How times flies in the Seven Kingdoms! This season’s finale has come and gone (apologies for my tardiness) and now we have the rest of the year to get over the events of The Red Wedding. I’m sure many of us will need the time.
Chaos still reigns at The Twins, where Robb Stark, the King in the North and heir to Winterfell, has been assassinated, along with his mother Catelyn, his pregnant wife Talisa and most of his men. Catelyn’s uncle, The Blackfish, has escaped and her brother Edmure spent his wedding night in a dungeon. Our Rebel Arya, who was spared the same fate as her mother and brother thanks to The Hound, watched as her brother’s headless body, tied to a stake and topped off with his direwolf Grey Wind’s head, was paraded around The Twins as Frey’s men chanted, “The King in the North.” The look on poor Arya’s face was just heartbreaking because at that moment, she knew for certain that Robb and Catelyn were dead and that she would never see them again. Such horrible tragedies to be experienced by someone so young.
But Chance, the gods, or just plain luck dropped opportunity for revenge in Arya’s lap. As she and The Hound were riding, they came across some of Frey’s men bragging about murdering Robb. One of the unlucky fellows decided to regale his friends with how burdensome it was to get Grey Wind’s head on Robb’s body. Arya overhears this genius and takes matters into her own hands. She grabs one of Clegane’s knives, jumps off of his horse and walks directly over to the group. She pretends to be an orphan searching for food, even offering the coin Jaqen H’ghar gave to her what seems like a lifetime ago. When the greedy soldier reaches for the coin, Arya pretends to drop it. The super genius bends over to pick it up and all Seven Hells breaks loose. Our Rebel takes Clegane’s knife and not only sticks Frey’s man with the pointy end, she turns him into a bloody mess. The rest of the geniuses, who until that point were just watching with mild annoyance, are shocked into action and attempt to attack Arya. But The Hound jumps in and makes easy work of them. When he’s done, Clegane walks over to Arya asking her if the man she just killed was her first. “The first man,” she says with a face of stone. She then picks up the coin, looks at it for a moment and then says the magic words: Valar Morghulis. What’s next for Our Rebel? Will she continue on her journey with The Hound? Or will she seek out her buddy Jaqen now that her family has been destroyed?
In King’s Landing, Sansa and Tyrion are doing their best to make the most of their ill-begotten marriage. While taking a stroll (with Shae walking dutifully behind them), two men walk by the couple and laugh at Tyrion. He makes a note of their names, piquing Sansa’s curiosity. She asks why Tyrion is repeating the men’s names and he says he has a list. Sansa thinks the list is of people for Tyrion to kill, but the Halfman is not like his brutal nephew (thank the gods). The threat of death, he suggests, can be more frightening to some.
Sansa decides to play the game and asks how the two men should be punished. Tyrion thinks using Lord Varys to reveal their secrets would be a fine way to get even. Tyrion’s wife, on the other hand, has a better idea. Sansa tells her husband of the many times Arya would “sheep shift” her bed. Our Rebel would cut a hole in her sister’s mattress, fill it with sheep dung, cover the hole and remake the bed (that Arya is one sly little devil). The smell would drive Sansa crazy because she had no idea where it was coming from. As Tyrion and Sansa have a chuckle about her sister’s trickery, Podrick (who now has quite the reputation with the ladies) shows up and lets Tyrion know that his father has called a meeting of the Small Council.
When Tyrion arrives at the Small Council Chamber, Tywin, Cersei, Lord Varys and Maester Pycelle are already seated. In walks King Joffrey, with a smile on his face and a spring in his step. Tyrion asks the obvious question, “Killed a few puppies today?” It only makes Joffrey more terrifying when a question like that seems normal to ask. King Joffrey commands Maester Pycelle to show his uncle the bit of parchment on the table.
Pycelle, ever the gentleman, pretends to drop the parchment, blaming his “old fingers.” Tyrion grudgingly picks up the parchment from the floor and reads the message: “Roslin has caught a fine fat trout. Her brothers gave her a pair wolf pelts for her wedding.” We all know what that means, but unfortunately, Tyrion does not. Joffrey was only too kind to explain the message, letting Tyrion know that Robb and his mother were dead. I mean that kid looked like he was going to do cartwheels on the Small Council table he was so giddy.
The King then commands Pycelle to write back to Frey thanking him for his service and requesting Robb’s head. Wait, that isn’t right. Joffrey never requests anything. He commanded that Robb’s head be sent to him so, wait for it, Joffrey can serve it to Sansa at his wedding feast. Did everyone else shudder at the thought, as well? Lord Varys reminds his King that Sansa is now his aunt by marriage, with Cersei answering that Joffrey was just joking and didn’t mean it. Really Cersei? Of course he meant it, which is exactly what Joffrey says to his mother.
Tyrion reminds his nephew that Sansa is no longer his to torment. Joffrey replies, “everyone is mine to torment” calling his uncle a “little monster.” Halfman then utters these words, which were my favorite of the episode: “Oh, monster. Perhaps you should speak to me more softly then. Monsters are dangerous and just now kings are dying like flies.” Only Tyrion Lannister can say something like that and make it sound so cool.
Unfortunately, all he did was peeve the Brat King off, who threatens to cut his uncle’s tongue out. Cersei tries to calm her son down by babying him, while Pycelle adds fuel to the fire saying Tyrion should apologize to the King. Joffrey roughly pulls his hand away from Cersei and pronounces that he is the King. Tywin states the obvious, that “any man who must say ‘I am the King’ is no true King. I’ll make sure you understand that when I’ve won your war for you.” But Joffrey is on a roll and decides to challenge his grandfather, saying that his father won the real war while Tywin was hiding under Casterly Rock. Oh no he didn’t!
Tywin tries his famous stare on his grandson to scare him, but even that doesn’t work because Joffrey looks right into his grandfather’s eyes, waiting for his next move. Tywin announces that the King is tired and thinks he should be taken to his chambers. Cersei quickly jumps up, trying to diffuse the tense situation and remove her son from her father’s sight. While mother and son are walking out, Tywin makes the mistake of asking Pycelle to give Joffrey Essence of Nightshade to help him rest. The Brat King turns toward his grandfather and yells, “I’m not tired!” glaring at Tywin for effect. This does not bode well for the Realm because if Tywin Lannister can’t control King Joffrey, no one can.
After the spectacle, Tywin has a little chat with Tyrion, who again learns what a mastermind his father is at war. And also how much he puts duty to his family over everything else. His son, however, isn’t buying what Tywin is selling, asking when his father has ever put family first without reaping any benefits. Tywin blurts out, “the day you were born!” Tyrion listens as his father tells him that he wanted to put his son into the sea, but instead kept him and raised him because he was a Lannister. Harsh! After his heart-to-heart with dear old Dad, Tyrion arrives in his chamber to see Sansa standing by the window looking out. He calls her name and she turns to face him and Tyrion has no doubt Sansa knows about her family. He leaves her alone to grieve.
Bran, Jojen, Meera and Hodor (who doesn’t love Hodor?) arrive at the Nightfort and decide to spend the night. Bran tells his friends the story about the Rat Cook, who, out of anger, killed and cooked a king’s son and served him up in a pie. Bran said that the gods were angry not because the cook committed murder or putting the kid in a pie, but because he killed a guest under his roof. Bran ominously says that the gods cannot forgive anyone who murders a guest (hear that Frey?). Later that night, a noise from the well wakes Bran and the others, scaring them silly. A dark, large figure comes up out of the well and it’s none other than Samwell Tarley. He recognizes Summer and realizes that Bran is Jon’s brother. Sam introduces himself, as well as Gilly, and tries to convince Bran to come to The Wall, but he declines, telling Sam he has to go beyond The Wall. Sam tries to change his mind, but when he can’t, he gives Bran and his friends some of the dragon glass so they have a fighting chance against the White Walkers.
Back at The Twins, Walder Frey is eating and gloating. The Red Wedding has come and gone and Frey is now the Lord of Riverrun, former home of Catelyn Tully Stark, while Roose Bolton is now Warden of the North. Frey asks Bolton what happened after Theon took Winterfell. Bolton, who doesn’t seem to be loyal to anyone, described the events that put Theon in the horrible predicament he is in now, and also revealed the name of the Mad Man who has been torturing him. Ladies and Gentlemen, I introduce you to Ramsey Snow, Roose Bolton’s bastard son and Lord of the Dreadfort. He is one sick puppy.
Ramsay has separated poor Theon from a part of his anatomy that was very near and dear to him, a part of him that he was extremely proud of. Now, Theon is a shell of the cocky, arrogant man he used to be. He is terrified, in severe pain and will never be able to enjoy a woman again. He begs for death, but instead of mercy, Ramsay decides to change Theon’s name to Reek. At first, Theon refuses to accept the name, but a couple of powerful slugs to the face changes his mind quickly. Will Reek formerly known as Theon ever be free of his captor? If his sister has anything to do with it, hell yes!
Yara Greyjoy, unlike her father, has not given up on her baby brother. Ramsay sends the Greyjoys a letter and a piece of Theon, demanding that they give up the lands they conquered during this ever-shrinking War of the Five Kings. Balon Greyjoy would rather get daily presents containing pieces of his son than give up his lands and says so to his daughter. But Yara is her father’s daughter, and she will do as she pleases, even if it means defying her father. Yara decides to march on the Dreadfort to save her brother. Will Yara make it in time before Ramsay murders Balon’s last surviving son?
Jon Snow is making his way back to The Wall. He stops to drink some water and clean the eagle scratches on his face, but Ygritte finds him. He hears a noise, turns and there she is, aiming her bow and arrow at the man she loves. He tells Ygritte that she knew who he was and that now he has to go home. Jon also tells her that he loves her and that he knows she loves him. She waivers a bit, as we all do when men tell us what we want to hear. Jon doesn’t think Ygritte would hurt him, but well, she’s a Wildling. You don’t desert a Wildling woman! She lets go of that arrow and hits Jon in the shoulder. He runs for his horse, jumps on it and gets the hell out of there, but not before Ygritte puts two more arrows in him. By the time Jon makes it back to The Wall, he is barely conscious. Will Jon survive the injuries not only to his body, but also to his heart?
Jaime and Brienne have finally made it to King’s Landing. As they walk through the gates, Jaime takes a look around as if seeing the Red Keep for the first time. Just then, a merchant comes up behind him, telling the Kingslayer to move along, not realizing that he was talking to a Lannister. Brienne gives Jaime a sad smile, because she knows his life has changed forever. When Jaime goes to Cersei’s room, he watches her for a moment before softly saying her name. She turns around, sees her brother and lets out a breath as if she had been holding it in since Jaime was captured. Then she sees it. The stump that used to be Jaime’s sword hand. Will Cersei’s love for her brother be strong enough to look past his affliction?
On Dragonstone, Gendry sits in a dungeon, unsure of his fate. Ser Davos tries to ease his mind by talking about his time in Flea Bottom, where Gendry lived. As the two talk, Davos decides to speak to Stannis to convince him to spare his nephew. But Stannis is a hard man and wants his kingdom by any means necessary. And having Melisandre in his ear at every turn doesn’t help. So Davos takes matters into his own hands and helps Gendry escape. When Stannis questions him about it, Davos does not deny his part. He believes that winning a kingdom through sorcery is wrong. Stannis doesn’t want to hear it and sentences Davos to death.
Before he is taken away, the Onion Knight holds out a parchment which Stannis takes from him. The message is from Maester Aemon of the Night’s Watch, imploring help from the Seven Kingdoms to help defend against the White Walkers and Wildlings. After reading the message, Melisandre takes it from her King and puts it into the flames. She confirms that Stannis must go north and Davos is to go with him. The War of the Five Kings is no longer important, but the war coming to The Wall is where Stannis will win his crown. Will Stannis follow the Red Woman’s advice and head north?
It would not officially be summer without a bit of Targaryen fire. The Mother of Dragons is waiting outside of Yunkai to see if the slaves there will accept her. She has her people surrounding her (including the sellsword hottie Daario Naharis) as well as her babies, but she looks anxious. When the gates to Yunkai open, hundreds of slaves emerge, quietly walking towards their liberator. Dany tells the slaves that they must take back their freedom because it is not hers to give to them. A man holding a young girl calls out, “Mhysa!” Others join in the call, smiling and raising their hands towards her. Dany asks Missendei what the word means. Missendei tells Dany that the word is Old Ghiscari and means “Mother.” Dany realizes that the former slaves will not harm her and she walks into the crowd, eventually being hoisted up on the shoulders of two former slaves while her dragons fly up above. What’s next for the Mother of Dragons and all of her people?
Game of Thrones will return in 2014 on HBO. By the old gods and the new, have a wonderful summer! Because don’t forget children: Winter is coming.