For some time now, fans have been concerned that Game of Thrones will overtake the books in the storyline, owing to how slow a writer George RR Martin is. However, no one expected it to happen this soon. Not only that, but this episode also saw perhaps the biggest deviation from the books, and it lead to quite a lot of confusion and outrage immediately after the episode aired. Spoilers to come.
The episode kicked off with Daenery’s conquest of Meereen. Grey Worm entered the sewers and gave weapons to the slaves, allowing them to kill the masters from within. We then saw the first signs of Dany’s more sadistic side, as she crucified 163 of the masters, one for each of the slave girls they had executed. Barristan tried to counsel her to be merciful – is it possible he was having flashbacks to the Mad King, and trying to steer her away from going down the same path?
Then we had another scene with my new favourite bromance, Bronn and Jaime. After Bronn knocked Jaime to the dirt with his own golden hand, he told him how Tyrion had asked for Jaime to champion him at his trial by combat in the Eyrie – this realisation of how much his little brother valued him finally convinced Jaime to go and visit Tyrion in his cell. Tyrion asked, somewhat ridiculously, that Jaime free him, which he obviously refused to do. Then we were back on Littlefinger’s ship with Sansa, and Littlefinger admitted to killing Joffrey. He then failed entirely at subtley saying who his accomplices were, and we cut straight to them – the Tyrells. Olenna told Margaery that she was involved in Joffrey’s murder. I don’t really like how Margaery seems to have been dumbed down somewhat on the show – in the books she was every bit as good a schemer as her grandmother. However, we started to see how she is learning from her, as she follows her advice on how to get Tommen away from his mother’s clutches and into hers. She entered the boy king’s chambers late at night – fulfilling every teenage boy’s dreams, although it was rather creepy watching a 30 year old woman seducing a young teenager.
After the confusion over last weeks apparent rape scene, many were anticipating how Cersei and Jaime would act towards each other, and it didn’t exactly do any favours to those who claimed it wasn’t rape. Cersei was completely cold and distant towards Jaime, not even calling him by name. Jaime then gave Brienne his sword, and sent her out to find Sansa. She named the sword Oathkeeper, although it was Jaime who gave it the name in the book, and he sent Podrick along to squire for her. Jaime and Brienne’s parting was suitable emotional, and the great roadtrip of Brienne and Podrick was under way.
The rest of the episode was spent either at Castle Black or north of the Wall. Roose Bolton’s accomplice Locke showed up at Castle Black training and struck up a friendship with Jon – it will be interesting to see where this goes. Jon gave an impassioned speech to his brothers asking them to come to Craster’s with him and kill the mutineers. It was a great show of camaraderie between him and his friends, including Grenn and Dolorous Edd.
After that, was where the big changes began to happen. We went to Craster’s Keep and saw Karl, who seems to have taken the place of Chett in the books, drinking wine from the skull of Lord Commander Mormont, which was incredible macabre. He sent Rast out to dispose of one of Craster’s sons, and to feed Ghost on the way (apparently it’s easy to imprison a direwolf in a flimsy wooden cage.) Bran and company heard the baby crying, and Bran sent Summer out to investigate, only for him to be captured as well. After going themselves to find out what was going on, they were taken prisoner by the mutineers. This is a pretty massive change to Bran’s storyline – and given the other big change, that Sam actually told Jon about Bran going north of the wall, it has lead to speculation that the brothers might be reunited, something that seems far too fantasy cliche for this series.
The episode ended in an unfamiliar location, possible the Lands of Always Winter, at the northernmost point of the known world. Here, a group of white walkers seemed to transform Craster’s son into one of them – a pretty big insight into how the white walkers work, and one we didn’t yet know about from the books. There was one white walker that looked different to the others, and although he wasn’t referred to by name in the episode, an episode summary on HBO’s website outed him as the Night’s King, a legendary figure in the history of the Night’s Watch. He was the thirteenth Lord Commander, and he fell in love with a white walker and took her to the Nightfort, one of the Night’s Watch’s other castles, and declared himself their king. He sacrificed his sons to the walkers, in a similar way to Craster, and many other atrocities were commited during his thirteen year reign until he was defeated. The fact he is still around, if it is indeed him, is potentially a huge spoiler from the future books – or it could just be something HBO have invented for the show. Either way, this is the first sign of some book readers worst fears becoming reality.