Another episode that's light on action and big on actions, leaving you wondering what kind of mega set-piece the production team are saving their money for. Packed with revelations and decisions that seem likely to have huge ramifications later on, it’s a week of compelling two-handers and shifts in the balance of power. It also leaves some key characters in extreme jeopardy.
The murder of King Joffrey is still a major topic of conversation, and we’re given further clues about the conspiracy, as Littlefinger admits his involvement to Sansa, and Lady Olenna does the same to Margaery. “You don’t think I’d let you marry that beast, do you?” While Diana Rigg lends her admission the sort of gravitas we’ve come to expect, Lord Baelish’s own revelations feel more like those of a monologueing Bond villain. Is he enjoying his cleverness a little bit more than he should? Has he told Sansa too much about his plans? When he says he wants “everything”, how much does he mean? Could even the Iron Throne be in his sights? We wouldn’t put it past him.
In King’s Landing, prime suspect Tyrion still languishes in a cell. His conversation with Jaime, powerless to give his brother any practical help, is incredibly touching, and proves that Tyrion has at least one ally in the Lannister family. Indeed, after the controversy over the rape scene in “ Breaker Of Chains ”, Jaime seems intent on being a nice guy this week.
Daenerys frees the slaves of Meereen and crucifies their captors, Jaime finally pays Tyrion a visit in prison and gives Brienne a new job, Lady Olenna makes a confession to Maergery, who goes on a charm offensive with king-elect Tommen, Sansa learns more about LIttlefinger's motives, Jon Snow assembles a team to go north of the Wall, and Bran, Jojen, Meera and Hodor get themselves captured by the Night's Watch mutineers at Caster's Keep.
Finding it increasingly difficult to hide his contempt for Cersei, he defies his sister by sending Brienne (one of the few genuinely decent people in King’s Landing, we suspect) to find and protect Sansa, knowing that Cersei is out for the Stark’s blood. There’s another sweet moment as Jaime awards Brienne with a new bespoke suit of armour and his Valyrian steel sword, the “Oathkeeper’ of the title – we can’t be the only ones thinking that love between the pair might just go both ways – and it seems appropriate that Podrick, another of the show’s good guys, should be appointed the Lady of Tarth’s page.
If Jaime’s showing off his tender side, Daenerys seems determined to show how hard she can be. With Meereen captured and the slaves freed, she goes against Ser Barristan’s advice that a little bit of mercy might be the best course of action, and crucifies the slavers as they crucified kids on mile markers. A very Westeros flavour of justice. There’s a neat little counterpoint to Daenerys’s brutality, as Grey Worm shares a nice moment with Missandei as she teaches him English – he’s not just a trained killer, you know.
It’s up north, however, that we see the biggest fireworks. Ser Alliser Thorne's contempt for Jon Snow has been festering since season one, and he lets his dislike for Ned Stark’s lad completely cloud his judgement about one of his most talented soldiers. Or does he? Perhaps sending Snow north of the Wall to deal with the mutineers at Craster’s keep is a masterstroke, a bold move that could keep a possible future leader of the Watch out of the way permanently.
It’s certainly not going to be easy to get rid of the mutineers, as they're utterly depraved. Indeed, Burn Gorman is utterly chilling as their vile leader Karl Tanner, a man who’s abandoned all sense of morality – as he drinks wine from Ser Mormont’s skull, it’s clear he’d do pretty well in a nasty contest with Styr of Thenn. He’s certainly not the sort of guy you want to hold you captive, which means things really aren’t looking good for Bran, Jojen, Meera and Hodor. In fact, the baby boy sacrificed to the White Walkers might just be better off with the frosties – what are they up to, and what will happen to the kid? An intriguing twist to finish an intriguing episode.