We pick up exactly where we left off. Sam, having escaped the horde of white walkers, runs breathlessly through the snow towards the decimated band of rangers. In his utter terror – being surrounded by walking undead in a driving snowstorm – he’s failed to send the warning ravens to those who remain at the wall.
The Lord Commander gathers the shells of his men to continue their harrowing march through the storm, hoping to make it back to Castle Black before the white walkers do.
Separated from his brothers in arms, Jon Snow continues his infiltration of the wildling’s camp, taking a face to face interview with the King Beyond the Wall, Mance Raydar. Aware of the violent murder Qhorin Halfhand, Mance is intrigued but wary of Snow. Jon can’t shake his experience at Craster’s farm, and tells Mance of the white walker who took the infant boy, and the Lord Commander’s complacency with Craster’s arrangement. Mance responds to Jon’s ire, and, for the time being, doesn’t kill him.
Back at King’s Landing, Tyrion has been unceremoniously ousted from his exalted place in the palace. Maimed in battle, purportedly on his sister’s orders, and subsequently tossed aside in favor of the far more heroic visage of his father, Tyrion refuses to take matters lying down. He calls Bron back from the edge of the world to retake up his personal protection and prepares to do battle with his own family – battle of wits, that is.
Tyrion dispatches with Cersei with ease – she’s become increasingly insecure and impotent since Jaime’s capture. Now that their father has returned, she’s terrified that his disappointment will grow to full disownment. She’s easy prey for the shrewd Tyrion, but Tywin is an altogether different opponent. Consanguinity is not enough to earn Tywin’s respect – he nearly guffaws at Tyrion’s request to be granted mastery of Casterly Rock. In a cold rebuttal, Tywin blames Tyrion for his wife’s death and treads as close to the line of denying paternity of his son as possible. He calls out Tyrion’s whoring and irresponsibility in the way only a father can – with a direct arrow of deep honesty and sheer misanthropy. Tyrion is left with literally no recourse; he must turn his back on his father, mid-barb, and take it directly in the spine.
Also hung out to dry, though far less figuratively, is poor Sir Davos. Stranded on a barren island off the coast since the defeat of Stannis’s army, he’s dehydrated and growing desperate. Finally, a lone ship ventures close enough to see his frantic waves. Before the wretched bloke can be rescued, he must pass a riddle: which king does he serve?
Davos is rewarded for his loyalty: his answer of Stannis Baratheon gains him passage to Dragonstone aboard the ship of the Sallahdor Saan. Saan, a pirate, had thrown his lot in with Davos in exchange for power and money – which the loss at Blackwater ended all hope of. Stannis has retreated to Dragonstone, regrouping with the counsel of Melisandre, a powerful sorceress whose spells killed Stannis’ brother Renly. Her influence has seduced Stannis past all logic, and he allows those who speak against her to be imprisoned or executed. But Davos perseveres, sure that he can talk sense into Stannis and convince him to abandon the witch in favor of proven strategy. Unfortunately, Davos’ mistrust of Melisandre earns him a one-way ticket to the brig.
Robb Stark is faced with a similar choice – his mother, for all intents and purposes his second in command throughout his campaign from the north, has betrayed him and released the Kingslayer. Though he chose not to punish her at the end of the last season, when their legion comes upon the slaughter of 200 northmen, apparently at the hands of the Kingslayer, he has no choice but to imprison her for her treason.
Meanwhile, Margaery begins her campaign to rehabilitate Joffrey’s image, starting by promising to feed and clothe the orphans of Blackwater. But Cersei is not fooled by the Tyrell’s cloying act, perhaps doubting the capriciousness with which she allowed Geoffrey to throw Sansa over.
As a desperate Sansa makes a fragile pact with a most slippery Lord Baelish, Daenerys must put her trust in a ruthless slave trafficker. Her Dothraki horde have reacted poorly to their first venture off dry land, her dragons are growing, but not quickly enough, and her enemies still surround her – the treacherous shapeshifters from Qarth have followed her and will continue to attempt to wreak their vengeance. Luckily for Daenerys, a formerly faithful servant of her mad father has come looking for her. Ser Barristan, expelled from Kings Landing by Cersei, finally comes upon Daenerys and Jorah, and asks for forgiveness for failing to protect her family, as he swore to do when he was in the King’s Guard.
Daenerys, in need of some good news, seems overjoyed at his arrival, but Jorah is less trusting, perhaps because he knows all too well what Barristan did – standing by as Jaime Lannister killed the mad king, her father.
Things are afoot in the world of Westeros, but one thing is for sure – with Tywin Lannister planted firmly behind the iron throne, it won’t be easy for Daenerys, Stannis, Robb or any other usurper to steal.
These recaps are for the GoT TV Series only. I haven’t read the books, so please don’t spoil any forthcoming plot points in the comments. If you have read the books, please enjoy the dramatic irony and that feeling you get from being just a bit more knowledgable than the rest of us, but keep it to yourself. Thanks!