Craster brings back an injured Jon Snow and kicks the rest of the Night’s Watch out of his home. Jon tries to explain that Craster is giving away his children to the White Walkers but realizes that Mormont already knew. Sam gives Gilly an ornament that he got from his mother, promising to return. In Winterfell, Bran has possessed Summer and sees the world through his eyes. He tries to explain this to Maester Luwin, who doesn’t fully believe him.
In the South, Catelyn reaches Renly’s camp to find him enjoying a miniature tourney in which Brienne of Tarth defeats Ser Loras Tyrell and requests inclusion into Renly’s Kingsguard. Catelyn tries to bring Renly over to Robb’s side but is unsuccessful. In Pyke, the Greyjoys discuss their plans for the upcoming war – they are aiming for the North, but Theon insists on taking Winterfell himself.
In King’s Landing, Shae is upset that Tyrion is keeping her cooped up in their apartment. Tyrion sets Shae up as Sansa’s handmaiden. Tyrion tells Pycelle, Varys and Littlefinger different tales of what he intends to do with Myrcella. Cersei finds out about his plan, but the plan she hears is the one Tyrion told Pycelle. Theon considers sending a letter to Robb to warn him of the invasion, but decides against it. Tyrion has apologize to Littlefinger and Varys for deceiving them. Littlefinger is angry and offended but Varys brushes away the incident.
Yoren tells Arya the story of how he ended up in the Night’s Watch. The Lannisters attack the party, killing most of the fighters, including Yoren. They are looking for Gendry and will begin torturing people if they don’t find him, but Arya is able to deceive them by indicating that the dead body that they found near the Bull’s Head Helm is Gendry’s.
Have I mentioned before that I’m a big fan of the small little additions of backstory that the show has introduced to certain character? Last season there were a few gems – Robert and Cersei’s exhausted, honest conversation was one – and while this season there haven’t been any that really stood out so far, I do like the small expansions of each character’s story. In this case, Sam gets a nice, touching moment where he remembers life before the Wall. The main example though is Yoren who gives Arya a speech that will define her character. It’s a story of revenge, cold-blooded revenge and it perhaps bodes ill that Yoren dies soon after telling it to her – a sign that Arya’s own road to revenge will lead her own demise, mayhaps. In any case, I believe this is where Arya gets the idea for her revenge prayer though I can’t remember what it was in the books.
I actually quite liked the way that they introduced Bran’s warging to us – seeing the events at Winterfell through Summer’s eyes was pretty cool, though I wonder if they could have made it a bit more ‘wolfy’? You know, things like giving the scene a different tint to represent how Summer would see the world differently and all. I’m not just saying this because scientifically animals would perceive the world differently from us, but rather because it might have been an interesting way to remind the audience that while Summer and Bran are linked, they remain two distinct entities.
Catelyn’s reaction to seeing Renly’s camp was fairly entertaining, I think Fairley did a good job of capturing the sense of frustration that Catelyn must have felt on seeing her son’s best chances to winning the fair wasting his time messing around. I found Natalie Dormer to be the weakest link in that scene; I think she hasn’t quite found the character’s voice yet. It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t great either. There’s probably a discussion to be had on Renly’s style of ruling in comparison to his brothers’ but honestly, I’m of the opinion that Baratheons in general make awful rulers. Broadly speaking, I’m a big fan of this scene with Renly and Catelyn. Renly’s camp is full of titles and grandstanding, which makes sense given that he himself is a politician first and foremost. It’s hard not to sympathize with Catelyn here as she finds herself surrounded by adolescent men who are just playing at war.
Theon’s arc leaves me full of feels. Theon is so desperate to prove himself, to find a place where he can finally fit in but still unable to compromise on what he’s willing to put aside for that. It’s not difficult to see the other side of the picture either though it is harder to sympathize with it. You could almost hear Balon Greyjoy’s thoughts while Theon was advocating allying with the North instead. All he was hearing was Ned Stark’s words coming from his own son, which is sad in a way, but honestly I have very little sympathy for Balon, so I don’t actually care much about whatever he’s trying to pass off as emotion.
Sibel Kekilli’s version of Shae continues to rub me the wrong way. Both versions of the character have a very detrimental effect on Tyrion, it’s true, but the power dynamic between the show’s Shae and Tyrion is almost absurd. Tyrion seems to have long forgotten that Shae is, in fact, his employee and seems to take a lot of attitude from her. He even notes that she is a weakness, yet he does nothing to address the reason that she’s a weakness – because he himself was too ‘weak’ to leave her behind. Having said that, I did laugh at the Sansa-Shae scene where Sansa is utterly bemused by how terrible Shae is at being a handmaiden.
Tyrion’s great plan to find out who to trust is pretty ingenious but I found it rather funny that Cersei found out the plan within the day and Pycelle was de-bearded less than 24 hours after being told the ‘secret’. I wonder if Tyrion would actually have shipped Myrcella off to Pyke if Varys had blabbed though. We’ll talk more about this particular gambit and it’s effect next episode though, where I think it would be more complete.