We start off with Arya and the Hound. Now a captive of the least brutal Clegane brother (which isn’t really saying much), Arya thinks perhaps she can make an escape by sneaking up on him with a rock. He barely awakens and warns she’d best kill him on the first try, or he’ll break both her hands. She wisely decides she likes her hands. As they ride off, the Hound tells her she’s fortunate he found her–and that life in the outback of Westeros ain’t the best place for a young girl, with all the raping and what not. We’re also reminded of the Hound’s “merciful side,” when he saved Sansa Stark from a mob. He informs Arya that he’s doesn’t plan to take her to King’s Landing (where he’s likely not all that welcome), but instead to Riverrun–just in time for her uncle Edumure Tully’s wedding to one of the Freys. Ohhh goody! I hope there’s cake.
In King’s Landing, another marriage is set to take place–between Sansa and Tyrion. On the day of the nuptials the half-man arrives to find his betrothed with his mistress, Shae. He has Podrick escort Shae out, and you can just feel the sparks jumping off her. He then tells a nervous Sansa that he knows this isn’t what she wanted, and it isn’t what he wanted either–but they’ll have to make the best of it. At the least, he promises, he will never mistreat her. As the attendees to the wedding gather, Margaery Tyrell tries to work her magic on Cersei Lannister, telling the elder woman that they’ll soon be “sisters.” But game recognizes game, and after telling Margaery the story behind the song the Rains of Castamere (in which her father had a rebellious lord and his family slaughtered), Cersei warns the soon-to-be-queen that if she ever tries that “sister” bit on her again, she’ll have her strangled in her sleep. Welcome to the family Margaery. Good luck surviving.
The wedding finally takes place, with Joffrey the Monster giving Sansa away–since, you know, he had her father’s head cut off. Because he’s such a little prick, he makes sure to take away his uncle’s stepping stool–just to humiliate him during the ceremony, in which he’s required to drape a cape about Sansa’s shoulder. Some in the crowd snicker, until a glowering look from He-Who-Shits-Gold silences them. Later, at the wedding feast, about the only person enjoying herself fully is The Queen of Thorns, who mischievously rattles off the odd kinship relationships that will occur with the alliances of House Tyrell and Lannister. Loras, none too happy, leaves in disgust. He runs into his own betrothed, Cersei, who promptly tells him to STFU as he tries to make small talk, before walking away. Joffrey threatens to rape Sansa later that night (with the aid of his bodyguards for good measure) and her further humiliation is only halted when a drunken Tyrion threatens to un-sex Joffrey. Welcome to the family Sansa.
That night, in their bedding chamber, the newlyweds prepare to consummate the marriage. Sansa, reconciled to the fact, begins to undress. A thoroughly sloshed Tyrion however has second thoughts, and says no. He tells her he won’t force her to share a bed with him, not until she wants to. She retorts in her kind Sansa way, “what if I never want to?” To this Tyrion mockingly compares himself to the celibate crows on The Wall declaring, “And my watch has now begun.”
At dreary Dragonstone, the red priestess Melisandre has arrived with the unfortunate bastard Gendry in tow. The would-be-king Stannis recognizes the Baratheon in him immediately, and realizes his priestess likely intends to sacrifice him to her Red God. Showing he still has some moral compass, Stannis ends up wandering to the dungeon–where our favorite onion knight, Davos Seaworth, is locked up, learning how to read. The two end up having a conversation about the impending regicide, and Davos manages to persuade him to at least question his actions. Upstairs, Melisandre has Gendry put in the well-furnished “ritual sacrifice suite,” and shows him what’s under them crimson robes. The Red God seems to really like using sex with his magic. And guillible Gendry, falling for the old hot-naked-woman-eventually-ties-you-up-to-the-bed trick, ends up having three leeches dumped onto his body–in some rather unsavory places. Stannis and Davos show up during the deed, and we learn the only reason that Gendry isn’t dead (yet) is because the Onion Knight managed to convince the would-be-king to at least get a demonstration of what the boy’s blood is worth. The gorged leeches are plucked from him and offered to Stannis, who throws them into a fire where they sizzle and pop–while declaring the names of his three foremost enemies: Joffrey Baratheon, Robb Stark and Balon Greyjoy. Ruh roh!
Across the sea, the Khaleesi has found the city of Yunkai’s “powerful friends”–the mercenary company, the Second Sons. She has a meeting with their leadership–Prendahl na Ghezen, Mero of Braavos, and Daario Naharis–hoping to sway them to her side.The series actually blends in another company, the Stormcrows, into the mix here, but that doesn’t matter much. Mero acts a damn fool, making lewd comments about the many sexual acts he’d like to see Daenerys perform. Prendahl and Darrio are a bit more reserved, the former playing the serious role and the latter doing this weird-faced pretty boy googly eyes thing. The three deny her request, basically telling her she’s likely to lose and they’re bound to contract with Yunkai. She takes it all in stride, telling them they have two days to decide, and nobody gets burnt up by a dragon–this time. But when they leave, she informs Ser Barristan that if it comes to fighting the company she’d like Mero killed first. No worries about that however, because later that night a mysterious figure sneaks into her bath chamber dressed as an Unsullied. It’s pretty boy Daario, and he’s got a duffel bag with the heads of his friends–Prendahl and the foul-mouthed Mero. Seems both had tried to get him to assassinate Daenerys, and he objected. In a sexually suggestive fashion, Dany steps out her bath and stands nude for Darrio to get an eyeful (though he seems to keep his eyes on her face), then asks if he will fight for her. He drops and pledges himself, his company, his sword (curiously Dothraki), his life and his heart (oh my) to the Mother of Dragons. A certain smitten Old Bear ain’t going to be happy with this guy.
And finally, somewhere beyond The Wall, Samwell Tarly and Gilly sit in an abandoned house discussing winking babies, how names work and their respective families. Their talk is interrupted by the loud squawking of birds. Samwell journeys outside with a torch to have a look-see and finds scores of crows sitting on the tree tops, watching. Oh, and there’s a White Walker in the woods coming towards them.
A freaking White Walker!
Gilly cries that it’s likely come for the baby. Samwell pulls his sword, screaming for the creature to go back. It ignores him, staring with those cold blue eyes. It grabs Samwell’s sword in one hand, freezing the blade until it shatters. Then it backhands him like twenty feet, continuing on for the infant. Samwell manages to pick himself up. Reaching for the only weapon at his grasp, the dragonglass knife, he plunges it into the White Walker’s back. It screeches, turning to pure ice–then explodes into shards. Samwell, not bothering to pick up the knife (WTF?!?) grabs Gilly’s hand and the two flee. A swarm of squawking crows follow.
So, two episodes left. Till next time (two whole weeks), where if what I think is going to happen actually happens, I expect viewers unfamiliar with the books to erupt into nothing less than full-scale rioting