Escapes and capture: the scattered Starks are united by the ghost of Ned.
Ned’s voice is in his son Bran‘s dreams, defending him from the good-natured teasing of his older brothers. Though the setting is different, Bran’s dream is a repeat of a scene in the pilot episode: except this time he’s trying to shoot the three-eyed raven, not a target. But someone new appears in the dream, too, telling Bran he can never shoot the raven – because he is the raven. MYSTICAL.
Osha doesn’t want to hear any of that mystical crap; she’s too busy trying to keep them all alive:
I don’t know what other people know and what they don’t. I only know the Wall is a long way off.
But despite her caution, they are found: by the boy from Bran’s dream, Jojen, and his sister, Meera (who is now 1-0 up on Osha in weapons, strategic use of).
Their father, Howland Reed, was an ally of Ned’s during Robert’s Rebellion. Jojen unloads a lot on Bran: Bran is a Warg, but that’s just the start. He also – like Jojen – has the Sight, the ability to see what’s happened in the past, what’s happening far away, and what will happen in the future. You’d think that’d be a lot to take in for a boy who’s just lost his father, his people, and his home, but Bran seems, if anything, delighted (that’ll teach you, Maester Luwin! Oh, wait…). Rickon is more interested in running off track and giving Osha heart attacks. Non-book readers: what did you think of the Reeds?
North of the Wall
Also getting his first introduction to Wargs is the illegitimate Stark, Jon Snow. He, at least, betrays a healthy WTF-expression in the face of a man who’s currently inhabiting the mind of a bird (Orell, played by Mackenzie Crook).
Mance also makes it very clear where Jon stands: in a precarious position below him. Mance won’t hesitate to kill Jon, and also doesn’t hesitate to show off his leadership skills in uniting the diverse Wildlings:
I told them we were all going to die, if we don’t get south, because that’s the truth.
This also applies rather more urgently to the ragged remains of the Night’s Watch, survivors of the Wight attack on the Fist of the First Men. Sam, exhausted and demoralised by one of the meaner and less imaginative survivors (“Piggy,” really?), falls and refuses to get up until ordered to by the Lord Commander. Mormont has another order for him:
Tarly, I forbid you to die.
and makes his tormentor responsible for Sam’s survival.
Ned and Jon are also on Catelyn‘s mind, as she and Robb receive two pieces of bad and worse news: Catelyn’s father is dead, and Winterfell is destroyed, with no word of whether Bran and Rickon are dead, escaped, or Theon’s hostages. Duty and practicality dictate that Robb’s army must go to Riverrun for Hoster Tully’s funeral (Catelyn’s childhood home, it’s where the Tullys keep their garrison): Lord Bolton is to hold Harrenhal in the meantime. Lord Karstark is not optimistic that more men will make any difference to Robb’s cause: he thinks Robb lost his war when he married Talisa.
Catelyn, however, is more interested in atonement, and starts making one of her weird fetish/talisman thingies that she made when Bran was unconscious. Talisa, understandably, is wondering what kind of crazy culture she married into, and Catelyn explains the talisman: they are made by a mother to protect her children, and they always work, “after a fashion.”
For Bran, he woke up, but he was paralysed. And when Jon Snow had the pox as a baby, Catelyn blamed herself for wishing him dead out of jealousy of his unknown mother. She made a talisman, promising to the gods to love him and ask Ned to legitimise him; he survived, but she still wasn’t able to love him as she knew she should have, and didn’t keep her promises. Catelyn blames herself for everything horrible that’s happened to the Starks since.
I was the worst woman”¦ all because I couldn’t love a motherless child.
Ned is also on his foster-son Theon‘s mind – along with anything else he can think of to make the pain stop. He doesn’t know where he is or who has had him tied to a cross and tortured, but he knows he wants the pain to stop. Still, a saviour appears, sent by his sister Yara, offering him escape, but only at nightfall. It’s a long time to wait when you’re tied up with screws in your hands and feet.
Elsewhere in the Riverlands, Arya, Gendry and Hot Pie‘s escape from Harrenhal is cut short by the Brotherhood Without Banners – the rebel group that prisoners at Harrenhal were tortured over (Tywin left the Mountain to find and crush them, but he abandoned the castle when the Northern Army approached). Their leader, Thoros, promises to let the children go after they tell how they escaped: a promise he seems to keep to, after Arya and Gendry together concoct a mix of lies and truth over dinner (in the same inn where Catelyn arrested Tyrion, way back in Season 1). But the Brotherhood have a captive – the Hound – and just as Arya is about to make her second escape, he recognises her. RUH-ROH.
In yet another location, Jaime and Brienne are still on their “very dull walk” to King’s Landing. This suits Brienne fine, but Jaime needs more excitement, which he gets when he goes too far in disparaging Renly:
Renly wasn’t fit to rule over anything more than a 12-course meal– It’s a shame the throne wasn’t made out of cocks, they’d’ve never got him off it.
Brienne duly threatens him with violence, and he switches to disarming sincerity:
I don’t blame him, of course. We don’t get to choose who we love.
“¦before wanting to murder a man who he thinks has recognised him on the road. Jaime Lannister, eh. He’s a mystery.
Later he succeeds in stealing one of Brienne’s swords, leading to one of the scenes I was most looking forward to this season: Jaime and Brienne going at it, fighting-style:
If you kill me, you fail Lady Stark, but if you don’t kill me, I’m going to kill you.
Sadly, they barely got going before they are found by men on horseback, carrying the flayed man sigil of the Boltons – Robb Stark’s bannermen. They’ve been captured, thanks to the man Jaime earlier wanted to kill.
Sansa’s hush-hush conversation with Littlefinger in last week’s episode has put her in a good mood. Though she lies to Shae about what he wanted, Shae is rightly suspicious, and goes to Tyrion with her concerns, making him anxious that Tywin will find out about her:
Having you killed would be the highlight of his week.
They succeed in distracting each other with fake-fights about Ros (Tyrion slept with her) and Sansa’s looks (Shae thinks Tyrion wants to sleep with her) and don’t actually reach any conclusions about what Littlefinger might want with Sansa or how to protect her. (NB: Shae’s reaction to Ros shows that she doesn’t know Ros was imprisoned and beaten by Cersei in her place).
Sansa, meanwhile, is enchanted to receive an invitation to lunch with Margaery, escorted by the lovely Loras. Her sense of wellbeing quickly evaporates when Margaery and her no-bullshit grandmother Olenna (“Loras is young and very good at knocking men off of horses with a stick”) want to hear the truth about Joffrey. Sansa at first toes the party line, but the memory of her father is what makes her crack: her instinct is to be truthful and she doesn’t want to see Margaery hurt the way she has been:
Sansa: My father always told the truth.
Olenna: He had that reputation… And they named him traitor and took his head.
Sansa: Joffrey did that… Joffrey is a monster
Margaery and Olenna’s response surprises her, though: instead of reacting in horror, they shrug as if to say, “Oh well, Plan B it is, then.”
Cersei is much less effective at getting the truth out of Joffrey: she wants to know what he really thinks about Margaery, but he’s not interested in his mother’s jibes and has no problem telling her so:
She married Renly Baratheon because she was told to. That’s what intelligent women do, what they’re told.
Cersei knows the truth about her son but all she can do is keep trying to control him, before he starts controlling her.
Margaery quickly executes Plan B: convince Joffrey (a) how cute and innocent she is and (b) how much he’d like to fuck her. Using a crossbow as a seduction device. Um. Say what you like about the girl, she really seems to know what she’s doing. When Joffrey boasts of making Renly’s “perversions” a capital crime, she doesn’t blink (despite what that would mean for Loras). The contrast between her political savvy up ’til now and her doe-eyed innocence with Joffrey is entertaining for us – will Joffrey be taken in for long? Cersei certainly isn’t, but Margaery has at least one advantage over Cersei in the king’s affections: sex.
This week, I loved: getting to see Robb, Jon and Bran together again (my heart!); Gendry asking the question everyone wants to ask Arya i.e.: why didn’t she pick better people for Jaqen to kill?; the Brotherhood singing “The Rains of Castamere”; the Reeds’ entrance; Olenna Tyrell; Brienne kicking Jaime’s ass; Jack Gleeson’s performance – a perfect spoilt teenager OMG MOM SHUT UP *EYEROLL* with just the right overtone of menace; and all that beautiful, tasty backstory we got from Catelyn.
I did not enjoy: seeing Theon tortured; feeling bad for Sam; and Joffrey being Joffrey. Eurgh.
Between last week and this week, we now know where all the pieces are on the board. So let’s start playing the Game, shall we?
WARNING: if you want to talk about the books from A Storm of Swords on, please preface your comment with a ***spoiler***. The first two books and first two seasons of the show are not considered spoilers.
Screencaps c/o screencapped.net. All images are the property of HBO.