I guess the most important lesson we learned from this week's episode, "The Gift," is don't spend too much time gloating about your victories, especially when you yourself have something to hide. Hey, Cersei?
Locations (* = new): King's Landing, Winterfell, The Wall, Braavos, Meereen, Dorne
Ser(s) Not Appearing In This Episode: Arya Stark, Jaqen H'ghar, hey where's Gendry?
Well, nobody's too happy about Lord Commander Snow's (Kit Harington) decision to travel with Tormund north of the Wall to lead the Free Folk south, least of all new First Ranger Alliser Thorne (Owen Teale). Sam gives Jon a dragonglass dagger before he goes. Hey, maybe some effort could have been spent mining more of that, but whatever. Maester Aemon counsels Gilly (Hannah Murray) to take her baby south "before it's too late." Those are more or less his final coherent words. At the pyre, Thorne tells Sam he's losing all his friends.
And just when it looks like Gilly will be the most recent victim of Benioff and Weiss' plot device rape, Sam (?John Bradley-West) does the brave thing and ... sics Ghost on her two would-be assailants. Finally, a direwolf. And finally, Sam gets a little action. Evreybody wins
In Winterfell ... well, that happened. Sansa (Sophie Turner) pleads for help from Theon/Reek (Alfie Allen). I guess those of us hoping last week's unpleasantness was a fleeting thing will be disappointed. Give her credit, she gives the bastard as good as she can. Unfortunately, Theon truly is Reek now, and gives up the game to Ramsay (Iwan Rheon). Well, this keeps getting better. And by better I mean much, much worse.
Ramsay's right about one thing, the winter storm is working to hinder Stannis (Stephen Dillane) and his army. The one true King is undaunted, much like Patton: "L'audace, l'audace, toujours l'audace!" Melisandre (Carice Van Houten) has a solution,
Jorah (Iain Glen) gets auctioned, and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) too, since he's able to convince the buyer the two of them are a package deal. That may backfire. Then again, as luck would have it, they get presented in front of the queen straightaway. And just like that, Ser Jorah and the Imp meet the Mother of Dragons.
In Meereen, the newly betrothed Daenerys isn't above getting a little side action with Daario. She balks at his suggestion that they marry, but pauses to consider his suggestion that she murder all the masters when the games reconvene. That's a solid idea, actually.
In King's Landing, Lady Olenna (Dianna Rigg) goes to the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) to plead Loras and Margaery's case. For the second time in as many episodes, her threats/overtures fall on deaf ears, also coming with an unsubtle warning from the Sparrow that her days in charge may be numbered. Then she receives a letter. Cersei (Lena Headey) has other problems, like trying to reign in Tommen, whose love for his Queen appears to have outstripped that for his mom. She offers to talk with the High Sparrow on his behalf, showing a rare moment of sincerity as she professes her love for her son (and daughter, don't forget).
Cersei also makes what has to be regarded as the, well, queen mother of all mistakes by paying Margaery (Natalie Dormer) a gloating visit. Evidently she underestimated the lengths of Lancel's guilt trip. O HAI Lancel. Looks like Margaery and Loras have a new neighbor.
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SPEAKING OF, Jaime is finding Myrcella uncooperative, while poor Bronn (Jerome Flynn) is ... well, I was going to say he was in worse straits, but that was before Tyene (Rosabell Laurenti Sellers) shows her goodies. Oh yeah, she also poisoned him, but gives him the antidote after obtaining assurances she's the fairest of them all, or some such.
Finally, Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) enters into an alliance with the only other character who's had as many setbacks as him lately: Lady Olenna. At long last, the two conspirators in Joffrey's death (in case you had any lingering suspicions) have a new shared cause. With the end of the Bronn/Jaime road show and the Tyrion/Jorah pairing not proving very entertaining, Littlefinger/Queen of Thorns might be just what the doctor ordered.
Things That Will Piss Off Book Purists: Looks like Aemon won't be going south with Sam and Gilly after all, and perhaps they won't be either, not that they're likely to mind, now that they're doing the nasty; pretty pretty sure Jorah and Tyrion still haven't made Daenerys' acquaintance in the books yet; a Littlefinger/Olenna alliance? Cool, but never happened; and the "pairing of characters that might be fun to see interact even though it never happened in the books" continues with Bronn and the Sand Snakes.
Next Week: Cersei's in danger, girl and Jon Snow is going where no Crow has gone before.