Theon Greyjoy wakes to find the wildling woman, Osha, has gone. But that is the least of his troubles. The Stark children, Bran and Rickon, have escaped along with their direwolves. Osha killed one of the guards during the night and helped the Stark boys, along with Hodor, get away. Theon is furious for his men for allowing a “halfwit” to escape with a “cripple,” but one of his men, Lorren, points out that it was Theon who was busy humping the wildling who helped them all escape. Theon does not appreciate having his mistakes pointed out, so he beats Lorren until he’s exhausted. He then arranges a posse to go find the escapees.
They have hounds tracking the scent and they stop the hunt long enough for Theon to ask Maester Luwin if he’s enjoying himself. Luwin reminds Theon that they are just little boys and are of more value alive than dead. Theon says he was a little boy when he was taken against his will and then mentions how he never tried to escape. I wonder how much of Theon’s self loathing comes from that fact. The hounds picked up a scent, and they’re off again.
Bran, Rickon, Osha and Hodor have been walking since before the sun came up and they come up to a familiar farm. Bran had just sent to Winterfell orphans to live there. Rickon says they can stop by and ask for food, but Bran is afraid to because if Theon tracks them down, he could torture the family until he finds out where they went.
It’s the morning after and Ygritte is picking up where she left off, teasing poor Jon Snow. She finally realizes that he’s still a virgin and is extremely uncomfortable around her. So she continues to needle him and make provocative statements all in order to get a rise out of (or at least unsettle) him. She is relentless, are there any girl crows? Do the boys do it with each other? Do you just do it yourself? The more uncomfortable he is, the more she pokes. You took some stupid oath, and now you can never touch a girl, she tells him. Jon has to think killing her would have been easier, at least she’d be quiet. But the cute will-they-or-won’t-they banter disintegrates when she yells at him for invading their lands.
At Harrenhal, Tywin Lannister is investigating the dead knight at his door. The man had been shot with an arrow containing wolfsbane, a rare substance. Tywin thinks the murder was an attempted assassination on him, not realizing that the killer (Jaqen on instructions from Arya) struck their target. The Lannister forces have rounded up the usual suspects and already killed dozens searching for information on who was behind the murder. Rumor has in that it was an infiltrator from a rogue group called the Brotherhood without Banners, an unaligned group of outlaws adverse to the Lannisters. The Mountain says they’ve been looking for these men, but so far have been unsuccessful.
After Clegane leaves, Tywin is alone with Arya. He not interested in the food she brought him, so he suggests she enjoy it. He is in a reflective mood, and ponders this his last war. When Arya asks him if he’s ever lost a war, he counters “Do you think I’d been in my position if I had lost a war?” Meanwhile, she’s holding the knife that supposed to cut her meat and we know she’s thinking what else she could do with that knife. He talks about his legacy for how this “war of the five kings” works out. He tells her the story of Harrenhal and how Aegon Targaryen changed history with his dragon-led attack, and Arya knows the story well. She says, Aegon “and his sisters.” Tywin is surprised she knows this, and starts to suspect that she’s no ordinary stonemason’s daughter. He cautions her not to be too clever.
Sansa comes upon the Hound and wants to thank him for saving her, but the Hound does not take the role of hero easily. He claims to love killing and when she balks at his talk of being so hardhearted, he tells her: “You’ll be glad of the hateful things I do someday when you are queen and I’m all that stands between you and your beloved king.”
Xaro Xhoan Daxos wants to help Dany find her dragons, but Dany doesn’t want him to think they are together on this or that this is any concern of his. These are her dragons, not his.
Ygritte is continuing to give Jon a hard time, telling him that her people are free and don’t follow some king just because his father was king, but Jon responds that they instead are following Mance Rayder. She said they chose him and he chose a life of freedom instead of his former life as a crow; Jon could make the same choice. She tells him how great his life would be if he were to desert, but Jon is not swayed. She tells him, “you know nothing, Jon Snow.”
At Robb Stark’s encampment, Alton Lannister has returned with word from his cousin Cersei. The queen appreciated Robb’s spunk, but she flatly rejected his peace proposal. Tore the letter in two, as is her wont. Robb appreciates Alton’s efforts and for this he will be kept in a comfy cell, bunking with his cousin Jaime until his own room is ready. Lord Karstark’s son will keep his eye on the prisoners.
Talisa comes to speak with Robb, and watching Roose Bolton’s look at her when she interrupts their conversation is priceless. She’s exhausted the supplies she came with and needs more to tend to the wounded. She asks if Robb could pick up some supplies for her at his next location, the Crag, where he is heading to negotiate a surrender, but Robb invites her to come along. You can cut the sexual tension between these two with a sword.
Theon and his men track the escapees to the farmhouse, but cannot locate Bran and company. They know they were there, but the hounds have lost the scent. Theon will not be made a fool of in front of his men and he will tear the farmhouse apart and beat everyone and do whatever it takes to find them. Theon is so worried about being seen as strong and in charge, worthy of the Greyjoy name, that he believes it is better to be cruel than weak. The farmer is dragged out and beaten until he tells where the Stark boys went. He claims he knows nothing, but Dagmer finds old walnut shells which tells him that they are still there. They send Maester Luwin back to Winterfell. He begs Theon not to do what he is going to do.
Jorah returns and Dany is beside herself with guilt over leading her people to be slaughtered. Doreah is missing, Irri and the others are dead. Dany is feeling pretty alone. She feels no tie to the Targaryens nor the Dothraki nor the people of Westeros who don’t even know she’s alive. Jorah tells her “trust me,” things will be better, but she’s not in the mood to hear “trust me” from anyone. If he wants to help, he can find her dragons. Otherwise, she’s not interested in anything he has to say.
And more from the Book of Ygritte, chapter seven, how to make yourself as annoying as possible. She continues to bait poor Jon, now weaving a story of how she’s going to claim to his superiors that he had sex with her. And since she’s going to tell this story, they might as well do it after all. The more uncomfortable he is, the more erotic she turns the conversation. She is creating a hostile work environment for Jon and he should sue for sexual harassment.
She has him so confused and off-balance, that she uses the opportunity for another escape attempt. Jon chases after her but can’t find her. Suddenly, he hears a whistle and looks up to see Ygritte, with some of her wildling friends. A lot of wildlings. As Jon looks around, he realizes he’s surrounded. She tells him, he should have “took her” when he had the chance.
Sansa is having a bad dream, reliving the attack and attempted rape. But when she wakes up, she finds she has other problems. She’s come into her flower as they say, which means she can now marry the prince and have his little demon babies. Oh joy. Shae tries to help a sister out by hiding the bloody bed sheets of doom, and even threatens another handmaiden with bodily harm should she tell anyone what she saw. But the Hound just happens to come in to discover their attempted cover up and it’s too late.
Cersei talks to Sansa about her burgeoning womanhood and the wonderful gift of children that now awaits her. In a moment of extreme understatement, Cersei mentions that Joffrey had always been a difficult child. You think? She talks about the pain of bringing him into the world, which has only been exceeded by the pain he’s brought since then (okay, Cersei didn’t say that, but we’re all thinking it). Cersei shares some more from the birth, including the fact that King Robert wasn’t there to see his son born, but that he brother Jaime was there and stood by her throughout each labor. More honesty from Cersei – she tells Sansa that Joffrey will not show her such devotion. Cersei knows all about loveless marriages to a king and assures Sansa that while she’ll never love Joffrey, she will love his children. But Sansa mouths all the right things, she loves Joffrey with all her heart. It is difficult seeing Cersei so vulnerable and almost kind to Sansa, knowing that she’d slit Sansa’s throat in a nanosecond for her children.
Jaime is in his cell chatting it up with his distant cousin Alton. Alton mentions how he had squired for Jaime at Walder Frey’s wedding. He is clearly in awe of the great Kingslayer and remembers every moment of that day and says he’ll remember it until the day he dies. He doesn’t know at that moment just how true that statement is. Jaime tells Alton that he knows how he felt, he felt the same when he squired for Barristan Selmy. Jaime admits he was a terrible squire, but an excellent swordsman. He found his calling and he is not meant to be locked up. He admits to Alton that he’s been plotting how to escape, but nothing came to him. At least, not until Alton got there. Alton is thrilled with the idea of being able to help, less so when he learns that his help will come at a price.
Jaime kills his cousin Alton, beating him over and over till he’s barely recognizable. Lord Karstark’s son comes over to see what has happened, entering the cell and turning over Alton’s body. Jaime comes up from behind him and chokes him to death. He steals the jailor’s keys, unlocks his chains, then escapes.
Jorah goes to the strange woman with the covered face, looking for information on the missing dragons. The woman knows a lot more than Jorah expected. She knows he loves Dany. And she knows that he had been spying on Dany on behalf of the king, hoping to pay off his debts and be allowed to return to Westeros. She tells him the thief he seeks is with her now.
Dany is with Xaro, pleading for the return of her dragons in front of the thirteen. The Spice King tells her they’d all be better off if the dragons died, as they would bring nothing but death and misery. But Pyat Pree says she should be reunited with her dragons. He offers to take her to the House of the Undying, where he put her dragons. He said that when he learned she was coming to the city, he made arrangements with the King of Qarth to procure her dragons. Dany says, there’s no King of Qarth, and Xaro says, well, there is now. So, shocker, he betrayed her and the thirteen. The Spice King says, you (Xaro) and your magician friend Pyat aren’t the boss of me, but then Pyat does some hocus pocus and there are multiples of him and they each kill one of the thirteen, till only he and Xaro remain. Their plan is to keep Dany prisoner, tending to her dragons, until the dragons are fully grown and can be used to rule the world (bwahahaha). Dany runs away, Jorah tries to help her by killing one of the many Pyats, and they head to find the dragons.
The Kingslayer didn’t get very far after his escape and was recaptured. Catelyn receives the news of his capture and we see him dragged back to the bloodthirsty cries of the Stark bannerman. Lord Karstark wants Jaime’s head for what he did to his son, but Catelyn intercedes. He is our prisoner, we can’t just execute him. She is more interested in Jaime’s value in a Jaime-f0r-Sansa-and-Arya trade to think straight. Lord Karstark is pissed – Robb is off gallivanting around town with the hot foreign nurse when he should be here ordering Jaime’s execution. Jaime is enjoying this way too much as the mother of the boy he tried to kill is fighting for his life.
Oh, that we could have hours and hours of just conversations with Tyrion and Cersei. Cersei is lighting her own candles because she can’t stand her handmaidens, Tyrion is re-reading the letter about Stannis Baratheon’s fleet approaching. They’ll be there in five days with over 200 ships. But Cersei is not worried, “we’ll rain fire on them from above,” she says, quoting their father. Tyrion is worried about Joffrey, he’s out of control and the people don’t support him. He’s uniquely cruel. Cersei wonders if Joffrey is the price she is paying for her sins. She’s up front now about her relationship with Jaime and how they used to excuse it by saying the Targaryens did the same thing. Tyrion tries to comfort her, pointing out that both Tommen and Myrcells are good kids. But Cersei starts crying, and the moment is so awkward as the siblings should embrace, yet can’t.
There is fighting outside the holding cell of the Kingslayer and the men each want a piece of him. Catelyn and Brienne are concerned that he’ll be killed during the night, before Robb returns. Jaime is in a philosophical mood, thinking about his life as a knight. So many vows, defend the king, obey the king, obey your father, protect the innocent, defend the weak. “But what if your father despises the king? What if the king massacres the innocent?” You can’t win, he says, you end up forsaking one vow or another. Jaime bristles at the “Kingslayer” epithet. Was Aerys Targaryen such a great king, slaying him was a crime? Catelyn tells him he is a man without honor, but Jaime says that, unlike her philandering late husband Ned, he has been completely faithful to one woman. And what kind of a mother was she to the poor bastard child? Loving, kind? No, she hated that child. So who is it who is without honor?
Theon calls the people of Winterfell together for a little macabre show and tell. He warned them what would happen if his orders were not obeyed. He means business, and to prove it he show them two charred little bodies. Maester Luwin screams out with horror while Theon looks remarkably satisfied with himself. Theon has sunk to a new low.
Theon (to Maester Luwin): It’s all just a game.
Jon (to Ygritte): If you’re my prisoner, you’re not a free woman. That’s what “prisoner” means.
Tywin: Aren’t most girls more interested in the pretty maidens from the songs? Jonquil, flowers in her hair?
Arya: Most girls are idiots.
Tywin: You’re too smart for your own good. Has anyone ever told you that?
Xaro Xhoan Daxos: A man is what others say he is, and no more.
Cersei (to Sansa): The more people you love, the weaker you are.
Tyrion: It’s hard to put a leash on a dog once you’ve put a crown on his head.