'Game of Thrones' Recap: Daenerys Makes Big Move

The HBO hit returns with bigger dragons, a new army, and plenty of infighting.
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Emilia Clarke

[Spoilers ahead for Sunday’s episode, “Valar Dohaeris”]

Unsheathe those swords and dust off those dragon eggs, because HBO's Game of Thrones is back.

Before we hand out honors for the episode's best moments, here's a brief rundown of what happened this week in the Seven Kingdoms and beyond.

Beyond the Wall

After killing Qhorin Halfhand last season, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) found himself in the heart of Wildling territory, where he came face-to-face with the Mance Rayder himself (Ciaran Hinds). After some tough-guy posturing, Jon convinced the King Beyond the Wall that he wanted to join the Free Folk in the battle against the White Walkers. It seems that (for now) Jon’s life is safe. And speaking of White Walkers, poor Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) royally screwed up and failed to send the ravens to warn the civilized world about the undead.

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King’s Landing

Recovering from the Battle of Blackwater, Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) was revealed to be living as a paranoid shut-in, and with good reason. He resorted to wielding an axe when receiving a visit from his sister Cersei (Lena Headey), whom he believed to want him dead. Family time continued as Tyrion visited his father, Lord Tywin (Charles Dance). The father-son chat didn’t go very well, with Tyrion expressing his desire for Casterly Rock and Tywin threatening to kill the next prostitute he caught in his son’s bed.

In other developments, Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) received another overture from Petyr Baelish (Aidan Gillen) to be spirited away to her family. And Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) endeared herself to the poor of King’s Landing by visiting a group of orphans. But is she Mother Teresa or the next Cersei?

The East

Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) had plenty to be proud of on board her newly acquired ship, from watching her dragons dive for fresh fish to seeing her Blood Riders brave the poison waters. At Astapor, she looked to be well on her way to purchasing 8,000 Unsullied soldier slaves. The show added yet another badass old man character, with Barristan Selmy (Ian McElhinney) saving Daenerys from a Warlock child’s dirty trick and pledging himself to her Queensguard.

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The North

Robb Stark (Richard Madden) found Harrenhal sacked and imprisoned Lady Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) as punishment for freeing Jaime Lannister, as seen last season. “She’s your mother,” the new Queen Jeyne (Oona Chaplin) reminded him to no avail.


A shipwrecked Davos (Liam Cunningham) managed to hitch a ride to Dragonstone, where his king, Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane), had retreated to lick his wounds after the disastrous Battle of Blackwater. Instead of a warm welcome, Davos learned that Stannis was mad at him for keeping creepy redhead Melisandre (Carice van Houten) from joining the battle. Things got heated, Davos attempted to kill Melisandre, and in return was banished to the dungeons.

We didn’t get time with Arya, Bran or Jaime this episode, so here’s to looking forward to seeing them next week.

And now for this week’s award-worthy moments:

Best Inspirational Speech: Jeor Mormont

Having a few Saint Crispin's Day-caliber phrases in your back pocket is a must in Thrones. After Sam  screwed up sending the ravens, Jeor Mormont (James Cosmo) rallied the men of the Night's Watch to return to the Wall and warn the rest of the living world there are hordes of undead headed their way.

We need to get back to the Wall. It’s a long march. You know what’s out there. But we have to make it. We have to warn them, or before winter’s done, everyone you’ve ever known will be dead.”

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Top We Love to Hate Joffrey Moment: Dinner With the Tyrells

The weazly king didn’t show off his sadistic or cowardly sides during this episode, but he did reassure viewers that he’s quite the little turd. When Cersei told Margaery Tyrell she and her son were almost killed in Flea Bottom, Joffrey cut his mother down to size.

“My mother’s always had a penchant for drama. Facts become less and less important to her as she grows older," he said. Cercie shot back with “we can’t all have a king’s bravery,” a dig at Joffrey turning tail during last season’s big battle.

Cruelest Insult: Tywin to Tyrion

“I would let myself be consumed by maggots before mocking the family name and making you the heir to Casterly Rock,” the King’s Hand said. If that weren’t enough, Tyrion's lord father continued to slam his diminutive son: “To teach me humility the gods of condemned me to watch you waddle about, wearing that proud lion that was my father’s sigul and his father’s before him.” Poor Tyrion.

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Brightest Future: Daenerys

While the Lannisters were at each other's throats, Stannis was under the Red Woman's spell, and Robb didn't do much other than imprison his mother, Daenerys secured 8,000 soldiers and her dragons were growing ever stronger. That strength might in turn help her win other Dothraki khalasars to her side.  

The Big Question: What’s Margaery’s Game Plan?

Last season, Renley’s former queen revealed herself to be calculating and ambitious – not at all a bleeding heart who cares about the poor. Is her current interest in the destitute of King’s Landing merely laying the groundwork to have the common people’s support in a future power grab?

What say you? Did the Game of Thrones season premiere satisfy your appetitive after months of waiting? Whose in danger of  losing their heads next episode? Sound off in the comments.

Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.