The season finale starts at The Twins, just after the end of the previous episode; Roose Bolton is watching the Stark men being slaughtered in a number of horrible ways from the ramparts. The Hound tries to navigate Arya through the chaos on his horse, using a Frey banner to blend in, but he doesn't get far before The King in the North is shown to all. The Frey men have chopped off his head and sewn Grey Wind's onto his corpse, much to Arya's horror and the Hound's disgust. As she looks on, utterly broken, the Hound spares her any further pain by turning away from the scene, and rides off into the night.
At King's Landing, Sansa and Tyrion are taking a walk. Despite the awkwardness of Shae being right behind them, the newlyweds seem to be getting along wonderfully, with Sansa beginning to see Tyrion as more than just an evil Lannister. Podrick runs up; Tywin has called for Tyrion. He finds the entire Small Council waiting for him, along with an ecstatic Joffrey. News of the Red Wedding has reached them, and Joffrey is already making plans to serve Sansa her brother's head. Tyrion and Joffrey have another confrontation, despite Cersei's attempts to defuse it, and Joffrey proclaims that he'll do whatever he wants because He. Is. The King. Tywin interjects himself into the conversation at this point, reminding Joffrey that if he has to keep telling people that, then he's no true king. The victory-drunk Joffrey sneers that Tywin is just a coward who hid under Casterly Rock while his real father (Robert) kicked ass and took names.note Tywin's Death Glare brings him back to Earth fast. Tywin coldly informs the King that he must be tired, sends Joffrey to bed and orders Pycelle to give him a sedative. Baffled by what just happened, Joffrey meekly protests that he is "not tired!" as Cersei takes him by the hand and leads him away.
The Council is dismissed after that, but Tywin tells Tyrion to stay. They discuss the Red Wedding, and Tywin freely admits to setting it up. Sure, the Starks had the guest right, but this minimized bloodshed, and let the Freys take the blame. He's decided that Roose Bolton will be Warden of the North until Sansa's child comes of age. This starts a She's a child!/You're a Lannister! argument between the two, and Tywin tells his son that good people are the ones who do right by the family name. Tyrion calls bullshit, as Tywin makes others sacrifice, but never does so himself. Tywin, in all sincerity, tells him he's wrong, he has made a great sacrifice: it was on the day Tyrion was born. Tywin, full of anger and sorrow over the loss of his beloved wife, held the infant Tyrion in his arms, remembered that he was a Lannister, and didn't throw him into the sea.
Tyrion rushes back to Sansa's chambers to tell her the horrible news... Only to find her standing by the evening window with tears running down her cheeks...
We shift to the abandoned Nightfort, where Bran et al. are sleeping overnight. Bran nervously tells a ghost story he's heard about the castle. It's about the Rat Cook, who had baked the King's son into a pie and fed it to him. The gods cursed him into the form of a rat, forever roaming the castle, forever having to eat his own young. It wasn't for killing a noble, or making his father eat him, but for violating Sacred Hospitality, an unpardonable sin. Which, of course, makes for a wonderful transition to...
...The Twins, where Walder Frey is speaking with Roose Bolton. Walder enjoys breakfast and gloats about his vengeance, but Roose is fretting about the Blackfish, who escaped. Dismissing the Blackfish as one man on the run, Frey asks Bolton about what happened at Winterfell. Roose tells him how he had sent his son, Ramsay, to deliver Robb's terms. The Ironmen had complied, giving up Theon, but Ramsay... has his own way of doing things.
Speak of the devil and he shall appear, at the Dreadfort: the Boy (finally revealed to be Ramsay) trolls Theon by asking him about what it's like to be a eunuch and whether he suffers a phantom itch where his junk used to be when he looks at naked girls. For extra giggles, he's eating pork sausages while asking these questions. Theon, weeping, begs Ramsay to kill him, but is told that he's of no use dead. Ramsay, on a whim, decides Theon's name is too noble for him, and renames him "Reek". Theon tries to resist, but Ramsay beats him savagely until he concedes, leaving him a sobbing wreck of his former self.
Back at the Nightfort, Team Bran wakes up to the sound of someone else being in the castle. Meera rushes a form she sees rising from a hole in the floor. Luckily for all, it's only Samwell, who quickly realizes that he's talking to Bran Stark after identifying Summer as a direwolf. Samwell offers to take Jon's brother to the last safe place, Castle Black, but Bran, knowing that there are no safe places left, asks him to show the party how to get beyond The Wall.
A messenger rides to Pyke and delivers to Balon Greyjoy an ultimatum from Ramsay Snow. Either the Ironborn give up the lands they've taken, or Ramsay starts flaying people, like he flayed the Ironborn at Winterfell. Remember when Roose said, "Ramsay has his own way of doing things"? Ramsay broke his promise and had all the Ironborn in Winterfell flayed alive. He's probably also responsible for the burning of Winterfell. To show his sincerity, he's also sent Theon's "favorite toy" to Balon in a box, and promises to send "more Theon" if he doesn't comply. Balon, although somewhat disturbed, won't give up the lands he's taken. Yara, who's been present while Balon read the letter (and who opened the box) angrily tells him that Theon is his son, but Balon points out that Theon was a foolish, disobedient heir who can no longer even contribute children to his cause, and that he has made his decision. In defiance, Yara retorts that she's made her decision: she's taking the fastest long-ship they have, along with her best men, and vows that she will rescue her baby brother from the Dreadfort or die trying.
Meanwhile, back at the Nightfort, Bran is inspecting a dragonglass knife. Samwell tells everyone how he killed the White Walker, and gives dragonglass arrowheads to Meera. He tries once more to get Bran to come to Castle Black, but Bran feels he has to go, and refuses. They head through the sally port into the snow...
At Dragonstone, Gendry is being held in a dungeon, and Davos visits him and tries to strike up a rapport between them, saying that they're both common-born. Gendry doesn't believe him at first, but comes around when Davos proves it by knowing a lot about King's Landing's slums in Flea Bottom and how he used to live in a shit-filled street called Gin Alley. Among other things, they discuss the disparity of the social classes and the Red Woman's ability to seduce unwary men. Somberly, Davos recalls how his path in life led to the death of his eldest son Mathos. And leaves knowing that soon Gendry himself will suffer a similar fate...
In King's Landing, Shae is looking at the ocean; Varys stops by to bond with her on the grounds that they're both foreigners in a strange land. Well, it's not so much bonding as it is establishing a rapport before trying to bribe her to leave for the Free Cities. The Spymaster tells her that he understands how she truly loves Tyrion, but the fact remains that she'll never truly be a part of his prejudiced world that is Westeros. All she'll do is provide a weakness for others to get to him, which he cannot afford, being one of the very few men who might be able to effect positive change in the realm. Suspecting that Tyrion himself sent Varys, Shae refuses, saying that if Tyrion wants her to leave, he can ask her himself.
Elsewhere, Podrick is having a forced drinking contest with Tyrion, who is winning despite a certain disadvantage in weight. In comes Cersei, who sends the squire away and takes his place. They talk a bit, and Cersei advises Tyrion that the best thing he can do for Sansa is to give her a baby. Tyrion thinks that her motives are selfish, but she's being sincere: her children are her world. Even Joffrey.
In The Riverlands, The Hound and Arya pass by four Frey soldiers around a campfire. They ridicule Catelyn Stark's drawn-out scream of horror before her demise and one of them describes in gruesome detail how hard it was to get Grey Wind's head on Robb's severed body. Arya jumps off Stranger and approaches the piece of shit from behind. She asks him if she can warm herself by the fire. The soldiers tell her politely to fuck off. Adopting the guise of a cherubic little girl, she continues to try to win them over, and offers money for food; she produces the coin Jaqen gave her, and lets it fall to the forest floor as the soldier reaches out for it. When he bends over to pick it up, she yanks him down and viciously stabs a dirk into the back of his neck in a frenzy. Frey's bannermen panic and grab up swords and axes as Arya continuously knifes her first man to death. Sandor intervenes, knocking Arya away and dealing with the three weasels in as many seconds. The Hound asks her where she got the knife from. She replies that she pick-pocketed it from him. Flustered, he takes it back, telling her not to do something like that again without warning him next time! Arya picks up the fallen coin with blood-stained hands, and whispers, "Valar Morghulis."
Somewhere in the Gift, Jon Snow is washing his wounds when he hears a bow being notched and drawn. He turns to see Ygritte aiming at him. He tells her that although he loves her, he had no choice in the matter: it's time he went home. Besides, they both know she won't actually shoot him. But, well, "You know nothing, Jon Snow." Ygritte shoots him as he turns away, and twice more as he mounts and rides off. She cries as he disappears from view.
At Castle Black, Samwell is telling his unlikely story to Maester Aemon. Aemon believes him, and lets Gilly stay as a guest after Sam reminds him of the true meaning of the Night's Watch oath and of the looming threat beyond the wall. He also asks Samwell to grab a quill, as there are forty-four ravens in the castle, and thus forty-four letters to write. The realm must be warned of the oncoming threat.
We then go to Dragonstone, where Davos is slowly reading Stannis's mail while chatting with Shireen. He comes across the Castle Black letter just as the bells start ringing. Knowing that this can mean nothing good, he rushes to Stannis and Melisandre, who plan to burn Gendry and use all of his king's blood, since Robb Stark's death has been taken as proof of Melisandre's power. Davos pleads for Gendry's life, but Stannis can't put Gendry's life over the lives of everyone in Westeros. In the night, Davos frees Gendry and gives him a row-boat and directions to King's Landing. He'll be able to blend in there, as the City Watch doesn't know what he looks like. When Gendry asks him why he's doing this, Davos says because it's right.
Jon Snow, pumped full of arrows, barely makes it to Castle Black. He's carried inside, where he tearfully reunites with Sam and Pyp in the courtyard. Samwell welcomes him back home, and has the Brothers of the Watch take Jon into the castle for medical treatment.
Jaime and Brienne arrive at King's Landing. None of the peasants recognize him, much to the detriment of his nearly crumbled ego, but Brienne gives him courage, bolstering his resolve. He goes to meet Cersei in her chambers, after nearly two years of civil war and imprisonment separating them. Her happiness at the sound of his voice turns to horror as she takes in his disheveled and maimed appearance. Jaime seems shamefaced and afraid of how she will greet him...
Meanwhile, at Dragonstone, Stannis is in a rage over Davos's betrayal, and sentences him to die. Davos's new-found literacy postpones his date with an execution pyre when he produces Aemon's letter. Davos says that evil is coming, and that Westeros needs Stannis to face it. And if Stannis is going North to battle the White Walkers, he's going to need someone like Davos Seaworth at his side. Stannis, however, doesn't back down from executing Davos until Melisandre chimes in. Davos is right, she says, the War of the Five Kings is as nothing next to Death marching on the Wall (of all the times for her to gain a little perspective...). The realm needs Stannis to prevent a second War against the Great Other, and Stannis needs Davos in the army of The Lord of Light—stating that Davos still has a role to play. Stannis, chuckling at the irony of it all, tells Davos to thank the Red God that he hates so much, as He has just saved his life.
Finally, at Yunkai, Team Dany is waiting for the vast majority of citizens (those in bondage) to receive her. Daenerys is concerned, saying that maybe the slaves didn't want to be conquered. Jorah denies this, saying that she never conquered them, she liberated them. The gates open, and the sea of freed slaves congregate outside the city walls, gathering before Dany's personal guard in very large numbers (probably all 200,000 of them). Missandei addresses the crowd, saying that they owe their freedom to the true Queen of Westeros, but Daenerys interrupts. She tells the slaves that they owe her nothing, and that their freedom belongs to them alone. After a protracted moment of silence, one of the ex-slaves with a child on his shoulder cries out a single word: Mhysa! He is immediately joined by his daughter and others present, until all of them are chanting the phrase. Dany asks Missandei for its meaning, who explains that it is the Ghiscari word for mother. Endeared by this, Dany begins to descend from the dais. The Unsullied, Grey Worm, Jorah, Barristan and Daario ready their weapons in protest as the assemblage surges and swells.
Mormont takes her hand chivalrously and leads her down. She kneels by her first children and whispers to Drogon, Rhaegal and Viserion in Valyrian.
The magical beasts take to the air. Dany steps beside her trusted general and his men, who had leveled spears at the excited masses.
Daenerys walks among the freed men and women. Jorah and the others become concerned as she is enveloped by the adoring crowd and they lose sight of her... The tide of people suddenly raises Daenerys up above them, transforming their fear to awe. As her joyous people keep trying to reach and touch her reverently, all the while chanting "Mhysa," over and over again. Dany, glowing with happiness, lays her palm on the upturned hands of all those around her in return. Drogon soars past his mother, who looks to the sky while the camera pans out, giving us a magnificent dragon's eye view of Daenerys; who is now an icon to tens of thousands...
Tropes in this episode include:
- Adapted Out: Maester Pylos has disappeared (in the books he was sent to Dragonstone by the Citadel when Cressen started getting too old to handle the job by himself), which is why Shireen is the one teaching Davos to read, and why Davos is the one sifting through a stack of scrolls when that's normally a Maester's job.
- Annoying Younger Sibling: Arya's habit of hiding sheep-shit in Sansa's bed whenever she was angry with her.
- Armour-Piercing Question:
- Tyrion asks his father, "When have you ever done something that wasn't in your interest, but solely for the benefit of the family?" Tywin's response can be seen under Shut Up, Kirk!.
- Tyrion gets his own later when Cersei tells him that the best way to make Sansa happy is to get her pregnant.Tyrion: You have children. How happy would you say you are?
Cersei: [long pause] Not very.
- Cersei goes on to point out, however, that if it weren't for her children she'd be suicidal.
- Asshole Victim:
- The Frey soldiers killed by Arya and the Hound.
- The Ironborn scum who betrayed Theon and mortally wounded Maester Luwin in season 2. We find out that Ramsay Snow had them flayed alive. They are rewarded as traitors deserve.
- Badass and Child Duo: The Hound and Arya seem to have become this, though Arya is far from harmless.
- Badass Boast:
- Courtesy of Tywin: "Any man who must say I am the king is no true king. I'll make sure you understand that when I've won your war for you."
- Stannis gets in on the fun, too, highlighting his status as The Unfettered.Stannis: My enemies have made my kingdom bleed. I will not forget that. I will not forgive that. I will punish them with any arms at my disposal.
- Big Sister Instinct:
- Yara proves that for all her contempt for her brother, she has this in spades.
- Though not blood-related, Shae makes it clear that she feels the same way about Sansa.
- Break His Heart to Save Him: Varys tries to buy Shae off because he believes that she's a dangerous liability to Tyrion, one of the few men who could make the country a better place. She takes it as Tyrion trying to bribe her and break off by proxy.
- Bros Before Hoes: Or Crows Before Hoes With Bows.
- The Bus Came Back: Several characters from seasons 1 and 2 return, including Pypar, Maester Aemon, Yara Greyjoy and Balon Greyjoy.
- There are a handful of call backs to the season one finale: Joffrey promised to make a gift of Robb's head to Sansa, and now intends to make good on it; Tywin dismisses everyone around a council table except for Tyrion with the same flat "Not you," and answers one of Tyrion's questions with an uncharacteristically emotional "Because you're my son."
- Tywin's reveal to Tyrion evokes a conversation between Jon and Tyrion in the second episode in which Tyrion remarks that had he been born a peasant, they might have left him out in the woods to die.
- In this episode we find out that Ramsay had Dagmer and the other 20 ironborn who betrayed Theon flayed alive last season.
- After Gendry begins rowing toward freedom, Ser Davos tells him to have a bowl of brown for him when he reaches King's Landing.
- Calling the Old Man Out: After Balon callously writes off Theon after he becomes dynastically useless, Yara calls him out and storms off to try and rescue Theon. Seems she's finally fed up with "enduring" her father.
- Ygritte's "You know nothing, Jon Snow!" makes a return (and she's right, Jon was convinced she wouldn't shoot him).
- Joffrey's tendency to proclaim "I. Am. The KING!" is called out by Tywin.
- The Chains of Commanding: Alluded to very briefly; Tyrion points out how easy it is for Tywin to preach about putting family first when he's the one making the decisions. Tywin responds, "Easy for me, is it?" The conversation takes a different direction, so nothing comes of it, but it seems likely that Tywin was referring to this trope.
- Chekhov's Skill: It's quite a good thing that Shireen taught Ser Davos how to read.
- Co-Dragons: Roose and Walder have become this to Tywin and House Lannister, Roose enforcing Tywin's will in the North and Walder in the Riverlands.
- Contrived Clumsiness:
- Maester Pycelle drops the piece of paper when he hands a missive to Tyrion, forcing him to bend down to pick it up from the floor.
- Arya drops the coin in order to catch the Frey soldier off-guard.
- Cycle of Revenge: When Cersei says that the Lannisters will keep dealing with their enemies for as long as it takes, Tyrion retorts with gloom that every time they deal with an enemy, they create two more.
- Dark Reprise: This is the second series finale where everyone chants for the King in the North. It's just that last time he wasn't a desecrated corpse.
- Dead Guy on Display: Robb gets a particularly nasty bit of abuse to his corpse, just in case someone didn't quite get how evil the Freys and Boltons are supposed to be. In addition, sticking his own Direwolf's head on his body is intended in-universe as a mockery of those rumors about his supernatural abilities that we heard several episodes ago.
- Death Glare:
- Tywin fixes Joffrey with one after he mouths off. Unsurprisingly, Joffrey can't keep eye contact for very long.
- Yara levels one brimmed with cold fury on her father when he refuses to save Theon from the Boltons.
- After convincing King Stannis not to execute Ser Davos, Melisandre still gives one to him.
- When Sam brings Gilly to Castle Black, Aemon gives a withering one, especially after Sam stutters, "I know how this must look."
- Description Cut: Tyrion warns that every time they kill an enemy, two more will turn up in their place. Cut to the Hound and Arya just before they butcher some Freys.
- Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Joffrey insists Tywin is a coward in not so many words. See Mass "Oh, Crap!" below for the council's reaction.
- Do Wrong, Right: The Hound objects to Arya's killing of the Frey bannerman (and forcing the Hound to kill the rest to save her) only because she didn't warn him first. He also gets visibly annoyed that she managed to grab his knife without him noticing.
- Dragon-in-Chief: Joffrey gets reminded of this when his technical underling sends him to his room.
- Dressing as the Enemy: In a way. The Hound uses a Twin Tower flag to make the Frey men think he's one of them.
- Drowning My Sorrows: After realising just how much his life sucks, Tyrion forces Pod to join him in a drinking binge. "It's not easy being drunk all the time. Everyone would do it if it were easy."
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Joffrey, during the Small Council meeting.
- Due to the Dead: Horrifically inverted; Robb's body is paraded around with his head cut off and Grey Wind's staked onto it. Catelyn's death is also cruelly mocked by the Freys.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Toyed with then subverted by Ramsay: he briefly apologises to Theon for taunting the afflicted, admitting his mother taught him not to...then gleefully reveals what his father taught him.Ramsay: [contrite] Sorry, I shouldn't make jokes. My mother taught me not to throw stones at cripples...[abruptly drops the facade and grins like the cat that swallowed the canary] but my father taught me to aim for their heads!
- Even Evil Has Standards:
- When Joffrey starts babbling about sending for Robb's head so he can serve it to Sansa at his wedding feast, Varys is very quick to point out that Sansa is his aunt now, and deserves at least that much respect. Heck, even Cersei wants to believe that he's just joking.
- Played for very dark and nasty laughs with Ramsay Snow, who after castrating Theon a few episodes ago decides to taunt Theon by happily eating a large pork sausage in front of him, and then reacting with mock indignation and horror when he realizes just what Theon thinks he is eating.Ramsay: Do you think I'm some sort of savage?
- The Hound is visibly disturbed by the sight of the desecration of Robb's corpse, especially since the Freys decapitate him and replace the head with Grey Wind's. Messily. It's probably why he has no objection to Arya's later attacking and killing some Frey men who were involved in the desecration (or at least claim to have been), other than her doing so without consulting him beforehand.
- While servants are cleaning up at The Twins, Walder Frey is having a grand old time enjoying his victory. Roose Bolton, however, is surveying the scene with some distaste (which is probably a Shout-Out to his book counterpart, who isn't above committing acts of savagery but prefers to do so unobtrusively, thus ensuring no one has any reason to cause trouble; his personal motto is "A peaceful land, a quiet people"). Alternatively, you could take it as him realizing just how badly things could go for him if the tides of war shift again.
- Erotic Eating: Ramsay Snow eating the sausage deliberately invokes the classic image and turns it into the Fan Disservice that seems to be the trademark of his scenes.
- Evil Is Petty: Maester Pycelle "accidentally" drops the scroll Tyrion wanted to read just to pester him.
- Exact Words:
- Arya tells the Hound that yes, this was the first man she killed—leaving out the boy she killed in season 1. She also slightly emphasizes the word "first", suggesting that she fully expects more to follow.
- When Maester Aemon asks Sam if he remembers the oath he took, Sam invokes this trope to justify him bringing Gilly and her son to Castle Black.
- Famed in Story: A couple of highborn ladies look at Pod and giggle. Word of his 'prowess' has apparently gotten around.
- Fee Fi Faux Pas: Sam tells Maester Aemon, "I know how this must look." Then he remembers that Aemon is blind.
- Finger in the Mail: Ramsay sends Balon and Yara Theon's "Favorite Toy" (IE: his severed penis), with the promise that more of him will follow if they don't leave the North. The box appears to be made of Theon's armor, the medieval equivalent of sending a photo of him holding a recent newspaper.Balon Greyjoy: "Leave the North now, or more boxes will follow, with more Theon."
- Fish out of Water: When Davos puts Gendry on a boat, the good boy doesn't know which direction to face to row because he's never been in one before.
- Funny Background Event:
- After Arya and the Hound finish off four Frey soldiers, the latter calmly sits down by their campfire and starts finishing off their remaining lunch.
- Varys' facial expressions during the Small Council scene also count.
- Gaussian Girl: If but for a second, (through Jorah's eyes) Dany's outline blurs ethereally as she walks into the crowd of liberated Yunkish.
- Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: This is how Joffrey substantiates his pathetic boasts during the Small Council meeting.
- Gondor Calls for Aid: Maester Aemon, senior member of the Night's Watch, implores the realm for help to stand against the White Walker's march on the Wall. Stannis answers.
- Gorn: The sight of the Stark camp at the Twins in flames during the Red Wedding, with men being massacred brutally everywhere and Robb's body being paraded around with his noggin chopped off and Grey Wind's head impaled on the stump.
- Gory Discretion Shot: We're spared the sight of Theon's dick-in-a-box, only seeing his father and sister's reactions to it.
- Go to Your Room!: Essentially what Tywin does when Joffrey mouths off.
- Greater-Scope Villain: Melisandre invokes this to Stannis, admitting that the power squabbles to claim the Iron Throne are irrelevant compared to the growing threat of the White Walkers.Melisandre: This war of five kings means nothing. The true war lies to the north, my kin. Death marches on the Wall.
- Hypocrite Has a Point: Joffrey, perhaps the biggest Dirty Coward in the entire series, calls Tywin a coward who sat out of Robert's Rebellion until it was almost over. He may have no moral high ground, but Tywin's reaction shows that he's probably correct.
- I Am the Noun: "Any man who must say, 'I am the King' is no true king." A man would guess correctly Tywin does not take Joffery's outburst well.
- I Cannot Self-Terminate: Theon begs his torturer to kill him. Ramsay only makes him repeat it, before refusing.
- I'm a Humanitarian: Invoked when Ramsay is eating a sausage, having recently castrated Theon, and acts with mock horror when he sees Theon's reaction.
- Implied Death Threat: "Monsters are dangerous and right now kings are dying like flies."
- I'm a Man; I Can't Help It: Gendry explaining why he let Melisandre have her way with him.
- Info Dump: The story Bran tells about the Rat Cook in the Night's Watch and how he was cursed for his breach of Sacred Hospitality is used to explain exactly why The Red Wedding was so bad by Westerosi standards.
- Ironic Echo: "The King in the North!" was shouted as an Awesome Moment of Crowning in the season 1 finale, now it's used to mock poor Robb.
- Irony: During his supremely stupid mouthing off at Tywin, Joffrey says: "My father won the real war," referring to Robert killing Rhaegar. Joffrey's actually right, of course (as Jaime explained several episodes ago), he was just talking about the wrong father.
- It Is Pronounced Tro Pay: Gilly is corrected by Sam when she mispronounces Aemon's title as "Master" ('ma-ster') rather than "Maester" ('may-ster').
- Jerkass Has a Point:
- When Tyrion seems disapproving of the Red Wedding, Tywin asks him to explain why it is more noble to kill a thousand on the battlefield than a dozen at dinner. Tyrion doesn't think for a moment that Tywin did it to save lives, but neither does he dispute the point Tywin makes. However, almost all of Robb's 3,500 loyal bannermen were killed over dinner as well.
- For all his arrogance about being a great conqueror himself, Joffrey has a fair point; it was Robert who did most of the legwork in winning Robert's Rebellion. Tywin remained aloof at Casterly Rock, refusing (and forbidding his bannermen) to answer calls for aid from either the rebels or the loyalists; the armies of the Westerlands only entered the fray after the Battle of the Trident, when a rebel victory became a forgone conclusion, and their sole contribution to the war was to capture the capital through treachery and brutally slaughter the royal family.
- "Just Joking" Justification: Cersei tries to use this on Joffrey's behalf. He doesn't take the escape route.Cersei: I'm sure the King is only joking.
Joffrey: No I'm not. I really am going to serve Sansa her brother's head at my wedding.
- Kick the Dog:
- Balon's refusal to abandon all his gains for a chance at saving Theon is ruthless and cold-hearted, but pragmatic. His mockingly pointing out that Theon isn't his son because he isn't a man any more is not.
- Joffrey's plan to serve Robb Stark's head to Sansa at his wedding. Fortunately, nobody else seems willing to let him do it.
- Tyrion manages to turn a greeting into a summation of Joffrey's rule: "Killed a few puppies today?"
- Tyrion sees the Red Wedding as this.
- Lame Comeback: When Tywin basically sends Joffrey to bed without any supper, and then tells Pycelle to give him a sedative, all Joffrey can do is shriek "I'm. Not. TIRED!" before being led away.
- Lampshade Hanging: The potential Narm of Catelyn's wail of grief is horribly derided by the Freys, and compared to "a cow in heat."
- Leitmotif: Jaqen H'ghar's theme plays when Arya picks up the iron coin he gave her at the end of Season 2 and repeats the Arc Words, "Valar morghulis."
- Love Is a Weakness: Varys claims Shae is Tyrion's weakness. See Yoko Oh No.
- Meaningful Look: After an entire season of Snark-to-Snark Combat, the look between Brienne and Jaime speaks volumes.
- Marital Rape License: Tyrion explicitly calls it "rape" when his father tells him to hurry up and impregnate Sansa. Tywin doesn't actually dispute his terminology (though in a Medieval Europeanequivalent culture he would have had grounds to do so), and instead does his usual "put family first" routine.
- Mask of Sanity: Roose Bolton has discarded his, and now shows much more expression than he did before. However, there's something distinctly off about his smiles and other displays of feeling, revealing his true nature as The Sociopath.
- Mass "Oh, Crap!": After Joffrey mouths off to Tywin. Everyone gets their own separate reaction shot (Pycelle looks mortified, Cersei looks torn between that and berating Joffrey for his stupidity, Varys has a smug little smirk plastered across his face, while Tyrion is gleefully watching to see which one of the family members he hates most will triumph over the other). Even Joffrey realizes he's made a mistake.
- Moe: Mercilessly exploited In-Universe; Arya's been being tough for so long, we'd almost forgotten how cute she can be when she wants to be, and she turns the Puppy-Dog Eyes Up to Eleven to deal with the Freys. They fall for it hook, line and sinker.
- Mood Whiplash:
- After Maester Aemon orders Sam to get the ravens ready to warn everyone about the White Walkers, we see Davos... sorting Stannis's mail, doing his best to read it using his still-shaky literacy. This quickly turns hilarious when Davos questions why there is a "g" in night. His suspicious tone really sells it.Davos: "To His Grace... King Stannis... Baratheon... inv—aded—invi... invited! To the name-day celebration, for Rylene Florent... on the first niggit—"
Davos: "First night of the full moon"—why is there a g in night?
Shireen: I don't know. There just is.
- After Davos finishes that message, he reads Maester Aemon's message, and the mood whiplashes back to serious again.
- Also, the absolutely brutal scene of the northerners getting butchered is immediately followed by... Sansa and Tyrion taking a stroll and joking a bit with each other.
- After Maester Aemon orders Sam to get the ravens ready to warn everyone about the White Walkers, we see Davos... sorting Stannis's mail, doing his best to read it using his still-shaky literacy. This quickly turns hilarious when Davos questions why there is a "g" in night. His suspicious tone really sells it.
- Moral Event Horizon (In-Universe): In Westeros, particularly among the Northmen, violating Sacred Hospitality is treated as such.
- Morality Pet: Arya for the Hound. When he kills three men to save her from a fight she started, he doesn't even condemn her for it, he just tells her to give him some warning next time. Given that Sandor was around Arya's age when he made his first kill, he probably relates.
- My God, What Have I Done?: More of an Oh, Crap! than the guilt-ridden usual examples of this trope, but the first time Joffrey seems to realize What an Idiot! he's been is when he just realizes he's mouthed off at Tywin in the heat of the moment.
- Mythology Gag:
- The name "Reek", which made a lot more sense in the books but here is apparently chosen on a whim, as the original Reek was Adapted Out.
- The method by which Arya kills the Frey soldier (turning on the puppy dog eyes, offering the man a coin, dropping it, perforating the now-exposed backside) is recycled from the books, where Arya used the same method during her escape from Harrenhal.
- Arya's imploring "But I'm hungry" to the Frey soldier before she kills him may be a reference to the books where Arya (and the Red Viper) say that they're hungry "but not for food" in reference to their hunger for revenge.
- Not What It Looks Like: Uttered by Sam to Maester Aemon, who is blind, when he arrives back at Castle Black with Gilly and her baby in tow, and quickly explains that the baby isn't his.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
- Stannis realizes just how serious the events described in Aemon's letter must be when Melisandre does a complete 180 from wanting to burn Davos alive for helping Gendry escape to stating that they need him to fight what's coming.
- Tywin also shows true vulnerability for the first time, as he struggles to maintain his composure during his Shut Up, Kirk!.
- Although Davos could be surprised by Melisandre convincing Stannis to spare his life, many book readers prefer the interpretation that Davos is shocked by Stannis smiling.
- Parental Betrayal: Balon Greyjoy has been taking lessons from fellow cantankerous grey-haired patriarch Walder Frey on how to throw their loved ones under a bus when their safety is held at ransom. Even Tywin is a better father to Tyrion.
- Pet the Dog: Cersei tells Tyrion that if he wants to make things better for Sansa, he should get her pregnant—so that she can have some happiness in her life.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: All over the place:
- Stannis decides to sacrifice Gendry much earlier in the story than he decided to sacrifice Gendry's book counterpart Edric. Moving up the schedule for this chain of events has the effect of giving Team Stannis something to do besides sit at Dragonstone and wait to see what happens while burning infidels.
- Davos sends Gendry back to King's Landing alone and in a flimsy rowboat, putting him in a much more suspenseful situation than Edric, who heads off for Lys (well out of reach of everyone who might be looking for him) with a escort of four men (two of them knights) and an actual ship.
- Jaime's reunion with Cersei (which also occurs much earlier) is reduced to an exchange of meaningful gazes, and the show simultaneously passes up an opportunity for both sex and blood. For obvious reasons.
- Sam and Gilly reach the Nightfort all by themselves, which saves the introduction of another character for next season as well as allowing Bran to demonstrate his determination by convincing Sam that he has to go north.
- Ygritte's confrontation with Jon allows her to demonstrate that she really isn't willing to switch sides for him, which makes for a little more drama than the book's slightly more ambiguous treatment of the situation.
- Yara is back at Pyke after taking Deepwood Motte offscreen last season, just in time for when Ramsay's message arrives, which might add a whole new arc for her before the events of A Feast for Crows. In the books, Asha is still at Deepwood Motte at this point in the story and believes Theon dead.
- Walder Frey declares that he's now Lord of Riverrun, although this might just be triumphant licence on his part. In the books the lordship of Riverrun is granted quite a bit later to his second son Emmon Frey. (Stevron, his firstborn, was Adapted Out, but would've been one of the casualties of the battle where Robb and Talisa met.)
- Roose Bolton is explicitly named Warden of the North until Tyrion's child by Sansa comes of age. This actually eliminates a small plot hole in the books where the Boltons were raised to supremacy in the North while Tyrion was still planned to claim Winterfell in his child's name, with nothing to deconflict the two mutually exclusive outcomes.
- Jaime's return to King's Landing is moved up ahead of schedule, mainly to complete his story arc with Brienne, whereas he would spend much of next season still travelling with her if he were to arrive after Joffrey's death and Sansa's escape as in the books. This has the interesting side effect of putting him, Brienne, Joffrey, and Sansa Stark all in the city at the same time before Joffrey's wedding to Margaery Tyrell, a situation that for spoilered reasons doesn't occur in the original series.
- When Walder Frey calls himself Lord of Riverrun, he is perhaps referring to himself being the Lord Paramount of the Trident, which would make sense if the Freys supersede the Tullys for their help in the Red Wedding. It also excises the side plot of Littlefinger being made Lord Paramount, a role he really doesn't exercise as it's just a stepping stone for a plan he's following anyway, and since he is made Lord of Harrenhal anyway, it doesn't change anything.
- Put on a Bus: Gendry. He will return only in season 7.
- Ray of Hope Ending: The final scene with Daenerys conquering Yunkai, freeing the slaves and being acclaimed by them. After an episode that ended with the brutal deaths of Robb, Catelyn and Talisa and the total destruction of the Stark army, at least there is still hope that the Lannisters will receive their well-deserved punishment.
- Restrained Revenge: Tyrion notes the names of two people laughing at him, but objects when Sansa asks if he intends to kill them. He suggests asking Varys to dig up some dirt, and has an all-to-brief moment of bonding with Sansa when she suggests a prank of her own.
- The Reveal: The identity of "the boy" who has been torturing Theon is finally made clear. Its Ramsay Snow, Roose Bolton's bastard son.
- Revenge Before Reason: Despite planning the actual killing unnervingly well, Arya seemed not to have given any thought to how she would survive the reprisals. It's possible she expected the Hound to step in, but it's equally likely she just didn't care if she died, which would make this overlap with Murder-Suicide.
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Turns out Dagmer, Black Lorren, and the others aren't Karma Houdinis after all; Ramsay flayed them all alive after they turned Theon over to him.
- Right Under Their Noses: Roose Bolton comments about the Blackfish's Offscreen Moment of Awesome wherein he escaped the Twins.
- Roaring Rampage of Rescue: Yara's plan.
- The Secret of Long Pork Pies: Bran tells the story of a Night's Watch cook who tricked his king into eating his own son. The king asked for seconds afterward.
- Shame If Something Happened: Tyrion's Implied Death Threat to Joffrey doubles as this.
- Share the Male Pain: Theon's story is now dripping with this. Also good luck with ever eating sausages again.
- Shout-Out: "Pyp...." "Sam..."
- Shut Up, Kirk!: Tyrion calls Tywin out on his constant preaching about family by pointing out that it's easy for Tywin to say as much when he's making all the decisions, and asks him when he ever did something that was purely for family and not for his own benefit. Tywin responds, "The day that you were born. I wanted to carry you into the sea and let the waves wash you away. Instead I let you live, and I've brought you up as my son... because you're a Lannister."
- Slave Liberation: Of the civilian variant this time, tying up Daenerys' story arc for this Season. Time will tell whether this will work out for good or ill...
- Stealth Pun:
- Why is Joffrey so happy at the small council meeting? Tyrion thinks it's because he's killed a few puppies. Well, the Young Wolf (and his army) was just slaughtered... then Joffrey adds, "and his BITCH mother!" Good grief, kid...
- Sam really should know better than to say how bringing a Wildling girl to the Wall "looks" to a Maester who is blind.
- Stepford Smiler: Cersei does it a lot in the Small Council meeting while trying to cover for Joffrey's Stupid Evil spiraling even further out of control.
- Stunned Silence:
- A variation; after Tyrion threatens Joffrey again, Joffrey silently looks around a bit, clearly shocked and expecting/hoping for someone to speak in his support, but nobody does. However, it's unlikely that the Council's silence is because they're stunned, and it seems more likely that they either want to see Joffrey brought down a peg, or at least want to gauge how Joffrey will respond.
- And then again when Joffrey claims that his grandfather Tywin "hid under Casterly Rock" during Robert's Rebellion... cue Tywin's Death Glare.
- Stupid Evil: Joffrey insulting Tywin is so stupid even he realizes what a bad idea it was.
- The Sociopath:
- Roose Bolton's general demeanour and his distinctly off facial expressions support him being this.
- Roose's bastard Ramsay is a more sadistic example, and we have seen what he does without knowing his name for the whole season.
- The Man Behind the Man: Tywin reveals himself as the mastermind behind the Red Wedding.
- Thicker Than Water: Tywin talks about this trope some more, but proves that he really does practice what he preaches with regards to it. See Shut Up, Kirk! for details.
- Those Two Bad Guys: After the events of last episode, Walder Frey and Roose Bolton get their own little scene detailing their contempt for their ex-ally while discussing their somewhat sordid family lives.
- Too Happy to Live: Tyrion and Sansa appear to be getting along—a serious improvement from the books, where they never do due to the different circumstances of the wedding. note Then she gets the news of the Red Wedding.
- Tranquil Fury: Tywin's reaction to Joffrey mouthing off at him.
- Travelling at the Speed of Plot: It takes longer for Jon to reach the Wall than it does for Aemon's letter to reach Dragonstone.
- Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Arya has now committed pre-meditated, cold-blooded murder with her own hands. Granted, the guy was an Asshole Victim of the highest order, but still, this can't be a good sign.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid: According to Cersei, Joffrey was a delightful baby. She also completely shoots down the idea that there must have been early signs of his psychopathy; even with hindsight she can't remember any indications that the baby would become a monster. note
- Visual Pun:
- A somewhat subtle one; Varys offers Shae his pouch with jewels.
- As Davos is reading missives with Shireen helping with pronunciation, Davos says "As his Hand..." right as the camera momentarily has his de-fingered left hand in full view.
- Wants a Prize for Basic Decency: Tywin Fucking Lannister. He refers to his act of not drowning his infant son as an example of how he makes personal sacrifices for the good of his family. Tyrion is so horrified by the declaration that he fails to make the slightest retort.
- Who's Laughing Now?: Walder Frey rants to Roose about how he was tired of always being looked down upon by the Starks and Tullys and how they thought they were better than him (and condemned in him the same behaviors they were guilty of).
- Woman Scorned: Ygritte responds to Jon choosing duty over love by shooting three arrows into him.
- Yoko Oh No: Shae for Tyrion, at least regarding Varys' plans for him. She doesn't seem to care.
- You Monster!: Joffrey has the gall to label Tyrion "a little monster." Tyrion snarks back nonchalantly.Tyrion: Monsters are dangerous and right now kings are dying like flies.