You know the drill: SPOILER ALERT
Before we get this show on the road, let’s all just take a minute to breathe deeply. Let’s not sugar coat it – that was probably one of the more violent and upsetting episodes of the season. If you covered your eyes numerous times towards the end of episode eight, you’re not alone.
Feeling better? Okay, let’s get started.
In one of the few victories of this heavy handed episode, clever Gilly defied death at the hands of hungry Wildlings thanks to her quick thinking and a touch of maternal sympathy from Ygritte.
The perceptive Gilly hid with her baby while the Thenn tribe murdered prostitutes and visiting soldiers and was lucky enough to get a free pass from Ygritte, who found her quivering in a corner.
We knew there was a reason Jon Snow liked that feisty redhead.
Of course, the news of the destruction of Mole’s Town hit the men at the Wall hard, none more so than poor Sam. As is the case with most relationships on this show, Gilly and Sam have been torn apart, for now. It would be nice of George R.R. Martin to give fans a small concession by allowing their reunion.
Then again, niceties aren’t his speciality.
As we well know by now, the writers of this show like to lull us into a false sense of security. In this episode, they do it by distracting us with some pretty adorable sexual tension between Grey Worm and Missandei. He stares a little too long at her in the bathing area and they are forced to face their romantic feelings head on.
Somewhat tactlessly, Missandei brings up the time Grey Worm was castrated at birth. Way to improve a guy’s confidence. However, interestingly enough, Grey Worm never confirms that he remembers being castrated. Could this mean he still has, ahem, something left?
Would be great if this one romance could last at least another season.
As each new relationship blossoms, another comes to an end. Ser Barristan receives a missive from an anonymous informant revealing what many may have feared: Ser Jorah has been working as a spy for King’s Landing the whole time. While we assume he cut this betrayal short some time after Khal Drogo’s death, he’s still responsible for nearly getting Daenerys poisoned.
Heartbreakingly, she shows no mercy and orders him to leave the city and never return. He looks forlorn as he rides off to…any guesses where? Time will tell.
We have to give Theon Greyjoy some credit: He’s a great actor. From the shaking, unhinged Reek he quickly becomes a fairly convincing version of his former self. Under Ramsay Snow’s orders he manages to enter Moat Cailin and successfully subdue its inhabitants, promising them safety in exchange for their surrender.
The rotting, skinned corpse in the next scene makes it clear that Snow didn’t keep this promise.
For his “impressive” efforts, Snow’s father, Roose Bolton, takes him up a hill to look over the moors of the North. In what would have been an incredibly touching father/bastard son moment if you subbed Ned Stark and Jon Snow in, Bolton allows his illegitimate son to officially claim his name. Ramsay Bolton promises he won’t let his father down.
Let the power-crazed violent destruction begin.
Sansa Stark has officially decided that she is team Baelish. That, or she’s got a pretty intricate master plan in the works. As Petyr faces the Lords of the Vale, she plays witness to his trial.
Rather than throwing him under the bus, she masterfully spins the truth, revealing her true identity and painting him as her saviour. We don’t think Littlefinger has ever been more attracted to someone.
Interestingly, it seems the feelings are beginning to get returned. The fleeting glances between the two suggest a little more than an uncle/niece relationship, on both sides now.
Just as Lord Baelish counsels young Robin to claim his rightful position as Lord of the Vale, some long-awaited visitors arrive at the Bloody Gate: Arya and the Hound.
A guard informs a visibly disappointed Hound that Lady Lhysa Arryn is, in fact, dead. No silver for him.
Arya giggles harder than she ever has in her life and we get one last splice of joy before it all unravels.
Those who haven’t read the book probably felt hopeful for a moment there. We all wished for an easy, satisfying victory for Oberyn. We cheered when he plunged his weapon into the flesh of the Mountain and our anxious hearts relaxed for a moment with the knowledge that Tyrion would make it out alive.
Really, we should know better by now.
The fleeting joy we felt when Oberyn got the Mountain on the ground was nice while it lasted. But it was eclipsed when Oberyn got way too cocky, giving the hulking Mountain the chance to recover, pin him to the ground and smoosh his head like an oversized grape.
The bloodcurdling cry of Oberyn’s paramour Ellaria Sand lingers long after the credits roll.