Let me begin this review by saying how much I love Grey Worm, played by Jacob Anderson. His work at trying to learn the Common Tongue with Missandei is a stark contrast to the scene moments later, where he encourages the Meereenese slaves to fight for their freedom. Daenerys’ approach to Meereen last week was dramatic and set us up for her conquer this week. It was hard to see the Masters crucified, but, after what they did to those 163 children, can one really say Daenerys made a bad choice? No. She established she was a leader and actions like those of the Masters would be punished harshly: “I will answer injustice with justice.” Her character is growing stronger every day. Although the capture of Meereen is very different from the book, it was still grand and dramatic. All in all, this is one of the happier beginnings to a “Game of Thrones” episode that we’ve seen in a while.
I’m enjoying Bronn and Jaime’s swordplay almost as much as Bronn and Tyrion’s banter. With a few simple words, Bronn is able to spur Jaime into speaking with Tyrion, which is at least valiant. I’m still having a lot of issues with Jaime after last week’s rape. When Jaime does visit Tyrion, Tyrion lays everything out for Jaime: the country thinks he killed Joffrey, Cersei thinks he killed Joffrey, and Tywin wants Tyrion dead, whether he killed Joffrey or not. Tyrion is completely right in asking if Jaime is there to kill him: “The Kingslayer Brothers… You’re really asking if I killed your son?” To which Jaime replies, “You’re really asking if I’d kill my brother?” Tyrion may be the one last redeeming quality that Jaime has, but as for redeeming Jaime, that ship sailed last week. Tyrion knows that Cersei “won’t rest until my head is on a spike” and Jaime can do nothing to help him. Even the trial will, eventually, mean nothing, he thinks.
Sansa learns from Littlefinger that he is marrying her aunt, Lysa Arryn, of the Eyrie. Remember her from season 1? Crazy lady with a young kid who, at the age of five or six, was still breast feeding in public and “wanted the bad man to fly”? Yeah, that’s her. Sansa and Baelish discuss who killed Joffrey, and Baelish explains what happened: Sansa’s necklace was made of poisonous crystals, and someone did something to that necklace and took a crystal. Throughout their discussion, Sansa comes to despise Baelish – who is aligning himself with the Tyrells – but also knows that he is the only person able to protect her now, and that he will for as long as it suits him. She has to commit herself to him and his course for now, as it’s her only hope of surviving.
Olenna Tyrell is preparing to leave King’s Landing, but not without one last stroll through the gardens with Margaery. She advises that Margaery get to Tommen quickly, before Cersei can get her claws back in him. In the meantime, Cersei is busy mourning Joffrey and preparing a trial against Tyrion, which makes Margaery question his guilt. Olenna absolutely knows that Tyrion is innocent and confesses the truth to Margaery: “You don’t think I’d let you marry that beast, do you?” In the books, Olenna was never strongly implicated in the death of Joffrey, but it’s awesome to see this female version of Tywin Lannister taking control of the future of her house and family. And anyone who kills Joffrey is awesome, right?
Jon and Grenn are trying to prepare new troops for the Night’s Watch, and among them is Locke, the man Lord Bolton promised 1,000 acres and a holdfast to. Of course, Alliser Thorne has to show up and call Jon a “traitor’s bastard” again. I really hope something happens to Thorne – soon. Janos Slynt and Thorne are soon talking about a way to get rid of Jon Snow and that Maester Aemon will soon call for the choosing of a new Lord Commander, and there’s a chance it could be Jon. Locke creates a fictional backstory of poaching that convinces Jon he’s a decent fellow – er, decent enough for the Night’s Watch.
Cersei is getting her drink on, as per usual these days. She calls Jaime to her chambers to ask who is protecting Tommen and is upset that only one Kingsguard is on duty outside his door. Clearly, Cersei is getting a little drunk and asks why Catelyn Stark released Jaime; he confesses that he had promised to return Sansa and Arya to her and had taken a solemn oath to do so, and that he missed Cersei and wanted to be back with her. But Cersei is just winding up: she asks if, she demanded it, would he go track Sansa down immediately and bring her back for her part in killing Joffrey. She’s displeased that Jaime saw Tyrion. Jaime tries to tell her that Tyrion is innocent, but Cersei will hear none of it. The tension between Jaime and Cersei is running high, with Jaime trying to be a good brother to Tyrion and a fair person regarding Joffrey’s death, but Cersei is having none of it. She wants Tyrion dead and Sansa dead and probably all of the Tyrells, too, while she’s at it, and the fact that Jaime won’t help is only making things worse for the Lannisters.
Margaery sneaks into Tommen’s room and tells him that she is to be his bride. Apparently this is one of the first times she’s really talked to Tommen, whom we saw none of in season 3. Margaery is being charming and sweet and asks Tommen to tell her a secret. By petting Tommen’s cat, Ser Pounce, she slowly wins Tommen’s trust. When Tommen confesses that Joffrey threatened to skin Ser Pounce and feed him to Tommen, Margaery says that was cruel, and then remarks that Tommen isn’t cruel. He agrees. Truthfully, Tommen is as far from being Joffrey as Ned Stark is to being Aegon Targaryen IV.
Brienne makes a visit to Jaime in the White Tower, the Kingsguard headquarters. She begins reading Jaime’s entry in the White Book, which is filled with all the great deeds of the Kingsguard. Jaime’s is a bit scant and doesn’t say much about him after he became the Kingslayer. Jaime hands her a Valyrian steel sword and explains that it’s hers, reforged from Ned Stark’s greatsword Ice. She’ll be protecting Sansa – and, possibly, Arya – with Ned’s own sword. He also gives her a beautiful new suit of armor and evenly says, “I hope I got your measurements right.” Brienne vows to find the girls, “for Lady Catelyn, and for you.” As a final gift, Jaime gives Brienne Podrick Payne, Tyrion’s former squire. That way, both Pod and Brienne will be out of King’s Landing before all hell breaks lose with Tyrion’s trial. Bronn gifts Pod with Tyrion’s battle axe from the Battle of Blackwater. Jaime says that all the best swords have names; she says she’ll call this one Oathkeeper and walks away. Jaime looks quite sad to be seeing her go. Brienne turns and looks back at him, sad herself, but knowing that her duty is greater now.
Sam and Jon are talking in Castle Black and Sam is fretting over placing Gilly in Mole’s Town. Apparently Sam has told Jon that Bran is beyond the Wall – something not in the books, as Jon thinks, like everyone else, that Bran is dead – and Jon wonders how far they could travel. Sam and Jon speculate that Bran and Hodor could be at Craster’s Keep. (Not?) Surprisingly, Ser Aliser asks Jon to go on a secret mission to Craster’s Keep, and Jon asks for volunteers to go with him and sweep away the mutineers held up there. For the record, this is not in the books. Jon gives a rousing speech about Lord Commander Mormont being the Night’s Watch’s father – as they’re all brothers and he was their leader – and several people stand up to join him on the journey to Craster’s, including Locke.
The mutineers who took over Craster’s Keep are even worse than Craster. Karl is drinking wine from Mormont’s skull. He encourages the other deserters to continue raping Craster’s wives/daughters. Rast is called over to Karl and Karl says to go feed the beast, whatever that may be. Either drunk or uncaring, Karl berates Rast and tries to get Rast to challenge him in a fight. Rast, wisely, declines said fight, and Karl is cut off in his ramblings by a woman bringing in a baby, Craster’s last baby. Craster’s wives start chanting, “A gift for the gods” and encourage Karl to leave the baby outside for the White Walkers. He hands the newborn over to Rast, who dutifully trudges out into the wild with the child, leaves it on the snow, and walks away. The child’s cries are heard for a few moments, then the sound of an animal snorting. It’s Ghost! Karl and Rast and the others have decided to keep Ghost alive for some unknown reason, though I fear it’s not for a good one. Ghost tries to break out of his cage and get at Rast, but to no avail. Suddenly it grows colder and colder.
Hodor wakes up in the middle of the night because he can hear the baby crying. Jojen and Bran realize something has happened, and Bran wargs into Summer so he can investigate. We get some awesome visuals of what Summer is seeing as he runs and looks for the infant. Summer sees Ghost in a cage before being caught in a trap, and Bran wakes up. Jojen, Meera, Hodor, and Bran all approach Craster’s Keep in the hopes of saving Summer. Meera begins to step away from the group, only to be waylaid by a mutineer. Hodor is brought down, too, and crippled Bran is dragged inside. Before Karl, Meera, Jojen, and Bran stand little chance. Earlier Karl was talking about what a great killer he was in King’s Landing. He easily assumes that Bran is highborn, but Bran says nothing, and neither do the Reeds. Karl begins paying attention to Meera, which is incredibly creepy. Jojen begins having a spasm or warg spell, and Meera begs to go to him; Karl holds her back until Bran confesses his identity.
Next we see a White Walker, eyes glowing blue, carrying Craster’s (still living) baby. His horse is made of frozen, rotted flesh, and he’s traveling toward some kind of ice fortress with several crystals in a circle out front. He places the baby on an altar made of ice, and a person in solid black clothes (the Internet is buzzing about him possibly being the Night’s King, a character not yet mentioned in the books) walks forward. With the touch of one finger, the Night’s King turns the baby into a blue-eyed White Walker, too.
I must say, I never expected the White Walkers to look quite like that… It’s like something out of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” I’m a little disappointed. With the initial description in book 1 of how fluid and silent the Walkers are, I didn’t expect a bumpy-headed demon! Anyway…
The ending of this episode is hopelessly bleak compared to how it started. We began with Grey Worm and Daenerys offering life and freedom, and we close with this innocent child turned into a White Walker. Even the music is ominous. As we travel more and more northward, the more hopeless the situation becomes. Jon and his brothers have no idea what is truly waiting for them, only glimpses and stories from Wildlings and scouts. Now with Bran, Jojen, Meera, Hodor, Summer, and Ghost all trapped at Craster’s, run by the insane Karl, there seems to be little hope. And remember: winter is still coming.
Here’s a preview for next week’s episode, “First of His Name”:
VL Vanderveer is a graduate of East Tennessee State University’s Department of Literature and Language. Aside from her blogging for HBOWatch.com, she can be found in the Marketing department of InnLink Central Reservations Services.