But not the first scene.
Instead I'm going straight to the Say-Yes-To-The-Dress scene, the scene in which our Sansa (poor Sansa) perches at fountain's edge and speaks coyly with the only person in all of King's Landing who can match her clumsy word for clumsy word in awkward conversation, Ser Loras Tyrell. At first Loras can only exchange a broken sentence or two, but as they move into discussing the wedding, Loras waxes eloquent about his dream wedding. And of course Loras has a dream wedding. In all of Game of Thrones, there is no character who is more of a walking, talking, teary-eyed stereotype than Loras Tyrell. It doesn't bother me that the relationship between Loras and Renly was made more obvious (not to say graphic) than in the books. It does bother me that Loras, who comes across as charming and as cagey as the rest of his family on the page, seems so much less on the screen. It's not that he's a "sword swallower" as his grandmother so charmingly puts it. It's that he's a dolt. It's that we so rarely get reminded that Loras is supposed to be quite skilled with both an actual sword and with politics. There's a lot of humor in the scene with Sansa, but not so much that I wouldn't prefer a Loras who could navigate King's Landing with a little more aplomb.
However, that's not the major sin of this scene. In detailing his Barbie Dream Wedding Gown, Loras is quite specific about the design including that the dress should have "French sleeves." Um, what kind of sleeves? Surely you meant to say Dornish silk, or Myrish lace, or ... What is this "French" of which you speak?
(Update Several viewers with better ears than mine believe that he said "fringed" sleeves. So... nevermind. You're off the hook this time, Loras.)
Anyway, come on in and read the spoilers.
We start off the week in the north, where Sam, Gilly, and the baby are still limping away from the disaster at Craster's. Sam continues to be incompetent, which is just about the only point to this scene, but we do take a moment to admire an obsidian blade. Ooo, shiny.
Just down the road a bit, Bran and company are still working their way north. Osha and Meera are both determined to show that they are the real tough outdoors-girl of this group, and that the other is just a pretender. The back and forth gets heated enough that Bran has to step in and tell them to cool it. Drowsy brother Jojen has a seizure and reveals that he dreamed of Jon Snow "on the wrong side of the wall." Which doesn't tell us much, but maybe it'll get this crew moving a little quicker.
Speaking of Jon, it's wall climbing time. The group of wildlings lash on their cunningly made crampons and sharpen up their ice axes for an assault on the sheer eight hundred foot ice face. Ygritte takes this moment to first kid Jon Snow about his sexual inexperience, and then far more shockingly, reveals that she knows that Jon is still true to the Night's Watch. It's just that she expects him to be equally true to her. How exactly Jon is to pull this off isn't explained, and Jon doesn't seem to have much of a clue. Of course he loves Ygritte. Who wouldn't love Ygritte? But keeping your firey wildling woman isn't exactly in the Night's Watch rulebook. Good thing there's all that Huge Threat of Screaming Death just ahead to take his mind off this conundrum. The climb up the wall, mostly shot from an overhead angle designed to aggravate the acrophobia of even the world's most fearless climber, goes slowly upward one painful swing of the ax after another. After a goodly collection of heart-pounding near misses, we get something that isn't a miss. More than halfway up the face, a crack suddenly propagates across the ice and a huge slab falls away, taking with it most of the wildling crew. Jon and Ygritte are left dangling and Orell, the wildling above them on the rope, moves quickly to cut their line. Fortunately, Jon manages to snag his ax into the ice just in time and he and Ygritte finish their struggle to the top where they can stare daggers at Orell before taking a dreamy look off the Wall to the south (where Westeros has never looked quite so much like a matte painting dragged from David O. Selznick's garage).
Way down along the Kingsroad, Arya is still hanging around with the Brotherhood learning to shoot and waiting for her ransom to be arranged, when who should ride in but Stannis' priestess pal, Melisandre. Hey, so this is where she went! The red priestess is surprised to learn that red priest Thoros has managed to raise Beric Dondarion from death six times. Melisandre says it's a power that drunken old Thoros shouldn't have, which you can probably read as "hey, why can't I do that?" Thoros seems to be the only person in the Seven Kingdoms with this ability, which makes his backstory of lost faith even more touching. It's a good story, and filling in Thoros's background is almost worth this long trip from Dragonstone to the Riverlands, but Melisandre is there for another purpose. Despite the talk of "brotherhood," Thoros and company don't hesitate to turn over blacksmith (and King Robert's bastard son), Gendry, for a fat sack of gold. Melisandre tells Gendry that he has an important role to play in the future of the kingdom, but somehow being taken away in chains never seems like a good thing. The only one brave enough to challenge the red priestess is Westeros' very own roaring mouse, Arya. Instead of being angry, Melisandre sees something strange in Arya and predicts they'll meet again. In the meantime, I wouldn't be surpised if Arya adds the priestess to her morning roll call of "people I want to kill."
And now to our mystery location, where Theon Greyjoy gets to enjoy the fruits of his betrayal, bad planning, bad leadership, poor decision making, and general weaseltude in the form of really, really painful torture. This week, that torture is both physical and mental ... but mostly physical. I'm betting Theon is thinking that doing what Robb wanted in the first place seems like a much better idea now.
And speaking of Robb, the King in the North is negotiating with two sons of Walder Frey. Lord Frey isn't exactly thrilled that Robb reneged on his wedding vows, but considering the situation his demands are more or less reasonable: an apology and Caitlin's brother Edmure, now the Lord of Riverrun, to marry one of his daughters. As usual, Edmure's thoughts don't wander far from his own desires, but he finally seems to realize that losing the war would be a bad thing, and that marrying a Frey girl he hasn't seen might be preferable to being skewered by Lannisters. So, another wedding in the mix.
One of the things that Walder Frey wants is Harrenhall, which is currently held by Roose Bolton. Bolton is still playing host to Brienne and Jaime. Brienne (who looks pretty uncomfortable in an elaborate dress) still has a bit of that buddy-cop movie vibe going with Jaime, and when the two of them realize that they're to be separated, they protest. Bolton gets the Delicious Pause of the Week Award as he tells Jaime that he should know "about overplaying your ... position." Rim shot. In any case, Bolton orders Jaime off to King's Landing, while Brienne is to be held for her role in setting the Kingslayer free.
And finally, that scene in King's Landing.
Watching Loras and Sansa (poor Sansa) from the window, Tyrion and Cersei contemplate the actual marital arrangements ahead. Tyrion notes that Sansa may be getting the worst of the deal, but that Loras will come to know "a deep and singular misery" in his marriage to Cersei. Which certainly seems true no matter how you read that sentence. Poor Loras. Cersei seems honestly less concerned about her personal predicament, but about how the Tyrells seem ready to sleep their way into control of the kingdom. The one point of agreement shared by these mismatched siblings: they both just want brother Jaime to come home. Climbing down from the tower, Tyrion breaks the change in wedding plans to Sansa (and to Shae). The scene is chopped short, but it seems a good deal kinder than the treatment that Sansa got in the books, in which Tyrion's coming up the aisle was a surprise.
Cross town, papa Tywin is securing his new made arrangements with the actual co-regent of the kingdom, the Queen of Thornes. Dame Diana Rigg continues to do her best Diana Rigg plays Katherine Hepburn plays Elanor of Aquitaine plays the Queen of Thornes, and it continues to work wonderfully. Poked about Loras' proclivities, her thorniness pushes right back at the widely rumored (and true) talk of incest between Cersei and Jaime. This is the one thing that gets a rise out of Tywin, since this is really the game in a nutshell. Everyone can suspect that Joffrey isn't the rightful heir to the prickly metal throne, but it's another thing to know. Over the course of the conversation, Lady Olenna delivers the three best lines of the week providing not just her frank admission about her grandson, but she also gets to inform Tywin that Cersei is too old to be a bride saying "trust me, I'm an expert," and delivers her verdict on Tywin's brutal negotiations with "it's so rare to meet a man who lives up to his reputation."
Standing next to the world's most uncomfortable chair, Littlefinger and Varys begin what at first looks like just another in their many sparring contests, but this time the verbal fireworks turn dark. Pitch dark. Littlefinger reveals that he's aware that his assistant Ros has been providing information to Varys. Make that former assistant. In what has to be the week's most shocking scene, we see that Joffrey has used Ros for target practice using the same crossbow that Margaery was handling last week. I wonder if even the redoubtable queen-to-be would do if she knew. In any case, those book readers who complained that Ros had too large a role in the show can stop worrying. No more Ros.
The result of this scene is that Littlefinger comes off a good deal harsher than in the book. A good deal less subtle. And Varys looks a good deal more vulnerable.
Sansa sniffles as she watches Littlefinger's ship clear the harbor, realizing that she's lost not just her marriage to Loras, but her chance to escape the city.
In this case, maybe that's not such a bad thing.