It’s the penultimate episode this week, the second to last, the one that all readers of the series have been expecting all season. And I think they did good. I know I definitely cried the first time I watched it. The shit has not only hit the fan this episode but now it’s flying all over the room. PLUS a Salon reviewer has rewatched all 9 current episodes at once, and has taken back his initial reservations about the series. There may even have been comparisons to Deadwood. So ha! Suck it haters!
Robb has reached the Twins, the gateway to the South and the Riverlands, which is where the Lannisters are doing their terrorizing. There is no way to get across without the permission of the lord there, Walder Frey, who is known to be quite…mercenary, to say the least. It’s too dangerous for Robb to go alone, and would be seen as an attack if he went with guards, so Catelyn goes instead, as she has the least value as a hostage.
Frey is a delightfully cranky old coot with a million children and a new 15 year old wife. He’s also pricklier than a cactus and sees everything as a slight. Frey knows he has the upper hand here, because if he just leaves the Northmen there the Lannisters will have no problem picking them off, and he’ll prove his loyalty to the crown, where he has nothing really to gain from letting them cross for nothing. Luckily his pride is possibly bigger than Tywin Lannister’s, and he wants nothing more than a marriage alliance with a major house. So Catelyn rides back with not only permission to cross, but a Frey alliance. But it’s at a fairly high cost – both Arya and Robb are to marry one of those sad looking Freys. Theon can’t help but chuckle when Robb tries to find out if all the Frey girls are ugly (they are), but he has no choice but to consent to their terms, and the Northmen are able to continue their march south.
Lord Commander Mormont gives Jon his family sword (instead of Jorah!!) as thanks for saving his life. Mormont even sends Ser Alliser south to tell the King of their troubles up there, and to keep him and Jon off each other’s throats. There’s a cute moment in the kitchens where all Jon’s friends chant to play with Jon’s shiny new sword, reminding us all how young they are. Sam has something he doesn’t want to tell Jon too, but of course he caves and tells Jon about Robb marching south. Jon is of course despondent for not being at his brother’s side.
Maester Aemon then summons Jon to help him feed the ravens (which looks gross), and reminds him of his duty, because he knows that Sam would tell him the news. He tells him that “love is the death of duty”, which is why the Night’s Watch is not allowed to have families, and also reveals his own true identity – that of Aemon Targaryen. And when his entire House went down in flames in Robert’s rebellion, there was nothing he could do, because not only was he bound to the Watch, but he was old and blind already. Jon’s face is kind of priceless as he realizes this. But this story definitely seems to school him, because we don’t see Jon Snow running for his horse this time.
The Dothraki Horde
Khal Drogo is not looking good at all (zombie makeup anyone?) and falls from his horse. The bloodriders of course give Daenarys lip for being a woman, but ultimately do as she commands and make camp. Drogo is by now feverish and raving, his wound now a festering mess. He is most likely dying. Dany refuses to accept this, and Jorah tries to convince her to leave, because she and her child will most likely be killed by Drogo’s rivals in the fighting that will ensue after his death. He reminds her they are a people who do not honour blood, only strength, and while she’s stronger than she’s ever been, she’s not strong enough for that. Or at least not strong enough in the right way. She still refuses to leave. The lippy bloodrider blames the healer again, and Dany actually stands up for herself (!!) and saves Mirri maz Duur from a beating again.
Dany begs the healer woman to use the magic the Dothraki keep saying she possesses to cure the Khal, to bring him back to life. But this is blood magic she’s asking for, and the Khal’s horse is summoned to give his life for his master’s. The Dothraki are terrified, but Daenarys is resolute. Everyone must leave the tent, including herself, and no one can enter lest they interrupt the spell. Scary noises start coming out of there, and the lippy bloodrider knocks Dany over and tries to enter the tent. Luckily, Jorah is suited up and takes the bloodrider out, knight style. But the fall has induced labour, and the Dothraki midwives refuses to tend to their khaleesi now she has summoned blood magic, so Jorah unwittingly brings her into the tent where the maegi is.
The Lannister Camp
Tyrion has dinner with his father, who tells him he and his mountain tribesmen will be in the vanguard in the coming battle (that’s the very front, in case you’re wondering). Tyrion is of course not too happy with this death sentence. But all is not so bad! Bronn found him a pretty whore (and by found, we of course mean took from some other dude)! And not just pretty, but also possibly French! And mysterious! Shae was not really like this in the books at all, but I have to say I don’t really mind the change. She’s much more interesting this way. Tyrion makes her an offer she can’t refuse (his company? What lady can say no to that? Eff the gold!) and she goes to town on him.
Later, Bronn, Shae and Tyrion play sleepover games over wine. No seriously. They literally play Truth or Dare. It’s awesome. Tyrion nails Bronn, but Shae he can’t pin down. She’s also wearing Tyrion’s leather jerkin, which is adorable. Then the tables get turned and Tyrion is the one who winds up with Truth, and we all get the story of Tyrion’s teenage marriage. He married a common girl when he was 16, which of course did not sit well with “The House Comes First” Tywin. Jaime reveals the girl to be a whore, and Tywin has her take a turn with all of his guards for a silver each and makes Tyrion watch. Bronn of course says he would kill any man who did that to him, and Shae chastises him for not knowing she was a whore, but apparently she still finds the story endearing because Tyrion gets more loving, and Bronn awkwardly makes his exit.
Tyrion wakes up the next morning hungover, to the sounds of battle. So he suits up by himself (cuz Daddy’s too cheap to get him a squire), Bronn gives him the hilarious advice to “stay low”. Tyrion pumps up the mountain folk with a speech, and then immediately gets knocked on the head with a battle hammer and trampled a bit. He wakes up in his little lion armour, the battle over, dazed but alive. The Lannisters have won, but there were only 2000 Stark men, not 20,000 like the scouts said. That’s because while Tywin was busy preparing for the 20, 000, Robb took the rest and ambushed Jaime Lannister and his 100 men. Jaime, like Tyrion, is a pretty glib hostage. Jaime tries to take Robb mano a mano, but Robb’s not stupid enough to fall for that one. And so our young Stark seems poised to take over the story as its hero.
Varys pays Ned another cell visit, and tells us all a little bit about his childhood – he used to be part of an acting troupe(which explains so much) but he still refuses to let Ned free even though he probably could. Instead he again counsels Ned to take back what he said about Joffrey’s parentage, proclaim his loyalty to the crown, tell his son call off his army, and then Cersei will allow him to take the Black and serve out the rest of his days in the Night’s Watch. Varys again counsels for peace, as this is really the only way to achieve it. Ned however, is not afraid of dying, but Varys reminds him that the Lannister have Sansa, and it will be she who suffers for his honour.
Arya is out on the streets of King’s Landing, just another beggar child catching pigeons and not understanding how to barter. Some other street children tell her that her father is being brought to the Sept and she scurries after them and gets a good vantage point on a statue of Baelor the Blessed. Ned even sees her and yells to Yoren of the Night’s Watch that she’s there as he passes him in the crowd. Ned actually IS there to confess his ‘treason’, exactly as he’s been counselled so many times to do. But despite that, Joffrey calls for his head anyone, completely to the surprise of his mother and counsellors. Ser Illyn takes Ned’s head, and the little psycho starts his rein with civil war.
- I hate to say it, but outfit of the week goes to Cersei and Joffrey, whose cape/coat deal was pretty dope. Although Sansa’s blue dress looks a lot better with a big silver belt.
- “Penetrate the enigma that is me” Oh Tyrion.
- Also: if you have ever wondered what a Tyrion/Bronn buddy comedy would look like, it’s this.
- Theories on Shae’s background: she is actually noble, but left to explore the world and possibly avoid a marriage to an old man, and actually enjoys being a whore, OR she was sold to a brothel at a very young age and trained to be a very good whore like Dany’s hand maiden, but she somehow escaped. But she still does actually enjoy her profession.