It can be difficult to catch every moment in Game of Thrones because of how the episodes are often shot. Some scenes are simply too dark to make out specific details; others are paced so quickly that it’s nearly impossible to follow along with.
[Warning: The following contains spoilers for the most recent episode of Game of Thrones.]
This week on Game of Thrones we got to see the incomparable Euron Greyjoy in action, launching a naval attack on the Sand Snakes with the crew aboard his ship, The Silence. In the first episode of this season, Greyjoy promised that he would deliver a gift to Cersei and he did. By setting his sights on the women that killed Cersei’s daughter, he gave the current queen sitting atop the Iron Throne the best gift she could ask for.
The battle scene is one of the more uniquely choreographed fight scenes in Game of Thrones, but because the framerate is so incredibly fast, it’s hard to pay attention to what’s happening in the background. If you slow it down, however, and really pay attention, you’ll notice his crew cutting out the tongues of those they have captured.
This may seem like nothing more than a deranged torture method, but there’s actually a reason for the slicing. In the books, Euron Greyjoy would cut the tongues out of the men whose lives he chose to spare after raiding their ships. The idea was to essentially not allow them to talk back, question his command or enact mutiny against him during their travels. Greyjoy would collect these men and, in return for sparing their lives, they would help him during his raids, cutting out the tongues of men they captured and keeping the vicious cycle going.
In the scene where Euron is holding Yara hostage, asking Theon to make a decision regarding the fate of his sister, you can see the men in the background cutting out the tongues of men, paying homage to the ritual that appears in the books.
This isn’t the only subtle nod showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss included in the episode, either. The axe that Euron wields in the episode is a tribute to his brother, Victarion, who unfortunately did not make it into the series.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.