“Anyone can be killed.” Other than Gendry’s perfect body *swoon*, this quote left the biggest impression on me far after the episode ended. Maybe it was Maisie’s perfect delivery, or the fact that death hung over every character this week, but it chilled me to the bone. It was also fitting for an episode that began and ended with murder. So let’s get started.
The episode opens in Renly’s tent, and I, as someone who has read the books, prepare myself for what’s coming next. Renly’s death was appropriately quick; I remember reading his death thinking I missed something. It was so unceremonious for a character that had a legitimate shot at being king, but that’s the way this world works. Death comes swiftly, usually without pomp and circumstance, and in a second, everything falls apart. We should take a moment to mourn poor Renly, the queeniest king there ever was. I’ll miss the handsome…
As Brienne and Catelyn realize what just happened, some guards barrel into the tent and immediately blame the she-knight for killing the king. As they come at her, she unloads a can of whoop ass (seriously sick fighting from Gwendoline Christie, I was super impressed) and then her and Catelyn hightail it out of there. Continuing with their story, later in the episode we get a great scene between the two escapees where an emotional Brienne pledges her loyalty to Catelyn Stark. It was a beautifully written scene that included dialogue straight from the novels. It sets the foundation for an absolutely integral alliance in the episodes and even seasons to come. I love that both characters are women representing almost opposite ends of the femininity spectrum, yet they are both brave and strong and good.
Back in Renly’s camp, the consequences of his death are starting to emerge. Loras looks so heartbroken much more so than his wife, Margaery. Renly’s lover obviously wants immediate revenge but Littlefinger manages to convince him to exercise caution. After Loras leaves the tent, Margaery and Baelish have a most interesting conversation. Their exchange proves my point from last week that the young Tyrell is a sneakily adept player in the game. She knows what she wants and makes that desire very clear to the one person who could deliver it to her; after all, Natalie Dormer was always meant to play the Queen.
Stannis is up next, and is just as unlikable as ever. Davos enters the tent unsurprisingly freaked out after the crazy demon birth he just witnessed. But ever the loyal servant, Davos just wants to know what the plan is now. Stannis tells him they sail to Blackwater Bay and Davos will command the fleet. The Onion Knight starts to lobby for Melisandre to stay far away from the battle. He astutely tells his King that he just won all these new bannerman, and it wouldn’t be right to lose them to her. Stannis begrudgingly agrees, but not after giving his Hand one last piece of advice.
We return to King’s Landing to see Cersei celebrating Renly’s death while Tyrion tells his sweet sister that celebration may be premature. Stannis will come for them now, with an army that far outnumbers their own. Cersei reveals that Joffrey has begun making siege plans, but she won’t tell him what exactly. The back and forth in this scene is great, as it always is between these two. My personal favorite line has to be Tyrion correcting his sister by saying that one cannot simultaneously scheme and plot because scheming and plotting are the same thing, duh. However, it seems that Tyrion is now one step behind his family and he immediately goes to cousin / spy / bitch Lancel to get the information. What Tyrion finds out is shocking; it seems that the King has commissioned the royal pyromancers to start making Wildfyre. A substance that can burn through wood, stone, steel, and even melt human flesh. Yeah, totally safe stuff. Tyrion is noticeably skeptical at this plan, that is until he and his shadow (Bronn) journey’s to the Alchemist’s Guild to meet with ASOIAF audio book narrator Roy Dotrice to see the thousands of pots already made. Tyrion sees the potential in “the substance” and orders the pyromancer to continue making more… for him now.
On the Iron Islands, Theon is preparing to set sail on his ship, the Sea Bitch. His crew hates him, his sister is mean to him, blah blah blah. Theon is annoying, nothing new to se- Wait WHAT?!? He’s gonna attack Winterfell??? And I thought the salty bastard couldn’t get any worse…
Speaking of Winterfell, we see Bran continuing to listen to the petty complaints of minor lords. The best part of this scene though has to be little Rickon. That kid’s going to be king one day, mark my words 😉 But in all seriousness, Bran gets sobering news when Rodrik bursts in and says Torrhen Square is under attack (Theon *shakes fist*). He says he could round up 200 fighting men, so Bran orders him to do so and reclaim Torrhen Square. Later, he talks with Osha about his dreams. He talks of the three-eyed crow and then tells Osha about his dream of the sea coming to Winterfell. Someone needs to start listening to this kid stat.
Finally we reach my favorite storyline. Jon is back and this time he’s in the most beautiful landscape Game of Thrones has ever used. Seriously, the cinematography of these scenes is stunning. The Icelandic tundra is perfect for the far north of Westeros as the Night’s Watch finally make it to the Fist of the First Men. I’m loving the banter between Sam, Grenn, and Edd; it adds a nice bit of levity to a somewhat bleak story. As they make their way towards camp (Ghost sighting!), we start learning about a member of the Watch called Qhorin Halfhand (who famously spent the entirety of last winter beyond the Wall) a bad-ass ranger. He soon arrives with a force from the Shadow Tower. Qhorin and the Lord Commander talk strategy; the Halfhand wants to take a small force of men to eliminate Mance’s scouts. Jon wants to go with him. Commander Mormont resists at first, but relents when Sam offers to pick up Jon’s steward duties (yay for Sam supporting his BFF )
Across the Narrow Sea, Dany is starting to get comfortable in the home of her “savior” Xaro Xhoan Daxos. We see she has learned how to feed her dragons (the CGI still looks amazing BTW). We also see that she feels comfortable in pimping out Doreah. Xaro throws a welcome party for the Mother of Dragons, and it’s clear that neither her Dothraki riders nor her Westeros guard feel quite right in this foreign place. The first guest to make an impression is the creepy Pyat Pree; with his bald head, discolored lips, and nearly anorexic frame he immediately stands out. He shows Dany a bit of magic and invites her to the House of the Undying… creepy indeed. The next unsettling guest is the strangely masked stranger known as Quaithe. She delivers a cryptic warning to Jorah, one that readers of the novels know very well. Later that night, Xaro demonstrates his immense wealth and then, quite out of the blue, proposes marriage to our Khaleesi. He also delivers some news from across the Narrow Sea: King Robert is dead. Dany consorts with Jorah; she wants to accepts Xaro’s proposal and sail to Westeros immediately. Jorah advises they wait, that their allies are in Westeros and they only need one ship to get them there. But are Jorah’s intentions entirely noble? Xaro inferred earlier that the the loyal knight was in love with Dany. Could he be preventing this marriage out of jealousy? Well, for now it seems he wants the best for the young Targaryen, and his declaration that a ruler like her (strong, fierce, but gentle-hearted) is so very rare was quite moving.
We finally return to Harrenhall where we are once again introduced to Tywin Lannister. He sits with his council figuring out how the hell to beat Robb. So far, the Young Wolf is kicking major ass. Ever the astute general, Tywin calls out Arya (who is working as his cupbearer) as a northerner. He asks what they say of Robb in the north. She tells him that people whisper he rides into battle on the back of a giant direwolf, that sometimes he can turn into a direwolf himself, and finally, that he can’t be killed. Tywin softly asks the young girl if she believes the stories. In my opinion, Arya thinks of her father at this moment. She remembers him kneeling before the people, confessing his sins, and seeing the father she loved so much brutally murdered for a treason he did not commit. So when she responds, the words are not lies, they’re a threat. Again, let me just say that Maisie Williams is PERFECT in this scene. She goes toe to toe with Charles freakin’ Dance and manages to steal the scene away. Brilliant!
Later on, Arya runs into Jaqen H’ghar. The man she saved from the flames tells her she owes the Red God three lives and that she must give a man three names and a man will do the rest. Arya gives him his first name, The Tickler. In the show’s final scene, Arya is busy chatting with Gendry (or you know sneakily checking him out). She is hilariously schooling her friend in proper sword fighting technique when a scream and a thud comes from the courtyard. We see The Tickler lying dead on the ground, his head facing in the wrong direction. Arya looks up at the battlements and sees Jaqen. He holds one finger up to his face… two to go.
I totally watch for this show for the plot