All aboard the Hype Train! In preparation of Season 8 of Game of Thrones, Kelly is doing a rewatch for the greater good to refresh our memories, catch the things we might have forgotten, pick up the things we might have missed, and maybe make predictions! Hold onto your fur rugs from Ikea and AWAY WE GO.
Rules of this series: We’re deep diving into these episodes and I’m watching them on a per-episode base because I like digesting the episodes. Spoilers lie ahead. As much as I can, I am going to try and keep things episode/season specific. It’s out of respect to the narrative as well as the later seasons. Onwards!
I hope we all took a few to recuperate after that last episode- I had to play a few rounds of Grand Theft Auto 5 to get my rage and sadness out, meself.
It actually doesn’t matter how well you recover from the Red Wedding because this next episode just beats you into the ground with Stark fallout. It opens with the direct fallout and continues to milk the effect of the House Stark’s demise. It bleeds into every scene and pokes and prods us every chance we get. There is such a heaviness felt from the loss of Cat and Robb. Roose Bolton surveys the attack on the Northmen from one of the Twins’ towers. The battle is more violent on the outside- we see people with their legs chopped off, other’s being hanged, being beaten. It’s a reminder that Tywin has set out to destroy not just the Starks, but any house who challenged his reign and a firm message to anyone who even thinks about rising against him. Let’s remember that he organized the destruction of House Reyne when he was a young man- so this is kind of a way of showing he’s still got it.
The worst part of the episode comes early as the Hound escorts Arya out and is wise enough to grab a Frey banner- upon hearing chants of “The King in the North,” the Hound turns to see Robb’s body being escorted by Frey bannermen with Grey Wind’s head attached. When the body turns, we see that Robb’s body has been mutilated beyond recognition. The Hound quickly retreats, but it’s too late- Arya’s already seen it. Salt in the wound, kick in the gut when you’re already dead, beaten when you’re already down, however you want to put it- this is exactly how it feels.
Down south in King’s Landing, Sansa and Tyrion are taking a turn in the garden and they commiserate about being bullied and mocked in King’s Landing, but then turn it into a light conversation about how they could possibly get revenge. Sansa proposes a fairly immature prank that Tyrion admits is pretty brilliant when Pod comes running out- Tywin has sent for a small council meeting.
Sidenote: I’m not one for shipping but I’ve always thought it would be nice for Sansa and Pod to get together. She deserves someone nice and Pod is definitely worthy of getting knighted at the end of the series. Pod’s always been on the back end of things, being a firsthand witness of how she’s been mistreated. On top of that, they always end up in the same storyline somehow. I don’t think there’s any indication that this would happen but if I could pair off any of the remaining characters, it would be these two.
Up in the Tower of the Hand, Joff is running around like a kid on Christmas as Cersei beams and Pycelle passes over a scroll that reads that Roslin Frey was given two wolf pelts for her wedding. Tyrion and Varys are visibly displeased and upset by the news. In yet another punch to the face, Joff plans to serve Robb’s head to Sansa at his wedding to Margaery; Varys and Tyrion both use the excuse that Sansa is now a Lannister and should be treated as such. Tywin is… I want to say he’s neutral in this scene. He doesn’t care that Joff wants to upset Sansa- he’s more annoyed that Joff is treating the Red Wedding as his own victory when Tywin is the one who orchestrated the whole thing with Walder Frey and Roose Bolton.
In one of my favorite moments, Tywin gives one of his Tywin-isms. Similar to a lion caring about the opinion of sheep saying, the lesson here is that if you shouldn’t have to say something to be it- basically, actions speak louder than words kind of thing. The brat tells Tywin that he hasn’t actually done anything- and that back in the day, Robert is the one who won over the Mad King while Tywin hid at home. By unspoken comparison, Joff literally hasn’t done a thing in the War of the Five Kings- he hasn’t sent any ravens, won any battles, made any decisions. Ha. The tone of the room immediately changes and even Joff knows he has said something wrong. To flex a little more, Tywin sends Joff off to bed like a ten-year old as a subtle Rains of Castamere plays in the background. He even asks Pycelle to give him the Essence of Nightshade to help him sleep- and remember, just a few drops more of this could cause someone to overdose. This thought hasn’t crossed my mind until now- but it’s very possible that Tywin has already decided that he might have to take out Joff if he continues in this manner. Tywin doesn’t care who is on the throne- but he does care about how he and his family are viewed and this will come down to the actions of his descendants. Joff isn’t winning anyone over for him.
Tywin and Tyrion continue their conversation as everyone else leaves, as Tyrion sarcastically jokes that Joff is the most powerful man in the Realm- but they both know it’s the armies and gold that win wars. Tyrion can read exactly into what the Red Wedding was- Walder Frey is nowhere near smart or daring enough to come up with the Red Wedding on his own. Roose Bolton would only have done it if there was some sort of security in it and a better opportunity than what Robb was offering him. Tywin is wholly responsible but he’s also able to keep his name out of it for the most part. It might have been Tywin’s proposals of land, title, and fortune, but it happened under Walder Frey’s roof and under his command, so Frey is the one who is actually pegged as guilty for breaking guest right. Along the same lines, Roose Bolton is the one who turned his men to slaughter his fellow bannermen. Tywin pretty much leaves with his hands clean as he’s not exactly the one who changed allegiances or broke any guest rules.
Tywin points out that killing Robb at a wedding might have saved thousands of lives from future battles. He’s not wrong per se- it’s just bad form. Really bad form. Terrible form. As the Starks have now been wiped out (Tywin is so kind to remind us), or the Stark men at least, this now clears the way for Sansa to produce Tyrion’s legitimate heir to the North so that Tywin has claws in nearly all the Seven Kingdoms. Meanwhile, Roose Bolton will sit as Warden of the North.
Another Tywin-ism- “The house that puts its family first will always win over the house that puts the whims and wishes of its children first.” We saw this. We literally have been seeing this for three seasons. Ned stayed in King’s Landing because Sansa wanted to marry Joff. He gave Arya fencing lessons. Cat put her children first above all else. Bran fell climbing. Rickon… he was forgotten about, but still. It wasn’t the Stark name that they were acting in name of. It was for each other. Tyrion challenges Tywin on this, saying he’s done nothing for just the family’s benefit- but Tywin slaps Tyrion in the face with something along the lines of, “I didn’t need to take you in. You made a laughingstock of my family, but I didn’t have you drowned simply because you shared my name.” It’s hard for Tyrion to hear confirmation that his father just wants him dead- but this is another one of those father-son moments that Tywin uses to make Tyrion do what he wants. In this case, he takes advantage of Tyrion’s emotions to make him feel like he has an obligation to the family- and perhaps now Tyrion will want to produce an heir.
In a heartbreaking scene, Tyrion goes to do the right thing and tell Sansa about her family- but she already knows. No words need to pass and Tyrion respectfully leaves her alone.
Up North, Bran, Hodor, Meera, and Jojen take shelter at Nightfort, one of the abandoned castles lining the Wall. Bran tells a campfire horror story about the Rat Cook, a cook who once got so mad at a visiting king that he killed the king’s son, cooked him into a pie, and fed it to the king. Sound familiar? As punishment, the cook was turned into a giant white rat who eats his own children. This is a bit of a fable for children, to teach them not to break guest’s right, which we talked about a little bit in the previous episode- just a tidbit of information about how appalling breaking guest right is.
Expert cut to Walder Frey who is digging into a pie of his own. A quick reference to Frey Pie, which we get a thousand percent in Season 7, but by a different way than I had hoped. We’ll talk about it when the time comes. They’re still cleaning off Robb’s and Cat’s blood from the floor as Roose observes- he’s annoyed that Brendyn Tully, Cat’s uncle, was no where to be found. (Remember, he went to take a pee break.) Frey and Roose are polar opposites- Frey is feeling extremely comfortable in his decision to turn on the Starks and Tullys, simply because Tywin supports him but he doesn’t quite see that he was used as a solution in the moment- Tywin will quickly dispose of him if he has to. Roose, on the other hand, is already planning ahead for what to do in case that relationship goes sour. As Frey talks and talks about how great he is without actually doing anything, Roose stays kind of quiet and gives another one of those fake smiles- Frey isn’t someone he would exactly call a friend or want to be associated with, but it’s a valuable alliance for now. Being married to Fat Walda does give both he and Frey more power in their respective territories, but outside that, Roose has no intention to keep in touch.
We use this moment as a bit of exposition as Roose finally drops Ramsay’s name and gives us a quick catch up with Theon, who was handed over by his own men- and that Ramsay has his own way of doing things. Remember, the last time we saw Theon, he was getting busy with two naked girls when Ramsay stormed in and threatened to cut off his penis. When the next shot is a sausage and Ramsay talks about the size of his piece, well… naturally, our imagination goes to some wild places. It’s my favorite shot of Ramsay ever, as he assures Theon it’s only pork sausage and waves it in the air. Theon begs for Ramsay to kill him, but Ramsay needs a new friend, names him Reek, and slaps him until the name takes.
Back at Nightfort, the Rat King comes up to visit Bran- juuuust kidding. It’s SAM, who immediately recognizes the direwolves, deduces it’s Bran, and identifies Hodor in the dining room with the candlestick. Sam says he’ll help in anyway he can- just not take them North of the Wall. Jojen convinces Sam that he and Bran can stop the White Walkers and he relents, sort of.
Way way west and over in Pyke, capital of the Iron Islands, Balon and Yara receive a message with the Bolton seal as well as a package that… seems to be a box… made of flayed skin and a kraken is carved into it. It is most likely the skin of one of Theon’s men. Hopefully Dagmar. He was a shit. Ramsay says he’s flayed all the men and sent along Theon’s “favorite top.” Spoiler alert: it’s his penis. Ramsay threatens that he’ll send more of Theon’s parts if the Iron Islands don’t stand down. Balon is immediately willing to leave Theon where he is since now he doesn’t have a penis and produce an heir, because that’s all that matters; thankfully, Yara’s had enough with her father and chooses to go rescue her brother. We finally get a badass ironborn scene as Yara has a voiceover about collect fifty of her best killers, sticking them on her fastest boat, sailing around the south of Westeros to the Weeping Water, an inlet in the North (like a big U) to march on the Dreadfort- all to bring Theon home. This is the only time I’ve ever liked Pyke. Ever. Oh, and the pinecone speech in another season. That was fun.
Back at the Nightfort, Sam hands off some dragonglass and says for every White Walker, there’s hundreds more dead men to follow. Bran and Company leave through the Wall and that’s that. Down in Dragonstone, Davos identifies with Gendry as they’re both Flea Bottom boys. Gendry eventually comes around and admits that he was easily seduced by Mel. Self-awareness is a valuable trait, my friend.
In King’s Landing, Varys attempts to woo Shae with diamonds and tells her to leave. He knows that with her around, Tyrion won’t be focused on the political game, including his marriage to Sansa which may or may not save what remains of the North. Tyrion is one of the few people that Varys sees with the right heart and mind for leadership, as well as the value of the Lannister name- but as long as Shae is around, he won’t think clearly. Unfortunately for Varys, Shae takes this personally and thinks that Tyrion has asked Varys to send her away.
In Tyrion’s chambers, Cersei seems quite convinced that she’s not marrying Loras Tyrell. She also advises that Sansa would be much happier with children in her life- even Joffrey made Cersei happy at some point, because he was a reminder that she was a Lannister and not a Baratheon. Perhaps a child would make Sansa feel connected to the Stark name again. Doubt it.
It’s been a while since we were gruesomely reminded of Cat and Robb, so we’re going to head back into the Riverlands, where the Hound and Arya pass a group of Frey soldiers. In graphic detail, one of them claims that he was the one who sewed Grey Wind’s head to Robb’s body. Arya hops off the horse to play innocent passerby only to STAB THE DUDE IN THE NECK several times. She’s an angry, dark little thing. She picks up her Braavosi coin- now that she has no home or family to return to, she can head over to Braavos without anything to lose.
North again. Jon is washing off his wounds in a pond and hears a bow being drawn. It’s Ygritte. He speaks plainly of his higher calling and duty to the Night’s Watch- and she says he knows nothing. His smile is just so sad here. It’s so beautiful. She shoots him as he retreats, but it’s not fatal. She can’t quite bring herself to kill him just yet.
At the Wall, Maester Aemon takes Gilly under his wing as Sam recites the oath back to Aemon- that they are to protect the realms of men- and this includes the Wildlings. Aemon does the right things and starts sending out ravens to notify the realm of Jeor’s death and the White Walkers.
In Dragonstone, Aemon’s scroll gets to Davos just as news of the Red Wedding gets to Stannis. Davos questions if this is just a turn of events or if the leech had something to do with it, but Mel plays coy. (Let’s be real- she lucked out. It takes several seasons for Balon to get offed.) Mel’s luck only convinces Stannis that yes, let’s kill Gendry, this minimal amount of blood worked so well. Davos, reminded of his own son, helps Gendry escape and off he rows… and rows… and rows… He goes from novice rower to expert.
Jon finally arrives at the Castle Black! And that’s that.
Jaime and Brienne finally make it to King’s Landing, where Jaime is mistaken for a peasant. He goes straight to Cersei who… is… looking at seashells. Hobby? Anyway, she’s ah… angry and surprised and dare I say disgusted by the sight of him. He’s no longer the handsome arrogant knight who would burn cities to the ground to be with her. He’s a broken, frail man, looking for peace.
Anyway, Dragonstone. Stannis is annoyed with Davos. Again. Now that Gendry is gone, they’ll have to go back to war- but Davos plays the trump card of the Night’s Watch scroll. Mel verifies the information by tossing the scroll into the fire because no one needs evidence- but she sees enough in the flames so it’s all good. For some reason, Mel changes her mind and advises Stannis to take Davos and Stannis, like Jon, puts his pride and personal vendettas aside to go North. We don’t know what Mel’s implying here when it comes to Davos’ role in the wars to come, but I think it might have something to do with what happens with Jon and perhaps all the negotiating. Yeah. Must be. Moving on.
We end the episode outside the gates of Yunkai, where the slaves are let out of the city and after an impassioned speech about seizing freedom (because it’s sooooo easy). They welcome Dany with open arms and chants of Mhysa, the title of the episode and mother in Old Ghiscari. And then she crowdsurfs. Yes. Really. I get that it’s a preview of how she can unite Westeros or whatever, but it really does come off as an ego stroking moment.
Anyway, they try to end Season 3 with an optimistic note, but I’m still reminded of that wolf’s head and I’m going to say it doesn’t work for me.
On deck, we are on Season 4! 4.1 Two Swords!