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'Game of Thrones' Recap: "Walk of Punishment"

If you haven’t seen the most recent episode of Game of Thrones, “Walk of Punishment,” then like Tyrion at a council meeting, pull up a chair at your own risk, because there are spoilers ahead.

The episode begins in Riverrun, with a funeral for Lady Stark’s father, Hoster Tully. Her inept brother Edmure fails three times in a row to shoot the funeral barge with a flaming arrow, until finally her uncle Brynden, also known as the Blackfish, grabs the bow in frustration and hits the mark in one shot. Edmure’s ineptitude carries over in other areas as well. After the funeral Robb rips him a new one for a rash battle he enjoined against Tywin’s forces. It not only went against orders, but was a qualified victory with little positive gain, and it completely screwed up Robb’s battle strategy.

In King’s Landing, in an amusing scene, the small council is gathering in Lord Tywin’s rooms. Varys, Littlefinger and Pycelle all take their seats meekly enough. Cersei sweeps in and puts herself at her father’s right hand, naturally. Tyrion waits until they’re all seated then takes his chair, the farthest away, and slowly and loudly drags it to the end of the table, where he may sit and look directly into his father’s face. The two main pieces of business: Littlefinger is to marry Lady Lysa of the Eyrie, and his impending departure for the Vale leaves the Master of Coin position vacant. Tyrion is to fill it. Tyrion looks none too thrilled with the prospect.

Jaime and Brienne, meanwhile, are bound and riding back to back on a horse behind their loudly singing captors. (Nothing like a rousing chorus of “The Bear and the Maiden Fair!”) The two still can’t stop arguing, as Brienne scorns Jaime’s renowned swordsmanship, and Jaime cruelly tells her that she’ll undoubtedly be raped that evening. He advises her not to resist. “Close your eyes. Pretend they’re Renly.” If she does resist, he says, she’ll be hurt more–maybe even killed. She angrily asks if that’s what he would do if he was a woman. He says without equivocation that if he were a woman he’d make them kill him.

Also being kept prisoner is Arya, who is annoyed with Gendry for helping the Brotherhood by making repairs to their armor with a makeshift forge. She knows she is a prisoner, even if they won’t call her that. She tries to confront the Hound as they load him up on their cart, but he brushes her off. She and Gendry are both surprised to learn they will part ways with Hot Pie as well. The innkeepers learned of his baking ability, and he was traded to them by the Brotherhood as payment for their hospitality. In a sweet gesture, he bakes Arya a wolf made out of bread. She bids him a genuine and affectionate farewell as she and Gendry ride off with the Brotherhood.

Back at Riverrun, Catelyn and her uncle are talking about her father, and her grief and loss lead her naturally to think of her children. When she speculates about what has become of Bran and Rickon, she weeps in despair. Her uncle might be a crusty old man, but he clearly cares about his niece, and he tries to comfort her, pointing out that Robb truly believes that the boys are still alive. She should also try to keep faith. Elsewhere, Talisa is tending to the two young Lannister prisoners, mere boys, who are asking her, wide-eyed, if it is true that her husband, Robb Stark, can take the form of a wolf and eat people. She replies, mock-seriously, that everything they’ve heard is true.

North of the wall, we find Mance leading a scouting party to the Fist to investigate Orell’s claims. They find a disturbing design in the snow, made of dead horses, but no sign of dead Crows. This leads them all to realize that the dead must now be wights. When Jon wonders if any might have escaped, Mance asks how many were there, and then tries to guess the number of survivors. He orders a group of his men, including Jon, to go down to the wall and figure out how badly diminished the Night’s Watch might be.

Those remnants are themselves finally, wearily, arriving at Craster’s Keep, where they might get some food and rest. Sam sees Ghost off in the distance when they arrive, but when he calls to him the direwolf simply runs away. Craster is in peak form, stingy with his hospitality, cruel with his words, and just as much of an asshole as he was the last time around. When he jokes that Sam is so fat his comrades should just eat him, Sam quickly flees. Once outside, he follows the sounds of wailing and in a small separate hut finds Gilly giving birth. As the baby emerges, she realizes it’s a boy and cries in despair, because she knows what will happen to it.

Theon’s mysterious rescuer returns, loosening his bonds, leading him outside and placing him on a horse. He directs Theon where to ride, and tells him to hurry.

Also trying to get away is Melisandre. Stannis is accompanying her down to the shore, where she is getting ready to board a boat to take a mysterious journey. Stannis is not happy about it, giving off a creepy possessive boyfriend vibe as he grabs her arm and demands that she stay and “give him another son.” It’s obviously a turn-off for her, and she actually seems to regard him with pity more than anything else, saying, “Your fires burn low, my king.” Ha!

In Astapor, Dany is walking with Ser Jorah and Barristan, who are already butting heads. They are debating the merits of a slave army vs. a sellsword army. Dany does not like the idea of using slaves, and when she spots a slave being punished and tries to offer him water, she is shocked when he only says, “Let me die.” Ser Jorah points out that the damage done in war to innocents is all but eliminated with a slave army like the Unsullied, because they will only do exactly what she bids. They then go to see the charming slave owner, whose faithful translator continues to help negotiate the sale, cleaning up her master’s language a lot in the process–mostly changing words like “slut” and “whore” to “your grace.” The slave master is not convinced Dany can afford to buy all the Unsullied, which is what she demands. Then she offers him a dragon, and he quickly agrees. Jorah and Barristan both looked shocked, but afterwards she tells them never to question her in front of others. She also manages to get the translator, named Missandei, thrown in as a sort of bonus gift. She order Missandei to be honest with her, and asks about the slave she tried to help with a drink of water. It is simple, according to Missandei. “There are no masters in the grave.”

Tyrion, in order to better understand his new appointment, visits Littlefinger in one of his brothels to collect all the books and ledgers required to be Master of Coin. Littlefinger assures him they’re just numbers on paper–nothing that important. “You want a real challenge? Try whores,” he says. Tyrion replies, “I’ve tried quite a few.” In that spirit, as a thanks for saving his life, he leaves Pod with not one, not two, but three exotic prostitutes, paying for him to have one memorable afternoon. Tyrion tells Bronn, as he scans through the ledgers, that it’s obvious that Littlefinger has been keeping the kingdom afloat by borrowing hand over fist. Mostly from Tywin, but also from the Iron Bank, an institution that if not repaid can get aggressive to get their money back, going so far as to fund a borrower’s mortal enemies. In a delightful end to the scene, Pod returns and plunks all the money down on the table. Tyrion is understandably confused, wondering why they didn’t accept it. Turns out sweet, awkward Pod is quite the ladies’ man, impressing them with his skills so much that they insisted on not being paid.

Theon is still trying to make his getaway, but he quickly realizes he’s being pursued, and his pursuers are gaining on him. They finally bring him down, taking him off his horse with a blow from a mace. He hits the ground, and as they gather around, threatening to do a variety of nasty things to him, they’re suddenly all killed by arrows, and his rescuer from earlier reappears. He offers Theon a hand, and they ride off, presumably to safety. So the real question is: who IS this guy, and what’s his angle?

In the final and most nail-biting scene of the night, Jaime and Brienne are both tied up to their own trees. Jaime watches as three of the captors gather around Brienne and talk about raping her, taking turns. As they untie her to lead her off to her fate, she tries desperately to fight them. Because she’s big and strong, she gets in a few good knocks, but they quickly overpower her and she’s led off, screaming and struggling while Jaime sits and listens. He calls over the leader and asks him if he knows who Brienne is. He then concocts a story about the wealth of Tarth, telling the man he’ll receive immense riches in ransom for the return of Brienne–so long as she is whole and “unbesmirched.” Miraculously, his words do the trick, and they reluctantly lead her back to the tree, a bit mussed, but basically none the worse for wear. Unfortunately for Jaime, he continues to push his luck, trying to convince the leader of the gang that, as a Lannister, he can get him wealth beyond measure if he’s returned to his father. He thinks he’s succeeding with his words when the man unties him and offers him some food. But then things take an ugly turn, and instead of using the knife to cut a roasting capon, the man uses the knife to cut Jaime’s right hand clean off. Yeah…that just happened.

And then a punk version of “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” blasts on over the credits, and we’re left to wonder how the best swordsman in Westeros will fair with only one hand.

Quote of the night:

“Valar Morghulis.” – Missandei

“Yes, all men must die. But we are not men.” – Daenerys


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