Ain't no childhood like a Westerosi childhood because a Westerosi childhood NEVER gets better.
At least, that's what I came away with from last night's Game of Thrones. So far in the series, I've felt a lot of pity for the Stark kids, all of whom have had their youths snatched away from them in such brutal ways, but, as it turns out, a sad, hateful and violent upbringing is as common in the GoT universe as immaculately waxed ladies are to a King's Landing brothel. Which is to say that sad childhoods are errrrrrywhere.
It would one thing if it was just politics and natural environment that makes growing up in the Seven Kingdoms so rough, but unfortunately for a lot of folks, the discontent seems to start in the family and spread outward. Take poor Tyrion, for example. His sister Cersei and father Tywinn have hated him since birth — so much so that they encouraged the rumors that he was born a monster and now have no problem seeing him executed for the murder of Joffrey, a crime that Tywinn, at least, seems pretty aware that he did not commit. For them, Tyrion's trial is a means to an end — that end being Tyrion's death. Their ideal outcome seems pretty inevitable once Cersei names Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane as her rep in Tyrion's trial by combat. The Mountain literally chops up slaves for fun and is known throughout the land for his irrepressible blood lust.
Safe to say that Tyrion doesn't have an easy go of finding someone willing to fight in his name. Bronn (who's fought for him the past) won't do it again, not only because he's been paid off by the other Lannisters, but also because he savvy enough to realize that agreeing to go toe-to-toe with The Mountain is essentially a death sentence. While he might like Tyrion and wish him the best, Bronn will always follow whatever path is the most self-serving. He's always been upfront about this, so it's kind of hard to blame him.
But look! A glimmer of hope! As it turns out, there is one person in King's Landing who's willing to fight The Mountain — you might even say he's aching for it — and that person is Oberyn Martell. For him, this trial by combat is the opportunity of a lifetime, a perfect shot at revenge for the murder of his sister and her family (who were all killed by Gregor) that's essentially served to him on a platter.
Speaking of the Cleganes, Gregor's younger brother The Hound continues to develop his strange and oddly comforting relationship with Arya. Technically her captor and enemy, he's somehow evolved into a tutor and guardian for her — I mean, in this case, tutelage and guardianship means teaching her the proper way to stab a man in the heart (she gets an A++ in that lesson, by the way), but still. While it's unlikely that either of them will ever start to like each other (or that Arya will ever take him off her hit list), they're currently coexisting in a state of begrudging mutual respect. It's a little surprising, but not nearly as unexpected as The Hound opening up about his own childhood and the way he was tortured by his older brother who once held his face in a fire because he dared to borrow a toy.
"The pain was bad. The smell was worse. But the worst thing was that it was my brother who did it. And my father who protected him. Told everyone my bedding caught fire," The Hound tells Arya. His kill or be killed approach to life makes even more sense now. Similarly to Tyrion, it's always been him against the world. Not even his own family is there to protect him.
In an episode all about innocence lost, Sansa allows herself a sweet, childlike moment of building snow sculptures in the model of Winterfell. Unfortunately, it's all too fleeting. Robin — that milk-bloated, dead-eyed Lord of the Vale — destroys her snow castle and Sansa slaps him across the face. It's not the smartest move. Robin is essentially Joffrey if Joffrey was a little younger and had access to a moon door. An act of aggression towards him won't go unpunished.
Sansa realizes this immediately, but Littlefinger assures her that the only thing wrong with hitting Robin is that no one thought to do it sooner. That seems to sum up the parenting philosophy of the Seven Kingdoms: If you spare the rod, I'll hit your kid instead. No matter what, the child's getting smacked.
When Sansa asks why Lord Baelish is always so willing to defend her, he replies, "I loved your mother more than you could ever know...In a better world, one where love could overcome strength and duty, you might have been my child."
Baelish's remarks teeter on the fence between creepy and sweet, finally falling firmly on the side of Team Super Creep when he goes into full-on predatory mode, forcing Sansa into a kiss in plain view of her psychotically jealous Aunt Lysa.
As revenge against her poor niece who was just molested in a courtyard, Lysa dangles Sansa out the moon door and promises to kill her for stealing Littlefinger's attention. (Way to blame the victim, Aunt Lysa.) Ever the schemer, Littlefinger coaxes Lysa away from the ledge with placating words.
"Oh, my sweet wife. My sweet, silly wife. I have only loved one woman. Only one. My entire life," he says soothingly. Then he drops the hammer: "Your sister."
Adding (deadly) injury to insult, he then sees her soaring through that old moon door. One well placed shove and she's dead and gone. Yes, this means one less tormenter for Sansa, but it's doubtful things will improve for her anytime soon. Baelish is a man with plans and I'm guessing that none of them include letting Sansa live out her childhood in relative happiness.
P.S. I made this for you.