If you haven’t seen tonight’s new episode of Game of Thrones, “And Now His Watch Has Ended,” then put a bag over your head like Arya and Gendry, because there are spoilers ahead.
We open with the characters we ended with last week: Brienne and poor Jaime. The very first shot is Jaime’s amputated hand, swinging from a rope around his neck. He looks, as might be expected, like a shell of his former self. Brienne watches in concern as he slides off his horse, into the muck. Their captors continue to torment him, giving him horse piss to slake his thirst, and beating him savagely when he clumsily tries to steal a sword and fight them with his left hand.
Tyrion goes to pay Varys a visit, wanting (what else) information. He is looking for proof that Cersei intended him to be killed in the Battle of Blackwater, and is hoping that Varys might help. Varys tells Tyrion the story of how he got cut and turned into an eunuch. The whole time he is telling this story he is working on opening a large crate with holes in the side. The story is unsurprisingly gruesome. A sorcerer bought Varys from a mummer’s troupe when he was a boy, drugged him, castrated him, and used his parts in dark magic. Varys then tells Tyrion it would have been easy to die, but he made himself survive and get stronger, stealing secrets to get ahead. That is how, he announces, he got from the slums of Myr to the small council at the Red Keep. “Influence grows like a weed,” he says, and his extended far enough to get what he wanted. Here he opens the box and reveals to Tyrion that there is an old man inside, a sorcerer, with his mouth sewn shut. “Hello, my old friend,” says Varys sweetly. Tyrion’s lesson: if he has the stomach for it, in time, he will get his revenge.
The Night’s Watch are still camped at Craster’s, trying to recuperate. The men who are healthy enough to work are constantly complaining, and some of the brothers’ complaints take on a darker tone than others. They talk about looking out for themselves, and their words about Craster are filled with hate. Sam goes to see Gilly and her baby, and she is understandably distraught, not wanting to hear his well-wishes, only wanting to know if he can still help her save her baby’s life.
Below the wall, Bran is still having his vivid dreams. He’s running through the woods and he spots the three-eyed crow, high in a tree. Jojen is standing next to him and directs him to climb. He shimmies up the tree like the Bran of the old days, and reaches the branch where the crow is perched. As he sidles out carefully, suddenly Catelyn is before him, clutching him, imploring him not to climb. He’s startled and he falls, jerking awake and meeting the gaze of Jojen, who is watching him.
Back in King’s Landing, Varys continues to gather information, this time meeting with Ros to find out more about the movements of Littlefinger. Although all seems normal for his preparations for the trip to the Vale, and there is no evidence of any further meetings with Sansa, Ros is convinced that Littlefinger has not given her up. She gives Varys the ship’s manifest for Littlefinger’s impending journey and there are TWO featherbeds on the ship. Who else could the extra be for?
Joffrey, Margaery, Cersei and Lady Olenna are touring the Royal Sept and discussing wedding plans. While Joffrey tells Margaery some of the more gory details about kings past, Cersei and Lady Olenna have an interesting conversation about the roles of mothers of powerful sons. Lady Olenna says that no matter what they do, they cannot always protect their sons from themselves. Joffrey and Margaery, meanwhile, can hear the crowds outside, and Margaery is able to convince Joffrey that the people adore him for his leadership in the Battle of Blackwater, and that if he will show them love they will return it. She gets him to open the Sept doors and step outside onto the steps and wave to the crowds. Cersei watches all of this with growing concern.
We finally find out who Theon’s “rescuer” is. The mysterious boy leads him around back of a keep, and down through its lower levels, telling him that he is sneaking him back in to see his sister, and they have to be careful because not all of the men are loyal to Yara and Theon. Theon, meanwhile, is an emotional wreck, telling this boy everything about his failures, his father’s disappointment, his own inadequacies as a ward of the Starks, his jealousy of Robb… He even tells him about the killing of the two farm boys to hide the fact that he lost Bran and Rickon. Finally, the boy leads him into a room where he says he will meet his sister. Only, when the torch is lit, Theon finds himself back in the torture chamber, and the boy immediately tells the guards he brought Theon back, and that Theon killed the other men who went after him. (The men the boy himself had killed.) Theon screams in horror as he’s put back on the wrack. The boy only smiles in delight.
Elsewhere, Jaime is failing fast. He’s lost his will to live, and isn’t eating anymore. Finally Brienne calls him out, naming him a coward for refusing to fight the first time he faces real misfortune and loss. He can’t seem to get past the fact that he has lost his sword hand. She orders him to eat, to live, to take his revenge. Her words shake him out of his reverie a bit, and he begrudgingly begins to take some food. As he does, she tells him she knows what he said about her and the sapphires, and about Tarth, and she wants to know why he helped her.
We cut from Jaime to his twin. Cersei is in her father’s chambers, waiting somewhat impatiently to speak to him. He doesn’t seem especially pleased to talk with her, but he asks what she wants. She inquires about Jaime, about what is being done to get him back. Her father says that he started a war when Tyrion was taken…what does she think he’d do when his first-born and heir is taken? Cersei gives an interesting speech to her father, wondering why he never trusted her as a confidante over his sons. She then comes to what was probably her real reason for wanting to speak to him. She is concerned about the Tyrells, most particularly about Margaery’s influence over Joffrey. Tywin replies curtly that the reason he never trusted her was because she was never as smart as she thought she was, and frankly he’s pleased Margaery can manipulate Joffrey. He even blames Cersei for not having the same ability.
Outside in the garden, Varys comes to visit Lady Olenna. “Look girls, a spider in the garden,” she says she she sees him approach. The two of them take a walk, discussing the fate of Sansa Stark. Varys knows that the Tyrells have an interest in her, and he doesn’t want Littlefinger to get her. “Littlefinger is one of the most dangerous men in Westeros, ” Varys says. “He would see this country burn if he could be king of the ashes.” Since Littlefinger’s ambition knows no bounds, Varys is determined to try to thwart his attempts to nab Sansa, and it seems he thinks the Tyrells might be able to help.
The young lady in question is praying when Margaery comes to find her. She and Sansa go for a walk down by the shore, talking the way girlfriends do, and Margaery says, seemingly earnestly, that she wants to be friends with Sansa. She even implies that it might be possible for Sansa to marry Loras, which makes her look so happy it’s heartbreaking.
Away from the sea and sunshine and back up North, the brothers of the Night’s Watch are burning one of their dead, and the episode’s title actually comes from the words they recite when they lay a brother to rest. But the unrest amongst them has deepened, and inside the keep a few of the more vocal and angry brothers accuse Craster of starving them, calling him a bastard. The situation escalates quickly. Craster loses his temper and draws his blade, inviting the next man who calls him bastard to be killed. Mormont is bellowing commands, trying to run interference, but then one of sketchy looking brother calls Craster a bastard again, and chaos breaks loose. Craster and that brother fight, and Craster is killed. Mormont is run through from behind, and though he continues to fight, after a short time he chokes up blood and falls to the floor, and his broken men set upon him, one of them stabbing him repeatedly. In the middle of the eruption Sam manages to slip out and find Gilly, and tells her they have to leave immediately.
Another brotherhood is moving through the woods, taking Arya, Gendry and the Hound to a hidden location. All three are hooded, and when they take their hoods off they find themselves in a well-concealed cave. “Somewhere neither wolves nor lions come prowling,” says Thoros. Beric Dondarrion, the leader of the Brotherhood without Banners, is there–a little worse for wear, but still in charge. He says they’re fighting on behalf of the men like Ned Stark and Robert Baratheon. The Hound scoffs at them, “You’re fighting for ghosts.” They accuse the Hound of many crimes, most of which were perpetrated by his brother, so he denies them all. Then Arya speaks up, reminding the Hound that he killed her friend, an innocent boy, on orders from Joffrey. That he does not deny, and Beric orders the Hound to trial by combat…and he will fight the Hound himself.
The final scene of this episode is glorious, and one I’ve been anticipating. Daenerys comes to the slaver in Astapor to complete her transaction: Drogon for the Unsullied army. She opens the cage and Drogon flies out, pulling on the chain she is using to corral him. She hands him over to the slaver and gets the whip, the symbol of ownership, in return. She tests out the army out with a few simple commands. Behind her, Drogon is going mad on the chain, fighting the slaver and refusing to obey. Then she turns around, and speaks to him in High Valyrian, revealing that she knew his words the whole time. She tells him a dragon is no slave, and orders her Unsullied to kill every slave owner and master, but spare women and children, and free those in chains. Then she looks at Drogon in the sky and calls out “Dracarys!”
The slaver is toast. Literally.
Daenerys leaves the city and frees her army, telling them they can leave if they want. If they fight for her, they fight as free men. They all agree (as evidenced by the stamp of their spears) and then march out, a force to be reckoned with, as Daenerys leads them away from the slave city of Astapor, dropping the whip to be trampled in the dust.
Quote of the Night:
Lady Olenna continues to get some excellent lines. On greeting Varys:
“What happens when the nonexistent bumps against the decrepit?”