Jon is brought before Mance Rayder, the King Beyond the Wall, while the Night’s Watch survivors retreat south. In King’s Landing, Tyrion asks for his reward. Littlefinger offers Sansa a way out. Cersei hosts a dinner for the royal family. Daenerys sails into Slaver’s Bay.
Screams of people and animals open the episode. Then we see Samwell Tarly running in the midst of a snow storm. He sees what he thinks is a seated brother of the Night’s Watch… but when he approaches, he discovers the man is dead and holding his head in his own hands. Then he sees a wight approaching, carrying an ax. It almost kills him, but Ghost rescues him by dragging it away as it scrabbles after him… until someone sets it alight with a torch. It’s Lord Commander Mormont, and the remaining men of the Night’s Watch are gathered with him, bloodied from battle. It’s clear they were overrun at the Fist, and they’re all that’s left. Mormont asks if Samwell was able to get the ravens away—it was his only task—but he shakes his head. Mormont angrily castigates him, and then turns to the others to tell them that they must get to the Wall. It’s a long march, he says, but they must make it to warn the others or the winter will see everyone dead.
Jon is taken by the Lord of Bones and Ygritte to the wildling encampment, which stretches as far as the eye can see. Jon sees a wonder: a huge giant, carrying massive wooden spikes that he beats into the ground with his bare fist. Some of the wildlings are curious, others still are angry and some throw stones at Jon. Ygritte hits one of the boys throwing the rocks, putting an end to their abuse. Ygritte reveals many of the boys with the camp are orphans, often because of the Watch killing their parents. Then they arrive at a tent, and Jon goes within. He enters it and sees a fiercely bearded man eating a whole chicken, with a silent ax-wielding man across from him. The beared man claims he smells a crow, and then wonders why they want a baby crow. Ygritte notes he killed Qhorin Halfhand.
The bearded man says that “halfhanded cunt” killed friends of his, friends twice Jon’s size. Jon replies that his father taught him that big men fall as quick as little men if you place a sword through their hearts. The man replies that many little men have tried to put swords through his heart… and there are plenty of little skeletons buried in the woods. He asks Jon’s name. “Jon Snow,” Jon says… and then after a hesitation, he keneels and adds, “Your Grace.”
This wrings laughter from the man; he tells the others that now they’ll have to kneel every time he farts. Then Mance Rayder himself comes forward, from where he sat off to one side. Mance tells him to stand, that no one kneels beyond the Wall. Mance sends the Lord of Bones and Ygritte away so he can speak with Jon. Mance notices Ygritte’s look, and tells Jon that she likes him. He wonders if she’s why he wants to join. The man says that Jon shouldn’t worry, they won’t make him swear off women like they do in the Watch. Rayder introduces the man as Tormund Giantsbane. Tormund remarks he still can’t believe that Jon, a “pup”, killed Qhorin Halfhand.
Mance says that Qhorin was an enemy, and he’s glad he’s dead… but then he also tells Jon that Qhorin was once his brother, when he still had a whole hand. He asks why Jon was with Qhorin, and Jon reveals that Mormont wanted him to get experience so he could one day lead. Mance suspects Jon could be a spy from Mormont, but Jon denies this. When Mance asks why he wants to join them. Mance suggests that he wants to be free, but Mance refuses to accept it and suggests Jon wants to be a hero, while the ax-man and Tormund loom close as Mance warns him that he’ll give him one last chance.
In the end Jon tells him of having seen a Walker at Craster’s, and that Mormont and the Watch knew about this but did nothing. Mance accepts this, as Jon says that he wants to fight for the side that fights for the living, as the First Men did thousands of years ago when they defeated the Others. He asks if he’s come to the right place, and Mance tells him they’ll have to find him a new cloak.
In King’s Landing, we see urchins playing by the sea before the scene shifts to Littlefinger’s brothel, where Ser Bronn of the Blackwater and a prostitute are enjoying themselves. They’re interrupted by Podrick Payne, who gets threatend by Bronn… until Podrick says that Lord Tyrion sent him, and that it was a matter of life and death.
Tyrion is in his small chamber, taking up an old, dirty mirror to get a better look at the scar across his face. There’s a knock at his door, and when Cersei says she’s at the door, Tyrion moves to look through the grate. He wonders why she has two Kingsguard knights with her, suspicious. She tells him that if she had come to kill him, a wooden door wouldn’t stop her. He tells her she can enter, but the knights must stay outside. Cersei responds that she needs not afraid of him. He grabs hold of an double-bladed ax and opens the door just enough for her to enter… and then shuts it behind her, locking it.
She looks at his face and remarks that she’d heard he’d lost his nose, but it wasn’t really as gruesome as that. Tyrion points out that the man who cut him lost rather more than his nose, to which Cersei replies that that’s good and as it should be, much like with the men who tried to take Joffrey’s head and lost theirs instead thanks to Lord Tywin’s timely arrival. Tyrion bristles at this, and then notes it wasn’t a rebel who tried to kill him. Cersei is dismissive, instead noting his new chambers are a come down from the chambers of the Hand… but then he doesn’t need much room; Tyrion notes Pycelle made the same joke, and supposes Cersei must be quite proud to be as funny as a man “whose balls brush his knees.”
Cersei then reveals that she knows Tyrion will be meeting with Tywin. He asks how she knows, and she suggests it’s because of her hundreds of spies, or because Varys owes her favors… or the truth: Tywin told her. She wants to know he reason for this meeting, and what Tyrion wants from him. Tyrion suggests that he doesn’t need to want something to want to see his father… but Cersei is doubtful. Tyrion finally admits that Tywin never once visited him while he was convalescing. Cersei then indicates that her concern is that Tyrion means to slander her, as he once did when Tyrion told Tywin that Cersei had guards beat a servant girl when Cersei and the servant were both nine.
Tyrion persists that she did, in fact, have the girl beaten. Tyrion recalls that the girl lost an eye from that beating… and Cersei responds that as she recalled, the girl never stole a necklace again. In the end, Tyrion says that it’s not slander if it’s true, and Cersei wants to know what the “truth” he means to tell Tywin is. She wants to know what lies Tyrion means to tell about him and Joffrey.
Cersei warns Tyrion that he’s very clever, but not half as clever as he thinks. Tyrion replies that that still makes him more clever than Cersei.
Outside the chamber, Bronn arrives and mocks the knights of the Kingsguard standing outside. Bronn introduces himself as Ser Bronn of the Blackwater. Meryn Trant tells him he’s no knight, but Podrick informs him that Tywin himself raised Bronn to knighthood. Trant merely says that he’s an upjumped sellsword, nothing more. Bronn admits that that is exactly who he is… but that Trant is a “grub in fancy armor who’s better at beating little girls than fighting men.” Bronn moves forward to meet Tyrion, and the Kingsguard block his way. They’re about to draw weapons when Cersei departs.
Bronn and Tyrion are then walking the walls—busy with workers making repairs following the battle—with Podrick in tow. Bronn wants to know why Tyrion summoned him, and Tyrion says that he’s here to protect him from those who want to kill him. Tyrion wonders if Bronn is bored of protecting him, to which Bronn claims he grows poor, something Tyrion doubts given his knighthood and his having commanded the City Watch. Bronn counters that he only commanded them for a brief time (having been relieved of that command by Tywin). Bronn claims his pockets are empty because he has a taste for finer things now. If Tyrion wants his services, he’ll have to pay more. They’re friends, Bronn says, but he’s a sellsword and he doesn’t loan it out. He wants double the pay… and Tyrion says he doesn’t really know what he’s paying Bronn now. Bronn notes that that means Tyrion can afford it.
Ser Davos is sunburned, hungry, and thirsty on a small rock in the middle of the sea. In the distance he spies a ship, and desperately calls for its attention, waving his shirt and shouting for help. He almost gives up hope when a horn sounds on it and it slowly begins to turn.
A launch from the boat arrives, and a sailor asks who Davos is. Davos says he fought in the battle, and was a captain and knight. The sailor asks which king Davos served. Davos knows that the answer might mean his death… but he answers that he served Stannis. A pause, and then the sailor smiles and Stannis is brought on to the boat.
Below deck of a ship, Davos and Salladhor Saan are reunited. Salladhor says they all thought him dead. He then asks after Davos’s son, and Davos says he did not survive—he saw the wildfire take him. Salladhor gives his condolences, and says he has lost a son as well. Then Salladhor says Davos was a good father, but Davos denies it—if he were a good father, his son would still be alive. Davos then asks after Stannis, and Saan replies that Stannis licks his wounds on Dragonstone.
Davos asks to be taken there, but Salladhor says that there is nothing for him on Dragonstone. For him, the war is over. Davos persists they’re sworn to Stannis, but Saan retorts that he’s sworn to no man. He promised thirty ships in return for riches and glory, which he never received. Davos argues that Stannis will never give up, but Saan doesn’t care: Stannis is a broken man, his fleet is at the bottom of Blackwater Bay, and he will see no one; not his generals, not his wife, only Melisandre who whispers in his ear, telling him what she sees in the flames… and burning men alive.
Saan reveals that when Stannis returned, Melisandre had a great fire made and any man who spoke against her was killed. They say she sang to them as they burned. A troubled Saan goes on to say that he’s a pirate, Davos is a smuggler, and that they are men who serve darkness; Dragonstone is a place they should avoid. Davos begs Saan to take him there. He can’t turn Stannis against Melisandre, perhaps, but he can cut her heart out. Salla says he could try, but whether he fails or suceeds, he will be burned. He suggests that Davos has only just come back to life, and may want to live a little longer.
Davos urges Salladhor to help him, saying that they are friends and that they drank wine together at his wedding day… to which Saan replies that Davos drink wine with him at four of his weddings, but he doesn’t ask Davos for favors. Davos persists, begging him. Salladhor finally says that when Davos is dead, he will gather Davos’s bones in a little sack and let his widow wear them around her neck.
The long train of the northern host approaches Harrenhal. Robb Stark is advised by Roose to set the siege lines a thousand yards away, but Robb believes there’ll be no siege as the Mountain won’t defend a ruin. Roose says that he images the Mountain would defend whatever Lord Tywin told him to defend… but Robb notes the Lannisters have deliberately avoided fighting him ever since Oxcross. He and his men would love a fight, but they’ve been denied that and he doesn’t believe that will change.
Inside Harrenhal there is an abattoir. Over two hundred northmen prisoners have been murdered when Clegane abandoned the seat. Roose Bolton and Rickard Karstark stand side by side, looking at it all. Roose says that the debt will be repaid, for them and for his sons. Rickard questions it, saying they’re rotting in the ground while their killer—Jaime Lannister—roams free… and he does so while looking at Catelyn Stark as she sees the slaughter. Roose says he won’t be free for long, as he has one of his best hunters after them.
Catelyn moves among the dead and then recognizes Ser Jeremy Mallister, one of her father’s vassals. Rickard Karstark leaves angrily, while Roose slowly follows. The northmen watch him, staring, and Robb commands that Catelyn be taken to a chamber that will serve as a cell. Talisa comes up to Robb as Catelyn is carried away, and reminds him that she’s his mother. To this, Robb replies that she freed Jaime; the Lannisters robbed them of their sons and she robbed them of their justice. Just then, one of the men on the ground coughs, still alive. He wears robes like a maester’s, but has no chain. Talisa tends to him as he reveals his name is Qyburn. Talisa says he’s lucky to be alive… and he asks, wearily, “Lucky?”
Tywin Lannister is writing a letter—something to do with commanding foragers to collect supplies—while leaving his son Tyrion waiting on him until he’s done. He ignores his son as Tyrion tries to make conversation. Tyrion says he was happy to be Hand of the King, and to this Tywin replies he knows how happy he was: he brought a whore into his bed. Tyrion replies that it was his own bed at the time. His father goes on to say he sent him to advise the king, to wield power and authority, and Tyrion chose to bed harlots and drink with thieves.
Tywin then wants to know what Tyrion wants. Tyrion protests that he may want to just see his father… his father who never visited him. Tywin notes Pycelle assured him the wounds were not fatal. Tyrion then goes on to say he organized the defense while Tywin was in Harrenhal, he led the foray when Joffrey quivered in fear behind the walls, that he bled in the mud… and as his reward he was shoved into a cell. He wants gratitude, that’s what he wants.
Tywin notes that jugglers and singers require applause. Tyrion is neither: he is a Lannister. Tywin did not demand roses when he suffered a wound on a battlefield. He has seven kingdoms to look after, and three are in open rebellion. He again asks what Tyrion wants. Tyrion finally says he wants what is his: Casterly Rock, as Jaime is a Kingsguard and cannot inherit.
Tywin instead says he’ll find him appropriate accomadations for his name and as a reward for his accomplishments at the battle. He also promises him a good position, suitable for his talents, when the time is right. And if he serves faithfully, he’ll be given a suitable wife as a reward… but then finishes that he’d let himself be consumed by maggots before mocking the family name and making Tyrion heir to Casterly Rock.
Tyrion, wounded, asks why. Tywin angrily questions how he can ask why, he who killed his own mother to come int o the world. He says that Tyrion is ill-made, spiteful, envious, lustful, and filled with low cunning. The laws of men give him the right to wear his colors and use his name because he cannot prove Tyrion is not his son, and Tywin suggests that the gods have inflicted Tyrion on him to teach him humility. But neither gods nor men will compel him to let Tyrion turn Casterly Rock into a whorehouse.
He then dismisses Tyrion, telling him never to speak of his rights to Casterly Rock…. and then calls after him that the next whore he finds inT yrion’s bed he’ll have hanged.
Sansa and Shae sit on a dock, watching ships sailing away from King’s Landing. Sansa identifies one as going to Dorne, to carry silk there and bring back wine. Sansa glances away to see that a Lannister guard is at his post, watching her, and then she goes on to say the ship won’t return because the captain is tired of risking his life so that lords and ladies can drink good wine. He’ll stay in Dorne, she says, where it’s beautiful and warm… to which Shae replies she’s met people in Dorne who weren’t so beautiful and warm.
Sansa testily replies that Shae is ruining the game. Shae doesn’t want to play, she replies, but Sansa insists and points out another ship. Shae says it’s going to Volantis, and when Sansa asks the reason for it, Shae replies it’s because when she herself was on a ship in Volantis, it looked like that ship. Sansa, annoyed, says that the game entails inventing a story about where the ship is going and why. Shae wonders why she should make something up when she knows the truth, to which Sansa replies, “Because the truth is always either terrible or boring.”
Just then Littlefinger arrives with Ros in tow. Littlefinger asks to speak with Sansa alone, and Shae moves back up the dock to join Ros. Littlefinger informs Sansa that he’s seen Catelyn recently and that she’s eager to see her. Then he mentions Arya, as well, and Sansa assumes that Arya is alive due to this. She then says he hasn’t helped her to get home, as he promised, but he says she claimed home was King’s Landing. She’s property of the crown, and if he stole her away—But she insists she’ll never say anything, because she’s a terrible liar. She begs him to tell her what she needs to do and when she can go. Littlefinger reveals he may soon be given a task to take him far away from the city. When he sets sail, he may be able to take her if she’s ready to leave at a moment’s notice.
As they speak, Ros and Shae speak as well. Ros reveals she helps manage Littlefinger’s affairs. Shae says Baelish is an important person, and Ros replies that Sansa is as well, revealing that when Sansa was born the bells rang from sunrise to sunset. Ros remarks she and Shae have done rather well, given where they started. Shae asks where that is… to which Ros replies it’s not easy for girls like them to dig their way out. But then she tells Shae to watch out for Sansa. Shae says she always does. After a moment, as Littlefinger is returning, Ros adds quietly that Shae should watch out for Sansa with Baelish.
A dragon flies above the water towards a ship carrying Dany and Jorah. Drogon flies by, and Viserion and Rhaegal swoop above the ship as well as Drogon then dives into the water to catch a fish. He hovers in mid-air, tosses the fish up into the air, burns it, and swallows it in a few bites. Jorah remarks that the dragons are growing, but Daenerys says they’re not growing fast enough and she needs an army. To this Jorah replies that they’ll be in Astapor by nightfall, and some say the Unsullied are the greatest soldiers in the world. Daenerys replies that they are the greatest slave soldiers, a distinction that matters to some.
Jorah wonders if any of those people have better ideas for how to put Dany on the Iron Throne. Daenerys decides she’d rather not argue. Then they hear a man vomitting, and they go to see the Dothraki on the deck of the ship, looking ill and afraid. Daenerys says they’re the only Dothraki to cross the poison water. If she can find more, a true khalasar—Jorah cuts her off, saying that the Dothraki follow strength, and she can only gain a true khalsar when she proves herself strong.
Davos arrives at Dragonstone and is ushered into the Chamber of the Painted Table. A brooding Stannis, staring out at sea as Melisandre stands by him, glances at him and then says he heard that Davos was dead. Davos says he’s not dead yet, and that he hoped to speak with Stannis alone… but Stannis says they are alone, and Melisandre stays in place. Davos urges Stannis to continue fighting—Stannis says he is—and Davos asks if burning prisoners alive is fighting. Melisandre asks how Davos would punish infidels, to which he replies that if he judged men by the gods they followed, he’d have thrown Melisandre into the sea before she set foot on the island.
Melisandre tells Davos that she’s not his enemy, and Davos argues otherwise. Melisandre questions if she’s the one that fought on the Blackwater, if she’s the one who set the ships ablaze. She points out she wasn’t there when the wildfire killed thousands. She could have saved them, she claims, but she wasn’t there because Davos convinced Stannis to leave her behind. Stannis stands then, moving to look at the sea. Melisandre then asks Davos if he hears them screaming, crying for their mothers and their gods until the Blackwater swallowed them.
She tells Davos not to despair—death by fire is the purist death. Davos draws his dagger and tries to attack her then, when Stannis’s guards grab hold of him. Stannis orders him placed into a cell, and he’s dragged away as Davos begs for Stannis to hear him, that she’ll destroy them all. Melisandre calls afterward that she’ll pray for him.
Two litters are being carried through the city. Three knights of the Kingsguard, led by Meryn Trant, head the procession while there are others behind. Then one of the litters is stopped at the command of the occupant, to the surprise of the Kingsguard. Joffrey, too, is surprised in his litter. He asks why they’re stopped, and he’s informed that Lady Margaery has called for a stop. She and her companion exit their litter, but the companion says they should have guards. Margaery asks why, and then bumps into a grim-faced commoner who stares at her. She asks his pardon and moves on.
The smallfolk watch her go by, while her companion frets about her dress. Coming to a building with a seven-pointed star, Margaery enters. Meryn Tranta asks Joffrey if he wishes to speak with her, but Joffrey—clearly nervous about the smallfolk—says no.
Margaery sits in what seems to be an orphange run by the Faith, hearing the story of a child of how his father was a soldier who died fighting on the walls, while his mother died giving birth to him. Margaery tells him her father helped stop them. From another companion, she receives a toy knight which she give to the boy as a gift. He says his own father was not a knight, just a soldier—but Margaery responds that knights swear to protect the weak and uphold the good, and that’s what his father did as well. Another child acknowledges that his father, too, died fighting in the defense of the city.
Margaery informs the children that their fathers saved the city under the leadership of King Joffrey, and she promises they’ll be taken care of as her ladies hand out more toys as well as food. Margaery departs but tells the septa overseeing the orphanage that whatever she needs to clothe or feed them, she can come directly to her and she’ll see to it.
That evening, Loras and Margaery wait in a dining room. Joffrey and Loras arrive, and Joffrey apologies for being late due to council business. Joffrey compliments her gown, which Cersei agrees with, though she suggests she must be quite cold. Margaery replies that Highgarden has a more pleasant climate. Joffrey suggests calling for a shawl, but Margaery notes that the Tyrells have quite warm blood. Margaery tehn points out Cersei’s own gown, with its embroidery and metalwork. Cersei suggests that some armor will be of use when she becomes queen… and perhaps before, noting that she’s aware of Margaery’s visit to Flea Bottom as they returned from the sept.
Margaery says she stopped at an orphange the High Septon informed her of. Loras notes that Margaery works with the poor in Highgarden. His sister says that the lowest are no different from the highest, if given a chance and approached with an open heart… but Cersei says an open heart is what she’ll get in Flea Bottom, reminding them that they had been attacked there during the riot and Joffrey barely escaped with his life. An annoyed Joffrey immediately dismisses her remarks, saying she exaggerates as she grows older, and that their loves were not in danger. Cersei says he’s right, but then he is his father’s son and they cannot all have a king’s bravery. The Tyrells exchange a look.
Margaery then says that she has been glad that the Tyrells have helped with alleviating the hunger in the city. A hundred wagons arrive daily filled with food, and the Tyrells see it as their duty to help. Joffrey sounds pleased and says he’s sure Margaery knows what she is doing, given her experience.
Daenerys looks at the slaver city of Meereen from her ship, the golden harpy looming large above a tower.
Kraznys, a slaver, speaks with Daenerys (with Jorah in tow) in the low Valyrian of the Ghiscari cities. His slave, Missandei, translates what he says. He informs her that the Unsullied have stood for a day and a night without food, but they will stand until they drop. Daenerys asks questions, but Missandei translates them with additional observations for her master. Kraznys is dismissive and hurried, but Missandei provides diplomatic answers to all questions. The Unsullied are said to be fearless, which Jorah doubts. Kraznys then demonstrates by cutting the nipple from one of the Unsullied; the eunuch slave-soldier does not even flinch.
Kraznys proceeds to reveal that the Unsullied earn their shields by going to a slave market, paying silver for a baby, and killing it before the eyes of the mother. Daenerys , disgusted, asks if they pay the mother this silver. Kraznys dismissively says that the silver is for her owner, whose property the baby was. Daenerys pauses and then asks how many there are to sell… and Kraznys says there are eight thousand available. Kraznys tells her that she has until tomorrow to decide how many she wishes to buy.
“Eight thousand dead babies,” Daenerys says to Jorah as they walk by the docks of the city. Jorah says they are a means to an end. Then Daenerys asks what she will be if she owns slaves, to which Jorah replies by asking if she believes their lives will be better with Kraznys than with her. An urchin girl watches, playing with a ball, and runs off when they continue to walk…. and behind, a black, hooded figure follows. Jorah proceeds to argue that she will make sure that they are properly fed and led, unlike Kraznys. Just then, the urchin child stops in front of them and rolls the wooden ball she’s playing with toward Daenerys.
Dany picks it up. The girl mimes twisting it open, and Daenerys starts to do so when the black, hooded figure—an old, bearded man—slams into her and knocks the ball away while holding a dagger. Jorah grabs at him, pulling him back. Dany, on the ground, stares at the ball as it opens and out comes a strange, insect-like creature—a basilisk, scorpion-tailed with something vaguely like a face. I charges at Daenerys, when the stranger’s dagger plunges through it.
The urchin watches from a distance, and makes a strange sound as you realize it has blue lips. The man chases after her, but she plunges off the docks… and disappears from sight. The man turns, and the urchin is now standing at a distance, looking down at Daenerys before walking away. Daenerys realizes that the warlocks were behind this.
Then turning to the stranger, Daenerys says she owes him her life. “The honor was mine, my queen,” the man says, pulling back his hood to reveal his face. Jorah recognizes him and informs her that he is one of the greatest fighters Westeros has ever seen, and Lord Commander of Robert’s Kingsguard. He steps forward and informs them that Robert is dead, and that he has searched for Daenerys to ask her forgiveness. He tells her he failed to protect her family as he swore to do. He kneels before her and says, “I am Barristan Selmy, Kingsguard to your father. Allow me to join your Queensguard, and I will not fail again.” He bows his head as Daenerys is visibly overwhelmed by his fealty, and perhaps by the fact that he knew her family personally.