With recent episodes ending in wedding massacres and city sieges, it makes a nice break to start this one with a coronation. It’s not a gratuitous affair, and the shining star that is Ser Pounce is missing, but you cannot help but feel that Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) will make a kind king, and possibly a good one. Definitely better than Joffrey and probably more competent than their two previous predecessors too.
Funnily enough, Cersei (Lena Headey) agrees with this blunt assessment of her firstborn offspring’s incompetence as she chats with Margaery after the latter makes googly eyes at His Grace. In yet another shocker, Cersei tells Marge that she will talk to papa Lannister to arrange for a quick wedding, so that our beloved Tyrell can start having a positive influence on Tommen’s life. If Cersei really is out to get rid of the Tyrells, she is playing the long game. Of course, Marge cannot help but finish with a snappy comment about the complicated relationship they will share (Sisters-in-law? Mother-and-daughter-in-law?) once Cersei marries Loras, so there is still some wit left in the Tyrell clan.
News of Joffrey’s demise finally reaches Daenerys (who seems to have set up base in Meereen. After gathering stock of the size of her army and her newly “acquired” ships, she begins discussing her plans to reach Westeros. Finally! Unfortunately for us, grumpy old Jorah points out that her army is enough to conquer King’s Landing but not the whole Seven Kingdoms. There is also the small matter of Yunkai and Astapor having fallen back into chaos once Dany left. The Targaryen decides to stay in Meereen so that she can learn to be a good queen before she attempts to take the Iron Throne. Which is great and all, but kind of silly because there is no guarantee the situation in Westeros will remain as unstable as it is now.
After two seasons without any appearance, we return to the Eerie – despite its absence from the opening credits – as Sansa , disguised as Alayne, the niece of Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish (Aidan Gillen), actually sees a family member for the first time since her father got beheaded. Unfortunately for her, its maniacal aunt Lysa (Kate Dickie) who seems kind enough in her niece’s presence but gets super creepy with Littlefinger as soon as Sansa has been escorted to her chambers.
That’s when things get really interesting. It turns out that the Lannisters did not kill Lysa’s husband back in Season 1, the event that precipitated the entire fiasco that is the story of this show. Lysa apparently poisoned him out of her love for Littlefinger and blamed the Lannisters out of that same weird affection. Wow. Just. Wow. After four seasons of wondering what his endgame really is, we finally get to see that Baelish has been pulling strings all along in the hopes of gaining more power. And if that includes being torturously loud with Lysa in bed, so be it. Wow. (And yuck too.)
We meet up with Cersei keeping her word to Marge and planning Tommen’s nuptials with Tywin. They agree that a fortnight from now is a decent enough time to allow for public mourning of Joffrey (Hah!), and add another fortnight before Cersei’s own wedding. Tywin points out that the Lannisters need the Tyrells for their economic power as the Iron Throne is in severe debt to the Iron Bank of Braavos. His daughter calmly agrees before trying to sway his opinion against Tyrion before the upcoming trial. Largely due to his principles, he does not rise to the bait.
It turns out that the Lannisters did not kill Lysa’s husband back in Season 1, the event that precipitated the entire fiasco that is the story of this show
Somewhere in the Riverlands, Arya keeps the Hound awake with the nightly recitation of her kill-list. While he sort of admires her for having hatred, as it gives her a purpose, he still tells her to shut up. Which she does, after finishing off with his name. You’ve got to hand it to her, girl’s got guts.
The same cannot necessarily be said for Sansa, who is lulled into a false sense of security by her aunt and some sweets before Lysa goes completely nuts, demanding to know if Sansa has been seducing Littlefinger and if she is still a virgin. When the poor girl breaks down in tears, she is finally convinced and ominously remarks that her niece will make a good wife for her son. Poor, poor, poor Sansa, she never seems to catch a break.
We see a short scene of Brienne and Pod (Daniel Portman) bonding over his inability to cook and his unexpected bravery at the Blackwater, culminating in her letting him help her with her armour. From one buddy-duo to another, we rejoin the Hound mocking Arya’s sword-fighting skills. She looks extremely graceful with her cartwheels and motions but he still knocks her down and reminds her of the sad reality that beauty means nothing if you can’t fight dirty to survive.
Speaking of beauty, Oberyn Martell is writing poetry in the royal gardens when he is interrupted by Cersei. Once again defying expectations of a venomous conversation, the two commiserate about their inability to save their loved ones despite being in positions of power. After several episodes of being a one-dimensional villainess, it is nice to see Headey showing her range again. The scene ends with Oberyn acquiescing to her request of taking a ship back to her daughter Myrcella in Dorne as a present. Whether this will be of any significance later remains to be seen.
With so much happening below the Wall, it is only fair that the episode ends with all hell breaking loose above it. We start things off by encountering Jojen (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) having a vision of the same Weirwood tree that Bran saw earlier in the season before reasserting their need to continue their journey, never mind being chained up in Craster’s Keep. Karl (Burn Gorman) and a pair of his mutineering associates arrive to assault Meera (Ellie Kendrick) when the Night’s Watch contingent led by Jon Snow launch their attack.
In the midst of the kerfuffle, Locke (Noah Tyler), who had previously scouted the whole encampment, sneaks in and carries off Bran at knife-point. Luckily for him, the Stark boy wargs into Hodor (Kristian Nairn) and promptly breaks his assailant’s neck. Hodor is horrified at what he has done when he regains his conscious, which raises interesting questions about the morality of forced warging, but still listens to Bran and unties their companions. After briefly fleeting with the idea of reuniting with Jon, Bran is convinced by Jojen that he would likely be prevented from completing his mission and so chooses to carry on North instead. It would seem the Stark children are maturing, even in less-than-ideal circumstances.
Jon and Karl slog things out inside the main hut before one of Craster’s wives stabs Karl in the back. He is then dispatched with Jon’s sword through his mouth. Even after four seasons of gore, that still looked pretty gruesome. Rast (Luke Barnes), meanwhile, is killed by Ghost and we see Jon express the most emotion he has ever shown on the series when he hugs his direwolf again. After the surviving women decline Jon’s offer to return to the Wall with them, the last shot we see is of Craster’s Keep being burned to the ground.
The mutineers have been disposed of, and Tommen has been crowned king. It would seem that, with the season now halfway done – gasp! – the next episode is likely to start showing Tyrion’s trial. Other interesting stories would be the continued tribulations of Sansa, while the trailer for Episode 6 promises the return of both Stannis and the Ironborn. How exciting!