In the wake of Joffrey’s death, Lord Tywin starts to put the pieces together to rule with a new king in place, Tyrion prepares to defend himself on trial and Daenerys shows the slavers in Meereen how she intends to conquer the city without ever breeching their tall walls….
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
Grief is a luxury those in power in Westeros cannot afford, not even as their fallen king lays sullen on a grave, just moments after his death. As Cersei Lannister pointed out so astutely during season one of ‘Game of Thrones, ‘power is power’ and the last thing the ruling family can do is look week even in a moment of tragedy. While the truth of the Lannister clan’s current infighting and discontent looks like something Shakespeare would have conjured, the face put out to the masses must be one of unity and solidarity no matter how many lives it costs in the process.
The new king Tommen will take over on the Iron Throne in place of his older brother Joffrey, who now sits dead, a victim of a strain of poison known as The Strangler. Tommen has not often been seen these past few years, but it’s time to get to know him. He appears to be a young, somewhat timid boy, not nearly as outgoing and boisterous as his brother, but that also means he’s not as cruel and indifferent as Joffrey either. While he stands over the king’s corpse while his mother’s eyes fill with tears, it’s time for Tommen to get a lesson in being a good and proper monarch from his grandfather and Lord Hand of the King, Tywin Lannister.
Say what you will about Tywin’s methods, but his understanding of how this game is played is without reproach. He knows better than most that kindness is a sign of weakness, loyalty is a path to betrayal, and wisdom is the real key to ruling Westeros. Tywin defeated Robb Stark’s entire army sitting behind a desk, scribbling on papers and using ravens instead of swords to kill a rebellion. King Tommen learns in a hurry that three past kings, who all had famous reigns in Westeros, all died or were shuffled off this mortal coil for shortcomings that Tywin believes could have been avoided. Instead, Tywin advises his young grandson to look to the Hand of the King and his small council for advice until he comes of age, and even then he should still rule while listening to those who have the kingdom’s best interests at heart. Now some might point to this speech from Tywin and say that he’s really just interested in keeping the crown secured on his head instead of Tommen’s but in many ways the Hand of the King is absolutely correct in his assessment of the proper way to rule.
Tywin’s plotting and planning never slows down either because while his daughter Cersei was mourning Joffrey’s death, he was educating the new king and also trying to put an end to the feud between the Martells of Dorne and the Lannisters of Casterly Rock. While he did have to interrupt what I believe was a five-some between Oberyn, Ellaria and a few of Littlefinger’s choicest employees, he started to put out a few fires that were certainly simmering under the surface ever since the prince arrived in King’s Landing.
First off we learn that Prince Oberyn studied at the Citadel — the same school that teaches the grand maesters of Westeros — and he’s an expert in poisons. While Oberyn assumes the Hand of the King is there to accuse him of involvement in Joffrey’s murder, the truth is a far cry from a criminal investigation. In reality, Tywin wants to put to bed the long standing hatred between the Dornish people and the kingdom in Westeros and it starts with Oberyn sitting on the new king’s small council. In addition, Tywin asks Oberyn to be the third judge, joining himself and Mace Tyrell, in his son Tyrion’s trial starting a day later. Oberyn agrees with the promise that Tywin will put him in a room with Gregor Clegane aka The Mountain, who he can question about the rape and death of his sister and her children during Robert’s rebellion almost 20 years earlier. Tywin assures Oberyn that he never gave the order, but the Dornish prince still has a taste for revenge on his tongue and no blonde headed boy or red-headed twisty girl will quench his thirst. Only the blood of the man who killed his sister will do.
Tywin’s other reason for befriending Oberyn is to help in the coming war he anticipates landing at the front gates of King’s Landing one day soon because across the narrow sea is a beautiful blonde girl who happens to be the last Targaryen heir along with three dragons at her side. The last time the Targaryens rampaged through Westeros, only Dorne was able to hold out and maintain their lands. Having the Dornes on their side for a second Targaryen invasion could only be helpful in the long run.
With everything else he has going on, Tywin is searching for the other conspirators involved in his grandson’s murder, most notably Tyrion’s wife Sansa, who disappeared just seconds after the king fell dead. Ser Dontos, the bumbling former knight turned drunk, ushered her out of the King’s Landing in great haste under the guise of saving her life. Maybe he was right considering how quickly Cersei and Tywin’s venomous fangs pointed her way after Joffrey died, but now she’s truly complicit for no other reason than she ran.
Following a midnight jaunt across Blackwater Bay and a climb up a ghostly ship at night, Sansa comes face to face with the man who was seemingly behind everything that happened in the last 24 hours — Lord Petyr Baelish aka Littlefinger. Sansa is shocked to see Lord Baelish Petyr waiting to pull her up from the wooden ladder from down below. Littlefinger reveals that he plotted this entire escape, including a payoff promised to Ser Dontos to befriend the former would be queen so she would ultimately trust him when it came time to leave the capitol. As kindly as Dontos seemed, in reality he was doing this all for money and when he delivered Sansa to Baelish, his job was done. So instead of throwing him some gold, he caught an arrow to the heart and one right in the face. In the face.
“Money buys a man’s silence for a time. A bolt to the heart buys it forever” ~ Petyr Baelish.
Lord Baelish reveals that Ser Dontos was under his employ the entire time, including the priceless family heirloom that he handed over to Sansa, which was really just cheap glass that he had crafted into a necklace a few weeks back. It appears he intends to take her back to The Eyrie with him, where he disappeared to a few months ago to marry her aunt Lysa. Baelish’s obsession with Catelyn Stark was apparently transferred to her daughter, and maybe the wanna-be king finally had enough of Joffrey’s torture and torment of his beloved Sansa, not to mention his role in executing the Stark family at the Red Wedding. Baelish rarely shows his entire hand, but considering Dontos’ role in getting Sansa out of town, he certainly had some knowledge of what was going down following the royal wedding. Maybe he helped plot Joffrey’s death or at the very least he knew it was coming and chose to swoop Sansa out of harm’s way before she could be accused of murder. Having her husband Tyrion ending up as the other prime suspect doesn’t hurt his cause at all either because now Baelish is Sansa’s only means of support and protection. Soon enough he’ll likely try to be her shoulder to cry on as well.
While Sansa rides away on Littlefinger’s boat, Tyrion is swimming in a sea of sorrow, sitting in a dungeon cell awaiting his trial. While he’s more than capable of plotting to kill a king, Tyrion isn’t the guilty party, but he certainly knows why he’s a suspect. News of his wife’s disappearance only strengthens the case against him, so Tyrion now has to wonder how much Sansa knew before this all started.
In prison, Tyrion receives news of his trial from his loyal squire Podrick, who couldn’t find a way to sneak in wine, but did manage to bring news — none of it very good. Podrick informs Tyrion of his forthcoming trial, the judges who will render the verdict for or against him, and the witnesses being gathered to help prove he was the one to plot the murder of the king. Podrick was even approached and offered knighthood in exchange for testifying that he saw Tyrion buy a poison called ‘The Strangler’, which is apparently the dose of medicine Joffrey received just before spitting up his last breath. Podrick turned down the offer in favor of staying loyal to Tyrion, who was always kind to him and even managed to make him a legend around town after one visit to a brothel not long ago. But what do we know about loyalty in King’s Landing — it’s not often rewarded with gold and a return trip to Littlefinger’s but instead an arrow to the face or a gullet full of poisoned wine.
Jamie is also mourning Joffrey’s death in very much his own way. Jamie never really got to know his son in the way a father should, probably because to do that it would expose him as an incestuous wretch who bedded his sister while also outing the fact that Joffrey never should have been king in the first place. Cersei is very much in a bad place losing her son. No matter how awful Joffrey was as a person, a mother’s love knows no bounds. Jamie’s way of helping his sister cope is to basically tear her clothes off and have sex in front of their son’s fallen body. Cersei shot Jamie down in the debut episode saying he was ‘too late’ to rekindle their family fire in the bedroom, but the Kingslayer is nothing if not persistent. Despite Cersei’s cries of no and this is wrong, Jamie still has his way with her. At moments this scene was off putting and disturbing, in others it felt like this was Jamie’s last attempt to reclaim the life he had prior to years away from Cersei when he was truly changed as a person forever. His actions will be called vile, no doubt, but that’s who Jamie Lannister was and while he finally said goodbye to the son he never really had, this might have been his way to bid farewell to the man he used to be and truly embrace the person he has now become.
Margaery is also left wondering what she will become now that Joffrey is dead. She’s not quite queen because she didn’t consummate the marriage, but she’s also not on the outs either. Her grandmother Lady Olenna promises that Joffrey’s death benefits her far more than being married to that crossbow wielding psychopath in the long run, and things will be much better with the next one. Now two things you should have taken away from that brief statement — first, this is Westerosi marriage where arrangements are promised not given or taken out of love. Margaery was promised a king, and if Joffrey isn’t available then maybe his brother will be. The Tyrells offered money, troops and support, they expect a royal bloodline in return.
Second, it’s clear the Lady Olenna didn’t want her granddaughter being stuck with Joffrey after hearing and witnessing his cruel torment and misogynistic tendencies directed towards Sansa, the last woman he was supposed to marry. One can only imagine what would eventually happen to Margaery or her children if Joffrey’s whims switched directions like the wind. All that said, it appears more and more likely that Lady Olenna had a hand in Joffrey’s murder. She’s not upset in the least that he’s dead, and it appears plans are in motion to put her family back in a place of power beside the new king. Tommen is nothing if not a polar opposite (at least right now) of his tortuous older brother.
At Dragonstone, Stannis receives word that another of his fire-leech prophecies has come true because Joffrey the false king is dead. That’s another one down following Robb Stark’s demise last year. Stannis is convinced if he still had an army right now he could march on King’s Landing and take his rightful place on the Iron Throne, but alas with Gendry gone, there’s no more blood to be sacrificed and of course that’s Ser Davos’ fault because he let the boy go.
Davos reminds the king that he can pick off his opposition with blood magic all he wants, but ultimately it’s going to take an army to conquer Westeros. The problem is Stannis no longer has an army, and he balks at the idea of hiring a company of sell swords to do the dirty work for him. Even if he wanted to, Stannis has no gold and last time he checked sell swords work for money.
It’s this statement that gives Ser Davos a brilliant idea — one that Lady Olenna mentioned last week. The Iron Bank of Braavos will gladly loan out money to the kindgoms that need their support, but when those funds aren’t repaid in a timely fashion, the solution isn’t to ask for a refund — instead they help supply money to the enemy of that king to ensure a new ruler with better payment history is instilled in their place. Ser Davos looks to inquire if the bank of Braavos has received enough IOU notes from King’s Landing lately to finally ask for their debt to be settled. What better way to fund a war than with a bank that wants nothing more than to see the Baratheon/Lannister kingdom toppled and left in ruins.
Arya and the Hound are still trekking towards The Eyrie as well with the littlest Stark daughter now passing herself off as the daughter of her protector. Amidst a watering trip for their horses, Arya and the Hound run into some local farmers who offer to bring them into their home for some rabbit stew, a warm bed and a roof over their heads especially after hearing that they fought under House Tully during the war.
While there were no chickens available, Arya and the Hound gobbled down the rabbit stew and the farmer offers the giant knight a chance to earn some extra silver if he’s willing to stay, protect the land and help out with some duties around the house. The Hound agrees, but the next morning he knocks the man out, steals his money and leaves in great haste.
Arya is once again on her high horse of justice calling out The Hound on this latest travesty. While she’s happy to get revenge by plunging a sword into a man’s neck, Arya has no tolerance for the innocent ones being harmed. The Hound’s actions also come a week after he said that robbing people was a business he would never partake in, but with a pocket full of silver being carried away from the farm, what exactly is he doing now?
Well, as the Hound explains — the man at the farm was a fool who was destined to die anyways. At least now they have some money and full bellies to help them as they get back on the road. ‘How many Starks they got to behead before you figure it out?’ The Hound tells Arya when trying to explain that there is no reprieve in this world. You either win or you die, there is no third direction.
At Castle Black, Jon and the men of the Night’s Watch are preparing for battle against the Wildings. The group that scaled the Wall months ago keeps coming further and further inland as they sack villages, killing and plundering along the way. Ygritte’s steely resolve is even scarier now that her heart was burned away by Jon Snow’s betrayal and these monstrous cannibals called Thenns are apparently hungry for human flesh at all times. Things only go from bad to worse when some of the brothers who were last seen at Craster’s keep make it back to the castle to inform their brethren that Karl and the last holdouts responsible for the Lord commander’s death last season have now taken over the area for themselves. The only problem is Karl knows that Castle Black is protected by 100 men, not a thousand as Jon lied and told Mance Rayder once upon a time. The threat of a 1000 men at the Wall sounds much tougher to conquer than 100. Jon convinces his fellow men of the Night’s Watch that they have to deal with Karl because if Mance finds him first, the Wildings could be charging the Wall in a matter of days.
While Jon is protecting the Wall, Sam is protecting Gilly by putting her into a tavern where she will cook, clean and care for the other babies in the establishment in exchange for room and board. Sam is worried that Gilly being around Castle Black just serves as temptation for the lonely men of the Night’s Watch to break their vows while violating his woman. Taking her to this inn is his way of saving her life, but clearly she sees it as his way of getting rid of her.
And finally we arrive at Meereen — the largest of all the slave cities and the last one Daenerys has to conquer before traveling across the Narrow Sea to reclaim her throne in Westeros. Meereen is a much different and bigger city than Astapor or Yunkai before it. When Dany shows up to knock on the door and ask for their surrender, a lone warrior comes out of the doors to challenge her champion. He mocks the queen by literally urinating on the ground to somehow signify that he can stand up
while he pees I think was the general gist as opposed to the woman and her eunuch Unsullied army. After some debate, Daario Naharis is ultimately chosen to do battle with the soldier, and all it takes is one knife to the charging horse carrying the Meerneen crusader along with a single sword swipe to do away with him for good.
With the challenge conquered, Daenerys offers up catapults full of barrels tossed into the cities. When they bust open and reveal their contents we see that the barrels are filled with the collars of more than 150 dead slaves that littered the road into Meereen that Dany took down with each mile marker as they got closer and closer. You see, Daenerys Targaryen is the breaker of chains and she didn’t arrive in Meereen to get the masters to surrender — she showed up to help the slaves revolt.
Come back a week from now for the next ‘Game of Thrones’ episode titled ‘Oathkeeper’ where Cersei begs Jamie to bring her the head of Sansa Stark.