Throners, soak up all the Gamey goodness of this week’s episode of ‘Game of Thrones’ while you can. After rumored poor ratings on last season’s penultimate episode, ‘Blackwater,’ also aired over the holiday weekend, HBO is not airing the ninth episode for two more weeks. Insiders recommend drinking a cask of the finest Arbor gold wine and simply passing out until June 2nd.
Why are we so eager? Why, it’s wedding season! And tonight’s episode kicked it off with all the romance of…leech therapy.
On the Kingsroad
You know you’re a badass when, although you may sleep, your thirst for revenge keeps one eye open. Hard-core fans know Arya recites the list of people she wants to kill every night before bed, so when she wakes up next to the Hound and a big frigging rock, her opportunity is clear. She sneaks over to him, raises it over her head, and he tells her she’d better finish the job on the first swing, which he’ll allow her, but if she doesn’t, he’ll break both her hands. You gotta respect this guy.
When they continue down the road, Arya is confused about which river lies ahead of them. Thinking they were naturally headed back to King’s Landing, Arya’s surprised to learn that the Hound is actually taking her to the Twins, where he knows her mother and brother will soon be for Edmure Tully’s wedding to a Frey daughter. Sure, he’s doing it for the ransom, but the Hound is at least making good on returning Arya to her family, a promise not kept by dozens of others.
Jorah did a good job researching Yunkai’s “powerful friends” threateningly referred to in the last episode. He, Barriston, and Daenerys watch as a small army of sellswords called “The Second Sons” enter the city, preparing for battle with her Unsullied. Three of their leaders meet in her tent at her request, since Daenerys assumes sellswords are not known for their morals and loyalty, but not only do they seem unable to be swayed (bad for business, you understand) but the main captain is totally misogynistic. Another is a hardass, but the third seems unlike the others, and more like he should grace the cover of “Westeros After Dark,” the new fanfiction I’m penning.
Later, the misogynist meets with the other two and proposes one of them sneak into Dany’s tent at night and kill her to avoid the battle altogether. Dreamy Daario draws the short straw (well, Braavosi coin) and sneaks into her tent during bath time, because why not? There’s already a nudity rating for later! Watching Daario release her handmaiden without slitting her throat, Dany quickly realizes that if he’d intended to kill her, he’d have done it already. He concurs and shows her how he feels about his rude companions by dumping their severed heads onto the ground. He didn’t appreciate the way they treated her and he swarthily asks to join her side explaining that he fights for beauty. Dany totally keeps her cool, but you know that inside, her heart was as aflutter as Sansa’s when Loras walks by, or Loras’ when squires walk by.
Upon introducing young Gendry to Stannis, Melisandre wants to make sure the boy is well-clothed and made comfortable. Revealing what many feared to be true, Stannis tells her he feels uncomfortable treating him well before his impending doom, but she likens Gendry to a lamb before slaughter — all the more tender if they don’t see the knife until it’s too late.
Most of us learned to read books with words like “dog” and “boy,” not “Aegon” and “Rhaenys,” but young Shireen Baratheon has a lot of faith in her illiterate-but-learning friend Davos. Right as he’s about to start the chapter on “Xaro Xhoan Daxos” (kidding), Stannis walks in to inform his friend that he’s kidnapped his own nephew and Melisandre is going to “use his powerful blood” probably for evil. Oh, and he’s pardoned if he promises not to try to kill her anymore. It reminded me of the time I stole candy from my mom’s purse and felt so bad about it, I asked her to open it for me, because if she did so without yelling at me, I knew it was okay. Davos sees through it and accepts his role as external conscience, telling Stannis that he himself KNOWS this is wrong and why does he even have to SAY it, ugh!
In Gendry’s swanky new living quarters, Melisandre uses her feminine wiles to break down his distrust just enough to get him undressed and in the sack, where they then begin to get it on. Audiences wonder if their DVRs switched to Cinemax, and make a note to look into the “Westeros After Dark” fanfiction which I am mostly kidding about, but there’s really a whole world out there. Mid-sexytimes, Melisandre reveals herself to him to either be super kinky or evil, binding his hands and feet. Stannis and Davos walk in to watch this display of the Lord of Light’s power, as the Red Woman places three leeches on Gendry to rid him of a bit of that powerfully delicious king’s blood. One of the leeches is placed on his ‘Stand By Me’ zone.
She names each of the leeches after the three Usurpers — Robb Stark, Balon Greyjoy (Theon’s grumpy dad making waves (get it?) in the Pyke), and Joffrey “Baratheon” — then drops them each into the fire, as a display to Davos of the Lord of Light’s power.
At King’s Landing
Someone call David Tutera, because the preparations for Sansa’s wedding have all the sparkle and flair of a rainy funeral. Tyrion visits his bride before the ceremony to impress upon her that this isn’t his choice, but it doesn’t really warm the cockles of her wintery Stark heart. Still, he promises to never hurt her. This sets off the audiences’ first urge of the night to run to the television and hug Tyrion.
Right before Sansa walks down the aisle, Joffrey slithers from the shadows to inform her in the creepiest way possible that he’ll be giving her away, since her father can’t. Because he killed him. Remember when Joffrey cut her father’s head off? Surely she does — she was there. Anyway, happy wedding!
Margaery attempts to take the opportunity to remind Cersei of her impending wedding to Margaery’s brother — they’re to be sisters! Cersei takes the same opportunity to tell her the tale behind the popular song “Rains of Castamere,” which was written after the last family second-in-power after the Lannisters, House Reyne, tried to rise above their station. The queen regent reminds Margaery how Tywin had them killed — every last one of the Reyne family — and their bodies left out to rot all summer. And, by the way, aren’t the Tyrells the family currently second-in-power? Oh, and if Margaery ever calls Cersei a sister again, she’ll have her strangled in her sleep. Sheesh, not even going for subtlety anymore, are we?
Joffrey cheerfully walks his ex-fiance down the aisle, and once there, removes a stepping stool from beside Tyrion. The first words out of the septon’s mouth are instructions for the groom to place a cloak on his comparatively very tall wife’s shoulders, which he now cannot. Although book-readers may recognize it as a last-ditch act of defiance, Sansa’s neglecting to get the hint and kneel to help a brother out do much to solidify her place, in many audience members’ minds, as the stupidest girl in all the land.
At the reception, Tyrion is kicking back the flagons of wine, much to the annoyance of his father, who reminds him that the whole purpose of this arrangement is to secure a Lannister/Stark child as soon as possible, and, well, to do that, one will have to perform.
Those who think Sansa got the worst end of the bargain may be thinking twice after watching Loras sullenly make his way over to a pouting Cersei and begin to make small talk about some advice his father once told him. She interrupts him with “Nobody cares what your father once told you,” and stomps off for some much-needed additional pouting.
Joffrey gives Sansa the wedding present of threatening to rape her later while his kingsguard holds her down and Tyrion’s passed out. If ‘Game of Thrones’ were an action movie and if Sansa weren’t so stupid, she might reply with “Sorry, not on the registry” and then slice him with the manhood-cutting knife from last week’s episode, but sadly, neither are true.
Not to let the fun stop there, Joffrey claps his hands to signal the beginning of the “traditional bedding ceremony,” which consists of the guests stripping the bride- and groom-to-be naked and cheerfully carrying them to the honeymoon suite to consummate the marriage. When Joffrey ignores Tyrion’s drunken insistence that no bedding ceremony will occur, Tyrion pulls out a knife and threatens to show Joffrey how unhelpful wooden manhood prosthetics will be when it comes time for him to bed his own future bride. Except he says it in a much cooler way, with words we can’t say here.
As the threat lingers awkwardly in the air, Tyrion plays it off as a joke, and takes Sansa back for what he promises to be a night as exciting as the one where he vomited on a whore mid-coitus.
When they get to the room, Tyrion asks Sansa her age, and at hearing “14,” he gulps down some more wine. As she’s dutifully getting undressed, he finally can stand it no longer, and tells her he won’t share a bed until she wants to. Bravely, she asks him what he’ll do if she never wants to go to be with him. He considers it and jokingly (but honestly) replies, “And so my watch begins,” a paraphrase of the oath of the Night’s Watch, who, of course, cannot take lovers or wives. He then passes out on the couch.
North of the Wall
Sam, Gilly, and Unnamed Male Baby wander southwards and find a small hut in which to spend the night. Try as Sam might, Gilly spurns even the friendliest of conversation advances even as he strongly recommends she give her baby a name because it would make life a bit easier.
Outside in the night, ravens are squawking like mad, which if they’re messenger ravens, is possibly the Westerosi equivalent of spam mail. Annoying or unsettling? Sam goes out to see what the fuss is about, and the terrifying White Walker from the season two finale emerges from the woods. Gilly knows he’s after her baby, but Sam, until this moment known as “Sam the Craven,” grabs his sword and advances on the White Walker. The horrifying creature grabs the sword and shatters it, flinging Sam to the ground and advancing on Gilly and Unnamed Male Baby. (Sheesh, come on, Gilly! Sam is RIGHT.)
With sword shattered, Sam frantically pats down his person and finds the piece of dragonglass he’d dug up at the Fist of the First Men and, once again, advances on the undead horror, plunging it into his back. The creature shrieks in pain and falls to the ground, shattering like ice. The two run off into the night, and DID SAM PICK UP THE DRAGONGLASS OR DID THEY JUST START RUNNING?! JEEZ, SAM, YOU DON’T JUST LEAVE THAT STUFF BEHIND!
And that’s all we’ve got to go on for two more weeks. Next Sunday’s HBO will air ‘Behind the Candelabra’ during the ‘Game of Thrones’ slot, and if you kind of squint your eyes and you’ve had a bit of strongwine, Liberace’s exquisite fur coats could look like something the Wildlings would wear, if they were fabulous.
We’ll see you back in two weeks for the penultimate episode of ‘Game of Thrones’ season three.