What a great week for Game of Thrones fans. We still have most of the second season ahead, the first couple episodes delivered terrific ratings, and HBO has renewed the fantasy epic for season 3 (save the date!). Tonight's hour, "What Is Dead May Never Die," has several characters scheming and deceiving, with varying degrees of success. So let's begin:
North of the Wall: Craster the Molester kicks around Jon Snow for witnessing last week's midnight baby sacrifice. How dare this young man come into Craster's shack, enjoy the wood-gathering services of his abused children, then get curious about how he disposes of the inconvenient boy babies?
"He's killing them, all the boys," Jon complains to the lord commander, who looks at him like: Yes, the rest of us figured that out two episodes ago.
The lord commander explains that they "need men like Craster" and that Craster's services have saved the lives of Night's Watch brothers. And, really, what else is poor Craster supposed to do? It's not like he can raise the boys and kill the girls. We're North of The Wall, not North of the Great Wall.
So now the brothers are kicked off the homestead. Gilly looks annoyed at Sam -- all that flirting for nothing. But he gives Gilly his mom's thimble. "I'm not giving it away. I'm giving it to you. Keep it safe until I come back." Their low-expectations romance makes me warm and fuzzy.
Winterfell: Crippled Bran is dreaming in WolfVision. He's apparently able to see through the eyes of his direwolf Summer. It's like playing a First Person Shooter only instead of controlling a space marine with a steroid abuse problem you're a vicious wolf. He can experience all the joys of running through the godswood, killing prey and humping Osha's leg.
Maester Luwin disses Bran's insistence that his dreams are real. But just because Luwin's attempts to become Harry Potter as a kid didn't work out, it doesn't mean Bran is wrong. "The dragons are gone," Luwin lectures, though we know that's not true. "The giants are dead." (Somewhere an HBO executive in charge of Thrones' budget mutters to himself, "And they better stay dead!").
Renly's Camp: Knight fight! Renly Baratheon watches two armored warriors brutally compete. The crown on his head, the platform, the tournament all suggest King Robert's youngest brother is very much playing the part of being king, even though he's not gained the Iron Throne yet.
The defeated knight is Loras Tyrell. You remember him from season one, when he jousted in the tournament and was later revealed to be Renly's lover. The victor is … a woman! Her hair is too short to do the usual slow-motion mane-tossing move after removing her helm. This is Brienne of Tarth, sometimes mockingly called Brienne the Beauty.
NEXT: Brienne's request; Theon's awkward position