Previously on “Game of Thrones:”Varys tells Ned to serve the realm and save his daughter’s life; Drogo is dying until Dany asks the captured healer Mirri Maaz Durr to save him; Tywin tries to get Tyrion killed by putting him in the vanguard of the battle he’s about to fight with the Starks; only death pays for life; Jorah fights a Dothraki and Dany goes into labor; Tyrion lives through his battle, but Jaime’s captured at the end of *his*; Ned confesses to treason as Yoren the Night’s Watch dude grabs Arya to stop her from doing something stupid; Joffrey does something stupid, and orders Ned’s execution, much to everyone’s surprise.
We open in the immediate aftermath of Ned’s execution. Ser Ilyn Payne’s sword drips blood, as he raises Ned’s head and shows it to the crowd, which goes wild. Arya’s still hugged to Yoren’s chest, unable to see the grisly sight of her father’s body being dragged away. Poor Sansa isn’t so lucky, and she faints.
Yoren carries Arya out of the main square away from the screaming crowds, and then draws his knife, reminding her that she’s a BOY now, and in case she forgets that fact, he proceeds to give her an impromptu haircut with his knife.
At Winterfell, Bran has another one of his crow dreams about going into the crypts. The dream merges into a scene in the here and now; Osha carries Bran as he tells her about the dream that’s causing him to make her go down into the crypts. I guess Hodor is way too tall to fit down there. Also, Bran says he’s scared of the crypts.
As they walk down the dank tunnel we saw in the first episode, Bran points out landmarks to Osha and the audience; this statue is Rickard Stark, burned alive by the Mad King, this one is Lyanna Stark, kidnapped by Rhaegar Targaryen. Finally Bran pauses by one of the empty crypt slots, where Bran says he saw his father.
Something ominous growls in the darkness, and freaks me the heck out. I think I might actually have screamed when Rickon Stark’s direwolf leaped out at Osha and Bran, toppling Osha to the ground.
It turns out that Rickon is either sleeping in the crypts himself or kenneling his wolf Shaggydog there (that’s an undignified name for a direwolf, Bran!) He too saw Ned Stark in the crypt in a dream.
Osha looks a bit perturbed as she and Bran emerge from the crypts, but maybe it’s just at the thought that everyone has forgotten about Rickon to such an extent that he hangs out in the crypts all day. In the courtyard, a devastated Maester Luwin holds a letter in his hand.
“Bran,” he begins gently.
At Robb’s encampment, Catelyn walks, straight and proud, through the ranks of her son’s soldiers, desperate for some space where she can be alone with her tragedy. She reaches a copse of trees at the edge of the encampment; she finally gives way to the crushing weight of her grief, taking deep ragged breaths.
Poor Catelyn doesn’t have long to mourn by herself, because she hears the sound of someone chopping wood. It’s Robb, hacking away at a tree trunk with his sword. Catelyn is the only person who can reach Robb in his frenzy of grief and confusion, and takes him into her arms, still weeping. He’s not the only one. I didn’t cry when Ned was beheaded, but the reactions of his wife and children are just gutting.
Robb swears that he’ll kill them all for what they’ve done, until Catelyn reminds him that his sisters are still in the Lannisters’ power. After they get the girls back, a tearless Catelyn promises, “we will kill them all.” Hey, she kind of sounds like a Lannister there for a moment!
Speaking of Lannisters, in the Throne Room of King’s Landing, we’re treated to an performance by the minstrel who participated in Tyrion’s capture. He’s singing a rather funny ballad about fat King Robert and the pig who killed him and the lion in his bed. King Robert failed his final test; “the lion ripped his balls off and the boar did all the rest.” Apparently, the minstrel unwisely decided to sing this song in a local tavern. Queen Cersei is not amused.
The courtiers murmur and there’s even a stray titter here and there, but the prevailing atmosphere is one of “should we even be hearing this, what will the little monster do next?” (Or that’s just me.) Sansa Stark is in the gallery watching, dressed in a lovely pink dress that matches her eyes, red from weeping. She looks like hell, poor girl.
Joffrey makes the minstrel who sang the song choose between losing his tongue or losing his fingers. It’s a tough choice, but the minstrel chooses to keep his digits (since he’s not a very good singer); Joffrey orders the silent Ilyn Payne to remove the man’s tongue. (I never thought I’d have multiple impromptu tongue removals to compare, but thankfully, unlike Khal Drogo, Payne uses pincers instead of his teeth.)
Now that the fun torture part of the morning is over, Joffrey hands over the reins to his mother, the Queen Regent, and moves on to some mental torture of poor Sansa.
Joffrey takes Sansa on a tour of the Red Keep’s hidden marvels. On the way, he mentions that he’ll “put a son” in Sansa as soon as she has her period. Wow, is it even possible for me to hate Joffrey more? I don’t know, but he’ll soon be put to the test, and pass it with flying colors.
Joffrey stops and walks across a narrow rather insecure bridge that leads to the walls of the Keep. A number of heads are impaled on spikes above him, including that of Ned Stark.
Sansa says that Joffrey promised to be merciful, and Joffrey tells her that he kept his promise because Ned’s death was “clean.” Poor Sansa begs to be allowed to go home, but apparently Cersei has other plans for her. “Mother says I’m still to marry you,” Joffrey tells her, much to her horror. He orders her to take a good long look at her father’s rotting head. (By the way, this is the second time I’ve seen a fake rotting Sean Bean head; many years ago, I saw him onstage as “Macbeth” which ended with a realistic facsimile of his noggin on a spear. Hmmm!)
“How long do I have to look?” Sansa asks her tormentor.
“As long as it pleases me!” the little weasel says.
In case Sansa missed it, Joffrey’s careful to show her Septa Mordane’s head as well, still neatly wrapped in a bloodstained veil. (Westeros must have the best safety pins ever.)
Joffrey tells Sansa that he’s going to give her a present of her traitorous brother Robb’s head too. Despite her grief and the destruction of her illusions and her friendless state, Sansa’s not completely broken. She tells Joffrey “Maybe he’ll give me yours.” Go Sansa!
Clearly taken aback by this defiant attitude, Joffrey tells Sansa that his mother believes a King should never strike his lady. So he orders Ser Meryn Trant, one of his Kingsguard knights (I think the one who was sent to fetch Arya from Syrio Forel), to hit her instead. Trant obeys orders and backhands Sansa twice across the face, cutting her lip and drawing blood.
Sansa is Catelyn “Kill them all” Tully-Stark’s daughter. She looks down at the drop to the courtyard below and back at Joffrey and there’s raw murder in her eyes. She walks towards Joffrey, but before she can realize her plan, Sandor Clegane takes her arm, and wipes the blood from her mouth, protecting Joffrey as he’s sworn to do, without betraying Sansa’s murderous intent to anyone.
Oblivious Joffrey walks away, and the Hound tells Sansa: “Save yourself some pain, girl. Give him what he wants.” (That advice didn’t work out so well for Ned. He gave Joffrey what he wanted and lost his head anyway!) Sansa tries to return the Hound’s hanky and he tells her to keep it because she’ll need it again. Well, that’s reassuring!
Back at Robb’s encampment, it’s time for a moonlit supper amidst the ruins. Various Northern lords argue about whether Robb should join forces with Renly or Stannis. Robb objects that Renly is Stannis’s younger brother so he can’t inherit ahead of Stannis (I guess Robb learned some lessons from Ned all too well! The chain of succession is sacred!)
Stannis is no more popular among the northern lords than he was down south, I guess, because everyone starts getting all “No, not STANNIS!” (Technically, of course, Joffrey is actually the King and Robb doesn’t know the secret of his parentage, so whichever Baratheon choose, Robb is still being a bit traitor-y. I guess the principle that Ned and Robert espoused—once the King has killed your father, all bets are off—is also still alive and well.)
Finally, the loudest Northern lord, Greatjon “I Laugh When Direwolves Eat My Fingers” Umber, decides that the North should declare independence instead of bowing to any of the Kings. The Northern lords bowed to the dragons, and now the dragons are dead. (Not so fast, Greatjon, as we shall see!) “There sits the only king I mean to bend my knee too: the King in the North,” Greatjon shouts. One by one, the other Northern lords follow suit, kneeling to Robb as King in the North.
Theon asks if he is Robb’s brother. “Now and always,” Robb replies, and Theon promises that “my sword is yours, in victory and defeat, from this day until my last day.” Hey, it’s another scene where I don’t want to smack Theon!
Robb is made King by acclamation, although he looks overwhelmed. He glances over at his mother, who looks proud, but also deeply troubled. The whole thing has spun way out of control and of course, it wasn’t what they intended when they left Winterfell.
Eventually Catelyn has enough of the Northern lords’ lack of volume control and walks away, coming to the cells where the Starks hold the captive Lannisters. She orders the guards to bring her to Jaime Lannister, who is kept apart from his fellow prisoners, chained to a pole, filthy, covered in blood and gorgeous. Catelyn orders the guard to leave them alone.
Jaime, surprised by his visitor, tells Catelyn that she looks lovely and that widowhood becomes her. (She actually does look lovely, all steely and proud.) She picks up a big rock.
Then Jaime channels his inner Theon and makes a lewd comment. Catelyn does what I’ve always wanted to do to Theon, and hits Jaime really hard with the rock. Inconceivable as it may seem to those of you who haven’t read the books, I love Jaime, but he truly and richly deserved that!
“I do like a violent woman,” Jaime tells Catelyn, and it’s true. Remember how he got turned on back when Cersei slapped him? But mostly, I think he’s deliberately trying to provoke Catelyn to kill him quickly, because now that Ned is dead, he believes he’s going to die too (or else be chained in a dungeon forever, which is its own kind of slow death for someone like Jaime).
Jaime’s ploy almost works. “I will kill you tonight,” Catelyn tells him. “Pack your head in a box and send it to your sister.” Jaime tells her that he’ll show her how to kill him, that if she hits him again and again over his ear, it won’t take long.
Catelyn tells Jaime that she sees through his act, that she knows he wants the world to believe he doesn’t fear death, and now it’s Jaime’s turn to be surprised. “I don’t, my lady. The dark is coming for all of us, why cry about it?”
She reminds Jaime that he’s got a dinner reservation at the Darkest Place in Hell Restaurant, “if the gods are just.”
Jaime laughs. “What gods are those?” he asks her. “If your gods are real and they are just, why is the world so full of injustice?”
“Because of men like you,” Catelyn tells him, and in a way she’s right. It’s the choices that men make that make the world a bitter place, not the justice or vengeance of the gods.
Jaime sighs. “There are no men like me,” he tells her. “Only me.” This is the second-most iconic of all Jaime’s lines in the series—the first is “the things I do for love”—and I’ve never really known how to read it.
Is it Jaime’s arrogance or a statement of individualism that refuses categorization or is it just a simple statement of fact? I doubt there’s more than one kingslaying sister-screwing knight in Westeros at any given time.
Catelyn’s tired of trading barbs with Jaime and she just wants some answers. She asks Jaime how Bran came to fall from the tower.
Say what you will about Jaime, he’s not a liar.
“I pushed him out the window,” he says.
“Why?” Catelyn asks.
“I hoped the fall would kill him,” Jaime answers her, as if it’s the most natural thing in the world to try and kill a ten-year-old.
“Why?” Catelyn asks again, but Jaime is still protecting Cersei and he doesn’t answer her question.
“You should get some sleep,” he tells her wearily. “It’s going to be a long war.”
The rock falls from Catelyn’s hand.
In King’s Landing, a naked boy who looks and sounds disturbingly like Loras Tyrell is crouched in a chair in what looks like Cersei’s bedroom. It’s not Loras, it’s Lancel Lannister, King Robert’s wine-providing squire. I hope he’s not clipping his toenails because that’s kind of gross.
The camera focuses on Cersei’s face as she reads the letter that presumably announces Jaime’s capture. She looks a bit off-kilter there, but more annoyed than grief-stricken. Clearly, this is meant to be a contrast to how Catelyn received the news of Ned’s death, and just as clearly, Cersei is not nearly as broken up about Jaime as Catelyn was about Ned.
Lancel comes over and asks her what their next move is and whether war is as exciting as it sounds. He might have a bobby pin in his hair, I can’t quite tell. Cersei’s all “why can’t I have better family members lounging around naked here?” and tells Lancel to get his naked ass back to bed.
In Tywin’s lavish tent (somehow the words “Tywin” and “lavish” go together perfectly, sort of like “chocolate and ice cream”), it’s clear that Big Daddy Lannister has also received the news of Jaime’s capture.
“They have my son,” he tells his assembled bannermen and relatives.
The lords all give a bit of exposition about how Robb is obviously less green than they’d hoped and how his direwolf killed lots of people and is generally quite scary. Also, apparently both Renly and Stannis Baratheon have now armed themselves against the Lannisters. So basically, what this boils down to is that the Lannisters, who were in a commanding position two episodes ago, are now kind of screwed.
“Perhaps we should sue for peace,” Tywin’s brother Kevan says.
Tyrion sweeps his wine-goblet to the ground, shattering it. “There’s your peace. Joffrey saw to that when he decided to remove Ned Stark’s head.”
Someone mentions that Cersei still holds Ned’s daughter and there’s some more overtalking and disagreement, like the most unruly high school class ever, until finally Tywin turns around and snarls “THEY HAVE MY SON! Get out, all of you!” No one wants to get detention from this principal. The lords, including Tyrion, all beat a hasty retreat, but Tywin calls Tyrion back.
Tyrion reaches for the wine-flask, and Tywin moves it away, but then in a wholly unexpcted display of courtesy, he pours Tyrion a goblet of wine before he backhandedly praises Tyrion for his astute reading of the situation. Ned-less, the Lannisters won’t be able to broker a peace with the Starks, which leaves them vulnerable to the threat of the two Baratheon brothers, Renly and Stannis. Tywin also confirms that basically no one except his mother can love Joffrey, by saying that Joffrey’s action in killing Ned was “madness and stupidity.”
Tywin tells Tyrion his further orders: Ser Gregor is headed out to the Riverlands for some horse-killing, pillaging, and setting things on fire. In short, a normal day’s activities for the Mountain that Rides. The rest of Tywin’s army is going to Harrenhal to regroup (no one has seen that location yet, but it’s the castle that Cersei promised to Janos Slynt, the commander of the City Watch, for his part in taking down Ned.) Tyrion, however, is going to King’s Landing to be Hand of the King in Tywin’s place. Uh oh! This doesn’t bode well for Tyrion’s life-span, does it? The last two Hands have come to bad ends.
“If you get so much as a whiff of treason,” Tywin tells Tyrion. “Baelish, Varys, Pycelle...”
Tyrion’s been around Tywin Lannister long enough to know the answer for that. “Heads. Spikes. Walls.”
“Why not my uncle?” Tyrion asks Tywin, baffled by this sudden huge transfer of responsibility from the man who just told him that he’d always thought Tyrion was a “stunted fool.”
“Why not anyone? Why me?”
Tywin looks at him wearily and says “You’re my son.”
(In the books, Tyrion doesn’t get to enjoy even this brief moment of fatherly approval, because he realizes that the only reason Tywin is acknowledging Tyrion as his son is because Tywin has given up Jaime for dead.)
“One more thing,” Tywin instructs Tyrion. “You will not take that whore to court. Do you understand?”
In the deserted remnants of the Dothraki encampment, Danaerys sleeps inside a tent. Jorah, still in armor, watches over her with his sword unsheathed.
Dany wakes, asking for her son, and Jorah tells her that the baby didn’t live. He wants to spare her further pain, but Dany insists on knowing exactly what happened.
“How did my son die?” she asks him.
Jorah hesitates, and then Mirri Maaz Durr, the healer/witch (depending on your perspective) interrupts. “The child was monstrous,” she tells Danaerys. “Scaled like a lizard, blind, with leather wings like the wings of a bat. When I touched him the skin fell from his bones. Inside he was full of graveworms.” She’s clearly enjoying this recounting to Dany:
“I warned you that only death can pay for life. You knew the price.”
Strictly speaking, Dany was led to believe that Drogo’s stallion was the price, and honestly if it was really the baby all along, then that poor horse has got to be kind of ticked off in whatever horsie afterlife he now resides that he got his throat cut and it didn’t even matter.
Danaerys wants to see Khal Drogo, and when Jorah warns her that it might not be wise, she says she wants to know what she bought with her son’s life. She emerges, walking slowly and painfully because she’s just given birth. There are only a few tents scattered about and Dany realizes that Drogo’s khalasar is gone. Jorah tells her that the Dothraki follow only the strong. Essentially, Drogo’s rule was doomed from the moment he first fell off his horse.
To be honest, there were so few people in the khalasar to begin with that it’s a bit difficult to see how the loss of a couple of dozen individuals makes such a huge difference, but OK, I’ll roll with that. At least Rakharo and Irri are still with Dany, because they follow along the Painful Revelations Caravan.
Things go from bad to worse for Dany when she finds Khal Drogo, who’s laying in the sun like an extremely handsome, pectorally gifted turnip. He doesn’t recognize Danaerys at all, and Jorah uncomfortably tells her that “he seems to like the warmth.”
Dany turns on Mirri Maaz Durr, who says “He lives. You asked for life. You paid for life.” Kids, next time you order up some blood magic, make sure you get the three-year warranty and money back guarantee if you’re not 100% satisfied with the results.
“This is not life,” Dany tells Mirri Maaz Durr. “When will he be as he was?”
The maegi looks at her, half pityingly and half contemptuously. “When the sun rises in the west, sets in the east. When the seas go dry, when the mountains blow in the wind like leaves.”
Dany dismisses her attendants, including Jorah, who balks at leaving her alone with the sorceress.
“I have nothing more to fear from this woman,” Dany tells Jorah. “Go!”
The maegi is waiting for Dany who accuses her. “You knew what I was buying, and you knew the price.”
Mirri Maaz Durr implicitly acknowledges the truth of Dany’s words, telling her that it was wrong of the Dothraki to burn her temple because this angered the Great Shepherd. Dany refuses to believe that what happened was the work of a god, because her child was innocent, going back to Jaime Lannister’s question about how just gods permit the injustices of the world to occur.
The maegi scoffs at the idea of Dany’s child being innocent.
“He would have been the Stallion Who Mounts the World. Now he will burn no cities. His khalasar will trample no nations into dust.”
So it was the prophecy that doomed him, poor kid. Better to be “the Pretty Cute Baby Who May or May Not Have a Destiny” I guess!
Dany can’t fathom how Mirri Maaz Durr can hate her so much. “I spoke for you,” she says. “I saved you.”
Mirri Maaz Durr snorts at Dany’s naivete, telling her that three of the Dothraki riders had already raped her by the time Dany “saved” her. And above and beyond that, she saw her town destroyed, including the temple where she had healed countless people. The piles of heads the Dothraki left in the streets of her ruined town included her baker, and a boy she’d healed of a fever not long before. (As a bread-lover, I’d be pretty pissed off if someone beheaded my baker too, let me tell you!)
“Tell me again exactly what it was that you saved,” she says.
“Your life,” Dany spits out.
Mirri Maaz Durr tells her to take a long look at Drogo. “Then you will see exactly what life is worth when all the rest has gone.” (And that is indeed a huge question in the series—what is life itself worth if all the things that make us human, that make our lives worth something—are stripped away from us? A lot of the characters have to answer this question and their answers tells us a lot about who they are.)
On some fundamental level Mirri Maaz Durr is not that different from Catelyn Stark, who vows to “kill them all” as soon as her daughters are safe. (Or all that different from Drogo either, who vows vengeance on all of Westeros for Robert’s trying to kill Danaerys and his unborn child.) It’s only that we, the viewers/readers, knew Ned Stark and have watched his children for ten hours so we identify with Catelyn’s burning need for vengeance against the Lannisters, and we’ve seen that Danaerys found a home, acceptance, even happiness with Drogo and the Dothraki, so it’s easy to slip into the same mindset as the Dothraki, that the Lamb Men don’t matter, that their dead aren’t important.
From her perspective Danaerys “saved” Mirri Maaz Durr so she should be grateful, but from the maegi’s perspective, it doesn’t matter one whit that Dany went out on a bit of a limb for her, because that happened AFTER her world was destroyed anyway. And it was Dany’s quest for that throne that destroyed the Lamb Men in the first place, along with Drogo and her unborn child. The irony is abundant.
On the other hand, MMD shows the limits of vengeance too, because vengeance destroys guilty and innocent alike—vengeance isn’t justice, after all—and as we shall see, it ultimately destroys the person who seeks it.
Well, enough of my philosophizing and back to the Wall, where Jon has saddled his horse, determined to ride away and help out Robb in his war against the Lannisters. Faithful Sam tries to stop him, reminding what happens to Night’s Watch deserters.
“I won’t let you go,” Sam tells Jon. “We need you here.”
Jon’s answer is to tell Sam to move, and ride him down when he doesn’t. (I think someone needs a time-out, frankly. And possibly a spanking too!) Ghost races away alongside Jon, looking delighted to be out running. Hey, maybe he’ll find some more limbs to bring home to his master.
In Tyrion’s tent, Shae is packing her things, delighted that her new boyfriend is now going to be the second-most powerful man in the realm. Her delight is somewhat tempered by the fact that Tywin ordered Tyrion to leave her behind and she gets a little stroppy with Tyrion, asking if he’s ashamed of her or afraid that she’ll dance around the court with her tits out. Something about Sibell Kikelli’s German accent as she delivers that line makes Tyrion and me laugh. Shae gets mad and asks, Joe Pesci-style, if Tyrion finds her funny. “Shae the Funny Whore?” (Which is actually even funnier with her accent!)
Tyrion tells Shae that his father’s always been a “cunt” (which does actually seem like it’s true, but he’s a cunt with style, you have to give him that!) and invites Shae to go with him after all.
Back in the dark impenetrable Northern forests, Sam is still riding, accompanied by Ghost and pursued by Sam, Pyp and Grenn. Sam gets whacked on the head with a tree limb that Jon managed to avoid seconds before and falls, and Jon can’t ride away and leave his friend injured, so he comes back, sullen-faced.
His three friends surround him and tell him that they’re taking back where he belongs. He tells them that he belongs with his brother and they remind him that they are his brothers now.
“Night gathers and now my watch begins. I shall live and die at my post. I shall wear no earmuffs, hats or hoods. I am the ears that are frostbitten, I am the sword in the darkness, the watcher on the walls, the shield that guards the realms of men,” they tell him.
YAY BOYS! Way to go! We don’t want Jon Snow’s pretty, pouty head rolling, do we? Finally Jon takes back the sword the Old Bear gave him, and gives up his plans to ride south and join Robb.
At the Dothraki encampment, Dany bathes the still-catatonic Drogo, trying desperately to waken whatever personality is left, but there’s nothing there. She realizes that he’s never coming back.
“When the sun rises in the west and sets in the east, then you shall return to me, my sun and stars,” she sobs on Drogo’s chest. I don’t even like Drogo very much, and yet I am totally moved by this scene.
She kisses Drogo gently and then, still sobbing, reaches for a convenient pillow and presses it over his face. His body twitches before it’s finally still, as Danaerys finally destroys the only home she’s made for herself.
From the tragic to the ... ridiculous. Back in King’s Landing, Maester Pycelle has a weird monologue with a naked whore about how Kings are sometimes nice guys until they just go crazy and start burning people. Ah, it’s Ros again. How I’ve missed her, except NOT AT ALL!
I guess we’re meant to infer from this scene that a) Littlefinger has a spy in Pycelle’s bed or b) that Pycelle is smarter than he seems or c) Aerys Targaryen was CRAZY and liked fire (which will be an important plot point slightly later in the episode.) I don’t really know, though because like Ros, I’m hopelessly bored. Sorry, Julian Glover, I like you but I just don’t care for this scene.
The two other members of the Small Council (aside from Ned - dead; and Renly - absent) are busy having another Threat-Off in the throne room. Petyr confesses that he’d behead everyone who ever laughed at him when/if he’s ever King. Varys says he never wants to be King and then Petyr indulges his weird obsession about Varys’s eunuch state, wanting to know if the “took the pillow with the stones” and wondering if Varys looks like a woman. Varys is flattered that his “gash” causes Petyr to stay awake at night. Hee!
The Frenemy summit is interrupted by the arrival of King Joffrey (ugh!)
Outside in the stews of King’s Landing, Yoren brings Arya to the meeting place of his merry band of misfits, rapists, murderers, thieves and scary-ass individuals - in short, his new Night’s Watch recruits. If he ever gets bored with being a Night’s Watch recruiter, Yoren could easily open a beauty salon, because Arya now has a really fetching little pixie cut. (How come when people cut off their hair with knives on TV, it always ends up looking awesome? Arya here, and then there was that time on Battlestar Galactica when Kara Thrace lopped off her hair with a bowie knife too. Whenever I cut my own hair, it looks frightful! Although I haven’t tried doing it with a carving knife yet!)
Anyway, hair aside, Yoren reminds Arya that she’s now “Arry” the orphan boy because given the company in which they’re going to be traveling, no one must have even an inkling of her true identity. Half the new Night’s Watch recruits would sell her to the Queen for a pardon, and the other half would rape her and then sell her to the Queen for a pardon.
Yoren is not lying. These people are pretty creepy. Some guys are apparently so terrible that they’re actually traveling in a cage, and when Arya backs away from them, she runs smack into two teenaged boys, a fat bully and a thin bully, who call her a midget and try to take away her sword, Needle. They push Arya to the ground and the fat boy tells her how he kicked someone to death (charming!) and demands her sword. She draws it in fine Water Dancer fashion and holds it the fat boy’s throat, telling him that she’s killed a fat boy, that she loves killing fat boys. Oh Arya! This isn’t what I wanted for you, darling!
The fat boy bumps into a cute boy standing behind him. It’s Gendry, the blacksmith’s apprentice, King Robert’s bastard son whom Ned visited at the armory. Although he too thinks Arya has stolen her sword, he’s actually nice and not evil or creepy. This probably means he’ll die soon. Gendry is off to the Wall as well, because the armorer for some reason fired him from his apprenticeship. (Perhaps because being King Robert’s bastard or shielding King Robert’s bastard isn’t the safest course of action any more!)
Yoren rallies his ragtag crew. “Come on, you sorry sons of whores!” (LANGUAGE, YOREN!) “It’s a thousand leagues from here to the wall, and winter is coming.” That’s a cheery thought!
At the Wall, Lord Mormont eats his breakfast of ham and beer, remarking that Jon looks exhausted after his moonlight ride. Panic flares up in Jon’s eyes, and Mormont tells him not to look so terrified. “If we beheaded everyone who ran away from the night the wall would be guarded by ghosts.” (But wouldn’t a bunch of albino direwolves guarding the wall be both effective AND cute?)
At least Jon wasn’t whoring in Molestown. “Honor made you leave,” Mormont says. “Honor brought you back.”
Jon says that it was his friends who brought him back and Mormont tells him: “I didn’t say it was your honor.” Ha! I love the snarky old men of the Night’s Watch!
“They killed my father!” Jon says, and Mormont points out that Jon can’t bring Ned back to life.
He tells Jon that all kinds of crazy stuff is going on beyond the Wall - abandoned villages, warring tribes uniting, fires in the mountains. Outside the other Night’s Watch fortress of Eastwatch, they found blue-eyed corpses that they wisely burned. “Do you think your brother’s war is more important than ours?” Mormont asks Jon. “When dead men and worse come hunting for us in the night, do you think it matters who sits on the Iron Throne?”
Over shots of the men of the Night’s Watch arming themselves, Mormont tells Jon that he intends to ride in force against the Wildlings, White Walkers and whatever else is out there. The assembled Night’s Watch heads out through into the wilderness beyond the Wall, led by Lord Mormont himself, as Mormont’s voice says: “I’ll only ask you once, Lord Snow, are you a brother of the Night’s Watch or a bastard boy who wants to play at war?”
In warmer lands, Khal Drogo lies on a bed of logs placed within a circle of wood. Dany stands in her wedding dress, as Rakharo places the dragons’ eggs on the pyre. Jorah tries to argue with Dany that the eggs shouldn’t be burned. If Dany sold them, she could retire to the Free Cities with enough money for the rest of her life. (I’m sure Jorah intends retiring right alongside her.)
Grief and clarity of purpose have made Dany suddenly seem a lot older than she was just a few episodes ago. She’s older and wiser than Jorah, certainly.
“They were not given to me to sell,” she tells him.
“Khaleesi,” Jorah pleads with her, “Don’t go into the fire.... I won’t watch you burn.”
Dany gently asks “is that what you fear?” (well, yeah, because usually when people walk into fires, burning ensues!) and gently kisses Jorah on the cheek. (I didn’t really get the Jorah Appreciation until the past two episodes, even though I’ve liked Iain Glen for a long time, but I have to say that yeah, I get it now. He’s no Jaime Lannister, but he’ll do!)
Before she walks onto her husband’s pyre, Dany tells the remnants of her followers that they will be her Khalasar. “I will free you. Take off your collars and go, if you wish, but if you stay, it will be as brothers and sisters, as husbands and wives.” (These are not, in Westeros, mutually exclusive categories, I must point out.) A number of the slaves get up and walk away, and Mirri Maaz Durr kind of smirks at Dany’s naivete.
All the smirking stops when Dany orders Jorah to bind the maegi to the pyre. Jorah hesitates, perhaps remembering the whole “burning people alive” hobby that Dany’s father had perfected before he was deposed. Dany reminds him that he swore to obey her.
“I am Danaerys Stormborn, of House Targaryen, of the blood of Old Valyria. I am the dragon’s daughter, and I swear to you that those who would harm you will die screaming.”
(Well, those who have harmed her will certainly die screaming, as we shall very shortly see.)
“You will not hear me scream,” Mirri Maaz Durr tells Dany proudly.
Dany tells her that she will scream, “but it is not your screams I want, only your life.”
Dany takes the torch and lights Drogo’s pyre, which is constructed in the same way that the White Walkers made the Wildling body-collage in the first episode - the pyre is shaped like an “O,” with Drogo’s body the horizontal bar inside. I don’t know if it means anything, but it’s a nice visual call back from the last episode of the season to the first one.
The maegi sings, perhaps praying or perhaps casting a spell, until her songs turn into screams. Dany looks on, her face as calm as when she watched her brother die, and as the fires burn higher, she steps into the flames. The slaves she’s just freed bow down and Mirri Maaz Durr’s screams reach a crescendo as the flames flicker around Danaerys’s face. We fade to black.
The world is the color of ash, and the few members of Dany’s khalasar lay slumped around, leading me to believe that it’s taken a day or two for that enormous fire to burn down. Jorah, Rakharo and some random guy I haven’t seen before, walk towards the charred logs. Hunched amidst them is Danaerys, a tiny bright animal in her lap. She rises from the flames, naked, ash-covered and wholly unburned, as another tiny dragon peers over her shoulder and a third stands guard at her leg.
Jorah kneels. “Blood of my blood,” he says to her, for she is now a Khal in her own right. The dragons scream defiance.
The former slaves bow down before the mother of dragons.
And we fade away to the credits, and a little note at the end: “Game of Thrones, Season 2, Coming in the Spring of 2012.”
How can we ever last that long?