[Warning: Spoilers ahead for Sunday’s episode, “The Climb”]
Two political powerhouses met in this week’s Game of Thrones, when Twyin (Charles Dance) and the Queen of Thorns (Diana Rigg) clashed over marriages that will shape the future of the realm.
Twyin proposed a union between Cersei (Lena Headey) and Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones). The Queen of Thorns objected on account of Cersei’s age, calling her old and saying she would soon be infertile. She didn’t miss a beat when Tywin referred to Loras secretly being gay, admitting her grandson was “a sword swallower through and through.”
But the matriarch traded tit for tat, trotting out the rumors of Cersei and Jaime’s (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) incest. Twyin would have none of it, pulling out the big guns by threatening to make Loras a member of the King’s Guard – which would effectively leaving Highgarden without a male heir.
The Queen of Thorns knew she had lost.
“It’s a rare enough thing – a man who lives up to his reputation” she said in an admission of defeat.
It was the first time we’ve seen her lose, and marked an important strategic victory for Twyin. With Loras no longer an eligible bachelor, the Tyrell’s plan to marry him to Sansa (Sophie Turner) are done for, leaving the door open for Tyrion to wed the young Stark and for the Lannisters to strengthen their grasp over the Seven Kingdoms.
Tywin and the Queen of Thorns have played the game of thrones brilliantly this season. But the Lannister head proved he was the best at what he does. (We'll see if that holds true if he ever comes face to face with Daenerys' dragons and Unsullied soldiers.)
Robb (Richard Madden) made progress toward an alliance with Lord Frey by promising his uncle Edmure (Tobias Menzies) to one of old Walder’s daughters. True to Edmure’s nature, he whined at first, saying the laws of man can’t compel a man to marry.
“The laws of my fist are about to compel your teeth” growled his uncle Brynden (Clive Russell)
We love any scene in which Brynden gets angry.
Edmure consented to the marriage, with an appreciative Robb saying his uncle was paying for his own sins. True, as Robb was supposed to marry a Frey girl at one point.
Arya (Maisie Williams) and the Brotherhood Without Banners received a surprise visit from Melisandre (Carice van Houten). The Red Woman announced the Lord of Light needed Gendry (Joe Dempsie) and took him away.
What could she need him for? And will it result in more murderous shadow babies?
The visit was preceded with Arya practicing archery and – as she is wont to do – reciting the names of the people she would like to kill. The Red Woman foreshadowed that Arya will indeed get her wish, or at the very least, end up with much blood on her hands.
“I see a darkness in you,” she told Arya. “And in that darkness, eyes staring back at me. Brown eyes. Blue eyes. Green eyes. Eyes you’ll shut forever.”
As adorable as Arya is, its easy to forget she’s been through far too much -- from witnessing her father's death to seeing torture up close. Melisandre’s words served as a jarring reminder that Arya’s obsession with revenge may not lead to a happy ending for the young Stark girl.
We also got a glimpse of Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) in a dress, which was a nice comic touch in a scene that ended badly for the lady knight. Lord Bolton (Michael McElhatton) agreed to return Jaime to King’s Landing, but did not extend the offer to Brienne, saying she was being charged with treason. Jaime protested, but found he had no currency in this situation.
And now for some odds and ends.
Climbing the Wall
Jon Snow (Kit Harington), Ygritte (Rose Leslie) and the rest of their band of Wildlings scaled the Wall. “I’ve waited my whole life to see the world from up there” Ygritte said before they made the dangerous climb. She also revealed she knew Jon had not really deserted the Night’s Watch.
Little Finger is the Worst
We’ve seen glimpses of Lord Baelish’s (Aidan Gillen) cruelty, but this was the most disturbing. Little Finger told Lord Varys (Conleth Hill) he gave Ros (Esme Bianco) to a man to experiment on as punishment for her talking to Varys. We then see that Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) has tortured and shot her to death with an arrow.
The conversation happened within sight of the Iron Throne, a reminder of Little Finger’s ambition, and how disastrous it would be should he come to power.
It Still Sucks to be Theon
Theon’s (Alfie Allen) torture continued at the hands of a mysterious young man, who suggested they play the game “which body part do you need the least?” Ouch. The man said he’d tell Theon the truth if he could guess where he was being held and who his captor was. Theon guessed he was in Karhold (the home of the Karstarks) an the man said this was true. Can he be believed? It’s far from clear why he’s holding Theon, though the man is definitely interested in the fact that Bran and Rickon are still alive.
Game of Thrones airs at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.