Strangers and familiar faces meet in an episode that pours more gasoline onto the fire.
Last episode, Jon Snow told everyone he’s done with the watch, and just as he’s about to leave Castle Black, visitors appear that will definitely give him pause.
Finally! Jon and Sansa Stark are reunited, throwing another — and welcome — wrench into Jon’s plans. The former Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch was due for some good news — not counting the whole coming back to life thing. And where Dolorous Edd failed to convince him to reconsider leaving the Watch completely, Sansa’s presence and future plans for Winterfell will likely keep Jon, the Night’s Watch, and the many wildlings working together for the foreseeable future.
It’s the brightest spot in a world filled with murder, rape, and the usual plotting and scheming — but don’t assume everything will suddenly sprout flower petals with rainbows streaking across the sky. We still have the rest of the episode, and there’s plenty of those other things coming over the horizon.
Sansa and Jon come to terms with who they were, where they are now, and what will be expected of them as the leaders of their family and the rightful heirs of the North. Sansa remembers home and what an awful sister she had been to Jon. She asks for forgiveness, and Jon counters he wasn’t all sunshine and roses.
Meanwhile, Ser Davos questions Melisandre about her future plans. Davos has no clear picture of what happened to Stannis, his family, and the army that was wiped out by the Bolton army. And foremost on his mind over all of those other things is the question of what happened to Shireen. Before Melisandre can answer — or deflect — Brienne interrupts and subtly threatens the former allies of Stannis. She leaves them, broadsword in hand.
At Runestone, Robin practices archery while his host Lord Royce pretends not to be completely underwhelmed by the poor display. Petyr Baelish arrives, transporting a rare gift — a gyrfalcon — a present for Robin’s belated name-day. Royce, likely furious from having to babysit the very immature Robin, decides to go after Baelish for losing Sansa to the Boltons. Royce has a point, but it isn’t wise to fight Baelish in a war of words and in front of his powerful allies.
Baelish puts Lord Royce on his heels by questioning his loyalty to the Vale, and Robin threatens to throw Royce through the Moon Door. Shaken, the lord of Runestone doubles down on his loyalty, and Petyr uses the situation to call on the Knights of the Vale to help Sansa retake Winterfell. The drums of war are starting to sound.
Zooming across the ocean to Meereen, Tyrion, Varys, Grey Worm, and Missandei discuss negotiating with the slavers and allies of the Sons of the Harpy. Missandei and Grey Worm would rather not strike a deal with the slavers, but Tyrion believes it’s the only way to bring peace to the city.
The negotiations are tense, but Tyrion strikes a compromise — the slavers are given seven years to end the practice of slavery and be given compensation for their losses. In return, they must sever all ties with the terrorist Sons. Tyrion sweetens the deal by bringing in prostitutes, and the Queen’s representatives meet a group of angry freed slaves in the main hall. The group demands to know when Danaerys will return, and when they find out Tyrion has struck a deal with the slavers, they start to become unruly.
Ignoring Tyrion, they ask Grey Worm and Missandei their thoughts, and just as it seems as if Tyrion’s going to land himself in hotter water, his new friends show they’ve come over to his side. Missandei even quotes Tyrion by saying, “But as a wise man once said, ‘We make peace with our enemies, not our friends.'”
Outside and away from the crowds, Tyrion, Missandei, and Grey Worm have a heated discussion. Grey Worm and Missandei do not trust the slavers, and Tyrion considers the slavers’ contempt as a weakness to be exploited. Grey Worm warns against underestimating the slavers, and Tyrion is left to wonder whether the soldier has a point.
While they wonder where the Queen has gone, Jorah Mormont and Daario continue their rescue mission, sneaking into Vaes Dothrak, leaving their weapons behind. They’re discovered but quickly clean up a potentially disastrous mess. They eventually stumble upon Danaerys and another Khaleesi, and the Mother of Dragons comes up with a plan.
Before we can find out what Danaerys is up to, we’re taken to King’s Landing where several conversations take place. The High Sparrow tells Margaery about his past before he allows her to see her brother Loras. Loras is broken and beaten, and he implores Margaery to “let them win.”
As she consoles her brother, Queen-Mother Cersei finds her son King Tommen having a private meeting with Grand Maester Pycelle. Pycelle leaves them, and Cersei learns Tommen has also been having secret meetings with the High Sparrow who has told him in confidence that Margaery’s next for the walk of atonement. Cersei storms a Small Council meeting to relay the news to Olenna Redwyne, and the Queen of Thorns is compelled to send her army to storm King’s Landing. Kevan Lannister, father of Lancel and the King’s Hand, is persuaded to stand down and let the coup happen.
On the opposite side of the Westerosi continent, Theon returns home and pays a visit to his sister. The timing is peculiar — the kingsmoot will crown a new ruler for the Iron Islands, and Yara wonders if her unworthy brother has come home to stake his own claim to the throne. Theon admits he only found out about his father’s death when he landed, and after Yara demands to know what he wants, he tells her, “You should rule the Iron Islands. Let me help you.”
With Theon finding his way back to normalcy, Ramsay Snow continues his reign of terror and comes face to face with Rickon’s foster-parent Osha who tries — and fails — to seduce him. Snow knows everything he needs to know about Osha, having been given information about her by Theon — he was seduced by Osha before Bran and Rickon escaped Winterfell. Before Osha can stab the villain, he puts a knife in her throat and watches her bleed out before calmly cleaning his knife and finishing his apple.
Ramsay decides to send a raven to Castle Black, where awkward silence fills a more awkward dinner. Sansa finds it difficult to eat the poor food, and Tormund Giantsbane makes googly-eyes at Brienne. The raven’s letter is delivered to Jon, and he reads Ramsay’s threats out loud before finding it unbearable to continue. With Rickon a prisoner and the threat of the Bolton army coming north, Sansa implores her brother to stand ground and fight. At count, Jon has 2,000 fighting men at his side to Ramsay’s 5,000, but Sansa believes the North will come to their aid.
While the odds are against them for now, it’s exciting to know the good guys will make a go of it. And where all the others have failed, I’m hoping there’s a victory for the Starks somewhere in the future.
But moving on — the final scene is a burner and quite literally. It puts a huge exclamation mark on the episode, and will have people talking until the next episode.
Danaerys Targaryen was captured by a roving band of Dothraki and taken to Vaes Dothrak to be kept with the Dosh Khaleen — a group of revered khaleesi widows. When Khal Drogo died, Danaerys kept pushing westward, building up her army and freeing cities — which is forbidden by the Dothraki as any widow must join the Dosh Khaleen immediately after their khal dies.
As the khalasars meet to discuss what they will do with Danaerys, she defiantly offends them by stating they’re unfit to lead the Dothraki. Her words turn to threats, and the men’s laughter turns to anger and then then fear as Danaerys overturns the braziers, setting fire on the hut. The men, emptied of their bluster, scream and try to escape to no avail thanks to Daario and Jorah sealing the exits.
The entire city comes out to see the chaos and commotion, and out of the fire, one lone figure steps out from the fiery rubble. With all of the khals dead, Danaerys alone rules the Dothraki who bow down to their new Queen.
What an ending — and what an episode! From start to finish, each scene delivered something that brought the story forward in a meaningful way. We can only speculate on what’s to come, and while none of the prevalent theories were disproved this episode, we have defining moments that ratchet up the momentum considerably.
I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in King’s Landing and the wars to come in the North. And while Danaerys’ storyline seems to be a bit circular, this new plot development is by far the biggest so far. She finally has the army she seeks, and when she returns to Meereen, maybe she solves the slavers conundrum by wiping out all of the maesters.
We won’t know until it happens, and Game of Thrones is keeping all of us on our toes. For all we know, everyone dies next episode.
Either way, it will be worth the wait.
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