Synopsis: Tyrion awakens to Pycelle, but screams for Podrick. He tells Pod to find Varys or Bronn to tell them he’s alive. Pycelle updates him on Tywin’s victory and that he has retaken his title as Hand of the King. In a ceremony in the throne room, Joffrey makes it official. Joffrey also celebrates Baelish (for bring the Tyrells to the Lannisters) and offers him the Castle of Harrenhal as a gift. Joffrey promises Loras anything he wants and he offers Margaery to unite their houses in marriage. Margaery proffeses her love for Joffrey, but he says he’s promised to another. Cersei says that the small council would support his marriage to Tyrell as it would be better than his marrying the daughter of a traitor and the sister of someone in open rebellion. Joffrey agrees to marry Margaery, as Sansa sneaks out (suppressing a victorious laugh). Baelish catches up to her and warns her that Joffrey won’t let her go so easily. He offers to help get Sansa home. Varys visits Ros, and questions her loyalty to Baelish. He warns her against Littlefinger and suggests she might be better off partnering up with him.
Brienne marches Jaime along the river and continues to raise her ire. They are both surprised to see three women hanged in the trees under a sign that says “they lay with lions” (the Lannisters). When three Stark men approach, they question them on who they are, but when one of them recognizes Jaime, Brienne takes care of them in a most violent way. Jaime is impressed. Robb tells his mother about Talisa and that he doesn’t want to go through with his promise to marry Frey’s daughter. Catelyn warns him about how dangerous it will be to turn against Frey. Stannis meets with Melisandre and questions her visions that said he would be victorious. Upset, he begins to choke her and questions where her god is. Stannis admits his part in murdering Renly. The red witch says that the war will go on for years before it’s over and that Stannis will betray his family and his men but he will be king. Stannis still has doubts. Luwin councils Theon as Winterfell is surrounded. Theon remembers being raised a prisoner, but Luwin reminds him that Stark always treated him like a son. Luwin suggests Theon escape before he is taken prisoner. He could join the night’s watch and begin to make amends. Instead, Theon tries to rally his remaining troops. He gives an inspiring speech before Dagmer knocks him out and leaves him behind as the ironborn men head for home. Dagmer stabs Luwin on his way out. Varys tells Tyrion that it was Cersei who had Mandon attempt to kill him. Varys says that Bronn has been relieved of his duties, that the rest of the kingsguard serve Tywin or Cersei, and that he isn’t going to be visiting him for a while. Still, he acknowledges that without Tyrion, the city would have fallen and there are many that know it. Shae takes off his bandage and asks Tyrion to escape the city with her. He says he can’t so Shae agrees to stick around with him.
In a private ceremony, Robb and Talisa are secretly wed. Jorah and Dany circle the House of the Undying, a tall tower with no doors. When he loses sight of her, she finds her way inside. She hears her dragons cry out. On the road from Harrenhal, Arya, Gendry and Hot Pie see Jaqen. Arya speaks with him privately. She asks him how he could have killed those men. Jaqen suggests she go to Braavos with him, and he tells her of the faceless men. He could teach her how to end the people on her list. She wants to go, but says she can’t because she has to reunite with her family (even Sansa). Jaqen bids adieu but leaves her with a coin. He says if she gives the coin to any man from Braavos and says “Valar Morghulis” she will find him again. As he leaves, he takes on a new face. Osha, Hodor, Bran and Rickon return above ground to Winterfell to see it in ashes. The direwolves find Luwin who is dying. He tells them they have to go north, to the wall to find Jon. As Hodor takes Bran and Rickon away, Luwin begs Osha to protect them. He nods to her knife, wanting her to finish the job. The crew leave a smoldering Winterfell behind. In the House of the Undying, Daenerys walks through a series of doors, with visions of the iron throne in a snowfall, of the wall, of Drogo and a small child. She fears she may be dead, but when she hears her dragons cry again, she is back in reality. Her dragons in chains in front of her. Pyat Pree, a whole bunch of him, is waiting for her. Suddenly, Dany herself is in chains. Pyat says she will remain a prisoner for a long time. She thinks not. She gives the command and the dragons breath fire, which doesn’t harm her but burns Pyat and the chains. While Ygritte and the wildlings march their prisoners, Qhorin steals a knife and accuses Jon Snow of being a traitor, the end up fighting and Qhorin continues to bait Jon until Jon stabs him. The wildlings free Jon and continue to take him to meet the king beyond the wall, Mance Rayder. Back in Qarth, Dany and her men find Xaro in bed with Doreah, her missing handmaiden. So much for that proposal. They go to Xaro’s chamber of wealth, but it’s empty, well, it is until Dany has them locked inside. They raid Xaro’s chambers and find enough to buy a ship. Samwell and the others are caught in a snowstorm, and as Sam falls behind he takes cover when he sees others approaching. He remains silent, hiding behind a rock, as an army of White Walkers move past.
Comments: There’s so much good here-the silly Qarth subplot is ended, the threat of the White Walkers increases, Sansa is in new jeopardy, Robb and Talisa’s marriage- that it doesn’t feel right to say this is a bit of a letdown after the previous episode. Unlike that one, with its focused location, this one jumps around a lot. The plot moves forward, but while Dany and Jon’s stories feel like season enders, the rest just feel like a normal. Still, a normal episode of Thrones is better than most TV. The show in the early years seemed a little more focused on time, with needing to show the journey of characters before they get where they need to be. In this case, it’s Brienne and Jaime, who have a quick side mission that is a bit unnecessary beyond getting Jaime to understand and Brienne better. It feels like Dany’s quick moment from a couple episodes ago could’ve fit in just fine in this one and perhaps Jaime and Brienne’s scene here could’ve worked in its place. No matter, this is how it is, but I can remember the mix of joy and frustration at having this being the final Thrones for a season, and this was before they started taking more than a year off.
Memorable Moments: While the effects around Dany’s dragons come off a little WBish, the White Walkers/Wights/Wight horses horde is phenomenal.
Baelish: Joffrey’s not the sort of boy who gives away his toys.
Varys: I’m not like most men.
Theon: You know what it’s like to be told how lucky you are to be someone’s prisoner?
Luwin (to Theon): You’re not the man you’re pretending to be. Not yet.
Dagmer: It was a good speech. Didn’t want to interrupt.
Foreshadowing: The Frey deal is mentioned again, and actively disregarded as Robb and Talisa marry. Catelyn did warn them. Arya, Sansa, Bran and really all of the Starks seem actively focused on reuniting their family. Melisandre says she’s been fighting longer than Stannis, exactly how much longer we will soon see.
Title: A High Valyrian saying meaning “all men must die.” It is spoken by Jaqen to Arya and vice versa.
Deaths: Maester Luwin, stabbed by Dagmer, but finished by Osha. Pyat Pree goes Flame On from Dany. Jon Snow ends Qhorin, as per Qhorin’s plan. Xaro and Doreah don’t look like they are getting out of that chamber any time soon. Dagmer and the rest of the ironborn men aren’t killed on screen, but we will learn next season that this was their final appearance.