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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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Countdown to Game of Thrones, Season 4 – An Update on the Houses

houseall

To say that the writers of Rock Paper Watch are excited for the Game of Thrones Season 4 premiere would be a gigantic understatement.  Overjoyed, thrilled, elated. They would be much better choices.  In preparation for the premiere, I even rewatched Season 3.  Okay, okay, really Seasons 1-3.  What I realized was quite a lot has happened and I kind of forgot some of it.  So, below you will find an update on the main Houses in Westeros, and a few other key players, as developed after a month of binge watching GOT on my iPhone during my commute to and from work.  

Thank the Old Gods and the New that we only have two more sleeps until premiere day, and I can watch it on a real TV. 

House-Baratheon1

Stannis – At the end of Season 3, Ser Davos Seaworth, Stannis’ Hand of the King, revealed a letter from Maester Aemon detailing the imminent threat of White Walkers beyond the Wall. Alongside the Red Priestess, Stannis peered into the fire yet again. Realizing that the real war lies to the North, Melisandre advised Stannis to spare Ser Davos from death even though he sprung Gendry from the dungeons, sans Stannis’ permission, because Stannis will need him in the future.  Stannis made the decision to ride to the Wall and save the Seven Kingdoms, with Davos and Melisandre by his side. Maybe Stannis is the true king, after all.  Will he arrive in time to aid the Night’s Watch in the Wildling Rebellion?  Will Gendry figure out how to use the boat and make it to dry land? 

House-Lannister
Cersei – Engaged to Loras Tyrell; enraged against her father; envious of Margaery’s control over Joffrey; seemingly not excited to have her lover back, which brings us to her twin brother;

Jaime – Finally arrived safely back in King’s Landing, minus his sword hand but plus his sword lady, Brienne of Tarth. Remember, Brienne and Jaime both swore an oath to Lady Catelyn that they would return Sansa and Arya to Winterfell.  This season, will Jaime prove to be loyal to his word, or loyal to his lover and family?;

Joffrey – The last time we saw Joffrey, he was celebrating the Red Wedding before he was threatened with death by his uncle and sent to bed by his grandfather. Poor Joffrey. Nevertheless, the Cruel & Stupid King is engaged to the careful manipulator, Margaery Tyrell, and the royal wedding will probably happen in the beginning episodes of Season 4. Oh, what a wedding it will be!;

Tyrion – Now celibate thanks to his marriage to Lady Sansa (not really though since his mistress, Shae, is his wife’s handmaiden), and serving as Master of Coin, it is Tyrion’s job to fund the Royal Wedding for the nephew he loathes so much. Will Tyrion succeed and prove his worth to his father, or fail miserably and continue his decline in power?;

Tywin – As Hand of the King, Tywin Lannister proved he is the Grandest Schemer in the Land when he orchestrated the Red Wedding last season. Remember all those mysterious letters he was writing?  With those letters, he singlehandedly stole the North out from under the Starks, killed a majority of their House, and rewarded Lord Bolton as Warden of the North, with full intention to strip the Boltons of the North when Sansa and Tyrion’s “heir” comes of age. Tywin is playing the game of thrones to win, no matter what the cost. At this rate, can anyone stop him?

House-Stark_

Arya – Thanks to the Hound, who captured Arya after she escaped from the Brotherhood Without Banners, she was not massacred in the Red Wedding along with most of her House. Unfortunately, she did witness most of it. This poor girl has no only seen her father’s headless body, but also her brother’s headless body with Greywind’s head fixed upon it. What will the Hound do with Arya now that no one can pay him for her? Will she ever use the coin given to her by ‎Jaqen H’ghar and speak the words “Valar Morghulis (All men must die)?”;

Bran – At the end of Season 3, Bran came this close to reuniting with his half-brother, Jon Snow. Instead of a joyous reunion, we got Bran warging into Summer and Grey Wind to rescue Jon from the Wildlings, who turned on Jon right after they figured out Jon’s true identity. After rescuing his brother, Bran decided to split his group sending Rickon and Osha somewhere South (and safe) while Bran, Jojen, and Meera continued North. In an abandoned castle near the Wall, Bran’s group came face-to-face with Samwell Tarly and Gilly as that pair headed back to Castle Black. Despite Sam’s wishes to protect his “brother’s brother,” Sam showed Bran and the Reeds a secret passage through the Wall, sending Bran right in to the thick of danger;

Jon Snow – Jon was a very busy man last season, deceiving Mance Rayder and the Wildlings into believing he was one of them and falling in love with a Wildling, only to reveal at the end of Season 3 that he was, in fact, still loyal to the Night’s Watch and working as a double agent. In the season finale, Jon finally revealed his true colors and left the Wildlings to return to Castle Black and warn the Night’s Watch of the pending attack, thusly breaking Ygritte’s heart. Ygritte doesn’t go down easy, though, and lands three arrows in Jon.  Jon returns to the Castle but collapses before he can speak with Sam and his bros.  Will Jon survive Ygritte’s revenge and warn his fellow Crows before Mance lights the biggest fire the North has ever seen?;

Sansa – Poor Sansa, she is the living Stark that continuously gets the shit end of the stick. She’s stuck in King’s Landing as Joffrey’s puppet, forced into marrying Tyrion Lannister, and missed yet another opportunity to leave King’s Landing (this one was with Petyr Baelish). While it seems like Sansa does have some powerful people in her corner (Olenna and Varys to name a few), at the conclusion of Season 3, Sansa’s life seemed in even more jeopardy. Her family is dead, Jaime is back in King’s Landing, and the Lannisters no longer need Sansa as a bargaining chip. Will her marriage to Tyrion keep her safe?  Will she ever be smart enough to leave King’s Landing when given a chance?

House-Targaryen-

Season 1 tells the story of Daenerys Stormborn and her transformation from innocent young girl to strong, confident Khaleesi and Mother of Dragons. Season 2 tells the story of Dany realizing she can trust no one and must embrace violence in order to gain power. By Season 3, we finally see Dany coming into her own as a true Queen with a gentle heart and a ruthless hand, working to find a balance between what her heart desires and what fulfilling her fate requires.  

Dany moved from slave-city to slave-city, sacking the Masters and freeing their slaves, with the help of her Unsullied, Ser Barristan Selmy, Ser Jorah Mormont, Daario Naharis, and, of course, her three dragons. At the conclusion of the season, Dany waits at the gates of Yunkai, unsure of how the newly freed slaves would respond to her and her horde.  When the gates finally open, they pour out in droves, stopping just short of Dany.  Missandei introduces Dany’s with full titles – proof of her unyielding growth.  “This is Daenerys Targaryen, the Stormborn, the Unburnt, the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, the Mother of Dragons.” Dany interrupts Missandei to tell the people they are now free.  In a visually powerful scene, hundreds and thousands of the citizens of Yunkai raise their hands, shouting “Mhysa” in unison, lifting Dany over their head, praising her as their “Mother.” 

Dany now has the three things her brother always wanted – love, power, and fear. Is she finally ready to cross the Narrow Sea and take back her kingdom? Can she balance the line between conquerer and liberator?  Thank the Gods we only have a few more days to find out!

kings landing

Westerosi Key Players

Petyr Baelish – As a reward for his support of All Things Lannister, Petyr was titled the Lord of Harrenhal and left King’s Landing to pursue Lady Lysa Arryn’s (Catelyn’s crazy sister that still breastfeeds her 9 year old) hand in marriage. The last time we saw him, he was on a ship headed to the Vale. We’ll probably catch up with him sometime this season following his arrival.

Theon Greyjoy – It was finally revealed at the conclusion of Season 3 that Theon was being held by Roose Bolton’s bastard, Ramsey Snow, as a means of removing the Iron Islanders from the North.  Ramsey was also the same person that set Winterfell ablaze, finally turning it into Hot Pie’s Winterhell.  Did you figure this big secret out before the big reveal?

Yara Greyjoy – After receiving her brothers’ penis in a box, courtesy Ramsay Snow, Yara decided to take her strongest men on her fastest ship and sail North to rescue her baby brother.  Touching.  Meanwhile, her father did nothing and was quite content to continue receiving “more Theon.” 

Olenna Tyrell – Olenna may just be the only person brave and smart enough to match Tywin Lannister both in wit and manipulation (their scene last season was uh-maze-ing). Something tells me she won’t send her granddaughter and grandson into the Lion’s Den without putting up a fight.

The Tulleys – In the finale, a gitty Walter Frey reveals that Edmure Tully survived the Red Wedding, locked up in a jail cell, and The Blackfish managed to escape.  What does this mean for the future of the Tully clan?  Will Edmure make it out alive?  Will anyone seek revenge for the massacre?

Lord Varys – The Spider continues to be one of my favorite characters as he proves over and over again to truly care about the good of the Realm. He recognizes the evil players and makes quiet moves to assist the good ones. In the season finale, he even tried to remove Shae from the picture, encouraging her to take his diamonds and leave the city so Tyrion can focus on what needs to be done.  But I want to know – what is his end game?  Who is Varys really working for, or what is he working towards?  

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Take a mouse-scroll down RPW’s Game of Thrones archive page to feed your addiction while you wait for the Game of Thrones premiere this Sunday, April 6th at 9pm on HBO, and be sure to catch our weekly recaps once the action commences! 

 


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Game of Thrones 3×10 Recap

got3finale

Well, there you have it folks.  Another season of Game of Thrones down and now begins the waiting.  We breakdown the final episode and discuss where things could go moving forward.  Feel free to comment with your thoughts!

House Stark

Are you still grieving from last week?  I know I am.  Every time I close my eyes, I see Talisa getting repeatedly stabbed in the stomach or the episode-ending blow to Catelyn.  This week’s episode picks up right after the massacre.  Roose Bolton overlooks the mass violence from Frey’s castle.  The Hound is trying to sneak Arya away from the slaughter.  A group of Frey’s men are loudly chanting “King in the North.”  I was afraid we were going to see this.  The men have Robb’s body on a horse with his direwolf Grey Wind’s head in place of his own.  Poor Arya, naturally she chooses this moment to wake up and see her brother’s mutilated body being paraded by his murderers.

After things calm down, Lord Frey is having a celebratory snack as Roose Bolton parades around the dining hall absorbing the carnage.  From their conversation, we learn that Catelyn’s uncle, The Blackfish, escaped and the groom, Edmure Tully, wasn’t murdered, but spent his wedding night in the dungeon.  But all of that is old news.  Frey is getting all worked up thinking about his new bride to replace the one Catelyn killed.

Finally, we get an explanation from Roose about why he turned on Robb.  Being his right hand man, the Young Wolf constantly ignored his advice at every turn.  Now, Robb will just be “Forever Young.”  As Roose and Frey continue their conversation, we FINALLY learn who has Theon and what happened at Winterfell.

Theon Greyjoy is being held captive by Roose Bolton’s bastard, Ramsey Snow.  Ramsey also set fire to Winterfell and is using Theon as a way to persuade the Iron Islands out of the North.

Did you figure it out?  Does this mean anything to you?  From conversations I’ve had with watchers (not readers), they were unclear about the identity of Roose Bolton.  Truthfully, he’s been on screen since Season 2 but always lurking in the shadows and easily missed by audiences so this may not feel like an impactful reveal, but the GOT creators have been carefully planting hints for a few episodes.  Read more about them here.

We catch up with Ramsey and Theon during dinner as Ramsey is suggestively chomping on a sausage while poking fun at Theon for losing his best quality.  Yes ladies, we have another reason to mourn.  Theon is now a eunich.

Ramsey has now figured out that physically torturing Theon is no longer enough.  He has to take his pride, any last shred of identity and self respect.  After beating him for a bit, Ramsey forces Theon to identify himself by a new name—Reek.

Moving to the Iron Islands, Balon Greyjoy is opening a letter from Ramsey Snow ordering Balon’s men out of the North.  As Balon is reading the letter, Theon’s sister Yara is opening a box.  Before she even unwraps it, we know what’s in there and I’m just glad we didn’t have to see it.  Ramsey has sent Theon’s “member” to his family as a threat.  Theon’s sister is deeply impacted by her brother’s loss.  Balon could care less.  In his eyes, Theon can no longer continue the Greyjoy line.  What use is he now?  Balon has no interest in saving Theon.  Yara has other ideas.  She plans to march on Dreadfort and rescue her brother.  She’s gathering the strongest men and the best ship and is on a mission.  It will be interesting to see this play out in the next season.  I know this time last year, we all hated Theon.  Have your thoughts changed?  Do you pity him or still think he got what he deserved?

Arya and the Hound are making their way to the next destination.  On the way, they pass some of Frey’s troops making jokes about the Red Wedding and Robb’s mutilation.  She triumphantly jumps off the horse.  Unlike we’ve seen Arya in the past, she’s not approaching them confidently but sheepishly.  She’s using her youth to her advantage to gain their trust.  She offers one of them her coin in exchange for food.  The coin was giving to her by her assassin friend Jaqen last season.  When the man goes to grab it, she stabs him and stabs him and stabs him.

The Hound quickly jumps in the kill off the rest of them men. “Next time you’re going to do something like that, tell me first,” says The Hound.

This is a big turning point for Arya. It’s her first direct, intential kill.  Arya reveals that she stole The Hound’s knife without him realizing it.  I’m curious to see how hanging out with The Hound will help Arya to grow.  I have a feeling he will provide an outlet for her anger.  I hope he continues her training that we saw in season one.

Bran and company have taken up camp in another abandoned castle, this time closer to The Wall.  Hodor (providing some much needed comedic relief) does his hodor-ing, this time down a well.

Bran tells Jojen and Meera a ghost story about a man who was condemned for killing a guest beneath his room (the gods are coming for you Frey).  Later that night, there’s a noise that wakes up Bran.  It’s Sam and Gilly and I’m so happy to see them!  They made their way through the secret passageway through The Wall.  Sam immediately figures out that Bran is Bran, Jon Snow’s brother.  Bran tries to pretend there’s some other young lord who’s crippled wandering around the North with a direwolf.  Once Bran “reveals” who he is, Sam promises to do anything he can to help them.  “Take us north of The Wall,” requests Bran.  That’s probably the last thing Sam wants to hear.  Is this Bran’s purpose?  Is he essential in defeating the White Walkers?

Sam guides Bran and company to The Wall, provides them with some dragonglass and stresses the importance of staying safe.  The whole time I couldn’t help but think “Man, when Jon Snow finds out he’s gonna be PISSED!”

Later Sam and Gilly make their way to Castle Black and explain to the Maester what they saw beyond The Wall.  The Maester inquires about Gilly and her son (who is now named Sam, awwww).  Sam defends keeping Gilly at Castle Black and points out that The Wall was not erected to keep out Wildlings.  Aemon decides that Gilly will stay as a guest.  After that he sends a blast mailing to all of Westeros alerting them of the White Walkers and the impending danger.

Speaking of Jon Snow, we catch up with him as he licks his wounds from that eagle last week.  Ygritte has tracked him down and we get this exchange:

Jon Snow:  Ygritte you know I didn’t have a choice.  You always knew who I was, what I am.  I have to go home now.  I know you won’t hurt me.
Ygritte:  You know nothing, Jon Snow.
Snow:  I do know some things.  I know I love you.  I know you love me.  I have to go home now.

Then, in probably the most shocking part of the episode, SHE SHOOTS HIM!  Ygritte shoots him with three arrows as he’s trying to board his horse and get away.  Later, Snow’s frail body approaches Castle Black and is immediately let in.  Hanging on to life, he reunites with Sam.  God, I love a bromance.

House Baratheon

Ser Davos, while visiting Gendry in the dungeon, bonds with him over their humble beginnings in Fleabotton.  Gendry defends his actions with the Red Woman.  “You’re me.  Never been with a woman, never talked to a woman really.  Then she comes at you.  Big words, no clothes, what would you have done?”  Davos then tells Gendry of his son.  Obviously Davos feels some kind of remorse and blame for what happened to his son during the Battle of Blackwater.  He sees some of his son in Gendry and feels the need to protect him.

Later, Stannis and Melisandre learn of Robb’s death and are tickled that their leech trick worked.  It’s obvious what they must do next.  They plan to burn Gendry alive.  Davos is not having it.  He warns Stannis of using black magic to win a war.  Stannis counters with the story of the Targaryens and how they won Westeros with dragons aka black magic.  “What is the life of one bastard boy against a kingdom?” Stannis asks.  “Everything,” replies Davos.

Davos decides to take matters into his own hands.  He sneaks Gendry out of the castle and puts him on a boat and tells him where to row to escape.  Gendry, we’ll miss you and your abs.

Later, Daavos is being reprimanded by Stannis, and he condemns him to death.  Davos, as the Hand of the King, advises against it and then whips out his secret weapon.  It’s the letter from Maester Aemon expressing the dangers beyond The Wall.  Melisandre inspects the letter and then throws it into the fire.  I guess we can assume she got some type of vision from the fire about the future.  She agrees, “The true war lies to the North.”  She advises that Stannis spare Davos, he’ll need him in the future.

House Lannister

We meet up with the Lannisters’ with Tyrion and Sansa (odd that she’s now a Lannister) walking through King’s Landing with Shae trailing behind. The pair of them are peculiar – one the daughter of traitor Ned Stark and the other a demon monkey – so as they walk, people are mocking them. The two have developed an odd friendship and they try to help each other suffer through their situation. It turns out that Tyrion also keeps a list, just like Sansa’s sister. But he doesn’t intend to kill the people on his list, just make them suffer and wish they were dead. The two of them begin to plot ways to punish Tyrion’s listees when Sansa suggests they “sheep shift” their beds.  “Why sheep shift?,” Tyrion asks his new wife. It’s almost cute – the poor girl thinks it’s the correct vulgar word for dung. Just another little reminder for Tyrion about the young age of his new bride.

Pod calls Tyrion off to the Small Council meeting. King Joffrey is in attendance now, and he’s bursting with joy with news to share with Tyrion. Tyrion reads a note from a raven. “Roslyn caught a fine fat trout. Her brother’s gave her a pair of wolf pelts for her wedding. ~ Walder Frey” We wish it was bad poetry, Tyrion, but it’s not. Joffrey ecstatically reveals that Robb Stark and his “bitch mother” are dead, and he demands that Frey send Robb’s head to the capital so Joffrey can serve it to Sansa at his wedding. Cersei tries to pretend like Joffrey is joking but he insists otherwise until Sansa’s new hubbie speaks up. Tyrion declares that Sansa is no longer his to torment. “Everyone is mine to torment,” Joffrey replies. Tyrion then reminds Joffrey that kings are dropping like flies. He essentially threatens to kill him and Tyrion probably crossed the line this time, but he doesn’t back down. Joffrey yells about how he’s the king and you can’t talk to him like that, like he always does, until Tywin Lannister speaks up for his son. “Any man who must say I am the king is no true king,” says Tywin. Joffrey is shocked.

And (finally!) Tywin and Joffrey go at it. Joffrey touches a soft spot when he mocks Tywin for “hiding under Casterly Rock” during Robert’s Rebellion. Even Cersei realizes that Joffrey is overstepping his safe boundaries. Tywin Lannister is the most powerful man in Westeros. He made that clear when he executed the Red Wedding, when he squashed the entire Northern Rebellion with one strategic move. Joffrey may be the king, but like Tywin says, a crown does not give you power. Power is power, and Tywin has all of it. Then, Tywin does something really unexpected. He puts little King Joff to bed, and as Tyrion so aptly puts it, even without dinner. Joffrey honestly looked like a toddler when he yelled “I’m not tired!” I was waiting for him to stomp his feet in a tantrum. But he doesn’t and he goes off to bed like his grandfather commands.

Tyrion tries to leave, until he hears the infamous line, “Not you.” It’s not ever you, Tyrion, why do you even try to leave? Tyrion and Tywin talk about the great crime that Tywin just committed. Tyrion recognizes immediately that Frey would have done nothing that grievous without Tywin’s backing and he eerily warns his father that “the Northerners will never forget.” Tywin tries to morally justify the Red Wedding. He argues that it’s better to save the lives of thousands and kill a few royal men at dinner than it is to fight in war.  He dismisses Tyrion’s fears about the North. “Let them remember what happens when they march on the South.”

Tywin tells Tyrion that Roose Bolton is going to be Warden of the North until Sansa and Tyrion’s son comes of age. Hold up, speaking of son. Tywin reminds Tyrion that he needs to get to work on that, but Tyrion refuses to rape his wife. How…sweet? The whole conversation was completely disturbing. Tywin then tells Tyrion the key to success in Westerosi politics. “The House that puts family first will always defeat the House that puts the whims and wishes of its sons and daughters first.” Tyrion laughs at his father, and asks Tywin when he ever did anything that wasn’t of his own selfish desires. Tywin (of course) has a shocking response – the day that he decided not to kill infant Tyrion. Tywin even cries a little bit during this speech when he talks about saving Tyrion’s life only because he was a Lannister. Wow, allowing his infant son to live must have been really painful for him.

Tyrion goes back to deliver the horrible news about the Red Wedding to Sansa but thankfully, we are not subjected to the pain of seeing Sansa find out. She already knows.

Varys and Shae have a touching scene where he asks her to leave King’s Landing. He gives her a sack of diamonds, and tells her the reason she needs to leave is because she makes things dangerous and complicated for Tyrion. Varys and Shae bond over the fact that they are both commoners, and will never truly be able to sit among the royals. “You have one name, as do I. Here, only the family name matters,” Varys reminds Shae. It seems Varys truly does believe that Tyrion is a good man, and the best chance Westeros has in becoming a better place. But with Shae around, Tyrion will accomplish nothing. Shae refuses to leave until Tyrion asks her to leave on his own. Though, I’m not sure if Tyrion actually has anything to do with this visit from Varys. I’m almost sure that he doesn’t, and that he’d be furious if he knew it was happening.

Pod and Tyrion are drinking. Pod is having trouble keeping up. “It’s not easy being drunk all the time. Everyone would do it if it were easy,” Tyrion drunkenly educates Pod. Cersei Lannister enters from the shadows to spend some QT time with her baby brother. Cersei finally explains how she manages to sleep at night – she doesn’t think about the cruel things that happen to anyone. She also insists she won’t marry Loras, but doesn’t share any plans of how she’ll avoid her destiny. She implores Tyrion to give Sansa a baby, claiming that she wishes for that only so Sansa can have happiness in her life. Cersei reveals that her children are the only reason she hasn’t committed suicide, even her demented child, Joffrey. She shares some cute baby Joff stories, and openly acknowledges how awful he is now. Tyrion then asks his sister how long it will all go on, and she knows exactly what he means. Their fathers’ wars will go on as long as he has enemies, and he will always have enemies, so they better buckle up for the violent road they’re heading down.

I was a little disappointed with this final Cersei/Tyrion scene. Cersei seemed a little underused and overshadowed this season, with all the power players cooped up in King’s Landing. But, I know there is a lot of Cersei’s story left to come, so I can deal with it for now.

Jaime Lannister makes it back to King’s Landing with Brienne of Tarth. The two can say so much with just a look. He’s upset no one recognizes (or respects) him, and she lets him know that it’s okay. He’s still Jaime to her, not the Kingslayer, no matter what. But, as much as I want these two to be together, I doubt it will happen. Jaime goes to see Cersei right away. He says her name, and she turns knowingly. She looks shocked? relieved? dismayed to see him? It’s not really clear. He looks ashamed. I don’t get it — it’s not his fault he’s been missing all this time, and mamed in the process. Is she really that mad over a hand? Sheesh.

House Targaryen

We finally catch up with the Dragon Queen in the final scene of the episode. The episode is entitled “Mhsya,” and up to this point, there was no mention of the Valeryian word. So one could assume that it would tie heavily into the Targaryen storyline. And boy, did it.

Dany is waiting outside of the gates of Yunkai, the city that she most recently “sacked” or killed all of the slave masters, flanked by Ser Jorah Mormont, Missandei, Ser Barristan Selmy, Daario Naharis, three dragons, and 8,000 Unsullied. She looked fierce and magnificent, and also a little terrifying.  Dany is unsure how the slaves of Yunkai will receive her – Is she a conqueror or a liberator? – and she seems unnerved as the gates slowly began to open. The slaves of Yunkai began to march out in droves.  Missandei introduced Dany as “Daenerys Targaryen, the Stormborn, the Unburnt, the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, the Mother of Dragons.” Dany steps forward and tells the people that they don’t owe her their freedom, because their freedom is not hers to give. She encourages them to take their freedom back, and stands waiting for a response. Slowly, they begin raising their hands and shouting “Mhysa.” Missandei, shocked, tells her that this means “Mother.” Dany realizes that they won’t hurt her, and moves forward into the crowd on her own while the dragons fly above.

She walks among them, and then is carried rockstar-style above them, all the while they shout Mhysa and look at her with adoration and love. Her Queen’s Guard watches on in shock and awe as Dany is carried among the people. Then, the camera pans into an aerial shot, where you can see the immense size of the group of people flocking towards her, and she stands as the lone silver beacon among a sea of thousands and thousands of slaves.

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The entire scene took my breath away, and it ended Season 3 on an inspirational and uplifting note. Dany has truly come full circle.  At the end of Season 1, she is left childless and widowed. She has three dragons, but no army, no money, and no ships. At the end of Season 2, she finally has managed to get money and ships, but still no army. By the end of Season 3, Dany has a horde following her, and thousands of people who look at her as their liberator and their mother. It’s almost as if she had to lose her own child, and suffer through great personal tragedy and loss, in order to become this powerful ruler. Recall early in Season 3 when her advisors tell her it is critical to gather a following not based on fear, but love. Dany did that, and now she has a force that truly can beat any army in Westeros. But, is that the destiny of Dany’s horde, or is there a greater purpose for Dany and her dragon army?

Final Thoughts on Season 3:

As we conclude Season 3 and wait ten months for a new season, we can’t help but think that GOT is entering a whole new ball game. With so many major characters dying, and the Northern Rebellion ending, the story is advancing into new and unknown territory. The main source of conflict is over, so we’re left thinking – now what?

Melisandre laid it out best when she said that the War of Five Kings means nothing now and the true threat lies to the North. What does this mean for the rest of Westeros, who are mostly ignorant of the impending doom? When will Tywin Lannister pay attention to the real threat, or will he ignore it? If so, will that mistake cost him? Also, how will Bran and his friends tie into all of this? Was Sam right, will this peculiar group of wargs and Hodor save the world? Can Bran really warg into anything? If so, that must include dragons. Can Bran use the dragons to burn all of the walkers? More importantly, when will Dany learn about everything that’s happening, and finally return to Westeros?

Only time will tell. For now, we just want to thank the GOT showrunners for producing another phenomenal season of television. We also want to thank you, our readers, for following us all season long. We hope to catch up with you next year when we recap GOT Season 4!

Rock Paper Watch’s Top Quote of 3X10:

Jenn’s Pick – “Monsters are dangerous and, just now, kings are dying like flies.” – Tyrion Lannister to King Joffrey

Elizabeth’s Pick – “You really think a crown gives you power?”   – Tywin Lannister summing up Game of Thrones in one, incredible sentence

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.  


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Countdown to GOT Season 3 – #6

#6 Stannis Baratheon – “The Iron Throne is mine by right. All those that deny that are my foes.”

Lord Stannis

Ringing us in at #6 is the Lord of Light himself, Lord Stannis Baratheon. For those of you who may not recall, Stannis is the eldest younger brother of the late King Robert. Stannis believes that his claim to the throne as Robert’s heir is the strongest of all. The last we see of Lord Stannis in GOT Season 2, he was defeated by the Lannisters in the Battle of the Blackwater, and he fled King’s Landing. In his last scene of the season, we see Lady Melisandre showing Lord Stannis a vision in the fire – one that we assume shows Stannis defeating Joffrey and sitting on the Iron Throne. So, my #6 most anticipated moment of GOT Season 3 is finding out Stannis’ plans for the future now that he has suffered a great loss.

I must admit, I am somewhat concerned with how Stephen Dillane will advance the character of Stannis. Right now, I’m afraid he’s quite two-dimensional. I can see why Renly believed that the people didn’t want Stannis as their king – he is cold, heartless, and dangerous. Stannis assisted in murdering his only living family, and he has shown little regret over this act. He mentions Renly’s demise following his defeat of King’s Landing, but it seems as if what he truly regrets is losing the battle, not murdering his brother. Audiences can look forward to the introduction of Stannis’ sick wife and daughter in Season 3, so that may help change our perceptions of Stannis.

Despite my concerns, I placed Stannis at #6 because his presence in Westeros is still very, very important. He is the only true remaining member of House Baratheon, and he knows the truth about Cersei and her children. Stannis has the potential to truly change the game in Westeros, and I can’t wait to see what he does with that power!

Questions to consider when you can’t sleep in anticipation of the premiere:

1. Will Stannis muster enough strength to attempt to take the Iron Throne again?
2. Or, as readers of the book are probably wondering, will Stannis find a new calling as the rightful King of Westeros?
3. Did Davos Seaworth survive the wildfire explosion?
4. How will the Red Priestess effect the whole scenario? Will she, as Renly’s true murderer, stake a claim to the Iron Throne?
5. Will we ever find out exactly what Melisandre showed Lord Stannis in the fire?

And perhaps the most important question:

6. Is it Sunday yet?