"Second Sons" is the eighth episode of the third season of Game of Thrones. It is the twenty-eighth episode of the series overall. It premiered on May 19, 2013. It was written by executive producers David Benioff & D.B. Weiss and directed by Michelle MacLaren.
Across the Narrow Sea
Daenerys, Jorah and Barristan hide behind a ruined building to spy on the encampment of the Second Sons, a professional mercenary company, the "powerful friends" the Yunkish have employed. Barristan explains that although there are only 2,000 of them, the Second Sons are armored and mounted, enough to cause trouble for the Unsullied. Daenerys tells Barristan to organize a meeting with the Second Sons' captains, saying that men who fight for gold "can't afford to lose to a girl".
Shortly thereafter, Daenerys, hosts the captains Mero, a Braavosi also known as the Titan's Bastard, and Prendahl na Ghezn, a Ghiscari. Also in attendance is Prendahl's capable and striking lieutenant, Daario Naharis. The uncouth and sexually vulgar Mero makes himself at home, observes that Daenerys looks like a whore he knows in Lys and feels up Missandei, although the surprisingly gracious queen shrugs his insults off. Prendahl and Mero refuse Daenerys's offer of an alliance, pointing out they will not get their rewards until she reclaims the Iron Throne, something she is still a long ways off from doing. With aplomb she replies that a fortnight previous she had no army, a year before that she had no dragons. Smiling gently she gives them two days to make up their mind and sends them off with a barrel of wine Mero had demanded. Daario smiles over his back at her as they depart. Daenerys instructs Barristan that if they must fight the Second Sons, he is to kill Mero first. He replies that he would be glad to do so.
At the mercenary camp, Mero fondles a Yunkish pleasure-slave while discussing the situation with Prendahl and Daario. It swiftly becomes apparent that Daario doesn't see things the same way as Mero, but Prendahl cuts off their philosophical discussion to call for action over "the dragon bitch." They eventually decide to simply assassinate Daenerys and be done with it. Mero gives the slave three coins, one each from Volantis, Meereen, and Braavos, and tells her to randomly give them to the three mercenaries – the one who gets the Braavosi coin will kill the queen.
That night, as Daenerys bathes, she is surprised to learn that Missandei speaks no fewer than nineteen languages. Missandei says this shouldn't be that odd, since it only took Daenerys a year to gain a reasonable grasp of Dothraki. The khaleesi bristles at the idea she speaks only reasonable Dothraki and switches to the language to teach Missandei a lesson, only to have her pronunciation corrected. Suddenly, an Unsullied enters and hold a knife to Missandei's throat, advising the women not to scream. He removes his helmet, revealing himself as Daario. He explains he is here to kill Daenerys on orders from his captains, but they ran into a philosophical disagreement over her beauty. He then produces their severed heads. Intrigued, Daenerys rises from her bath and asks if Daario will swear fealty to her. He bends the knee and swears his sword, his men and his heart to Daenerys.
Beyond the WallSamwell Tarly and Gilly continue on their journey to Castle Black, taking refuge in a destroyed cabin next to a heart tree. Before they enter, two crows land on a branch on the heart tree, and begin to squawk loudly.
Later at night, Sam tries to light a fire, but is frustrated in his attempts; Gilly easily does it instead. Meanwhile, Sam suggests that Gilly name her son, but she does not know any boy names. Sam gives her some examples, and also explains the difference between first and last names. Gilly likes the name Randyll, Sam's father's first name but Sam asks her not to name the child Randyll. Sam shares the truth about his father and his upbringing marked by cruelty which they both had in common.
Suddenly, they are interrupted by a thunderous squawking of the crows. Sam and Gilly go outside to investigate, and discover hundreds of crows filling the nearby tree and on the structure itself screeching violently. Gilly is then horrified to see a White Walker approaching them, and knows that it is after her child. Sam tries to halt its advance, but the Walker shatters his sword with its bare hand and knocks him aside, then continues to bear down upon her. As the monster reaches out to seize the infant, Sam staggers back to his feet, pulls out his dragonglass dagger, and attacks the Walker, stabbing it in the back. The Walker howls in pain as its whole body begins to freeze from the point at which it was stabbed. It falls to its knees, and shatters, leaving nothing but white dust and the dagger. The dagger is left behind as Sam and Gilly race away in a panic. The crows fly out of the trees and chase them, screaming their hatred.
In the Seven Kingdoms
Arya Stark, now a captive of Sandor Clegane after he had kidnapped her from the Brotherhood Without Banners, picks up a rock and stands over him planning to strike. She thinks he is sound asleep and is completely vulnerable. Not so and he opens his eyes and tells her she has one chance to hit him, and kill him, if she fails he will break her hands. Later she sits on the horse with him sullen and refusing food he offers her. Sandor points out that for all she hates him, Arya could have been taken captive by far worse. He tells her the story of Sansa and how he rescued her from the mob, men who were going to rape her in every way then slit her throat and leaving her to die. Arya says he's lying but Sandor says "Ask your sister if you ever see her again." They continue onward across the meadows and arrive at a river which Arya initially thinks to be the Blackwater. Rather confused with her lack of understanding he points out that the river is the Red Fork of the Trident. Arya had believed the Hound was taking her back to King's Landing, but he reveals that he is in fact taking her to The Twins, intending to get a reward by ransoming her back to her family. The marriage of her uncle is imminent and both her brother and her mother will be there at the Twins. He tells her ruefully that if she wasn't so busy trying to bash his skull in they might make it in time for the wedding. Arya has a small and hidden smile as the Hound spurs the horse to a gallop.
Melisandre finally arrives back at Dragonstone with Gendry in tow. Stannis is less than impressed by the sight of the bastard boy who is technically his nephew and is bemused when Melisandre orders him fed, bathed and clothed. He believes it is pointless as they intend to sacrifice him, but Melisandre reveals it is merely a sham to keep Gendry feeling secure, in much the same way as keeping a sacrificial lamb from seeing the blade of the knife.
Meanwhile, Davos Seaworth, still languishing in his cell, is paid a visit by Stannis; Davos is told of the impending sacrifice Gendry will be subject to. Davos protests this saying that unlike Renly who was a rebel against his rightful king, Gendry is an innocent who has never done him any wrong. Stannis argues that the sacrifice of one bastard boy will usher in his victory, which Stannis believes is the only way to save every man, woman and child in Westeros from the coming darkness that will devour everything in its path. He asks how Davos can doubt the power of Melisandre's God when Stannis has seen visions of "a great battle in the snow" and Davos saw the creature she gave birth to. Davos speculates that the real reason Stannis came is because deep down, a part of him knows what he's about to do is wrong and he knew Davos would tell him the truth he needs to hear, regardless of how it would be taken. After extracting a promise from Davos that he won't act against Melisandre again, Stannis has Davos released.
In Gendry's quarters, Melisandre seduces Gendry long enough to distract him, then promptly ties him to the bed and places leeches on his body. She explains as Stannis and Davos enter the room that Davos wanted a demonstration of the power in king's blood, then removes the leeches and lights a fire in a nearby brazier. As part of the magical ritual that follows, Stannis throws the leeches into the flames at Melisandre's direction, and recites the names of three people he wants dead as they burn: "The usurper Robb Stark, the usurper Balon Greyjoy, the usurper Joffrey Baratheon".
At King's Landing, Tyrion speaks with Sansa before their wedding at the Great Sept of Baelor; though he knows the girl is less than thrilled at the prospect of marrying him. Tyrion promises Sansa that he will not mistreat her, and Sansa agrees there are worse Lannisters she could be wed to. The ceremony is a grim affair; Joffrey smugly escorts Sansa to the altar in place of her father and removes the stool upon which Tyrion was to stand on to cloak Sansa in Lannister colours as part of the ceremony. This elicits sniggers from the congregation (though the scowl of Lord Tywin quickly silences them). Tyrion in the face of humiliation asks Sansa to kneel and he places the cloak around her shoulders. The new High Septon begins the ceremony. Later as man and wife they have their reception dinner, which proves a grim and miserable affair. In the background, Margaery Tyrell tries to ingratiate with Cersei, commenting they will technically be sisters soon; Cersei responds by telling Margaery the story behind the "Rains of Castamere", relating how it refers to the destruction of House Reyne of Castamere after their failed rebellion against House Lannister (inferring similarities between the ambitions and position of Houses Reyne and Tyrell and that the same fate may fall upon House Tyrell if they plot against the Lannisters) and concludes by threatening to have Margaery killed in her sleep if she ever dares call Cersei sister again.
Tyrion spends the wedding feast mostly by getting deeply drunk and making light of his father's insistence that his inebriated state will render him unfit to perform his duties in the marriage bed by getting his wife with child. Tyrion, drunkenly proclaiming himself "the god of tits and wine", reminds his father that Tywin has long called him "a drunken little lust-filled beast", so doing his duty in the marriage bed will not pose a problem. At the same time, Joffrey is himself drinking too much wine, and losing what few inhibitions he has, his behavior becomes increasingly offensive to both Sansa and Tyrion. Against Cersei's ineffectual protests, Joffrey gets up and flanked by his Kingsguard, taunts Sansa that she's still found a way to marry a Lannister. Joffrey then ponders that it doesn't matter which Lannister gets her pregnant, and openly says he might want to rape her after Tyrion is done with her, while the Kingsguard hold her down. After that pronouncement, Joffrey declares it time for the bedding ceremony (which involves the men at the wedding stripping the bride and the women stripping the groom before carrying them off to the marriage bed) but Tyrion angrily insists there will be no bedding. When Joffrey keeps pushing the matter, Tyrion slams his dagger into the table and threatens that Joffrey will "be fucking [his] own bride with a wooden cock" if he doesn't let it drop. As the court stands in shocked silence, Joffrey seethes with outrage and Tyrion glares at his nephew with pure hatred. After a tense moment Tywin defuses the situation by agreeing that there will be no bedding ceremony, and placates Joffrey by claiming Tyrion's outburst is merely the result of his being extremely drunk. Taking the hint, Tyrion visibly swallows his anger and begins to act far more drunk than he actually is, intentionally humiliating himself, and says he only made a bad joke. It isn't clear if anyone in the room, including Tywin or Joffrey, think that Tyrion's outburst was simply due to being very drunk, but everyone plays along anyway to help the tension pass. Finally Tyrion, while pretending to be so drunk he can barely stand, escorts Sansa to their bedchamber.
Once they are alone in their quarters, a tense moment passes as Sansa nervously and slowly undresses. Tyrion ultimately tells her to stop, deciding that he will not consummate the marriage at his father's demands but will only have sex with her when Sansa wants him to. When Sansa questions what he will do if she never does, Tyrion sarcastically jokes "And now my watch begins" - implying that his marriage will be celibate for all time like a brother of the Night's Watch - and then abruptly passes out on a nearby couch. The following morning, Shae notices with a hint of a smile that Sansa's bed sheets are not stained with blood and Tyrion's virgin bride is still a virgin.
- 18 of 27 cast members for the third season appear in this episode.
- Starring cast members Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister), Kit Harington (Jon Snow), Richard Madden (Robb Stark), Michelle Fairley (Catelyn Stark), Aidan Gillen (Petyr Baelish), Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy), Oona Chaplin (Talisa Stark), Isaac Hempstead-Wright (Bran Stark) and Rose Leslie (Ygritte) are not credited and do not appear in this episode.
- There was a two-week break between "Second Sons" and "The Rains of Castamere", due to the Memorial Day holiday on May 26th in the United States. Since HBO is a premium channel, they usually don't bother skipping holiday weeks as network and cable broadcasters do. However, "Blackwater" aired over Memorial Day in 2012 and took a slight dip in TV ratings, so HBO opted to just take the week off for Season 3.
- The title of the episode refers to the Second Sons, a mercenary company in Essos, which is led by Mero, nicknamed "The Titan's Bastard".
- The Second Sons in the TV series have been condensed with a second mercenary company which Meereen hired, the Stormcrows. In the books, Mero is captain of the Second Sons and Daario is his lieutenant, while Prendhal na Ghezn is a captain of the Stormcrows.
- On a looser level, the entire episode deals with "second sons" of various forms: Tyrion is the spurned younger son of Tywin Lannister, and is being forced into marriage to further his father's plans; Sandor is the second Clegane son, but unlike his brother Gregor he has turned his back on the Lannisters; Stannis was the second Baratheon son after Robert, and is struggling with how to claim the throne of his deceased brother; Gendry is functionallya "second son" (a less well-regarded son) due to his bastard status; similar to Gendry, Samwell talks with Gilly about how his father was cruel to him - even though Sam actually was his father's firstborn son, he considered Sam a disgrace and functionally the "second son" behind Sam's younger brother.
- The doll that sits next to Sansa Stark's mirror in her first scene of the episode is the same one that her father Eddard Stark gave to her as a gift back in episode 3 of Season 1, "Lord Snow", though at the time she said she was too old to play with dolls. Eddard said it was made by the same toymaker who produces dolls for Princess Myrcella Baratheon.
- Sansa apparently covered Tyrion with a blanket some time after he passed out on the couch (unless he got up in the middle of the night, but it's strongly implied that we are later shown when he first wakes up).
- Sansa stated that she was thirteen years old when Cersei asked her in the first episode of Season 1. Two seasons later, she says in this episode that she is fourteen, not fifteen. Other statements imply a general rule that one season equals one year within the storyline, so it might simply be that almost two years have passed, and Sansa herself just hasn't reached her fifteenth nameday yet.
- This is the first time that Samwell Tarly's father has been explicitly referred to in-dialogue as Randyll Tarly. Sam just referred to him as "my father" in Seasons 1 and 2. Lord Randyll's name was first mentioned in dialogue by Davos Seaworth in the Season 2 premiere, though he didn't mention that he had a son named Samwell.
- The significance of dragonglass is finally revealed: the substance is lethal to White Walkers. The cache of dragonglass daggers was discovered at the Fist of the First Men in episode 8 of Season 2, "The Prince of Winterfell" (exactly one season ago), but none of those who found it had any guess as to its purpose.
- The White Walker appearing this episode is visually identical to the one Sam encountered at the Battle of the Fist of the First Men. However, Gilly says that he is here to take her son, suggesting he is the same one that Jon Snow encountered at Craster's Keep.
- This episode was nominated for the 2013 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Hairstyling for a Single-Camera Series.