Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.
Winterfell: In the previous episode, Bran had also asked Osha about another dream image he’d seen: the ocean coming to Winterfell (which is inland) and lapping at its borders. Now we see what that meant: Theon’s forces have used their coastal attack to launch a raid inland as far as Winterfell, and succeed in overunning the town. This is rather surprising – it seems like a very long stretch for the meagre force he commands.
Anyway, Theon confronts Bran and reasons with him that Bran should declare that his people should bow to Theon’s rule, lest he be forced to slaughter them. Bran consents, but is not happy about it. He clearly feels the responsibility for his people. Bran also accuses Theon (rightly) of betraying the Starks, after they brought him up. Theon seems a bit unhinged over his divided loyalty, and in a courtyard when a loyal Stark follower spits at him, he orders the spitter’s death and hacks his head off himself.
Osha approaches Theon at night and seduces him. But it’s a ploy to get access to Bran, his younger brother, and Hodor, whom she releases and leads on an escape into the night. It looks like she’s grown fond of Bran and the Starks, and is going to be helpful to them.
The North: Jon’s chance to prove himself in the ambush of the wildling guard camp goes pear-shaped when one of the wildlings turns out to be – gasp! – a woman! Jon hesitates to kill her, and the squad leader tells him to do it or he will. Jon says he’ll do it, just give him a moment. The others stupidly wander off leaving Jon and the woman alone – they should know better than that! How trope unaware can you be? I knew this was going to go badly as soon as Jon took off her hood and hesitated – Jon, you idiot.
The woman bravely bares her neck for his sword, but Jon fails to do the deed. A moment’s distraction is all she needs to scarper, racing across the snowy landscape. Jon pursues and catches her, but now they’ve apparently run a mile or two and he’s lost his squad. Stupid stupid stupid. And the sun is setting. Argh! To try and avoid freezing, they lie down on bare rock side by side – Jon refusing to build a fire because it will give away their position to wildling forces.
Yeah, okay, it’s the trope that the hero gets in trouble for failing to kill an enemy who turns out to be a woman. But really? Ugh, this is so annoying. We’ll wait and see just how much trouble Jon gets into. He’ll probably end up getting captured by the wildlings now and have to be rescued by his fellow Watch men.
Robb’s Camp: The nurse woman is back and Robb predictably flirts with her, when Cat and Brienne arrive. Robb is happy to see his mother. But a raven brings news of Theon’s capture of Winterfell, and Robb goes livid. He wants to abandon the campaign south to King’s Landing and go liberate Winterfell. But Cat convinces him that a small force led by someone else can do that; Robb is needed here. Robb reluctantly agrees.
Given the puny size of Theon’s force and his overstretched supply line, I have no doubt that a small force could retake Winterfell very quickly. Which of course means they might not, as some unforeseen tragedy befalls them… I guess we’ll see.
King’s Landing: Tyrion oversees the shipping off of Princes Myrcella to wherever it was that he tricked Cersei into thinking she was going. I presume he has to do this to maintain the pretence that there was only ever one plan, not three different ones designed to see who was loyal to him.
Joffrey walks the streets to the “adulation” of the citizens. Until someone throws a cowpat at him, scoring a direct hit. Joffrey sensibly orders everyone in the street to be executed, instigating a riot that threatens to overwhelm his guards. The royal party gets rushed away, but Sansa breaks from the rest and is pursued down an alley where a group of ruffians decide to assault her. The scar-faced guard (Gregor’s brother) rescues her just in time, and Sansa is later patched up in her room by her handmaiden, Tyrion’s girlfriend.
Tyrion meanwhile lets Joffrey know how much of an idiot he is, and gets away with trying to slap some sense into him – though no doubt the slap won’t have the desired effect. I’d expect Joffrey to demand Tyrion be executed now, though maybe he has at least enough sense not to sentence his own uncle to death. Maybe.
Harrenhal: Arya is settling into her role as Tywin’s cupmaiden, gleaning information about Robb’s movements and the battles While Tywin discusses with his generals. She lets slip the fact that she can read, arousing Tywin’s curiosity, but she makes up a story about her father, a stonemason, having taught himself and then her to read.
But Petyr Baelish arrives and meets with Tywin! Arya tries to hide her face from him as she serves them wine, ending up spilling some. He doesn’t seem to notice – but then knowing Petyr, he might have figured it out and just be keeping it quiet until he can get some advantage out of the knowledge. I don’t get that feeling from his reactions though, so if so, he was hiding it extremely well.
Arya presses her luck by nicking one of Tywin’s written messages concerning Robb’s movements. I’m not sure where she’s going with it, but she gets intercepted by a guard, who demands to know what she’s carrying and why. Arya isn’t quick enough to concoct a believable story, and the guard rushes to inform Tywin. Arya races to the prisoner who promised to kill two more people for her, and says she needs that guard to be the next victim, and right now! The guard enters Tywin’s tent door… and falls over dead with a poison dart in his neck.
Arya is playing a dangerous game now, attempting to use her position in Tywin’s confidence to bolster the greater games being played by the Starks. I would have thought she’d be more careful, but all of this was a bit reckless. Hopefully she’s learnt her lesson and will be more careful in the future – if not, Tywin might well find out and then she’ll be in real trouble.
Qarth: Daenerys continues to rebuff Daxos’s advances, while attempting to court favour with various other rich merchants in the city, but none of them are interested in loaning her ships to attack Westeros. Returning to her quarters, she finds several of her Dothraki followers have been murdered, and her dragon cages are empty – someone has stolen the three baby dragons! Daenerys seethes in fury.
This was an unexpected turn. It’s a mystery how this will play out, or who is responsible. Maybe it will encourage her to ally with Daxos. Maybe it’s all a plot of his to encourage exactly that. Qarth seems to be the sort of city that is full of intrigues of this nature. I suspect Danereys’s road to an army with dragons backing them up is long and arduous, but the machinations needed to get there will teach her a lot about how to wield it well.