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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Game of Thrones 3x10: Mhysa



The Twins
The episode opens at the site of the Red Wedding, making it clear that the majority of the Stark host is being slaughtered alongside its leader, his wife, and his mother. Arya also regains consciousness at just the wrong time, as she sees her brother's body, his dire wolf's head stitched on in place of his (creepy), paraded about while mockingly referred to as the King of the North.

Props to the Hound for grabbing that Frey banner, ensuring his safety as he and Arya pass through the crowd. I'm curious what his plan is now - with Robb and Catelyn dead, does he plan to take Arya to Kings Landing after all (assuming the Lannisters would pay for her, even if it would be less than he'd have gotten from the Starks), or is his aversion to that world great enough to keep him away? Are we lined up for a season where Arya continues her tutelage in killing under his supervision (because that would be the best buddy cop story of all time)?

Arya's killing of one of Frey's men, while a moment of significance for her character, also gave us a nice moment of comeuppance (albeit a relatively small one). And Maisie Williams totally killed it (pun intended) in that scene, both with her somewhat creepy "lost girl" act and then in her reaction to her first intentional kill.

It was made clear that Edmure is still alive, albeit imprisoned, and that the Blackfish escaped. While Frey isn't terribly concerned about any retribution from him or any other Tullys, especially with Tywin Lannister backing him, Roose Bolton, newly named Warden of the North, doesn't seem as sure. Bastard he may be, I think Bolton is right to be suspicious: after all, he knows firsthand that Tywin is only concerned with the best interests of his family, and wouldn't think twice about tossing Frey to the wolves (or the fish, as it were) if it suited his interests.

Wherever the Hell Theon Is/the Iron Islands
Bolton's discussion with Frey segues nicely to Theon, as the show makes it clear that Theon is indeed being held captive by Bolton's bastard (who gets a name: Ramsey Snow), and has been since he was turned over by his own men at the end of season two (who were themselves flayed and killed, despite handing over Theon, we learn).

From there, Theon gets to participate in a little "there are four lights!"-style exchange with his tormentor, though he accepts his new name of Reek far more easily than Jean-Luc Picard would have (then again, Picard hadn't been through quite as much as Theon).

I appreciated the clarification that Ramsey was not eating Theon's severed penis, because at this point, I wouldn't have put it past either the character or this show...

Apparently a Lonely Island fan, Ramsey does send Theon's dick in a box to Theon's father, along with a demand that Balon relinquish his conquered holdings in the North. While Balon (unsurprisingly) doesn't give a toss about his son, the letter does get Yara into action, as she's determined to rescue her brother.

I understand the show needs to keep checking in with Theon  for a variety of reasons, especially in episodes near the beginning and end of seasons, but now that we know the full story of who has him and are being promised a rescue mission led by his sister, I'm hoping that his appearances next season are either fewer or consist of more than just him being tortured constantly.

Kings Landing
Joffrey makes sure to end the season in a way that won't let us forget what a reprehensible twit he is, but we also get the satisfaction of watching "the king" get sent to bed without supper, which was pretty awesome.

Joffrey's rant about how Tywin hid in his castle while Joffrey's father won the kingdom was particularly loaded, not only with barely-concealed rage on Tywin's part, but also the fact that Robert wasn't Joffrey's father, a fact pretty much everyone at that table except Joffrey knows.

Tyrion, per usual, found himself involved in some fantastic scenes. It was nice to see him and Sansa bonding over their shared outcast status (I don't imagine the pair will ever grow to love each other, but a friendship born of mutual understanding and benefit would be fun to watch). His scene with Tywin was tremendous as always, both for the subtle way Tyrion expressed his admiration for the strategy behind his father's plan even while finding it deplorable and for the way Tywin gave his son perhaps the greatest compliment he's ever given him (even then, the compliment was "I wanted to kill you but didn't", so it isn't like he's winning any Father of the Year awards). Finally, as much fun as Tyrion and Cersei sniping at one another is, I've also come to enjoy these scenes where they more or less commiserate on their current situation (I particularly enjoyed the comment about how every time they defeat one enemy, the act of doing so creates two more, which makes for an interesting contrast with Dany).

The scene between Varys and Shae was another highlight. I continue to enjoy Varys' seemingly-genuine interest in doing what's best for the realm, instead of what's best for himself or a specific family. And, sadly, as much as I enjoy Shae, I can't deny that I wouldn't mind seeing her leave because Varys is right: she is keeping Tyrion from becoming as awesome as he could be.  

And then, near the end, Jamie and Brienne make their long-awaited return to Kings Landing. Having Jamie go unrecognized as he entered the city was a nice indication of just how different he is now compared to when he left, though I could have done without the scene of his reunion with Cersei being staged and shot like a reunion of two long-lost lovers (even though they are). Similarly, I would have liked to see Jamie and Brienne's reaction to news of the Red Wedding, and to get a better sense of what's next for both of them, but I suppose that'll have to wait til next season.

The Wall
More storyline connections! I was afraid Bran's efforts to conceal his identity would mean that Sam would pass by without sharing information, but thankfully, the presence of a direwolf, Hodor and Bran's condition was enough to tip off Sam.

And hey, the fact that Sam has more Dragonglass weapons makes his abandonment of the dagger he used on that White Walker a little more reasonable (though still, take the dagger Sam!).

The story Bran told of a man who was condemned for killing a guest beneath his roof did a nice job of contextualizing what a big deal the Red Wedding was. It's a shame there wasn't a way to have worked that in before the wedding. 

Jon's reunion with Ygritte went about as well as can be expected, and though she shot him full of arrows, I'm pretty sure he's right about how she feels about him (she did confront him alone, and we know she's a better shot - I took those arrows to be an indication of just how pissed she is at him for leaving rather than a genuine attempt to kill him, but maybe that's wishful thinking on my part). And once again, Rose Leslie is the MVP of the Jon/Wildlings scenes, as she says a lot with very little words thanks simply to her performance.

With Mormont dead, leaving the Nights Watch without a Lord Commander and Jon (who was being groomed for that position by Mormont) back at Castle Black, what's the over/under on how long before he's named commander?

Dragonstone
Even more storyline connections! Stannis receives word of the impending threat of the White Walkers, and thanks to Melisandre's precognition and/or Stannis' trust in it, he decides its time to abandon his hunt for the throne for the time being and prepare to defend Westeros against the threat from the North, making him the first character with significant power to finally do something about a threat that reaches all the way back to the show's earliest minutes.

Give Melisandre credit: whether her religion is all hooey or not, she's not a hypocrite when it comes to it. She could very easily have told Stannis about the threat to the North and still insisted he kill Davos, but either out of genuine fear of the threat (which requires Davos to fight) or devotion to her visions of the future, she passed along what she saw and kept Davos alive.

I wonder if that's the last we'll see of Gendry for awhile, or if we'll be following his storyline next season as well.

Stannis' daughter is correct: there is no good reason for that "g" to be in the word "night". 

Yunkai
After a really strong season, Dany ends thing with a bit of a confusing thud. It wasn't entirely clear what was happening in this scene: is the idea supposed to be that these are the slaves who joined her after Jorah, Grey Worm and Domino Nabisco threw open the gates of the city to the Unsullied last episode? In which case, why are they only coming out now? Or are these the non-army slaves whom the leaders of Yunkai are releasing to Dany now that their army has defected to her side?

I get that the end was a celebration of Dany being hailed as a liberator, and the fact that now she has something of a kingdom, not just an army, and that the showrunners seemingly like to end their seasons on Dany scenes (that's two out of three now), and that final shot was absolutely gorgeous, but the execution of what exactly was happening could have been more clear. 

Other Thoughts
As expected, this episode, like the previous finales, was more about processing the fallout from the previous episode's big events and setting up the next season than it was delivering big moments itself. Though any episode that followed "Rains of Castemere" was likely to feel like a letdown, "Mhysa" does do an effective job of giving most of the characters a moment of significance for their personal arc to lead out of the season: Sam and Jon make it back to Castle Black, Bran crosses over into the North, Arya intentionally kills someone for the first time, Sansa learns of her mother and brother's deaths, Theon's family learns of his capture, prompting a rescue mission from his sister (and on a metatextual level, the identity of his captor is made clear), Stannis is alerted to the threat of the White Walkers and becomes the first person of significant power south of the wall determined to do something about them, and Jamie makes it back to Kings Landing and his sister-lover (and, to a lesser extent, Tyrion receives probably the closest complement he'll ever get from his father, while Dany's big season-ending moment really came last week, when Yunkai fell).

Most remarkable, of course, is that Benioff and Weiss managed to find these moments of significance for most of their characters considering the end of this season marks a point somewhere between halfway and two-thirds of the way into the third book (depending on who you ask), rather than the end of it. Which just makes me all the more eager for whatever is ahead in season four.

Though out of necessity required to bounce from place to place more than the previous two episodes, this one continued the season-long trend of strong thematic transitions from each location.

The only noticeable absences, I think, from this episode were the Tyrells. 

Tyrion: Anyone named Desmond Crakehall must be a pervert.
Sansa: I heard you’re a pervert.
Tyrion: I’m the imp, I must maintain a certain standard.

Davos: Do you know how to swim?
Gendry: No.
Davos: Don’t fall out.

14 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed this episode. All my favs were touched on adn things were clicking into place all over.
    I really hope Arya and the Hound have some time together because as it is right now, their scenes are awesome and i want more of them.
    I was hoping we'd get a bit more with Jaime returning home, but can understand the reasonings behind what we got.

    I'm so over Theon and the torture. Like, we get it, he's still being tortured. He went a whole season and nothing changed. His story was one note.

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  2. Liam Cunningham is really nailing it as Davos. He adds a lot to that character.

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  3. @Sarah: He went a whole season and nothing changed. His story was one note.

    Yeah. I get that they can only progress his storyline so far in this season, but my biggest problem was how much time they spent NOT progressing it. Like, show us him being tortured in the first or second episode of the season, so we know what he's up to, then once more midway through the season to remind us (maybe this is when he gets castrated), then a third time doing all the stuff they did with him in the finale.

    That would be enough to keep us abreast of the character (and keep him in our recollection) without becoming tedious and pointing out how much water is being treaded.

    I heard secondhand that the producers said one of their goals with the Theon stuff was to instill the audience with the same sense of "omigod, what is this all about, when is it going to end?" that Theon was feeling. Which, if true, mission accomplished, I guess. But I wonder if that was the best thing to try and do.

    @Jeff: Liam Cunningham is really nailing it as Davos.

    Definitely. I haven't encountered him in my reading of the books yet, but I really like the character, and a lot of that is down to how Cunningham is playing him.

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  4. Part of the reason they dragged out the Theon story is that in the books he isn't in the third book at all from what I remember. In the books it's not quite as bad of a thing but in TV where people expect characters to return each season they had to show him doing something this season even if it was dragged out for the entirety of it. I assume he shows up in the fourth book somewhere but I haven't gotten that far just yet so I will have to wait and see. As far as the show spoiling the book for me though this seems rather minor in the grand scheme of things.

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  5. I've seen comments about how the finale was underwhelming in terms of cliffhangers. To be honest, I don't recall any real cliffhangers from the previous two seasons — big questions or revelations and/or middle-of-the-action cuts to black, that is, the kind of stuff we see on True Blood (which I'm totally over after last season). I could just be forgetting something, of course. What did surprise me was how various plotlines came to, hmm, not exactly closure but an appropriate pause in anticipation for the next season. 'Cause I don't recall getting that feeling from previous season-enders on the show either.

    Props to the Hound, indeed. And I liked the understated irony of him knocking Arya unconscious the way they'd each earlier done to the pig merchant. I'm also in agreement that Arya and Maisie Williams are awesome.

    In that scene with Walder Frey musing on the possibility of retribution and feeling secure — a state of mind that we watching the show can only laugh at — I was prepared for Roose Bolton to take Frey out himself.

    "Ramsey Snow" is dangerously close to being the name of either a stripper or a kid detective.

    I appreciated the clarification that Ramsey was not eating Theon's severed penis

    Yeah. We know that the dick in a box was Theon's, by the way, or at least that it most likely was and factually could have been, but I'm not sure why Balon or Yara would. I get that they'd have to operate under the assumption that it could be; unless we earlier heard about some distinguishing marks, however, part of my brain was looking at it analytically and wondering where the corroborating evidence was, some family signet ring that Theon would've had or something like you might send with a finger. It's not like Westeros has CSI: Schvanze Unit technology.

    I really liked the walk-and-talk with Tyrion and Sansa too.

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  6. [continued]

    Especially since I didn't remember the significance of everyone eating bread and salt together when Robb Stark arrived at Frey's, I would have appreciated some set up of that, in the form of Bran's story or otherwise, as well.

    The scene with Ygritte shooting Jon Snow was frustrating to me, and not only in a "star-crossed lovers" way. It still feels like he turned on the Wildlings too soon narratively, particularly since he left Ygritte / Ygritte didn't take his side. While his time over the Wall did introduce us to Mance Rayder and let us see giants and got Jon some sexytime and spun off Sam into his own story, I'm left unsatisfied somehow. To be clear, I don't think it was 24-style middle-of-the-season filler by any stretch; it clearly had purpose to the showrunners and comes from the novels. I just hope Ygritte returns to the picture and Jon has enough useful information to give that whole detour more of a point.

    I'm with you on appreciating how Melisandre isn't a hypocrite, at least if she really is passing along what her scrying tells her rather than keeping Davos alive for her own purposes (whatever those may be), yet I kind-of don't like that that implies that, since we like Davos, we sort-of have to accept that the previous things she's done in the name of the Lord of Light are also good. She or the Lord of Light may still be flawed, I'm sure; between this and how dad-blamed powerful whatever the Lord of Light is given the resurrection of What's-His-Name that we've seen, though, it's hard to argue that he/it isn't worth listening to.

    Stannis' daughter is correct: there is no good reason for that "g" to be in the word "night". 

    Yup. The word "daughter" too, in fact.

    The big problem for me with Dany's final scene was not so much confusion as the swell of eye-rolling messianic oomph.

    "Mhysa" does do an effective job of giving most of the characters a moment of significance for their personal arc to lead out of the season

    Yeah. And I should probably clarify that this stage-setting, while surprising to me as I mentioned at the opening (and likewise surprising in the context of us not being at the end of one of the books, as you say), is something that I liked.

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  7. @Teebore

    Bastard he may be, I think Bolton is right to be suspicious: after all, he knows firsthand that Tywin is only concerned with the best interests of his family, and wouldn't think twice about tossing Frey to the wolves (or the fish, as it were) if it suited his interests.

    This is true, but it's also worth noting that Bolton is in a riskier situation than Frey is in any case. Once he returns to the North, he'll be hundreds (maybe thousands, actually) of leagues away from the Lannister powerbase, surrounded by people who's king he just betrayed. Frey can rely directly on Tywin (to the extent that's wise, of course); Bolton can't.

    Apparently a Lonely Island fan, Ramsey does send Theon's dick in a box to Theon's father, along with a demand that Balon relinquish his conquered holdings in the North. While Balon (unsurprisingly) doesn't give a toss about his son, the letter does get Yara into action, as she's determined to rescue her brother.

    I wonder if Melisandre will take credit for this as well. One usurper dead, one in posession of his only remaining son's manhood. Hell, Joffrey didn't get any supper this week, maybe the curse of the leeches has gone three for three.

    (To briefly return to Snow's colourful re-imagining of the final scene in Se7en, it's worth noting that cutting off Theon's "little kraken" causes major problems for Balon, because his only male heir is now incapable of continuing the Greyjoy name, and it may be a little late in the game for him to start on a new clutch of squids. Not just because his tentacle may be a wee bit too unresponsive these days, but because (as is discussed in later books), dying whilst your heir is still a boy is frequently catastrophic as boy lords/kings tend to screw everything up at frightening speed.)

    Yara's decision is an interesting one, because - assuming the show continues to stick to the book's geography - the Dreadfort is many leagues due east of Winterfell, which means all the comments Yara made to Theon about the Ironborn making for shitty land armies applies double as regards her rescue attempt. I suppose she might decide to sail all the way round Westeros to attack from the east coast, but that would take a bloody long time, and I'm rather tired of this show starting journeys at the start of the season that take the whole year to come to anything.

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  8. (cont)

    Jon's reunion with Ygritte went about as well as can be expected, and though she shot him full of arrows, I'm pretty sure he's right about how she feels about him (she did confront him alone, and we know she's a better shot - I took those arrows to be an indication of just how pissed she is at him for leaving rather than a genuine attempt to kill him, but maybe that's wishful thinking on my part).

    Personally I assumed she was genuinely trying to kill him, but her feelings for him was ruining her aim.

    With Mormont dead, leaving the Nights Watch without a Lord Commander and Jon (who was being groomed for that position by Mormont) back at Castle Black, what's the over/under on how long before he's named commander?

    That might depend on who's been in charge in the interim. When Snow returns from the wrong side of the wall and explains he was involved in a super-secret mission where he pretended to join the Wildlings instead of fighting on the Fist, and oh yeah he totes had to kill Quorin Halfhand but it wasn't his idea, his chances of getting the job strike me as rather smaller than the chances of him getting the noose.

    After a really strong season, Dany ends thing with a bit of a confusing thud.

    Yeah, after two awesome season endings, this one was a real disappointment. To some extent that's because the show is only about 60% of the way through the third book (which has at least three really cool ending scenes), but even so, I can think of at least two much more cool things they could have done, but these are presumably being saved up for early (or maybe mid) season 4.

    Really, though, the two biggest problems here are a) that the scene wasn't all that different from the one that showed Dany's march from Astapor. That was freakin' awesome the first time, but we've seen it now, and would like something new.

    The second problem is metatextual: I really don't like seeing a large crowd of nonwhite people worshipping a white invader for liberating them from their savage overlords. This is a criticism thrown at the books as well, but Martin does a much better job at considering the problems of cultural relativism. Here the show is just "Hey! This white girl knows slavery is bad! Thank God she was here to teach the darkies the error of their barbarous ways!".

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  9. @ Blam

    I've seen comments about how the finale was underwhelming in terms of cliffhangers. To be honest, I don't recall any real cliffhangers from the previous two seasons — big questions or revelations and/or middle-of-the-action cuts to black, that is, the kind of stuff we see on True Blood (which I'm totally over after last season).

    I'm with you regarding the first season ending, but if one of the show's most sympathetic characters being noticed by a giant shambling army of zombies and ice-demons doesn't constitute a cliff-hanger, it's not clear to me the term has any meaning at all ;)

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  10. @SpaceSquid: Personally I assumed she was genuinely trying to kill him, but her feelings for him was ruining her aim.

    Ditto.

    @SpaceSquid: I really don't like seeing a large crowd of nonwhite people worshipping a white invader for liberating them from their savage overlords.

    Me neither. While I didn't make this clear in my comment, it was this tint to the scene (no pun intended) as much as the worshipping-in-unison groundswell overall that made for the rolling of the eyes.

    @SpaceSquid: if one of the show's most sympathetic characters being noticed by a giant shambling army of zombies and ice-demons doesn't constitute a cliff-hanger, it's not clear to me the term has any meaning at all ;)

    Hence "I could just be forgetting something". 8^) I remembered a definite What next?!? impetus from last season's finale, but honestly more in a sense that the story — or a chapter/volume in the larger story — really shouldn't end at this point with 10 months between seasons rather than it feeling like the usual TV-show parting shot; of course, HBO isn't about the usual TV-show [stuff] or more properly is about not being about it. Whereas at the end of this season I felt like, yeah, that's a satisfying enough place to leave things for now.

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  11. @Phantomas: In the books it's not quite as bad of a thing but in TV where people expect characters to return each season they had to show him doing something this season even if it was dragged out for the entirety of it.

    And I'm sure there's a business side to it as well - Alfie Allen is probably contractually obligated to appear in X episodes per season, and if they didn't use him, they'd lose him, or something like that.

    Which, I totally understand. I just could have used fewer "check in" appearances throughout the season.

    @Blam: What did surprise me was how various plotlines came to, hmm, not exactly closure but an appropriate pause in anticipation for the next season. 'Cause I don't recall getting that feeling from previous season-enders on the show either.

    Yeah, that definitely seemed unique to this finale (which is all the more impressive since this isn't even the end of a book...)and I liked it.

    I was prepared for Roose Bolton to take Frey out himself.

    I kinda was too. "And now I'm the Lord of the Towers as well!"

    "Ramsey Snow" is dangerously close to being the name of either a stripper or a kid detective.

    Ha! I vote for kid detective. Now I totally want to write that series.

    ...part of my brain was looking at it analytically and wondering where the corroborating evidence was, some family signet ring that Theon would've had or something like you might send with a finger. It's not like Westeros has CSI: Schvanze Unit technology.

    Good point. Dr Bitz was also musing offline about what, exactly, was in the box. Not having much experience with severed penises, neither of us was quite sure exactly what one placed in a box with no preserving agent then sent on a journey many days, if not weeks, long would look like, and if it would even be recognizable as a dick in a box, let alone Theon's specifically...

    I really liked the walk-and-talk with Tyrion and Sansa too.

    It was very Sorkin-esque (rarely a bad thing in my book), now that you mention it using that term. :)

    I would have appreciated some set up of that, in the form of Bran's story or otherwise, as well.

    Agreed. I acknowledge it's a tricky line to walk: make too big a deal out of the bread-and-salt thing or the importance of honoring the safety given to guests welcomed into your home in "Rains of Castemere" itself and you run the risk of making the audience too suspicious too soon. But you also need to establish what a big deal it is for non-book readers.

    The solution is probably to have worked something into an earlier episode (maybe even Bran's story), but that may just not have been feasible for other reasons.

    I just hope Ygritte returns to the picture and Jon has enough useful information to give that whole detour more of a point.

    Agreed on both, especially the former.

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  12. @SpaceSquid: Frey can rely directly on Tywin (to the extent that's wise, of course); Bolton can't.

    Good point. You do kinda get the feeling that Bolton may have to settle in for handling constant rebellion from people still loyal to the Starks.

    Hell, Joffrey didn't get any supper this week, maybe the curse of the leeches has gone three for three.

    Ha! Given the way Joffrey's luck goes, that is probably all he'd get stuck with. :)

    I'm rather tired of this show starting journeys at the start of the season that take the whole year to come to anything.

    Agreed. I'm not saying I need to see Yara rescue Theon by next season's end, but it would be nice if her journey reached a point other than "welp, I made it to my destination; time to prepare to rescue Theon" by the time the season ends.

    Personally I assumed she was genuinely trying to kill him, but her feelings for him was ruining her aim.

    I could see that as well. Either way, we know she could have killed him if she wanted, and whether consciously or subconsciously, it seems like she missed a definite kill shot.

    his chances of getting the job strike me as rather smaller than the chances of him getting the noose.

    Another good point. I'm just working off the idea that he has intel on the Wildling attack and he was being groomed for command by Mormont (and no one at the castle knows/has to know he killed Halfhand, right?) so it seems, with a vacancy opening, he might step in to fill it. Then again, that could just be another expectation GRRM wants to upend, as there are, as you point out, plenty of reasons for him NOT to take command.

    I really don't like seeing a large crowd of nonwhite people worshipping a white invader for liberating them from their savage overlords.

    Yeah, my initial problem with the ending scene was the narrative confusion and same-ness of it, but that's definitely a problem as well, particularly for the way it colors the actions of one of the few characters on the show whose actions are the closest to being genuinely altruistic.

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  13. @ Teebore

    Not having much experience with severed penises, neither of us was quite sure exactly what one placed in a box with no preserving agent then sent on a journey many days, if not weeks, long would look like, and if it would even be recognizable as a dick in a box, let alone Theon's specifically...

    I'm not sure preserving agent is impossible. The Dreadfort presumably has a maester who might be able to do some useful stuff with a small, thin bottle and some vinegar. I can see the point that they assumed it was Theon's without conclusive evidence, but aside from the fact that this was probably for narrative speed reasons (which is an explanation, rather than an excuse), it's worth noting that a) the Greyjoys are likely to already know that Winterfell, er, fell to Bolton men, making Ramsay the most likely person to hold Theon, b) waiting for/writing to demand further proof means that if Ramsay does have Theon, he's likely to start running out of extremities very quickly, and c) this is exactly the kind of underhanded, vicious move Balon Greyjoy might have made himself in other circumstances, so he's primed to believe his enemies would do it too.

    You do kinda get the feeling that Bolton may have to settle in for handling constant rebellion from people still loyal to the Starks.

    Absolutely. I think Bolton is banking on the North being sufficiently sick of war and rebellion to be comparatively quiet for a while, though, particularly since most of their forces were wiped out at the Twins. That means Roose has the only army of any size left, especially since the Ironborn have been causing havoc on the west coast (the Dreadfort, as I've mentioned, being in the east).

    I'm just working off the idea that he has intel on the Wildling attack and he was being groomed for command by Mormont (and no one at the castle knows/has to know he killed Halfhand, right?) so it seems, with a vacancy opening, he might step in to fill it. Then again, that could just be another expectation GRRM wants to upend, as there are, as you point out, plenty of reasons for him NOT to take command.

    As I say, I think a lot depends on who's in charge of Castle Black right now. I seriously doubt it's Aemon, which leaves three obvious candidates. There's Patrek Mallister and Cotter Pyke, commanders of the Shadow Tower and Eastwatch-By-The-Sea respectively, who may have made the trip over to take command of the Watch entire whilst waiting for Mormont to return. If they haven't done that (or sent a lieutenant), then the most senior Watch character we know is still south of the Wall is... Ser Alliser Thorne.

    As to finding out about what happened past the Wall, let's not forget we're dealing with the son of Eddard Stark here. If they ask him "What happened to the Halfhand", he'll tell them the truth with the sulkiest voice he can manage.

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  14. @SpaceSquid: If they ask him "What happened to the Halfhand", he'll tell them the truth with the sulkiest voice he can manage.

    Ha! Too true. Too true.

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