TRUST, BUT VERIFY: The villains spent a lot of time last night on Game of Thrones reminding us that they're villains. To wit:
Grandpa Lannister ordered a new round of pillaging in retaliation for his mistaken (but understandable) belief that he was the target of Jaqen H'gar's poisoned dart, and Arya got to see the consequence of the bargain that Jaqen offered her. Jaime Lannister shared a nice moment with his cousin (at least the third person this season, after Yoren and Renly, to expire moments after sharing a childhood memory, which should just serve as a reminder: never talk about your childhood in Westeros), then commemorated it by killing both Cousin Lannister and Torrhen Karstark. Theon caught, charred, and strung up his adoptive brothers, then set his eyes to extra-buggy when he realized both that he had completely lost control of his situation and that there's no way back from there. Xaro knew where the dragons were all along -- at Dean Pelton's house. Betty is still trying to poison Don from fifty miles away. And Ygritte seduced know-nothing Jon Snow into a canyon ambush straight out of the Tusken Raider playbook [uh, SPOILER ALERT for A New Hope]. Of our villains, only Cersei tried to mitigate the harm she caused, giving cold but solid advice to poor dumb Sansa, then admitting to Tyrion that having a bunch of kids with your brother doesn't exactly guarantee the best brood (Tyrion's comforting response, quoting Meat Loaf: "two out of three ain't bad.")
Jaime's speech to Catelyn, I think, is the closest this series comes to offering a thesis: What does it mean to be honorable when honor requires that you satisfy conflicting duties. Jaime has been saddled with the epithet "Kingslayer" for half his life, but the same people who say it use the nickname "Mad King" to refer to the monster that Jaime killed. So Jaime's declaration is that "honor" is just a word used to describe people who are on the same side as the speaker, when, really, it's just every man for himself. And from a production standpoint, the return to a focus on Jaime seems to mark a dividing line. The first half of this episode was full of natural light -- sunny encampments, light-filled Lannister meeting rooms, a pleasant walk for Bran, Hodor & Co. From the moment that Jaime's cousin lands in his cell, the sun goes down, the rain starts falling in the Frostfangs, the Stark encampments start sinking in mud. The war is about to get dirty, in ways both metaphorical and literal.
MIA: Littlefinger, Stannis, Davos, Melisandre, Jaqen H'gar, Samwise Gamgee, Joffrey.
Grammar and Usage Police: Tactics, not strategy.