[Warning: Spoilers ahead for Sunday's episode of Game of Thrones, "And Now His Watch Is Ended"]
Daenerys Targaryen, here’s to being on top.
While the other would-be monarchs of HBO's Game of Thrones busied themselves with family squabbles, the last dragon masterfully acquired an army of Unsullied and freed a city of slaves, all without spending so much as a gold dragon.
Daenerys’ (Emilia Clarke) gambit of using her new army to slaughter those from whom she bought it was somewhat expected (we knew she wouldn’t give up one of her dragons), but it was still exhilarating to watch. We consider it the show’s biggest game changer since Ned Stark (Sean Bean) lost his head.
Even though Daenerys made the noble choice of freeing her soldiers as well as the city’s enslaved citizens, the scene is still unsettling to watch, knowing that more morally dubious carnage will surely unfold as she makes her way to King’s Landing.
Elsewhere, a nearly deadJaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) fell off his horse, was tricked into drinking horse urine, and was beaten to a pulp by his captors. And having his severed hand tied around his neck only added insult injury.
That night at camp, Jaime refused to eat, despondent over the loss of his sword hand. Brienne (Gwendoline Christie), grateful to him for saving her from being raped, took it upon herself help the Kingslayer get his mojo back.
“You have one taste of the real world, where people have important things taken from them, and you whine and cry and quit,” she said. “You sound like a bloody woman.”
That woman line got to him and he began devouring bread. Who would have thought that Jaime – so despicable in season one -- would transform into such a sympathetic character?
In King’s Landing, Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) and Margaery (Natalie Dormer) continued their macabre romance, with the young King showing his betrothed the royal crypt, the site of such delightful historical events a mother being forced to watch her son eaten by a dragon and a mad man killing himself by drinking wildfire.
“Sometimes severity is the price we pay for greatness,” Margaery observed of the Targaryens—words appealing to the boy king’s sadistic side. At Margaery ‘s bequest, the couple then shared a moment worthy of Prince William and Kate Middleton, with the pair waving to Joffrey’s adoring subjects.
Cersei (Lena Headey) is none to pleased, later noting that Margaery “has her claws” in Joffrey.
In another other big turn, Theon (Alfie Allen) was totally screwed over by his supposed savior Ramsay Snow (Iwan Rheon) who lead him on a journey only to end up back in the torture chamber in which they started. And that was after Theon spilled his guts—revealing he’d had two innocent boys butchered to double for Bran and Rickon, and that he considered Ned Stark to be his true father. Heavy stuff to share with a faux-friend.
And now for some odds and ends:
Hound in Hot Water
Beric Dondarrion (David Michael Scott) put the Hound (Rory McCann) on trial for his crimes against humanity. They lacked proof of his murders, but Arya (Maisie Williams) brought up her friend Micah, the butcher’s boy, whom Joffrey ordered the Hound to kill in season one. Beric and the Hound will fight as a way for the one true God to judge Sandor’s guilt or innocence. Unless God truly is on his side, Beric has his work cut out for him.
A childhood experience may have technically left Varys -- ahem -- diminished, but there’s no denying the man’s got balls. We learned how he came to become a eunuch (a run-in with a sorcerer as a child), and also see how he exacted revenge, now keeping his attacker locked in a box.
Sam the Man
Sam (John Bradley) once again proved to be quite inept when it came to courting his crush Gilly (Hannah Murray). He foolishly inquired about her infant son’s name, not grasping that she might be upset that the baby would soon be food for a god or monster. But he redeemed himself with his most heroic deed to date—running away with her and the baby after all hell broke loose in Craster’s keep. Is this a turning point for young Sam?
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.