It’s an interesting dynamic that some twins have: they can look exactly alike and be treated exactly alike by those around them, but they are separate and unique entities and develop and grow along different paths. For many, they are mirror images: equals. But mirror images can also reflect the opposite of one another. Like a negative that shows the other, darker side to the image. It’s no different for Cersei and Jamie Lannister. The twin siblings have both suffered at the hands of their father, Lord Tywin. They’ve both have had duty and family and responsibility shoved down their throats. They’ve both risen to great power and positions of authority. And they’re both reviled by the people around them. They’ve always been able to find themselves united against the world, but that is no longer the case. Not after Joffrey’s death. Not after Jamie’s rape.
Tonight’s episode played with this idea of the equal and opposite of their characters. Lords and commoners. Slaves and masters. Oathbreakers and oathkeepers.
So back to the Lannister twins. Cersei has her hands all filled with hate and anguish at the death of Joffrey, her desire to see Tyrion dead because of it and her need to be in control of Tommen, who now stands to inherit the Iron Throne. But she also is trying desperately to keep Margaery Tyrell away from Tommen. And with good reason. In Margaery, there is a lot of what made Cersei – beauty, desire and a hunger for power. Just as Cersei was once the beautiful young daughter of a noble house that yearned to marry a prince, so now is Margaery. Coached by the equally ruthless Lady Olenna, Margaery makes her move to begin courting the attentions of the innocent boy she must wed in order to secure her position as Queen of Westeros. Cersei, however, is not likely to let this happen without a fight. Not when she’s drinking heavily, seeing enemies everywhere and is lashing out at anyone in her path. The little Tyrell girl will not find an easy target in the woman who sees in her all she hates.
As for Jamie, he’s confronting himself, his legacy and he’s not liking what he sees. The man who has been known as “The Kingslayer” for almost a generation is perhaps not happy to be that anymore. Ostracized by his family, disowned by his father and still robbed of his old self due to his lost hand, Jamie finds that the only person who truly understands him is Brienne of Tarth. Brienne “The Beauty” or “that cow” as Cersei calls her, who carries herself with far more gallantry and honor than any knight in the realm. In her, Jamie sees the knight he should have been and could have been if not for his father and his sister and the Mad King.
So instead of doing as his sister asks and finding Sansa Stark to kill and behead her, he bequeaths the Valyrian steel sword his father gave him to Brienne along with a new set of armor and a squire (Tyrion’s friend, Podrick Payne) and bids her keep the vow that they both made to the late Catelyn Stark: find her daughters and restore them to safety. Neither of them know the truth of Sansa’s fate – a reluctant passenger aboard Littlefinger’s ship as he heads to The Eyrie — but that stops neither from this path they take. Because Brienne is rightful and true and Jamie was once as well and yearns for it. And in that truth, their relationship lies.
Meanwhile, the relationship between Danaerys and the slaves of the Free Cities has reached the point where she can command free slaves to break into a city, arm other slaves still in bondage and these slaves will in turn rebel and kill their masters for her. Such is the power of her position now. She’s changing the way of the world for thousands held in chains, which should not be a surprise. In them, Dany sees a lot of the old, young, frightened girl she was. The girl that never had a home, that was abused by her brother and was sold to Khal Drogo and could never imagine herself as queen. She was denied her freedom and now strides the earth freeing those who have taken homes from others, who’ve abused them and sold them and tortured them. So as the slave masters crucified 163 slave children for her to see, she know has 163 of them crucified in the same fashion. She brings justice to those who’ve lived their lives being unjust towards others. It’s a lofty set of ideals to try to embody.
Lofty ideals are all that remain of the Night’s Watch. The brotherhood is now the home of cutthroats and murderers and rapists who all opted to take the black to avoid the punishment they were due. But these are the men who must guard the Realms of Men from what is coming. And in their midst, Jon Snow is finding his place. He’s earning their respect and their trust. He speaks and they listen. This turns the stomach of Ser Alliser Thorne, the current acting commander of the Night’s Watch. The man who would lead the Sworn Brothers hates everything Jon Snow is because it is everything he is not. Jon speaks and his words carry weight. Alliser Thorne shouts and people stand mute as if he’s not worth hearing.
Listening to Janos Slynt, Thorne agrees to send Jon north of The Wall to march on the brothers of the Night’s Watch who broke their vows and murdered Lord Commander Mormont. Men who are no different from the ones now guarding The Wall. Perhaps he is hoping they will help him by killing Snow for him. Perhaps he thinks there’s merit in Jon’s plan. There’s not much difference between Thorne and Slynt and the depraved Rast and Gil and the men eating, raping and drinking all that Craster had stored away. They both seek to benefit from the death of Mormont. They cannot help but see the greater threats that lie just beyond the horizon – whether Mance Rayder and his wildling army or the terror that is the white walkers. They think of their little positions of power and their little places where they can terrorize those weaker than they.
Into their midst fall Bran, Meera, Jojen and Hodor. Answering the cries of an abandoned newborn, they sought to find Bran’s direwolf, Summer and have fallen in the hands of the oathbreakers. Which is a problem for them and for Jon Snow, who has unknowingly accepted the help of the newest recruit, Locke. That would be the same Locke that obeys Lord Bolton and chopped off Jamie Lannister’s sword hand and who has been sent to find and kill Bran. Can Jon save Bran without Locke finding them and killing them both?
And what of the newborn that was left by Rast in the snow? As the episode closes, we find that Craster’s bastard, incestuously-bred sons have gone to make the backbone of the white walkers’ army. Children offered up to a dark power that turns their life and turns it to ice and cold and death so that they may rise and deal more icy death unto the world. The white walkers remain the unseen danger for all of life on Westeros that none can admit or accept. Because they will come down to end all life as everyone knows it. Perhaps some things have no mirror image; no negative or equal that can stand up to them.
Or if there is, have we met them yet?