23rd Oct: It's time for the second TV Tropes Halloween Avatar Contest, theme: cute monsters! Details and voting here.
We begin at Winterfell, where Theon wakes up to an empty bed—several empty beds, as a matter of fact. There's a dead guard on the floor, of course, and several fled citizens. Theon questions one of his ironborn, a great lumpy potato of a man, about letting a child slip by, and the man defends himself by claiming the giant must have took him. Because, of course, giants are harder to detect than crippled boys. Theon keeps his temper with effort, but when Mr. Potato Head points out that Theon let down his guard along with his pants, Theon decks him. And kicks him for good measure. Then he calls for the dogs and begins the hunt, with most of his ironborn and Maester Luwin in tow. Luwin counsels him not to hurt Bran and Rickon, but Theon is determined to keep ahold of Winterfell.Somewhere out in the countryside, Osha, Bran, Rickon and Hodor are making slow time. Osha complains that they didn't grab enough food, but Bran defends his choice, knowing that Theon would torture anyone who knew anything about their whereabouts. At a stroke of luck, they come across a farm where two orphan boys play—remember, the ones Bran sent out two episodes ago?—but can't decide whether to ask for help or not.Somewhere even further north, Jon and Ygritte are cuddled up against the cold. Jon looks a little disturbed when he wakes up, especially when Ygritte asks, "Did you pull a knife on me in the night?" Jon springs away, tugging at his tunic. Even better, Ygritte manages to deduce that Jon has never done it before, and begins teasing him about it mercilessly. If one didn't know better, one might think these two were being set up for a Dating Catwoman situation. "Are there no girl crows? ...So the lads just do it with each other? ...Do you have sheep at the Wall? ...With your hands then? No wonder you're all so miserable." (In the books... )Down in Harrenhal, Lord Tywin is randomly hanging men from his garrison to root out the assassin who killed Ser Amory Lorch, on the assumption (logical, though incorrect as it happens) that he himself was the target. Ser Gregor Clegane thinks (also logically, also incorrectly) that the assassin must have come from the Brotherhood without Bannersnote , and Lord Tywin orders him to root them out as well. Finally, Arya arrives with mutton stew, and Lord Tywin offers it to her instead. (Petting The Dog? Or checking for poisons?) While he monologues about his legacy and the fact that this will be his last war, Arya toys with the knife in her hand and eyes his neck. (There's more banter, particularly concerning the lore of Harrenhal itself—built by Harren the Black, who once sat the Seastone Chair which Balon Greyjoy's arse currently warms, and completed on the very same day Aegon the Conqueror set foot on Westeros; its towers are all burnt out by dragonfire—but suffice to say that Arya and Tywin have a bit of a Worthy Opponent / Friendly Enemies vibe going on.)Sansa stops the Hound in the halls of the Red Keep, thanking him for saving her life. He's a typical Blood Knight about it. "Killing's the sweetest thing there is," he tells her. "Why are you always so hateful," she asks him. "You'll be thankful for it someday when you're the queen, and I'm all that stands between you and your beloved king." Sansa, whose training did not cover the Care and Feeding of Antiheroes, has no answer to that.Over in Qarth, Dany is still in a froth about her missing dragons, and there's little Daxos can say to calm her. Also, Ygritte is still trying to tempt Jon to turn his cloak and join the wildlings—or, as they call themselves, the Free Folk. There's some truth to this claim, as they live outside the feudal obligations of medieval society. It's clear Jon is tempted, but he tries to claim he knows better. "You know nothing, Jon Snow," Ygritte replies.Head over to the Westerlands, where Robb has received Alton Lannister, who has returned with Cersei's latest terms. Robb doesn't really have time for him at present... and, even more amusingly, they've taken so many prisoners that he doesn't have any prison pens to store Alton in either. "Is there room for Ser Alton?" Robb asks Lord Rickard Karstark. "Does he need to lie down?" Lord Rickard returns with venomous sarcasm. They end up berthing him with the Kingslayer for the nonce, and Karstark's son Torrhen is assigned to watch over them. Roose Bolton then tries to get Robb's attention, but Lady Talisa diverts him. With two armies' casualties to look after, she's running out of medical supplies; as he's heading to the Crag tomorrow to accept a surrender from House Westerling, she would like to give him a shopping list to acquire from their maester. Instead, Robb invites her to go with him.Back in the North Theon's hounds lead him straight to the farm with the two orphan boys, but there the trail goes cold. Theon is very, very pissed about it. "It's better to be cruel than weak," he pronounces. It takes some knowing glances from Dagmer and a presentation of evidence—walnut shells—before Theon is satisfied. He sends Maester Luwin back to Winterfell, watching him go with a Kubrick Stare that is starting to become rather permanent.In Qarth, Daenerys paces before her empty dragon cages as Ser Jorah comes puffing up. Dany is distraught not only over her missing children, but over Irri's death in the raid: "She died for me, and I couldn't protect her. I led my people out of the red waste and into the slaughterhouse." (Doreah is missing too.) The scene almost immediately segues into more awkward sexual tension; Mormont just can't take a hint.Far beyond the Wall Jon and Ygritte are passing down through a large depression in the ice; Jon is pretty clearly still lost. Ygritte pulls out the Malicious Slander card: "What do you think they'll say when they hear about you and me? I swear it, O Master King Crow Ser, we were only close together for warmth! And then I felt it: right up against me backside like a club. I can show you the bruise on me tailbone!" (She sure knows how to put on airs, this Ygritte, kissed by fire. She's channeling a Southern Belle, and those don't even exist in the Seven Kingdoms!) "And before I knew what was where, his, his... Well, it was all out in the open, angry as you like, and I didn't want to want it, but oh!, I did. And he spread me legs and... Ruined. The shame of it. Now I can never marry a perfumed lord. What will my poor savage father say?" Jon can't help but smirking a little, but he tells her to turn back around. "And I thought we were done, but he said, turn back around." Now he looks irritated, probably because her impression of him is uncannily good. "Since it's going to be your word against mine, and you can't talk about it without blushing, we may as well just..." But Jon grabs his sword—no, Longclaw; sheesh, you guys—and she backs off. And then, while he's distracted, she runs. As it turns out, she's been leading him right into a wildling ambush. "Shoulda took me while you had the chance," Ygritte smirks.Sansa lies abed in the Red Keep, having a Catapult Nightmare about her Near-Rape Experience. In the dream, one of the men has a knife, and she wakes up grabbing her throat. There's no blood there... But there is red on her thighs. Sansa Stark is a woman flowered.The Talk. "I thought it would be less... messy." To Cersei's credit, she's able to manage with some gracefulness. "Try birthing a child." She talks some about her own labors, and how Robert would hunt in the kingswood while Jaime stayed by her side, and then provides this pearl of wisdom: "The more people you love, the weaker you are."Speaking of the Kingslayer, here we are in the Stark camp—specifically, Jaime's cage, where he and Alton chat. Alton admits that he squired for Jaime once, at the tourney for the wedding of Willem Frey. ("I went to Willem Frey's wedding?") Jaime thanks him for being a good squire, mentioning that when he (Jaime) himself squired for Ser Barristan Selmy, during the campaign against the Kingswood Brotherhood, he was constantly underfoot. Fortunately, one of the outlaws thought a sixteen-year-old squire easy pickings, which gave Jaime a chance to show what he could really do. Jaime, keeping an eye out for Torrhen Karstark, then confesses to Alton that he has devised a way to escape. Unfortunately, it's a one-man ticket, as the method involves Jaime bludgeoning Alton to death and using the corpose to lure Torrhen into the cell. He strangles Torrhen with his chains and makes a dash for it.Jorah Mormont has tracked down Quaithe of the Shadow on the other side of Qarth and wants her help in finding Dany's dragons. Before she consents, she asks him an important question: "Will you betray her again?" She then tells him, "The thief you seek is with her now." ...Which is only so helpful, because Dany is in conference with all thirteen of The Thirteen, including Xaro Xhoan Daxos, the Spice King and Pyat Pree. Basically the only suspect Quaithe has managed to rule out is herself. Helpful, lady. Fortunately the thief is in a monologuing mood. Pyat Pree has struck a bargain with Daxos. Daxos declares himself king of Qarth, tired of the head-in-the-sand conservatism the Thirteen seem to favor, and Pyat Pree supports him by using his clones to assassinate the other eleven. He invites Dany to visit her dragons, which Daxos procured for him, at the House of the Undying at any time. Terrified, Dany and Dothraki bloodrider Kavarro try to escape, but are confronted by a Pyat Pree clone at the exit. Jorah arrives and stabs him in the back, but the body vanishes, leaving the clothes behind, and more clones appear.Back at Robb's camp Catelyn Stark is relieved to hear that Jaime has been recaptured, especially since Robb is away at the Crag. However, Lord Rickard is in a froth over his dead sons: Eddard died on the Kingslayer's blade at the Whispering Wood, and now Torrhen has joined him in the earth. He wants the Kingslayer's head, and it takes all of Catelyn's diplomacy to get him to back down. Meanwhile, she orders Jaime chained up. "And gag him!"From one Lannister sibling to the other two as we jump to King's Landing: Cersei has, for some reason, invited Tyrion to dinner. The two make small talk about Stannis's oncoming fleet, which is due at King's Landing in five days or less, and the conversation moves from there to Joffrey's recalcitrance. Tyrion believes they need him on the front lines, which will be dangerous when the whole city seems to want him dead. We are greeted with the startling sight of Cersei actually in tears, realizing that this whole mess is basically her fault. Tyrion tries to move in and comfort her, but she glares him off. Ahh, sisterly love.The Stark encampment is at a boil, with some willing to stand by Robb and protect Jaime, and others... not so much. Catelyn brings Brienne with her to confront him. Jaime defends his semi-honorable actions by pointing out the Logic Bomb created by all the oaths one must swear: "Defend the king. Obey the king. Obey your father. Protect the innocent. Defend the weak. And what if your father despises the king? What if the king massacres the innocent? It's too much. No matter what you do you're forsaking one vow or another." (And pray recall that he's speaking from personal experience on all of this.) Catelyn still pronounces him a man without honor, and Jaime responds that he's never been with any woman besides Cersei, making him more honorable (in some ways) than Ned Stark was to Catelyn. "What was the name of that bastard he fathered?""Brienne," Catelyn commands. ("No, that wasn't it.") "Your sword."At Winterfell, Theon strides back and forth before the assembled citizens of the castle, claiming that they brought this on themselves by refusing to cooperate. Maester Luwin looks on in horror as the bodies of the two boys, tarred and with one arm chopped off each, are produced. Theon has the grace to look ashamed, but that sure doesn't help Bran and Rickon out much.
Tropes in this episode: