I wrote these rewatches on the old site a few years ago, and now I’m posting them here. These recaps naturally contain spoilers.
Episode title: Valor Dohaeris
Director: Daniel Minahan
Written by: David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Summary: The White Walkers and their army of wights overwhelm the Night’s Watch force on the Fist of the First Men. Sam is attacked by a wight, but is saved by Ghost and Mormont with his few dozen survivors. The Lord Commander reprimands Sam for failing to send ravens south to warn of the incoming army and announces they must make it back to the Wall to warn Westeros of the coming threat.
Meanwhile, Jon is escorted through the wildling camp by his captors Ygritte and the Lord of Bones. As they enter the camp, Jon is dumbfounded by the sight of a real-life giant and jeered by the wildling children. When he enters the tent of the King-Beyond-the-Wall, Jon kneels to Tormund Giantsbane, mistaking him for Mance Rayder. The real Mance, an unassuming man sitting in a corner, questions Jon’s motives for deserting the Night’s Watch. After several unsatisfactory answers, Jon earns Mance’s approval by describing his disgust that Lord Commander Mormont did nothing to stop Craster sacrificing his sons to the White Walkers.
Newly-knighted Ser Bronn of the Blackwater returns to Tyrion’s service for a much higher fee. During his meeting with his father, Tyrion presses his father to reward his contributions and acknowledge his birthright as heir to Casterly Rock, since his brother Jaime set aside his claim when he joined the Kingsguard. Tywin agrees that Tyrion will receive a suitable chamber, position, and wife, but never inherit Casterly Rock.
Littlefinger informs Sansa that he is negotiating a project to take him away from King’s Landing. He offers to smuggle her out if she can keep quiet about the plan. At the same time, Littlefinger’s assistant Ros warns Sansa’s handmaiden Shae to watch out for Sansa when dealing with Littlefinger.
Elsewhere, Joffrey and Lady Margaery are returning from Baelor’s Sept via Flea Bottom when Margaery stops the procession to visit an orphanage and distribute bread and toys. Joffrey remains hidden in his palanquin, and seems genuinely confused when Margaery emerges with the orphan’s adoration. That night, Joffrey and Cersei dine with Margaery and her brother Ser Loras. Cersei criticizes Margaery by pointing out her charity work took place on the same streets where rioters recently killed several of the royal party. Trying to portray himself as brave, Joffrey argues that there was no danger and Margaery knows what she was doing. Defeated, Cersei agrees that Margaery knows what she is doing, but her tone hints at doubts about the Tyrell motives.
Davos is rescued from a rocky spar in Blackwater Bay by his old friend Salladhor Saan. Salladhor tells him that Stannis has retreated to Dragonstone, but will see no one but the priestess Melisandre, who is burning her dissenters alive. Davos insists on returning there to kill Melisandre. Upon his arrival, Davos finds Stannis brooding and blames Melisandre for leading him astray. Melisandre argues that it was Davos who argued she be sent where her magic could not protect the thousands who burned to death, including Davos’ own son Matthos. At the mention of his son, Davos flies into a rage and tries to stab Melisandre, but the guards restrain him and Stannis orders him thrown in the dungeon.
Robb arrives at Harrenhal, but finds Ser Gregor Clegane has been abandoned the castle and slaughtered 200 prisoners of war. After consigning his mother to a cell, Robb discovers a lone survivor named Qyburn.
Dany arrives in Astapor on Slaver’s Bay. Her three dragons are growing fast, but they are not yet large enough to conquer Westeros alone, so she must have an army. Jorah notes that the elite eunuch-soldiers of Astapor, known as the Unsullied, are renowned as the finest in the world. An Unsullied dealer named Kraznys mo Nakloz gives them a brutal demonstration of his soldier’s fortitude, with his slave girl Missandei translating for him. Kraznys says he has 8,000 for sale, but she must decide quickly. A hooded figure in black begins following them. Then a warlock disguised as a young girl attempts to assassinate Dany with a venomous manticore, but is thwarted by the hooded figure. Removing his hood, Ser Barristan Selmy begs her forgiveness for failing House Targaryen during the War of the Usurper and hails her the true queen, asking for a place in her Queensguard
My take: I think it’s funny that Joffrey struggles with the word “charitable” as if such a concept never occured to him. I like how protective Shae has become over Sansa. We start to see Margarey’ long game. She is going to win the heart of the snall folk and is beginning to mold Joffrey to her image. The translation scene was pretty humorous when you find out later that Dany speaks the language.
Changes from the books: The biggest change is Selmy reveals himself right away, while in the books, he goes by the name Whitebeard and has a companion named Strong Belwas Mance’s wife Dalla and her sister Val were present when Jon encounters him in the novels, and a wildling named Jarl. Jon does not kneel before Tormund in the books.While Mance is glad Qhorin is dead, he is also sad since he was once his friend. Mance Rayder tells Jon that he visited Winterfell as a singer during King Robert Baratheon.Jon gives a very different reason as to why he wants to join the Free Folk, involving his bastardy and upbringing in Winterfell. The scene where Margaery Tyrell comforts the orphans and hands out food does not happen in the book, though it is said that Margaery and her family are deftly building up support for themselves among the commoners by handing out food aid, buying hot pies off baker’s carts, giving alms to beggars, and so on and so forth. Ironically, the Tyrells actually heavily contributed to the famine of the smallfolk by closing the Rose’s Road. The dinner scene with the Tyrells and Lannisters does not happen in the book.
Nudity: A whore with Bronn appears topless
Locations on the Map: King’s Landing, Dragonstone, Harrenhal, Winterfell (burnt), the Wall, Astapor
Death Count: Hundreds of men of the Night Watch, by the White Walkers. Two hundred prisoners of war by the Mountain
Quotes: Tyrion Lannister: Grand Maester Pycelle made the same joke. You must be proud to be as funny as a man whose balls brush his knees Bronn: We are, but I’m a sellsword. I sell my sword. I don’t loan it out to friends as a favor.
Episode title: Dark Wings, Dark Words
Director: Daniel Minahan
Written by: Vanessa Taylor
Summary: Jon Snow joins the wildling army on its march south. Mance takes Jon to visit a scout named Orell, who a warg who can enter the mind of animals and is using his power to scout ahead. Orell says that he saw the Fist of the First Men covered with “dead crows.” Meanwhile, Sam collapses from exhaustion. Rast blames Sam for hiding instead of fighting.Lord Commander Mormont returns to sternly forbid Sam to die and order Rast to keep Sam alive on pain of death.
Bran Stark dreams of the mysterious three-eyed raven again. Reliving old memories, he shoots an arrow at the bird but misses. Then a boy appears to tell him that he cannot kill the raven because he is the raven. Later, the boy from the dream approaches their camp unarmed. Osha comes up behind him with a spear, but the boy’s sister surprises Osha and puts a knife to her throat. Osha points out that Bran’s direwolf Summer will tear them apart, but Summer only sniffs the boy’s hand and turns away. The boy introduces himself as Jojen Reed and his sister as Meera, claiming they have come a long way to find Bran. Jojen explains that Bran is a warg and with practice he can consciously enter his wolf and control his actions. Bran asks if his dreams of the three-eyed raven are part of being a warg, but Jojen explains that is different. The raven brings the related ability known as “the Sight,” which allows one to see the past, present, and future. Bran recalls that Howland Reed, Jojen’s father, saved his father’s life in Robert’s Rebellion. Jojen replies that his father never speaks much about the war.
While dressing Sansa in her chambers, Shae cautions Sansa that Littlefinger has offered to help her for nothing, which means he must be after something. Loras invites Sansa to meet Margaery and their grandmother, Lady Olenna. Olenna asks Sansa what Joffrey is truly like, since he is to marry Margaery. Sansa is reluctant, but when Olenna mentions her father’s reputation for truth Sansa’s eyes blaze and she angrily recounts how Joffrey promised mercy, then beheaded her father and made her look at his head. Sansa immediately backtracks, but eventually the Tyrells get her to call Joffrey a “monster.” Olenna is disappointed but unsurprised, and Margaery only shrugs. Sansa worries they will call off the wedding, but Olenna assures her Margaery’s father is too intent on a royal marriage.
Tyrion Lannister returns to his new chambers to find Shae has sneaked in. She asks Tyrion to protect Sansa for Littlefinger. Joffrey summons Margaery to his chambers, and quickly brings up Margaery’s previous marriage to Renly. Margaery feigns demure shyness and delicately uses Renly’s known homosexuality to paint herself as a dutiful but frustrated bride. Margaery then skillfully diverts the conversation to Joffrey’s exquisite new crossbow and quickly deduces that Joffrey is excited by sadism. She uses this to flirt with him by asking if he would like to watch her kill something, which Joffrey admits he would.
Theon awakes in a dungeon after being knocked out before the Sack of Winterfell. Without even asking a question, men in ironborn clothing begin torturing him by prying his fingernails off with a knife. Later, they progress to slowly twisting a screw into his foot, repeatedly asking why he captured Winterfell. When the guards finally leave, a servant boy unwinds the screw and says Theon’s sister Yara has sent him to rescue Theon, but they must wait until the castle sleeps, so he leaves Theon alone again.
Robb’s maternal grandfather, Lord Hoster Tully, has died after a long illness, and Ramsay Snow reports that Winterfell has been sacked and Bran and Rickon are missing. Leaving Roose Bolton to garrison Harrenhal, Robb rides to Riverrun for his grandfather’s funeral. Talisa notices Catelyn making a prayer wheel and offers to help, but Catelyn insists only a mother can make one for her children. Catelyn reveals she has made them only twice before: when Bran fell and when Jon Snow was deathly ill.
Travelling north from Harrenhal, Arya, Gendry, and Hot Pie run into a small party of the Brotherhood Without Banners led by the red priest Thoros of Myr and Anguy. Thoros is amiable and claims he only wants to talk, but is very insistent they come with him. Thoros treats them to food and drink at the inn at the crossroads. Thoros permits them to leave, but as they head for the doors, Anguy returns with The Hound, whom the Brotherhood have captured. Arya attempts to edge past while Thoros taunts the Hound, but the Hound stops her and reveals her true identity to everyone.
Jaime and Brienne bicker while making their way across the Riverlands. Their argument is interrupted by a farmer with a heavy-laden mule, who realizes they are avoiding the kingsroad to avoid detection. Jaime urges Brienne to kill the man to keep their movements secret, but she refuses. Later, the pair are forced to choose between fording a turbulent river or risking detection by taking the bridge. Brienne decides on the bridge, but halfway across Jaime sits down and refuses to move. When Brienne tries to haul him to his feet, Jaime steals her spare sword and cuts his leash. The pair enter into an extended duel on the bridge. Just then, riders from House Bolton arrive, led by a man named Locke. The farmer Brienne chose not to kill appears to confirm their identities. Jaime glares a Brienne before offering Locke a bribe. Locke asks if it will be enough gold to buy him a new head when Robb found out, and his men move forward to take the pair prisoner.
My take: I kind of liked hearing Ned’s voice in the green dream. There’s a part of me that geeks out to think that Iron Fist is escorting Marvel Girl to see Mrs. Peel. Ok. Diana Rigg us everything I hoped for when I first read the character. I also point out that there is no nudity in this episode.
Changes from the books: Jojen and Meera Reed are introduced much earlier, in the book “A Clash of Kings”; they come as guests during one of the harvest feasts at Winterfell. Sansa’s description of Joffrey to Olenna Tyrell is actually much longer in the books. As in the series, it becomes increasingly clear that Sansa is worried that they will be overheard by the ever-present spies around the Red Keep. Therefore, Olenna bids her jester Butterbumps to sing The Bear and the Maiden Fair until he is bellowing it out at the top of his lungs. The people that find Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth are the notorious sellsword company Brave Companions (who do not exist in the series), not Bolton’s men. There was no farmer who told them where to find Jaime and Brienne.
Locations on the Map: King’s Landing, Dragonstone, Harrenhal, Winterfell, the Wall, Astapor
Death Count: Holster Tully, of natural causes
Quotes: Meera Reed: Some people will always need help. That doesn’t mean they’re not worth helping