Theon has captured Winterfell and makes Bran public yield the castle to him. Osha tries to swear herself to him, but he refuses. The Iron Islanders capture Rodrik and he repeatedly insults Theon until Theon is forced to execute him as Bran watches. In the North, Jon and the Halfhand talk about the hostile environment north of the Wall and their duties to the Watch. In Harrenhal, Arya is afraid that Littlefinger will recognize her when he visits Harrenhal but is able to avoid his notice.
Jon and the Halfhand attack a wildling watch-post but Jon can’t bring himself to kill Ygritte. She escapes him and he follows until he catches her again but by this time the sun is setting and he has gotten separated from the Halfhand. Tyrion and Cersei see Myrcella off but on their way back a riot breaks out. Joffrey reaches the keep safely but a few others perish on the way. Sansa is separated from the group and the Hound saves her. Dany meets the Spice King, the second wealthiest man in Qarth to ask for ships but she is rejected.
Arya takes a letter regarding Robb from Tywin’s solar while Tywin isn’t looking. Amory Lorch is suspicious as to why she is reading a letter and tries to bring her to Tywin but Arya is able to find Jaqen Hghar before Lorch reaches and Tywin. Robb talks to Lady Talisa until Catelyn interrupts them and reminds Robb of his promises to Walder Frey. Robb receives news of Winterfell’s capture and Catelyn is furious. Bolton reminds Robb that his son can take Winterfell for him. Robb orders Theon captured alive. At Winterfell, Osha is able to seduce Theon in accepting her service. Later, she helps Bran and Rickon escape Winterfell. Dany’s dragons are stolen.
This was an excellent episode, start to finish, but also a very difficult one to watch, mostly because of how it began. Theon’s story has never been a happy one and for the most part he only has himself to blame for it. Alfie Allen’s Theon really set himself apart in this scene – he’s managed to capture the style of a person who’s just recently assumed power but doesn’t quite know what to do with it (at least I hope it was intentional on Allen’s part). His version of Theon is in part both frightened with his situation and proud of it – it feels like he wants to be what Ned and Robb were, a man capable of commanding loyalty but there’s no way for him to earn the respect of both the Northerners and the Iron Islanders and he is forced to learn this the hard way. The anguish in his voice when he tried to convince Rodrik that he was never a Stark was hard to watch but very well executed (no pun intended). Isaac Hempstead-Wright’s Bran is less effective and a little too mechanical in his delivery but he does get his delivery right on the important lines – “Did you always hate us?”, he asks Theon and it is a miserable moment for everyone involved.
Yet again, Arya’s scenes with Tywin are just excellent. I love seeing Tywin in action as he runs roughshod over the less savoury of his followers. More than that, there was a genuine tension in the scene with Baelish (this being one of those rare moments where Gillen is able to maintain the same accent throughout a conversation) and the irony of his conversation with Tywin regarding the Stark girls wasn’t lost on anyone except the characters. I am a little vexed by how deus-ex-machina the Faceless Men and Amory Lorch being the second on her list is confusing my memories of her story a little, but I guess that means the third is going to be a big one.
Ah and we meet Ygritte, who is an all-around entertaining character. The whole chase seen with Jon running after her was very poorly shot, in my opinion. It lasted for too long and it seemed like two people running but not towards each other – I’m sure there were challenges to shooting the scene in a better way, but this seems like a poor compromise. I’m also not sure if I like this Halfhand – he’s a little dour and more than a little nihilistic but I guess I didn’t have to worry about all that long, so it’s fine.
Dany’s storyline, once again, is a total wreck. Emilia Clarke did a much better job in the first season than she has in the second so far. Part of the problem definitely lies in the writing – there is just too much wrong with the entire set-up of Dany having to beg for ships and Clarke’s delivery when she delivers her #dramatic lines are a little over the top and it spoils the immersion a little. Still, for every Emilia Clarke, there’s a Peter Dinklage and Jack Gleeson. I loved the riot scene, even though it seemed a little too peaceful for a riot. To be specific, I loved the way Gleeson managed to convey Joffrey’s (seemingly) righteous rage at having dung flung at him and the way Dinklage was able to show Tyrion absolutely losing it.
I don’t remember Dany’s dragons being stolen, or rather, I think only Drogon was taken but either way, it’ll be interesting to see how this little deviation plays out.