The scene opens with dozens of dead ravens dumped out onto the grounds at Winterfell and we pull back to see Theon and Dagmer in the town square. The gates open and in rides Theon’s sister Yara and her retinue. Theon wants her to admire his achievement, taking Winterfell with just twenty men. But Yara is not impressed. “Which one gave you more trouble,” she says about the two burned corpses hanging at the gate. “The cripple or the six-year-old?”
She is frustrated with her brother for killing the Stark boys, who had far more value alive than dead. She tells Theon that she came to bring him home to Pyke; their father wants a word with Theon (and it’s not, Good Job, which is two words and also not something Balon Greyjoy would ever say to his idiot son). She can’t believe Theon thought taking Winterfell was a great idea. The Greyjoys are islanders, what do they want or need with this castle so far north and so far from the sea? And what does he think will happen when Robb Stark finds out what he did? Theon has that covered – we killed all the ravens, we have all the horses. Yara can’t reason with him, she wants him to leave and come home. She’s worried about him and it’s kinda sweet. He doesn’t deserve it.
Ygritte brings Jon Snow to the Lord of Bones. He’s already captured Qhorin Halfhand and doesn’t see what he needs with another crow, so he orders his men to kill Jon. But Ygritte stops him by telling him that Jon is the bastard son of Ned Stark and Mance Rayder will want to question him. Jon talks with Halfhand and finds out what happened to the rest of the rangers – they were ambushed when they went back to find Jon. Halfhand tells Jon, let’s not make their sacrifices for naught.
Talisa is walking with Robb and asking him about the girl he’s promised to. All he know is her last name is Frey and he agreed to the marriage when his father was still alive and he thought he needed to cross Frey’s bridge to save his father. Robb talks about what a great man Ned was and the great lessons he taught him. Robb wishes he didn’t have to fight, he’d prefer to just go home, but he feels that no one will be safe while the Lannisters rule. A knight rides up with word that Jaime Lannister escaped last night. Robb is furious and wants to know why.
Robb gets his answer, but not one he’s happy about. His mother helped the Kingslayer escape. She did it for the girls, she says. Lord Karstark can’t believe his ears. He’s lost two sons fighting alongside Robb and she let Jaime go because her children are prisoners? She committed treason and denied him his justice and if she wasn’t his king’s mother, I’m sure the conversation would take an even more unpleasant turn. Robb is putting her on timeout and she can forget all about Mother’s Day this year.
Brienne of Tarth is taking Jaime Lannister to King’s Landing, to trade him for the girls. She knows how to travel without being tracked, she sent the horses off in one direction while she and her captive go another. Jaime is his usually chatty self and tries to provoke her, succeeding mostly. He has gotten under her skin, but Brienne is still smart enough not to take his bait.
Kevan Lanister is leading the discussion of what’s happening with the war and Arya is overhearing everything. Stannis Baratheon is almost at King’s Landing with hundreds of ships and Kevan recommends that Cersei and Joffrey leave before Stannis arrives. But Tywin will not entertain the idea of surrendering the Iron Throne. But he is concerned. Not only do they have to deal with the threat from Stannis, but there is still Robb Stark to worry about, although they were helped inadvertently by Theon Greyjoy taking Winterfell. Tywin decides that his army will ride at nightfall towards Robb’s army. Tywin instructs Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane to stay at Harrenhal and go after the Brotherhood without Banners. Arya is in a panic at this news. She goes off looking for Jaqen H’ghar but before she can find him, she sees Tywin mount his horse and ride off.
Qhorin Halfhand tells Jon Snow that Mance Rayder is planning on marching to the Wall with his army of wildlings. A spy inside would be invaluable. So Qhorin puts into place Operation Defector, step one, call Jon a traitor and attack him.
Oscar and Felix, I mean Bronn and Tyrion are just chilling in Tyrion’s study. Bronn is cleaning his nails while Tyrion pours over large, dusty tomes. They bicker. Tyrion wants Bronn to dress nicely, but Bronn worries the gold cloak makes him look fat. Tyrion wants Bronn to help him plan the defense of King’s Landing and Bronn thinks Tyrion is wasting his time reading books about great battles.
Lord Varys comes in (in case this scene wasn’t delicious enough) and compliments Bronn on what a great job he’s done keeping the peace. Tyrion finds out that Bronn’s methods are a bit Casablancian – “round up the usual suspects” – but whatever works! Tyrion assumes that Stannis will bring his fleet to Mud Gate, but how to prepare for such an attack?
Sam, Grenn and Dolorous Edd are digging latrines north of the Wall, when they come upon a discovery buried in the snow. A stash of dragon glass (what the maester’s call obsidian, according to the well-read Sam) was buried at the Fist of the First Men.
Back at Harrenhal, Arya finally finds Jaqen. But it’s too late for him to do what she needed – kill Tywin Lannister. He tells her the Red God still needs one more name; she wants him to kill Tywin “right now” but “this a man cannot do.” She said that he promised to help her and he says she didn’t read the fineprint; he agreed to kill, not help. He demands a name, so she leans forward and says “Jaqen H’ghar.” This unsettles him. “A girl gives a man his own name?” which is his way of saying, WTF? He asks her, please, to unname him. But she refuses. Arya found the loophole, she will unname him only if he helps her and her friends escape. He tells her to walk through the gates at midnight. And in the future, he will consult with an attorney before entering into anymore death-for-death contracts.
Cersei goes to talk with Tyrion. She is concerned about Joffrey fighting. She thinks this is part of Tyrion’s master plan. First he ships off Myrcella, then he sends Joffrey off to war. She won’t have it. So she threatens Tyrion where it hurts most. She tells him that she has his “little whore.” Tyrion’s face collapses, for once he’s not so glib and confident. He tries to feign insouciance, I’ll just get another, but Cersei sees right through him. This girl means something to him. He asks how she found the girl and Cersei mentions she was wearing a Lannister lion necklace. She tells Tyrion that whatever fate befalls Joffrey will be felt by his whore multiple times over. Tyrion asks to see her and in they bring…Ros! Tyrion does not betray anything, and goes to her and promises to help her. But inside we know he’s so relieved. He hurries back to his chambers and finds Shae safe and sound.
Robb learns that Theon has taken Winterfell, but he doesn’t know anything yet about the fate of his two younger brothers. Roose Bolton offers that his bastard son could be there in a couple of days to take back the castle. Robb will show mercy to any of Theon’s men who surrender. But Theon will pay for what he’s done. Talisa comes in and at first Robb is all miserable and depressed until she tells him a long, boring story about why she decided to become a nurse and all of a sudden he looks at her and blurts out “I don’t want to marry the Frey girl.” They make out and Robb forgets all about his troubles.
It’s almost midnight and Arya, Gendry and Hot Pie are preparing to make their escape. Only, Arya didn’t get any hint from Jaqen as to what the signal will be or what they need to do, which Gendry points out would have been a good idea. Nevertheless, when the metaphorical clock strikes, they start towards the gate, and then they notice that all the sentries are dead and Jaqen has cleared their path.
We see Stannis Baratheon talking with Ser Davos Seaworth as they sail to Blackwater Bay. We learn some of the backstory between the two. Davos is nicknamed, some would say derisively, the Onion Knight by some of Stannis’ highborn followers. Davos, a reformed smuggler, does not take offense and, instead, embraces it, even using an onion as his sigil. The name comes from when, during Robert’s Rebellion, Davos aided Stannis while he was besieged in Storm’s End by delivering smuggled onions and other food into the castle and helping Stannis’ starving forces survive until the end of the war. Stannis rewarded Davos by bestowing him a knighthood and lands, but also cut off four finger tips from Davos’ right hand as punishment for his past smuggling crimes. Davos wears his severed finger bones in a pouch about his neck and believes they bring him good luck. Stannis still resents how after holding Storm’s End during the war, it was ultimately awarded to his younger brother Renly by King Robert. But now Stannis is the rightful king and when he takes King’s Landing, Davos will be his Hand. Not bad for a crabber’s son!
Preparations are being made for Stannis’ attack on King’s Landing. Joffrey is gleeful at the idea of fighting Stannis and is full of false bravado. His uncle Tyrion and Lord Varys can barely contain their disdain and enjoy an interesting conversation after he leaves. Varys compliments Tyrion on how he’s done as interim Hand. He tells Tyrion that his little birds tell him that Daenerys Targaryen lives and she has three dragons. They are not worried about her as it’ll be years before the dragons – of they really do exist – are grown.
Jorah Mormont tells Dany that they have a ship that will take them to Astapor in the morning. But Dany is not leaving Qarth without her dragons, whom she refers to as her children. Jorah thinks she’s taking the whole “mother of dragons” thing a little too seriously, but she reminds him that she walked into a blazing funeral pyre and came out unscathed, so there. She asks Jorah to go with her to the House of the Undying to get her dragons back.
Back at Winterfell, there is some discussion of what to do with the bodies of the two boys. Theon presents a packet of gold for Dagmer to give to the farmer “for his trouble.” But Dagmer says his troubles are over – he’s been killed along with his wife. You want someone’s silence, you silence them.
Maester Luwin sees Osha and follows her. There he – and we – find Bran and Rickon are alive!! She said they doubled back, figuring Winterfell was the last place Theon’s men would think to look for them. Osha tells Luwin that the two murdered boys were the farmer’s adopted sons, but not to tell Bran and Rickon what happened to the boys. Unfortunately, Bran is awake and hears this.
Dolorous Edd: Great rangers never get old is the problem. Shit ones neither. It’s them in the middle that last a long time.
Tyrion (to Cersei): I will hurt you for this. A day will come when you think you’re safe and happy and your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth. And you will know the debt is paid.
Shae (to Tyrion): I’m yours and you are mine.
Robb (about his father): I asked him, ‘How can a man be brave if he’s afraid?’ ‘That is the only time a man can be brave,’ he told me.
Varys (to Tyrion): You’re quite good at being Hand, you know. Jon Arryn and Ned Stark were good men, honorable men. But they disdained the game and those who play it. You enjoy the game.
Tyrion: I do. Last thing I expected.
Varys: And you play it well.
Tyrion: I’d like to keep playing it.
Tyrion: The Lord of Light wants his enemies burnt. The Drowned God wants his enemies drowned. Why are all the gods such vicious cunts? Where is the god of tits and wine?