The fallout from last week’s Royal Wedding shares the focus in this week’s episode with Daenerys setting her sights on Meereen and the escalating struggle at the Wall. Check out our book reader’s recap below, and share your thoughts in the comments section!
Spoiler Note: This post is for those who have read the A Song of Ice and Fire series. As such the post itself and the comments will contain spoilers. If you haven’t read the books yet, you can discuss this episode in our non-book-reader recap. Thanks!
Viewers dive into the aftermath of the fatal Royal Wedding immediately this week with chaos breaking out as the king lies dead in his mother’s arms. Dontos, the knight-turned-fool, escorts Sansa Stark through the streets of King’s Landing to the water, saving her from arrest. Upon reaching their destination, however, Sansa realizes her savior is not as gallant as she had thought; he delivers her to Littlefinger and she learns the fool was helping her only for the promise of 10,000 golden dragons. Littlefinger pays the deceitful fool for his efforts with a crossbow bolt to the face. Even the necklace he presented her with was false, created by Littlefinger, and he crushes the “gems” to prove that point.
In King’s Landing, the nobility are still reeling from King Joffrey’s death. Margaery Tyrell ponders her troubled marital history, with two dead husbands to her name. The Queen of Thorns offers her wisdom and memories of her own late husband, and assures Margaery that “the next one” will be easier.
Last week it was the site of a wedding, this week a wake. Prince Tommen and his mother Cersei mourn in the Great Sept of Baelor with Joffrey’s corpse laid out. Tommen, understanding now that he will be king, is being educated by their grandfather Tywin about the history of good kings of Westeros, and where they went wrong. As the older man leads the prince out to continue their discussion including his marital obligations, Jaime enters, dismisses the guards, and joins Cersei.
She weeps and blames Tyrion for her son’s murder, pleading for their brother to be found and killed. Jaime comforts and kisses her, but Cersei pushes him away. Jaime forces himself on her, with her refusing and insisting “Not here, it isn’t right,” but he doesn’t stop.
Continuing their adventure through the Riverlands, Arya and the Hound discuss their future, with the girl considering Braavos (the Essos home of Syrio Forel and Jaqen H’ghar) and the Hound thinking about a career in the Second Sons. They encounter a farmer and his daughter, and accept their hospitality. They learn during dinner that the common folk are calling the slaughter at the Twins “the Red Wedding”- and that the farmer is hoarding some silver. Before leaving the farmer’s home the next day, the Hound robs them, violating guest right, despite Arya’s vehement protests.
At the Wall, Sam is having his own troubles, with his brothers refusing to believe he killed a White Walker, and Alliser Thorne scornfully nicknaming him “Sam the Slayer.” He’s also jealous over Gilly and her presence at Castle Black; he’s worried about her remaining in a castle full of rapers, and men lying awake all night thinking about her. Gilly wonders if Sam is among those who think of her at night, and he can’t bring himself to admit his feelings for her, beyond being worried.
Stannis shares with Davos the news of Joffrey’s murder, but is not as pleased as one would expect, believing that using Gendry’s bastard blood is preventing him from being able to capitalize on the king’s passing. Davos comes up with a new plan: they need soldiers to win the war, so they should hire a mercenary company. However lack of funds is an issue. It’s during a visit with Princess Shireen that Davos comes up with a solution. Spotting a book about the First Swords of Braavos, he realizes that there is a way to secure the money: the Iron Bank of Braavos.
Back in the North near the Wall, Sam has decided that a solution to the problem of Gilly’s safety will be finding her a new home in Mole’s Town. The brothel in the town near the Wall is willing to employ her to help out the prostitutes with cleaning and caring for their children, though the madam offers Gilly other work as well. Sam insists, “NO other work,” and Gilly will remain in Mole’s Town for the time being. She feels Sam is doing what’s best for him, not her, and the two part ways unhappily.
In a brothel in King’s Landing, Oberyn and Ellaria are enjoying themselves with a happy fivesome when they are once again interrupted by a Lannister. This time, it’s Tywin, come to ask Oberyn about his past study of poisons- and to ask him to be a judge at Tyrion’s trial. He denies having had a hand in the death of Oberyn’s sister Elia and invites him to join the Small Council of the King, because “We are not Seven Kingdoms until Dorne returns to the fold.” He is aware of Daenerys and her dragons, and admits that the Crown needs Dorne to fend her off.
Tyrion receives a visitor in his prison cell- his squire Pod, bringing him food and the news that his trial will be in a fortnight with Tywin, Oberyn and Mace Tyrell judging; that Sansa has fled; and that Tyrion’s allies are being stripped away. They’ve even offered Pod a knighthood which the young man declined. Realizing he is in danger for displaying loyalty to him, Tyrion orders Pod to find Jaime for him, and then to get himself out of King’s Landing.
The action then switches to an idyllic landscape in the North, with a father and son talking- just as an arrow kills the father and wildlings fall upon the village. Ygritte and Tormund’s band, joined by the Thenns, slaughter their way through the villagers, and Styr drags the surviving son out from a wagon. He allows him to live so he can carry a message to the Night’s Watch.
The men of the Watch are enraged by the attack, and debate over how to proceed. Their numbers are desperately low, having only a hundred men. Even Jon is forced to admit they can’t ride out to save innocents, because Mance Rayder is coming for them with a hundred thousand men. Dolorous Edd and Grenn return, having survived the mutiny at Craster’s Keep, and inform the brothers that Karl is in charge, keeping Craster’s women at his place. Jon realizes that the mutineers have dangerous information and that when the wildlings get a hold of them, Mance Rayder’s people will then know how few people are manning the Wall, damning them.
At the walls of Meereen, a champion rides out to greet Danerys and her army of Unsullied. The nobility of the city, surrounded by numerous slaves, gather on the walls to watch. The champion shows disrespects to her and her army by urinating in her direction and insulting her, and the khaleesi’s men volunteer to take on the champion. She decides that Grey Worm, Jorah and Barristan are too valuable in their roles to stand as her champion but allows Daario Naharis to fight for her.
The sellsword speedily dispatches the champion by bringing down his horse with a thrown dagger, allowing him to kill the fighter easily on foot. Daenerys steps forward then to address the people on the walls- not the wealthy nobility, but the slaves.
She tells of the slaves she has freed, and with trebuchets launches barrels that crash into the walls of Meereen, breaking open and emptying their contents on the ground. The slaves bend to look, and see that Daenerys is showing them proof- countless numbers of broken collars from the people she has freed.
What I Liked
Raising the stakes at the Wall – With the brutal attack (a great scene in and of itself) on the village near Castle Black, and the impending invasion, it’s getting tense at the Wall, and it’s bringing out the best in Jon Snow.
Stannis & Davos– Stannis is showing some flair (giving Stephen Dillane a chance to shine) and Davos has a plan, and there’s finally something happening in the Dragonstone storyline.
Meeting Meereen– You know it’s good when Dany’s ass-kicking music plays. The episode may have ended without showing what happened, but it was clear, the slaves got the message. Bonus: getting a sneak peek at Hizdahr zo Loraq on the walls in the final moments.
Tommen is growing up– Recasting is always controversial, especially when an actor’s already been on the show in a different part. But Dean-Charles Chapman is making the role his own, and the scene with Cersei and Tywin displayed the sweetness that book-readers expect from the good-hearted prince who would be king.
What I Didn’t Like
Jaime forcing himself on Cersei– I understand that Alex Graves has said in an interview with Hitfix that in his mind, the sex “becomes consensual by the end.” Unfortunately, what was depicted onscreen looked and sounded like rape. And while I don’t want Jaime to be a whitewashed character in terms of morality, this is a step too far- a major misstep, in fact. Edit: In this interview with THR, Graves actually refers to the scene as “rape.”
Small impact of Dontos’s betrayal – The effect of Dontos shattering Sansa’s faith in him, of another hero failing her, was very weak because we didn’t see Dontos at all in season 3, and barely in season 2. Dontos should have been reintroduced a lot sooner for that storyline to be really effective.