We start where we left off last episode, in Meereen, where Missandei stands vigil over a wounded but peacefully sleeping Grey Worm. Daenerys and Daario are with Ser Barristan, whose body is lying in state at the foot of her throne. Hizdahr zo Loraq arrives to give his condolences. Dany replies that he was a loyal friend, then seethes that Selmy had crossed a continent to serve her only to be murdered in an alley by cowards. Daario advises a city-wide crackdown, clearing out all the rats who would threaten her district by district and exterminating them. But Dany has a better idea. "Round up the leaders of each of Meereen's Great Families and bring them to me," she commands. Hizdahr is confused. "But... I'm the leader of my family," he protests tentatively. Beat. Dany's Dothraki guards seize him and drag him off, his horrified protests notwithstanding.
The noble heads are all gathered in the dragon's lair, (at least, those who survived last Season's purge). As one of them moans that this can't be happening, Dany orders the Unsullied to prod them deeper into the dark.
- Queen Daenerys Targaryen: They will eat you — if I tell them to. They may eat you even if I don't. Children... Some say I should give up on them. But a good mother doesn't give up on her children. She disciplines them if she must, but she does not give up on them.
With an oblique glance at Daario she singles out one man to be forced ahead. In the darkness ahead of him, three lights appear — two glowing eyes over a mouth full of fire. The wretched man is burned alive by one burst of flame from Viserion's gaping maw, then ripped in two with help from his brother, and they begin to devour the char-grilled nobleman. Daenerys promises the others that trivialities such as innocence and due process are things of the past; not when she cannot trust one of them as far as she can throw Drogon. She decides to let her dragons decide whether they are guilty or not, until Hizdahr grows a spine, stands straight and replies with a taut: "valar morghulis." All the while his fellows have knelt or attempted to make themselves as small as possible, cowering in a terrified show of obedience before the queen. Half amused, half impressed, Dany allows for a touch of mercy, as she doesn't want to overfeed the children... At least not tonight. Tomorrow perhaps. And she stays behind to admire the spectacle of her children's power as her remaining seven hostages are imprisoned.
As Daenerys is reasserting control, her last known relation in the world is at Castle Black and has discovered her resurgence, listening to Samwell read a report on her activities in Slaver's Bay. Sam's rather impressed with her; but Aemon is in despair. He's a dying old man in no position to help his great-niece, alone and besieged by enemies on the other side of the world.note And he laments that soon she will be the only Targaryen left.
Jon comes in and asks Sam to leave. He needs advice, but first he politely asks Aemon how he's feeling. "Like a hundred-year-old man, slowly freezing to death." Jon gets on with it, "I need your advice. There's something I want to do, something I... have to do, but it'll divide the Night's Watch. Bitterly. Half the men will hate me the moment I give the order." Aemon interrupts him, saying that half of the men hate him already, and tells him to do it! Jon is taken aback, he doesn't even know what he— that doesn't matter, Aemon counsels. As long as he knows what to do.
The next morning, Jon has brought a shackled Tormund Giantsbane to his office. He asks him about the free folk, where they would relocate to after their defeat at Stannis's hands and who their new leader might be. Tormund replies that they followed Mance Rayder, and no one else. Jon offers to unchain Tormund in exchange for his help. The Night's Watch have been guarding the realms of men for eight thousand years, and have been failing in that regard for all that time because they never realized that they included the wildlings. Jon wants Tormund to gather his people and bring them through the Wall, not to kneel but to fight with him when the time comes. He continues by asking if perhaps Tormund is too prideful or too scared to save his people; just as he challenged Mance with. Tormund responds by slooooowly standing up, growling that it's easy to say that to a man in chains. Jon brazenly unlocks his manacles in response, leaving the Thunderfist wide-eyed. That show of trust, along with a plea to save his people from being turned into the living dead, turns Tormund to Jon's side. He'll travel to Hardhome at the peninsula of Storrold's Point, they'll need ships to rescue the majority of civilians but his final ultimatum is that he'll only go if Jon accompanies him in his capacity as Lord Commander.
Jon was wrong to think his bold plan would divide the Watch. Indeed, it seems that the Watch is quite united against it. In a raucous meeting in the communal mess hall, Jon defends his plan against strong opposition. The complaints are mostly variations of the same understandable theme: They have hurt Us. They have attacked The Wall, they have killed Sworn Brothers, they have killed Grenn, they have killed villagers, etc. The only support comes from Sam, who starts to mention that there is a lot of good farmland available in the Gift until someone asks why the farmland is abandoned to begin with. Raids by wildlings. Jon, however, has a solid argument up his sleeve. If the free folk stay above the Wall, they will be overtaken and inevitably become wights in service to the white walkers.
Afterwards, when Jon is alone with his squire, he asks if Olly has anything he wants to say. The kid begs him to say it's all a trick, that they won't really ally with the people who killed everyone he knew and loved. Jon tries to tell him that he knows what Olly is going through, and to defend his plan, but Olly is unimpressed.
Podrick Payne walks down the streets of the Winter Town, and into an inn where Brienne is glowering in the direction of Winterfell. Pod tries to look on the bright side: maybe Sansa's better off here, away from the Lannisters. Brienne is incredulous. "Better off here, with the Boltons that killed her mother and brother?" She strikes up a conversation with an innkeeper old enough to have known both Ned and his father. After ascertaining that he's no friend of the Boltons, she enlists his help in getting a message to Sansa.
"Come back here." a naked Ramsay calls out to an equally naked Myranda in Winterfell. He's lying in bed; she's glowering out of a window, irritable over his upcoming marriage. Ramsay had promised to marry her back when he was a Snow. He explains that now he's a Bolton and it's not up to him, and she accuses him of finding Sansa pretty. Myranda's behavior would be Clingy Jealous Girl under normal circumstances, but here can be taken as evidence of her rather substantial crazy when you consider who she is, who he is, what he is, and who he's marrying. Ramsay tries to calm her in his own inimitable way, loses his patience, and tells her that she's being jealous and that jealousy bores him. And she's seen first-hand what happens to people that bore him... They promptly have rough masochistic make-up sex.
Elsewhere in the castle, a servant pops into Sansa's room, reminds us again that she has friends in the North and informs her that she can signal for help at any time by putting a lit candle in the highest window of the broken tower, and pops out before Sansa can ask who these allies are. Sansa is staring up at the broken tower where her baby brother Bran fell way back when, when Myranda shows up. Myranda makes conversation about Sansa's new threads, revealing that the black number was stitched by Sansa herself, (a little reminder to book fans of her skills as a seamstress). Myranda says that it was so nice of Catelyn to teach her that. It's a pity she's dead and all, but hey, look on the bright side: Sansa can think of her mother whenever she wears them. Myranda also tells her that there's something else to help her remember. She takes Sansa over to the kennels and tells her to go down to the last allotment. Sansa, nervously walking by cage after cage of ravenous dogs, makes it to the last one... a servant sleeping on the filthy rushes... He wakes and rolls over, it's Reek. Or as she knew him, Theon. But he rabidly shakes his head at the title when she announces it in shock. Sansa looks down at him with rage and loathing; Joffrey, with sadistic relish, would likely have informed her of Bran and Rickon's apparent deaths at the former ironborn's hands between Season's Two and Three. He quails under her judgement, until he gasps that she shouldn't be here and Sansa can only quit his presence; nearly in tears.
This encounter soon makes its way to Ramsay that very same evening. And he senses something off about Reek as he's being dressed for dinner. He cuts off Reek's apologies when he reveals that Sansa saw him and demands he get on his knees... and just when we are sure Ramsay is about to flay another finger when he asks for his hand... he takes Reek's maimed mitt gently and forgives him with a terrible smile.
Sansa experiences a truly strange dinner in the company of Roose, Walda, and Ramsay. The Bolton heir starts slipping into his outwardly playful self throughout the course of the dinner. First, to Roose's dismay, he stands up and gives a speech about how all Northmen are one big, happy, extended family, ending with a toast to Sansa's marriage. Walda tries to make nice with her soon to be daughter-in-law, likening how they are both in a strange place but Sansa rebuffs Roose's wife. It's not the surroundings, this was her home after all. It's the inhabitants that are strange. Of course, Ramsay is only too eager to agree with her in his own twisted way. "You're right of course. Very strange." Then he calls in Reek to serve the family some wine. He enters the hall, an effeminate serving shift thrown over his usual rags. Ramsay cheerfully tells Sansa not to worry, the North remembers, and Ramsay has punished the Greyjoy scion personally for his transgressions. Now he's a new man, well, a new person... anyway, what with the - never mind. With the air of a parent nudging a child, Ramsay announces that Reek will apologise to Sansa for murdering her two younger brothers, who unbeknownst to everyone (except for Jon, Sam, Roose and Ramsay himself) could both still be alive. Eventually, Reek gets through the stilted apology, and Ramsay seems to think he has made a grand romantic gesture to his fiancee. But it doesn't end there! Why, most of poor Sansa's family is dead, what with Reek killing her brothers and all, making Reek here the closest kin she has left in Winterfell. Reek should be the one to give Sansa away at the wedding ceremony. Wonderful! At least it's a step up from Joff.
Roose is so overjoyed with this display that he shares some special news of his own, Walda's pregnant! Ramsay's smile dies on his face. In comparison, Sansa is almost ecstatic as she congratulates Walda and Roose announces to the circle that Maester Wolkan has determined it to probably be a boy.
Afterward, Roose flatly tells Ramsay that he disgraced himself at dinner. Ramsay is clearly worried about his position prompting Roose to tell him the story of his birth. He had once come across a peasant couple who had married without his permission, so he hanged the miller and raped his wife beneath the tree where he was swaying. He reminisces that the woman fought him the whole time. A year later, the woman came to the gates of the Dreadfort and demanded the Medieval equivalent of child support. Roose was sorely tempted to whip the woman's skin off her back and drop Ramsay into the river. But then he looked into the child's eyes and, realizing that this was indeed his son, decided to take care of him. This is probably the most that Ramsay will ever have in common with Tyrion Lannister. One wonders if Roose will end up the same way as Tywin. But then, Roose seems to at least on some level respect his son's cunning as we see next.
- Lord Roose Bolton: Stannis Baratheon has an army at Castle Black. But he won't stay for long. he wants the Iron Throne, and the road to King's Landing comes right through Winterfell. He means to take the North. But the North is ours. It's yours and mine. Will you help me defeat him?
Ramsay Bolton: (eyes alight) ... Yes.
Back at The Wall, Gilly asks Sam if the Castle Black library holds every book in the world. Sam tells her that it's quite small compared to the Citadel's library in Oldtown. The words means nothing to her, much to her frustration. He can do all the smart people things, while all she can do is sweep. Sam is trying to make light of it when Stannis comes in, evidently looking for someone. Gilly, intimidated, quits the room. The king looks over Sam, searching the aisles until he realises there's no-one else here and since he was told where to find the man he's seeking... "You're Samwell Tarly?" He states doubtfully, looking the chubby young man up and down. He recognizes his last name. Randyll Tarly, Sam's dear old dad, who dealt Robert Baratheon his only defeat during the rebellion at the Battle of Ashford, (and only because Robbo didn't take Stannis's advice). Randyll's son is something of a contradiction, however. He's very intelligent, but he definitely doesn't look like a soldier, and yet he killed a dreaded white walker...? Stannis demands to know how he did it. Samwell explains that he used dragonglass, a substance Stannis knows by the name obsidian. There is apparently a lot of it on Dragonstone. The library is of little help on the matter of explaining why the substance is anathema to them. All Sam can learn is that the children of the forest used dragonglass eons ago as hunting materials.
Stannis finds Davos to tell him that it's time to move. He's not going to wait for Jon to come back with his potential reinforcements. It's too late in autumn; the weather can turn to whiteout conditions anytime. They march at dawn, and his family is coming with them. Davos protests that they'll be in danger; Stannis replies that they'll be in more danger surrounded by ex-criminals at Castle Black. Shireen is rather excited to go and see all the cool things at Winterfell. She's not scared in the least. Davos comments that he's scared, and jokingly makes her promise to protect him. Stannis meets with Jon and extracts a promise from him to return the portion of his fleet he's lending to save the Hardhome refugees. Jon vows he'll get them back and gives him a heartfelt farewell, Stannis seems to be about to reciprocate, but in typical charismatic Stannis fashion; leaves Jon unanswered. Soon enough, they've mounted up and Stannis's army rides forth in force, the long column of cavalry lost against the misty horizon.
Missandei's vigil ends in Meereen when Grey Worm regains consciousness from his three-day healing coma. He asks, weakly, as to what became of Ser Barristan... And when Missandei shakes her head sadly, bemoans that he failed him. Not only him, but his men, his queen. Missandei insists that he failed no one. He and his men were ambushed, there's no dishonor in that. Grey Worm is unresponsive and Missandei asks whether he is ashamed. He clarifies, he's not ashamed because he was wounded in battle but because he felt fear when the knife went in. Missandei says that everyone fears death. No, not that, Grey Worm says, what he was scared of was that he'd never see her face again, and they kiss.
Later, Missandei congratulates Dany on giving the Masters what they deserved. Daenerys responds that if she did that, she'd have no one left to rule, and asks her handmaiden for advice. Missandei balks at this, as she's little more than a language-savvy ex-slave and not a military expert like Grey Worm or Daario or a well-bred informed aristocrat like Hizdahr, but Dany needs her unique perspective. Finally, Missandei says that she has observed her for a long time. She's watched as Dany took advice from all her various counselors, and leaned on them when her experience was lacking. She has also seen her ignore her advisers... But not out of arrogance. Each time she did, she came up with a plan all her own, better than the ones pitched to her. Daenerys, taking this advice to remember her own strengths and decisive powers much as Aemon urged for Jon to do, comes up with a truly radical plan.
In the jails beneath the Great Pyramid, Daenerys approaches Hizdahr's cell, who. expecting death, gets on his knees and begs her not to do this. She asks him what happened to valar morghulis? He says that he didn't want to die a coward and, after thinking about it, realized that he doesn't want to die at all, sniffling as he is rather pathetically. Dany responds that it takes a certain kind of courage to admit to that, and also to admit that one was wrong. She's decided to meet the traditions of Meereen halfway. Thus, she shall reopen the fighting pits to free men only, and, in order to forge a lasting bond with the Meereenese, she shall take an ancient family's head as her husband — why, one suitor's already on his knees for her right this moment. She leaves his open cell while he can only sit on the prison floor, stunned.
South of the Essosi continent, Tyrion is waking up from the concussion he received at Jorah's hands. He has learnt his lesson, however, and he tells Jorah that he won't mouth off at him - but insists he be untied anyway. Jorah refuses and remains silent, forcing Tyrion to continue talking, asking for wine to drink which Jorah bluntly shuts down. Tyrion complains that as an alcoholic he can't continue if he doesn't drink more wine. At this point, Tyrion sees the landscape behind him, steaming river fords and shattered archipelagos. Tyrion knows where they are, the Ruins of Old Valyrianote . Jorah confirms and states that their passage through the dreaded Smoking Sea is a relatively safe route since they can avoid the pirates who dare not approach.
A tranquil sequence of the boat sailing through the landscape follows, Tyrion and Jorah see ancient buildings, broken walls, crumbled pillars and ruined aqueducts. Both of them then discuss the Glory that was Valyria, how the greatest civilization the world had ever known ended up an empty, abandoned ruin, done in by volcanic ash so powerful that it sent up pillars of fire so hot that they burnt and destroyed dragons in mid-flight. This is how most civilizations end up, they lament. Tyrion quotes a poem on the Doom of Valyria, which Jorah also joins him in declaiming. That is until Jorah sees something in the distance magnetically drawing both him and Tyrion's gazes. They see probably the first dragon in the skies of Valyria since the Doom. Drogon flying high above and over them, far enough to ignore the tiny boat. Tyrion can't believe his eyes and Jorah is equally stupefied at the dragon's black majesty.
Jorah and Tyrion sail between a narrow pair of cliffs, not noticing several strange figures skulking on the edge, as they are too entranced by Drogon's fleeting form through the cloudy sky. Suddenly one of the gargoyles moves and jumps into the water. And the spell is broken. Both Tyrion and Jorah are on the alert and as they sail underneath the ravine, a grotesque figure drops onto the deck. It's one of the stone men, who were discussed throughout the previous episodes of this Season. They are what's left of human beings in advanced stages of greyscale, suffering severe brain damage that leads to rampant aggression, their skin entirely covered in elephantine, weeping sores which camouflaged them as statues among the necropolis. Jorah warns Tyrion not to let them lay a hand on exposed flesh, as their condition is highly contagious and manages to bash the first over-side with an oar, before shoving the second off that was shadowing them and losing the long range weapon in the process. Tyrion screams to be untied but can only scrabble out of the reach of a third stone man as best he can, while Jorah manages to get access to his sword and starts to repel the tougher one. Tyrion, however, is cornered by another falling stone man who drags himself towards the cornered dwarf. Not wanting to catch the hideous disease, he takes his chances with possibly boiling water instead and hurls himself into the lagoon. This too fails when one of the earlier stone man Jorah knocked into the drink grabs his foot underwater and starts dragging him down. Tyrion struggles breathlessly and seems to lose consciousness. The scene Fades To Black.
And then fades back in.
Tyrion wakes up and sees Jorah's face above him. He and Tyrion are on a sandbank. It's nearing sunset and they are safe. Jorah finally cuts Tyrion's bonds and they both discuss the horrific life of the stone men, with Tyrion stating that it would be preferable to receive a a dagger in the heart then be sent to live in that colony. Jorah tells Tyrion that they will have to walk the rest of the way to the nearest village to get another boat. Tyrion complains of how the knight got him into this mess in the first place but accepts it. Jorah then walks to down the sediment range to look for firewood, he stops and turns back to see Tyrion occupied. He then carefully pulls up his sleeve, and he sees a small patch of greyscale forming on the underside of his wrist where a stone man scratched him. Jorah is infected.
Tropes in this episode:
- The Ace: Tyrion mentions how Valyria used to be the best at nearly everything... used to.
- Adaptational Heroism: Hizdahr continues to be much more sympathetic than his book counterpart. His heartfelt pleas to reopen the fighting pits genuinely seem like him trying to help Daenerys restore order to Meereen rather than a petition for his own gain. In the show, Dany dictates the terms of her marriage to him while he is helpless on his knees; in the books he has enough connection to the Sons of the Harpy to negotiate a truce as proof their marriage will bring peace (which Daenerys is compelled to accept in the face of an external threat from Yunkai, Qarth, and Volantis).
- Adaptational Wimp: Hizdahr is a political version. In the books, he cajoles Daenerys into marrying him and granting his wishes. Here he's captured, imprisoned, and forced to marry her.
- Adaptation Distillation:
- In the books Stannis doesn't take Melisandre when he marches from Castle Black, as he doesn't head directly to Winterfell, instead following Jon Snow's advice taking a detour to recruit Northern Mountain Clans, noted Stark loyalists. Likewise, Selyse and Shireen are left behind at Castle Black with a number of Florents and Queen's Men to protect them. And Davos never sets foot in Castle Black in the first place, having been sent to White Harbor to secure the support of House Manderly.
- The politics of Meereen have once again been streamlined. The books have more killings, more court petitions, more investigations, meetings with a priestess called the Green Grace, and the taking of child hostages by Daenerys. Xaro Xhoan Daxos' visit is also cut due to his Death by Adaptation.
- While Tyrion and Jorah do come near Valyria in the books, they don't actually go there. The book equivalent of this episode's arc takes place on stretch of the Rhoyne River known as the Sorrows, at the ruined city of Chroyane. Tyrion's journey in the books involved going down the Rhoyne with a sellsword named Griff and his companions, getting attacked by the stone men, going to Volantis, then getting kidnapped by Jorah. Griff's party was Adapted Out and Tyrion went straight to Volantis with Varys instead. From there it makes no sense for him to end up at Chroyane, which is further from Meereen than Volantis. Since Valyria is also a ruined city and lies between Volantis and Meereen, the Stone Men's attack takes place there.
- Adult Fear: For Maester Aemon, learning that his great-niece Daenerys, the only family he has left, is in huge trouble halfway across the world and that he's powerless to do anything to help her.
- Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Hizdar immediately drops to his knees and begs for his life when Daenerys comes to his cell; Dany notes that he actually displayed more courage when facing imminent death at the hands of her dragons. He explains that at the time he felt certain he would die no matter what and meant to face it with dignity, but now begging might actually work.
- And Now You Must Marry Me: Daenerys hopes to secure the loyalty of the Meereeneese by marrying one of their noble lines. She tells this to Hizdahr, who is completely at her mercy and is in no position to refuse. An unusual example in that the suitor is in fact extremely pleased, since he thought she was there to have him fed to the dragons, and the match is an incredible political advancement for him.
- Arc Words: In addition to "Winter is Coming" being said by Northeners, "The North Remembers" is starting to come up more and more. Of course, it has different meanings when spoken by the Boltons and when spoken by Starkists who won't ever forget their liege's betrayal.
- Ascended Extra: Bowen Marsh finally gets a bigger role.
- Badass Bookworm:
- As they sail through the ruins of Valyria, Tyrion begins quoting a book passage describing the Doom... and to his surprise, Jorah cap off the final lines for him.
- Stannis, of all people, manages to overcome his innate disdain for Sam Tarly's doughy physique in order to offer respect not only for his killing of a white walker, but for his intelligence in researching how to do so.
- Bait-and-Switch: Several this episode.
- Ramsay does this not once but twice to screw with Theon's and the audience's expectations like the Troll he is.
- A jealous Myranda offers to show Sansa something amazing at the end of the Winterfell kennels. Given Myranda's cruelty and jealous tendencies, it seems like an obvious trap to Murder the Hypotenuse, but the surprise turns out to be Reek/Theon.
- The screen Fades To Black when Tyrion gets pulled into the sea by a stone man, seemingly as if to create a cliffhanger for this episode. A few moments later, we see Jorah's face as Tyrion's POV begins to wake up from being unconscious.
- Bat Signal: Brienne arranges for a message to be sent to Sansa via Stark loyalists. If she needs help, she's to leave a candle in the window of the Broken Tower.
- Beneath the Mask: Now that Sansa has discovered Reek/Theon, Ramsay drops his smitten suitor act.
- Big Damn Kiss: Grey Worm and Missandei finally express their feelings for each other with this.
- The Bluebeard: Ramsay implies to Myranda that she might be the next girl going on one of his doghunts if she doesn't quit her Clingy Jealous Girl tendencies.
- Break the Haughty: Roose, clearly at the end of his patience with Ramsay's antics, reminds him of what his position is. First, he reveals that he has another child on the way, making Ramsay visibly nervous about his position.
- Broken Pedestal: Olly is not pleased to learn that Jon really does intend to save and ally with wildlings.
- The Cassandra: Stannis shows some of his resentment when he recalls the Battle of Ashford. He told Robert not to go so far west so soon, Robert never listened and got defeated by Randyll Tarly for it. From the books
- The Chains of Commanding: Discussed by Maester Aemon to Jon Snow.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- Set up but not fired in this episode: Sansa's serving lady tells her a signal.
- Turns out the numerous mentions of greyscale and its effects in recent episodes had a purpose: As of now, Jorah has become infected.
- Child by Rape: Roose finally explains to Ramsay who his mother was — a commoner who married without her lord's consent, so he essentially exercised a horribly twisted version of Droit du Seigneur on her which, in the novels, he boasts of practicing.
- Composite Character:
- Ser Jorah's greyscale infection is taken from Griff, who has been Adapted Out so far.
- Myranda is an amalgamation of several characters. Her bitterness over Ramsay marrying a highborn comes from Mya Stone having her heart broken by Michael Redfort. She's also somewhat reminiscent of Kyra, as a lower-class woman who works at Winterfell and sleeps with the occupier. Her name and attempt to ingratiate herself with Sansa come from Myranda Royce.
- Continuity Nod:
- Stannis again corrects someone, Othell Yarwick in this case, by stating that it's "fewer", not "less".
- For the second time since season 1, a captive Tyrion in imminent peril tells his captor to unbind his hands already.
- A purely visual one: the shot of Sansa looking up at the Broken Tower... on the exact side Bran fell from.
- Roose has a scene with Ramsay that mirrors the Stannis/Shireen Pet the Dog scene from last episode, complete with the same strategy table with Bolton/Baratheon pieces and a touching story of how Roose and Stannis didn't kill their respective offspring.
- Cowardly Lion: Hizdahr, is clearly terrified in the Dragons lair, but he is straight backed and is ready to face what may occur. He even says later on that he did not want to die a coward, but he was terribly afraid.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Daenerys has one of the Masters burned alive and eaten by her dragons.
- Cuffs Off, Rub Wrists: After being unchained, Tormund looks like if he'd strangle Jon with his bare hands, but takes care of his own wrists instead.
- A Day in the Limelight: While Ramsay isn't exactly a "secondary" character (due to the series's Loads and Loads of Characters) this episode very heavily focuses on the Boltons in the North, Sansa at Winterfell also dealing with the Boltons, Brienne and Podrick in the nearby town trying to get past the Boltons to reach Sansa, and Team Stannis departing from Jon Snow and the Night's Watch the Wall to head to fight the Boltons. The episode also focuses a lot on the relationship between Roose and Ramsay, and even includes an infodump in which Roose explains how Ramsay actually originated from a rape he committed. The only other storylines that even appear are Daenerys and Tyrion — though they're all interlinked: Stannis is leaving the Wall to fight the Boltons, Aemon at the Wall receives a letter about his great-niece Daenerys in far-off Slaver's Bay, and Tyrion is heading to meet Daenerys. Notably, this is only the fourth episode in the entire TV series that does not feature any scenes in King's Landing at all.
- Deadpan Snarker: A Bolton family trait.
- When asked by Myranda if he looked at Sansa, Ramsay tells her "I am going to marry her. That will entail looking at her from time to time."
- Roose gets in the act when Ramsay asks how Roose managed to get his wife pregnant:Roose: I believe you are familiar with the procedure.
- And others, as befits a World of Snark, e.g. Tormund is initially this towards Jon's proposal:Tormund: The day I ask my people to fight with the crows, is the day my people cut my guts from my belly and make me eat them.
- Maester Aemon also gets a moment:Jon: How are you feeling?
Aemon: Like a hundred-year-old man, slowly freezing to death.
- Daenerys notes that fortunately her 'suitor' is already on his knees.
- Tyrion thanks Jorah for saving his life, but can't resist pointing out that it wouldn't have been necessary if he hadn't kidnapped Tyrion in the first place.
- Death by Adaptation: Ser Barristan Selmy is confirmed to have perished from his wounds from last episode, whereas in the novels he is still alive at this point.
- Death Glare: Tormund shoots daggers from his eyes and has a very murderous look when Jon wonders if he's a coward.
- Dramatic Irony:
- Stannis gives earnest praises to Randyll Tarly, Sam's father, not knowing that the two hate each other. Sam is uneasy about this.
- Ramsay presents Reek as the person who killed Sansa's little brothers, who are very much alive.
- Enemy Mine: Jon decides to make an alliance with the free folk to fight the far more dangerous white walkers who threaten to kill both of them. His subordinates (minus Sam and Aemon) are not amused.
- Expecting Someone Taller: Stannis winces and is taken slightly aback when he meets Sam, as the unlikely white walker killer doesn't look like a Tarly or a warrior.
- Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Hizdahr, when he realized that he is a leader of a major family, thus he is being punished with the rest of them.
- Face Death with Dignity: Hizdahr is clearly terrified out of his wits at the dragons, but when threatened by Daenerys he solemnly acknowledges "valar morghulis" and remains standing with his eyes closed and a prayer on his lips, unlike the other noblemen who cower on their knees. He is spared and later explains that while afraid to die, he didn't want to die a coward.
- Fan Disservice: Myranda and Ramsay are played by attractive people and appear stark naked but their sex is more disturbing than titillating since they're both quite off in the head.
- Fate Worse than Death:
Tormund: The day I ask my people to fight with the crows is the day my people cut my guts from my belly and make me eat them!Jon: And how many of your people can't fight? The women, the children, the old, the sick, what happens to them? You're condemning them to death- worse than death-, all because you're too proud to make peace?!
- Jon and Tormund discuss what will happen to the weaker wildlings once the white walkers take over.
- Tyrion considers having greyscale and being banished to live among the stone men a case of this.
- Faux Affably Evil:
- Myranda acts overly sweet towards Sansa right until she introduces her to Reek.
- Ramsay lays it on pretty thick this episode, pretending to be nice to Sansa even as he's describing the awful things he's done.
- Fed to the Beast: With local resistance to Daenerys's rule mounting, she decides to supplement her dragons' diets with terrified Meereenese noblemen.
- Fire-Forged Friends: Although 'friends' is pushing it, Jorah frees Tyrion's bonds and the tension between them has dropped a notch after fighting the stone men and discovering they at least have something in common (see Hidden Depths).
- Grammar Nazi: Stannis. He corrects a crow's grammar to himself.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Myranda clearly hates Sansa for taking Ramsay's attention away from her.
- Half the Man He Used to Be: An unlucky Meereeneese nobleman gets barbecued and ripped in half by Viserion and Rhaegal.
- Hidden Depths:
- Hizdahr, showed more courage and presence of mind than we could have ever believed. He presents himself a bit of a Cowardly Lion.
- In-Universe, Tyrion learns that Jorah is a bit more educated than his previous actions might indicate, finishing Tyrion's recitation of a poem about the Doom of Valyria; beyond this, all Tyrion had seen from Jorah was a kidnapping and a particularly savage beating.
- Hidden in Plain Sight: When Tyrion and Jorah are about to sail past some Valyrian ruins, there are several stone men perched on the blackened masonry staying still, and looking like statues from a distance.
- History Repeats: Daenerys having a Meereenese noble roasted by her dragons without any kind of trial is a rather horrific remainder of what her father (the Mad King) used to do.
- Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: Ramsay openly wonders how his future half-sibling might have been conceived, given the physique of Walda. Of course he knows, he's just prone to make tasteless fat jokes.
- Hypocrite: Back in Episode 2 of the season, Danaerys has one of her advisers executed for murdering an accused man before he could receive a fair trial. Here, she murders a nobleman, who has not even been personally accused of a crime, with no concern whatsoever for ascertaining his actual guilt.
- Improvised Weapon: Oars, a pulley and a fishing crate are used against the stone men before Jorah has the chance to draw his sword.
- Info Dump: Roose telling Ramsay about how he was conceived. The scene avoids As You Know territory since Ramsay intentionally never asked about the subject and Roose is telling the story to put his son in his place.
- Internal Reveal: Sansa learns of Theon's fate: captured and tortured into becoming Ramsay's fearful, loyal slave.
- Innocently Insensitive: King Stannis meets Samwell Tarly and praises both the boy's strong warrior father and the boy's intelligence. Little does he know that Sam doesn't want to be associated with his father because the man hates his bookish, weak son.
- Instantly Proven Wrong: Looking upon the ruins of Old Valyria, Tyrion laments, "This is it, then. This is what remains." Then Drogon, the mightiest dragon in the known world, flies overhead. He is what remains.
- In the Blood: Daenerys makes an example of top nobles by having one of them roasted to a crisp and eaten by her dragons. Sounds an awful lot like her father, Aerys II "Mad King" Targaryen, or her great ancestor Aegon the Conqueror who would speak softly, present diplomatic solutions but was never shy of barbecuing his opponents if they spat on his mercy.
- Kick the Dog: Out of all the people Daenerys could threaten to avenge ser Barristan's death, she chooses Hizdahr, the only one who has been trying to help her since she conquered Meereen. Burning that other noble without any kind of trial wasn't nice either.
- Kneel Before Zod: The Masters grovel before Daenerys in the hope they won't be Fed to the Beast. Hizdahr decides to Face Death with Dignity, but even he loses his pride after a night in the cells contemplating his death, even shuffling round on his knees to face Daenerys, who snarks him over it. "Thankfully a suitor is already on his knees."
- Tormund insists the Free Folk won't do this for Jon in exchange for safety behind the Wall. Jon insists he couldn't care less; all he wants is the wildlings to fight beside the Watch when the White Walkers come for them both.
- Last of His Kind: It's not as fun as it sounds:Maester Aemon: A Targaryen alone in the world is a terrible thing.
- Look on My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair!: Valyria was the greatest civilization that man had ever known. They were leaders in every industry and aspect of culture... now their capital city is an ominous ruin, sheltering the show's version of lepers. Both Tyrion and Jorah seem affected by looking at the ruins and declaim a Shelley-esque lament on the Doom:Tyrion: They held each other close then turned their backs upon the end
The hills that split asunder and the black that ate the skies
With flames that shot so high and hot that even dragons burned
Would never be the final sights that fell upon their eyes
A fly upon a wall, the waves, the sea wind, that whipped and churned
- Make an Example of Them: Daenerys has Viserion and Rhaegal roast and devour one of Meereen's Great Masters to cow the rest of them into obeying her and keeping the city in order.
- Man on Fire: The former Meereenese Master, after Dany's dragons decide that he would make a tasty treat.
- Mass "Oh, Crap!": The Meereenese leaders, when they enter the dragon's lair. And get an understanding of what exactly Dany is planning to do.
- Meaningful Background Event: Difficult to spot on first viewing, but the stone men are visible on the aqueduct/bridge before they attack Tyrion and Jorah.
- Mistaken for Granite: The stone men by both the travelers and the viewers, before they move.
- Motive Decay: In "The Children," Daenerys chains up Rhaegal and Viserion because she is horrified that Drogon had burned (and eaten?) one of the Meereenese. Now, she is having them burn and eat the Meereenese masters.
- My Beloved Smother: Queen Selyse tells off Ser Davos for just talking about the upcoming battle to her daughter, because it might scare her.
- Mythology Gag: Myranda being the daughter of the Dreadfort's kennelmaster seems to be a reference that in the novels, one of Ramsay's favorites is Ben Bones, the kennelmaster of the Dreadfort.
- Not So Different: Roose Bolton gives a villainous one to Ramsay, revealing the horrific circumstances of his conception to reinforce that although he does want Ramsay to excercise caution, he approves of his viciousness, and reminding his bastard son that no matter whether the Frey girl is pregnant, Ramsay is the child in which Roose sees his brutal, merciless self.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Talkative Tyrion falls into an awed silence on seeing his first dragon.
- Out of the Frying Pan: Sansa realises she's betrothed to yet another sadistic psychopath. Thanks to her Character Development, she's at least better prepared.
- Passive Aggressive Combat: Dinner with the Boltons.
- Snark-to-Snark Combat: Defied. Tyrion's usual method of passing the time and getting to know people better is witty banter, but Jorah Mormont won't have any of it, unlike Bronn, Jaime, or Varys.
- Tempting Fate: Tyrion ponders how ruins are the only thing Valyria has to offer now. Drogon promptly flies overhead and then stone men start jumping from the cliffs.
- Title Drop: Courtesy of Maester Aemon to Jon Snow.Aemon: Kill the boy... and let the man be born.
- Touch of Death: The touch of the stone men is treated as a death sentence, basically being a very slow Touch of Death.
- Tranquil Fury: Roose Bolton is clearly getting angrier and angrier as the dinner continues. At no time does he raise his voice or lose his temper. When he conveys his annoyance to Ramsay, he speaks softly.
- Tormund is clearly enraged at being called a coward, but maintains his composure and accuses Jon Snow of being the same.
- Try and Follow: Jorah sails the boat through the ruins of Valyria where pirates won't go. Turns out it's not just superstition that keeps them away.
- Undying Loyalty: Brienne to Catelyn Stark. Several servants of Winterfell and subjects of the North are revealed to be this to the Starks.
- Villainous Fashion Sense: Subverted; Sansa is back in her cleavage-revealing Darth Sansa robes, but is surrounded by the Eviler Than Thou Boltons.
- Walk, Don't Swim: We're first alerted to the stone men when one falls like a rock into the water, later clambering onto the boat after it gets close. Tyrion is also nearly drowned by another stone man who attacks him underwater.
- Wall Bang Her: Naked against a rough stone wall. Ouch!
- We ARE Struggling Together: Jon's arc as Lord Commander has a heavy dose of this. No matter what grievances the Night's Watch and the free folk have with each other, he urges everyone that they need to work together if they want to survive the White Walkers.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Still a bizarre version in Ramsay, whose father reveals he's a Child by Rape as a way of expressing that he and his son are Not So Different. Whether Roose is manipulating him or not, Ramsay jumps at the call when his father calls on him to help fight Stannis.
- Woman Scorned:
- Myranda, whom Ramsay promised to marry back when he had no title or inheritance or importance, is extremely jealous of Sansa, and will resort to passive-aggressively tormenting her and sabotaging Ramsay's attempts to woo her.
- Melisandre gives Jon Snow a sour look before riding off to war with King Stannis, clearly not happy about his rejecting her advances for The Lost Lenore.
- Wham Shot: The last shot is of Jorah Mormont's wrist with a patch of greyscale on it.
- You Are Not Alone: A mysterious old serving woman tells Sansa there are still Stark sympathizers and advises Sansa on how she might summon help.
- You Are a Credit to Your Race: Stannis invokes a weird paternal version of this. He praises Samwell Tarly's father as a Worthy Opponent and Always Someone Better to his brother Robert and then commends Sam for his knowledge and ability to kill a white walker. Stannis was being nice but he had no idea that Sam really hates his father and doesn't want to associate with him.
- Zombie Infectee: Jorah has been infected with greyscale which, true to the trope, he hides from Tyrion, even after making sure that none of them touched Tyrion. And from what we've seen of the stone men his fate won't be pretty if he can't find a cure; and as far as we know, exactly one person has ever been cured, and no one seems certain of how.