It’s sad seeing the smoke rising from the Winterfell animation during the opening sequence. Sadder still is realizing that Bran Stark is no longer the cute little boy we left last season. Continuity, schmontinuity, puberty waits for no man. Onward!
Bran is dreaming again, he’s running through the forest with a bow and arrow. Suddenly, his older brothers appear and we see the scene from the first episode, where Bran is practicing his archery. He is taking aim at the three-eyed raven that has been haunting his dreams since his accident. Bran shoots, misses, the bird flies off, and his brothers laugh. They disappear, and we instead hear his father’s voice, asking which of them was a marksman at ten. Bran calls out to his father, but it’s just the wind rustling through the trees.
Bran turns around suddenly, still in the dream and there’s a boy about his age standing there. The boy tells Bran he can’t kill the raven, because “the raven is you.” Pretty basic dream interpretation if you ask me. Bran wakes with a start and his direwolf Summer is there, along with his brother Rickon and his direwolf Shaggydog. Hodor comes over to make sure Bran is okay and Osha asks if he had the dream again where he was inside his direwolf. He says, no, this time he was the raven and starts to tell her the dream, but Osha wants no part of black magic talk. She wants to keep moving towards the Wall; she doesn’t think they’re safe where they are – people could be looking for them.
Robb and his new bride Talisa and enjoying some alone time, with Talisa kidding him about being a “grim, bearded, stinking” Westerosi barbarian. Roose Bolton interrupts their kissing with news from Riverrun and from Winterfell. I know Roose always looks dour, but still it’s pretty clear from his expression that he’s not bringing good news. After Robb reads the letters, he goes and tells his mother. Her father Lord Hoster Tully has died. She and Robb will travel to the funeral together. He also tells her the news from Winterfell. By the time Bolton’s bastard son got to Winterfell, the Iron Islanders had already fled. But first, they killed everyone and set fire to the castle. Bran and Rickon have not been found. Robb doesn’t know if they managed to escape or if Theon took them back to Pyke as hostages. But they haven’t received any demands, nor heard from Theon at all, so it doesn’t seem likely that he has them.
Speaking of Theon, he is being held prisoner somewhere. He is bound and naked and strung up Christ-like in a dark, foreboding chamber. There is another man there and when Theon questions who he is and what he wants, the man takes out a dagger and plunges it in Theon’s finger. Probably a good idea not to ask him any follow-up questions.
Jaime is doing much better as a prisoner. He is passing the time by making small talk with Brienne, who loathes small talk but doesn’t plunge anything sharp in any of his body parts. He tries to get her to be a bit more animated and engaging, but she’s pretty much the blond plank mute he describes. So he asks questions which she can easily answer, to keep some form of communication going. How did she come to work for Lady Stark, who did she work for before? When he finds out she had worked for Renly Baratheon (and harbored a secret crush), he can’t help but needle her about the rumors of his relationship with Loras Tyrell. He angers her and she responds threateningly, but as he’s apologizing, a horse and its elderly owner come along.
They exchange pleasantries with the old man for a moment and then off he goes. Jaime is sure that the man recognized him. He worries, what if the man tells someone. But Brienne won’t go kill the man, he’s just an innocent passerby. But Jaime asks, more innocent that the Stark girls – does Brienne really want to risk their lives on her guess/hope that this man won’t tell anyone that she has Jaime Lannister? The answer is yes, because she lets him get away.
King Joffrey is at a fitting with his tailor and his mommy is there watching. He wants to look manly and regal – no flowers! Cersei suggests he can give the rose fabric to Margaery for her wedding gown. She asks him what he thinks of Margaery, and he’s pleased with the match. Combining the Lannisters with the Tyrells should help them defeat Robb and his bannermen. Cersei presses him, wanting to know what he thinks of Margaery as a woman, not as a match. She is concerned about how calculating Margaery is and how everything she does is for a reason, to further her agenda. Joffrey is bored by this conversation and will not listen any more. But Cersei certainly recognizes Margaery’s ambition, even if her son fails to.
Shae is doing the one handmaiden job she seems good at, hair brushing, and she and Sansa discuss the latter’s brief chat with Littlefinger earlier in the day. Shae is surprised to hear that Littlefinger did not ask for anything – when a man talks to a pretty girl, he wants something from her. She asks Sansa to let her know immediately if Littlefinger should ever ask anything from her – so she can stop him (we’ve seen her in action before and she’s pretty quick).
There is a knock on Sansa’s door and it is Loras Tyrell. She blushes and gets all giddy because she has the worst gaydar in all of the realm. He is there to invite Sansa to join his sister and their grandmother, Lady Olenna, in the gardens. Lady Olenna, unlike most everyone else Sansa meets, tells the truth without concern about ramifications. It pays to be old and rich. She speaks her mind about Renly and Loras and has Margaery all flustered. Oleanna was the one in the family who tried to dissuade the Tyrells from siding with Renly – Robert has two sons and Renly was the youngest brother at any rate, he did not have the best claim to the throne.
Lady Olenna’s son is the Lord of Highgarden. She calls him a ponderous oaf, like his late father (her husband), Luthor Tyrell, who died while hawking when he failed to see he was nearing a cliff. She wonders if her son is doing the same thing, chasing for something without looking where he’s going. Her son is Margaery and Loras’ father. She asks Sansa about Joffrey. Sansa starts sputtering, not sure how to answer. Olenna admits they’ve heard some troubling tales about Joffrey and wants to know if any of it is true. Sansa says that Joffrey had promised her he’d be merciful to her father and then he chopped his head off. That is his idea of mercy. And then he took her up to the wallwalk and made her look at her father’s head on a pike. She doesn’t want to say anything more, she’s clearly scared. But Olenna prods and promises she’ll be safe if she speaks the truth, so she adds, “He’s a monster.” Olenna has possibly the best reaction to that news – “that’s a pity.”
Robb is taking his men to the funeral for his grandfather Hoster Tully. Rickard Karstark says that marching to Riverrun, and not for battle, is a distraction for the soldiers. But Robb points out that his uncle Edmure Tully will be there, with his men. Rickard is not convinced that will be enough. He fears the war is lost and has been since the day Robb married Talisa.
Speaking of Talisa, she rides over to where Catelyn is fashioning some religious bad karma catcher that mothers make to protect their children. The conversation is tense. Talisa asks Catelyn if she’s made these before for her children, and she says yes, twice. And they worked, “in a fashion.” The most recent time was when she was waiting for Bran to wake from his coma, she prayed to the gods to save his life and they did. The first time was when one of the boys came down with pox and she stayed with him through a very long, crucial night. And which of her sons was that child? Jon Snow. For some reason, Catelyn decides to come clean to her daughter-in-law about what kind of Step-Monster she was. She admits that, before Jon came down with the pox, she had prayed to the gods to take him away. Make him die. She was jealous of his mother and didn’t want this bastard in her family. Then he came down with the pox and she knew she was the worst woman who ever lived. He was going to die because of her. So that night she prayed to the gods to let the boy live. She promised if they let him live, she would love him and beg Ned give him a true name, let him be a Stark. Jon lived…but Catelyn could not keep her promise to the gods. And now she wonders if all the horrors that have befallen her family are because she broke that promise. All because she couldn’t love a motherless child.
Poor, unloved Jon Snow is walking with Mance Rayder. Mance asks him if it was hard to kill Qhorin Halfhand, and Jon admits that it was. Mance tells him it won’t be hard for him to kill Jon if he betrays them. Mance has wildling blood in his veins. Mance goes on to tell Jon how hard it is trying to unify 90 clans that speak 7 different languages. But he was able to do it by convincing them that they would all die if they failed to march south.
One of the men has his head titled back, his eyes rolled up into his head, looking up at the sky. Jon asks what’s up with that guy and he’s told the man is a warg. Wargs can enter the minds of animals, see through their eyes. This one is scouting for them, using the eagle flying overhead. He was at the Fist of the First Men and he saw dead crows (Night’s Watch men).
Meanwhile, at the Fist of the First Men, Sam and the rest of the survivors are marching. Rast is bullying Sam, complaining how they lost 200 men but Sam is still here. He tells Sam to lie down and rest (give up, get separated, die) and whether it’s guilt or exhaustion, Sam takes his evil advice and just sits down. But his friends Glenn and Edd won’t let him. Sam reminds them that when the while walkers came, his friends ran. They admit they did, they were scared for their lives. But they won’t let him quit and so they try to pick him up. Rast comes over and tells them to stop, Sam will just slow them down, then Mormont comes over and tells Sam that he is forbidden to die. And if this doesn’t make things clear enough, Rast is responsible for keeping Sam alive.
Bran is having a fitful sleep when he wakes with a start. Osha is poised for attack; they hear something out in the forest. She runs to find out what it is, leaving Bran alone with Summer who is baring his teeth and growling at something. Out walks the boy from Bran’s earlier dream. As he approaches, a spear is placed at the back of his neck and we hear Osha’s voice telling him not to move or he’ll drown in his own blood. He tells her he’s unarmed. When she suggests that wasn’t a good idea, he adds that his sister carries the weapons.
As he finishes his sentence, his sister comes up behind Osha and puts a knife to her neck. Knife trumps spear, so Osha drops her weapon. But she tells the girl that Summer will rip her throat out. The boy approaches Summer and knows the wolf’s name and puts his hand out for the wolf to sniff. Summer gives him a sniff and pads off. The boy identifies himself as Jojen Reed, introduces his sister Meera, and tells Bran (whose name they know) that they’ve been looking for him for a long time and they have a long way to go.
Gendry is giving Arya a hard time about how she wasted her three kills that Jaqen H’ghar offered her. She really doesn’t want to hear that. The two of them and Hot Pie argue geography and trip planning when they hear a man’s voice, singing the Rains of Castamere. They’re crouched down and watching a group of men approach, when all of a sudden an arrow comes their way and they hear a voice calling to them. The voice wonders if what’s hiding is a wolf or lion (Stark or Lannister supporter), but finds the kids. Arya is standing there sword in hand and tells the men to keep on moving or she’ll kill them – which amuses them to no end.
They are intrigued, if not scared, by the three children. Three young ones on the run, each with a castle-forged sword. Curious. The man suspects, correctly, that they’ve fled from Harrenhal. Arya asks who the leader is, and he replies that he is Thoros of Myr. The man behind him is Anguy. Arya asks who they fight for, and Thoros says they are the Brotherhood Without Banners. Hot Pie recalls how the Mountain was sent off to find and capture the Brotherhood. He’s worried if they end up with them, they’ll be captured and returned to Harrenhal. But Thoros says he is no threat to them – they are trying to save Westeros while the Starks and Lannisters and their ilk are trying to destroy it. He tells the three to come and join them for some food.
Tyrion comes back to his room to find Shae there. He is concerned with her being discovered by his father, but she had to come see him. She’s worried about Sansa. She saw her talk to Littlefinger today and she was warned by Ros that he is not to be trusted. Tyrion says there’s not much they can do to protect Sansa. She’s a beautiful girl with a famous old name and will be highly sought after. They verbally joust about how Tyrion knows Ros and his mentioning Sansa’s beauty, but in the end he only has lips for Shae.
Margaery goes to see Joffrey in his chambers. He’s sitting with a crossbow on his lap. He tells her he’s going on a hunting trip (oh gods, please let this royal hunting trip turn out like the last one!) and wants to make sure she has everything she needs before he leaves. How sweet, see he’s really just a nice guy! He’s glad she’s enjoying life at the capital, which she says she’s much better suited for than life on a military camp. What about life with a traitor, how did that suit you, he asks. Oh, well, that turned ugly really fast. He asks her why she didn’t do her wifely duties with Renly and she decides to tell all about Renly’s lack of interest and Joffrey seems satisfied with the way the discussion is going. But Margaery knows how to play him, she sits next to him and starts stroking the crossbow and letting him brag about his new weapon. He shows her how to arm it and how to fire it and she shows great interest in killing something. And Joffrey has never been so turned on.
Theon is being tortured and screaming while one man asks him to tell the truth. But Theon doesn’t know what he wants to know. The man asks why Theon took Winterfell. He said he took it on his own, to take the North while it was vulnerable. He was going to hold it and rule it. Good, you told the truth. So, we’ll just torture you some more. When you find yourself with a torturer who doesn’t play by the rules, you know you’re in deep trouble. So the man asks again, why did you take Winterfell. This time Theon says to bring glory to his house and to his father. He’s not sure that answer is going to work any bettter, so he tries another. I took it because I hated the Starks, hated them for holding me prisoner. Another man puts a hood over Theon’s head.
All of the men leave except for one, who is sweeping the dungeon. He takes off the hood and tells Theon that his sister sent him. He loosens the screws that were used to torture Theon and tells him he will come for Theon tonight. Theon begs the boy not to leave him, but the boy puts the hood back on Theon and walks out.
Bran and his entourage are on the move again. Jojen tells Bran that he knows that he can see from inside his direwolf and can control him, but Bran says he can only do that in his sleep. Jojen says, that’s how it starts. He explains to Bran that he’s a warg (like the wildling we met earlier) and can live inside animals. Bran says it’s not just Summer, but the three-eyed raven (which Jojen says at the same time – it’s so cute how they finish each other’s sandwiches). Turns out Jojen remembers seeing the three-eyed raven in Bran’s dream. Jojen explains that seeing through the raven is not about warging, it’s something different, something deeper. Ravens give you super vision – to see things that have happened before, or will happen, or are happening far away. Jojen has the same powers as Bran – he also saw Ned Stark’s death and can see through animals. His father is Howland Reed and he saved Ned’s life during the rebellion.
Thoros is sharing a meal with Gendry, Hot Pie and Arya and asking more questions about how the three of them managed to escape Harrenhal. Arya won’t give him the real answer (a faceless man slaughtered everyone because if he didn’t he’d have to kill himself on my orders), but mentions that Gendry is a skilled smith and that she and he are able swordsmen. When the men laugh at her, she pulls out her sword to show how badass she is and within a few seconds, Thoros unarms her. What about seeing, Arya? Did you forget your lessons already? He doesn’t harm Arya; he’s satisfied that he made his point. He tells them that they’re free to go, but as they’re about to leave, some of the fellow brotherhood come in with a new prisoner.
It’s the Hound. Arya tries to walk out of the inn before he notices her, but it doesn’t work. The Hound sees her and asks Thoros what he’s doing “with the Stark bitch.” Holy Blown Cover Batman!
Jaime and Brienne are continuing their travels when they come upon a river. Crossing it poses a bit of a dilemma for Brienne, go through the river and risk drowning, go across the bridge and risk discovery. She opts for the bridge and halfway across Jaime sits down, so they are out in the open for anyone to see. She bends down to get him back on his feet and he uses that opportunity to grab one of her swords. It feels good to hold a sword again.
Jaime realizes he has the upper hand. While he’s battered and bruised and out of practice, Brienne is duty-bound to deliver him alive. But Brienne is strong and determined, and she ultimately gets the better of him. Weak from being imprisoned for so long and subject to numerous body blows from the much stronger Brienne, he collapses in exhaustion when some men ride up. They are under the banner of the Flayed Man of House Bolton. We see the old man that Brienne had let go after he spotted them, he was the one who identified Jaime to these men. They pay the man his silver for the information. Jaime tells them that his father will pay handsomely for his return, but the man won’t risk his head – which is what he’d lose if he didn’t return Jaime to the King of the North.
Jaime: So how shall we pass the time?
Brienne: By putting one foot in front of the other.
Jaime: It’s going to be a very dull walk.
Jaime: Renly, really? He wasn’t fit to rule over anything more important than a 12-course meal.
Jaime: I don’t blame you and I don’t blame him either. We don’t get to choose who we love.
Olenna: Once the cow’s been milked, there’s no squirting the cream back up her udders.
Margaery: I imagine it must be so exciting to squeeze your finger here and watch something die over there.
Joffrey: Could you do it? Could you…kill something?
Margaery: I don’t know, your Grace. Do you think I could?
Margaery: Would you like to watch me?
Meera: Some people will always need help. That doesn’t mean they’re not worth helping.