In this recap, we cover the last two episodes of Game of Thrones, so there are even more spoilers than usual. If you haven’t had a chance to watch anything from this season yet, sign up for a free trial with HBO Now.
Proceed with caution.
*note that the episodes “The House of Black and White” and “High Sparrow” are combined within this recap*
We glimpse the country of Dorne for the first time in The House of Black and White. If you remember your Westerosi history, you know that Prince Oberyn Martell and his family loathe the Lannisters (they had Oberyn’s sister murdered along with her children, hence his ill-fated attempt at vengeance). Oberyn is now dead at the hands of the Mountain (literally), and his elder brother Prince Doran mourns him. Ellaria Sand, Oberyn’s lover, confronts Doran after observing Myrcella Baratheon walking in the garden. Ellaria and the Sand Snakes (Oberyn’s bastard daughters) want to avenge Oberyn, and Ellaria has her eye on the princess from King’s Landing. “Let me have her,” she begs Doran. “Let me send her to Cersei one finger at a time.” Doran refuses, saying “We do not mutilate little girls for vengeance.”
Needless to say, this is not the last we will see of Ellaria and her plans for retaliation against the crown.
Back home, Myrcella’s mother has received a less-than-promising gift from Dorne. Cersei shows Jaime Mrycella’s necklace clutched in the fangs of a serpent. Realizing the implied threat to their daughter, Jaime vows to go to Dorne to retrieve her, even though she is to marry into the Martell family. He goes to Ser Bronn of the Blackwater, and promises him a better girl and a better castle than what Cersei provided, in exchange for his help.
The fate of her daughter is but one of Cersei’s problems. With her husband, firstborn son, and father dead, Cersei’s position at court is precarious. She is now the Queen Mother, a title with little power. She attempts to have a semblance of authority by sitting in as King Tommen’s Hand until he chooses one for himself, but her Uncle Kevan is less than pleased at her aims to be the puppet master of the council. She also has the deliciously conniving Queen Margaery to deal with. Margaery and Tommen are married in the sept, and on their wedding night, the new queen begins to subtly plant doubt in her husband’s mind about his mother and her over-protectiveness. “You’ll always be her baby boy,” she says cheerfully. Tommen, who considers himself to be a man now, later asks Cersei if she might not be happier living at Casterly Rock, her childhood home.
Realizing that Margaery may very well turn her son against her, Cersei goes to visit her. The young queen offers her wine, even though “it’s a bit early in the day for us,” asks if she should address Cersei as Queen Mother or Dowager Queen, and insinuates that Cersei will be a grandmother soon.
Cersei’s displeasure at being supplanted is palpable. She walks away, and can hear Margaery and her ladies giggling.
Soon after, the High Septon is found at a brothel by the Sparrows, who drag him out into the street naked. He goes to the council and tells them that an assault on him is an assault on the gods. He asks for justice, and for the arrest of the Sparrows. Grasping at the opportunity for an ally, Cersei goes to see their leader, the High Sparrow. She finds him feeding and caring for the poor, and conveys the message that the High Septon wants him executed. The High Sparrow is surprised to hear that instead of complying with the Septon, she has put him behind bars for his sins. Cersei states that the kingdom rests upon two pillars: the faith, and the crown. If one collapses, so will the other.
The Road from the Vale to Winterfell
Brienne and Pod run into Sansa and Petyr at a tavern on the road. Although wary of Littlefinger, Brienne approaches and swears to protect Sansa. Petyr says that Brienne couldn’t save Renly nor Catelyn, so how can she protect anyone? Brienne decides to follow Sansa on the sly, even though the eldest Stark daughter refused her service, and Littlefinger wants her out of the way.
They track the party to Moat Cailin, and then to Winterfell, which remains in the clutches of the Boltons. Remember them? They’re the family who like to flay people alive, and who took credit for the Red Wedding. Sansa realizes with dread that Petyr has arranged for her to marry Ramsay Bolton, the bastard who tortured, brainwashed, and mutilated Theon Greyjoy, now known as Reek. It is an advantageous move for both the Boltons and Petyr, since the Boltons require ties to greater houses and Petyr is Sansa’s uncle by marriage. Utterly repulsed at the thought of being a pawn of the family who killed her brother and mother, Sansa adamantly refuses. Petyr says that he won’t force her into it, but urges her to consider her situation. If she doesn’t find a secure place, she will be running all her life. “Your place is in the North,” he beseeches. “Stop being a bystander.”
She reluctantly agrees, and rides into Winterfell, which is being slowly repaired by the Boltons. The old servant who takes her to her quarters calls her Lady Stark, and says surreptitiously that “The North remembers.”
There is a Stark in Winterfell.
At the Wall, Stannis chastises Jon for not letting Mance burn at the stake, then promptly offers him the chance to claim his father’s name; he will make him Jon Stark, Lord of Winterfell, in return for his loyalty. Jon asks to think it over, but tells Sam that he will refuse the offer in order to uphold his vow to the Night’s Watch, despite the fact that all he ever wanted in life was to be a legitimate son. That night, the brothers of the Night’s Watch are electing a new Lord Commander. Sam nominates Jon, saying “he may be young, but he’s the commander we turned to when the night was darkest.”
The bastard wins by one vote.
The next day, Stannis visits Jon, and reiterates his offer. When the new Lord Commander politely declines, Stannis calls him honorable. Though Jon takes it as a compliment, Stannis didn’t mean it that way, reminding the young man that “Honour got your father killed.” He then divulges his plans to march on Winterfell and reclaim it from the Boltons, leaving the fate of the wildling captives to Jon.
At his first dinner as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, Jon names Alliser Thorne First Ranger, opting to keep his enemies close (and in direct opposition to Stannis’ advice to send Thorne far away). He then appoints Lord Janos to Greyguard, the abandoned castle fort, with instructions to get it back in working order. Janos declines. Jon is firm, saying that it was an order and not a request. Angered, Janos calls Jon a boy and a bastard, telling him to stick the order where the sun don’t shine.
Immediately understanding that this is his first test as Lord Commander, Jon orders Janos to be taken outside to be executed. In a reference to the first episode of season one, he intends to swing the sword himself. Though Janos begs for mercy, Jon beheads him anyway, a feat that he would not have been able to accomplish only a few years prior. He may have refused to legally become a Stark, but his actions reflect the character of Ned Stark more than any title.
Across the Narrow Sea
Arya arrives safely in Braavos, and is taken to the House of Black and White, the temple of the Many-Faced god. Although she says the words “valar morghulis” and presents Jaqen H’ghar’s coin, the old man at the door turns her away. She stays outside all night, reciting the names of those she wishes to kill. In the morning, she throws the coin into the water and walks away.
In the marketplace, three men approach Arya, wanting her sword. “Nothing’s worth anything to dead men,” she says before drawing Needle. She doesn’t get the opportunity to stand her ground, as the men run away when they see she has been followed by the man from the House of Black and White. She returns with him to the entrance, where he reveals himself to be he whom we recognize as Jaqen H’ghar. He denies having that identity, however, which angers and confuses Arya. “Who are you then?” she insists. “No one,” he says. “And that is what a girl must become.”
Later, Arya is sweeping the floor inside the House, while Jaqen gives water to a man from a pool in the middle of the room. When she complains of the tasks she is given, Jaqen says “All men must serve.” A nameless girl who has previously refused to speak to Arya asks her who she is. When Arya replies “no one,” the girl beats her with a stick. Jaqen puts a stop to the “game of faces,” telling the girl that Arya is not yet ready because she is still surrounded by Arya Stark’s things. Realizing that they will not teach her anything until she practices abnegation of identity the way they do, Arya goes to the lake and throws her clothes and money in. She struggles when it comes to Needle, as it is the last thing she has from her family. It is also incredibly symbolic of her quest for revenge, her only tool of retribution. Unable to throw it away, she hides it in the rocks instead.
Daario and Grey Worm discover a Son of the Harpy in hiding. Although Dany wants to execute the rebel straight away, she swears not to do so until he has had a fair trial. Mossador (who I’m sure no one recognized, cause really, there are too many characters on this damn show) isn’t pleased by her decision, as he is certain that the Sons of the Harpy are being paid by the great families of Meereen who wish slavery to be reinstated. He murders the prisoner in cold blood, against Dany’s orders.
Dany has Mossador publicly executed, although the former slaves in the crowd cry for mercy. A riot breaks out, and Dany is smuggled back into safety. That night, Drogon comes to her while she is on the terrace, and although he approaches her at first, he will not let her touch him. He soars away over Meereen, doubtless searching for his next meal. On today’s menu: small child or fluffy sheep.
Varys and Tyrion are on the road to Volantis (which will take them to the road to Meereen). Tyrion is tired of being cooped up, but the Spider doesn’t want to let him out because Cersei has offered a lordship to anyone who brings back his head. The Spider tells him that he showed great potential as a ruler during his time as the Hand of the King. Tyrion says that he was nothing more than a servant.
Upon arriving in Volantis, Tyrion insists on getting out of the carriage, saying that this far from Westeros he is just one more drunk dwarf. In a slave market, they hear a Red Priestess (“the night is dark and full of terrors…”). The priestess says that the Lord of Light has sent a savior in the form of the Dragon Queen. Somewhat unnerved, Tyrion goes to find a brothel, Varys trailing behind him. There, they see a prostitute dressed like Dany. Unbeknownst to them, the banished Ser Jorah is at the same brothel, and has caught sight of them. When Tyrion goes outside to the Little Boys Room, Jorah comes up behind him, binds and gags him, and says he’s taking him to the queen.
What comes next?
We will likely discover to which queen Jorah was referring (is he after the reward from Cersei, although he is in love with Dany?). The trailer also reveals a fair amount of bloodshed, in both King’s Landing and Meereen. My theory: Cersei will betray Jaime and/or cousin Lancel (aka any member of her family she’s slept with) to strengthen her newly formed bond with the High Sparrow.
Winter is coming.
The Collected Mutineer
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