In Braavos, Arya sees the Many-Faced God. In King’s Landing, Queen Margaery enjoys her new husband. Tyrion and Varys walk the Long Bridge of Volantis.
In the House of Black and White, a dark, cavernous hall features statues and idols of many gods (some with worshippers prostrate before them), braziers ringing the hall’s sides, and a still, dark pool at its center. Jaqen H’ghar sits there with a man, and dips a bowl into the water before offering the bowl. The man takes it, says in a shaken voice, “Valar morghulis,” and Jaqen replies, “Valar dohaeris”. Arya Stark, sweeping the floors, looks on from a distance. After the man drinks, he moves to kneel before the statue of the Weeping Lady of Lys.
Arya puts aside her broom and approaches Jaqen. She tells him that she’s been there for days now, and has done nothing but sweep floors. “Good,” Jaqen replies. Frustrated, she says she didn’t come to sweep floors, and Jaqen wonders why she came to the House of Black and White. She responds that he had promised she could become his apprentice and could be taught how to become a Faceless Man. Jaqen stands, responding that he has taughher: “Valar dohaeris,” he repeats, saying all men must serve… but Faceless Men must serve most of all. He starts to walk away from her and she follows, saying she wants to serve.
Jaqen casts doubts on her aims: she means to serve herself, he thinks, and in the temple they serve the Many-Faced God. To serve him well, Jaqen adds, one must become no one. Arya asks which of the deities in the chamber is the Many-Faced God: she sees the Stranger, the Drowned God, a weirwood face for the old gods. Jaqen responds there’s just one god—whose name Arya knows, and whose gift all men know. He leaves her then. She turns her attention to the side, where the man from before now lies dead on the ground, eyes open and staring at nothing.
Double doors are one end of the hall open, and two servants of the temple come with a stretcher to bear the corpse away. Arya asks a passing serving girl, carrying a bucket, where they’re taking him, but she is ignored and is left alone with the idols of the gods and the worshippers still living.
In King’s Landing, bells sound as King Tommen and Margaery approach the Great Sept of Baelor in a wedding train, escorted by the Kingsguard, Lannister guardsmen, and the City Watch as they ride in a great litter. Lining the way are kingslanders cheering them on, and it is clear that Margaery is well-loved. Cersei, in a separate litter, seems trepiditious. Inside the sept itself, as the vows come to an end and the newly-wed royalty kiss to the cheers of the crowd, Cersei’s wears a stony, fixed smile on her lips and applauds with forced enthusiasm.
Later, in the king’s bedroom, Margaery and Tommen enjoy their wedding night, panting for breath after their exertions. As Margaery rolls to her side to face him, he asks if he hurt her. She says no, that he was lovely. He then remarks that it happened so fast, and she chuckles as she agrees. Again he asks if he hurt her, because of the noises she was making, but she denies it. Caressing his brow, she says he’s the sweetest king who ever lived.
Tommen then proclaims that that’s what he wants to do all day for the rest of his life. Margaery laughs again, and suggests it’d be glorious. Tommen reaches to kiss her and she forestalls him, suggesting they should rest a little to catch their breath, reminding him there’s no rush. Tommen asks if she needs food or drink, and she says no. Instead, she says she wants to learn everything there is to know about “King Tommen, First of His Name”. He says “King Tommen” sounds strange, and then asks her if “Queen Margaery” sounds strange to her. Margaery looks down and there’s a moment before she claims it sounds very strange… “Husband.” “Wife,” he replies, and both laugh.
Then Tommen says it feels odd being king and marrying the most beautiful woman in the world, all because Joffrey died. Margaery tells him not to blame himself and not feel any guilt. “I don’t feel guilty. That’s what’s odd,” he replies. Then sitting up in bed, he asks her if she loves to sail, and they discover a shared interest. Margaery remarks that she thinks they’ll both be very happy together, and kisses him. Then she turns to put on a robe over her nakedness, while Tommen watches. She moves to a sideboard to pour wine as she remarks how they live in a tower so high it touches the cloud.
Then, she adds, Lady Olenna couldn’t wait to go home. The city isn’t for everyone, and that makes her wonder if Cersei likes it in King’s Landing. Tommen doesn’t think so, as she told him never to trust anyone in the city. Margaery says it’s wonderful that Cersei is there watching over him, “a lioness guarding her cub”, and Tommen interjects that he’s a man. Margaery agrees, as she brings him a glass of wine, and adds that he’s the king. But, she then says, he’ll always be Cersei’s baby boy. Tommen does not sound enthused when he says he supposes that’s true.
Margaery claims that she adores Cersei because she’s always been so generous and kind to her, and then says that all the losses she’s faced—her husband, her eldest son, her father—that it’s no surprise she’s so protective of Tommen. Tommen is left very thoughtful when she claims Cersei will never let him out of her sight.
The next day, Tommen and Cersei walk arm-in-arm on the walls of the Red Keep. Cersei tells her son that he seems very much in love with Margaery, and suggests the first days of marriage are often blissful. As they are followed by Kingsguard and Lannister guards, she remarks Margaery is pretty like a doll, noting that she smiles a lot. However, she asks if he thinks Margaery is intelligent, because she can’t quite tell; Tommen is silent and clearly uncomfortable. Then he asks her if she misses Casterly Rock, and Cersei replies that there’s nothing for her there. Tommen stops and turns, saying that it’s where she grew up, and after all, she always claimed she liked the people there better, that King’s Landing smelled of “horse dung and sour milk”.
Cersei laughs and then asks why they’re speaking of Casterly Rock. The king responds that the way she spoke of it, he thought she missed it and that it was her real home. Cersei insists King’s Landing is her real home, as it’s where her family lives. Tommen says to her that he wants her to be happy, and Cersei says she knows. Tommen asks if she wouldn’t be happier in Casterly Rock, and Cersei looks at him thoughtfully.
Then we see Cersei with her guards approaching Margaery’s rooms, as Margaery regales her handmaidens with the story of Tommen’s eagerness the night before, involving her suggesting to him that “four times” was enough for one night while the women titter. She asked if he meant to set a record, and the king allegedly responded by asking what the record is because he was sure they could break it. The laughter comes to a stop and the handmaidens stand and curtsy when Cersei enters. Margaery greets her by calling her “Mother”, and welcomes Cersei with a hug. Cersei says she looks lovely, that marriage agrees with her.
Margaery asks if they can bring any food or drink for her, and then casually remarks that she wishes they had wine for her, but it’s a bit early for her and her companions. Cersei keeps a fixed smile on her face and then says she doesn’t intend to stay. She informs Margaery that she merely wanted to let her know that if she could ever help for her—Margaery says she’s very sweet. Cersei replies that Tommen seems taken with her, and Margaery responds that she adores him and tells Cersei she raised a “gallant young man”.
Cersei says it’s good that they’re happy. Margaery says she’s ecstatic—and then, with a confidential tone of voice, she adds she’s exhausted as well; to the laughter of her handmaidens she suggests she could have expected no less, Tommen being half lion and half stag. Cersei tells her she’ll leave her to it, and starts to leave when Margaery stops her and asks for her help over protocol: is Cersei now “queen mother” or is she “dowager queen”? Cersei stares at her, and then says there’s no need for such formalities. Margaery informs her that with Tommen’s enthusiasm, the queen mother may soon be queen grandmother. “Won’t that be a lovely day,” Cersei responds. As Margaery starts to imagine the celebrations, Cersei steps close and reminds her that she can come to her for anything she needs.
Margaery smiles at that, and as Cersei withdraws… and then she turns to her handmaidens, who all titter with laughter at her smirk. Cersei’s expression is furious as she leaves.
In the North, a Bolton troop rides to Winterfell, where workers are busily restoring the castle. Reek walks across a yard, carrying a dead chicken and then he stops, staring as the flayed bodies of a man and a woman are strung up by Bolton soldiers, flies hovering around the bloody, skinless corpses. Reek looks away and then leaves, but not before more flayed bodies are evident in a cart.
In Winterfell’s hall, Roose Bolton tells his son that terror alone won’t hold the north for them. As they speak, Reek prepares their meal and takes it to the table. Ramsay replies to his father that they can’t hold the North if they allow lesser lords to insult them, to which Roose replies that he sent him to collect taxes, not bodies. Ramsay points out Lord Cerwyn refused to pay, that the Warden of the North would always be a Stark, and that he’d never kiss a traitor’s boots. Roose considers that and then supposes Ramsay really did not have a choice. Ramsay takes meat from the plate Reek offers as he informs his father that he flayed Lord Cerwyn alive, as well as his wife and brother, while having Cerwyn’s son watch. Roose asks what the result was, and Ramsay says between mouthfuls that the new Lord Cerwyn paid his taxes.
Roose tells his son to stop eating, that he has something important to tell him. He points out that they don’t have enough men if the other northern houses turn against them. Ramsay protests that the pact with the Lannisters should deal with that, but Roose replies he had a pact with Tywin Lannister, and Tywin is dead. He notes the rest of the Lannisters are far away dealing with the effects of Tywin’s death, and besides, never once in history has a Lannister army gone to the North. He concludes that if Ramsay believes they’ll help the Boltons, he’s a fool.
Going on, Roose suggests that they’ve become a great house by making alliances and turning those alliances into power for themselves. Then, he says, the best way to make an alliance isn’t flaying, it’s marriage. He stands and tells Ramsay that now that he is legitimized, it’s time for him to find a suitable bride… and as it happens, he’s found “the perfect girl”. Reek listens to it all.
Near Moat Cailin, Sansa and Littlefinger ride with their escort. The two dismount and Littlefinger takes Sansa’s hand and leads her to look into the swamp before them. Sansa recognizes Moat Cailin, sitting in control of the passage through the Neck into the North. Littlefinger says it’s a bit shabby in appearance, and remarks she’s been there before. Sansa admits she has, when she came south with her father and Arya. Sansa asks where Littlefinger is taking her, and when he says home, she responds that the Boltons hold Winterfell. Littlefinger nod.
It dawns on Sansa that the marriage proposal Littlefinger spoke of was not for him. Baelish admits it, and angrily Sansa tells him that Roose Bolton murdered her brother and betrayed her family. Littlefinger admits it. She presses the point that he serves the Lannisters. “For now,” Littlefinger says. Sansa refuses to go, and Littlefinger insists that Winterfell is her home. In the face of Sansa’s denial, he tells her it will always be her home, that she’ll always be a Stark—eldest surviving child of Ned and Catelyn Stark—regardless of how she dies her hair. Tearfully Sansa shouts that she can’t marry Roose Bolton: he’s a traitor and murderer.
And Littlefinger informs her that she won’t be marrying Roose, but instead his son and heir, Ramsay. He lets her know that one day he’ll be Warden of the North, but Sansa refuses him even as he speaks, insisting he can’t make her marry against her will. Sansa swears she’ll starve herself and die before she has to go to Winterfell. Littlefinger grabs her, holding her shoulders and tells her that he’ll never force her to do anything, that she should know how much he cares for her.
He offers to turn the horses around and return to the Vale at her word, but he insists she listen as he tells her that she’s run all her life, that terrible things have happened to the Starks and he knows she weeps alone in rooms for their fates. “You’ve been a bystander to tragedy since the day they executed your father,” he tells her. “Stop being a bystander, do you hear me? Stop running.” Then, putting a hand to the side of her face, he tells her there’s no justice in the world, not unless they make it for themselves. He tells her that she loved her family, and it’s for her to avenge them. He kisses her brow, squeezes her shoulders, and leaves her alone. Sansa watches him go, full of nerves.
She looks down at Moat Cailin . . . and after a long moment, she seems determined, joining him with the escort, mounting her horse, and riding on down the causeway leading to the North. And on a distant cliff, watching them, are Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne, both on horseback. Podrick wonders how they’ll get through there, and Brienne says they don’t as she turns her horse around as she says they’ll go around the Neck. Podrick protests that it will take them far out of the way, and they’ll lose sight of them, but Brienne says it doesn’t matter because she knows where they’re going.
Later, as Podrick sits polishing Brienne’s boots, Brienne asks him if he’s not getting to be too old to be a squire. Podrick doesn’t answer, but when she asks how he came to squire for the Imp, he responds: “He hates that nickname.” Brienne doesn’t care, and accepts the polished boot from him as Podrick explains that he had squired for a knight called Ser Lorimer during the War of the Five Kings. One night, he goes on, Lorimer got drunk, was famished, and “borrowed” a ham. Brienne seems dubious, but Podrick insists he wasn’t a thief, he was simply drunk and hungry. Podrick admits he was drunk as well, and accepted half the ham from Lorimer.
The next morning, Podrick explains, Lorimer was found passed out with a ham bone in his hand; he was hanged that afternoon. Podrick was to be strung up as well, but Lord Tywin heard his family name of Payne and so he pardoned him and sent him to King’s Landing to squire for Tyrion. Brienne bluntly remarks it was a punishment, for both of them. Podrick says it didn’t seem that way, and starts to speak of how Lord Tyrion had been kind to him, but Brienne gets up and says that all of Podrick’s lords have been kind to him, unlike her.
Podrick isn’t sorry he’s squiring for her, however. He tells her she’s the best fighter he’s seen, and she beat the Hound. In fact, he tells her, she’s proud to be his squire. Brienne, back to him, seems moved by it and then apologizes for snapping at him. Podrick replies that if she didn’t snap at him, he wouldn’t learn. She turns and asks if he wants to be a knight, and Podrick nods. She tells him that they will start to practice the sword twice a day, and she’ll show him how to ride a horse properly. Podrick, joyful, thanks her. Brienne tells him that she cannot knight him herself, but she can teach him how to fight, and Podrick responds that he supposes that’s more important.
He leans down to get a campfire started. Then he moves to start to disarm Brienne, removing her armor. He tells her that he knows she wasn’t a knight, but he knows that she served in Renly’s Kingsguard. She admits it. Podrick replies that Tyrion said Renly was a good man, and Brienne agrees. When Podrick asks how she came to serve him, Brienne tells of a ball her father held for her when she was a girl; she was his only living child, and he wished to make a good match for her. Dozens of young lords had been invited, and Brienne was forced to take part. “And it was wonderful,” she says, because all the boys fawned over her, not seeming bothered by her clumsiness or height. They were all kind to her, seeking her favor, wishing to marry her and take her to their castles. She recalls her father smiling at her, and she smiled back.
She had never been so happy, Brienne said… until she saw some of the boys snickering, and then they all began to laugh when they could not keep the pretense up any longer. In fact they had decided to toy with her. “Brienne the Beauty,” they called her, and Brienne realized she was the “ugliest girl alive; a great, lumbering beast.” She says she tried to run, but then Renly Baratheon took her in his arms and told her not to let them see her tears. Renly told her that the others were “nasty little shits” who weren’t worth crying over. He danced with her, and no one could say anything more against her because he was the king’s brother.
Podrick broaches the subject of Renly’s sexuality, that Tyrion had remarked on it, and an exasperated tone Brienne says yes, she knew he liked men, she wasn’t an idiot. He danced with her not because he loved her or wanted her, but because he was kind. “He saved me from being a joke,” she reports, from that day to his last day … but she couldn’t protect him. Solemnly, she tells Pod that there’s nothing more hateful than failing to protect the one you love.
Then she swears that one day she’ll avenge Renly. Podrick says that he thought she said it was a shadow that killed Renly and wonders how one fights a shadow, but she replies that it had the face of Stannis Baratheon… and that in her heart she knows Stannis was responsible. She leans forward, using a stick to move around the coals in the fire, and says that Stannis is a man, not a shadow, and a man can be killed.
At Castle Black, King Stannis and Ser Davos Seaworth enter the chambers of the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Olly stands at the door. Stannis asks to speak alone, and Olly shuts the door but remains inside. There’s a look, as Stannis wonders at it, and Jon informs him that Olly is now his steward, much as he had been Mormont’s. He informs Stannis that he wants Olly to attend his meetings to learn from experienced men, and muses that one day Olly might command. Stannis takes that in silently… and moves to business, sitting as he asks if Jon’s considered his offer.
Jon admits he has, that all his life he wished to be Jon Stark. Stannis replies that at a word, he will be… but Jon tells him he has to refuse him. Stannis’s expression shows annoyed surprise, while Davos looks grim. Stannis tells Jon he’s giving him the chance to avenge his family, to take back Winterfell, and to rule the North. Jon says he wishes he could, but he has a sacred vow to the Night’s Watch. “You’re as stubborn as your father,” Stannis says, “and as honorable.” Jon takes it as praise, but Stannis clarifies that he didn’t mean it that way: honor got Ned Stark killed, he says without any sugar-coating.
Standing, Stannis says that if Jon’s mind his made up he won’t try to dissuade him. Jon stops him from leaving, informing him that the Night’s Watch will never forget that Stannis saved them, and they’ll never forget that… but they can’t keep feeding themselves, his army, and the wildling prisoners as well for an indefinite period. “Winter is coming,” Jon says, by way of explanation. Stannis says he knows, and that he plans to march on Winterfell within two weeks, before the snows come. Jon asks about the wildlings, and Stannis responds that if they’d rather burn than fight for him, he’ll leave their fate to Jon. He suggests Jon could execute them, but Jon has no response.
Then Stannis wonders if Tormund might be more willing to compromise than Mance, but he supposes that the Night’s Watch would rather see the wildlings dead. Jon admits most do, and as he do so he looks to Olly—sole survivor of a wildling attack, who witnessed his family’s murder before his eyes—and says there’s little love for the free folk on the Wall. Stannis tells Jon he’s lord commander, so it’s his decision. Then before he goes, Stannis points out Jon has many enemies in Castle Black, and suggests he send Alliser Thorne away by giving him command of Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. Jon claims he heard that one should keep enemies close, to which Stannis retorts, “Whoever said that didn’t have many enemies.”
He leaves, but Davos stays behind as he sees Jon pace after his meeting. He startles Jon by telling him that Stannis sees something in him, that it may not be apparent in how he speaks, but it’s the truth. Davos believes Stannis believes in Jon. Jon apologizes for disappointing him. Moving to sit on a bench as Olly shuts the door behind him, Davos says Stannis is complicated but that he wishes to do what’s right for the Seven Kingdoms. “As long as he’s ruling them,” Jon replies. Davos insists Stannis is the one, true king, with a blood right to that throne.
Jon insists that he’s sworn to not get involved in the politics of the realm, and Davos says he does. Then, turning to Olly, he asks him to repeat the vows of the Night’s Watch, expecting that Olly has learned them. Olly starts at the beginning, but Davos prompts him towards the end and then stops him before he finishes them fully. He turns to Jon and repeats, “the shield that guards the realm of men.” That, Davos says, is what Jon swore to be… and though he’s not a learnéd man, he imagines the best way to help people and the realm is not sitting at Castle Black but rather getting one’s boots dirty and getting done what needs to be done. Jon asks what needs to be done, and Davos points out that the North will suffer so long as the Boltons rule.
Then Davos excuses himself, saying it’s just one man’s opinion of the matter. Olly follows him out. Jon watches them go and then, clearly tense, sits down at his chair and lets out a pent-up breath of air.
In Braavos, Arya turns the coin Jaqen over in her fingers as she lies on a hard pallet in a room. The door opens suddenly and the female servant enters. Arya sits up and asks what she wants as the servant paces back and forth, and the girl asks, “Who are you?” Arya doesn’t understand the question, and the girl replies she’s entered with a coin she never earned, with a value she does not respect. She goes up to Arya and again asks who she is. Arya says she’s no one, and the girl whips her with the cane she carries. Arya cries out in pain, cursing at her, as the servant tells her it was a “sad little lie”.
Arya again tries to say she’s no one, only to be struck; she starts to threaten, and she’s struck again and falls to the ground. “Who are you?” she demands, and Arya tells her she’s about to find out as she reaches for Needle which she keeps under blanket. Then Jaqen enters and asks what they’re doing. The servant tells him that they were only playing “the game of faces”. Jaqen responds that Arya is not ready, and the servant agrees that that’s clearly so. Arya stands up and protests that she is ready. “For what?” Jaqen asks.
Arya’s prepared to be whatever they want to be a Faceless Man, to be no one. The girl looks at her silently, and then Jaqen looks at Needle asks who the sword belongs to. “It belongs to Arya Stark. Arya Stark’s sword, Arya Stark’s clothes, Arya Stark’s stolen silver,” he says, and he wonders how “no one” is surrounded by the belongings of Arya Stark.
We see Arya by the water in Braavos, now dressed in the gown of a servant of the temple. She places a stone on the clothing she once wore, wrapping the garments around it and tying it tight. She carries to the water’s edge and then throws it in, watching it sink slowly. Turning back, she throws her iron coin and purse of silver away as well. Then she takes up Needle, takes it to the water, and stares at it in silence for a long time. Emotion is plain on her face, as she nearly weeps. She cannot let it go, and moves up the docks to a partly-ruined wall where she hides Needle carefully amidst the rubble.
In the House of Black and White, Arya now sweeps the floor again as another body is taken away on a stretcher. The door, however, is now left open rather than closed. Noticing it, Arya considers going there when Jaqen startles her by placing his hand on her shoulder. He leads her into the room as she sets aside the broom. They go down long steps to a door that Jaqen opens, and there the body is laid out with the female servant waiting. Jaqen leaves them alone, and the servant begins to undress the man. She looks at Arya, and Arya carefully joins her. Once the body is stripped bare, they use moist cloths to wash it.
Arya asks what they do with them after they’re watched. The serving girl looks at her for a long time, then resumes the washing. Arya moistens a cloth and begins to wash as well.
At Winterfell, the gates are opened and knights of the Vale ride through with Littlefinger and Sansa. Sansa looks around the place she called home with trepidation. She is led to Roose Bolton and his family, who are arrayed with their guards in welcome. Roose welcomes her personally, calling her Lady Sansa. Sansa stares silently at him for a long moment, then affects a smile, curtsies, and offers a pleasant greeting in turn. Roose introduces Ramsay to Sansa, and he comes forward with a smile and a kiss of her hand. We see that his lover Myranda is among a number of women, and her expression shows displeasure.
An old serving woman leads Sansa toa chamber in Winterfell, and tells her she’ll bring her hot water so she can wash. Sansa thanks her. As she goes to leave, the serving woman welcomes “Lady Stark” home. “The north remembers,” are her parting words.
In the common room of Castle Black, Jon Snow sits at the lord commander’s place on the high table, seeming nervous. He asks Sam, who sits at a near table, where Maester Aemon is; Samwell replies that he did not feel well and apologized for his absence. Jon tells him to take care of him, and then he calls the attention of the assembled men, informing them it’s past time to dig a new latrine pit. Jon Snow and Alliser Thorne exchange a look, and Jon goes on saying that the First Builder and he had decided to appoint a latrine captain to oversee the “crucial task”; the men of the Watch laugh, while Thorne looks grim. A long pause… and then Jon announces that Bryan will do it: “Seems like a good job for a ginger,” he says, to more laughter.
Then Jon addresses Ser Alliser. He informs him that he has the most experience of any ranger at Castle Black, and had proved his valor many times over. He names him First Ranger, to general approval. Janos Slynt claps him on the shoulder. Then Jon turns his attention to Slynt, and informs him that he’s given him command of the castle of Greyguard. Slynt says it’s a ruin, and Jon says that it is, but he wants Slynt to restore it as best he can, and that Yarwyck can spare ten men—Slynt cuts him off, arrogant, reminding Jon that he had been in charge of the city watch of King’s Landing when Jon was still “soiling [his] swaddling clothes.” He tells Jon to keep his ruin, and there’s unrest among the other men until Sam shouts them down and tells them that’s enough.
Jon informs Janos that it was a command, not an offer. He orders Janos to ride for Greyguard. Slynt pushes himself up from his bench and insists he won’t go off meekly to freeze and to die. He tells Jon to give it to one of the men who voted for him as lord commander. “I will not have it! Do you hear me, boy? I will not have it!” he shouts. Jon asks if he’s refusing to obey his order. Slynt glances at Thorne, who looks back to him… and Slynt replies, “You can stick your order up your bastard arse.”
Jon has Lord Janos taken outside, and Dolorous Edd stands up. Jon tells Olly to fetch his sword. Thorne stands up beside Slynt, and Slynt seems convinced of his support… but when Edd moves to seize him, Thorne steps aside. Slynt immediately protests that he cannot be seized as he’s dragged out. A block is placed out in the yard, as Slynt insists that if Jon thinks he can frighten him, he’s mistaken. Slynt shouts of his friends in King’s Landing. As he’s forced to kneel, Jon Snow is still seated in the hall, draining his cup before he stands and joins the rest.
Olly hands him Longclaw, and Jon marches up the steps to where Slynt kneels. Stannis Baratheon watches from a distance as Jon asks for Slynt’s last words. Slynt stares at him . . . and then suddenly begins to beg, saying he was wrong, apologizing for all he’s done and said, and then as Jon starts to lift the sword Slynt cries for mercy. In tears, he says he’ll go as he was commanded, begging for his life, saying that he’s afraid—that he’s always been afraid. He weeps . . . and Jon brings down Longclaw, taking off Slynt’s head with a single blow. He looks up to where Stannis stands, and the king gives him a nod.
In Littlefinger’s brothel, a bevy of naked women with strange costumes circle the kneeling High Septon, who is naked but for his chain of office. Behind him, wearing a false beard and holding a scale, is Olyver. He informs the High Septon in a grandiose voice that he has served them well, “my son.” “Thank you, Father,” the High Septon says. He asks in a which of the Seven he wishes to worship, and the High Septon says the Maiden—a completely nude prostitute—and the Stranger—a half-naked prostitute with her hair coiffed in front of her face. Olyver leans in and, breaking character, reminds the High Septon that two will cost extra. “Yes, yes,” says the High Septon, exasperated.
With a signal, Olyvar and most of the women withdraw, while the “Maiden” and the “Stranger” approach. But then the door bursts open and a group of sparrows, led by Lancel Lannister, come in. Olyver starts to protest, reminding them the establishment belongs to Lord Petyr Baelish, but some of the men seize hold of the High Septon while one sparrow tears the beard off of Olyver and backhands him, sending him to the ground. The man proceeds to kick him, as Lancel tells the High Septon that he’s profaned their faith. The High Septon protests, and Lancel grabs him and tells him that as a sinner he will be punished.
The High Septon is dragged out from the brothel, naked. He tries to cover himself with his hands, but one of the sparrows whips him, forcing him to walk bare. “Sinner, sinner, sinner” the sparrows repeat, and, “Repent!” and “Shame on you!” is shouted. The poor of King’s Landing witness it in silence.
In the Red Keep, the now-dressed High Septon comes before the small council where Cersei, Grand Maester Pycelle, Lord Mace Tyrell, and Qyburn sit. He greets each in turn, though stumbles when he does not know Qyburn’s name. “It doesn’t matter,” the former maester says. The High Septon proceeds to speak of his office and his importance, as the foremost servant of the Seven. He argues an insult to him is an assault to the Seven, and an assault on him is an assault on the Faith itself. “You were assaulted,” Cersei states. The High Septon says the sparrows did it, humiliating, beating, and leaving him naked.
Qyburn notes he heard it happened in Littlefinger’s brothel, and Lord Tyrell says to the High Septon that that’s a shocking thing to hear, and sounds like he means it. The High Septon quickly replies that he tends to the highest and the lowest among them, and that even prostitues can receive the Mother’s mercy. Qyburn summarizes that the High Septon was attending to the needs of the “devout prostitues”, when Pycelle interjects that a man’s private affairs should remain private. Cersei glances at him, and then asks what the High Septon wants. He demands the arrests of the sparrows who assaulted him, and the execution of their leader, the man called the “High Sparrow”.
He starts to argue that he’s a threat to everything that they hold sacred. But Cersei stops him, and asks where he can find him. Later, we see Cersei exit a litter not far from the Great Sept. Ser Meryn Trant of the Kingsguard warns her that he doesn’t think it’s a good idea, but she says it’s nonsense because these are “deeply religious people.” A man directs her to the High Sparrow, and she mounts steps where filthy beggars line up for a meal. Cersei holds a cloth to her nose as she passes them.
Then she sees an old man in a plain robe feeding the poor. She goes up to him and asks to see the High Sparrow, and the man laughs at the name and asks if she doesn’t agree that it sounds ridiciulous, saying it sounds like, “Lord Duckling” or “King Turtle.” He supposes one’s often stuck with the name enemies give them, that the notion that all men are equal in the eyes of the Seven does not sit well with some and so they belittle him instead. He continues to feed the poor, and exchanges blessings with one woman. He tells Cersei that it’s just a name, an easy burden, far easier than what the impoverished, hungry woman fed.
Cersei wonders why he doesn’t have any shoes, and he says he gave them away to someone who needed them more. He points out all the sparrows do that, to remind them what they really are. She asks if that’s why he came to King’s Landing, to remind them everyone, but the High Sparrow says it’s difficult enough to remind himself. He points out he tells his followers that he’s no one special, and they all think he’s special because of it. Cersei suggests they may be right, and the High Sparrow says it’d be comforting to believe.
He goes on to pass bread out among the poor. Cersei follows and he supposes the gods might have sent her to tempt him, but he hopes not. Instead, he assumed she intended to arrest him for what happened with the High Septon. She replies that that was an unacceptable way to treat the represenatative of the gods. He replies, “Hypocrisy is a boil. Lancing a boil is never pleasant.” He does say, however, that his followers could have been more careful. Cersei says the High Septon doesn’t want him arrested, but instead executed.
He takes that calmly, saying he doesn’t presume to know her thoughts, and resumes feeding the needy. She says she thinks the same as he does, that his behavior was corrosive and damaging to the Faith. She informs the High Sparrow that she has arrested him, placing him in the Red Keep’s dungeons. He stops, staring at her, surprised. She informs him that the Faith and the crown are the pillars of the Seven Kingdoms; if one collapses, so will the other, and they must do all they can to protect one another.
In his chambers, Qyburn pulls a rat from a cage, places it on a table under a magnifying glass, and kills it with a knife—blood sprays. Then Cersei enters, and briskly hands him a parchment, telling him to send a raven to Littlefinger at the Eyrie or “wherever he’s slithering about:” He says he will, moving to sit down. She asks how his work is progressing, and he says it’s going very well, more than he expected, but there’s still a ways to go. Cersei leaves him with orders to make sure Littlefinger understand the meaning of the word “immediately”. Qyburn writes… and behind him, suddenly, what seemed to be the sheet-covered body of a large man suddenly twitches and moves. “Easy, friend,” Qyburn says soothingly, and he returns to his writing.
Sansa wanders through Winterfell alone. Reek, shovelling in the dirt, sees her and then looks away so she cannot recognize him. Above her, Ramsay and Littlefinger look down at Sansa. Ramsay’s pleasant in his demeanor when he remarks on how lovely she is, and hopes he can make her happy. Littlefinger shares that hope, claiming he’s become fond of her in their travels. “She’s suffered enough,” he says, and Ramsay promises he’ll never hurt her. Littlefinger regards him appraisingly and notes he’s heard very little about him, which is unusual for a lord. Ramsay admits he’s not been a lord for long, having been born a bastard.
Roose arrives, noting he’s not one any longer, and asks to have time alone with Littlefinger. Ramsay departs, but thanks Littlefinger for arranging the marriage. After he’s gone, Petyr Baelish says Ramsay seems pleased with the match, and Roose doesn’t see why he shouldn’t be. Littlefinger reassures him that Sansa is a virgin, that her marriage to Tyrion was never consummated, and so “by the law of the land she is no man’s wife.” He even suggests he can inspect her if he wishes, but Roose replies that he leaves that to the brothel keeper and all he really needs is her name, not her virtue.
Littlefinger says he’s delivered all that he promised, then, and Lord Bolton asks if he’s prepared for the consequences when the Lannisters hear that Ramsay has married Sansa Stark. Littlefinger responds that the Lannister name doesn’t mean what it once did, with Tywin dead, Jaime one-handed and without allies, Tommen a soft boy, Queen Margaery fond of Sansa… and Queen Mother Cersei finding her influence waning by the day. To that, Roose replies that Cersei still has friends, important men. He offers a message that he says came from King’s Landing, sent to the Eyrie and then carried by a rider to Winterfell.
Roose remarks at the fact that Cersei still seems to think he’s in the Vale. Littlefinger changes the subject, noting that the message meant for him has a broken seal. Roose notes he was being prudent, given his position, since messages in the night from King’s Landing might make him question his alliance with Baelish. He points out that the Lannisters had made him a great lord, and now he was in the North undermining them. He asks why he’s gambling with his position, to which Littlefinger replies that all ambitious moves are gambles.
He points out that Roose himself gambled when he killed Robb Stark, and now he’s Warden of the North. Roose replies that he had Tywin Lannister’s backing, and wonders whose backing he has now. Littlefinger reminds him that the Eyrie is his, and that the last time the lords of the Vale allied with the lords of the North, they brought down “the greatest dynasty this world has ever known.” Littlefinger asks to borrow a bird to make a swift reply, and Roose says he’d like to read that reply.
In Essos, the wheelhouse carrying Varys and Tyrion approaches the Free City of Volantis and the Long Bridge crossing a river. Tyrion obsessively opens and closes a shutter, saying again and again he must get out of the wheelhouse.Varys repeats that it’s too dangerous, and Tyrion goes to him and insists that he’ll be useless to Daenerys if he goes mad. In fact, Tyrion replies that he can’t remember a face that isn’t Varys’s. “It’s a perfectly good face,” Varys replies in a wounded tone.
Varys presses the point that if Tyrion is recognized, he’ll lose his life. Tyrion insists that they’re thousands of miles from Westeros, and putting up his hood he points out he’ll just look like another drunk dwarf. Later, on the crowded Long Bridge, Tyrion and Varys walk together in the cramped space through its markets. Tyrion notices how many slaves there are, as they pass severed hands with notes stating why their owners were mutilated. Varys replies that the Volantene masters are organized, tattooing the slaves: flies for dung-shovellers, hammers for builders, tears for whores.
They enter a small open space, where a priestess of the Lord of Light preaches to a crowd of slaves in the Volantene long. She prays to the Lord of Light, and they repeat, “For the night is dark and full of terrors.” Then she notes the tear on her face, and replies that she was once a slave as they were. Tyrion moves to sit on some steps, drinking from a flask, and informing Varys that compared to Thoros of Myr this priestess is much better looking. She continues speaking to the faithful, informing them that the Lord of Light hears them, as he hears kings and the miserable Stone Men.
“Stone Men,” Tyrion remarks, dismissively. He thinks dancing would be as effective as prayer for curing greyscale. Tyrion silences him, while the priestess speaks of a savior reborn from the flames to remake the world: “the Dragon Queen”. The men repeat the title, and Tyrion mocks them to Varys, saying that they’re off to meet the savior. Varys seems thoughtful. The priestess looks away from her followers, and stares at Tyrion for a long moment. He lifts his hood higher and says they should find a brothel.
Passing through more crowded streets, a big man with a braided beard rubs Tyrion’s head and says it’s good luck to rub a dwarf’s head. Tyrion replies in the Common Tongue that it’s even better to suck a dwarf’s cock. Varys seems nonplussed, and the door guard is silent. But then we see they are allowed in. They pass through a common room where men drink and enjoy the company of prostitutes as Tyrion replies they’re just like any other travelers, mad with lust.
A woman brings them cups, while a prostitute with silver-blond hair and a blown gown exposing her rear poses for attention. Tyrion remarks on her curious hair, when a man calls, “The Mother of Dragons!” His companions laugh, and the prostitute garbed as Daenerys Targaryen goes to join them. Varys, taking a sip of what was given, seems disgusted by the flavor. Tyrion remarks to him that he doesn’t seem to be the only Targaryen supporter, watching the blond prostitute. We see her speaking with them, when we see that one of the drinking men is none other than a drunk Jorah Mormont.
Varys remarks that anyone who can inspire priests and whores alike is worth taking seriously. The men ask the prostitute what makes her worth so much, and she replies that she’s magic as she falls into the lap of one of the men. Tyrion remarks she’s taken, and starts to go. Varys asks where he’s going, and he explains that he wants to speak with someone who actually has hair.
He finds a prostitute sitting alone and greets her, noting she has nothing to drink. She points out that he has no money. Tyrion protests, saying he was one of the richest men in the world. She laughs, seeming dubious, and Tyrion says that you don’t need wealth when you can make a woman laugh. Sitting beside her, he promises he always pays his debts. Laughter draws his attention to the blond prostitute, who seems to be enjoying her companions. The prostitute Tyrion sits with asks if he likes the Daenerys-impersonator, and she notes that they all like her because they all want to bed a queen. Tyrion replies that they’ve never met a queen.
She casts doubts that he has, and he replies that she certainly knows how to spot a liar. Then he tells her that if he could pick any of the women, he’d pick her because she has a skeptical mind. She stands up, taking his hand, and decides she’ll bed him, but she warns him they’ll have to wash him first. She urges him to come on as he stays seated, and he stares at her silently… before admitting that he can’t. She insists he can, that he’s just shy, but he denies it. When she suggests he have another drink, he admits he’d like to, but he can’t go and sleep with her. He claims he finds himself shocked, and he hopes it passes.
He decides he needs to urinate, for a start, and immediately leaves…. and Varys, distracted, notices his departure and starts to get up, seeming startled.
Tyrion urinates into the river below, emptying his cup with his other hand. He hears a sound behind him and starts to say that they needn’t worry, that he was only just—He stops when he sees that’s a man—Jorah Mormont—and says he thought he was someone else. Jorah turns, looking back into the brothel, and then he throws a rope around Tyrion’s torso and gags him as Tyrion protests that he has the wrong person. “I’m taking you to the queen,” Jorah states, before carrying him off.