We begin once more in Braavos, with Arya hard at her chores, keeping an ear out for everything going on in the eerie House of Black and White; which does not seem to be much. The idols of death gods from every culture and city on both continents stand arrayed and as Arya pushes her broom, we see the man she knew as Jaqen offer a supplicant water from the central pool, the male commoner drinks from the cup; then goes to pray to the Weeping Woman of Lys in silence. She confronts a man about her staid duties she wants to train in the assassins' arts, not sweep out the corners! He assures her that he will serve her in this regard as long as she is willing to serve the Many-Faced God in turn. But for now, her revenge consumes her and he foresees, quite accurately, that she would only use such knowledge for her own gains. She points out how there is no Many-Faced God among the statues of the numerous faiths that surround her, but a man replies with a mantra she knows well. "There is only one God. A girl knows his name. And all men know his gift." He leaves. Arya sees that the prostrate drinker is now on his back, glassy-eyed and unseeing. Two priests remove his corpse on a stretcher and Arya asks a fellow female waif where they are taking him, but she receives no answer.
Wedding bells are ringing in King's Landing for Margaery and Tommen. Cersei looks sour throughout the whole proceedings, both when being carried through the streets and during the ceremony in the Sept. The crowds only cheer for Queen Margaery. The couple recite their vows and kiss, actually looking quite happy.
After, in the young king's chambers, they consummate their marriage. Tommen is spellbound, even though his first time didn't last long and who can blame the lucky kid? He wants to do nothing but this all day, every day, for the rest of his life. Margaery plies him with the Tyrell charm, though it is hardly needed, and Tommen admits to not feeling a trace of guilt for inheriting Joffrey's bride, what with his, *sniff* untimely demise... Margaery withholds round two while gliding around his four-poster in her robe, pouring sweet words in his ear as she hints at Cersei's over-protectiveness and how she will never let her baby boy out of her sight.
The next morning, Tommen, fresh from his first taste of manhood, tries to unclasp himself from his mother's grip, not too subtly at that but he is a work in progress. Cersei confronts her daughter-in-law that same day and they engage in what is possibly the biggest knock-down drag out match of Passive Aggressive Combat and Politeness Judo ever seen in all the Seasons so far. But the victor is very apparent as Cersei departs, and the laughs of Margaery's ladies in waiting echo in her paranoid, power-lusting mind.
- Queen Margaery Tyrell: (within Cersei's earshot) I said, "darling, surely four times is enough. Are you trying to set a new record?" He said, "well, what is the record? I'm sure we can break it." note Mother! Welcome. (they embrace)Cersei Lannister: Don't you look lovely? Marriage agrees with you. noteMargaery: Can we bring you anything to eat or drink? I wish we had some wine for you. It's a bit early in the day for us. noteCersei: ... No, no. I - I can't stay. I just wanted to let you know, if there's ever anything I can do for you... noteMargaery: You are very sweet. noteCersei: Tommen seems quite taken with his new queen. noteMargaery: I absolutely adore him. You've raised a gallant young man. I'm forever grateful. noteCersei: Good. Good, I'm glad to hear you're happy. noteMargaery: Ecstatic. I really am. Exhausted, to be honest. But what could I expect? He is half lion, half stag. noteCersei: (eye-twitch) I'll leave you to it then. noteMargaery: Oh, forgive me. I haven't been at court for long. I get so confused. What's the proper way to address you now? Queen Mother, or Dowager Queen? noteCersei: There's no need for such formalities. noteMargaery: In any event, judging from the king's enthusiasm, the Queen Mother will be a Queen Grandmother soon. noteCersei: Won't that be a lovely day? noteMargaery: Can you imagine the celebrations? They'll ring the bells all day and night. noteCersei: Remember... Anything you need. note
At long last, we come near full-circle, to Winterfell. The flayed man of House Bolton flies over the battlements as Lord Roose Bolton, Warden of the North, reconstructs the castle as his new seat of power. An army of laborers works to repair the former Stark home after its sack in Season Two, a man once known as Theon Greyjoy among them. As the broken ruin of a prince limps along, he catches sight of two skinned bodies being hung from the gates - the former Lord and Lady Cerwyn, slain by Ramsay Bolton, who cheerily recounts the tale to his father as they dine in the hall later on. Roose Bolton is not pleased, both by Ramsay's cruelty and by the greater attention Ramsay pays to his lunch over his lord father. Putting his wayward former bastard in his place, Roose very patiently explains House Bolton's present situation to him: they rule the North, but by the skin of their teeth, as their bannermen still keep the Stark direwolf in their hearts, if not their castles. With the death of Tywin Lannister, House Bolton needs to create new alliances to shore up their tenuous hold on power. And the best way to create a lasting alliance is not by peeling flesh... it's through marriage.
Cut to Sansa/Alayne, Littlefinger, and their Vale-men escorts as they approach Moat Cailin, the gateway to the North. Sansa recognizes the locale from her trip to King's Landing in Season One, and quickly deduces that they are heading to her old home, and that Littlefinger's marriage proposal was not for him, but for her. He confirms this and Sansa is horrified to think the Petyr will marry her off to Roose, but he is already married. She'll be marrying Ramsay instead. Not too keen on making the acquaintances of the family who betrayed her own and who were indirectly responsible for her lady mother's death and directly responsible for her kingly brother's; Sansa is quickly turning hysterical at this horrible turn of events.
- Lady Sansa Stark: No, you can't make me. I will starve myself! I will die before I have to go there!Lord Petyr Baelish: I won't force you to do anything. Don't you know by now how much I care for you? Say the word and we turn the horses around, but listen to me. Listen. You've been running all your life. Terrible things happen to your family and you weep. You sit alone in a darkened room, mourning their fates. You've been a bystander to tragedy from the day they executed your father. Stop being a bystander. Do you hear me? Stop running. There's no justice in the world. Not unless we make it. You loved your family... Avenge them.
Sansa collects her resolve and makes her decision. High up on the hills above them, Brienne and Podrick have been watching and the former decides to skirt the Neck and make for where she is certain they are heading for. When they have made camp, Payne shares how he became Tyrion's squire and how, even though he was forced by Tyrion to quit his service to ensure his safety, he is glad to have now served two upstanding individuals. The Beauty offers to train Pod in all the skills of a knight, every morning and evening on their travels North. Then reveals how her loyalty to Renly was first solidified when he defended her against a group of mocking suitors, and even though he would never love her as she loved him for giving her that, she is determined to once and for all avenge his death by killing the man whose life-force cast the murdering shadow... And she knows the man who did it and just how mortal he is; even if some call him Azor Ahai reborn...
At Castle Black, Stannis comes to pay the newly-minted Lord Commander a visit. They discuss the offer of legitimization but Jon must decline the boon. Even as the Boltons rule his former home of Winterfell, Jon took an oath to the Night's Watch and his loyalties are to his Brothers, not the politicking of the Seven Kingdoms. Stannis grits his teeth and warns Jon of the follies of holding honour above pragmatism. He informs the Lord Commander that his army will march on Winterfell within the fortnight, before winter arrives in earnest and snow-drift blizzards impede their expedition. And to watch his back, as some of his Brothers will not appreciate further parlance with the free folk... After the king leaves, Ser Davos talks with Jon in private, discussing how their oath instructs them to be "the shield that guards the realms of men." Which, by interpretation, would not preclude Jon coming to the aid of a North which lies in the grasp of two tyrants. One cold and calculating beyond measure, the other more beast than man. The Onion Knight leaves, giving Jon yet another conflict to grapple over.
Within The House of Black and White, Arya lies on her bed, examining the iron coin that marks her as an initiate. The waif enters her room and teaches the noble-born lady that she's not as badass as she thinks she is. And that she is not ready to cast aside her identity. A man uses his uncanny stealth skills to appear abruptly and defuse the situation, as Arya is ready to stick the waif with Needle in repayment for the cane slaps. Jaqen tell her straight and true. If she believes she is ready to learn, then she must prove it. To throw away everything that physically connects her to her old life. The ragged jerkin she wore since the beginning of Season Two, and the filthy clothes she has worn since Season One, the Hound's stolen sack of silver and of course; Jon's last gift to her.
Now wearing the black and white habit of their order, Arya weighs her old belongings down with stones and casts them into the depths of the canal. But cannot bring herself to do the same to the little sword.
- She stood on the end of the dock, pale and goose-fleshed and shivering in the fog. In her hand, Needle seemed to whisper to her. Stick them with the pointy end, it said, and, don't tell Sansa! Mikken's mark was on the blade. It's just a sword. If she needed a sword, there were a hundred under the temple. Needle was too small to be a proper sword, it was hardly more than a toy. She'd been a stupid little girl when Jon had it made for her. "It's just a sword," she said, aloud this time......but it wasn't.Needle was Robb and Bran and Rickon, her mother and her father, even Sansa. Needle was Winterfell's grey walls, and the laughter of its people. Needle was the summer snows, Old Nan's stories, the heart tree with its red leaves and scary face, the warm earthy smell of the glass gardens, the sound of the north wind rattling the shutters of her room. Needle was Jon Snow's smile. He used to mess my hair and call me "little sister," she remembered, and suddenly there were tears in her eyes.Polliver had stolen the sword from her when the Mountain's men took her captive, but when she and the Hound walked into the inn at the crossroads, there it was. The gods wanted me to have it. Not the Seven, nor Him of Many Faces, but her father's gods, the old gods of the north. The Many-Faced God can have the rest, she thought, but he can't have this.—A Feast for Crows, (Chapter XXII)
Arya hides Needle within the crevice of a rock-pile wall and soon Jaqen takes her down to the second level of the House, where she and the waif undress and prepare those who come for death's release. For what purpose... We're probably soon to find out.
Sansa and Petyr have arrived at Winterfell, and Reek recognises her almost instantly from where he skulks in the rookery. Roose and Ramsay make their near ghastly introductions, though as we've seen before, Ramsay can wear a convincing mask of sanity and Sansa does her family proud as she does not quail or scream but uses her deadliest, most honed weapon; her courtesy. Myranda, Ramsay's bed warmer and favoured mistress looks on with something untoward towards the new lady of the castle. Once Sansa is taken to her old rooms, her elderly servant, almost a dead ringer for Old Nan welcomes the child back home and utters what many a book-fan have longed to hear since the aftermath of the Red Wedding: "The North Remembers."
In the mess hall of Castle Black, Jon gets down to business of delegating roles within the Night's Watch. Maester Aemon is not in attendance, with Sam saying he doesn't feel well. After a joking work placement which proves Jon's restraint and good humour, the Lord Commander appoints Alliser Thorne as First Ranger, much to his long-standing arch-enemy's stunned surprise. Lord Janos Slynt, on the other hand, is to be given command of Greyguard, one of the Wall's ruined castles, to renovate. Foolishly, the disgraced head of the City Watch does not recognize Jon's authority through words, stating that he categorically refuses to obey the orders of a bastard, Lord Commander or no; spitting on the chain of command. And we all know what happens to deserters in this brotherhood... With the Night's Watch, and the audience, having finally had enough of this treacherous blustering coward, Jon orders Ser Janos to be taken outside and for Olly to fetch his sword. Slimy Slynt shouts furious protests when he is restrained by Dolorous Edd and abandoned by Ser Alliser, as he is forced into the yard, he taunts his captors that this is a stunt by the boy meant to scare him into submission; the grim reality of his dilemma only truly hits him once he sees the block going down on the gallows and is made to kneel, then kicked over it. Following the Stark family tradition to the letter, Jon steels himself to personally carry out the sentence, and once he has unsheathed the Mormont ancestral blade, tells Janos that now is the time to speak his final words. Janos capitulates, trying to recant his past misdeeds and his insubordination and when Jon makes a move to swing, tearfully begs the Lord Commander for mercy, telling him he will do whatever he says, and admits that he is afraid, that he has always been afraid. The desperate plea finds resonance in Jon, who hesitates, but Slynt's absolute and crippling cowardice only reinforces the validity of his sentence. And with one chop from Longclaw, Janos Slynt's head is taken clean off. After the deed is done, Jon looks up to see that Stannis has watched the whole affair and the king gives him a nod of high regard.
At King's Landing the second High Septon is revealed to be as licentious as the last was gluttonous and is caught at his sordid little role-play within Littlefinger's brothel by a contingent of Sparrows, led by Lancel. They abduct him and force him to walk the streets naked, beating him if he attempts to cover his privates. Outraged, he goes to Cersei and demands the cult be arrested and their leader executed. But Cersei seems intrigued and has other plans for the High Sparrow.
Cersei travels down to Flea Bottom with Ser Meryn and meets the elderly monk in person, running a soup kitchen for the poor. She explores his motivations and his hopes for equality, as the Faith preaches. His humility and political savvy seems to impress Cersei enough that she proposes an alliance, and to solidify it, she has already deposed the High Septon Tyrion chose and thrown him into the black cells to rot.
In Qyburn's laboratory, Cersei delivers a missive for him to send to Littlefinger via raven. The banished maester gets down to the task, even as his advanced project buckles against its bonds underneath a white sheet...
Within Winterfell, Theon does not dare meet Sansa's eye while he shovels horse droppings and she walks through the hubbub. Ramsay seems almost sincere with his wishes to make her happy and he promises to Baelish that he will never hurt her. Petyr is playing a very dangerous game as Lord Bolton himself interrupts their conversation to engage in a match-up between two of Westeros' finest chess masters. Roose delivers a letter to Baelish from Cersei, and he notices that the seal has already been broken. Roose calmly admits up front that he has read the scroll; Petyr is the type of person not known to be sated in his pursuit of even more power, so he had to know the contents of the correspondence, and how much Cersei is aware of, seeing how she is sure be to furious once she learns that Sansa is back in Winterfell. Baelish assures him that there won't be any trouble; no army save for Aegon's ever made it this far North, and if Tywin's death alone hasn't deterred the Lannisters from making such a move, the new powerful alliance between the North and the Eyrie surely will. But Roose, cracking the second smile he's ever shown us, is not so foolish as Cersei to leave Petyr's response to her letter unknown.
Thousands of miles away, in Volantis Tyrion and Varys have reached the Long Bridge that spans the Rhoyne delta and, at the end of his tether, Tyrion insists on stretching his stunted legs before he goes stir crazy, especially since the majority of the length of their trip is near over! Varys protests that in a vast population center, he is far more likely to be recognised but Tyrion stops the coach, throws on a headscarf as a token disguise and inspects the local scene.
The East does put the West to shame in terms of variety, whether it be strange food, exotic pets and any kind of slave you can imagine. From craftsmen to courtesans. But what draws Tyrion's attention as Varys scuttles after him through the press, is a YiTish red priestess conducting a sermon before a group of slaves. Intrigued by the content, (and her good looks), Tyrion finds higher ground on a stairway and observes the woman's oration. As befitting of a man of his birth and as a man of high learning, he understands her Valyrian dialect and comments glibly on the homily, much to Varys' chagrin. The Priestess declares that the Lord of Light has sent a saviour, born from fire, who will deliver the slaves of all nations and remake the world; the Dragon Queen. Tyrion is amused at the religious fervour for who he is sure is a remarkable, though mortal woman but is silenced when the Priestess inexplicably draws her gaze in his direction and pins him with a basilisk stare, which transfixes the fugitive, until, worried she has recognised him, he pulls his cowl closer and suggests they find the closest respectable brothel to take cover in. And as we can see, Tyrion is not shy in confronting customs when faced by a condescending doorman outside the establishment.
Once the weary pair have sat down and got their complimentary drinks before observing the merchandise, we see a fellow traveler returned. Ser Jorah Mormont, drowning his sorrows in this pitiful place, where one of the girls with some Valyrian ancestry is dressed up scantily as Daenerys on special offer. While Tyrion is sorely tempted after weeks of abstinence, Jorah looks both angered and ashamed, either at the men fawning over the imitation of his queen, or perhaps himself. Tyrion, upon seeing the silver-haired girl is taken, opts for a coffee skinned brunette and cranks up the rusty, but still serviceable, Lannister swagger. The girl is annoyed at her oppo's gimmick and its popularity with all the prospective customers but Tyrion soon has her interested through his suaveness, only to then be stopped at the last hurdle. Shae's death seems to have broken something inside of him and he cannot bed her, much to his half devastated, half humored bewilderment. However, he can still piss off the side of one of the nine wonders know to man! Now that makes two.
Yet even as Tyrion relieves himself while standing on a ledge above the river, his compliments and insinuations to the bed-slave, which inferred a number of things that would point towards his Lannister heritage have caught up with him. Jorah walks up behind the dwarf, takes one good look at him when Tyrion half turns to delivers a patented bit of snark, throws a rope over his head, ties him up, wraps a gag around his mouth before Tyrion's silver tongue can save him and growls: "I'm taking you to the queen." Before throwing him over his shoulder and manhandling him away.
Tropes in this episode:
- Absentee Actor: Unlike Loras and Mace, Lady Olenna (Diana Rigg) is nowhere to be seen during the very brief shots of her granddaughter's wedding. Margaery remarks later that Olenna couldn't wait to go home.
- Adaptational Heroism:
- In the books, Tyrion callously rapes a bed slave in Selhorys. Here he politely charms a whore but ultimately doesn't sleep with her.
- Cersei is much more polite to the High Sparrow than she was in the books, even saying that the Crown and the Faith had to work together to keep the peace.
- Adaptational Modesty:
- Adaptation Distillation:
- The Vale plot and the North plot have been merged into one, with Sansa and Ramsay combining with Jeyne Poole and Harry Hardyng respectively (though Jeyne appeared briefly as an extra in Season One, her significance from there has been Adapted Out).
- In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, main writers David Benioff and Bryan Cogman confirmed that they decided to merge the Vale and Bolton subplots back during the early writing phases of Season 2. So if nothing else, they've had three years to think on how to do it. They said it didn't work for the TV show to sideline Sansa in the Vale for an entire season, because in the novels she doesn't interact with the rest of the cast (besides Littlefinger) for an entire book. check out this link for the interview
- Brienne and Pod's story continues to be tied more closely to the rest of the plot than their wild goose chase from the books.
- Tyrion's storyline completely skips several major plot points and thereby fails to introduce some very important characters before Tyrion gets himself captured.
- The Vale plot and the North plot have been merged into one, with Sansa and Ramsay combining with Jeyne Poole and Harry Hardyng respectively (though Jeyne appeared briefly as an extra in Season One, her significance from there has been Adapted Out).
- Adaptational Wimp: The High Sparrow is quite polite and deferential to Cersei, whereas in the books, his first meeting with her (which takes place after the Sparrows, tired with the corruption amongst the highest echelons of the Faith, storm the Sept of Baelor and forces the Most Devout to name their leader as High Septon, with no help from Cersei) is far more confrontational; the Sparrows refuse to allow the Kingsguard into the Sept, forcing Cersei to meet with the High Sparrow alone, the High Sparrow dictates the terms of the meeting by refusing to speak with her until he has completed his morning prayers, shows Cersei that the cronies she had amongst the Faith have effectively been stripped of any form of power, and proceeds to berate her for a number of grievances the Faith has with the Crown, most notably Eddard Stark's execution, the High Sparrow reiterating the Faith's long held view that having Ned beheaded on holy ground was an outrageous act of sacrilege that profaned the Sept, (particularly after the Faith had been promised Ned's life was to be spared) and dismisses Cersei's attempts to justify Joffrey's actions.
- Ain't Too Proud to Beg: The minute Janos realizes that Jon Snow is really going to execute him, he starts crying, pleads for his life, and admits to being a coward. Jon executes him anyway.
- The Alcoholic: Cersei's reputation for drinking precedes her, as Queen Margaery happily reminds her with a deft barb.Margaery: I wish we had some wine, it's a bit early in the day for us.
- Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Tyrion makes no attempt to hide his identity at the Volantine brothel and even talks openly about his former identity. This is most likely due to a mixture of constant drinking, frayed nerves, and not giving a damn anymore.
- All There in the Manual: The ham stolen by Pod's master was from Lord Twyin's personal store, hence the Disproportionate Retribution. But Podrick is a relative of Illyn Payne, Lord Tywin's former Captain of the Guard, who had his tongue torn out by the Mad King. This is why Tywin spares his life.
- Alpha Bitch: The Waif's treatment of Arya has a strong "middle school bully picking on the new kid" vibe to it.
- Margarey comes across as one towards Cersei for once, complete with a sycophantic Girl Posse.
- Ambiguous Situation: Jorah isn't clear on which queen he's bringing Tyrion to, Daenerys or Cersei.
- Anywhere but Their Lips: After reassuring Sansa regarding her Arranged Marriage to Ramsay Bolton, Littlefinger kisses her on the forehead, knowing it's hardly the time for his creepy uncle shtick.
- Appropriated Appellation: Discussed by the High Sparrow with Cersei. He's aware that "High Sparrow" and "Sparrow" in general are derogatory for the religious extreme, but he takes the title in stride, as there are far worse burdens he could have. It helps that he claims no identity besides just another septon that others follow.
- Arranged Marriage: Sansa and Ramsay of all people, an arrangement that never happens in the books.
- Asshole Victim: If there's anyone who deserved to be quickly and mercilessly executed for insubordination, while crying like a baby and pleading for his life on deaf ears - it's the traitorous, cowardly Janos Slynt.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: Invoked by Lord Snow. Rather than mistreat his Worthy Opponent, he decides to make Alliser Thorne the new First Ranger.
- Badass Boast: Baelish tells Bolton that "the Eyrie is mine", and that the last time the Vale and the North were in league, they brought down the greatest dynasty their world has ever known.note
- Badass Decay: Invoked by Baelish regarding the Lannisters; with Tywin and the sheer power of his will gone, all that remains is Jaime (a one-handed, isolated man), Tommen (a soft King) and Cersei (a former Queen whose power diminishes every day in favour of Margaery's).
- Bait-and-Switch: Several examples of this.
- For a second, it looks like Jon is going to put Alliser Thorne in charge of the latrines. Instead that position goes to a random brother and Alliser is named First Ranger.
- Alliser initially blocks the path to Janos, as if he means to protect him. But then he moves aside and allows him to be executed.
- For a brief moment, Jon hesitates when Janos begs for mercy. But then he executes him anyway.
- Because You Were Nice to Me: Brienne's devotion to Renly stems from the genuine kindness he showed her when the other lords made fun of her at a feast.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: In this series, Ramsay seems to be able to put on a sane and cheerful facade for Littlefinger, whereas the most he usually bothers with is Faux Affably Evil.
- Blatant Lies:
- When Tommen asks Margaery if being called Queen feels strange to her, she says it does. We've known since season 2 that Margaery has always sought to be the queen. She also claims to adore Cersei for being "so kind and generous".
- The High Septon tries to pass off his visit to a brothel as tending to the lowborn, Qyburn retorts in kind and wonders if he was ministering to the needs of these devout prostitutes.
- Ramsay promises that he'll never do anything to hurt his new bride. Unfortunately the usually well-informed Littlefinger doesn't seem to know much about the Warden's sadistic son and heir.
- Both Sides Have a Point: The High Sparrow evokes this about his Sparrows parading the High Septon naked through the street; while they were quite right to punish a holy man breaking his vows and abusing his position, the Sparrows could have used a bit more discretion in the matter.High Sparrow: I'd assumed you'd only come to arrest me, for that incident with the High Septon.Cersei: An unacceptable way to treat the chosen representative of the gods in this world, wouldn't you say?High Sparrow: Hypocrisy is a boil. Lancing a boil is never pleasant. Although they could have been more careful with the blade.
- Bound and Gagged/Over-the-Shoulder Carry: Jorah loops a rope around Tyrion's neck, slips a knotted section between his teeth, and hoists him over his shoulder.
- The Bus Came Back: After being banished from Meereen five episodes ago, Jorah Mormont turns up in Volantis and takes Tyrion captive.
- Butt-Monkey: Opening and closing the door of the Small Council room seems to be the major contribution of Lord Tyrell to the cabinet, despite the fact he's by now the dual Master of Ships and Coin. He goes about it and prances in a very dignified way.
- Reek/Theon sees the caged messenger ravens being resupplied to Winterfell, after he had them all killed in "The Prince Of Winterfell." The same scene also features fully flayed bodies hanging over the entrance to Winterfell much in the same manner Theon had done to the orphans in Season 2.
- Taking it all the way back to the first episode of the series, "Winter Is Coming": as Jon Snow is the man who passes the sentence, Jon Snow is the man who swings the sword. He even holds Longclaw with its tip touching the ground in the same iconic manner that Ned held Ice then. He produces a perfect clean cut with a single-handed sword, like Robb and unlike Theon.
- We see the tattooed slaves of Volantis, like Talisa told Robb about.
- Just as when Tyrion shipped him off to the Wall, Ser Janos tries to convince Jon not to execute him because he "has friends in the capital."
- When Cersei was betrothed to Loras Tyrell, she promised to kill Margaery if she was ever called "sister" again. Now Margaery calls her "mother" with impunity and animosity, and Cersei is powerless to do anything about it.
- Back in Season 1, Cersei warned Joffrey that the North could not be won by invasion, as it's too large to hold without the people's support. The Boltons are now learning just how true that is and are taking steps to correct it.
- Tyrion yet again pees from a precipice, as he did from the Wall.
- Brienne says her Undying Loyalty to King Renly was because he was kind to her. In "The Wolf and the Lion", Ser Loras tells Renly that he would make a good king because of this. "People love you. They want to serve you because you're kind to them."
- Character Development: Both Brienne and Podrick, while they're opening up to each other. Brienne realizes what a Jerkass she's been to Podrick and vows to actually teach him how to be a proper squire instead of a tag-a-long sidekick. Podrick shows how he's gotten less incompetent at fieldwork and manages to stay upbeat no matter what crap happens to him.
- The Charmer: Tyrion tries his luck with a prostitute, despite having no money, no title, a ragged and unkempt appearance and being extremely drunk. He still manages to seduce her purely by his world-weary wit and charm.Tyrion: Who need wealth when you can make a woman laugh?
- The Chosen One/Messianic Archetype: The red priestess in Volantis preaches that Daenerys Targaryen was born to be a savior for followers of the Lord of Light.
- Cliffhanger: The episode ends with Jorah kidnapping Tyrion, saying he's taking him to the queen. But which one?
- Composite Character:
- Sansa takes the role of a minor character, Jeyne Poole, in marrying Ramsay Bolton. At the same time, Ramsay takes over for Harrold Hardyng as the patsy Littlefinger arranges for Sansa to marry so she can take back the North.
- The High Septon was combined with Septon Ollidor. Ollidor was the one caught by the Sparrows in a brothel.
- The red priestess in Volantis is a Gender Flip composite of an unnamed red priest in Selhorys and Benerro, the High Priest of R'hllor in Volantis. Both preach that Daenerys is Azor Ahai reborn and will liberate all slaves.
- Consummate Liar:
- Margaery's power of manipulation is finally seen in full swing. She spouts one sweet lie after another, and several stealth insults in the middle. She's very likely lying to her maidens about her wedding night, as she's seen withholding the sex to her husband and Tommen talking about "breaking a record" sounds a little too risque for a mild, timid boy like him.
- Likewise, Sansa putting on a charming and courteous smile to the man who murdered her brother.
- Country Matters: Arya yells "Cunt!" when the Waif hits her.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: The Waif mops the floor with Arya before she can even retaliate.
- Dare to Be Badass: Littlefinger urges Sansa to stop being the Damsel in Distress and start actively seeking to avenge her family. She takes up the challenge.
- Dirty Coward: In about the only time Slynt has ever been honest, he desperately confesses this to Jon Snow. He is a coward and he's afraid to die and asks that his life be spared. This makes Jon Snow pause before he decapitates him.
- Dirty Old Man: The High Septon frequents Littlefinger's brothel and likes to have whores dress up as different aspects of the Seven Faced God. Tellingly, the privacy of his affairs is promptly defended by an indignant Pycelle, another aged whoremonger.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Ramsay Bolton's response to the Cerwyns not paying their taxes is to skin Lord and Lady Cerwyn alive with the Lord's brother and make their son watch. Just in case anyone forgot about Ramsay's cruelty between seasons.
- Does Not Like Shoes: The High Sparrow doesn't wear shoes because he gave away his only pair to someone who needed them more.
- Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Tyrion keeps making snarky comments about what the priestess is saying, despite Varys urging him to shut up, aware that it's not a good idea to rouse a mob of religious fanatics. The priestess then turns and stares directly at Tyrion. Even don't-care-anymore-Tyrion agrees that it's wiser to leave at once.
- Establishing Character Moment: In a single scene, Jon shows what kind of commander he is. Friendly with his troops, fair and honorable, but also firm with those that break their oaths. And when he sentences a man to death, he is the one to swing the sword. Basically he's just like Ned Stark.
- Evil Debt Collector: Ramsay flayed Lord Cerwyn, along with his wife and brother, alive for refusing to pay taxes, while Cerwyn's son was Forced to Watch.
- Facial Dialogue:
- Finally tired of trying to talk some sense into Tyrion, much of Varys' reactions and dismay is expressed via the terrific body language and non-verbal acting of Conleth Hill.
- Jorah's pain at seeing the Dany-copy whore.
- Stannis gives Jon a nod of approval after his execution of Slynt.
- Fate Worse than Death: Sansa swears she'd rather die than marry a Bolton, but ends up agreeing to marry Ramsay.
- Jon Snow is concerned about food provisions for the coming winter, warning Stannis that the Night's Watch can't continue to feed his army indefinitely without depleting their own stores for the hard times ahead. Stannis recognizes this as well, and says he plans to start marching to Winterfell in a fortnight, before winter snows trap him at the Wall. In contrast to Jon, Ramsay Bolton isn't worried about storing up food for winter at all - but is holding a massive private feast for himself, and greedily eating piles of meat while ignoring his father's specific criticism that publicly flaying Lord Cerwyn alive stupidly showed a lack of long-term planning.
- Sansa and Jon are both told to reclaim Winterfell and avenge their murdered kin. Sansa agrees to go to Winterfell with Littlefinger, but Jon refuses Stannis's offer.
- The very corrupt High Septon, from the establishment, and the very lowly High Sparrow — a revolutionary who lives among the downtrodden — have a Pope and anti-Pope dynamic.
- Gender Flip: The R'hllor priestess in Volantis was male in the books.
- Girl Posse: Margaery's ladies-in-waiting, right down to being used to taunt The Rival.
- Good Is Not Soft: Jon is a strong contender for being the most morally upstanding person in the series. When Slynt breaks his oath to the Watch, Jon shows no mercy in beheading him. Although Slynt was partially responsible for Jon's father getting executed.
- Good People Have Good Sex: Margaery brags to her Ladies in Waiting that she and Tommen had a go four times in a single night. Naturally, she says this within earshot of Cersei. (Of course, she may having been lying a tad to piss Cersei off.)
- Green-Eyed Monster:
- Cersei is visibly upset when the crowd cheers for Margaery instead of her.
- The Reaction Shot of Ramsay's mistress Myranda to his betrothal to Sansa is likely motivated by this.
- Happily Married: Tommen and Margaery, for different reasons each. While the newly deflowered Tommen is mostly thrilled about getting to sleep with a beautiful woman on a regular basis, Margaery, even if she doesn't look very sexually satisfied, at least seems genuinely happy about having a kind-hearted and easily manageable husband.Margaery: I think we're going to be very happy, you and I.
- Heel Realisation: Brienne realises she hasn't been treating Pod properly, and decides to start training him how to fight and ride.
- Held Gaze: Between Tyrion and a red priestess from Volantis.
- Hiding Behind the Language Barrier: Tyrion insulting the brothel bouncer.
- I Banged Your Mom: Inverted - Margaery makes very sure Cersei knows how much her son is enjoying his honeymoon, with the implication that she's got the king wrapped around her little finger and will call the shots from now on.
- Idiot Ball: Tyrion drops hints to his real identity in the Volantene brothel. To be fair, he has spent much of the trip drinking and going mad.
- I Kiss Your Hand: Ramsay putting on the charm for Sansa.
- The Immodest Orgasm: Margaery's screams make Tommen think he hurt her.
- Incompatible Orientation: Brienne knew Renly was gay, but was still devoted to him.
- Individuality Is Illegal: At the House of Black and White, Arya is made to dispose of her worldly possessions and change into a dress identical to the one worn by the Waif. She's not allowed to be Arya Stark anymore.
- Insatiable Newly Weds: Tommen really enjoys sex. Margaery even jokes about it with her ladies in waiting.
- Insult Backfire: Stannis angrily calls Jon Snow as stubborn and honorable as his father was. Though meant as a bad thing, Snow is proud.
- In the Hood: Tyrion adopts this as a Paper-Thin Disguise. Varys is not impressed.
- Jump Scare: The body on Qyburn's table, presumably Gregor Clegane, suddenly springing to life after a few seconds of quiet.
- Just the First Citizen: Cersei goes seeking the vaunted, dangerous leader of the rising sect called the Sparrows. When she spots a simple, dirty monk doling out stew, and asks where to find the High Sparrow, it turns out to be him."Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? Like Lord Duckling, or King Turtle. We're often stuck with the names our enemies give to us. The notion that we are all equal in the eyes of the Seven doesn't sit well with some so they belittle me. It's only a name, quite an easy burden to wear."
- Karmic Death: Janos Slynt, the man whose treachery lead to Ned Stark being decapitated, is beheaded by Jon Snow, his son, and a bastard like the children Slynt slayed on Joffrey's orders. For bonus points, like Ned, Janos is decapitaed by a blade made of Valyrian steel.
- Keeping the Enemy Close: When Stannis brings up the subject of Alliser Thorne, Jon says that he heard it was best to keep your enemies close, but Stannis retorts that whoever said that didn't have many enemies.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Jon's execution of Slynt is shown to be morally ambiguous, but at the very least it couldn't happen to a worse member of the Night's Watch.
- Of course, Slynt had been partially responsible for Ned Stark's imprisonment. Jon may have been willing to let this slide, but was perhaps harsher to Slynt then he would be another member of the Watch.
- Know When to Fold 'Em: Thorne contemplates defending Janos Slynt from the execution order, but ultimately decides against it.
- To Be Lawful or Good: Jon Snow continues this struggle, since choosing to break his vows would give him the last name he really wants. Notably, Ser Davos attempts to appeal to him using this argument, that being the "shield that guards the realms of men" means more than staying at the Wall, in order to change his mind.
- Like Father, Like Son:
- Jon shows again that he's a Stark in all but name. Like Ned, his first major onscreen action as Lord consists in sentencing and beheading a deserter/traitor of the Night's Watch. Stannis also remarks he's as stubborn and honourable as Ned was, which Jon takes as a huge compliment. Stannis clarifies it wasn't meant as one, because honour got Ned killed.
- Margaery tells Cersei how her son's sexual prowess comes from being "half stag and half lion". Of course, since the identity of Tommen's actual father is pretty much an Open Secret at this point, this is part of her Passive Aggressive Combat.
- The Loins Sleep Tonight: Despite his insistence to visit a whorehouse, Tyrion is dismayed to discover his desire waning when a girl takes his hand. More than likely, his lingering memories of Shae and her murder are playing havoc with his mind.
- Lysistrata Gambit: A low-key example; after their Speed Sex Tommen is eager to go for round two, but Margaery says they have plenty of time for that, preferring to keep him eager rather than sated.
- Machiavelli Was Wrong: Roose tries to teach Ramsay this lesson, saying that they can't hold the North with terror alone. It's doubtful he understood that lesson.
- Madness Mantra: Tyrion. "I have to get out of this wheelhouse".
- Manipulative Bitch: Margaery's claws fully come out in this episode. Within minutes she's got the oblivious Tommen to think how much happier everyone might be if his mother were back at Casterly Rock...
- The Man They Couldn't Hang: Narrowly averted by Podrick in his backstory. His master was hanged and a noose was tied for Pod too, but Lord Tywin heard his family name in time and spared him, sending Podrick to squire for Tyrion instead.
- Mask of Sanity: Ramsay puts his on when Littlefinger and Sansa arrive. It's kind of unnerving to see him like this.
- Meaningful Background Event: Qyburn has a raven to send off, so he'll just sit quietly in his lab in peace, the camera taking in the large, covered body in the background. And then the body thrashes, pulling at chains holding it down.
- Meaningful Look:
- Tyrion gets a particularly striking one from the red priestess in Volantis.
- Stannis gives a nod of approval after Jon executes Slynt.
- Sansa giving Roose Bolton a most epic Death Glare, making it very clear that she hasn't forgotten what he'd done to her family.
- Modesty Bedsheet: Tommen and Margaery after their wedding night, though the audience (and Tommen) do get a look at her Toplessness from the Back as she dresses in a robe.
- Mood Whiplash: Sansa has a cold look when Lord Bolton approaches her, then effortlessly puts on a charming smile.
- My Beloved Smother: Margaery brings up the fact that Cersei will never see Tommen as anything other than her baby boy and will always be overprotective of him. Tommen then tries to gain some independence by trying to convince Cersei to go back to Casterly Rock, but it doesn't work.
- Naughty Nuns: Tyrion admires the attractive red priestess, saying she's much better looking than Thoros. Justified as she's a former bedslave.
- The Needs of the Many: Davos, trying to convince Jon to accept Stannis' offer, points out that he might be more useful as the "shield that guards the realms of men" from chaos if he breaks his oath and becomes Warden of the North, rather than staying in a castle at the edge of the world.
- No Name Given: The Waif, the blonde girl at The House of Black and White.
- No-Sell: Janos tries to get his own way with Jon by intimidation, attempted bullying and at last cowardly begging, which was how he ran things in King's Landing. Turns out his new Lord Commander won't have any of that
- Offered the Crown: Jon formally refuses Stannis' offer to legitimatize him as Jon Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North.
- Off with His Head!: Once again, a member of the Night's Watch learns that disobeying direct orders/abandoning your post, for whatever reason, will not be tolerated. Should've just held your tongue, Janos Slynt.
- Oh, Crap!: Slynt's face when he sees Thorne step aside to allow Jon's men to take him outside. And again when he sees Edd place the block. And again when Jon draws Longclaw.
- Passive Aggressive Combat: Margaery, when speaking with Cersei, discreetly mocks her for being a Lady Drunk while also mentioning what a lion Tommen is in bed and that she may become a grandmother soon. All without skipping a beat.
- Prank Date: In Brienne's youth, a bunch of lords pretended to be interested in her, but laughed at her when they couldn't keep up the joke. She tried to run away crying, but Renly comforted her.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: Due to Tommen's Age Lift, there's no reason why he and Margaery wouldn't consumate their marriage right away. In the books Cersei forbids that, for understandable reasons.
- Pragmatic Villainy: Roose Bolton is clearly not pleased with his bastard son's wanton cruelty (Flaying a noble lord along with his wife and brother in front of the lords son so as to ensure that he will pay the regular tax as an example). This is majorly coming from the fact that though they are the new wardens of the north, they do not have enough men to hold it should the rival lords rebel against them, and they cannot rely on the Lannisters to support them since Tywin Lannister is dead (and even states that the Lannisters would not likely send their forces so far from home, since they have never set foot in the north for centuries). So basically, Roose is driving a point to Ramsay that his open sadism isn't going to make the northern houses more inclined to NOT rebel against their house.
- Pretender Diss: The Waif is really unimpressed with Arya's claims.
- Properly Paranoid:
- Roose Bolton breaks the seal of a letter sent by Cersei Lannister to Baelish and wants to read his reply to her. While the content of the missives is not shown, one usually doesn't go too far trusting Littlefinger, a man who lives and breathes intrigues.
- Varys keeps pointing out to Tyrion that showing his priced head around is way too risky, but Tyrion convinces Varys to let him take a walk and that he'll be just another inconspicuous random dwarf. Tyrion is unable to keep a low profile and is captured within a day.
- Race Lift: The Red Priestess in Volantis is actually the first East Asian actor with any speaking lines in the TV series. In the novels, the Red Priest that is seen in Volantis is not Asian and is a man. There are East Asian people in their fantasy world, but they're from even further east than Qarth or the Dothraki and barely come into the story at all: their China analogue is called Yi Ti. As Martin summed it up, seeing a Yi Tish person in Westeros or the Free Cities is about as rare as encountering a Chinese person in England during the War of the Roses in the 1400s. Not that it's implausible for this Red Priestess to be Yi Tish - now and then a few do make their way to the Free Cities, through the slave trade, etc. (she said she was a slave); also she may have been sent as a missionary from Asshai like Melisandre was.
- Reaction Shot:
- Myranda isn't pleased to see that Sansa is going to marry Ramsay.
- Olly when it's mentioned that, unlike Jon Snow, most of the Night's Watch would rather let the wildlings die than form an alliance with them.
- Reading the Enemy's Mail: Roose Bolton intercepts a message for Littlefinger and reads it. Unlike what is usual for this trope, he makes no attempt to conceal the fact that he's done so, just to let Littlefinger know he doesn't trust him.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Jon goes against Stannis' advice to relocate Alliser (despite their mutual animosity). Instead he reassigns Janos (the man who fled battle) and appoints Alliser as the First Ranger in recognition of his experience and valor.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: Jon attempts this with Janos by giving him command of Greyguard, one of the ruined castles. However, Janos flatly refuses and it ends as well as you'd expect; especially galling considering that Jon had just demonstrated his willingness to put achievement before grudges, so it didn't have to be a dead end for Janos, especially when Jon had only asked of him "the best you can"...
- Reassignment Backfire: Tywin commuted a death sentence imposed on Podrick and sent him to squire for Tyrion as dual punishment for the two. Podrick ended up enjoying his new master and saving Tyrion's life.
- Retcon A minor one; in the Season 3 History and Lore dvd extras, Tywin narrates about the various houses of the Westerlands and the role they play; when talking about House Payne, he offhandedly mentions, "apparently a younger Payne now serves my son, Tyrion" - giving no suggestion that he personally assigned Pod as Tyrion's squire as Pod claims here. It is possible Tywin simply forgot — he's a busy man and it's an insignificant matter, after all — but it's still a notable discrepancy.
- Sansa point-blank refuses to have anything to do with the Boltons, until Littlefinger holds out this prospect for her.
- Brienne declares her intentions to avenge her first and only king, Renly. How? He was murdered by a shadow, but Stannis is made of flesh and blood.
- Jon executing Slynt may have been partially motivated by Slynt's non-support of Ned Stark leading to Ned's execution.
- Rightful King Returns:
Servant Woman: Welcome home Lady Stark. The North Remembers.
- Sansa Stark makes it back to Winterfell for the first time since the start of season 1. Notably, she's the first Stark to come back to Winterfell after leaving — and the Boltons hope to exploit this by marrying her into the family.
- Played with in Jon Snow's case. While technically merely a lordship (or at most wardenship) rather than an actual monarchy — although he'd be arguably succeeding Robb as "King in the North" — this is what Stannis Invokes (and also hopes to exploit) by offering to legitimize Jon Snow, only to be Defied by Jon.
- Seen It All: The High Septon's role play involving whores dressed up as aspects of the Seven is incredibly weird to the audience. To Olyvar (who himself is sporting a fake Wizard Beard)? Not so much.
- Settle for Sibling: Lampshaded. Tommen brings up the fact that he only got to marry Margaery because his brother died.
- Sex Goddess: Margaery has Tommen panting in exhaustion after sleeping with him. Downplayed in that he's was an inexperienced virgin. Later she's seen telling her ladies in waiting about how he is a Sex God just as a disturbed Cercei walks into the room.
- Sexy Whatever Outfit: An in-universe variation: Some prostitutes in Essos have taken to dressing like a more provocative version of Daenerys, butt cleavage and all, and are shown to be quite popular with their patrons.
- Shameful Strip / Perp Walk: For the crime of hiring whores for a particularly blasphemous sexual roleplay, the sparrows parade the High Septon naked in front of the city while chanting "sinner".
- When Stannis advises Jon to ship his enemies out of Castle Black, the Lord Commander replies, "I once heard you should keep your enemies close." The King retorts, "Whoever said that didn't have many enemies."
- Gregor thrashing on the table under a sheet as Qyburn calmly chastises him is reminiscent of The Reveal from Audition.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Even as Slynt is being dragged to the chopping block, he remains deluded and yells about his powerful friends in the capitol. Apparently he is still unaware that Tywin is dead and that the Lannisters never liked him to begin with and have probably forgotten that he exists by now.
- Spared by the Adaptation:
- The High Septon. In the books, Cersei had him killed (he was appointed by Tyrion, so she didn't trust him), while in the show, he is said to be in the black cells. However it is possible he was the one under a blanket when Cersei sends a message to Bolton.
- Lord Cerwyn's son is left alive by Ramsay, even though his book counterpart is long dead at this point.
- Speed Sex: Implied, Tommen, who had just lost his virginity, remarks that it all happened so fast, which almost causes Margaery to drop her play along façade as she briefly raises her eyebrows.
- Stealth Insult: Cersei and Margaery's entire conversation consists of hidden barbs and veiled threats.
- Survivor Guilt: Tommen mentions thinking that he should feel this both for outliving his brother and being so happy with said brother's wife, and is concerned about the fact that he doesn't feel it. This is the closest that Nice Guy Tommen has yet come to acknowledging that Joffrey's death was no tragedy.
- The Squire:
- Podrick's role as a basically lifelong squire is lampshaded and his beginnings as a squire are discussed.
- Olly, as Jon's steward, is essentially his squire, much as Jon was steward to Jeor Mormont.
- Stern Teacher: Brienne notes that while Pod's previous masters have been nice to him, they haven't taught him what's needed to be a proper squire, and so starts Pod on a training regimen.
- That Girl is Dead: A non-verbal example. To truly become no one, Arya throws away all her possessions into the canal. Ultimately subverted when she cannot bear to be parted from Needle, the sword her brother Jon gave her. She hides it away instead.
- Too Dumb to Live: Janos Slynt is in a very bad position but his arrogance blinds him to this. Jon has the support of at least half the Night Watch and is clearly favored by Stannis. Slynt's only ally of any significance is Allister Thorne and Jon has just offered Thorne a prestigious position In the Night Watch command structure. Rather than taking revenge on Slynt, Jon instead has him Reassigned to Antarctica to a remote castle where Slynt cannot cause much trouble. The "Antarctica" itself was also really not that bad. It needed to be fixed, but once it was, he would have been in command of one of only four functional forts on the Wall. Slynt could haved accepted this posting and saved some face — even redeemed himself, had he exceeded the presumably low expectations of him — but instead he openly defied the Commander's orders and insulted him to bootnote . Thorne is too savvy and honorable to support Slynt in such a blatant display of insubordination, especially after he just got positively recognized in a demonstration of Jon's characternote . Slynt thought Jon wouldn't have the balls to execute him. He was dead wrong.
- Tragic Keepsake: Needle, the one thing Arya can't bear to throw away.
- Undignified Death: Janos Slynt dies crying like a baby in front of the entire Night's Watch.
- Undying Loyalty: Like Stannis in the last episode, the Boltons run into this with the Northern lords many of whom are refusing to submit to them as the new Wardens of the North, despite Ramsay's brutality.
- Villainous Glutton: Ramsay continues stuffing his face while Roose is talking to him of serious matters. Eventually, Roose tells him to stop eating and pay attention.
- Virgin Tension: Averted; Roose Bolton doesn't care if Sansa is a virgin, because he just wants her family name. However Tyrion failing to consummate the marriage means that she can be married off to someone else, even if Tyrion is still alive.
- Wham Shot: The Description Cut from the word "marriage" to Sansa riding into view.
- What Have You Done for Me Lately?: Non-verbally, but this is the visual expression Thorne gives to Slynt right before he allows the rest of the Night Watch to take him to get beheaded; it was arguably Slynt's endorsement of him that caused Thorne to lose his bid for Lord Commander, whereas the winning candidate Jon had just rewarded Thorne with appointment to First Ranger on account of Thorne's genuine merits.
- While You Were in Diapers: "I was charged with the defense of King's Landing when you were soiling your swaddling clothes", says the former commander of the City Watch, Lord Janos, to Lord Commander Snow.
- Worthy Opponent:
- Though they're technically allies rather than opponents, this dynamic is very much in play when Jon appoints Thorne to a position that acknowledges and makes use of his talents rather than using it to take petty revenge... though Jon teases the latter for comedic effect.
- Seemingly reciprocated by Thorne, who, rather than use his own considerable popularitynote to support Slynt's insubordination and undermine Jon, supports his new Lord Commander.
- Villainous Breakdown: Janos Slynt first defies his Lord Commander and acts like a complete Smug Snake, thinking that he'll get away with it. When Lord Snow has him seized and takes him outside, he haughtily and indignantly claims this can't happen to him... until his main ally Thorne leaves him to his fate. At this point he starts getting desperate and making angry but empty threats. He ends up sobbing like the coward he is when his head is on the stump and he realizes that Snow fully intends to behead him.
- Villain Team-Up: Littlefinger claims that he wants to strike up a new powerful partnership between the Vale and the North. Roose Bolton is aware of what kind of person Littlefinger is and is appropriately paranoid but seems to entertain the idea- so long as he benefits from it.
- Written-In Absence: Maester Aemon doesn't appear in this episode; Sam mentions he's not feeling well.
- You Are the New Trend: Seems like Daenerys's distinctive look has become popular in the brothels of Essos.