“He would see this country burn if he could be king of the ashes.”
Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth
Oh my god, they’re making Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) wear his severed hand around his neck?! That’s the first image post-hand-chopping that you give us, GOT? For fuck’s sake.
Jaime is so traumatized, he’s barely even talking or reacting – not even when he falls off of his horse into the mud and horse shit.
Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) – who’s still bound up with ropes, but now riding on a separate horse – looks really worried about him, and tells their captors to help Jaime.
The Bolton men, however, continue to humiliate him by pouring water on his head when he raspily asks for a drink, and giving him a jug of horse piss that he unknowingly chugs down. He becomes enraged enough to steal a sword from one of the men with his remaining hand, and his captors engage him in a three-way fight that he obviously loses.
When Brienne jumps off her horse to help him, she manages to get a few punches in before she too is held helpless at sword point, watching as Jaime is beaten further into the mud.
That night, the Boltons leave Brienne and Jaime mostly to their own devices at the edge of their campsite. Brienne does her best to get Jaime to maintain his will to live, saying that living is the only way he can get his revenge, but Jaime has completely stopped caring.
Frustrated, Brienne gives Jaime some tough love, and manages to spark a little life and fight back into him. Damn, this fast-developing friendship is awesome.
After a few moments of silence, Brienne reveals that she knows what Jaime did for her; that he had lied about her father’s lands being full of riches so that she wouldn’t get raped. When she asks why he did it, he looks away and doesn’t answer.
Joffrey the actual bastard (Jack Gleeson) is back to his grossly sadistic ways. This time, he’s escorting his fiance Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) around, delightedly telling her about his favorite depraved historical events – such as a dragon eating a woman as her son watched. She smiles and laughs at everything he says one moment, then offers some well-phrased insights the next. He seems to be taking a real shine to her. A few feet away, Lady Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg) and Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) make plans for Margaery and Joffrey’s wedding.
Margaery speaks to Joffrey’s ego, trying to convince him that if he shows kindness and love to the people that they will return it to him in spades. Though he looks afraid at first, Joffrey ends up listening to her, and arm in arm the pair leave the safety of the building to wave and smile at an adoring public.
Cersei isn’t at all happy about this turn of events, since this shows that Joffrey is beginning to trust someone else.
Cersei and Tywin Lannister
Cersei takes an audience with her father, Tywin (Charles Dance), so she can ask him what they’re doing to get her brother Jaime back. He answers her with a flippant “whatever I can,” and goes back to Hand-of-the-King-ly duties, essentially dismissing her.
Cersei refuses to leave, however, instead questioning why Tywin puts all his care into making sure his sons carry on his legacy when she, his daughter, is the one best equipped for the task.
She goes on to describe the Tyrells as a problem because Margaery is manipulating Joffrey. Tywin replies that the real reason why he doesn’t trust Cersei isn’t because she’s a woman, but because she’s not quite as smart as she thinks she is – because she can’t even figure out how to manipulate her own son.
When Cersei snaps that he should give stopping Joffrey from doing what he likes a try, he stares her down with an ominous, “I will.”
Varys AKA “The Spider”
Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) goes to Varys (Conleth Hill) in secret to ask him what The Spider has heard about the Battle of Blackwater and Cersei’s alleged plan to kill him. Tyrion says he wants proof, even though nothing could really come out of it; it’s not like he can bring Cersei to trial for attempted murder, after all.
Varys answers that he has no proof, only whispers, then continues to tell the story of how he became a eunuch. When he was a young boy, a sorcerer used him as part of some ritual by castrating him.
When Tyrion interrupts, impatient for advice on how to increase his influence to find out who it was that plotted to kill him, Varys gives him a key piece of advice: that the contents of a man’s letters are more valuable than what is in his purse, and that influence is a thing that must be developed slowly, with great care.
He then shows Tyrion the fruits of his own patience and labor: Varys has the badly tortured yet somehow still alive body of the sorcerer squirreled away in his chambers. Years and years after the trauma he experienced, Varys is finally able to exact the revenge that Tyrion now seeks.
Later, Varys and Ros (Esmé Bianco) have a mini-gossip session about the sexual talents of Podrick, before settling down into the real meat of their conversation: Littlefinger’s (Aidan Gillan) upcoming nuptials to Catelyn’s sister, Lady Arryn of the Eyrie.
Ros gives him information about Littlefinger’s interest in Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), along with a copy of his shipboard inventory, which has an interesting detail. Littlefinger is bringing two featherbeds to his ship cabin – and as Varys says, there exist few people who are important enough to Littlefinger to warrant bringing two comfy beds.
Varys later approaches Lady Olenna in her gardens under the guise of welcoming her to the city, but his real aim is to ask her about her interest in Sansa Stark. Being both very clever and manipulative people, they seem to immediately vibe with one another.
Together they concoct a plan to stop Littlefinger from stealing Sansa away because “if Robb Stark falls, Sansa Stark is the key to the North. And if Littlefinger marries her, he’ll have the key to the North in his pocket.”
Sansa and Margaery spend some quality time together. They get along very well, and Sansa seems genuinely happy for the first time in ages talking to her.
Margaery tells Sansa about the Tyrell estate, Highgarden, and when Sansa hesitantly says that Cersei won’t allow her to leave King’s Landing, Margaery assures her that once she marries Joffrey, she’ll be the Queen, and she’d let Sansa go wherever she wanted. She even slyly suggests that if her brother, Loras Tyrell, were to marry Sansa then she could go live in peace at Highgarden.
Sansa’s face when she hears that is absolutely adorable. Too bad there’s like a 99% chance that totally is not what is going to happen. Goddammit, Game of Thrones, why can’t we have nice things?!
Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) is dreaming again, running through the forests as Jojen (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) encourages him to go after the three eyed raven, by climbing up a tree. When he gets up to the top, he sees his mother, Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley), extremely distraught, shaking him and screaming at him to promise her: no more climbing.
Bran falls out of the tree and wakes up to Jojen staring at him sadly from across the flames of their latest campsite.
Theon Greyjoy and Mysterious Boy Who Everyone Should Know Is Actually Ramsay Bolton (This Means Don’t Trust Him Or You’re Gonna Be Disappointed)
After the events of the last episode, where Theon (Alfie Allen) was rescued just in the nick of time, Theon and Mysterious Boy (Iwan Rheon) are skedaddling off into the woods on their stolen horses. Boy tells Theon that his sister Yara sent him to save Theon, and that he’s bringing him to her now.
They sneak into a stronghold where Boy says Yara is waiting. As they stroll through the sewers, Theon begins to confide in Boy. His father never trusted him, he says, believing Theon to have become a Stark after all those years in their care. Theon sneers that he could never be a Stark, that Robb had made that very clear to him every day just by existing.
He then tells a surprised Boy that Bran and Rickon might not be dead after all, that he’d lied about killing them so he could keep Winterfell and impress his father. “I made a choice,” Theon cries, “and I chose wrong.” Ugh, I can already tell this next scene is gonna hurt.
And hurt it does, because when Mysterious Boy brings Theon up the tower, it’s not Yara who’s waiting for him, it’s a torture rack. The guy has brought Theon right back to his torturers. With a depraved grin, he tells the other men to “put Theon back where he belongs.”
The brothers of the Night’s Watch are getting restless in Crastor’s village, being forced to do menial labor in exchange for being allowed to stay and rest there. They start talking about leaving the village, escaping from the White Walkers that they know are coming.
Meanwhile, Sam (John Bradley) meets up with Gilly (Hannah Murray) who is doing her best to keep her baby boy a secret for as long as possible.
She gives Sam back the thimble he gave to her in Season Two, frustratedly telling him that she doesn’t have time for him or anyone but her baby, because he “doesn’t have much time” left at all. Did you hear that? That was the sound of my heart breaking.
As Sam gazes at the crying baby, he gets a determined look on his face.
A while after, the Night’s Watch hold a funeral for one of their fellow brothers who apparently died of starvation while they were in Crastor’s camp. Everyone’s anger and restlessness is getting worse as time passes, culminating in the men confronting Crastor. Seriously, why hasn’t anyone mobbed this guy yet? There are at least twenty of them, and only one of him.
Two seconds after I have this thought, Burn Gorman, reprising his role as Random Ranger # 42 (just kidding, his name is Karl) provokes Crastor into attacking and then stabs him in the gut with a knife.
Chaos ensues. Jeor Mormont (James Cosmo) threatens to kill Karl for his treachery but is himself killed by another one of his men. As everyone begins to brawl with one another, Sam runs off to find Gilly and her son, and they all manage to escape into the forest during the commotion.
Arya and the Brotherhood
The Brotherhood Without Banners are taking Arya (Maisie Williams) and Gendry (Joe Dempsie) to places unknown with hoods over their heads, explaining that “it’s best for them if they don’t know where they’re going.”
They arrive at some underground caverns, where the Brotherhood’s base of operations is. The Hound – Sandor Clegane – sneers at the state of his surroundings, deeming the Brotherhood to be nothing more than a band of tanners, masons, and swineherds, before he’s interrupted by Beric Dondarrion’s dramatic entrance.
Beric then states the true purpose of the Brotherhood: to protect the weak from any who might prey on them, no matter what banners those predators may wield.
The Brotherhood intends to kill Sandor for the crimes that his family has wrought upon helpless children. Sandor tells them that he had nothing to do with any of that, and that if they plan on cutting his throat anyways then they should just “get on with it.”
Arya speaks up then, telling everyone that Sandor had killed her friend Mycah early in Season One, an accusation which Sandor combats by saying he was only doing as he was told to do by the prince. Beric announces that since they don’t know the true nature of Sandor’s crime, they cannot judge and execute him. What they can do is sentence him to a trial by combat, against Baric himself.
Dany’s (Emilia Clarke) army has been bought, and as promised, she brings out her largest dragon in payment to Kraznys (Dan Hildebrand). As she hands her baby off to the slaver, she asks one last time “if it’s done” – if the Unsullied now belong to her. He confirms that now that she holds the golden whip in her hands, she controls the slaves.
Dany walks slowly back towards her newfound army as her dragon viciously fights Kraznys’ hold on its chains. She then reveals what most everyone has suspected from the beginning – that she knows how to speak Kraznys’ language, so she’s totally understood all the shit he’s been saying about her.
And then, like a badass biotch, she orders her army to kill all the slavers. Turning her gaze upon a screaming Kraznys, she speaks a single word to her dragon, who burns the asshole to a crispy crisp and razes the city to the ground.
Once all the fighting is over, the Unsullied return to their perfect formation and await further orders. Dany tells them they are free, and that any man who wishes to leave can do so, but if they fight for her, they will do so as free men.
The army is silent at first, but soon express their support for her. As they all march off into the sunset, Dany throws the golden slaver’s whip Kraznys gave to her onto the ground.
Varys: I still dream of that night. Not of the sorcerer. Not of his blade. I dream of the voice from the flames. Was it a god? A demon? A conjurer’s trick? I don’t know. But a sorcerer called, and a voice answered.
And ever since that day, I have hated magic and all those who practice it. But you can see why I was eager to aid you in your fight against Stannis and his Red Priestess. A symbolic revenge of sorts.
Tyrion: Yes. Ahem. I feel the need for actual revenge, against the actual person who tried to have me killed.
Lady Olenna: We mothers do what we can to keep our sons from the grave, but they do seem to yearn for it. We shower them with good sense, and it slides right off like rain off a wing.
Cersei: And yet the world belongs to them.
Tyrion: My real father lost his head at King’s Landing. I made a choice, and I chose wrong. Now I’ve burned everything down.
Brienne: You coward. A little misfortune and you’re giving up?
Jaime: Mis- misfortune?
Brienne: You lost your hand.
Jaime: My sword hand. I was that hand.
Brienne: You have a taste, a taste of the real world where people have important things taken from them, and you whine and cry and quit.
Girl: Do you like it, nana?
Lady Olenna: Another golden rose – how original. I eat from plates stamped with roses, I sleep in sheets embroidered with roses, I have a golden rose painted on my chamber-pot – as if that makes it smell any better.
Lady Olenna: You must despise [Littlefinger]. You’re working so hard to undermine him.
Varys: Actually, I rather enjoy him. But he would see this country burn if he could be king of the ashes.
Daenerys: A dragon is not a slave.
Kraznys: You speak Valyrian?
Daenerys: I am Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, of the blood of Old Valyria. Valyrian is my mother tongue.
Watch the preview of next week’s episode below:
Game of Thrones airs Sunday at 9 PM on HBO.