Synopsis: For the first time in the show’s history, we get a flashback. This one has a young Cersei visiting an old woman, Maggy the Frog, a witch who can see the future. She tells Cersei her future-she will marry a king, be queen for a time, the king will have twenty children and she will have three, who will die. Back in regular time, Queen-regent Cersei arrives at Tywin’s funeral at the Sept of Baelor. As Tywin’s body lies in the sept, Cersei berates Jaime for his hand in Tywin’s death. She knows he let Tyrion escape and that he was the one who murdered Tywin. Tyrion tumbles out of his crate after traveling with Varys. They have arrived in Pentos, at the palace of Illyrio, one of Varys’ buds who is most remembered from the first episode when he gifted Daenerys with three dragon eggs. Speaking of the Khaleesi, there’s a trouble brewing right there in Mereen. One of her Unsullied is murdered in a brothel by the Sons of the Harpy, a rebellious group mobilizing against her. At Castle Black, Jon is training Olly how to fight. Gilly wonders why Sam isn’t training but he thinks killing a White Walker and a Then qualifies him as experienced. Thorne is back in command and Slynt is by his side. Melisandre tells Jon that Stannis wants to speak to him and they ride up to the top of the wall. He notes that she doesn’t get cold. She asks him if he’s a virgin and he admits he is not. Good, she replies. Stannis tells Jon of his plans to take the North, and he wants to enlist the Wildlings into his army. Stannis wants Jon to convince Mance to kneel for Stannis or he will be executed.
Robin Arryn is also training, but doing a much poorer job of it. Littlefinger sings his praises regardless. Brienne is cranky that she lost Arya, and tries to get rid of Pod, but he doesn’t budge. Unbeknownst to them, Sansa travels nearby with Littlefinger, but she notes that they don’t seem to be heading in the direction he had said. Baelish hints he has another plan. At the funeral, Cersei ignores all the condolence givers, including her betrothed, Ser Loras. She sees her cousin and former lover, Lancel Lannister, and notes his appearance, his hair has been cut short and he’s wearing rags. Kevan, Lancel’s father, says that Lancel has joined a religious sect, Sparrows, and that they have become more public since Tywin’s death. While alone, Lancel asks Cersei for forgiveness, for tempting her, and for what he did with the wine to Robert. He suggests Cersei could find something in this group. Loras is getting busy with his new lover, Olyvar, when Margaery interrupts them. She suggests more discretion on Loras’ part, but he says everyone knows about him anyway. Loras also thinks his marriage to Cersei is off since Tywin’s not around to force her into it. Margaery hints she’s thinking of a new way to deal with her Cersei problem.
Tyrion has cleaned up a bit, but continues to drink himself to death. He asks Varys why he rescued him and Varys says he did it for the Seven Kingdoms. He thinks Daenerys is the future of the realm and they should find her in Mereen and join her cause. Daario returns to Mereen with news that Yunkai has been settled, but that the citizens want to reopen the fighting pits. She says no in her throne room, but later while getting naked with Daario, he convinces her that it’s a good idea. Dany is still missing Drogon, her dragon that has been missing for weeks. She visits the other two in their cells, and they aren’t too happy with her. Jon visits Mance and asks Mance to agree to Stannis’ terms, but he still refuses. He asks how he will be put to death and Snow says they will burn him alive. Mance is brought to Stannis, as the men of the Night’s Watch, and the wildling prisoners, including Tormund, look on. Stannis asks Mance to bend the knee, but he remains steadfast. As he’s tied to a post, Melisandre speaks of the one true god, and then lights him up. Mance screams as he burns, with everyone watching until an arrow strikes him through the heart. Everyone turns to see Snow with the bow.
Comments: A somewhat slow start to the season, we get check-ins with most characters, but little real movement. The hints at bigger pieces for the coming season with the introduction of the Sparrows, the death of Mance, and Stannis’ plan to take the North. Tyrion and Varys have always been a good combo, but getting them out of King’s Landing and giving them new purpose is energizing, as is the prospect that Dany could be getting more visitors. Brienne’s pity party was a little much, but after losing her purpose she definitely needs to be pointed somewhere new. The mystery of Dany’s dragons-where is Drogon, and will the other two, Viserion and Rhaegal (finally verbalized on the show), still listen to their mom after she’s kept them locked up for so long-is touched upon but nothing has really changed since the last time we saw them other than the dragons are getting a lot bigger. Overall, an interesting episode, but one without any real momentum, just seeds dropped for future momentum. Waiting nearly a year for the show probably created a lot more disappointment.
Cersei (to Jaime): Tyrion may be a monster, but at least he killed our father on purpose. You killed him by mistake with stupidity.
Tyrion: Do you know what it’s like to stuff your shit through one of those air holes?
Varys: No. I only know what it’s like to pick up your shit and throw it overboard.
Varys: You have your father’s instincts for politics and you have compassion.
Tyrion: Compassion, yes. I killed my lover with my bare hands and I shot my own father with a crossbow.
Varys: I never said you were perfect.
Tyrion: Can I drink myself to death on the road to Mereen?
Dany: Angry snakes lash out. It makes chopping off their heads that much easier.
Foreshadowing: The fortune teller obviously hints at some issues for Tommen and Myrcella, as well as raising the question about another Cersei pregnancy. Varys’ declaration of allegiance to Dany hints at a new direction for his story, but given how he can be connected to her from day one, maybe there’s more to it than we even know at this point. Snow’s mercy killing of Mance wasn’t met with enthusiastic looks from Olly and a few others. Cersei’s dismissal of the sparrows might be something she wished she had given more attention.
Title: First said by Varys to Tyrion, then again by Mance to Stannis, all a promise of more bloodshed.
Deaths: Mance Rayder, between burning and an arrow through the heart, they got him. There was also the Unsullied, White Rat, who died from the Sons of the Harpy.