"Everywhere in the world, they hurt little girls."
Cersei says this to Oberyn after he assures her that her daughter is safe in Dorne, though you can’t really blame her for doubting his words. She’s seen too much in recent weeks to have a positive worldview and to top it all off, Tywin confesses that the Lannisters are pretty much broke. Cersei may believe the world will continue to hurt her, but she isn’t taking it sitting down. She smartly arranges for Margery to marry her son Tommen, the newly crowned king, just as soon as it's "appropriate", meaning whenever he finally hits puberty. The kind king and his politically savvy potential queen might just be the answer to the Lannisters' growing list of problems.
Sansa Stark also knows a thing or two about how cruel the world can be. She and Littlefinger arrive at Vale and she’s given a new identity by her aunt, who is elated to reunite with her husband-to-be. Once alone with her niece, Lysa accuses Sansa of sleeping with Littlefinger, her paranoia and mental instability evident. The moment’s a tense one, even though Sansa is able to calm Lysa down after she breaks down in tears. That’s when poor Sansa gets another bomb dropped on her: She’s to be married to Lysa’s still breast feeding eight-year-old son. Suddenly, Tyrion and Kings Landing don’t look quite so bad.
There’s still reason to worry about Sansa’s safety, as Lysa makes a game-changing confession in between bouts of sucking face with a clearly disinterested Littlefinger. Under the instruction of Lord Baelish, it was Lysa, not Cersei, who poisoned Jon Arryn, the death that put into motion just about all of the events in the series thus far. The letter Lysa wrote to her sister Catelyn Stark, implying the Lannister’s were behind his death? Another cue taken from Littlefinger, who is quietly becoming the most powerful force on the show.
Arya isn’t faring much better than her sister. The tiniest budding sociopath in Westeros still can’t fall asleep without saying the name of people she one day plans to kill. The Hound doesn’t take much offense to hearing his own name and later mocks the young girl while she practices sword fighting. She stabs him for it, but her sword fails to penetrate his armor. He hits her across the face in retaliation but returns her weapon before they continue on their journey.
Daenerys is also realizing she still has a lot to learn. Sure, shes got an army and now even some ships, but two of the slave cities she freed have fallen back into ruin since she left them. While she could reasonably take her men and her dragons to Westeros to overthrow the Lannisters, Dany is playing the long game. Just because she can take the throne, doesn’t mean she’ll have the support she’s going to need to keep it. She decides to stay in Meereen a little bit longer to hone her ruling skills.
Which brings us to the type of epic battle that "Thrones" does so well. Bran and his crew are chained up and quickly losing hope. Things look even more bleak when Locke spies the group tied up and doesn’t report his findings to the Crows. Karl threatens the group, planning for them to watch him assault Meera. Jojen assures the group they have nothing to fear, his vision tells him they won’t die tonight, but Karl will. No sooner is this said then Jon Snow and his men strike.
In the ensuing chaos, Bran is grabbed by Locke who begins to carry him away. Before they get too far, Bran wargs into Hodor, who breaks free from his chains and snaps Locke’s neck. The crew spy Jon battling the mutineers, but if you thought this might lead to a Stark reunion, you were dead wrong. Jojen reminds Bran that Jon will want to keep him safe and not allow him to continue on his quest to find the three-eyed raven. He gives his brother one last look before heading north.
It’s easy for this get past Jon, who is in the middle of a brutal sword fight with Karl. Just when it looks like Jon might end up on the wrong end the sword, one of Craster’s wives stabs Karl in the back. Jon regain his composure and sticks his sword straight through the back of the mutineer's head and through his throat, an image I won’t soon forget.
Jon burns Craster’s Keep to the ground, setting free the women who were continually assaulted inside the buildings' confines. The episode's final moments, in which Jon reunites with his direwolf Ghost, remind viewers that while the world may be cruel, sometimes (even on “Game of Thrones”) the underdog wins.