There's Thrones...and then there is everything else.
After nearly 10 months of waiting the series is finally back. I can't find the words to describe just how happy I was to finally hear that opening credits music again. But before the opening credits there was a very skillfully put together 'previously on' clip that included all the information that Unsullied needed to understand the episode as well as absolutely chilling cold open.
In that opening we see Ned Stark's great sword, Ice, being pulled from the wolf pelt. It's Tywin's hand that is holding the sword. He gives it to the blacksmith who reforges the sword into two new ones - Oathkeeper, for Jaime and Widow's Wail for Joffrey.
The opening has no lines except for somber, sad Stark theme turning into Rains of Castamere as Tywin symbolically indicates that House Stark was defeated by the Lannisters. Ned Stark's sword is now remade into Lannister swords and once this is done Tywin throws the wolf pelt into the fire and watches it burn with a chilling look on his face.
About opening credits that followed - we now have Dreadfort (held by Boltons) and Meereen added to it, as well as finally featuring Gwendoline Christie's name. One thing that surprised me was the lack of Pedro Pascal, who is only mentioned in the end credits.
Enter Jaime. Tywin gives him Oathkeeper, which Jaime is thankful for. Tywin intends for Jaime to return to Casterly Rock and inherit the place. Jaime refuses - he always wanted to be in the Kinsguard. Tywin tells him it's impossible now that Jaime lost his sword hand. Jaime is insisting and Tywin is furious. Jaime leaves with a smile on his face. I should note this was the first time Dance and Waldau shared the screen since season 1.
In the next scene we see Tyrion, Bronn and all grown up Podrick (that was him, right?) awaiting the guests from Dorne. Bronn attempts to make jokes but Tyrion is all stressed out as there was always bad blood between the Lannisters and the Dornishmen. Tyrion brags about being a skilled diplomat while Pod impresses them with his sigil knowledge.
The arrivals are only the members of houses sworn to the House Martell. Prince Doran who was supposed to arrive did not. Tyrion is informed that instead prince Oberyn Martell arrived to attend the Royal Wedding. Tyrion and his companions set on finding him.
Oberyn is in Littlefinger's brothel. While his lover, Ellaria Sand, lies on the bed he is choosing a girl for them to enjoy. Once they settle on the one who is not timid Oberyn makes his move on the guy who is now managing the brothel. After little resistance the guy is convinced. Suddenly Oberyn hears Rains of Castamere being sang in another room. Ellaria urges him to stay with her but he goes to inspect.
He finds Lannisters soldiers who make fun of him being Dornish. Then Ellaria comes by and they comment on her beauty and say she is too good for Oberyn, taking her for one of the whores. Oberyn is acting all cool during this and tells the Lannisters that the entire world hates their house because their money and lions cannot change the fact they are weak men. After the soldier goes for the sword Oberyn pins his hand to the table by stabbing him through the wrist.
At that point Tyrion and Bronn arrive and after quick jokes and introductions Tyrion asks Oberyn to talk outside. Very quickly Oberyn reveals his real reason for being in King's Landing. Years ago his sister Elia Martell was married to Rheagar Targaryen (Daenerys' brother). Rheagar left her for another woman (that would be Lyanna Stark, mentioned in season 1, the sister of Ned and great love of Robert Baratheon's life, called 'a blue rose'). After the sack of King's Landing Elia's two children were butchered and wrapped in Lannister cloaks and lied before Tywin in throne room.
As for Elia, Gregor Clegane, the Mountain (brother of the Hound, someone you probably remember from the charming scene in which he beheaded a horse in season 1) raped Elia and split her in half with his sword. The details in the books were even more gruesome, so those not familiar with the novels - you got lucky the story was vague in the show. It's very clear Oberyn wants vengeance. He tells Tyrion to tell his father he is here because 'The Lannisters aren't the only ones who pay their debts". That line was met with loud cheers and deafening applause from the audience of 7,000 gathered at the fan screening a few weeks back.
Meanwhile, our Khaleesi is spending some time with her dragons.Rhaegal and Viserion (the dragons were actually still not named in the show) are flying above the sea as Drogon's head lies on her lap and she pets him. When Rhaegal and Viserion drop sheep's corpse Drogon turns aggressive - he wants it for himself. When Daenerys tries to stop him he turns her way and roars at her. That frightens her.
Jorah sees the whole thing and assumes the role of Captain Obvious right from his friendzone - 'they are dragons, Khaleesi. They cannot be tamed. Not even by their mother'. Wow, Jorah, thanks. Then we get a cute, albeit pointless scene in which Daenerys sees Daario and Grey Worm gamble - the person who holds the sword in his two outstretched arms the longest gets the honor of riding next to the Queen. Dany informs them since they wasted her time neither of them gets that honor. We also see Missandai exchange a look with Grey Worm and Daario taunts him that he likes her, which has to be frustrating since Grey Worm was castrated.
We see Sansa during breakfast in King's Landing. She is so depressed about the events of Red Wedding she refuses to eat. Tyrion joins her and takes her hand, which Shae notices. Tyrion tells Sansa he wants to help her but Sansa is reluctant. She asks Tyrion is he knows what happened to the bodies of her brother and mother. She tells him about the sewing of direwolf's head on Robb's body and - new information for TV audience - the fact that after lady Catelyn's throat was cut to the bone her body was thrown into the river. Tyrion remarks that he admired her family but Sansa leaves the table and heads for Godswood because 'that's the only place where people don't try to talk to her'.
We also get a terrible scene in which Tyrion finds Shae in his room, eager to have sex with him,. Tyrion doesn't have time nor strength for that with all that's happening and Shae throws a bitchy hissy fit. I know Kekili won some awards in Germany but hey, she was in porn flicks too. I think everyone has that right but don't expect my respect especially since you deliver an outrageous performance like whatever the fuck it was she did in this scene. Shae storms out which is observed by one of Cersei's spies.
Meanwhile, Cersei gives Jaime a gift - a golden hand that is being placed on his stump by Qyburn. Before Qyburn leaves Cersei thanks him for aiding her with her 'symptoms' .Cersei is furious with Jaime for leaving her for so long and rejects him. She tells him he took too long to come back to her which clearly confuses and devastates Jaime.
Ygritte and Tormund also got a scene this week. In it Tormund gives her shit for not killing Jon, just wounding him instead. He knows if she wanted to kill him, he would be dead. They encounter a group of Thenns - creepy free folk - led by Styr. Thenns are joining the wildings for the big upcoming battle. They are also cannibals. So to sum up I get to see Shae suck Tyrion's finger and Styr calling Ygritte 'scrawny' but I didn't even see a glimpse of Stannis? That's bullshit.
Meanwhile in Castle Black Jon talks to Sam about how he was always jealous of Robb. I'm still pissed off we didn't get to see a scene in which Jon finds out about the Red Wedding. Anyways Jon is preparing to talk to the commander of the Watch Alliser and the others about what happened when he was with the wildlings.
Can we just give it up for Kit Harington for showing some charisma for the very first time in the series? He was awesome here. He explains to Alliser, maester Aemon and Janos Slynt (the piece of shit who helped kill Ned's men in throne room and the target of Tyrion's legendary 'I'm not questioning your honor, I'm denying its existence' line) that the wildings are going to attack the Wall from North and South and they have 100,000 (!) men in their command. Doesn't the Watch have 1,000 men?
Jon also confesses to breaking his vows and sleeping with the wildling girl. Slynt is eager to have him killed, you know, since he actively partook in the events that led to the killing of Ned. But maester Aemon remarks how if they killed every watcher who slept with a girl the Wall would be watched by headless men. Jon is free to go as Aemon remarks it's because he said the truth. He later says that he knows how to distinguish the truth and the lies because he grew up in King's Landing. Basically maester Aemon rocks.
Back in King's Landing Olenna and Magaery are choosing the necklaces for the Royal Wedding. Olenna hates all of them and tells Margaery that since she is becoming the new queen she needs to look flawless during her wedding. Margaery remarks that perhaps she should let Joffrey choose a necklace for her and knowing him it's going to be a string of dead sparrow heads.
Brienne arrives and Olenna is mesmerized by her size. She compliments Brienne for defeating ser Loras. Brienne asks for a word with Margaery. She tells her that Renly was killed by the shadow who looked like Stannis. Margaery seems to believe her. Or more accurately, she doesn't give a shit about what or who killed Renly.
They pass the ridiculous statue of Joffrey which leads to the funniest moment of the episode - the transition from this statue to showing Joffrey in equally douchy pose.Ser Merryn and Jaime talk about the guards for the wedding and Joffrey remarks how no one will dare to do anything since people love him. He says he broke Stannis to which Jaime says that war is not over as long as Stannis lives.
The great book of the guard is there and Joffrey look at several pages mentioning several book characters which no doubt gave some of the book readers...a rise. Joffrey makes fun of Jaime since he barely has half of page written about him and he is a 40-year old knight with one hand. Worth noting - first scene ever shared by Gleeson and Waldau.
Back to Daenerys, Daario shows her how charming he is again (did we really need two scenes of this?!) and brings her flowers one of which is a blue rose. Dany is all charmed and smiling until she hears shouts. Turns out her army stumbled onto a crucified slave girl. Dany is informed there is a body like this at every mile leading to Meereen and 163 miles are left. Dany orders the men to remove the slaves' collars before they are buried.
Back in King's Landing Sansa is in the Godswood and she is being watched by Jaime and Brienne. Brienne reminds Jaime of his promise to keep the Stark girls safe. Jaime responds that Arya is most likely dead and Sansa is now his sister in law. This whole scene was as pointless as it was unnecessary and harmful to Jaime's character - they made it look like he will be all about the honor now and this is going backwards.
I also wish there was a scene in which Brienne finds out about Red Wedding. In the book Brienne was absolutely devastated, not speaking, not eating, just like Sansa, because of her admiration and her vow to protect lady Catelyn. That would be far more important than the scene with Brienne and Jaime where all that was accomplished was Jaime's humorous line about her being a pain in his ass.
Meanwhile Sansa hears steps behind her and starts running. It turns out it's ser Dontos, a drunk whom she saved during Joffrey's name day. Dontos wants to repay Sansa and he gives her a necklace, something he says is the last sign of the greatness of his house. Sansa promises to wear it with pride.
The last sequence we see this episode is Arya and The Hound on the road. Arya remarks she has nothing left with her family being gone and the Hound being the only keeping her alive. Hound now plans to deliver Arya to Eyrie to her aunt Lysa (crazy lady who breastfeeds all the time). They stop outside the inn and Arya notices Polliver, Lannister soldier.
He is the one who took Arya's sword and killed her friend, Lommy (The Hound's line "what the fuck is a Lommy?" was hands down the funniest one this week). Arya tells him her brother gave her that sword (awww!) and she sets on going inside. Before the Hound stops her, the door opens. They sit down and watch as the Lannister soldiers abuse tavern girl - there is a tavern girl episode in the books that is easily one of the most disturbing things in the series. I'm hoping that poor girl won't make a reappearance. Although, given how episode 4 or 5 this season reportedly has something so awful they had to trim it down, who knows.
Anyways, Polliver recognizes the Hound and joins them. Arya sits quietly as The Hound delivers golden lines like 'fuck the king' and saying Polliver has 'cunt mouth'. Pretty soon the brawl starts with the Hound kicking ass and Arya standing oddly by (perhaps a bit too long?). The fight was fucking brutal too, with one guy getting stabbed in the dick and another getting his eyes impaled on the knife.
Soon Arya joins in, kills a guy, hurts Polliver's leg, reclaims the Needle and kills him the exact same way he killed Lommy, with a smile on her face. Then she gets her own horse and her and the Hound drive away and we see they are right in the middle of war destruction, fire and ruins.
Overall I really enjoyed the episode. While there was some needless nudity, the needless scenes like the one with Margaery and Brienne or Brienne and Jaime that took screen time from actual important things that could have been shown, it was just a minor glitch. Another thing to cherish is that we finally get longer episodes this season with this being a whole hour long.
It was also the first episode loaded with this many book references. I'm thrilled that the characters from the past are being brought into conversations since they are hugely important to what will most likely be the series' end game. The most impressive thing for me was most definitely Kit Harington's acting - I really hope he keeps it up.
This episode was the calm before the storm. Starting next week it will be hard to catch a breath. Next episode entitled The Lion and the Rose features Stannis which is a wonderful news for me but the wonderful news for everyone - it's written by Martin himself, it features Sigur Ros and it also features the Royal Wedding.
I'll be surprised if the next episode doesn't end up being one of the best in the series.