Poor Sansa Stark.
First, she was pledged to marry the despicable, pathetic, cruel, spineless boy-king Joffrey. Now, the Lannisters are plotting to stick her with his even less-attractive uncle, Tyrion.
Granted, to viewers of “Thrones,” if you’re going to have to marry a Lannister, you’d definitely choose the funny, likeable Tyrion. But to 12-year-old Sansa, who has watched Lannisters behead her father, plan to kill her brothers and generally be horrible to her, Tywin Lannister’s plot is going to be a form of mental torture.
Tyrion, too, objects to the Stark-Lannister union.
“That’s cruel. Even for you,” Tyrion tells his father.
(Remember these families are loosely based on those in the Wars of the Roses. George R.R. Martin created the Starks to represent House York and the Lannisters are supposed to be House Lancaster.)
Just as Cersei is about to start gloating, Tywin turns on her, too. He tells her she’s going to marry Loras Tyrell, who, you know, isn’t exactly into women.
Like Tyrion, she refuses, but it remains to be seen whether Tywin can force both of his non-captured children into marriages they oppose.
The camp of the Lightning Lord
The episode began with a sword fight we’d all been looking forward to: Beric Dondarrion (aka the Lightning Lord) vs. The Hound.
Dondarrion immediately lights his sword on fire, which plays on The Hound’s greatest fear. The two men engage in a violent exchange, while Dondarrion’s followers chant, “Guilty, guilty, guilty!” (They're trying to determine, through a trial by ordeal, whether The Hound is guilty of killing the butcher's boy in the first season of "Thrones.")
But the fire also works against Dondarrion, weakening his sword. And just when it looks like Dondarrion will prevail, his sword breaks down and Sandor Clegane delivers a death blow.
Arya (love her!) charges after him, but is held back.
But all is not lost for Dondarrion. Thoros of Myr, using Melisandre-esque dark magic, breathes life back into him.
It's the sixth time Dondarrion has died and Thoros has brought him back from the grave, we later learn.
"Every time I come back, I’m a bit less," Dondarrion says.
Having been found innocent by God (weird way to judge guilt or innocence, right?), The Hound is released from captivity.
Meanwhile, Gendry Baratheon and Arya Stark start flirting. (This is a development that a lot of fans of the books have hoped for.)
"You’d be my lady," he tells her.
(Note: Several readers dispute my interpretation here, arguing that Gendry was merely pointing out class differences with Arya by calling her his "lady." Maybe it's just wishful thinking on my part, but, in my view, Arya and Gendry would make a pretty awesome queen and king, in the end.)
North of the Wall
Still infiltrating Mance Rayder's camp, Jon Snow is under some pressure from the wildlings for information, and tells them (truthfully) that only three of the Night's Watch castles are guarded, and (untruthfully) that the Night's Watch has 1,000 men stationed at Castle Black.
Ygritte lures Jon into a cave and they then engage in a sex scene that's actually in the books (surprise!).
"There's been no one else, only you," Jon tells her.
"A maid," she says, somewhat endearingly. "You were a maid."
Roose Bolton welcomes captives Jaime Lannister and Brienne to the old castle the Targaryen dragons once decimated.
Bolton informs them that the Lannisters turned back Stannis' attack at King's Landing, and puts them up in comparatively comfortable surroundings.
A maester goes to work on Jaime's gross-looking stump of an arm, giving him much-needed, but extremely painful medical care.
Later, Jaime and Brienne take a decidedly non-sexual bath together.
There was quite a bit of Westeros history in this episode, and Jaime tells her the story of how he killed "The Mad King," Aerys Targaryen II (Dany's dad).
Aerys, who had gone insane (probably through incest) was obsessed with wildfire.
"He burned anyone who was against him," Jaime says. "Aerys saw traitors everywhere."
During Robert Baratheon's rebellion against Aerys, Tywin Lanniser (Aerys' Hand of the King) turned on the Targaryens and opened King's Landing's gates to the rebels.
Aerys ordered Jaime (a member of the King's Guard) to kill his own dad.
"Burn them all," Aerys told Jaime. "Burn them in their homes. Burn them in their beds."
Instead, Jaime turned on the king he was sworn to protect, stabbing him in the back.
Much plotting was afoot at King's Landing, per usual.
Cersie asks Littlefinger to find out information about the Tyrells' marriage plans, while the Queen of Thorns and Tyrion negotiate the cost of the royal wedding between Joffrey and Margaery (House Tyrell agrees to pick up half the tab).
Upon learning that the Tyrells plan to marry Loras to Sansa Stark, Tywin informs his children of his plan to marry Tyrion to Sansa and Cersei to Loras.
"Tyrion will do as he’s bid," Tywin tells Cersei. "You’ll marry Sir Loras."
Robb Stark’s camp
At Robb Stark's camp, the Young Wolf is having to grow up quickly.
When Rickard Karstark and others break into the jail and kill two young captives, including a Lannister -- defying Robb's orders -- he's forced to take action.
Robb sentences them to death, and must kill his relative himself (Starks and Karstarks are essentially cousins).
"It took five of you to murder two unarmed squires?" Robb exclaims. "They were boys!"
With the rain pouring down, Robb takes off Karstark's head in a single blow.
After this, the Karstark-pledged forces leave Robb's camp, and The King in the North must look for other forces if he wants to take out Casterly Rock, the Lannister's home.
Robb decides to try to make amends with Walder Frey, "the man whose daughter I was supposed to marry," in order to gather more manpower.
Frey, however, is still carrying a grudge against Robb about being slighted earlier. A bitter and petty man, Frey is not likely to forgive and forget so quickly.
Stannis sees his wife and daughter for the first time in a long time.
His wife, weirdly, is keeping a several fetuses in jars from her failed pregnancies (gross!). And she's apparently OK with her husband sleeping with Melisandre.
Stannis coldly informs his daughter, Shireen, who's been disfigured by an ailment, that Davos is being held in prison.
"Sir Davos is a traitor," he says. "He’s rotting in a dungeon cell for his crime. Best forget him."
The girl visits him anyway and begins to teach The Onion Knight, whom she likes and respects, to read.
The road from Astapor
Jorah Mormont and Barristan the Bold recount old memories from Robert's Rebellion and Mormont says he believes in Dany "with all my heart."
The Targaryen princess tells The Unsullied former slaves they may now choose their own names.
"Throw away your slave name," she says.
But The Unsullied's newly chosen captain, Grey Worm, says he prefers to keep his.
"Grey Worm is the name this one had when Daenerys Stormborn set him free," he says.
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