Subtitle: everybody’s plotting, to generally ill effect.
Again, lots of set up, not much punch. In the North Jon and Tormund set off on their road trip to doom (recruit the wildlings) and everyone except Sam sends dagger eyes in their direction. But especially Thorne, who really wants Jon’s job and sees this idealistic crusade for socialism as his opportunity, and Olly, who is sad that Jon wants to make friends with the people who murdered his family.
I’m still mad at Olly for killing Ygritte so I am on Jon’s side. Also Jon’s plan is the best for everyone involved. Also Tormund should be Ygritte, this entire plot line would work exactly the same if Ygritte was still alive and I’m including Jon’s angst party because no one knows how to angst about love vs. duty like a Stark.
Anyway, Maester Aemon finally succumbs to the dark embrace of Death which robs Jon and Sam of their mentor and last sure friend. After the funeral we are reminded that the Night’s Watch is made up of 90% generic bad guys when three of them jump Gilly. I guess it was her turn to be sexually assaulted, which is terrible because she was introduced pregnant after having been raped by her father andshe has already been attacked for being the only woman around Castle Black at least once before (been there, done that, please move on). Sam intervenes and gets beaten to the ground for it, but a snarling Ghost shows up to save them both.
Back in Winterfell: If only Lady was still around to jump in front of Sansa. In this episode of Sansa’s Horrible Life, she reveals that Ramsay has her locked in the bedroom as a sex slave and Reek is the only one she sees. Desperate, she tells him he’s Theon (not Reek) and she still has friends in the North. All Theon (not Reek) has to do is light a candle in the broken tower and her army will storm the castle and save them both. But instead Reek (not Theon) tells her story to Ramsay and Ramsay marches Sansa out to see what becomes of her friends — he’s flayed the old woman. Ramsay smirks, Reek cries, Sansa swallows her rage one more time and steals a corkscrew.
Brienne is still watching.
On the road, the march on Winterfell is going poorly due to weather – it appears Winter has finally come, and Stannis’s army is spooked and slowed. Daavos suggests retreat, at least until the storm dies down but Stannis refuses to be the King Who Runs (again) and the way Winters go in this made up land with no meteorological sense, it might be years before the snow stops. Daavos sighs and heads back into the cold.
Stannis turns to Melisandre for reassurance that he’s doing the right thing and she a) placates him with the weakest version of fire god rhetoric, b) refuses his romantic advances because she’s really just not that into him, and c) asks permission to take the only blood of a king left to her on this hapless march into Winter: his daughter’s. And she looks totally bored while doing it. Melisandre’s ennui is kinda terrifying. Stannis bristles and blusters and yells at her to get out of his sight, witch, and everyone everywhere starts praying for the soul of Shireen.
As part of her lead up to the Great Games that will mark her Great Wedding, Dany accompanies her intended to the fight. Jorah is not chosen to fight, but when he hears his Queen is in attendance he runs into battle and beats everybody bloody — but not dead, because Khaleesi doesn’t like dead gladiators — and finally removes his helm to make googly eyes at his goddess. Dany reacts similarly to Melisande with annoyance and boredom so Jorah trots out Tyrion Lannister.
In Dorne Bronn and the Sand Snakes are locked up in cells across from each other which results in a most bizarre exploitation masquerading as seduction for literally no reason. And it features the youngest Sand Snake who up to now I called The Cute One and Bronn has only ever called “Little Girl” which makes the whole thing, somehow, even skeevier. Basically Tyene bares her breasts to get Bronn aroused, then tells him he’s poisoned but she’ll give him the antidote if he confirms that she’s the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen, and the other two roll their eyes like she’s just being Tyene.
So that happens. Meanwhile Myrcella visits Jaime in his much nicer prison — a tower with a view of the water gardens — and they share a truly bittersweet scene. The window when Jaime could have been a father to his children has clearly passed, and he knows it, as much as he wants to try. Myrcella is a young woman in love and her ‘uncle’ appearing to rescue her after three years of exile is too little too late. Like Sansa at the very beginning of this story, Myrcella refuses to leave her new home or her intended and when Jaime says he doesn’t understand she drags him into reality with the words, “Of course you don’t. You don’t know me.”
The family drama continues in King’s Landing as well. Cersei promises a tearful Tommen she will help Margaery but visits the prison just to lord over her some more. Olenna tries to bribe and/or bully the High Sparrow into releasing her grandchildren but is blocked at every turn because the priest doesn’t want anything except power, which he now has all of. So she calls up her old coconspirator, Littlefinger, who hands over his intel on Lancel No-Longer-Lannister. I seriously have no idea what Petyr’s endgame is at this point? But the end result here is: with Lancel’s confessions, the High Sparrow arrests Cersei for fornication, treason, incest, and the murder of King Robert.
Next week: Jon travels.
Winning: The High Sparrow
Dead: Maester Aemon