We start off with the Arya. Our favorite young Stark daughter is arriving at Braavos–home of the Iron Bank and a really big friggin statue. Finally! After passing beneath the colossus of the city Arya is rowed by the ship captain to the House of Black and White–where Jaqen H’ghar had told her to go. Knocking on the door she’s greeted by this guy who kinda looks like an old version of Thulsa Doom. She says hello. He says nothing. When she says Valar Morghulis he responds with nothing. When shows him the coin Jaqen gave her, he finally says “No one here by that name.” When she tells him she has nowhere else to go, he replies “you have everywhere else to go”–and shuts the door. A frustrated Arya walks down to sit on the steps of the temple. There she begins saying her (now shortened) list of folk who she wants dead: Cersei Lannister, Walder Frey, the Mountain, Meryn Trant. She says it day and night, through sun and rain. Finally realizing nothing is to come of it all, a frustrated Arya walks off–but not before tossing the coin into the river.
We next find ourselves back in Westeros with Brienne the increasingly dour and the squire Podrick Payne. The two have stopped by an inn where Brienne is doing her brooding thing while Podrick is making googly eyes at the servant women. The ladies like Podrick. Guess who else is at the inn? None other than Sansa Stark (who Brienne is searching for) and Littlefinger. Podrick catches a glimpse of them and Brienne soon walks over to do her whole, “Your mom sent me to retrieve you; I pledge my sword and my life to you; come with me…” spiel. Only Sansa’s hesitant. As we’ve seen, the eldest Stark daughter is growing a backbone. And she’s wary about just running off with Brienne into the wilderness. Littlefinger stirs the pot, calling into question the legitimacy of Brienne’s claim of being sworn to Catelyn Stark’s service. When Brienne shoots back why is it any of his concern, he points out he’s not just some creepy older guy hanging around Sansa, he’s her creepy uncle–since he married Catelyn’s creepy sister Lysa.
Littlefinger also brings up a real sore spot with Brienne–the death of Renly Baratheon. He points out that she was charged with his death. When she tries to tell what really happened–that it was that shadow baby with Stannis Baratheon’s face–Littlefinger only makes her claim seem ludicrous, and her failures more glaring.
Sansa turns out to have her own beef. When Brienne asks for a word in private, away from Littlefinger’s machinations, Sansa declines. She recounts seeing how Brienne bowed before The Monster in King’s Landing. When Brienne tries to point out that none of them wanted to be there but had to be, Sansa deads it. She decides in the end to stay put, and tells Brienne to leave. Littlefinger however says she should stay. Sensing the mood, Brienne turns to go only to find Littlefinger’s men blocking her way.
Uh huh. Don’t block Brienne’s way. It won’t end well for you.
Brienne elbows one dude and makes it outside. There she chops the wooden post the other men’s horses are tied to, sending them scattering. Podrick Payne arrives with their own horses and the two ride off–but not before she gives another dude a slash for good measure. LIttlefinger’s remaining guards put on a pursuit and she and her squire get separated. Podrick even loses his horse, making him easy prey for the guards. Luckily Brienne shows up in time, cutting down one guy while he’s still in the stirrups and putting her blade through another guy’s neck. A weary Podrick suggests maybe Brienne forget all this, and leave Sansa Stark be. But Brienne insists she swore an oath, and plans to follow in pursuit. She tells Podrick to get his horse then rides off like a Bawse–cuz she just killed two dudes, easy peasy.
Meanwhile at King’s Landing Cersei’s received a message in a peculiar box. She calls Jaime to see. When he touches the box to open it, the sides fall apart to reveal a snake of Dorne. Dangling from the serpent is a necklace that belongs to Myrcella–Jaime and Cersei’s incestuous daughter who’s spending time at the southern house. It’s a threat, no doubt n retaliation for the gruesome death of Dorne’s favorite Prince Oberyn Martell. Jaime assures a frantic Cersei he’ll go to Dorne to retrieve their daughter. When she mocks what a one-armed man can do alone he tells her he doesn’t plan to go alone. A few scenes later we’re treated to a surprise appearance from everyone’s favorite sell-sword Bronn, who’s come up in the world–soon to be married off to some minor (and very irritating) young noble woman and still as ambitious as ever. His new life is interrupted when Jaime appears, promising a better and more wealthy noble wife in exchange for his help. Bronn and Jaime on the road to Dorne. Let the hilarity and hijinks ensue!
In Dorne itself, at the Castle of Sunspear, a seething Ellaria Sand (remembering the unfortunate pulpy fate of her consort Prince Oberyn’s head) is ready to make good on the threat to Myrcella–as she watches the Lannister girl stroll about the royal garden. She confronts Doran Martell (played by Alexander Siddiq, or as we calls him around here–Julian) who now rules as Lord of Dorne on the matter, bold enough to run up even on his overly large Captain of the Guard Areo Hotah. Ellaria basically calls Doran Martell a punk as he sits on his throne, for not doing anything about his brother’s death, and says the people of Dorne are itching to go to war. She even asks for Myrcella, who she intends to send back to Cersei one piece at a time. A remarkably patient Doran Martell however quietly rebuffs Ellaria’s calls for vengeance, saying “we do not mutilate little girls” in Dorne–not as long as he’s in charge. Ellaria makes a vague threat that his rule may not be for long. Areo Hotah gives Doran Martell that, “you need me to handle this bruh?” look, but the ruler of Dorne silently shakes his head as Ellaria storms away. Look out for some angry Sand Snakes in his future.
Across the sea in Meereen, after some sleuthing, the Unsullied Grey Worm and new-face Daario manage to capture one of the Sons of the Harpy. Daenerys then has to decide what to do with him. The former slave Mossador says he has to be given a swift execution, because blood is the only thing the Good Masters (and their followers) understand. Ser Barristan Selmy however cautions restraint, arguing that a fair trial is the best course to show the people she’s different from the Good Masters. When the others are dismissed, he stays behind and tells her about her father Aerys “the mad king.” When Dany says she’s heard the lies spread by his enemies, Ser Barristan assures her they’re no lies. He tells her about her father’s last days, of his paranoia, his brutal reprisals and use of wildfire on his enemies. He warns her not to go down that road with her enemies. Dany agrees to not have the Son of the Harpy executed without a fair trial.
Somewhere on the way to Meereen (via Volantis), Varys and Tyrion are enduring each others company. Enduring. And they’ve got a spacious carriage to do so, but in the end to Tyrion it’s just another box. When he asks in frustration to get out and take a walk, Varys informs him he can’t because Cersei has a bounty on his head. He reminds Tyrion they’re on a trek to find a ruler to sit the Iron Throne. When Tyrion scoffs that the world is full of too many rulers, Varys points out that in his brief tenure as Hand of the King the half-man himself made a good ruler. Talk of that time makes Tyrion wistful, and he remembers how Shae had pleaded with him to leave King’s Landing–but that he liked the power he held. Varys says people follow leaders, but they will in the end never follow someone like them–a eunuch or a half-man who they find “repulsive.” He says that’s why they build large comfortable boxes to keep such people away. But in the end, people like he and Tyrion are never satisfied within the box. After that bit of witty metaphorical sophistry, Tyrion suggests a walk again. When Varys firmly says no, Tyrion remarks Cersei can’t kill every dwarf in the world to get him.
We’re taken immediately back to King’s Landing–where Cersei is indeed trying to kill every dwarf in the world to get to him. Two bounty hunters in fact half delivered up the head of some hapless dwarf to collect their reward. Cersei takes a look at it before confirming it’s not Tyrion. She spares the two bounty hunters for their trickery, as she doesn’t want to “dissuade” anyone else out on the hunt, stating, “Mistakes will be made.” When she orders the head be taken with them, Qyburn (failed maester and the closest thing King’s Landing has to a mad scientist) requests it for his “work.” Cersei then has a meeting with her small council, having set herself up as a regent counsel for her son. She sits dispensing titles (including the Master of Whisperers to Qyburn) and setting about the order of the kingdom. Her uncle Kevan Lannister however isn’t having it, and accuses her of stacking this mock small council with sycophants. He doesn’t want any titles, demands that the king be present and says he doesn’t recognize Cersei’s authority. He tells her she is the Queen Mother, and nothing more, before leaving and heading back to Casterly Rock. Well damn.
At Castle Black, we see Gilly learning to read from Stannis’s daughter Shireen and there’s some interesting background banter about Greyscale and what-not. We also see Jon Snow meeting with Stannis to learn his fate for mercy-killing Mance Rayder. Stannis however says he can’t punish Jon for courage. Even more, he needs Jon, to unite the North behind him. To this end, he promises to erase his “bastard” status and make Jon Snow into Jon Stark of Winterfell.
The real action at the Wall however is the upcoming selection of the new Lord Commander of the Knight’s Watch. At the top of the running is the professional Hater Ser Allister Thorne who’s backed up by his lackey Ser Janos Slynt. As the election unfolds it’s Thorne and some other guy, and pretty much looks like Thorne’s going to have it. But wait? What’s this? Samwell Tarly speaks up? And he’s tossing another name there into the Goblet of Fire? Jon Snow? Jon Snow for Lord Commander in 2016? Samwell first puts a mouthy-ass Ser Janos Slynt in his place (reminding everyone that he found the guy cowering during the battle against the Wildlings) and then gives a glowing speech recounting Jon’s many deeds. Super-hater Ser Allister Thorne however stands up to accuse Jon of being a Wildling-loving traitor. When the ballots are finally cast it’s a tie! Between Jon and Ser Allister Thorne! (Third dude never stood a chance). The deciding vote has to be broken by none other than the blind maester Aemon–who gives it to Jon. Jon Snow is Lord Commander ya’ll!
Back in Braavos, Arya is killing pigeons for food with Needle. She’s set on by some local toughs and prepares for a fight. They however see the old Thusla Doom priest of the House of Black and White, get shook and take off. Arya speeds after the priest, asking why those men fear him. He turns to her and hands her back the coin she threw away. He then reaches up and pulls off his face (yeah, his face) becoming Jaqen H’ghar! Only the priest says, “a man is not Jaqen H’ghar” when Arya mistakes him for the man she once knew. He says he is “no one,” and that is what Arya must become. Real Yoda talk. Then he walks into the temple and leaves the door ajar. Arya follows inside. Cool scene. Bummer we lost another brotha role. Oh well.
Finally, back in Meereen, Mossador has decided this whole fairness and trial thing for the Sons of the Harpy ain’t gonna work out. After visiting a very unrepentant Harpy in jail who calls the former slaves “traitors,” he takes the guy out and leaves him dead on the streets with his mask on as an example. The words Kill the Masters is scrawled in blood on a nearby wall. As Mossador later kneels before Dany in shackles, she asks why he’s done this. He says he did it for her, that he was one of the first to pick arms and fight for her, and realizing her hands were tied acted on her behalf. He talks of his father who died in the fighting to free the slaves and how he will never return to chains. Dany tells him however that the Harpy’s life was not his to take under the law. When he says Dany is the law, she interrupts that “the law is the law.” And the punishment for his actions is death.
Mossador is eventually led out to his public execution, in front of throngs of former slaves who yell out “Mhysa” to Dany. The former Good Masters are there as well, dressed in their finery. As it becomes apparent what is about to happen to Mossador however, the slaves begin crying out “brother!” and “mercy!” Dany is shaken but remains resolute, telling the former slaves they can’t have freedom if they don’t abide by justice. She has new-face Daario place a curved Dothraki blade to Mossador’s neck–then takes his head. There’s shock and disbelief. Then there’s hissing. It’s coming from the slaves. They’re hissing at Dany’s actions. And in a split second, their anger explodes. They attack the former Good Masters first with stones–then they turn that anger on Dany. The Unsullied are forced to make a hasty retreat, protecting her beneath their shields.
It’s hard out there for a savior.
That night, Dany stares out at Meereen as she thinks on her troubles. And who should arrive but Drogon. The largest and most headstrong of her dragons has certainly grown. Dany’s over awed at seeing him and manages briefly to rekindle their relationship with a light touch to his snout. But then he rises, spreads wings and flies off into the night. And we get the distinct feeling that Dany wishes she could do the same.
So that’s it for this week. Some more action and building. Till next week, when hopefully…Sandsnakes.