You are cordially invited to celebrate the wedding of Lord Tyrion Lannister and Lady Sansa Stark. The ceremony will be followed by a reception to feature much feasting and imbibing of spirits, but sadly very little merriment.
As we approach the end of this season of ‘Game of Thrones’ (the show only has two more episodes left), you might expect the various storylines to start building towards a head. This seems like a strange time, then, to place a very low-key and uneventful episode like this week’s.
‘Second Sons’ puts most of its focus on two storylines. In the first (and more entertaining), it’s time for the marriage of Tyrion and Sansa. This is not a happy occasion for anyone, except King Joffrey, who behaves even more like an assholish little prat than usual, if you can believe that. During the ceremony, he steals Tyrion’s stool in order to humiliate him during the vows. He also outright tells Sansa that he plans to sneak into her bridal suite later that night and rape her. What a nice kid.
At the reception afterwards, Tyrion gets as piss-drunk as he possibly can. This of course displeases his father Tywin, who expects him to sire an offspring as soon as possible, right there on the banquet hall floor if necessary. Tyrion needs a lot of wine to build up courage for this. But the wine puts him in no mood to tolerate Joffrey, who announces that it’s time for “Bedding,” a tradition where the guests strip the bride and groom naked and force them into bed together to consummate the marriage. A surly Tyrion threatens to cut Joffrey’s balls off. The entire room falls silent at this treasonous threat. Of all people, Tywin has to defuse the situation by advising Joffrey to skip the Bedding ceremony. Tyrion is then forced to play the whole thing off as a drunken joke. Joffrey relents.
Later that night, as they’re left alone in the bridal chamber, Sansa musters up the courage to perform her wifely duty. Tyrion, who had promised earlier to never hurt her, tells Sansa that she does not need to do anything until she truly wants to, and then willfully drinks himself into a stupor and passes out in a chair. The next morning, Shae comes to collect the bedsheets in quite a pissy mood, until she actually sees the sheets and realizes that nothing had happened.
The episode title comes from the second major storyline, which takes place across the Narrow Sea. Daenerys and her advisers investigate the defenses of the city of Yunkai. They find that the city is guarded by mercenary soldiers called the Second Sons, whose numbers can’t match Dany’s, but who have a reputation as good fighters. Dany’s Unsullied army could eventually defeat them, but at some cost.
Rather than engage the Second Sons in battle immediately, Dany invites their three leaders to meet with her so that she can offer to outbid the price for their services. The two captains, Mero and Prendahl, obnoxiously flirt and try to sexually harass Dany. She brushes off their advances as politely as possible. They refuse her offer, explaining that if they broke their current contract, no one would ever hire them again. Dany counters that if they join her army, they’ll never need to work for anyone else again. She gives them two days to think about it.
Later, the two captains plot to assassinate Daenerys quietly, cleanly wrapping up the conflict without need of mess. They draw lots and select their lieutenant, Daario (a Braavosi), to do the deed.
That night, Daario disguises himself as an Unsullied and strolls into Dany’s camp, interrupting her in the middle of a bath. Dany maintains her composure as he reveals himself, forthrightly admits why he was sent, and then opens a sack with Mero and Prendahl’s heads in it. He says that they had a philosophical disagreement about her beauty. Daario pledges himself and his army to Daenerys, thus strengthening her position considerably.
In other, less important events:
- The Hound treats Arya surprisingly well. Or not so surprising, given that he was also nice to Sansa previously. He explains that he’s bringing her to the Riverlands (where the Frey/Tully wedding will be held) in order to ransom her back to her mother and Robb. All things considered, this is pretty good news for Arya.
- Melisandre brings Gendry to Stannis and treats him to some of the luxuries of the Baratheon wealth. On the side, Stannis asks why she’d bother if she just plans to sacrifice him. She basically explains that she’s fattening him up for the slaughter. Later, she seduces the gullible boy and ties him to a bed, which he assumes is a kinky bondage thing, until she brings out some leeches to drain his blood while Stannis watches.
- Related to this, Stannis lets the Onion Knight out of the dungeon, so long as Davos swears his loyalty and promises never to act against Melisandre again.
- At Tyrion’s wedding, Margaery tries to buddy up with her soon-to-be mother-in-law (and also sister-in-law) Cersei. Lady Olenna has great fun trying to make sense of the tangled web of family relationships that will result from all the political marriages. Cersei tells Margaery a cautionary story about another once-powerful family that tried to outmaneuver the Lannisters and was eradicated for it. She then threatens to strangle Margaery if she ever calls her “sister” again.
- North of the Wall, Sam and Gilly make camp in an abandoned hut. Sam tries to help her name the baby, which entails explaining to her how names work. (The girl isn’t exactly educated.) When a White Walker shows up to steal the baby, Sam futilely tries to fight it off, only to have it smash his sword and shove him aside. Sam launches himself at the monster again anyway, using the only weapon he has left, the old “dragonglass” knife he’d found at the Fist of the First Men. The dagger apparently has magical properties, as it causes the Walker to freeze in its tracks, turn to ice and explode. This will no doubt prove important later.
All in all, there’s nothing really wrong with this episode, but it’s also not terribly exciting. I expect things to pick up in the final two episodes of the season, however. At least, I should hope so.