40 Days. 40 Episodes. Game of Thrones, S2E3.

I think at this point, I’m more than halfway through all the episodes I have to recap before the premiere of Season 5. Almost all of Season 3 and all of 4 are in my archives already. So I’m just going to work through the next 10 episodes and get this done. Here’s Season 2, Episode 3. I love so many scenes in this one.

Craster kicks in the door of the house where the Night’s Watch are staying and tells them all to GTFO. Mormont speaks to Jon and Jon realizes that Mormont has known what Craster does with his male boy children. Jon was beaten up pretty good. At dawn, as they prepare to leave, Sam is up to no good by talking to Gilly.

At Winterfell, Bran wakes up from warging and talks to Luwin about it. Luwin tells him they’re just dreams. Bran insists his dreams are different. Luwin shows him the link of his chain made of Valyrian steel. What is NOT made of Valyrian steel? Everyone talks about it like it’s so rare but everyone has it.

This episode is super croosh (that’s short for crucial) for its introduction of Brienne and Margaery. Cat arrives at Renly’s camp where everyone’s horsing around just as Brienne defeats Loras in some wrestling match. It’s a cool introduction to the two of them (especially since we already know of the relationship between Renly and Loras) but Cat is right, they’re horsing around in a field when war looms around them.

Brienne and Loras are pretty bitchy to Catelyn who has to correct them that her son is actually fighting a war. Renly is, honestly, a pretty good leader. He doesn’t order Cat or his own people around. He diffuses the situation but still sends Catelyn to bed without a negotiation.

We have to give Theon props for standing up to his father after Balon’s dumb speech about how Greyjoys take what they want. It doesn’t get him anywhere and it confirms two more people really dislike Theon.

Shae is now determined to make her presence known in King’s Landing. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Tyrion should have cut her loose right then.

At the kids’ table, Sansa eats dinner with Myrcella, Tommen, and Cersei. Myrcella is being really friendly to Sansa who is shocked. Sansa recovers and is very cordial. At which point Tommen asks if Joffrey is going to kill Sansa’s brother. He’s a real buzzkiller. But after dinner, Sansa meets Shae who insists she is Sansa’s new handmaiden. Shae has no idea what she is to do. Sansa is stressed. It’s so well-played. That this becomes a kind of friendship is good for Sansa.

Tyrion, in my favorite clever move of his, is planting bullshit plans for Myrcella with everyone on the Small Council. Wherever Cersei thinks he’s sending Myrcella will tell Tyrion who ratted him out. Littlefinger is the only one who wants to know what’s in it for him. His loyalty is only to himself.

Loras, fooling around with Renly, is annoyed that Brienne has won favor with Renly. But he’s not half as annoyed and Renly becomes when Margaery lets him know a few minutes later that it’s totally cool with her if he wants to get it on with her brother. This arrangement really could not have worked out better for Renly but he’s understandably taken aback.

So then Cersei storms into Tyrion’s chamber and the game is up. It’s Pycelle in Cersei’s pocket. And now Tyrion has to send Myrcella to Dorne.

Littlefinger is ticked that Tyrion played him. And Tyrion reveal his next clever move: convincing Cat to release Jaime. But before they can discuss, Bronn busts in and they grab a hill person and head to Pycelle’s room to intimidate him. In doing so, Tyrion gets more of the story of Jon Arryn.

Varys and Tyrion discuss their schemes. Varys seems to give Tyrion real respect for his tactics. I had forgotten about Varys’s riddle: the three great men and the sellsword in a room; who lives and dies? “Power resides where men believe it resides,” Varys tells him. That dude is wise.

On the road to the Wall, all the new recruits sleep while Arya polishes her sword. Yoren can’t sleep either. So they have one of those quiet, philosophical talks. I mean, the characters in this show can either have a 20 minute discussion about life and death or they just say, “we’ll talk later.” There’s nothing in between. Yoren rests for about 2 seconds and a horn sounds. Yoren tells Gendry and Arya to hang back while everyone else rushes outside to fight the King’s Guard. Or City Guard. Or whatever. Oh yeh, they’re from Tywin’s army.

Yoren gives better than he gets but he gets it in the end. As the recruits scatter, Arya frees Jaqen and the criminals he’s imprisoned with. Then that jerk steals Needle from her. And they all get rounded up to go back to Harrenhal.