn’t be my family, you’d be “my lady.”” What a heart-breaking moment.
Cut to two blond boys, evidently being held captive. Suddenly Lord Karstark barges in…and kills them. When Robb asks what possible reason they had for doing this, killing two young boys who were their captives, Karstark says that it was vengeance. No, they didn’t personally kill his sons, but they are Lannisters. Robb orders that Lord Karstark be placed in a dungeon, and the men who killed the boys with him be hanged. After a brief conversation with Talisa, Catelyn, and Edmure Robb sticks to his initial decision to also sentence the lord to death. This means alienating many of his allies, but Robb insists that his fight for justice is meaningless if he does not serve justice to men like Lord Karstark.
Arya is reciting her nightly prayer – the list of all the people she wishes death upon. She wonders aloud what Thoros is going to do with her, and the plan hasn’t changed. She’s to be brought to Riverrun and sold as a hostage back to her family. Beric joins the two of them by the fire and finally the elephant in the room (or cave, rather) is addressed: how is he alive? Yes, The Hound killed him, even Beric admits that, yet here he sits. And this isn’t the first time this has happened, either. Thoros says that the Lord of Light has brought Lord Beric back five times before, this time being the sixth. Thoros has Beric show Arya the healed wounds from all of the times he’s been killed – The Mountain put a lance straight through his chest, then he was stabbed in the abdomen, then shot in the back with an arrow, and then he took an axe to his side, before the Lannisters excecuted him by hanging him and stabbing him in the eye with a dagger. Arya wonders if he could bring back her father, but no. It doesn’t work that way.
Next a woman is praying to the Lord of Light over an open flame. This is Selyse, wife of Stannis Baratheon. Evidently it has been a while since Stannis has come to see her (yeah, their relationship isn’t that great). He tries to tell Selyse that he broke his wedding vow to her, going to bed with Melisandre, but she already knows. And she’s happy about it, because it was done as work for the Lord of Light. And she’s especially pleased because Melisandre gave Stannis a son…as opposed to the three stillborn fetuses that she keeps in jars. Suddenly we can tell why Stannis isn’t too eager to spend time with this woman. Selyse suggests that Stannis not go see his daughter, Shireen, saying that he has too much to focus on without thinking of her as well (wow, A+ parenting). He goes anyway, and gets a big hug from his daughter. As a child she was stricken with an illness called grayscale, which has left half of her face dark and stone-like. She asks after Davos, sad that he hasn’t come to visit her. Stannis tells her that the Onion Knight is a traitor, rotting in a cell for his crime. And when he sees how much this saddens his daughter, what does he do? Make a supremely awkward face and tells her that she’d “best forget him”.
Brienne is in a bath hall, scrubbing herself clean, when in walks Jaime. She’s not overly pleased to see him, but it isn’t until he decides to get into her tub, rather than another one, that she gets a bit angry. Jaime seems to thoughtlessly fall back into his old pattern of taunting her, saying that she’s doing a horrible job of getting him back to King’s Landing as she promised, and that it’s no wonder Renly died if she was guarding him. Almost immediately, though, he shrinks back and…apologizes. And he tells Brienne that she has protected him better than most other people could or would have. She backs down, still wary. Unprompted, Jaime launches into the story of the day he became the Kingslayer. He had spent seventeen years being looked on with derision for his actions that day, but no one ever wondered if he had a good reason to do it. As it turns out, according to him, he did. The Mad King, Aerys, had ordered Jaime to kill his own father, and ordered his pyromancer to literally burn the residents of the city in their homes. Jaime could not abide it, so he killed the pyromancer, and then the king. And that was where Ned Stark found him. And he says he never told anyone, because in that moment he knew that Lord Stark had immediately and eternally judged him guilty. Then Jaime seems to have some kind of spell. Brienne crosses the bath to catch him before he falls underwater, yelling for help.
Back in Dragonstone Princess Shireen has stolen away to the dungeons to visit her friend Ser Davos. Shireen asks Davos if he truly is a traitor, and he says yes. He disobeyed his king and is now paying the price from his dungeon. Shireen, however, doesn’t care. He’s her friend. She figured he must get bored down there, so she brought Davos some books to read. Unfortunately, he says, the books would be wasted on him, as he cannot read. This doesn’t deter Shireen, and she offers to come and teach him how to read when she can. When Davos says no, she can’t, she asks “Why not? What will they do, lock us in cells?” The girl is funny (not to mention completely adorable). When Davos somewhat bashfully says that he wouldn’t know where to start, Shireen simply says “at the beginning”. And thus she begins to teach Davos how to read, starting with the name “Aegon”. It’s completely adorable.
Now we’ve once again left Westeros, and we’re somewhere between Astapor and the next of the Free Cities. Day is marching her eight thousand Unsullied, and meanwhile Jorah and Barriston seem to be…bonding? It’s a little bit weird. Barristan laments the fact that he’s spent his life fighting for horrible kings, saying that he wants to fight for someone he believes in. For some reason he asks Jorah if he believes in Dany (come on, Barristan – you’d have to be blind to miss the way he stares at her with borderline-creepy adoration). Meanwhile their Khaleesi is addressing the officers of her Unsullied army. They have chosen a leader, a young soldier called Gray Worm. Back with Jorah and Barriston, the conversation is still on Daenerys. Barristan drops some hard knowledge on Jorah – it may be best if Jorah distance himself from the Khaleesi when they get back to Westeros. He has a reputation that could damage their queen’s efforts to take the throne. Nobody in Westeros likes a slaver, after all. Jorah, however, refuses to see reason. He baselessly questions Barristan’s motives before galloping off on his horse (which I imagine is the Westerosi equivalent of a Rachel Berry dramatic exit).
Robb and Talisa discuss strategies for furthering their cause, but it will be difficult in the wake of their many recently lost allies. He decides he will march on Casterly Rock to take the Lannisters’ home away from them. But he needs more men, and there’s only one place he can think to get them. Unfortunately, that place is the house of Walder Frey, the father of the girl Robb was supposed to marry before he broke his oath. Somehow we don’t think asking that particular man for help is going to go very well, but we shall see….
Loras and a squire are practicing swordplay in one of the castle’s gardens, while Margaery and Sansa sit and watch. They do seem to be becoming fast friends, don’t they? Sansa asks Margaery when she might be able to marry the dashing Ser Loras (because apparently there really is no longer a rule that knights of the kingsguard cannot marry). Margaery says she’ll start working on it the second she and King Joffrey are married. She seems quite confident that her charm will easily allow her to convince Joffrey to make it happen.
Loras and the squire, named Olyver, have finished their practice and they’re talking. Loras comments on how he’s never seen him before as Olyver takes off Loras’ practice armor for him. They joke around a bit, there’s a little bit of innuendo, and then BAM. Loras and Olyver are going at it, hot and heavy. Loras asks how Olyver knew (that he wanted the d, so to speak), because even his bride-to-be hasn’t the slightest idea. And evidently this Olyver fellow has a good deal of experience with that. Well, his experience is evidently more geared towards dealing with the husbands of many a wife who hasn’t the slightest idea of their husbands’ preferences.
Unfortunately, this whole rendezvous has been a set up. Of-freaking-course Petyr Baelish was behind it, too. Evidently this was his way of checking in on whatever plots the Tyrells may be scheming. Littlefinger and Olyver are having a chat in the former’s room, wherein the latter discloses an extremely juicy secret. Yes, now Littlefinger knows of Loras’ impending nuptials with Sansa Stark. And of course, we can probably count on him to ruin everything.
It looks like it’s time for another Lannister family meeting, hosted by everyone’s favorite dad, Tywin. Evidently, yes, Littlefinger has shared his juicy bit of gossip with the Lannisters, because Tywin is determined to make sure that the union of Sansa Stark and Loras Tyrell never happens. How does he plan to do this? By wedding the girl to someone else. And the “someone else” he has in mind is Tyrion. This does not please him. Whatever Tyrion’s faults and moral deficits, he does care that Sansa not have to add another tragedy to her life. In his words to his father, “That’s cruel, even for you.” But Tywin does not care about what Sansa Stark wants or how she feels. He also doesn’t care about his own daughter’s wants or feelings, either, because he has also decided that Cersei wed Loras Tyrell. Of course she puts up a fight, but Tywin won’t head any of it. His children will wed who he has chosen for them, and that’s final. As if to punctuate his point, Tywin gets up and leaves his children. Clearly this is not up for discussion.
Next week’s episode is entitled “The Climb”, and its official synopsis is as follows:
"Tywin is going to plan strategic unions for the Lannisters. Melisandre is going to pay a visit to the Riverlands. Robb weighs a compromise to repair his alliance with House Frey. Roose Bolton is going to decides what to do with Jaime Lannister. Jon, Ygritte and the Wildlings will face a daunting climb.”
Tune in next Sunday at 9pm EST or 11pm EST for “The Climb” on HBO.