Following last week’s disturbing final scene, those fans who didn’t bail on the show were rewarded with one of the series’ most devious characters finally getting some much-needed comeuppance and for one night at least, all was right in Westeros.
As Jon heads off to strike a peace treaty with The Wildlings, Master Aemon dies (his watch is now over) and Sam sees his circle of allies reduced dramatically in a day. Befitting a place filled with thieves, murderers and rapists, two Night’s Watch ‘brothers’ try to rape Gilly, but Sam arrives in time to be their punching bag before Jon’s direwolf, Ghost, scares them off.
Sam may not have many friends left at Castle Black but Ghost > 99% of The Night’s Watch. Sam’s bravery proves more than enough for Gilly and they finally consummate their relationship, which should put an even bigger target on Sam’s ample back.
I was most curious this week how the writers would follow up Ramsay raping Sansa and its impact on Sansa. Would she somehow be able to take this traumatic event and become empowered by it or would she be rendered a victim the rest of the season? Tonight at least disappointingly seemed to favor the latter as Sansa pleaded with Reek/Theon for aid asking him to light the candle in the tower to alert the remaining Stark allies in the North. Reek, of course, promptly snitches to Ramsay, who delights in showing Sansa that he flayed the old woman who offered aid to Sansa.
I hated how quickly Sansa was back to relying on others and how foolishly she gave up her one trump card to the same traitor who previously betrayed her family. There were two interesting notes from this segment though: Ramsay told Sansa that her bastard brother, Jon, is now the commander of the Night’s Watch, which seemed to give her some renewed hope that she has at least one more living relative and secondly, Sansa snagged a piece of stone to hopefully use as a weapon on either Reek or Ramsay.
The snowfall is of little consequence to Jon and the Night’s Watch and the Bolton army at Winterfell, but it’s seriously affecting Stannis’ forces who are losing horses and supplies to the harsh conditions. Ser Davos advises Stannis to retreat to Castle Black until winter ends, but Stannis realizes his campaign cannot afford another retreat so early in its infancy. They will continue on to Winterfell and either defeat the Boltons or die trying.
Still, Stannis could use some comfort in Melisandre’s visions. She assures him of victory, but to do so will require him, like Agamemnon with his daughter, Iphigenia, in ‘The Iliad,’ to sacrifice his daughter. Stannis is disgusted by the notion, but this is GOT so we shouldn’t be too surprised if Stannis reconsiders.
In Meereen, Daario isn’t feeling Danerys’ plan to marry Hizdahr and suggests she marry him instead and kill all the great masters. While a simple marriage of political convenience, it seems unlike this is going to go well for the mother of dragons. Things get even more complicated for her as she struggles to endure the brutal return of the pit fights and the lone survivor sheds his helmet to reveal the former traitor in her midst – Jorah.
Unlike Sansa, Dany’s mindset is far more ‘once a traitor, always a traitor’ and demands he be removed from her sight until Jorah says he has a gift for her and Tyrion emerges from the fighter quarters and introduces himself. If Dany plays her cards right — and that’s absolutely no guarantee — an alliance with Tyrion could dramatically shift the balance of power in her favor, but where the heck has Varys gone off to since Tyrion was seized?
In Dorne, Jaime speaks with Myrcella, who blows her ‘uncle’ off for not knowing her. Down in the prison, Bronn and the Sand Snakes are in separate cells. Tyene Sand reveals the blade she struck him with was poisonous and started stripping to (get his blood worked up for the poison to take affect?). Not sure where you fall on the creepy old man scale, but Rosabell Laurenti Sellers, the actress who plays Tyene, is 19. Tyene forces Bronn to say she’s the most beautiful woman in the world in order to get the antidote and after the very under duress acknowledgement, Tyene says he’s handsome too. Leering old man moment aside, this seemed like a random T&A display from the show for no good reason. Maybe some folks found it empowering, but it would have been much more impactful had Tyene not disrobed to have Bronn begging before her.
Olenna confronts the High Sparrow and as always, her scenes are the episode highlights. Olenna can’t figure out what makes the High Sparrow tick and not even the promise of money or threat of withholding grain to King’s Landing is enough to move him to free Margaery and Loras from prison. As she storms off, she gets a note from everyone’s favorite double-/triple-dealer Littlefinger.
Littlefinger tells her that Cersei cornered him about Loras and his brothel manager’s relationship. We finally get the last piece of Joffrey’s assassination spelled out as Olenna reminds Littlefinger that together they killed a king and if House Tyrell falls, she’s going to take Littlefinger down with them. Cool as ever, Littlefinger offers Olenna the same family-shattering weapon he provided Cersei: a young man. As the heroes have all but been killed off/been rendered powerless, Littlefinger is truly the only character now who clearly deserves and has earned the right to win the game of thrones as he seems to be the only one aware that the game has to be played from all angles with ever-shifting allegiances.
Cersei, meanwhile, can’t resist going down to Margaery’s cell to taunt her rival under the pretense of checking in on her. Cersei has overestimated her influence and her card far too much regarding the Faith Militant, who she mistakenly thinks are neatly tucked away in her back pocket.
She gets a rude awakening then as she’s led to the High Sparrow, who goes on about the confessions of one of his Faith Militant lackeys who has unburdened himself of his deviant ways and is now light as a feather. In walks Cersei’s cousin/former bedmate/current Faith Militant and finally Cersei realizes she’d given the gun and bullets to a person unimpressed with her power and perfectly willing to shoot. Cersei starts to head out, but a nun instead tosses her in a cell. Cersei shows she still doesn’t know when to give it a rest as she swears the nun is dead.
Finally Cersei gets what’s been coming to her ever since leading to our boy Ned Stark getting killed and she’s got no one to blame but herself. In the end, Cersei looks to have outplayed herself far, far away from the throne and by cutting King Tommen’s power out from under him in regards to the Faith Militant, her salvation looks bleak indeed. I loved it.
Next week: Jon kicks it with the Wildlings while Dany considers forgiving Jorah.