Cat is in the dark space that the others refer to as her dungeon. She has been there for some time; she isn’t sure how long. Every now and then, she can hear some excitement coming from the others, the ones watching the world below. She blocks it out as much as she can, focusing on the quivering spirits she owns. They wronged her and those she loved before. Now, they are hers.
She checks on them, one by one, moving silently between the rows of whimpering men. Most have been broken beyond repair. She still does not know why she is able to hurt them, but she no longer seems to care. The tyrant boy-king is weeping; the Freys — so many Freys — shrink away from her. She reaches her destination: the two men who have been the hardest for her to break. There is not much left of them now, but she is not satisfied with her progress. They are not sorry enough. She stands over Roose Bolton, humming ‘The Rains of Castamere’, and is pleased when he flinches. He doesn’t have much strength left. The other one is proving more challenging. Pain is not working. She will have to try something new.
Ramsay: Back again, Lady Stark?
A barely perceptible flinch. This is his weak spot.
Ramsay: Is that the best you can do?
Catelyn: [leaning over him] You don’t want to see my best, bastard.
A terrific noise from the others draws her attention elsewhere. She can hear Robert shouting. She sighs.
Catelyn: I’ll be back soon, bastard.
Ramsay: I look forward to it.
She sweeps away grandly. As she approaches the others, the volume picks up. There are a lot more there than she remembered, and they draw back from her as she nears them. They don’t meet her gaze. She is used to it now. The ghosts seem to have formed groups, and as she looks around, she sees that they are split into their houses. She sees her husband and her children, and heads straight for them.
Catelyn: What is all the excitement?
The Starks are misty eyed, gazing below, but Robert is more energized than she has seen him in a long time.
Robert: CAT! Where have you been? You have missed so much! The dragon — seven hells — now that was a proper battle!
Ned: [softly] Bran and Arya are home.
Robert: You should have seen the battle, Cat! The biggest horde of Dothraki screamers the world has ever known! The Lannisters didn’t stand a chance!
Catelyn: The Lannisters?
Robert: I mean, I’ve always said you’d be mad to face the Dothraki in open battle, but my gods! They were standing on horseback, firing arrows. STANDING! And then the Targaryen girl came flying in on the big dragon and just roasted the Lannisters alive!
Catelyn: Is that why it’s so busy up here?
Robert: There’s more: Casterly Rock has fallen! They just let it go! They took the Lannister army to Highgarden, robbed it, and then got incinerated on the way back to King’s Landing.
Ned: Did you hear what I said, Cat?
Robert: And that bloody Greyjoy man is crazy. I don’t know how he does it. I think those ships of his must be able to fly. Maybe he has dragons of his own. Or maybe he’s borrowing them from the Targaryen girl! Wasn’t there meant to be some sort of magic horn? [He laughs to himself] Magic horn… Seven hells, what’s going on with the world?
She looks over at her family. She feels a pang. Ned’s eyes are earnest, hopeful.
Ned: [pointing] Look.
Catelyn looks down. She sees her surviving children together. There is a catch in her throat.
Ned: Stay here with us. Stay here and watch them. You don’t have to keep doing…what it is you are doing. We’re together, and they are safe. You don’t have to -
She holds up a hand to stop him, and he even though his expression barely changes, she can see the disappointment in his eyes. It burns.
Catelyn: What else have I missed?
Robert: The Martells have had an uncomfortable family reunion.
Catelyn: I can imagine.
Ned: [quietly] Cersei took her revenge on Ellaria.
Robert: That woman is a monster.
Catelyn: I seem to remember you having far fewer qualms about slaughtering your enemies, Robert.
Robert: THAT WAS DIFFERENT. A quick murder is one thing, but torturing for pleasure is just —
He stops, and for a second looks terrified. Catelyn feels a chill.
Catelyn: Do you think I am a monster?
Robert: [quickly] I didn’t say that.
She looks at Ned. He looks away. There is an awkward silence, which is broken only by the arrival of the Tyrells.
Olenna: Well, isn’t this marvelous.
Margaery: Lady Stark, may I present my grandmother, Lady Olenna?
Olenna: Oh, we’ve met. Of course, it was years and years ago, at some ghastly joust or another. You were just a child then, my dear. Death doesn’t become you, I’m afraid. You look awful.
Olenna: I didn’t mince my words when I was alive. I’m certainly not going to start now. I hear you have the little monster king back there.
Catelyn: I do.
Olenna: I do hope he is crying for his mother.
Catelyn: He has barely stopped.
Olenna: I look forward to seeing him get what he wants. She really is the worst person I’ve ever met.
Catelyn: I have a space reserved for her.
Olenna: That woman destroyed my house. It will be my pleasure to watch her suffer.
Margaery: Why is Tywin on his own?
Robert: No-one wants to talk to him.
Olenna: I’ve got some words for him. Lord Tywin?
Tywin has been resolutely staring at the ground, but looks up when he hears his name. He sighs.
Olenna: It must have been hard for you to see your children abandon their home like that.
Tywin: [twitching] It was a strategic move.
Robert: It was strategic, come to think of it. Was that Cersei’s idea, or Jaime’s? Neither of them strikes me as a military mastermind.
Olenna: Maybe it was that turncloak, Tarly.
Robert starts laughing hysterically. It is a full-bellied guffaw that gets louder and higher pitched the longer it goes on.
Olenna: Have I missed something?
Ned: [sighing] He’s just remembered the Tarly boy’s name.
Robert: Dickon! DICKON! Oh, that poor lad. Dickon. [He shakes his head.]
Olenna: Lord Tywin, why didn’t you just take Highgarden when the Lannister mines dried up?
Tywin: [glaring] You know why.
Olenna: Oh but it’s so much more delicious to hear you say it.
Tywin: The Tyrells were more useful as an ally.
Olenna: So you wouldn’t have just destroyed my house? Interesting. You had no such problem with the Starks, as I recall.
Tywin: They were traitors.
Olenna: So were we.
Tywin: You were rich traitors.
Olenna: Ah, there we have it. Tywin Lannister, the man who shits gold, and always pays his debts. How it must have pained you to come crawling to me. And how embarrassing that you didn’t realise that the Stark girl was your cupbearer.
Tywin storms off.
Olenna: That man is always such a disappointment. At least Daenerys has finally stopped being a sheep. Fire and Blood, indeed.
Robert: She reminds me of me, at the Trident. Full power charge, destroying everything in sight. I only had a hammer of course.
Ned: That’s funny, she reminded me of Stannis.
Ned: Something about Dragonstone makes people rigid, unyielding. All that business about bending the knee. Expecting people who don’t know you to fall in line because you said so.
Olenna: She’s a queen, Lord Stark. Bending the knee is expected.
Ned: But those who follow her do so out of choice. They do it out of loyalty. And love.
Olenna: And vengeance.
Ned: Yes. But my point is, she is a queen who was chosen. This is the first time she has expected obedience based on her name alone. And her name isn’t as popular as she might think.
Olenna: You agree with Cersei then? She’s a revolutionary rather than a monarch?
Ned: She can be both. She just needs people to love her if they are going to rebel against the Lannisters. She can’t make people love her. She can make them fear her. But that would make everyone remember the mad King.
Robert: You’ve gone soft.
Ned: Maybe. [He looks away.]
Margaery: She seemed to make some progress with Jon in the cave.
Robert: It’s not the first time Jon’s made progress with a girl in a cave, right Ned? [He chuckles]
Ned: [softly] Jon is a king who was chosen as well.
Stannis: What’s this nonsense about choosing kings?
Olenna: Lord Stannis -
Stannis: King Stannis
Olenna: I hardly think it matters now, does it?
Stannis: There is always time to do things properly.
Margaery: You must have been pleased with Ser Davos earlier. Correct use of ‘whom’ and ‘fewer’!
Stannis: Why would I be proud? You don’t get prizes for doing the right thing.
Margaery: That’s strange, I could have sworn I saw you dancing up and down when he said it…
Olenna: Stannis, does Daenerys remind you of anyone?
Robert: [puffing out his chest] Yes, brother, does she seem familiar?
Stannis: She’s just like me.
Robert: Seven hells!
Stannis: She is firm and unyielding. She is working with Jon Snow and Ser Davos. She scored an unexpected victory with a surprising and overwhelming cavalry charge. She has been proclaimed Azor Ahai reborn. She burns traitors. Of course she is like me.
The brothers walk away, arguing, and the Tyrell women follow. Ned returns to watching the world below.
Ned: I wish Syrio had seen Arya sparring with Brienne.
Catelyn: Her dancing master? Is he here?
Ned: I thought he would have been, but I haven’t seen him anywhere.
Catelyn: He could have moved on. Like Rhaegar and Lyanna.
Ned: Perhaps. Littlefinger is up to something.
Ned: I don’t know.
Catelyn: Keep a close eye on him.
She starts to walk away, and then turns back.
Catelyn: Brienne kept her promise.
Ned: She did.
Catelyn: She is in love with Ser Jaime.
Catelyn: She cannot love my daughters and him. Someday, she will need to make a choice.
Ned: She already has, Cat.
Catelyn’s expression softens.
Catelyn: There is something I’ve been meaning to say. I forgive you. For Jon. For keeping the secret from me. I hope one day he will forgive me too.
Ned: Cat —
Catelyn: I was not the mother that he needed. I was horrible, Ned.
Ned: I couldn’t expect —
Catelyn: But I look at him now, and by the seven, Ned, he is just like you. More than any of our own children.
Ned: I think he’s wiser. I hope so. Look at Sansa; she’s just like you.
Catelyn: I hope she is wiser, too.
They smile at each other.
Catelyn: He is family now. You know what that means.
Ned’s smile starts to fall.
Catelyn: Anyone who hurts Jon will have to deal with me. Just like those traitors of the Night’s Watch.
There is a silence. Ned realises why he has never seen Olly.
Ned: Cat, that boy… He’s just a child…
Catelyn: Quiet. Episode 5 is starting.
Ned waves to the Baratheons and the Tyrells, and they rejoin him and Catelyn. Tywin creeps closer for a better view, but is reluctant to engage with them.
Robert: How in the name of all that’s holy did Jaime survive that? That mercenary fellow is going to be owed half the crownlands at this rate.
Olenna: Quiet; let me savour this moment. I want to see the look on Cersei’s face when he tells her.
They watch intently. Lady Olenna smirks.
Olenna: But I didn’t die screaming, did I? No. Lord Tywin, your monster daughter didn’t beat me in the end.
Tywin: You’re here, aren’t you?
Olenna: Oh yes. But I have my family with me. And you can only watch as the disease you spawned destroys a continent. You left your greatest weapons behind: your money, your ruthlessness, your armies. My weapons are words, Lord Tywin. And I can do more damage with those here than you can with that icy glare of yours. My house was obsessed with roses. A lot of use they were down there. But beauty and thorns, Lord Tywin, those endure after death. Lions, and wolves, and dragons, what use are they? They cannot bite; they cannot burn. But beauty can still charm, and thorns can still prick. I am the Queen of Thorns. You are in Tyrell country now.
Robert has not been listening, instead focusing on the ashes of the Lannister army.
Robert: The Imp looks like he’s going to be sick.
Tywin: [glad of the diversion] He never did have the stomach for battle.
Robert: The Targaryen girl is trying to win round the survivors. She can’t do both, Ned! You can’t incinerate half the army and then be nice to the others! Either be one or the other.
Ned: She’s taking a hard line with the Tarly men.
Stannis: As she should. Bend the knee or die. They made their choice.
Olenna: I agree. Burn the turncloaks.
Robert: Well now I feel bad for laughing at Dickon.
A momentary silence.
Robert: [giggling quietly] Dickon…
Olenna: Robert, I am surprised that you are cheering on Daenerys Stormborn. I thought you hated Targaryens. Didn’t you try to have her murdered? Several times?
Robert: I did. But given the choice of her or the bloody Lannisters…
Catelyn: [softly] Daenerys and Jon. They…like each other.
Ned: [looks troubled] Yes.
Olenna: What’s the problem?
Robert: She’s his aunt. Neither of them know that yet.
Olenna: How deliciously scandalous. But incest is fairly normal for Targaryens, isn’t it?
Robert: It explains that.
He points over to where Viserys is alone, and apparently having an argument with himself.
Olenna: Quite. And at least it’s a little more distant than Cersei and Jaime.
Margaery: What do you make of the plan to cease hostilities?
Stannis: It’s what I did. There comes a time when you have to act like a monarch rather than just calling yourself one. The realm is under threat. It is the right call.
Olenna: Where is that Onion Knight going?
Robert: MY BOY!
Stannis: He’s been there all that time!
Robert: Of course he wants to fight. Look at him. He’s just like me. AND HE HAS A HAMMER! Oh, it’s good to have a Baratheon smashing skulls with a warhammer again.
Olenna: Cersei can’t really be pregnant. Surely.
Robert: [ignoring her] NED! Look at Gendry and Jon together. They are just like us! Oh, Ned. Who would have thought a bastard could make me so proud?
Ned smiles fondly at his friend.
Margaery: Wait - did Gilly just say what I thought she said?
Stannis: Looks like Daenerys will have to bend the knee to Jon.
Robert: Why would she? She has dragons and an army. He has a wolf, some wildings and some humourless Northern folk. Sorry, Ned.
Stannis: Birthright doesn’t work like that. As I told Renly.
Margaery: I suppose the most sensible path would be for them to marry and rule together.
Robert: They could legitimise my boy! He could marry one of your girls! Ned, we’d finally join our houses the way we have wanted to for years…
Catelyn: What is Littlefinger up to… Ah. He is trying to drive a wedge between my girls.
Ned: Sansa wrote that letter?
Catelyn: They are Cersei’s words, not hers. I doubt she had a choice. Robb told me that he called his troops and marched south as soon as he saw it. But Arya… She never liked Sansa. I hope she doesn’t…
Ned looks troubled.
Robert: So that’s what’s happened to the Brotherhood!
Olenna: Oh my, that wilding fellow is marvelous.
Margaery: They’re not all going to come back, are they?
They watch the raiders disappear into the ice and fog. Suddenly, behind the ghosts, two men appear. They look shocked, as if caught mid-scream.
Olenna: And here are the turncloaks. I hope you enjoyed your brief moment of victory, Lord Tarly. I trust you enjoyed being roasted alive.
Catelyn: Lord Tarly, follow me. There are some people that you need to meet. You will like them, I’m sure.
In a daze, Lord Tarly follows Catelyn. Before they are out of earshot, Ned hears Catelyn’s voice one more time.
Catelyn: They are competing to see who is the worst father in Westeros…
He smiles and shakes his head. Robert approaches the younger man.
Robert: Come on, lad, it’s over now. You fought well, and you were brave. Foolish, mind you, but brave. You’re a good lad, and we like your brother. You can sit with us.
Olenna: Giving quarter to turncloaks?
Robert: I pardoned Ser Barristan after the Battle of the Trident. Exceptions can be made. Now, lad, remind me of your name…
As Cat delivers Lord Tarly to his new ‘friends’, she can hear a loud cheer and then hysterical laughter from Robert. She smiles.
Catelyn: Never change, Robert Baratheon.
She turns to her flame-haired assistants, the two women who have been guarding her charges in her absence. Death is certainly the great equaliser; here, a Lady of a great house can happily consort with a wildling and a whore.
Catelyn: What have I missed?