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Game of Thrones 5×3 Recap – High Sparrow

sansa-and-littlefinger

House Stark/Baratheon

Here we are, inside the House of Black and White. It’s damp and a bit spooky with a lot of statues along the walls. Arya is grumpily sweeping as Jaqen sits with a man by the pool of water in the middle of the floor. He gives the man a cup of water and they exchange “Valar morghulis. Valar dohaeris.” The man then drops dead; all men must die and these people are no joke.

Arya is over the sweeping. That’s not what she’s here for; she wants to serve. She’s got a kill list! Come on let’s get going! What must she do to become a Faceless Man? The answer? She must become no one.

Later, Arya is confronted by another girl that’s in training at the House of Black and White. “Who are you? You, who walk in here with a coin you never earned, whose value you don’t respect. Who are you?” Arya, ever the quick learner, replies “no one.” The girl whips Arya. With every objection, the girl continues to whip her. “Who are you?” the girl asks again. “You’re about to find out!” says Arya as she reaches for Needle and I applaud my television but Jaqen enters before it can escalate into an all out catfight. Jaqen scolds Arya for wanting to become “no one” while she is still holding on tightly to all of her personal belongings. Time for a makeover!

After her first costume change since season 1, Arya throws her personal items into the Narrow Sea. The last thing is Needle. Can she do it? Images of Jon Snow and a happy Stark family at Winterfell flash through my mind. Don’t do it, Arya! Whew! She doesn’t do it. Instead, she hides Needle in some rocks and continues sweeping.

Jaqen shows up and leads Arya down a scary staircase to a room with the latest body and the bully-girl that was whipping Arya. Together, Arya and the girl undress the body and begin to clean it. “What do we do after we wash them?” she asks. No answer.

Speaking of Winterfell, we’re baaaaack! It’s now decorated with House Bolton flags, some gross looking bodies, and there’s poor Theon. Back to the bodies, they’re victims of Ramsay of course. He went out collecting taxes but decided to flay and collect bodies instead. When Lord Cerwyn refused to pay anyone but a Stark, Ramsay calmly explained that he “flayed him living along with his wife and brother, made his son watch. The new Lord Cerwyn paid his taxes.”

Roose Bolton is nervous. Not only is his son a psychopath but also he doesn’t have enough men to hold the North. Yes, he made a pact with the Lannisters but that pact was with Tywin, who is now deceased. The remaining Lannisters won’t send someone this far north. Roose explains to Ramsay, “We’ve become a great house by forming alliances with other Houses and parlaying those alliances into greater power. The best way to forge a lasting alliance isn’t by peeling a man’s skin off. The best way is marriage. It’s high time you married a suitable bride. And as it happens, I’ve found the perfect girl to solidify our hold on the North.” It’s then that my stomach sinks. It makes perfect sense. It’s Sansa.

Side note: I loved watching Theon eavesdrop during this scene. There’s still a small part of Theon left in there. He still understands the game being played. The subtleties by Alfie Allen make that crystal clear. I hope Theon rises up and protects Sansa.

Sansa and Littlefinger arrive at Moat Cailin. That’s when Littlefinger reveals his plan. He’s taking Sansa “home” to Winterfell and he’s made a marriage proposal for Sansa, not for himself. She objects, naturally. Roose Bolton murdered Catelyn and Robb. Littlefinger gives her the pep talk he’s probably been preparing since the Red Wedding:

“Winterfell is your home. Always. You’re a Stark. Dying your hair doesn’t change that. You’re Sansa Stark, eldest surviving child of Ned and Catelyn Stark. Your place is in the North. You’ve been running all your life. Terrible things happen to your family and you weep. You sit alone in a darkened room mourning their fates. You’ve been a bystander to tragedy from the day they executed your father. Stop being a bystander. Stop running. There’s no justice in the world. Not unless we make it. You loved your family. Avenge them.”

So that’s it, Sansa escapes one psychopath only to marry another. She will wed Ramsay Bolton and hopefully avenge her family by murdering him in his sleep. Fingers crossed.

Now this is the biggest deviation from the books to date. It changes everything. At first I found it strange, shocking even. Sansa would never marry the man responsible for killing her family. Then I warmed up to it.

First, it brings a Stark back to Winterfell—Winterfell is the closest thing us viewers have to “home” and seeing a Stark there just makes things feel a bit better. I’m sure the warm and fuzzies won’t last. Surely Ramsay has wreaked all kinds of havoc on our beloved home but let’s just live in this happy place and remember simpler times for a few minutes longer. As the servant said, “Welcome home Lady Stark. The North remembers.”

Second, it gives Sansa a mission. Why should Arya be the only Stark girl out for vengeance? Poor, naïve Sansa with her lemon cakes is no more! She’s grown. She’s evolved. She is pursuing vengeance in her own way. We have to remember that Sansa was bred to be married. She was told from a young age that she would be a princess and that she would marry for power. She now is simply using the tools she has available to avenge her family.

Third, it gives Sophie Turner something to do. The actress has been severely underused. Her character has been pretty one-dimensional from the start so I like this change. If the actress can handle it, I say let’s see it. And judging from soundbites in December, it seems like we will. “There was one scene that I did do which was super, super traumatic, and I love doing those scenes,” Turner said. “It was just really kind of horrible for everyone to be on set and watch.”

When Sansa arrives to Winterfell and meets Roose Bolton for the first time I just knew she was going to slap him. Instead, she smiles and curtseys. Ramsay and Sansa meet. Each is falsely charming. Myranda (Ramsay’s like-minded, torture friendly girlfriend) angrily watches from afar. Later, Ramsay and Littlefinger watch Sansa cross the courtyard. “She really is lovely, I hope I can make her happy…I’ll never hurt her. You have my word,” says Ramsay. Ha, yea right. Littlefinger remarks that he hasn’t heard much about the young Lord Bolton. Ramsay clarifies that he is actually Roose Bolton’s bastard. Can we just pause for a second and take a look at Littlefinger’s face:

Petyr Baelish Littlefinger - What is Petyr Baelish thinking?

Things running through Littlefinger’s mind at this very moment

  • Sh*t. Sh*t. Sh*t. Sh*t. Sh*t. Sh*t.
  • Is it too late to change my mind?
  • Thiiiiiiiis is the bastard?
  • Joffrey>Ramsay
  • What did I get my precious Sansa into?
  • Can I request a do over?
  • Wait, isn’t she technically still married to Tyrion?
  • I’m definitely going to hell now.
  • I hope he lets me keep my little finger.

Moving on, when Roose arrives Littlefinger assures him that Sansa is still a virgin. They discuss their histories with the Lannisters. “The Lannister name doesn’t mean what it used to.” Littlefinger explains to Roose that every ambitious move is a gamble and “the last time the lords of the Eryie formed an alliance with the lords of the North they brought down the greatest dynasty this world has ever known.” This union has potential.

Nearby, Brienne and Podrick are following Sansa and Littlefinger. I’ve never been so happy to see Brienne in my life. Surely, she will act as Sansa’s guardian angel in this wreck of a situation.

Brienne and Podrick have what has to be their first ever real conversation. She knows she hasn’t been very kind, but he tells her, “You’re the best fighter I’ve ever seen. You beat the Hound. I’m proud to be your squire.” With that, you can see Brienne perk up. Maybe Podrick isn’t so bad after all? She decides to train him. She will teach him how to fight and properly ride a horse.

Brienne then talks about her service to Renly and how their friendship came to be. Her father once held a ball so she could find a good match. It was wonderful. No one noticed how tall she was. They all whispered sweet nothings into her ear. She was so happy. Eventually she realized the boys were toying with her. She tried to run away but Renly Baratheon stopped her and said, “Don’t let them see your tears. They’re nasty little sh*ts and nasty little sh*ts aren’t worth crying over.” He danced with her all night and no one bothered her after that. “He saved me from being a joke, from that day until his last day. I couldn’t save him.”

Then we learn Brienne’s plan for vengeance; she’s going after Stannis.

Heading over to The Wall, Jon Snow is hard at work as the new Lord Commander. He’s everything we thought he would be: kind, patient, stern, loyal.

During a meeting with Stannis Baratheon, he refuses the opportunity to become Jon Stark. His place is on The Wall. “You’re as stubborn as you’re father and as honorable,” Stannis tells him. Jon Snow wants to know how much longer they’re going to be crashing at Castle Black. Stannis is basically that drunken friend that passes out on your couch and eats all your frozen dinners before dawn. Castle Black is running out of food and winter is coming. Stannis says he plans to march on Winterfell within the fortnight.

But, what to do with the Wildlings? Will Tormund compromise? Stannis thinks that Jon Snow should execute them. The other Brothers don’t want the free folk around. And what to do with Ser Alliser Thorne? Dismissing Stannis’ advice, Jon Snow says he intends to keep his enemies close.

After Stannis exits Davos says to Jon Snow, “he sees something in you. Might not be apparent from his tone but it’s the truth. He believes in you.” Stannis only wants to do what’s right for the Seven Kingdoms and he thinks he needs Jon Snow to do that. Davos reminds Snow of the line within the Night’s Watch oath—the shield that guards the realms of men. “That’s what you swore to be. Maybe people need you outside of The Wall. As long as the Boltons rule, the North will suffer.” I wonder how this is going to play out with Sansa? Could Jon Snow potentially rescue the North and Sansa?

Later, Jon Snow appoints Ser Alliser Thorne as First Ranger. He decides to send Lord Janos Slynt to Greyguard, which is apparently a ruin. Slynt does not want any part of that dump. Snow tells him “that was a command, not an offer.” Slynt refuses, repeatedly.

Slynt’s refusal is punishable by death. Snow cannot start his reign as Lord Commander by being soft so he has Slynt hauled to the courtyard for execution. If there’s one thing that Jon Snow has learned, it is how to properly behead someone when it’s needed. He marches to the podium.

“If you have any last words my Lord, now’s the time.” Slynt begs for forgiveness. He declares Jon Snow the true Lord Commander. “I’m afraid. I’ve always been afraid.” The Night’s Watch is not a place for scared men, not with winter coming. With that, Snow chops off his head. Stannis nods approvingly.

House Lannister

We check in at King’s Landing with a little Tour de Cersei Lannister. Under the sound of ringing bells, Cersei is carried in her litter toward the Great Sept of Baelor to celebrate the wedding of King Tommen and Queen Margaery. The street is lined with people from the Capitol adoringly shouting the name of the new Queen. Cersei is seething as she realizes that Margaery has succeeded in winning over the people of the city.

Margaery exchanges yet another set of wedding vows (third time’s the charm, right?) and finally becomes THE Queen that she always wanted to be. I loved how in this scene, we see Cersei through the silhouettes of the new couple as they exchange their first kiss. It’s evident that this wedding is the last thing Cersei ever wanted to happen. Boy, no one can deliver a scowl quite like Lena Headey.

After the wedding, we cut immediately to Margaery and Tommen consummating the marriage. Margaery knew better this time and didn’t spend any time waiting. When they finish, the new King is practically squealing with pleasure and expresses concern for hurting Margaery. Oh sweet innocent Tommen. You didn’t hurt her. Is he really so different from his cruel brother, Joffrey? I hope so for Margaery’s sake.

Speaking of the late King Joffrey, Tommen confides in Margaery that he often thinks about how everything he has – a new, beautiful Queen and the title of King – is only his because his brother is dead. Margaery tells him that he shouldn’t feel guilty about that but Tommen insists that he feels no guilt. Maybe he isn’t so different from Joffrey at all. Margaery starts to carefully sink her claws into the Boy King. Instead of revealing her true feelings toward Cersei, she feigns admiration of the Queen Mother’s motherly affections. She tells Tommen that it is so wonderful how Cersei is always looking after him like “a lioness guarding her cub.” Tommen insists that he no longer needs his mother looking after him because he is officially a man. But Margaery reminds him that as long as Cersei is in King’s Landing, Tommen will always be her baby boy.

The next scene takes us immediately to Cersei and Tommen strolling through the Capitol arm-in-arm.   The two discuss the new Queen and the new marriage and then Tommen reveals that the seeds of doubt planted by Margaery have successfully taken root. Tommen suggests that Cersei leave King’s Landing to return home to Casterly Rock where she can finally be happy. Tommen probably does want his mother to be happy but these words are not his and Cersei knows exactly where they are coming from.

She heads right to the source and visits Margaery and the ladies of the court. This is my favorite Margaery vs. Cersei scene to date. Cersei enters the room as Margaery recounts the four different times that her and Tommen consummated the marriage. When Margaery spots Cersei, she jumps from her chair and greets Cersei with a hug and an exclamation of “Mother!” Now that Margaery is Queen, she is fearless, almost careless, wasting no time to take jabs at Cersei. “I wish I had some wine for you, it’s a bit early in the day for us.” Cersei dismisses the comment, though she does appear to be a bit shocked, and claims that the reason for her visit is just to make sure that her new daughter-in-law knows that she is always there for her. Margaery expresses gratitude and reveals to the Queen Mother that she may soon be a Queen Grandmother, since she is so exhausted from Tommen’s “enthusiasm.” Cersei doesn’t linger and as she excuses herself, Margaery throws one last jab. “What’s the proper way to address you now? Queen Mother or Dowager Queen?”

Cersei maintains her cool, insists such formality is not required, and marches out of the gardens. The laughter of the girls rings through her head as she’s leaving. She may have been calm and level-headed in that moment, but we know Cersei will not go down without a fight. Margaery better watch her back (and her drinks!).

Back in Baelish’s brothel, we find the creep-tastic High Septon selecting from amongst the Seven Whore Gods. The Septon’s fun is interrupted by the Sparrows, led by Cersei’s favorite Lannister cousin Lancel, who are there to reprimand the Septon for his promiscuous behavior. As punishment, they force him to walk through the streets naked, flogging him whenever he attempts to cover himself, while the crowds hiss “sinner, sinner.”

The re-clothed Septon marches directly to the King’s Council and asks Cersei to throw the head of the Sparrows, the High Sparrow, in the black cells as punishment for the assault against him. Pycelle spoke up in his defense, but that doesn’t surprise me. (We remember you, Ros!) The wheels in Cersei’s head are spinning…but why?

Despite warnings from her King’s Guard, Cersei weaves her way through the poor in Flee Bottom (I’m guessing) to find the High Sparrow, a shoeless man feeding soup to the poor. The High Sparrow (hey you, Governor Swann) and Cersei discuss his choice of nickname, which he finds humorous, and his decision to give away his shoes, which he made to remind himself who he really is. The High Sparrow then reveals that he knows why Cersei has visited – to arrest him for what he did to the High Septon. Cersei reveals that the High Septon actually requested for the High Sparrow to be executed but rather than doing that, she has thrown the Septon into the Red Keep. “The faith and the crown are the two pillars that hold up this world. One collapses, so does the other. We must do everything necessary to protect one another.” Oh really? Since when has Cersei become so religious?

After her visit with the Sparrow, Cersei heads to see the mad scientist/healer Qyburn and asks him to send an urgent message to Petyr Baelish “wherever he’s slithering about.” She also asks Qyburn how his project is coming along and tells him to keep at it. After she leaves, we see what we thought was an inanimate body on a table come to life under a blanket! What is under there, Qyburn? Is it a Franken-Mountain of sorts?! Whatever it is, Cersei knows and I don’t have a good feeling about it.

We catch up with our favorite Lannister, Tyrion, as he starts to lose his mind on the road to Meereen. Tyrion insists that he is sick of seeing Varys’ face and he needs to get out of the cart for a bit before he goes crazy. Lord Varys warns him that there is a price on Tyrion’s head and if he’s recognized, it’s all over. Tyrion insists he’s just one more drunk dwarf and the two step out in Volantis. Reminder – Volantis was the home of the late Robb Stark’s wife (RIP, the North Remembers) and through re-tellings of her childhood, Talisa revealed Volantis to be a major slave city.

We find Varys and Tyrion walking through a gigantic, organized slave market. We learn that the slaves are marked by tattoos on their faces as to be easily recognized. But word of slave revolutions from Slaver’s Bay have made their way to Volantis and the slaves are not happy. Tyrion and Varys stumble upon a Red Preacher of the Lord of Light surrounded by a chanting crowd. The preacher is talking about slavery and claims that the Red King hears their misery and has sent them a new savior. “From the fire she was reborn to remake the world; the Dragon Queen!” Tyrion mocks the speech and jokes about how they are on their way to the savior. The Red Preacher hears him and a dark, foreboding look is exchanged between her and Tyrion.

Tyrion and Varys head to a brothel and we learn that the influence of the Dragon Queen has reached even the most desperate of places. A prostitute walks around dressed in an ass-less Dany get up, hair and all. Tyrion and Varys sit in a darkened corner and don’t realize that there is another Game of Thrones character/Dany lover in their presence.

Tyrion leaves Varys to talk to “someone with hair” and finds a bitter brunette prostitute. “They all want to f*ck a queen,” she says as she glares at the Dany imitation. She knows Tyrion has no money but the two share a connection and she offers him pity sex. To everyone’s surprise, including Tyrion’s, he rejects! “I’m sorry, I can’t.” She reassures him that she can and coaxes him to join her but he insists it’s something he cannot do. “Believe me, no one is more shocked than I am. I hope it passes!”

Defeated, Tyrion leaves and goes to piss into the sea. He hears someone walk up behind him and thinks its Varys. Alas, it is not! It is Ser Jorah Mormont, who we spotted earlier in the crowd.   Jorah seizes and gags Lord Tyrion. “I’m taking you to the Queen,” he says as he carts off Tyrion on his shoulder. We’re left to wonder the question of the hour….WHICH QUEEN?! I would bet all of the Lannister gold that it is none other than the love of his life, Daenerys Targaryen.

Side Note – Tyrion made an off-handed comment while listening to the Red Preacher about the disease, greyscale.  We also heard Stannis’ daughter, Shireen Baratheon, discuss the illness from which she suffers with Gilly in last week’s episode.  Something tells me that this is no coincidence but foreshadowing and we can expect a major character to go down from the illness before all is said and done.

Rock Paper Watch’s Top Quote of 5×3:

Jenn’s Pick –  “It’s a perfectly good face.”  – Varys in response to Tyrion’s angst against only seeing him for days on end.

Elizabeth’s Pick – “Stop being a bystander. Stop running. There’s no justice in the world. Not unless we make it. You loved your family. Avenge them.”

Game of Thrones Recaps are authored by Jenn O’Mera (Lannister and Targaryen) and Elizabeth Bond (Stark/Baratheon and Martell).  Feel free to contact any author with feedback or questions.


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Game of Thrones 5×1 Recap – The Wars to Come

Young Cersei

Before diving in, let’s start with the fancy updated intro. Winterfell is no longer on fire and we have a new addition, Pentos! We later find out this is where Tyrion has landed.

House Targaryen

The first Daenerys Stormborn moment of the season opens with the golden statue that sat atop the slave city of Meereen toppling down over the city.  Is this a symbol for the season to come?  Is Dany’s army beginning to fall?

This episode certainly doesn’t help my theory.  After the statue is successfully down, an Unsullied heads into town to visit a brothel.  Strange, I thought.  Why would he go there?  Apparently, he had visited this brothel before and has a regular request of the women there.  He lays down topless while a topless woman lays behind him and rubs his head.  He seemed so relaxed and innocent until…his throat is suddenly slit.  The women and the killer, a man in a golden V for Vendetta mask, stand above the body and watch as he bleeds out.

The mask is left on the body of the Unsullied for Dany to discover and it apparently represents the Sons of the Harpys, a group that is bad news bears for #TeamDany.  It turns out that Dany is not being heralded in the slave cities as a liberator but as a conqueror and citizens are rebelling against her and her Unsullied.  Dany tells Barristan Selmy and the rest of her Jorah-free Queen’s Guard to hold the burial of the murdered Unsullied, White Rat, in a temple – an action meant to anger those who are rebelling.

After this is decided, Missandei and Grey Worm chat in private per Missandei’s request.  She asks why White Rat and many other Unsullied are being spotted visiting brothels considering all Unsullied are also eunuchs.  Grey Worm does not know and leaves without providing any more insight.

Dany continues to deal with the politics associated with liberating the free cities.  Her ambassador from Yunkai returns with Daario Naharis and says the deal to establish a council of elders was agreed upon.  However, the former masters have a request – they want to reopen the fighting pits.  Rather than slaves fighting to the death, they suggest that free men be allowed to fight free men.  He argues that Dany making this decision would send the message that she respects their pre-established culture and traditions but Dany refuses.

Later, in the boudoir, Daario Naharis attempts to convince Dany that she should indeed reopen the pits.  Daario explains how he rose through the pits as a champion, which gave him resources to help his mother and lead him to become the man he is today.  He tells Dany he isn’t afraid to speak the truth to her and warns her that a sign of weakness will give her enemies the chance they need, therefore it’s imperative for her to show her strength now.  Dany points out that the Unsullied are patrolling the streets but she misinterpreted Daario. “You’re not the mother of Unsullied.  You’re the Mother of Dragons.  A Dragon Queen with no dragons?  That’s not a Queen.”  You go, Daario.

Finally, Dany braves the underground cage she created and enters the dragon lair.  At first, the room is silent and Dany cautiously calls out the dragons’ names.  Suddenly, fire erupts and the dragons are enraged, thrashing and spewing fire at their mother.  They don’t seem to recognize her but if they do, they definitely don’t care.  Dany runs out of the lair, visibly shaken and frightened of her full grown children.

House Lannister

We have our very first Game of Thrones flashback, LOST style in our season-opening scene.  Meet young Cersei Lannister – a rebellious blonde teenager who is still arrogant, bossy, and a little too confident.  Young Cersei guides her friend into a creepy house in woods near Casterly Rock.  The two girls enter per Cersei’s insistence and find a witch? a creepy woman? a sage? I’m not 100% sure.  But Cersei uses her Lannister name to force the woman into telling her future.  The woman licks a drop of Cersei’s blood then gives Cersei three questions.  Cersei asks when she will be married but the witch tells Cersei won’t marry a prince, she will marry a King and become Queen.  However, she won’t be Queen for long.  “You’ll be Queen for a time.  Then comes another, younger, more beautiful, to cast you down and take all you hold dear.”  She also tells Cersei that the king will have 20 children but Cersei will only have three children and she will see them all die.  “Gold their crowns, gold their shrouds.”  Eeeeeerily accurate, if you ask me.

We cut to Cersei in the present day preparing to attend the funeral of the late Tywin Lannister.  She is wearing black to mourn her father as she marches through the streets of King’s Landing to the sound of the bells accompanied by a King’s Guard.  Cersei makes the funeral attendees wait so she can have a moment alone with her father.  Turns out Jaime Lannister is also with Tywin and the two share a not-so-tender moment.  They discuss their fears – Jaime’s fear that the lords and ladies of Westeros will try and steal everything Tywin has created for him and Cersei’s fear of where and what Tyrion is doing.  Cersei is completely focused on “the little monster” who killed their father.  She asks Jaime if he set Tyrion free.  When Jaime doesn’t respond, she tells him that at least Tyrion killed their father by choice.  Jaime helped in that killing by refusing to ever acknowledge that Tyrion was a problem.  It’s not surprising to me that Tywin, the man who stood between Jaime and Cersei for their entire lives, is continuing to drive them apart in his absence.  But it is surprising for me to see Jaime’s concern for the inheritance he cannot have and so boldly refused while Cersei is dismissing the inheritance we thought she’d go after.  Maybe Cersei really was the Lannister who contributed most to Tywin’s legacy.  With a farewell kiss from Cersei, we see the last of Tywin Lannister.  I cannot say I’m upset.

We immediately find ourselves in a box, peering through a wall of peepholes, moving awkwardly through a city.  Tyrion Lannister has finally arrived in Pentos, safe and sound though covered in poop, courtesy of Lord Varys.  Tyrion looks like shit as he struggles to stand after crossing the Narrow Sea in such dismal conditions.  Varys apologizes for the situation but reminds Tyrion the crate was necessary since Varys broke many laws by breaking him out of King’s Landing making them both wanted men.  Varys tells Tyrion he is at the home of a friend, Illyrio Mopatis (Reminder: this is the same man who housed Dany and her horrid brother, Viserys, before Dany was wed to Khal Drogo).  Varys goes on to explain that Varys, Illyrio, and a group of others were working in secret to support a Targaryen restoration of the throne by overthrowing King Robert, setting forth a chain of events that contributed to where they have ended up today.  Tyrion starts…continues…drinking and it’s visible that he’s being haunted by the murders of Shae and Lord Tywin.  He must come to terms with what he has done before he can begin to plan the next step for himself and for the Realm.

Later, Tyrion and Varys discuss how Tyrion ended up in a box crossing the Narrow Sea.  Varys sticks with the story that Lord Jaime asked him to save Tyrion’s life.  But then he adds more.  Varys saved Tyrion for the Seven Kingdoms.  Varys believes “men of talent have a part to play in the war to come.”  Tyrion is doubtful but Varys reminds him that Tyrion has instincts for politics coupled with compassion.  “What is it you want exactly?” asks Tyrion.  Varys wants peace and a ruler in place who will not spread misery throughout the lands.  They both agree that Tyrion himself could never sit on the Iron Throne.  “But you could help another climb those steps and take that seat.”  Varys goes on to explain the ideal Westerosi monarch – a strong ruler with a gentle heart; both intimidating and inspiring.  Leading to my favorite exchange of the episode:

Varys: “A ruler loved by millions with a powerful army and the right family name.”
Tyrion: “Good luck finding him.”
Varys:  “Who said anything about him?”

Then, Varys asks Tyrion if he will ride with him to Meereen to meet Daenerys and find out if the world is worth fighting for.  Cue my insides freaking out on this possible character interaction.

Back at the funeral, Ser Loras Tyrell goads Cersei by pretending to fake deep remorse for her father.  Cersei pretends to listen while really focusing on Margaery Tyrell and her young, beautiful hands carefully grazing King Tommen.  As Cersei dismisses herself, she is stopped by a strangely familiar face.  Lancel Lannister returns but is almost unrecognizable, barefoot with a Marine-worthy buzz cut wearing nothing but a plain robe.  Cersei says as much before Lancel’s father walks over and breaks up the conversation.  Lancel’s father apologizes for his sons appearance and tells her that Lancel is now a part of a religious group that refer to themselves as the Sparrows.  Cersei excuses herself, grabs some wine, and seeks alone time.  But Lancel finds her again and, in a new deep voice, tells Cersei that he can be forgiven now.  He talks about how he tempted her into the darkness of their incestual bed and then brings up King Robert and the boar hunt.  Cersei feigns ignorance but Lancel insists that he is finally at peace for what they’ve done and Cersei can find peace in the Light of the Seven, too.  This conversation is strange but we gain a very useful tidbit of information.  Lancel blames himself and the Queen Regent for the death of King Robert.  Maybe the theory of Lancel pouring alcohol down Robert’s throat on purpose has some merit.

Queen Margaery interrupts Ser Loras’ sex-scapades/Martell history lesson (love what you did there, GOT) with a call for dinner.  Margaery has no shame and plops right down on the bed.  After Loras’ handsome lover leaves, she questions Loras.  Shouldn’t he be more discreet since he is set to marry Cersei?  Loras feels otherwise.  Now that Tywin Lannister is dead, he doesn’t think there is anyone living that can force Cersei into marrying him.  Unfortunately, for Margaery that means her mother-in-law will be stuck living in King’s Landing.  “Perhaps,” Margaery says coolly.  “Perhaps.”

House Stark and House Baratheon

We catch up with the Stark family first with Jon Snow. He’s training Olly to be a Man of the Night’s Watch. It feels a lot like Arya’s training in season one. Samwell Tarly and Gilly watch, “shouldn’t you be training too?” He replies, “How many men can say they’ve killed a White Walker and a Thenn.” Oh Sam, let’s not get too over-confident now. Ser Allister grimaces as he passes Gilly. We learn that a Lord Commander has not been chosen yet but Ser Allister is in the running. Gilly is worried that if he’s chosen she will be packing her bags. Sam replies, “Wherever you go, I go too.” Say it with me now, awwwwww.

Out of nowhere, Melisandre shows up. Jon Snow sees what we all see; she’s creepy as hell. He’s being summoned. On the way to see Stannis, Melisandre stares at him with her best bedroom eyes. “You’re not cold milady,” he asks. “Never, the Lord’s fire lives within me Jon Snow,” she says as she takes his hand and places it on her cheek. She the asks, “Are you a virgin?” “No.” “Good.” Now I’m the one grimacing.

Jon Snow and Stannis discuss Roose Bolton’s rule of Winterfell. Stannis asks if Jon Snow wants revenge for Robb’s death. “I want many a thing but I’m a sworn man of the Night’s Watch.” Changing the topic, Stannis and Davos ask about Ygritte. Why was Jon Snow seen taking her body north of the Wall? “It was where she belonged.” Davos brings up that some of the Night’s Watch think that Jon Snow has too much affection for the Wildlings. Stannis reveals that he wants to mount Roose Bolton’s head on a stake. Now that Tywin is dead there is nothing stopping him from taking over the North. He wants Jon Snow to help him wrangle the Wildlings to serve as his army. The best way to do that is to get Mance Raydar to swear his allegiance to Stannis. It’s up to Jon Snow to convince Mance or he will burn.

Later, Jon Snow visits Mance Raydar. They reflect on the irony of the situation. Jon Snow was once his prisoner, insert hearty laugh here. Mance already knows what Stannis is after, “I’ll give him this much, he’s bold.” Mance has no intention of even kneeling and he doesn’t want his people bleeding for Stannis Baratheon’s war. Jon Snow encourages him to reconsider by reminding him of how strong of a leader he is; after all he united ninety clans for one cause and he did it to save them. Isn’t their survival more important than his pride? Short answer, no. Mance Raydar believes that the Wildlings followed him because they respected him. The moment he kneels, that respect is gone.

It’s then that Jon Snow tells him that they plan to burn him alive. Mance Raydar doesn’t want to be remembered yelling from a stake but he’d rather burn then kneel. He will never enlist his people in a foreigner’s war. When Jon Snow says he’s making a mistake, he replies “freedom to make my own mistakes was all I ever wanted”

That night, he is marched from his cell. Stannis gives him the opportunity to kneel. He replies, “This was my home for many years. I wish you good fortune in the wars to come.” With a nod from Stannis, Mance Raydar is to be burned. As everyone watches Melisandre steps forward, “We all must choose. Man or woman, young or old, lord or peasant, our choices are the same. We choose light or we choose darkness, we choose good or we choose evil. We choose the true god or the false. Free folk, there is only one true king and his name is Stannis. Here stands your king of lies. Behold the fate of those who chose the darkness.” She lights him up. It definitely seemed like Mance is having second thoughts about his defiance. Jon Snow looks disgusted. Yep, Mance is definitely having second thoughts. I start yelling at my television, CUT HIM DOWN! Jon Snow storms off. Mance starts crying. Gilly hides her face. Stannis’s wife is really into it. Tormund Giantsbane is getting angry. All of a sudden, an arrow! Jon Snow shoots Mance with an arrow to put him out of his misery. Thank god.

With that, the show ends. I think it’s safe to say that yes, Jon Snow does have too much affection for the Wildlings.

We briefly catch up with Sansa. She’s with Littlefinger. They are dropping Robin off with Lord Royce for safekeeping. While they watch a pitiful Robin try to sword fight (a big contrast from Olly and Arya, he is actually whimpering) Littlefinger gets a secret note. With that, it’s time to go.

Brienne and Podrick are licking their wounds and planning their next steps. Podrick mentions going to Castle Black but Brienne is not having it. She’s feeling a bit discouraged and doesn’t know what she’s fighting for anymore. She’d like to dump Podrick right about now. Since she’s not a proper knight, she shouldn’t have a squire. Podrick reminds her of her promise; she has to find the Stark girls. Arya might not have been interested but there’s always Sansa. She replies, “I don’t want anyone following me, I’m not a leader. All I ever wanted was to fight for a lord I believed in. The good lords are dead and the rest are monsters.” Is this more foreshadowing for #TeamDany?

Well, lo and behold, there’s Sansa. Riding right by Brienne. Oh, Game of Thrones you can be so frustrating. In the carriage, Littlefinger and Sansa discuss whom they can and can’t trust. Dark Sansa is learning from the master. We learn that Littlefinger is taking her somewhere that Cersei will never find her.

Looks like next week we will get to visit Arya at the House of Black and White.

House Martell

No mention of House Martell yet but it looks like we will get to meet the new family next week. There was a quick mention of Dorne, in comparison to Loras Tyrell’s birthmark. What we know of its geography, there’s a Sunspear bit, mountains, and a place called Sandstone.

Rock Paper Watch’s Top Quote of 5×1:

Jenn’s Pick – “Can I drink myself to death on the road to Meereen?”  – Tyrion Lannister in response to meeting Dany.

Elizabeth’s Pick – “They were born on the wrong side of the wall. It doesn’t make them monsters.” – Jon Snow about the Wildlings

Game of Thrones Recaps are authored by Jenn O’Mera (Lannister and Targaryen) and Elizabeth Bond (Stark/Baratheon and Martell).  Feel free to contact any author with feedback or questions.

 


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How Did ‘The Slap’ Land?

theslapAs much as it pains me to admit, all of the marketing that NBC’s The Slap forced on me while I was binge watching The Blacklist OnDemand worked and I was one of 5.1 million viewers to tune in to the live premiere last night.  I watched for two reasons – the ensemble cast and the intriguing premise.  The commercials leading up to the premiere revealed a dynamic family party featuring a fired up Zachary Quinto…slapping the shit out of a young child.  It’s not ideal behavior; it’s not normal for TV; it’s provocative.  I had to find out just why any grown man would behave in such a way.  I also had one burning question – how could this entire show be based on one crazed moment?  Turns out, there’s a whole lot more going on in Brooklyn.

So how was The Slap and is it worth your time?  I break down my thoughts about what worked and what didn’t work below.  You can decide if it’s the kind of thing for you.

What The Slap Delivered:

  • The cast really is phenomenal.  Peter Sarsgaard makes me giddy like a little girl.  After watching his breathtaking performance as Ray Seward in AMC’s The Killing, I knew that I would watch him in anything he did going forward.  Add Zachary Quinto, Uma Thurman, Thandie Newton, Melissa George, and Brian Cox and you have the potential for a true knock-out success.

 

  • The show is about more than a slap.  This group of friends and family is twisted and their history, convoluted.  Each character brings something different to the table and their interactions are what will make this really interesting.  (Just to give you a taste, we have a man having an affair with his babysitter, an artist, an abusive husband, and a set of overbearing wealthy Greek parents.)  The storylines of the show already go way beyond child rearing and discipline.  In the first hour, the show introduces themes like adultery, social class distinctions, working man vs. rich man, relationships, career struggles, parental interference in relationships.  And that’s just some of it.

 

  • The show makes you think.  This is not an example of mindless television.  It’s the polar opposite.  Each theme, and each character, somehow forced me to think about how our own personal choices can deeply affect other people.  I’m also still trying to figure out with whom I’m empathizing with most.  I keep wondering things like, What would I do if someone slapped my nonexistent kid?  Would I have slapped a kid who kicked me?  Many people are also questioning the choice to make Hugo (the five-year old who gets slapped) a child that is still breast-feeding.  While I understand the aversion to this sensitive topic, I’m actually glad that they chose to include it.  It drove home the point for me that normal is relative and what I consider normal is far different from what someone else considers normal.  Despite that, respect must still be a two way street.  I still can’t decide if I think Hugo deserved the slap from Harry (Quinto), but the bottom line is that this show still has me thinking and questioning a day later.  I’m pulled in.

What The Slap Whiffed On:

  • The voice over narrator.  At random points in the episode, a third party voice chimed in with narrations about what was happening on screen and what the character was thinking.  It felt out of place and a little bit insulting, as if the audience isn’t smart enough to catch on to these things, or the actor wasn’t talented enough to convey it.

 

  • Confusion.  Family relationships aren’t 100% clear.  Right now, I’m still not sure if Harry is related to the child that he slapped, or if he’s simply a family friend.  While it was evident that most of this group of people were very familiar with each other, and some of their family ties were made clear, there is still some confusion.  In a show that is this driven by relationships, you would think they would have done a better job of letting us know exactly who was who.

While I’m still not convinced that this show will be winning any Emmy’s next year, I have decided I’m going to stick with it and see it to the end.  I think The Slap is smart and I appreciate any TV that has great acting and intriguing stories.  I’m invested in these people and this incident and I want to know what happens.  Though I do have to admit, I was relieved when I found out that this show is only going to be an eight-episode mini-series.  If it does turn out to be a let-down, I can forget it ever happened and let The Slap fade away like a real nasty bruise.


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The Leftovers Series Premiere Recap – Am I Awake?

The Leftovers Poster Justin Theroux

So I realize that my opinion is not a popular one, but I really enjoyed HBO’s new series The Leftovers. While somewhat confusing, I thought it was a great pilot. There were several twists and turns, unanswered questions, and a small reveal that easily set the landscape for an interesting new show.

At the start of the hour, a distracted mother is at the laundromat with her crying baby. While on the phone, she straps her screaming child into the car-seat. The camera slowly zooms in on the baby, there’s a quick moment of peace like he sees something in the sky. He screams again and then silence. The mother turns around and her baby is gone, just gone. She gets out, looks around the car, searches the parking lot, then panicked, she starts screaming. A young boy nearby is yelling for his father while an abandoned shopping cart aimlessly rolls into a parked car. A speeding car, now driverless, slams into another car in the intersection down the street. Where did everybody go?

The show then jumps three years to Mapleton, New York where we learn that 2% of the world’s population, 140 million people, vanished on October 14th. The rest of the world is in this frightening purgatory, unsure of what happened or what it all means. On a similar note, I found myself asking throughout the episode, “what if it happens again?” Because of that paranoia, the pilot reminded me of ABC’s short lived (and greatly missed) series FlashForward, only if it was darker and sexier. FlashForward follows a global blackout in which the entire world loses consciousness for 137 seconds. During those seconds, people see what appears to be a vision of their own life approximately six months in the future. The similarities lie in the pandemonium the blackouts cause and the global uncertainty and confusion.  However unlike FlashForward, The Leftovers isn’t trying to explain why those people vanished. It’s more like a character study on grief.

Backing up to this purgatory situation… I found the religious undertones extremely interesting throughout the episode. Several times, characters asked why God did this or why He chose the people He chose. For example, Gary Busey? Really? The Book of Matthew describes a similar event in which “Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.” Recent Christian theology believes that this is the Rapture. It’s the first real occasion that the believers on Earth will rise to meet Jesus in the sky. It’s also the beginning of the Second Coming, which is a seven-year period where the “leftovers” are stuck in a type of purgatory. During this time there are wars, plagues, then the emergence of the anti-Christ before 1,000 years of peace under Christ’s renewed rule. If this is the case, things are just getting interesting in the fictional world of The Leftovers.

The viewers are immersed into this world through the eyes of one family. Let’s meet the Garveys.

The Leftovers  Justin Theroux Kevin Garvey

Papa Kevin Garvey, played by Justin Theroux (Jennifer Aniston, you are one lucky woman), is all kinds of messed up. As the police chief, he’s trying to find order in the chaos while dealing with the town’s most complicated citizens. He’s very apprehensive and hostile towards the town cult, Guilty Remnants (or GR). He’s trying his best with his teenage daughter but they both seem so plagued by grief and anger they can barely function. To make matters worse, it seems like Garvey has several hidden issues of his own.

In the beginning of the episode, Garvey is out for a run when he crosses paths with a dog. As he beckons the dog to come closer, the dog is shot by a neighbor who then speeds away. Garvey puts the dead dog in his trunk and gets ready for the day ahead. On his way to work, he stops by the address on the dog’s collar. While walking up the sidewalk he sees a buck stoically standing in the garden. The owner doesn’t want the dog, she says it disappeared with her husband three years ago. Garvey throws the collar in the trunk with the dog’s corpse and gets a call informing him he’s late for the meeting with the mayor to discuss Heroes Day. Later, Garvey is obviously dreaming (I say obviously because he’s driving in the dream and his daughter was last seen with his car) when he hits the buck. When he awakes, it is to a phone call saying that he’s late for the Heroes Day parade. As he’s leaving for the parade he finds that his kitchen is destroyed. Garvey doesn’t mention it to anyone at the parade. (Side note: The kitchen is traditionally perceived as the mother’s area within the home.) At the end of the episode, he once again almost runs over the buck but is able to stop. He gets out and they share a moment. “Were you in my house last night?” he asks the buck. A pack of dogs come running and begin tearing the buck to pieces. The shooter from earlier in the episode arrives, “Am I awake?” Garvey asks him. “You are now, aren’t you?” and they both empty their guns into the pack of wild dogs.

I’ve gone back and forth on this quite a bit. I think the dog was real. I think anything with the buck was a dream. Whenever he saw the buck, there was some type of lapse in time or miscommunication about when he needed to be somewhere. A few of my friends took the episode as all real but I feel like whenever a character has to ask “Am I awake?” he’s probably not. There’s really nothing I love more than an unreliable narrator (see Hannibal or Homeland). It adds an extra layer to the show’s complexity. Furthermore, towards the end of the episode when asked “where were you when it happened?” Garvey has a quick flashback to hot-and-heavy sex with someone who may or may not be his wife. If it isn’t his wife, who at this point we assume is one of the millions that have vanished, is his relentless guilt leading him on a dangerous downward spiral? Is the buck a symbol of his failed marriage?

The Leftovers Chris Zylka Tom Garvey

I’ll be honest, The Leftovers had me at “From the creator of Friday Night Lights” but I never thought I’d see Dillon-alum Buddy Garrity (Brad Leland) as a congressman in the premiere episode. Congressman Witten pays Tom Garvey (Kevin Garney’s son, we learn this after he repeatedly ignores his father’s phone calls) to drive him to an undisclosed location to meet a mysterious holy-man named Wayne. When Tom (Chris Zylka) drops the politician off at a ranch (where FNL creator himself, Peter Berg, is one of the guards) it’s clear that they’re not in Mapleton, New York. The pool at the ranch is surrounded by young, bikini-clad Asian girls. We meet one of them, Christine, who seems to have a small crush on Tom. It’s clear that Wayne’s not a huge fan of their friendship and requests that Tom stay the night so he and Wayne can have a special meeting. Later, Wayne enters Tom’s room carrying a knife. He warns Tom to keep his hands off Christine and then shares his own dream in which he believes something bad is coming. “The grace period is over, Tom,” says Wayne. “Time to go to work.”

The Leftovers Jill Garvey Margaret Qualley

The teenage daughter Jill (Margaret Qualley) is angry. During field hockey practice, she responds to basic rough play with a hard elbow throw, inevitably breaking the girl’s nose. Her coach let’s her off with a warning but not before asking if things are okay at home after what happened to her mother. Later, Jill and her friend Aimee convince Garvey to give them his car so they can go to a party. This is where things get interesting. At the party, they play a sadistic game of Spin the Bottle that includes options like Hug, Burn, Choke, and F—. Teenagers in a normal circumstance have little regard for their own mortality, post-October 14th they have even less. Why should they be concerned about consequences if God has supposedly already made His decisions? Jill gets stuck with Choke. She lays in bed with her partner, choking him as he masturbates while subtle tears fall down her face and Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” plays over the scene.

Later, Jill is trying to leave the party when she discovers the dead dog in the trunk (leading me to believe that this one part is real). With the help of some guys from earlier in the episode, she buries the dog. We learn that most pets have lost it, they don’t know how to deal with this type of disruption and have gone wild. One of the guys points out that the “same thing is going to happen to us. It’s just taking longer.”

Amy Brenneman The Leftovers Laurie

Throughout the episode we are allowed to assume that the mother vanished on October 14th. It’s revealed towards the end of the episode that the matriarch of the Garvey family is actually Laurie (Amy Brenneman), an active member of GR. This means that she chose to leave her family and let’s face it, that’s so much worse. The GR aim to serve as living reminders of God’s power and that His judgement is upon us. They have taken a vow of silence, smoke a lot of cigarettes, and wear all white. They watch silently from a distance and protest any attempts to move past the events of October 14th. They are openly resented by the rest of the population.

We see Laurie in action as she stalks Meg (Liv Tyler) until Meg eventually retreats to the GR house like it’s a safe haven. I’ve gathered that Meg is a major character in the books, which I intend to read after Bittersweet, but she wasn’t very important for the pilot.

What did you think of The Leftovers? Was it too confusing? Were there not enough answers? Say we don’t find out why those people vanished, would you still watch? In other words, are the chaotic lives of these characters enough to bring you back every week? Let us know because we’ll be watching (but not in a creepy way like the GR).


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Game of Thrones 4×9 Recap – The Watchers on the Wall

Does anyone else feel like this episode came out of nowhere? Maybe if we had checked in with Mance Rayder more frequently the stakes would have felt a bit higher going into the episode. I guess what I’m getting at is that I wasn’t very excited for this episode. It didn’t feel necessary yet and I was still emotionally distraught over last week. But I think that was the whole point. The battle at Castle Black gave us a much needed hour-long break from all the drama at King’s Landing. It was an action-packed episode with beautiful, cinema-worthy visuals. Let’s dive in.

Samwell Tarly and Jon Snow bromance

The episode starts with Jon Snow and Samwell Tarly enjoying a little bro time. Sam asks Jon what it’s like to have someone. He recognizes that they’re all probably going to die when the Wildlings attack and hearing it from Jon Snow may be the closest he ever gets to knowing. Snow is a little surprised that Sam would consider breaking his vows. Sam points out that the vows don’t say anything about the actual deed, just marriage and babies. Oh, Sam and his clever loopholes.

Jon Snow then fumbly delivers the best description of the birds and bees there has ever been, “It’s… there’s this person, this whole other person and you’re wrapped up in them and they’re wrapped up in you and for a little while you’re more than just you .You’re…I don’t know I’m not a bleeding poet.” Could have fooled me.

Meanwhile, the Wildlings are hanging nearby waiting for the signal. Tormund Giantsbane is talking about how he almost had sex with a bear once. I don’t really understand this whole conversation but what’s with all the sex talk?! Ygritte is over it. She’s ready to hunt some crows. This Wildling bros start to tease her about how they don’t think she can kill Jon Snow. In typical Ygritte “BAMF” fashion, she calls dibs. Jon Snow is her’s to kill.

More bro talk, Sam and Maester Aemon bond over their lost loves back at Castle Black. Maester Aemon reminds us that “love is the death of duty.”

Gilly and Sam reunite. She’s retreated from Molestown to Castle Black. Sam tells her, “wherever you go, I go too.” Their reunion is cut short though when the horn at Castle Black begins to sound. Sam hides Gilly away in the kitchen. She’s upset he’s leaving her, I mean he did just promise “wherever you go, I go too.” She’s worried that he’ll die in the battle, but Sam is a man of his word and he has to do his duty as a man of the Night’s Watch. Then HE KISSES HER! This battle is pretty much the best thing to ever happen to Sam.

Jon Snow Mance Rayder Fire Signal

Jon looks over the north side of the Wall and sees a massive fire burning; Lance Rayder’s signal. The Wildlings see it too. It’s time. The Night’s Watch frantically completes their preparation for battle.

Jon Snow approaches Ser Alliser Thorne amidst the chaos. “We should have sealed the tunnels while we had the chance, like you suggested,” Ser Alliser says. Then he explains, “You know what leadership means, Lord Snow? It means that the person in charge gets second guessed by every clever little twat with a mouth. What if he starts second guessing himself? That’s the end. For him. For the clever little twats. For everyone. This is not the end. Not for us.”

Sam finds Pyp and they try to settle in a safe-ish place. Sam calmly prepares their area, he seems ready to fight. Pyp is terrified and asks Sam how he can be so calm. He says he’s not and then explains that when he had to kill the Whitewalker he became nothing at all. “When you’re nothing at all there’s no more reason to be afraid,” he continues. He’s afraid now because “well, i’m not nothing anymore.” Aw, Samwell Tarly. God, please don’t die.

Ygritte scopes out Castle Black and explains that most of the men are at the top of the Wall, there is barely anyone below defending the gate. Here we go.

Game of Thrones Wooly Mammoth

Mance’s army of Wildlings, wooly mammoths, and giants begin marching towards the Wall. When people ask why we didn’t get more dragons this season, blame the mammoths and the giants.

Ser Alliser orders the archers to nock and hold. Grenn accidently knocks an oil barrel off the Wall and the men of Night’s Watch carelessly draw their arrows. It’s the equivalent of watching Matt Saracen beam his teammate in the back of the head with a football during the Friday Night Lights pilot. This is not going to be good.

As arrows begin to fly, the Wildlings stand far enough away as if to tease the Night’s Watch. Ser Alliser is notified that they’re being attacked by both sides. Alliser leaves Janos Slynt in charge of the Wall so he can go down and fight. This means that Ygritte has arrived and boy, she is kicking ass.

But she’s not the only one, Ser Alliser Thorne shows us why he’s master-at-arms. He rouses the men and is fearless in battle. Ser Alliser has Tormund Giantsbane in his sights. They fight and I mean they really fight. Giantsbane cuts open Alliser’s stomach and Alliser is carried away to be treated, still screaming “HOLD THE F**KING GATE!”

Texts from RPW “Why is it everything I want to happen on this show never happens? I just wanted the dude from Castle Black to kill the red headed guy but instead he got sliced open.”

Chaos unfolds on the grounds of Castle Black. The fighting and brutality is everywhere. The Wildlings break into the dining area and some badass with a cleaver kills them off. Ygritte positions herself up high and takes out the men one by one. I really liked the lack of soundtrack during this scene, all we could just hear was Ygritte’s steady breathing. It made the whole scenario more dramatic.

Meanwhile, back at the Wall the mammoths and the giants start to make their way towards the gate. Janos Slynt is having a nervous breakdown. Thankfully, Grenn tricks him into thinking that Alliser needs him down below, leaving Jon Snow in charge.

Jon Snow takes the reigns. Snow proves himself to be a natural leader as he tells the men on the Wall to nock and hold, draw, and lose their arrows. I swear anytime someone yelled “LOOOOSEEE!” in this episode I got goosebumps.

Down below, the Wildlings start climbing the Wall. “They won’t summit before dawn,” Jon Snow tells them men. “How do you know that?” “Because I’ve made that climb.” “I think they’re in a bigger hurry than you were,” replies Edd. This may be far fetched but could Edd be a distant cousin of Bronn? Like, really think about it.

Janos Slynt decides to hide, what a wuss. He stumbles upon Gilly who knows exactly what he’s doing.

Gilly is judging you Game of Thrones

Pyp and Sam continue to fire on the Wildlings using a crossbow. As Pyp stands to shoot, he’s shot in the neck by Ygritte. It’s a gruesome, bloody way to go. Sam stays by his side to comfort him. Then Sam picks up the crossbow and springs to action. He shoots a Warg that is charging towards him like it’s no big deal. Sam gets Olly to send him up the Wall to get Jon Snow. They need more men fighting down below. On his way up, Sam yells “Find a weapon, Olly. Fight them!”

The giants and the wooly mammoth are now attempting to pull down the large gate at the base of the Wall. Jon Snow sends Grenn with five men to hold the gate while Edd and Jon Snow continue dislodging the oil barrels. They are able to scare away the wooly mammoth. As he runs after the animal, they shoot down one of the giants. Out of frustration and anger, the other giant lifts the gate by himself.

Sam tells Jon Snow the Castle won’t stand much longer without more men down below. Snow knows what he has to do “Edd, you have the Wall. If they try the mammoths again drop fire on them. If the climbers get too high drop the scythe on them.” Ooooh, what’s the scythe?

Edd LOOOOOOSE

Edd, hands down, had the best delivery of “LOOOOOOOSE”

Grenn and co. get to the tunnel just in time to see the giant come under the gate. Gah, I love Grenn. Everyone is starting to panic and he stands firm, “we hold the gate.” Grenn leads his brothers in the Night’s Watch oath as the giant charges towards them.

As they arrive to the ground, Jon hands Sam a key “I need him more than I need you.” Jon Snow bounds out of the lift and starts kicking ass.

Texts from RPW “For the record, so many dirty things I’d do to Kit Harington

THE SHOT, THE CONTINUOUS SHOT. OMGGGGGG! You saw it, right? There is a sweeping shot of the Castle Black grounds that shows the fighting and the chaos happening in every corner. It’s amazing. According to director Neil Marshall, the Game of Thrones cast rehearsed it for about an hour and got it in seven takes.

The shot ends with Sam unlocking Ghost’s room and saying, “we need you boy.” Ghost immediately springs into action and starts taking down Wildlings one by one. It should be noted that my own little direwolf (just kidding, he’s a rat terrier), Dexter, woke up from his seventeenth nap just in time to see Ghost do his thing. He just looked at me like he he suddenly realized that he would never be that cool. It’s okay Dex, no dog will.

Jon Snow starts fighting with Styr, the lead Thenn. It’s one of those fight scenes that has your stomach in knots.  After taking some serious hits, Jon is able to brutally kill him with a hammer. While this is happening, Ygritte sees Jon Snow and it is on.

Ygritte Oh Hell No Bad Bitch

As he stumbles away, there is Ygritte. She has her bow and arrow drawn, she’s ready to kill Jon Snow. But she hesitates, “love is the death of duty” afterall. Jon Snow smiles because of course she can’t kill him, she loves him. Then Olly shoots an arrow through her heart. It all comes full circle. She killed his father. He kills her. Ygritte dies in Snow’s arms saying, “Do you remember the cave? We should have stayed in the cave.” He assures her, “We’ll go back there.” Her last words are, “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” As she dies, it is beautiful. He is cradling her amidst all the madness. The Game of Thrones team uses slow motion to really paint the heartbreaking picture, it’s the second time they’ve ever used it. The first was when Tywin Lannister showed up at the Battle of Blackwater.

Ygritte and Jon Snow

Back on the Wall, the Wildlings are still climbing. Edd finally commands “DROP THE SCYTHE BOYS!”  Then what appears to be a huge anchor comes out of the Wall and sweeps the Wildlings away. Damn, that was cool.

“They’ve had enough for one night,” declares Edd. Victory! But not quite, the Night’s Watch knows they are still outnumbered. It’s just a matter of time before the Wildlings strike again.

Speaking of Wildlings, who’s left standing? Tormund Giantsbane, of course. Jon Snow shoots him with one last arrow for good measure before he’s carried away as a prisoner. “I should have thrown you from the top of the Wall, boy,” yells Giantsbane. “Aye, you should have,” replies Jon Snow.

Sam comes back for Gilly. He also finds Slynt. Shame, shame, shame.

Sam and Jon discuss the victory and the inevitable return of the Wildling army. The Night’s Watch could probably hold them off for a day or two but will never beat them. Jon decides he’s going to go north of the Wall to kill Mance. Without Mance Rayder the Wildling army will disperse.

Sam is worried about Jon. That they are going to torture him, but they both know there’s no other option. As they walk through the tunnel, they find that Grenn and his men died killing the giant. Jon tells Sam to have their bodies burned. Jon gives his sword, Longclaw, to Sam before departing the tunnel. They have a sweet little moment in the tunnel, this really is the best bromance ever.

Samwell Tarly and Jon Snow bromance

Next week is the season four finale and judging by the preview we will be checking in with Bran and Arya. We will also catch up with the Lannisters and Jon Snow will find Mance Rayder. What will happen? And look, dragons!


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Top 7 OMG Did That Just Happen?! Moments from GOT 4×8

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Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones, “The Mountain and the Viper,” could have easily been the penultimate episode of the season.  But alas, we were treated to a jaw-dropping eighth episode that had more ‘OHMYGOD’ moments than I could count.  In honor of the Seven Kingdoms and the Seven New Gods, here are my top seven favorite ‘DID THAT JUST HAPPEN?!’ moments from Sunday’s action-packed episode.

7. Reek becomes Theon Greyjoy (again) and helps Ramsay Snow become Ramsay Bolton.

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Everyone’s least favorite character, Ramsay Snow, finally got what he wanted and became Ramsay Bolton, thanks to his pet dog human, Reek.  Reek pretended to be his former self, Theon Greyjoy, and coaxed the Iron Islanders holding Moat Cailin into opening up their doors to earn “freedom” from the Northerners.  Instead, much to our dismay, they were flayed and killed by the Boltons and the creepy duo of Ramsay and Reek just became much more powerful (and much more disturbing).  Pleased with his bastard, Roose Bolton granted Ramsay his biggest wish and gave him the family last name and all that comes with it.

6. Ygritte shows mercy for Gilly and Baby Sam.

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I don’t know about you, but Ygritte is the worst scorned woman I’ve ever seen.  She’s taken to killing innocent men, women, and children of the North to get back at her former lover, Jon Snow.   So when she came face to face with Gilly, and showed her mercy, I literally cried and clapped at the same time.  I knew that the Ygritte that Jon (and the audience) fell in love with in Season 3 was still in there somewhere.  Now I wonder, will Ygritte show Jon the same mercy if she comes face to face with him in the Battle of Castle Black?  Tune in next week to find out.

5. Arya finds out everyone in her family is dead and laughs it off, hysterically.

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When Arya and The Hound learned that Lysa Arryn had died just three days before their arrival, and The Hound was stripped of yet another bounty, what else was Arya to do but laugh?  It almost felt like she was laughing at the viewers for thinking a Stark reunion was going to happen.  Haven’t we learned by now that the Starks will never run into each other no matter how close they get?

4. Sansa becomes Dark Sansa & lies and dyes for Petyr Baelish.

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When Petyr was questioned about the mysterious “suicide” of Lysa Arryn, Sansa was called in to witness.  As she stood giving her testimony, Petyr watched on silently and in awe.  Here stood this young, naïve girl, whom he once told was a terrible liar, spinning a brilliant and intricate web of truth and lies.  Sansa painted a picture of Petyr as a saint who was motivated by his burning desire to rescue Sansa.  Later, in an attempt to cover her famous Tully-red hair, Sansa steps out as Dark Sansa, with dyed dark locks to help her look more like her “uncle” Petyr.  The weird thing?  She almost appears to be flirting with Baelish.  It is clear that Sansa doesn’t know the extent of Petyr’s hand in the destruction of her family, but she knows he is dangerous.  Has she fallen under his twisted spell or is Sansa playing a long con?

3. Tywin sentences Tyrion to death.

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The moment we’ve all been waiting for – the verdict from the Trial by Combat.  As you’ll find out in our top moment, Tyrion Lannister lost the trial in the most head-splitting way.  In the final moments of the episode, Tywin Lannister, Hand of the King and father of Tyrion, stands and sentences his son to death.  Dun dun dunnnn.

2. Dany permanently dismisses Jorah Mormont.

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Tywin was a part of more than one verdict this week.  In a twist from the book storyline, Tywin Lannister sent Daenerys’ Queen’s Guard, Barristan Selmy, a letter, which was a copy of the Royal Pardon that was granted to Jorah Mormont in Season 1. (Remember, Jorah was leaking confidential secrets to Robert and his Council and assisted with an assassination attempt on Dany’s life). Despite his deep admiration and love for Dany, and his change of loyalty (he ultimately prevented the assassination), the Mother of Dragons showed no mercy and exiled Jorah from her Council and from Meereen.  Poor Jorah. The old bear looked heartbroken as he rode on horse-back out of the city.  While I normally stand 100% behind the Breaker of Chains, I had trouble supporting this decision because of the way the TV show played it out.  It comes off like Dany is another puppet being manipulated at the hands of  Tywin Lannister.  Is this the beginning of her downfall?

1. Oberyn’s Headsplosion.

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Thank you to Game of Thrones for creating yet another scene that I couldn’t bear to watch – the epic trial by combat between the Mountain and the Red Viper of Dorne, Oberyn Martell.  (Who knew anything could be worse than the Red Wedding?)

Oberyn, who was fighting as Tyrion’s champion to gain revenge for his sister, bopped around like Inigo Montoya waving a spear.  The Rep Viper repeated over and over again, “Elia Martell of Dorne.  You raped her, you murdered her.  You killed her children,” as he fought and stabbed the Mountain.  Oberyn was quick with his spear and took down the Mountain with apparent ease.  But he was too cocky and too confident and wouldn’t kill Gregor Clegane until he got his confession.  Before Oberyn could realize what was happening, Clegane punched Oberyn’s teeth out of his face.  The Mountain then climbed on top of The Viper, held his head in between his gigantic hands, and squashed it like one of the beetles Tyrion’s cousin squashed, all while confessing to his heinous crimes.  The worst part of this entire scene was knowing Oberyn was warned to wear a helmet and his Paramour stood completely helpless as she watched the worst moment of Game of Thrones – Oberyn’s Headsplosion.

And this perfectly sums up how we all feel. 

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Game of Thrones 4×4 Recap – Oathkeeper

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House Targaryen

We open with our favorite translator, Missandei, tutoring Grey Worm in the Common Tongue (GOT version of English).  We learn that Grey Worm comes from the Summer Isles but doesn’t remember that life.  “Unsullied.  Always Unsullied.  Before Unsullied, nothing,” he says.  Missandei can relate – she was taken as a 5-year-old child.  It’s no wonder these two, along with the hundreds of thousands of freed slaves, love and worship Dany.  She’s their liberator and the first person that has been nice to them and treated them with an ounce of respect in decades.  Their loyalty is unyielding, unlike the armies of Westeros, who appear to be loyal to gold and that’s about it.

Dany enters and with two words (“It’s time”) her plan to sack Meereen is set in motion.  Grey Worm and a small group of Unsullied, disguised as slaves, infiltrate the castle from a secret gate near the water.  They climb through the tunnels of the city at night while the Masters are resting and head to the slave headquarters.  The slaves are already meeting, discussing Dany and her horde and what it could potentially mean for them, but they are afraid to rise against the Masters.  There have been many unsuccessful slave rebellions and they have no weapons to fight.  Even chains are better than death.

Cue Grey Worm and Co.

“Valar morghulis,” Grey Worm says.  He tells the slaves of his enslavement, his life as Unsullied, and finally, his freedom thanks to Dany.  “Now I fight for Daenerys, Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains.”  He then surprises the slaves with bags of weapons and continues, “No on can give you your freedom, brothers.  If you want it, you must take it.”  You go, Grey Worm.  I’d fight with you.

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We cut to a Master and two soldiers stumbling upon “Kill the Masters” scrawled in blood on a wall.  In the sky, they spot something black and red – a flag with a red dragon – hanging over their statue and then armed slaves surround and trap them.  We cut again to Dany walking in a shower of broken slave chains with hundreds of thousands of newly freed slaves lining the roads shouting “Meesa, Meesa!” and raising their arms toward her. (Sound familiar?)  Beneath Dany, the Unsullied surround the Masters of the city.  Dany asks Ser Jorah how many children were nailed to mile posts.  One hundred and sixty three.  Dany signals.  Barristan asks for a word and warns her that it is best to answer injustice with mercy.  “I will answer injustice with justice,” proclaims Dany and then stares Barristan down.  Stop questioning her, Barristan.  She’ll breathe fire on you eventually.

Dany has the masters crucified in the same fashion as the slave children and stands watch over the city, underneath the dragon flag hoisted on the top monument, and listens to the moans and screams of the Masters.

House Stark

Sansa – As we saw last week, Sansa was “rescued” (I use rescued lightly) by Littlefinger. He informs Sansa that they’re en route to her crazy Aunt Lysa Tully’s castle. You may remember crazy Aunt Lysa from Season 1. She’s most memorable for breastfeeding her child, NOT infant, but child and setting the stage for the lovable bromance between Tyrion and Bronn. I’d also like to point out this is the same place Arya is going (fingers crossed!).

Now, it’s time for some answers. Littlefinger admits he killed Joffrey, “A man with no motive is a man no one suspects,” eck. “If they don’t know who you are or what you want, they can’t know what you plan to do next,” he says while looking seductively at Sansa. You can see Sansa taking a scared gulp before asking what he does want. Littlefinger responds, “Everything,” while creepily running his hands down her arms while I physically shudder.

Can we pause for a second? We all know that Littlefinger was a bit obsessed with Catelyn. And Littlefinger has always treated Sansa like the next best thing. And Littlefinger is a spiteful bitch. Remember last season when Sansa chose her potential nuptials to Loras over escaping King’s Landing with Littlefinger? Something tells me that Sansa is NOT safe right now. End pause.

But there is no way Littlefinger acted alone. He tells Sansa that he has a new, top-secret, powerful alliance. Ser Dontos was too easily swayed and not smart enough to pull this off. Who killed Joffrey Baratheon?! As we find out in the next scene it was the very powerful House Tyrell. More on that later.

Jon Snow – Seriously Castle Black, you NEED to prepare for the Wildings. And hey, one of your men has been with them for the past couple of “months” (I don’t know time is weird in Westeros). Why don’t you use his insider knowledge to prepare? Yea. No? Okay.
Jon Snow is training the men on how to fight Wildlings. Ser Alliser Thorne interrupts him because his rank doesn’t allow him that kind of superiority. Janos Slynt suggests sending Jon on the mission to Craster’s Keep to get rid of Jon Snow. That’s smart, let’s get rid of our biggest asset against the Wildlings before they attack (rolls eyes).
So Jon is off to Craster’s but only if he can gather enough volunteers to take down the Night’s Watch rebels that have taken over the Keep. He delivers a big speech and slowly, one by one, the volunteers stand up.

Wait a second, who’s that guy hanging around Castle Black? It’s Locke, the guy that chopped off Jaime’s hand. After episode two, we can also think of him as Ramsey Snow’s sadistic BFF. You may remember, Locke was asked by Roose Bolton to travel north and find Bran and Rickon. Speaking of…

Bran – Meanwhile, at Craster’s Keep it is a shit show (pardon my French, but really). We catch up with Karl Tanner (portrayed by Burn Gorman, I bring this up because the guy’s real name is SO MUCH cooler than his GOT name and that NEVER happens), as he’s drinking wine from a HUMAN SKULL and wallowing in his surroundings, which include rape and brutality. The wives and daughters of Craster have gone from being abused by one horrible man to several, awful, no good men.

Karl is rambling on and on about his glory days as a hired killer in King’s Landing. I honestly can’t pay attention to any of this because the surroundings are too disturbing.

And if this couldn’t get any worst, they have Jon Snow’s direwolf, Ghost, outside in a cage.

Bran, Hodor, and the Reeds make their way to Craster’s Keep, only to be quickly captured by the mutineers.

(side note – I ran a Tough Mudder two weeks ago. There is an obstacle called the Warrior Carry where you have to carry another participate. The guy next to me who was doing the carrying kept saying ‘Hodor! Hodor!’ – end note)

Karl torments his new prisoners and threatens to rape Meera. It’s then that Brad finally declares, “I’m Brandon Stark of Winterfell!” I’m not going to lie when he did this I was sitting on my couch going “YES! YES, YOU ARE BRAN!” It’s been a while since we’ve heard pride in declaring the name Stark. Shortly after Jojen starts seizing, no idea why. Stay tuned.

We have Jon Snow on his way to Bran. Will he get there in time? We have Arya and Sansa also potentially going to the same place. ARE WE GOING TO HAVE A STARK REUNION? For the love of god, please give us a Stark reunion. I can’t handle anymore Stark deaths. Don’t tease us like this!

White Walkers – Also at Craster’s keep, a baby boy is born and at the urging of the wives/daughters a mutineer leaves the baby outside in the snow for the “gods.” It’s not long before a White Walker comes along and picks the baby up. Is this what Jon witnessed in Season 1?

The White Walker carries the no longer crying baby to the White Walker circle of doom and lays it down as if an offering. The White Walker “king” makes his way to the child. The whole time I’m clinching my blanket hoping I’m not about to witness the king eat the poor sweet baby. He picks up the baby and with one touch of his finger he turns the child into a White Walker. So wait, is that where White Walker’s come from? They’re transitioned by the king when touched? So wait, are there a lot of infant White Walkers crawling around? Do they grow at superhuman speed? I have so many questions.

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Okay, so now I want to talk about the White Walkers for a second. I pretty much hate them, and not because they’re ominous villains, just because they exist. First of all, I’ve never been able to jump on the zombie train. When we got to the big reveal at the end of season two my reaction was, “ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME? ZOMBIES? REALLY?!” Secondly, I just don’t understand where they fit in the story and I don’t really care to know. I’m too involved in everyone else and their storylines to care about White Walkers. And it pisses me off to think about those compelling stories will eventually have to stop so the focus can be on the White Walkers. And then I find it even more annoying that eventually each of these characters might have to unite to fight a common threat. I love the conflict as it is. Can we just not? Can winter just not come? Ugh.

House Lannister

Jaime Lannister trains with Bronn, who is clearly enjoying kicking the Kingslayer’s ass.  He even slaps Jaime across the face with Jamie’s own golden hand.  After last week, Jaime deserved that, just saying.

After Bronn informs Jaime that he disrespects Tyrion with the same crude tone he uses with him, the pair discuss Tyrion’s implication in Joffrey’s death. Neither think Tyrion is guilty and Bronn finally calls Jaime out on failing to visit his brother. Bronn reminds Jaime that Tyrion called for him to stand in his trial by combat at the Eyrie; Tyrion is Jaime’s brother and he loves and adores him.  How dare Jaime turn his back on him in his time of need.  Jaime appears to leave like he doesnt care what Bronn has to say but…

He immediately goes to visit Tyrion Lannister in his jail cell.  The two brothers compare their different prison circumstances and Tyrion calls Jaime out for being Cersei’s bitch.  They discuss the dreaded trial and the fact that most people think Tyrion really did kill Joffrey.  Tyrion knows Cersei doesn’t care about the outcome of the trial and will kill him no matter what.  Tyrion asks if Jaime will do it himself. Jaime rebuttles by asking if Tyrion has joined him as a Kingslayer.  “Are you really asking if I killed your son?” Thank you, Tyrion, for addressing the elephant in the room and acknowledging that Joffrey was Jaime’s son, too.

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Jaime offers to help Tyrion but the only thing Tyrion wants is freedom.  Jaime can’t give him that.  It’s treason to help a Kingslayer.  Jaime then clues Tyrion in to Cersei’s threat on Sansa’s life but Tyrion assures Jaime it couldn’t have been her.  “Sansa’s not a killer.  Not yet, anyway.”

We catch up with Olenna and Margaery Tyrell during what appears to be their last stroll through the gardens because Olenna reveals she is leaving King’s Landing.  The Tyrells have proposed a match between Tommen and Margaery but the Lannisters haven’t answered yet.  Olenna tells Margaery to be patient and then tells her a story about her first love. He was originally supposed to marry Olenna’s sister but he fell victim to Olenna’s seduction since she was apparently very, very good.  But Olenna claims Margaery is even better and needs to move in on Tommen fast before Cersei turns him against her.  Luckily, Cersei is distracted and wrongfully accusing Tyiron of murder.  Margaery wonders how she knows Tyrion is innocent.  “You don’t think I’d let you marry that beast, do you?” Olenna responds.  Margaery is confused but Olenna tells her not to worry while she FIDDLES WITH HER NECKLACE. (ASIDE: Did Olenna seriously just admit to murdering the King?! END OF ASIDE)

Jaime visits his sister-lover Cersei on official business as Lord Commander of the Night’s Guard. Cersei questions the number of guards stationed outfront of Tommen’s room and also is curious about why Catelyn would set him free.  Was he telling the truth when he made the sacred vow to the enemy? Of course not.  Jaime claims he was lying and saying whatever he needed to get back to Cersei. Not convinced, Cersei wonders what would happen if she told Jaime to leave the capital, go find Sansa and bring Cersei her head?  She also wonders why Jaime would visit the creature that murdered their son.  Cersei mocks Jaime for pitying Tyrion and then orders him to increase the number of guards for Tommen.  She dismisses the Lord Commander as she drowns herself in wine and misery.

Tommen stirs and looks frightened when he hears a noise in the dark. Don’t worry King Tommen, it’s just Margaery popping in for a (secret) midnight visit.  She emerges from the dark and Tommen wonders why he’s there since mother doesn’t allow evening visits. Margaery assures him it’s okay since she’s going to be his new bride.  Margaery tells Tommen how lucky they are to know each other prior to an arranged marriage and they should take advantage and get to know one another.  Suddenly, Ser Pounce jumps up and interrupts the intense moment.  Tommen starts to confide in her and tell her about Joffrey’s sick plans for his poor cat.  Margaery lets him know that she thinks Joffrey is awful and asks him if he knows what happens when they marry.  “I become yours, forever,” she says.  Poor Tommen. He looks terrified of what that means but also intrigued and excited as Margaery bids him farewell and promises to visit again.  “Remember, our little secret,” she whispers before disappearing into the dark.

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Jaime gives Brienne a new suit of armor and his new Valyerian steel sword, claiming that since the sword is made from Ned Stark’s sword and she will be using it to defend Sansa, she has to take it.  Brienne promises to find Sansa and take her somewhere safe, for Catelyn and for Jaime.   Jaime also gives her Pod as a squire.  Poor Pod.  He’s such a good, innocent lad; he can’t figure out how to properly address Brienne.  Jaime also gives Pod Tyrion’s axe from the Battle of Blackwater, per Tyrion’s request.  Hooray for Pod!  Another nice guy who seems to have survived the Game.  Now if only we could find Gendry….

So Jaime disobeyed Cersei and did everything he could to help Sansa, not kill her.  What does this mean about Jaime?  What does he feel for Brienne, if anything?  Is he a Lannister or an Oathkeeper, as Brienne so aptly named the sword?

House Baratheon

No news here. Where. Is. Gendry.

Rock Paper Watch’s Top Quote of 4×4:

Jenn’s Pick – “Kill the Masters.”  – Grey Worm to the slaves of Meereen 

Elizabeth’s Pick – “There’s nothing more tedious than a trial. Except perhaps these gardens. If I have to take one more leisurely stroll through these gardens I’ll fling myself from the cliffs.” – Lady Olenna (like viewers) is also annoyed that she’s only allowed to hang out in the Gardens

Game of Thrones Recaps are authored by Jenn O’Mera (Lannister and Targaryen) and Elizabeth Bond (Stark and Baratheon).  Feel free to contact any author with feedback or questions.