Well, so, there were no dragons in this episode. I can, therefore, understand if you turned off Game of Thrones in protest last night, and are only hate-reading this recap in the hopes that it will be a 10,000-word think piece on why there should be dragons in every episode—if not every scene—because dragons are the best. Unfortunately, that is not what you’re about to read. Because as much as I love dragons (which, so, SO much) I also appreciate the juggling act that the writers of Game of Thrones are doing right now. Not only are they trying to incorporate the story lines of the approximately two dozen Westerosi that we were already familiar with, but they’re introducing new and essential characters in a pretty seamless and not totally overwhelming way. And they’re doing a good job of it! “It” being the screenwriting equivalent of juggling flaming swords and crossbows and battle-axes and dragon teeth and other dangerous and exciting things. So, I guess I can forgive the lack of dragons this time. Because, after all, we did get to meet Lady Olenna Tyrell—Queen of the Thorns—and she’s as fiery as any of Daenerys’s children and much, much funnier.
Post-credits we see Bran. That is Bran, right? He has grown maybe half a foot and is walking through a forest with a bow and arrow, so is it really Bran? Yes. It is. He’s dreaming. He’s dreaming about the three-eyed raven and he wants to shoot it. Suddenly, Robb and Jon are there with him, advising him on the shot, “Don’t think too much, Bran.” But it’s too late. Bran shoots and misses and his father’s voice echoes through the woods, “And which one of you were a marksmen at 10?” This is a line Ned Stark said in the premiere episode and, ahhhh, don’t we all miss Ned Stark? Yes. We do.
Bran is not alone in his dream though. The little boy from “Love Actually” who is now all grown up is there to tell Bran, “You can’t kill it you know.”
Bran asks, sensibly, “Why not?”
“Because the raven is you.”
Thanks for that, little boy from “Love Actually” who’s now all grown up.
Bran wakes up. We also see his brother, Rickon. Who? Yeah, exactly. Don’t worry about him, though. No one else does. Also, HODOR! And Osha! They are making their way toward the Wall, where Jon Snow and, presumably, safety lie. We shall see.
Checking in on some other Starks, we see Robb being all serious in front of a fire at Harrenhal, and his wife, Talisa, being all flirty. Her flirting doesn’t go too far, because in walks Roose Bolton with word from Riverrun, which is Catelyn Stark’s family home, and Winterfell. The news? Is not good. In fact, it falls on Robb to tell his mother not only that her father has died, but also that Winterfell is in ruins and that Bran and Rickon are missing.
Catelyn asks, “Have you heard anything from Theon at all?” And just like magic…
We see Theon! Well, it probably doesn’t feel like magic to Theon, because he is getting punished. Pretty fucking harshly. “Punished” is probably the wrong word really, “tortured” is probably better because Theon is on a rack and is screaming and has the skin off his pinky finger removed. This might be a good time to point out that the Bolton sigil is that of a flayed man. And since Roose Bolton’s bastard son is the one that got to Winterfell after the Ironborn left, you can deduce that even a bastard like Ramsey Snow takes the house sigils very seriously. As one should. Later, Theon gets questioned about why he came to Winterfell, which, isn’t the most interesting question really. It doesn’t even seem like the torturers care about that question because no matter what Theon says, they keep hurting him. He pleads with them that he’ll tell them anything they want to hear, which, this is exactly why torture is ineffective, but that’s not the point right now. The point is, Theon’s captors are clearly sadists and Theon is clearly finding out just what Justin Timberlake meant when he sang about karma in his classic song “What Goes Around…Comes Around.” Once Theon is left alone with his pain, though, a guy comes up to him and says that Theon’s sister, Yara, sent him to rescue Theon, so maybe Theon’s future is looking brighter? We’ll see!