It's not just Brienne in a pit of despair as Sansa and Shae face their stark reality; back at the lion's den Tywin starts taming the beast.
Ygritte might not know what swooning is, but by the end I needed smelling salts to recover from that episode. I cannot believe this show has made me feel... something... for Jaime Lannister beyond cold loathing.
But enough, enough, we'll get to that later - let's head back and claw our way through another Raven On Game of Thrones recap.
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 punch you right in the stump.
It's not fair to single out one particular GoT episode as being "relationship" themed, as they're all about that really. But this one in particular focused a lot on promises and pledges, the spoken-and-unspoken vows people make each other... and the spectre of what might happen if those vows are broken.
We start with the Wildlings in green country beyond the Wall. They're on their way to Castle Black, but Jon doesn't know the countryside as well as the roads. Orell the Birdbrain is doing his best to undermine the Crow, giving Jon a lecture about human selfishness, and telling Ygritte he'd be a good partner to her should she choose it.
But it was Jon who first went south for the winter, if you get my drift, so she's still enamoured with him. And what happens when a woman likes a man? She teases and criticises him, of course. But when Jon raises the issue of the Wildlings' unlikely odds of victory, it's Ygritte who reminds him that it's not just about Mance Raydar's plans, but their own - "If we die, we die, until then, we live".
Meanwhile, I think I have to rename Tormund Giantsbane "Captain Redbeard Rum", after Tom Baker's legless ship captain character in Blackadder 2. That's probably an obscure reference for some, but it's spot on, particularly after he started giving lovemaking advice to Jon Snow. Sure, it was all decent counsel, but it's only a small step from "You have a woman's bottom, my lady!"
Team Stark is beset by rain on their way to The Twins to marry off Edmure Tully. There's some consternation that Walder Frey will take their delay as an insult; but Robb sends them all packing so he can get some quality couch time with the tantalising Talisa.
He's understandably fond of her well-rounded, um, character, and even more so when she drops the baby bomb. Another Stark on the way! It's good news, but it's also potentially very bad news, as this series has a habit of making orphans all too regularly.
With her brother enjoying marital bliss, Sansa is facing a marital fizz down in King's Landing. She's counselled by Margaery/Kate Middleton, who has this annoying habit of growing increasing more beautiful every episode. By the time of her wedding to Joffrey, she'll just be a ball of shimmering pearlescent light with a plunging neckline.
Anyhoo, Sansa's a bit of a heightist, but Middleton reminds her it could be a lot worse. Look at Joffrey. And she points out that Tyrion is reportedly very experienced with the ladeez. Middleton admits to being taught these things by her mother; I haven't yet seen evidence of a Westerosi Cosmo, so we'll take that on face value for the moment.
Tyrion himself is angsting over the marriage, with Bronn cheerfully telling him that he should wed one, bed the other, and be done with it. It was great to see Bronn again after an absence - that pair's relationship is based on mutual gain ("You pay me to kill people, evil notions are free"), but the honesty of that foundation has allowed it to grow, ever so slightly, into one of mutual trust.
Much rockier is Tyrion's relationship with Shae, who can't see many positives about the Sansa marriage. Could it be that she and Bronn are right when they suspect Tyrion might actually quite like Sansa? She doesn't want his comfortable but secretive life in the city; he cannot countenance the idea of not being a Lannister where the action is. It's a stalemate.
Out on Blackwater Bay, Gendry learns the truth about his heritage from 80s songstress Kate Bush, who insists there is power in a king's blood. What are her plans for the handsome young chappy who is coincidentally probably due a nude scene?
His former cohort Arya is giving Beric and Thoros a shoulder so cold it could freeze fire. She's cranky they traded him to a pop star when he had pledged service to them; she gets even more upset when they decide to go hunting Lannisters instead of taking her to Riverrun. It's just promises made, promises broken all over the place.
Escaping the Brotherhood's man cave, she flees into the forest. I honestly thought at this point that Arya was going to run into Nymeria, her long-departed direwolf. She's in the vicinity of where she sent the creature packing after it bit Joffrey way back in S1E2. And that is one Chekhov's gun that is just begging to be fired. But no, it was another Hound that grabbed her. Let's hope some of his humanity remains and he treats her kindly.
Kindness is something Danaerys experiences in strange ways - she wants to release the slaves of Yunkai, but is quite prepared to torch everyone in the process. Looking resplendent in her camp tent with growing dragons casually snapping up raw fleshy treats, Dany sure knows the art of diplomatic negotiation. Somebody send her to North Korea, pronto.
The Yunkai rep, who had quite an abiding love of black eyeliner, tried sucking up to Dany with gold, then tried threatening her with "powerful friends", but in the end was sent homeward to think again. For Jorah and Barristan it's a bluff; but I think for Dany it is a dead-set promise: mess with me, mess with my people, mess with my scaly reptilian children and I WILL HAVE YOU.
Meanwhile, I love her new, extended title: Danaerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons. Her business card must be a billboard.
Finally - that concluding sequence with Jaime riding back to Harrenhal to free Brienne. They had had a beautiful intimate sequence where Brienne forgave Jaime his debt, and he vowed to return the Stark girls. It was gentle, perfect, intimate - and yet you felt Jaime was unsatisfied with its conclusion however stoic Brienne was.
So then, when they talked about her as the "entertainment" for Locke and his sleazy friends, I imagine we were all thinking the same thing as Jaime, right? But we were wrong - instead THEY PUT HER IN A BEAR PIT AND MADE HER FIGHT A BEAR AND THE BEAR WAS SCRATCHING HER AND SHE ONLY HAD A WOODEN SWORD TO FIGHT THE BEAR AND DID I MENTION THE BEAR?
Did everyone's heart soar when Jaime "Stumpy" Lannister jumped into the pit? With a bit of help from Lord Bolton's archer, they managed to help each other out, and after a brief stand-off with Locke, get on their way. I loved that it brought Jaime and Locke's relationship full circle - Locke had cut off Jaime's hand because he had tried to use his father as leverage; but it's precisely that leverage that Locke knows Bolton now wants. Game, set, match. Jaime & Brienne 1, Locke & Bear, nil.
Of course, this has forged an even deeper bond between our favourite warrior pair - and gone a long way to putting Jaime into "good guy" territory. Will the pledge hold when they return to the lion's den in the south?
FINALLY! A Tywin/Joffrey scene. I giggled with delirious delight when Tywin walked into the Great Hall and paced up to the Iron Throne. Did you see Joffrey squirming like the little rat he is, trying to look all kingly, when the crown has never seemed so ill-fitting to his head? Did you see him trying to stare down a man who has probably taken out the Seven Kingdoms Staring Competition All-Star Championships for 25 years running? Did you absolutely LOVE Tywin's response to Joffrey complaining about walking up stairs by the simple act of walking up about four steps to the throne? DID YOU LOVE THAT? 'Cause I loved that. In one tiny gesture, Tywin shows just how much more disciplined he is than Joffrey. The only thing that would've been better had Tywin laid into Joffrey with a rusty pike, but maybe they're saving that for the finale.
I loved Osha's mini-meltdown in camp with the Stark boys and Reed siblings - she's getting more stressed out the closer she gets to the Wall, and isn't much pleased with Bran's plan to find the three-eyed raven instead of going to Castle Black.
Osha: How come he always gets to sit and chat while we do all the work?
Hodor: (looks confused)....Hodor.
Now most of the talky-talky-feelings in this episode came during one-on-ones - except for Theon, who suitably got a threesome. Now I think you all know I love a bit of nudity, but this was particularly creepy, manipulative nudity. If you enjoy that kind of nudity, you're probably a bit creepy and manipulative yourself and should probably get out of the house more. Of course, it was all part of Psycho Torture Guy's plan to separate Theon from his Greyjoy in front of a veritable crowd of onlookers. You have to give it to Psycho Torture Guy - he is dedicated to tearing every shred of dignity and humanity from the Iron Islander.
Why no Olenna? WHY? I feel a bit denied. Happy to have a breather from Cersei, Littlefinger and Varys, but you can't go denying me Olenna now that you've got me hooked, GoT. I'm a Queen of Thorns addict, I need to get Rigged!