What is honor? How is it defined? For Ned Stark it meant doing the right thing even if if hurt or no one else was around. It meant not taking unfair advantage. It meant not harming women or children. It meant not asking your followers to do anything you weren't prepared to do. But Ned's gone and his teachings may or may not apply to the choices his children and wife must face. In this episode we see Theon Greyjoy and Jaime Lannister, two men who knew Ned Stark, make choices that reject Ned's idea of honor and even the entire concept of honor. A lot happened in this episode-maybe too much. I really didn't like this episode's pacing. Some very important events got short shrift because the location changed every two minutes. The pacing hurt the storyline. Each season really needs an extra two episodes. It would help tremendously. This episode felt rushed.
Anyway this episode started with Theon waking up to discover the Stark children are gone, along with Osha and Hodor. Theon beats a man who points out that Theon slept with Osha. Theon leads a search party and takes Maester Luwin with him. Luwin begs for the boys' lives. Theon seems to really enjoy his turn to the Dark Side. Bran and Rickon see a farm where some orphan boys lived and debate as to whether to go there. Bran thinks they shouldn't because they'll bring trouble to the settlement. Osha points out they need to be moving as they are losing their head start.
North of the wall, Jon Snow wakes up in the normal state for a healthy young man who just had a good night's sleep. Tied next to him as she is Ygritte can't help but notice this and teases him. Upon realizing that Jon Snow is a virgin she teases him even more and wonders aloud if he spends all of his time with the company of other men, sheep or in self-abuse. She's a raunchy little lady. They start to argue about the disputes between the Free Folk and the Northerners. Jon Snow points out that they share many of the same ancestors and Ygritte wants to know then why are they fighting. I really like her accent. Snow doesn't have a good answer to her questions. All he knows is that she's his prisoner and that is that.
In Harrenhal we get to see the duality that is Tywin Lannister. He calmly oversees the hangings of some of his men who presumably failed at security and casually orders The Mountain to go forth and commit some atrocities upon peasants who may be giving support to the Brotherhood Without Banners.* Evidently he is blaming the Brotherhood for the murder of Ser Amory Lorch. There's no mention of the missing letter which Arya took.
In the very next breath Tywin gives his meal to Arya. While Arya eats and thinks of killing Tywin, Tywin gives a monologue about the history of Harrenhal and how there are different ways to win wars. Tywin intends to leave a legacy for his family and will stop at nothing to do so. When Arya unwisely reveals a rather profound knowledge of Targaryen dynasties and military history, Tywin asks where she learned all of this. She gives some sass and Tywin firmly warns her that he likes having her around but that could quickly and easily change. He also reveals that he's long since seen through her ruse as a lowborn girl and that she needs to do a better acting job. I was happy about this because once again it shows that Tywin is no dummy.
In King's Landing Sansa encounters The Hound and attempts to thank him but The Hound angrily responds that he just likes killing people and that Sansa may need his hate some day. He also speaks dismissively of Ned Stark and his honor. There is a rather strong "Beauty and The Beast" vibe here. North of the Wall, Ygritte continues to point out what she sees as the benefits of wilding culture and lifestyle (mainly obligations that are freely entered into-NOT obligations externally imposed by kings or "honor") She offers to remedy Jon's virginal condition and when he declines, scornfully tells him "You know nothing, Jon Snow". (This is an important phrase which is from the book and will be repeated). It should be pointed out that the Night Watch is sworn to father no children and to take no wives. As his father's son, Jon Snow takes oaths and honor very seriously indeed.
At Robb Stark's camp the influx of enemy prisoners and wounded is causing a logistical problem. Roose Bolton says there are too many prisoners and looks meaningfully at Robb. Talisa wants more medical supplies and flirts with Robb in order to get him to take her with him to accept an enemy surrender so that she can get more supplies.
Near the settlement where the Stark boys passed by the dogs have lost the scent. But some of Theon's men find some walnut shells (evidently Rickon's habit of eating walnuts is known to pirates across Westeros????) and Theon sends Luwin back to Winterfell.
In Qarth Xaro claims to want to help Danerys but she is distrustful. Jorah returns and offers to help. After a great deal of whining and venting Danerys says she doesn't trust Jorah either and also doesn't like that he's trying to get close but tells him to find those dragons. Poor Jorah. He's stuck in the friend zone and he knows it. It won't be long before Danerys is telling Jorah about all the wild monkey sex she's having with some other man. She'll be complaining to Jorah how this other man won't commit and does Jorah have any ideas about how to help. Sad, just sad.
Ygritte won't stop teasing Jon Snow and wonders if he even knows where he's going. She tells him yet again how good her sugar bowl is but he (reluctantly?) refuses the offer. Ygritte escapes. Jon goes to capture her but realizes that he's the one who's captured as he is now surrounded by wildlings. Evidently Ygritte knew where she was going.
Sansa has a nightmare of rape and wakes up to discover she's had her first cycle. This is considered as proof of being old enough to legally wed so she, with Shae's help, frantically tries to hide the evidence. Shae even threatens another handmaiden who intends to squeal but it's all for nought as The Hound has evidently wandered by and seen the bloody sheets. The Hound is evidently on the track. If you remember the book Carrie, the title character's religiously insane mother warned her daughter that once she started to bleed the boys would smell it and come sniffing after it just like hounds. Coincidence? Cersei has a surprisingly gentle woman to woman talk with Sansa and advises Sansa to only love whatever children she may have with Joffrey. In Cersei's view excess affection is a weakness.
At Robb Starks's camp Alton Lannister is imprisoned with his cousin Jaime. Alton worships his cousin and they swap stories of former tournaments until Jaime beats his cousin to death to attempt an escape by killing the guard who came to investigate. So much for family ties.
There is a meeting of The Thirteen in Qarth. Pyat Pree and Xaro reveal they stole the dragons. They also murder the other leaders. Pree tells Danerys that her dragons are at the House of The Undying. Jaime Lannister is re-captured. Lord Karstark, (who is a distant relative of the Starks) wants to kill Jaime because Jaime killed his son (the guard). With great difficulty, Catelyn gets the Karstark to back down, temporarily. He promises (really more threatens) to demand an accounting from Robb Stark upon his return. Again, I have to give special mention to Michelle Fairley as Catelyn Stark here. She is just consistently bringing it in her role.
In King's Landing Cersei and Tyrion discuss the coming of Stannis. The siblings share stories about what a horrible king Joffrey is. Even Cersei admits this. She also effectively admits the incest to Tyrion, who does not , atypically, stick the knife in. Both seem to be rather pensive, somewhat regretful and share a, if not quite friendly, at least sympathetic moment together.
At the Stark camp, Brienne and Catelyn notice the drunk violent nature of the Stark soldiers and the increasing talk of killing Jaime. They wonder if Jaime will last until Robb's return. Catelyn goes to see Jaime and accuses him of having no honor. Jaime points out that there are many conflicting requirements of honor and who can say what is right. He remains in full deadpan snarker mode, insults Brienne and says that whatever else he was he was faithful to his woman, something that wasn't true for Ned Stark. Catelyn asks for Brienne's sword.
At Winterfell, Theon gleefully reveals the hanged burned bodies of Rickon and Bran.
There may not be the honor in war that we think there is. Robb Stark started to fight for honor and freedom. He has ended up betrayed by a man he considered a brother and is relying on another man who urges torture and prisoner execution. We attacked Afghanistan in a righteous fury over 9-11. We were the good guys. We ended up posing with corpses and urinating on them. This show is going to go to some very dark places. Don't say you weren't warned.
*If you recall, back in season one Ned Stark sent the better part of his force, under Beric Dondarrion, to defend his wife's lands from the marauding of The Mountain. The remnants of this military group have combined with other soldiers, refugees and a few peasants to become an irregular force that harasses the Lannisters and fights for justice. This is the Brotherhood Without Banners-a sort of Robin Hood analogue.
*This post is written for discussion of this episode and previous episodes. If you have book based knowledge of future events please be kind enough not to discuss that here. Most of my blog partners have not read the books and would take spoilers most unkindly. Heads, spikes, well you get the idea..