And so ends the third season of HBO’s most popular show since The Sopranos. The season finales of Game of Thrones are always slightly underwhelming, since the huge, game-changing events always happen in the ninth episodes. I would’ve liked a bigger cliffhanger ending, a la last season’s White Walker invasion or season one’s dragon reveal, but the episode was solid nonetheless. It was jam-packed with storylines from all across the board, though, so let’s get to it!

King in the North no more

Roose Bolton watches the mayhem of Frey’s men slaughtering the Stark army, and to my dismay not one person rushes up and pushes that traitorous bastard to his fiery death. Instead, what we get is his horde parading around a man propped up on horseback, with a direwolf’s head where his own should be. This is, of course, Robb Stark’s mutilated body, because shooting and stabbing him did not drive the point home. WE GET IT, GUYS, HE’S DEAD. NO NEED TO PUNCH ME REPEATEDLY IN THE FACE WITH IT. The worst part is that Arya sees the whole thing.

Out on the road, Arya and The Hound overhear some of Frey’s men laughing about their horrific deeds, like how hard it was to get that wolf’s head to stay in place. Arya walks right up to them, acts like a lost little girl for about four seconds, then takes out a knife and just goes to town on one of the guys. But before she can go full Mel Gibson in The Patriot, The Hound comes in swinging and finishes off the job. Bonding!

Hell hath no fury, Jon Snow

Guess who’s managed to track down our bastard and is now pointing an arrow at him? Ygritte! She’s super pissed about her boyfriend up and leaving her last episode. Jon says he knows she won’t hurt him, and Ygritte replies (all together now), “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” He does, however, know that he loves her, and vice versa. But that’s about the extent of his knowledge, because when he turns to leave she TOTALLY SHOOTS HIM IN THE BACK. And then she shoots him again. And again. But don’t worry, no son of Boromir will be taken down by three measly arrows!

Bran meets Sam

The Bran Crew are now squatting in an abandoned Night’s Watch castle. Upgrade! They sit around a campfire, where Bran tells a spooky story about a man being turned into a rat by the gods after serving a king his own son for dinner. What the gods took issue with was not the cannibalism, per se, but rather the fact that he killed his guest. Makes sense. Hopefully Walder Frey is growing a gross hairless tail as we speak.

At night, Bran wakes to loud, lumbering sounds in the castle. Everyone freaks out while I wave my White Walker novelty foam finger excitedly. But alas, it’s just Sam! He quickly figures out that Bran is Jon’s brother and offers his services, but regrets it immediately when Bran asks to go north of the Wall. He gives them dragonglass daggers instead, which is what he used to kill that White Walker.

Later, Sam and Gilly finally arrive at Castle Black, safe and sound. Maester Aemon receives them and grants Gilly permission to stay there for a while. He then dictates a letter to Sam about the White Walkers, which will be sent out to all of Westeros.

The next day, Jon Snow shows up with those arrows still sticking out of him. He’s alive! Sam is ecstatic to see his old pal, and the boys carry him off to get help.

Frey + Bolton= BFFL <3

Frey’s maids clean up the carnage from last week. Roose Bolton paces around and worries about Catelyn’s uncle “the Blackfish” escaping. But Frey just waves his wine goblet around and toasts Bolton’s promotion to Warden of the North. Frey: “Must’ve been torture following that stupid boy all over the country.” Yes, it’s much better to stand here and watch you spit food all over the place. Bolton says he may move to Winterfell, once it’s no longer in shambles. Frey’s like “oh yeah, what’s up with that? Didn’t that Greyjoy idiot do something stupid or whatever.” Bolton explains that he sent “my bastard Ramsay” to root Theon out of Winterfell, but now Ramsay’s gone rogue. So that’s who Theon’s crazy kidnapper dude is! Well, that certainly explains why he’s such a CRUEL, UNREPENTANT D-BAG.

Every single holiday a dick in a box

So what’s new with Theon since we last saw him? Well, his junk’s been removed. But aside from that, absolutely nothing. His captor, who we now know is Ramsay Snow Bolton, compliments Theon’s, um, size while eating a sausage. Oh god—he’s not—is he? Ramsay laughs, all “I may be crazy, but I’m not eating-your-dismembered-penis-with-mustard crazy.” Well, that’s a relief. Eventually Ramsay gets all up in Theon’s personal space, sniffing his neck and basically being Top Gun-level homoerotic. He gets the brilliant idea to call Theon Reek, because he smells. The wit!

Meanwhile, at the Iron Islands, Theon’s dad reads a nasty letter that basically says “please remove your grotsky Iron bitches from the North right now or I’ll chop their balls off. xoxo, Ramsay. P.S. I’ve included your son’s dick.” Yara (Theon’s sister), meanwhile, slowly opens a box accompanying the letter. I’d be lying if I said no “Dick in a Box” jokes were made while watching this scene. Yara decides to sail over and reclaim her brother, even if their dad is all “no eunuchs.”

The Onion Knight saves the day

Davos explains his street cred to a locked-up Gendry; they’re actually from the same hood! Gendry has a serious mistrust of the 1%, especially after that whole leech scenario.

Also, Davos has learned to read! He’s still having trouble a bit of trouble, though: “Why is there a g in night?” Adorable. He reads out Stannis’s mail to Shireen (Stannis’s daughter), including the letter from the Night’s Watch. He goes to discuss it with Stannis, but instead gets into an argument about what killed Robb Stark: Melisandre’s magic, or his own stupidity? We may never know. Davos begs Stannis to drop this Lord of Light crap and let Gendry go, but Stannis is his usual brick wall self. That night, Davos sets Gendry free. Good boy! Gendry rows away from Dragonstone. But now Davos has Stannis to answer to. Stannis wastes no time in sentencing his BFF to death, but Davos informs him of the White Walker situation: “You’re going to need me.” Melisandre throws the letter in the fire and sees that he’s right.

King’s Landing

Sansa and Tyrion (and Shae) are out for a walk and they’re…getting along? What kind of Bizarro World nonsense? I’m almost afraid to be happy about this. Whenever someone smiles on this show, it means they’re about to be shot in the eye. Podrick interrupts their walk; Tyrion’s been summoned to a small council meeting.

At said meeting, Joffrey is giddy as a schoolgirl about Robb Stark’s death. He’s got big plans, you see: he’s going to serve Sansa her brother’s head at his wedding. When questioned, Joffrey flies into a rage against both Tyrion and Tywin. Tywin tells his grandson that he’s cranky and should go to bed, and Joffrey literally yells, “I’m. Not. TIRED!” Your king, ladies and gentlemen.

Then it’s just Tywin and his fave son. Tyrion is not cool with how the Red Wedding went down. Tywin: “Tell me why it’s more noble to kill ten thousand men in battle than a dozen at dinner.” Um, I could give you about 50 reasons but ok. Tyrion reminds him that the Northerners will never forget. Tywin’s like “that’s what I was aiming for.” He tells Tyrion to get busy with his wife and do his family duty, like he did when he decided not to throw baby Tyrion in the river. Cherish these family moments, guys. When Tyrion goes to Sansa, he finds her in tears and leaves her alone. So she heard the news, then?

My queen Varys tries to bribe Shae into leaving the country with a bagful of diamonds. She’s a major distraction to Tyrion, who has the brains but not the willpower to be a great man. Shae throws the bag on the ground.

That night, Tyrion and Cersei get sloshed together (Cersei: “An unhappy wife is a wine merchant’s best friend”). Cersei has no intention of actually marrying Loras. Tyrion’s like “and here I am married to Sansa like a chump.” His sister’s advice is to give Sansa a baby, so that she might have something nice in her life. Real talk: the only reason Cersei hasn’t killed herself yet is because of her children. Tyrion: “Even Joffrey?!” Yup. And I just now realized how sad Cersei’s life really is.

And look who makes a triumphant return! Jaime and Brienne make their way through King’s Landing, exchanging Significant Looks all the way. He immediately finds Cersei. Violin music swells up because romance.

Mother of slaves

Daenerys and her people wait for the slaves of Yunkai to come to her. She’s getting antsy because they’re taking so long. But finally, the gates open and out they come. She gives a speech and makes it clear that their freedom must come from themselves, not from her. Crickets chirp for a while. But finally, the former slaves start chanting “Mhysa!”—mother. Daenerys lets her dragons fly, then goes crowd surfing while Jorah, Barristan, and the rest of her people look on in admiration.