At Winterfell, Theon receives a visitor and holds down the fort. Arya calls in her final debt with Jaqen in a way that displeases him. Robb is betrayed. Tyrion and Varys find common ground. Dany ignores Jorah’s advice. Stannis and Davos approach their destination, and Davos is offered a reward.
At Winterfell, at Theon’s orders the ravens have been poisoned so that there’s no chance that word gets out as to what has been happening in the castle. As Dagmer and Theon watch the raven bodies being emptied out the rookery window, Asha arrives with her companions. She and her men settle themselves at the high hall’s feasting table, and Asha mocks him as “the Prince of Winterfell”. She wonders which Stark boy put up the biggest fight: the cripple or the six-year-old. Though Theon tries to claim they betrayed him and were treacherous, she says they were brave for running away when he made them prisoners. She considers him stupid for trying to hold the castle, and for killing the boys when they would have been valuable hostages. She also warns him that he’s too far from the sea, and has no intentions of lending him men to hold it. Theon refuses to leave, however. Before she departs, she sends her men away and makes a last appeal for him to leave, reminding him that when he was an infant there was a time he kept crying and screaming and would not become quiet until she came to visit him, and it was only then that he stopped while smiling at her. She departs, leaving Theon to think on her telling him not to die so far from the sea.
Beyond the Wall, the wildlings lead the bound Jon to another group of wildlings, led by the Lord of Bones. She tells him that Jon is a present, but he says he already has one crow—Qhorin Halfhand, bound and bruised—and doesn’t need another one. She says Jon knows where the other crows are and what Lord Commander Mormont’s plans are, but Rattleshirt remarks that Qhorin knows more, and calls for a man to gut him. Ygritte protests, saying Jon could have killed her half a dozen times, but didn’t… and Rattleshirt said that now he probably wishes he did, as one of his men pulls a knife to kill Jon. The spearwife stops him by saying Jon is the Bastard of Winterfell, Ned Stark’s own bastard, and that gives Rattleshirt pause. In the end, he lets him live, but warns Ygritte that if Jon runs, he’ll geld him; Ygritte’s rejoined is that if Jon runs, she’ll geld him herself. When Rattleshirt leaves, Ygritte turns to Jon and tells him that they’re even. Jon is taken to where Qhorin is held and learns from him that he couldn’t kill Ygritte. Jon asks about the others and Qhorin says that when he didn’t return, they doubled back and found his tracks… but the wildlings found them before they found him. Jon blames himself, and Qhorin tells him to make sure their deaths were not for nothing before the wildlings are on the move again.
Robb and Talisa are walking back to his camp after the visit to the Crag, and Talisa asks Robb about his Frey bride-to-be. He knows nothing of her—not even her name—and said it’s a marriage that he agreed to before his father’s death, when he needed that important bridge at the Twins. Talisa says that the northmen she’s spoken to all loved Ned, and Robb replies that Eddard was the best man he ever knew. He informs her that Ned told him that being a lord was like being a father for thousands, and that he woke and went to bed with fear for his people. Robb didn’t believe him, asking his father how he could be brave if he was afraid, and he remembered Eddard’s reply: “That was the only time a man can be brave, when he’s afraid.” Talisa wishes she could have met Eddard. Robb says he isn’t fighting for glory and songs, just as his father, but he can’t march home because they’ll never be safe with the Lannisters in control of he realm, and because he wants justice. She asks if that includes Joffrey’s head being struck off, and he says that’s a start. Just then, riders from the camp arrive, telling Robb that the Kingslayer has escaped. Robb demands to know how this happened.
At his camp, Robb enters with Lord Karstark and asks Catelyn if it’s true. She admits it, and explains that she let him go for her daughters. Robb says she betrayed him, knowing he wouldn’t have allowed it and he did it anyways. She notes that only one of her children is free. Karstark reminds her that he’s lost two sons, and that he’d sooner carve out his heart if his sons could wake from their graves and step into a cell. Catelyn tries to offer her condolences, but he doesn’t want it—he wants his vengeance, and she stole it. Catelyn insists that Jaime Lannister’s return to King’s Landing may buy life for her children. Robb replies that she’s been played for a fool by Lannister, and has brought discord into the camp while acting behind his back. He commands her to be guarded at all times, and ignores her as she protests. He doubles the amount of men searching for Jaime.
A horse runs riderless through the woods, and then we see a hooded man fall from his horse: it’s Jaime Lannister, under guard by Brienne. He asks her name, and she identifies herself as Brienne of Tarth. He recalls her family arms, and the fact that Lord Selwyn Tarth is her father. He talks glibly, insulting her casually, making her angry. She tells him she hates him because he’s betrayed those he swore to protect, the innocent and the weak. She tells him he can’t provoke her despite his insults, but he points out that she’s already provoked. He then wonders if she believes she can beat him in a fair fight, and when she suggests she could, he claims that she’s wrong, when she refuses, because there are only three men in the kingdom whom he believes would have a chance at beating him. Brienne responds that all her life, men have insulted her, and all her life she’s beaten them into the dust. He urges her to remove his chains and try him, but she’s no idiot and he tries to imply she’s afraid of him. Entering the boat she’s led him to, she paddles down the river once passerbys on a nearby bridge are out of sight. As she does so, she thinks that perhaps one day they’ll find out who’s the better fighter.
At Harrenhal, Ser Kevan speaks with Tywin at his table, suggesting that Cersei and the royal family should flee west since they cannot hold King’s Landing with Stannis only two days from the city. Tywin remarks that Robb is at his door as well, but Kevan responds that the scouts claim he’s still south of Ashemark in the westerlands. Tywin notes the scouts were wrong when Jaime was lured into a trap and seized. Kevan then notes that the Stark forces have been split, as a splinter force has been sent north, and that the Greyjoys did them a favor because Robb can’t risk a battle… but Tywin says that he’ll risk anything, because he’s too young to be afraid. Finally Tywin commands that they’ll march at nightfall, to have a full day’s march before Robb knows they’re on the move. He leaves the castle in the command of Gregor Clegane, and tells Arya that she’ll stay there to serve him and to make sure he doesn’t get drunk at night as he’s better at his work when he’s sober, though he’s not good company.
Leavin the chamber, Arya goes into the courtyard and sees and hears more men being tortured over Amory Lorch’s death. As she comes nearer, Rorge and Biter are seated there, and Rorge starts to threaten her and ignoring her question about Jaqen. He gets up, promising to rape her as he said he would, but he’s ordered to go with other soldiers to “kill some wolves”. Arya then sees Hot Pie and Gendry, as Hot Pie speaks of making pies and Gendry works on a horseshoe. She asks them about Jaqen, and when Gendry asks why, she says that Tywin is leaving that night and that Jaqen is helping her. Hot Pie reveals he saw him several hours ago, patrolling the gate. But it’s too late: Tywin’s already riding out of the castle.
Beyond the Wall, Qhorin whispers to Jon that Mance is marching on the Wall, and that one man inside his own army is better than a thousand against him. He tells Jon to do what needs to be done, which Jon doesn’t understand, but Qhorin begins to yell about Jon betraying the Watch for his “savage girl”, and ends up pushing Jon down the slope. Rattleshirt grabs him and tells Qhorin that Jon isn’t his to kill. The wildlings march on, while Ygritte stares down at Jon after looking at Qhorin walking away, Longclaw tucked under her arm.
At King’s Landing, Tyrion is deep in a book, with more books and scrolls heaped around him, as Bronn cleans his nails. Tyrion gets annoyed and tries to get him to stop, and Bronn says he likes to keep his hands clean, but stops that and instead watches. Tyrion then suggests that Bronn should wear the gold cloak as commander of the City Watch, but Bronn refuses because it gets in the way, would slow him down, and would make him stand out at night. Bronn reminds him that they have a deal and wearing a gold cloak wasn’t part of it. Tyrion finally agrees… until Tyrion is annoyed at being stared at. Bronn wonders why he’s there, and Tyrion says he needs help planning the defense of the city. Bronn casts doubts that the books will help him, and Tyrion notes that his current book is a history of the great sieges of Westeros, by “Archmaester Ch’Vyalthan”. The two disagree on the pronunciation on the name. Tyrion responds he’d rather have a few good archers than so many books. Varys then enters and informs Tyrion that Bronn has led the gold cloaks to significantly reduce thievery. Tyrion was unaware of this, and when he asks how, he learns that Bronn and his men gathered all the known thieves… and, well, only the unknown ones have to be worried about, strongly implying he had them all killed.
Tyrion objects to this, but Bronn suggests that unlike Tyrion, he’s been through a siege before, and one of the great dangers are the thieves within the walls who steal all the food and come out the end of the siege as the richest men in the city. Better to get rid of the ones they know of, rather than risk that. Varys agrees with Bronn that such extreme measures were warranted, and then notes the book, agreeing with Tyrion’s initial pronunciation of the author’s name but noting that he was not a very good writer. Tyrion then warns that Stannis knows the city, and its strengths and weaknesses. He focuses on the Mud Gate as being Stannis’s target, as a ram can break it within minutes and it’s only fifty yards from the shore. Bronn suggests they can throw books at him, and when Varys replies they don’t have that many books, Bronn notes they don’t have that many men either. When Varys asks what they do have, Tyrion replies, “Pig shit.”
At the Fist of the First Men, Sam is complaining about digging out latrines with Grenn and Dolorous Edd. Edd suggests he always imagines himself doing something much worse. They then wonder where Jon is, and Tollett suggests a wise man would guess that he’s dead. Sam objects, saying Jon is a great fighter, and Grenn replies that he’s a better fighter than him, anyways, and much better than Samwell. Samwell notes that Jon has a Valyrian steel sword, and Edd replies that Eddard Stark had one too. Finally he argues that Qhorin is the greatest ranger alive… but Tollett notes that the great ones always die, as do the bad ones, and it’s mostly just the middling ones that last a long time. Grenn hits something as he’s digging and uncovers a stone with marks of the First Men over it. Samwell has Grenn move it, and they find a bundled wrapped in the cloak of a brother of the Night’s Watch. Edd warns that they had best pretend they never found it, but they open it to file a cache of dragonglass arrowheads, blades, and spearheads, and an old horn. Grenn wonders why someone hid it, and Edd supposes whoever did probably wanted it to be found.
Arya is carrying water at Harrenhal when she bumps into a guard, who smacks her on the back of the head. As she kneels to pick up the bucket, Jaqen steps close. She complains that he was gone and that Tywin had gotten away. She then asks how long it would take him to kill the person he named, and replies that though their death is certain, the time is not—it simply happens when it’s right. He cannot kill Tywin right that instant. She complains that he offered to her help her, and he replies he didn’t promise that, only death. He suggests she name someone else… and he asks if he’d kill anyone, any name. He swears it by the old gods and the new… and then tells him Jaqen H’ghar. He stares at her, and then says the gods are not mocked, that it’s no time for joking. She insists she isn’t joking. He asks her to unname the name, and even says please, and she agrees to do it… if he helps her and her friends escape. He insists it is beyond the agreement, that more deaths than the one he agreed will be needed, but he will do it if she will insists. She promises that she will, and he tells her that they will walk out of the gate at midnight before he leaves.
Tyrion and Cersei are having a meal, with Tyrion’s squire Podrick attending, among other servants. Cersei finds Podrick an odd boy, and Tyrion replies he has a fondness for odd boys. Cersei complains that Joffrey means to fight, and Tyrion tells her that that’s good, that it will encourage the men. He notes that Jaime at seventeen was more than capable… but she replies that Joffrey doesn’t have Jaime’s gift, and that the battlefield isn’t his place. Tyrion replies his place isn’t on the Iron Throne either. Podrick snickers. Cersei than asks if Tyrion thinks he’s an idiot, to which Tyrion replies that she’s of above-average intelligence. She presses on, saying he’s stolen her daughter and means to see her son killed. When she asks Tyrion why Varys is so dangerous, he supposes it’s because of his spies… but she replies it’s because he doesn’t have a cock. To that, Tyrion quips that she doesn’t have one either, and she turns to say that she supposes that might be why she’s dangerous as well, while Tyrion is as foolish as any other man thanks to that “little worm” between his legs. He replies it’s not that little, which makes her laugh… but he grows concerned at her smile.
He asks why she’s smiling, and she replies she’s happy because she has Tyrion’s whore. She asks if he’s married that one yet, and when he doesn’t answer, she says that’s good and it will please Tywin. Tyrion wonders why she cares, and she says she doesn’t, and merely wants leverage against him. She wonders why she needs him when he protests, suggesting he has no skill in battle to speak of. She then compliments his whore’s looks, and that the bruises will heal in time. Tyrion wants to know how she found her, and she says that Varys isn’t the only one who hears whispers. She questions his having given her a Lannister lion necklace. Tyrion tries to bluff his way out of it by suggesting he only “rents” her, and doesn’t really care, but she sees through it. She warns him that every wound Joffrey suffers, she’ll suffer too… and that if Joffrey dies, “there isn’t a man alive who can devise a more painful death for your little cunt.” Tyrion asks for proof that she’s alive, and Cersei has Ser Mandon Moore of the Kingsguard bring her in… and it’s a bruised and bloodied Ros, not Shae, who is brought in. Tyrion stare at her… and then stands up, and takes her hand to reassure her. He swears he’ll free her, and she tells him not to forget her.
She’s dragged out, and he turns to Cersei to promise her that he’ll hurt her for what she’s done, that one day her joy will turn to ashes in her mouth. She orders him to get out. He then leaves… but is soon running to his chamber, calling for Shae. She comes in from the balcony with a book, complaining that she had been waiting all night. She wonders what’s happened, and he tells her she looks beautiful. She realizes he looks sad, and asks why as she sits and he kneels at her feet. He says they must be more careful, that there are people who want to hurt him, and she assures him she can protect herself… and she’ll cut off the faces of anyone who tries to hurt them. Tyrion promises he’d kill for her, if he had to… and he suspects that he’ll have to before it’s all over. He tells her she’s his, and she echoes it, but he insists she promise that she is, and she does so. He’s overcome with emotion, embracing her.
Robb is speaking with Roose about the lack of news from the North. He’s hesitant… but tells Roose to command his son to attack Winterfell, and to promise any ironborn who surrenders sage passage to the Iron Islands. Roose considers that too merciful, and Robb corrects it, excluding Theon from that offer. Roose suspects the ironborn will turn on him for that, and he leaves when Talisa arrives. She tries to ask how he’s doing, but it’s clear that Robb is in a poor mood. He apologizes, not wanting to be that kind of king, and she says that she was raised to be a proper little lady reciting Valyrian poetry and playing the harp. He suggests he’d like to hear her play the harp, but she says he wouldn’t. He then asks how she went from reciting poetry to amputating feet, and she explains that she and her brother were left alone by their parents as they attended a wedding, and they went down to the Rhoyne to swim with the other children of Volantis because of how hot a day it was, the hottest in the three year summer. She was swimming and talking with a friend when she found her brother faced own in the water. She dragged him to the bank, but he wasn’t breathing.
Then a man, a slave with a fish tattoo identifying him as a fisherman, pushed her aside—risking a terrible death—and pushed at her brother’s chest repeatedly until he spit out water, gulping for breath and crying. The man cradled him and told him it would be all right. From that time on, she decided two things: she would not waste her years planning dances and masquerades, and that when she came of age she would never live in a slave city. As she tries to apologize for talking so long, Robb stands then and tells her he doesn’t want to marry the Frey girl… and she doesn’t want him to marry her either, but he needs that bridge. “I hope it’s a very beautiful bridge,” she tells him… and then they fall into an embrace, kissing one another, working at the laces of their clothing until they fall to the floor naked.
Hot Pie is complaining that he’s being taken away from his pies, and Arya tells him to shut up and asks him what food he brought. As he answers, Gendry wonders about what Jaqen said about how they should leave, and what he was doing about the guards. From what they can see, the three guards are still at the gate. In the end, she stands and starts walking, and Gendry follows her after initially trying to stop her… and as they approach the gate, they realize the three guards are already dead, one impaled on a spear, another on a spike, and the third with his head twisted around and his body propped against the wall. They escape the castle.
Aboard Stannis’s flagship, men are practicing with a scorpion while Davos and Stannis watch. Davos tells him that if the wind holds, they’ll be at the city within a day. Stannis tells Davos he admires him for having taken an onion as his sigil, as others mocked him as the “onion knight”. Davos says his son wants him to change the arms to something more noble, and then that he understands why the lords look down on him, since he’s the son of a crabber. Stannis wonders where those lords were when Storm’s End starved, and Davos replies many fought bravely for Robert, and others fought bravely for the Mad King. Stannis remarks that Davos was forgotten, as was Stannis, while Ned Stark and Robert Baratheon were the glorious rebels. Stannis held the castle with five hundred men. Davos replies no one had forgotten, but Stannis replies that Robert did, having given the castle to Renly. Stannis lists the animals they ate rather than starve—the horses, the cats (he didn’t like those), the dogs (which he did like, as they’re loyal), and then the rats—but they were desperate at the end, until Davos sailed in with his smuggled onions. Davos notes there were potatoes too, and salte beef. Stannis replies every man in the castle wanted to kiss him, and Davos replies that he’s glad they didn’t. Stannis remarks he was dutiful—he held Storm’s End when Robert told him, he gave it up when Robert told him—but now he’s the lawful king, and when he sits the throne, he means Davos to be his Hand. Overcome, Davos falls to a knee and hopes he serves him well.
At King’s Landing, Joffrey complains that Varys has no new news from the North since Winterfell fell to Theon Greyjoy. He then says that the Starks are distracted and it’s time to strike. Tyrion points out that they’re preparing for a siege, and that Stannis is approaching. Joffrey boldly claims he’ll ride out to greet Stannis, and that he’s heard that his uncle doesn’t smile very much… but half-drawing the dagger at his belt, he means to change that by giving him a red smile before he wanders away to watch the preparations. Varys and Tyrion watch him leave, and Tyrion quips that Varys should imagine Stannis’s terror at Joffrey. Then Tyrion tries to encourage Varys to have an honest conversation with him, and asks him what he wants. Varys says that he should start first, if he wants to play. Tyrion discusses how his brother was the youngest Kingsguard in history, his sister queen at nineteen… but when he came to manhood, his father put him in charge of cleaning the drains and cisterns at Casterly Rock. He did a good job, and since he’s been named acting Hand, he feels he finally has real power. Varys informs him he’s quite good—Stark and Arryn were good and honorable men, but they disdained the game, unlike Tyrion. Tyrion agrees, and wishes he could keep playing it. But if Stannis breaches the gates, the game is over, and Varys notes that Stannis is said to burn his enemies alive to honor the Lord of Light. Tyrion complains about the violence of the gods, and wonders where the gods of “tits and wine” are. Varys replies that in the Summer Islands, they worship a fertility goddess with six tiny teats; Tyrion suggests they should sail there immediately.
Then Varys reveals he’s heard something from Qarth: Daenerys lives, and has three dragons. Tyrion says that she’s the least of his worries at present, and Varys agrees that even if it’s true, it will be years before the dragons are fully grown… and then there’ll be nowhere to hide. Tyrion concludes with, “One game at a time, my friend.”
In Qarth, Daenerys Targaryen hides with Ser Jorah and Kovarro in an abandoned manse in Qarth. Jorah warns her to be careful, and urges her to take the ship he’s found with a good captain, that will take them to Astapor. She refuses to leave “her children”, however. Jorah insists that they aren’t her children—they didn’t come from her womb, they didn’t suckle at her breasts—and she tells him he can go to Astapor to be safe. Ser Jorah swears he will never abandon her, that he’s sworn to protect and serve her, and she replies that he should take her to the House of Undying then. He argues against it, warning against Pyat Pree’s magic, but she asks him what he thinks of her own magic, the magic that saw her step into the flames and live. Jorah swears he’ll never forget the sight of it, even when he’s forgotten his own mother’s face. Daenerys touches his face and insists the dragons are her children… and reveals they are the only children she’ll ever have. She asks Jorah to take her to them.
At Winterfell, Theon wants the bodies buried, but Dagmer believes they should stay up awhile longer as a message. As they walk away from the bodies, Dagmer asks about the bag he’s holding, and he’s revealed it’s gold that he wants to give the farmer for the children he killed. Dagmer tells him that the farmer is past caring, and his wife as well—he had them killed. Luwin is passing by and overhears this, and then when he looks away he spots Osha with bread piled in her arms, sneaking into the crypt. She looks back at him and then disappears into it. He looks back to Theon and Dagmer, who have their backs turned, and then moves to where the bodies hang to look at the legs of the older boy. Later he enters the crypt and speaks with Osha, who reveals they doubled back, thinking the crypts would be the last place Theon looked. Realizing it was the orphan boys who died, Luwin tells her that the boys must never learn, especially Bran, who will blame himself. Osha promises Bran will never learn it from her, as they’ve suffered enough… but what they don’t realize is that Bran is awake, and heard everything.