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Joffrey punishes Sansa for Robb’s victories, while Tyrion and Bronn scramble to temper the king’s cruelty. Catelyn entreats Stannis and Renly to forego their ambitions and unite against the Lannisters. Dany and her exhausted khalasar arrive at the gates of Qarth, a prosperous city with strong walls and rulers who greet her outside them. Tyrion coerces a queen’s man into being his eyes and ears. Arya and Gendry are taken to Harrenhal, where their lives rest in the hands of “The Mountain,” Gregor Clegane. Davos must revert to his old ways and smuggle Melisandre into a secret cove.
Two Lannister guards discuss the best warriors in the Seven Kingdoms while standing guard over a picket line of horses at a Lannister camp while it rains heavily. They suggest the Mountain, Ser Jaime, and Loras Tyrell are great warriors, though one named Rennick seems to suggest that his relationship with Renly disproves his being in the running. The horses become spooked and Rennick approaches while his friend is nervous… and then he breaks wind as a joke. As he moves forward to then relieve himself, his friend shouts—and Grey Wind leaps on him as he screams. Robb and a line of horsemen wait, and then as the northmen shout, “The King in the North!”, his forces charge into battle.
Later that day, the battlefield is beset by scavengers and silent sisters as Lord Roose Bolton speaks with King Robb about his victory, where five westermen were killed for every one northman, and that they have so many prisoners that he does not know how they will be fed, given the limited supplies of the northern army. Lord Bolton implies that executing prisoners might be expedient, but Robb refuses. Bolton then suggests that at least the officers might be questioned—under torture, if need be—to reveal useful information. He quotes a family saying: “A naked man has few secrets, a flayed man none.” Robb points out that his father outlawed flaying in the North, but Bolton notes they’re not in the North, only for Robb to make it clear that he won’t allow torture, in part so as to avoid giving the Lannisters an excuse to abuse his sisters.
Robb comes across a silent sister and a healing woman dealing with a seriously injured, struggling westerman soldier as he’s informed that rot has set into his injured leg and his foot must be amputated. Robb approaches to help them hold the man down, as the young woman removes the solder’s foot. Lord Bolton disapproves, thinking that surely northmen deserve more care than westermen. Robb continues to help. Afterward, he approaches the woman and discusses what happened, and it’s clear she disapproves of the fighting and the cost in lives that comes with it. She reveals her name is Talisa. She questions so much bloodshed for the cause of vengeance and the fact that the soldiers are not personally responsible for the grievances of the Lannister and Stark families, and wonders what Robb plans to do if he wins—a question he can’t really answer, as he’s not thought of it very much. He suggests going back to Winterfell, to leave the Iron Throne to whoever cares to take it. She wonders at the soundness of that, as she departs on a wagon. He wonders where she’s from, only to learn that she’s from the Free City of Volantis. He shouts after her that the boy was lucky that she was there to help him… and she replies that he was unlucky that Robb was there, however.
In King’s Landing, the court is gathered as Sansa Stark is presented before Joffrey to answer for her brother’s latest treasons: the battle he recently won. Lancel—now a knight—reports that Robb Stark used sorcery to fall on Stafford Lannister with an army of wolves, slaughtering thousands and then joining the northmen in feasting on the slain. Joffrey wishes he could send a message to Robb by killing Sansa… but his mother would disapprove, so he sends a different kind of message by having Ser Meryn Trant begin to beat her before the crowd, and then to tear open her dress when Joffrey says she’s overdressed. Trant is preparing to strike her with the flat of his sword when Tyrion comes in and calls a stop to it. He questions Trant, who says he serves the king, and Bronn warns him that if he’s not careful there’ll be blood on his cloak. Joffrey insists he can do as he likes, but Tyrion says that the Mad King thought the same—had Jaime ever told him what happened to him? Trant refuses to hear the king threatened, but Tyrion replies that that wasn’t a threat. He tells Bronn to kill Meryn if he opens his mouth again—and then notes that that, on the other hand, was a threat.
Tyrion leads Sansa away, wrapped in the cloak that the Hound placed around her shoulders when Tyrion called on someone to give her something to cover herself with. He apologizes for Joffrey’s behavior. Tyrion asks her if she wants an end to the engagement, but she merely repeats as if by rote that she merely wants to marry Joffrey, her one true love. Tyrion is admiring when he calls her Lady Stark, and suggests she may survive them all. After she leaves, Bronn suggests that Joffrey is “clogged up”, filled with teenage lust. Tyrion wonders if finding someone for him to bed might help cure him of his behavior, which Bronn doubts, but thinks that it may help somewhat. Joffrey is then seen entering a hall where the Hound is waiting. Joffrey questions his presence, and Sandor reveals that Tyrion has left the king a nameday present.
When Joffrey enters his room, he finds Ros and Daisy waiting for him, who repeat that they’re a nameday present for him. Ros moves up to fondle the king, but he tells her not to, and proceeds to have Daisy disrobe. He asks Ros to hit her, which she obliges by some light spanking while informing him that Tyrion chose them himself, to give them to Joffrey. Joffrey then only for Joffrey to give her his heavy leather belt, and then demands that she hit Daisy harder, and then harder again even though she cries out in pain. He grabs Ros’s face in his hand, to make his demand, saying that Tyrion would want him to get his money’s worth. Daisy cries out as Ros strikes her repeatedly. Joff then comes forward with something else: the royal sceptre, made of heavy wood with carved antlers. Ros tries to protest, warning him that too much pain will spoil the pleasure… but Joffrey winds and arms his crossbow, and points the crossbow at Ros as she tries to say that Tyrion will be displeased when he finds out. Joffrey reveals he wants him to find out, and that he’ll want Ros to take Daisy to Tyrion to show her what she’s done. The camera pulls away to show Joffrey’s excitement as Ros strikes with the scepter, Daisy’s screams in the background, and again he demands for Ros to hit harder.
The screams blend with a horse’s neigh as we shift to Renly’s camp, where Littlefinger awaits a chance to speak with Renly. Renly questions his presence, and reveals that he’s never liked Littlefinger. Baelish, however, reveals that he’s a practical man… and that he’s there because Renly has many friends at court who believe that Ned Stark erred when not supporting his claim. Renly takes this to mean that Littlefinger means to support Renly, to protect himself. Baelish doesn’t deny it, but says that when Renly marches on King’s Landing, he may find himself facing a long siege… or open gates. That same evening, Littlefinger is near the king’s tent when Queen Margaery moves past it. Littlefinger joins her, and they speak of her relationship with Renly, and his relationship with her brother Ser Loras. Margaery asks if he’s ever been married, and Littlefinger says he’s been unhappy in his affections. She finally dismisses him, reminding him that her husband is her king, and her king is her husband.
In the red waste, the bloodrider Kovarro arrives at the small encampment where Daenerys and the Dothraki have waited. His horse is a new one, and he reveals he received it from the Thirteen, the “elders of Qarth”, which lies three days to the east by the sea. He indicates that they would welcome the Mother of Dragons. Daenerys turns to Ser Jorah, asking him what he knows of Qarth, and he says that the desert around its walls is called the Garden of Bones—every time they shut their gates on travelers, the garden grows.
Outside of the huge and ruinous castle, Arya, Hot Pie, and Gendry are brought in chains to Harrenhal, once the seat of kings and now a Lannister base. Hot Pie wonders how its stones could be melted, and Arya replies, “Dragon fire.” A stench hangs around Harrenhal, which Arya identifies as dead bodies. They’re herded into a pen with other prisoners, while there are screams nearby as a man is tortured on the rack. The rack can be heard turning in time with the screams, until there’s a sudden sound of bones snapping and the screaming stops. A blank-eyed woman in the pen who states that that was her son, that her sister died three days before, and her husband the day before that. Every day, someone is taken away and tortured to death. That night it rains down on the pen, and Arya begins to repeat names: “Joffrey. Cersei. Ilyn Payne. The Hound. Joffrey. Cersei. Ilyn Payne. The Hound. Joffrey…”
At Renly’s camp, Catelyn sits in a tent when Littlefinger enters. She asks how he dares, glaring at him, having heard he betrayed Eddard and repaid the trust they gave him by seeing her husband dead. Littlefinger tries to stop her, telling her that he’s loved her since he was a boy. He grabs at her arm as he says that fate has given them a chance—and she turns on him, cutting him off, holding a knife and saying he’s lost his mind. He recoils… and then tries a different tack, asking if she wants to see her girls again, Arya included. He insists they’re healthy and safe, “for now”, but he fears for their longevity because of Cersei and Joffrey and their cruelty. Catelyn turns away, and puts down the knife. She thinks… and then asks him what he wants. He says that the Lannisters will trade the girls for the Kingslayer. Catelyn says Robb will never agree—but Littlefinger replies that he hasn’t brought the offer to Robb, he’s brought it to her. He then says he’s brought a gift from the Imp, to show their good faith: the chest containing Eddard Stark’s bones. As she kneels before them, overcome with emotion, he tries to tell her that Eddard was an honorable man who should lie in the crypts of Winterfell, but she tells him to leave. He bows, and departs. She starts to weep, and then suddenly closes the chest.
The prisoners in Harrenhal are made to wake up and stand as Ser Gregor Clegane arrives to make his daily choice of a new torture victim. Hot Pie stares at the Mountain, and reveals that another prisoner insisted that he’s never been picked because he always stares at the Mountain. But this time, the Mountain picks that young man and he’s taken away. Hot Pie wets himself, having realized how close he was to dying. The young man is brought before the Tickler, a common looking man who begins to ask questions about gold and silver, about “the brotherhood”. A hungry rat is placed in a bucket which is strapped to his belly. He can’t answer the questions, and so they set a torch at the end of the bucket… terrifying the rat, which begins to press as far away as it can. It begins to chew through his belly to get away from the heat, as he begins to make allegations against others between screams. Arya watches all along. It rains again later that night, and Arya watches as Polliver strikes down a woman begging for a crust of bread. She adds the Mountain and Polliver to her list.
In the stormlands, Renly—escorted by Brienne and Loras, as well as Catelyn—meets at a parley with Stannis, with Melisandre and Davos in attendance. Renly was unsure it was his brother who has arrived on his shores, because of the strange device of his banners: the Baratheon stag encompassed by the fiery heart of the Lord of Light. The parley begins with Renly being quite glib, saying that different banners will help keep the hosts from being confused. Renly also suggests that, seeing Melisandre, he finally understands why Stannis has taken up religion. Melisandre says he was born amidst salt and smoke, as prophecy revealed, and Renly wonders if he’s a ham. Stannis warns him, and then again, until Catelyn interjects that if they were her sons, she’d knock their heads together until they remembered they were brothers. Stannis reveals that Eddard supported his claim, and wonders why Catelyn sits beside the “pretender”, his brother. Renly claims the whole realm denies that Stannis is the rightful king, because he never wanted friends, and a man without friends is a man without power. Stannis gives Renly one night to reconsider and promises him his old seat in the council, and will even name him his heir until a son is born to him. Come the dawn, Stannis promises, they will see who is the rightful king. As Stannis leaves, Renly remarks that he once loved his brother.
Outside the walls of Qarth, Qartheen guards block the way while the Thirteen wait to meet the Mother of Dragons. Daenerys believed them welcome, but Jorah says that if you had heard that a Dothraki hoard was approaching, she might have done the same in their position. “Hoard?” Daenerys says, looking back to her tiny, tired khalasar. One of the Thirteen comes forward, a merchant, who identifies her by her name and title. She asks his name, but he says it’s quite long and impossible for foreigners to pronounce, and indicates he’s merely a trader in spices. Daenerys begins to compliment “the beauty of Quarth”, only for the merchant to raise a finger and correct her: “Qarth”. He asks if they might see the dragons, which are in their cages, but Daenerys insists they must be fed first. Some of the Thirteen question whether the dragons actually exist or not, and Daenerys insists she’s not a liar. The merchant agrees she isn’t, but his opinion has limited value. Daenerys remarks that where she comes from, guests are welcomed… and he suggests perhaps she should then return to where she came from, and begins to leave.
Confused and angered, she tells him to stop, that they promised to receive her—and he replies that they have, that the Thirteen have met her. Daenerys says they will die if they are not allowed in, and he admits that may be the case, but that Qarth did not become “the greatest city that ever was or will by” by allowing Dothraki savages through their gates. Daenerys comes forward and threatens them, that when her dragons are grown and she can lay waste to her enemies, she will burn Qarth first. The merchant turns to say that she is, indeed, a true Targaryen… but as she had noted, she would die if turned away. Then Xaro Xhoan Daxos—one of the Thirteen—comes forward and questions that the Thirteen mean to retreat from a “little girl”. The merchant tries to silence him, saying the Thirteen have spoken, but he says he’s one of the Thirteen, and he is still speaking. He suggests Qarth can survive a few Dothraki within the walls of Qarth—after all, there he is, a “savage from the Summer Isles” who is now numbered among the Thirteen and yet Qarth still stands. The merchant insists that the decision is made… and Xaro invokes a law of his people, cutting his hand and showing the blood as he promises to vouch for Daenerys and her people. The gates of Qarth are opened, showing a rich city filled with ornamented buildings and the waters of the port.
At Harrenhal, the latest victim of questioning has his head hammered onto a spike. The Mountain makes another choice… and chooses Gendry. As the Tickler and his assistant prepare to torture Gendry, Lord Tywin rides in through the gates. He is disgusted by the state of things, wondering why the prisoners are kept penned up. The Mountain insists that the cells are overwhelmed, and Polliver (still carrying Needle) indicates that they won’t last long, that after they question them they tend to kill them. Tywin wonders at their wasting skilled laborers, and then asks Gendry if he has a trade, which he does; Tywin looks to the others, seeing that he’s proved his point. Polliver looks and sees Arya’s watching, and he strikes at her, threatening her. Tywin says he’ll do no such thing: she’s a girl. He asks her why she’s dressed as a boy, and she says it’s safer for traveling. “Smart”, he says. He tells Polliver to put the prisoners to work, and to send him the girl for a cup-bearer.
At King’s Landing, Lancel delivers a message to Tyrion late at night, commanding the release of Pycelle. Tyrion is very casual, and prevents Lancel from leaving by his questions as he leads Lancel into revealing that he and Cersei are lovers. Lancel tries to avoid saying anything, until Tyrion asks him if he’s thought of what Joffrey will do when he learns of it. “It’s not my fault!” Lancel insists, his resistance collapsing. Tyrion tells him to wait, that Joffrey will be glad to hear of how awful the experience of knighthood, the Queen’s trust, and her legs spreading for him at night must be. Lancel begs for mercy and offers to leave King’s Landing immediately… and Tyrion then reveals that he doesn’t want him to leave, he wants him to spy on Cersei for him. Lancel agrees. Tyrion is cheerful, and then has him say that he’ll do as she asks and give up Pycelle in the morning. He refuses to have him on the council, however.
On a Baratheon ship, Stannis stands outside in the night when Davos comes up. Stannis asks if Davos’s knuckle-bones still bring him luck, and Davos replies that his life’s been better since they were cut off, and “four less finger nails to clean.” “Fewer,” Stannis corrects him, reminding us that Davos was a commoner with little education. Stannis doesn’t understand why Davos insists on carrying the bones in the pouch around his neck. Davos says it reminds him of his origins, and of Stannis’s justice. Stannis replies that he was both a hero and a smuggler, and repeats that a good act does not wash out the bad, or vice versa. Davos has tried to teach his son a similar lesson, which he hasn’t… and when Davos says that if his red woman told him to leap from a crow’s nest—Stannis cuts him off, saying that she has a name. Then he asks if Stannis still remembers his smuggler’s tricks. Davos begins to protest that he’s lived an honest life the last seventeen years. Stannis wants him to be a smuggler, and Davos says he’ll do as Stannis bids, until Stannis says that he’ll be delivering “your red woman” to the shore. Davos becomes apprehensive, arguing that there are better, cleaner ways, but Stannis says that cleaner ways don’t win wars.
Davos rows a boat into a watery cavern. Melisandre, wrapped in robes, asks if he’s a good man and reveals that in her view, men are good or evil. Davos asks what she is, and she insists that she’s good, that she’s a knight herself in a way, a champion of light and life. Melisandre asks if he loves his wife, and Davos agrees… but then she says he’s also known other women. He protests that she shouldn’t speak of his wife, but she says she’s speaking of other women, such as herself. She knows he wants her, and wants to see what she’s like without her robes. She promises he will see. They walk deeper into the cave, but now there are bars blocking the way, bars that weren’t there before. Davos doesn’t realize until he turns that Melisandre has taken off her robe…
... and she is heavily pregnant. She says that there is only one god, and that he only protects those who serve him. As she seats herself on the ground and begins to go into labor, the lamp Davos held suddenly flares brighter. Davos is terrified, pressed against a wall, as Melisandre cries out and her belly begins to move. And then something pours out and drags itself from between her thighs, a shape made of shadows that begins to rise up and form itself into the shape of a man for an instant before it turns into a cloud of shadow and moves in the direction of the gate.
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