Sansa and Shae. Sansa is trying on a dress that she might wear at her wedding. She means the one she's going to have with Loras, since she's a few episodes behind. Shae does not think Sansa will be allowed to ask her family to attend, considering they're all either traitors, in hiding, thought dead, or all three. Tyrion comes in to talk to her. He would like to talk to Sansa alone, and Shae snaps, "WHY do you need to speak to her alone?" Sansa asks Tyrion to forgive her handmaiden, and assures him that she has no secrets from Shae. I like that Sansa thinks Tyrion doesn't want to talk in front of a servant, but really he doesn't want Shae learning about this wedding this way. Tyrion says, "This is awkward." Then we cut away, which is a shame. I wanted to see if Tyrion conveyed his own unhappiness with the situation.
Littlefinger is sitting in the throne room, admiring the Iron Throne. Varys walks in and says it's made of a thousand blades. That doesn't sound right, and Littlefinger says it's clearly under two hundred. He's counted. Of course he has. So we're having another scene where Varys spars with Littlefinger, which I find delightful. Varys characterizes the throne as "The Lysa Arryn of chairs." I'm not sure I agree. The throne reminds me more of Olenna Tyrell, what with all the pointy bits. Having transferred the topic to Lysa Tyrell, Varys tells Littlefinger, "Shame you had to settle for your second choice." Littlefinger thinks it's still early. Is it? We're pretty far into the third season already. I guess Littlefinger plays the long game. And he's delighted that Varys is worried about him succeeding. He admits that it's always fun to see friends fail. And then he says that he foiled Varys. Let's pause while I fill in some backstory.
You remember Ros, right? We first saw her as a prostitute at Winterfell, and then she moved to King's Landing, where she quickly started working for Littlefinger. She was in a lot of scenes, thanks to the show's tendency in previous seasons to have exposition played to a backdrop of random sex. She was also almost killed during the siege of King's Landing because Cersei thought she was Tyrion's lover. And she warned Shae about Sansa talking to Littlefinger too much. And most importantly, in the last episode of Season 2, Varys hired her as his spy in the house of Littlefinger.
With that background, Littlefinger goes on: "But your confidant. The one who fed you information about my plans. The one you swore to protect. You didn't bring her any enjoyment. And she didn't bring me any enjoyment. She was a bad investment on my part. Luckily, I have a friend who wants to try something new. Something daring. And he was so grateful to me for providing this fresh experience." Varys claims to have done everything he did for the good of the realm, and Littlefinger sneers that the realm is a lie. I think I actually believe Varys there. It's nice to think that someone's looking out for the kingdom. Varys thinks the lie protects them from chaos. Littlefinger starts pontificating, and again I object to the raspy voice he adopts: "Chaos isn't our pit. Chaos is our ladder." As he talks in abstracts, we see that Joffrey has been shooting crossbow bolts into Ros. So much for her, then. I liked her, but I guess she was out of her depth. Varys sneers at the common people: "They cling to the realm. Or the gods. Or love. Illusions. Only the ladder is real." The ladder is chaos. Out at a scenic overlook, Sansa cries and looks out into the water at Littlefinger's boat. She has learned that she'll be marrying Tyrion, then. Littlefinger says, "The climb is all there is." He's not even a pragmatist; he's an opportunist.