As we did last season and so far this season, we’ve put together a list of scenes, references, and characters that deserve a special comment or mention. There’s no way we got all the good stuff (and we might be wrong on some of the things we’ve left below)—so please help expand our appendix.
“Is that Estermont?” “Tarth, Ser Jaime. The Sapphire Isle.”
Estermont is a small island off the east coast of Westeros in the Stormlands. Its ruling family, House Estermont, declared for Renly Baratheon and then for Stannis on his death.
“This ship’s sailing to Oldtown. We’ll get off earlier, not far from Sunspear.”
Oldtown, the second-largest city in Westeros, is located in the far southwest of the country. Ruled by House Hightower, bannermen of House Tyrell, it was once the seat of the High Septon; now, it houses the Citadel, the school at which all maesters are taught.
“In the days before the Targaryens, the Faith Militant dispensed the justice of the Seven.” “I’m afraid the Faith Militant was disarmed more than two centuries ago.”
During the reign of Aegon the Conqueror’s son Aenys, pious devotees of the Faith of the Seven rebelled against what they saw as slights against the faith—specifically, the Targaryen practices of polygamy and incest.
The rebellion took the form of uprisings by the Faith Militant, the paramilitary wing of the faith—think Templars or Cathars—consisting of the highborn Warrior’s Sons and the common Poor Fellows. The rebellion lasted through Aenys’ successor, Maegor the Cruel, before it was finally suppressed by King Jaehaerys I, who provided amnesty to members of the disbanded Faith Militant army and pledged the crown to serve as defenders of the faith—significantly merging the powers of the throne and the sept. The Faith Militant hasn’t existed since, and the Faith of the Seven has been, for the 200 years since, largely irrelevant as a political or military power.
“A bastard by some tavern slut.” “Perhaps. But that wasn’t Ned Stark’s way.”
After bringing Jon to Winterfell as his bastard shortly following the death of his sister Lyanna and the end of Robert’s Rebellion, Ned refused to name Jon’s mother. As a consequence a variety of rumors circulate concerning Jon Snow’s parentage, largely circulating around the time Ned spent at Starfall, House Dayne’s seat in in Dorne, where he traveled to break the news that his band of knights had killed the great Ser Arthur Dayne in an unsuccessful attempt to rescue Lyanna from the Tower of Joy. Ned apparently told King Robert that Jon was the product of an affair with a servant of the Daynes named Wylla; Catelyn suspected that Jon’s mother was Lady Ashara Dayne, the beautiful noblewoman who killed herself around the time Ned was at Starfall. Yet another theory holds that Jon’s mother was the daughter of a fisherman who’d sailed him from the Vale to the North during the war.
Ned’s odd silence about Jon’s mother’s identity has led to other speculation, heavily hinted at in the books but much less so in the series—at least until this episode.
“Lord Ashwood...Lady Caulfield...Lord Smallwood.” “Never heard of these people.”
House Ashwood is most notable for once having held Wolf’s Den, a formerly strategically important fortress at the mouth of the White Knife south of Winterfell. House Smallwood is a noble family from the Riverlands that once produced a Hand of the King, Myles Smallwood. House Caulfield...I don’t know her.
“How many men does this Lord Maisen have to send us?” “More than Lord Whibbley.”
No clue which houses these are either.
“Everyone advised me to send you to the Ruins of Valyria, to live out your short life with the Stone Men before your sickness spread throughout the castle.”
The Valyrian Freehold was an empire that stretched across Essos for millennia but was laid to waste by a catastrophic volcanic and/or seismic event of unknown cause some 400 years before the events of the show. The source of much of the culture of the Nine Free Cities—and the original home of the Targaryn dynasty, Valyria is now a still-smoking and supposedly cursed or haunted ruin in the sea between Volantis and Slaver’s Bay. The Stone Men, contra Stannis, are further north, along the Rhoyne River, in another supposedly cursed ruined city called Chroyane (which the Valyrians themselves ruined).
“Your aunt Lyanna...I saw her once. I was a boy, living with your mother’s family. Lord Whent had a great tourney at Harrenhal. Everyone was there—the Mad King, your father, Robert Baratheon. Lyanna, she was already promised to Robert.”
In the minds of most nobles, this tournament was the beginning of the power struggle that opened with Robert’s Rebellion and reached an apex in the War of Five Kings. One echo to be aware of: Harrenhall is the largest castle in Westeros (it’s where Tywin was garrisoned during the war, taking Arya as his cupbearer), and one of the most famous, and it now belongs to Littlefinger, who was awarded it by Cersei.
“When Rhaegar won, everyone cheered for their prince. I remember the crowd was laughing when he took of his helmet and they saw that silver hair, and how handsome he was. Until he rode right past his wife, Elia Martell, and all the smiles died. I’ve never seen so many people so quiet. He rode past his wife, and he lay a crown of winter roses in Lyanna’s lap, blue as frost.”
Just so we’re clear on the family relations: Rhaegar is Daenerys’ older brother. Elia is Oberyn the Red Viper (and Prince Doran)‘s sister. Lyanna is Ned’s sister and Sansa’s aunt
“How many tens of thousands had to die because Rhaegar chose your aunt?” “Yes, he chose her, and kidnapped her, and raped her.”
This is a pregnant pause! For a bunch of reasons.
“He’s the finest military commander in Westeros.”
If this is true, it’s as much by literal process of elimination than anything else: With Robb, Tywin, Robert, and Jon Arryn all dead, and Barristan Selmy now in Essos, who else is left? Samwell Tarly’s father Randyll (who commanded Mace Tyrell’s vanguard and is regarded across Westeros as one of its greatest soldiers), Kevan Lannister (who might be a better battlefield commander than his older brother by virtue of more experience), maybe Jon Snow (who of course only really has one battle on his resume)? Maybe Catelyn’s uncle Brynden Tully? So, yeah, sure: Stannis is the best military commander.
“Accent gave me away? Flea Bottom, whelped and whipped.”
Finally, the Sand Snakes: Nymeria, Obara, and Tyene Sand, the three beloved bastard daughters of the Red Viper Oberyn Martell (and not the only three). Well-known and liked in Dorne, especially by the commoners (Obara, the oldest, is the product of an assignation with a Dornish peasant), the Sand Snakes are, like their father, fearsome, violent, and unpredictable. In a sort of Ninja Turtles twist, each has a favorite weapon: Obara, like her father, the spear; Nymeria, like her Volantine mother, the bullwhip; Tyene, also like her father, various poisons.
“When I was a child, Oberyn came to take me to court. I’d never seen this man, and yet he called himself my father. My mother wept, saying I was too young, and a girl. Oberyn tossed his spear at my feet and said, ‘girl or boy, we fight our battles. But the Gods let us choose our weapons.’ My father pointed to the spear, and to my mother’s tears. I made my choice long ago.”
“You’re going the wrong way. My sister’s in Westeros. Westeros is west. We’re heading east.”
Uhh well here’s a question: You’re on the Rhoyne river, which heads north-south. How are you heading east at all?