“Loyal service means telling hard truths.”
- Ser Davos Seaworth
The players in the Game of Thrones have rarely benefitted from telling hard truths. Jon Arryn sought King Robert Baratheon's bastard children and was poisoned. Ned Stark uncovered the truth of Joffrey's parentage and paid for the knowledge with his head. And Maester Cressen—who originally, emphatically gave Stannis the advice that Davos repeated in tonight's "The Ghost of Harrenhal"—died for the hard truths he offered about Melisandre. But none of the show's four remaining kings—and one remaining khaleesi—can conquer without a loyal army, or rule without loyal subjects. As the war rages on, and lines are drawn and redrawn, is there any loyalty left in Westeros? And in a world full of shifting priorities and uneasy alliances, who can each of the players in the game of thrones really trust?
It's a question that literally means life and death for Arya, who was snatched from the jaws of death and dropped into a Lannister lion's den. In "The Ghost of Harrenhal," Arya's greatest ally came in an unexpected form: Jaqen H'ghar, whom she saved from a burning wagon in "What is Dead May Never Die." As a sellsword, Jaqen's loyalty can be bought for a price. But Arya's bravery has earned her the right to a higher loyalty than money can purchase: three murders of her choice, which Jaqen offers as a kind of homicidal genie. Across Westeros, Catelyn's bravery is simailarly rewarded by Brienne, who swears loyalty to Catelyn in admiration of her "woman's kind of courage" in the face of Renly's death.