'Game of Thrones' Recap: "Kissed by Fire"

If you haven’t seen tonight’s all new episode of Game of Thrones, “Kissed by Fire,” then lock yourself in a high tower, because there will be spoilers ahead.

After the excitement of last week’s episode and the jaw-dropping, fire-breathing climax, we’ve scaled down again, to smaller, more intimate battles and intrigues. (Emphasis on intimate.) The Lord of Light is making his presence known in the opening scene, as Beric Dondarrion uses a flaming sword to take on the powerful Hound. Fire is the Hound’s weakness, and he nearly loses, but after the two clash and swirl around the cave, the Hound manages to land a fatal blow. Thoros immediately throws himself on Beric, offering muttered prayers to the Lord of Light. Arya watches, devastated. So invested in the Hound’s death, she wants only vengeance, screaming “Burn in hell!” as she tries to rush him. She and the Hound both watch, stunned, as Beric suddenly rises, alive and well, ordering the Hound’s release since he won their combat.

From fire to ice, we travel North, to Jon and the wildlings. Jon is quizzed by Orell about the Night’s Watch castles. How many are there? How many are manned? How many brothers stay at each? Orell’s suspicions and accusations don’t sit well, and when Jon threatens him, Ygritte backs Jon up, pulling her blade on Orell and saying angrily, “He’s no crow.” Orell replies, “Just because you want him inside you doesn’t make him one of us.” After all that tension, Ygritte only has one thing in mind to relax, and lures Jon to a cave with a hot spring where she disrobes and kisses him. Jon wants to stay loyal to his vows, but the poor guy never really had a shot–not with a firecracker like Ygritte. The two have sex in the cave and then lay in each other’s arms, talking. Ygritte is delighted to learn that Jon is “a maid.” She meanwhile, begins to rattle off a long list of previous partners before Jon interrupts her and they both plunge into the hot springs for a bath.

Down South, back in the other cave, the Hound is given leave to go, although the gold he had is not to be returned. The Brotherhood without Banners is a group of outlaws, after all.

A different group of outlaws arrives at Harrenhal with Jaime and Brienne in tow. They present their captives to Roose Bolton, who eyes them all coldly and observes with no satisfaction that Jaime has lost his hand. He looks disgusted at the way Jaime and Brienne have been treated, and orders them both untied and given rooms, even going so far as to tell Brienne that she is under his protection. He also reports to Jaime the events of Blackwater, but in such a torturous  fashion that you can’t help but marvel at his subtle cruelty. “Your sister…is alive and well.” The medical attention they provide Jaime is the treatment of a Maester who’s been stripped of his chain. He offers to get rid of the infection by cutting off more of Jaime’s arm, but this doesn’t provoke a charitable response, so he offers to cut away the rotting flesh and burn out the infection. “You’ll need milk of the poppy,” the Maester offers, but Jaime declines. “There will be pain.” “I”ll scream.” “Quite a bit of  pain.” “I’ll scream loudly.” And so he does.

In King’s Landing, Jaime’s twin is continuing to move against the Tyrells. Cersei finds Littlefinger and asks him to investigate the Tyrells’ movements in the Red Keep, reminding him that his cooperation and assistance could help keep him in a favorable light with her father. The matriarch of the family in question, Lady Olenna, is dining with Tyrion to discuss the cost of the royal wedding. The newly minted Master of Coin (ha!) is having trouble finding resources for the extravagant affair. Tyrion tries to explain about the cost of the war, but he cannot tell Lady Olenna anything she doesn’t already know, as she quotes back to him the extensive contributions that Highgarden has made both to the war effort (in terms of manpower) and foodstuffs (for the people of King’s Landing). She expresses disappointment that finance is all the famed drunken and impertinent Tyrion wants to discuss. However, as she walks out the door she agrees that Highgarden will pay half the cost of the wedding, prompting Tyrion to watch her leave, mouth agape.

In the next scene, Arya comes upon Gendry mending Lord Beric’s armor. When she asks him what he’s doing, Gendry tells her that he will be staying with the Brotherhood to serve them as a smith. Arya is surprised and upset, wondering why he wouldn’t continue to come with her and serve her brother Robb. Gendry is sick of serving others, who have done nothing but betray him his whole life. He likes the way the Brotherhood operates, and he wants to be a part of it. “They’re a family,” he says, “I’ve never had a family.” “I can be your family,” replies Arya, in a heartbroken voice. “You will be my family,” says Gendry gently. “You’ll be m’lady.”

Arya’s family isn’t doing so hot, incidentally. For Robb, the hits just keep on coming. Lord Karstark, who lost his sons in battle with the Kingslayer, broke into the Riverrun prisons and murdered the Lannister prisoners–two young boys. Robb is furious, and has Karstark’s men hanged, while he debates with his wife, mother and uncle what should be done with Karstark himself. All three argue for clemency–for keeping Karstark imprisoned. Robb needs the Karstark men, and if he executes their lord, he will not have them. But Robb believes a man must be punished for his crimes, and on a rainy morning he executes Karstark, just as his father taught him, swinging the blade himself.

Around the fire, Arya is continuing to recite the names of her ‘hit list.’ She asks Thoros what they will do with her. When he explains, she answers, “I’m a hostage, and you’re selling me.” Thoros says that it is only because the ransom is so badly needed. Beric joins them at the fire and explains a bit more about his situation to Arya…how he’s been raised from the dead by the Lord of Light six times. “Everytime I come back, I’m a bit less.” Arya wants to know if they could bring back her father, and they say no. Poor Arya is feeling her loneliness more than ever.

New characters are introduced tonight in the form of Selyse and Shireen, the wife and daughter of Stannis. His relationship with both of them is odd. Selyse is a fervent disciple of the Lord of Light, and she proves to be something of an eccentric. She knew of Stannis and Melisandre sleeping together, and was pleased about it. She was glad because Melisandre was able to give him a son (okay, a creepy shadow demon son, but a son nevertheless). She also appears to keep her own dead sons in jars like a mad scientist. So yeah…she’s obviously kind of crazy. Not crazy, but very sad, is Shireen, Stannis’ daughter. Her parents keep her locked away in a tower because of a disfiguring skin condition. It’s incredibly cruel–all the more so because she seems like a very sweet and loving child. She asks about Davos, who is her friend, and her father says he’s a traitor and he’s in jail. Nice, Dad.

In our second bathing scene of the night, Jaime is brought into the baths at Harrenhal, where Brienne is already soaking. She is embarrassed and startled, especially when he strips down and gets in with her, although he doesn’t seem at all bothered by it. She curls up in the corner, until he makes a crack about Renly, then she stands up, naked, all six plus feet of her. He gets an eye full and mutters an embarrassed apology that actually seems genuine. He asks for a truce, and Brienne, still standing, says, “You need trust to have a truce.” She sits back down, and Jaime ruminates on her lack of trust, thus launching one of the most remarkable monologues I’ve seen yet in this show. He tells Brienne the real story of his murder of Mad King Aerys–details that he’s never revealed to anyone else, details that demonstrate the true depravity and evil of the mad king. It is a haunting story, and the look on Brienne’s face as he tells it echoes our own as we realize what an odd mix of good and evil there is in Jaime Lannister.

Next we see Davos in his prison cell being surprised by little Shireen, who has sneaked past a drunken guard to visit him and bring him books to read. He is touched, but has to tell her he cannot read. She offers to slip down from time to time to help teach him.

In Daenerys’ train, Jorah and Barristan are trading stories of Westeros and their days as knights. Jorah, we can see, is not so subtly fishing for evidence that Barristan might know that he was playing both sides at the beginning, reporting on Daenerys to the small council when Robert was still king. Luckily, it would appear that Barristan knows nothing of the sort, not being privy to those small council meetings. Daenerys, meanwhile, is meeting with newly chosen officers from her Unsullied. She tells them they can now choose their own names, but the lead officer, Grey Worm, says he wishes to keep his slave name, because it is the name he had when she set him free.

Back in Riverrun, Robb tries to work out a new battle plan, but the one he thinks of requires men–more men than he has. For success, he will need Walder Frey, and he must find a way to get the Freys back on his side.

In King’s Landing, Sansa and Margaery watch Loras practice swordfighting, and Sansa shyly asks Margaery more about Loras. Margaery confidently replies that after her marriage to Joffrey, he will do anything to please her, even let Sansa go. The trap is already set, however. One of Littlefinger’s men seduces Loras, and by doing so, gets the information Cersei has been seeking, the proof of the Tyrells’ secret machinations. For Littlefinger, this information has two sets of benefits. He now has evidence to offer Cersei, as well as purpose for advancing his own agenda with Sansa, which he does, in a faintly creepy scene where he once again reminds her that he can take her away from King’s Landing if she will let him.

The final scene is the one with the big reveal. It has no dragons and chains and slave armies and explosions, but it did contain a fairly explosive revelation. Now that the Lannisters know of the Tyrells’ plans, Lord Tywin has no intention of allowing them to steal Sansa, who may end up being the heir to the North. No, if they are to keep control, they must have the North, and that means Sansa must stay within the family. She must be wed to someone else before she can be given to Loras Tyrell. See where this is going? When the realization hits Tyrion he is appalled. It does him credit that he thinks mainly of Sansa and not himself–how she has been mistreated since she arrived, and that a husband like him would drive her to complete despair. Tywin and Cersei are coldly practical. As far as they’re both concerned, Tyrion should be thanking them because she’s more than he deserves. Cersei loses that smug expression, however, when her father then explains that the only way to cement their power in both directions is to have her remarry…to Loras Tyrell. A Lannister in the North AND one in the South and their dominion will be unassailable.

Quote of the Night:

“Jaime…my name is Jaime!” – Jaime

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