From the looks of this week's Game of Thrones trailer, there will be some time spent dealing with the aftermath of Tyrion's trial, but mostly we'll zip away from King's Landing to pick up with the other action around the world, after spending so much time in the Throne Room last week. What do we have to look forward to? David and Joe discuss.
1. Arya Stark
Joe Reid: David, have we discussed my Arya problem?
David Sims: In fact not in public, good sir.
JR: My problem with Arya is that everybody loves Arya. I know this comes from book readers being more familiar with her than other characters. But it's also the whole violent-child thing. People love Arya because her response to her family being systematically slaughtered by the Lannisters is to slowly become an adorable murdering moppet. On a show where the female characters are so often forced to operate on the margins of the brutal male society, everybody loves Arya because, okay, she's a girl, but at least she fights and stabs and kills motherfuckers with a sword. I'm Team Sansa because, mopey and sad and powerless as she may be, watching how she weathers that powerlessness as a girl in the ways that a girl needs to operate in Westeros is so much more fascinating to me. ANYWAY. What's our cute little murdering tyke Arya up to this week?
JR: How seriously are we meant to take that? Obviously, the Hound is some kind of Stark Girl Whisperer, one of those gruff monsters who becomes all cuddly (or whatever his version of cuddly is) around these kids. Their effect on each other has been fun to watch, though I'm interested to see them encounter some of the other characters from our story again.
DS: Yes, well this is the problem with Thrones. After the first season where most of the characters are hanging out in King's Landing, everyone gets scattered to the four corners of the earth. There's some criss-crossing once in a while, of course, but I'll admit I'm not exactly anxious for Arya and the Hound to have another adventure with some sad farmers or creepy bandits.
2. Daario Naharis
JR: How are we meant to feel about Daario? I know the new casting was meant to rid us of the scourge of the overly pretty, smirky Old Daario, but I'm not sure I've been given all that much of a reason to care about new Daario either. He hasn't become as boring as poor Jorah, but the sub-Dany characters in Mereen have been seriously stagnant lately.
DS: Meereen is just starting to feel a little stagnant in general. I like the new Daario much more than the old one, but he serves a purpose that fans might not be too interested in. He's there to help Daenerys navigate the weird politics and foreign culture of Slaver's Bay, to help her become a real queen for the cities she's conquered, and, of course, he's probably there to give her kisses too, although Daenerys has remained a little more coy to acknowledge that part of it. After receiving supplicants and trying to untangle the messes she's caused in Meereen last week, I don't know what awaits her and Daario this week, but from the preview he's clearly after something.
JR: It's actually a lot like my dissatisfaction with the Arya/Hound plot, except I know there's no way that Daenerys is going to come across any of the other characters for, I'm guessing, multiple seasons.
DS: Right. Because when Daenerys goes over to Westeros, you figure she's going to do it on the back of dragons. That increasingly feels like it'll be at the tail-end of the series.
JR: Exactly. So in the meantime it's the Mereen Metaphor Hour. I'm not sure how much more of Dany being sooooooo slow on the uptake when it comes to some fairly obvious shit about ruling people I can be expected to take. Free Jorah Mormont.
DS: Yeah, and maybe next time don't crucify an entire city's worth of noblemen without thinking about it for five minutes.
3. Gregor Clegane ("The Mountain")
JR: What is so hard about casting this guy? Just pick someone from the WWE and call it a day. Anyway, if Tywin really is going to bring The Mountain back in order to let Oberyn have his justice, then my thinking is that Tywin must be much more nervous about the tenuous hold the Lannisters have over the seven kingdoms than we know. Otherwise, why would Tywin surrender a weapon that's served him so well over the years? He must really think he needs Dorne's loyalty more than ever. I'm so fascinated by what Tywin's long game is. You know he must have one, but I kind of have no idea where he's leaning or who he's lying to.
DS: Me neither. One of the best twists of last week's episode, I thought, was the speed with which Tywin agreed to Jaime's proposal to leave the Kingsguard and rule Casterly Rock in exchange for Tyrion's life. Just the week before, I had been poking at Tywin's many alliances, because if he's so obsessed with the Lannister name, how does he see it proceeding if Jaime doesn't have any legitimate children? Anyway, my guess is there won't be much movement at King's Landing this week because we spent so much time there last week. But Tywin is going to have some adjusting to do.
JR: Also, not for nothing, but the next episode after this one is titled "The Mountain and the Viper." So we're proooooobably gonna get a lot of setup in this one.
DS: So let's review what's happened with Melisandre this year: absolutely nothing. Stannis' plot has basically laid dormant since his defeat at the Blackwater way back in season two. Again, this is a problem with the immense, sprawling plotting of the book, a problem that is not going to go away, but Melisandre's scenes so far this season have amounted to a couple of conversations. Looks like she's about to have another one with Selyse, Stannis' mentally touched wife who is ten times the religious devotee that he is.
JR: The relationship between Melisandre and Stannis' wife is such a strange and interesting one, both in the books and (more limitedly) on the show. That Selyse is so much in thrall to the religion practiced by this woman in red who is schtupping her husband is one thing. That Selyse is SO MUCH CRAZIER THAN ANYONE is another. I guess one way to goose the Dragonstone story would be to throw some religious mania on the fire. I'm really impatient for Melisandre to continue with whatever plans she had been working on last season, with the kings' blood and all. If she's going to take credit for Joffrey's untimely end (as Stannis suggested a few weeks ago), then obviously she should have some kind of next phase ready.
DS: This is the thing. The season three finale had a frustrating hint about that, where Melisandre urged Stannis to look north for his next battle, but there hasn't been any advancement on that idea in this season. However, now that Stannis has recovered enough to get some money and ships and what have you, maybe he can finally get going on something. Sure, King's Landing is off the table, but there's other spots to invade!
JR: Gotta invade something.
DS: Clearly no one wants to stay on Dragonstone. Hell, Stannis' own daughter looks like she lives in a rock dungeon.
JR: When we end up ranking the worst places in Westeros to live, Dragonstone will be a strong contender. Though the Eyrie doesn't look like a picnic either.
5. Petyr Baelish ("Littlefinger")
DS: Well, Petyr Baelish is not helping things by showing up at the Eyrie with Sansa, immediately marrying Lysa, and potentially driving the both of them insane. Well, Lysa doesn't really need to be driven insane, I suppose. From the looks of the trailer, Lysa is not done being jealous of Sansa, who we've been told is the spitting image of Lysa's sister (and Petyr's real crush) as a young woman. Since this is Littlefinger we're talking about, we should pretty much assume that he's orchestrating something here. The question is: is he trying to drive Lysa mad, or Sansa into his arms? Or something else entirely? And now that he's Lord of the Vale, will he march those armies that Lysa has so far kept neutral?
JR: Littlefinger is such a bastard; one I hate to admit that I get so much enjoyment out of. But he is so reliable when it comes to setting crazy-ass events in motion. Of all the storylines it looks like this episode is going to include, I am BY FAR most looking forward to the shit that goes down at the Eyrie. Sansa in peril! Again! I agree with you that Littlefinger is moving around chess pieces, always. In many ways, I kind of want this entire series to come down to Varys and Littlefinger facing off for control of the realm, through whatever proxies they've set up for themselves. The Vale can't be Petyr's endgame. Or even his penultimate game. It's a stepping stone, but to what? Does Sansa give him the keys to Winterfell? Does he even want Winterfell? Here's what most interests me: the closest thing we've ever seen to actual human feeling in Littlefinger has bee his feelings for Catelyn Stark. And yet we haven't even heard him talk about her death. Isn't there an opportunity for him to maul the Freys and then move right on to making House Bolton pay for what they did to our Cat? Or am I projecting?
DS: You might be, but that's only because Petyr is so hard to read. But it is entirely fair to say that if there is anyone that Littlefinger actually felt for, it was Catelyn. It spurred him trying to help Ned in the first season (though he ultimately betrayed him) and it's absolutely why he's keeping Sansa close, because he doesn't really need her for any particular reason right now. So your question is a good one. He's Lord of the Vale, but could he be Lord of the North as well? Remember, as far as the general populace knows, Bran and Rickon are dead at Theon's hands, and Robb is of course in the ground. So Sansa is technically the Stark heir, and any babies she had would have an unbeatable claim to Winterfell. That's someone Petyr might want to keep around.
JR: Ugh, stop making me think of Littlefinger creeping on Sansa, David.