The pace continues. New players added. Long time players eliminated. It's hard to see right now where some of these stories will end.
Given the stuff going down North of the Wall, it's hard to see the importance of the goings on at King's Landing, or in Dorne, or with Sam. Still, in the broad scope of the good/evil battle, the most affecting things are the emotion of a queen for her dying subject, or the question of a name, finally answered.
A strong episode, with an ending I didn't foresee.
Castle Black and Mole's Town
Last week Jon got an interesting piece of mail from Ramsay Bolton. This week another interesting piece of mails is delivered, but this time it's to Sansa. Stamped into the sealing wax is the Mockingbird of Petyr Baelish, aka Littlefinger. This letter doesn't get read aloud, unlike Jon's letter, but upon reading it, Sansa asks "how far is Mole's Town?".
Mole's Town was a happening spot. It's where oathbreaking brothers of the Night's Watch went to get their rocks off. It's where Gilly and her child stayed while Sam was trying to figure out what to do with her. It's where the Magnar of Thenn stopped on his way to assault the Wall to create a little old-fashioned death and destruction.
Now, it's a desolate, deserted place, suitable for a private meeting. Sansa arrives to find Littlefinger excited to see her again...and decidedly less eager to see Brienne accompanying her.
Petyr is there to tell her that he's brought the army of the Vale to help her in her time of need.
Sansa has no joy in seeing Petyr, however. She's a lady with a heart of stone, one might say. After all, Petyr hand selected Ramsay Bolton to be her husband, and for a guy who brags incessantly about his intel, how would he NOT know that Ramsay was all kinds of messed up?
As Sansa says to him "you freed me from the monsters who murdered my family...and you gave me to other monsters who murdered my family". She also leaves no doubt, without going into detail, just how depraved Ramsay was in the marriage bed. Quite an uncomfortable conversation for Lord Baelish, and he just might have overestimated his charm in this instance. Sansa actually says the words - that she could have Brienne kill him and he could do nothing to prevent it. I don't think it would be a sin to kill this particular mockingbird.
You can see the relief on his face when Sansa tells him to go back to the army of the Vale. She doesn't want his help. (Seems to me they could really use it, right? - but I guess Littlefinger's aid always costs more than it's worth.)
And now that he's free to leave without Oathkeeper lodged in his head, he leaves a little parting shot, pointing out to Sansa that "her" army is actually her brother's army. Her half-brother.
Later, the local leadership (Davos, Jon, Tormund, Melisandre, Edd, Sansa, and Brienne) are weighing their chances of swaying the North to their side. It doesn't look good with the Boltons having the Umbers and the Karstarks on their side. The Manderlys will be key. If the Manderlys side with the Boltons, then Jon and Sansa will need to convince every other Northern Lord to be on their side. Nobody likes to be on the losing side, particularly when the door prize is someone wearing your butt skin as a hat.
Sansa argues from emotion, where Davos uses facts. It's not looking good. There are a couple of awkward moments. One, where Sansa dismisses the idea that Jon is a Snow (not a Stark) because she herself is a Stark. These men and women are following Jon, not Sansa. The other is when Sansa lies about how she knew Brynden the Blackfish has retaken Riverrun (if he indeed has). She says Ramsay got a raven before she escaped, rather than reveal that Littlefinger told her.
Sansa wants to send Brienne to Riverrun to speak with Brynden, but Brienne doesn't trust anyone other than Jon.
As the group (Jon, Sansa, Melisandre, Pod, Tornund, Brienne and others) depart Castle Black, Tormund seems enamored once more of Brienne. Those Wildlings do respect a woman who can fight. And Edd seems to have difficulty transitioning to the new role of Lord Commander.
Arya fights with the Waif in the House of Black and White. Staves whirling, it's clear that Arya's skills are growing. However, she's no match for the Waif. Arya is on the losing end of a flurry. The Waif taunts her, and Arya pulls a sweet Bruce Lee move to go from on her back to on her feet. Unimpressed, the Waif holds her staff out and drops it like a mic. Arya with staff gets worked over by Waif without staff. After an uppercut leaves a bloodied Arya at the Waif's feet, Arya is told "you'll never be one of us, Lady Stark". Jaqen is watching, and he tells Arya that the Waif has a point.
After all, the Faceless Men were founded by ex-slaves, not nobility. The same ex-slaves who, after using the skills granted them by the Many-Faced God to kill their overseers and masters, founded the free city of Braavos, hiding from the dragons of Valyria.
"Who was the first?", asks Arya. "He was no one", replies Jaqen.
And now Arya is offered the chance to join their ranks. Jaqen gives her a vial of death water. He wants her to kill an actress called Lady Crane. It's made clear to Arya that if she botches this, she will be killed. One way or another, Jaqen tells Arya, her face will be in the Hall.
Arya scopes out the intended victim in her place of work. The troupe is putting on a show mocking the death of Robert Baratheon. The villain is not Cersei, or Joffrey, but Ned Stark (and Tyrion, of course, because nobody likes dwarfs). Arya is still a Stark, as evidenced by her reaction to the mockery of her father.
She moves backstage to see if there is anything to be learned there that will help her carry out her task. In a critical plot twist, we see the actor who played Joffrey in the farce holding his dick and complaining of warts on it. (Mom...Dad...I got a part in Game of Thrones! Tell me all about it, son! Ah...well...hmmmm...make sure you go to bed early, mkay?)
What Arya actually learns is that Lady Crane is a rum drinker, and she keeps a private stash. She tells Jaqen about her plan to poison the rum. She asks him to borrow a face, but he says she's not ready. Arya has questions about why she's to kill Lady Crane. She's a good actress and seems like a nice person. "Does death only come for the wicked and leave the decent behind?", Jaqen asks her rhetorically. Arya also wants to know who hired the Faceless Men for this death, but Jaqen tells her that servants don't ask questions. Can Arya, a child of nobility, acquire a servant's approach to life?
The Iron Islands
At the Kingsmoot, Yara stakes a claim to the Salt Throne (called the Seastone Chair in the books, if it matters). She's an accomplished ship's captain, a successful reaver, and respected by the men who've served under her. She'd be a shoo-in, except she's not a guy. Why, the reasoning goes, should the Iron Islands have Balon Greyjoy's daughter lead them, when his son is here, too?
But Theon casts his support in favor of Yara, and his words seem to sway the vote...
...until Euron Greyjoy arrives to stake his own claim to the throne. Sure, he's been gone for many years, but he's just been getting experience. Accused of killing Balon, he admits it, and apologizes for not doing it sooner. After all, Balon got the islands into two wars it lost handily.
Euron's platform is to mimic Yara's campaign promises (more ships, more loot), except he tags onto it that he plans to marry Daenerys Targaryen and conquer Westeros at her side. And the clinching argument is when Euron says that he was not born to rule, he paid the iron price. The Iron Islanders see honor in taking things, not paying for them, so this fits into their ethos.
There are no hanging chads on these ballots - it's Euron in a landslide. But while he's getting "sworn in" (i.e. drowned - what is dead may never die), Yara and Theon take off with most of the good ships and quite a few of Euron's new subjects. What is shipless may never sail.
Euron orders his men to build a thousand ships, pronto. He's going to track down Yara and Theon and kill them.
Daeny has a quandary in regard to Jorah. She has banished him, but he won't stay banished. And she didn't really want him to go away, but she had no choice when faced with his betrayal. Still, it's all going to be good now...right?
Nope. Jorah done got et up by the grayscale. No known cure. Daeny is heartbroken, but Jorah's had time to come to terms with it. He confesses that he loves her, but now he's got to be on his way. He acknowledges that he'll end his own life when the grayscale progresses too far. He turns to go.
But wait. Daeny hasn't dismissed him. She orders him to find a cure, because she requires him to be with her when she conquers Westeros. Then she rides off with the Dothraki horde. And she looks good enough doing so to provide Jorah with sufficient motivation to look for that cure, if saving his own life isn't enough.
Things are peaceful in Meereen. Since Tyrion undermined the support for the Sons of the Harpy, there have been no murders. Still, Tyrion wants Daeny to get credit for not only breaking chains, but for the peace as well.
He brings the High Priestess of the Lord of Light, Kinvara by name, to ask her to do some marketing on behalf of Daenerys. Kinvara needs no encouragement, as she's convinced Daeny is the one who was promised (although not a prince). She makes all of Tyrion's arguments for him, and agrees to spread the word on behalf of Daeny.
Varys is not quite so sanguine, however. He throws Stannis in her face. Wasn't he the Prince Who Was Promised? Kinvara acknowledges that humans make mistakes, and then parades in front of him a deep knowledge of what happened on the night Varys was mutilated. She tells him that they serve the same queen, and that if he (Varys) is true to Daeny, he has nothing to fear from her (Kinvara).
North of the Wall
Bran does the time travel thing again. This time he's still where he is (at the great Weirwood), but in a different when. He's gone back many many thousands of years, to when the Children of the Forest held sway in a snowless North. Leaf is there. She huddles with her brethren and then approaches a human tied to the tree. She stabs the prisoner with a sharpened stone, but it's not so much a stabbing as an implant. This is no sacrifice, but a creation. The man's eyes turn blue under the influence of the stone, and he becomes (the first?) White Walker.
Bran comes out of his trance and questions/accuses Leaf. She says she did it as an act of desperation, as the Children were being slaughtered and the weirwood groves cut down.
Later, Bran is so bored. Hodor and Meera are sleeping. The Three-Eyed Crow is out like a light, too. So Bran starts doing a little unchaperoned travel through the weirwood network. He finds himself in front of a large army of the dead, headed up by the Night's King and 3 lieutenants. Whereas, in the past, Bran could walk through his private peepshows without being noticed, it seems as if he is seen by the dead. As he turns, the Night's King is standing beside him, and grabs Bran on the wrist as Bran shrinks from him.
Bran wakes, and his panicked screams have woken the others. The Crow knows that Bran was touched by the Night's King, and he tells Bran that they all need to leave before the Night's King shows up. It's time, the Crow says, that Bran take the Crow's place. "Am I ready?", Bran asks. "No", is the definitive reply.
As the group prepares to depart, Meera senses trouble. She runs out of the tree to find the Night's King and his army arrayed against them. A battle ensues. Well, more of a delaying rearguard action than a battle. The goal is to get Bran safely away before the undead can get to him. Some cool firebombs do some damage, but there are too many.
Bran, meanwhile, is trancing, watching his father say goodbye to his father, as he leaves for the Vale to be warded by Jon Arryn.
Meera gets the sledge ready, and tries to get Jon onto it. She needs Hodor's help, but he's rocking back and forth, and useless. The undead have burrowed into their chamber. Meera, Summer and the Children are holding their own, but numbers will overwhelm them if they don't move.
Bran, in his trance, can hear Meera. He wargs into Hodor while he's in his trance, and Hodor picks up the sledge and moves to the exit.
Meanwhile, one of the Children goes down, and then another as one of the Night's King's lieutenants enters the chamber. Meera throws a spear (dragonglass?) that hits the lieutentants, and he shatters.
As they retreat, Summer steps up to guard their path. But Summer doesn't last long against so many, and Summer joins Lady, Grey Wind, and Shaggydog in death. The undead continue the chase.
Meanwhile, the Night's King has entered the chamber. He puts an end to the Three-Eyed Crow in his weirwood.
Bran (still in his trance), Hodor, Meera and Leaf are being pursued. Now it's Leaf who steps up to try to buy them some time. She's got a firebomb. She arms it, and then lets the dead cut her down in a swarm. The bomb goes off, killing (re-killing?) many, but there is still a swarm in pursuit.
They get to the exit door, and Hodor is having trouble opening it, and the dead are gaining on them. He finally (using his great strength) opens it. Meera grabs the sledge and runs off with Bran. Meera tells Hodor to hold the door. Bran, in his trance, hears this, and suddenly Wylis (in Winterfell of years ago) has a seizure, screaming "hold the door...hold the door...hold the door...holdedoor...holdoor..hodor...hodor"
Scenes From Next Week
- The chase continues
- Sam and Gilly at Horn Hill
- Margaery - a walk of shame on the way?
- Showdown between Faith Militant and military?
- Daeny - "I take what is mine".
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