S4 E5 - The First of His Name aka “Sword Skewers Face”.

How did we get halfway through the season already? Where did my life go? Why was there no Tyrion this episode? And what is this rash?

No matter, I’m sure the itching will stop. And it’s best to be a glass half full kind of gal and remember there are still five episodes to go. Also, Jon Snow totally skewered a guy through the face with his sword, which was horrible and awesome.

This was another slow-burner of an episode, which might have annoyed some of you, my beloved Throners. But it was a lovely character study, full of small decisions, big revelations and a great dollop of comeuppance to finish off.

Reminder: spoilers will be included below, so only read on if you’ve seen the episode. We’re discovering the storyline through the TV series (reading the books after each has finished), so no dropping important future plot points in the comments, or we’ll totally skewer you in the face because that is horrible and awesome).

So is it wrong that I found myself a bit cranky at not seeing Lysa Arryn creepily breastfeed her son? Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad the loopy Lady of the Vale has stopped spearing the chest kegs for someone who is well onto his adult teeth. But I’m so battle-hardened by this show now, that I was kinda hoping she’d roll out the barrels just so I could yell “Your breasts don’t scare me!”, which incidentally is how I like to be asked out (hint, hint).

Lysa has been hanging at the Eyrie since we last saw her in season one, but while her fortress remains impenetrable, her virtue most certainly isn’t. It turns out she’s crazy in love with Petyr Baelish, and the pair have been in machiavellian cahoots for some time.

That is to say she thinks they’ve been in cahoots, but no doubt Littlefinger is playing her like a crazy fiddle in his own special way. By the gods that man is slimy. Even the way he pashes is creepy. He’s a mouth-coverer, which is never good. I appreciate it’s a metaphor for how he’s trying to shut Lysa up and not talk about the whole “We did the nasty so I totally killed my husband and lured Ned Stark into a trap for you” plan, but still, leave some breathing room, dude.

Lysa gives the term “crossbow wedding” new meaning by having a sept pop straight in and marry them, declaring that she’s going to scream so loud when they re-consummate their relationship that they’ll hear her across the Narrow Sea. Poor Sansa, just a stone’s throw away, had such trouble trying to sleep that she probably spent the rest of the night inventing soundproofing and therapy.

It gets worse for Sansa, because despite Lysa’s initial warm welcome, she’s soon pinned her niece to the lemoncake tray demanding to know why her new husband is so concerned for Sansa’s safety.

Only after Sansa yells “Virgin!” more times than Richard Branson at his first brand development meeting does her aunt relax, comforting Sansa with the knowledge that soon Tyrion will be dead and she can marry her cousin Robin. Oh, joy.

Back in King’s Landing, Joffrey is being fondly remembered by absolutely no one, as they applaud the ascension of his brother Tommen. The teen greets his subjects with grace and humility (nice to see Pycelle and Varys popping their heads up briefly), while simultaneously trading goo-goo eyes with Kate Middleton.

I thought Cersei was about to launch another bitchkrieg on Margeary, but instead she does something strange and unnerving - she’s nice to her. Cersei admits Joffrey was a terrible human being, she loved him anyway because he was her first born, but really Tommen will be much better and perhaps Margaery would be interested in re-applying for the role of Queen?

Cersei then has what can only be described as a civilised conversation with her father, in which she seems resolved to marry Margaery’s brother Slow Loris for the good of the family. Tywin drops a truth bomb of his own - the Lannisters’ gold mines are kaput and they’re all broke. They need the Tyrells like James Packer needs a title fight.

There was more grave discussion of the Iron Bank of Braavos, a plotline that’s coming into clearer view now that Stannis Baratheon looks set to appeal to the bank for funding (Stannis’ absence again this week indicates a lengthy queue at his local branch).

Then there’s Cersei’s chat with Inigo Montoya, whom she interrupted while he was composing a poem (If you’re up for it, why not compose your own Game of Thrones-inspired limerick and leave it in the comments?). The pair discuss the troubles of parenthood, and the feeling of helplessness when one cannot protect one’s family. Oberyn tells Cersei that her daughter Myrcella is very happy in Dorne, but Cersei feels she’d be happier with a big-ass sailboat.

Now maybe Cersei is just orchestrating all this relative niceness to convince her father and Martell to find Tyrion guilty of Joffrey’s murder, but I’d like to think she’s made some sort of conscious decision to not be a complete cow for a while.

There’s plenty of tension over in Meereen, where Daenerys is faced with rebellion in Astapor and Yunkai, the cities whose slaves she just liberated.

Meanwhile Maario has swiped her 93 ships, which should earn him a lot of gold coins and the ability to throw fireballs, but instead causes more consternation about whether her army is big enough to take Westeros.

Dismissing her council, Dany confides to Jorah Mormont that no one will trust her if she can’t keep her freed people safe. So she decides to do what queens do and rule, which seems to indicate we’ll be in Meereen for a while yet. Dany’s dragons haven’t showed their scaly faces for a few eps now, so we can only imagine producers are saving their CGI dollars for something spectacular.

There’s a lovely sequence with Brienne and Pod as they start their road trip together. It turns out Pod has no idea how to skin a horse or ride a rabbit, and certainly not the other way around.

Brienne keeps trying to get him to sod off, but Pod is determined to be a proper squire. Brienne’s resolve is softened when he reveals he killed a Kingsguard to protect Tyrion. All of a sudden Brienne realised that loyalty was perhaps a better foundation for a good squire than the ability to cook, and let Pod remove her armour.

Fighting was also the topic of choice for Arya and The Hound, who are still on their way to the Eyrie. Sandor Clegane discovered Arya’s bedtime routine of reciting her To-Kill list, prompting a delightful spray of invective.

He wakes to find Arya gone, but soon discovers her practising her water dancing by a river (metaphor). She defends her training as being the best in the world, but after Needle bounces off the Hound’s chestplate, he knocks her to the ground and tells her that real fighting involves armour and a “big f*ing sword”. Hard to argue, really.

Finally, it’s time for the horrible mutinous Crows to get what’s coming to them, hopefully in the most brutal manner possible.

Locke is the Crow sent off to scout ahead, and spies Bran and the Scooby gang tied up in a hut. Cunningly, he tells Jon Snow and the rest to avoid it, saying the dogs inside will smell them out.

Of course, Locke’s plan is to make off with Bran, to rid him as a rival to Roose Bolton. But Bran is quick enough to take over control of Hodor’s body, using the giant’s strength to break free and perform extreme chiropractic manipulation on Locke’s neck.

There was a heartbreaking scene where Bran crawled towards Jon, who was fighting heroically in the firelight, his carved physique poetry in motion (somebody bring me a fan). He was calling out for his brother, but Jojen convinced him that Jon would not allow him to go further north, and the pair both knew Bran had to get to the great heart tree of their visions for reasons that I’m sure will become clear at some point in about two series’ time. It was the closest two Starks had been in ages, but Bran chose to put duty before family.

Inside Craster’s Keep, Jon finds Karl Tanner, the leader of the motley crew, and the pair fight hard until Tanner is knifed by one of the daughter-wives. He’s about to strike back at her when SLICE! The sharp point of Longclaw appears from Tanner’s mouth. Jon Snow totally skewered his face with a sword, and it was horrible and awesome.

Jon was reunited with Ghost, whom he hasn’t seen since Series Two, and the sister-wives made the call to burn the whole damn keep to the ground. Battered and bruised, the women were not broken, and refused Jon’s offer of help to find their own sort of safety.

Zing! Best Lines

“I bet his hair was greasier than Joffrey’s c!#&”

The Hound’s assessment of Sylvio Forel can’t really be topped.

Yay! Best Moments

I imagine I wasn’t the only person who felt punched in the guts by Cersei’s aching summary of inequality: “All over the world they hurt little girls.”

I know I don’t normally go into serious real world stuff in what’s supposed to be a funny recap, but with the shocking and unconscionable enslavement of hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls on my mind, this line was enough to make me choke back a breath. It was heart-wrenching, and it was beautifully done.

Ewww, gross

Karl Tanner’s toe-curlingly horrid assault on Meera, and his declaration that his deputies can have “what’s left of her”. Jojen’s taunts that he would die that night were glorious, and I’m so glad Tanner took a sword through the face.

Boo, sucks

No Tyrion! Barely any Jaime! Not a single boob or wang! Denied!