This week, we find Westeros reeling from the murder of the king, and everyone’s looking to make some deals and get everything squared away before Tommen, Joffrey’s younger brother, is crowned the new King of the Seven Kingdoms. This was a pretty talky-talky episode, especially after last week’s magnificently tense masterpiece, but there were some great moments here, and some even better set-up.
We open with Sansa’s miraculous escape from King’s Landing, where people have already closed the harbors and sent out several search parties for her – but she and Dontos, in a small boat behind the city, make it out regardless. This opening is shot so beautifully – even the parts where they approach a ship that looks like a rejected prototype from Pirates of the Carribean – and who should pull Sansa aboard but Littlefinger, who either helped plan Joffrey’s death or just knew what was coming and leapt into action. It’s looking like he had some serious stake in it, though, especially when he reveals that Sansa’s necklace, the “heirloom” from Dontos’ grandmother, was just a meaningless little trinket he made a few weeks ago. I’m sure everyone has seen that moment from the wedding where Oleanna snatched one of the crystals right off Sansa’s pretty little neck just before Joffrey got poisoned, so it does certainly seem like Littlefinger was the driving force behind this, as he usually is. He puts a bolt right through Dontos’ heart for his trouble and tells Sansa that she’s safe now and is “going home.” Um, where exactly is home?
Meanwhile, young Tommen is getting some Lessons in Kingship from his grandfather, Tywin, who is now firmly back in control of the kingdom, as Hand until Tommen comes of age. There’s really no word on whether or not Cersei will get her own Queen Regent powers back, but Cersei is more subdued than we’ve ever seen her, remaining silent during King-ing 101 and simply staring down at her firstborn’s body, who’s rocking some pretty disturbing eye coverings (why? Why did anyone do that?!). Tommen and Tywin wander off, and along comes Jaime, bringing with him not only the most shocking moment of the episode, but maybe one of the most horrifying moments Thrones has ever seen.
It goes like this: Cersei tells Jaime to kill their brother, an idea that doesn’t seem to rub Jaime the right way. Before she knows it, though, he asks the gods why they made him love such a hateful woman, and the one-handed knight is suddenly raping his twin sister, directly next to the body of their dead son borne of incest. OH MY GOD WHAT THE FUCK. (I mean, this was in the books. I wasn’t entirely unprepared. But, as with most things, it was WAY more disturbing onscreen.) Cersei screams and struggles, and for the first time in a long time, you start feeling pretttttty fucked bad for her. (If you didn’t feel bad for her you might not have a soul.)
Speaking of Tyrion, he’s locked up and awaiting trial, and gets a visit from the ever-loyal Pod, who has hidden half a pantry in his clothes and turned down a title (a title that would be in exchange for some false testimony that Tyrion purchased a poison just before the wedding). When asked why he would give that up, Pod responds, “You’ve been good to me.” Tyrion, for Pod’s sake, sends him away, telling him to get out of Westeros before Twyin “sees” to him, and that this is definitely goodbye. Pod leaves, teary-eyed, and it’s actually pretty touching. I’m pretty sure Podrick Payne is literally the only purely good person left in Westeros, at this point. Tywin, on the other hand, is breaking up Oberyn and Ellaria’s sexytime orgies in order to make some deals – Oberyn can sit on the Small Council and Twyin will present him with the Mountain’s head, in exchange for the rape and murder of Oberyn’s sister. Well, sure. I guess that seems fair…
Arya and the Hound are still out there sniping at each other, and Arya, thinking on her feet, gets them a warm dinner and a barn to sleep in from a passing farmer and his daughter by claiming that her “father” (LOL) used to fight for the Tullys. The farmer is kind of grossed out by his guests’ poor table manners, but then he brings up the Red Wedding, which clearly ticks off the Hound, who then abruptly agrees to stay and work for the farmer. The next morning, however, brings with it his true intentions – Arya awakes to the young girl’s screams and finds the farmer bloody on the ground, and the Hound walking away with his life savings. Arya, furious, screams, “You’re the worst shit in the Seven Kingdoms!” but the Hound reminds her that this is just the way things are; how many Starks have to die before she realizes exactly how bad the Seven Kingdoms are?
Margaery and Oleanna, sitting by the sea as usual, discuss whether or not she’s anything anymore, but the ever-wise Oleanna reminds her that the Lannister still need the Tyrells, as despicable as they all might find each other right now. Margaery is also a little concerned that she’s had two husbands meet terrible ends, but Oleanna doesn’t seem concerned by this either. She also slips in these harsh but true words of wisdom: “You may not have enjoyed watching him die, but you enjoyed it more than you would have enjoyed being married to him.” Burn. God, I love the Queen of Thorns.
Allow me to gloss over the bores in this episode – Davos asks for help from Braavosi sellswords, and dictates the letter to Scaly Shireen (who’s actually turning out to be kind of interesting). Stannis pouts. Sam sends Gilly and her baby to a whorehouse to clean, which he’s doing to kind of keep her safe, but she is NOT happy about it. I don’t blame her. That place is gross.
And finally, after missing her last week, we’re back with Dany, who has since arrived at the gates of Mereen. They send out a fighter to piss on the ground and go up against her best fighter, and naturally, Daario volunteers to defend his queen’s honor. I’m starting to really dig new Daario, especially after he so quickly dispatches the gladiator from Mereen, and Dany proves, as usual, that she has a serious flair for the dramatic. She announces that she’ll free every slave in the city, and wraps things up by hurling barrels filled with shackles over the city walls – the shackles, you might remember from the first episode of the season, belong to the murdered slaves that lined her path into the city. Damn.
I’m hoping that we start moving into Tyrion’s trial soon, and also figure out what exactly happened to Shae (seriously, there’s no way she made it onto any boat), but I guess we needed a week to cool down after the wedding. That being said, we’ll also need to see some repercussions from this week’s rape scene – will Cersei let this stand? Or, as a woman in Westeros, has she accepted her completely unacceptable lot in life? Even in a world where women are next to nothing, everything has its consequences.