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A MATCH MADE IN HIGHGARDEN Loras (Finn Jones) and Sansa (Sophie Turner) have plenty in common.
Garden: Sansa has a date with Loras. Thank the old gods and the new that these two aren't getting married -- their conversations would be so dull each week. Loras talks about how he's always dreamed of getting married just like Sansa. Too much like Sansa -- he's dreamed of all the little details, the wedding dress. Everything but the girl. They do both agree that King's Landing sucks.
Nearby: Tyrion and his sister have a moment of bonding over their forced marriages. "We can have them both killed," Cersei suggests. Then Tyrion scores a bullseye by noting: "It's hard to say which of the four of us is getting the worst of this arrangement."
Cersei finally gives Tyrion something he's been longing for -- credit from his family for defending King's Landing during Blackwater. So he stops trying to ask everybody except his sister whether she tried to have him killed and just asks outright. Since only Cersei or Joffrey could have given the order, she cannot answer his question without implicating her son, the king. But Tyrion reads her -- it was Joffrey. And who can blame him? All of King's Landing probably secretly watches that Tyrion-slapping-Joffrey gif. Tyrion is worried his life is still in danger. "Probably," Cersei says, but says Joff won't do anything while Tywin is around. Probably.
Sansa's Chambers: Sansa is musing about her wedding. She asks Shae if she can invite her family to her Highgarden ceremony. Her family? Has Sansa been smoking Milk of the Poppy? Sure Sansa, invite your family so that Joffrey can arrange to have each of them killed as they walk through the door. Turn a wedding into a bloodbath, why don't you.
Tyrion arrives, the ring-bearer of bad news. Sansa insists on having Shae stay in the room. "This is awkward," Tyrion says, and then--
What?! A cruel cut to the next scene! Why arrange this moment so Tyrion has to tell Sansa and his mistress at the same time, then deny us the thrill of watching how that plays out? I was throwing lemon cakes at the screen.
Throne Room: Littlefinger and Varys, the yin and no-yang of Westeros espionage, have a chat. Littlefinger was annoyed that Varys countered his plot to steal away Sansa, even if she ended up betrothed to a different person. Littlefinger reveals he got payback by discovering Ros was playing both sides by feeding information to Varys. "Luckily I have a friend who wanted to try something new, something daring," Littlefinger taunts.
Varys is upset, saying, "I did what I did for the good of the realm," to avoid the country falling into chaos. But power-mad Littlefinger doesn't see beyond his own ambition, and monologues about his outlook on life: "Chaos isn't a pit. Chaos is a ladder ... [except] only the ladder is real, the climb is all there is."
We get a shot of Ros tied to Joffrey's bed. She's dead from arrow wounds, and Joffrey holds his crossbow. This is another major moment happening off-screen this episode, but in this case it's arguably for the best. Still, odd. Thrones lingers on rabbit skinning, shows us Theon getting his finger ripped off, yet offers nothing from Joffrey's fatal encounter with Ros, a character we've gotten to know pretty well over the last few seasons.
Here's what's weird: The Parks & Recreation and Game of Thrones showrunners did an EW "If we ran" game last week where they each explain how they would write the other show in the style of their show (the actual article explains it better). The Parks guys envisioned Joffrey using his crossbow on prostitutes for target practice. Great minds, huh?
FINALLY: Let's go to The Wall