Writers: David Benioff, DB Weiss, George RR Martin
Director: Alan Taylor
The One Where: Yara joins Theon at Winterfell, Robb follows his heart and Tyrion prepares for battle.
Verdict: It’s very much the calm before the storm this week, as Westeros braces itself for the inevitable stags versus lions face off. Stannis is on his way to King’s Landing, accompanied by a few thousand likely lads and their sharpest swords. It's a shame that this episode isn't quite able to completely convey the sense of impending danger and drama that surely lies ahead.
In the heart of the capital, Tyrion and Cersei continue their attempts to outmanoeuvre each other, with some typically sparkly repartee. Watching the two of them snipe at each other is a lot of fun, and seeing as they are both out to hurt the other as much as possible, the consequences will no doubt be explosive. But it’s Tyrion’s chat with Bronn and Varys that is the more revealing, as they discuss the reality of siege warfare. Bronn has the calm, resigned air of a professional soldier and survivor, and as one of the few voices of reason in King’s Landing, he'll likely have a significant part to play when Stannis finally lands. The Baratheon pretender has a few siege stories of his own, and his promise to make Davos his hand once he claims the Iron Throne confirms Stannis to be a man who pays his debts every bit as much as the Lannisters.
Love and betrayal is in the air at Robb’s camp, but the elder Stark’s tale has stalled a little. It’s saying something when the most intriguing person around him is Roose Bolton, the voice of cold hard pragmatism who is desperate to unleash his son on Theon. Robb’s army appears to have been having its own mud-splattered festival for weeks now, not moving anywhere or fighting anyone, and it’s becoming a bit of a boring war. Robb’s slow-burn affair with Talisa is clearly important, especially with regards to his marriage arrangements with the Freys, but it feels like it’s been dragged out too long. The King In The North has more pressing matters to deal with, like the war he’s supposed to be waging, not to mention his lunatic mother's latest master stroke.
Yes, Catelyn’s motivations are heartbreaking and easy to empathise with – she wants her girls back, no matter what it takes – but for a woman of her standing and experience, it’s an incredibly naïve move to release the Kingslayer. Jaime Lannister is an oath breaker and one of the most dangerous killers around, so where on Earth she got the idea that he’d happily hand over Sansa once returned to King’s Landing is anyone’s guess. The one upside to this slightly nonsensical prison break is the Kingslayer and Brienne’s odd-couple chemistry. Their journey towards the capital should make for some scintillating viewing – if Jaime doesn’t slip his chains and slit Brienne's throat first, of course.
Up at Winterfell, Yara arrives to drop roughly seven thousand c-bombs on Theon’s head, giving the hateful Greyjoy heir a much needed reality check. He can’t hold Winterfell, especially with the quietly sinister Lord Bolton’s bastard is on his way. Whether Theon will see the light and head back to Pyke as Yara tells him is anyone’s guess, but his track record for making good decisions so far suggests not.
The Night’s Watch felt a little shoehorned into this episode, which was a real shame as the story north of the Wall is really beginning to cook. Jon and Quorin are now prisoners of the Wildlings, including the striking Lord Of Bones, and it’s clear that the Halfhand is aiming to plant Jon amongst the Wildling host as a spy. Up at the Fist Of The First Men, Sam and his brothers uncover a stash of dragonglass blades wrapped in a Night’s Watch cloak, uncovering yet another mystery. Surrounded by snowy wastes, supernatural threats and scary looking Wildlings, the Brothers are in as dangerous position as anyone south of the Wall.
So, The board has been set, the pieces are in motion and by this time next week we should be looking at a very different Westeros. This season has been building towards an almighty, decisive battle, and with Stannis so close to King’s Landing, it looks like we’re finally about to get it. Here’s hoping he teaches Joffrey the lesson he so sorely deserves.
Cersei: “That little worm between your legs does all your thinking.”
Tyrion: “It’s not that little.”