Jon and Catelyn learn details in this section that change their perspectives. Jon has the first inkling that he might not be merely human but a warg, which is not a realization he happily invites. Moreover, his conversation with Ygritte after her capture causes him to reevaluate his way of thinking in a few regards. Ygritte comments that the Starks live in the South, for instance, and when Jon objects, she points out that everything beyond the Wall is south to them. The distinction isn't momentous, but it illustrates the notion that so-called truths are at least sometimes based on perspective. The more important information Ygritte tells Jon is about Bael the Bard's dealings with the Starks. Though Jon doesn't necessarily believe the story, he cannot conclusively counter it either, causing him to question what he thought he knew about his family's bloodline. Catelyn (and very likely the reader) has a similar experience with Jaime, when he tells Catelyn the truth about Bran and then describes what sort of king Aerys Targaryen was. Catelyn sees that the man she and countless others have villainized for slaying Aerys may have in fact had good reason to do so, and that perhaps, whatever else he is, he is honest.

Sansa, meanwhile, continues to learn the hard truth that life is not at all like her romantic fantasies. The Hound actually mocks her naivete after she calls him brave for saving her, and he berates her for her romantic ideals about knights. Knights, he says, don't exist. There are only the strong and the weak. Later, when Sansa gets her period for the first time and tells Cersei disappointedly that she thought it would be magical, Cersei quickly disabuses her of that idea. She tells Sansa that a woman’s life is mostly mess and suffering. Though Sansa wants to disagree with both the Hound and Cersei and continue to believe that ideas like honor and chivalry are real, all her experiences in the novels thus far have only confirmed the Hound's and Cersei's words. It is clear that her outlook on the world is growing more cynical as a consequence.

Where before the animosity between Tyrion and Cersei had remained in check, it now turns to outright attacks as both wrestle for control of King's Landing. The meetings between Tyrion and Cersei have been filled with their jibes at one another and their mutual contempt, but they have generally maintained a sort of truce knowing that both wanted the same end. Here, however, Cersei crosses that line by threatening to kill the woman she thinks Tyrion loves if any harm comes to Joff or Tommen, whom Tyrion's men are looking after. The threat, she seems to believe, will keep her sons safe and give her leverage over Tyrion in their power struggle. The move, however, prompts Tyrion to reciprocate with his own hostility as he warns her, albeit not sincerely as his inner thoughts make clear, that he will inflict the same harm on Tommen that Cersei inflicts on the woman, including beatings and rapes. Cersei is so infuriated that she lunges at him, but Tyrion catches her arm and hurts her. The episode suggests that a barrier has been broken, and the hostility between Tyrion and Cersei will no longer remain in check.

Theon's chapter revolves around his desperate attempt to maintain his control as he battles against several different forces. These forces are his father and the people of the Iron Islands, who appear to feel Theon has been away too long and is now more Stark than Greyjoy; his sister Asha, who is main rival for his father's respect as she is a seasoned sailor and commands the respect of her father and the Iron Islanders; and Theon's own inexperience, ineptitude, and pride. These last factors leave Theon at once uncertain what to do but unwilling to admit it as he attempts to prove to his father and everyone else that he deserves to one day rule the Iron Islands. They are demonstrated most clearly in the faked executions of Bran and Rickon. Theon wants to show that he is fearsome and to be respected, but the plan backfires in that the people of Winterfell see him only with contempt, apparently leading to the murders of his men that follow. Even the battle-hardened Asha is horrified at what she thinks Theon has done, and she has the sense to realize how foolish it was, precisely because of how it makes Theon look. Instead of consolidating Theon's grip on power, his deception has weakened it.