Game of Thrones Recap: Armed and Dragonous

Game of Thrones Season 3 RecapMemo to Game of Thrones‘ Stannis, Robb, Joffrey and anyone else who’s thinking about planting their royal cheeks on the Iron Throne in the near future: You may want to Google “Unsullied” and then quiver in fear, because there are legions of these dudes, and they’re all wholeheartedly on Daenerys’ side now.

Elsewhere, Jamie’s still having heaps of indignity handed to him (those puns will stop eventually, but not quite yet) and Varys finds someone even bitchier than he is. Let’s review what happened in “And Now His Watch Is Ended.”

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HOUSE TARGARYEN | Dany and her entourage meet once more with Kraznys to finalize their deal: all of his Unsullied for one of her dragons (and various sundries). Jorah and Selmy look very discomfited as the trader takes the beast’s tether and hands Daenerys a symbolic golden whip – giving her power over all of the soldiers – in return. Once she’s sure the transaction is finished, Khaleesi comes out to play. She addresses the troops in their own language, surprising the slave trader (who, you’ll recall, has done nothing but trash talk her, thinking she didn’t understand). “Valyrian is my mother tongue,” she calmly informs him before ordering the troops – now hers – to kill everyone in power, unchain the slaves and leave the children unharmed. The trader, unable to control the dragon at the end of its chain, orders Dany killed. “Dracarys!” she shouts in response, and her winged beast barbecues him. (And I thought it was impressive when I got my old dog to catch a treat I balanced on her nose.)

The Unsullied get to spearin’, and soon no one’s left but the army and those Dany ordered protected. Astride a white horse, she addresses her men. Anyone who wishes to leave can do so unharmed, she announces, because she’s freeing every single one of them. (Are those dragons fitted with PA speakers? How did all those men hear her?) She asks: Will they fight for her out of their own freewill? Slowly, the silence is filled with the sound of thousands of spears beating the ground – the Unsullied, it seems, are down with this new plan. So Danerys leads her loyal following away from Astapor, her three reunited dragons circling in the sky, and drops the symbolic whip in the dust as they all blow out of town.

HOUSE LANNISTER: KEEP-PALM-AND-CARRY-ON EDITION | Near death – I assume from infection, because there’s no such thing as ye olde Purell – Jaime’s forced to ride on with Brienne and their captors. Even worse, his severed hand is strung up and hung over his shoulder like a discarded soap-on-a-rope. He falls off his horse and face-plants into the mud, then vomits up the horse pee the men give him to drink. All in all, not his best day. Still, he manages to grab a sword and feebly fend off a few of the men – with Brienne trying to come to his rescue – for a few moments. It’s folly that quickly turns serious when the men, tired of mocking the Lannister heir, just start beating the entitled snot out of him. (How surreal and disheartening was it to see his hand resting at that weird angle next to his face in the mud?)

Later, by the campfire, the Kingslayer bemoans his fate. The appendage he lost, he reminds Brienne, was “my sword hand. I was that hand.” Though I think she has real sympathy for Jaime’s plight, especially in light of him lying about her father’s riches in order to stop her rape, she’s hard with him. “You sound like a bloody woman,” she says, telling him to eat. It’s interesting that he eventually does what she says, no?

HOUSE TYRELL: EVERY-ROSE-HAS-ITS-THORN EDITION | While Joffrey shows his future bride around the sept, Margaery wants to say hi to the people of King’s Landing who are clamoring outside. “If you give them your love, they will return it a thousandfold,” she advises her fiancé. Cersei looks like she wants to punt Marg and her plunging neckline into Blackwater Bay, but Joff’s not really listening to his mother these days. So he warily orders the doors open, and the betrothed pair wave to the crowd. “They adore you,” Margaery tells him, laying it on a little bit thick. After all, it’s not his name they’re chanting.

The cunning little queen-to-be continues to further her agenda (probably put into motion by her grandmother; more on that in a minute) when she takes a walk with Sansa. After ordering the guards to leave them be, Margaery paints a future in which Sansa is promised to her brother Loras – the Knight of Flowers (who, you’ll recall, she also once offered up to Renly) – and can escape Knight’s Landing for the greener pastures of the Tyrell’s Highgarden. I know I should feel sorry for Sansa, and the way her face lights up at the thought of leaving the Lannisters behind does break my heart, but I really just want to shake her and shout, “Has Cersei taught you nothing?!”

Meanwhile, in the gardens, Varys and Olenna have their first interaction – and if there’s ever talk of a spin-off, I pray to all seven gods that it centers on these two. The old lady and the mincing gossip trade some great lines; one of my favorite is when she says his seduction is for naught: “What happens when the nonexistent bumps up against the decrepit? A question for the philosophers.” Based on intel gleaned during a conversation with Littlefinger’s right-hand gal Ros, Varys is pretty sure that Lord Baelish is planning to secret Sansa Stark away sometime in the near future – like when he leaves for the Vale to wed Lysa Arryn.  Olenna finds that very interesting.

HOUSE LANNISTER: FAMILY-LOVE EDITION | Tywin’s verbal smackdown of Tyrion a few episodes back now extends to his daughter, who complains that she is a better asset to him than either of his sons. “I don’t distrust you because you are a woman,” he says, barely glancing up from his work. “I distrust you because you’re not as smart as you think you are.” Yikes. Then he berates her for having no control over Joffrey. (Sorry, Cersei; can’t libel the truth.)

Elsewhere, Tyrion visits Varys to get more “proof” of how Cersei tried to have him murdered during Blackwater. As a slightly distracted Varys goes about unnailing a crate, he seems to go off on a tangent about the day he “was cut.” Yeah, that cut. Here’s the chopped-down version (heh): As a youth, he traveled with a troupe of actors. His master sold him to a man who literally emasculated him and “burned my parts in a brazier” as part of some dark sorcery, then left him to die in the street. “Ever since that day, I have hated magic and all those who practice it,” he says, adding that helping battle Stannis and his red priestess was a sort of symbolic revenge. “Yes,” Tyrion replies impatiently, “I feel the need for actual revenge.” Ha! The Spider counsels patience, lifting the crate’s lid to reveal the bound and gagged man who’d bought him all those years ago. In the what what?! The comeuppance Tyrion wishes to dole out can be his “in time,” Varys says, “if you have the stomach for it.”

HOUSE STARK | The Brotherhood Without Banners arrives at its home base, a cave-looking place so hidden that Arya, Gendry and the Hound are hooded until they’re well inside. Once there, they meet the Brotherhood’s eyepatched (and believed dead) leader, Beric Dondarrion. (He’s the one Eddard Stark sent to take down the Hound’s brother in the first season.) The mysterious Dondarrion has been “reborn in the light of the one true God” – but looks a little rough around the edges — and he’s eager to hold the Hound accountable for any murders he’s committed. Arya pipes up that he killed her friend Mycah (the kid who wound up dead after Arya and Joffrey’s scuffle in Season 1), and Clegane doesn’t deny it. No one present can judge the giant former king, Dondarrion says. “Only the Lord of Light may do that now. I sentence you to trial by combat” against Beric himself.

HOUSE GREYJOY: TOO-LITTLE-TOO-LATE EDITION | Theon’s rescuer leads him through a series of tunnels as they make their way to Theon’s sister… or so Greyjoy thinks. He sings like a little, desperate bird the entire time: about how his father doesn’t care about him; about how he “paid the iron price” for Winterfell by having neighbor boys killed, burned and strung up to make everyone think Bran and Rickon were dead; about how he’d done it all “to make my father proud” but that he’d realized that “my real father lost his head at King’s Landing.” I generally find Theon weaselly and unsympathetic, but here Alfie Allen gets me a little with the remorse in his voice when he says, “I made a choice, and I chose wrong.”

Unfortunately, the man leading Theon to his “salvation” is actually working against Theon and has really just circled them back into the torture chamber. “I brought him back. He killed the others!” (hmm…) the man cries with a gleeful edge in his voice. And almost before young Greyjoy realizes what’s happening, he’s back on the torture device he just left.

THE MEN OF THE WALL | The brothers of the Night’s Watch are ailing, hungry and angry at Craster’s, so when they start to suspect that he’s sitting on a secret store of food, bad stuff goes down – and quickly. In the pandemonium, one of the men kills Craster; another kills Mormont. During the confusion, Sam runs to grab Craster’s daughter Gilly and her baby son, and they slip away.

Now it’s your turn. What do you make of Bran’s dream? Did you get a chuckle out of Ros and Varys discussing Pod’s prowess? Did you miss Jon Snow this week? Sound off in the comments!

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