Just as the warlocks of Quarth welcome you to the House of the Undying, so too do we welcome you to this week's "Game of Thrones" recap! Shadow babies are a thing of the past, blue-lipped magic-users lurk about in the distance, and the threat of fire rages everywhere. As always, Westeros remains a wicked and weird place to live, but a place we love visiting every week. Keep reading for this week's highlights!
The King Is Dead
The War of Five Kings is down a player. Renly Baratheon, youngest brother of late King Robert, has joined his elder stag in the great beyond, thanks to the powers of Melisandre's shadow baby, a ruthless but calculated move on warmongering Stannis' part. Sad though it is to see Renly go, we benefit from his death in a few ways: 1) The Tyrell family is on the defensive, and that's going to make queen-in-the-making Margaery Tyrell a very interesting player to watch; 2) Loras, meanwhile, is feeling mighty vengeful over his lover's death, and there's nothing quite like a Knight of Flowers scorned; 3) It proves that Stannis is willing to go so far as committing fratricide in pursuit of the Iron Throne; 4) Renly's death pushes Brienne into Catelyn Stark's camp, the beginning of a great new chapter for both characters; and 5) We got to see a shadow baby assassinate a king. Really, how bad can that be?
Fists of Fury
Way up north, far beyond the Wall, Jon Snow and his companions finally reach the Fist of the First Men, a stronghold for the men of the Night's Watch. It's a site with great historical significance for the ancient order of warriors, both for what's happened in their long ago past, and for what's yet to come. Will Jon be around to see these coming events? Perhaps not — he's taken a dangerous assignment under the guidance of ranger Qhorin Halfhand, a living legend within the Watch, to stealthily ambush and kill Wildlings on their way toward dismantling Mance Rayder's assembled army of free folk.
Mother Of Dragons
Far east — really far east, if the opening credits' map is to be believed — Daenerys Targaryen and her khalasar are resting and eating well in Qarth, the greatest city that ever was or will be. A few new players are brought into the mix this week: the warlocks of the House of the Undying, blue-lipped magicians with unclear purposes; and Quaithe, a masked priestess of Asshai who is bound to resurface from time to time to offer mysterious words regarding Dany's future. We also gain new insight into Xaro Xhoan Daxos' interest in Dany — he, like so many men, wants to marry the exiled Westerosi princess and profit from her dragons — while new light is shed on Jorah Mormont's true feelings for Dany, already obvious to anyone with a brain. As for Dany herself, she's spending lots of time with her dragons, teaching them to breathe fire onto meat upon her command. Well-trained dragons mean a well-armed army, and Dany's certainly on her way in that regard.
Dragons aren't the only source of fire in the world of "Thrones." In King's Landing, Tyrion Lannister makes the terrible discovery of thousands upon thousands of pots filled with wildfire, a highly flammable substance that could level the capitol of Westeros in one miscalculated move. Apparently, Queen Regent Cersei has commissioned the stuff in anticipation of an attack from Stannis Baratheon and his men. Now, Tyrion has co-opted the order and plans to use the wildfire for his own means. Exactly what he has planned is anyone's guess, but knowing the Imp's sharp mind, it's probably a better plan than whatever his sister was cooking up.
Only Death May Pay for Life
Death hasn't swept King's Landing just yet, but it's all the rage in Harrenhal, the great castle in the Riverlands where Arya Stark is currently serving as Tywin Lannister's cup-bearer. There, she runs into the assassin Jaqen H'Ghar for the first time since saving his life some episodes earlier. He claims to owe Arya three lives in return for the lives she saved: his own and his fellow prisoners Rorge and Biter. All she has to do is name the people she wants dead, and the deed is done. A deal that looks too sweet on the surface pans out exactly as articulated, as Arya's first intended victim — the torturous Tickler — is found in Harrenhal with his head halfway twisted around, thanks to the stealthy work of Jaqen. One down, two to go ...
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