After the ending of last week's controversial episode, no doubt many a fan firmly believed that things couldn't get any worse on Game of Thrones.
In the immortal words of Theon, things can always get worse — which is something that more than a few of the show's characters had to learn the hard way this week.
First up is Sansa. Poor, poor Sansa. Last week's brutal final scene left a bad taste in the mouths of many, and it isn't any better one episode later. Sansa is covered in bruises and barely holding it together. She is so desperate for help that she asks it of Theon — whom she openly hated just an episode before.
Remember that message given to Sansa by the old woman? Light the candle in the tower, and help will come? Sansa tasks Theon with the job, and he promises to help.
For a moment, it seems like Theon might actually go through with it. At least until later — when we see the old woman flayed to death. It just goes to show how utterly broken Theon – or rather Reek – truly is. He is so afraid of Ramsay, he doesn't dare risk working against him. God only knows what kind of torture awaits Sansa now that Ramsay knows she is actively trying to escape.
It looks like the only person willing to stand up to the Boltons is Stannis Baratheon — but things aren't looking so great for him either. His army is trapped in a winter storm and supplies are running low. Davos advises Stannis to return to the Wall and wait out the storm, but Stannis is convinced that he won't get another shot at capturing Winterfell.
Melisandre suggests the best way to ensure victory is to sacrifice one who has kingly blood running through their veins. The only person on hand to qualify – besides Stannis, of course – is Stannis' daughter Shireen. Stannis doesn't take kindly to this suggestion and immediately orders Melisandre away — but it remains to be seen if Stannis is seriously considering sacrificing his daughter in order to bring the Boltons down.
Further North, it seemed like everything has started to quickly fall apart without Jon at Castle Black. He leaves at the very start of this episode with Tormund for the wildling village of Hardhome, and soon thereafter, things start to crumble. Maester Aemon passes away, and soon after, Sam and Gilly are assaulted by two brothers in black, only to be saved by Ghost. Not that Sam wasn't brave in the face of danger, though. Whereas he isn't much a fighter, he still tries his hardest to defend Gilly. And even though he gets the living snot beat out of him, he still gets the girl in the end.
So too does Jaime, reunited with his daughter Mrycella in Dorne, after he and Bronn fought off the Sand Snakes only to be captured in the last episode. Mrycella isn't thrilled about going back to King's Landing and would rather stay in Dorne. For a moment, it looks like Bronn may permanently stay in Dorne as well, after it is revealed – via one of the most pointless nudity scenes in the show yet – that he had been nicked by a poisoned blade. Thankfully, one of the Sand Snakes has the antidote, and Bronn can have it — as long as he admits she is the most beautiful woman in the world. He agrees and lives to fight another day.
Jorah and Tyrion also live to fight on, even as they are sold into slavery. Jorah is an easy sell — he is an exotic Westerosi knight, after all. But Tyrion's skillset is less obvious, so he pretends to be a great warrior by beating a man with his chain. It works, and one slave owner purchases Jorah and Tyrion to fight in the Meereen fighting pits.
It just so happens that Dany and her new husband are touring the fighting pits themselves. You know, tradition and all that. When Jorah sees Dany's disgust as the gladiators murder each other in her name, he quickly takes out all of the other fighters in a nice, non-lethal fashion. Not that it matters much. To Jorah's dismay, Dany isn't delighted to see him again. She is just as disgusted by him as she was when she sent him off. But that is, of course, why Jorah brought Tyrion along.
Which all leads us to this episode's biggest shocker: Cersei. Cersei, you see, thinks she has won the "game of thrones" for good. Her son, Tommen, is under her thumb. Margaery is imprisoned for lying before the gods about her brother's gay relations. And Lady Olenna looks like she is caught between a rock and a hard place — unable to free her family and forced to dance to Cersei's tune.
But Cersei isn't aware of Littlefinger's double dealings, and Olenna and Littlefinger meet to discuss how to move forward. After Cersei visits Margaery in her grimy prison cell out of spite, the tables are quickly turned. Cersei is imprisoned by the High Sparrow for her incestious relationship with Lancel Lannister, now a prominent member of the Sparrow's flock.
How much of a role did Olenna and Littlefinger have in Cersei's imprisonment? We don't yet know for sure — but it sure is satisfying to see Cersei get a taste of her own medicine after believing herself to be invincible.
Now on to the awards!
The "It Gets Worse" Award - Sansa, Poor Sansa
There is no hope, is there?
Boy To Man - Sam, For Rising To The Occasion
Stands up to bullies and loses his virginity in the same night. He is growing up so fast!
Drama Queen - Mrycella, Stoming Out Of The Room
"You don't understand me!"
Fake It Till You Make It - Tyrion, Beating A Guy With A Chain
A formidable warrior indeed.
Best Musical Number - Bronn Singing In Prison
He really does has a very nice singing voice.
Desperate For Attention - Jorah Being Jorah
He really is trying hard, isn't he?
See you next week!
Photos courtesy of HBO