Well, we got our first glimpse of this show’s hidden story line, which is sort of an open secret among those who care to know, unless that old man presumably still typing away in Santa Fe is TRICKING US. At any rate we don’t get the full shebang this week, but only because that Other old guy (the one who lives in a tree) is such a buzzkill.
Ah well, maybe next week. This week though, oh boy do we have a collection of 4-minute vignettes for you! Ok, better super late than incredibly even more late, that’s what I always say–let’s go!
Previously, in addition to recapping last week’s events, we are reminded of:
- We see that lady in Meereen who enticed/killed some Unsullied
- Sam and Gilly (oh right) are on their way to Oldtown, remember?
- Littlefinger and Sansa reminisce about Lyanna Stark, down in the Winterfell tombs.
- We’re reminded that drinking from fountain in the temple of the Many Faced God causes pretty danged immediate death
We open where we left off, at Castle Black, with Jon Snow coming back to life, and being fairly stunned by the whole thing. As Davos and Ghost look on, Jon realizes what’s happened, and collapses into Davos’s arms. Melisandre enters, and is almost as surprised as Jon, given what she thought had been her failure. You can totally see his butt.
When asked what he remembers, Jon does remember being stabbed, including by Olly. He says he shouldn’t be there. Melisandre asks if he remembers anything from after his death, and Jon tells them that there was nothing. Melisandre helpfully tries to wedge Jon into her prophecy where Stannis once stood, which doesn’t go over too well.
Davos asks if they can have a moment alone, and helpfully tells Jon that to die and come back is completely fucked up, and can’t image how Jon feels. Davos tells him that his role is to go on, to fight, to clean shit up. Jon says he doesn’t know how–he tried and failed. Davos tells him “good–then go fail again”.
John walks out of his chambers and looks out over the courtyard at the astonished loyalist members of the watch and wildlings. He descends the steps and walks into their midst, eventually reaching Tormund, who tells him that they think he’s some kind of a God. Jon protests that he’s not, and Tormund readily agrees–he’s seen Jon’s pecker–a god would never have a pecker that small (hm….I’ll allow it). Edd notes that Jon’s eyes are still brown, and asks if it’s still him in there-Jon asks him to hold off burning his body for now.
Somewhere at Sea, we see Gilly gazing out a porthole into a raging storm. As we pull back, we see good old Sam, looking a bit green around the gills, but not puking into a waiting bucket. If there’s a puke bucket in the first act of a 5 minute scene…
After a bit of forced banter about spelling, Gilly asks Sam if he’s going to be sick. No. Yes. Yes. Gilly says that they’ll soon be in the south (with calmer seas) and that she can’t wait to see the beauty of Oldtown. Sam hesitates–it’s not that he’s going to be sick again, it’s that even more so than Castle Black, the Citadel doesn’t admit women. When pressed, he has to admit that his plan was to send for Gilly and the baby to his family. Disappointed and rejected, she walks off. Sam tries to explain that he wants her and the baby safe while he becomes a maester to assist Jon. Somewhat grudgingly, she agrees that if he really thinks it best, they’ll trust him. She would never, as Sam almost wants her to, throw something at him.
We now cut to a group of riders approaching Some Unknown Castle Type Dealy. As they do, an unfamiliar man in the uniform of the Kingsguard sits sharpening his sword, and one of his colleagues comes to join him. As the riders grow nearer, we see Bran and The Three Eyed Raven (henceforth 3ER) watching. Bran recognizes the leader as his father Ned as a 19-year-old, and 3ER points out that the man next to him is Meera’s father, Howland Reed.
The Kingsguard go to meet Ned and company, and as they walk by, Bran somehow identifies one as Sir Arthur Dayne (the Sword of the Morning, as he was known), reputed to be the greatest swordsman in Westeros.
Ned tells them that he’d looked for them at the Trident.Say What?
OK then. The conversation here requires a little backstory, I hate to say.
Robert Baratheon was not always the king–there had been quite a long line of Targaryen rulers of Westeros. Robert had been betrothed to Ned’s sister Lyanna Stark, but Lyanna was (potentially/probably/maybe) kidnapped by Rhaegar Targaryen, the Mad King’s first son and heir. This led Brandon Stark (Ned’s older brother) to ride for King’s Landing and demand her return, not realizing that she and Rhaegar weren’t there. Brandon and his companions were captured, and charged with treason for plotting to kill Rhaegar (I mean, that seems partly true, at least?). When Ned and Brandon’s father Rickard came to retrieve those who were imprisoned, the Mad King had them all put to cruel and awful deaths, and called for the heads of Robert and Ned. This essentially started the war, during the course of which Robert declared his intention to assume the throne.
As the war progressed, many of the great houses, particularly of the North and the Riverlands, joined the rebellion. It culminated in the Battle of the Trident, where Robert slew Rhaegar in single combat, and then announced his intention to take the throne.
Dayne replies that they hadn’t been there. His companion (probably Gerald Hightower) says that Ned’s friend the usurper (Robert) would lie beneath the ground if they had been. Ned tells Dayne that the Mad King is dead (not spoken, but you’ll recall that was done by Jaime, the Kingslayer, so it’s handy that he had that name). Rhaegar’s also dead–why weren’t the Kingsguard there protecting him? Dayne replies that Rhaegar wanted them where they were (this small castle/tower on the northern outskirts of Dorne).
Ned asks where his sister is, and in reply, Dayne wishes him good fortune in the wars to come (which start……NOW). In the impending skirmish, Howland Reed is wounded almost immediately, and the others disregard him. As you’d expect from a Battle Royal, there’s some attrition, Dayne’s companion is killed, as are many of Ned’s, until only the two of them remain standing. They face off, Dayne’s two swords against Ned’s one, and it soon becomes clear that Ned is outclassed. Bran is surprised, having heard the stories of his father’s victory. Just when things look worst, Howland Reed rises to his feet and stabs Dayne through the back of the throat. Ned finishes him, and then hears a cry from the tower.
Bran asks whats’s in the tower, but 3ER tells him that it’s been enough for one day–that it’s time to go. Bran calls out to Ned, who seems to hear but not see, and then the 3ER brings them back to the cave. Bran is, of course, an indignant little shit about the whole thing–he’s warned again that remaining in the past too long will get him stuck there, but Bran doesn’t care–he doesn’t see anything for him in the present. 3ER replies with that old chestnut “you think you got it bad, I’ve been in a tree for a thousand years, waiting for you” line, and reassures Bran that he won’t be there forever, or become an old man in a tree. But first he has to learn. Learn what, asks Bran? “Everything”. Sure…ok, we’ll get right on that.
In Vaes Dothrak, the khalassar escorting Danaerys brings her to the Dosh Khaleen, the collective of widowed khaleesi. While they greet her, they aren’t especially deferential. An elder/leader among them says they all thought their Khals would rule the world–but it doesn’t always work out. Dany now has to await a decision about what will happen to her. Perhaps she cannot remain with the Dosh Khaleeen, because she went out into the world after her Khal died, which is forbidden.
In Meereen, Varys sits in the throne room, fanning himself, with only a couple of guards for company. Two more guards bring in a woman, who is vaguely familiar–oh yes, we saw her about 20 minutes ago in the “previouslies”. She’s a prostitute who has lured some unsuspecting members of Dany’s army to their deaths, and is clearly tied into the Sons of the Harpy. She believes Varys is about to torture her, and tells him to get on with it. Varys protests–he would never do such a thing–while it works, and produces answers, he feels that they’re rarely correct answers. Slowly, Varys reveals knowledge of who the woman is–her name, her trade, and the fact that she has a small son with a respiratory problem. Vala tells Varys that if she tells him anything, she’ll be killed, and Varys reveals his plan—to give her a bag of silver and passage on a ship to Pentos in exchange for information. If she knows what’s good for her, she’ll take the trip.
Roughly meanwhile, Tyrion is exceptionally bored as he waits with Grey Worm and Missandei, who are not exactly sparkling conversationalists. They don’t seem to have much of a sense of humor, and are unwilling to play games–particularly Tyrion’s favorite, drinking games. Finally Varys enters to put the lack of conversation out of its misery. Varys has found that that the slave masters of Astapor, Yunkai, and Volantis are funding the Sons of the Harpy. Grey Worm and Missandei are all for attack, although the Unsullied leaving Merreen would leave it very poorly protected. Tyrion doesn’t necessarily disagree when Missandei claims that the Masters know only one language (presumably violence)., but Tyrion can’t/won’t commit to a fight–they really are stretched rather thin. Tyrion wants Varys’s “little birds” to get messages to their 3 adverseries, and Varys confirms that they will.
In King’s Landing, the new handler of the capitol’s “little birds”, Qyburn, is speaking to some of his charges. Like Varys, he also displays a kind of self-interested kindness to them (helping an abused mother and child to heal from their injuires while causing the husband to disappear, for example). One of them asks if Varys will return , and Qyburn supposes not. The kids liked Varys, because he had sweets–oh, funny, so does Qyburn, who tells the kids that there’s more where that came from, especially if they bring him new recruits, and lots of whispers.
Cersei, Jamie,and that giant mute Kingsguard member enter Qyburn’s chamber, terrifying the kids. Qyburn introduces him, semi-interestingly, as Ser Gregor rather than Ser Robert Strong, and tells the kids not to worry, they’re all friends with the same people, and that the armored giant wouldn’t hurt them.
Jamie wonders what Qyburn did to The Mountain (answer: various….things) and if this creature understands full sentences (earning him a baleful glare from the Mountain), and suggests sending him to kill the High Sparrow–Cersei points out that this won’t work, given how many of the Faith Militant are available to protect the High Sparrow, but that they only will need Clegane to defeat one–clearly they expect formal charges against Cersei, which then opens the possibility of trial by combat.
Cersei tells Qyburn that his intelligence gathering should extend to Dorne, to Highgarden, to wherever their enemies might be speaking about them.
Back in the castle (or another part of the castle, who knows), a Small Council meeting is underway. Pycelle is complaining about Qyburn, who can’t have been kicked out of the Citadel (essentially the maester’s guild) for nothing, and who did SOMETHING to more or less bring back the Mountain (who Pycelle has also started calling Clegane—everyone got a memo, I guess). As Pycelle tells Kevan Lannister and Mace and Olenna Tyrell that the monster should be destroyed, it/he arrives, along with Cersei and Jamie. Cersei wants to know why Olenna is present, and she replies that she’d been invited to help straighten out their current mess, including the queen’s imprisonment. Cersei agrees that the circumstances around her imprisonment should be addressed, and Olenna takes the opportunity to point out that Margaery is the queen, not Cersei, as Cersei is not married to the king. Dang.
Kevan points out that Cersei and Jamie have no place on the Small Council, and Jamie protests, noting that the Commander of the Kingsguard does have such a place. Well, we’ll have to agree to disagree here. Cersei asks her uncle if he considers Myrcella’s murder worth discussing, and Jamie notes that the Sand Snakes have overthrown House Martell (well, they are sort of part of it, let’s remember) and assumed power in Dorne. He suggests that there’s much work to do, and they should get down to it. Yeah, says Cersei–since you can’t make us leave… True, but good old Uncle Kevan notes that J/C can’t make the Small Council stay. They totally bail, leaving the queen mum and her bro to sit and sigh.
At the Sept, Tommen and 3 Kingsguard come to see the Sparrow. The callow young king tries to demand that Cersei be allowed to visit Myrcella’s grave. There’s a bit of back and forth–it’s not possible until her atonement is complete, after Cersei’s judgement in a trial. The Sparrow and Tommen both send their guards away, and the Sparrow blathers on for a bit about the importance of a mother’s love, and the will of the gods, and so forth. Kings should keep the best council they can, and nobody is wiser than the gods, they’ll help bring out the good in all of us, and so forth. By speaking in measured tones to this little boy king, who’s clearly in way over his head, the Sparrow aims to bring the boy around to see what he’d call reason, and Cersei would call something derogetory–fuzzy headed nonsense, or something.
In Braavos we see the waif’s “favorite stick for beating Arya” trail along the guard, and we know we’re in for more beatings until Arya will finally able to fight, even with the blast shield down. Feel the Force, Arya . The scene takes the form of an interview intercut with a fight/beating scene, with the waif asking questions about Arya’s past life, hitting her with a cane when she’s less than truthful. Also cut into the training montage is a glimpse of Arya smelling assorted chemicals and measuring some out. Jaqen sees her making these preparations.. When Arya tells the waif about the people on her list, which has grown considerably shorter, she’s asked if maybe she left anyone off. Arya asks “what name would you like a girl to use”, just before one last quarterstaff battle finally sees Arya successfully strike the waif and defend herself.
Jaqen dismisses the waif, and we then see him and Arya in the main temple. She again denies her name, in exchange for the return of her eyes. Jaquen calls Arya to him, and gives her a cup of water from the deadly fountain. He says “if a girl is truly no one, she has nothing to fear”. With some trepidation, she drinks, and opens her eyes—they’re clear again. With some conviction this time, when asked who she is, she replies “no one”.
At Winterfell, Ramsay and Lord Karstark welcome Lord Umber. They exchange some uneasy banter about tradition and oaths, and Roose having been a c-word, but really Umber is there to ask for House Bolton’s help in beating back the wildlings–there are too many of them for him to deal with on his own, and if it gets cold enough, they’ll be at Winterfell soon enough, maybe with Jon Snow leading them. Umber refuses to kneel, or swear an oath to Ramsay, or kiss his ring, but he suggests that they should help each other, and by way of doing so, he brings in two prisoners he’s captured. Ramsay (of course) hopes it’s a girl. It is, but that’s not the point, really. It’s Osha, the wildling woman who had been at Winterfell from nearly the beginning. That can only mean that the other prisoner is…Rickon–Bran’s younger brother. Asked to prove it, Umber casually tosses the head of a direwolf, the unfortunately named Shaggydog, onto a nearby table. Ramsay, with some delight, approaches, and welcomes “Lord Stark” home.
Back at Castle Black, Edd comes to summon Jon, telling him “it’s time”. Jon strides resignedly into the courtyard, where everyone is assembled, and up onto a gallows. Any last words, dudes who killed me? One complains that it’s not right that Jon is alive (it wasn’t right to kill me, he replies). Another asks that a letter explaining a more honorable end be sent to his family. This brings us to Thorne–he had a choice to betray Jon, or betray the Watch, as he sees it, with Jon’s decision to allow the wildlings south. He hopes that knowing where he’d end up, he’d have the courage to do it again. He fought, now he’ll rest, but he tells Jon that he’ll “be fightin’ their battles forever”. He raises his head and looks straight ahead as Jon moves to the end of the line, and young Olly, who meets Jon’s gaze with pure hatred.
Jon takes a moment to contemplate what lies ahead of him, then cuts the rope that triggers “the drop”. They struggle and die, and as Jon walks off the gallows, Edd says they should burn the bodies. Jon tells Edd that he should do it. He then takes off his cloak, which seems like it’s the Cloak of the Lord Commander, and hands it to Edd, who asks what he should do with it. “Wear it, burn it, whatever you like” he says. “You have Castle Black”. Edd is puzzled, and Jon strides off, saying “My watch has ended”.