Wow… a weekend of reveals. We find out who killed King Joffrey, the best way to lead a slave revolt, and how White Walkers are made. If you’re ready for these answers, more after the break. If you’re not… perhaps you should go watch the Godzilla trailer a few more times…
We open with lessons. Missendei teaches Grey Worm the language of Westeros. We find that Missendei was taken as a slave at the tender age of five, with her only memory of her former life sailing away from the beach and seeing her village burn. Grey Worm, for his part, remembers only being Unsulled (“Always Unsullied”). When Missendei protests he might want to do more someday, Grey Worm answers chillingly “Only kill masters.” It’s a great touch, and maybe some foreshadowing of trouble in the future. Can a person always be at war, and remain a person?
We don’t have a lot of time to consider this, as we immediately move into the full out assault on Mereen. If by “full out assault,” you mean sneak in through the sewers with weapons, help foment a slave revolt, and enter the city without raising a weapon. Grey Worm and several other unsullied do just that, stepping into the slave quarters and inspiring them with words as well as dropping bushels full of swords. The next morning, the Meerenese masters find the flag of Daenryus Stormborn flying over the harpy atop the great pyramid and a whole lot of pissed-off and stabby slaves. Daenyrus enters the city, once again, to the calls of Mhysa. Her first act as liberator is to nail the Masters to roadside crosses, as they did to the slave children on the road leading to Meeren (back in episode one). You don’t mess with the mother of dragons.
There’s no war over in Kings’ Landing, but still plenty of battles being fought. Jaime continues his training with Bronn, who also imparts some wisdom, telling Jaime that he doesn’t believe Tyrion was Joffrey’s killer (Poison isn’t his style), and letting him know that Jaime was Tyrion’s first choice when he was on trial in the Aerie. This strikes home, as Jaime finally visits his brother. We learn a few things here, including that Tyrion knows Cersei’s children were fathered by Jaime. Tyrion convinces his brother that both he, and the missing Sansa are innocent (though he fails to convince him to assist his escape).
Later, a drunken, bitter Cersei summons Jaime to her quarters and begins to make accusations. Wanting to know why Catelyn Stark released him, why it took so long to come back, whether he would hunt down Sansa and bring her head if Cersei demanded it. She sees her answer in Jaime’s troubled face, orders him to increase the guard around Tommon, and dismisses him coldly. The dynamic between Jaime and Cersei is perhaps the main reason why episode three’s rape in the Septum scene is so troubling. You really want to count Jaime among the good guys here, and while I love characters to be multi-faceted and complex, it’s still really hard to see Jaime as one of them.
Later still, we see more of the traits that make you want to see Jaime as one of the good guys. He gives Brienne a quest to find and defend Sansa, and offers his new Valyrian Steel sword, reasoning that the weapon created from Ned Stark’s sword should be used to help his daughter. Jaime also provides a new suit of armor, and a squire, convincing her to take Podrick as a favor to Tyrion and to keep the boy safe. This was the best scene in the episode, perhaps one of the best in the season, as you see these two warriors, each with their own profound sense of honor, perhaps more alike than anyone would have guessed. The chemistry between Jaime and Brienne is palpable and Gwendoline Christie plays it perfectly, the love and respect she feels for the Kingslayer etched into her face. It’s powerful and perhaps my only regret is it’s doubtful we’ll see these two on the screen together again this season.
Elsewhere, we get two brief scenes that provide one of the biggest reveals of the season. Sansa accuses Littlefinger of murdering Joffrey. The scheming creepster admits he had a hand in it, but it was his new allies (and unwittingly Sansa herself) who did the actual poisoning. He doesn’t tell us who the new allies are (only they were more stable than the little brat king), but any doubt is removed as we immediate switch scenes to the Royal Gardens in King’s Landing, where Margaery and Olenna are taking one of their long walks. We find that Margaery is now betrothed to the pre-teen Tommen, that Olenna once used her magical lady parts to lure away her sister’s betrothed, and – oh yeah – it was Olenna that slipped the poison into Joffrey’s cup. (“I couldn’t let you marry that little beast.”) Aside from proving that she’s the coolest Mom-Mom ever, Olenna also gave Margaery advice to move quickly to get in Tommen’s good graces because it wouldn’t be long before Cersei recovered and started turning the boy against her.
Margaery wasted no time taking the grandmotherly advice, and she slipped into Tommen’s room later than night in full seductress mode. I really thought we were about to see one of those “ick” moments, with the early education of a twelve-year old boy at the hands of the lovely future queen. They end up bonding over secrets and kitty-cats though (I’m sure leading to millions of relieved sighs), and she left his room with a promise and a very chaste kiss.
Up at the Wall, Jon Snow trains the hapless Rangers in the arts of war against the Wildlings, much to the chagrin of the acting Lord Commander of the Night Watch, Ser Asshat. During the training, Jon meets a new recruit who turns out to be Roose Bolton wingman, Locke, working deep undercover in his attempts to find (and kill) the remaining Stark boys. Later, the acting Lord Commander gives Jon permission to lead a raid on the rebellious rangers holed up in Craster’s Keep, mostly in attempt to get him out of the way. He won’t order anyone to accompany him, but will allow volunteers, again hoping that any Snow supporters will also be weeded out. He’s surprised when several step forward, including the undercover Locke.
And speaking of the evil rangers, they’ve turned Craster’s into their own special house of horrors, filled with rape and brutalization of Craster’s daughters. It’s not an easy scene to watch, and the tension slips up several notches when the Bran gang, investigating the keep – specifically the cries of a baby sacrifice, the discovery of Jon’s wolf Ghost imprisoned by the rangers, and the capture of Summer in one of their traps – are in turn captured by the psychotic crew. Bran, in an effort to save Meera, confesses his name; giving the dark rangers an incredible amount of leverage. This part is a huge (and much more entertaining) deviation from the storyline in the books, so it will be interesting to see how things play out.
The episode ends with our final reveal, as the White Walker horseman crosses the snow, holding the last of Craster’s sons. It enters a cavern that looks like a cross between Superman’s Fortress of Solitude and Stonehenge and places the baby on an alter. A moment later, a being that looks like a horned, much less zombified White Walker lifts the baby, cradles him in it’s arms, smiles, and places one spade-like claw on the babies forehead. The episode closes on the eyes of the innocent child as they turn from brown to the icy blue of a walker.