Beyond The Wall, Jon Snow emerges from the outer gate of the Wall and begins trudging north through the aftermath of the previous night's battle towards Mance Rayder's war camp. Jon eventually reaches the tree line and is quickly surrounded by wildlings, who bring him before Mance, who notes that he is wearing the black of the Night's Watch again. Mance brings Jon inside his tent, and questions his status as a traitor. Jon confesses that his time spent with the wildlings was all part of a plan orchestrated by Qhorin Halfhand to get Jon to infiltrate Mance's army, and that Qhorin tricked Mance into trusting Jon by allowing Jon to kill Qhorin himself in a fight. Mance asks about Ygritte and Jon reveals that she died at the Battle of Castle Black, though not by his hands. Saddened, Mance proposes that they drink a toast to her memory, but Jon is hesitant when given an unfamiliar drink. Jon accepts after Mance assures him that if he'd wanted to kill Jon, poison would be the last of his methods. Mance then asks about the giant who got through the gate but never came out, and Jon informs Mance that the giant perished attempting to breach the inner gate at the hands of his friend Grenn. Mance ruefully notes that the giant was named Mag the Mighty, and he was "king" of the giants, the last of a bloodline stretching back thousands of years before the First Men entered Westeros, to which Jon then glibly notes that his friend Grenn was from a farm. They have another toast to Mag and Grenn.
Little Waiting Time...
Jon then proposes his terms to Mance: turn his army around and return home. Mance immediately counters that the Night's Watch is low on oil, arrows, and men, and when he sent his full force against the Wall the Night's Watch threw everything they had at him to repel the attack. Mance guesses there are no more than 50 men left guarding Castle Black, but Jon lies and insists that there are still over 1,000 men defending the garrison. However, Mance calls Jon's bluff and reveals that after seeing how few men were defending Castle Black, he sent 400 men about five miles west to climb an unmanned section of the Wall, and they will attack Castle Black's weak southern side as soon as he gives the order. Mance then changes his demeanor and reveals that his people have suffered enough bloodshed and that he has no intention of conquering the lands south of the Wall; that the wildlings are moving south to seek refuge from the growing threat of the White Walkers just as those south of the Wall are. Mance then makes his counteroffer: if the Night's Watch will open the gates to the wildlings and allow them to pass through the Wall, no more harm will come to the black brothers. However, if his terms are refused, his wildling army will slaughter every last member of the Night's Watch and move south by force.
Mance then notices that Jon is eyeing a cooking knife, and quickly deduces that Jon came to parley with Mance simply so he could assassinate him. He notes that at that moment his personal guards are far enough across the room that Jon might actually be able to kill him before being cut down himself, but that Jon must have known he would die assassinating Mance. Mance is shocked and questions Jon if this is what the Night's Watch has sunk to: killing a man who let him into his own tent, accepting a parley in good faith, who shared food and drink with him, and who even offered him (relatively) reasonable peace terms. Jon hesitates, but before anyone can make a move, war horns are heard from outside. Mance's guards safely grab Jon during the distraction, and Mance demands to know if the Night's Watch is attacking them, but Jon admits that it's just as Mance said: the Night's Watch doesn't have remotely enough numbers to leave the safety of the Wall and attack.
Columns of heavy horse carrying hundreds of mounted cavalry charge into the wildling camp carrying the flaming stag banners of House Baratheon of Dragonstone, and are led by none other than Stannis Baratheon and Davos Seaworth. The wildlings are caught in their own camp, resting from the battle the night before and only expecting attacks from the Wall, so their eastern flank is completely undefended. As they are undisciplined and have no experience fighting heavily armored cavalry, they are quickly dispatched by Stannis' riders, who attack the wildling camp from both sides in two separate columns that catch the wildlings in a perfect double envelopment. Quickly cutting the wildling forces down, Stannis and Davos ride up to Mance, who throws down his weapons in surrender, officially ending the wildlings' siege of Castle Black.
Davos introduces Stannis as the true king of the Seven Kingdoms, but Mance wryly points out that they are not currently in the Seven Kingdoms. Stannis demands that it is customary to kneel when surrendering to a king. Resignedly, Mance says that the Free Folk do not kneel, knowing that Stannis will kill him if he does not. Davos, however, asks what a man of the Night's Watch is doing in the camp, and Jon explains that he came to treaty with the King-Beyond-the-Wall. Jon says that he knows that Stannis is the true king, as his own father died supporting his claim, revealing himself as the bastard son of Eddard Stark. This makes Stannis regard Jon more seriously. Stannis proclaims that Eddard was an honorable man, and asks Jon what Ned would have done with Mance. Jon responds that Mance could have killed him or tortured him when he was his captive but instead he spared his life, so instead of killing Mance he should be taken prisoner and interrogated. Before they leave the wildling camp, Jon also urges Stannis to burn the dead before nightfall.
Back at Castle Black, a funeral is held for the slain members of the Night's Watch, who have been arranged in a huge funeral pyre in the castle courtyard. Maester Aemon delivers a eulogy, saying that they died to protect the men, women, and children of the south who will never even know who they were, that it is the duty of the surviving black brothers to keep alive their memory. Aemon closes his speech with the customary line, "and now their watch has ended," which is repeated by the gathered men. Samwell then aids Aemon in setting the pyre alight, which is continued by Jon and other men carrying torches. Stannis and Davos look on, along with Queen Selyse and Princess Shireen. Jon looks across the flames and catches the gaze of Melisandre, who is standing on the opposite side of the pyre. Melisandre seems intrigued, her piercing stare clearly making Jon uneasy.
Afterwards, Jon enters the chamber of the castle where Tormund is being held. Tormund asks why blind old Maester Aemon patched up his arrow wounds, and Jon says that Aemon is sworn to heal all wounded men, friend or foe. Tormund asks if Jon really loved Ygritte. Jon doesn't respond. Tormund says that Ygritte truly loved him, and that he knew because although she never admitted it, she talked only of killing him, revealing her true feelings for him (if she hadn't loved him, she wouldn't have been so angered by his betrayal). Saddened, Tormund implores Jon that Ygritte's final resting place should be in "the real north." Jon then takes Ygritte's corpse to the north side of the Wall and builds a funeral pyre for her near a sacred Heart tree. Jon looks at his lover one last time and lights her pyre, and weeps silently as he turns his back and heads home.
Far to The North, Bran Stark and the Reed children continue their journey to find the Three-eyed raven, though they are on the brink of exhaustion. Jojen Reed has grown sick and and he is barely able to stand, eventually collapsing into the snow. As Meera begs Jojen to gather what little strength he can muster to continue forward, Bran calls out to them, revealing that they have found the massive heart tree that Bran has seen in his visions. As they approach the tree, wights burst up from the snow, grabbing Jojen's ankles and attempting to drag him under the ice. These wights appear far older than those seen near the Wall, appearing as ghastly skeletal warriors who move with surprising agility. Meera attempts to defend Jojen from the wights, but they begin to swarm over Hodor, who is too scared to fight back. Bran wargs into Hodor's mind and begins fighting off the wights with the aid of his direwolf Summer, but more wights keep bursting through the ice and they are quickly overwhelmed.
Just as all seems lost, the wights around Bran suddenly burst into fireballs, and he hears a young girl's voice calling to him from a cave entrance at the base of the heart tree. Amidst the confusion Jojen is repeatedly stabbed by a wight before Meera can fight it off. The mysterious girl calls to Meera and says that Jojen is lost and that she must leave him if she wants to live. Meera hesitates, but Jojen urges her to save herself. Crying, Meera slits her brother's throat to grant him the mercy of a quick death. Meera runs to the cave entrance along with Bran, Hodor, and Summer while the mysterious child covers their retreat by magically throwing fireballs from her hands at the wights. Just as the life drains from Jojen's eyes, she launches a fireball at his body, immolating his corpse and preventing his return as a wight (and fulfilling Jojen's vision that his death would involve fire).
They run into the cave, pursued by the wights, who instantly shatter upon crossing the threshold of the cave. The little girl explains that the power which animates the dead corpses is powerless inside the cave. When Bran asks who she is, she replies that "the First Men called us 'the Children, but we were born long before them." Bran realizes that she is one of the last surviving members of the Children of the Forest, the original, non-human inhabitants of Westeros who carved the faces into weirwood trees and taught the First Men to worship the Old Gods thousands of years ago.
The child leads them deeper into the cave, which is overgrown with white weirwood roots from the massive tree above. Other Children of the Forest peek out around corners as they advance. Finally, they arrive at a large central chamber, its floor littered with bones. In the middle of the cave is an old man seated in the middle of weirwood roots, which have grown around and even through much of his body. Hodor places Bran on the ground and Bran crawls towards the old man, asking if he is the Three-eyed raven who appeared in his visions. The old man admits that he is, having taken several forms in the past, but his true form is before them now. Meera is upset that her brother died to reach him, but the Three-eyed Raven says that Jojen (who possessed the Greensight, as Bran does) always knew that he would die helping Bran arrive here, but that he came nonetheless. He informs them that he has been watching all of them throughout their entire lives "with a thousand eyes, and one." He continues by stating that Jojen died so that Bran could come here and regain what he has lost. Bran asks if he means he will regain the use of his legs. The Three-eyed raven replies that Bran will never walk again, "but you will fly."
In Meereen, Queen Daenerys Targaryen sits in her throne room where she is receiving the day's supplicants. An old man named Fennesz approaches the throne, first speaking in High Valyrian but then revealing that he also knows the Common Tongue. Fennesz explains that he was not one of the slaves who toiled away at manual labor, but a well-educated teacher and servant to Master Mighdal, who employed him as a teacher for his own children. He tells Daenarys that Master Mighdal's seven year old daughter Calla admires Daenerys, having learned of the Targaryen dynasty through Fennesz's teachings.
As a servant of Master Mighdal, Fennesz was well-treated and even well-respected in the household, but when Daenerys forcibly freed all of the slaves in the city, she did not understand the full-scale complications of suddenly having to care for so many people. Fennesz originally stayed in Master Mighdal's house after she took the city, and Mighdal's children begged him to stay, but Mighdal and Fennesz agreed that he must leave rather than face reprisals, forcing Fennesz to become homeless. Daenerys insists that she had established mess halls to feed the freed slaves and barracks to house them. Fennez says that he has visited these refugee centers and they are not very safe: the young prey on the old, assaulting and robbing them. Daenerys insists that her Unsullied will restore order, but Fennesz points out that even assuming that they are able to ensure his physical safety, he has lost his livelihood and his purpose and is too old to start anew. Therefore, he has come to Daenerys to beg her permission to sell himself back to Mighdal. She is shocked that he would want to be owned as a slave again, as a man might own a goat or a chair. He implores her that the young may rejoice in her new world, but for those too old to change, there is only fear and squalor. Nor, he says, is he alone: there are many supplicants waiting outside lining up to make similar requests.
Daenerys is crestfallen, and says she did not liberate the slaves of Meereen only to preside over the very injustice she sought to destroy, but surprisingly relents and admits that freedom means making one's own choices. Therefore she will allow Fennesz to enter into a labor contract with Mighdal, but lasting no more than one year. He earnestly thanks her, and leaves. Ser Barristan Selmy warns Daenerys that the masters will assuredly take advantage of this, quickly making "contracts" with all of the displaced former slaves until they are all slaves again in all but name.
The next supplicant then enters, a shepherd carrying a bundle in his arms, similarly to the herdsman who came to show the bones of their livestock which Daenerys's dragons burned in order to be reimbursed. The shepherd timidly approaches and states that he is unable to speak in the common tongue and requires Missandei to translate. Distraught, he tells Daenarys that the "winged shadow" came, placing the bundle on the ground and opening it to reveal charred bones - of a human child. Daenerys's largest dragon - the black one, Drogon - has roasted the man's three year old daughter Zalla until this is all that was left of her. Horrified, Daenerys meets with Missandei and Grey Worm in private to discuss how to deal with the growing threat the dragons are posing to the people of Meereen. Grey Worm reports that Drogon was last seen flying over the Black Cliffs three days ago, but he can no longer be found. Realizing that she can no longer control her dragons, Daenerys tells them to head with her to the catacombs under the city. Later, she leads her remaining two dragons, Rhaegal and Viserion, into the catacombs, where they are distracted by sheep carcasses. As they are feeding, Daenerys personally locks huge iron collars around their necks, which are secured by heavy chains. She weeps as she does so, as it is symbolically reducing her remaining "children" to chained-up slaves themselves. Daenerys wordlessly leaves and closes the huge stone door to the catacombs behind her as her dragons grow distressed and pathetically call after her when they attempt to follow and realize they are chained in place.
In King's Landing, in Grand Maester Pycelle's laboratory in King's Landing, Cersei, Pycelle, and Qyburn stand over Ser Gregor Clegane, who lies immobilized on a flat wooden table and is revealed to be suffering from a massive wound centered around his right side. Pycelle informs Cersei that Oberyn Martell had coated his spear with manticore venom, poisoning Ser Gregor. The effects are horrific, with Gregor's wounds putrefying and creating a terrible stench. Pycelle says that he is beyond any hope of recovery, but Qyburn insists to Cersei that he can save him using more unorthodox methods. Pycelle chaffes at his suggestion, stating that he is not even a maester, and that such arrogance is what led to Qyburn's expulsion from the Citadel in the first place, for experiments that were deemed both dangerous and "unnatural." Cersei, determined to save Gregor from death, dismisses Pycelle and orders Qyburn to do whatever is necessary, infuriating Pycelle, who angrily shuffles out of the laboratory. She asks Qyburn if his treatment will work, and Qyburn claims that if his past work is any indicator, he stands a chance at saving Gregor. Qyburn states that the process will "change" him, although Cersei seems only concerned with whether it will weaken him, to which Qyburn replies "Oh no." Cersei leaves, and Qyburn begins syphoning out Gregor's tainted blood.
Cersei approaches Tywin and insists that she will not submit to a forced marriage to Ser Loras Tyrell. He attempts to dismiss the subject by stating that the matter is closed, but she persists and says that it is not just because she does not love Loras: he wants to ship her off to Highgarden and remove her from the court entirely, keeping her away from her last remaining son. With Cersei out of the picture, both Margaery and Tywin will attempt to get their claws into Tommen, each trying to manipulate him into their allegiance. Tywin refuses to budge, so Cersei plays her trump card: she threatens to destroy House Lannister by telling everyone the truth. Tywin seems confused, and at first Cersei scoffs that he is merely feigning ignorance. With growing realization, she assesses that even the brilliant Tywin Lannister never noticed what was going on between his own children, when all it would have taken was one attentive moment in the past twenty years. Tywin is still apparently confused, so with a merciless grin Cersei reveals that all of the rumors about her and Jaime (and their children) are true – she will tell everyone and destroy Tywin's vaunted family legacy, even though it will also mean her death and Tommen's death. Tywin shakes with barely constrained rage, but in denial he accuses that Cersei is simply lying to anger him. Cersei says she doubts he truly thinks that and leaves him standing in his chamber alone.
Cersei finds Jaime in the White Sword Tower, and he expresses disgust at her blatant attempts to have Tyrion killed. Cersei asserts that Tyrion killed their mother when she gave birth to him. Jaime is surprised that she still irrationally blames him for that, pointing out that he was an infant and had no control over what happened. He insists that Tyrion is her family, whether she chooses to accept it or not. She rebukes his claim, saying he is not her family and that they all have a choice, and that she chooses Jaime. She then reveals that she has spilled their secret to Tywin. He is stunned and concerned by her actions, asking how Tywin reacted to the news, but she states that she does not want to discuss their father. She begins to seduce him, saying she chooses her brother over everyone else in the world, no longer concerned with whether anyone else knows their secret. He yields to her advances, kissing her passionately and throwing her on the table where they begin to have sex.
In the middle of the night, Tyrion is awoken in his cell by the sound of his cell door being opened by Jaime, who reveals that he has orchestrated an escape plan for Tyrion with the assistance of Varys, who has secured a galley in the harbor on which Tyrion can sneak out of the city and flee to the Free Cities. He leads Tyrion to a stairway leading up to a locked door, instructing Tyrion to knock on it twice and then twice more to summon Varys, who will lead him to the ship. Before they part ways, Tyrion and Jaime share a tender embrace and say their goodbyes, unsure if either will ever see the other again.
Tyrion, alone, stares at the door at the top of the staircase, ultimately deciding to use the secret passages of the Red Keep to infiltrate the Tower of the Hand. He enters the Hand of the King's quarters, and sees a woman lying in Tywin's bed, with Tywin's clothes folded up on a chair. As he draws closer he sees that the woman is Shae, who thinks it is Tywin and calls out for him, calling him "my lion" as she had once done to Tyrion. When she turns over and sees that it is Tyrion, looking utterly betrayed, she grabs a knife to defend herself. Tyrion could retreat but instead he rushes forward onto the bed to wrestle it from her grasp. Tyrion manages to knock the knife from her hands and the two continue to struggle violently until Tyrion manages to grab the necklace around her throat (which he once gave her as a gift) and strangles her with it. He continues to strangle her long after she has stopped resisting, until she is dead. He sinks to the floor and sits next to Shae's lifeless body, weeping, and tells her he's sorry. He stares at the wall across the room and sees several weapons on display, among them Joffrey's old crossbow, and his expression quickly darkens.
Tyrion takes the crossbow down from the wall, loads it, and heads down the hall to the privy, opening the door to find his father seated upon the toilet. Tywin seems surprised to see Tyrion, but quickly regains composure and asks Tyrion to lower the crossbow. He correctly deduces that Jaime helped Tyrion escape his cell, telling Tyrion that they can discuss the matter back in Tywin's chambers. However, when he attempts to stand, Tyrion steadies the crossbow, stopping him dead in his tracks. "All my life you've wanted me dead," Tyrion states, and Tywin acknowledges the validity of his claim. He attempts to defuse the situation by telling Tyrion that despite this, Tyrion has stubbornly clung to life, which Tywin states he finds admirable and insists that he was never going to have Tyrion actually killed. Tyrion admits that he just murdered Shae with his bare hands, but Tywin scoffs that it doesn't matter as she was nothing more than a whore. Tyrion is angered by Tywin's indifference and raises the crossbow, threatening that if his father says the word "whore" one more time he will kill him. Tywin balks that Tyrion won't kill his own father in the privy, and again tries to convince Tyrion that they should continue to discuss this in his chambers. Tyrion says he cannot go back to Tywin's chambers because Shae's body is still there. Tywin dares Tyrion by calling his bluff and mocking him by saying "because you're afraid of a dead whore?"
The moment Tywin utters the word "whore" again, Tyrion looses his crossbow bolt, hitting Tywin in the belly and knocking him backwards. Tywin is incredulous that Tyrion actually had the courage to fight back against him, and that he will die in such an undignified way at the hands of his hated dwarf son. As Tyrion reloads the crossbow, Tywin angrily declares that Tyrion is no son of his. "I am your son," Tyrion replies quietly, "I have always been your son," and fires a second bolt into Tywin's heart, killing him. Tyrion discards the crossbow as he leaves to find Varys, who immediately realizes that Tyrion has done something terrible, exclaiming "What have you done?" Nonetheless, he leads Tyrion out of the castle to the docks where Tyrion is stowed away inconspicuously in a crate aboard the ship. Varys begins walking back towards the Red Keep but stops when he hears the bells begin to toll, signaling the discovery of Tywin's body. Realizing that returning to the castle is likely unsafe, Varys turns around and heads back for the ship, sitting next to Tyrion's crate in silence as they cast off for Essos.
In the Vale, Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne are heading towards the Bloody Gate when they happen upon Arya Stark practicing her water dancing while Sandor Clegane is off relieving himself, both returning from the Eyrie after receiving words of Lysa Arryn's death. Brienne and Arya converse for a moment, both showing respect for one another as they are both women who have fought against what has been expected of them their entire lives. They are interrupted by the return of the Hound, who is immediately recognized by Podrick, causing Brienne to realize that the girl is Arya. Brienne tells Arya of her sacred vow to protect her mother, although she failed to do so because she was sent by her mother to return Jaime Lannister. The Hound immediately accuses Brienne of working for the Lannisters, noticing her Valyrian steel sword Oathkeeper, which Brienne admits was given to her by Jaime, frightening Arya into thinking that Brienne is working for the Lannisters. Brienne implores Arya to come with her to safety, causing the Hound to mock Brienne, pointing out that there is no "safety" for Arya anymore: her aunt Lysa Arryn in the Eyrie – whom Brienne and Podrick are seeking out – is dead, as are her father, mother, and older brother, while the Stark armies are scattered and Winterfell is a smoking ruin. They draw swords and begin fighting, both eventually disarming each other and resorting to brutally fighting each other in hand-to-hand combat. Ultimately, Brienne gains the upper hand (by biting off a chunk of Sandor's ear) and knocks him down a cliff side. Brienne goes to search for Arya, who slipped away during the melee and has hidden herself amongst the rock formations. As Brienne and Podrick search the surrounding area for Arya in vain, Arya makes her way down the cliff side to find the Hound badly wounded. He tells her that unless there is a maester miraculously on hand to tend to his wounds, he's finished. Sandor tells her to kill him and scratch another name off her list, but she just sits and stares at him silently. He grows angry and begins recounting running down the butcher's boy and how he should have raped Sansa in King's Landing in an attempt to goad Arya into killing him in anger, but she remains silent. Sandor finally begs her to kill him and put him out of his misery, but she quietly refuses and takes his money purse, leaving him screaming at her to kill him as she silently walks away.
Arya rides a horse to the nearby coast of the Vale, where she sees a wharf with ships docked. She approaches a captain and asks if she can pay for travel to the North, but he says that they won't go there because these days the North is full of war, cold, and pirates. Instead, the ship is going "home": to the Free City of Braavos. Arya remembers the special coin that the Faceless Man known as Jaqen H'ghar gave her, and instructed her to present to any man from Braavos if she needed aid. She does so now, and the captain is utterly surprised at how she obtained it, but she says only "Valar morghulis" (as Jaqen instructed), to which the captain gives the traditional response, "Valar dohaeris." He warmly welcomes her aboard the ship, and insists that she will have her own cabin. As the ship casts off, Arya stands aboard the ship and watches as the shore of Westeros shrinks further and further away. She then moves to the prow of the ship, looking forward across the Narrow Sea in the direction of the Free Cities and Braavos.
Jon Snow arrives at Mance's camp and both of them come up with suggested peaceful solutions to the conflict. However Stannis turns up with a vast army which defeats the Wildlings. Jon acknowledges him but requests fair play for Mance who treated him well when he was his prisoner. At King's Landing Cersei is threatening to go public about herself and Jaime if Tywin insists on marrying her to Loras but they are overtaken by events when Tyrion escapes, helped by Jaime and Lord Varys, and kills Tywin and the faithless Shae whom he finds in his father's bed. Hidden in a large crate he is lifted aboard a ship to leave King's Landing with Varys. Daenerys is seeing supplicants, one of whom presents her with the corpse of his child, killed by her escaped dragon Drogon. Aware that her dragons are now a menace she locks up the other two. Bran and his friends reach the tree and the three-eyed raven but are attacked by Wights, who kill Jojen. The remaining party is led to safety in a cave by a ...
PETER DINKLAGE ( Tyrion Lannister )
KIT HARINGTON ( Jon Snow )
NIKOLAJ COSTER-WALDAU ( Jaime Lannister )
LENA HEADEY ( Cersei Lannister )
EMILIA CLARKE ( Daenerys Targaryen )