One constant theme of the fourth season of Game of Thrones has been motherhood and the difficulties thereof. But in last night's episode, the duties and disappointments of brotherhood took center stage, with painful exchanges between Jaime and Tyrion coupled with the Hound's of hurt and betrayal after the horrible abuse of his older brother.
And let's not forget Prince Oberyn, so obsessed with revenge for his murdered sister he's willing to champion the most hated man in Kings Landing to get his chance. It's a fight I'm looking forward to, because if there's anything we need in GoT, it's more bloodshed.
Locations (* = new): King's Landing, The Dreadfort, Winterfell, The Wall, Braavos, Meereen
Ser(s) Not Appearing in this Episode: Stannis Baratheon, Davos Seaworth (presumably returning from Braavos), Theon "Reek" Greyjoy, Ramsay Snow, Bran Stark, Jojen and Meera Reed, Hodor. I'm assuming we'll see Rickon and Asha again some time in Season 12.
In Kings Landing, Jaime's (Nikolaj Coster-Walda) not happy with Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) screwing up the plea bargain and giving up life (at the Wall) by demanding trial by combat. More to the point, Big Brother isn't up to task of defending him. Who, then? Bronn? And who will be Cersei's champion? That question is answered right quick, when we find out Cersei (Lena Headey) has invited the Mountain, real name Gregor Clegane (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson), back to Kings Landing, where he's getting in fighting shape by disemboweling prisoners malnourished prisoners. Might want to have a talk with his trainer, Cersei.
The Hound, real name Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann), and Arya (Maisie Williams) come upon a gut stabbed old man on the road, who waxes Jedi philosophical for a moment ("There's no balance anymore") before the Hound puts him out of his misery. He's then jumped by Biter and Rorge, who you'll remember were two of the cage occupants Yoren was taking north to the Wall (and if you didn't, they were shown in the previews), now out for the bounty on the Hound's head. Naturally, they're quickly dispatched by the pair (Jaqen would be so proud). Later, Arya tries to convince the Hound to cauterize his bite wound, but he's not having it, offering a rather melancholy account of Gregor's brutal attack on him when he was a kid.
Between the sepsis foreshadowing and the increased humanization of the Hound, I'm not optimistic about his future.
Jon Snow (Kit Harington) returns with the rest of his squad from Craster's Rape Shack, and Lord Commander Thorne (Owen Teale) promptly orders him to lock up Ghost. Jon grudgingly agrees, then gives the rangers a sitrep on Mance's army, advising them to seal the tunnel under the Wall. Thorne disagrees, and it looks like they'll continue to be woefully unprepared unless that leadership change telegraphed three episodes ago comes about.
A newly engaged Bronn (Jerome Flynn) pays Tyrion a visit in stir. The Imp's pitch falls on deaf ears: "Aye, I'm your friend; and when have you ever risked your life for me?" Simply put, given the choice between hand to hand combat with a 7' mutant and getting fat and happy as the new Lord Stokeworth, the sellsword wisely opts for the latter. This looks like the end of a beautiful friendship, and the parting is actually quite poignant. I'm going to miss Bronn.