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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
Daenerys Targaryen, the assumed last living member of the old Targaryan dynasty, has basically been laying waste to slaver’s cities across the Narrow Sea for a season and a half at this point. It appears as if we may finally get to see her sack the city of Meereen in last night’s episode, but this was not to be. Instead, we are given a scene where Missandei, Daenerys’ handmaiden, teaches Grey Worm, the castrated leader of her Unsullied army, to read and speak basic tongue (the fantasy-world equivalent of English). I just now realize this sentence would make absolutely no sense if you had never seen this show.
It isn’t that scenes like this are worthless, it’s just that we as an audience have been waiting for Daenerys to do something for what seems like ages. Eventually, Grey Worm infiltrates the city to give the slaves weapons and ask them to rise up against their captors, which it seems they do, only in the most miniscule way possible. For a show with such a huge budget, Game of Thrones is awful chintzy when it comes to most of its battle scenes. In the past year, Daenerys has sacked Astapor, Yunkai, and now Meereen. Eventually she’s going to sail the Narrow Sea and lay siege to King’s Landing, right? That has to be coming soon, right?
Speaking of King’s Landing, Tyrion is set to go to trial for the death of Joffrey. We actually learn, however, that Joffrey’s death was a conspiracy set into place by Petyr Baelish and Lady Olenna Tyrell. Baelish, meanwhile, is on a ship to the Eyrie with Sansa Stark, and Lady Olenna plans for her daughter, would-be queen Margaery Tyrell, to marry Tommen, the dead king’s younger, more manageable brother. Margaery’s seduction of Tommen is innocent and quite funny, as he is a much different target than his deranged older brother. The Tyrells have to act fast with Tommen, before his mother, Queen Cersei, can turn him against Margaery.
Much of the action in this episode takes place at or north of the Wall. Jon Snow has a discussion with Sam Tarly about the relative safety of Castle Black. The men know that Craster’s keep, some sixty miles north of the Wall, is currently occupied by Night’s Watch deserters. When Mance Rayder marches towards the Wall, it is inevitable that he will come across these deserters, who will be tortured into giving up the secrets of the Night’s Watch (such as how undermanned they are). Snow wants to form an expedition to Craster’s keep, but he knows he cannot, because acting Lord Commander Alliser, forbids it.
Meanwhile, Bolton bannerman Locke has infiltrated the Night’s Watch, acting under Roose’s orders to find out what happened to the Stark Boys. He gains Jon Snow’s trust, telling him he’s a former Game Warden from the Stormlands, sent to the Night’s Watch to avoid punishment for stealing a game bird. This comes in handy as Locke later volunteers to head out to Craster’s Keep with Jon Snow, who is able to convince Alliser that the Night’s Watch should indeed send a party there to investigate. This becomes unknowingly even more important once it is revealed that Snow’s brother, Brandon Stark, along with Jojen and Meera Reed have been taken prisoner by the mutineers. Now the journey is personal as well as vital for Snow, who must lead a small band of brothers north and retake the Keep. More table-setting for sure, but at least we’re getting somewhere.