A new queen’s advisor, a teenaged assassin, and an army of reanimated corpse-cicles! Oh my!

Caution: spoilers ahead!

What Happened

This week’s episode opened in Meereen, where Jorah and Tyrion appear before Daenerys, each hoping to prove their value. Daenerys forbids Jorah to speak and, instead, asks Tyrion what he would have her do about him. Tyrion argues that, though Jorah’s devotion to her is reason to spare his life, his betrayal disqualifies him from serving at Daenerys’ side, so she has Jorah removed from the city. Jorah then returns to the fighting master and bargains his newly regained freedom in return for another chance to fight in front of Daenerys. Meanwhile, after a lengthy private chat, during which Tyrion and Daenerys try to take the measure of one another and their respective politics, Dani agrees to take Tyrion on as an advisor.

In Braavos, we learn who the “someone” is that Arya is going to become: Lana, an enterprising orphan who has built up her own little business as a street vendor of oysters, clams, and cockles. Her first trip assignment is information gathering, during which she witnesses the dealings of a crooked insurance broker. Having observed what she was meant to observe, Jaqen H’gar tells her to keep returning with her oyster cart so that she may learn everything she can and, when the opportunity presents itself, to poison the broker.

There was relatively little time spent in King’s Landing this week and that time focuses on Cersei and her growing desperation as she remains captive in the cells of the Sept. When Qyburn – the disgraced former maester turned Cersei-lackey – visits Cersei in her cell, he informs her that Ser Kevan Lannister has been recalled from Casterly Rock to serve as Hand of the King and that Tommen, in his distress, has retreated into isolation. He encourages her to confess, as it appears the only way for her to be released from her incarceration.

Within the walls of Winterfell, Sansa learns that Theon did not, in fact, murder Bran and Rickon in the course of confronting him about why he betrayed her plan for escape. Elsewhere in the castle, Ramsay and Roose are in war council, brainstorming strategies for handling the upcoming battle with Stannis. While Roose favors the defensive position, since they have the advantage of high walls and better provisions, Ramsay is not content to wait out a siege. Instead, he wants to pull some sort of sneaky snake maneuver – because that’s how the Ramsay do – ride out with a small party to strike the first blow.

Up on the Wall, Sam and Gilly both confess their fear about the current climate at Castle Black while she attends to his wounds. Olly interrupts, bringing Sam food and asking to talk to Sam. He tells Sam about the raid on his village and wonders if Jon Snow’s trusting the Free Folk – specifically Tormund Giantsbane, who led the raid that killed Olly’s parents – is too great a risk, if it will lead to the slaughter of the Night’s Watch. Sam tries to reassure Olly, explaining that it is a risk, but it is a risk worth taking given the dangers that will surely come. When he tells Olly that, sometimes, a man has to make a decision that might look wrong to other folks because he knows it’s the right thing to do …at which point, Olly seems to make his mind up about something. I’m guessing that something is mutiny.

Beyond the Wall, shit got real. Like really, really real. When Jon, Tormund, and the small party of brothers of the Night’s Watch arrive at Hardhome, it’s pretty clear that they have one hell of an uphill battle trying to convince the Free Folk to ally themselves with the Night’s Watch. In the process of just trying to get folks take it seriously enough to gather the elders for a conversation, Tormund ends up killing the Lord of Bones. In front of the gathered elders, Jon makes his case for moving the Free Folk south of the Wall in exchange for an alliance when the White Walkers attack. Though few are willing to trust Jon on his own merits, most of them trust Tormund, so all but one – ugh, Thenns! Amirite? – of the elders agree go south with Jon.

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Just as they begin evacuating folks from Hardhome, BAM! CORPSE-CICLE ATTACK! And on a scale we hadn’t yet seen. This isn’t a few regiments of the undead, this is army recruiting level: Saruman. Those camped outside the gates of Hardhome are very quickly added to the ranks of the wight army, which is throwing its might into breaching those gates. As Jon and Tormund join the ranks of those trying to hold the line, Jon spies White Walkers astride their undead horses on the cliffs above them. Jon makes his way to the building where the dragonglass daggers are and ends up side by side with the Thenn as a White Walker confronts them. The Thenn elder is quickly felled, as it turns out that that the White Walker’s own weapon will shatter weapons wielded against it. Jon is disarmed as he fights the White Walker, but eventually recovers Longclaw and discovers, to his astonishment, that apparently Valyrian steel is every bit as effective against White Walkers as dragonglass. The battle is clearly lost, but Jon, Tormund, Dolorous Ed, and Wun Wun the giant survive to make their way back to the ships. As they retreat, they get to witness the horror of the Night’s King reanimating all those slaughtered in the battle. End scene. Rolls credits. Collectively shudder in horror.

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What Could Have Been Better

Nothing. I loved this episode and I think it is the best one so far this season. Wait, well… I wish that Karsi could have stuck around a bit longer: I liked her.

What I Loved

  • Tyrion and Daenerys – they are going to be one hell of a team
  • The glimmer of hope in Sansa’s face when she finds out that Bran and Rickon may very well be alive
  • Sam’s faith in and loyalty to Jon
  • Jon’s courage in addressing the elders of the Free Folk
  • That battle was crazy intense and very well done
  • And, as always, Arya

What I am Looking Forward to

I am really excited to see how what’s going to happen in the Great Games in Meereen – ‘cause you know, something incredible will happen. I am really anxious about Jon’s return to the Wall. I’m very curious about what’s happening in Dorne right now. And, of course, I’m still on pins and needles about Stannis and that whole Shireen-as-sacrifice thing from last week!

Best Lines

“We hit first, and hit hard, and leave a feast for crows.” – Ramsay Bolton (included purely because I enjoyed the shout out to the books)

“You cannot build a better world on your own.” – Tyrion Lannister

“Killing and politics aren’t always the same thing.” – Tyrion Lannister

“Lannister. Baratheon. Stark. Tyrell. They’re all just spokes on a while. This one’s on top, then that one’s on top and on and on it spins, crushing those on the ground. I’m not going to stop the wheel. I’m going to break the wheel.” – Daenerys

“The White Walkers don’t care if a man’s Free Folk or Crow. We’re all the same to them: meat for their army.” – Jon Snow

 

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