The wind knifes through the tent at Renly's camp in the Stormlands
where Renly Baratheon treats with Catelyn Stark, Brienne of Tarth stolid and silent behind him. The two seem to have found common cause against the Lannisters, at least, though Renly has no interest in sparing his brother on the field of battle. As Brienne comes over to help him change clothes, the wind kicks up again, this time bearing a slithering trail of smoke. It forms itself into a man and stabs Renly through the back. Brienne lets out a Big "NO!"
, and Cat scarcely looks calmer. Guards rush in and immediately pin the blame on Brienne—who in fairness is now kneeling over the body—but she makes short work of them. She seems determined to stay there and cling to Renly's corpse, even if it means dying alongside him, until Cat points out the obvious: "You can't avenge him if you are dead." The two dart out the back.
The next morning, Loras and Margaery stand the vigil over Renly's body; of the two, Loras seems more distraught. Littlefinger bursts in and urges them to flee, as most of the Baratheon bannermen will stay with their sigil and go over to Stannis. While Brienne is quite obviously the most convenient perpetrator, Loras (to his credit) doesn't believe she did it; the three of them agree that Stannis had the motive, if not (to their knowledge) the means or opportunity, and is the most likely culprit. Loras is all for charging off and doing something nasty to Stannis involving a sword (and not the nasty things he did to Renly with his sword either), but Littlefinger and Margaery repeat what seems to be the theme of today's episode: "You can't avenge him from the grave." Once Loras has been convinced to flee, Margaery and Littlefinger have some time for private conversation, and Margaery makes it clear that she is diving into the game of thrones headfirst: "Do you want to be a queen?" "No. I want to be the
queen." Littlefinger keeps his poker face on, but it's clear he's paying attention.
At King's Landing
, reports are even more garbled: Tyrion reports to Cersei that Catelyn Stark has joined the list of suspects. Regardless, Stannis is now left the main threat to the Lannisters, as he outnumbers them in ships and men both. Cersei seems rather casual about preparations, claiming that she has things well in hand; and, to her credit, Lancel confirms that she is
making preparations: she has commissioned thousands of pots of wildfire, which will be launched from the city walls at Stannis's ships and armies.
Back at Renly's camp
, Stannis strides through Renly's army—his own army, now—pleased with the day's work. He plans to move on Blackwater Bay as soon as he can get his troops reorganized. Davos begs him not to bring Melisandre with them, claiming that the men will herald the victory as her's, not Stannis's, whom they are starting to perceive as a puppet. "You won those bannermen from Renly. Don't lose them to her." (He's also rather squicked
out by what he saw crawling out of the red priestess' vajayjay, which simply marks Davos as eminently sane.) Ultimately, Stannis agrees to win his next victory without her help.
Tyrion and Bronn take a jaunt through the streets of King's Landing
to assess the citizenry. They come across a preacher yelling loudly about a "demon monkey" that uses Joffrey as a Puppet King
, an Evil Chancellor
who is to blame for all that is ill in the city. Tyrion is understandably aghast to be informed that he himself is that creature.
At the Iron Islands
, Theon is pleased at the sight of his longship, the Sea Bitch
, but is unable to assert any dominance over his crew; in fact, they threaten mutiny to his face. (He is
striding around about as cocksure as Lancel was last episode, but that's still pretty harsh.) He's saved by the advent of his Number Two
, a man named Dagmer who clearly commands the men's respect and is willing to bow to Theon. Neither of them are satisfied with this mission of trolling fishermen, and Dagmer suggests seizing Torrhen's Square, but Theon rejects it, as a huge party of men would sally forth to take it once word reached Winterfell that...
The two of them trade knowing smiles.
Arya serves the table whilst Lord Tywin Lannister and his advisors hold a council of war in Harrenhal
, trying to decide what to do about Robb Stark; pride, swiftly stifled, is visible on her face as Lord Tywin admits that he is too skilled at warfare to make errors, that House Lannister must stop waiting for a mistake that will never come and goad him into a poor position. He then turns to Arya and asks her about her origins. She tries to claim she's from Maidenpool, in fief to House Mooton, but stumbles when asked about their sigil (a red salmon). She reverts to being from Barrowton (House Dustin; two axes crossed beneath a black crown), but is forced to admit she's actually from the North. When asked if she thinks the Young Wolf is invincible, Arya fixes Lord Tywin with a calm gaze and says, "Anyone can be killed
." Lord Tywin does not punish her, but after she's left he does remove the plate of food she has just put before him.
Whilst below fetching water, Arya is astonished to find Rorge, Biter and Jaqen H'ghar marching through the castle, now in Lannister crimson and evidently serving beneath the lion banner. Jaqen corners her, but with thanks instead of threats: he promises her three deaths for the ones she stole from the Red God in saving them during the battle. "Only death can pay for life," he tells her; a girl need only say the names. Arya, perhaps impulsively, demands the death of the Tickler.
Somewhere Beyond the Wall
, the Night's Watch arrives at the Fist of the First Men, a natural fortification where they have arranged to meet with Qhorin Halfhand and a contingent from the Shadow Tower. Samwell takes a break from prattling about Gilly to prattle about the history of the location (Dolorous Edd: "Before I die, please, stop talking
."), but Jon isn't as pleased: the spot has the feel of a Last Stand
to him, as he's convinced that when the First Men came here, they were running from something horrible
. Their ruminations are interrupted by the sound of a horn, and Sam takes the opportunity to Info Dump
: one hoot means rangers returning, two means wildlings. Three means the White Walkers
. "It's been a thousand years, but... That's the only time they blow the horn three times." It's only one blast: Qhorin has arrived.
(Grenn: "If it's been a thousand years, how do you know?"
(Sam: *shrugging modestly* "Well, I—"
(Grenn and Dolorous Edd, together: " 'I read it in a book.' ")
Back to King's Landing
, where Tyrion is following up on Lancel's intelligence: he has visited the Pyromancers' Guild, and Wisdom Hallyne is giving him an explanation of wildfire, an alchemical substance that burns hot enough to melt steel. (It's even worse in the books
.) Bronn dismisses the stuff as "pigshit," expressing skepticism over the idea of using the stuff from catapults as Cersei intends; in the panic and hustle of battle, it seems to him, the Kingslanders are more like to set themselves alight than the enemy. Nonetheless, Tyrion goes to see the Guild's stocks, and is astonished to find seven thousand, eight hundred and eleven pots; he requisitions it for the defense, telling the pyromancers they now work for him.
, Daenerys places a chunk of meat before her red-and-black dragon (Drogon) and trains him to breathe fire when she says, "Dracarys
." Doreah looks on, overwhelmed by Cuteness Proximity
, whilst Irri competes with her for Dany's praise. Dany is pleased with Xaro Xhoan Daxos's patronage, but realizes she knows basically nothing about him. She sends Doreah, a student of The Oldest Profession
, to pry some information from him and/or his serving staff; the cover for this is a garden party Daxos has thrown, presumably in honor of the Mother of Dragons. Here Daenerys meets Pyat Pree, a warlock from the House of the Undying; they claim to be magicians, but magic died out long ago
(it is known). What that doesn't explain is how Pyat Pree can make clones of himself
. Jorah meets Quaithe of the Shadow, a shadowbinder from Asshai who always wears a lacquered mask that conceals her identity; she warns him to keep a close eye on Dany. And of course the two of them have to stop some of her Dothraki from prying the gems out of a statue. While the party is ongoing.
Brienne and Catelyn regroup from their retreat, trying to decide what to do. Catelyn is heading for Robb's camp
, and from there Winterfell, but Brienne wants to go hunt down Stannis, who (in her mind) is the source of the shadow-smoke-thing that killed her beloved
Renly. Catelyn wants her to join up with the Starks, but Brienne does not know the Young Wolf. In the end, she ends up pledging fealty to Catelyn, as a (male) knight does for his (male) lord, and Catelyn accepts.
Bran presides as the Lord Stark of Winterfell
, sending two orphan boys out to help a petitioner whose flock is being savaged by wolves. The man seems pleased, and Bran is (rightly) proud of his solution. Meanwhile, Rickon smashes walnuts with a rock, probably because the camera can't show him kicking his dangling legs. However, the happy party is broken up by the arrival of Ser Rodrik Cassel, who reports that Torrhen's Square is besieged—presumably by Lannisters, though how they got this far north is anyone's guess. Though Maester Luwin counsels keeping their forces nearby, Bran tells him to muster up as many men as he needs: "If we can't protect our own bannermen, why should they protect us?" Afterwards he goes for a ride on Dancer, speaking with Osha on the way about his dreams of a three-eyed crow. He also admits to a poetic dream about "the sea" coming to Winterfell and drowning everyone.
Qhorin Halfhand plans a commando mission up into the Frostfangs
to take out a wildling scouting party he has already seen. Jon volunteers to go. Not a whole lot else needs to be said about this, so we'll move on.
Back at the Qartheen
garden party, Daenerys and Xaro Xhoan Daxos stroll around comparing their motives. Daxos teases Dany for an overambitious would-be conqueror, but she gets him to admit that he rose up from a mere dockworker himself (and a Summer Islander as well—a foreigner, even if negroid pigmentation isn't grounds for prejudice here in the World of Ice and Fire). Finally, Daxos admits his desires, if in a roundabout way. He shows Daenerys a secret vault of Valyrian design, completely secure but for the key he wears round his neck. In it are treasures beyond reckoning, and half of them will be hers... if she marries him. (Dany: "That was a romantic proposal.
") He also drops the timing bombshell: Robert Baratheon, he informs her, is dead, and the Seven Kingdoms are in disarray. It is the perfect time to strike.
...Or, so Daxos would claim. Jorah Mormont is a bit more skeptical. He thinks they should be more careful, as opposed to making a marriage of convenience. Things also get a bit weird. One of Daxos' first questions to Daenerys was how long her "manservant" (Jorah) had been in love with her, which Daenerys denies being true... but even if she doesn't start to clue into it (and she might just), the audience surely does, watching as Jorah tries to convert the father-daughter relationship he currently has with Daenerys into more of one between equals. And of course Daenerys is not his equal, she is his queen. In the end, she agrees to Take a Third Option
as he suggests, but it's clear she's not interested in him romantically. Sorry, Jorah.
, Gendry sweats shirtless over his forge, tempering a sword blade and taking a practice swing with it. Arya is in the process of giving him some of the rudiments of swordplay when there's a scream: the Tickler lies on the muddy earth of the yard, dead eyes staring. Up on the wallwalk, Jaqen H'ghar eats a pear. When he sees Arya watching, he draws a mocking tear-track down his face with a single finger.