Previously on Game of Thrones: The Old Gods and the New
Will they or won’t they Jon and Ygritte continue to traipse around the snow-capped mountains of the north. Since Jon is clearly lost, Ygritte entertains herself by making fun of her captor and poking holes in his Night’s Watch philosophy. And the more she talks, the more she makes sense. Why should wildlings be forced to live on the less hospitable side of the Wall? Why do the brothers of the Night’s Watch have to take a vow of celibacy? However, no argument seems to convince Jon, but maybe a dramatic turning of the tables will. At the end of the episode, Jon walks them right into a wildling ambush.
Over at King’s Landing, Cersei gives a compelling argument against engaging in incestuous relationships—if you have a kid with your sibling, they may turn out like Joffrey, i.e. a demented, power-hungry lunatic. She’s scared of Joffrey, but like any good mother, she can’t help but love him anyway. Cersei shares some of this with Sansa, who struggles with facing the fact that she is now capable of having Joffrey’s children. So the former queen is not entirely heartless or without a moral compass, but her habit of monologue-ing her doubts rather than actually doing anything isn’t helping anybody.
Meanwhile, Cersei’s brother/lover Jaime is getting tired of being Robb’s prisoner. After an almost touching heart-to-heart with his cousin and fellow cellmate Alton, Jaime unleashes his plan of escape: 1) kill Alton (cousins are like pawns, right?), 2) kill the guard that idiotically comes in to investigate, 3) get away. Steps 1 and 2 go off without a hitch, but somehow Jaime messes up Step 3 and gets re-captured. Now the Karstarks, the family of the guard from Step 2 want to kill Jaime. Catelyn and Brienne pay Jaime a visit, but we’ll have to wait till next episode to see how that ends.
One large ocean away, Dany is not happy (as usual). Her dragons are gone, a lot of her people are dead or missing, and Jorah is getting too familiar. A bizarre turn of events may compel the winds of fate to blow in her favor though. Xaro Xhoan Daxos and a seriously creepy guy I’ve named Baldy stage a coup and slit the throats of most of the members of Qarth’s ruling thirteen. Dany runs away, but all paths most likely lead to the House of the Undying since Baldy admitted he took her dragons there.
The action at Winterfell takes a grim turn. Theon the embarrassed conqueror struggles to maintain composure after learning that Bran and Rickon have escaped. Theon immediately deploys his men to hunt them down, and despite protestations from a desperate Maester Luwin, he makes it clear that mercy will be the last thing the Stark boys can expect. The last scene of the episode is horrifying. Theon gathers the inhabitants of Winterfell together to reveal that his hunting party has not returned empty-handed: the burnt and broken forms of two small bodies, hung from their necks, dangle over the castle walls like perverse trophies to Theon’s twisted reign.
- I like it when titles match up or even enhance the actual content of their episodes. Last week’s “The Old Gods and the New” did neither for me, but this week’s selection restored my faith in whoever has the cool job of slapping titles on these things. In a semi-related thought, how do I make that job my job?
- There are an awful lot of males to root for in Westeros right now — my favorites include the ever popular Tyrion, the brooding Jon Snow, and Jaime the Kingslayer (don’t judge me—he really does grow on you) — but the majority of the females are a little under-whelming this season. Dany has spent more time whining than anything else, and Arya, while as loveable as ever, doesn’t have a lot to do as Tywin’s cupbearer. That’s why I’m so thankful for Ygritte. She combines Arya’s fight and Dany’s fire without the burden of the former’s young age or the latter’s sense of entitlement.
- Fun fact: did you know that in the books Jon, Robb, and Dany are all supposed to be fourteen? I know the show producers have made a deliberate effort to make all the children a bit older, but it’s still fun to think about. The Night’s Watch bastard, the warring King of the North, and the Mother of Dragons would all be high school freshmen if they had been born into our noticeably less awesome world.
- (Not as fun) fact: my recaps have been getting longer and longer even though the episode lengths have remained constant. Oops (?)
Missing in action: Stannis, Melisandre, Davos, Joffrey, Margaery, Loras, Yara, Renly
Body count: (roughly) 16. Alton Lannister + 1 Karstark guard + 2 charred Stark boys + 11 Qarth VIPs + 1 Baldy.
Theon: “How goes hunting?”
Maester Luwin: “So far hunting seems a lot like riding”
Theon: “Don’t look so grim. It’s all just a game.”
Sansa: “Does it give you joy to scare people?”
Sandor Clegane: “It gives me joy to kill people.”
Cersei: “Half the Targaryens went mad, didn’t they? What’s the saying? Every time a Targaryen is born the gods flip a coin.”
Jaime: “So many vows. Defend the king. Obey the king. Obey your father. Protect the innocent. Defend the weak. But what if your father despises the king? What if the king massacres the innocent? No matter what you do, you’re forsaking one vow or another.”
Tyrion: “It’s hard to put a leash on a dog once you’ve put a crown on its head.”
Ygritte: “You know nothing, Jon Snow.”
Hayley has other interests besides just nerdy TV shows. She also is a big fan of thinking. She ponders the great mysteries of life, like how more of her time can be devoted to watching those nerdy TV shows.