Can’t believe it’s been a whole year, but Game of Thrones is back! HBO’s adaptation of George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, with its feuding houses, dragons and one Khaleesi, has returned. And so have my Monday morning recaps. Only this time, since George didn’t manage to get The Winds of Winter out in time, I’m as in the dark as to what happens next. We’re all non-readers now. Makes for a brave new world. So let’s see what happened. Be warned though: the night is dark and full of SPOILERS.
We start off where we left off. Near the Wall, at Castle Black, Lord Commander Jon Snow lies bleeding in the snow, after having been prison courtyard shanked. The ringleader of the betrayal was professional hater Ser Allister Thorne along with some hanger-ons and that punk ass kid Olly. It’s the Onion Knight Ser Davos Seaworth who finds him, drawn by the howls of Jon’s direwolf Ghost. Near the body he finds a wooden cross with the words traitor written across it–pretty clear this was an inside job. With the help of several others, notably a very distraught Dolorous Edd, he manages to get Jon’s body inside, where they lay him down. While he’s there, the Red Lady Melisandre stops by. She seems shook by Jon’s death, as it was prophesied in the flames he would retake Winterfell. If R’hllor saves, he doesn’t seem ready to do much at the moment. And Melisandre, grappling with a crisis of faith since her last bad prophecy (#1 Dad Stannis Baratheon) just walks from the room.
Elsewhere at Castle Black, Ser Allister holds a meeting with some pissed off men of the Night’s Watch. To everyone’s surprise, he’s like–“yeah I killed that fool. And what?” The other men are ready to mutiny, but Ser Allister sways them by claiming Jon was betraying the Watch, by offering shelder to the Wildlings. Eventually the anger dies down and it seems he’s in charge. Dolorous Edd is mad AF tho, and ready to put some “respeck” on Jon’s name. But Davos Seaworthy says they can’t make a move just yet. Not just the “tree” or four of them. They gonna need allies, including the Wolf. Edd heads off to find them.
At occupied Winterfell, the ever sadistic Ramsay Bolton shows a moment of human compassion–of course it’s for his psycho girlfriend Myranda, who Theon threw off the castle and to her death when he saved Sansa Stark. Ramsay promises revenge that will be repaid a 1000 times to her killer–then he suggests her body be fed to her own dogs. Because she’s good meat. And because he’s Ramsay. He goes off to meet with soft-spoken Daddy Bolton, who congratulates him on his victory over would-be-king Lord Stannis, but chides him at losing Sansa–their ties to the North who needs to bear Ramsay a legitimate heir. Daddy Bolton even hints that maybe he should just wait to see if his young Frey wife might bear him a suitable heir. Ramsay, realizing he could well go back to being a Snow, redoubles his efforts to recapture Theon and Sansa.
We find the two of them fleeing through the woords from Ramsay’s hounds, even forced to wade through a freezing river. They manage to hide and hope to get a bit of rest, but then the hounds and Ramsay’s catchers are upon them. Theon, slowly shaking away his days as Reek, tells Sansa to flee to Castle Black where her brother is in charge (umm…yeah…about that…) while he provides a distraction. It’s a very bad distraction. They’re both eventually caught, and seems like it’s the end.
But it’s not! Because who rides in? Brienne of Tarth! She has a habit to show up just in the nick of time. She and recently acquired squire Podrick Payne go up against Ramsay’s horsemen. It’s a bloody battle, but they get the upper hand and there’s throat-slitting and slashing aplenty. Even Theon gets in a good stab. A relieved Brienne, finally able to meet her oath to the late Lady Catelyn Stark in retrieving her daughters, takes a knee and pledges herself to Sansa. Now if they could only find Arya.
Did I say Arya?
Somewhere in Braavos, Arya sits on a set of steps, begging for money. She’s blind now–a penance for offing Ser Meryn Trant against the wishes of the Many Faced God. As she’s sitting there, trying to figure things out, creepy girl from the temple (you remember her) just kinda appears. She tosses Arya a staff and then the two of them have a brawl in broad daylight. Or at least a kind-of-brawl. Arya isn’t doing well with her disability, and ends up getting beaten bloody. When creepy girl’s had enough she just leaves, but not before saying “see you tomorrow.” Have fun Arya, trying to join the most annoying sorority ever.
At King’s Landing, we find Margaery Tyrell still being held by the zealous Sparrows. She narrowly escapes a beating only to have to listen to the self-righteous prattling of the High Sparrow who says she must confess her sins before she can even begin to find her way out of there. I so want somebody to give them the George Martin treatment.
Their last big name victim, Cersei Lannister, only managed to escape their clutches by confessing and taking a long, naked, bleeding, harrowing walk of shame. We find her now sitting, contemplating her life choices, and her really bad haircut. Her thoughts are interrupted by the announcement of the return of her brother (and lover–never forget) Jaime Lannister–who had been sent to Dorne to retrieve their daughter Myrcella. Cersei rushes out to greet the ship, allowing herself this brief moment of happiness. That ends when she sees Jaime riding in with a funeral barge, carrying their dead daughter. After this it seems Cersei’s hit rock bottom. She begins to think she’s cursed and says as much to Jaime. He ain’t buying it tho. “Fuck prophecy, Fuck fate, Fuck everyone who isn’t us,” he tells her. “We’re the only ones who matter, the only ones in this world. And everything they’ve taken from us, we’re going to take back–and more. We’re going to take everything there is.”
Bout to be some Rains of Castamere in Westeros. You done pissed off the Lannisters.
Speaking of pissing off Lannisters, if we recall Myrcella’s death (through a poisoned kiss) came at the hands of the vengeance-bent Ellaria Sand and the “unbowed, unbent and unbroken” Sand Snakes. When we see them back in Dorne in a following scene, they appear to have made peace with Prince Doran Martell who is relating his differences with his brother (and Ellaria’s lover) Oberyn Martell–who went out like this. That is until a messenger arrives, bringing news of Myrcella’s death. Before Doran Martell can figure out just what is going on, one the Sand Snakes plunges a knife in the back of his royal bodyguard Areo Hotah. Ellaria in turn stabs the prince and he falls, while his soldiers merely watch him die–doing nothing. Ellaria tells him that they, and the people of Dorne, will no longer follow him or any weak men. For good measure, the other Sand Snakes skewer his son–in the face. IN THE FACE! Dorne just had a coup. And the folks itching for war have taken the reins. Buckle up.
Across the sea in Meereen, Tyrion and Varys wander a broken and disordered city left in chaos in the wake of Daenerys’s departure on the back of a dragon. Heck of an exit. As the two try to get at the heart of the attack by the murderous Sons of the Harpy, they’re alerted by shouting voices and fleeing people. When they rush to find out the source of the commotion, they find Daenerys’s fleet–the one meant to take back Westeros–in flames.
Somewhere out on the plains, Old Bear Ser Jorah Mormant and new-faced Daario Naharis are hunting the missing queen. They find clues–the charred remains of dragon kill, the hoof prints of a mounted Dothraki horde and one of Dany’s earrings. Sure enough, Dany has been taken by the horse warriors–and is bound as a slave to be given to their Khal Moro. The swarthy Easterners seem taken by the white-haired Occidental (of course), until she surprises them by talking back to their Khal in Dothraki. She reveals her royal title (all of em)–to which the Dothaki simply laugh. But when she names herself a Khaleesi, once married to Khal Drogo, they take that seriously. Khal Moro apologizes for her treatment and promises she won’t be harmed. Dany attempts to use this moment to get an escort back to Meereen. But the Khal dashes those hopes, stating the proper place for a Khaleesi is with the Dosh Khaleen–the widows of ex-Khals who preside over the holy city of Vaes Dothrak.
And, back to Castle Black. Ser Davos and Jon’s faithful remain holed up in the room with his body. Outside, Ser Allister has taken complete control (or so it appears) of the Watch. He arrives outside their door, with crossbows trained on them, and declares he will grant amnesty for brothers who lay down their arms. Ser Davos will also be allowed to leave unmolested. The Onion Knight asks for more time, and is given until nightfall. He knows however that Ser Allister will kill them if they surrender. Unfortunately, Dolorous Edd hasn’t returned with their much needed help. And it’s just him, three men and a ticked off direwolf. Davos tells the men they may need the aid of Melisandre. When they scoff, he replies that they haven’t seen her do what he’s seen her do.
Melisandre is elsewhere however, going through her crisis of fate to the Red God. Spying a mirror, she steps up to it and disrobes, showing a youthful figure. But when she removes her necklace, her seeming link with R’hllor, we realize we’ve been seeing an illusion. The real Melisandre is actually a worn and ancient woman, perhaps centuries. She stares at her true reflection for a long while as if gaining some truth in facing this revelation.
And that was one sombering way to end this joint. Till next time, in which we get to see whatever the hell Brandon has been up to.
“Hi. I’m Bran. You might remember me from such seasons as…”