The old cliché is “no rest for the wicked,” which certainly applies to how “The Old Gods and the New” begins. Right in thick of Winterfell, Maester Luwin rushes while the crows watch with apparent chaos happening outside. He sends a hasty message. Moments later, Theon Greyjoy breaks into Bran’s room and commands him to yield to him and tells him that Winterfell is his. Theon finally acts like a leader, albeit a total asshole. After last week’s tease that Bran has dreamt this moment, it appears that reality has come. The ocean has come to overtake Winterfell.
While Bran sits outside the castle, he tells his subjects that Winterfell has fallen and that Theon is now their Prince. Naturally, the subjects are reluctant and even rebellious to the idea and challenge Theon, a subject himself who grew up in the company of many of them. Ser Rodrik is captured and confronts Theon for betraying Winterfell. Theon’s first mate tells him that Rodrik must pay the Iron price for his actions. Theon then beheads Rodrik – but not well. In fact it is horrifically violent and poorly done, taking four-to-five cuts and a kick to complete the job. Pretty much sums up Theon doesn’t it?
In the North, beyond the Wall, Jon Snow walks with the small group led by Qhorin Halfhand, while Ghost looks on in the distance. He talks with the men about giving his life needlessly and what it means to be in the Watch . . . pretty much nothing. It’s a matter of code and honor to the fellow men in Black, but this is a thankless and forgettable job to the rest in the South.
Back at Harrenhal, Tywin ridicules his inner circle, while Arya watches for not being able to read and understand where fealty and loyalty are placed. After they are dismissed, Lord Baelish arrives. While Arya nervously serves Tywin and Littlefinger, Littlefinger apparently doesn’t even notice her at first – and why would he fully notice a servant? He’s part of the Westeros 1%! He works his manipulative tongue between all the players and suggests that he represent the Lannister family and their personal matters during the war. Littlefinger is always working an angle! There are moments where Littlefinger looks at Arya perhaps in recognition, but never gets a good look at her face. This whole scene is very well done and expertly directed. With tension at its highest with Arya, it’s extremely nerve-racking to watch.
Back with Jon Snow, the scouting party attacks some Wildlings camping in the snow and rock. Jon captures one of them, a young woman named Ygritte. Qhorin asks if the Wildlings (hundreds of thousands, according to Ygritte) will be marching on the Wall. After getting virtually nothing out of her, Snow says that he will kill Ygritte instead of Qhorin. Jon hesitates and purposefully misses killing her. Ygritte runs off into the Wild, and Jon gives chase. He catches her and, once again, can’t kill her.
At King’s Landing, Myrcella is sent off to Dorn. Cersei threatens to take a woman that Tyrion loves away, so that he can feel her loss. Cersei really is full evil (and I love Lena Headey for her portrayal of Cersei). She is truly wicked and passionately hates Tyrion. King Joffrey, then, walks with Sandor Clegane (The Dog) through King’s Landing immediately after seeing his sister sent off. As Joffrey walks the streets back to the castle, his subjects begin to “honor” him with graces, yet they quickly turn on him, and things get out of control. Joffrey screams for them all to be killed. What a surprise!
Tyrion watches in horror, while the citizens literally tear the King’s court apart and asks his guards about Sansa. Meanwhile, Sansa is chased down a tunnel by three men. Back in the castle having escaped the chaos, Tyrion slaps Joffrey (I’m pretty sure that’s three total thus far), while he lectures him for his mistakes and the escalation that has started. Sansa is captured and about to be raped, when The Dog kills each attacker and rescues her. He carries her off over his shoulder. This is a brief moment of humanity for the ultimate killer and solider that is Clegane. For this small moment, he is not The Dog, he’s a caring man.
In Qarth, Daenerys waits with Xaro to address the Spice King. “She has a talent for drama this one!” declares the Spice King, after Daenerys whips some sharp banter at him. He then says what the audience has been thinking since Season One about her constant reminders that she will retake Westeros. But with what armies, allies, and rights to the throne? In a true moment of honesty, Daenerys tells him of her dreams and the realities that have come from them (the dragon eggs being a particularly good example). But, despite her passion, she is denied.
Again back at Harrehall – Arya is overlooking the letters of news concerning Robb. Tywin talks with Arya about raising Jamie and “teaching” his dyslexia out. “You’re a sharp little thing aren’t you?” says Tywin, after Arya says her father was killed for loyalty. Arya quietly steals some paper off the table while Tywin discusses his father, whom he apparently loathes. This scene offers some great moments between these two characters.
Because Arya is instructed to fetch wood for the fire, she is caught with the letter and runs past one of the Lannister guards. She runs to Jaqen and asks him to kill the guard immediately. He does this and is apparently very good at what he does. That’s number two, folks.
Meanwhile, we get to catch up with Robb again. He walks through his army congratulating it and wishing it well and approaches the nurse whom he met briefly before, Lady Talisa. While they talk, Lady Stark returns to greet Robb. They are quickly interrupted with news from Winterfell.
We jump north of the Wall again, and Snow walks with Ygritte in tow. They have to camp in the cold wild, and he “reluctantly” spoons with her to keep warm while the sun sets. As she lies in the spoon position, she moves her hips and teases Jon with a smile on her face. They may die in the cold without a fire, but at least the sexual tension is still high.
The action jumps to Jon’s brother Robb, who reacts to the news from Winterfell. He is shocked, and his anger is extensive. “I want Theon alive, I want to look him in the eye, ask him why, and then I’ll take his head.” Hot damn! Robb sends a small force of five hundred to retake the city and bring Theon to him.
At Winterfell, Osha seduces Theon. She comes at a price for Theon to have her – the price is her freedom. Evidently the horny young man that is Theon can’t resist. Post-seduction, Osha sneaks off from bed with Theon and then quietly kills a soldier just outside. She whistles and waves while Hodor sneaks Bran and Ricken out with their direwolves Shaggy Dog and Summer. Loyal to the end. I never suspected that Osha willingly betrays Bran.
In the final scene, Daenerys talks to Xaro about her predicament, and he details his past concerning how he rose to be the richest man in Qarth – rags to riches with no regrets. He shows her his home, where they find almost all of her people slain, her maiden unconscious, and her dragons taken. The dragons are taken by a mysterious person, who walks the stairs to a tower and THE END.
In typical Game of Thrones fashion, we end on a cliffhanger. Who took the dragons? I suspect the Warlocks from last week’s episode. I think that we’re supposed to assume that it’s the Spice King, but this seems too obvious and feels like a red herring. I’m guessing that Daenerys’ first accusations in next week’s episodes will be placed on the Spice King.
Overall, this was a pretty exciting episode. It’s hard to believe that the seasons will end in four more episodes – which really makes me think that shit is about to get real. I can only hope that I’m right!