Assault, blackmail, cat-eating, dead ravens, emotional declarations, failure, and guilt: it’s the full alphabet in this week’s episode of Westeros: the War of the
Five Four Kings years.
SOMEWHERE IN THE RIVERLANDS
Robb and Talisa take a leisurely stroll through the woods; he tells her what Ned taught him about ruling: that it’s like being a father with thousands of children to worry over, who you are afraid for when you wake and when you sleep. Robb also tells Talisa about his engagement; and she tells him why she does what she does (a slave once saved her brother from drowning, which was more important to her than dancing or parties, which was her life as a high-born girl in Volantis).
And they declare their love and get nekked!
I totally wanted more of this scene: after all the transactional and incestuous sex we’ve seen, it would be nice to see two (unrelated) people get it on because they are genuinely into each other. I also think that it’s a relief for Robb to have a relationship with someone who isn’t tied to him by blood or feudal obligations, because those are definitely not stress-free for the Young Wolf at the moment.
Defying Robb, Catelyn freed Jaime, fearing for the lives of her daughters if he is killed by Lord Karstark or his men, and sent him heading for Winterfell with Brienne as escort (expect more back-and-forth with these two on the journey). However, Robb is pissed. Like, seriously pissed:
You’ve weakened our position. You’ve brought discord into our camp. And you did it all behind my back.
As is Lord Karstark:
I don’t want your grief, I want my vengeance! And you stole it from me.
Robb sends more men after Jaime, sets a guard on Catelyn, and tells Bolton to tell his son that any Ironborn who surrenders will be allowed to go home – except Theon.
Ah, Theon. The self-declared Prince of Winterfell, he’s still obediently taking Dagmar’s suggestions – don’t bury the burnt bodies, do kill the ravens so Luwin can’t tell anyone what they’ve done– but he’s delighted to welcome big sis Yara to Winterfell so he can show off the castle he took over ALL BY HIMSELF. But he doesn’t get a pat on the back, just a serious dressing-down from Yara:
Which one gave you the bigger fight, the cripple or the six-year-old?… You’re the dumbest cunt alive. A dumb cunt who killed the only two Starks in Winterfell. You know how valuable those boys were?
And then, in private, a heartfelt plea to return with her to the Iron Islands:
Theon, you are my blood. We both loved our mother. We both endured our father. Come home with me, don’t die here alone.
Wow, Yara has the emotions. And pardon me for interrupting, but how does this proposed retreat fit in with Balon’s plan for Westerosi domination? How clueless is Theon about his ability to hold Winterfell against the Bolton forces? And when Dagmar tells him that the farmer, the orphaned boys’ foster-father, was killed, too, it really revealed for me how naive Theon still is, despite all the horrible things he’s done. Does it come as any surprise that Theon was a difficult baby?
Last week’s moment of suspense is ended near the end of the episode, when Luwin sees Osha sneaking into the crypts at Winterfell. Bran and Rickon aren’t actually dead – just hiding in the crypts. Maester Luwin tells Osha who the bodies really were and makes her promise not to tell Bran – but he’s awake and listening. Bran, the real prince of Winterfell, has already learned what Robb didn’t until he became king: ruling is responsibility, guilt, and fear.
Robb is doing well with his ladyfriend, but Jon’s is much less friendly. Ygritte brings Jon to the wildling Lord of Bones, who wants to kill him: but Ygritte steps in, firstly because Jon could have killed her and didn’t, and secondly, because his Stark blood may be useful – in some unspecified way – to the King Beyond the Wall, Mance Rayder. I personally hope his blood is most useful in his body rather than out of it.
The wildlings already have Qhorin – he was captured and the other Watchmen were killed when they went back to look for Jon, so all the Stark boys are suffering from a bad case of the guilts this week. Qhorin wants him to pretend to go over to the Wildlings’ side and learn what he can, while he himself pretends to hate Jon for getting them all killed, but for the moment, they are on the way to see Mance Rayder.
Back at the Fist of the First Men, Grenn finds a buried Watchman’s cloak containing…lots and lots of blades of dragonglass, a.k.a. obsidian, as Sam helpfully explains. Who buried it there and why? Also, quick question: where is Ghost? A direwolf would come in handy for Jon right about now…
In contrast to her brothers, Arya doesn’t seem to feel at all guilty for the Lannister men who were hanged because of her actions, draped about the set like so many discarded curtains. She certainly doesn’t feel guilty for threatening Jaqen into helping her, Gendry, and Hot Pie escape the castle – which results in more deaths.
Jaqen is very good at what he does, but he clearly never expected Arya to get one up on him. But how did she persuade Gendry and Hot Pie to leave with her? And how is she planning to get to Robb before Tywin’s army can?
Dany is bored and anxious so she’s baiting Jorah with accusations about how he’s not loyal to her and doesn’t believe in her magic – the first time she’s used that word about herself. He’s found a ship going to Astapor and wants them to leave – she wants her dragons, because they’re her children. The only ones that she’ll ever have… HEY JORAH, THAT’S A HINT FOR YOU. Yet she neither goes to the ship nor to the Houses of the Undying. One wonders why they put her in this episode at all, because pretty much nothing happened there.
Cersei thinks she has gotten revenge for Myrcella’s engagement by having Ros imprisoned and beaten: for every injury that Joffrey may suffer in the upcoming battle, Ros will suffer, too. Cersei thinks Tyrion wants to have Joffrey killed, and Ros, whom she thinks is Tyrion’s lover, is her insurance. She thinks she’s been fabulously clever, but seriously, did Cersei really think Tyrion would send his own lover to sex up Joffrey, whom she thinks he hates more than he actually does?
Also, give Ros some serious props for this scene: she is defiant but subtly so; she doesn’t give the game away; and she recognises that trusting Tyrion is a better hope for her survival than pleading for mercy Cersei doesn’t have.
Joffrey, on the other hand, actually thinks he’s capable of slitting Stannis’ throat. Like his mother, his self-delusion knows no bounds. Tyrion declares his love for Shae – and she does in return – while warning her they must be careful. Relying on Varys keeping his mouth shut, though, may be dangerous, as Varys has now heard about Dany’s dragons and tells Tyrion. Tyrion is more bothered by existential questions:
Why are all the gods such vicious cunts? Where’s the god of tits and wine?
And, oh yeah, trying to defend the city from Stannis’ coming invasion. Still, though, if Tyrion and Salladhor Saan meet during the battle, I hope they recognize each other as kindred spirits, as, in an odd way, Tyrion and Varys are. As Varys says, they both enjoy playing the Game: and Tyrion is one of the few people we see who refers to Varys as a man without pretension or qualification.
Bronn does not like gold cloaks or books on siege warfare, but he knows how to deal with thieves:
Varys: Did you know there has been a marked drop in thievery?
Tyrion: I did not know. And how did you accomplish this marked drop in thievery?
Bronn: Me and the lads rounded up all the known thieves.
Tyrion: For questioning?
Bronn: Ah, no.
Something he did to preempt the inevitable scarcity of food due to thievery during the coming siege, though he thinks the poor will still start eating each other. Lovely.
ON A BOAT
Speaking of Stannis, he’s on a boat, motherfuckers, don’t you ever forget (that he ate cats once). He and Davos reminisce about the Siege of Storm’s End during Robert’s rebellion: first they ate the horses, then the cats, then the dogs, which upset Stannis a bit, because dogs are loyal. Like Davos. Ominous, much?
Stannis tells Davos he’ll make him the Hand when he becomes king. Surely, with three other kings still left, it’s not a foregone conclusion – but one of Stannis’s powers is his iron self-belief. Robert told him to hold Storm’s End 17 years ago, so he held it. Now he’s said he’ll be king, so…
All this is leading up to next week’s GRRM-written Big Battle Episode, when (at least) two opposing forces will battle for control of King’s Landing and the Seven Kingdoms. Although, given what we’ve seen and heard from the Starks this week, who knows why they’d want it. NB: we haven’t seen Littlefinger or the Tyrells for a while, and you know they’re not just sitting in a tent somewhere, knitting quietly.
Questions? Predications? Rants? Join me in the comments.
Spoilers note: anything from the first book or first TV series is fair game. Mention of future plot points and/or characters from the rest of the ASoIaF series is a spoiler: please use these tags, with the *s removed, to talk about them: [*spoiler*] <blah blah> [*/spoiler*].