We hear men shouting and screaming and swords clashing and see Roose Bolton walking up the stairs to the top of the castle where the Red Wedding just occurred. He looks out to see the soldiers fighting below, the Stark banners still waving as their men are decimated. We see the Hound is moving through the melee, Arya still flung over his shoulder, and see him grab a Frey banner to aid their escape. The Frey men are chanting “King of the North” and then here he comes. They have placed Grey Wolf’s head onto Robb’s body and are parading it through the streets. Arya sees this before the Hound can turn her around and ride off on a horse he’s taken.
At King’s Landing, the newlyweds are enjoying a lovely walk through the garden. While the two unlikely spouses are actually getting along wonderfully, Shae is always nearby, making an awkward situation even that much more uncomfortable. Some mistresses just don’t know their place! Tyrion and Sansa find they have much in common – he is ostracized as the Imp, she is looked down upon as the traitor’s daughter. Tyrion is irritated by the snickers of two men as they walk by and Sansa helps him plot his revenge once she realizes that, unlike Joffrey, he has a normal reaction to heckling. Sansa has a great idea for revenge that involves cutting open the men’s beds, stuffing them with “sheep shift” and then sewing them back up. Yes, Sansa is so sheltered she doesn’t know the vulgar word for dung. They’re having a splendid time, till Podrick (who is still getting rather flattering looks from all the ladies in the area) brings word that there is a meeting of the small council.
Tyrion walks in and sees his nephew the King is bubbling over with glee. Knowing Joffrey’s predilections he correctly guesses that something very, very bad must have happened. Joffrey is bursting at the seams to have Pycelle show Tyrion a note (which Pycelle drops, just to needle Tyrion for trying to have him put in a dungeon) that just came in from the Twins. “Roslin caught a fine fat trout. Her brothers gave her a pair of wolf pelts for her wedding. Signed Walder Frey.” Tyrion doesn’t understand why that letter is making Joffrey so giddy, so Joffrey tells him – Robb Stark is dead as is his mother Catelyn. Joffrey instructs Pycelle to write back to Lord Frey thanking him for his service and ordering him to send Robb Stark’s head to Joffrey. He wants to serve the head to Sansa at his wedding feast.
Varys mentions to King Joffrey that Lady Sansa is now his aunt, by marriage, and then Cersei interjects that it was just a joke, Joffrey didn’t mean it. But, no, Joffrey makes sure they know that was no joke. King Joffrey does not joke about severed heads. He meant it and will do it. But Tyrion says no. “She’s no longer yours to torment.” Joffrey responds, “Everyone is mine to torment,” and, surprisingly, no one stabs him in the back à la Aerys Targaryen for this comment. Aerys is starting to get real competition if he wants to hold on to the “Mad King” moniker.
Joffrey threatens his uncle Tyrion whom he calls a “little monster.” Tyrion returns the threat by reminding Joffrey that kings are expendable, as Robert, Renly and Robb have recently proved. Joffrey tells Tyrion that he could have his tongue removed for that and Cersei tries to calm her son and defuse the situation, telling him to ignore Tyrion, he’s just a bitter little man. Pycelle has to interject, of course, and says that Tyrion should apologize immediately, but Tywin intercedes. He knocks down his grandson a couple pegs and lets him know that he owes all his war victories to him (Tywin). But Joffrey says his father (Robert) won the real war, killing Prince Rhaegar and taking the crown, while Tywin hid under Casterly Rock. Everyone in the room knows Joffrey went too far and is waiting to see how Tywin handles this. He does not explode. Instead, he very softly, but firmly, sends Joffrey to his room. As any petulant child, with or without the power to order people murdered, Joffrey protests that he’s not tired! It would be funny if he weren’t a homicidal psychopath who is still the occupier of the throne.
The small council disperses, but Tywin tells Tyrion to stay. Tyrion jokes that his father just sent the most powerful man in the land off to bed without supper, and Tywin responds that his son is a fool if he believes the king is the most powerful man in Westeros. A crown doesn’t give you power. Tyrion agrees, saying armies give you power. Yet, it’s hard to ignore that Robb Stark had an army, a quite successful one, and now he lies dead. While Walder Frey will get the blame/credit, Tyrion knows that was his father’s doing. Tywin does not deny it.
Tyrion is troubled about how his father went about it, slaughtering people at a wedding. Tywin asks, what is more noble, to kill a hundred at a wedding or ten thousand on a battlefield. But Tyrion knows his father better than that, he didn’t do it to spare lives. Tywin says, maybe not, but he did it to end the war and “protect the family.” Now all the Stark men are dead and Winterfell is in ruins. For his service, Roose Bolton will be named Warden in the North, until Tyrion and Sansa’s son is born. And speaking of that, Tywin suggests Tyrion get working on putting a baby in her. Tyrion wonders how that will go, how do you seduce someone after they find out that your family murdered theirs?
Tywin tells Tyrion a lesson – “a house who puts family first will always defeat the house that puts the whims and wishes of its sons and daughters first.” You do what you must to improve your family’s position, regardless of your selfish desires. (Under this theory, Catelyn should have ordered Robb to marry Walder Frey’s daughter and they’d all still be alive, so point to Tywin.) Tyrion doesn’t believe that his father has lived by this edict and makes the mistake of asking a rhetorical question that Tywin actually has an answer for, “When have you ever done something that wasn’t in your interest but solely for the benefit of the family?” Tywin immediately answers, “The day that you were born. I wanted to carry you into the sea and let the waves wash you away. Instead I let you live. And I brought you up as my son. Because you’re a Lannister.” Another reason you’ll never see a Tywin Lannister quote on a Hallmark card.
After that pleasant conversation, Tyrion goes to his chambers and finds his young bride sitting by the window, looking out, her face stained with tears. She’s heard about the slaughter of her family. He wants to say something to comfort her, or apologize, or at least distance himself from what has happened. But, there is nothing Tyrion could possibly do or say at this moment, so he leaves her alone.
Meera Reed had run ahead (with Summer by her side) to check out a castle near the Wall. She comes back to tell Jojen, Bran and Hodor that it’s abandoned. The castle is Nightfort, and Old Nan had told Bran scary stories about the place, including one about a cook in the Night’s Watch who killed the King’s son and served him in a pie to the king. The gods, angry at the rat for violating the oath of hospitality, turned him into a giant white rat who could only eat his own young. Old Nan should have been fired, these stories of hers would give Stephen King nightmares. On the other hand, if there is a metaphor in there for what’s going to happen to Walder Frey for killing his guests in his home, then I applaud the story.
We switch to Walder Frey who isn’t letting something like organizing a mass murder slow his appetite. He’s feasting heartily in the very same room, while servants tend to the blood stains on the floor. He tells Roose Bolton how Catelyn’s father used to call him “the Late Walder Frey” because he didn’t get his men to the Trident in time for the battle. Well, who’s having the last laugh now? Hoster is dead, his daughter is dead, his grandson is dead, his son is in Frey’s dungeon and Walder is now the Lord of Riverrun. Roose notes that the slaughter wasn’t complete, Brynden “the Blackfish” escaped. But Walder isn’t worried about an old man on the run with no allies. Not now that he has Tywin Lannister on his side.
Walder congratulates Roose on his new title, Warden of the North, and asks him how difficult it must have been following young Robb Stark all that time. Roose notes that Robb ignored his advice at every turn. Roose says he may move to Winterfell at some point, but right now it’s in ruins. Walder asks if Roose knows the story of what happened there. He heard how Theon Greyjoy had seized the place, but not what happend afterwards. Roose says that he sent his bastard son Ramsay to root him out and Robb granted amnesty to any of the ironborn who gave up Theon. Ramsay delivered the terms and Theon’s men turned him over, trussed and hooded. But, Roose says, Ramsay has his own way of doing things.
Before he even says it, we’re now pretty sure we know the identity of the torturer. But we’ll avoid the name until he utters it. We see the torturer feasting on a large sausage in front of the newly neutered Theon and wonder, in horror, if what he’s eating used to be part of Theon. If so, this is the worst meal since liver, fava beans and Chianti. But, no, it’s just a cruel joke from a cruel monster who never runs out of ways to be cruel. He wonders aloud if Theon will have a phantom c*ck, like amputees have phantom limbs, and it he’ll feel something next time he sees a naked girl. He apologizes saying his mother taught him not to throw stones at cripples, but his father taught him to aim for their heads. Theon begs for this to end, yelling “Kill me.” But the torturer says, he’s no good to them dead.
He tells Theon he no longer looks like a Theon Greyjoy. He needs a new name. He’s not a lord anymore, he’s just meat. Stinking meat. The torturer tells him, his new name is Reek. Theon fights it at first, still having some sense of self and dignity. But eventually that is broken down along with everything else, and he accepts his new identity.
Bran and his group are asleep in Nightfort when they hear a sound of someone approaching. Meera readies her dagger and when the person enters, she knocks him down and puts her knife to his throat. Whoa, hold on there, it’s Sam! He pleads for his life and Gilly comes in after him. Luckily, Meera does not have a hair trigger and asks before she stabs. Sam tells them he’s in the Night’s Watch and Bran says his brother is too, but Meera doesn’t trust Sam and doesn’t want Bran telling him anymore. But he doesn’t have to. Sam gathers the clues and figures out who the crippled boy with a direwolf and a very tall simpleminded friend is – it’s Jon’s brother. Sam tells Bran that Jon is his brother too and any brother of Jon’s is Sam’s as well. He’ll do anything to help Bran.
What’s that you say? Take you NORTH of the Wall? When I said anything I meant anything sensible that doesn’t send me back to face the white walker army. Let me take you to Castle Black, if Jon comes back that’s where he’ll go. Bran tries to explain that he doesn’t want to go north, he has to. So Sam will help him, give him advice and knowledge, but won’t be accompanying him.
At Pyke, Balon Greyjoy receives a letter and a box from someone whose return address bears the sigil of a flayed man. The letter orders all Iron Islanders out of the north and back to the crummy piece of rock they call home. If they don’t leave, he will flay them all as he did the twenty he found in Winterfell. He also mentions that he has Theon and that the box contains Theon’s favorite toy which he cried about when it was taken from him. At least, good for Theon, it’s not a small box. The letter is signed by Ramsay Snow. Can we now say his name? Balon takes the lead in Father of the Year voting from Tywin Lannister and even Craster by refusing the demands, saying Theon is a fool who ignored his orders and, in any event, is not a man or his son anymore.
Balon may have written off Theon, but there is still a Greyjoy who believes in family. Yara, who may be tough, possesses a soul and won’t let her brother suffer any more at this man’a hands. She’s putting together a small invading army to rescue her brother.
Davos goes to visit Gendry in the dungeon. Davos and Gendry have a lot in common, both lowborn, both from Flea Bottom, and both recent occupiers of this cell. Gendry asks Davos how he became a Ser and Davos said it was when he helped Stannis. He accepted the title for his son, to give him a better life. But now his son is dead, having followed his father at Blackwater.
Varys asks Shae when she came to Westeros and she says she was 13 (alluding to a tough childhood that ended when she was 9). Varys compliments her on being a good influence on Tyrion – he’s given up two of his three vices since meeting her. But Shae is not happy, she’s his new wife’s maid. Varys speaks to Shae as a fellow foreigner, someone without a noble family name. He tells her that she will never be the daughter-in-law of Tywin Lannister. If she was looking for a happy Pretty Woman ending to this story, it’s not going to happen. He suggests she go to some other country, Lys or Myr maybe, and start a new life there. He offers her enough diamonds to keep her comfortable for the rest of her life.
She asks Varys why he wants her to leave and Varys says that Tyrion is one of the few people who could make this (Westeros) a better place. But she is an unnecessary complication. Varys believes Tyrion is in danger so long as she remains in the capital. As he walks away, Shae stops him. She tosses the bag of jewels at his feet and tells him if Tyrion wants her to leave, he can tell her himself.
Tyrion is hanging with Podrick and teaching how to be an expert drunk when Cersei comes in. First she lets Tyrion know that she won’t be marrying Loras Tyrell. We don’t know how she got out of that one. She next gives some advise to Tyrion. If he really cares about Sansa, then knock her up. Giving her a child will give her some happiness in her otherwise miserable life. Tyrion asks if her own children make her happy and Cersei says without them she would have killed herself years ago. They all bring her pleasure – yes even Joffrey. She thinks back to when he was a little boy – what a wonderful baby he was. That’s a memory no one can take away from her – not even Joffrey.
Arya and the Hound are riding past a small group of Frey men sitting around a campfire and exchanging stories about the Red Wedding. One of the men talks about Catelyn’s screams before she died, another talks about how hard it was to sew the wolf’s head onto Robb Stark’s body. Arya hops down off the horse and goes over to “talk” to the men. She pretends to be cold and hungry and offers them a coin in exchange for food. She extends her hand with the coin – the same on Jaqen H’ghar had given her – lets it drop, and as the man bends down to pick it up, she pulls out a knife and starts stabbing him. The Hound comes over and quickly dispatches the other three men who go to stop her. Afterwards, he asks Arya where she got the knife. “From you.” He checks, sees that his knife is missing, and takes it back from her. He asks if that is the first man she killed and she answered, first man. Then he tells her, next time she wants to kill a bunch of guys, give him a little advanced warning.
Jon is on his way back to Castle Black, minding his own business, washing his bloodied face in a pond, when he hears a sound behind him. It’s Ygritte, and she has a arrow aimed at him. He tells her he didn’t have a choice. She knew what he was, what his is. He says he’s going home and he knows she won’t hurt him. She says, for the thousandth time, “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” He smiles, reminded of their cute lovey-dovey banter, and tells her that he knows some things – that he loves her and she loves him. But he has to go home now. He turns, and Ygritte fires the first arrow into his back. Bet you didn’t know that was coming, Jon Snow. He falls to the ground, then climbs up on his horse. She fires again, hitting him in the leg. He takes off, she fires a third time, striking him again. Some people take getting dumped worse than others.
Back at Castle Black, Sam has arrived with Gilly. He says to the blind maester, I know how this must look, then catches himself. He has come with a girl, holding a child, and Aemon asks if Sam recalls his sworn oath. Sam remembers every word – he didn’t break any vow, the baby is not his (though, surprise, Gilly has decided to name him Sam!), but it’s our duty to protect and they need our protection. There are scary, dangerous things beyond the Wall, but Gilly isn’t one of them. Aemon offers her and her son their hospitality. Maester Aemon then asks Sam to help him with a huge project. They will be sending out all 44 of their ravens with very important messages tonight.
Davos is a quick learner. He is practicing his reading on the messages that have come in to Dragonstone. As Stannis’ Hand, he is now better able to keep his Lord informed, thanks to Shireen’s instructions. This was the job Matthos had, before he died, and it’s extra sad that he never saw his dad reading. The next scroll Stannis opens is one of the 44 sent from Maester Aemon. Stannis is concerned, but we don’t yet know why. At the same time, bells are tolled and Stannis goes to find out what they mean.
Stannis is in his war room with Melisandre when Davos walks in. Stannis tells him that Robb Stark is dead, betrayed by his bannermen. Davos looks at Melisandre, “And you take credit because you dropped a leech into the fire?” Melisandre doesn’t have to answer directly, she certainly likes the coincidental timing. Davos tells Stannis that using blood magic is wrong, regardless of the outcome. It’s evil and Stannis is not an evil man. But Stannis points out that the Targaryens took the Seven Kingdoms not with larger armies, but on the back of three dragons. Magic helped win and unite the Seven Kingdoms once, why not again? If one drop of Gendry’s blood led to Robb Stark’s death, then what great things could sacrificing him accomplish, Melisandre asks. Davos tries to stop Stannis for going along with the plan, but Stannis says, “what is the life of one bastard boy against a kingdom?”
Davos goes down to the dungeon, breaks Gendry out of there and gets him out to the bay and onto a rowboat. He gives him instructions on how to get to King’s Landing. Gendry has never been on a boat before and he doesn’t know how to swim, but his odds of survival are still better than if he stays where the Red Woman can get to him.
Jon somehow makes it to Castle Black alive. We don’t know how injured he is (but hopefully the really thick animal skins provided some protection from Ygritte’s arrows). Sam and Pyp run out to see him and they are so relieved that he recognizes them. Sam tells Jon that he’s home now.
A homecoming of another sort is occurring in King’s Landing. Jaime Lannister was taken prisoner by Robb Stark’s men during the Battle of the Whispering Wood way back when Ned Stark was still all in one piece. He escaped, was recaptured, then freed by Catelyn Stark against her son’s wishes to be sent to King’s Landing in trade for the Stark girls, then be recaptured, have his hand chopped off, make a new friend, save his new friend and finally, finally make it home. There is no fanfare, no recognition, as the dirty, scruffy, one-handed Jaime walks the streets of the Capital. He enters his sister’s chambers, utters her name and she turns around. It’s impossible to read her expression as she sees him; Jaime looks down at the stump where his sword hand was, and you can read his expression.
Stannis cannot believe his ears. Davos helped Gendry escape. Yet, why should he be surprised. He knows Davos, he even brought him back as his Hand because Davos is a good man, an honorable man, whom he can trust to do the right thing. Nevertheless, Davos committed treason and Stannis has no choice but to sentence him to die. Davos understands, but since he’s still technically Hand of the King, he does advise against this course of action. Stannis needs Davos, he needs the good little angel to sit on the shoulder opposite Melisandre. Especially now that there is a much larger war to be fought. Davos shows Stannis the letter from Maester Aemon in which he warns everyone of the looming and potentially disastrous threat north of the Wall. There is an army of white walkers bent on killing everyone and they’re coming south.
Melisandre takes the scroll and puts it in the fire. She stares at the flames and tells what she sees. The war of the five kings (or three now that Robb and Renly are dead) means nothing compared to the war against what lies north of the Wall. Death marches on the wall and only Stannis can stop it. He can’t do it alone. Stannis thinks it’s too late, he’s already sentenced Davos to die, but Melisandre comes to Davos’ rescue. She agrees with Davos, Stannis needs him for the war to come.
Dany and her army stand outside the city gate leading to Yunkai. They are waiting to see if the slaves will leave the city now that their masters have been conquered and join Dany, or whether they have “learned to love their chains.” The gates finally open and the newly-liberated men, women and children come out towards Dany. Her soldiers aim their swords at the crowd, they stop, and Missandei speaks to them. She introduces them to Dany, Mother of Dragons. She tells them that they owe their freedom to Dany, but she stops Missandei. She tells the assembled that they do not owe their freedom to her, it is not hers to give, it belongs to them alone. After a moment, someone in the crowd shouts, “Mhysa,” and then the throng all join in the shouting. Dany is unfamiliar with that word, but Missandei explains it’s an old word meaning mother.
They crowd closes in around Dany and, while her soldiers worry, she knows that they won ‘t hurt her. She tells her dragons to fly while she walks into the crowd and is raised aloft by the grateful free people of Yunkai. The camera pulls up to show us Dany in the middle of the tens of thousands of worshipers with her dragons screeching above and the third season comes to an end.
Tyrion (to Joffrey): Killed a few puppies today?
Tyrion (to Joffrey): Oh, I’m a monster? Perhaps you should speak to me more softly, then. Monsters are dangerous and just now kings are dying like flies.
Joffrey (to Tyrion): I am the king. I will punish you.
Tywin: Any man who must say, “I am the king,” is no true king.
Tyrion (to Tywin): You just sent the most powerful man in Westeros to bed without his supper.
Tywin: You’re a fool if you believe he’s the most powerful man in Westeros.
Tyrion: The Northeners will never forget.
Tywin: Good. Let them remember what happens when they march on the south.
Tyrion: It’s not easy being drunk all the time. Everyone would do it, if it were easy.
Cersei: An unhappy wife is a wine merchant’s best friend.
Tyrion: Every time we deal with an enemy, we create two more.
Gendry: So how’d you become a lord?
Davos: Oh, that’s a long story.
Gendry: Better not, then. I’m a bit busy.
Stannis: You see, Ser Davos. You’ve been saved by that fire god you like to mock. You’re in his army now.
Dany: People learn to love their chains.