Riverrun: Robb and his counsel meet with two representatives of the Freys, those hillbillies with the wildly overpriced toll bridge. They make Robb an offer he cannot refuse if he wants their men to join his forces: An apology (sure okay, words are cheap), Harrenhal (why not, it's got all the charm of Castle Grayskull), and for Robb's uncle Edmure to marry a Frey daughter (done, he's a douche anyway).
Edmure pisses and moans. The Westeros law is that "no man can compel another man to marry." Of course, "man" is literally meant as men-only. Robb guilt-trips him. "I've won every battle, but I'm losing this war," he says. "If we don't do this, and do it now, we're lost." And hey: What's with the Freys' retro-aviator headgear? Did Amelia Earhart fly them in from The Twins?
Harrenhal: Robb Stark's bannerman Roose Bolton dines with Jaime and Brienne. The ex-Kingslayer is trying to learn how to cut meat one-handed while the Lady of Tarth has been put in pink dress. I like that the writers know that we don't need any winks to be amused by her getup -- we know she hates this outfit without prodding.
Jaime unintentionally coins my new favorite term ("fail at dinner") while effortlessly sparring with Bolton. He's using his usual mix of politely worded bribery and threats. He's not as good at this as his father, but he's not without skill. When Jaime says that Tywin will "make time" to deal with Bolton, you believe him -- and so does Bolton (I really laughed at the seemingly random throw-away moment of Bolton refusing to drink and Jaime noting, "You do understand how suspicious that is to ordinary people").
Bolton agrees to send Jaime back to King's Landing -- without Brienne, who will be charged with abetting treason.
Jaime tries to save Brienne, just like he did last time. Bolton shuts him down: "I would hope you'd have learned your lesson about overplaying your ... position."
Ha. That line was very deftly ... dealt with.
The Wall: This next bit is a Thrones rarity. A pure action scene, with no exposition, no threats, no jokes and nothing complicated. Just exciting fun. Jon and Ygritte ice climb The Wall. There's a spreading crack and a large chunk falls away -- taking most of the climbers with it. Jon and Ygritte hang over the abyss. We really think Ygritte might die here because it's not like Thrones to pass up an opportunity for tragedy. Orell the angry warg tries to cut them loose, but our heroes manage to get to safety in the nick of time. Orell looks angry they survived. Ygritte has probably kicked him in the nuts once or twice.
King's Landing: Now it's Tywin's turn to face off against Lady Olenna. When it comes to King's Landing meetings this season, this is the AARP-sponsored title bout.
Tywin wants Cersei to marry Loras. Olenna objects that Cersei, whom Tywin describes as the "most beautiful woman in the kingdoms," is too old to have children. Twyin counters that the marriage will keep Loras' sexual orientation a secret. But Olenna doesn't seem to mind that Loras is, as she puts it, "a sword-swallower through and through." She then tries to rattle Tywin by asking if he's engaged in any such behavior himself -- if not sword-swallowing, then perhaps some sword-sheathing or mutual sword-polishing.
"Never!" says Tywin, while wearing his shiny black leather dom outfit and gold broach.
So Olenna then plays her strongest card: Cersei's scandalous incest with Jaime. He's ready for that. He says if she refuses the marriage he'll appoint Loras to the Kingsguard, a position where he will be forbidden to marry or breed, thus potentially halting the Tyrell line. He knows Olenna will never allow that to happen. He's got her. Olenna is impressed: "It's a rare enough thing, a man who lives up to his reputation."
NEXT: Joffrey uses his Crossbow