Jon prepares to leave with Torren to bring the Wildlings back from the north – Ser Alliser naturally disapproves. Jon thanks him for his honesty, which I think is Northerner speak for “bless your heart.”
Sam seems to be the only supporter – and gives Jon his dragonglass blade to kill White Walkers. He then takes Gilly and baby Sam to see Maester Aemon who reminisces about his little brother, the old king, as a baby before warning them both to go south.
Aemon is clearly very sick and confused and Gilly tells Sam he’ll have to speak for him the next day. That night, Aemon Targaryen dies and Sam leads his funeral speech. Ser Alliser is an arsehole, of course. Because he’s Alliser.
Later, Gilly is cornered by two of the Watchmen attempting to rape her when Sam arrives – he tries to defend her but he’s a terrible fighter and they knock him to the ground and brutally beat him. They turn back to Gilly and Sam gets up again, still preparing to fight them – not that he has to, because Jon’s direwolf, Ghost arrives. Sam then passes out
Gilly treats his wounds and tries to get him to promise never to intervene again since he’s not a fighter but Sam refuses “what kind of a man would I be if I ran away when I saw someone hurting you.”
She stays with him – and kisses him and then climbs on top of him and they have sex.
Sansa sobs pitiably in her bed when Theon comes in to bring something (water, food, something) and Sansa appeals to him. He tells her to do what Ramsay says or he’ll hurt her – to which she says he hurts her every night. He flinches away but she begs for help, asking him to send the signal for help she was told about. He keeps calling himself Reek and she insists he hear his own name and titles.
Ramsay continues to try and place nice when they’re in public. He talks about Stannis coming and the snowstorm – which benefits the Boltons because Northern troops are far more experienced fighting in winter weather than Stannis’s mercenaries (Sansa takes the chance to grab something sharp). She also pokes Ramsay about his new baby brother – legitimate without needing to be legitimised – bastards don’t count. He says the king acknowledged him to which Sansa points out that Tommen is also a bastard – openly saying that Jaime is Tommen’s father, not Robert. Talking about bastards, Ramsay tells her about Jon becoming Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch.
He then takes her to see where her messenger has been flayed – Theon betrayed her. It’s a scene that’s a direct reminder of when Joffrey took her to see her beheaded father.
In Stannis’s camp, things aren’t going well. Ramsay is right, these soldiers are not used to dealing with the winter cold and they’re low on supplies and losing horses. There are also deserters among the mercenaries. Davros wants them to back off until the snow clears – but Stannis points out it’s not going to clear. Winter is coming, retreating to Castle Black means being stuck there all winter (and in Game of Thrones winters last for years). Even Stannis has his doubts – but Mellisandre is sure. At least she’s sure if she gets to use more woo-woo and this case the sacrifice will be Shireen, Stannis’s daughter
Stannis is definitely not ok with this and kicks her out.
Tyrion and Jorah are taken by the slavers to be sold at auction – Jorah sells well. Tyrion has to think fast – and claims he’s also a great fighter to be bought by the same man. No-one believes him to he hits his handler with his chain then viciously kicks him while he’s down. He is bought along with Jorah – but his new Master has no patience for his speech.
They prepare for the fighting pits, to fight in front of the queen
Daenerys is in bed with Daario who wonders when her new husband, Hizdahr, will replace him. Daenerys makes it clear her marriage is a political one – and pokes Daario for his jealousy. They have sex while discussing politics at the same time. Multitasking. He suggests she marry him, but she calls it both inadvisable and something she can’t do – because even a queen can’t do whatever she wants. He then says she’s the only person in Meereen who is not free. He also thinks she should massacre all of the old masters.
She refuses, she’s a queen, not a butcher. Daario counters that all rulers are either butchers or meat.
Daenerys and Hizdahr go to the games and watch as the slaver brings out his men (he clearly didn’t expect them yet, Hizdahr has brought them early as per old custom). When Jorah realises Daenerys is there he gets very excited and peeps through the bars during the fighting and killing
Daenerys doesn’t seem that thrilled by the spectacle. She is disgusted and only Hizdahr stops her from leaving before the end. Jorah goes out, elbowing his master, determined to win the games now.
He fights his way across the fighting ground, taking down man after man before he’s the only one left and he takes off his helmet before Daenerys – who tells them to get him out of her sight. He protests he’s brought her a gift – and Tyrion emerges.
Olenna goes to see the High Sparrow/Septon to snark at him and speak for her grandchildren. But he’s not bribable or corruptible – he just “serves” the gods and their bigotry. She points out that what Loras and Margaery have done (in very homophobic terms – just once it’d be nice to see Loras defended without homophobia) is nothing compared to the evil in the city. She threatens to stop sending grain to the capital – but he’s sure he can control the common people of High Garden in popular revolt
Tommen is all despairing and emotional over Margaery in prison while Cersei tries to play the comforting hand while also pointing out that, despite all their power, even kings and queens have limits to what they can do (and brings up the many people who have died around her – her husband, her father, her son). She talks him out of rallying the army against the Sept. And she insists on speaking to the High Sparrow on Tommen’s behalf
Oh Tommen, so naïve. Though she does make a pretty speech about how everything she does is for Tommen and Mycella’s sake – I believe her. But doing something for someone’s sake doesn’t always mean doing what they want.
Littlefinger looks through the ruin of his brothel where he has arranged to meet Lady Olenna. She is not impressed by him and is quick to threaten him with her wrath and exposed secrets. He tells her he has a gift for her – a handsome young man.
Margaery is kept in an utterly squalid prison when Cersei visits, pretending concern. Margaery doesn’t buy it and treats Cersei with the contempt she deserves. From there Cersei goes to see the High Sparrow to ask details of the trials and the option for pleading guilty. He then has a grand speech about the simplicity of faith without vanity and big guilded ornaments and how they will strip away all finery to see the truth. And then, predictably, turns that on Cersei and asks what they’ll see beneath her finery. After all, Lancel had joined the Sparrows and “unburdened himself”. Lancel emerges and Cersei is taken prisoner and she even seems shocked by this.
Jaime is taken to see his daughter/niece Myrcella. Jaime tells her it’s time to come home – but Myrcella objects. Dorne is her home, she’s been there for years (which gives us an insight into the timeline of the series) ever since she was sent there against her will. Myrcella is angry at being sent against her will, then dragged back equally against her will and insists she will marry Trystane, the son of the Prince of Dorne, who she loves and she’s not leaving. When Jaime says he doesn’t understand, Myrcella has a perfect answer for that as well – of course he doesn’t understand, he doesn’t know her. He hasn’t seen her in years
Bronn’s in prison showing a drastic difference between the treatment of people of different ranks. The Sand Snakes are also in prison and compliment his singing while insulting his fighting skills. “It’s against my code to hurt a woman.” “It’s amazing how many men we beat have this code.” Sharp, very sharp. One of the Sand Snakes also decides to confidently seduce Bronn because we nearly had an entire episode without a breast on display. She strips for him with lots of skeevy camera angles while repeatedly asking about the arm they cut. Then his vision goes fuzzy. Dornish fighters use poison, the Sand Snakes especially. She tells him he’s poisoned and shows him the antidote. She gives him it after he tells her she’s the most beautiful woman in the world.
Seems like an elaborate scheme for an ego boost.
On top of Sansa’s treatment last week, we have Gilly. Gilly alone among the men of the Nights Watch is attacked by two men who intend to rape her. And why is this scene here? This scene is here so cowardly Sam can show that he is brave when it comes to defending the woman he loves. It’s an attempted rape scene that is not even slightly about the victim – it’s about Sam and his growth and courage and finally winning the girl because of it.
Rape is used as a shallow plot device – and not even to advance the storylines of the women; just for the men around them.
I’m also concerned about Shireen. We had a beautiful scene showing how much Stannis cared for his daughter – but is this the equivalent of T-Dog finally saying more than one line per episode or Charlie getting to appear more than once a season? Some belated characterisation to make their death all the more poignant?
Loras’s persecution continues to be revolting and unnecessary and not even close to what it is in the book. To make matters worse, this show has not even come close to presenting the High Sparrow as a bigoted or unreasonable man – quite the opposite. He is presented as just, holy, a power of equality and champion of the common people; but the only major action we’ve seen him perform so far is the persecution of a gay man (though even that has been turned to be more about Margaery than Loras).
Cersei… there is just no way this could not have been predicted. It is ludicrous in the extreme that this apparently intelligent woman did not realise the Sparrows would turn on her.
What exactly was the point of the whole Bronn/poison/sandsnake scene? I mean, yes she was in control and in power the whole time both of her sexuality and of Bronn. She was dominant in that scene – but haven’t we already seen Dornish women be powerful and in charge of both their sexuality and in combat? For that matter, if they really wanted to show the strength of Dornish womanhood and attitudes towards sexuality they could have expanded on Ellaria and the Sandsnakes or had them plan to put Myrcella on the throne (which I believe is closer to the books). Why do we have an example of their “power” inevitably include more female nudity? On another show it could maybe make a point, but this show has had so much gratuitous female nudity that it falls short, it seems like yet another excuse to point breasts at the camera. If they wanted to make the scene more about her power than titillation they could even have had the camera NOT show her nudity
Daenerys allowed the fighting pits to open again – but without slaves. Did she not have anyone check this? Clearly slaves are being entered – did she just decree it and hope it would be so? Has she not learned better than this by now?