In the Riverlands with the pretty bonfires: Brotherhood without Banners, Arya
It’s time for Sandor Clegane, the Hound, to face trial by combat with Lord Dondarrion. But while he may be confident in a fight, Lord Dondarrion’s slightly unhinged faith in the Lord of Light means setting his sword on fire. For those of you who have been keeping note, the Hound is terrified of fire after his brother burned his face as a child.
The fight begins and it’s really well done – not elegant or fancy or show fighting. Lots of body slamming and flailing swords and shield bashing (even if they do seem to parry an awful lot even when the swords wouldn’t hit them). The Hound looks to be the better fighter, but his fear of fire makes him flinch back too often. As the Hound becomes more desperate with his shield on fire, Arya screams to “kill him”. But, in the end, the Hound wins, his sword blow being powerful enough to cut through Dondarrion’s sword and into his body (but, really, that parry wouldn’t have stopped the Hound’s anyway). Dondarrion falls and the Hound collapses to extinguish his shield. Arya draws a dagger and charges the Hound, only to be restrained by one of the Brotherhood.
And then Dondarrion gets up, after one of his men pray over him. Alive, uninjured. Well damn, maybe the Lord of Light has some plus points.
Of course, having won, Clegane is free to go (really crappy justice system which Arya is very vocal about), once his gold has been confiscated.
Later Arya learns that Gendry intends to stay with the Brotherhood. He wants to serve someone who was chosen to lead like Lord Dondarrion was, rather than serving masters who just use him, threaten him and toss him aside. He describes the Brotherhood as a family, something he’s never had. And something Arya cannot be – she’d never be his family, she’s always be his lady.
That night Arya recites her vengeance list as she does every night, and Thoros tells her he plans to take her to Riverrun to her brother in exchange for a “contribution”.
Uh-oh – these are Starks you’re ransoming – Catelyn will probably decide to give you the entire treasury and Robb may just kill people for the sake of honour. Which will be pesky if he tries it with the resurrecting Lord Dondarrion.
Lord Dondarrion joins them and we learn he’s been resurrected 6 times in the past. Though it gets harder each time. Arya wants to know if they can bring back a headless man, her father. It doesn’t work that way.
In the North, frostbite for everyone! Wildlings, Jon Snow and lots of pouting
Jon the Pouty is asked lots of questions about the Wall’s defence by Tormund and Orrell the bird man (SOOOO many characters! Can we kill some of them off? Starting with Jon and Joffrey?). We have the agonising pouty face while Jon tries to give away as little info as possible and Ygritte the Intensely Snarky stands up for Jon after the other 2 doubt Jon’s claim that there’s a thousand men in Castle Black.
Jon the Pouty Pouts over Yrgitte protecting him because he can look after himself! Waaah. Ygritten lists the many times she’s vouched for him, protected him and spoke for him since he joined the Wildlings and then steals his sword, because she can. She leads him to a cave and begins to strips naked – she wants him to prove he isn’t a Crow any more by breaking his vows.
I have to say, when it comes to testing a man’s fidelity to a cause, whether or not a straight man will have sex with a woman when no-one will know isn’t exactly the surest test. Especially since it’s well established that there are prostitutes near Castle Black doing a robust trade (well, this is Game of Thrones, if you have a hamlet of 3 buildings, one of them will be a brothel).
Sexy times start, including 2 great lines like “why are you still dressed?” Why indeed, Ygritte? Because Game of Thrones doesn’t do male nudity nearly as casually as it does female. And an excellent use of the “you know nothing Jon Snow” line.
Afterwards she jokes at the idea of him being a virgin and questions how he instinctively understood cunnilingus since even she didn’t know about it. It’s a scene that makes even less sense than Pod and the prostitutes providing their services for free. She isn’t a virgin and Jon Snow foolishly asks “who was he” and she starts a list. She also declares she wants to stay in the cave with him forever.
Harrenhall: The Castle with big holes in the walls: Jaime & Brienne
Jaime is delivered to Lord Bolton (he who likes to flay people). Lord Bolton has no time for the garish display of Jaime’s missing hand and treats Brienne with respect and dignity. Lord Bolton also tells Jaime about Stannis’s siege on Kings Landing – and tells him the truth that Cersei is alive and well, much to Jaime’s knee shaking relief.
Jaime is taken for treatment to an ex-Maester who was stripped of his chain for “robust experiments” uh-huh. And nasty medical care follows in which Jaime decides not to take anaesthetic because he’s a big strong he-man
Brienne is bathing when the medically treated Jaime comes to the stone bathing room as well – and chooses to share her bathing pool rather than the one next to it which she doesn’t appreciate at all and cowers in the corner. He says he’s not interested and if he faints he needs her to pull him out of the bath. He needles and taunts Brienne as is his habit and he taunts her about Renly. She surges to her feet
out of need for more nudity – I mean,
in outrage, and Jaime apologises.
Jaime talks about how reviled he is for being the Kingslayer, but then talks about Aerys, the king he killed, and his love of burning people to death with Wildfire. He tells of how the Baratheon army marched on Kings Landing but Tywin stood in defence – and how Jaime advised Aerys to surrender peacefully because Tywin couldn’t be trusted, he’d never support a losing side. Varys warned him as well but Aerys ignored them; he trusted Pycelle who said he could trust Lannisters. He let Tywin onto the city and he sacked it, surprising no-one. And Aerys ordered Jaime to kill Tywin and then uses his stashes of wildfire around the city to burn everyone – the whole city, the entire population of Kings Landing. At which point Jaime killed him and he asks Brienne if she would have obeyed those orders if Renly had asked it of her.
Brienne asks why he didn’t tell Stark this – but Jaime says the honourable Nedd Stark wouldn’t have wanted to hear it. At which point Jaime becomes more delirious, some of his Lannister pride sneaking through; Brienne cries for help
Riverrun: A whole load of Starks and Tulleys and not a brain cell between them.
Lord Karstark, still angry about the death of his sons at the hands of Jaime, goes on the rampage and kills the 2 Lannisters they have hostage – they’re teenagers, children. Robb is Not Amused. He calls it treason, Karstark points out it’s treason to free your enemies at war (that would be Catelyn) not kill them. And further adds that Robb will give him a scolding before letting him go – because that’s how Robb deals with treason. Robb has Karstark taken to the dungeon and the rest hanged. When one protests he only watched – Robb tells them to hang him last, so he can watch.
Talisa is pretty shocked and stunned by Robb’s sentence. I have a headache from how deeply Catelyn has sabotaged her son.
Lord Edmure wants to keep it quiet for fear of inciting more Lannister wrath, but Robb won’t be dishonest in the name of justice. He also says Karstark must die but both Catelyn and Talisa says the Karstarks, as northerners, won’t forgive that and would abandon him. More boys will die until Robb ends the war and that means he needs Karstark men. Catelyn suggests using Karstark as a hostage –they stay loyal he’s not to be harmed.
Does that sound sensible? If you answered “yes” you will also know that that’s not what Robb does. Because when given a chance to choose between “sensible” and “complete blithering stupidity disguised as honour” the Starks always choose the latter. Robb executes Lord Karstark
Looking over his strategy map that night, Robb pouts that the Karstarks have left, taking almost half the north’s forces with them. To win all Tywin needs to do is nothing – only wait. Well, true Robb but the rest of that should be “wait until we Starks sabotage ourselves to death”.
After much moping around the strategy table, inspiration hits – attack Castlery Rock, the home of the Lannisters. But to muster enough men he needs someone who has the forces to equal what the Karstarks have taken away – and the only one who has that who isn’t on the Lannister’s side is Walder Frey. The man whose daughter he was supposed to marry
Kings Landing: A Nest of Plotting Vipers without their Sunny Disposition. And Lady Olenna who is Awesome
Cersei talks to Lord Baelish about the insidious threat of House Tyrell and asks him to look into it.
Really Cersei? Baelish? Baelish? This is what your father means when he says you’re not as clever as you think you are, trusting Baelish.
And the scene you’ve all been waiting for! Lady Olenna and Tyrion, starting with a discussion on how figs help bowel movements. He’s concerned at how expensive the royal wedding is going to be and Lady Olenna has some awesome lines (“what use is the word ‘extravagant’ if it isn’t used to describe the royal wedding?”). He points out the war is expensive and she points out in great and particular detail just how much House Tyrell is donating to that expensive war effort. She also holds that the common people need distractions, not just food – and the royal wedding is ideal. She describes Tyrion as a browbeaten book-keeper and offers to pay half the expenses.
Even though Tyrion got what he want, I rather think he just got thoroughly trounced by Olenna there.
Meanwhile, Margaery continues to ingratiate herself with Sansa the Guileless (the cold must rot brains, there is no other explanation for the Starks) who is all excited about the chance to marry Loras.
Loras, however, is far more interested in getting it on with his new squire. Who is working for Baelish as a spy to learn about his upcoming wedding to Sansa. From there Baelish goes to Sansa to ask if she still wants to flee the city. She dodges, saying she’d prefer to wait rather than risk his life.
And he carries the news to Cersei who has a council with Tyrion and Tywin about it (why Tywin calls the Tyrells Tyrion’s friend I don’t know since it was Tywin who secured their support). Tywin sees Sansa as the key to the North (especially since he’s heard of the Karstarks leaving and considers Robb spent and believes Bran and Rickon ard dead) and that the Tyrells are stealing her. They don’t want to overtly annoy the Tyrells but since it’s a plot they just have to out plot it – and stop the union before Margaery and Joffrey are married. They just have to marry Sansa off first
To Tyrion. Tyrion opposes this vehemently, especially considering what Sansa has endured at Joffrey’s hands. Tywin calls Sansa Stark a “reward” for Tyrion even while Tyrion protests that she’s a child. Cersei gloats and lords it over Tyrion to which Tywin adds that Cersei is going to marry Ser Loras. She’s not thrilled about that either. Tywin says she has to marry and breed – she rejects that, she’s not a broodmare! He shouts her down and adds that they need to settle the rumours about her.
Because marrying her off to someone the whole kingdom knows is gay is really going to settle rumours that she’s sleeping with someone else?
It’s good to see Cersei resisting being a broodmare but she is shouted down. She needs to poison him or something
Dragonstone: Stannis and other characters who should be irrelevant
We meet Selyse! Stannis’s queen and Stannis goes to see her with all his doubts about winning; she has none because she’s really into the Lord of Light cult. He confesses to boffing Mellisandre. But she knows – and it’s for the Lord of Light because it’s all good and she’s ecstatic that he’s boffing other women in the name of the Lord of Light. Of course, judging by the preserved foetuses of the miscarried children she keeps, it’s highly possible that Selyse wasn’t the most rational of people before Mellisandre arrived.
He’s also come to see his daughter, Shireen, which Selyse disapproves of because he doesn’t need distractions. He goes to see her and we see the left side of her face is marked by a large scar of dried, scaly skin. She asks after Ser Davos who she considers a friend but Stannis, being the harsh man he is, tells her he’s a traitor and rotting in a dungeon.
That night Shireen goes to see Davos to give him a book to read so he won’t get bored – but Davos can’t read. She announces she will teach him to read and he humours her.
Foreign Parts: Daenerys and Groupies
Ser Jorah and Barristan reminisce about Robert and Barristan reflects he’s spent his whole life serving terrible kings; because he kept his vows. For just once he’d like to serve someone he believed in with pride. Which he hopes will be Daenerys. Also, the reason why Barristan never sat on the small council, despite the head of the kingsguard traditionally holding a seat, was because Robert didn’t like him since he served Aerys and killed several of his friends during the rebellion. Barristan adds that since Jorah was banished for selling people into slavery, which he openly admits, he won’t help Daenerys with the politics when they go back to the seven kingdoms. He’s a liability.
Daenerys, having freed her Unsullied, asks them to name their own leader and they choose Grey Worm – Missandei explains that the Unsullied are given new names that always reflect how lowly they are (vermin - like rat, flea, worm). Daenerys tells him and all the Unsullied they may choose their own names. Greyworm says he will keep his name – his old name was cursed, it was the name under which he was made a slave and Greyworm was the name under which Daenerys freed him.
I do quite like Ygritte listing her lovers shamelessly. She’s unashamedly sexual, pursues the men she wants – and no, she isn’t a virgin, nor can Jon assume she’s only been with one other man.
I think Gendry’s conversation with Arya was amazingly well done analysis of class and helplessness in this system. Especially showing just how Arya doesn’t understand the advantages and privileges that being a lady brings her – and that divide it will always bring between her and Gendry.
The Starks… oh the Starks. Y’know, I think it’s best to leave the throne to the Tyrells, sure they’re conniving and you have to put up with the snake Joffrey, but the Starks’ are just incapable of making a decent decision.
Daenerys is laying on that white saviour pretty damn thick – look at the kind wonderful super-duper-white woman saving all these abused POC slaves. To say nothing of how she’s “saved” them but they’re all still serving her, the wonderful one. It’s not just simplistic, it’s faintly nauseating.
I’m glad to see Loras finally getting some action again, after barrages of anti-gay jokes in this season, even if they are shunting him in to be married off to a woman. Except – the squire is just a plant to spy on him. Loras’s love life is just a way to manipulate and control him.