'Game of Thrones' Season 3 episode 4 recap: 'And Now His Watch Is Ended'

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"Game of Thrones" took the momentum it picked up in last week's episode "Walk of Punishment" and continued it in this week's "And Now His Watch Is Ended." Episode 4 is definitely the best of Season 3 so far, with Daenerys proving she's not the same girl who lost her dragons in Season 2 and Sansa becoming one of the most important people in King's Landing, even if she doesn't know it.

Jaime Lannister hasn't taken well to the fact he had his sword hand cut off, but it's the men of the Night's Watch who really suffer in this episode. Robb and Jon Stark are nowhere to be seen in episode 4 while Bran, Arya, Sansa and Tyrion have limited screentime, but "And Now His Watch Is Ended" propels forward major Season 3 storylines even if it doesn't use major characters to do so.

Here's what happened in "Game of Thrones" Season 3, episode 4, "And Now His Watch Is Ended":

On the Kingsroad

Jaime Lannister is not faring well following the loss of his hand in "Walk of Punishment." After a brief spout of rebellion where he tries to fight off Locke's men using a sword in his left hand, Jaime finally admits to Brienne that he's ready to die. She calls him a coward for giving up and tells him that he's not allowed to cave so easily. "You have a taste, a taste of the real world where people have important things taken from them and you whine and cry and quit," she tells him. "You sound like a bloody woman." Brienne then asks him why he lied for her to stop Locke's men from raping her, as her home of Tarth is known for the sapphire color of its waters, not the fact that it's rich in the gemstone like he claimed. Jaime doesn't answer, and both the audience and Brienne are left wondering.

lady-olenna-game-of-thrones.jpgIn King's Landing

The plot is thickening in King's Landing. Much of "And Now His Watch Is Ended" takes place in the capitol of Westeros, but it doesn't focus on the characters we've come to think of as the central ones there. Sansa turns out to be a pawn in many people's plans, as there's a lot of concern about the fact Littlefinger seemingly plans to steal her away from the city. Ros presents Varys with evidence that proves Petyr Baelish is planning to bring Sansa away with him when he leaves to woo Lady Lysa Arryn. Once he learns that, Varys goes to speak with Lady Olenna because he knows she had met with Sansa.

Seeing Varys and Olenna match wits was definitely a high point of the episode. They are equally manipulative and smarter than they look, and quickly recognize their similarities. When Varys reveals why it would be awful if Littlefinger took Sansa -- if Robb dies, Sansa would be the Queen of the North and Littlefinger would have control of the North's army -- they come up with a possible solution. That solution isn't presented until Margaery goes and meets with Sansa. Margaery suggests that, when she marries Joffrey and becomes queen, Sansa can marry Loras and go live with him in Highgarden.

Sansa is moved by this chance for escape, and she clearly is thrilled by the idea that she and Margaery could become "sisters." What she doesn't see if that she's a pawn who has other players moving her around, seemingly for her own well-being but also for the good of Westeros. It also becomes clearer why Ros warned Shae of Littlefinger, because Varys describes the former Master of Coin to Olenna as someone who "would see this country burn if he could be king of the ashes."

The hilarious storyline about Pod's unexpected sexual prowess that began in "Walk of Punishment" continues in this episode. During his conversation with Ros, Varys tries to understand what exactly Tyrion's squire did to the prostitutes he had sex with to make them consider him so "extraordinary." This recurring joke is almost as funny as the fact Tywin is writing every time someone comes to meet with him, which happens again in "And Now His Watch Is Ended."

This time it's Cersei who has come to see her father, reprimanding him for not putting enough faith in her just like her brother Tyrion did. Cersei views herself as the son Tywin should have had, though he doesn't see it that way. When he asks her to prove her worth, Cersei says she thinks the Tyrells are a problem because Margaery has Joffrey under her thumb. Tywin, however, thinks this is a good thing. He then shuts Cersei down, echoing Tyrion's earlier sentiments by saying she's not as smart as she thinks she is. Tywin reprimands Cersei for not being able to keep her son under control, and tells his daughter that he'll be able to keep the king in line.

It seems as though Margaery is already doing just that, though. Joffrey takes Margaery on an unsavory date around the Great Sept of Baelor, showing her the many places where people are entombed. She acts enraptured by it and plays into his twisted nature, and Cersei -- who is accompanying the couple along with Lady Olenna -- takes notice. Margaery continues to counter every threat or insinuation Joffrey levels at her with the proper response to calm him down, and even gets him to venture out onto the Great Sept's steps to greet the people of King's Landing. Cersei tries to stop him but Joffrey ignores her, clearly basking in the way his people cheer for him. "If you give them your love, they'll return it a thousandfold," Margaery advises, and it seems like Joffrey will start really paying attention to her advice.

One of the most interesting moments in the King's Landing scenes comes when Varys reveals to Tyrion how he became a eunuch. Tyrion had come to Varys for proof that Cersei had tried to kill him at the Battle of Blackwater, but what the former acting Hand of the King gets instead is the tale of how a sorcerer purchased Varys as a boy and cut off his manhood for the sake of magic. When the sorcerer burned Varys' parts, he heard a voice answer. "Was it a god? A demon? A conjurer's trick? I don't know, but the sorcerer called and a voice answered," Varys recalls. The lesson here? For Tyrion to wait patiently to get his revenge like Varys did. Though it took years, Varys has finally captured the sorcerer who purchased him and has him shipped to King's Landing like cargo so Varys can now have his way with him. Chilling, and very telling about the nature of a mysterious character like Varys.

North of the Wall

The men of the Night's Watch are in an even worse situation at Craster's Keep in this episode than they were in the last. They're starving, forced to perform Craster's chores, and one of them even dies after suffering from a broken foot. This leads to some major dissent in Lord Commander Jeor Mormont's camp, but he either doesn't notice, thinks he can contain it or just ignores it.

Whatever his reason, Mormont should have done something to control his men. After Rast claims that Craster has a larder that he's keeping secret from their group, one man finally snaps and calls Craster a "bastard," stabbing him through the head and killing him. Mormont tries to stop the Night's Watch men from causing more havoc, but Rast stabs him in the back. Mormont tries to strangle Rast to death, but dies before he is able to.

Sam manages to escape and rescue Gilly from the ensuing carnage. They get away from Craster's camp, but not before Rast notices and threatens to come after him next.

bran-game-of-thrones.jpgNorth of Winterfell

There's not much Bran this episode beyond a crow dream he has with Jojen. When Jojen informs Bran that he needs to go after the three-eyed crow he sees in the dream, Bran climbs up a tree to try to capture it. When he gets near it, his mother Catelyn appears and shouts at him to stop climbing. This causes Bran to fall, just like he did in the Season 1 premiere after Jaime pushed him out a Winterfell tower. Beyond the cryptic nature of this scene, it's just nice to see Isaac Hempstead-Wright and Michelle Fairley together again.

Somewhere near Winterfell

Theon and the boy who rescued him continue to move towards where Yara is said to be hiding. After the boy explains why he decided to help Theon, Theon admits why he betrayed Winterfell in Season 2. He claims that Robb lorded the fact he was a Stark over him just by being who "he was supposed to be," and says he was just trying to prove himself to his father Balon Greyjoy by taking Winterfell. Unfortunately, Theon realized too late that "my real father lost his head at King's Landing. I made a choice and I chose wrong," proving he feels a stronger kinship to Ned Stark than he does to Balon.

Even more unfortunate for Theon is the fact that this boy didn't lead him to Yara like he claimed. Instead, he brings him right back to a torture room, claiming that it was Theon who killed the men in the woods and saying he should be tortured again. For those of you complaining that Theon shouldn't have good things happen to him ... well, he's not.

With the Brotherhood

After leaving Hot Pie behind at the inn, Arya and Gendry are brought by the Brotherhood to the band's secret headquarters: a cave in the middle of nowhere that neither lion nor wolf can find. There we are introduced to Beric Dondarrion, the leader of the Brotherhood Without Banners who Ned had tasked back in Season 1 with killing the Mountain, the Hound's vicious older brother. Beric seems a bit worse for wear as he now only has one eye, but he also is very confident in the strength of the Brotherhood to act as the Robin Hood-like saviors of the people of Westeros. "You prey on the weak, the Brotherhood Without Banners will hunt you down," he warns.

The Hound, who was brought to Beric as a prisoner, defends himself by saying he shouldn't be blamed for the crimes his older brother committed. But Arya, who still has a grudge over the fact the Hound killed Mycah back in Season 1, brings the butcher's boy up and names Sandor Clegane a murderer. Beric challenges the Hound to a trial by combat that will be judged by the Lord of Light -- the same god Melissandre prays to -- and also notes that Arya might be the bravest one among them

Across the Narrow Sea

Ah, Kraznys mo Nakloz, didn't you know a dragon is not a slave? Many viewers were angered by Daenerys last episode when she promised Drogon for all of the Unsullied, but they must have forgotten that no one will take her dragons. The Khaleesi might have bargained away one of her children, but they aren't creatures that are traded as easily as slaves. Kraznys had misjudged Dany all along, not realizing every time he mocked her in Valyrian that she understood what he was saying. "I am Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, of the blood of Old Valyria," she seethes at him once the deal is completed and she has control over the Unsullied. "Valyrian is my mother tongue."

Dany orders the Unsullied to kill the slave masters and free all the slaves in Astapor, and since she had given Kraznys Drogon like they had agreed, the slave warriors no longer respond to Kraznys' commands to stop. She then turns to Kraznys and utters "dracarys," causing her favorite son to burn the slave master alive. Amazing.

Is everyone done doubting Dany now? Good, because this character has never been better. Jorah can barely even look at her after Astapor is destroyed, and the reveal of all 8,000-plus Unsullied marching out of the city while Dany's three dragons fly above them is one of the best shots of "Game of Thrones." Daenerys Targaryen now has her army, but it remains to be seen if she heads to Westeros with it next.

Fun facts:

- The episode's title, "And Now His Watch Is Ended," is taken from the customary last line of a man of the Night's Watch's eulogy.

- In "A Song of Ice and Fire" Book 3, "A Storm of Swords," Lady Olenna actually plots to have Sansa marry Willas Tyrell, the heir to Highgarden who is also a cripple. Sansa, who always had a crush on Loras, is disappointed she is not promised to the Knight of Flowers, but agrees to go along with the arrangement anyways. It seems as though Sansa will be promised to Loras instead in the TV series, as Willas has yet to be introduced.

Best lines:

Lady Olenna of Varys trying to "seduce" her: "What happens when the nonexistent bumps against the decrepit? A question for the philosophers."

Tywin Lannister to his daughter Cersei: "I don't distrust you because you're a woman. I distrust you because you're not as smart as you think you are."

Varys of his rise to power: "Influence grows like a weed. I tended mine carefully until its tendrils reached from the Red Keep to the far side of the world."

Photo/Video credit: HBO