There was a moment during Sansa’s wedding to Tyrion that my brother went “Something’s gonna save her.” It’s like he hasn’t understood that there are no deus ex machinas in this story – at least none that spare their characters pain and misery. No, nothing was going to keep Sansa from her appointed date with the septon and her blessed wedding day. Much of tonight’s episode “Second Sons” dealt with the relationships and bonds that have formed or are being formed by the War of the Five Kings as well as Danaerys Targaryen’s quest to reclaim her throne. Some bonds were formed. Some were made stronger. And a few were exposed for the frauds they were.
So back to Sansa and Tyrion’s wedding. Has there ever been a shotgun wedding for both bride and groom? Sansa was being forced to wed the Imp to deny the scheming Tyrells from having the key to the North tied to their Ser Loras. But Tyrion was also being forced to wed against his will and it showed. He lost himself in his wine and in his loathing for his father. It led him to nearly confronting Joffrey in full view of the court – the same Joffrey who was taking perverse glee in tormenting Sansa with promises of further degradations. I don’t think that’ll happen though. Whatever flaws may exist in Tyrion, his sense of honor and duty for his new bride mean he will protect her honor. He even goes so far as to sleep in a separate bed, “his watch now begun”. At least, for the moment, he will be faithful to Shae.
But what of the bonds that are supposed to be forming between the other Lannisters and the Tyrells? Cersei has no time for Ser Loras, dismissing him outright. She also has no time for Margaery; telling her the story of the fall of House Reyne before threatening her in order to put her back in her place. Cersei is being forced to marry against her will too, but where Tyrion is able to be noble, she cannot help but be vindictive and mean. The bond between liege lord and subject is vital for the continuance of the Seven Kingdoms. It’s how feudal systems work. That the Lannisters have shown themselves willing and capable to break that bond in order to put the show the rest of the Seven Kingdoms how powerful and ruthless they are is likely not to be trusted. An important lesson for the Tyrells to keep in mind as they join their house with the scions of the lion.
The titular Second Sons, a mercenary group of the East, were confronted with the opportunity to break their contractual bond with the city of Yunkai by Danaerys. It’s usually not smart for a mercenary to break contracts – as their leader states, no one will hire you afterwards. There’s an understood agreement between the sellsword and the one buying said sword. But Danaerys has a way to make men break with tradition. First, it was Khal Drogo. Then it was Ser Jorah Mormont. Now it’s Daario Naharis, lieutenant of the Second Sons, who breaks his company’s contract, kills his equals and swears his sword to Dany’s side. From just one meeting, Daario has broken one bond and made another one – one made not for gold, but made for love. I wonder how Ser Jorah will react to that.
Meanwhile, in Dragonstone, Ser Davos was freed after Melisandre returned with Gendry Storm. The Red Priestess took turns arousing and frightening the young smith. She’s repeated that there is power in king’s blood – blood which flows through Gendry thanks to his father, King Robert. So she aroused him and bound him and stuck leeches where leeches shouldn’t go in order to perform her latest ritual – Stannis sacrificing the leeches, one for each of the usurper kings, to the fire. What happens to Gendry if it doesn’t prove enough? As Davos points out, Gendry is innocent and, as his king and half-uncle, Stannis has several responsibilities for him. There is a bond between Gendry and Stannis, even if Stannis is ready to discard it due to Gendry’s parentage.
And in the Frozen North, a simple bond of trust is forming between Samwell Tarly and Gilly. He’s trying to protect her and her newborn child from the cold, but can’t manage to even get a fire going. She, meanwhile, is learning of a world beyond Craster’s keep. But they are kindred spirits, united in the misery and abuse they experienced at the hands of their fathers. That’s when he hears the sound of dozens of crows warning him to the arrival of a White Walker. For all his talk of his cowardice, Sam bravely steps into the darkness to fend off a monster of legend. When his blade is shattered and he is tossed aside, the boy who quietly sobbed to himself in the snow just weeks before, reached for the nearest weapon at his disposal and rushed a monster. The obsidian dagger kills the White Walker. Sam the Coward becomes Sam the Slayer. All because his bond with Gilly is stronger than his fear.
In the dead of night and in the cold of the North, it may be all that saves people.
(Aside: And now we get a weeklong break before the season’s final 2 episodes. Enjoy your Game of Thrones-free Sunday).