Missing dragons, horny Wildings, escaped hostages and reckless assassinations keep Thrones characters busy

By James Hibberd
Updated May 14, 2012 at 02:15 AM EDT
Credit: Paul Schiraldi/HBO

Oh no, what just happened? I had sex with a Wildling. Or maybe I just tied her up. Or I lost my dragons, or I had somebody killed, or have just become fertile. There’s a slew of game-changing events that went down at the end of last week’s Game of Thrones that our beloved characters are having to deal with the day-after consequences. It’s like a life-and-death hangover as we break down “A Man Without Honor.”

Winterfell: Theon wakes to find his lover gone, which can’t be a new experience for him. But his valuable hostages Bran and Rickon Stark are missing too, and that’s plenty embarrassing. He’s furious. How dare they escape? He was the Stark’s hostage for years and never ran away!

“You let a halfwit escape with a cripple!” he rages to his guard. And when a subordinate displays some insubordination by pointing out Theon aided their escape too by freeing Osha, Theon flies into a rage and kicks the hell out of him.

Theon orders up some horses and hounds to hunt down the kids. “If I find them soon enough, I wont hurt them,” Theon assures Maester Luwin, then amends: “I’ll hurt them, I won’t kill them.”

Despite this turn of events, Theon is in high spirits. He’s confident he’ll find the Stark kids, and then his sister will send some reinforcements so he can hold Winterfell against Robb Stark’s men. “Ned Stark always said 500 men could hold Winterfell against 10,000,” Theon says, though I’m unsure he really wants to bet his life on the optimistic opinions of Ned “Glass Half Full” Stark.

North of the Wall: Unlike Theon, Jon Snow wakes to find his Wildling right where he left her. Of course, he took the precaution of tying her up first. He realizes his hand is accidentally on her breast, and she says this hilarious line: “Did you pull a knife on me in the night?”

Ygritte enjoys teasing Jon about his barely suppressed desire while using Wildling genitalia terminology. She talks about Jon’s “bone” and his sore “stones.” She sounds like foul-mouthed character from The Flintstones.

NEXT: Arya matches wits with Tywin Lannister

“You’re a boy who’s never been with a girl,” she realizes, looking vaguely grossed out. She runs down the Night’s Watch potential sex options — Girl crows? Other men? Sheep? “With your hands then, no wonder you’re all so miserable,” she says.

We get some backstory about the Wildlings, how’s they’re like the Native Americans of Westeros — the first settlers, who were later confined to a vast northern reservation by the more technologically savvy settlers. As As they argue, it’s nice to see some passion from the typically dour Jon Snow. She seems to win the fight, and underscores the point by walking away and tugging the rope — leading him.

Harrenhal: A nice shot of the grounds. With its medieval ruins and red Lannister banners the place looks a bit like a wrecked Castle Wolfenstein. Men are being tortured and executed as Tywin looks down from his tower looking like a vampire king. He’s convinced Jaqen’s poison dart last week was meant for him and is trying to discover the identity of the assassin.

We’re treated to another excellent scene between Tywin and Arya. All those who mourn changes from George R.R. Martin’s novels, I can’t imagine there’s many of you who don’t love this pairing.

We see that Arya’s pride is starting to get the best of her. She’s crafty enough to pretend like she doesn’t know the word “legacy” when Tywin asks her. But when Tywin omits the female dragon riders of Targaryen legacy, she can’t help but correct him. Even after Tywin seems suspicious of the source of her knowledge, she gives added detail that betrays the depth of her education.

Tywin notes most girls are interested in more romantic things, and she replies “most girls are idiots.” This reminds Tywin of Cersei. This repels us, because we know how different Arya and Cersei are, but it’s still true — that line is very much something that Cersei would say (and, in fact, she says something very similar later when she tells Tyrion that she lights her own candles because she can’t stand her handmaidens).

There’s a brief moment when Arya appears to contemplate stabbing Tywin, but we don’t buy that here, especially since she has one more wish from her stealth assassin up her sleeve. The real tension is when Tywin accuses Arya of being highborn, noting that she slipped by saying “my lord” instead of “m’lord.”

What happens next is really interesting.

NEXT: Sansa tries to sweet talk The Hound

Arya doesn’t fall for his trap. It would be so easy to buy Tywin’s apparent utter conviction in his conclusion — hell, I believed it when he said it. But it was a test since Tywin doesn’t really know she’s highborn for certain. Arya smartly sticks to her story, yet slips a second time. She says her mom taught her how to speak “proper — properly.”

See, Tywin might have bought that Arya’s lord-serving mom taught her grammar. But Arya trying to throw in a fumble over the word “properly” takes the charade one step too far and Tywin sees right through it.

Arya is very crafty, she’s just not mature enough to know when to pull back and she’s playing this game with a master. Tywin is smarter by virtue of his decades of experience and he will sooner or later figure her out. Right now, he knows something’s wrong with her story, but he doesn’t know whether what she’s hiding is actually important.”You’re too smart for your own good,” Tywin says. That’s true. But one also could say that she’s not quite smart enough to know when to play dumb.

I’m spent a lot of time geeking out on this scene, I know. I’m just amazed this subplot that almost exclusively takes place in a single room has consistently managed to be totally riveting.

King’s Landing: Sansa tries to thank The Hound for saving her from the rapists, but he’s not a guy you can really bond with. “Killing’s the sweetest thing there is,” he says. (I hope The Hound doesn’t use that for his online dating profile headline because that’s not just going to woo the ladies).

Sansa asks why he says such hateful things, and The Hound counters, “You’ll be glad of the hateful things i do someday when you’re queen and I’m all that stands between you and your beloved king.” And by that The Hound means … actually I’m not sure what it means. He seems to be referencing that he knows she has no love for the sinister Joffrey, but I’m not sure what he’s suggesting since it’s not like he’s going to protect her from the king, right? I think he means that Joffrey is such a jerk that they’re both going to need his protection, but the phrasing was confusing.

Later: Sansa awakes from a nightmare, only to find herself in a real one. Cersie asked Sansa in the show’s first episode if she’s had her period. Now she has. The only thing worse than a nightmare of being raped and murdered is the thought of having Joffrey-sex and carrying his demon spawn. She freaks out. Shay the Funny Whore tries to help cover up the sheets, but The Hound finds the evidence.

Cersei provides little comfort, noting, in the understatement of the season, “Joffrey’s always been difficult.” Then she informs us, she “labored a day in a half to bring him into this world.” She noted Jaime was by her side during this birth, and notes “Joffrey will show you no such devotion.” Notice she’s comparing Sansa’s future husband to her brother/secret lover, which is a bit of a slip.

“The more people you love the weaker you are,” she advises.

Qarth: Dany, robbed of dragons, is upset. She’s sort of always upset, though. She rejects Xaro’s help to help find her dragons, which seems unwise at the moment. She needs all the help from the locals that she can get, right? Xaro says he wants to help to protect his reputation because his reputation as her sworn protector is on the line. “A man is what others say he is and no more,” Xaro proclaims (and I hope that’s not actually true).

NEXT: Ygritte tells Jon Snow exactly how much he knows

Later, she vents to Ser Jorah. Nothing he can say, however, will please her. She’s a queen without subjects and, now, without dragons. Jorah tries to comfort her and she bristles at his familiarity. “No one can survive in this world without help,” he advises.

“Find my dragons,” she commands.

North of the Wall: Ygritte accuses Jon of stereotyping her Arctic hippy Wildling commune. They’re simply free people, she says, they’re not savages.

“Someone tried to tell us we couldn’t lie down as man and woman we’d shove a spear up his ass,” she says, which doesn’t do a very good job of making her point.

Ygritte next tries to tempt Jon into joining her tribe. He could build a cabin and have his pick of the women. “Girls would claw each others’ eyes out to get naked with you,” she says, yet again not doing much to disprove their whole savage reputation. Still, gotta admit, her offer sounds a lot better than life at Castle Black.

“I could teach you how to do it,” she offers.

“I know how to do it,” he counters.

And she says: “You know nothing, Jon Snow,” and the book-readers squeal.

[To book readers: Well delivered, yes? And, of course, the TV version would make the first use of this catchphrase a sex reference. In the book, the first time Ygritte says this it’s actually, “Jon Snow, you know nothing,” and involves talking about how to bathe in a river. And she’s not the first to use it, either — both Asha and Catelyn tell men “you know nothing” before Ygritte makes it her own].

Later in their trek, Ygritte’s seduction attempts get more bold, talking about how warm and wet she is. Honestly, the landscape is so mucky, drizzly, cold and miserable looking, she’d be more likely to seduce a guy by offering him a Gore-Tex parka.

Suddenly takes off running — again! Jon Snow starts after her. Just like in the season premiere, he draws his sword as he chases her (it seems like a really bad idea to run across snow and ice while holding a massive sword, don’t you think?). Jon finds they’re surrounded by Wildings who were hiding behind the ridge.

“Should have took me while you had the chance,” she taunts, though I bet he’s glad he didn’t. It would be embarrassing to realize afterward that everybody was watching.

NEXT: The 13 become 2; the kingslayer attacks

Stark Camp: That mysterious cute medic wants more supplies to treat the wounded. Robb gets right up in her face all handsome-y and asks her to accompany him on a trip to raid a lord’s pharmacy.

Ser Alton Lannister delivers Cersei’s rejection of peace terms to Robb. He decides to bunk the boy with the Kingslayer for the night.

There’s a lengthy scene as Jaime’s lesser Lannister cousin recounts squiring for the Kingslayer and they seem to bond. All the while the kid keeps inching closer and closer to Jaime, who seems receptive to his attention and flatters the boy. “It’s a good thing I am who I am,” Jaime notes. “I’d been useless at anything else. I’m not well suited for imprisonment.”

We were just starting to feel some degree of sympathy for Jaime on this show when he attacks his cousin, killing him. The guard rushes in and Jaime murders him too and escapes.

Near Winterfell: Theon tracks the Stark boys to a farm in the countryside. Theon’s mood has swung back to infuriated because he’s starting to imagine being disrespected and mocked at the prospect of returning to Winterfell without his hostages. “It’s better to be cruel than weak,” Theon declares.

OK, we’ve heard “the more people you love the weaker you are,” “a man is what others say he is” and now “it’s better to be cruel than weak.” This episode is just full of lousy life advice, isn’t it?

Theon’s first mate finds some of Hodor’s walnut shells and they send Maester Luwin away. Does this mean the Stark kids are still at the farm? What’s going to happen? How far will Theon go?

Qarth: Ser Jorah meets that meta-face-mask girl again. Is this a fashion thing? Is she disfigured? Super worried about sun damage? She knows Ser Jorah’s secret — that he sold intel about Dany to Varys last season in exchange for a pardon of his crimes. She tells him, “The thief you seek is with her now.”

Ah-ha! That’s a great tip. Now we just find Dany and she’s … okay, she’s with every single character from Qarth we’ve met. So her tip was not very helpful. Dany begs the council of the 13 for the return of her dragons. The Spice King notes that if her dragons die, “it’s for the best; your dragons will be the world nothing but death and misery.” Once again, he’s a jerk who makes smart points.

The blue-lipped warlock — Pyat Pree is his name — suddenly confesses to stealing the dragons and joins Xaro. The warlock magically appears behind each of the other councilmen at the same time and slits their throats. Xaro appoints himself king. Pyat Pree beckons Dany to come to the House of the Undying to fetch her dragons. The 13 are now the 2.

So now you’re wondering: What the hell just happened? Basically rich Xaro and sorcerer Pyat conspired together to kill the rest of the council and anoint Xaro as Qarth’s king. As part of this arrangement, they’ve kidnapped Dany’s dragons and seem to want to lure her to join them. They’re convinced by her claim the dragons need their “mother” to survive. Xaro and Pyat apparently want to use Dany to help raise the dragons then use the creatures for their own purposes, though I’m speculating here…

NEXT: Theon returns with…

Stark Camp: The kingslayer is caught and his life in danger because the guard’s father he killed while trying to escape wants revenge. With Robb away, Catelyn worries for Jaime’s life. This has to be tough for her because she wants him dead more than anybody, yet he’s also the ticket to getting back Sansa and, she falsely believes, Arya.

Jaime is amused. He doesn’t care if he’s hated. He doesn’t care if he dies. He just doesn’t want to be imprisoned and seems to trying to push Catelyn into killing him. “I’ve never been with any woman other than Cersei, so in a way I have more honor than poor old dead Ned,” he says. She draws her sword…

Winterfell: Theon has returned. He brings Maester Luwin into the courtyard and prepares him to see what he’s brought back. “I told you what would happen!” Theon warns them. He hoists up–

Two small burned bodies. Bran and Rickon?!

They’re unrecognizable.

Theon gives a tight, haunted smile. Are they really the Stark boys? Did Theon have a Bran-B-Q? Either way, Theon, I’m pretty sure you are damned.

Some business: There’s a Game of Thrones RPG videogame coming out on Tuesday (trailer here) that’s donated some stuff for us to give away. I was trying to think of the best way to do this. I figured it would be fun to offer it to readers who are into these recaps, who get to it first every Sunday night and read them all the way through. So that’s why I’m putting at the end of this last paragraph that the first 3 readers to [CONTEST OVER! Thanks! Congrats to winners James, Johnnie and Justin … jeez, you guys all brothers or something?] will get a copy of the game (choice of Xbox 360, PS3 or PC). Go! And only one entry per person/I.P. address please (rules).

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HBO's epic fantasy drama based on George R.R. Martin's novel series 'A Song of Ice and Fire.'

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