No new locations in this weeks opening credits, despite the fact that Catelyn takes a trip down south to visit self appointed King Renly as Robb Stark’s envoy, and this episode (written by Brian Cogman) picks up directly where the Nightlands finished. Craster bursts into the hall where Commander Mormont and the other members of the Nights watch are sleeping, dragging a beaten Jon Snow behind him. Craster is not happy that Jon caught him offering a new born baby boy to the White Walkers as a sacrifice and now he wants them all out of his keep – hospitality withdrawn. Mormont is disappointed in his steward’s behaviour and commands him to wait outside, despite Jon’s protestations. When Jon tries to tell him what he saw the Commander is unsurprised and Jon quickly realises that he already knows. The Nights Watch has been turning a blind eye to Crasters sacrifices for years. His Keep is strategically positioned beyond the wall and has offered safe haven to many a ranger over the years, Jon’s uncle Benjen (who is missing) included. As dawn breaks the Nights Watch get ready to leave, but not before Samwell finds Gilly (the girl who came to him and Jon for help last week), and gives her a token of his affection – a sowing bob that belonged to his mother. Gilly doesnt want him to give it away at first, but Sam insists. Gilly is to keep it safe, until he comes back.
At Winterfell Bran is in bed dreaming he has become one with his direwolf, summer. He often dreams that he is running with the wolves, tasting blood in his mouth after a kill and howling with his brother. Maester Luwin tell Bran that these are only dreams, nothing more, but Bran is insistant that the dreams are real, as if there is magic at work within him and the wolf. Maester Luwin can only offer him truths, Dragons are gone, Giants are dead and the children of the forest forgotten – Magic doesn’t exist in the world any more.
After a long journey south Catelyn finally meets Renly’s Host at Bitterbridge. She finds him in good spirits preparing for war with a tourney no less. Catelyn arrives to see the end when Ser Loras Tyrell is bested by a woman, Brienne of Tarth who takes a place in her Kings Guard as her reward. When Catelyn is presented to Renly, he and his Queen express their sympathies for the loss of her husband Eddard and to the sounds of cheers he promises to present her with King Joffrey’s head. Catelyn thinks its all a game to Renly and tells him as much. Renly is hurt by this and orders Brienne to escort her to her tent. Standing side by side its clear to see that Brienne is no ordinary woman, towering over Catelyn as she does.
In Pyke Theon and Asha are bickering as they wait the arrival of their father to discuss battle plans. He recognises that Robb Stark has marched south taking much of the forces of the north with him. There has never been a better time to take the Northlands. Where Theon was sent to get Balon Greyjoy to form an alliance he has failed. Balon will send his daughter Asha with 30 longships to take Deepwood Motte, while Theon is left with reavers work picking of the the fishing villages with only one ship under his command. Balon clearly does not trust his son, returned from winterfell after 9 long years. But Theon can not understand why his father seems to blame him for leaving when in truth Balon was the one that give his son up. Its clear that Balon wants his revenge on Winterfell and in his eyes, Theon is now one of them by association. Theon had hoped his return would have gone better than this, but it could not have gone any worse. Its clear to him that he is neither one thing nor the other. Not Stark, he was never truly accepted at Winterfell and now his face doesn’t fit at Pyke either. Asha chastises him “You’d have out father bow down to your other Familiy?”
When Tyrion came to Kings Landing he brought with him a whore name Shae – his Father Tywin Lannister commanded Tyrion not to take her to court however and he has her hidden away somewhere out of sight of Cersei. He doesn’t want his sister finding out about her because that could be his achillies heel. Whore she may be but Tyrion has deep feelings for her nonetheless. Shae is not happy with having to stay on the outskirts and Tyrion is trying to find a way to bring her into the castle. He tells her he could get her a position as kitchen wench, but she is not impressed, so as a compromise he manages to get her appointed as new handmaiden to Sansa Stark.
Cersei’s other children Tommen and Myrcella are discussing the wedding of Sansa to their brother Joffrey. Its rare that these two kids have lines, but they feature a little later in Tyrions plans so it helps to remind us who they are. Sansa cuts a tragic figure as the prospect of her brother Robb being killed by the Lannisters is discussed with Cersei saying that even if her brother is killed Sansa will smile and do her duty.
Tyrion works his magic now, using all his cunning he weaves three slightly different tales for the benefit of Grand Maester Pycelle, Varys, and Littlefinger. To Pycelle he says he intends to wed Princess Myrcella to the youngest son of House Martell at Dorne. To Varys he says he plans to marry Myrcella to Theon Greyjoy (although I suspect Varys is far to clever to fall for this) and to Littlefinger he say he plans to wed Mycella to Robyn Arran of the Vale. Having done this all he has to do is sit back an find out which version of the story finds its way to Cersei and he will know then who he cannot trust on the Kings Small Council.
Merely alluded to in the book the producers of Game of Thrones have had to be a little bit more in your face when it comes to the question of Renly Baratheon’s sexuality. In the Royal Tent we find him and his loyal knight Ser Loras Tyrell engaged in some slap and tickle. Renly however is more up for it than Loras, who also happens to be brother of the King’s new bride Margaery Tyrell. He insists that its time the Royal Couple have sex – they’ve been married two weeks and people are beginning to talk. Reluctantly Renly agrees to have his wife sent to his room. No shrinking violet, Margaery recognises the problem when her womanly charms fail to make an impression on Renly. She tells him she does not mind, but it would be best if he could somehow manage to impregnate her, even if they meant a threesome with her brother – now there’s open minded!
Back in Kings Landing and Tyrion’s trap is sprung when Cersei summons him to explain what he means by arranging to have Myrcell married into House Martell of Dorne. It seems that this is his real plan as well, but at least now Tyrion knows that Pycelle is spying for Cersei.
Theon Greyjoy sits alone in his chambers, he has a letter to Robb Stark in his hands, warning him of his fathers planned attack. He is wrestling with his loyalties and in the end blood is prooved to be thicker than water and he burns the letter rather than send it. The following morning he is taken to shoreline where he is baptised in the faith of the drowned god – cementing himself as a man of the Iron Islands who will do his best to get back into his father’s good books.
Tyrion’s schemes dont stop with the wedding of Myrcella. When Littlefinger comes to him to complain about being made to look a fool when Tyrion promised him the Lordship of Harrenhal in return for getting Lady Arran to consent to the wedding of Myrcella to her youngest son; Tyrion offers him another task – Talk Catelyn into releasing the Kingslayer. Presumably Harrenhal is on the table again if he can complete this task, but we dont get to see Littlefinger’s response because Bronn appears with news about Pycelle and together they march to the Grand Maester’s room to question him about his betrayal. Nothing is gained from this however, Pycelle is left alive but Tyrion has him thrown into the dungeons.
Up the Kingsroad now and Arya is still travelling with the other recruits for the Nightswatch. Its night time and she is sharpening her sword, needle. She talks to Yoren about how he sleeps with all the bad things he has seen in his life. She closes her eyes and can see her father being prepared for execution all the time. Yoren shares the driving force behind his life now. How he saw his brother murdered by another when he was just a boy. The thought of vengeance is what kept him going and when the murderer, Willem, rode back into town Yoren buried an Axe in his head and then headed to the wall to take the black.
After the story is told a horn sounds a warning and Yoren is on his feet immediately. He rallies his troops and goes outside. Lommy, one of Arya’s new friends spies Gendry’s discarded helmet a fearsome thing with shaped like a bull, and picks it up as he heads outside. They are confronted by lords sworn to the service of Tywin Lannister and some more gold cloaks still searching for Gendry. Yoren again refuses to play ball and without a second thought a crossbow is loosed into his shoulder. Wounded he may be, but Yoren fights strong and hard until he is overpowered and a sword thrust into his back. Chaos reigns and a fire catches around the cage which holds the dangerous prisoners Yoren has locked up for safety. As Ayra runs passed them she realises that they will die if no-one does anything, with no time for anything else she throws them an axe allowing them to cut themselves free. Within moments however the battle is lost. The remaining recruits are no real match for the war lords and the gold cloaks. Ayra is captured and her sword taken. Prisoners are rounded up, and they find Lommy wounded, still carrying the Bull Helmet. He tells them he can’t walk and they’ll have to carry him. Unfortunatley the knight has other ideas and sticks Lommy in the throat with Ayra’s Sword.
As a parting word the Gold Cloak announces that they are looking for Gendry and Ayra points and Lommy and says there he is. The helmet lying next to his dead body appears to bring truth to her words.