- We immediately pick up where we left off with Joffrey's demise and follow Sansa's swift escape from King's Landing. We were left in the dark last week wondering if she actually did take up Ser Dontos on his offer. (Well, I didn't wonder, but the TV audience was left in suspense!) We were treated to a Tywin scene to add suspense to locking down the city and finding Sansa, but it was all for naught. Sansa did escape on a rowboat with Ser Dontos. They rowed through the foggy Blackwater Bay until they reached a ship that was cloaked by the same fog. Who was Sansa's salvation? Why Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish of course! Now, the show certainly built up a bigger connection between Littlefinger and Sansa than the books ever did before this point. All of Sansa's interactions about escaping King's Landing were with Ser Dontos in the books where here we were warned of the danger of Littlefinger and his interest in Sansa since the end of season 2. So, what the show had going for it was that Littlefinger all but disappeared from the show for many episodes (since he went to the Vale to woo Catelyn's sister and the former Hand of the King Jon Arryn's wife Lysa Tully.
- Anyway, we don't really learn what Littlefinger is up to but it's safe to assume he played "some" part in the fall of Joffrey. Clearly, he knew about it as he was there to save Sansa. And the necklace that Ser Dontos offered to Sansa was not a family heirloom either. He had constructed it a week prior and appeared to be fake as he smashed the jewels fairly easily. (I vaguely implied to keep an eye on that necklace, right?) Littlefinger proved how dangerous an ally/foe he can be by having Ser Dontos killed so he didn't drunkenly reveal how Sansa was able to escape King's Landing. So, Sansa has gone from one type of imprisonment to possibly another. And Joffrey's murder comes closer into focus. But, I wouldn't say it's entirely clear yet!
- Elsewhere, Margaery and Lady Olenna had a discussion reflecting on this recent turn of events. Margaery certainly isn't happy that she has now been married to 2 deceased kings. This doesn't earn her a very good reputation! Whereas Olenna stated that she is better off than being married to a monster. She also implied that her position with the Lannisters is still intact. Since they didn't consumate the marriage, she technically is not Queen by Westerosi law.
- No fear, there is another Lannister (Baratheon?? HA!) in the line of succession. Good ol' recasted Tommen. I don't mind the recast here as this guy is a little older and seems to be able to handle the role. (It's not like Tommen needs to be played by a Shakespearean thespian or anything!) I loved this scene between Tommen and Tywin going over what makes a good king. Cersei was clearly annoyed, but Tywin had a point as always. His point was Joffrey did not take his role seriously and was an awful king. He wanted to IMMEDIATELY start grooming the next king to be wise. But mainly, his advice was to listen to his advisors forever. In other words, "be my puppet my illegitimate grandson!"
- As Tywin pulled Tommen out of his mother's clutches and walked him out with a discussion about the birds and the bees, Jaime walked in to talk to Cersei. Cersei is still blaming Tyrion for the whole thing based on some lively discussions the 2 of them had in a prior season. Tyrion claimed that he would ruin her happiness one day, rip it right out from underneath her. I believe this was in season 2 when Cersei thought she had found Tyrion's whore but it was Ros instead. Granted, Cersei has NEVER been happy. Well, she was for a second when Tyrion was arranged to marry Sansa, but she got the blow that she had to marry Loras seconds later. Anyway, she is now requesting that her brother/lover Jaime kill their other brother Tyrion. It is THEIR son that died after all. Jaime didn't really agree, but instead what followed was too disturbing for words. It clearly looked like a little sibling rape. My recollection from the books is vague here. Jaime didn't arrive to King's Landing until AFTER Joffrey's death. WELL after. But they definitely did have some "action" in the sept. But, I believe it was more consensual. I'm sure they want to keep playing up the fact that Cersei has lost interest in Jaime due to his new life status and missing digit. She clearly started pushing him a way when the gold hand touched her face. Granted, it was awful timing for any sort of act like this (even moreso for a couple of people that never should be partaking in these activities anyway!). The general consensus I'm reading from book fans is that they are upset the show went this route with Jaime forcing himself on her. There was so much character building in the books and the show to turn Jaime into more of someone you root for. This definitely does some damage. Granted, it is Cersei so maybe people don't feel the love loss too much. But, it's still disturbing!
- So the Red Viper, Oberyn Martell, is clearly being painted us a constant lover of mass orgies. They discussed his sexual preferences for quite some time and how he loves all things of nature when it comes to embracing the arts of pleasure. But, this was eventually interrupted by Tywin and his strategizing. There were some intense discussions here about Elia Martell's death and Oberyn's interest in speaking with The Mountain. But Tywin sidestepped that for the moment to requesting Oberyn be a judge at Tyrion's trial. It was all in the name of getting the Martell house back in alliance with the Lannisters for what could potentially be ahead (i.e. facing Dany's dragons. Everyone rejoices "There's a connection!!!" Mike calms everyone down "Probably still a long ways off folks!") This certainly is more of a connection being made in the show between plots than was made in the books from what I remember. I don't even think Westeros really believed that the dragons have returned at this point in the books. But, I understand wanting the TV audience to be invested in the connections between these storylines. I think the judging panel was Mace Tyrell, Oberyn Martell and Tywin Lannister for the Tyrion trial in the books too. I'll look it up later and correct this if I'm wrong.
- We should also state that Oberyn is an expert in poison and Tywin definitely believes Joffrey was poisoned (rather than choking which were the symptoms that led to his death). He also knows that Oberyn and Tyrion talked when he first entered the city. Does making him a judge rule out that he may still suspect Oberyn as a conspirator? Maybe/Maybe not. I truly don't remember from the books! But that Tywin is a master strategist so expect he has some trick up his sleeve.
- That said, let's not rule Tyrion out just yet either. He always seems to weasel his way out of situations, as Cersei alluded to. It was probably a good idea to keep Tyrion out of the "Black Cells" for this stint of the show. Rumor has it that Tyrion (Peter Dinklage actually) does some of his best work in this cell. He will be having some pretty intense discussions with various characters. Lots to potentially be revealed! But, it's better that it's in a well lit dungeon rather than the dark cell that Ned Stark was kept in. Of course, Podrick did bring him candles so it probably will get dark at night. Podrick, ever the loyal squire, gave Tyrion all of the information going on. The 3 judges, Sansa is gone (makes him look even more guilty), Varys was requested to speak in Joffrey's defense. It was also revealed that even an attempt was made to bribe Podrick. They would've given him a knighthood, but he turned it down. Tyrion told him to fetch Jaime but then to leave the city immediately. This was their farewell and it was rather touching. Is this the end of Podrick's adventures in Westeros? I don't really want to say, but by saying that I imply there is more in the books don't I? But, even if you tried to guess where he'd show up next you'd have no idea! And I really don't know if the show will go that route.
- Arya and The Hound's road trip to the Vale continues. (Wait, wasn't Littlefinger supposed to be at the Vale too? And isn't Sansa with Littlefinger now? Hmmm) This scene, I do not remember from the books but it was pretty awesome. They spent time with a farmer and his daughter with Arya claiming that the Hound was her father and he fought in the war for House Tully. Dinner was hilarious with praying to the 7 gods and The Hound and Arya eating soup. But, once The Hound found out they have silver, any chance of employment was slim. We knew the Hound would be taking that money by force! The exchange between Arya and The Hound after that was classic. And I'm just going to copy/paste it from Hibberd's recap.
"You're the worst s--t in the Seven Kingdoms!" And The Hound delivers a big line: "I just understand the way things are ... how many Starks do they got to behead before you figure it out?"
- If you didn't remember the leeches on the flame from last year, it was reminded to us in the old clips. Joffrey is dead, so Stannis is giving credit to the Lord of Light. (If you recall, Balon Greyjoy was also given his very own leech to. Still alive as far as we know!) More jibber jabber between Davos and Stannis. Davos claims they still need an army to win wars. Anyway, it all led to a scene between Davos and Shireen. When he was getting another lesson in literacy, he came up with the brilliant idea to contact the Iron Bank of Braavos. It's been made clear that King's Landing is in severe debt to the Iron Bank. And if they don't pay those debts, the Iron Bank gets its money by funding their enemies. Now, I can't remember if this happened off the page in the books, but I would not be surprised if we take a little trip to Braavos with Stannis and/or Davos this season! Anything would be better than remaining at Dragonstone for any more time ever!
- In the books (The words TV viewers dread!), Sam killed a White Walker with the dragonglass during the battle at the First of the First Hand. It was witnessed by Grenn (who just returned this episode) and word got out. Sam started getting called "Sam the Slayer". When he killed the White Walker in private only for Gilly and baby's eyes, it seems that the nickname still happened but to more mocking tones. Maybe this will change over time! But, Sam's fear for Gilly's safety at a castle full of "backed up" men was legit. Though taking her to Molestown? (sp) I don't know how great an idea this is. I will say this never happened in the books either. But, in the books the timing was way different. Jon Snow returned to the walk with a sense of urgency as the wildlings were RIGHT behind him. Sam returned somewhat around the same time. The show is taking its time to build to some kind of conflict. So, whatever happens with this Gilly story, I'm not really sure. I have an idea where it will end up though!
- Same story with the Wildlings raiding lands. This never happened in the book. Of course, it's building up the threat of the Thenns. They killed this whole town/villiage of people but left a kid alive to go tell the Night's Watch about it. Styr told the kid he was going to eat his parents. Ewww. Anyway, it's all meant to be a diversion. Empty out the Night's Watch while Mance makes his move. Jon and Alliser Thorne seemed to agree on at least this. They must stay put at the Wall.
- But, once Grenn and the other guy (forget his name right now) show up talking about what's going on at Craster's Keep, it sounds like staying put isn't an option. Jon told Mance there were 1000 people manning the wall when it's closer to 100. If the Night's Watch folks who stayed at the keep run into Mance and his army, it will give Mance the advantage. This is another new story to the show, but I'm totally cool with it! Anything that can build up Jon Snow's character to more of what we see in the books rather than what we've seen so far on the show!
- I'm running out of writing steam here! But, this was a pretty awesome sequence. Different from the books as the character that faced off against Mereen's finest soldier doesn't exist in the books. Us book readers assumed Daario would take his place. And if the sight of New Daario wasn't jarring anymore for anyone, then the scene worked! It was pretty awesome. It seems like Dany doesn't want to take the city by force. But, rather she wants to create an uprising with the slaves. They catapulted barrels of broken chains of all the free slaves with Dany into the city to ignite an idea of a rebellion. (CORRECTION: The collars were actually the collars of the dead slaves crucifixed at every mile marker on the way to Mereen. Even more impactful! Of course, with there being 163 of those and seemingly more collars thrown off the wall, it could have been a combination of all of them.) We'll see if it works!