The Red Wedding is certainly a difficult act to follow. In season 1, Ned Stark’s death in episode 9 was capped off with dragons rising from the flames in the following season finale. Season 2 shocked us with the Battle of Blackwater Bay in episode 9, followed by the terrifying threat of White Walkers in the finale. Is it really a surprise that following the deaths of central storyline characters Robb, Talisa, and Catelyn would be Daenerys crowd surfing? Okay, yes, it really was. But, you guys, we can’t just be lopping off the heads of our beloved heroes each week, as much as George R.R. Martin may want to. We’ve got to progress the plot a bit!

At the Twins
The last guy anyone wants to see right now, Roose Bolton, saunters up to the top of one of the Frey’s twin towers and overlooks the slaughter of Robb’s camp right outside. The Hound, with Arya in tow, grabs a Frey banner, possibly both to use as a lance and trick everyone into thinking they’re on the “winning” team, so as not to arouse stabby suspicion. Frey men begin chanting “King in the North,” as Robb’s headless body is paraded out with his Direwolf Grey Wind’s head sewn on in its place. Argus Filch has gotten a lot darker since his days at Hogwarts, eh?

Later, while riding through the forest, Arya and the Hound come across some Frey men in their stupid hats eating by a fire and bragging about which of them took part in sewing Grey Robb. Pretending to be a beggar girl, Arya approaches them and asks for some food, offering to pay for it with her Braavosi coin from Jaqen H’ghar. She “accidentally” drops it, and as the man closest to her reaches down to get it, she stabs him in the back a bunch of times! The Hound quickly dismounts to take care of the rest of them and learns Arya was using his own knife to do the deed, stolen without him noticing. He asks her for a bit of a head’s up next time she plans to be so badass (in not so many words) but you can tell he’s beaming with pride. Plus: a free meal!

Back at the castle, Walder and Roose bond over their mutual heightened lots in life, having cut this deal for the Lannister side. As servants wash up blood with the very salt used to welcome Robb’s men into the Laws of Hospitality, Walder inquires what really happened at Winterfell, now that Roose is the new Warden of the North. If you remember in season 2, when Robb, the Boltons, and the Karstarks learned that Winterfell was being sacked, Roose told everyone not to worry since his Bastard was close by. In secret, however, the Boltons were plotting with the Lannisters, who were annoyed that the Greyjoys had swooped in and killed off the Starks whom they had so looked forward to killing themselves. If the Ironborn could be convinced to leave Winterfell and Theon “taken care of,” everything would be righted again! With the forces of evil of course.

So it turns out that the mysterious Boy who has been torturing Theon since the beginning of the season is none other than Roose Bolton’s bastard son, Ramsay Snow. (You know how surnames are for bastards, poor bastards.) I mean, I thought everyone knew who the Boy was back in episode four when Ramsay shot an arrow through Theon’s captor’s head, right after he called him a bastard… but I guess a lot of people might call their murderers rude names. But Theon was being tortured on a giant X! He flayed Theon’s pinkie, and their sigil is a flayed man on an X! Ah, I’m just glad I don’t have to keep referring to him as The Boy anymore.

In King’s Landing
Tyrion and Sansa, the happy outcasts, er, newlyweds stroll through the garden, and Tyrion swears vengeance on some passersby who snicker at their coupling. Sansa asks if he plans to kill them, and as Tyrion admits he’s not as childish as Joffrey, she gives him the great idea of hiding dung in their beds, as Arya always did to her. Ah, Sansa’s laughter. That never lasts long…

Tyrion is called to a Small Council Meeting where Joffrey eagerly boasts about the death of Robb and Catelyn as if he’d done it himself. When Joffrey announces he plans to feed Robb’s head to Sansa at his wedding feast (that is, unless someone sewed it onto Grey Wind’s body… No, too soon. You’re right.), Tyrion darkly reminds him she’s no longer his to torment. When the Spoiled Brat King stomps his feet and reminds everyone for the 40th time today that he’s the king, Tywin states that a true king doesn’t need to announce it. Joffrey turns his anger towards his grandfather and reminds him that his father, Robert, was off winning the Great War while Tywin was hiding at Casterly Rock. Stonefaced, Tywin sends his grandson to bed without any supper.

As the rest of the council leaves, Tywin bids Tyrion stay behind. It’s clear Tyrion is disgusted by the turn of events, but his father points out that by killing a few dozen of his enemies, he protected hundreds of thousands of his own men from dying in battle. Tyrion is still wary about the North never forgetting this. The two go on to banter about how Tywin almost killed Tyrion the day he was born but didn’t because of how important it is to put family first. This is Tyrion’s Arrested Development…

At the Dreadfort
Fresh from unmanning Theon, Ramsay is chowing down on a sausage, which he insists is made of pork, but who can be sure? Theon begs for death, but Ramsay swears he has a use for keeping him around, but not under his lord’s name of Theon. He comes up with a new nickname for him, based on his new physical attributes: Reek.

South of the Wall
Bran, Hodor, and the Reeds prepare to spend the night in a creepy castle, and Bran shares a ghost story about a cook who forced a guest to eat his own son, assumedly so he could taste their tears of unfathomable sadness. As a punishment by the gods for breaking the Laws of Hospitality and killing someone under one’s own roof, the chef was turned into a rat, and sentenced to spend the rest of his life being forced to eat his own young and never be full.

Well, that story just put everyone into a cozy mood, and they all fall asleep. In the middle of the night, a terrifying disembodied wheezing sound begins emanating from the well in the center of the room. A huge shape emerges and descends upon them — well, “falls” is a better term. It’s Samwell, Gilly, and Unnamed Male Baby! Even though Jojen shushes Bran as he’s about to ask if he’s heard of Jon Snow, Sam recognizes the lot, and offers to help with anything they need. Unfortunately, they’re headed into the eye of the storm from which Sam just escaped, and he’s not too eager to get back to White Walkerville.

Elsewhere, Jon Snow stops at a stream to wash the eagle attack from his face, when Ygritte stumbles upon him and she’s alone. Has she abandoned the Wildlings, too, to join his side? Will they ride off to Castle Black together? Whatever was going to happen, Jon apologizes for everything and tells her he must go home, knowing she won’t shoot him. He tells her he still loves her, which is the wrong thing to say to a spurned woman with a bow and arrow. She fires three arrows into his body and he limps to his horse and rides off for Castle Black.

In the Iron Islands
Balon and Yara Greyjoy receive a message and a present, which may as well have been sent by Lord Andy Samberg and Sir Justin Timberlake — it’s Theon’s Manhood In A Box! Actually, it was sent from the Boltons, ordering the Greyjoys out of the north. Balon all but shrugs the letter away, and Yara scolds him for not caring about his own son. She then vows to mount an attack on the Bolton’s Dreadfort in their fastest ship with her strongest men in an attempt to save her brother, who just last season was trying to give her his manhood! Zing!

Back at King’s Landing
Varys corners Shae and offers her a sack full of diamonds that she could use to hop a ship, sail across the sea, and live quite comfortably for the rest of her days. As to why he suddenly cares about where she lives, Varys reminds Shae he only does what is best for the realm, and while Tyrion is actually the most level-headed of the powerful Lannisters who look to be winning the day, having her around pouting over serving his young wife is a very real complication. She throws the sack to the ground and says that Tyrion can tell her himself if he wants her to leave.

Elsewhere in the castle, Cersei stops by Tyrion’s room seemingly to gloat that she plans to disobey her father and weasel out of marrying Loras, but doesn’t divulge how. Speaking of Tywin’s orders, Cercei strongly recommends Tyrion have a child with Sansa, since it would give the girl a bit of happiness. They share a rare tender moment where she admits that even Joffrey was a joy as a young child.

Back in her chambers, Cersei turns a seashell over in her hands, possibly wistfully thinking of easier times at Casterly Rock, when who should appear in the doorway but her lover/brother Jaime. It would actually be quite sweet if it weren’t so gross.

At Castle Black
Samwell and Gilly show up with Unnamed Male Baby, and the chaste Samwell stumbles over his words to Maester Aemon, saying it’s not what it looks like, which is extra hilarious/awkward since the Maester is blind. Gilly admits that she’s named the baby Sam, which doesn’t bode well for their case, but Sam insists that protecting Gilly falls under the roles of the Night’s Watch. Did a backbone come in that cache of goodies along with Dragonglass?

Jon Snow approaches Castle Black slumped over on his horse and falls on his back right at the gates, which is not great when you’ve got an arrow in that same back. The men carry him inside, and although he does look close to death, he’s able to open his eyes and see Pip and Sam before they set off to throw the ring into Mordor. I mean, carry Jon off to be healed.

At Dragonstone
Shireen’s Reading Rainbow lessons have really come in handy, and the Hand to the King can finally read some of the mail Stannis has been getting from ravens the realm around. One letter disturbs him, penned by Samwell Tarly on behalf of Maester Aemon warning of the coming danger of the White Walkers.

Ser Davos and Gendry bond over both being lowborns who started at Flea Bottom and have now become the Hand to the King and, well, a guy in jail, but whose blood (via leech) seems to have predicted or caused the death of King Robb. So that’s something!

In Stannis’ War Room, Davos continues to warn against the use of magic, although he can’t argue with the leech’s results. He was also there for Melisandre’s birthing of the monstrosity that killed King Renly, but still it doesn’t seem right. Stannis reminds him the last Great war was won by a man who didn’t have a strong army, but who did have dragons… which they can possibly get by using more magic using Gendry’s blood. It’s kind of fuzzy, actually, but Stannis does whatever his Lady in Red asks of him.

Davos takes it upon himself to free Gendry before any harm can come to him, since he’s an innocent, and sends him down the coast in a small boat. Destination: King’s Landing.

Stannis is furious at Davos’ betrayal at every turn and orders him to death. As Hand to the King, Davos advises against his own death, and actually makes a convincing argument! The letter he got from the raven states he is needed in the north. The Red Lunatic burns the paper and, sure enough, sees in the flames that the Lord of Light has plans for the Onion Knight that don’t end in his immediate death. Stannis shrugs melodramatically and says, “Yes, dear” to the camera, and the studio audience erupts in laughter. (Note: That last part did not happen.)

Across the Narrow Sea
Outside Yunkai, Daenerys and her advisors, backed by 8,000 Unsullied, aren’t quite sure how the town’s slaves are going to react to their newfound freedom. Will she be viewed as selfless liberator or feared conqueror? The slaves pour out into the area beyond the city’s gates, and she addresses them all, saying she can’t give them freedom because it isn’t hers to give, but they can find it within themselves. The crowd begins to chant “Mhysa,” which means “mother,” and as she bravely walks into the crowd, they hoist her above their heads in celebration while her three dragons circle over the land.

And that about does it for episode 10 of ‘Game of Thrones’ season 3. A few fans have called it disappointing after last week’s episode, and while I will admit watching some slaves be happy they’re freed is no groundbreaking television, we were treated to some amazing developments.

Arya and the Hound are bringing Chaotic Goodness to the countryside, Yara hopes to defend her brother’s honor, and King’s Landing’s hottest couples are bringing romance back. I wholeheartedly disagree with anyone saying this season should have ended with the Red Wedding, because audiences need a bit of closure, and cliffhangers like that make for an extra long winter.

And so our watch begins. See you in Spring 2014 for season 4!