Where's Tyrion? Who is threatening Daenerys? Is Sam Tarly really the first brother of the Night's Watch to kill a Thenn and a White Walker? Is Jon Snow a virgin? (Spoiler: No, but he might as well be.)
As we did last season, we've put together a list of scenes, references, and characters that deserve a special comment or mention. There's no way we got all the good stuff (and we might be wrong on some of the things we've left below)—so please help expand our appendix.
"I've been promised to the prince. When will we marry?" "You will never wed the prince. You will wed the king."
"The prince" young Cersei is asking about is Rhaegar Targyen, the crown prince of the seven kingdoms and Daenerys' older brother, who was killed by Robert Baratheon in Robert's Rebellion.
It's true that Cersei's father Tywin had, at some point in her youth, told Cersei that she would marry Rhaegar—and that she subsequently became infatuated with the prince—but any "promise" Cersei believes she's subject to is an aspirational one, not a formal arrangement between Tywin and Rhaegar's father, the Mad King Aerys II.
Rhaegar eventually marries Elia Martell (the Red Viper's sister), before absconding with Ned Stark's sister Lyanna—herself promised to Robert Baratheon—and starting Robert's Rebellion.
The fortune-teller in this scene is named Maggy the Frog; Cersei's friend is Melara Hetherspoon. In A Feast for Crows, Maggy—written as a hideous, ancient crone; cast as a sort of hot wild goth—augurs two other prophecies: first, to Cersei, that "when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar [little brother in High Valyrian] shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you." Cersei interprets the valonqar to be Tyrion Lannister, but, come on, Cersei, that's too easy, haven't you read the books?
Second, Maggy tells Melara, that she will not marry "Jaime, nor any other man, Worms will have your maidenhead. Your death is here tonight, little one. Can you smell her breath? She is very close." Melara later drowns suspiciously in a well.
"He never wanted you to be a Kingsguard. But here you are, protecting his body."
At 15, Jaime—then recently knighted on the field of battle by the legendary knight Ser Arthur Dayne—was told by his father Tywin, Hand of the King for Aerys II, that he was betrothed to marry Lysa Tully (Catelyn's sister, who would later marry and die at the hand of Littlefinger). Annoyed that she would be separated from her brother, who she'd [EGGPLANT EMOJI] [PEACH EMOJI], Cersei coordinated a scheme: Jaime would join the Kingsguard, preventing him from marrying Lysa and keeping him in King's Landing where Cersei and Tywin were living.
But it backfired, as Cersei's schemes tend to. Kingsguard renounce their claims to land and title, and Tywin took Jamie's nomination as a slight from the Mad King to deny Tywin his eldest son and heir. He resigned from his position and moved back to Casterly Rock with Cersei—a precipitating event in the coming rebellion.
Originally founded as a trading outpost by Valyria—the now-ruined imperial city from which the Targaryen dynasty originates—Pentos is now one of the largest of the nine Free Cities of Essos, located on the west coast of the continent, almost directly across the narrow sea from King's Landing, and south of its rival and frequent enemy Braavos, where Arya was headed last we saw her. Much like Gawker, Pentos is nominally ruled by a prince chosen from its leading families by the city's magisters, but the role is largely ceremonial and symbolic; much like Gawker, after a loss in battle or a bad harvest, the prince is sacrificed and a new prince is chosen.
"The home of my colleague, Ilyrio Mopatis, a merchant. He and I met many years ago, through mutual friends—a group of people who saw Robert Baratheon for the disaster he was."
Ilyrio Mopatis is the rich merchant who, in the first season of the TV show, arranged Daenarys's marriage to Khal Drogo on behalf of her brother Viserys, and played host to the Targaryens before they headed east with Drogo's khalasar:
In the books, Ilyrio and Varys became friends as young men in Pentos well before they became allies in the Targaryen cause—Ilyrio credits Varys, whom he met as a poor teenaged swordsman, for helping him gain the wealth and status he enjoys. This long friendship, and an apparent promise that he will be made Master of Coin in Seven Kingdoms, are the reasons he supports the Targaryen restoration.
If the Meereenese particularly hate Daenerys, it may be as much because of her reckless and dangerous engineering projects as for her emancipatory politics. Here, she is removing, seemingly without much care, the massive golden harpy statue that once towered atop the Great Pyramid in which Daenerys now lives.
"The Sons of the Harpy."
The Sons of the Harpy are the masked insurgent group that has arisen in Meereen since it was conquered and occupied by Daenerys and her army. The Harpy is a symbol not just of Meereen but of Ghis, the once-great seat of the Ghiscari Empire, which ruled much of Essos until it was destroyed by Valyria (and its dragons) some five millennia ago. Astapor, Yunkai, and Meereen, the three great cities of Slaver's Bay, were colonies and trading posts of Ghis that rose to prominence in its wake, retaining its language, culture, and symbols.
"Why would an Unsullied go to a brothel?"
ICE COLD, GIRL.
"How many brothers can say they've killed a White Walker and a Thenn? I might be the first in history."
Sam almost certainly is the first brother of the Night's Watch to kill both a Thenn and a White Walker, if not the first person ever, if only because the last time the White Walkers were stalking Westeros (some 8,300 years ago) there were no "Thenns," as such, just First Men who would later split up into regional cultural groups. In that sense this is not a huge accomplishment.
"If Ser Alliser's chosen as the new Lord Commander...he hates the Wildlings. It's not a sure thing. Ser Denys Mallister's commanded the Shadow Tower for 20 years. People say he's a good man."
The Night's Watch must hold a vote to elect a new lord commander. The only two candidates are Alliser Thorne—the rude man with the hard-set jaw, once a Targaryen loyalist from House Thorne of the Crownlands near King's Landing—and Denys Mallister, an old but amenable commander originally of House Mallister in the Riverlands. Mallister has commanded the Shadow Tower, the Night's Watch hold on the western coast of Westeros, since after Robert's Rebellion.
"Are you a virgin?"
"Cousin Lancel. I hardly recognized you."
Lancel Lannister is Cersei's cousin, the eldest son of Tywin's younger brother Kevan. Lancel—who used to have shoulder-length hair—was King Robert's squire until Robert's death, after which he became Cersei's [FINGER POINTING EMOJI] [OK SIGN EMOJI], and then, against his will, a spy against Cersei on Tyrion's behalf. We haven't seen him since the end of the second season, when he fought and was injured in the Battle of Blackwater.
"They call themselves Sparrows. Bloody fanatics. Religion has its place, of course, to a certain point. They never would've come to the capital when Tywin was alive."
The Sparrows are members of a religious movement, bordering on an organized religious order, that has arisen in wake of the War of the Five Kings. As Lancel's dress should indicate, they are ascetics, though no less fashionable for it.
"I led you into the darkness. I tempted you into our...unnatural relations. And of course, there was the King. His boar hunt. His wine."
Oh, Lancel, honey, you didn't lead Cersei anywhere. You did pour King Robert too much wine on the boar hunt and get him killed, though; that's true.
"It looks like Dorne. That's the Sunspear bit, right there. And that's where the mountains are. And over here is... is... Sunsnake? Stonespear?" "Sandstone."
Sunspear, the seat of House Martell and therefore the de facto capital of Dorne, is located on a small promontory on the eastern coast. Not a city so much as a castle with a settlement around it, Sunspear is where the warrior princess Nymeria landed with her army of Rhoynar, encountering and marrying Ser Mors Martell.
There are a handful of small mountain ranges in Dorne, but the mountains Olyvar is likely referring to the Red Mountains, which run from the Stormlands south across the Dornish Marches and effectively separate Dorne from the rest of Westeros.
Sandstone, the seat of House Qorgyle, where the Red Viper Oberyn Martell was fostered, is a castle located in the desert to the west. It's a little weird that Olyvar would point out the relatively obscure Sandstone and not, say, Starfall, the seat of House Dayne.
Also the birthmark doesn't really look much like Dorne, honestly:
"What's your name?" "Olyvar, my lady."
Is there really only one gay male prostitute in King's Landing? That's the same guy the Red Viper fucked last season, and that Loras was fucking two seasons ago.
Tyrion's flagon appears to contain of the pale Pentoshi amber wines George R.R. Martin writes about being stored in Ilyrio Mopatis' cellar. (In the books, Tyrion chooses an Arbor strongwine of an old vintage, "the color a purple so dark that it looked almost black in the dim-lit cellar.")
"I wasn't big. But I was quick, and I loved to fight. So they sold me to a man named Tolmas who trained fighters for the pits. I had my first match when I was 16."
In the books, Daario was never a pit fighter, at least that he talks about—but Strong Belwas, the huge warrior who accompanies Barristan Selmy to meet Daenerys, was. Belwas, not Daario, defeats the champion of Meereen in the books, and memorably takes a shit on him after he kills him.
"Thenns and Hornfoots...the Ice-river clans. Even the giants."
The Thenns we met last season: Pale bald creeps with facial scars and Icelandic accents. Hornfoots are another clan of Wildlings, known for not ever wearing shoes. The Ice-river clans are a third Wildling group that, in the book, are known for cannibalism; in the show, the Thenns seem to be the cannibals. Giants are, you know, giants.
"Free folk. There is only one true king, and his name is Stannis."
Of the Five Kings of the eponymous war—Robb, Balon, Joffrey, Stannis, and Renly—only two survive. As far as we know.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.