|Snow can no longer wear white... Courtesy HBO|
Flaming swords, incredibly dirty bath water and enough butt shots to warrant a drinking game laced this compelling episode of Game of Thrones. So grab your rubber ducky and let’s break this down...
Brotherhood Without Banners Smackdown
After a ceremonial prayer to the Lord of Light, Beric Dondarrion preps for the trial by combat against Sandor Clegane (The Hound). Now we know that The Hound is not a fan of fire given that he had been badly burned thanks to his brother, The Mountain, so this was extra unpleasant for him. Beric smears his broadsword with blood, lights it on fire (because he clearly must be chugging lighter fluid) and an epic fight begins. Notice I didn’t make a lightsaber reference?
Arya dodges the men and we see this girl get extra pissy in this episode. She wants The Hound dead ... remember, he’s on her shit list. We think maybe she’ll get her wish when he catches on fire but then he manages to slice Beric down his left side. Success! Wait, nope. Beric’s buddy, Thoros, channels that Lord of Light and heals him. Arya tries to kill The Hound and wants him to burn in hell. She is promised, “Burn in hell he will, but not today.” The Hound is later re-hooded and led off.
Beric tells Arya that he has been killed six times and brought back thanks to the Lord of Light. In a scene straight out of Jaws, Beric shows his scars and tells the tales of his deaths, including that he’s been now killed by not one but two Cleganes! “Every time I come back, I’m a bit less.” He also tells Arya that she’ll be traded to her brother for gold.
Arya later learns that her cohort Gendry plans to stay on with the Brotherhood because he likes the “family” feel it offers. Arya remains pissed and promises that she will be his family and that her brother, Robb needs men just as much as the Brotherhood. He’s not buying it and states that she’d be his lady.
You Know SOMETHING, Jon Snow
Jon Snow is getting grilled by Giantsbane about the Wall’s strongholds. Three castles are still guarded and Snow says that Castles Black has 1000 men guarding it. Giantsbane doesn’t believe him and reminds Snow that they won’t hesitate to kill him if he is caught in a lie.
This serious conversation has clearly gotten fiery Ygritte all worked up and in a playful move, she steals Snow’s sword (more than once in this episode, wink wink) and lures him into her waterfall sex lair. She strips down and and urges him to prove himself and break his Crow vows of celibacy. "We shouldn’t," says “about to be de-flowered” Jon Snow. “We should.”, says perfectly toned and probably really ripe-smelling, Ygritte. They do and apparently, Jon Snow is quite skilled as a virgin.
In the afterglow, she talks about her exes and they take a bath. Don’t tell me you didn’t think, “Maybe the bath should have occurred before the sex?” Anyway, it’s all romantic and Ygritte never wants to leave the cave.
Pain and Loathing in Harrenhal
Jaime and Brienne arrive in Harrenhal and are presented to Roose Bolton who is kind enough to offer them rooms. Jaime then learns, slowly, that his sister-lover is alive and well after the Battle of Blackwater Bay. SInce his stump is looking corrupted, he gets tended to by Dr. Qyburn who is noted for having performed “bold experiments.” He offers Jaime some Milk of the Poppy for relief as he picks at his gross wound. Jaime refuses and says he’ll just scream. Maybe the whole “bold experiments” thing made him want to keep an eye on this shady character? He screams in agony. A hot bath will do him good.
Brienne looks quite refreshed after her long journey but she seems to focus on scrubbing away at her left shoulder. Jaime interrupts her and wants to enter her tub. There are other tub options but he insists on stripping down and contaminating the bath water with his filth and confessions. After Jaime gets in one last dig about Renly, she stands up furiously as if to say, screw you already!
Jaime then wants to talk about wildfire and in one of those riveting and well-acted Thrones scenes that keep us coming back for more, he tells the tale of how he was ordered to kill his father, Tywin at the urging of Mad King Aerys. See Aerys loved him some wildfire and planned on burning all of King’s Landing with his stash. Jaime didn’t adhere to his orders and killed Aerys thus helping to save King’s Landing. He never bragged about this either. See he’s not that bad. Well, maybe a little. All that confessing clearly wore him out and he collapses in Brienne’s milky white arms. She finally refers to him as “Jaime.”
Let’s HEAD to Riverrun
Lord Rickard Karstark wants his revenge against the Lannister’s for the loss of his son. In a heart-wrenching scene, 14 year-old hostages, Willem and Martyn Lannister are murdered by Karstark and his men. Robb Stark isn’t very pleased with this and is now freaking out about how Tywin is going to take this news. He wants to execute Karstark and his men but then he’ll lose a big chunk of his army. Despite advisement, he beheads Lord Karstark, just like daddy taught him.
Robb is trying to strategize how he will now manage to win this war without the Karstarks. It’s great how he includes his wife in these scheming sessions and offers to teach her geography. During the lesson, he realizes that he can hit the Lannisters where it hurts ... Casterly Rock ... their home. However, he needs to replenish his army and plans to turn to Walder Frey for his men.
On This Episode of Hoarders...
We finally get to meet Stannis’s devout and highly understanding wife, Selyse, and his daughter, Shireen. Selyse is praying to the Lord of Light and Stannis enters to confess his adultery with Melisandre. Selyse says that she knows everything and is totally cool with it because the Lord of Light wanted it and he finally got a son out of the deed. I wonder how many men are going to now try this line...”The Lord of Light made me do it!”
Stannis wants to see his daughter but first, we see that Selyse has trouble “letting go” of her four stillborn sons. We get the morbid visual of the jarred babies and then tense up wondering what his daughter is like. Why doesn’t she want Stannis to see his daughter? She has a lovely singing voice but is afflicted with greyscale (http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Greyscale), a horrible skin disease.
She’s a little sweetheart and immediately asks daddy about her buddy, Davos. Maybe Stannis gets a little jealous but he immediately refers to her best friend as a traitor and that he is rotting in a cell for his crimes. Subtle.
Shireen later sneaks out to visit her friend, Davos, and takes him some reading material. He tells her that he is a traitor but she doesn’t care. We learn that Davos is illiterate and she offers to teach him to read. It’s actually a really touching scene.
The Name Game
Dany, her advisors and new army are marching on and politics are discussed. The Unsullied clearly love their new “master” for saving them. They have chosen a leader and he reveals himself. His name is Grey Worm and when Dany wants him to chose a non-slave name, he refuses. His name is a lucky one, for it is the name he had the day she saved him for his torturous life of slavery. Tears.
Jorah Mormont and Ser Barristan discuss the past and Barristan hates that he had to fight under “terrible kings.” They agree that Dany is a good leader and will serve well. Barristan doesn’t think Jorah has a very good reputation and should back away. Jorah reminds him that he takes his orders from Dany, not him.
Three Weddings and a Sword Fight
So much deception it could make your head spin! Cersei wants a favor from Lord Petyr Baelish. She wants to know the intentions of the Tyrells. Damn she’s suspicious but rightly so in this case. They know that Sansa is the key to the key to the North and want to keep her in the Lannister family.
Lady Olenna continues to be sassy and we even get a health tip about the benefits of figs. Tyrion approaches her with his concerns about the wedding finances. The war is costly but the people need a distraction and a wedding is a great pick-me-up. It will also prevent the people from tearing them apart. Lady Olenna agrees to pay for half of the wedding and this makes Tyrion happy. He can’t wait to tell his daddy!
Sansa clearly has the hots for sword fighting Ser Loras and is super excited that Lady Margaery will push for their marriage. Little does Sansa know that she doesn’t have the right equipment to make Loras a happy man.
Loras flirts and then beds a little spy boy. He also tells his lover of the intentions to marry Sansa. This is relayed to Lord Baelish who then approaches Sansa about leaving King’s Landing. She plays it cool and says that she has his best interests in mind. He feigns that he’s touched by her concern for him and they’ll discuss it when he returns from his trip. She sighs like a school girl.
In a family meeting from hell, Tyrion wants to gloat to dad about how he saved the crown some coin. Tywin just wants to preserve his kingdom and this will be done through some very uncomfortable marriages. Tywin knows that the Tyrells are plotting to have Sansa marry Loras., and about Robb’s loss of the Karstarks. Since Sansa is the key to the North, we need to find her a different husband...like, for example, Tyrion. Ummm...what? The Halfman is furious but all Tywin wants his son to do is “Wed her, bed her, put a child in her.”
Cersei smirks but gets hers when Tywin orders her to marry Loras in order to secure Highgarden. “You’ve disgraced the Lannister name for far too long!” Oh? Daddy knows about the incest? Despite her begging, she is ordered to do as dad commands. Oh this is getting good!
Will next week’s episode be able to top these last two amazing ones? Alex Graves directed this and last week’s episode but not "The Climb," which airs next Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. Fingers crossed that it’s just as epic!