Everyone in Westeros takes some time out of their busy schedules to get real with each other
Fifty-five minutes of compelling television. What is it about this show that makes time pass so quickly?! This episode was mostly talking, and centred on the things not said, and yet when the credits roll, I said the same thing I say every week- "It's over?!" Anyway, there was a lot of character development and jumping around this week, plus cliffhangers for just about everyone, so we have a lot of ground to cover. Also I'm super tired and don't guarantee 100% coherency. Let's begin.
Warning: There are spoilers from the show, and also some semi-spoilers for the upcoming episodes. I'll let you know when those come up.
In Winterfell, Theon rolls over in his love nest to find himself duped by a cripple, a half-wit, a toddler, and a wildling woman. Theon is not going to have a very good day. He yells at his men and sends dogs to sniff out the escaped Starks. He drags Maester Luwin out on his little hunt, though Luwin insults his inability to find his quarry. Theon laughs and calls this hunt a game, so that we can tie in some reference to the title and everything. Meanwhile the gang has come upon a farmhouse. Bran says there are two orphan boys who live there that he's friends with, and they debate whether or not it's safe to hide there.
North of the wall, Jon Snow is still big spoon to Ygritte's little spoon. Snuggles! He cops a feel on her, though I'm not sure if it counts when she's got to be wearing like eight layers of clothes out there. They set out through the tundra. (Where exactly is he heading? Is he hoping to run into his brothers? Because I was always taught as a child to stay in the last place you saw your mom so that she can find you if you get separated.) She makes fun of his boner poking her in the night and he is hilariously embarrassed about it. She also asks if his balls will shrivel from disuse. Ygritte is hilarious and I would invite her along on my drinking trip with Tyrion, Bronn, and Arya. But then she gets real for a bit and asks what they're really fighting about, and who truly gets to claim the land.
Over to Harrenhall, where men are being tortured in an attempt to find out who killed Lorch. Lord Tywin overlooks this scene, believing he was the target and that the Brotherhood was behind it. Meanwhile Arya brings in his mutton, which he doesn't want and offers to her instead. He reflects on leaving his legacy behind while she contemplates stabbing him with a steak knife. I know these scenes aren't in the novels but my gods I love the relationship between Arya Stark and Lord Tywin. She talks wistfully about the Targaryen sisters who rode their dragons into war. He calls her out on being highborn, though she comes up with a plausible enough defence for it. He says she's too clever for her own good.
In King's Landing, Sansa tries to thank Sandor Clegane for saving her from rape and murder. He is not particularly gracious. She is frustrated at his cruelty, but he points out that his cruelty is the only thing between her and Joffery.
Across the sea in Qarth Xaro offers to help Daenerys get her dragons back. She is... moody.
Back to the north, Jon and Ygritte continue walking and talking. Well, really Ygritte is talking and Jon is glaring. After making fun of his virginal status a bit more, she points out that the wildlings are truly free, and that their king was elected and not chosen by luck of birth. She finally says, "You know nothing, Jon Snow." Was anyone else waiting for that?
We then travel south to the Riverlands, with Robb receiving Cercei's response to his demands from distant Lannister relative Ser Alton. Lady Talisa comes by to flirt with Robb and ask for bandages and medicine. I'm really impressed she can somehow look so attractive when her hair looks that awful. Anyway, Robb invites her to come see the Maester in the craglands. Also so he can get some poontang. Do people use that phrase anymore?
Somewhere slightly outside of Winterfell, Theon and his band of merry men find the farmhouse the Starks had reached. They can't find the boys, though they find Rickon's walnuts. He sends Luwin back to the castle.
In Qarth, Jorah shows up late to the party. The slaughter party. Dany is sad about losing her khalasar but also weirded out when he tries to comfort her. Jorah tries to defend himself, saying he can be trusted, but she has decided she's not into the whole "trust" thing anymore. Teenaged girls are so prickly.
Back up north, Ygritte teases Jon by attempting to seduce him. The look on his face implies that he might give in just to shut her up. Poor Jon's looked so depressed/sad/annoyed this whole journey. She sluts it up for him a bit, but when he doesn't bite, she yanks away from him and runs. When he pursues her, he finds himself surrounded by wildlings. All that and he didn't even get laid. Poor guy.
In King's Landing, Sansa is understandably traumatised over her recent brush with death. She wakes up from dreaming of the riot to find she's gotten her first period. Meantruation is kind of gross and this scene is uncomfortable. I just wanted to let you guys know. She and Shae try to cover it up, but another serving girl sees, and though Shae threatens that girl's life, Sandor Clegane shows up to ruin their poorly-conceived cover-up. Cercei comes along to teach Sansa what "flowering" is all about. We get a look into Cercei's feelings about Robert and Jaime and her children. Again, I almost feel kind of bad for Cercei. They've made her far less terrible on the show.
Robb's gone from the Riverlands, and Jaime's been locked up with his fifth cousin or whatever. We learn that Ser Alton once squired for Jaime and basically worships the ground he walks on. We also learn that Jaime squired for Barriston Selmy once. (It's mostly to remind us that Ser Selmy is a person, because he will be relevant again later.) He has Alton lean in to learn his escape plan, which is to bash Alton in the head until he dies, strangle his gaoler, and escape with the keys. It is super effective.
Over in Qarth, Jorah talks to Quaithe while she paints some dude's back for no reason but to give us some butt cleavage I assume. She calls him out for simultaneously being in love with Dany and betraying her. But it's okay, he pinky promises not to do it again. She says the princess is currently with the thief of her dragons. And lo, Dany is in the council of the Thirteen. Pyat Pree straight up admits to stealing her babies, but promises she will be with them. Does Pyat Pree kind of remind anyone else of an evil Dean Pelton? Because that's all I can see. Also that's relevant to current Community events! Anyway, Xaro declares himself king of Qarth with the help of Pyat Pree and then duplicate Prees kill the other eleven council members. That's a bold move, Cotton, we'll see if it pays off. Jorah shows up to help Dany, but only manages to stab a phantom Pyat Pree. Everything gets pretty trippy.
In the Riverlands, the Kingslayer is recaptured. Catelyn manages to keep Lord Karstark from lopping off his head.
Back in King's Landing we get our only Tyrion scene. He frets over Stannis's fleet, in case anyone forgot about him. Cercei worries about Joffery's general doucheyness (douchiness?) and wonders if his being an asshole is a direct result of her incest. Tyrion awkwardly sort of kind of tries to comfort her. Why is the show trying to make me feel for this woman?
Right back to the Riverlands, and everyone is getting drunk and hating on Jaime. Catelyn figures she has to do something, so she goes to see him. He is a gigantic asshole to her, and though she tries to point out his broken vows, he counters with the fact that he's only ever lain with Cercei (counter-counterpoint: ew) and that Ned had his bastard. Catelyn gets mad and calls for Brienne's sword and-
We cut straight to Winterfell, where Theon lectures the people for not helping him find Bran and Rickon, then raises the hanged, burned bodies of two children in front of them, much to Luwin's dismay. /episode
So most of the things we saw tonight happened in the books, sort of. The whole Qarth thing I've given up on trying to draw parallels with and I'm just along for the ride now, but most of this other stuff is relevant to events in Clash of Kings. But there's some nice work with character development- it's impossible to follow the minute details of so many people, and I personally think the writers do a pretty effective job of showing rather than telling us who a person is, since obviously that would make for some pretty bland television. And honestly, changing some stuff up keeps those of us who have read the books on the edge. The thing that bothered me the most about this episode (SPOILERS) is that Bran and Rickon aren't dead, and I wish it weren't so obvious in the show. It's so blatant I'm not even sure that statement counts as a spoiler. Also everything that happened is pretty close to the end of the book, so I'm curious as to how much/what they'll be packing into the last three episodes.
Anyway, I guess the moral of the story is that despite the divergences, I still love this Game of Thrones we play each week. I'm interested to see how they resolve Dany's Qarth plot exactly, how Jon Snow will get out of trouble since he's not with Quorin, and who Arya's last kill will be. Discuss your feelings in the comments. Or not, whatever, I'm not your shrink.
Written or Contributed by: Dr. Improbable