This episode was about finding things lost. Theon must find the missing Stark boys, Tywin an unknown assassin, Dany her dragons, Jon the men of the Night’s Watch. I could go on to elaborate on the larger theme of the series of characters finding themselves but I won’t. I will say however that I’m thoroughly enjoying and equally hating watching Theon transform on screen into one of the most despised character in the show. His arch mirrors another satisfying storyline and parallel of one Arya Stark who is having major identity crises and also serving as a ward or hostage to the enemy.
Theon awakens to an empty bed and a castle empty of two young Stark children. Theon begins a hunt to find them, taking Maester Luwin and a handful of men and hounds. Moments later we see Bran on the back of the “halfwit” Hodor in tow with the youngest Rickon and the wildling Osha who is proving to be quite a cunning strategist. They pass by a mill but instead of stopping for help they keep moving in an effort to save them from being interrogated. Theon overcompensates when in power, yelling at the Maester, hitting old men, and threatening young children. He reminds me of another cruel ruler. Theon I wager has more humanity in Joffrey, but he can’t be far off in the race for the biggest prick in Westeros.
Jon Snow and his captor another wildling woman Ygritte roam the snowy mountain side beyond the wall. The barren cold is a lot like Dany’s time in the Red Waste only a lot colder. The sexual tension and humor Ygritte brings to Jon’s scenes is fantastic and breaking his balls as well as turning them blue balances out his stoic attitude.
As I said, Tywin in Harrenhal is wants to find a certain lone assassin hidden within the camp. If only he knew how close to her he was. Tywin does again seem to know more than he leads on in this episode. The Lannister patriarch snoops out that Arya is not only a girl, but a clever girl, and in this episode sniffs out her nobility. As clever as she is, she’s still only 9 and Tywin is a master strategist and has lived many years more than her. It’s difficult to know why Arya offers up so much information to the “enemy,” without remembering she is still very young, as spunky as she may be. A well-read stone mason, huh? “Have you met many stone masons, my lord?” Careful, girl! How long with the cat and mouse ruse last? Will Littlefinger be a part of her cover being blown, or will the war pull away the Lion?
The Hound, Sandor Clegane, is confronted by his little bird, Sansa, with an apology in King’s Landing. Those expecting The Hound to soften and bend to Sansa’s sweet courtesy will get no such respite. The dog has been beaten too many times to not bite any hands that come near him no matter how good their intentions might be. Sansa has to my knowledge the first flashback/nightmare scene in series history defying the series’ straightforward narrative style. I believe the dream sequence of being stabbed preluding her “flowering” was somewhat similar and I think an inspired choice for delivering a flashback sequence. This gives hope that the series might seek out opportunities in the future for flashbacks and even scenes unfolding on screen before the narrative of the stories began.
The show further humanizes one of the Lannister siblings by giving Cersei an empathetic dialogue with encouraging Sansa to love her children rather than her king. Sansa so far has been on the surface blindingly devoted to her betrothed Joffrey, something Cersei can surely sympathize with as she was married to a King she didn’t love. Later in the episode we get more peaks behind the madness of the Lannister clan when Tyrion tries to comfort his sister who almost unravels. She believes the madness in her life is a direct result of her incest with her brother. Tyrion knows better but offers her the hope of her two unspoiled children, Tommen and Myrcella. I really like the moment between them at the end of the scene. It’s implied that he puts his hand on her, an olive branch, but the camera never shows– it’s ambiguous. I quite loved it. Weeks ago Cersei pushed him to the ground, now she might start seeing in him an ally, if she’s smart.
Lady Talisa and Robb have another scene together on the battlefields this time with the “noblewoman” requesting more supplies for the battlefield. Lots of remarks about whose men she’s nursing. I have a feeling the showrunners are getting at some deceit in her character’s future especially at her nervousness about going to the Crag with the King of the North. I’m a little confused about this surrender everyone keeps talking about. Maybe it’ll be come clearer next episode to who actually is Robb negotiating with.
Another negotiator, Alton Lannister, is sent to King Robb’s table to bring the news of his rejected terms back from King’s Landing. Robb, admiring Alton’s integrity, decides to give him clean quarters and a warm meal. Roose Bolton reminds him they have too many prisoners and the sigil of a flayed man on his chest reminds us what his idea for overcrowding. Quite stupidly he places him in a pin with his distant cousin, Jaimie, the kingslayer. This pairing does prompt a fun conversation about Jaimie squiring for Barristan Selmy but more importantly it gives him an opportunity to escape. If you thought you couldn’t hate the man any more after throwing chlidren from windows and sleeping with his twin, he coldheartedly kills his cousin (distant I know) to create a diversion before killing a guard later revealed to be a Karstark, a sworn bannerman to the Starks. Jaimie, recaptured after what could have been no more than a couple of days, causes an uproar by the men in the camp. The father of the slain Karstark has vengeance on the tip of his sword and it all is Catelyn can do in her son’s absence to quell his fury. It doesn’t look like Jaimie will make it through the night. It’s a wonder he’s lasted as long as he has out in the open in the North surrounded by 20,000 swords. Catelyn makes another visit to Jaimie as he’s tied up echoing a similar scene in the first series when she hits him with a rock, this time she has Brienne’s sword as her threat. Does she finally give in and kill the man who crippled her son or something worse?
The Qarth subplot this episode is filled with so many backstabbing, literal and figurative. Dany is brought in front of the Thirteen to entreat them about finding her dragons and two big bombshells are dropped. 1. The freaky warlock Pyat Pree took the dragons to the mysterious House of the Undying which I suspected and 2. Xaro Xoan Daxos was in on it which I didn’t expect until re-watching the episode and noticing his complicit nature and lack of emotion when reacting to the stolen dragons and who else could have gotten access to his house and killed that many people. If that bald Warlock ever asks to look into a blue diamond or to do a parlor trick get the hell out of that room because he goes clone massacre on the 13 popping up behind all of them and cutting some throats. I guess the warlocks are going to get a visit from the mother of dragons after all. I’m still curious where the hell Dorhea is and if they took all three of the dragons. I only saw two tails sticking out of the back of their compartment.
The ending scene I think for me would have been the most heartbreaking scenes of the show if I hadn’t read about it in the books. I remember being physically ill after reading that chapter. I really feel for anyone new to the show that had to endure that. I feel like everytime I see a scene like that play out in the show I have to watch a scene between Jon and Ygritte a hundred times as a palette cleanser. I just keep whispering “You know nothing Jon Snow” to myself so maybe I can sleep tonight.