Update: Edited to reflect that Ian McShane's character was undrafted character Septon Ray, not Septon Meribald. The Thronesmaster apologizes deeply for her ignorance. Also, it is the official opinion of The Verge that "Septon Ray" is a really dumb name.
In the Game of Game of Thrones — a game of ice, zombies, and psychotic child rulers — nothing's colder than a cold open. When has this show ever done a cold open? Why was the return of The Hound (who, like Benjen last week, is feeling much better now) the first Big Plot Shocker deserving of one? Is this our first indication that Game of Thrones might be turning into a normal TV show? What if Game of Thrones just turns into a procedural drama, except instead of each week opening with a grisly murder scenario to be solved in the ensuing 45 minutes, we open with another "dead" character coming back to life? What if Game of Thrones was the first show to pivot from Deathwatch hype to Lifewatch hype?
Stay tuned for the next episode of Bad Septon
Good ol' Sandor is a changed man since his near-fateful run in with Brienne, and is working on what appears to be a nice Habitat for Humanity build / pop-up dining experience in some lush southern wilderness. Leading the build is Septon
Meribald Ray, a character I did not made draftable completely based off despite the casting of Ian McShane. Sorry about that! I regret nothing. The Septon seems like a nice enough guy, kindly bringing us up to speed as to how the Hound managed to dodge death (The Hound's explanation: "I'm a big fucker and I'm tough to kill," +5.) He's a former soldier with a very liberal interpretation of the gods — "Maybe they're all the same fucking thing," he offers — and he definitely is rocking whatever the Westerosi version of a Coexist bumper sticker is. He gives a sermon where he graphically describes tearing out the throat of a young boy. Stay tuned for the next episode of Bad Septon!
Except don't, because he's dead. While the Hound is out hacking at some sticks, Meribald and his entire crew are brutally murdered by The Brotherhood Without Banners. Now, this struck me as odd. Has Septon Meribald been to Westeros? Who sets up an entire camp in broad daylight with no horses or swords? But I also don't get the Brothers' motivation. When he told Sandor that he didn't have anything worth stealing, Sandor counterpointed with potatoes and women — but if you go back and watch that final scene, the food has been dumped all over the ground and the women are... there. Did the Septon have secret Valyrian steel? Was the Septon's death an elaborate plot to stoke the fire of vengeance in The Hound and get him back out in the world? It certainly worked!
Meanwhile, Jon Snow and Sansa Stark were busy with their The North Remembers door-to-door canvassing operation. The wildlings are fully with them, especially after Tormund Giantsbane reminds everyone that Jon kind of died for them. (How could anyone need reminding of this? Why has this event been treated so cavalierly by everyone on this show?) "We're not clever like you Southerners," says Tormund when Jon double-checks to make sure the wildlings are on his side. "When we say we'll do something, we do it." (+10) "Snow," says Wun-Wun in agreement (+5).
Great! The wildlings are in, but we knew that already. Up next: Bear Island, a place that sounds like a place a child made up, which is convenient, as a literal child is in charge there. Can we agree that Lyanna Mormont is the MVP of this week's episode? Why did I make
royal nobody Septon Meribald noted dead woman Catelyn Stark draftable when someone could have been raking in points for Lyanna's spectacular read on Sansa? "Lady Sandra is a Bolton. Or is she a Lannister? I've heard conflicting reports" — Yes, go back and watch the tape, Lyanna can't even be bothered to remember Sansa's dumb name. Davos Seaworth (dad) is the only one who can melt her icy Mormont heart and convince her that the dead are coming (+10). In the end, she only gives Jon 62 measly men, but like other precocious child rulers before her, she cannot condone a course of action that will lead her to war.
After a less successful visit with the Glovers in Deepwood Motte, Sansa gets to raven-writing — to Littlefinger, we can only imagine. It's probably the right idea, but I'm not feeling very charitable to Sansa after she spoke so ill of Davos. Sansa's spent some serious up-close-and-personal time with some of the worst people in the realm; perhaps it's not in spite but because of that she can't recognize a solid dude when she sees one.
Definitely not hurting for armies this week: Jaime Lannister and the long-lost Bronn. Goddamn, that was fast! Remember in the first season when it would take about five episodes for anyone to get anywhere? Less than 30 minutes of showtime after leaving King's Landing, Jaime's already in the Riverlands with a new look (+10) and a long and winding CGI army behind him. (Note: I've decided not to dock Jaime for getting demoted since commanding the Lannister army seems like more of a lateral move.) Bronn is grumpy about being dragged along for this One Last Heist, so grumpy that he doesn't even let Jaime finish that old line about Lannisters re: their debts ("Don't say it. Don't fucking say it." +5.) Show's getting meta! They arrive at Riverrun just in time to witness the Frey bros' pathetic attempt at a siege on Brynden "The Blackfish" Tully. (+10 to the Blackfish for calling their bluff about killing Edmure Tully, -10 to Edmure for being 100 percent expendable.) Jaime, in full preening Lannishole mode, wins the coveted Joffrey Baratheon Memorial Slap Award (+25) for showing a Frey what's what, then proceeds to give the Frey siege a makeover, starting with a parley with the Blackfish.
It doesn't go well, but it affords us a wonderful opportunity to see the Blackfish be the no-shit-taking avenging Tully we need right now. "We have enough provisions for two years," he tells Jaime. "Do you have two years, Kingslayer?" (+10). He basically tells Jaime that the only reason he came to speak to him is because he was soooo boooored and supposed that meeting the Kingslayer in person would break up the day a bit in between NYT crosswords and 30 Rock episodes. "I'm disappointed," he adds (Level 3 burn on Jaime, +15.)
So many burns
Burns can really elevate an episode. Lady Olenna, heartened by the secret note of flowery solidarity slipped to her by Margaery Tyrell (in a new puritanical look, +10) is ready to flex again all over Cersei Lannister. "I made a terrible mistake, and I carry it with me every single day," says Cersei. Olenna? "Good." (+5) "I wonder if you're the worst person I've ever met," Olenna muses after Cersei begs her to stay in K.L. "At a certain age it's hard to recall." (Level 3 burn on Cersei, +15.) This is a brilliant line because it allows Olenna to simultaneously speak her truth to her arch nemesis and minimize her impact. "You've lost, Cersei," she finally says. "It's the only joy I can find in all this misery." (Level 2 burn on Cersei, +10.)
We also check in with Yara Greyjoy and Theon Greyjoy, who have somehow already made it to Volantis (!?) so that Yara can enjoy herself publicly with some prostitutes. I was kind of joking when I suggested that Yara should marry Dany but... do you think it might actually happen? She forces Theon to binge drink and says he should either kill himself or show more team spirit, which is I guess how the Ironborn do tough love, but it comes off as... kind of touching? (+10) Yeah, forget it, I'm totally 'shipping the Dragon and the Kraken. Please bring on more unrealistic travel times and let's make it happen.
Arya needs to take a page out of the undercover Bieber book
The only thing that makes me nervous for the Greyjoy kids is that there tends to be a greater spy / assassin presence in the free cities, which can often result in being completely broadsided by murder attempts and other unpleasantries. This kind of threat is clearly not on former assassin-in-training Arya Stark's mind as she skips through the streets of Braavos, throwing bags of money around with her face fully exposed. Arya! You've got more hits out on you than Bieber, perhaps you should take a page out of his book when you're out in public. Anyway, it takes her about five seconds to get herself cut by The Waif — a newly draftable character, who will make +20 stabby points off this (scored as an incapacitation).
Oh, my heavens. Is Arya going to die? Will she die and get resurrected by the Lord of Light? Will she be rescued by Lady Crane and join the theatre? Will Daenerys swoop in on Drogon and save her? Will Daenerys and Daario join a cult and invite everyone over for dinner? (I just saw The Invitation, you guys, OMG.) Will Nymeria (the direwolf) paddle across the narrow sea in 10 minutes with her dog army and eat everyone? Nothing is off the table!
The Verge's league rankings:
- Kwame Opam: 417 (Top scorer: Olenna Tyrell, 30)
- Loren Grush: 406 (Top scorer: Brynden "Blackfish" Tully, 35)
- Andy Hawkins: 386 (Top scorer: Davos Seaworth, 10)
- Michael Zelenko: 235 (Top scorers: N/A)
- Kaitlyn Tiffany: 230 (Top scorer: Tormund Giantsbane, 10)
- Liz Lopatto: 191 (Top scorer: The Waif, 20)
- Bryan Bishop: 165 (Top scorer: N/A)
- Ross Miller: 140 (Top scorer: Wun Wun, 5)
- Jamieson Cox: 115 (Top scorer: Jaime Lannister, 35)
- T.C. Sottek: 30 (Top scorer: The Hound, 5)
For the full list of updated stats visit The Game of Game of Thrones on Fantasizr.