All hail, Daenerys Targaryen: Queen of dragons, multilingualism and the double-cross.
“Game of Thrones” is at its best when one of its major, fan-favorite characters (I call them the Big Four: Dany, Arya, Jon and Tyrion) has a big scene, and it doesn’t get too much bigger than Sunday’s move by Daenerys.
The writers dedicated the last 10 or so minutes of the episode solely to Daenerys and it paid off with the show’s most successful moment of television so far this season.
The Khaleesi promised the slaver Kraznys of Astapor that she would give him one of her three dragons in exchange for his slave army of 8,000 skilled warriors called The Unsullied. But when the time came to make the deal, things. Got. Dark.
Dany not only revealed that she speaks Valyrian – meaning she understood all the trash Kraznys was saying about her in earlier episodes – but commanded her slave army to kill all their former captors and her dragon to roast Kraznys alive.
And when Dany started talking in Valyrian, she sounded downright malevolent. This was vintage ‘Thrones,’ with the more manipulative and deceitful characters (thus far, usually Lannisters) winning. But it also had a streak of Stark-like honor. After slaughtering her foes, Daenerys granted the slaves their freedom and they uproariously agreed to fight for her anyway.
On the road to Harrenhal
The episode opened with a gruesome reminder of how last week’s segment ended: The severing of Jaime Lannister’s hand.
Jaime now has his dominant right hand swinging from his neck as he rides with the Brave Companions, who have captured Brienne of Tarth and him.
He’s suffering, depressed and dehydrated, and falls from his horse into the mud. The Brave Companions give him horse urine to drink, mock him and beat him.
It should be hard to pity the guy who pushed Bran Stark from a window, but you can’t help feeling empathy for Jaime as he’s so cruelly mistreated. This is why this series is so good: Because its characters, like real life, are incredibly complicated.
Elsewhere, a lot is happening in the capitol city.
Varys, the eunuch, had some of his most poignant moments on the show to date. He tells Tyrion Lannister of the horrors of his maiming at the hands of a Myrish sorcerer.
In a scene replete with profundities, Varys shares the wisdom he’s gained through his trials in life (such as: “The contents of a man’s letters are more valuable than the contents of his purse,” and “Influence grows like a weed.”).
Finally, he reveals to Tyrion a box in which he has captured the sorcerer who castrated him.
“The revenge you want will be yours in time,” Varys says.
Meanwhile, the capitol is still buzzing about Pod’s performance in bed with the whores, and Varys is gossiping with Ros and the Queen of Thorns about Litterfinger’s plans to leave for the Eyire with Sansa Stark.
“Littlefinger is one of the most dangerous men in Westeros.,” Varys says. “He would see this country burn if he could be king of the ashes.”
The boy-king Joffrey Baratheon (really Lannister) shows his bride-to-be Margaery Tyrell the tombs of the Targaryen kings. (I’ll give the little weasel this: He does know his history.)
“Sometimes severity is the price we pay for greatness,” Margaery says.
The queen-to-be is great at manipulating Joffrey, Sansa and, well, everyone.
She suggests Sansa should marry her brother, Loras. “We would be sisters,” Margaery says, completely winning over the Stark girl.
Margaery takes Joff to the castle’s window to wave to the crowd assembled outside, and the same people who recently tried to assault the royal family actually cheer for him (!).
Cersei Baratheon (Lannister) sees what’s happening and complains to her father, Tywin, saying: “The Tyrells are a problem.”
Tywin, sternly, tells Cersei she’s let her son walk all over her.
“Perhaps you should try stopping him from doing what he likes,” Cersei says.
Tywin pauses. “I will,” he responds.
As the plotting got intense in the south, things got wild up north. Starving and tired, the men of the Night’s Watch turned on Craster and each other.
All hell breaks loose during a melee inside of Craster’s keep and the nasty wildling Craster ends up with his throat cut.
During the brawl, one of the Night’s Watch turns on Commander Mormont, killing him. (This was the most significant death thus far this season.) And, Samwell Tarly fled into the snow with one of Craster’s daughters/lovers and her newborn son.
“Run fast piggy and sleep well. I’ll be cutting your throat one of these nights,” one of the men shouts after him.
On the road with Theon Greyjoy
Theon, who last episode escaped from his captors, shows remorse for killing two young boys back at Winterfell. He also admits that he should never have turned on the Starks.
“My real father lost his head at King’s Landing. I made a choice and I chose wrong,” he says.
But just as he thinks he’s on his way to freedom, Theon is double-crossed and returned to the same torture-chamber he just fled.
The cave of the Lightning Lord
Arya Stark, Thoros of Myr, The Hound and the others arrive at the cave of the Lightning Lord.
Beric Dondarrion and others accuse The Hound of unspeakable crimes mainly committed by his brother (such as, murdering the Targaryen babies during King Aerys II’s reign).
But then Arya accuses The Hound of murder with a specific case: The killing of Mycah, the butcher’s boy, in Season One. (I'm personally still mad about how that went down.)
“Is the little girl the bravest one here?” the Hound asks. (Just wait and see, Sir Dog.)
Dondarrion agrees to a trial by combat with The Hound in which God will judge whether or not King Joffrey’s former dog is guilty. This nicely sets up a showdown for episode five, the halfway point of the season. Here's hoping that the Hound joins Craster and Viserys in the Night Lands.
That’s it! See y’all next week.