I must admit to getting confused by many of the comments on last week's recap - several people admonished me for revealing spoilers. I swear I have not read the books ahead; I don't know what's happening week by week. All I do is theorise and crack jokes, that's really it.
But then, after watching this week's episode, I realised exactly WHY people were cranky. Turns out I should don a turban and sell my services as "Psychic Nat", because HOLY MOLY DID I PREDICT THAT ENDING OR WHAT?
Let's dive headfirst into Raven On, the Game of Thrones recap that's sharper than the knife that cut off Varys'.... well, you know.
Reminder: spoilers will be included below. 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 box you up like a dodgy sorcerer.
From the Bay of Grief to beyond The Wall, from the Brotherhood Without Banners' forest hideout to Lord Varys' spiderweb - scores are being settled, and justice is being meted out faster than you can say Valar Morghulis.
Daenerys goes biblical on Kraznys just as I jokingly predicted last week (I'm buying a lottery ticket to celebrate). The fact that Dany speaks Valyrian was not a huge surprise - she was always half-smiling whenever Kraznys spoke - but the revelation was beautifully done. You should've seen your face, Kraznys. Well, before the dragon melted it off your smug skull.
Dany then commanded the Unsullied to take revenge on their former masters of Astapor, freed them as a reward, but called on them to re-enter her service of their own volition.
While it was an honourable gesture, I did rather wonder if it wouldn't have been more deliciously murky to leave Dany in charge of the whip. I don't want any of my Game of Thrones characters becoming too black-and-white good, you see. That was Ned Stark's role, may he rest with the old gods. I like the idea of all the competing factions having questionable battle tactics.
Speaking of tactics, Cersei's getting more and more worried about the game Margaery/Kate Middleton is playing with her beloved psychotic son. Joffrey's getting all hot under the britches for King's Landing's violent history, but it's Kate Middleton who makes him look more closely at its living people, his subjects. Could a bit of positive PR help turn Joffrey into a just and fair king - or at least a bit less of a colossal arse-o-saurus?
Cersei tries to address the manipulation issue with her father, but Tywin Lannister has seals to stamp goddamnit. He probably follows up doing his mail by stamping actual seals, that's just the kind of badass he is. They have a lovely exchange in which Tywin tells his daughter that it's not her sex he distrusts, it's her brain. Ouch. Seriously, you have to go back to Hamlet to find a story with bigger Daddy issues. No wonder Cersei feels hard done by; as she and Olenna discuss, it's a stupid arrangement that put men in charge. Tywin meanwhile vows to stop Joffrey doing what he likes, which had my rubbing my fingers together in glee. Bring that on.
Brienne tries to lend Jamie a hand (boom!) during an impromptu rebellion against their captors, but Locke soon regains the upper hand (ouch!), crushing Jaime's sword just out of arm's reach (yowser!). Brienne points out to a depressed Jaime that the Lannister lad's always had the world handed to him on a golden platter (insensitive!), and he can't palm off his life (oh no!) now that he's been fingered by fate (eww). It's tough (g)love from the Tarthian warrior, but no doubt she's going to have to hold his hand (stop now!) through this adjustment process, until he can knuckle down (no really, stop) to plan revenge.
So Beric Dondarrion totally got recast, didn't he? I watched season one on my flight home from China recently (because, you know, why sleep), and Beric appear very briefly - and wordlessly - when Ned Stark ordered him to go hunt down Gregor Clegane. He was a slight red-headed chap then, not the barrel-chested, eyepatch-wearing rogue warrior he is now. The Brotherhood is preparing to hand out justice to the Hound, who makes a pertinent point about not being responsible for his brother's crimes. I think I'm glad Arya's hanging with the Brotherhood for the moment; they may not have traditional "honour", but Arya never did either.
My psychic powers seemed in evidence with Theon Greyjoy again - I initially thought he was being played like a sucker, only to be surprised by his escape last episode. But no, turns out it was part of a bigger ploy.
I couldn't help but feel a twinge of sorrow for Theon, as he accepted his faults in turning his back on the Starks. "I made a choice... and I chose wrong," he mourns, moments before being re-strung for more torture. While the Greyjoy heir did murder innocents to try to hold Winterfell, I did wonder if that's solely what he's being punished for. There is a difference between justice and revenge. The joy of GoT is not knowing exactly where one bleeds into another - just that there will be blood.
For me, it was all Varys and Olenna this episode. The spider only reared his head last episode, so it was wonderful to see lots of screen time for him this week.
Tyrion goes to see Varys to try to find evidence the Kingsguard turned on him during the Battle of Blackwater Bay specifically on his sister's orders - only to be given an extraordinary story of Varys' rise from boy actor to spymaster (with a terrifying description of mutilation along the way). Varys is going to have his fun with the sorcerer who mutilated him, giving Tyrion a lesson on exactly how cold the "revenge" dish should be served.
Varys also fears Littlefinger's motivations when it comes to sinking his claws into Sansa Stark, which prompts his conversation with Lady Olenna about a better option for the "beautiful girl with a famous name". It's Kate Middleton who breaks the news: Sansa can marry Slow Lorus, sorry, Ser Loras, and get the hell out of Dodge.
By the way, Diana Rigg is stealing this series so much Peter Dinklage should fear being overtaken as everybody's favourite. Queen of Thorns for the Iron Throne, I say.
I also loved the fact that Pod really does seem to be a sexual prodigy (Podigy?). Some commenters last week felt that Bronn and Tyrion had pre-paid the prostitutes to rave about him; but why would Ros tell Varys otherwise?
Tywin to Cersei:
"You're still here."
And Olenna's description of being seduced by Varys:
"What happens when the non-existent bumps against the decrepit?"
Be careful what you wish for! My plea last week for someone to gut Craster like a pig was answered - but at the worst possible price.
It was still justice, of a sort - Craster was indeed a depraved wildling creepazoid, salivating with delight over his ability to control the watchmen. And you can understand the paranoia and frustration of watchmen who can't do anything to save their fellow crows from hunger, forced instead have to burn their bodies unceremoniously, even unremembered by their superiors.
But I was devastated by the loss of Commander Mormont, a brilliantly noble character. I guess that means in the GoT world he had it coming, but still the tears fell. He fought like a bear with a sore head until the end though, and jeez, I wish he'd killed that creepy rapey crow before going to the great wall in the sky. That guy has been causing trouble since season one. And now he's threatening lovable Sam Tarly, who's rescued Gilly and her baby and fled to the deep dark woods.
Finally, there was no Jon Snow this week, and no nudity. I wonder if the producers realised a brief scene with Jon Snow in the nude could've solved both of those problems? Still, there's always next week!