Revenge. Is it ever moral? Does that even matter? It sure tastes sweet on the lips, about as sweet as the sound of the Valyrian language tripping off the tongue of the mother of dragons. And that? Tastes really, really sweet. But I'm getting ahead of myself. This episode was about paying a price and seeking vengeance and never giving up because revenge can sure as hell be served cold and in a box if need be, but mostly, this episode is about never underestimating Daenerys Stormborn because she is a dragon and a dragon is not a slave. Let's call this episode "Dragon Unchained." The D is not silent, but it might as well be.
After last week's horrifying ending (oh, Jaime!) there was nowhere else for this episode to start than with Jaime and Brienne, still captives to Roose Bolton's men. But what is that we see? Jaime's hand? Yes. Oh, Jaime! You see, Jaime's captors are such total sadists that Jaime has to wear his hand around his neck. He's wearing his own decaying hand like a necklace. Fuck, you guys. Just, fuck. Ahhh! Brienne looks on, worried. As she should be. And what's this? Oh, Jaime! He falls off his horse into the mud. He needs water. Locke, the head captor, gives him a canteen, from which Jaime guzzles. Then Locke says, "Can't say I've ever seen a man drink horse piss that fast." Oh, Jaime!
Jaime vomits and then steals a sword from one of the men. But, you guys? Jaime is not left-handed. He is not left-handed at all. Oh, Jaime. This is the worst. I can't watch it at all. Neither can Brienne, who tries to help, but is held back at sword-point.
Jaime is quickly subdued and is warned, "Do that agains and I'll take your other hand." Oh, Jaime! Be careful.
Meanwhile, in other Lannister news, Tyrion visits Varys. He wants proof about whether or not Cersei meant to kill him, and he wants to know why she wanted to do it. You see, Tyrion wants revenge. Varys, however, cautions Tyrion that he has "no proof, only whispers" and instead decides to tell Tyrion the story of how he became a eunuch. Well! This should be a fun bedtime tale! Actually, it's quite horrifying, which makes sense. It can't ever be pleasant to be made into a eunuch, I'd imagine. We find out that Varys was turned into a eunuch because of a magician who wanted to use his junk as part of a spell. That hardly seems fair. And so this haunted Varys forever. Which, naturally. But little by little, Varys gained influence and finally, FINALLY got his revenge. Which, he demonstrates to Tyrion, means that Varys has a man in a box. And that man is the magician and he really seems to be suffering. So that's some revenge. That's how you do revenge.
Incidentally, Salman Rushdie once said this about revenge: "I didn't want to become some embittered old hack getting his revenge for the rest of my life. And I didn't want to become some scared creature cowering in a corner. I remember telling myself not to carry the hatred around, although I know where it is. I have it in a trunk in storage."
So basically Salman Rushdie IS Varys the Spider. This makes SO MUCH SENSE. My mind is blown, I don't know about yours, but I'm assuming also blown? Moving on!
The Night's Watch—they're still at Craster's. They're shoveling shit. And doubting the Lord Commander. After all, Mormont led them to slaughter at the Fist of the First Men. So maybe he doesn't know what he's doing after all? The men of the Night's Watch are not happy. Except Sam. Jolly, fat Sam. He visits Gilly and her little baby. Sam thinks the baby is beautiful. He's alright, I guess. He cried a lot, though I probably would too if I were a baby in the cold who was going to get eaten. Anyway, Sam tells Gilly, "You've got to give him a name."
"Why?" she asks. She has a point.
Gilly wants Sam to save her baby's life. Sam wants to do it. Sam can do it! I hope. We'll see.
We visit briefly with Bran. Bran is running. He runs after the tree-eyed crow. Jojen Reed is with him in this dream, telling Bran to go after the crow. Bran climbs a tree, after the crow. Catelyn appears, telling Bran not to climb. She begs him to promise her he won't climb again, "Promise me. Promise me." But she is so enthusiastic in her begging that Bran goes sailing off the tree. Oops.
And look who it is now! It's that little piece of shit, Joffrey, who is touring the Sept with Margaery, Cersei, and the Queen of Thorns so that they can better plan the wedding. That little piece of shit, Joffrey, is highlighting for Margaery all of the atrocities that have occurred there in the past. He's such a little piece of shit. Everyone—even Cersei—knows Joffrey is a little piece of shit. Except Joffrey. He doesn't know. Not yet. I think he will one day though. I really do.
The Queen of Thorns stands with Cersei and, knowing that they are both thinking what a little piece of shit Joffrey is, says, "We mothers do what we can to keep our sons from the grave, but they do seem to yearn for it. We shower them with good sense and it slides right off, like rain off a wing."
"And yet the world belongs to them," Cersei replies.
"A ridiculous arrangement to my mind," says the Queen of Thorns.
For just a brief moment, I had to wonder what Cersei would have been like with a good mother, or without Tywin as her father. She does, after all, have some cleverness and is constantly thwarted just because she's a woman. It's too bad she wasn't born a Tyrell. I mean, it's too bad EVERYONE wasn't born a Tyrell—or at least a Tyrell woman—because they are clearly awesome.
But then Cersei remembers who she is talking to, and that to agree with the Queen of Thorns would be to deny some of the strength of the Lannisters and so simply says, "The gods have seen fit to make it so." But as she says this, Margaery is working her magic on Joffrey, and convinces him to leave the Sept and greet the people of King's Landing who are thronged at the gates. The two go outside and are greeted by cheers because everyone loves Margaery. Well. Everyone except Cersei, who looks on in a way that reminds us that she is the worst.
We now see Theon and his rescuer ride through the forest. We still don't know who this rescuer is exactly, though he claims to have rescued Theon out of respect for Balon Greyjoy. Theon talks of paying the iron price for Winterfell, and killing orphan boys and passing them off for the Starks. Theon has nothing but regret, it seems. He thinks he chose wrong, burned everything down, and that his "real father" aka Ned Stark was beheaded at King's Landing.
So, I guess Theon feels bad and he's been rescued and so now there will be redemption for him, right? Right?!?! Yeah, no. Not at all. It's back on the torture rack for you, Theon. The torture rack that is just like the one on the sigil of House Bolton.
The rescuer lies to the other men standing there, "I brought him back. He killed the others."
Oh, Theon. Things are not looking good for you. Not at all.
Things are also not looking good for Jaime. He won't eat.
"What are you doing?" asks Brienne.
"I'm dying." Oh, Jaime! Don't die! How will you get revenge if you die?
Brienne shares my dismay, but voices it in a different way. "A little misfortune and you're giving up," she says with contempt. "You sound like a bloody woman."
Jaime eats. Brienne acknowledges what's been unspoken—they're now in this together. She asks him, "Why did you help me?"
And I yell at the screen, "BECAUSE HE'S JAIME LANNISTER AND HE'S FUCKING AWESOME." And...scene.
I'm not the only one who think Jaime is the best. Cersei is visiting her father as he works. Tywin seems annoyed by her mere presence. Clearly, he never participated in "Take-Your-Daughter-to-Work-Day" which was a big thing in the 90s. I guess, though, that Westeros never really went through "the 90s" per se.
Anyway, Cersei wants to know if Tywin is trying to rescue Jaime, and Tywin points out that when Tyrion was kidnapped by Catelyn Stark, he started a war.
Tywin adds, "If I would start a war for that lecherous little stump, what do you think I would do for my oldest son and heir?"
"Whatever you can," Cersei says.
"Whatever I can," says Tywin. Which, "whatever I can" seems to mean writing a lot of letters. I'm dying to know what's in those letters. I feel like other people might also be dying because of what's in those letters, only, you know, literally dying. Tywin doesn't fuck around. He's into revenge.
He's not so into his daughter, however, and says, "You're still here. Why?"
"Did it ever occur to you that your daughter might have the most to contribute to your legacy?"
"Alright," Tywin says. "Contribute."
"The Tyrells are a problem. Margaery has her claws in Joffrey. She knows how to manipulate him." Cersei has clearly been waiting to say this and hopes Tywin will act.
He does. But not in the way she thinks he will. He says, "Good. I wish you knew how to manipulate him. I don't distrust you because you're a woman. I distrust you because you're not as smart as you think you are." Way harsh, Ty. Next you're going to say Cersei is a virgin who can't drive.
And so now we're with the Queen of Thorns who is hilariously pissing all over her house's sigil as being pathetic and wishing that House Tyrell has something better than a gold rose and the motto: "Growing Strong." Boring! The Queen of Thorns says, "'Winter is coming,' now that's memorable." True! Why does she always speak the truth? Because she's the best.
And who should be coming to visit her but Varys. Earlier, Ros told Varys that Littlefinger would soon be heading off to the Eyrie. Ros thinks that Littlefinger will be smuggling Sansa with him. Varys is no fool and realizes that, if Robb Stark dies, Littlefinger will have the heir to the North in his possession. Varys is also aware that the Queen of Thorns had a little sit down with Sansa not so long ago.
Varys asks the Queen of Thorns, "You've taken an interest in Sansa Stark?"
"Why shouldn't I take an interest in her? She's an interesting girl," says the Queen.
Varys replies, "Is she?"
"No, not particularly." Hahahhahaa. I love these two.
Varys warns the Queen of Thorns that Littlefinger probably wants to marry Sansa and that his can't be done because Littlefinger would destroy all of Westeros just so he could be king of the ashes. But the Queen of Thorns is not worried because apparently there's a rather obvious solution.
And that solution? Well, it's that Sansa marry Loras Tyrell. This suggestion is brought to the lovely—if rather easily manipulated—Sansa by Margaery. Margaery assures Sansa that it should be done because then they would be sisters and then Sansa can live in Highgarden and leave the Capitol. Sansa practically cries with happiness. She's almost free. I'm sure this will go well. (I don't think it will AT ALL.)
And back North of the Wall, the men from the Night's Watch are dying because Craster isn't feeding them. Things are pretty miserable. In a land of terrible places, this looks like one of the worst. And it's about to all go further downhill. One of the men of the Night's Watch calls Craster a bastard. Craster, as it turns out, is pretty sensitive to the word "bastard." I mean, aren't we all? Craster, though, threatens to cut off the hand of anyone who calls him that again. And so, of course, someone calls him a "daughter-fucking wildling bastard" and Craster charges. Craster dies in a terrible way and then Mormont is killed and then it's total fucking mayhem and Sam escapes with a sword. Sam goes for Gilly and the baby. They run off into the snow. Where are they going to go? I don't know! I just know that the one really dickish Night's Watch guy said he would kill Sam the first chance he got. Good luck out there, Sam and Gilly! You'll really, really need it.
And so, Arya! The Brotherhood is traveling with Arya, who has a hood on her head so that she can't see where they're going, which is a cave. Where is this place? "Somewhere," we are told, "where neither wolves nor lions come prowling." So, I have no idea. The woods, I guess.
In breaking news, the Hound is still a jerk. But now he is a jerk on trial. Ser Beric Dondarrion, who, if you remember, Ned Stark sent to kill the Mountain a long time ago, is now part of the Brotherhood and wants to bring to justice those who committed heinous crimes. The Hound denies having killed innocents, saying that he is not his brother. But Arya reminds everyone of her friend Micah, who the Hound butchered after Arya struck Joffrey. So, yeah. The Hound, for all his charm, is not exactly innocent. Ser Beric declares, "You stand accused of murder, I sentence you to trial by combat." And that's the end of that, but I have a feeling it'll get pretty, pretty exciting next week.
Dany is about to buy a lot of Unsullied. She has brought Drogon. He has a chain on him. This is not right. This can not be. He is a dragon! But Dany hands the end of the chain over to Kraznys, the slaver. In return, he gives her the whip that signifies that she is the owner of all the Unsullied.
"Is it done now? Do they belong to me?" Dany asks.
"It is done. You hold the whip."
Yeah, she does!
Dany walks away. Drogon cries like a child would wail after its mother. It's heart-rending. Was anyone else's heart broken by that? Only mine? Ok, then.
Dany look out over her legions of troops and cries out, "Unsullied!"
She speaks in High Valyrian, the language that Kraznys spoke in while he insulted and mocked her. Daenerys knew what he was saying all the time.
He doesn't notice right away though, because he's having a few problems controlling the dragon.
"Tell the bitch her beast won't come," he snaps to Missandei, the slave girl who is now on Dany's side.
"A dragon is not a slave," Daenerys tells Kraznys.
"You speak Valyrian," he says, surprised.
And here's where it gets amazing: "I am Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, of the blood of Old Valyria. Valyrian is my mother tongue." YEAH, IT IS.
Dany speaks to her new soldiers: "Slay the masters, slay the soldiers, slay every man who holds a whip, but harm no child. Strike the chains off every slave you see."
She says to her dragon-child, "Dracaerys." You guys! That means FIRE.
And so the flames come forth and we see what exactly a dragon can do. I wonder if, somewhere in Westeros, the Lannisters and the Starks and everyone who had ever gone against a Targaryen felt a sudden chill, because the dragons are back, you guys.
Daenerys is not done. She cries out, "Unsullied! You have been slaves all your life. Today you are free. Any man who wishes to leave may leave and no one will harm him. I give you my word. Will you fight for me? As free men?"
Of course they will. She is the mother of dragons. She mounts a white horse, and rides in front of her army, leading them out of Astopor. She drops the whip into the sand. Her dragons fly overhead. She wants revenge.
House Targaryen: I don't think this needs to be spelled out for anyone. Dragons and thousands of Unsullied? Things are looking good for the dragon queen.
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen