I just don’t know where to begin, because, in truth it was ALL SO GOOD!
We hear the words of a prayer and in the seconds that follow, a spectacular duel to the death takes place between Sandor Clegane and Beric Dondarrion. The sword of fire must have unnerved the Hound, even just a bit, because we all know how terrified he is of fire. The rest of the Brotherhood watch as Beric and Sandor trade jabs and brutal thrusts, each trying to best their opponent. While it looked as though Beric was actually going to knock down the Hound, something awful happens: the Hound brutally stabs Beric, killing him instantly. Or so we think. Arya, her hatred palpable, quickly scrambles to take a sword off of one of the Brotherhood, climb over a small mound and makes an attempt at stabbing the Hound. Alas, to no avail, as she is held back. Then, something eerie happens: we hear the voice of Beric – but wait! Wasn’t he stabbed to death just moments before? It is at this point that readers are given another look at how magic – or forces beyond comprehension – are at work in Westeros.
Beric was resurrected (six times!) by the words of Thoros and by the Lord of Light himself. Arya stares in shock and wonder, probably thinking, “How can this be?” The knowledge of how Beric is brought back to life is shared with Arya. Dragons aren’t the only thing that are mystical in Westeros, it seems.
After a heated exchange between Orell and Jon, where Jon’s loyalties were being tested, Ygritte stands up to Orell. Jon storms off, probably embarrassed that a woman had to defend him. Well, it’s not so bad, especially what happens after words. Ygritte playfully steals Job’s sword, enticing him to basically come and get (her) it back. They wander into a cave, where, tale as old as time, she disrobes in front of him, determined to fan the flames of desire. She certainly succeeds. We see the two lovers finally give into temptation. Later on, they act like playful children, bathing together in the hot springs. I believe we see a softer, tender side of Ygritte, as she tells him, “I don’t ever want to leave this cave, Jon Snow.”
Jaime and Brienne are brought to Roose Bolton, who plays some mind games with Jaime, lingering about the siege of King’s Landing, only to tell him everything is alright. Jaime goes to see Qyburn and gets the rotted flesh stripped off his stump. No milk of the poppy but done straight. I think being in pain is what Jaime needs, in order to feel again and to stir those fires of revenge. Sometimes, you need something as raw and punishing as that to kick start your emotions into high gear.
Once again, fans are treated to another delightful pairing with Lady Olenna and Tyrion. They get together to discuss crown finances, most notably the upcoming royal wedding, which is going to be very extravagant. Tyrion, newly minted as Master of Coin, tries to rationalize with Lady Olenna, stating that the coffers cannot possibly afford to throw away money for a wedding. Lady Olenna counsels otherwise – “The people need a distraction, otherwise they will come up with one of their own.” Good point, indeed! After all, a country ravaged by war, food shortages, people starving and dying by diseases, the men all being recruited and the threat of winter coming, what better way to distract the masses, especially with a happy event – a wedding? Nothing like a wedding to make people temporarily forget their own troubles, in order to catch a glimpse at something spectacular and happy. Lady Olenna concedes that House Tyrell will pay for half, as they have the means and because she wants to get the show on the road. And boy does she know how to deliver a line with a sting: “I was told you were a debauched, drunk only to find that you are an over read bookkeeper.” OUCH. But these two together was quite the scene – Olenna speaking boldly and Tyrion taking it all in. Hm. Can we see these two have another conversation soon? Or maybe Tywin and Olenna. Not THAT would be a battle of wits!
Cersei seeks out Littlefinger, as she is determined to prevent the Tyrells from gaining any sort of power at court. In truth, what she is really afraid of is the mere fact that her own power is diminishing and she is desperate to maintain some position of control, both personally and politically. Cersei, being Cersei, informs Littlefinger to find out by any means any little scrap of gossip that will malign the Tyrell name, that way she can stop the wedding and stop Margaery and Olenna from seizing power over Joffrey. She threatens, I mean, advises Littlefinger to be more successful with this quest because the last time she asked something of him, he was not successful (read: he did not produce Arya Stark as a hostage, therefore Cersei did not have both girls as bargaining chips). Peter better deliver. Or else.
Robb Stark is confronted with inner betrayal: Rickard Karstark murdered the two young Lannister hostages, because he wanted revenge. I guess he was so pent up with frustration and anger over what Jaime Lannister did to his own son and the fact that Catelyn Stark freed him in exchange for her daughters, that he grew angry and impatient and demanded action. Well, if you can’t get to the Kingslayer, you go to the next best thing: any Lannister at this point, will do. Talisa, Catelyn and Edmure all try to reason with Robb: you need the North to prevail and fanning the flames between the bannermen is not a good idea. Strength, strategy and numbers are what will win the war. However, Robb is conflicted: as King, you have to set a good example and that means doing things that aren’t always pleasant. You also have to have the respect of your men – if you are seen as weak or soft, your men will lose faith in you and your cause. Robb knows he has to make a decision regarding what Rickard Karstark did – but at what cost? He sentences Lord Karstark to death by beheading. “Do you have any last words, not that it will save you,” declares Robb. “I didn’t want to be saved, I want to haunt you for the rest of your life, counters Rickard and with one quick stroke, he is beheaded. Even the grim, rainy weather seems to match Robb’s mood, as evidence of his fist clenched and he is shaking. From anger? From fear? Did he make the right choice? Did he know that being a King was going to be so heart wrenching? Later one, he comes up with the idea of forging another alliance in order to gain strength in numbers – an alliance with Walder Frey, the man he broke his betrothal contract in order to marry Talisa. This does not sit well with me and gives me a very bad vibe. Good luck with that one, Robb.
Jaime and Brienne share a bath while at Harrenhal, in which they are both at each other’s throats. However, Jaime becomes subdued and begins to tell the long awaited tale – what REALLY happened when King Aerys was attacked. Aerys was deranged and psychotic: he had scores of wildfire hidden all over King’s Landing. Worse, he told Jaime to go and get Tywin’s head. “What would you do if your precious Renly told you to take your father’s head?” It is here we find out the horrifying truth of what went down – that King Aerys became paranoid, distrustful and obsessed with wildfire – to the point where he was burning people down, just for the sake of it. Not exactly the proper behavior expected of your King, but he had lost his reason a long time ago. What would you do in that predicament? Kill your own dad? Watch innocent people burn all around you? Jaime begins to ramble and collapses in a feverish haze. Brienne yells for help, stating the Kingslayer needs help. “Jaime…my name is Jaime….” We are seeing a man who has been broken and humbled. Is this the new and improved Jaime? One who wants redemption? One who is forging a relationship with a woman, who is learning from his past mistakes? Jaime is becoming more and more human and flawed. I am starting to like this side of him.
We get to meet two new characters from Dragonstone: Selyse Baratheon and their daughter, Shireen. Selyse is fervent in her belief of the Lord of Light and yet, she is a very depressed woman. She never bore a son and heir for Stannis, only a daughter who has a condition, which is known as “Grayscale” – a skin condition in which scales grow on your face, almost like shingles. Shireen is a sweet little girl, with a beautiful singing voice. It appears as though Shireen is shut away from the world because of her condition. Or maybe Selyse is embarrassed of her little girl? Or resentful? Stannis goes to visit his daughter and we see a man who is more suited to command of armies or navies, not in the role of a father. He is very austere and tells her that Ser Davos is in the dungeons because he is a traitor. Shireen later on visits Ser Davos in his cell. She is quite cheeky and is not worried at all about being down there. She is just happy to see a friend. They have a delightful rapport and Shireen brings him a book. However, Davos cannot read and wants the child to return to her rooms. She stays and begins to teach him how to read, not worried about what would happen if they are discovered. “What will they do? Lock us in the cells?” Laughter ensues. A book about Aegon…and his dragons is what Shireen starts to read.
Which was a perfect segue into where we left off with Daenerys and the Unsullied have been. We see Dany and some of her Unsullied officers. She has endeared the Unsullied by freeing them and asking them to fight for her as free men. She also wants them to rename themselves as free men. They do not – reasoning that it is their very names that have been a blessing and curse – they were made slaves and liberated at the same time with those same names. The scene focuses more on Ser Barristan and Ser Jorah. It almost felt like a pecking match – Barristan being quiet and introspective; and Jorah looking over at Barristan, nervous and trying to extract information. However, who genuinely has Dany’s interests at heart, Jorah or Barristan?
Petyr finds out the information that Cersei wanted so badly – it seems the Tyrells are plotting to have Sansa wed to Ser Loras Tyrell, through use of one of his spies. Well, Tywin calls a closed meeting with two of his children. There is NO way he is going to stay quiet and have the Tyrells try to steal power away from the Lannister family. Tywin delivers a one – two punch to his son, Tyrion: guess what, son? You’re going to get married and your bride to be is Sansa Stark. Sansa is extremely valuable – she is young, pretty and has an ancient name. Being the only Stark of any real worth around makes her worth very high. Tyrion is alarmed and angry – he doesn’t want to go through with this but Tywin never does anything without thinking it through. Tyrion does not want to have Sansa suffer even more. Cersei, smirking in the corner, implies that he ought to be happy that Sansa Stark is going to be his bride. Not one to rest on his laurels, Tywin hands Cersei her punishment: she is to marry Ser Loras, as he is heir to Highgarden. These two alliances will given the Lannisters supreme power. Imagine the absolute glee I felt when I saw the smug look on Cersei’s face being wiped right off. Tywin: 5. Cersei: 0.
Tywin Lannister doesn’t sugarcoat anything – “You’re my daughter. You will wed Ser Loras and put an end to the disgusting rumours about you once and for all. My children….you disgrace the Lannister name for far too long…”
Leave it to Tywin Lannister to have the last word in such a pivotal scene. It was my favourite one and it felt as though the hour just flew by. I think you can all agree that when Charles Dance is in a room, the atmosphere is electric!
Excited for next week? Here’s the trailer: