That ending was the scariest scene on the show so far. It was monumental - in terms of world building, creepiness and the execution. I'm not surprised - the episode was written by Bryan Cogman, one of he finest writers the show has and directed by Michelle MacLaren - while she did direct Bear and the Maiden Fair (but how awesome was its final scene, huh?), she also directed terrific Second Sons and many of Breaking Bad episodes. She directed the next episode too.
While I was watching that ending I wasn't thinking anything. I was too scared to think. But when the show was over I had two thoughts - 'What the fuck?!' and the thought that is with me at all times - "Where is Stannis to help us?!"
The episode opened with Missandai teaching Grey Worm how to read. The show is definitely making a point - literacy is important,
Grey Worm sneaks to the city to talk to the slaves. He convinces them to fight and gives them weapons. In the next scene we see the words Kill the Masters written on the wall. One of the masters notices them and then sees Targaryen banner hanging from the harpy statue. Then slaves emerge and slaughter him.
Next we see Jesus Dany stepping on the collars of the now former slaves that are being thrown under her feet (a wonderful, wonderful shot). Everyone keeps shouting Mhysa, kids run next to her, you get the idea. Then Dany asks her advisers how many slaves were nailed to the posts on their way. Barristan reminds her it was 163. He urges her to have mercy but she says she will answer injustice with justice.
She orders the masters to be crucified. Now, for all of you shouting about the violence on the show - that sequence was incredibly toned down comparing to the books. In the book even Daenerys is repulsed when she witnesses her own orders being carried out. I don't think the point of the scene - that Dany was in the wrong doing that - was telegraphed well, especially considering the only thing she is missing on the show are angel wings.
The whole taking of Meereen was smaller in scale too, but I think these two toned down events can be blamed on time and budget constraints, considering that including the clear disapproval from Barristan, Bryan Cogman really did a lot in the scene at least hinting at what was in the book.
That said I just adored the shot of Daenerys overlooking Meereen. That was epic.
In King's Landing, Jaime is practicing with Bronn again. Bronn tells him how when Tyrion was a prisoner at the Eyrie he wanted Jaime to fight for him as his champion. Bronn and Jaime both agree that Tyrion didn't kill Joffrey. Bronn asks if Jaime is gonna fight for his brother now, but Jaime says nothing.
Jaime finally goes to visit Tyrion. They talk about Cersei and the trial. Tyrion asks Jaime to help him escape but Jaime says it's impossible. The scene was really great - Dinklage and Waldau have great chemistry together and it's definitely not the last time Jaime is going to visit Tyrion this season. The transition to the next scene was Tyrion saying 'Sansa is not a killer. At least not yet'. That is very, very interesting way to go to the next sequence...
On the creepy ship, Sansa and Littlefinger are having a little chat. Littlefinger gives her some of his wisdom (in a disappointingly shortened speech from the book, I'm hoping they will include more of this later this season) and reveals to Sansa that the poison that killed Joffrey was in the gem in the necklace Dontos gave her to wear.
I'm thrilled they finally revealed this because I was getting tired of tiptoeing around it when talking to non book readers. Sansa doesn't understand why Littlefinger did this seeing how he has lucrative alliance with the Lannisters. Litlefinger let's her know that it was a gesture for his new friends. And his new friendship is growing strong.
I really don't mind how strongly the whole intrigue was telegraphed here and in the following scene. Some non book readers have real issues with understanding things like this and distinguishing important from trivial, right from wrong, heroes and villains. And it's often (but not always!) the show's fault, depending on who wrote the episode. Cogman making an effort to make sure the audience understands the situation using the words 'grow strong' and Olenna toying with Margaery's necklace was truly brilliant writing.
Yes, Olenna. Olenna toyed with Sansa's necklace during the feast and then put the gem into Joffrey's chalice. She let's Margaery know she did that, because she didn't want her granddaughter married to a beast like Joffrey. She also tells her that she should start working on Tommen. Grandma Olenna tells Marg that she gave her virtue to her husband before they were married - she wanted him to propose to her and she was so good that indeed he did. She also tells Margaery she is even better than Olenna ever was.
Olenna also says she is leaving and I hope that's not the case. Diana Rigg is so wonderful in the role and I don't think it makes sense for her to leave Margaery alone with the Lannisters, considering how fucking useless Loras is. His biggest contribution this season was eyefucking Oberyn during the feast.
At the Wall, Jon is training new recruits. The boy whose parents got cannibalized by Thenns is there as is (ovation...drums!) my favorite - Locke. As you recall Locke is there to get information from Snow about his brothers' whereabouts, on Roose Bolton's orders. I was hoping Locke will be his usual witty, vicious, potty mouth self but his plan is apparently to befriend Jon. Jon, a naive sweet baby he is, falls right into the trap - apparently all you need to do to be his new friend is fight well and call Thorne a cunt. I'm shocked the time and space continuum didn't tear when these two shook hands.
In the meantime, Thorne and Slynt are talking. Slynt, who still wants nothing more than see Snow dead senses that's Thorne's dream too, seeing how the time for the election of new Lord Commander is approaching and unlike Thorne, Snow is very well liked. So why not send him to Craster's Keep to avenge Mormont and hopefully let him lose his life in the process?
Meanwhile in King's Landing, bitter, looking like shit Cersei is drinking. Jaime comes in and they talk a little. Cersei mentions nothing about that 'rape' scene many of you couldn't shut up about last week. She asks Jaime why Catelyn Stark released him. He tells her he swore he will return her daughters. Cersei isn't pleased with the news and Jaime asks 'shall I tell her to fuck off instead?'. Everyone loves Jaime again? Good.
Cersei tells him that Tyrion would kill all of them if he could. She also asks Jaime what he would do if she sent him after Sansa to bring her Sansa's head. She tells him she wants Tommen guarded by four of the Kingsguard. Cersei's paranoia is growing. Growing strong, indeed.
Apparently these four guards are no match for Margaery who sneaks into King's room to speak to Tommen. As ridiculous as that was - Margaery is smarter than that, the repercussions of her being caught would be very detrimental and Tyrells are not reckless - the scene played out quite lovely.
To the joy of book readers, including this one, we got to see Ser Pounce, Tommen's cat. In the book it is Margaery who gives him the cats, one of them being Ser Pounce. I don't mind that change as I think Margaery still won more of Tommen's favor petting that cat than Cersei's whole life of being a mother did.
Margaery mentions that when they marry she will be his forever (why the fuck does everyone talk to this kid about sex? Leave him alone!). She is however acting ladylike, as much as the circumstances, or as I mentioned, ridiculous predicament she got herself into permit, and kisses Tommen's forehead. She asks if she can visit again and he agrees. It's quite clear the girl's playfulness and lively nature worked and Tommen likes her already.
In the next scene, Jaime and Brienne talk about Sansa. Jaime gives Brienne his sword, reforged from Ned Stark's sword in the premiere episode. He tells Brienne to find Sansa, keep her safe and defend Ned Stark's daughter with his own sword. Jaime also gives astounded Brienne a beautiful armor. Brienne gives her word she'll find Sansa. For lady Catelyn. And for him. Fuck you, I'm not crying.
In transition so funny and brilliant it was even better than statue/Joffrey scene from the premiere, Jaime tells Brienne he has another gift for her and we cut to sweet, innocent Podrick. Jaime wants him to go with Brienne because Tyrion knows Pod is not safe in the capital. Pod calls Brienne 'ser' but quickly corrects his mistake.
Brienne doesn't wan a squire but Jaime tells her she needs to keep Pod safe, correctly assessing how a noble girl like Brienne wouldn't refuse protecting someone. He tells Brienne that the best swords have names and perhaps she should name the sword he gave her. She says - Oathkeeper. All right. I am crying.
Jaime, clearly moved, says goodbye to Brienne and her and Pod start riding away. Brienne looks at Jaime one more time as she rides and Jaime is looking at her as well. Can someone give me a tissue?
Back at the Wall, Jon and Sam are talking and it is revealed to us that Jon knows about Bran being alive - Sam told him that when Jon was recovering from the wounds he sustained when Ygritte shot him. Now, that is a big piece of information about which book readers are freaking out about - there is something that happens later and Jon knowing this takes a bit of the impact, for those who are panicking. I'm not panicking because what Jon does, no matter what he knows, is in perfect agreement with who he is.
Jon is trying to figure out where Bran could have gone and he thinks it may be Craster's Keep. Locke overhears that part of conversation. In the next scene Thorne tells Jon he may go to Craster's to punish mutineers but he will not command any men to go with him and he can only have volunteers. Jon gives quite a speech and in a truly wonderful scene his brothers stand one after another to go with him and bring justice for Commander Mormont. Locke joins their party too.
Meanwhile at Craster's we are forced to listen to psychotic ramblings of Karl (played by the geeky scientist from Pacific Rim, Burn Gornam), a leader of the renegade watchers. We also see incredibly toned down sequence that didn't even merit 'sexual violence' from HBO schedule with the mutineers raping Craster's wives. Yet many critics continue to whine about 'gratuitous violence against women on the show'. Fuck off and watch Teletubbies. If you don't have the stomach to watch the show - don't watch it and definitely don't offer your misguided opinion about it. Rapists take over a cabin with women in it. Did you grow up surrounded by little ponies and hopping cute rabbits that you think there won't be violence and rape?
As for the show depicting it - how else can they make the audience realize why Snow is leaving the Wall, soon to be under the attack of 100,000 wildings to deal with that situation? It's not just about justice (Mormont's skull is now used as a cup by Karl) - it's also to end what is happening there. It's to show us that most of the Watchers indeed are the filth of this realm - rapists and murderers. We heard of the Watch having people like that in their ranks for years and now it's the first time we are seeing evidence of that. I'm so sick and tired of hysterics about the violence. And what kind of a fucking person is more disturbed by 3 seconds of rape than the ending?! Yes sexual violence is real and White Walkers are not, but if 3 seconds of this makes you more disturbed than seeing several minutes of child in peril there is something seriously wrong with you.
Anyways, one of the women brings in a baby - Craster's last son. The women start chanting 'a gift for the Gods' with deranged looks on their faces. Karl asks what the hell is happening and a woman explains Craster sacrificed his sons to the Others. Karl sends Rast to do that and Rast leaves the child in the woods.
Rast is going back to the cabin and we see - and I gasped - that the mutineers captured Ghost, Jon Snow's wolf and they keep him in a cage.
Bran, Meera, Jojen and Hodor are nearby. They hear the baby crying and Bran, in a true Stark fashion, does something asinine. He warges Summer and right before she reaches Ghost, she falls into a trap. I find it slightly hysterical how we are getting all those warging scenes yet I'm 95% sure the one warging scene most book readers want to see this year (involving Nymeria, Arya's wolf) won't be on the show.
They go to rescue Summer and are - obviously - captured by mutineers. Here's another thing that was way more disturbing than your imagined gratuitous portrayal of sexual violence - seeing poor Hodor being mocked and beaten up. That was some tough shit to watch.
Karl is questioning Bran and instantly guesses that Bran is highborn. Bran doesn't want to tell him anything. Jojen suddenly gets one of his seizures and in spite of her begging, Meera is not allowed to help him. Bran tells them who he is so that Meera could help her brother. Bran is there. Ghost is there. And Jon Snow is arriving to Craster's next episode...
Now to that ending. I need to give you all a bit of a background here, so that non book readers could appreciate the significance of what was shown in that scene and the collective WTF shouts from us book readers that broke every single fanboard right after the episode ended.
In the third book, Bran tells the story of Night's King to Hodor, Jojen and Meera. The Night’s King was the 13th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch (and Mormont was the 997th one, so that tale is very, very old). The Night’s King was a respected leader until he fell in love with a woman with skin as white as the moon and eyes like blue stars whose skin was cold as ice. He made her his bride and took control of the Nightfort. He declared himself a king and her his queen. He was cruel and did terrible things, spreading terror throughout the North for 13 years and sacrificing people to The Others. It took the combined forces of the King of the North and the King Beyond the Wall to defeat him. His name was wiped from history, with only legends of his atrocities still remaining. (you should check out gorgeous Histories & Lore from DVD bonus features, this one mentions the Night King's and is narrated by Rose Leslie)
In the episode's shocking ending, we witness a Walker riding a dead horse, with Craster's baby in his arms. The walker rides on ice and snow, clearly going farther North than we see saw far, both in books and in the show. He approaches something looking like mini ice Stonehedge and leaves the child in the middle.
As the baby keeps crying we see 13 figures. One is moving towards the child and picks it up. Scary looking Walker with horns coming out of his head (perhaps a crown of sorts) touches the child, presses the nail against its cheek and the baby's eyes turn blue, just like the Walker's.
In the books the only thing we know is that the Walkers take the babies that Craster left for them (we saw Jon witnessing that in season 2). That's it. For the show to not only give us the answer as to what is done to them - they are being turned into Walkers - but also venture so far beyond the Wall and show us the ritual of sorts as well as that main Walker...that's jut so fucking cool. Miraculously we've got people who are even more annoying than 'so much rape' crowd - people who whine that now the show is spoiling the books. I can't even find the words to comment on that stupidity.
The things got even better as apparently that creepy Walker was listed as 'Night's King' in cast list. While some say Night's King was destroyed all that time ago, some wonder if he wasn't. Is the Walker we saw just some new king of the Others? Or is it the very same King? Is it The Great Other Melisandre always keeps going on and on about? Death and ice and darkness...Perhaps there was a reason for 13 Walkers being present, making us think of that 13th commander, those 13 years...
Either way that was one chilling ending. It was surreal and beautifully shot. The effects were incredible too - kudos to that baby, he didn't look that scared and yet the actor in that scary make up was holding him. When they showed the main Walker's face I nearly shat myself. And that's just one of the several impressive make up/CGI creatures we will see this season.
That ending also hit me hard and surprised me this much because with the amount of insane plot twists (several of which to take place in finale episode, one by one, until your head starts spinning) it didn't even cross my mind these sneaky sons of bitches will write an entirely new one mid-season. I bow to you, good people.
The episode was very good, even with that disappointing beginning. I like however that with all the
Oberyn wasn't present in this episode. As much as I enjoy him, shockingly I didn't even notice he was gone until I rewatched the ep. I sure as hell noticed Stannis wasn't on my screen, though - as I was not breathing heavily and staring at my screen lovingly at any point during this episode. And he is not in the promo for next week's ep. Why are you doing this to me HBO?
In the next episode First of His Name a new King is crowned, Daenerys plans an invasion on King's Landing, Jon Snow reaches Craster's Keep and kooky aunt Lysa (splendid Kate Dickie) makes her return. I did mention the buzz about the disgusting scene last week that I thought would be in episode 4, but apparently it's gonna be in this one. As funny as it would be if that turned out to be Lysa/Littlefinger sex scene, my vote is still for Craster's raid.
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