This week’s penultimate episode of Game of Thrones opens with the line of the season: “Are you sure about this?” Spoken by Lady Cat, to her son Robbo, who has followed the path of honor to the edge of a nasty cliff.
Robbo wants to set up a last-ditch lateral move, attacking the real seat of power in Westeros: Casterly Rock, the home of the Lannisters. It’s a ballsy move, and if it goes wrong, it’s going to be a bloodbath that will cost the northmen a generation. And best of all, it depends on the assistance of the repellent Walder Frey, the Craster of the the South.
Is Robbo sure? Fuck no. He’s won battles and held onto his honor, and it’s left him with his home torched, his family scattered, and his army shrunk to uselessness. So he’s asking his mom for advice. If I was a Stark bannerman overhearing this meeting, I’d be sending a raven home telling my wife to bury the family silver and take the kids to her mom’s place.
(Lady Cat’s advice? Let’s do this. Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?)
So we ride to the Twins, where Lord Frey greets them with the traditional rat souvlaki with rock salt dip.
I try to stick with the idea that I’m recapping the show as it is, not nitpicking it as some sort of filmed transcript of the books. But I wonder sometimes if this can possibly make sense to anyone who hasn’t slogged through reading at least half of the extant volumes. This horseshit with the salt is a case in point. If you see this not having read up, you see a weird emphasis on passed hors d’ouvres and some awkward droning. If you have read up, you know that the salt confers protection and that to harm a guest to whom you have offered salt is to dishonor yourself beyond redemption. The rat souvlaki is just rat souvlaki.
In case we’ve forgotten that Walder is an asshole, we get to see him humiliate his female progeny, degrade Nurse NITB, and piss off Robbo until his beard stands on end.
It’s a pleasure to find ourselves across the Shivering Sea, watching Dany and her growing brain trust polishing up a Hogan’s Heroes plan to invade the walled city of Yunkai. It’s a really, really bad plan, and Jorah knows it. But it’s a quick way to establish if Handsome Daario can be trusted, and I’m betting Jorah really wants to kill somebody right about now.
Meanwhile up north, Sam & Gilly & the wee baby wossisname are within sight of the Wall. Sam is never more confident than when he’s talking books, so he’s chattering away about secret passages and such as they wend their way through the ice-zombie infested woods. Gilly, lest we forget, is ignorant as pigshit from growing up in Craster’s hillbilly Manson compound, and doesn’t get the whole “book” thing. (If Sam really does remember the instructions for sneaking into the Nightfort, from a book he read months ago, that really is pretty impressive. We shall see.)
And on the road to the Twins, Arya and the Hound dry-gulch a pig farmer. And I thought Jamie and Brienne were a great double act.
Bran and his crew, who look more and more like a D&D quest at every turn, take a moment to revisit some offensive stereotypes about wildlings. And a storm is coming.
Somewhere not far away, Tormund and Snowbastard and company take a minute to reinforce the shit out of some offensive stereotypes about wildlings.
Arya and the Hound are within sight of the Twins, and she’s worrying herself sick while he chows down on pickled pig’s feet. They verbally spar a bit, and Arya shuts the conversation down with a simple promise: “Someday, I’m going to put a sword through your eye, and out the back of your skull.”
It’s not just that Arya’s brave or determined or fucking “feisty”. If she’d shouted that line, or muttered it through clenched teeth, the Hound would have blown it off or given her a smack. But she just said it, plainly, eye to eye. Feisty my ass. Girl is psychopathic.
Arya’s across the river from her people, and Bran is just upstairs. Which would be great if he wasn’t surrounded by killers and Hodor wasn’t scared of thunder. Now is a great time to get your warg powers to manifest, no pressure tho.
And it all goes to hell for Double Agent Snowbastard, though he at least gets to whack Orell (mostly) before he makes a run for it.
Meanwhile in Yunkai, the away team is sneaking in the back gate, which looks pretty smooth until they get triple-teamed. Luckily Grey Worm is a killing machine, and Jorah and Daario do a little bonding with a shared kill or two. And then comes the next wave…
Back in the magical land of Too Good to Be True, Edmure is marrying the cutest little Frey ever.
Bran, having killed a man while warging his wolf, apparently feels ready to split the gang up, sending Rickon off with Tonks to Umberland. Rickon protests, but relents. Tonks manages not to break into a sprint. Fare thee well, Tonks. You will be missed.
“How long does it take to sack a city?” You may well ask. Ser Barristan, mellow on Dornish, gives a philosophical shrug. The definitive answer comes from Jorah, who marches up looking like he’s dropped acid and isn’t quite sure he’s still alive. Dany of course asks after Daario, who makes his entrance, displays some manner of tapestry or cloak, and declares the city to be under new management.
Dany looks pleased. Seriously, she looks like she’s going to tackle-fuck him.
Back at the Twins, the wedding party is into the third act. Conversation and wine are flowing, the candles are short, and it’s time to haul the bride and groom up to their suite and enact the tradition that had Tyrion slamming cutlery into the table last week. It’s all very sweet, and a lot of warmth is going around. And hey, who knew that Lord Flaymate was married to a Frey?
Cat seems to be the only one to notice the door being slammed, and the tune switching over to the Lannister’s famous dis track.
Out in the dark, Arya and the Hound are trying to crash and being harshly rebuffed. The pig’s feet nearly work as a bribe. But there seems to be a lot of troop movement for a wedding, and Arya is going for a look-see.
And what is there to say about a massacre?
Well: If anyone was wondering if Nurse NITB’s character was going anywhere interesting, now you have an answer. Also, I think we’ve established that crossbows symbolize dishonor and cowardice.
We’ve also established just how much meaning honor has in the context of real power in sunny Westeros.
Next week? Season Finale. And we still have two more weddings to go. As with last year, I find myself wondering just how the fuck they’re going to top themselves.