Halfway through the fourth season of Game of Thrones, we finally get an answer to THE mystery that is responsible for everything that has happened so far in the show (except for that weird stuff with the White Walkers, we don’t know what’s up with that). It was a very subtle reveal and it took a while to get there, but it has major consequences for the way we view a primary character! The mystery solved, and the recap below:
We begin with the coronation of King Tommen, Joffrey’s chubby-cheeked younger brother. Tommen as a character could easily be replaced by a very desirable but otherwise useless inanimate object, perhaps a lamp or a houseplant, and serve the same purpose within the show- he’s there to be squabbled over by people more powerful than him.
This point is driven home when Cersei and Margery have their most civil conversation to date about what to do with this new “ages 12 and up” edition of the monarchy. Cersei fights through her desire to rip Margery’s hair out and offers to complete Margery’s “Royal Matrimony” trading card set by marrying her to Tommen. Margery has the decency to defer until she “speaks to her father,” a phrase which in Tyrell language means “perform a celebratory Macarena with my grandmother because my father is a powerless boob.”
Meanwhile in Meereen, Daenerys receives the news that Joffrey has died, a child is on the Iron Throne, and she finally has enough ships to sail home to Westeros (thanks Daario!). Ser Barristan and Jorah seem to think that Dany should strike while the Iron (throne) is hot and hightail it over to storm King’s Landing. However, both Astapor and Yunkai are floundering in the wake of her conquest, with many of her freed slaves back in slavery and a new, brutish Emperor called Cleon the Butcher on the rise.
(It’s almost like recklessly plowing through established civilizations and upending their way of life armed with dragons of mass destruction and your own arrogance is a bad strategy, despite your inexperienced attempts at setting up weak and indefensible puppet governments before moving on to steamroll your next target. Who’d have thought?)
Anyway, Dany decides not to go to Westeros because she clearly needs to practice her statecraft before moving on to the big leagues.
Sansa and Petyr arrive the Eyrie, seat of House Arryn and home to her paranoid and jealous Aunt Lysa. Lysa seems happy to meet Sansa, a situation in which the word “seems” cannot be overemphasized.
Petyr Baelish and my imaginary background character Ser Misdirection strike again when Lysa confesses in a truly elaborate expository outburst that she- SHE KILLED JON ARRYN. In the bedchamber, with the poison, at the behest of Petyr Baelish. We finally have an answer for the mystery that sparked off the events of the entire series! Had Jon Arryn lived, Robert wouldn’t need a new Hand and Ned Stark would never have gone to King’s Landing. If any of you were still underestimating Petyr Baelish at this point in the series- stop that right now. Put your glasses on and face the facts. This man is terrifying.
Oh, and he also gets married to Lysa, which makes him Lord of the Eyrie/Lord Protector of the Vale. Yikes.
Cersei comes to Lord Tywin with her idea of marrying Margery to Tommen to secure the Tyrell alliance, and Tywin approves because the Lannisters, those whose name is synonymous with outrageous wealth, who the common folk suspect literally shit gold- are dead broke. Also they’re in debt to the Iron Bank of Braavos, notoriously brutal creditors who make the House of Shylock look like a public library. Good luck with that one, you guys.
Arya’s going through her nightly murder-prayer at a fun sleepover with Sandor. They almost bond over their mutual hatred of The Mountain but she totally kills the mood by reminding Sandor that he is also on her hit list. Oh, Arya, you’re so funny-oh.
He later finds her practicing her Water Dancing, the fencing-like swordplay she learned from Syrio Forel, and berates her for looking like a flouncy idiot. To be fair, she looks like a flouncy idiot. He gives her one free jab at him, which she wastes by going straight for his heavily armored chest. Rookie move. He backhands her (he’s really not out here to win any popularity contests, is he?) and they huff off into the sunset.
Brienne is mad about having to babysit Poderick until she finds out that he killed a member of the Kingsguard to save Tyrion’s life, which is fine until you realize that Brienne never respects anybody until they kill someone and/or somebear. No wonder she liked Olenna so much.
Cersei, who is really sedate this episode to the point where I’m getting creeped out, hangs out with Oberyn in the garden. They talk shop about being parents and we learn that Oberyn has eight bastard daughters. They are most likely the coolest girls in Dorne and should form a band. Cersei asks Oberyn to pass a message onto Mrycella: “mummy misses you.” Also she gives Myrcella a boat, because despite being broke the Lannisters are still the Rich Kids of Instagram…of Westeros.
This season’s most disturbing new trend- that of superfluous, almost decorative sexual assault- shows no signs of slowing in this episode. The Craster’s Keep sequence opens up with the impending assault of a woman, background noises of sobbing women are a part of the sound mix, and Meera Reed is threatened with rape in a scene that serves only to create dramatic tension for Jon Snow’s entrance. None of this happened in the books. I don’t know how many more times I’m going to have to say this in my lifetime, but:
RAPE IS NOT SOMETHING YOU CASUALLY INJECT INTO YOUR PLOTLINES FOR THE SAKE OF KILLING TIME BETWEEN IMPORTANT EVENTS. IT IS A VIOLENT ACT BORN FROM SYSTEMS OF POWER AND BODILY ENTITLEMENT THAT AFFECT THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD. What the hell is wrong with you people?
This whole plotline is so irritating for me I don’t even want to recap it. Bullet points only. I’m annoyed.
-Jojen’s see-the-future powers activate a few hours too late and give him magical insight into the existence of a tree.
-Bran wargs into Hodor to save himself from Locke. Brandor kills Locke, an act that accidentally avenges Jamie’s maiming when Jamie is the one who pushed Bran out a window. Okay.
-Jon has a boring heroic face-off with Karl and kills him because obviously.
-Bran comes really close to saying hi to Jon but Jojen convinces him to just keep swimming.
-Despite being the only capable fighter in Bran’s crew and a person unto herself, Meera is reduced to an object that is sexually threatened and acted upon by other characters. Ugh.
Other Things that Happened (in the Eyrie!):
Where were these legions of guards at the Bloody Gate when Catelyn was coming through here to bring Tyrion in season one? People DIED when the hill tribes attacked! You guys suck!
Lysa pulls a Heath-Ledger’s-Joker-at-the-Wayne-gala when she tells Sansa how much she reminds her of Catelyn…and then reminds her how much she hated Catelyn. (I hated my fatherrrrr!)
Men have to attack the Eyrie “three men abreast” and the first thing that came into mind was “no way can Lysa lactate that much at her age.”
Last night I tweeted that Lysa’s moaning sounded like a cougar and a barn owl got thrown into a paper bag and shaken up, but on a second listen it’s more like a bobcat and a flamingo got locked into a combination safe and kicked off a cliff.
Bonus Points: Did anyone else notice that Daenerys and Missandei wore matching outfits today? I friend-ship their friendship.