‘Game Of Thrones’ Recap: Heart Of Glass


Want more Junkee in your life? Sign up to our newsletter, and follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook so you always know where to find us.

This is a recap of the latest episode of Game Of Thrones. Spoilers!

Well, this episode was fit to make hearts shatter — and not just because of a final scene that teeters between tragedy and bathos. This episode is about old acts that haunt the present. It’s full of old loves and loyalties that threaten to tear us apart, and old mistakes that only greenseers can perceive.

One of the most heartbreaking discoveries this week is that the whole White Walker thing — the entire war between the living and the dead, the Song of Ice and Fire — was sparked 12,000 years ago by the Children of the Forest. It’s the same invasion story we’ve seen again and again in the real world. A new culture tramples an old one. Fear and avarice and desperation cause the combatants to unleash terrible violence with unforeseen consequences. It is in our nature to destroy ourselves.

When the First Men invaded Westeros with their horses and bronze weapons and began chopping down the sacred weirwood trees for agriculture, the Children used their magic to create a weapon they hoped would defeat them. They broke a man’s heart with dragonglass, and turned him cold and merciless. But they also lost control of their weapon. 4,000 years later, they had to help the First Men fight the War for the Dawn, drive the White Walkers north, and use their magic to help build the Wall.

leaf children of the forest game of thrones

“I am become Death, destroyer of worlds.”

Though Jon Snow left the Night’s King and his wights lurking at Hardhome, they’re now back because Jon’s ever-curious, consequence-blind little brother Bran couldn’t help recklessly embarking on a spot of solo greenseeing. In one moment, he allowed the Night’s King to use some kind of psychic GPS to locate and invade the Three-Eyed Raven’s remote weirwood base. FFS, Bran!


Ice to see you.”

Meanwhile in Pyke, there only appear to be a couple of dozen ironborn at the kingsmoot, and all are extremely easily persuaded. It’s the kind of dreary, unconvincing election campaign I thought I was avoiding by watching this show, with even worse campaign slogans. But Yara “A Real Reaver With Big Ambitions” Greyjoy can’t sway a crowd for long, even with an inspiring stump speech from Theon, revitalised by his new haircut. Their uncle Euron steals the show with his own slogan: “A Real Reaver, With A Real Cock”.


“Nearly dying was definitely worth it now that I have this crappy crown.”.

Like all villains worth their Salt Throne, Euron can’t help outlining his cunning plan: to head east and wed Daenerys. And, since Yara and Theon are thinking with their primary brains and not the ones between their legs, they take advantage of Euron’s coronation ceremony to steal the best ships in the fleet and nick off to Meereen first. Even with every ironborn citizen set to work building Euron new ships and weaving sails from scratch, that’s still a pretty great head start.

In Meereen, the Sons of the Harpy are lying low which is annoying Tyrion as Daenerys isn’t getting credit for it. (I’m also annoyed that it seems Tyrion didn’t to have the Good Masters slaughtered by freed courtesans, as I’d hoped.) A rather fascinating conflict is also brewing between political pragmatist Tyrion — who’s keen to ally with Melisandre’s boss Kinvara, high priestess of the Red Temple of Volantis — and the cautious Varys, who’s loathed magic ever since a sorcerer castrated him.

The rather Rachel Weisz-looking Kinvara completely rattles Varys by saying she knows what the voice in the flames said to him as it consumed his junk. Has Varys been serving the Lord of Light all along, and not “the good of the realm”?

Having barbecued the khals, Daenerys has got her hair did, and is now rocking a brown, Dothraki-influenced version of her season three travelling outfit. By contrast, Ser Jorah is looking pretty worse for wear. I’m always making fun of Ser Friendzone, but it’s one of the show’s most affecting moments when he finally tells Dany he loves her, and she doesn’t throw it back in his face. Instead, she returns his angst-sodden declaration in the only way she can: by commanding him to find a cure for greyscale because she needs him by her side.


“No, I didn’t say you should listen to The Cure…”

The way Ser Jorah sublimates lust into chivalric service to his lady reminds me of Brienne Tormund is still giving her the eye, but right from the moment Renly Baratheon showed the teenage Brienne kindness in lieu of cruel sexual rejection, she’s learned to entwine love with loyalty. The only redhead she serves now is Sansa Stark.

At the Wall, Sansa seems to have plenty of time for painstaking, wolf-themed embroidery and leatherwork, in-between plotting her armed return to Winterfell. She knows appearances matter. It’s ironic that those ladylike lessons from season one are paying off in the martial kind of way that Sansa’s little sister Arya might have wished for back then. Oh, for Arya and her Needle!

Let’s never forget — as I hope Arya hasn’t — that Needle is safely stashed away in Braavos. After Arya receives yet another drubbing at the hands of the Faceless Girl, Jaqen H’ghar seems to conclude, not that stick fighting isn’t Arya’s strong suit but that, as a former noble, Arya can never truly be Faceless. Slyly, he plans to burn away her highborn pride with a new assassination target — Lady Crane (our own Essie Davis!), a stage actress who actually gives a pretty good Cersei.

Reliving her own family’s downfall as a cruel political farce, Arya’s face seems to reflect all the disillusionment of your average Game of Thrones viewer. This scene is crucial because it reveals, even more keenly than Bran’s vision at the Tower of Joy, that history is a story we twist in each telling. And to the smallfolk — as indeed to the showrunners — Westerosi politics is a matter of bravado, sexposition and showy deaths… albeit with more full-frontal peen.


“This show’s gone downhill since season one.”

That being said, the flaunting of fake Sansa’s boobs on stage offers a pitiless contrast with the grim reality of what real Sansa has suffered. And when she secretly meets Littlefinger at Mole’s Town, she’s no longer inclined to indulge his smooth talk. She wants him to know precisely what horrors he abandoned her to at Winterfell.


His fingers aren’t the only bit feeling small right now.

But if Sansa no longer trusts Littlefinger, then why does she believe his claim that her uncle Brynden ‘Blackfish’ Tully has retaken Riverrun? Like all Starks, she puts way too much stock in old loyalties. “Stark, Tully, a few more houses… it almost starts to look like a winning side!” says an excited Ser Davos, sounding a lot like Laura Dern getting “back in business” in Jurassic Park.

D’you know what I reckon the Stark kids should do? Send Ghost as an envoy to negotiate with his littermate Nymeria (Arya’s direwolf who now leads a marauding super-pack in the Riverlands). How cool would it be if the Stark wolves massacred Ramsay and his hounds?

Speaking of: oh, Summer! This is bad to admit, but I grieved the death of Bran’s direwolf more than Hodor. Summer was the only wolf to really fulfil his warging potential, and like all the other Stark wolves, he died protecting his Stark. Oh god, the horrible noises he made as he was torn apart by wights!


Also this. Oh buddy. You held it all right! You held it real good!

The invasion of the Three-Eyed Raven’s weirwood sanctuary was truly horrifying: a reminder that walls and fires and magic are nothing to the Night’s King. Is every single Child of the Forest now snuffed out? I feel bad now for dissing their crappy makeup.

And, just as Jojen Reed knew the moment of his death as soon as he saw the weirwood tree of his green dreams, perhaps the massacre under the weirwood was always fated to happen. The Three-Eyed Raven knew he was destined to fly apart as black ash, like something from Madonna’s ‘Frozen’ video. That’s why he didn’t seem angry at Bran’s unauthorised contact with the Night’s King.

He knew this when he invited Bran for one final greenseeing field trip. This wasn’t to see little Ned head off to Riverrun, but to be reminded of the links between Starks and Tullys. Bran simply had to be in the right place to provide the psychic conduit between the distant past and the catastrophic present; to plant the seed in young Wyllis’s mind that would flower against that fateful door.

The revelation of what ‘Hodor’ means has killed more than the fan theory he was really Lyanna’s horse. Many Game of Thrones fans are grieving their own illusions that Hodor was a one-note comedy character, when he was in fact a massive hero in stature and in action. I hope Hodor didn’t suffer from the knowledge of what he was fated to do, but he does perfectly dramatise the episode’s broader theme: that what happens in the past can echo through time with heartbreaking consequences.

Game of Thrones is on Showtime at 11am and 7.30pm every Monday.

Mel Campbell is a freelance journalist and cultural critic. She blogs on style, history and culture at Footpath Zeitgeist and tweets at @incrediblemelk. Read more of her Game of Thrones recaps here.