Last night's ep felt like a place setting for next week's. Much happened, to be sure (the repercussions of Cersei's power grab are felt immediately, as the rest of Stark's household were cut down before the opening titles), but for those waiting impatiently for the combined forces of Stark and Lannister to finally cross swords en masse, well, looks like we're going to wait another week.
For the time being, Ned Stark is in the black cells, Arya is on the run, Jon struggles with his vows and duty to his family, and Robb marshals his forces to go against Tywin and Jaime.
Only two episodes left. A whole summer with nothing to watch on TV but Astros baseball is going to su-uck.
Picking up right where last week left off, we find the Lannisters coming for Arya and Sansa, with varying outcomes. "Dancing master" Syrio Florel buys Arya time to run, and she escapes, finds Needle, and kills a stable boy in the process. I mourn less for the dead kid and more for Syrio. But since his "death" occurs offscreen, I have faith he'll pop up again somewhere down the road.
Oh please oh please.
Sansa's engagement to Joffrey stands, for now. She grovels appreciably, demonstrating her dependable ability to merge her desire for the fairy tale life with political realities. All she has to do for the Lannisters is write letters to Catelyn and Robb and tell them to bend the knee. Unfortunately, it has the opposite effect on Robb, who calls his banners. Ordinarily, I wouldn't be moved by such obvious CGI, but that shot of all the ravens bearing Robb's summons from Winterfell was pretty cool.
Varys visits Ned in the dungeon and asks him the question probably everyone was wondering after last week: why the hell would he warn Cersei of his intentions? Ah yes, it was "for the children." Sadly, he also learns his best bargaining chip is gone when Varys tells him Catelyn has set Tyrion free.
At the Wall, the Night's Watch recovers the bodies of three dead rangers, and a raven arrives from King's Landing bearing news of Ned's arrest. Ser Alliser taunts Jon about being both a bastard *and* a traitor, and the bastard is confined to quarters after reacting predictably. That is until Ghost alerts him to the fact that the dead Rangers aren't quite as dead as previously suspected. Jon saves the Lord Commander from one such zombie, who moves with surprising rapidity for a big fella.
Over across the Narrow Sea, some of the khal don't appreciate Danaerys' new tendency of preventing them from raping their prisoners. One says as much, and Drogo makes short work of him. He gets a scratch in the process, but since one of the newly almost-enslaved women is a witch, she offers to treat him. Because hey, what could possibly go wrong with letting a woman whose people you just enslaved tend to your wounds?
Robb, having assembled all of the Stark bannermen, deals with a recalcitrant Greatjon Umber. Or rather, Grey Wind does (two direwolves in one week? somebody heard my complaints). The ways of the North are different, I guess, as the loss of a few fingers wins the Greatjon over. Robb marches, leaving Bran because "there must always be a Stark in Winterfell." Rickon also finally shows up again (though I guess he doesn't count), cryptically predicting no one will return. Osha, meantime, tells Bran that Robb should be marching to the north to deal with the white walkers.
I said the same thing when we invaded Iraq: the Canadians have always been our biggest threat.
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Catelyn gets no help from Lysa, who remains content to sit atop the Eyrie and breastfeed her weird kid. But she and Robb are soon reunited, and Catelyn resumes her rightful place awkwardly sitting on Robb's war council and (probably) eventually pissing him off. Did General Norman Schwarzkopf have his mommy with him during Desert Storm? I think not.
Tyrion and Bronn make their way through back from the Eyrie, inevitably running into the hill tribes. Tyrion has an intriguing proposition for them: help him and he'll give them the Vale of Arryn. Tyrion may or may not be serious. All I know is you don't want to cross Shagga, son of Dolf, lest he cut off your manhood and feed it to the goats. Repeatedly, it would seem.
Finally, "King" Joffrey doesn't screw around. The head of the city watch is given a handsome reward for helping betray Stark (a lordship and the castle Harrenhal), and Ser Barristan Selmy is unceremoniously discharged from the Kingsguard. He takes it with about as much aplomb as one getting laid off deserves. Sansa also reads her prepared statement, asking for mercy for Ned. Joffrey agrees, provided Ned recognizes Joffrey's claim. Sansa assures him he will.
We'll see. And maybe we'll find out how the hell Arya is going to make it out of the city. Next week: Everybody fights. Except probably Sansa.