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Tyrion gains new responsibilities; Jon is taken to the Fist of the First Men; Daenerys meets with the slavers; Jaime strikes a deal with his captors.
The episode opens on a river, as we see a small boat bearing the body of Lord Hoster Tully, Lord of Riverrun. The boat is pushed away into the river by King Robb and his great-uncle, Ser Brynden Tully. They move up to join Catelyn and Talisa, while Robb’s uncle Edmure—the new Lord of Riverrun—prepares to send a fiery arrow after the boat to set it alight. He misses three times, to the distress of onlookers, and the Blackfish moves him out of the way and takes over to do the job properly. He pushes his nephew aside roughly in doing so. Judging the wind and drawing back the bow, he lets loose… and doesn’t even watch to see where the arrow falls when he throws the bow back to Edmure. The boat burns after the arrow finds it.
At Riverrun, Edmure attempts to speak to Robb—whom he names nephew—about a situation he encountered with a lieutenant at the Stone Mill. His uncle stops him and tells him to shut up about the folly that was Stone Mill, and reminds him that Robb is his king and not just his nephew. It becomes clear that the events at Stone Mill, in which Edmure attacked Ser Gregor Clegane’s garrison and forced him to retreat to Casterly Rock, is a point of contention. Edmure says that other battles have to be won, and that there’s glory enough for everyone, but Robb cuts him off. It wasn’t about glory, he says, and that Edmure had been instructed to wait for Clegane to move against him. Edmure argues that he seized an opportunity.
To that, Robb wonders what value the Stone Mill had, and it’s clear it had no specific strategic value. Instead Edmure succeeded in driving Clegane back… but Robb’s intention had been to draw him forward into the west of the riverlands, where they could surround and destroy him and his forces. Robb had wanted Clegane to chase after him, judging Clegane was a mad dog without a strategic thought in his head, and that he would have killed him by now.
To that, Edmure can only respond that they did take hostages, including young Willem and Martyn Lannister. Robb notes he hasn’t sued for peace because his sisters are hostages, and Tywin won’t sue for peace because his “father’s brother’s great-grandsons” are hostages. Then Robb asks about losses. Edmure admits they lost 208 men, but Clegane lost multiple men for every one. Robb cuts him off again and tells him that he needs men more than Tywin does. Edmure apologizes and says he didn’t know, for Robb to tell him that he would have known at this gathering, this day, if he had had patience.
The Blackfish remarks that they seem to be short of patience here, as Edmure is visibly shaken. Robb says that Tywin Lannister isn’t.
Lord Tywin awaits the arrival of the small council, in the person of Grand Maester Pycelle, Littlefinger, and Varys. Behind them enters Tyrion. The councilors move to seat themselves, as Queen Cersei also enters. Cersei takes a seat from the table and moves it her father’s right side, so she may sit with him. Tyrion takes a different tack, dragging a chair away and moving it to the opposite end of the table. Tywin praises the chamber, and the convenience of it being nearer to Tywin’s chambers.
The first order of business is Tywin’s request for news on Jaime, as he has been known to be escaped for weeks. Tywin complains about the silence of the councilors who control more spies than the rest of the world combined, who have not found anything new. Varys says they are trying, and Tywin tells them to try harder. They then move to talk of other news. Varys reveals that Robb has gone to Riverrun, while leaving Lord Bolton in charge of Harrenhal, which would seem to make him Lord of Harrenhal… a remark he adds as a jibe at Petyr Baelish, named Lord of Harrenhal after the Blackwater. Tywin doesn’t care, saying the title matters more than the ruins, and it will make Petyr Baelish a suitable suitor for Lady Lysa Arryn. Littlefinger is grateful, and says she has always been well disposed to him.
Grand Maester Pycelle suggests that this would make Baelish acting Lord of the Vale. Littlefinger quips that titles seem to breed titles. Tywin informs him that Baelish will leave for the Eyrie as soon as possible, and bring the Vale into the fold so that Robb will add his own aunt to the list of people who are against him.
Tyrion notes that there is a problem: the royal wedding is extremely expensive, and the crown’s finances will be left unattended if the master of coin is off to the Vale. Tywin agrees, and reveals that Tyrion is now the master of coin. Cersei seems amused as Tyrion protests that he is better at spending money than saving it, and that a lifetime of fabulous wealth leaves him little qualified. Tywin and Cersei insist.
In the riverlands, Locke and his northmen march while one of them leads them in the song, “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”. Brienne and Jaime are bound and on the same horse. Jaime complains about their being captured, and how he was disadvantaged in the fight against her by his chains and the hard conditions of his imprisonment for a year. Brienne makes light of his excuses, suggesting she had heard all her life the praise of Jaime Lannister… but she suggests that now he may be too old, or perhaps people over-praise a famous name.
Jaime has nothign to say to that. Instead he tells her that when they make camp, she’ll be raped, probably several times. None of those men have ever bedded a noblewoman. He tries to tell her not to resist, but she means to fight, no matter what. He tells her that they’ll kill her if she goes too far in resisting, that he’s the only really valuable prisoner. She wonders if he’d do as he advises if he were a woman, not resist and let them do what they want. Jaime responses that if he were a woman, he’d make them kill him… but thank the gods, he’s not one.
At the inn at the crossroads, Gendry is helping Thoros don a breastplate. He suggests he’d be able to repair it and make it good as new. Thoros doesn’t care, so long as it keeps arrows from his heart. Arya wonders why Gendry is helping them, as they’re prisoners. Thoros says they’re guests and they can walk away if they like… but it’s a dangerous place for Ned Stark’s daughter, and they’re lucky that they found them.
Arya moves away as she hears the Hound being led by the bandits. Sandor complains about Anguy’s bow, calling it a coward’s weapon. Anguy throws jibes back. Then Arya confrotns the Hound, and asks if he remembers the last time he was here. He glances at the inn and says it looks like every other inn on the road. The Hound’s taken away in a wagon, while Hot Pie moves up to Arya and Gendry. He reveals he’s staying, after the innkeep saw how well he bakes. He bakes a gift for Arya, a piece of bread in the shape of a wolf. Gendry and Arya part ways with Hot Pie. As Arya is riding away, she calls back and tells him the bread’s really good.
Catelyn and the Blackfish are at Riverrun, looking over the quiet, peaceful river. She remarks it’s easy to forgetr there’s a war. The Blackfish responds that in most places in the world, absolutely nothing is happening. Catelyn smiles and says that she’s missed him, as did her father the day that Brynden left. She supposes her father may never have told him. Brynden replies that his father was a stubborn old ox, and he was surprised when he died—he didn’t think death had the patience. She tells him that she’s glad that he was there, and wishes she had been.
She wonders if they made peace. Brynden says that after thirty years of fighting, he supposed they didn’t really remember why it started. Hoster did ask him to stop calling himself Blackfish, but Ser Brynden says that he’d been called that for so long that no one remembered his right name. Catelyn looks to the river and recalls how she’d sit every day at the window, waiting for her father to return from battles or journeys, and then wonders how often her sons Bran and Rickon looked from Winterfell for her return. She’s sure she’ll never see them again. Ser Brynden tells her not to think it, that they don’t really know the truth. But Brynden knows how foolish the hopes are, after Catelyn stops him with a glance. In the end, Brynden instead says that Robb believes, and he must keep believing, and that Catelyn must remain strong for him at this time.
Talisa is in a cell at Riverrun, tending to a wound on the arm of young Martyn Lannister. Martyn questions her about Robb, and whether it’s true that he can turn into a wolf at night. She says that’s true. He then asks if Robb eats the flesh of his enemies, and she says this is true as well. But she assures them that Robb doesn’t eat children… unless it’s a full moon. She asks a guard if it’s now a full moon, and the man shakes his head.
The wildlings are now on the Fist of the First Men, surveying the scene. Mance kneels down and remarks, “Always the artists.” We see that the White Walkers cut the Night’s Watch horses into pieces and laid the parts out in a spiral pattern, for unknown reasons.
Jon remarks that it’s only horses: there are no bodies of men. Mance asks him how many men were present, and Jon says about 300. Ygritte notes that Orell reported seeing dead crows… and Orell confirms it, that there had been. Mance says they know what those are now (referring to their becoming wights), and that all men are just meat for the army of the White Walkers. Mance thinks it’s possible Mormont was able to lead some of the men away… but dead or alive, he took a big chance coming beyond the Wall, and he lost. Regardless what happened, he’s now a long way from home.
Mance turns and tells Tormund to scale the Wall, to take Orell and twenty men, and to take Jon as well. Tormund’s glad to go to war at last. He means for Tormund to attack Castle Black when Mance gives the signal, with the idea of getting the gates opened. Orell will send his eagle above the wall every night, and when Mance is ready he’ll light “the biggest fire the North has ever seen”.
At Craster’s keep, the surviving men of the Watch march in wearily. Sam sees Ghost at a distance, calling to the direwolf, but the wolf turns and goes. Craster awaits the Watch at his door step and only gives them very grudging entry into his home after looking at so many armed men outside, realizing that in their desperation they may well attack him.
Inside the keep, a woman is noisly giving birth. Above the Night’s Watch men, eating gruel, are others of Craster’s wives and daughters who are looking down on them. Craster tells the men to keep their eyes to themselves, and informs him that he would have turned them all the way if he weren’t a godly man. Mormont questions that, but Craster insists he has no fear of what’s out there, that he’s right with the gods—the real gods. Craster then tells one of his older wives to tell the girl giving birth to be quieter or he’ll beat her. He remarks how he’s seen a pig give a birth to a litter of eight with barely a grunt.
Then he notes that the pig is almost as fat as Samwell, and suggests that they should eat him, calling him a “walking feast”. Samwell, ashamed and angry, walks out as Craster laughs.
Samwell moves on to the small hut where the birthing is taking place, and sees Gilly straining. She glances away and sees him briefly, before the final push… and the word that the child is a boy. Gilly is in tears.
In the North, Theon is still strapped to the cross in the mysterious dungeon. The boy arrives and frees him, helping him to his feet as he collapses from what’s been done to him. The youth tells Theon that he has to ride if they have a chance, and Theon crawls to put on a tunic and insists he’ll be able to ride.
Outside the dungeon, the youth gives him a horse and tells him to ride east, that his sister is waiting for her. Theon promises to make him a lord in the Iron Islands, and the youth replies that they aren’t there. Theon rides off into the night.
At Dragonstone, Stannis complains that Melisandre—approaching a boat being prepared for her—won’t tell him where she’s going. She says it’s because she doesn’t know where she’s going yet, nor for how long, but she trusts the fires will show her. Stannis grabs her and insists she’s abandoning him, but she denies it. He tells her that his enemies are laughing at him, thinking him destroyed. He wants Joffrey and Robb Stark dead… and asks her for another shadowy son. She says he can’t, he hasn’t the strength and it would kill him.
Stannis pulls her close and says he wants her… and then pulls away as she smiles and tells him again that his fires burn low. He walks away… and she gives him pause by saying that there is another, better way. He asks how that’s possible, that the magic requires a king’s blood and he is the only true king. She admits he is… but he’s not the only one with his royal blood in their veins. She promises he’ll sit on the Iron Throne, but first there must be sacrifices, as the Lord of Light demands.
In Meereen, Daenerys, Ser Jorah, and Ser Barristan walk the Walk of Punishment where slaves sentenced to death are displayed. Jorah tells her it’s a warning for other slaves. She tries to give water to one of the slaves, but he refuses, wishing his death to be hurried.
Barristan begs Daenerys to leave this terrible place. Jorah asks what she’ll do for soldiers, and Barristan says they’ll be able to find sellswords in Pentos and Myr. Jorah insists that if Daenerys wants the throne, she’ll have to win it, and there’ll be blood on her hands before it’s done. She responds that she wants the blood of enemies, not the blood of innocents.
Asa they follow Daenerys on the walk, Jorah asks how many wars Barristan has fought in. Barristan says three… and then admits, to Jorah’s question, that he’s never seen a war where thousands of innocents were not killed. Jorah reveals he was in King’s Landing after the Sack, and he saw butchery and rape. “There’s a beast in every man, and it stirs when you put a sword in his hand,” he tells her… but the Unsullied are not men, have no lusts to slake, will kill only those she tells them to kill.
Barristan disagrees and tells her that when Rhaegar led his army to the Battle of the Trident, men died for him because they believed in him and loved him, not because they were slaves bought at auction. He tells her he fought beside the last dragon that day, bled beside him. Jorah responds, “Rhaegar fought valiantly, Rhaegar fought nobly, and Rhaegar died.”
Daenerys asks if Barristan knew Rhaegar well. He said he had that honor, and that he was the finest man he ever met. She replies that she wishes that she’d known him… but that Ser Barristan is wrong: Rhaegar was not the last dragon.
Daenerys meets Kraznys and reveals she wishes to buy all the Unsullied. Kraznys says she hasn’t the wealth for it. Missandei clarifies that there are 8,000 Unsullied, and if that’s what Daenerys means by all. Dany confirms it, and tells her that she also wants those who are in training. Master Grazdan, another slaver, refuses to sell the half-trained boys—if they fail in battle, it will shame Astapor. But Daenerys insists, and Kraznys thinks this is foolishness, that she can’t afford so many. He counts through her wealth (including the Dothraki who follow her, whom he values at 3 Unsullied), and supposes that he might very generously give her 123 Unsullied, and wonders how she means to pay for the rest.
Daenerys says she has dragons. She offers one dragon. Jorah and Barristan both go to her, arguing against it, but she stares them down. Kraznys tries to get all three, then two, but Daenerys insists one… but that’s enough. She agrees to trade Drogon for all the Unsullied. She then wants Missandei as well, as an immediate gift. Kraznys agrees.
Jorah and Barristan continue to argue against Daenerys’s decision, that a dragon is worth more than any army. Daenerys thanks them for their advice, but informs them that if they ever question her before others again, they will have to find someone else to advise. Daenerys then leaves them behind as she joins Missandei and asks her name and about her family. Missandei says she has none living.
Daenerys questions her about the Unsullied and their obedience. She insists that they will do exactly as she says, will even fall on their swords if she tells them to. Daenerys then asks about Missandei, if she’s aware that she may become hungry, ill, or even die in following her. “Valar morghulis,” Missandei replies, the High Valyrian phrase. To which Daenerys says yes… but they are not men. Missandei looks at her and smiles.
In King’s Landing, Podrick is recieving the royal ledgers from Ros in Littlefinger’s brothel. Tyrion remarks he’s surprised that they’re here, but Baelish responds it’s the safest place in the city. “Except for bastards,” Tyrion quips. Tyrion ushers Podrick out, and Ros follows. Littlefinger looks after them and comments that he’s heard that Tyrion owes Podrick a significant debt, and should have him knighted. Tyrion says he hasn’t that authority, alas. Then Littlefinger adds he owes a debt to Tyrion as well, for helping to protect Ros from Cersei when she beleved that Ros was his lover. Tyrion says it was a simple misunderstanding: Tyrion admits they slept together once, but that was all. Littlefinger wonders how Cersei came to her erroneous conclusion, and Tyrion supposes that he should ask her that.
Tyrion asks for advice as master of coin, and Littlefinger suggests, “Keep a low profile.” The jape makes Tyrion inform him that he’d be wealthier than Littlefinger if he got a gold dragon for every time he heard that jest. Littlefinger notes that Tyrion is richer, and Tyrion admits it. Then Lord Petyr informs him that once he realizes that it’s all just numbers on paper, and once that’s understood it’s trivial to make them behave. He informs him that a real challenge is whores. Tyrion departs, saying he’s tried a few and tells Baelish to enjoy the Eyrie.
Outside Littlefinger’s chamber, Tyrion finds Bronn chatting with a whore while Podrick waits. They travel through the brothel, Podrick pulling a cart with the ledgers. Bronn promises the girl he’ll be around that night. Tyrion reveals that the history of the Seven Kingdoms is in those ledgers, but Bronn wonders if Littlefinger couldn’t just make all the numbers up—which Tyrion admits might be possible. Then Tyrion addresses Podrick and reveals that after consulting with Bronn, he’s found a suitable reward for Podrick having saved his life. He asks if Podrick has ever been with a woman, and Pod says he hasn’t. Tyrion says this is good…
.... and presents to him three prostitutes, in various states of address, whom are being well-paid to entertain Podrick thoroughly. The last of them is Kayla, far-famed as one of four women who can perform “a proper Meereenese knot”—which seems to relate to some rather extreme contortion. Podrick, overwhelmed, can’t think of what to say. Tyrion tells him they’re there to thank him for being so respectful and never forgetting to call Tyrion “my lord”. Bronn tells Podrick to brace himself as he takes over pulling the cart, while the women begin to undress Pod.
Tyrion is later looking through Littlefinger’s ledgers and tells Bronn that for years he’s heard that Littlefinger is a magician, able to just make money appear. But that’s not true: Littlefinger is simply borrowing money whenever it’s needed, and now they can’t afford to pay it back. The crown owes millions to Tywin, who will never forgive the debt. Bronn says he’s never borrowed money before and doesn’t really know the rules. Tyrion explains it. Bronn then asks what happens if he doesn’t return it, and Tyrion says that that’s why he wouldn’t lend him more money.
But it’s not the debt to Casterly Rock he’s really concerned with, it’s the debt to the Iron Bank of Braavos, which runs to tens of millions. If they are not paid, they will fund the crown’s enemies instead. “One way or the other, they always get their gold back,” he says…
... as Podrick enters. Podrick gives him back the sack of coins he received from Tyrion, and Tyrion complains it was a gift to him, more than he pays Podrick in a year (we then discover that as a squire, Podrick is not paid). But then Podrick reveals it’s not that he failed to enjoy the services of the prostitutes—it’s that they refused to take the money.
Bronn and Tyrion wonder if the prostitutes are looking to curry favor with Tyrion. Podrick reveals he did “lots of things” with them, that they seemed to like it. When Bronn suggests that they’re paid to seem like they like it, Tyrion again notes they aren’t paid. They then conclude that Podrick was so good in bed that they gave them their time in free. Tyrion sits Podrick down, pours out three cups of wine, and asks for copious details.
In the North, Theon is riding alone across the moors, looking around before choosing a route. Then an arrow whistles by, and over a crest he glimpses a number of pursuers on horseback. He races into a forest, trying to get away, but is knocked from horseback. He falls hard to the ground, struggling for breath, as one of the men kicks and beats him. He has the others hold Theon down and pull down his trousers, intending to rape him for having tried to escape. Theon begs… when an arrow flies through the air and plunges into the chest of the man preparing to rape him. He turns and another arrow takes him, and he falls to his knees. More arrows fly, killing the other men.
Walking out of the misty woods as Theon struggles to pull his trousers up is the youth who freed Theon. He walks up to the man on his knees, bow in hand, and casually draws and nocks an arrow. “You little bastard,” the man breathes, before he’s shot in the face and falls dead. Then the youth goes to Theon and offers his hand, helping him up and telling him he’s a long way from home, and winter is coming.
In Locke’s camp, the men are eating and singing. Brienne is bound, waiting anxiously, when Locke arrives with several men. He intends to rape her first, and will then allow his men their turn. Brienne reveals she’s Brienne of Tarth, sworn to Lady Catelyn who commanded her, and Locke says Catelyn is a traitor and his orders are only to keep Jaime alive. She begins to fight and scream, and is beaten by the men as they drag her out into the dark.
Jaime watches in silence, chained to a tree… and then tells Locke that she’s the daughter of Lord Selwyn of Tarth, and the isle is called the Sapphire Isle because all the sapphires in Westeros are mined on Tarth. Jaime suggests that Lord Selwyn would pay Brienne’s weight in sapphires if she’s returned alive and her honor unbesmirched. Locke considers… then calls into the dark after his men, telling them to bring her back. Locke then remarks on “unbesmirched”, a fancy word for a fancy man. Jaime replies that he hated reading, but his father insisted he practice for hours a day before he was allowed to practice with sword or horse. He learned many “fancy words” in the process.
Then Locke asks if Tywin would pay Jaime’s weight in gold for his return. Jaime says he would, that Locke would be a wealthy man to the end of his days, and his sons and their sons will be rich men as well. Jaime then suggests that the North can’t win, that the Lannisters have the numbers and the gold. Locke admits that’s true. Jaime attempts to persuade Locke that fighting for a winning cause is much more rewarding. Locke admits it’s hard to argue with.
Jaime then asks if he needs to be chained from the tree. He isn’t asking to be freed from them—but he’d like to be able to sleep lying down, because he’s not as strong and resilient as he once was. “None of us are,” Locke replies. He has Jaime untied from the tree, and asks if Jaime would like to have something to eat. They help him up as Brienne watches, uncertain, as Jaime is led away to where he might eat a roasted partridge. They come up to a tree stump… and then Jaime is kicked down and placed across it, hand held out.
Locke grabs him and pulls out a big knife, suggesting that Jaime thinks he’s the smartest man there is, and that all he needs to do when he’s in trouble is, “My father,” and all his troubles are gone. Locke presses the knife point at Jaime’s eye, suggesting he’ll take it… but Jaime keeps his mouth shut. He informs Jaime that he’s nothing without his “daddy”, and his father isn’t here. Then he let him go, and turns away…
... only to say as he turns back, knife-hand rising, “Here, this should help you remember,” and chops down with the knife, cutting off Jaime’s right hand. It takes a moment before Jaime, through the shock, begins to scream.
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