Firstly – apologies for the delay in this recap. In the spirit of a true first world problems, I was in Hawaii the past two weeks and on a plane from Maui to Los Angeles when the show aired, then was exhausted from the overnight flight. I didn’t get to watch the episode for the second time until late this week. But moving on! Talk about your character defining episodes!
Sam and Gilly are in the woods with the baby and Sam has a dragonglass arrow head. Osha and Merra bicker while Bran keeps them in line. He sees that sometimes greendreams are pretty terrible when Jojen shakes. Jojen reveals that he saw Jon Snow on the other side of the wall and surrounded by enemies. Jon and Ygritte prepare for their climb with Orell and Tormund. Ygritte gets very “overly attached girlfriend” on Jon, but also knows that Jon is still loyal to the Night’s Watch and will remain with him regardless.
Arya practices her archery. Beric and Thoros talk to Melisandre. She’s amazed by the power that Thoros has with the Lord of Light, but also apparently upset and/ or jealous. Beric admits that when he dies, he goes to the darkness. Arya then discovers that Beric has sold Gendry to Melisandre. She confronts Melisandre and Melisandre says she sees a darkness in Arya and that they will meet again. She seems legitimately afraid of Arya, or Arya’s future. Jon and the gang have begun their climb and it looks ridiculously treacherous.
Theon’s torture continues and we still don’t know the identity of his torturer or his intentions. Robb and his council debate with the Frey’s. Robb agrees to his prior promises, to give Harrenhal to the Frey’s and that Edmure will marry a Frey. Jaime struggles to eat food with one hand, while Lord Bolton tells him that he plans to send Jaime to King’s Landing as long as he promises that he’ll tell Tywin that Lord Bolton wasn’t responsible for his maiming. However, Brienne must stay despite her and Jaime’s insistence.
Olenna and Tywin discuss Tywin’s plans from last episode. Olenna is as clever and sharp-witted as Tywin and battles Tywin step by step. It’s a wonderful scene and brilliantly written and even more brilliantly acted. Tywin threatens to name Loras to the King’s Guard and finally Olenna consents. The climb on the Wall takes a turn as the ice cracks. Most of the Wildlings die in the collapse, while Jon and Ygritte dangle on the ropes below Orell and Tormund. Sensing that they’ll all die, Orell begins to cut the rope on them. Jon through heroic actions saves Ygritte and himself at the last second. Jon is a total badass. Orell looks disappointed they didn’t fall and Jon looks incensed at Orell for cutting the line.
Sansa and Loras discuss their upcoming nuptials. Cersei and Tyrion discuss their bad deals. Despite the bad deals, there are trace elements of actual caring here between them. Tyrion learns that Joffrey was the one who ordered the assassination attempt on him. Tyrion has to tell Sansa about the new plans, and Shae sticks around despite Tyrion’s requests otherwise. Varys and Littlefinger battle wits once again. Littlefinger reveals a true dark side of himself when he tells Varys that he’s had Ros killed for being one of his spies. Ros is killed in a horrifically violent way thanks to the dark and sick Joffrey. “Chaos is a ladder.” Sansa weeps as she watches her escape from King’s Landing sail away.
Jon and Ygritte make it to the top of the Wall; stares into the distance then shares a passionate kiss with Jon.
1. Sacrifices are made.
Robb, Jaime, Olenna, Tyrion, Sansa, Cersei, Littlefinger… everyone is making sacrifices! Some willingly, others forced, others with malice intent. This episode if anything has served to up the ante. With only four more episodes left in the season, our characters are all at a crossroads. Their personal sacrifices will dictate their paths for the remainder of the season. None of the changes and sacrifices are good for our characters, they’re all sad or made with apprehension. The most pivotal sacrifice may be Robb’s as his actions not only affect him, but Edmure, his entire army and his new wife.
2. Jon and Ygritte make an alliance.
Although Ygritte comes off as a bit needy in her speech to Jon about being his woman, she for the first time really admits that she’s well aware of Jon’s intentions. She’s gotten to know Jon and realizes that his loyalty knows no bounds. She plays into that loyalty and expects it to be first and foremost to her as she knows that neither the Night’s Watch or the Wildlings ultimately care about the end results or their fates. The loyalty that they show each other and the pact they make to stick together no matter what is extremely important to how their personal journeys will continue from this point on.
3. Gendry is taken and Arya has lost another friend.
While at first it may seem like Gendry’s role with Melisandre is most important, my personal feeling is that this was the last straw for Arya. She’s lost her family, all of her friends and anyone she can trust. She’s amongst the Brotherhood who she had begun to trust, but ultimately, it’s a friendship of convenience. When Melisandre says she sees the eyes of darkness within Arya, we are led to believe that these are the eyes of future victims that Arya will kill. Given her character motivations, you can assume she means Joffrey, Cersei and Illyn Paine, but that is likely a long time coming. What’s more important is that Arya is motivated again to grow older, stronger and more battle-ready to defend herself from future loss.