The episode opens on an eye. At first the eye shows a reflection of fire in the nighttime. Then it shows a man during daylight. We pull back, it’s Tyrion’s eye. His face is bandaged, but he has survived his wounds. He looks up to see Maester Pycelle, who he had famously tried to lock away forever not long ago. Tyrion shouts for his squire Podrick and asks him to tell Bronn and Varys that he’s there with Pycelle and alive. In other words, I need witnesses and protection stat!
Pycelle catches Tyrion up on what he has missed while recovering. His father Tywin is being trumpeted as the savior of King’s Landing, responsible for defeating Stannis Baratheon. Tyrion is in his new, smaller chambers. He has been downgraded now that he is no longer Hand of the King. Pycelle reminds Tyrion of how he had paid the whore Pycelle was caught with the day he had Pycelle arrested, by tossing Tyrion a coin “for your trouble.”
In a meaningfully symbolic gesture, Tywin Lannister’s horse defecates as it enters the throne room, the exalted hero of the Battle of Blackwater on its back. King Joffrey bestows all sorts of honors on his grandfather, proclaiming him the savior of the city and the Hand of the King. Tywin accepts the position and rides off.
Joffrey next calls Lord Petyr Baelish and for his ingenuity in helping to foster a alliance between the House Tyrell and the House Lannister he grants him the
burned out wreckage castle of Harrenhal and all its related income and lands. Littlefinger is beaming at the thought of his own noble house, one to pass on to his progeny.
Lord Varys is not impressed, but at least he hides it well.
Ser Loras Tyrell is next called forth and he is acknowledged for the great service he and his family gave in the battle against Stannis and is told he can have whatever he desires (except for Renly, sadly). But speaking about Renly, Loras mentions that his sister is recently widowed and she could really use a new husband, preferably one who sits on a throne. Would you consider joining our houses, if you get my drift (and have you seen my sister’s cleavage?).
Margaery Tyrell comes before Joffrey (even though she seems to have dressed in haste and forgotten her cami) and says she’d love to be his wife, with all her heart (which we can plainly see). Boy is she good at this, she flatters him and he eats it up. He returns the compliments and we have a love connection. But he is promised to another, what to do, what to do. Well, Mom to the rescue. The small council thinks a marriage to a traitor’s daughter is not a good plan after all.
But Joffrey is so darn noble. He wants to follow his heart, but a vow is a vow. If only there was a way out of it. Maester Pycelle backs up Cersei, the treasonous father and brother excuse will be acceptable to the gods. The High Septon himself has determined that the gods would not require him to keep his promise. Joffrey, you are free to break your vow!
Sansa looks crestfallen…until she is away from prying eyes. This is the best news she’s heard in a very long time. She won’t be having satan’s spawn after all! She doesn’t seem to consider any implications this may have for her future right now. But her giddiness will not last for long …
Littlefinger comes up to her to extend his condolences and she’s really confused because she was about to change her Facebook status to “no longer in a relationship with the Devil.” But Lord BuzzKill has to ruin everything. True, you no longer have to marry Joffrey, now you just get to be his sadism-fueled plaything. Littlefinger offers that, for his old friend Catelyn, he’s willing to help Sansa get out of there and head back home to Winterfell. But the good little soldier says that King’s Landing is her home.
Ros starts to do her thing for what she believes to be her next client of the day, but it turns out to be Lord Varys, though Ros does not know that at first. He tells her he is not there for sex, but for information. He asks Ros if working for Littlefinger has been everything she hoped. Considering she was putting concealer on a couple facial bruises when he walked in, I’m thinking the answer is no. He compliments her and she reaches to grab his manhood to return the favor, when she finds out that something is amiss. Now she realizes who he is. He lets her know that if she were to work for him, he would make sure she was protected. She is worried, she’s afraid of Littlefinger and Varys tells her she should be. But he hints that he knows and hopes to take advantage of Littlefinger’s weakness.
We pick up with Jaime and Brienne where we left off. He is baiting her, she is trying not to become enraged. As they walk, the come upon the burned corpses of three women, hanging with a sign that says “they lay with lions.” Jaime points out that the women must have been killed by Stark loyalists and asks if she’s proud to work for people like that, but she insists she doesn’t work for the Starks, she works for Lady Catelyn.
Brienne ties Jaime up so that she can give the three women a proper burial. Suddenly, they hear voices and three Stark soldiers appear. They start laughing at Brienne when they find out she’s a woman and claims to be transporting a prisoner. Jaime, realizing they aren’t taking Brienne seriously, tries to get them on his side. Brienne explains that he’s a criminal and she’s taking him to Riverrun to answer to the Tullys. They’re about to get away, when one of the soldiers realizes why her prisoner looks familiar — it’s Jaime Lannister, the Kingslayer.
Brienne and Jaime both pretend that he’s wrong, but his fellow soldier believes him. He has an idea, on three, they should both answer what the prisoner’s name is. He only gets to “two” when Brienne goes into beast mode and quickly dispatches two of the soldiers. One is left alive, but wounded. She reminds him what he said about the three murdered women, how there were two quick deaths. Then she stabs him and slowly slices him open, so he suffers the same fate at the third woman.
Jaime is shocked, but possibly also impressed. She killed three Stark men. But Brienne repeats, she doesn’t work for the Starks. Catelyn asked her to take him to King’s Landing and that’s what she’s going to do. She’s like medieval FedEx, when you absolutely, positively have to get your prisoner there overnight.
Catelyn is worried about some poor choices her oldest is making. She reminds him that Walder Frey is a dangerous man to cross. But all Robb can think about is how much he loves Talisa and so vow, schmow. Catelyn tries to explain that arranged marriages can work just fine, look at her and Ned. But Robb doubts that he’ll ever develop feelings for Frey’s daughter. Why not, Catelyn asks. Because she’s not beautiful, not exotic and exciting. Bingo! But Robb will not listen to reason, he’s still mad at Catelyn for letting his prisoner escape.
Stannis is back on Dragonstone and conferring with Melisandre. He doesn’t understand what happened. She told him she had seen his victory in the flames. If you can’t trust some witch’s visions, what can you trust? He is angry with himself for believing her, believing in her god. He led his men to fiery deaths all so they could be defeated by a surprise attack by Tywin Lannister and the Tyrells. Why didn’t her god warn him? He is enraged and frustrated and lashes out at her, grabbing her around the throat. “Where is your god now,” he asks. “Will he save you? Where is he?” She croaks out, “Inside you.” And Stannis has no choice but to let go.
Guilt overcomes him, “I murdered my brother.” He doesn’t believe her anymore. But she tells him that he has only just begun to do things he is ashamed of. He will end up betraying everyone, but it will all be worth it, she promises. He will be King. He claims she doesn’t know anything, so she offers to show him. She has him look into the fire, and he sees.
Theon is sitting in the Lord’s chambers at Winterfell and all is not well. There is a horn blower repeatedly signaling that Theon is surrounded. But Theon will not surrender. He gets snippy with Maester Luwin who tries to be helpful. He asks Luwin if there’s been any word from his father, and when Luwin tells him no, he orders him to send more ravens. Luwin reminds him that he killed all the ravens. Theon starts reminiscing back to when he first saw Winterfell as a child. It was so majestic, he thought whoever lived there would be victorious against any attack. Luwin reminds him that the Starks treated him kindly when they took him in, but Theon is tired of hearing that.
Luwin tells him that he is there to serve Winterfell and now that Winterfell is Theon’s, Luwin is duty-bound to serve him. And as his adviser, he recommends Theon run. There are some 500 men from the North surrounding the castle and Theon has about 20 men to defend it. It’s simple math. Theon tells him there’s nowhere for him to run. He can’t go home, he’d be thought a coward. Luwin tells him to go North and join the Night’s Watch. He will be beyond the reach of the law and all his crimes forgiven. But Theon doubts he could make it. Luwin tells him there are hidden passageways that he could use to escape. But the more Theon thinks of joining the Night’s Watch, the more that doesn’t seem like a viable option either. Jon Snow would cut his throat first chance he had. No, there’s no turning back for Theon Greyjoy.
He addresses his men. He reminds them of the saying is that every ironborn man is worth a dozen from the mainland — let’s prove it. Somehow Theon believes that, for ironborn, hearing “We die today,” is inspiring. He goes on to give a rousing speech about how they will die horribly, each and everyone of them, suffering hundreds of wounds, but their deaths will be remembered for generations to come. He works the crowd, and himself into a tizzy about this great sacrifice they are about to embark on as they march into certain death.
Theon gives the final battle cry, and then is cold-cocked from behind by Dagmer. The other men wonder what took him so long! Luwin comes out to see what has happened, and Dagmer plunges a spear in his stomach. He turns to his men and says, let’s go home, and we see Luwin collapse from his wound and Theon’s body dragged away.
Tyrion is in bed, still bandaged, and Varys comes to his chambers with some interesting news. He believes that Cersei was behind the attempted murder of Tyrion during the battle. Varys is certain that Ser Mandon Moore tried to kill Tyrion on orders from his sister. Varys tells Tyrion that he would not be alive today if it weren’t for Podrick’s bravery. Tyrion asks Podrick if it would be too much trouble to save his life twice in one week. He asks him to get Bronn and other members of the Gold Cloaks to guard his door, but Varys informs him that Bronn has been relieved of his command of the City Watch. The hill tribesmen also can’t help him, they were paid off by his father and sent away. Varys said Tyrion won’t be seeing much of him for a while either. Yet he confirms that he does consider Tyrion his friend.
Varys asks Podrick to open the door, and in comes Shae. Tyrion looks away, it seems he’s embarrassed to have her see him with his face all bandaged and bloody. Before Varys leaves, he lets Tyrion know that some realize his importance during the battle and that it would not have been won without him. I know no one is who they seem and they’re all playing a game, but it’s hard not to love and trust Varys at this point. Shae tends to Tyrion, taking off his bandage and he’s nervous about what she’s going to think. She’s honest, “You’re a mess.” Tyrion is upset, “I’m a monster, as well as a dwarf. You should charge me double.” Now Shae is mad – does he think she’s there for money? “That was the arrangement we made,” he tells her. “I pay you and you lie to me.” Harsh, dude. Shae is not falling for his wallowing in self-pity at all. She says they should just run away, go live in Pentos. Someone tried to kill him once, they’ll try again. But Tyrion doesn’t want to leave. This is what he’s good at, out-talking and out-thinking these people. He wants to stay and fight. Shae promises she will stay with him.
A Septon marries Robb Stark and Talisa Maegyr. One thing I can say for Talisa, she’s not one of those girls who needs a fancy wedding, big reception or an expensive dress. If they do send out an announcement, I hope they don’t expect any wedding presents from Walder Frey!
Dany, Jorah and Kovarro ascend the steps to enter the House of the Undying in Qarth, searching for the dragons. Kovarro notices there are no guards at the building and Jorah says that it guarded by sorcery. Dany is not intimidated. They walk around the stone tower but see no entrance. Dany thinks it’s a riddle. Kovarro is told to guard the entrance and as Jorah goes to search for Dany, he circles back around to the front – Dany is nowhere to be found. He calls out, Adrian!! I mean, Khaleesi!!
Dany is inside the tower. It is dark, she finds a torch to light her way. She screams at whoever is hiding her dragons, then she hears her dragons’ cries.
Arya, Gendry and Hot Pie are walking from Harrenhal through the Riverlands when they spy Jaqen H’ghar up on a ridge. Arya goes to talk to him. He offers that he can teach her his ways, if she joins him in Braavos. She mentions that her dancing master was from there. He said that to be like him, to be a faceless man, that is something special. She could serve the Red God, she has many names for him. Arya would like to take him up on this, but she wants to find her brother and her mother and even her sister. So it is time for Jaqen to say goodbye. But first, he gives Arya a special coin. If she should ever need him again, she can give that coin to anyone from Braavos and tell them “Valar Morghulis.” When she says goodbye to Jaqen, he tells her that Jaqen is dead. He has her repeat the words he told her. He turns around, then back – and he has a new face! So that’s what faceless man means!
Osha leads Bran, Hodor and Rickon out of hiding and back into the charred and smoldering courtyard of Winterfell. Bran sees their two direwolves and goes over to them. They see Maester Luwin, badly injured, and propped up against one of the heart trees. The boys want to get some medicine to fix him, but Luwin knows there’s nothing they can do. He tells them that they are safe for now and that’s all that matters, but that they should head north to the Wall to find Jon. He can then get word to their mother. He tells the boys to go, then asks to speak to Osha. He tells her she needs to protect the boys, even from her own kind. That won’t be a problem, she assures him, she has no love for her own kind. She offers to get him milk of the poppy but he doesn’t want that, just a swift painless death. We’ll miss you Maester Luwin!
Dany is in a Fun House, but is not having any fun. One door leads to a frozen, destroyed version of the Iron Throne room, another door leads to a vast frozen wasteland. As she walks through the bright white landscape she sees off in the distance a tent. Inside is Khal Drogo and their baby Rhaego! Dany knows this is some dark magic, but she doesn’t care. She gets to see Drogo and the boy who never lived. It’s really sweet and touching, but Dany eventually has no choice but to leave – it’s not real.
She goes back, following the sound of the screeching dragons. This time, she finds them, chained on a pedestal. Multiple Preets are there to confuse her. He claims that when the dragons were born, it made Preet’s magic stronger – just as Dany’s presence makes the dragons stronger. So Preet needs her to help the dragons to grow. She is shackled and the plan is for her to stay a prisoner as she helps nurture the dragons.
But Dany has a different plan in mind. She looks at her dragons and says the secret word, Dracarys. One of the dragons coughs out a little puff of smoke and you know Preet is thinking, how cute. Until the dragon tries again and this time, out comes a flame that crosses the room. Preet is on fire and quickly consumed, as the chains fall away.
Back up North, Jon Snow is walking in formation with the wildlings and Qhorin Halfhand, heading towards Mance Rayder. Ygritte is behind him and hitting him on the back of his head with his sword and being otherwise annoying and as the two of them go at it, Qhorin takes the opportunity to break free. He grabs one of the wildlings’ swords and goes after Jon, step two of Operation Defector. Qhorin pretends to be mad at Jon, blaming him for the scouts’ deaths and siding with Mance Rayder. The Lord of Bones is happy to see the two crows battle it out, and he tells his men (and Ygritte) to let them at it.
They fight, Qhorin spews out insults at Jon and though he battles well, he lets Jon disarm him. Then with one quick thrust, Qhorin is dead. Ygritte says, you can tell Mance that’s the man who killed Qhorin Halfhand. Hopefully, the wildlings will now believe that Jon is a traitor to the Night’s Watch. A good first sign, the Lord of Bones uses Jon’s sword to cut the ropes that bound him.
While they burn Halfhand (they don’t want him rising up from the dead and coming after them) Ygritte walks Jon over to the edge of the mountain and they look down at the large town below and she says it’s time for him to meet the King Beyond the Wall.
Xaro Xhoan Daxos is awaken from a nice, cozy slumber next to Doreah (!!) to find Dany, her dragons, and her remaining khalasar. Doreah tries to explain her betrayal by saying that Xaro said she (Dany) would never leave Qarth alive. Doreah, you backed the wrong horse. Kovarro takes the vault key off of Xaro’s neck and they go to collect the great riches that Xaro had been bragging about since they arrived there. What they find is a room as empty as all the promises he ever made to her. It was, unlike Preet’s magic, an illusion, just smoke and mirrors. Dany thanks Xaro for teaching her a valuable lesson. Then she locks him, and Doreah, away in the vault. Jorah instructs the khalasar to take whatever gold and jewels they can find. There will at least be enough to buy them a ship.
Grenn, Edd and Sam are doing some more work North of the Wall, foraging for animal dung to heat the castle. Who says life as a Night’s Watchman isn’t glamorous. Sam bides his time thinking about Gilly while his friends kid him. They hear a horn blast. One blast is for a ranger returning. They hear another. Two blasts is for wildlings. They hear a third blast. White walkers! They start running.
Grenn and Edd are much faster and Sam quickly falls behind. They start coming toward them. Now, like most zombies, they give you something of a chance because they’re not really all that fast. But what they lack in speed they make up for by looking really freaking scary. This one really old looking white walker looks straight at the crying, whimpering Sam and lets out a high pitched shriek, but leaves Sam alone. Instead, he continues on, as do hundreds and hundreds of other undead, all seemingly heading towards the Wall.
And that marks the end of Season Two.
Littlefinger (to Sansa): We’re all liars here. And every one of us is better than you.
Ros: Most men like what they see.
Varys: I’m not like most men.
Catelyn (to Robb): Treat your oaths recklessly and your people will do the same.
Theon: Do you know what it feels like to be told how lucky you are to be someone’s prisoner? To be told how much you owe them? And then to go back home to your real father…
Maester Luwin: I’ve known you many years, Theon Greyjoy. You’re not the man you’re pretending to be. Not yet.
Theon: You may be right. But I’ve gone too far to pretend to be anything else.
Tyrion: Why should I believe you?
Varys: Why should I lie?
Tyrion: To create strife between my sister and me.
Varys: Where before there was nothing but love?
Arya: How’d you know we’d come this way?
Jaqen H’ghar: After all the things you have seen, this is your question?
Sam: If you step back and think about it, the thing about Gilly that’s so interesting is — after all that Craster’s done to her, she’s still got hope that life might be better.
Edd: The thing about Gilly that you find so interesting is that she said six words to you.
Sam: And the thing about you that I find so interesting is absolutely nothing.