Image credit: HBO
FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Bronn (Jerome Flynn) walk and banter in the season premiere.
Cersei heard that Tyrion wants to talk to their dad Tywin, who has taken over Tyrion's post of Hand of the King and failed to visit him during his recovery. "I'm sure he loves me dearly," Tyrion assures himself, but Cersei is worried he's going to tattle. Maybe accuse her of, oh, I don't know ... incest with her brother Jaime, murdering the king, attempting to have Tyrion killed, having no sense of humor ... all sorts of sinister stuff. "It's not slander if it's true," Tyrion says, pulling out defamation-law on her.
So I guess they're both paranoid, though as Thrones showrunner Dan Weiss pointed out during my fall set visit, "Cersei is paranoid about people who are out to get her but they're out to get her partly because of the things she does because she's so paranoid. It become self-fulfilling to a certain extent."
Tyrion takes a walk with his bodyguard Bronn, who wants more money. The castle ramparts are being repaired from last season's battle. (It's unclear why Tyrion sent so urgently for Bronn -- he didn't know Cersei and her guards were at his door until after he sent for him, but we'll let that go). There's some lively banter between Tyrion and Bronn that seems a shade too sophisticated for the sellsword, but I'm enjoying it. "I'm a sell sword," Bronn says. "I sell my sword. I don't loan it out to friends as a favor."
Island: Davos survived the Blackwater battle and is wasting away on a tiny island. He looks half-way to zombie-dom. He gets rescued by Salladhor Saan, his old pirate friend who's conveniently passing by (perhaps he's the one hustling up episodes of Game of Thrones onto BitTorrent?). We learn that Stannis retreated back to Dragonstone after his failed attack on King's Landing and his pet witch/mistress Melisandre has been burning followers alive who dare speak against her or her freaky religion. Davos vows to kill Melisandre, which sounds to us like a real long shot.
Harrenhal: Robb Stark and his mom/prisoner Catelyn arrive at Harrenhal. Robb's men want a fight but the Lannisters have been wearing them down by keeping Robb's army in pursuit. At Harrenhal they find 200 dead Northerners. And since Catelyn set Jaime Lannister free last season in an attempt to swap him for her captive daughter(s), discoveries like this further inflame Robb's men at Catelyn for letting Jaime go. It all puts Robb in an awkward position (Mom, you're embarrassing me in front of my friends!) and makes re-capturing Jaime all the more urgent. They find a survivor named Qyburn. Despite this ultra-brief introduction, we'll be seeing more of Qyburn later in the season.
The premiere's title, btw, is "Valar Dohaeris," which is translated from High Valerian as "All Men Must Serve." It is the common reply to "Valar Morghulis" ("All Men Must Die") which was the season two finale title. We probably shouldn't read too much into this title. You could say some characters (like Robb, Jon Snow and Tyrion) are struggling with their various obligations, but that's pretty much the same as always.
King's Landing: Thrones excels at two-actors-in-a-room match-ups. Everything about this next scene is awesome.
Tyrion sits impatiently and watches his father scribble a letter to...someone...
NEXT: Tywin Lannister -- master debater, really awful dad