The Lannisters and Targaryens deal with the aftermath of Daenerys’ surprise attack, we get a number of wacky plans so crazy they just might work, and I discover how hard it is to watch Game of Thrones while you’re on vacation and your internet connection sucks. Find out if I made it through the episode without throwing the television out a window, right after the break. Spoilers ahead.
Okay, the TV is safe, but pretty much no one else in the realm is. Let’s take a quick walking tour around Westeros and find what we’ve discovered.
Somewhere Between Highgarden and Kings Landing
The first thing we discover is, while Varys likely isn’t a merman, Bronn just might be. Because I can come up with no other explanation how he managed to swim a quarter-mile underwater dragging an armored, one-armed Lannister away from the scavenging Dothraki and a pissed off dragon.
Then again, Dany and Drogon are pretty busy. What with all the making Lannister soldiers go all bendy-kneed and flame-broiling Tarleys, and such. I don’t have much grief for seeing bad-dad Randyll do the fire walk, but I thought Dickon might have some story to share. Guess I was wrong ….again.
I’m not so sure Dany was wrong. And while we (and Varys and Tyrion) are getting worried that she is getting all Mad Queeny, I think the way – which saw the entire army dropping the knee in fear – justified the means. “I gave them a choice,” she explains to a heartbroken Tyrion. And as Tarley stated earlier, there are no good choices in war. Dany, despite her speech about breaking the wheel for the poor in Westeros as she did for the slaves in Essos, will likely never be seen as a liberator on Westeros. And if she can’t be loved by everyone on this continent, she’s going to have to rely on fear.
So, Jon and Drogon sure hit it off well. They are cousins, after all, so I guess this was a family reunion of sorts. It was something to watch our dour King of the North hesitantly petting the dragon’s maw and making it purr like a kitten. Even better watching Dany’s look of wonder as he did so. I guess this pretty much seals his Targaryen credentials.
There is definitely a frantic sense of trying to get everything the writers need to get done in an ever-decreasing amount of time, and it really was evident in the crazy scheme Jon and Tyrion hatched at the war table. Let’s see if I can capture the essence… Davos is going to smuggle Tyrion into Kings Landing, so Tyrion can convince Jaime (who wants him dead) to convince Cersei to send men to the wall to fight the Night King; while Jon heads north with his band of not-so merry men, to capture a wight to prove that the dead now walk the frozen north. Yeah, that will never work.
Except it does. At least the first part does. Tyrion meets Jaime in the dungeons, with Bronn’s help. Even though Cersei knew about it, and let it happen because suddenly she thinks a cease fire will be in her best interests. I don’t know where Cersei has found this sudden restraint, but if it keeps Tyrion alive for another few episodes, I’ll buy it. And I’ll guess I’ll buy the newest Lannister incest-baby giving Jaime a new reason to fight, though whether this classifies as a ‘jump the shark’ moment for the series, I guess will remain to be seen.
At least we finally get Gendry, super-smith. Not only was the Baratheon bastard in the most obvious place (handing out in Kings Landing making swords), he’s got, a badass new hammer (his dad’s weapon of choice) some mad new skull-bashing skills, and just enough simmering Lannister resentment to use them. I really thought his appearance would be a one-and done (see, Pie, Hot), and he’d spend the rest of the series making dragonglass weapons, but it looks like the writers wanted to keep this fan favorite in the action. Let’s hope he can handle the undead as well as he can the town guard, or things will get ugly for the bastard.
Oh boy, looks like Littlefinger is in full scheme mode, and is winning again. I don’t think it was an accident that the Knights of the Vale reminded Sansa why they were there (for her). I took Arya’s look in the great hall to be one of admiration as Sansa said all the right things, but their conversation turned dark awfully quick, with Arya commenting on everything from the fact that Sansa was staying in their parents’ chambers (you always liked nice things…) to how much bannermen who speak out against the family should lose their heads to pulling a complete Professor X and pulling Sansa’s hopes and fears right from her ambitious little forehead.
And I’m really starting to believe the fan theories that Baelish is a faceless man himself, because it’s ridiculous how quickly he turned this around and knew Arya would take the bait. The note she found, was the one Sansa sent (under duress) to Kings Landing when Ned was first captured, urging the family to bend the knee (yet another call back to season one). I confess, I’m feeling a little dismayed that things have begun to fritter around the edges so easily. Not sure what Jon’s going to return home to (if he returns home).
I’ve decided that the Maesters in Oldtown represent us audience members who complain about things like time and distance and how far a one-armed man can swim underwater on a show about dragons and ice zombies. Jeez, those guys are jerks. I keep waiting to find out Archmaester Slughorn knows more than he is letting on and is going to do something useful or wise, but I’m no longer holding my breath. Especially now that Sam has taken his whole “thievin’ for the good of the realm” thing back on the road.
I’m not sure if he managed to pick up the right scrolls on his mad dash from The Citadel, but I’m guessing he left the most important one behind. Because, it looks like buried in the number of shits some old maester took twenty-some years ago, was the news that Jon Snow’s real mom and dad (Rhaegar Targaryan and Lyanna Stark) were, in fact, married – courtesy of an annulment performed right before Robert’s Rebellion. This means our King of the North may be, in fact, the true heir to the Iron Throne. Wonder if Dany will bend the knee?
Finally, we get to Eastwatch, with nary an ice zombie or undead king to be seen (yet). Good news: Jon will be supplementing his super-team of Captain Friendzone, the Onion Knight, and Gendry with the almost dead Beric Dondarrion, Thoros the drunken miracle priest, and the Hound. And it looks like he’s going to need them all next week, as they try to take on the army of the dead. I don’t expect it to end well.
I have to tell you, the pacing really is getting exhausting. I don’t even care about the short-time armies and navies can travel long distances now. I’m talking about some pretty glaring plot-holes that they just don’t have time to fill. Bronn’s Aquaman impersonation was only the most obvious, but how in seven-hells did Tyrion manage to find Bronn in all of Kings Landing? How did Littlefinger know Arya would find the incriminating note from Sansa stuffed in the mattress (why not leave it out if), and if Jaime has been fighting outside Highgarden for the last few months, when did he have time to put an incest baby into Cersei?
What the hell are she and Qyburn up to? Got to be something big, since they dropped hints about their little confabs like three times throughout the episode. “Why is Qyburn here?” Jaime asks… “Why are YOU here,” Cersei shoots back… oh Cersei, you cheeky little mad queen.
Am I the only one who cringed and thought “Step back, girl, that man is still unclean” every time Dany touched Jorah’s hand or gave him a hug. I mean, I know he’s supposed to be cured, but it was just too easy. How much would it suck if Dany wins the throne and ends up with a raging case of greyscale for her troubles?
Lastly, loved the little shout-out the writers gave to all the Gendry memes that have cropped up over the years since Davos put him in that rowboat. “I thought you might still be rowing,” he says, and a million people shouted at the television, “so did we!”
So what’s next as we reach the penultimate episode of this penultimate season. Trailer-wise, it looks like a whole lot of running through ice, Dany and Tyrion exchanging troubled glances, and Arya making lots of creepy assassin eyes at a frightened Sansa. Should be a fun time as we discover that “Death is the Enemy.” See you next week.