In King's Landing, Tywin Lannister calls a meeting of his Small Council. After an amusing scene in which Littlefinger, Varys, Pycelle, Cersei and Tyrion wordlessly work out their seating arrangement, the Hand of the King inquires about the whereabouts of his son Jaime. He is disappointed that in the weeks since he escaped, Jaime has apparently disappeared off the face of the earth with Varys' spies none the wiser. Tywin also announces his decision to marry off Lord Baelish, now (technically) Lord of Harrenhal, to Catelyn Stark's widowed sister Lysa Arryn, thus hopefully bringing the Vale behind the Lannister cause. As this will involve Littlefinger leaving the capital, Tyrion is appointed, over his own objections, to take over Baelish's office as Master of Coin.
While retrieving the Kingdom's ledgers from Littlefinger's brothel, where they were being kept, Tyrion decides to reward his squire Podric for saving his life at the Battle of Blackwater by allowing him to enjoy the establishment's services. The "hostesses" are apparently so impressed by Podric's performance that they give him his time for free. Amazed and a little jealous, Tyrion and Bronn ask Podric for... copious details.
Studying the ledgers, Tyrion quickly discovers that Littlefinger, who has a reputation for seemingly conjuring up money from nowhere, has actually been borrowing gold in extravagant quantities, both from Tywin Lannister and (more worryingly) from the Iron Bank of Braavos. The latter is famed for always getting its money back, even if it means financing its debtors' enemies.
In the North, Theon Greyjoy is freed from his dungeon by his mysterious saviour and told to ride due East, where he will meet his sister. Several armed men catch up with him, unhorse him and attempt to rape him. Just in time, the Boy comes once again to Theon's aid, shooting his captors dead with a bow.
At Dragonstone, Melisandre is leaving on a journey with unknown purposes. Stannis is not pleased about this, but the red priestess promises she will return soon. Stannis asks her to make him another "son" to eliminate his enemies, but Melisandre says that he is too weak for it at the moment, that every shadow creature she creates for him depletes his life force. There are, however, other ways to power her sorcery, as the king's blood required can be taken from other sources.
In Astapor, Daenerys is still considering the prospect of buying an army of Unsullied. At the city's Walk of Punishment, she sees a multitude of crucified slaves left as a warning to others. She tries to give one of them water, but he refuses, asking to be left to die. Considering the ethics of buying an army of eunuch slave soldiers, her advisers are of different opinions. Ser Barristan Selmy tells her that her brother Rhaegar's men followed him into battle out of loyalty, out of respect for his chivalrous nature. Jorah Mormont points out that as noble as Rhaegar might have been, he still ended up dead. Furthermore, Jorah recalls the sack of King's Landing during Robert's Rebellion and the atrocities inflicted on the civilian population. The Unsullied, on the other hand, are perfectly disciplined and trained not to kill anyone unless ordered to do so. Being eunuchs, they will not commit rape either.
This argument apparently sways Dany, who goes to Master Kraznys offering one of her dragons in exchange for all the Unsullied in Astapor, despite both her advisers' protests at the deal. She also asks for Kraznys's interpreter Missandei as a token of goodwill, and talks a bit to Missandei herself, painting a picture of the life of a khaleesi at war. Missandei seems resigned to any fate, saying "Valar Morghulis." Dany translates this as, "All men must die." But adds, "We are not men."
Missandei gives a little smile. Looks like she likes her new owner.
In the far North, beyond the Wall, Jon Snow travels with Mance Rayder and his men to the Fist of the First Men. Here they see many dead horses laid out in a geometric pattern, but none of the dead Crows that Orell claims to have seen. It is fairly clear what has become of them. Mance orders Tormund Giantsbane to take twenty men, including Jon, and to climb the wall and lead a scouting party beyond it. From there, they will attack Castle Black from its unprotected southern side. Meanwhile, the surviving Brothers of the Night's Watch, including Jeor Mormont and Sam Tarly, seek refuge in Craster's Keep. While there, Sam witnesses Craster's daughter-wife Gilly, who asked him to help her escape last time he was here, give birth to a baby boy.
At Riverrun, Catelyn's father Hoster Tully's funeral is taking place. As per Riverlands custom, he is put on a boat full of kindling, and his son Edmure is to fire a flaming arrow to ignite it. After Edmure fails to hit the boat several times, Hoster's brother Brynden "Blackfish" Tully grabs the bow from his nephew and hits the boat in a single shot. Afterwards, Robb, Brynden and Edmure discuss the latest developments in the war. Robb had intended to lure Gregor Clegane into a trap by drawing him deep into his own territory, to finish him off once and for all. Edmure, however, defied orders and met the Mountain in battle, sending him off southwards at the cost of two hundred of his own men. Robb and Blackfish chastise Edmure for this rash, glory-seeking action. Soon afterwards, Catelyn discusses her recent pain and losses with her uncle Brynden.
At the Crossroads Inn, Arya is advised that it would be in her best interests to travel with the Brotherhood without Banners for the time being. She witnesses Sandor Clegane being carted off to be taken to the Brotherhood's Leader, Beric Dondarrion. She asks him if he remembers the last time he was here, when he killed Arya's friend Mycah. The Hound has apparently forgotten the incident. Hot Pie has made some brown bread for the innkeeper's wife, and so impressed her that she offered him a job. He's decided to settle down and become an NPC—probably the smartest thing he's done in the series so far. Before saying a fond farewell, he gives Arya a loaf of bread in the shape of a direwolf. And it's really good!
Not far away, also in the Riverlands, Jaime and Brienne have been captured by Bolton soldiers. They ride at the back of a column of mounted soldiers singing a charming folk song called "The Bear and the Maiden Fair," about a romantic encounter of questionable consent between... a bear and a maiden fair. Because in Westeros, even the folk songs have to make you go "Eeesh."
Regarding the prospect of her being raped that night, Jaime advises Brienne not to resist, or she will surely be killed. Realistically, he knows that she will not follow his advice. That evening, with Brienne struggling against her assailants, Jaime tells Locke, the captain of the soldiers, that Brienne's father is very wealthy and will pay his daughter's weight in sapphires if she is returned unharmed with her honour intact. Intrigued by the prospect, Locke orders his men to leave Brienne alone.
Buoyed by his success in negotiation, Jaime tells Locke that his father will make him a very rich man if he lets Jaime go. The North cannot win the war in the long run, and it is better to be on the winning side than to honourably follow one's liege lord to inevitable defeat. Locke is apparently interested in Jaime's offer and has him unbound from his tree. He offers Jaime a meal, but instead leads him to a tree stump and forces Jaime onto it. Locke tells Jaime that he is not half as clever or intimidating as he thinks, that he is nothing without his father's gold and influence. To make a point, he cuts off Jaime's right hand.
Tropes in this episode include:
- Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Invoked in-universe when Catelyn comments on the peace and quiet of scenic Riverrun against the carnage and strife of the rebellion.
- All Are Equal in Death: Missandei explains a dying slave's desire to die when Daenerys asks by saying, "There are no masters in the grave, Your Grace."
- Archer Archetype:
- The Boy shows his prowess when he saves Theon.
- Blackfish Tully is pretty damn good with a bow. (Edmure... not so much. Though in the books it is clear that this is due to his being distraught with grief over the loss of his father.)
- An Arm and a Leg: No more sword fighting for Jaime.
- Ascended Extra: Donnel Locke in the books is one of the most minor men in service to Eddard Stark, who only ever really gets mentioned in passing. Here he's stepped up considerably.
- Attempted Rape: Theon is almost raped by his captors before the Boy puts arrows in them. See Near-Rape Experience for Brienne's situation.
- Badass Boast: Mance Rayder's planned signal to attack Castle Black. "I'm going to light the biggest fire the North has ever seen!"
- Benevolent Boss: Tyrion repays Podrick's saving his life with a foursome at Littlefinger's brothel, showing that a Lannister really does pay his debts.
- Big Damn Heroes: The Boy saving Theon from being raped.
- Big "NO!": Brienne desperately screams this as she is about to be sexually assaulted by Locke's gang.
- Black Comedy:
- Edmure Tully's repeated failed attempts to hit his father's funeral barge with a flaming arrow. We don't even have to see the last one to know what happened. Invoked In-Universe, as Robb has to suppress his laughter.
- The Smash Cut from Jaime screaming in horror at his freshly severed hand to credits with a happy rock cover of "The Bear and the Maiden Fair" can easily count as Schadenfreude in its own right.
- Boom, Headshot!: The fate of the last of the men killed by The Boy.
- Breaking the Fellowship: Arya, Gendry and Hot Pie—who have been travelling together since the end of Season 1—separate as Hot Pie decides to stay at the inn.
- Break the Haughty: Jaime's hand getting cut off for his arrogance.
- As the new master of coin, Tyrion has to deal with the crown's significant debt, which was first revealed in "Lord Snow."
- Lysa Arryn, whom we haven't seen since Season 1, is mentioned at the Small Council meeting.
- Arya tries to remind the Hound of his murder of her friend Mycah, which took place in Season 1.
- Jaime recalls how his father forced him to study the books every morning, something Tywin relates to Arya in "The Old Gods and the New."
- The terrified way Brienne screams "NO!" in this episode sounds similar to the cry she let out when she had witnessed Renly's murder in "The Ghost of Harrenhal," the last traumatic event that she had experienced.
- The dead horses lie in a similar geometric pattern to the wildling body parts at the start of the very first episode.
- The captured Lannister boys repeat the exaggerated tales told about Robb Stark (that he can turn into a wolf and eats the corpses of his foes) in S2.
- Pod is distracted by a whore's tits just as Jory was when his master had business with Littlefinger. Fortunately things turn out better for him. A lot better!
- Littlefinger says his brothel is the safest place in the city. Tyrion replies, "Not for bastards," referring to how King Robert's bastard baby was murdered there by the Gold Cloaks in "The North Remembers."
- The Cameo: Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol leads the Bolton soldiers in singing "The Bear and the Maiden Fair."
- Chase Scene: Theon being chased by his captors on horseback.
- Comic Sutra: According to Tyrion, the contortionist prostitute is "one of four women in the world who can perform a proper Meereenese Knot."
- Composite Character: Donnel Locke takes the role Vargo Hoat played for Jaime.
- Corpsing: Robb can't help but chuckle at his uncle's ineptitude at lighting the funeral pyre, to the point that Catelyn has to give him a Dude, Not Funny! Death Glare. The people in the background are also trying not to laugh/cringe.
- Country Matters: Locke uses it to describe Catelyn.
- Death by Adaptation: Skinner, the leader of the men chasing Theon, is killed earlier than in the novels.
- Determinator: Hoster Tully was this, according to Blackfish.
- Dodge the Bullet: Theon dodges a bunch of arrows his pursuing captors shoot at him.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: A hooded Hound 'accidentally'' getting his head smacked into the wagon resembles the smack-their-head-into-the-roof-of-the-police-car trick.
- Double Entendre: Tyrion says that one of the whores he's giving Pod as a reward for sticking a spear through his would-be assassin's face is "quite the spear handler herself."
- Double Tap: The leader of the men chasing Theon is shot twice in the chest and once in the head, Mozambique-style.
- Epic Flail: Theon takes one to the chest that knocks him completely off his horse courtesy of his pursuing captors.
- Establishing Character Moment: The funeral scene sets up Edmure and Brynden "Blackfish" Tully. Edmure is shown to be well-meaning but kind of incompetent, and the Blackfish is a badass Old Master. The short scene where they discuss the war with Robb just reinforces this.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Jaime is very much an antagonist at this point, and while he would gladly have killed Brienne in the last episode, he clearly thinks that rape is going too far.
- Every Man Has His Price: Jaime plays it well with Locke, but it gets subverted.
- Evil Is Petty: Locke cuts Jaime's hand off apparently just because he was irritated by his aristocratic arrogance.
- Eye Scream: There's no actual damage, but Jaime gets a knife pressed against his eye for what feels like forever. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is a very brave man (he actually held the knife himself so it could be pushed absolutely as far as it could without doing any damage).
- Faceless Mooks: Theon's pursuers while they are chasing him in the woods.
- False Reassurance: A possible example when Jaime tells Locke his father could make him a wealthy man for the rest of his life. Of course, that life might be cut short by the drop at the end of a rope...
- Fanservice: Another gratuitous nude scene which isn't in the novels involving three of Littlefinger's whores, one of them played by a contortionist!
- Feet-First Introduction: Lord Tywin is introduced via a slow pan up from his boots.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Talisa agrees that Robb Stark can indeed turn into a wolf at night.
- Honor Before Reason: It's implied by Ser Jorah that Rhaegar Targaryen was too honourable as a warrior, which led to his defeat by Robert Baratheon.
- I Cannot Self-Terminate: The dark version. One of the slaves on the Astapori Walk of Punishment rejects Daenerys' offer of water, preferring death over a horrific life of servitude.
- If I Had a Nickel: Tyrion asks Littlefinger if he has any advice for his successor as Master of Coin.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: After Edmure misses the first three shots, the Blackfish shoots at his brother's funeral pyre, and even though it's sailed almost out of sight is so confident he walks off without waiting to see the arrow land.
- I Was Beaten by a Girl: Brienne has a lot of fun trolling Jaime over this, suggesting he's an over-rated has-been.
- Kick the Dog:
- Jaime is already restrained and docile, so cutting his hand off serves no practical purpose.
- Cersei and Pycelle's snide taunting of Tyrion over his discomfort about being named Master of Coin.
- Kicked Upstairs: Tyrion's new post as Master of Coin is an improvement from his previous lack of position after Tywin became Hand, but he clearly doesn't want the job, and he quickly finds out that he's got his work cut out for him.Tyrion: I'm very good at spending money, but a lifetime of outrageous wealth hasn't taught me much about managing it.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Jaime is robbed of his hand and the prestige of being the greatest swordsman in the realm, karmic payback for crippling Bran and ruining his dream of being a knight.
- Lie Back and Think of England: A very dark version of this trope is presented when Jaime suggests to Brienne that she think of Renly when her would-be rapists have their way with her. Jaime knows that Brienne will be killed if she resists.
- Life Energy: Stannis asks the Red Woman to create another shadow assassin, but she refuses as it might kill him due to her having drained too much of his life force already.
- The Loins Sleep Tonight: This is one interpretation of, "Your fire burns low, my king."
- Mad Artist: Lampshaded by Mance Rayder when the Wildlings discover a spiral of dismembered horses laid out by the White Walkers in the remains of the Night's Watch camp.Mance: Ever the artists.
- Malaproper: Hot Pie refers to Winterfell as "Winterhell" until Arya corrects him.Arya: It's Winterfell.
Hot Pie: [beat] Are you sure?
Arya: Yes. I'm sure.
- Mood Whiplash:
- The song over the credits is a rock version of "The Bear and the Maiden Fair." It completely jars with Jaime having his hand cut off.
- The somber mood of Hoster's funeral is wrecked by Edmure's incompetence with a bow.
- Mythology Gag:
- Near-Rape Experience: Brienne comes close at the hands of Bolton bannermen, but Jaime convinces their leader to ransom her unharmed instead.
- The Nicknamer: Bronn names Littlefinger "Lord Twatbeard."
- No Man of Woman Born: Daenerys hints to Missandei that the customary saying "Valar morghulis" ("All men must die") doesn't apply to them because they're not men.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome:
- Brienne fighting off her rapists.
- Presumably, whatever Pod did to earn him back Tyrion's gold.
- Oh, Crap!:
- When Theon's captors declare they are going to rape him.
- When Gilly and Sam notice that her newborn baby is a boy.
- Ygritte's face when she realises where the bodies of the Night's Watch at the Fist of the First Men have gone.
- Craster when he realises some of the Night's Watch look quite prepared to kill him if he refuses them hospitality.
- Only Known by Their NicknameBrynden: He [Hoster] asked me to stop calling myself 'Blackfish'. Said it was an old joke, and it was never funny to begin with. I told him people have been calling me 'Blackfish' for so long, they don't remember my real name.
- Overly Long Gag: The sound of Tyrion dragging his chair into position takes far longer than it should, but gives us time for some hilarious reaction shots from the Small Council.
- Parental Substitute: The Blackfish becomes this for Catelyn.
- Passive-Aggressive Kombat: The Hand calls a Small Council meeting. After Lord Tywin takes his seat at the head of the table, Littlefinger pushes ahead of the others to take the seat closest to him. Varys and Pycelle have to fall in behind. Cersei, not to be outdone, picks up her chair and carries it round to the other side of the table, so she's on the right hand of the Hand. Tyrion watches all this, then loudly drags his chair so he's directly facing his father across the length of the table.
- Pet the Dog:
- Jaime convincing Locke to spare Brienne from a gang-rape.
- Tyrion rewarding Pod for saving his life and his unflinching loyalty by giving him an expensive session with three beautiful whores.
- Posthumous Character: Lord Hoster Tully.
- Put on a Bus:
- Hot Pie becomes a baker at a tavern (also Shoo Out the Clowns).
- Littlefinger is sent to woo Lysa in the Vale.
- Melisandre leaves Dragonstone to seek out someone else with Baratheon blood.
- Pyrrhic Victory: Edmure doesn't realize that his "glorious" victory utterly blows Robb's strategy.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: As if Theon's captors weren't nasty enough, it's apparently their standard punishment for escaped prisoners. Locke and his underlings also arrange to rape Brienne by the numbers.
- Rapid Aging: Stannis has aged noticeably in between Season 2 and Season 3, and this episode finally reveals that the creation of the monstrous Living Shadow which assassinated Renly has cost Stannis some of his life force.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Locke gives Jaime a well-deserved one, mocking him for acting as if he's better than others and in control, when in fact nearly all of his influence and power comes from his father, and that when separated from him Jaime is helpless and should talk more wisely. To emphasise his point, he then lops off Jaime's hand.
- Rewatch Bonus: Before the last of Theon's captors gets shot by the Boy, he calmly utters, "You little bastard." See the episode a second time knowing that he meant that literally.
- Sex God: Despite being a somewhat schlubby-looking virgin, Pod is apparently so impressive that three prostitutes gave the money back.
- The Scream: The episode finishes with Jaime's scream as his hand is cut off. It's particularly effective because it takes him a moment to realize what's happened, and his scream sounds more like horror than pain.
- Screaming Birth: Gilly's delivery of her son. Craster threatens to knock her teeth out if she keeps it up.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money! / Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: As is standard procedure for a Lannister in a pinch, Jaime plays this card with Locke. It backfires rather spectacularly.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: A variation; Jaime's vocabulary is no better than any other noble's, but it's clearly better than Locke's. Jaime's "fancy words" seem to be one of the things that Locke gets most annoyed about.
- Sibling Rivalry: Hoster and Blackfish had a strained relationship for 30 years.
- Spanner in the Works: Edmure proudly tells Robb how he took it upon himself to attack Gregor Clegane's forces, and got them to retreat. Except that Robb was trying to lure the Mountain into an ambush, and now they've lost hundreds of men for just one small piece of territory.Robb: I would have had his head on a spike by now! Instead, I have a mill.
- Table Space: Unlike the other sycophants on the Small Council, Tyrion sits as far as possible from his father, yet directly opposite him, showing their adversarial relationship.
- Tactful Translation: As in the first episode, Missandei covers Kraznyz's endless stream of insults as best she can.
- A Threesome Is Hot: And a Foursome is even hotter! Tyrion buys Pod three whores at once.
- Title Drop: The Walk of Punishment is a row of crucified slaves in Astapor designed to serve as a warning against disobedience.
- Unflinching Walk: The Blackfish is too badass to wait around or react to the arrow lighting his brother's funeral pyre. He turns away before the arrow has actually struck, so confident is he that his shot was perfect.
- Viking Funeral: For Hoster Tully. Lit via Arrows on Fire.
- Villains Out Shopping: The Bolton soldiers sing a merry rendition of "The Bear and the Maiden Fair" right before it is indicated that they plan on gang-raping Brienne. This may be a parallel to the heroic Brotherhood Without Banners being introduced by incongruously singing the Villain Song "The Rains of Castamere."
- Weather of War: Unlike Edmure, Blackfish examines a flag to assess the wind conditions. After this, he scores a perfect hit on the target.
- We Have Reserves: Inverted; King Robb points out that Lord Tywin can afford to lose more men than them. "WE NEED OUR MEN MORE THAN HE NEEDS HIS!"
- Wham Episode: For Jaime's arc, as his hand is chopped off by Bolton bannermen.
- Will Not Be a Victim: Brienne does her best to fend off several would-be rapists despite knowing that they will murder anyone who tries to fight back.