What is a person's word actually worth? Does a promise need to be kept if it was made to a person who is himself without honor? And why haven't the wildlings ever heard about oral sex before? These are all questions that were debated during this episode and, frankly, they all have equal validity. But putting aside the issue of oral sex for a moment, the themes of honor, betrayal, oaths, and revenge have all been constant in Game of Thrones from the very beginning of the series, when Ned Stark beheads a deserter from the Night's Watch because the man had made an oath never to leave the Wall. Never mind that this man had escaped the murderous White Walkers. He broke his oath and betrayed his brothers, and so he had to die. Along the way, we've seen "honorable" men like Ned lose their lives and total sociopaths like Joffrey keep on keepin' on. We've also seen characters who are meant to be honorable, like Robb Stark, betray oaths and break promises. Westeros exists in a world where people will condemn you for breaking your word, even if you do it in order to slay an insane and homicidal king. What I'm saying is, it's tough out there and navigating through the empty promises and broken oaths isn't easy. It's probably best just to keep your head down (right, Jon Snow?) and stay out of trouble. But it doesn't look like that will be possible for all the characters we've come to know and love. Or, as the case may be, not love at all, but merely tolerate. I'm looking at you, Robb Stark's wife.
But so we open in the cave where the Brotherhood dwells, and Thoros of Myr is saying a blessing before the Hound and Ser Berric face off in a battle to the death. They're about to do one of those Camelot-era things, where might is right and a divine force will declare a winner and all that stuff.
Thoros says, "Lord, cast your light upon us. Show us the truth. strike this man down if he is guilty and give strength to his sword if he is true. Lord of Light, give us wisdom. For the night is dark and full of terrors." So, basically, he is the male Melisandre. And we know, from the smoke baby, that whatever you might think about how the Lord of Light operates, he really gets shit done. And, also, if there was anyone who would not be into converting to the faith of the Lord of Light, it would be the Hound. Because of the whole fire thing. The Hound hates fire.
Which is too bad for him because after Thoros finishes his prayer, Berric's sword lights on fire and combat begins. It's actually a sort of beautiful and balletic fight between the two men, with flames and sparks flying everywhere as they battle in the enclosed space. The Brotherhood clearly thinks Berric will win and starts chanting,"Guilty. Guilty. Guilty."
Just then, though, the Hound cuts right through both the flaming sword and Berric's shoulder. It looks pretty fatal. I mean, I'm no expert, but there are arteries there and I actually felt like passing out just from watching it happen. So, he's just gotta be dead. But Thoros has clearly never heard of a lost cause and heads over to pray for Berric. Good luck, Thoros. Maybe you won't need luck, though, because you've got the Lord of Light.
Someone who is not too happy about the Hound's survival is Arya. She really wanted him to die. So she decides to do it herself and would have rushed straight toward the Hound if Gendry didn't hold her back. The Hound laughs at her from the floor and says, "Looks like the god likes me more than your butcher's boy."
"Burn in hell," she shrieks, for once sounding like the little girl that she actually is.
Beric replies, "He will. But not today." Uh, wait. What? He shouldn't be alive. What CAN'T the Lord of Light do? I'm thinking that this religion might be the horse to bet on here.
The Hound is now allowed to leave the Brotherhood, unharmed, and Arya is pissed, but apparently it's what the Lord of Light wants. For now, anyway. Berric thinks that the Lord of Light (or LoL) is "not done with him yet." We'll see what that means, I suppose.
Anyway, up North beyond the Wall, Jon is still having to prove himself to the wildling-warg who is also known as Gareth from "The Office." The wildlings are planning their attack on the Wall and Jon's information is essential, but it seems that, at this point, only Ygritte trusts Jon to relay the correct information. Is it just because she "wants him inside of her" as is suggested by Gareth from "The Office"? I mean, maybe? And while that might not be a foolproof way of trusting someone, it is, at the very least, relatable.
So, Ygritte sticks up for Jon who then gets predictably all pissy about having, you know, a girl defend him and tells Ygritte she doesn't need to do that. She responds that this means he owes her a debt, steals his sword, and goes running off. Foreplay, you guys. That's what this is. Straight-up wilding foreplay. Ygritte runs into a cave and stops by a waterfall and tells Jon that it's time to prove that he's not a Crow. She undresses and says to him, "You swore some vows. I want you to break them. I want you to see me. All of me."
And so Jon sees all of her. We all see all of her. And so I had heard that there would be a penis in this episode (a GoT first!) and wondered, Will it be Jon Snow's? But it was not.
Ygritte is annoyed that it's not Jon Snow's penis either and says, "Why are you still dressed? You know nothing, Jon Snow."
But, actually? He knows something. He knows how to reference this episode's title "Kissed By Fire." By which I mean, he kisses her fire. By which I mean, he goes down on her. I'm sure you didn't need me to spell that out for you, but I did anyway.
And in fact, Ygritte wants to talk about it too. She asks Jon, "That thing you did, with your mouth? Is that what lords do to ladies in the South?"
"I don't know," Jon says. "I just wanted to kiss you there is all."
And then they do the thing where they talk about their sexual histories except Jon is a virgin. So it's a short conversation. And Jon is clearly annoyed that Ygritte is not a "maid" like he is. But not too annoyed. Not so annoyed that he won't hop into a steaming hot spring with her and do it again.
Ygritte says to him, "Let's not go back. Let's just stay here for a while longer. I don't ever want to leave this cave, Jon Snow. Not ever." But you know they will go back. Because Jon swore an oath. He has his duty to fulfill.
Oh, Jaime! Brienne and Jaime have arrived at Harrenhal, which is under the command of Roose Bolton, a Northern bannerman. Jaime has one question for him, "Lord Bolton, is there word from the capitol?"
It's clear that all Jaime wants to know is if Cersei is ok. Bolton is no fool and tortures Jaime by implying that Cersei succumbed to something or someone terrible when Stannis attacked King's Landing, drawing out the words, "And your sister, how shall I put this...your sister is alive and well."
Jaime collapses with relief when he hears this and Bolton says to take Jaime to Qyburn, who was the lone survivor of Harrenhal when the Northmen entered. Qyburn was a maester, and trained in the arts of medicine, though the Citadel had stripped him of his chain because some of his experiments were "too bold." That doesn't sound too good. We see Jaime's stump, which, I don't want to see the stump ever, ever again. Qyburn assures Jaime that he will survive but that he needs to clean up the wound.
He tells Jaime, "You'll need milk of the poppy."
"No milk of the poppy," says our valiant hero.
"There'll be pain," says Qyburn.
"Quite a bit of pain," Qyburn says this with some slight relish.
"I'll scream loudly," Jaime practically bites the words out.
And that is why Jaime is number one on my list of hottest Game of Thrones men. And number two and three. Khal Drogo is four. And then Jaime is five. Then the list ends.
Anyway, moving on. Cersei and Littlefinger walk together, Cersei, as per usual, is bitching about the Tyrells and their supposed power plays. Littlefinger suggests she go to her father with her complaints. Of course, Cersei already has gone to Tywin, who didn't give two shits about her.
"My father's a practical man. He appreciates facts," says Cersei.
"Myself, I often find them a hindrance." So true, Littlefinger. But that is why you're a sociopath. These two! Always trying to fuck other people over. And, later, when Littlefinger figures out that Sansa is meant to wed Loras Tyrell, you can't help but feel terrible for Sansa, who is just hopelessly at the whims of every person around her.
We leave Cersei and Littlefinger for what ought to have been a great meeting of the minds—the Queen of Thorns and Tyrion Lannister!!! What wonderful things do they have to talk about? The wedding? Boring. And money? Boring. Why waste a scene between these two? Is this scene going to be a total waste?
Of course not! This scene is amazing because it is a total smackdown! The Queen of Thorns totally shows Tyrion that she knows what's up and that the Lannisters are helpless without the Tyrells. She also tells Tyrion to shut up about what an extravagance the wedding is because, she points out, "The people are hungry for more than just food. They crave distractions. And if we don't provide them, they'll create their own. And their distractions are likely to end with us being torn to pieces. A royal wedding is much safer, wouldn't you say?"
"I would." Tyrion is gobsmacked.
"And it's traditionally paid for by the royal family," says the Queen of Thorn, and butter wouldn't melt in her mouth.
Tyrion can't even say anything, he just grimaces. I repeat, Tyrion can't even say anything. The Queen of Thorns has rendered him speechless. Amazing.
And then she says this, "I was told you were drunk, impertinent and throughly debauched. You can imagine my disappointment in finding nothing but a brow-beaten bookkeeper." Best. Burn. Ever.
She then says that House Tyrell will pay for half the costs of the wedding and with a dismissive, "Is that sufficient?" bids Tyrion good day and sweeps out of the room. At home, I started clapping. Because she's the best. Amazing.
Meanwhile, back with the Brotherhood, Gendry is mending Berric's armor and tells Arya that he's going to stay with the group because they need good men. And, after all, the Lannister's have been after Gendry for a long time anyway. He's not in any more danger with these new men.
Arya tries to convince him that Robb needs good men too! But Gendry is done serving. He wants to be a part of a family. Arya tells him that she could be his family. And he says, "You wouldn't be my family, you'd be milady." And she walks off with one last heart-breaking look. Ahhhh. Arya wants a family again too.
This is never more clear than when, later, Arya talks with Thoros and Berric about the whole resurrection thing.
Berric asks, "Thoros, how many times have you brought me back?"
"It was the Lord of Light which brought you back."
Which, fine, but the point is that Berric has been killed 6 times, all by Lannister men. But every time he comes back, he's felt like he's missing some pieces. So that can't feel good. Arya isn't really listening to that part though. She has a question, "Can you bring back a man without a head? Not six times, just once."
Berric answers, "He was a good man, Ned Stark. He's at rest now. I would never wish my life upon him."
Arya, tears streaming down her face, says, "I would. You're alive."
Also alive, for the moment, are the two young Lannister boys who are Robb Stark's hostages. Oh, wait. They're not alive anymore because they are brutally murdered by Lord Rickard Karstark and several other men. Robb finds out and is, like, really angry. They were just boys. He has them lain out on the floor of a big room and tells Karstark to look at them. Karstark yells, "Have your mother look at them, she's the one that did this." And Catelyn is looking at them. She is looking right at them, and you can see in her face that she knows that all of this is because of something she did. It's not just that she let Jaime Lannister go. And it's not just that she kidnapped Tyrion. It's that she never accepted Jon Snow. She feels the weight of it all, of promises made and oaths broken.
Robb orders the men who helped Karstark be hanged and that Karstark go to the dungeon. This is when Robb's uncle Edmure, Catelyn, and even Talisa, Robb's wife, tell him not to kill Karstark, because that would only lead to even more death. Robb has principles though. Robb has honor. When he feels like it. So the next morning, in the driving rain, Robb cuts off Karstark's head. Before he does, Karstark says, "Kill me and be cursed. You are no king of mine." That does not bode well for Robb Stark. And so later, when we find out that all the Karstark's have gone away, and Robb decides that he will try and take the Lannister seat of Casterly Rock but that he needs the help of Walder Frey, whose daughter he promised to marry, well, I'm not feeling very hopeful about this whole endeavor. Not at all.
But enough about bad omens. Let's meet a terrible new character! There's a woman praying to the Lord of Light at Storm's End. How can I describe her...well, she's no Melisandre. Not at all. It would be hard to pay attention to this woman when Melisandre is around, that's for sure. So, who is she? Ah, it's Stannis's wife. Of course it is. Apparently, he goes out of his way to avoid her. Which makes sense, because she seems like kind of a fanatic. But not in a hot "I will birth your homicidal smoke babies" kind of a way. No, in the kind of way where she weeps with joy when she finds out that Stannis fucked Melisandre and also the kind of way where she keeps her stillborn sons floating in oversized test tubes full of embalming liquid. So yeah, she's fucking insane.
But even worse than the dead, floating baby corpses is the fact that Stannis and his wife Selyse have a living child. A daughter named Shireen. Who is kept in a cell? Just because she has a screwed up face? That's just wrong. Stannis and Selyse are totally in competition for being the worst parents in Westeros and that's really, REALLY saying something. Another thing about this sweet little girl, who likes to sing and is just totally delightful, is that she also loves Davos, the Onion Knight, but Stannis informs his daughter that Davos is a traitor and is rotting in a dungeon. Stannis is not up for father of the year. Not at all. Later, when Shireen goes to visit Davos in his cell, she brings him a book to read. When she learns he can't read, she promises to teach him because, even if they get caught, "What will they do? Lock us in cells?"
Ahhhh! How did she get to be so awesome when her parents are such total psychopaths?
And so, Brienne is bathing, and in comes Jaime, who at least seems to be doing a bit better post-Qyburn. And although there is another tub, Jaime goes straight for Brienne's. And I wonder again, will this be the penis we see tonight? But, no. We do not see Jaime's penis tonight.
Jaime lowers himself into the bath and immediately starts up with his old jerky schtick toward Brienne. But he quickly apologizes when she gets upset. He knows that she is his only friend.
"Let's call a truce," Jaime says.
"You need trust to have a truce."
He tells Brienne, "I trust you."
But the problem is, Brienne doesn't trust him. No one trusts Jaime. So, Jaime addresses the fact that he's hated because he's known as an Oathbreaker. Jaime talks about what exactly it meant to break an oath to the Mad King, and how breaking his oath wasn't just the right thing to do, but the only thing to do.
"He told me to bring him my father's head," Jaime tells Brienne. "Then he turned to his pyromancer, Burn them all. Burn them in their homes. Burn them in their beds. Tell me, if your precious Renly commanded you to kill your own father and stand by while thousands of men, women and children were burned alive, would you have done it? Would you have broken your oath then? FIrst I killed the pyromancer. Then the king turned to flee and I drove my sword into his back. Burn them all, he kept saying. Burn them all. I dont think he expected to die. He meant to burn with the rest of us and rise again, be reborn as a dragon who could turn his enemies to ash. I slit his throat to make sure that didn't happen. That's where Ned Stark found me."
Brienne wonders why, if this were true, Jaime couldn't have just told that to Ned Stark. But Jaime, rightfully, I think, says that Ned Stark had made up his mind as soon as he saw Jaime with the dead king. Also, Jaime has enough pride not to have begged Ned Stark for understanding or forgiveness. Jaime growls out, "By what right does the wolf judge the lion?"
And then Jaime passes out and Brienne rushes to help him, crying out, "Someone help! The Kingslayer!"
"Jaime," he says, "My name's Jaime."
And that's where you see the crack of another oath, the one Brienne made to Catelyn. Because as Brienne holds this wounded, troubled man in her arms, she knows that she could let him die, but that she doesn't want to. And not because of some oath, but because it's the right thing to do.
Far away from Harrenhal, Dany and her army are on the move. Ser Jorah and Ser Barristan are bonding over war stories and their shared ambition to serve someone they believe in.
Ser Barristan says, "Just once I want to fight for someone I believe in. Do you believe in her?"
Ser Jorah looks over at Dany, "With all my heart." Which, duh. You are in love with her.
As for Dany, the Unsullied have chosen a leader. What is his name? "Grey Worm." So, you know, there are maybe better names. Dany tries to tell him that he could be named anything. But this name is important to him because it is the name he had when he became a free man. So that's nice. Where were the dragons though? That's all I ask, is for a little dragon action.
But while there was no dragon action, we did finally get a penis, Whose penis was it? Oh, no one we knew about before this episode. But it was still a perfectly decent penis. It belongs to a man who belongs to Littlefinger and beds Ser Loras in order to ply information from him. Ugh, the Queen of Thorns was spot on, the Tyrell men are useless.
But who will this information benefit? Well, we see Tyrion meet with Tywin and Cersei, a duo that immediately puts Tyrion on guard. He tries to boast to his father and says, "You'll be pleased to learn that after just one conversation with Olenna Tyrell, I've saved the crown hundreds of thousands on this wedding." Which, ha. Sure, Tyrion. That was a result of your fine negotiation tactics.
But Tywin quickly dismisses this saying, "Never mind that now, we have something important to discuss." Which, ha, again.
Basically, Tywin now knows that the Tyrells are plotting to marry Sansa to Loras. Luckily, nothing has been announced yet and so, Tywin says, since, "Plots are not public knowledge. We need to act first and kill this union in it's crib."
"And how do we do that?" Tyrion asks.
"We need to find Sansa Stark another husband," says Tywin.
"Wonderful," says Tyrion, who is still unclear about what this means.
"Yes, it is," Cersei actually glows when she smirks, it's quite lovely.
"You can't mean it!" exclaims Tyrion. That's right. Tywin intends for Tyrion to marry Sansa. Tyrion is as dismayed as his sister is elated. Her happiness lasts for but a minute because Tywin tells her, "You'll marry Ser Loras."
And Cersei explodes, "I'm Queen Regent, not some brood mare." Suddenly, Cersei's smirk vanishes.
"You're my daughter," Tywin reminds her. And, shit. I'm glad I'm not a Lannister. Or a Baratheon. Or a Stark. I'd be cool with being a Tyrell, though. But that's about it.
Just like that, though, Tywin made more promises, more oaths for his children to fulfill for some greater good. Will they keep these pacts? Will they honor their father and their family name? It seems they will because, in one way or another, they always have. Being a Lannister means more to them than the rest of it. That is the only thing they truly honor. And it is just a word. Really, it means nothing.
Things seem to still be going well for the mother of dragons. She has legions of devoted followers and two close advisors who would do anything to serve and follow her. Plus, I'm really into the blue dress that she's been wearing.
Although the Sansa plan is about to be foiled, the Queen of Thorns is such a total badass that I have no doubt she's foreseen this as being a possibility. And she'll come up with something else. I know she will. And I can't wait to see what it is.
Ygritte and Jon Snow
Nothing wrong with a little oral. Good for Ygritte. And Jon Snow is clearly a winner here. After all, he lost his virginity and did something to Ygritte that no other woman north of the wall had ever experienced before. Good job, you guys!
Things only ever seem to go well with the Lannisters when Tywin is ruling with an iron fist. But while these marriages strategically make sense, both Cersei and Tyrion are adamantly opposed to them. And how will Jaime feel when he comes back to King's Landing and finds that his sister has been married off again? I'm pretty wary of what exactly will happen next.
Things are just plain not going well for Robb Stark. Or literally any of the other Starks. When your men are in open rebellion and your genius tactical move is to ask Walder Frey for help, I think it's time to start getting worried. Like, really worried.
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen