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Synopsis

"Your flock gets smaller every year."

Samwell Tarly struggles to build a fire to warm Gilly and her infant. His lack of know-how confirms what Gilly suspected; Sam is highborn. He tells her what to expect once they reach Castle Black and at Gilly's request, sings a song to lull her baby to sleep.

North of Winterfell, Osha and Meera Reed bicker until Bran Stark demands they stop: They must work together to make it to the Wall. As Jojen, asleep nearby, begins to twitch uncontrollably, Meera expertly tends to her brother's fit. She explains, "The visions take their toll." Jojen awakes and shares his dream-Jon Snow was on the wrong side of the Wall.

Tormund Giantsbane notes the growth of trees close to the Wall, and remarks there used to be no such cover; the Night's Watch would come out each morning with axes. Intimidated by the expansive sheet of ice, Jon Snow admits to Ygritte he's afraid. Her own fears are overshadowed by excitement; she's waited her entire life for this climb. Ygritte tells Jon she knows his loyalty still lies with the Night's Watch, and she doesn't care. Neither of their armies will ensure their survival, she reasons. The lovers pledge to never betray each other.

"Our god is the one true god. And all men must serve him."

Arya Stark practices her archery at the Brotherhood's hideout. She fires an arrow for Joffrey, Cersei and Ilyn Payne, hitting the straw target each time. As Anguy coaches her, Arya notices riders approaching the camp. Thoros of Myr meets the visitors, speaking to Melisandre in High Valyrian. In the same tongue, the red priestess greets Thoros by name and questions the status of his mission-to convert King Robert to the Lord of Light. Admitting he failed, Thoros invites her inside, where Melisandre is mesmerized by Lord Beric Dondarrion's scars. She's shocked to learn of his six resurrections. Thoros explains that his friend's survival ignited his faith-he was a dubious priest until his prayer for Beric's life was answered the first time. Now his devotion to the Lord of Light is absolute.

Melisandre reveals the purpose of her journey; their god needs Gendry. Beric exchanges Gendry for sacks of gold, while the Red priestess assures the stunned boy he is meant for a higher purpose. She promises, "You will make kings rise and fall." Watching the scene, Arya is hysterical and calls Melisandre a witch.  Melisandre looks deeply into Arya's eyes and sensing darkness in the child, foresees they will meet again.

ep26 ss01

"I would have hoped you've learned your lesson about overplaying your position"

Still bound to his X-shaped cross, Theon Greyjoy is awakened by his torturer. The boy taunts Theon while he peels the skin off his pinkie finger. Urged to guess, Theon ventures the boy is Rickard Karstark's son holding him in Karhold. The boy affirms these details, only to deny them moments later: The real reason Theon is being tortured is because the boy enjoys it. After Theon begs him to stop the pain, the boy cuts off his pinkie.

Brienne of Tarth, now dressed in ladylike finery, dines with Jaime Lannister and Roose Bolton at Harrenhal. As Jaime struggles to eat with one hand, he negotiates his return to King's Landing. Bolton agrees, aware this is the most lucrative and safest course of action. Jaime insists on taking Brienne with him, but Bolton refuses. She's charged with abetting treason and must be returned to the King in the North.

"If we don't do this and do it now, we're lost"

Lothar Frey and his bastard brother Black Walder meet with Robb Stark as emissaries for their father. After obtaining Harrenhal for Lord Frey once the war is over, they demand that Edmure Tully wed their sister Roslin. Edmure refuses but Robb emphasizes that gaining Frey's men is a strategic necessity. He tells his uncle this marriage will redeem his recklessness at Stone Mill. When Edmure begrudgingly consents, Robb says he will not forget the act of loyalty.

Lord Tywin Lannister shares his proposal that Queen Cersei and Ser Loras marry with Lady Olenna Tyrell. Because she rejects the idea-Cersei is too old-Tywin threatens to name Loras to the Kingsguard, ensuring that the Tyrell name will die with Loras. Backed into a corner, Olenna consents, and in spite of herself, is impressed that Tywin lives up to his ruthless reputation.

Sansa Stark takes a walk with Loras and talks excitedly about their wedding. The two agree that they can't wait to leave King's Landing. Watching the couple from above, Cersei and Tyrion Lannister discuss how they landed in this mess. Cersei says it was family loyalty that inspired her investigation into the Tyrells, and concedes that Tyrion proved himself at the Battle of the Blackwater. Tyrion begins to suspect it was Joffrey who ordered the attempt on his life, not Cersei. Although there's a chance that Jaime will return and put a stop to Cersei's wedding, Tyrion tells his sister he "is f***ed." He seeks out Sansa to tell her of their engagement, and is forced to deliver the news in front of Shae.

Robb and Catlyn

"Chaos isnt a pit. Chaos is a ladder."

Alone in the Throne Room with Varys, Littlefinger rejoices that he thwarted Varys' plan to give Sansa to the Tyrells. Littlefinger then tells the spymaster he's aware that Ros conspired against him. To recoup his investment in her, he passed her on to Joffrey, who was eager to try out his crossbow. His ascent assured, Littlefinger declares "The climb is all there is." Sansa watches Lord Baelish's ship sail for the Eyrie with tears streaming down her face.

The wildlings tackle the Wall in a vertical line. Hundreds of feet in the air, Ygritte hits a fault with her ice pick and a fissure erupts. A chunk of ice detaches from the face, plummeting scores of men to their death and tearing Jon and Ygritte from their grip. Tormund and Orell struggle to hold on with the pair dangling below them. Orell tries to cut their weight loose, but Jon finds a grip just in the time. The lovers press on and finally reach the top. While gazing upon the kingdom below, they share a passionate kiss.

Varys and Littlefinger

26: The Climb

Season 3

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