Game of Thrones: The Prince of Winterfell

It feels like Game of Thrones has been in a holding pattern for the last 3 or so episodes. The writers are clearly leading up to what will hopefully be an epic climax to the season. But it better be HUGE, because the action has really stalled. I understand the impulse to save all the BANG for the end of the season, but sometimes it’s better to sprinkle it throughout or the episodes leading up the climax don’t stand on their own. I’m not saying “Prince of Winterfell” was a bad episode, just that I really felt the presence of future episodes hanging in the air.

King’s Landing

Cersei is as paranoid as ever. She’s convinced that Tyrion is orchestrating a master plan to take out her children one at a time. He sent Myrcella to Dorne and now he’s advocating Joffrey’s presence on the battlefield. It’s not like he’ll be thrown onto the front lines for Christ’s sake. All Tyrion is suggesting is that Joffrey throw on some armour and at least try to inspire the masses.

But Cersei has already blown right through reason and headed straight for vindictive and spiteful. She’s a little more smug than usual (yes, it IS possible!), which Tyrion picks up on. Cersei reveals that she’s captured Tyrion’s whore and is keeping her as ‘incentive’ to ensure Joffrey’s safety. Every wound Joffrey suffers will be inflicted on her. And if Joffrey dies, the whore’s fate is sealed. I found the entire thing completely illogical. Cersei can’t seriously believe that Tyrion has one iota of control over what happens in the heat of a battle, right?!?

Tyrion tries to put on a front, but he’s rattled by the thought of Shae suffering torture. When Cersei gleefully parades her captive into the room, it’s Ros, not Shae, who wears the chains. Around her throat is a Lannister lion necklace – the shiny symbol that gave her away. Tyrion plays his part, comforting Ros and swearing to free her as soon as possible.

So who put the necklace on Ros? It must be some scheme devised by Varys, but why would Ros go along with it? For a buttload of cash? That’s not going to be worth much if Cersei kills her. I find it highly amusing that Ros has become the token ‘whore’ in this series. Hiring different actresses to play the myriad of slinky prostitutes in this series would be far too time consuming and costly. Let’s just find one girl who will fulfill all our whoring needs!

I don’t fully understand why Cersei despises Tyrion so much. Naturally, she would look down on him (no pun intended) because of his deformity. She’s definitely that kind of snob. And yes, he is the only member of her family who’s completely unimpressed by her. But her venom seems a little over the top. Tyrion is still a Lannister, who ultimately wants the same things as Cersei does. And Jamie, her twin and paramour, loves his little brother dearly, so what makes Cersei hate him?

Tyrion leaves his cruel sister with one final thought: “I will hurt you for this. The day will come when you think you’re safe and happy and your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth.” He runs to meet Shae, overjoyed to find her unharmed.

In other news, Joffrey is still a completely useless tool. No changes on that front.

The Riverlands

Poor Robb Stark is getting hammered on all sides as he tries to hold it together. He discovers that his own mother freed the Kingslayer in the middle of the night and sent him back to King’s Landing in exchange for the return of Sansa and Arya. Bad Mommy! Bad, bad, Mommy! She knew that as much as Robb loves his sisters he would never have agreed to the exchange.

The only person more livid than Robb by Catelyn’s treason is Lord Karstark who has been robbed of his vengeance. Catelyn rightfully points out that killing Jamie won’t bring back Lord Karstark’s children, but trading him to the Lannisters might save HERS. But the real issue is her abuse of power. If Lord Karstark’s children were being held hostage, nobody would consider trading Jamie Lannister to get them back. Robb has to think about the safety and happiness of all of his men, not just his own family. And if Lord Karstark, or any older soldier, freed the Kingslayer, they would lose their life for it. But Robb’s not going to kill his own mother and she knows it. He does, however, put her under constant guard and send another force to recapture the Kingslayer.

His mother’s betrayal comes at the worst possible time for Robb, who is still reeling from Theon’s treachery and struggling to find a solution to the hostage situation at Winterfell. He prepares a message to be distributed throughout the North. Any Ironborn who surrenders will be allowed to return safely to their home; anyone except for Theon Greyjoy who will be hunted down like a dog for the rest of his life. Robb hopes the message will convince Theon’s men to turn on him.

On top of everything else, Robb is regretting his betrothal to the unknown Frey girl. As he continues to grow closer to Talisa, his future feels more and more like a prison sentence. She seems to be the one person he can open up to and share his burdens with. After an intimate conversation about her childhood, they finally give into their passion.


Arya gets an earful of battle plans as she pours drinks for Tywin and his council. The Lannisters are fighting a war on two fronts as Stannis sails towards King’s Landing and Robb moves dangerously close to Casterly Rock. Tywin decides to march on Robb Stark at nightfall, advancing under cover of darkness. He leaves Gregor Clegane and a small force of men at Harrenhal to continue putting pressure on the Brotherhood. He assigns Arya to Gregor and instructs her to become his new serving girl. Giving an innocent girl to The Mountain??? That’s like handing your favourite puppy over to a sadistic madman! SHUDDER!

Arya is desperate to save her brother and finally decides to make a move against Tywin. She searches desperately for Jaqen H’ghar, but she can’t find him in time. Tywin rides off to attack Robb’s camp while she watches helplessly. It’s so interesting because Tywin should have been the first person who Arya named to Jaqen. He’s the head of the Lannister snake and she hears him plotting against her brother every day. So why didn’t she name him? I think it’s because he treated her kindly and there was a part of her that grew to like him. And now she’s angry with herself because she let those feelings stop her from striking a real blow against the Lannisters. If she names Tywin now he will still end up dead, but not immediately. It won’t save Robb.

Jaqen tells Arya to “Name a name, any other name” and the wheels in her tiny brilliant little head start turning. Arya leans in and says, “Jaqen H’ghar … a man can go kill himself.” His serene demeanor wobbles a little and he begs her to unname him. It’s kind of hilarious actually. He’s like, ‘Take it back! Take it back!” She agrees to unname him but only if he helps her escape from Harrenhal, along with Hot Pie and Gendry. It will require more deaths than the one Arya has been promised, but a man with a death sentence over his head doesn’t have much choice.

He instructs her to exit through the front gates at midnight. When she gathers Hot Pie and Gendry and walks tentatively towards the castle walls, she discovers that all the guards have been killed.


Theon puffs up his chest when Yara arrives at Winterfell, but she doesn’t give him any time to gloat before chastising him. His so-called ‘victory’ was an asinine move! He captured a castle hundreds of miles from the sea, with enemies on every side and only 20 men to hold them off. And then he butchered the Stark boys and instantly became enemy number one to every man in the North. Not to mention the fact that they were worth far more dead than alive! Yara wants him to abandon Winterfell and return to Pyke where he belongs. She won’t bring forces to support the ‘Prince of Winterfell’.

So Theon is pretty much shit of out luck! The only thing he can do is hold his position and worry about who will strike at him first. He kills all the ravens so that word of his vicious murders won’t reach Robb Stark or the rest of the Northmen. But he’s feeling the pressure.

Maester Luwin is surprised when he spies Osha sneaking around Winterfell with a basket full of food. He follows her into the crypts where he discovers … Bran and Rickon. They’re alive and well, hiding under Winterfell where Theon would never think to look. Osha believes Theon must have killed and burned the farmer’s boys, passing them off as the little Lords of Winterfell.

So, did anyone who hasn’t read the books believe that Bran and Rickon had really been killed? I can’t really judge because I already knew that they weren’t dead, but I felt their ‘death’ wasn’t very convincing. In the books they built it up a lot more – with word reaching all of their loved ones, and everyone grieving and mourning them before they were revealed to be alive.

Beyond the Wall

Ygritte brings Jon Snow back to the rest of her wilding party, including a really weird dude called the Lord of Bones. Why? Because he walks around all decked out in, you guessed it, BONES! A. LOT. OF. BONES! He’s carrying a staff of bones, he’s got a skeleton on the front of his furs and he’s even wearing a creepy facemask made of someone’s skull. It’s so very improbable that anyone like that would ever exist. Lord of Bones (Let’s just call him LOB to save time shall we?) wants to gut Jon Snow. He’s already captured Qhorin Halfhand and he doesn’t need another bloody crow to drag back to Mance Rayder. But Ygritte speaks on Jon’s behalf and says Mance will want to question Ned Stark’s bastard. She wants to even the score with Jon because he didn’t chop off her head when he had the chance.

As Jon and Qhorin are being marched to Mance Rayder’s camp, Qhorin is formulating an infiltration plan. He whispers to Jon, “Mance is going to march on the Wall. When he does, one brother inside his army would be worth 1000 fighting against him.” He starts loudly ranting and raving about Jon’s treacherous ways and shoves him down a snow bank for good measure.


Will Dany brave the House of The Undying to save her dragons? Yes. Because they’re her babies. That’s pretty must the gist of the one scene we had in Qarth this episode. I could have lived without it.

Sex and Violence:

Finally!!! The kind of sex scene I’ve been waiting for! Robb and Talisa made love passionately, desperately clawing at one another as if they were trying to climb into each other’s souls. There was soft lighting and violins swelling in the background. It was sexy and romantic, but still hot and fervent; not in the least bit tawdry. More. Of. This. Please.

Favourite Scenes

-Yara speaking to Theon alone about how he stopped crying as a baby when she stood over his basket. It’s the first time we’ve seen any real affection from her towards her brother. She’s spent all her time mocking him. Yara softly implores Theon to come home with her and says, “Don’t die so far from the sea.”

-Jamie and Brienne – they make such a delightfully awkward team! Jamie is constantly trying to rile her up; poking at her freakish looks. Brienne is struggling to keep her composure and remain focused on her purpose. I loved when Jamie asked her, “Have you known many men? I suppose not. Women? Horses?” The mischievous twinkle in his eye when he said ‘horses’ killed me.

-Varys and Tyrion were a fantastic pair as usual. They remain as comfortable waxing philosophical about the state of the world as they do poking fun at it. They speak more sense in one scene than most of the other characters do in an entire season. During their scene in this episode they spoke about Tyrion’s turn as Hand of the King and why he’s so good at it. “Jon Arryn and Ned Stark were good men. Honourable men. But they disdained the game and those who play it. You enjoy the game.”

Favourite Quotes

Joffrey: They say Stannis never smiles. (touches sword) I’ll give him a red smile.
Tyrion: (after Joffrey walks away) Imagine Stannis’ terror.
Varys: I am trying.

Tyrion: The Lord of Light wants his enemies burned. The Drowned God wants them drowned. Why are all the gods such vicious cunts? Where is the God of Tits and Wine?

Photo Courtesy of HBO

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