This week's episode of Game of Thrones wasn't quite the ride as thrilling as last week's, but we did get plenty of amazing things including one of the most breathtaking shots in the whole series and a shocking death, for book readers and non book readers alike. Unfortunately, we also get to see Sam and Bran.
The first scene of the episode was Sam trying (and failing) to start a fire to keep Gilly and her newborn son warm. Gilly instructs him how to do it properly, since Sam is good for nothing. The whole scene had only one purpose - to show us the dagger Sam found during the Battle in the Fist of the First Men. Also, I do not want to sound insensitive, but Sam is the Hugo of Westeros. No food anywhere, yet he keeps getting...bigger.
In the boring town aka Bran and company, Meera and Osha are having a catfight about the proper ways to skin a rabbit. Wow, truly riveting stuff here. Bran tries to reconcile them telling them their ways of skinning rabbits are both fine. Love Actually Kid is dreaming at this point and suddenly he starts convulsing, as if he had a seizure. Meera runs to him and explains to startled group, including Rickon who appears to only have the lines that are questions, that he is experiencing visions and that those are the side effects. Jojen awakes and tells Bran he saw Jon Snow, surrounded by enemies.
Oh, Love Actually Kid. You know nothing. Jon Snow is not surrounded by enemies, in fact he is riding of the high of finally getting laid. Him and Ygritte are smiling and talking, Ygritte mentions "that thing he did with his tongue" again, Jon blushes... again, really powerful stuff here. Ygritte also gives him the pair of the crappiest snow shoes I've seen in my entire life. They are preparing for the climb - the wildings will attempt to climb the wall to run away from the White Walkers. Curiously, Mance Ryder is absent during all of this. Last we saw him, he was promising to light "the biggest fire the North has ever seen". Is he...as bad at this as Sam is? Is he trying to figure out how much wood is...too much?
Back in Tortureville, the boy is still tormenting Theon. As Theon had betrayed Robb Stark I do not feel bad for him. I really don't. Truth be told, I wish they would just drop that story right in Episode 4 when we saw the boy lead Theon back to the dungeon. But we have this scene and then guessing by the promo, another one in the next episode. While the next episode is written by George R.R. Martin himself and he may use this opportunity to actually show us something that was only hinted at (this is going to be horrible), as great as this week's scene was, it was a bit of the waste of time.
Either the writers don't think non book readers can guess who is torturing Theon so they are throwing hints (each one more blatant than the last) or it's just their fondness of showing torture. Well, here we got some good old fashioned flaying skin off the little finger move from the boy. Iwan Rheon's acting was really terrific here and they truly found the right person to bring his character to life. I like that we see how much he loves mind games. But perhaps this should be used later on.
Meanwhile, in Riverlands, Arya is learning how to use a bow While she is doing that, she is reciting the names of the people she wants to kill. I always love it when she does that. Arya notices a group of riders approaching. In front of them is Melisandre. Her and Thoros exchange several lines in truly beautiful Valyrian and Melisandre is brought before Beric. When she remarks that it is impossible that Thoros brought him back 6 times, for he is a man without power, Thoros tells her the tale of him losing his faith and the day he brought Beric back for the first time.
Melisandre tells them there is someone she wants from them. It turns out that this person is Gendry. Melisandre pays Beric and Thoros in gold to Arya's disgust who remarks how they are doing it for the gold, not for their god. Thoros explains that they need weapons to fight, which costs money, so they are doing it for both reasons. Meanwhile Melisandre tells Gendry that he will make "the kings rise and fall". Oh, God. I really hope it means we are getting that leeches scene.
Melisandre appearing in Riverlands and taking Gendry is completely new - Gendry has been merged with another character from the books - Edric Storm. It's really a brilliant and quite elegant move on writers' part. We also got amazing moment because of this - Arya and Melisandre.
As I mentioned before, one of my favorite things in the novels are prophecies. We finally got some of that and more - we even got a hint to something beyond the written word as the writers gave us a hint to something that has not happened yet. And the scene was incredible. Arya confronts Melisandre who looks startled when she sees her. She looks in her face and says "Brown eyes, blue eyes, green eyes -- eyes you'll shut forever." This is some really brilliant foreshadowing - in one line, three different clues. After that Melisandre gives Arya a slight smile and says they will meet again. Pay attention to the music that was playing in that scene - when is the last time we heard it? If you know it, you may guess one of the things Melisandre was referring to.
Meanwhile, in genius town, Robb Stark is welcoming Frey emissaries. They tell him they are prepared to forgive him for...how do I put this? Banging the nurse, marrying her and screwing over their family. Robb is of course very courteous and charming, knowing that he needs Freys for his brilliant plan to take Casterly Rock to succeed (is that the word that I'm looking for?). The Freys want apology. They also want Harrenhal. Why the hell does everyone want Harrenal? Yes, it's the biggest castle but it's a pile of rocks and dead bodies. And it's pretty well known fact that it is cursed.
Anyways, these terms are met with approval from Robb, Edmure, Blackfish and silent Catelyn. And then they hear the third condition - the Freys want Edmure to marry the Frey girl, as Robb was supposed to do (I'm willing to bet right here and now that Roslin Frey is hundred times prettier than Talisa). Edmure, little bitch that he is, throws a hissy fit, rambling on about having the right to chose his own wife. For fuck sake. I'll never understand that. Wars are happening. People are getting killed. You will get an ally and an army but instead of marrying some girl you really only need to sleep with once 1) you simply must bang the first woman you see (Robb) 2) you act as if it was the worst thing in the world (Edmure).
In some sublime lines Blackfish yells at Edmure and Robb asks him to do this, because they really need Freys. He reminds Edmure about the
Meanwhile, the wildings are climbing up the wall, with Tormund, Orell, Jon and Ygritte in one group. Suddenly they lose the grip and Jon and Ygritte start falling. Orell wants to use this opportunity to kill Jon, whom he doesn't trust, but here comes a twist - Jon does something that is actually useful and rescues Ygritte and himself.
In King's Landing, Tywin and Olenna are talking about the new marriage plans for ser Loras. Olenna is not happy about Loras marrying Cersei. The scene was pure gold as both of those don't take any shit and hold no punches - Olenna went as far as to ask Tywin if he had any homosexual adventures and to bringing up the issue of Cersei sleeping with her brother. Tywin had the upper hand though - if Olenna doesn't agree to Loras marrying Cersei, he will name him one of the Kingsguard - and they can't marry or inherit anything. Olenna breaks Tywin's quill indicating she is agreeing to marriage.
Misery loves company. Tywin screwed Tyrion and Cersei over so bad, they are talking again, forced to work together. Tyrion flat out asks Cersei if she gave the order to kill him during the battle of Blackwater. Cersei stays silent. Tyrion deduces that it means Joffrey did that, as Tyrion is the only one who tells him what he is (well he is several things, to be completely honest - an idiot, a coward, a sadist...take your pick). In the books nothing is stated explicitly, but everything points out to the fact Cersei wasn't the one behind the assassination attempts.
Tyrion and Cersei are wondering what to do in their situation. He remarks that Sansa is probably getting the worst deal but Loras will know true misery with Cersei by his side. They wonder where Jaime is and Tyrion says there is no doubt Jaime will kill ser Loras when he finds out his beloved sister is marrying him.
What they don't know is that currently Jaime can't even cut his meat. We move to Harrenhal where Jaime and Brienne, wearing pink dress, are dining with Lord Bolton. This is one of the most amazingly written chapters in the books. At this point we should wonder about something, but we don't. We don't, because everything happens so fast, it's impossible to truly wonder about why it's all happening. Though the scene was very short - and perhaps that is because if it went on longer in TV you would start to wonder - it was very well done.
In the books Jaime remarks how that pink dress makes Brienne look even uglier. Well, not only does Gwendoline Christie look pretty in it, it turns out that unlike in the books the dress is a great fit - so I assume they had different, gigantic woman there before Brienne? Other than this little detail the scene was beautifully written and I loved that bit when Brienne stuck her fork in Jaime's meat to help him curve it, which was a compassionate and caring gesture yet Brienne did it in a way that screamed "I'm so mad that I care about you".
In the scene Roose Bolton makes sure Jaime won't implicate him in his amputation. Roose plans to sent Jaime to King's Landing, as payment for the crimes of his men. But here comes trouble - Bolton says Brienne is a traitor and she is staying in Harrenhal. Jaime tries to protest but Bolton shuts him up. As weird as it sounds, Brienne was only safe when the Kingslayer was on her side. And now he must leave her behind....
Another little thing I loved here - at one point Brienne grabs a knife and Jaime grabs her hand to prevent her from doing anything. Ahhh.
Back in King's Landing, Sansa is having a nice little chat with Loras, who truth be told looks worse and worse with each season and wasn't anything special to begin with. Loras might have as well have a rainbow flag on his shoulders in this scene, it was written in such a way. Sansa is obviously oblivious to anything odd and she just smiles and laughs, so very happy.
Then we see her trying out a gown for Joffrey and Margaery's wedding. We did see Sophie Turner in her corset in this scene which was....odd. Let me explain. The scene could have just as easily be something else, yet the writers chose to do that, preventing Sansa from taking off her dress only because Tyrion entered the room. People have trouble with many things in the show but for me that one was very noticeable cheap and tantalizing maneuver. Also - isn't she seventeen? Really HBO?
Anyways, Tyrion is there to tell Sansa the happy news that she won't be leaving King's Landing with ser Loras. She will instead marry Tyrion and stay in King's Landing, not only a prisoner to Lannisters - a wife of one of them. We don't actually see him tell her. Tyrion says "This is awkward" and we cut away.
There was something else with Sansa and Shae - right before Tyrion walked in, Sansa actually asked Shae if she thinks she is going to be able to invite her family for the wedding. Robb Stark would be proud of his sister's brilliance. Sure, Sansa. Let's invite your mother and your bother who are in open rebellion, your bothers who are missing and your sister who is God knows where to the wedding, where you will marry a man who joined Tywin Lannister in a battle.
This is the episode that made two things very clear - Littlefinger is a dangerous man and Joffrey is still a monster. In fact he is getting worse fast. Both those epiphanies required a very bloody, very saddening sacrifice.
As Littlefinger and Varys are having one of their classic conversations, Littlefinger reveals to Varys that he knows Ros has been spying on him on his behest. Varys was supposed to protect her...and I'm afraid this episode and what Littlefinger was able to do made him look like a useless, helpless fool.
We see Joffrey, looking very pleased holding a crossbow. We hear Littlefinger tell Varys that he gave Ros to "daring friend who wanted to try something new". And then, the horror. Joffrey leaves his crossbow and camera shows us Ros - strapped to the bed post, with quarrels all over her body, including the groin and one in the chest - the one that I'm sure was the last one to be fired.
This is really terrible on multiple levels. I really liked Ros. She was a good person. I don't care she wasn't in the books - she represented few different characters. And I found it interesting how in addition to highborn lady from Winterfell (Sansa) we also saw how one that was lowborn is trying to survive. Plus to die like this, killed by Joffrey, scared, tortured and alone. Awful.
Also one must wonder about Tyrion. This is all about TV series since so many of the scenes in King's Landing are invented - but he was the one who sent Joffrey prostitutes in season 2. Of course, he didn't know he will abuse them. But he did sent them, provided him with them. Then there is Margaery, stirring Joffrey talking about how exciting it must be to kill something. Obviously, the blame is not on them but without those two moments Joffrey's madness could have chosen different path.
So Ros is dead and Shae lives on. Dammit.
Anyways, as Littlefinger continues his speech we also see Sansa, crying and observing him leave to Eyrie on a ship. Had she gone with Littlefinger she wouldn't have to marry Tyrion and now it's too late. Of course Sansa doesn't know that Littlefinger is fucking crazy, not to mention evil.
The episode ends with the wildings reaching the top of the wall. It's an extremely breathtaking scene - Ygritte and Jon stand up and look at the side of the wall Westeros is on. They are speechless. They start to kiss and the camera slowly pans out, revealing the beautiful sight.
Next episode is called The Bear and The Maiden Fair. It is written by George R.R. Martin, for the very first time in the series, and it will feature Robb sex scene and my single favorite moment of the entire book series.