Mance Rayder's army has finally reached the Wall! It's seven hundred feet of vertical ice, so they spend almost the entire episode climbing it. Somewhat to my surprise, no one important falls to their death, although Orell does cut Jon and Ygritte free when there's a Wall-avalanche. When they reach the top, Ygritte takes a moment to enjoy the scenery on both sides. Then she has to stop appreciating the greenery because Jon wants to kiss her.
Walder Frey has sent envoys to tell Robb Stark that he'd be delighted to resume their alliance and contribute some troops to his cause, just as soon as Robb makes a public apology for not marrying his daughter. He also wants Edmure Tully to marry one of the Frey daughters, which Edmure objects to until the Blackfish threatens him. So everything's looking good on the Stark-Frey front.
Remember when Melisandre told Stannis she needed the "blood of a king" to do some magic? It turns out she was thinking of Gendry. So just as he's settling into his new role as the Brotherhood's blacksmith, Melisandre comes in with some soldiers and take him away in a cart. Arya is very angry about this.
In "barely in the episode" storylines, Meera and Osha are starting to hate each other and bicker over the correct way to skin a rabbit. Sam and Gilly are getting along much better on their flight back down to the Wall, although Gilly has to explain to him how to build a fire. And Theon is still getting tortured by a weirdo who won't explain who he is or why he's doing it.
The action in King's Landing is getting hotter, as Tyrion and Cersei put aside their differences to commiserate about the marriages they're about to be forced into. Olenna and Tywin have a meeting where Olenna tries to get out of marrying Loras to Cersei, and Tywin wins on points. Then Sansa has to be told that she's marrying Tyrion, and she doesn't take the news well. Finally, Varys and Littlefinger talk about what fun they have foiling each other's plans and it turns out that Littlefinger handed Ros over to Joffrey to play St. Sebastian. That means he killed her with crossbow bolts, if you're not up on your classical references.
Credits. King's Landing, Harrenhal, Riverrun, Winterfell, the Wall, Yunkai. Same as last week. We haven't seen the real Yunkai yet; just the one on the map.
Samwell Tarly tries to make a fire. Gilly tells him he's got too much wood and explains how to make it work. When Sam takes the giant log out of the fire, it flares up very nicely. That looks cool, but shouldn't they be worried about those Night's Watch men who threatened to come after them? Maybe a blazing campfire isn't the best plan. Sam's not good at building fires because he always had someone building them for him, like in the first episode of Downton Abbey. Gilly is confused at the idea of someone building fires for him. Sam explains that you don't always need fires down south. But they also had servants. Then he says he found something at the Fist of the First Men. It's a crude spearhead, chipped out of some sort of stone. Keep an eye on that thing. Sam promises the Wall is only a few days away. It's "so big, you can't even see the top sometimes." And if that's too poetic a description, he explains that it's 700 feet high. That's a hundred feet higher than the Space Needle, which is a description that probably won't help anyone. Gilly is skeptical of anything being that high, especially all made of ice. Physics agrees with your skepticism, Gilly. Sam talks rapturously of the fire in the Long Hall, which is kept burning all the time. And there's food. And singing! But not by Sam. She tells him to sing her a song. His song starts with, "The Father's face is stern and strong." It also has a verse for the Mother. And probably more, but we go away. It's kind of a nice scene for them. No one's raping or killing anybody, and they're just sitting around a fire singing songs. At this point in the series, I'm pleased when anyone gets a fleeting moment of peace. In fact, I'd be up for thirty seconds per episode being spent on Hot Pie. He doesn't even need to have dialogue; they could just show him baking something. Then get back to the high drama.
Meera and Osha are skinning rabbits. And Osha is not happy with Meera's technique, feeling that her method is far superior to anything any stupid south-of-the-Wall-dweller could manage. Meera thinks she should get extra points for having killed the rabbits, but Osha says she could do just as well if she had a bow. This backfires on her because Meera made her bow herself. Bran tells them they're both very good at skinning rabbits, as he's not very good at subtext yet. The argument does not get defused so easily: Meera says some people would be thankful for rabbits. Not Osha, though -- she takes it to the next level: "You've got a big mouth and too many teeth." Bran tells them to stop fighting and make peace. Osha ignores him. Meera admits that Osha's rabbit-skinning technique is faster than hers, and Osha thanks her for hunting. Meera digs at her a little about how good manners cost nothing, and Osha doesn't appear to be in the mood for it. Wildlings are not big on etiquette.