(The above clip is NSFW.)
First of all, friends, comrades, Sisters of the Black, let me apologize for missing last week's recap. I went away on vacation, which is mistake I will never make again seeing as I missed writing up what was maybe the most exciting episode of the season thus far. Because I'm cursed, it seems only natural that this week we go back to all of the boring stuff — flaming swords, jar babies, resurrections and male full frontal. Jesus, Game of Thrones, can't you make more things happen?
We started off this week tucked away in a cave with Arya and the Brotherhood Without Banners where Beric Dondarrion is preparing to fight the Hound in a trial over the Hound's murder of Micah the butcher's boy. If the Hound wins, the Lord of Light has declared him innocent. If he loses, he will burn. It's rare to bet against the Hound, but, in this case, the Bros without Bs seem to have divine intervention on their side. "The night is dark and full of terrors," they chant and suddenly, with help of a small blood tribute, Dondarrion is given a sword of fire. The Hound, as you likely recall, is no friend of the flame, probably because his sociopath brother held his head into a fire and burned half of his face off when he was a boy. That sort of thing will often leave a person with issues.
Even with the fire sword, Dondarrion fails to best the Hound. He gets run through and, much to the disappointment of Arya, appears to bleed out as the victorious Hound attempts to extinguish his now flaming shield. Never one to lack pluck, our young wolf pup attempts to finish of Sandor Clegane herself, but is stopped by Gendry — Oh, Gendry! — who, slightly older and wiser, realizes that it cannot end well for her. The Brotherhood doesn't seem to take the situation too poorly. They've lost the Hound as prisoner, but little else as, with the help of some fiery voodoo magic, Beric is back on his feet again. He's been murdered six times in his life and death has yet to keep him down.
Poor Arya on the other hand doesn't just lose out on justice (Micah the Butcher's Boy was her friend, remember), but she also loses her closest companion. Gendry, who has never had a real family or sense of acceptance before, decides to remain on and smith for the Brotherhood despite Arya's pleas that he comes with her to serve Robb instead. "I can be your family," she heartbreakingly tells him. "You wouldn't be my family," he replies. "You'd be m'lady." And Gendry — WOOF — is done serving lords and ladies.
In another cave on the other side of the wall, Jon Snow and Ygritte's dopey foreplay reaches a boiling point when Ygritte, after defending Jon Snow against Gareth Keenan, steals his sword (seriously?) and makes him chase her into a grotto where she strips off all of her clothes and says that if he's really turned his back on the Night's Watch, he needs to prove it by sticking it to her, which, quite frankly, is very coercive.
At first Jon is like, "No, my vows! I'm a bastard! My hair might get wet and then I'll have to reset it!" but then he's all "BOOBS" because, well, there they are. He's a fast learner, by the way. After about two seconds of mutual mouth biting, he's going down on Ygritte as she moans a very hoaky "You know nothing Jon Snow-0h-OH." Flash forward a few minutes to when the pair of them lie cuddled up naked, sweaty and having that awkward "How many people have you slept with before me" conversation. Summary: Jon Snow, a maid until about 10-seconds ago, has pulled zero and Ygritte has about infinity because she hearts that D so much. That said, Jon Snow was the first to, in the words of Drake, be good with them soft lips so she's immediately like, "I never want to leave this cave with you. I want to be with you forever." Look, Ygritte, we've all been there, but slow your roll, girl.
Onto a couple that we actually care about. Brienne and Jaime are finally delivered by Locke to Roose Bolton at Harrenhal. Bolton, to his credit, knows how to treat a prisoner of war. Brienne is immediately freed and Jaime, whose wrist stump is horrifically infected, is given medical attention, but not before he hears news of whether or not Cersei is alive and well at King's Landing. You know what's funny about Jaime and Cersei? For as backwards as they are as a couple, I sort of root for them to make it. Sure, their relationship unseemly, but their love is totally pure. Just me? OK, then. Let's never speak of this again.
Jaime's health doesn't improve much with medical care, as is obvious when he weakly climbs into the bath with Brienne (relax — it's a big tub) and confesses not only that he trusts her, but that he resents being renowned as the Kingslayer, one of the greatest backstabbers of Westeros. It's the first time that we hear his side of the story and it certainly sheds a light on things. He starts by telling a story we already knew — he was serving Aerys Targaryen, the Mad King, at the time when the Baratheons, the Starks and the Lannisters were all fighting to remove him from the Iron Throne. Then he reveals something new. The only reason he betrayed the man he had sworn to serve was that, rather than surrender, the Mad King planned to burn the entire kingdom, its defenders and its innocent citizens to the ground. In any other circumstance, Jaime — the reluctant Kingslayer — would be a hero, but this is Westeros where loyalty is valued above all else, even compassion and good sense.
He wasn't the only one who's suffering as he's torn between duty and what's right. In Riverrun, after the Karstarks murder two Lannister boys in the name of vengeance, Robb Stark (King of the North and King of Terrible Decisions) must make his own annoyingly and uniquely Stark choice. Does he do what's right for justice and take Lord Karstark's head for treason or does he let him live so that he can keep the Karstarks as allies? Both his mother and wife push for the latter, but Robb decides that he must stick to the code of ethics, taking the cursing Karstark's head with a swing of his sword. "How can I fight for justice if I don’t serve justice to murderers in my ranks,” he asks. It's the same thing Ned would have said and look where all that nobility got him.
Ironically, in Kingslanding, the place where Robb and everyone else is fighting for, nobility and loyalty are worth next to nothing. Cersei, suspecting that the Tyrells are angling for a power grab, enlists the help of Littlefinger (who couldn't be skeezier though I'm sure he'll get skeezier) to discover what Lady Olenna's grand plans are. They accomplish this embarrassingly easily by planting a handsome squire in Loras' path to whom, in exchange for some naked smooching, he readily confesses that he's secretly engaged to Sansa Stark. (Loras, as it turns out, keeps his tights on.)
The Lannister's assume that the Tyrells want Sansa not because Lady Olenna and Varys have taken a secret liking to her (backing up to last week, I could have watched the two of them go back in forth in conversation all day), but because she just may be the key to the North. (Have we considered that this was Lady Olenna's motivation?) That's the leverage Cersei uses to get her father interested and involved though even then it doesn't go her way. To avoid a union between Loras and Sansa, Twin will force Tyrion to marry the Stark girl and Cersei to marry the Knight of Roses. Both siblings are understandably upset, but — to play devil's advocate —couldn't this possibly work out alright for Cersei? On the downside, she's forced yet again into a marriage where her husband holds nothing besides distaste for her, but, optimistically thinking, couldn't she and Loris use this as an opportunity to never touch each other and explore their own secret, sexual paths? I don't know — regardless, it's all wrong and sad and, God, let Sansa have her pretty gay husband already.
To wrap it all up, we checked in with Stannis who, it turns out, has a cute daughter with fish scales on her face and a wife who keeps her dead babies in jars. Dany continues to win over the hearts and mind of the unsullied and Ser Jorah and Ser Selmy still haven't learned that maybe they should go to the Khaleesi for answers rather than bickering back and forth like two old geezers playing dominos.
In a possible attempt at balance (???), there was a lot of male nudity in this episode. Onward...
Individual Boobs (female): 2 (each belonging to Ygritte)
Individual Boobs (male): 10 (Jon Snow, Jaime Lannister, Beric Dondarrion, Loris, Littlefinger's spy)
Butts (female): 2 (Ygritte, Brienne)
Butts (male): 3 (Jon Snow, Jaime Lannister, Littlefinger's spy)
Dong: 2 (Littlefinger's spy, Jaime from behind)