Queen Cersei (Lena Headey) isn't happy about being forced to remarry… (HBO )
Teen Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) marry Tyrion "the Imp" Lannister (Peter Dinklage), a man twice her age and half her size?
Incestuous Queen Cersei (Lena Headey) marry Sir Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones)? A handsome young man, surely, but one who finds knights more attractive than ladies.
Who's behind this seemingly bizarre matchmaking? As we learn in Episode 25 of HBO's "Game of Thrones," it's Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance), a pragmatic tyrant motivated by power and wealth, not romantic niceties.
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"That's cruel, even for you," blurts out Tyrion upon learning of his father's scheme.
Sister Cersei is equally upset. "I am Queen Regent, not some brood mare," she haughtily insists.
If Tywin's marriage brokering succeeds, House Lannister gains a tighter grip on the Seven Kingdoms.
Given that Sansa is heir to Winterfell, capitol of the North, Tywin doesn't want that land falling under House Tyrell control through a marriage between Sansa and Loras. So if Cersei marries Loras, problem solved.
And as for nubile Sansa, dwarf Tyrion must "wed her, bed her and put a child in her," Tywin orders.
Elsewhere in war-torn Westeros, the youngest Stark daughter, Arya (Maisie Williams), remains a guest/hostage of the Brotherhood Without Banners. In their secret lair, Arya watches intently as murderous Sandor "The Hound" Clegane (Rory McCann) battles outlaw leader Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer) in a trial by combat. The Lord of Light, not mere mortals, will judge the Hound, who earns his freedom by killing Beric.
But wait! Beric has more lives than a cat, for he's brought back from the dead by Thoros of Myr (Paul Kaye), a priest with otherworldly skills.
The Hound's reprieve enrages Arya, who screams "burn in hell" as the Brothers restrain her. Hades may indeed be this beastly bully's final destination, but for now the Lord of Light has other plans.
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Elsewhere, King in the North Robb Stark (Richard Madden) makes a fateful decision that prompts nearly half his army to march home. After five of his men take revenge on the Lannisters by murdering their captive grandsons, Robb metes out justice. He hangs four of the men for treason and beheads the fifth: Lord Karstark (John Stahl).
Now Robb needs a new mission "and new troops" to continue his quest for the Iron Throne.
Meanwhile, Robb's half-brother Jon Snow (Kit Harington) continues cutting ties with the Night's Watch and its strict code of conduct. Jon is part of the wildling army now "dedicated to destroying the eerie White Walkers" so he reluctantly shares details about Night's Watch fortifications.
And what about Jon's vow of chastity? Wildling redhead Ygritte (Rose Leslie) has amour on her mind as she lures Jon out of the frigid north air and into a steamy cave fed by hot springs.
"We shouldn't," Jon protests. "We should," Ygritte coos. So much for celibacy!
Another watery encounter "not that kind of encounter" takes place between Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and escort Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) after they're delivered by tracker Locke (Noah Taylor) to Lord Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton).
Treated as guests, not captives, in their new surroundings, Jaime and Brienne deepen their unlikely relationship in a medieval hot tub. Turns out that Jaime, reviled as the traitorous "Kingslayer" for backstabbing "Mad King" Aerys II Targaryen, may not deserve his demeaning moniker.
As he reveals to Brienne, Jaime was horrified that Aerys planned to burn thousands of innocents with wildfire. Aerys also ordered Jaime to kill his own father, forcing Jaime to choose between protecting a crazy monarch and doing what's best for King's Landing and House Lannister.