It’s wedding season in the seven kingdoms as the first of four planned nuptials finally gets underway. Much of this week’s episode, “Second Sons,” concerns the union of Sansa and Tyrion, which turns out to be exactly as sad and awkward as you would expect a forced wedding between a middle-aged dwarf and a 14-year-old girl to be.
But first, we check in on Arya Stark, who last week managed to escape from the Brotherhood without Banners only to be captured by Sandor “The Hound” Clegane just a few seconds later. Poor Arya just can’t seem to catch a break.
We get another glimpse of her growing homicidal tendencies this week as she attempts to smash Clegane’s head with a rock as he sleeps. Unfortunately for her, it turns out Clegane was really just resting his eyes, but on the bright side, Clegane reveals that instead of taking her back to King’s Landing, he plans to bring her to the Twins to ransom her off to her mother Catelyn and her brother Robb. And if she behaves, maybe they’ll make it in time for her uncle’s wedding to one of the Frey daughters. The music swells, the two ride off into the countryside, and it finally looks like Arya’s streak of bad luck is coming to an end.
This episode also features some more sex torture, but this time the victim is Gendry, giving Theon a much-needed break. (Theon wasn’t in this week’s episode at all, but based on how this season has been going for him, it’s pretty safe to assume he’s off somewhere getting maimed and tortured some more.)
Robert’s bastard son arrives in Dragonstone and meets Stannis, who plans to let Lady Melisandre slaughter him like a sacrificial lamb. The red priestess admits to Stannis that she’s slaughtered quite a few lambs in her lifetime, saying so with a callousness that moves her up on the list of people I do not want to mess with.
Apparently, the conversation leaves Stannis feeling a bit uncomfortable, too, because he runs down to the dungeons to talk to his former confidante and BFF Ser Davos the Onion Knight, who is using his newfound free time to teach himself how to read.
Melisandre, meanwhile, is in Gendry’s chambers already getting the ball rolling. She seduces him with sexy talk involving god and religion, which somehow works, and before you know it, she’s naked, he’s half naked, and they’re fornicating by the fire.
Everything seems to be going really well, until things take a kinky turn and Mel nimbly ties his hands and feet to the bed like a seasoned pro. Then come the leeches — two placed on his torso and a third one, for some unexplained reason, on his crotchal region.
Davos and Stannis walk in at that exact moment, and Melisandre tells Davos he’s finally going to get the proof he’s been after. Stannis throws the blood-filled leeches into the fire while reciting the names of his usurping rivals: Robb Stark, Balon Greyjoy, and Joffrey Baratheon. Based on Renly’s run-in with a shadow assassin last season, we can only assume that Melisandre has some nasty stuff planned for these three.
Back in King’s Landing, it’s Tyrion and Sansa’s big day. Tyrion, in the most awkward interaction he’s probably ever had with a female, visits his bride-to-be before the ceremony and assures her that once they’re married, she will no longer be a prisoner. Instead she will be his wife, which Tyrion realizes is maybe just a different kind of prisoner. Nevertheless, he seems to coax a smile out of her and we start to think that maybe, just maybe, these two crazy kids might be able to make this sham of a marriage work.
Cersei shares a catty moment with Margaery Tyrell who gleefully points out that once the Queen Regent is married to her brother Loras, the two will be sisters. Cersei, the only person in King’s Landing who doesn’t seem to be buying what Margaery is selling, recites the story of the Rains of Castamere, which tells of the Reynes, a once-powerful house that rebelled against the Lannisters and was subsequently crushed into extinction. “If you ever call me sister again,” Cersei closes, “I’ll have you strangled in your sleep.” It’s a beautiful start to their future sister/mother-in-law relationship.
The ceremony begins and Joffrey, who can’t pass up an opportunity to make Sansa miserable, shows up to walk her down the aisle. “Your father is gone,” he reminds her, seemingly forgetting that he was the one who killed him. Joff then removes a stool from the altar, forcing Sansa to kneel so that Tyrion can put the ceremonial cloak on her shoulders. The guests snicker and Joff cackles.
The reception doesn’t get any better. Tyrion gets hammered while his mistress Shae gives him the stink eye from the corner, and Joffrey threatens Sansa with rape once his uncle passes out. In a bit of comic relief, Lady Olenna Tyrell points out how these Tyrell-Lannister weddings will deform the family tree, telling Margaery, “One thing’s for sure — your brother will become your father-in-law.”
Just when the wedding can’t get any worse, the ever-sadistic Joff insists on a traditional bedding ceremony which involves having the guests tear off the bride’s gown and carry her to the marital bed. Joffrey’s douchebaggery is especially on point this episode, and so it’s pretty satisfying when a drunk and angry Tyrion threatens to cut off his crown jewels.
The consummation scene, as expected, is all kinds of icky. Sansa takes a swig of liquid courage and dutifully begins to disrobe — but not before reminding Tyrion (and the cringing viewers) that she’s only 14. She gets down to her underdress before Tyrion, thank god, stops her, and tells her no deed will be done until Sansa is ready. The whole episode showcases what a good guy Tyrion is.
Across the narrow sea, Daenerys is continuing to wage her war campaign against Yunkai by trying to convince the city’s hired band of sellswords to change sides. She parlays with the three leaders of the so-called Second Sons, but unlike the civilized and well-mannered Grazdan from Yunkai, this swaggering, womanizing, no-fucks-giving trio seem to be less interested in actual negotiations and more interested in what’s between Dany’s legs.
Later, the three decide that one of them has to sneak into Daenerys’ camp and kill her. After a game of eenie-meenie-minie-mo, the lucky winner is Daario Naharis, the young, handsome, Fabio-esque lieutenant who had earlier been throwing lusty glares at Dany at the parlay.
Back in her tent, Daenerys’ bath time is interrupted by Daario, who sneaks in dressed as one of the Unsullied. But instead of killing Dany, he opens up his satchel, and the decapitated heads of his two comrades tumble onto the floor. When asked why he killed them, Daario explains that he thought Daenerys was just too pretty to kill and he swears his sword and the allegiance of the Second Sons to her. Not only does Dany get two thousand more warriors to add to her army, but she also gets what looks to be a rebound relationship with the dreamy Daario.
The episode’s only bit of action is reserved for the end when Samwell Tarly faces off with a White Walker, which we haven’t seen since last season’s finale. The show’s CGI department seems to have improved, since this time the creature looks truly creepy as it emerges from the woods and races toward Gilly and her newborn baby. In an unusual fit of bravery Sam draws his sword, but the White Walker quickly shatters it. Sam scrambles back up and stabs it with his dragonglass dagger, finally revealing its weakness — the creature turns to ice and explodes into tiny pieces. It seemed that Sam’s wandering storyline would slow down after the Night’s Watch disbanded at Craster’s Keep, but now that he holds the key to defeating the Others, his thread will now be one to watch closely.