'Game of Thrones' recap: 'The Prince of Winterfell'

Bronn: Not a fan of gold cloaks.
Courtesy HBO

Who else thinks this episode should have been titled “The Calm Before the Storm” or “Love is in the Air,” instead of paying homage to the evil Theon? With only two episodes of GOT left, epic developments are on the horizon so brace yourselves!

In chilly Winterfell, we discover Theon has made sure there are no ravens to deliver news to Robb Stark (Richard Madden) about Theon’s (Alfie Allen) takeover. Little does he know that Maester Luwin (Donald Sumpter) may be old but he’s a step ahead in the game and already sent that message. Theon’s sister, Yara Greyjoy (Gemma Whelan), pays him a visit but it’s not to assist him with the 500 men he wanted; it’s to bring him safely back to the Iron Islands where he belongs. Boy, is she good at snarky condescension, right? Ironically, Yara shows her softer side and they share a tender sibling scene which sets the mood for this lovefest episode. Theon refuses to run home to daddy and makes it clear that he has taken Winterfell and intends to keep it. Yara pleads with him “Don’t die so far from the sea.” A Greyjoy with a heart? Really?

In the even chillier Frost Fangs, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) is being dragged across a frozen lake to meet Skeletor ... I mean, Lord of Bones (Edward Dogliani), and he wants him gutted since he already has fellow crow, Qhorin Halfhand (Simon Armstrong) as his hostage. Ygritte (Rose Leslie) conveys to him that Jon Snow could have killed her several times and that this bastard son of Ned Stark could be a valuable source of information for wildling leader, Mance Rayder (who is planning on marching on The Wall). Damn, that redhead is convincing! This man adorned in bones listened to a woman? Later, Sam (John Bradley-West) and his fellow crows are doing some shoveling in the snow and come across an exceedingly old Night Watch’s cloak filled with “dragon glass” aka obsidian. Why is it there? Because someone wanted them to find it ... duh! I’m sure we’ll find out eventually.

Robb Stark is crushing big time on sexy nurse Talisa (Oona Chaplin) ... if that indeed is her real name. They’re walking and talking about Papa Stark and how much he would have liked her and how he’s bethrothed to some Frey girl because of a bridge and how he just wants to go home to Winterfell, and that no one will be safe until the Lannisters are defeated. Heavy stuff! It figures that news of Jaime’s (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) escape would interrupt their date and that it’s all the fault of Mama Catelyn (Michelle Fairley). She let Jaime escape to save her girls. Robb wanted him as a playing piece in his game. He’s super pissed and now mom is under constant guard. Can’t blame him at all. Catelyn ordered her gal pal, Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie), to take Jaime back to King’s Landing. He tries to challenge her to a fight so she can unchain him but she ain’t no dumb blonde! They get into a painfully small row boat and row away. That should be a fun little cruise.

Over at haunted Harrenhal, Tywin (Charles Dance) is discussing how Stannis (Stephen Dillane) will be taking over King’s Landing and will execute his kin but he seems more concerned right now about defeating Rob Stark. Arya (Maisie Williams) overhears this plan whilst performing her duties and she panics. She learns that Tywin will ride that evening so she runs to find wishmaster, Jaqen H’ghar (Tom Wlaschiha). Eventually, he turns up but for some reason, a man cannot kill Tywin, the girl needs to choose another name. Can we agree that this dude can pull off speaking in the third person? Must be his cool hair. So we sit and wonder which name Arya will blurt out and, uh oh, she chooses Jaqen H’ghar! Smart girl. We watch as Jaqen squirms and pleads with her to unname him but she has a plan. She’ll unname him if she, Gendry (Joseph Dempsie) and Hot Pie (Ben Hawkey) can escape Harrenhal. This means more than one kill, but when a man is faced with his own death, I guess genie rules could be broken? He manages to kill the guards and make them look like they’re still alive. Arya and the gang walk effortlessly out of Harrenhal. This should go smoothly, right?

Back in King’s Landing, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) is studying “The Great Sieges of Westeros” whilst Commander of the City Watch, Bronn (Jerome Flynn) cleans his nails and talks fashion with him. He doesn’t want to wear a goldcloak ... apparently it’s too flashy for him. Gossipy Varys the eunuch (Conleth Hill) comes in and compliments him on the drop in thievery since he’s taken over. However, Tyrion is quite concerned about Stannis’s knowledge about the weak spots in the city and assumes that he’ll attack at Mudgate. Over a family dinner, Cersei (Lena Headey) expresses her motherly concern to Tyrion. She is worried about her too-young son Joffrey’s (Jack Gleeson) plan to fight side-by-side with the other soldiers. Tyrion tries to show her the benefits of his plan but she’s having nothing of it. She is not happy with Tyrion trying to take her children away but IS smirking about having captured Tyrion’s secret whore. The expression on Tyrion’s face told the whole story (Dinklage is amazing). Cersei gets annoyingly cocky and when she presents Tyrion with the evidence that it’s the wrong whore, we secretly cheer that it’s not Shae (Sibel Kekill). Poor Ros (Esme Bianco) will be in quite a bit of pain if Joffrey is harmed though and if he is killed, well, she’s pretty much going to be screwed harder than she’s ever been. In a later scene overlooking the sea, Joff gets all cocky about meeting his Uncle Stannis and giving him a big, red smile. Such an ass!

If the scene when Tyrion runs frantically to Shae to proclaim that he would kill for her doesn’t touch you in some way, you have no soul. The vulnerability Tyrion shows here was heart-breaking as he begs Shae to proclaim that she is his and how they need to be more careful with their relationship. He earlier proclaimed that you don’t buy whores, you rent them. I think this one is a rent-to-own!

MORE romance? The ladies got a bonus in this episode. Robb is discussing with one of his men how he hasn’t heard back from the ravens he’s sent to Winterfell (Theon had them destroyed) when Talisa walks in and asks how he’s doing. Really? How about, “things are really quite sucky right now, I could use a good screw”? Anyway, we get Talisa’s backstory about why this highborn girl came to want to chop the feet off of the wounded. As a 12 year-old girl, she watched as a slave saved her little brother from drowning and vowed that she would dedicate her life to healing, not throwing stupid parties. This was Robb’s breaking point and he proclaimed that he doesn’t want to marry the Frey girl and takes her right there. Damn medieval garb takes too long to get off! This was actually a great “love” scene in that we know they genuinely like each other. Plus, did you notice that she was on top? He’s the King in the North but she’s the Queen in the bed (or on the floor).

In a brief scene on Stannis’s ship as it’s sailing to conquer King’s Landing, we learn another backstory. Ser Davos Seaworth’s (Liam Cunningham) story about being the Onion Knight and how he doesn’t hide from this menial title. Stannis is impressed with him and proclaims “I am the rightful king and when I sit on the throne, you’ll be my Hand.” Can we agree that Ser Davos is a cross between Obi Wan Kenobi (looks) and Sean Connery (voice)?

We briefly go back to Qarth where worried dragon mommy, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) wants her babies back. Her faithful protector, Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen), tells her that he has found a ship and captain so that they could get the hell out of there and be safe. She stands firm and will not leave the only children she’ll ever have. This scene gets touching too when she places her hand on Jorah’s face lovingly. Don’t you just wish they’d kiss and get is over with already?

The episode ends where it began: in Winterfell. Theon suggests to his First Mate that the BBQ’d boys be cut down and buried and that the point has been made. We’re still unsure if these are actually the Stark boys but Maester Luwin spies Osha the wildling (Natalia Tena) smuggling some bread around a corner. Deep breath! He enters the hiding place that is right under Theon’s nose, and we learn that those boys were probably the farmer’s children because Theon didn’t want to come back empty-handed. Poor little Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) overhears them talking and by the look in his eyes, realizes that two friends were sacrificed. Little Rickon (Art Parkinson) is safely sleeping in giant Hodor’s (Kristian Nairn) arms. We all knew those weren’t the Stark boys hanging there, right?

War is coming so prepare yourselves for “Blackwater”, next Sunday at 9pm ET/PT on HBO.