In this week’s episode of Game of Thrones, “Kill the Boy”, wedding bells begin to ring. Also, Jon Snow makes some decisions, Tyrion fights zombies or something, and the dragons get a nice meal.

What secrets do you hold, opening credits? Well, nobody from King’s Landing appears in this episode. Nobody who’s in Dorne or Braavos, either. But we’ve got Reek and the Boltons. Sigh. I watch this and Mad Men back to back, and the joy I feel at finding out it’s a Trudy Campbell episode is equal and opposite to what I feel at the reveal of a Reek episode.

We open in Meereen and see that Grey Wolf survived last week’s battle, but Ser Barristan did not. Hizdahr, the local noble who’s always trying to get the fighting pits reopened, comes to Daenerys to offer her condolences, and I’m glad to see that Barristan doesn’t have those ridiculous eye stones. Those should be reserved for the people who had it coming. Daenerys orders that the leaders of the great families be brought to her, and that includes Hizdahr. Later, she marches her string of captives into the crypt where the two dragons live. She gives one of them a shove, and the dragons turn up to immolate him and then tear him in half. Man, those dragons have a very clear line of demarcation.

She threatens to feed all of the captives to the dragons, and Hizdahr speaks last season’s promotional line, “All men must die”. With that, she backs off and says maybe they’ll come back tomorrow.

At the wall, Sam reads the news of Daenerys’ exploits to Maester Aemon, who I keep forgetting is related to her. Jon Snow shows up to ask Aemon’s advice about making an alliance with the wildlings. Aemon answers that Jon needs to “kill the boy and let the man be born” before Jon even asks his question. Emboldened, Jon goes to the captive Tormund and frees him. He offers to let the wildlings settle south of the Wall in exchange for an alliance. Tormund agrees, but only if Jon will go with him to speak to them. The men of the Watch reject Jon’s plan, but he’s in charge and they can go screw. Olly, the kid who watched his family die, confronts Jon over the decision, and we get the “Winter is coming” speech. Well, that clears something up. I kind of assumed that they were just making the alliance with the group of wildlings who wear fur but can basically fit in. Nope. Apparently the eight-foot-tall cannibals get immunity, too. That seems like a misstep.

Hey, it’s Brienne and Pod! They’re at an inn near Winterfell, and so far that hasn’t resulted in any deaths. By this show’s standards, that’s a successful stay at an inn. She meets a servant who’s still loyal to the Starks and tells him to let Sansa know that if she’s in trouble, she should light a candle in Winterfell’s highest tower.

Oh good. Ramsay. Myranda confronts him about his impending marriage. Since they’re both naked, clearly there is some vow breaking going on anyway. Myranda has not realized that her beau is a disgusting monster. Or she has and she’s into it. Probably the latter, actually.

A woman comes to Sansa’s room to relay Brienne’s message. Not the same person to whom she gave the message, so it would be really funny if everything got mixed up. Later, Myranda approaches Sansa to make small talk and then says she has something to show Sansa. She leads her to the kennels and past all the barking dogs, there’s the stall where Reek sleeps. Sansa recognizes him as Theon, the man who killed her brothers. (Or at least pretended to and then bragged about it.)

Man, I wish they’d break up this Winterfell chunk a little. This is a long time to sit with Ramsay and Reek. Sigh. Ramsay feels like Reek has a secret, and he finally admits that he saw Sansa. There’s a long wait where it seems like Ramsay’s going to mutilate him further, but he acts faux magnanimous instead.

That night at dinner, Ramsay makes a big show of bringing out Reek to apologize to Sansa for killing her brothers. Also, he’s decided that Reek will give Sansa away at the wedding. Even Roose has had enough of this and finally cuts it short by announcing that he and his wife are expecting a child and it’ll probably be a boy. This would jeopardize Ramsay’s eventual claim to the throne, of course. Good. Later, Roose shares a charming story about how he raped Ramsay’s mother, just in case you needed another reason to completely tune these two out. Anyway, Rosse reassure Ramsay that he’s still his son and they’ll have to stand up to Stannis Baratheon.

Back at the Wall, Sam and Gilly (sorry!) talk about books for a bit. Then Stannis interrupts to ask Sam about killing that White Walker. He’s impressed by the dragonglass thing and then tells Sam to keep researching their weaknesses. It’s nice when somebody remembers that impending extinction-level threat that’s been around since the first scene of the series but nobody ever addresses. Stannis tells Davos that they’ll ride for Winterfell without waiting for Jon and the wildlings. Also, they’re taking Selyse and Shireen with them because they’ll be safer marching toward battle than with the reprobates at the wall.

In Meereen, Nathalie visits Grey Worm, who’s still very weak and feeling guilty about Barristan. She tries to console him and then kisses him before laying down with him. Later, she goes to see Daenerys, who can’t decide what her next move should be. Nathalie basically tells her that she should listen to her advisors but make her own decision. Apparently this is helpful because she goes to Hizdahr’s cell and says that she’s going to reopen the fighting pits and, in order to forge a bond with the city, she’s going to marry him. Damn, earlier that day he was ready to get eaten by a dragon, and now he’s marrying Daenerys.

Finally, we get some Jorah and Tyrion! Tyrion again tries to convince Jorah to untie him and let him have some wine. Nope. Also, Jorah decides to take them through Valeria on the way. There are legends of demons there, but apparently Jorah figures those legends will keep the pirates away. Valeria looks grand but ruined – I guess the only thing we know about it is the best swords were made there. They talk about how a “doom” consumed the city. The missing dragon flies overhead, and Peter Dinklage is so great here. He conveys the quiet awe of a man realizing that there’s more to the world than he know. He’s so good!

Then things start dropping from the bridge – Stone Men. OK, I got a little lost here, but here’s the upshot. They suffer from Greyscale, the same diseased that messed up Shireen Baratheon’s face If the spread isn’t stopped, the body of the sufferer becomes grey and hard and they regress to a feral state. And it’s super contagious. It’s like a mix of zombies and leprosy. Stone Men keep dropping and Jorah fights them off. Tyrion begs to be cut free, because he’s at a serious disadvantage here. Tryion jumps in the water to escape and a Stone Man drags him down.

Tyrion wakes up on the beach with Jorah safe. They both say that nobody touched them – I’m assuming it has to be flesh-to-flesh so grabbing Tyrion’s pants doesn’t count. They decide to walk to the next village and see if they can get a boat. They’re buddies now. And then, when Jorah heads off to get firewood, he rolls up his sleeve to check out the Greyscale infection on his arm. Oh, this is not going to go well.

–I know I was kind of hard on this episode, but I did like it. But honestly, there’s a lot of stuff that I’m interested in seeing on this show, and most of that got put on hold so we could spend forever with the Boltons. I just can’t manage any interest in them. It’s not just because they’re gross and awful – they aren’t gross and awful in a way that’s compelling yet. I’ll watch the Lannisters all day, you know? And while I hated, say, Joffrey, he was interesting to watch and I wanted to see something bad happen to him. The Boltons just kind of bore me. Having Sansa around gives us the potential that something worth watching will happen, but for the most part, I wouldn’t mind if the show just never checked in with them again.

And it was such a big chunk of the episode! You just know Jaime and Bronn were doing cool stuff that we could have been watching!

As for Daenerys, I’m not sure if she’s going to fix everything with this plan. Are the Sons of the Harpy so shallow that fighting pits and a wedding will placate them? I mean, it’s possible that it will. We live in a country where people will get off your case if you wear a flag pin, so its not impossible. I guess I thought of the Harpies as being more of a religious cult as opposed to single issue activists, but maybe meeting the Sparrows and the Sons of the Harpy at the exact same time has just confused me. Still, I think Daenerys is misjudging the situation because of her experience with the Dothraki. Marrying into the royal family carried a certain weight with them. I don’t know that it means the same thing in Meereen.

Basically, I can’t tell if the show wants us to think he’s a brilliant leader or if she’s supposed to be in over her head, so it’s going to be interesting to see how this works out.

I’m also happy to have Jon Snow going on a trip. The Wall is too full of characters who look and sound alike, and I find him most compelling when he’s separated from that pack.

But man, Tyrion and Jorah really made this episode for me. That moment of Tyrion seeing a dragon was just beautiful and Dinklage did such an amazing job of selling it. This is where Game of Thrones really sings for me. I don’t usually have a lot of patience for fantasy settings (Not because I’m too cool or anything – “fantasy nerd” just isn’t on my lengthy nerd list.), but GoT is so good at finding the humanity in a world where dragons and stone zombies are things that happen.

That said, the Stone Men were kind of a weird swerve from out of nowhere. I think the show did a good job of explaining what was happening on the fly, though. We went from not knowing that these things existed in the world to having an explanation really quickly, which I appreciated. I hope the Stone Men don’t become a constant presence because they’re actually kind of silly, but the Jorah twist was pretty good. Something tells me he’s not making it to Meereen and Tyrion’s going to be stranded yet again. And it’s to the show’s credit that it got some actual tension out of stone zombies who drop from bridges to menace boats.

Next week, it looks like most of my favorites are back!

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