Four seasons in and the remaining members of the Stark clan (we’re counting Jon Snow) are struggling to keep it together in the face of immense evil and manipulation.
While the Lannisters still manage to hold most of the power, the fractured Stark family are each alone and bewildered, unaware of each other’s survival, let alone their whereabouts.
One character who seems delightfully on top of it all is Daenerys “Breaker of Chains” Targaryen. With the help of her loyal sidekick, Grey Worm, she’s managed to convince the entire slave population of Meereen to join her and kill their masters.
She promises to answer “injustice with justice” and so commands all the slave masters to be nailed to posts around the city, just as they did to hundreds of children. It’s no wonder the tortured people of Meereen fall at her feet in gratitude, hailing her “Mhysa” (mother).
By the way, do we sense a romance budding between Grey Worm and Missandei, Dany’s handmaiden? They would certainly make a cute, multilingual couple.
One positive to emerge from this episode is that we now know who killed Joffrey. Jaime visits his brother in prison and asks him flat out if he did it and Tyrion confirms that he did not and neither did Sansa. Sansa, however, is currently in an undisclosed location on a boat, and speaks with Littlefinger who is keen to tell her that she did, in fact, play a part in the King’s death.
He appears to claim responsibility for the murder on behalf of his “new friends” whom he describes as “reliable and level-headed”.
We don’t have to wait long to confirm that he speaks of the Tyrells, more specifically Olenna Tyrell, who spills the beans to her granddaughter Margaery.
“You didn’t think I’d let you marry that beast did you?”
Margaery looks taken aback. Clearly not.
Before leaving town for bigger, less diabolical things, Olenna urges her granddaughter to be proactive in her marriage to King-in-waiting Tommen so as to avoid Cersei turning her son against Margaery. To Margaery, this means sneaking into the young man’s bedroom at night to “get to know one another.”
Cleverly, she tells Tommen to keep it “our little secret” and we can already see his guard falling. Their innocent encounter is sweet enough that you almost forget the age gap. That woman is a master of seduction.
Despite all these recent revelations, Cersei is still hell-bent on having her brother killed. Since Jaime won’t do it, she charges him with the lesser task of finding and killing Sansa – despite him swearing an oath to her mother to keep her safe. This may be Cersei’s way of punishing Jaime for the atrocities of last episode.
Jaime is unable to break his oath (there may be a shred of good in him yet) so tasks Brienne with finding and protecting Sansa. He gives her Ned Stark’s sword, Tyrion’s squire Podrick and a suit of armour and sends her own her way – but not without a solemn goodbye.
The men of the Night’s Watch are steadily preparing for their various foes to invade and most likely kill them, but it’s a valiant effort nonetheless. Leading the charge is the permanently hopeful Jon Snow, who proves a likeable leader for the hapless men. Too likeable, perhaps.
To get rid of headstrong Jon, Acting Lord Commander Alliser Thorne gives him permission to journey to Craster’s Keep with volunteers. Jon delivers a stirring speech which inspires around eight men to join his side. Unfortunately, one of them is Locke, one of the Bolton men who tried to rape Brienne and is on a search-and-destroy mission for Bran. In short: A dirty double agent not to be trusted.
The Keep is now held by some highly distasteful former Night’s Watch members who killed Lord Mormont and Craster and seem to spend their time getting drunk and raping Craster’s daughters. They take Craster’s last remaining baby (or so they think … Gilly has the other one) and, on Craster’s daughter’s instructions, sacrifice it to the White Walkers. Charming.
Bran, Hodor, Meera and Jojen are unfortunately sleeping nearby and woken by the baby’s cries. Bran goes to investigate and sees that whoever has control of the Keep has his brother’s dire wolf, Ghost.
The mismatched bunch try to save the animal but, in doing so, get themselves caught by the rapists and drunks, who quickly figure out Bran’s value as a hostage. Ned Stark’s son and Jon Snow’s brother? A cripple? Defenseless? Too good to be true.
With Jon Snow fast approaching the Keep, we are praying for a brother/wolf reunion. Call us crazy.
Beyond the wall
The episode ends on a creepy note as we find out just what happens to those babies sacrificed as “a gift to the gods.” A long-haired white walker on a horse takes the abandoned baby to an area of barren, icy plains and delivers him to another group of walking skeletons. These guys may be dressed like priests, but don’t let that fool you. One of them takes the baby and freezes it, and we get an insight into how White Walkers are made.
Apparently, most of this did not happen in the books which leaves us at that rare, peaceful moment where only the script writers can offer spoilers. We are all as frustratingly clueless as each other.
What do you think – will Bran and Jon reunite? Or is it all heading South faster than the White Walkers? Let us know in the comments section below.