Horses are bridled and saddled and weapons, blankets and food are packed as Jon and his expedition prepare to leave Castle Black. Two things remain: to have Tormund Giantsbane unshackled in plain view, (as various Watchmen scowl), and to give command of Castle Black to Allister Thorne (who tells him that his mission is reckless and insulting to the dead). Samwell meets Jon at the gate to give him a bag of dragonglass knives, and Team Snow is off.
Later, Sam and Gilly sit at what will clearly soon be Aemon's deathbed. The over a hundred-year-old man reminisces in a somewhat senile fashion about Egg (Dany's grandfather) but has a lucid moment where he tells Gilly to get her son south, before it's too late.
At Winterfell, Reek brings food to Sansa's room. The Bolton formerly known as Stark is bruised, curled up on the bed, and crying softly. He closes an open shutter and makes to leave when Sansa begs him to help her. There's nothing quite like being married to Ramsay to make a person forgive their brother's murderer. He, horrified, tells her that his name is Reek and that Ramsay will hurt her unless she does what he says. At wit's end, she tells him that he's hurting her every night already, and locking her up every day. It can't be any worse, Theon, who most likely prayed for bruises during Ramsay's "training" tells her that unfortunately, it can get a lot worse. She plays the you're a Greyjoy card and after some more desperate pleading, he mutely promises to light the candle in the broken tower.
Reek leaves with candle in hand, he trudges through the snow, enters a spire staircase, climbs upwards as the theme of 'What is Dead May Never Die' swells triumphantly... And walks through a well-furnished door to find Ramsay feasting and drinking his way through the midday courses. "Yes, Reek?"
Brienne watches the broken tower in the blizzard, but she sees no light in the window.
At Castle Black, Aemon is growing incoherent. As he rambles on about Egg, Gilly tries to get Sam off to bed. Sam refuses to leave; Aemon was always good to him. The latter gets off his last words, "Egg... I dreamed... that I was old."
He's cremated the next morning, Samwell gives his eulogy.
- Brother Samwell Tarly: His name was Aemon Targaryen. He came to us from King's Landing. A maester of the Citadel, chained and sworn, and sworn brother of the Night's Watch, ever faithful. No man was wiser, or gentler, or kinder. At the Wall, a dozen lord commanders came and went during his years of service, but he was always there to counsel them. (tearfully) He was the blood of the dragon... but now his fire has gone out. And now his watch is ended.
At Winterfell, Sansa is brought out to Ramsay. "My beautiful wife," Ramsay says. He relates that he was expecting someone ugly and that Sansa has made him very happy. He also relates that Stannis Baratheon is marching towards Winterfell. He has a nice army with him, but Winterfell has winter. The current snowstorm is a boon to them. Northmen fight well in the cold.
The conversation turns to Walda's pregnancy. Sansa asks Ramsay what will happen if Walda has a boy. He happily says that in that case he'll have a baby brother. She continues by saying the baby will have the better claim. Ramsay, clearly wanting to be off the issue, says that he was naturalized by the king. Sansa, clearly no longer supplied with fucks to give, pushes further. Tommen legitimized him and Tommen's a bastard too. Therefore Ramsay's claim is inferior (somehow). He gives her an eye-bulgy Death Glare before calmly saying that bastards can rise high in the world, like her half-brother Jon Snow, who has recently been elected Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. Sansa is surprised and her eyes light up at this news about her brother — but Ramsay has an even "better" surprise for her.
He takes her to the old woman who told her about the signal. The woman has been crucified and partially flayed. Ramsay calls the dead woman a tough old bird: usually they sing when he cuts into them, but this one kept quiet until her heart gave out. Then he sends Sansa back to her room with the implication that she's going to have a long night.
Meanwhile, Stannis's army is suffering on The King's Road. Ramsay wasn't wrong about having General Winter on his side: forty horses have died in the night, and five-hundred mercenaries have deserted. On top of that, they have no supply line thanks to the drifts. Davos advises Stannis to return to Castle Black. Stannis demurs: he ran from King's Landing, he'll be known as the king who ran if he runs from Winterfell. On a more strategic note, if he goes back to Castle Black then it is very possible that they'll be wintering over. How many years will that take? No, they march, perhaps to victory, perhaps to defeat, but only forward. But Stannis still has his doubts. He tells Melisandre that he's long put trust in her visions, now he wants to know about his future. He seems to be losing faith in what in the vision he was shown after the Battle of the Blackwater. Melisandre confidently tells him that she's seen herself walking the walls of Winterfell and the flayed man banner being toppled to the earth. However, it seems that R'hllor will need a little help bringing this vision off. She carefully tells Stannis that he'll have to sacrifice some king's blood and, when Stannis is a bit slow in following her, specifies Shireen. "Have you lost your mind?", he asks, and brings up leeches but the Red Woman is adamant.
- Melisandre of Asshai: There is only one way. You must become king before the Long Night begins! Only you can lead the living against the dead. All your life has led us to this moment! To this decision.
Mel starts in on one of her ever-subtle sexual advances. Stannis would have been up for that last one five minutes ago, but now he quite justifiably tells her to get out. Which she does, while Stannis does what he does best. Broods.
Back at Castle Black, Gilly is tending to some washed and dried linens when a couple of Night's Watch creeps accost her. They harass and irritate her but she tries to get past them, until they finally knock the laundry basket out of her hands. Just then Sam barges in to the rescue, sword in hand. Brother Brandt and brother Derek mock "Sam the Slayer". Tarly charges forth nonetheless and they knock his sword away and beat him to a pulp as Gilly watches helplessly. A bruised and bloodied Sam hears the attackers about to have their wicked way with Gilly, but, battling against his pain (and probably a dozen concussions), he rises up again with Heroic Willpower, shocking his brothers. Just then Ghost arrives; unwilling to take their chances with a pissed off direwolf, the creeps quickly scarper. Sam is grateful as he can now freely pass out. Gilly tends to his wounds and Sam is contrite but she comforts him. Then they share a moment and a kiss and, finally, make sweet consensual love.
- Samwell Tarly: ... Oh, my!
We cut to the hinterlands of Meereen, Malko is hosting a slave auction. He promotes Jorah Mormont as a prize contender among his small group of slaves. One buyer, Yezzan zo Qaggaz, who looks wealthier than the other, bids higher than usual for the Westerosi knight and "feared killer of Khal Drogo". Jorah gets bought for twenty golden honours and walks off stage, hearing that he'll be taken to Meereen. Tyrion, not wishing to be left behind, puts himself up for auction, insisting that he and Jorah are a team deal and that he is also a great fighter. The crowd laughs. Malko notes that Tyrion is amusing. Tyrion then yanks the linked leash attached to his slave collar and then immediately pulls it forward; taking his handler off his feat. He proceeds to beat the little snot who whipped him into the wooden slats with his chain, kicking him in the face and knocking him unconscious much to the crowd's surprise. Yezzan likes Tyrion's audition however, he approaches Malko offers him coins and says, yes, "he's funny". Tyrion and Jorah are on the last leg of their journey to Meereen, although they are still pretty much slaves, paid with a life-time's wages upfront and the back of their master's hand.
That night, within The Great Pyramid, Dany is having an easier time of it than Those Two Guys and is enjoying another cuddle session with Daario. The merc laments that the king of Meereen will soon send him out into the cold and take his spot but Dany laughs at the thought of Hizdahr being man enough to get into bed with a dragon. (As if she would let him). No, her marriage with Hizdahr is purely political, a show for the nobility but nothing will change between them. Daario wonders if now that the Harpy attacks have stopped, isn't that a good sign that Hizdahr is their leader? Dany evidently does not believe this of the nobleman and insists that she wants what is best for her people; that she has no choice in the matter. Daario thinks otherwise, even the lowliest have a choice. Daario asks then, why can't she marry him instead. She's the queen isn't she? Dany jokes at the assumption that she would want to marry Daario and besides; even if she wanted to, she couldn't.
- Daario Naharis: Why not? You are queen. You can do what you like.Queen Daenerys Targaryen: (disturbed at the very thought) ... No. I can't.Daenerys: (the mood having fizzled out, she sits up, wondering, doubting)Daario: (kicking himself for his audacity, lays the smoothness on thick) And I know I'm here to serve my queen and not give advice. But can I make one more suggestion?Daenerys: (keeps her patience) Of course. (lies back down with him)Daario: On the day of the great games, gather all the Great Masters and Wise Masters and Worthy Masters you can find — and slaughter them all.Daenerys: ... (adamant) I am a queen, not a butcher.Daario: (strokes her hair and shoulder) All rulers are either butchers or meat.
In King's Landing, Olenna walks into the Great Sept of Baelor looking for the High Septon or High Sparrow, whatever they call him. She asks some scrawny old man cleaning the floor where the man in charge is hiding. That man turns out to be the High Sparrow himself. Olenna demands that her grandchildren, Margaery and Loras be released. The Sparrow insists that they are under trial on serious accusations and the matters of faith are not something to be neglected. Olenna asks the Sparrow why is the Faith targeting homosexuality now when it has been tolerated for so many years. The Sparrow says that he's merely following the Holy Text, "The Seven Pointed Star" literally and that the so-called tolerance was imposed on the Faith by the Targaryens, now that they are gone, he's merely going back to the way things were. Olenna then mocks the Sparrow for being a populist demagogue noting that this reformer trick is fairly old and she asks what his angle is. The High Sparrow however refutes her assumption of self-interest and he reveals that he really is sincere in his desire for equality and for justice. Olenna then asks what he will he do if House Tyrell cuts off the food they're channeling into the city. The Sparrow calls her bluff noting that she and her fellow aristocrats know nothing about tilling the land and growing food, and if they continue being belligerent, he will usher in a real revolution:
- High Sparrow: You are the few, we are the many. And when the many stop fearing the few...
The Sparrow coolly walks away, leaving the Implied Death Threat hanging and for Olenna to picture for herself. As she departs, a messenger outside the Sept hands her a scroll with a mockingbird stamped on the wax seal; Littlefinger wants to talk...
In the King's chambers, Tommen is utterly distraught and lost. He's ashamed that he didn't help Margaery and that even if he's king there is nothing he can do to help her. Cersei tries her best to console but Tommen becomes enraged and promises to call the army and go full-Joffrey on the Sparrows and butcher everyone. Cersei calmly points out that doing anything like that will threaten Margaery's life, since she is an actual hostage held by the Faith. Tommen deflates immediately, he would only do something that drastic for her. Cersei insists that she will do whatever she can to protect him and his sister. Tommen wants to speak to the High Sparrow but Cersei says she will do it for him. After all, she only wants his happiness.
At The Water Gardens of Dorne, Jaime is lounging on the window-sill of a splendid apartment. It's only when Areo Hotah opens the iron grill doors that we realize that it's actually a prison. Areo says that Prince Doran wanted Jaime to know for sure that Myrcella is entirely safe after the fiasco with the Sand Snakes last episode. Jaime is happy to meet Myrcella and Areo leaves them alone. "uncle" and "niece" greet each awkwardly, its clear that things have changed. Myrcella has grown and become accustomed to Dornish customs while Jaime has no right hand. Jaime asks about Trystane's health and Myrcella asks what happened and why did he come? Jaime tells Myrcella that someone sent them a threat telling them that she was in danger and her mother wants to come back home. Myrcella says that Dorne is her home now and that what does "uncle Jaime" know about her anyway. Jaime is upset as she walks out, unable to really refute her arguments.
In far less comfortable and low-rent cells within the palace, Bronn is singing the final verses of "The Dornishman's Wife". He is singing this song to annoy the inhabitants of the cells directly opposite him — the Sand Snakes. Tyene gives him a clap commending him for his singing. Bronn accepts the compliment. The other Sand Snakes and Bronn get into an argument as to who won the "fight" between them, the Sand Snakes think they beat him while Bronn finds that judgment highly amusing. The Sand Snakes however smile and Tyene looks at Bronn and asks him how he's feeling and how his cut she gave him is handling. Bronn thinks Cool Scars go with being a badass. Tyene then tempts Bronn, by slowly stripping off her clothes, an act which Bronn clearly enjoys. As Bronn's blood gets up, his eyesight slowly starts getting blurry and the poison's effect kicks in. Tyene informs Bronn that her daggers were coated with a slow-acting ointment from Asshai, in this case, the Long Farewell, as Bronn collapses in real horror. He's dying slowly and losing control of his motor functions, but Tyene promises to give him the capsule of antidote concealed on her necklace if Bronn says that she's the World's Most Beautiful Woman. Bronn finally gasps out that it's most definitely her and Tyene carelessly tosses the antidote to Bronn who manages to catch it and immediately drinks it, his death is averted. Since she found him handsome.
Back at King's Landing, Petyr Baelish surveys his former Brothel. Its a total mess with pornographic paintings covered in graffiti. Littlefinger finds Olenna Tyrell waiting at the empty establishment. Olenna drops any pretenses and acknowledges their conspiracy to kill Joffrey for the first time on camera. Littlefinger panics but Olenna warns him that he's not going to back off and cover his ass this time by killing her. If anything happens to her, her children or House Tyrell, Littlefinger will go down with them. Littlefinger smoothly tells Olenna that he has a way out.
We're in Meereen or somewhere outside it. There's a small gladiator tournament, a preview to the reopening of Daznak's Pit. Yezzan tells them that those who win will fight in the Great Arena as champions. Tyrion and Jorah get ready and arm and armour themselves for combat or at least Jorah does. Daenerys and Hizdahr approach a pavilion overlooking the fighting. Dany finds the entire exercise distasteful but Hizdahr states that it's customary for Meereen's ruling castes, or in this case, their new ruler, to tour the lower pits and pay the fighters the honour of her presence. Yezzan on seeing the arrival of the Silver Queen and many nobles quickly moves around and tells his new recruits to salute their benefactress. Inside the dugout, Jorah hears them call: "we fight and die for your glory, O glorious queen!" Realising that Daenerys is in attendance he perks up and goes to the entrance and glimpses her in the stands, his face lighting up like a four year old's on his first recognisable Christmas.
Combat breaks out and it's unusually fatal as Gladiator Games goes. Dany is increasingly appalled by the pointless killing and after a few minutes gets up to depart, ignoring Hizdahr's cries of tradition. Jorah sees his queen's distaste for the red when there's no need to spill it and immediately understands the situation. He charges back, puts on a full-face helmet. grabs up his broadsword and rushes out, knocking Yezzan into the dust with an elbow pop to the temple when he tries to stop him. Jorah then goes into beast bear mode and engages in a good bit of the old ultra-violence, but all with Bloodless Carnage to showcase his superior skill to those who rely on edged weapon and to showcase his borderline insane chivalry for Dany. Who stops to watch the new combatant, intrigued.
Tyrion wants to join him but he's tethered by chains, which in a turn of good fortune, a fellow slave-fighter breaks out of solidarity. Dany seems to be duly pleased with the figure of the masked man as he turns the pit-fighters into whimpering bags of broken bones in place of corpses. After the fighting is done, Jorah reveals himself to the audience as the last man standing. Dany is shaken at seeing him again and after a moment's hesitation tells her subjects to get him out of her sight. Jorah, desperate for a reconciliation between them even as he's being dragged off for another banishment or summary execution, declares that he's brought her a gift.
- Tyrion: It's true. He has. (swaggers into the arena and stands before the royal box)Daenerys: Who are you?Tyrion: I am the gift. It's a pleasure to meet you, Your Grace. My name is Tyrion Lannister.
So the legendary Half-man, the Imp, the Littlest Lion, who has traveled to Winterfell, the Wall, the Eyrie, King's Landing, Pentos, Volantis and having even braved the ruins of Old Valyria, has arrived at the Court of Meereen and becomes the first central figure in the War of the Five Kings to pay court to Daenerys Targaryen.
Back at King's Landing, Cersei arrives at the Great Sept of Baelor. She has come to see her daughter-in-law. Margaery is curled in a corner in a dinky dungeon. She is depressed, weak, covered in rags and looks barely recognizable. Cersei arrives to offer commiseration (a.k.a. stealth gloating) to her plight. Margaery refuses all of her outward offers of sympathy. She has done being nice and tells Cersei to leave her alone. Cersei has brought venison for her to eat and continues until Margaery insults her for being a cruel woman. Cersei is about to step out but pushes her luck with one last dig, to which Margaery hurls the venison at her and calls her a "hateful bitch". Cersei leaves but does not even bother to hide her Evil Gloating as she walks out of the cells. Cersei proceeds to find her High Septon in a very bare and noticeably older looking room. Cersei discusses the trial and the High Sparrow says that if found guilty, based on the nature of the charges, Loras and Margaery will be made to submit to penance. Cersei asks about the nature of these penances but the Sparrow says it depends on the sin, how guilty they feel and how contrite they are.
The High Sparrow then digresses about the Great Sept of Baelor's architecture. He tells Cersei that he does not like the Sept which Baelor the Blessed, (the famously pious Targaryen king) built. He prefers the older Sept which preceded it. This room comes from that period. He points out an altar and tells her that its austere, clean and simple and best of all, anonymous. Nobody knows who built it and ultimately all the finery and refinement and gold is mere vanity. Cersei doesn't quite cotton on as the High Sparrow continues. Once you take away the finery, the gold and all the trappings of luxury, what remains is the real thing. It shall be for all, high and low-born, for the Tyrells... and Cersei Lannister. Her face seems stuck, not understanding what he means. The High Sparrow then tells Cersei that a while back, a certain young man, broken in battle and in spirit, came to him for succor. He unburdened himself of all the sins he had committed. And those sins are shared and exceeded manifold by her.
As if in response (and no doubt pre-planned) Brother Lancel steps into the room, walks to the High Septon's side and fixes Cersei with a hard stare. Cersei FINALLY realises just how much trouble she's in and makes to leave, but runs into a tall Septa at the door. When she tries to move past, the Septa prevents her from leaving. When she orders the High Septon to make the Septa let her go, he merely stares coolly at her while several others rush in to seize her. Cersei screams again and again that she's the queen — but that didn't save Margaery, and it certainly won't save her. She is thrown into a cell and, for all her threats that her face will be the last thing the Septas will see before they die, they calmly slam and lock the door on said snarling face.
Tropes in this episode:
- Actually Pretty Funny: The Masters and slavers at the sight of a dwarf beating his captor with his own chain. Yezzan agrees to buy Tyrion, as he might raise a laugh at the Gladiator Games too. Also note the seller's look, which basically says, "You're getting your ass kicked by a dwarf, I'm not helping you".
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Yezzan in the books is morbidly obese, so obese he can't stand.
- Adaptation Distillation:
- Tyrion and Jorah's plot goes by much faster than in the books, where they still have yet to meet Daenerys.
- Sansa by now has fully taken over Jeyne Poole's story and characterization, including begging Reek to save her.
- Adaptation Explanation Extrication: Very minor example. Sansa seems to imply that Ramsay's status as eldest son could be called into question if Tommen is overthrown due to Tommen's status as a bastard. This seems to concede that Ramsay's legitimization would otherwise make him the heir. In the books, even legitimized bastard children inherit after trueborn sons. However, this could just be because Sansa was talking to Ramsay.
- And That's Terrible!: There's a brief moment of Littlefinger alone surveying the remains of his broken brothel, including staring at the peep hole he used to spy on his clients in the second season and waxing nostalgic about the glories of his establishment to Olenna. You know, the brothel full of sex slaves and poor women who he delivered to nasty clients, all for the right price. Who knew pimps could be so sentimental?
- Appeal to Tradition: At this point, Hizdahr's continual mentions that, "It is tradition..." have begun to wear thin on Daenerys, who's annoyed at having to make all these concessions to please everyone.
- Attempted Rape: Gilly is nearly sexually assaulted by two Night's Watch brothers when Sam unsuccessfully tries to protect her. Ghost ultimately scares them off.
- Badass Beard: Stannis' stubble has grown into a full regal beard after some time campaigning in the cold North.
- Badass Boast: Samwell Tarly. The fact that he's already been beaten to a pulp yet still stands again does not diminish its effect:Sam: I killed a white walker. I killed a Thenn. I'll take my chances with you.
- You would've thought Bronn was going to get killed off. You'd be (thankfully) wrong.
- Theon is sent to light a candle on the windowsill of the Broken Tower, and it seems like either Sansa's supporters or Brienne (who is watching Winterfell intently) will see the signal and aid her. Unfortunately, he obediently reports to Ramsay instead.
- When Sansa matter-of-factly states to Ramsay that House Bolton will have a legitimate heir soon and that he himself is a bastard, it looks like Ramsay will lash out at his two Berserk Buttons being pressed. Instead, he contains himself and decides to threaten Sansa indirectly by taking her to her supporter's flayed body.
- Tyrion's attempt to break his chains is interrupted by someone looming over him. It's not a guard but another pit fighter who obligingly breaks the chain with his Sinister Scythe.
- Beneath the Mask:
- The High Sparrow intends to strip away all the "finery" of the great houses, and let them be judged for who they truly are.
- There is also a subtle removing of his own mask here; underneath the mask he is still a man of simple conviction and extreme piety, but during his conversation with Olenna, his affable humility diminishes until he all but spells out that he intends to create a situation where "the many stop fearing the few..." and ends with an Implied Death Threat. When he arrests Cersei, his posture, expression and eye contact also become much more openly confrontational, revealing the fanatic zeal that lets the apparently gentle old man command the violent Faith Militant.
- Big Damn Heroes: Ghost turns up after Sam has been beaten into submission defending Gilly.
- Blatant Lies:
- Every. Single. Word. That comes out of Cersei's mouth this episode.
- Bronn's assertion that it's his policy to not harm women, when it's been clear he'll basically hurt anyone for enough money.
- Malko boasting that Jorah killed Khal Drogo in single-combat!
- Blunt "Yes": When Olenna incredulously asks the High Sparrow if he intends to punish Loras for merely "shagging some perfumed ponce" and Margaery for defending her brother, this is the Sparrow's response.
- Boring Insult: Olenna claims that the High Sparrow's "man of the people" act is "dull". As she comes to realise that it's not an act, she changes tactics.
- Break the Haughty:
- Being locked up has not done wonders for Queen Margaery's mental state or ego.
- Soon afterwards is Cersei being likewise imprisoned by the Faith, screaming to be released and shouting that she's the queen, with no effect.
- Very subtle, but Dany is clearly thrown very off guard by the sudden appearance of both Jorah and Tyrion.
- Bronn finishes the Dornish song he was singing last episode.
- Cersei refers to Margaerey as "sister."
- Ser Alliser and Tormund hold each other's gazes for an uncomfortable amount of time, with the First Ranger clearly displeased that the man who almost killed him is being set free.
- Tommen, in his despair over Margaery's arrest, shouts "I AM THE KING!" and considers storming the Sparrow stronghold at the Sept of Baelor and "kill[ing] them all". Joffrey is smiling from his grave.
- For the second episode in a row, a Queen is dragged to a cell screaming in disbelief. Cersei yells "I am the queen!" as she's being arrested by the Faith, just like Margaery before her.
- Stannis insists that "there must be another way" when Melisandre urges him to burn Shireen for her king's blood. Pity there was no other way for Gendry...
- Stannis' Death-or-Glory Attack refusing to be "the king who ran" sounds like Theon's Last Stand to avoid being called "the Greyjoy who ran".
- Daario telling Dany that all rulers are either butchers or meat sounds a lot like Cersei telling Ned Stark that in the Game of Thrones you win or you die.
- Tyrion getting slapped for a change, (for the second time this Season, poor man).
- The shot of Jon hugging Sam goodbye is nearly identical to how Jon and Robb said goodbye in the show's second episode.
- Ramsay forces Sansa on a walk with the only purpose of showing her the cruel fate of the elderly Stark loyalist. This strongly evokes another noted sadistic maniac Sansa almost had to marry displaying her the heads of her father and septa four seasons ago. Even the camera angles as she looks up are similar.
- The scene of Sam rescuing Gilly from a pair of attempted rapists, followed shortly after by their love scene, harkens back to the story of Tyrion's first love.
- Canon Foreigner: In the books, there has been no mention of a poison called "the long farewell", nor of any other poison with similar or equal effects.
- Carrying the Antidote: After some good old poisoning and teasing, Tyene is chivalrous enough to give the antidote to Bronn. It's implied just letting him know she could have killed him was enough for her.
- Composite Character:
- TV!Yezzan is a combination of Book!Yezzan, who purchases Jorah and Tyrion, and Zahrina, who deals in cheap pit fighters.
- In-universe, Malko mixes several facts during his sales pitch: according to his tale, Jorah was first into the breach at the Siege of "Spyke" (Pyke) and wielded a flaming sword (this was done by Thoros of Myr, Jorah was the second man through), and also slew Khal Drogo in single combat (as opposed to Qotho).
- Chain Pain: Tyrion beats the man holding his chain at the slave auction into submission with that very chain.
- The Chains of Commanding: Dany informs Daario that Screw the Rules, I Make Them! does not apply to her. Daario says that means she's the only person in Meereen who is not free.
- Chekhov's Gun: Two clear ones are set up, with Sansa's corkscrew and Jon's bag of dragonglass daggers.
- The Chessmaster: The ending implies that the High Sparrow was biding his time all throughout the season before making his powerplay on Cersei.
- Create Your Own Villain: The High Sparrow finally moves against Cersei for her adulterous relationship with Lancel (marrying first cousins is not incestuous by Westerosi standards, although it's possible he also knew and confirmed the truth about her and Jaime) and the murder of King Robert.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Jorah wipes the floor with the remainder of the fighting pit candidates, without making much use of his sword.
- Cute and Psycho: Tyene's game with Bronn reflects Book!Tyene's borderline psycho personality.
- Deadly Nosebleed: Bronn swoons and his nose starts to bleed as the poison takes effect. Could count as a stealth gag, given the association of a nosebleed with sexual arousal.
- Death-or-Glory Attack: Stannis intends to march to Winterfell in the cold snow against Roose Bolton even if Davos points out that his army is Losing the Team Spirit and suffering desertion. Stannis says he will risk everything. Though, as his conversation with Melisandre reveals, he's not going to cross the Moral Event Horizon and burn Shireen. Hopefully he'll stay that way.Stannis: I retreated from King's Landing, Ser Davos. If I retreat again, I become "the king who ran". Winter is coming. Those aren't just the Stark words. That's a fact. If we march back to Castle Black. We winter at Castle Black. And who can say how many years this winter will last? This is the right time and I will risk everything, because if I don't, we've lost. We march to victory or we march to defeat, but we go forward, only forward.
- Defiant to the End: Sansa's elderly ally apparently took all her knowledge of the remaining Starkists to the grave, despite the torture she had to endure. House Bolton's words may be that a flayed man has no secrets... but she is no man.
- Denied Food as Punishment: Lady Olenna threatens to cut off food to King's Landing and make sure everyone knows the High Sparrow is responsible. He, however, calls her bluff on it.
- Despair Event Horizon: Margaery (for now, at least,) seems to have gone past this, given that her self-control and mastery of Passive Aggressive Combat slip completely in this episode.
- Didn't Think This Through: Cersei finally realizes, far too late, that arming and enabling a group of religious fanatics with a close family member in their midst, who was privy to all sorts of skeletons in her closet... was not her brightest scheme for power.
- Did You Actually Believe...?: He doesn't say this exact phrase, but Ramsay was all over this trope when he showed Sansa the flayed remains of the old woman who was trying to help her.
- Distracted by the Sexy: Bronn's train of thought is completely derailed when Tyene shows him her breasts.Bronn: I've seen quite a few women in all the Seven Kingdoms.Tyene: Name one more beautiful than I am.Bronn: Well, in King's Landing, there was an absolutely gorgeous... (Tyene disrobes)Tyene: There was a what? In King's Landing, you were saying.Bronn: Was I?
- Dispense with the Pleasantries: Olenna invokes this with Littlefinger when she overrides his attempts to be obsequiously courteous, since she doesn't want to hear it and she knows not a word coming out of his mouth is sincere.Littlefinger: [referring to his trashed brothel] I'm sorry about the locale.Olenna: No you're not.Littlefinger: It seemed like the safest place.Olenna: [observing the devestation the Faith Militant left in their wake] Not for your clientele, clearly. [...]You've always been rather impressed with yourself, haven't you?Littlefinger: The past is the past. The future is all that's worth discussing, the future of House Tyrell-
- Door-Closes Ending: Cersei being locked in her cell.
- Dramatic Unmask: In-Universe with Jorah taking off his helmet after becoming The Champion.
- Dwindling Party: Team Stannis loses 40 horses and 500 men to desertion in a single night, with a hard march to Winterfell still very ahead.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Septas Moelle and Scolera aiding Unella in locking Cersei at her penitent cell.
- End of an Age: How Littlefinger sees the sacking of his beloved brothel.
- Enemy Mine: Sansa still loathes Reek, but is suffering so much that she tries to make common cause with him so that he will help her escape Winterfell.
- Facial Dialogue: When Malko starts giving an exaggerated spiel of his fighting history, Jorah casts a glance at Tyrion, who clearly supplied these 'facts'. Tyrion gives him a just play along with it look.
- Fanservice: The only purpose behind Tyene Sand showing Bronn her admittedly impressive breasts (aside from raising his heart rate), considering she had already poisoned him, and thus he likely would not live long enough to get close enough for physical contact.
- Foil: Like his brother Joffrey, Tommen rages and considers slaughtering everyone who is opposing him, but this comes off as a heat-of-the-moment response because he's at the end of his wits and desperate to save his wife, instead of being the intended first course of action, as was the case with Joffrey. Tommen also listens to reason, is quickly talked out of it, and realizes it's infeasible.
- From Bad to Worse: Discussed; Sansa thinks her situation can't get any worse, but Theon rightly tells her that it can always be worse when Ramsay is around.
- Gender-Inverted Trope: Gilly seducing the virginal Sam, which includes getting on top and asking if it hurts.
- Get Out!:
- This is Stannis's response to Melisandre's suggestion that he burn his own daughter Shireen for the king's blood in her veins to ensure victory.
- Margaery reacts this way, accompanied by a thrown plate of venison, when she's had enough of Cersei's smugness.
- Dany does a regal version when she orders Jorah be removed from her sight the moment he shows his face.
- Girl in the Tower: Sansa is kept locked in her room, and her knight doesn't even know she needs rescuing.
- Grey-and-Grey Morality:
- The Faith Militant is homophobic and their inquest was a kangaroo court, but Margery and Loras are guilty of the crimes they're being charged with; homosexuality may not be a crime in the 21st century western world, but it is in a medieval society like Westeros, and perjury, even in defense of a loved one, is a serious offense. The Tyrell's defense essentially amounts to "we're rich nobles and the rules shouldn't apply to us", and Lady Olenna threatens to let a city of half a million people starve to see that her grandchildren are exempt from the rules. The Faith being tired of the nobility flaunting the law is understandable, and they show here that they aren't playing favorites, as Cersei can now attest to.
- However, Olenna points out that the High Sparrow, in keeping company with the dregs of society, is inevitably hanging out with murderers, thieves and rapists himself. He doesn't provide a response to this accusation, instead just reaffirming that Margaery and Loras will be punished as anyone else would.
- History Repeats: Tommen considers going to war with the Sparrows to rescue his wife, only for Cersei to point out Margaery would almost certainly die as a result; so even if Tommen won, the effort would be useless. In the previous generation, Robert — Tommen's alleged father — plunged the whole of Westeros into civil war to save the woman he loved, but Lyanna Stark died anyway.
- Hoist by Her Own Petard: Cersei's stupidity and half-assed schemes catch up to her at last, and the Sparrows she empowered finally arrest her for her lack of piety, namely her incestuous relationships. Plus, if she hadn't gone to 'comfort' (AKA: gloat over) Margaery, it would have been much harder for the Faith to get their hands on her — she basically waltzed right into their trap.
- Home Field Advantage: Ramsay mentions that the blizzard works to his house's advantage, since they are Northmen who are used to fighting in the cold, while Stannis's forces are all southerners or foreign mercenaries.
- Honest Advisor: Ser Alliser invokes duty and speaks out against Jon's mission, calling it reckless, foolhardy and an insult to all the brothers who have died fighting the wildlings. Jon thanks him for his honesty and carries on.
- Hope Spot:
- Sansa tries to enlist outside help and Theon is prepared to aid her, but Ramsay finds out and crushes her hopes in his usual and brutal way, flaying the woman who was going to help Sansa from inside Winterfell, and then shows the woman's corpse to Sansa.
- Sansa is given confirmation that at least one of her family members is alive and close by — her brother Jon — when Ramsay tells her that Jon has become Lord Commander of the Night's Watch.
- Humble Hero: Invoked by the High Sparrow. He gives Cersei a speech about how people can only cleanse their souls once they let go of their pride and get rid of all their earthly finery.
- Humiliation Conga: Downplayed; Cersei is carted off and shoved into a cell while screaming futilely, but unlike the books, she isn't stripped naked and given a shift to wear.
- Impairment Shot: Bronn's Male Gaze view of Tyene's tits goes all fuzzy after his arousal accelerates the spread of poison.
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Olenna demands to know what the High Sparrow wants in exchange for the freedom of her grandchildren. To her dismay, all he wants to do is serve the gods.
- Ironic Echo: Fuming over his helplessness, Tommen shouts, "I am the King!" As Tywin Lannister pointed out in "Mhysa", any man who must say I am the King is no true king. When Cersei is arrested, she in turn shouts, "I am the Queen!" to no effect.
- It May Help You on Your Quest: Sam gives Jon a dragonglass dagger when they depart, but hopes Jon won't have to use it.
- Jerkass Has a Point: When Olenna Tyrell threatens to cut off support from her house and let King's Landing starve, the High Septon points out that the nobility has always prospered at the expense — and quite often the suffering — of the common folk, and he means to see that the many are no longer exploited at the hands of the few.
- Karmic Death: A rare non-villainous example. Maester Aemon Targaryen is the gentlest and kindest soul in Westeros, and he dies peacefully in his bed from old age. Rest well, Maester Aemon. For now your watch has ended.
- Laser-Guided Karma: The Lady Karma finally comes around for Cersei, and boy does she bite hard on Cersei's tight, stuck-up little ass.
- Like Father, Like Son: Two examples:
- Tyene poisons her blade and tortures her prey for a confession, very much like Oberyn. Though she was mostly playful and it worked.
- Tommen insists on waging war for the woman he loved, like his "father" Robert before him. Also, his uncle/father Jaime in his young and cocky days would have done the same thing if his father and sister weren't there to stop him.
- Loophole Abuse: Tyrion reminds the slaver who bought him and Jorah that slavery is now illegal in Meereen. The man just pays his new fighting pit recruits a single coin, which by strict definition makes them paid men and not slaves...
- Luxury Prison Suite: Jaime is being kept in a very nice room in Dorne, as befits the brother of the Queen and Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. Meanwhile, Bronn, a lesser knight, and the Sand Snakes are all rotting in traditional cells elsewhere. Averted with the Faith's cells, which give no concession for royalty whatsoever.
- Make It Look Like an Accident: Defied when Lady Olenna, after coercing Littlefinger, pointedly warns him that her men have been ordered to cut him into little pieces if the Queen of Thorns were to abruptly die under mysterious circumstances.
- Male Gaze: When Tyene bares herself to Bronn, the camera moves until it assumes his POV.
- Mama Bear:
- Olenna pulls every trick she's got up her sleeve to get her grandchildren released. None of them work, but points for trying.
- Cersei passionately promises Tommen that's she'd do anything for him, even burn cities to the ground. But she won't free his wife, that's for sure.
- Marital Rape License: Continuing the trend started at the end of the previous episode, Ramsay keeps Sansa locked in a tower and makes nightly visits.
- Mix-and-Match Weapon: The pitfighter/guard that frees Tyrion wields a slightly curved, single bladed sword with a mace head at the top of the blade to give it added heft on the swing.
- Modesty Bedsheet: Used yet again when Dany is in bed with Daario.
- Morton's Fork: Stannis has to march to Winterfell, defeat the Boltons to continue his campaign, just when winter is setting in, risking desertion and death by starvation. Or, he can stay in Castle Black and let winter set in completely and stay there for years by which time everything would have changed.
- Murder Is the Best Solution: Daario suggests that Dany just kill all the masters of Astapor, Yunkai, and Meereen that come for the reopening of Daznak's Pit, but she's horrified by the suggestion.
- Mythology Gag:
- Davos mentions that one of the sellsword companies hired to fight for Stannis are the Stormcrows. In the novels the Stormcrows is the free company that Daario belonged to and took over after killing his fellow co-captains, Sallor the Bald and Prendahl na Ghezn.
- Contrary to what Shae told Tyrion, a girl can decide to have sex after she's nearly raped. This fits with the novel where Tysha really was a Damsel in Distress, not a whore bought by Jaime.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Sansa decides to entrust Theon (despite hating him, and knowing that he betrayed Robb and believing strongly to have killed her baby brothers) to trigger her only means to escape Winterfell. Thanks to that, her entirely loyal well-wisher gets brutally tortured and killed and her own situation is made even worse than ever now that Ramsay knows that she tried to escape.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The Night's Watch men pummel Sam until his face is a mess, though they stop once he's been beaten into submission.
- Lady Olenna tries to reason with The High Sparrow, but her worldly, monetary and realpolitik arguments have no effect on the Sparrow, who sees himself as a righteous man embarked on a just, egalitarian crusade, come hell or high water.
- Later, Olenna makes it clear to Littlefinger that he shouldn't even try to out-gambit or dispose of her and her family the way he usually deals with his less savvy partners in crime, or else "they'll never find what left of you."
- Not His Sled: Tyrion and Jorah actually make contact with Dany.
- Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Myrcella telling her "uncle" Jaime that he doesn't really know her.
- Oh, Crap!:
- Yezzan when he realises his Queen and future King have turned up in person. He grovels accordingly.
- Ser Alliser reminds Sam that he's running out of friends, what with Jon Snow gone and Maester Aemon dead.
- The would-be rapists when a snarling direwolf enters the room.
- Littlefinger has a small one when Olenna points out two things; firstly, if House Tyrell falls, she'll make sure Littlefinger goes down with them by exposing his involvement in Joffrey's death, and secondly, if he tries to cover his ass by killing her in some discreet manner, her men will make sure his body will never be found.
- Cersei struggles to not show her horror when Lancel and the High Sparrow turn on her.
- Passive Aggressive Combat: For once, Cersei is better at it than Margaery, thanks to the latter's self-control breaking down.
- Pet the Dog:
- Tyene Sand reveals that the blade Bronn was scraped with was covered in poison, which takes time to kick in. She accelerates it by revealing her breasts in order to get Bronn's heart rate up, and as it takes effect, she offers him the antidote if he admits she's the prettiest girl in Westeros. Bronn admits it, and after giving him the cure, Tyene says that Bronn's not that bad looking either.
- Also, when Tyrion tries to cut his way out, in order to see what's happening in the pit, one of his fellow pit-fighters comes along and after a tense stare-down, he slashes Tyrion's chains.
- Poisoned Weapons: Just like her father, Tyene poisoned her blade.
- The Power of Love: When he realises that Daenerys is watching the fight, and about to leave, Jorah enters the fighting pit without waiting his turn, strikes his Master (enough to get you flayed or your hand cut off, as we've seen in previous episodes), and takes on all comers. Even this is not enough, until the arrival of his 'gift'.
- Puppet King: Tommen may be the last person left in King's Landing who still believes Cersei's lies. It doesn't help that she does sprinkle some truth in there (such as her love for him).
- Quantity vs. Quality: When Lady Olenna threatens the High Sparrow with the power of Highgarden, the High Sparrow points out the peasants she relies on to harvest her grain are a lot more numerous than her knights.
- Reaction Shot:
- The Sand Snakes roll their eyes when Tyene hits on Bronn. Either they're annoyed by her hitting on an enemy, or they've seen her play the poison game before.
- Subverted with Alliser looking mournful at Aemon's funeral, only to troll Sam about his dangerous lack of supporters.
- While observing the gladiator trials, Daenerys looks distraught at the killing while Hizdahr takes an intent interest. Seeing this is what prompts Jorah to subdue the other fighters non-lethally when he enters the ring.
- Reality Ensues:
- Theon snaps right back into his Reek persona the moment he leaves Sansa's room. Turns out you can't just sway someone who has been thoroughly tortured, broken and trained for over a year with nothing but compelling arguments.
- Also, Cersei learns the hard way that, eventually, that group of religious fanatics you endorsed will no longer care about your position.
- For all this wiki likes to talk of Sam's levels in badass, his killing of a white walker and a Thenn were ultimately products of luck. While he has considerable bravery and heart, he's still useless in a straight up fight, a fact that gets driven home and hard in this episode.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
- Margaery drops a very good one on Cersei:Margaery: Lies come easily to you. Everyone knows that. But innocence, decency, concern, you're not very good at those, I'm afraid. Perhaps that's why your son was so eager to cast you aside for me.
- Myrcella gives a short one to Jaime when she gets frustrated with him for refusing to acknowledge her happiness:Jaime: I don't understand -
Myrcella: Of course you don't! You don't know me.
- The High Sparrow delivers an amazing one to Olenna when she threatens to stop sending food to King's Landing, implied death threat included:Olenna: If its equality you want then so be it. When House Tyrell stops sending our crops to the capital, everyone here will starve. And Ill make sure the hungry know who to blame.
High Sparrow: Have you ever sowed the field, Lady Olenna? Have you ever reaped the grain? Has anyone in House Tyrell? A lifetime of wealth and power has left you blind in one eye. You are the few. We are the many. And — when the many stop fearing the few...
- Margaery drops a very good one on Cersei:
- Reformed, but Rejected: Daenerys orders that Jorah be removed from her sight despite his plea to speak to her. Only the unexpected appearance of his "gift" — a member of the hated Lannister family, stops her.
- Refuge in Audacity:
- Half of everything Tyrion does is this, but insisting that he's a mighty pit fighter in order to stay with Jorah then proving his point by beating the crap out of the guy holding his chain is a new high point for him this season.
- Realising that Daenerys is present, first Jorah and then Tyrion break out of the tunnel and force an audience, despite the likelihood that she'll execute them. Though given their odds of surviving the fighting pits for long, it's not like they have much of an option.
- Rescue Sex: An After-Action Patch-Up by Gilly leads to sex with Sam, who was willing to risk his life for her.
- Riches to Rags:
- Margaery is kept in a dirty cell wearing only a thin, plain dress.
- And as discussed by the High Sparrow, Cersei's next.
- Sadistic Choice: Melisandre presents Stannis with one. He can secure his victory if he sacrifices Shireen. Stannis is aghast and tells her to Get Out!.
- Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: The High Sparrow rejects Olenna Tyrell's attempts to bribe him with both money and political favors for this reason.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Disgusted with all the gratuitous killing, Dany walks out of the 'auditions' before The Champion has been selected, forcing Jorah to jump the queue.
- A Shared Suffering: Olenna and the High Septon briefly share a gripe about the downsides of being old.High Sparrow: [groans] For me, it's the knees. You?Olenna: Hips.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Reek is about to light the candle and gain at least some small measure of redemption, right... Right? Wrong. He runs straight to Ramsay and the son of Roose Bolton flays the old woman who was helping Sansa alive.
- Several scenes in the fighting pits are clearly reminiscent of Gladiator, including the low, dark shots in the tunnel before the fighters enter the arena and the Dramatic Unmask before a royal figure.
- Olenna refers to Olyvar as "a perfumed ponce."
- Tyene offers Bronn a glass capsule of blue antidote, strikingly similar to the vial the Shanghai mob boss Lao Che offers a poisoned Dr. Henry Jones Jr. in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Like the good Professor, Bronn manages to gulp that bad boy down and renew his expiry date.
- To the Greek myth of Iphigenia, in which a leader faced by unfavorable weather and a stalled military campaign, considers sacrificing his only daughter to appease the gods and ensure victory. Depending on which version you read, it might not end well.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!:
- A well-deserved one for Cersei Lannister. As she's thrown into a black cell, she tells the Septas that her face will be the last thing they see before she has them killed. The Septas merely close the door in her face and lock it, knowing she's in no position to make good on that threat any longer.
- A minor one is when Margaerey tells Cersei to just shut up and leave; she's clearly had enough of the Queen Mother.
- Smug Smiler: Once again, Cersei wears a constant smirk throughout most of the episode, as she thinks everything is going exactly as she planned. Though she loses it when she realises that actually, no, it isn't.
- Snark-to-Snark Combat: The Queen of Thorns and the High Sparrow engage in one that includes a "The Reason You Suck" Speech from the High Sparrow to Olenna and some Shut Up, Hannibal! from her to him.Olenna: You there! Where would I find the High Septon, or High Sparrow or whatever bloody fool name he's got?!High Sparrow: It's not as good as name as 'Queen of Thorns', I'll admit.Olenna: You should have the decency to stand in the presence of a lady.High Sparrow: You should have the decency to kneel before the gods.Olenna: Don't spar with me, little fellow!
- Stab the Scorpion: Tyrion is struggling to free his chains when a huge fighter looms over him, swings down his weapon...and breaks Tyrion's chain.
- Stealth Insult: A notable aversion: Prison has turned the usual subtext in Margaery's remarks towards Cersei into text.
- Taking You with Me: Olenna Tyrell promises Littlefinger that given they collaborated in killing Joffrey, if House Tyrell falls, Littlefinger will go down with them and if he tries to cover his ass by killing her, her men will ensure he shares the same fate.
- Thousand-Yard Stare: Jorah as he endures the humiliation of being sold as a gladiator.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Jorah slugs his way through the fighting pits without killing anyone, presumably taking note of his queen's distaste for it all.
- Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Jorah knocks the wind out of one of the fighters by throwing his sword so the flat side hits him in the gut. Lacking a weapon, Jorah follows it up with a Shield Bash.
- Title Drop: Jorah begs for Daenerys's time by saying he's brought a gift: Tyrion.Tyrion: I am the gift. It's a pleasure to meet you, Your Grace. My name is Tyrion Lannister.
- Triumphant Reprise: Subverted. As Reek scales the tower, the Greyjoy theme "What Is Dead May Never Die" plays, suggesting that he might finally be back to being Theon. The music dies when it turns out he actually ran straight to Ramsay.
- Unbroken Vigil: Sam insists on remaining by Maester Aemon's deathbed until he dies.
- Ungrateful Bastard: Even though Cersei was the one who appointed him to the highest religious office in the land, the High Sparrow arrests her nonetheless. To be fair to him, though, he never lied or pretended to be anything other than a man of simple religious conviction, and he's fully aware that Cersei raised him up out of pragmatism rather than true belief.
- Unwitting Pawn: Cersei believes that this is what the High Sparrow was in her gambit to get rid of House Tyrell from King's Landing. Turns out, the High Sparrow was biding his time to solidify his power to go after Cersei next.
- Villainous Breakdown:
- Very, very, very subtle, but Littlefinger is clearly distraught at seeing what's left of his great brothel and major source of income, after the Sparrows and later the Faith Militant went through it.
- Very not subtle with Cersei, who demands the High Sparrow order the Septas to let her go, and then starts screaming "I am the queen!" as she is dragged away to the dungeons under the Great Sept of Baelor.
- Weather of War: Despite the ongoing blizzard making matters worse for Stannis, he insists on making the attack regardless.
- World's Most Beautiful Woman: Tyene Sand demands Bronn to name her as the most beautiful woman in the world. When he refuses to humor her, he's quickly reminded of how crazy Dornish women are.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Given that Lancel has confessed everything to the Faith before they were given power, it's likely that the High Sparrow was aware of all the dirt on Cersei from the beginning. Now that the Faith Militant's power is secure and they no longer need her, they can arrest her for all her wrongdoings.
- You Remind Me of X: Aemon notes that Little Sam laughs like his little brother Egg (King Aegon V, Daenerys' grandfather) did when he was a baby.