Things in Westeros slow down a bit this week, but after three episodes full of jaw-dropping twists and violent acts, that’s to be expected. Still, this episode was not without its moments. We were given some insight into the mysterious white walkers and the truth behind the plot to kill King Joffrey finally came to light.
Unfortunately for Tyrion, this reveal is only made to the viewers. He’s still locked up in a dungeon, though he does receive a visit from his brother Jaime. While Jaime may be sure of younger brother’s innocence, Cersei isn’t having it. Drink in hand, she refuses to hear him out, reminding Jaime of Tyrion’s veiled threats over the years. While last week’s rape isn’t discussed, Cersei does ask her twin to leave Kings Landing to kill Sansa, whom she’s sure played a role in Joffrey’s demise.
Remembering his vow to Catelyn Stark and once again shunned by his sister, Jaime instead sends Brienne off to find the young girl, asking that she keep Catelyn safe. Before Brienne leaves, Jaime gives her his Valyrian steel sword (welded from Ned Stark’s weapon) and shiny new armor. Brienne also reluctantly accepts Podrick Payne, whom Tyrion has sent away for his own safety, as a squire. The two share a nice moment before he reminds her the best swords have names. Her choice? “Oathkeeper”, no doubt a nod to Jaime, who always pays his debts.
It turns out Cersei wasn’t completely off base, though Sansa had more involvement in the murder than Cersei ever could have known. Littlefinger reveals more after announcing his plans to take Sansa to Vale and marry her aunt Lissa Arryn. That necklace given to Sansa by Sir Dontos was no family heirloom, it contained the poison that killed Joffrey. Knowing there’s no way the two of them worked alone, she questions his motives, leading Littlefinger to confess it was in the best interest of his new “friends”. We then ominously cut to Olenna Tyrell telling her granddaughter that she’s sure Tyrion didn’t kill Joffrey before adding “You didn’t think I’d let you marry that beast did you?” The Tyrell women share a knowing look and it all comes together.
The old king may be dead but his younger, kinder brother is ready to take the the throne. Armed with advice from her her murderous grandma, Margery sneaks into Tommen’s room later that night. The meeting is chaste, but it's sure to infuriate his mother.
Another character who you can count on to keep her promises? Danerys Targaryen, who makes good on her word and frees the slave city of Meereen. Greyworm leads a nighttime assault, covering the city with the words “kill the masters”. Dany, when encouraged to answer injustice with mercy, declares “I will answer injustice with justice.” She smiles and the crowd cheers as hundreds of their old rulers are nailed to crosses lining the city. Is her army finally big enough to invade Kings Landing?
Jon Snow is gaining popularity at Castle Black, much to Ser Allister’s chagrin. Feeling threatened, he agrees to allow Jon to head to Craster’s Keep to eliminate Karl and the rest of the men who long ago broke their vows to the Night’s Watch. There is one condition: the only men who can join him are those who volunteer. Jon gets quite a few Crows to back him, including new friend Locke. If the newcomer seems a little too good to be true, it's because he is. He was sent by Roose Bolton to track down and kill the Stark boys, ensuring that the Boltons remain take in control of Winterfell. It’s telling that Locke make this move only after overhearing Jon surmise that Bran just might have found shelter near Craster’s Keep.
Jon's arrival, even with Locke in tow, can’t come a moment too soon. The mutineers have taken to abusing Craster’s ex-wives and sacrificing the babies to the white walkers. Bran and company overhear the child’s cries and rush to help. Bran possesses his direwold Summer and discovers Jon’s direwolf, Ghost, locked in a cage. Before either of can be rescued, the group is caught and taken hostage. Hodor is chained and prodded while Bran is viciously struck by Karl. In an effort to save Jojen, who has had a seizure, Bran confesses his true identity to a delighted and menacing Karl.
As for the baby, a white walker rides on horseback through the snow and ice, with the infant in his arms. He brings the child to a slab of ice, where another white walker (this one with horns) scoops him up and touches his face. The baby’s eyes turn an icy blue and it becomes clear just how this army has continued to grow.