Margaery stands alone, watching the foes assemble and take their places. She shivers. Everything rests on this truce. The last time so many gathered in one place, for a painful and humiliating (and quietly agreed) truce, things did not work out so well. She looks up and smiles as her grandmother approaches.
Olenna: Do you think there will be fire and blood again, my dear?
Margaery: Knowing Cersei, I wouldn’t rule anything out.
Olenna: True. She is not someone to underestimate.
Margaery: Surely she must see that this is the only way forward. She is not an idiot.
Olenna: Ruthlessness and deviousness are not the same as intelligence, dear. Come along, the great men of Westeros are looking forward to your company. You’ve done some splendid work with them all.
Margaery: [smiling modestly] Thank you, grandmother.
Olenna: You have them eating out of the palm of your hand. You could have any of them as your partner here.
Margaery smiles again, but this time Olenna suspects a secret in the smile.
Olenna: Who is your favourite? Come, child. No need to be coy any more.
Margaery: There is one person that I… But they are not here yet.
Olenna: Person? They?
Margaery: I shall say no more for now. The mystery will do you good. Let’s join the others.
As they approach the others, Margaery compares the arrangement of the living with the arrangement of the dead. The sides are uneven, to say the least. Of all the ghosts assembled on the Lannister side, only Tywin looks certain. The others — declared enemies of the Dragon Queen, and those who have fallen at her hand — look less pleased to be there. Margaery and Olenna look at each other briefly, and take their places on the opposite side.
Olenna: What have we missed?
Robert: Lots of awkward reunions and knowing glances. [He sighs]
Margaery: Daenerys certainly knows how to make an entrance.
Olenna: Cersei didn’t even jump to her feet when the dragons appeared. As much as I hate her, she’s got some nerve.
Robert: Oh gods, won’t someone kill Euron bloody Greyjoy already?
Margaery: Here comes the wight!
Olenna: That’s better! Look at the terror on Cersei’s face! Now that’s beautiful.
Robert: And it’s shut Euron up. Now he’s a coward, running away.
Ned: I wouldn’t bet on it. Don’t turn your back on a Greyjoy.
Tywin calls over to Robert.
Tywin: My daughter has agreed to the truce. And you called her a monster. [He smirks.]
Robert: Of course she agreed. You can’t argue with that proof. This isn’t a withered hand in a box, this is a dead man charging at you! If I’d been there, I would be on a horse clutching my war hammer already.
Olenna: Wait; Cersei has conditions.
Tywin: Perfectly reasonable ones! She has lost her fleet. She called that Snow boy King in the North, which he hardly deserves. That should be enough.
Ned: Jon won’t break his oath.
Robert: Look at that! As soon as she doesn’t get what she wants, she’s out.
Olenna: She must be up to something.
Margaery: She was being far too reasonable. It’s not like her.
They watch intently.
Olenna: [to Tywin] I could watch Tyrion and Cersei spar with each other all day long. Is she right, Lord Tywin? Were you the only thing holding the Seven Kingdoms together? I doubt it.
Robert: You could just as easily say that about me. None of this happened when I was on the throne. No-one would have dared. And that was when Lord Tywin was still sulking at Casterly Rock because I wouldn’t make him Hand.
Ned: Maybe you should have done, old friend.
They look at each other sadly.
Tywin: What do you make of that? She’s sending troops, the Lannisters will help. My daughter is starting to look and sound like a real queen now.
Olenna: It certainly is the most regal she has ever been. It’s a great performance, but that is all it is.
Ned: No-one is all bad, Lady Olenna.
Tywin: A leader must be ruthless to rise to power and stay there. That does not make her evil.
Margaery: Remember what I was like when I arrived?
Robert: You were furious, screaming ‘that hateful bitch’ over and over again. It’s how I knew straight away that I liked you.
Margaery: That’s who we’re dealing with. She’s still a hateful bitch. Don’t forget that, just because she can put on a show for the crowd.
As the action moves to Winterfell, the ghosts fall silent. They watch Sansa, and they watch Ned as he watches his daughter.
Olenna: Send for Lady Stark.
Ned: I don’t know what to make of it. I don’t know who is in the most danger.
Olenna: Either way, she will want to see this.
Margaery: I will go.
She leaves quickly, but before she turns away, Olenna spots a worried frown on Margaery’s face.
Ned: Margaery was a good friend to Sansa.
Olenna: Sansa was a sweet girl, then. She’s not Cersei’s little dove any more.
Robert: Has that Greyjoy boy decided to be a man yet?
Catelyn: [approaching the others with Margaery] Greyjoy? Is that Theon?
Ned: Jon has forgiven him.
Catelyn: It is not Jon’s place to forgive him.
Ned: He knows that. He’s forgiven him for what he can.
Catelyn: I have not.
Ned: Cat, that’s enough. There is nothing you can do to Theon that hasn’t been done to him already. He cannot regret it more than he already does. He is trying to make amends.
Catelyn: He needs to make amends with me.
Ned: No. I forbid it.
Catelyn: All those years in our home, you knew you might have to cut off his head if his father rebelled.
Ned: I did. But we raised that boy anyway. He is a Stark at heart. And you will not touch him.
Catelyn glares at him, and the other ghosts, who moved away slightly during this exchange, find the events below particularly interesting.
Olenna: His sister was always the more interesting one. Theon always seemed like a sheep. I am glad he has found some steel again.
Catelyn: [suddenly] What is Sansa doing?
Ned: [sighing] That’s why we thought you should be here.
Catelyn: You think she’s going after Arya?
Ned: Don’t you?
Catelyn: She’s wiser than me. Remember?
The ghosts suddenly let out a gasp, en masse.
Catelyn: I told you.
Robert: Look at him squirm!
Tywin: I never liked that upstart.
Ned: All of this, all of it; all at his hand.
Stannis: I’m not sure that greensight is admissible as evidence…
Stannis: But he’s a traitor and a snake. He deserves to die.
Margaery: Isn’t Sansa marvellous?
Olenna looks thoughtfully at her granddaughter.
Catelyn: He will be here soon. I must prepare.
Ned: Make it good. He tried to turn our girls against each other.
Catelyn: So now you approve of what I’m doing?
Ned: For him. But not forever.
Catelyn: Forever is all we have.
The action shifts back to King’s Landing.
Tywin: [under his breath] Oh no.
Robert: AHA! So she wasn’t being the great queen you thought. She was lying all along. That’s the Lannister way, isn’t it?
Olenna: I believe we did say.
Robert: AND NEVER TRUST A GREYJOY! Oh, she played everyone like fools.
Margaery: Jaime looks furious.
Tywin: Of course he’s furious. Who wouldn’t be?
Margaery: She thinks she’s doing what you would have done.
Tywin: She is not subtle enough to do what I would have done.
Robert: You think the Red Wedding was subtle?
Tywin: That was the Freys.
Robert: No it bloody wasn’t! You disown your daughter for failing you, when the truth is, she’s Tywin Lannister with tits, and you can’t stand the fact that you are not as clever and as brilliant as you think you are. What she’s doing now? That’s JUST what you would have done. None of them saw it coming -
Olenna: —except us—
Robert: — except the Tyrells, and that’s because they got incinerated before and aren’t likely to fall for her tricks again. The only reason none of them [pointing down] saw it coming is because NO DECENT HUMAN BEING would ever do the things that you and your bloody daughter have done.
Olenna: Your youngest son was far cleverer than you, Lord Tywin. Even your other son, an incestuous regicide, is more honorable. It is time to stop behaving as though you were the mastermind of the Seven Kingdoms. You were just the nastiest player in the game.
Ned: Your son pushed my son out of a window and I like him more than I like you.
Robert: He’s an arrogant bastard, and I would happily kill him, but he’s more decent than you. I ordered the murder of a little girl, and I’m a better person than you!
Tywin is in shock. No-one ever dared speak to him like this before. Summoning as much dignity as he can, he turns his back and walks away.
Robert: I’ve waited years for that. That was fun.
Margaery: Here comes Sam!
Robert: Which one’s he again?
Margaery: You remember! He’s—
Ned: Don’t. He knows. He just wants you to say Sam’s brother’s name again.
Robert chuckles merrily to himself. Fondly, Ned rolls his eyes at Margaery, who smiles back.
Abruptly, Robert stops laughing. His face hardens.
Margaery: So that’s Prince Rhaegar. I always wondered what he looked like.
Ned catches her eye and wills her to stop talking. Confused, she looks at Robert. His jaw is clenched.
Olenna: We knew they were married. The girl, she found the record of it, remember?
Ned: You’ve known since you got here. When she wouldn’t stay here with you, when she moved on with him.
Robert: It’s not the same. Not the same as seeing it. She was the only thing I ever wanted. And he took her away from me.
Ned: They fell in love.
Robert: I did it all for her.
Margaery: All of it?
Ned: That’s not quite true, Robert. The mad king wanted us dead. He’d murdered my father and my brother. What Rhaegar did —
Robert: I don’t want to talk about it.
There is an uncomfortable silence.
Olenna: So, Jon and Daenerys together at last. Or perhaps we should say Aegon and Daenerys. Didn’t Rhaegar already have a son called Aegon? That’s a little confusing.
Margaery: I like them together.
Olenna: So do I.
Robert: Are you mad?
Olenna: Cousins marry all the time. She might be his aunt, but they are the same age. They didn’t grow up together. No need to be squeamish. Daenerys is the product of incest, and she turned out all right.
There is another uncomfortable silence, where Robert and Ned look slightly ill, and Olenna and Margaery watch approvingly.
Robert: That wildling girl will have to change her catchphrase.
Ned: Does that mean —
Robert: I’m still not all right with it.
Ned: I didn’t know until I found her at the Tower of Joy.
Robert: I don’t care.
Ned: I promised my dying sister —
Robert: I said I don’t want to bloody talk about it.
Robert: Your girls seem all right now.
Ned: [relieved at a safer topic] Yes.
Robert: They miss you.
Ned: And I miss them. But they are safe for now.
He hears his voice called, and turns to see a familiar face approaching.
Ned: You protected my boys. I can’t thank you enough.
Benjen: No need for thanks. [He smiles at his older brother.]
Robert: Little Benjen Stark! I still can’t believe how much you’ve grown.
Benjen grins at Robert, and turns back towards his brother.
Benjen: Your children might not be so safe after all.
He points further north and to their horror, the ghosts see the army of the dead approaching Eastwatch.
Robert: Seven hells.
They watch as Viserion brings down the Wall, and the army advances. Then the vision fades to black.
Ned: NO! That can’t be where it ends. Bran! The girls! I have to see them!
Robert: There are armies on the way to Winterfell. They are not alone.
Olenna: We shall see them soon enough, Lord Stark. One way or the other.
He doesn’t know where he is. Everything is dark, confused. But there is movement around him; he is not alone. He shouldn’t be able to feel the cold any more, but he can feel a chill down his spine. He can hear voices whispering in the black; his worst secrets laid bare. Murderer. Traitor.
Suddenly, he hears mirthless laughter. It is a cruel sound, a terrifying sound. Someone is enjoying this. Shaking, he turns round and round, frantically squinting into the darkness. A flash of red hair, and then it is gone again. Another to his right. There are two of them, he thinks.
Then another voice from the shadows. It’s one he knew well. One he loved, once. He remembers sunlight on red hair, a castle, rivers. He remembers heartache, humiliation, pain.
He seems them now. Three women, all kissed by fire. He doesn’t know the one on the right, but he knows the other two. They stare, unflinching; he feels hot shame rising on his flesh. They know. They have seen everything.
It is the woman in the centre that he fears most of all. As well he should. She has been waiting for him.
Catelyn: Hello Petyr.
He tries to speak, but he can still feel the dagger at his throat, tearing at his flesh. The words cannot form themselves. He hears only a grating moan escaping his lips.
She advances. Screams echo through the darkness.
Previous Article: It's Time To Stop Comparing 'Wynonna Earp' to 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'
Next Article: 'Rick And Morty' Gets All The Toxins Out