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After a somewhat glacially-paced episode last week, Jon Snow leads the charge as the most dynamic character of the latest episode. Along with wildlings Tormund, Ygritte, and Orell, Snow ascends the wall, rather dangerously so. The scenes of the four on the wall are incredibly well shot and lend a sense of immense danger to the characters, more so than usual. The only regret about the Snow storyline I have is that Mance doesn’t show up – meaning we’ve had about 5 minutes worth of screen time with him all season. This isn’t a lot at all for what I was expecting to be a key character.
We did get more scenes of Beric and Thoros, however. Melisandre, who practices the same religion as the Brotherhood without Banners, attempts to buy Gendry, the former apprentice blacksmith (and bastard son of the dead Robert Baratheon) for two huge sacks of gold. Arya protests heavily, but is overruled by the Brotherhood. Gendry is taken prisoner by Melisandre along with Stannis’ guards. Gendry calls out the Brotherhood, thinking he had become their latest member. Arya’s cries fall on deaf ears as well – Beric and Thoros need the money badly to continue to their fight.
In the north, Robb Stark negotiates with Walder Frey’s sons for an alliance. Stark was supposed to marry Frey’s daughter, but opted to break a vow and marry Lady Talisa instead. Frey will play ball, but demands an apology from Stark, castle Harrenhal, and a match for his daughter – this time Stark’s uncle, Edmure Tully. An apologetic and humbled Robb Stark agrees, and the alliance is set. There has been an air of increasing desperation around Robb Stark all season long. He notes that he is winning battles, but still losing the war. This is an assessment I can definitely agree with. Elsewhere in the Riverlands, Lord Roose Bolton informs Jaime Lannister that he will be free to head back to King’s Landing when his well enough to travel. It seems Lord Bolton may be planning to betray Robb Stark.
In King’s Landing, Tywinn Lannister negotiates a marriage between his widowed daughter Cersei and the much younger Sir Loras Tyrell with Loras’ grandmother, Lady Olenna. After some great repartee (seriously, Charles Dance is this show’s secret weapon and Diana Rigg is fantastic as well), Olenna consents to the marriage. Elsewhere, Tyrion must inform Sansa Stark that the two are to be wed and that Loras will wed Cersei, meaning that what was Sansa’s last shot at happiness and freedom are now gone.
The episode closes out with the juxtaposition of yet another bantering session between Petyr Baelish and Lord Varys, with the two discussing how best to serve the kingdom. In the closing scenes, it is revealed that Baelish has given Ros, the prostitute who betrayed him, to King Joffrey for torture and eventual death in what was not really the most tastefully staged exit for the actress. Back at the wall, Snow and Ygritte finaly make it up after a lengthy delay, and the shot of the immediate surround scenery is absolutely gorgeous. Now that these characters are on top of the world, it’ll be interesting to see what happens next.