Ugh, you guys: We’re an episode short of being past the halfway point on Game of Thrones. So let’s not waste a single second and get right to it…
We knew leading up to this episode that the “big event” would be the much-anticipated face-to-face meeting between Daenerys and Jon Snow, and this episode wasted no time delivering.
It was unclear whether Jon would bend the knee, as Daenerys requested/commanded in last week’s episode—and true to form, Jon stayed on two feet. The little history lesson we got from both was a friendly reminder that alliances are sensitive and inconsistent, as we saw up north in the season premiere. We don’t know whether it was because of history, because Dany is a stranger, or because she’s a woman, but Jon had made up his mind and didn’t change it. Not surprisingly, this didn’t go over so well with our Mother of Dragons. The optics of this scene were so well done. Jon looked so small and vulnerable, with only Davos by his side. Dany, meanwhile, was on her throne with her people in front of her, starting at a moment’s notice when Jon deigned to take a step toward her. And for the second time this season, Jon went head-to-head with a family member and woman (though one of those two he doesn’t know yet). Naturally, things were tense. In their first meeting, both of them stuck to their own beliefs and agendas and nothing was accomplished. It ended with Varys coming in to deliver the news about last week’s sea battle and the unfortunate outcome of our main players, which remain unknown to the crew at Dragonstone.
Still, it was fun to see our Westeros favorites on screen together for the first time after so many seasons. This episode also gave us Tyrion calling out Jon’s brooding. Kit Harington does have an expert pensive face…
But, mostly, the two talked business. Tyrion’s reading and smarts came through here, and he made an excellent middle man, spreading reason to both parties. And, of course, Sansa turned out to be right: Jon wanted to leave quickly after his failed meeting with Dany. However, Tyrion talked him out of being so hasty. We’re still not sure yet if Dany believed Jon’s stories about the night of the living dead to come, but she let him mine her dragonglass anyway, thanks to Tyrion’s suggestion.
Down south, the true outcome of last week’s battle at sea is revealed. After a brief stop in the middle of the ocean, where Theon is pulled onto a boat and called out for lying, we now know what his crew still doesn’t: Yara is indeed alive, as are Ellaria and Tyene Sand (but possibly not for long). Euron brought his human loot to Cersei, expecting to sweep her off her feet with his kicking ass and taking names (and prisoners), but she was like, “Not so fast.” She vaguely promised to marry him once he’s won the war, but doesn’t say it in so many words. She then locked up Ellaria and Tyene—as well as Yara, we’re assuming—and we get a truly frightening performance from Lena Headey as Cersei recalled how much she loved watching Ellaria’s lover Oberyn get his eyes punched in by The Mountain. The way she told the gruesome tale felt equivalent to how murderers on Law and Order SVU describe their victims:
Yikes. But we did get some emotion out of her when she recounted how Ellaria cruelly poisoned her daughter with a kiss. During this whole monologue, I was so distracted with Cersei’s pink lip gloss because it’s a makeup choice the show doesn’t usually make…but then saw why as soon as Cersei dished out exactly what Ellaria did to Myrcella back in the season 5 finale. Cersei wanted Ellaria to watch her only remaining daughter die slowly and painfully while they’re both chained to the dungeon walls and neither of them can say anything. Savage.
Not everything is in Cersei’s control, though. Someone from the Iron Bank in Braavos paid her a visit to say she needs to pay her debts. However, she seemed unperturbed by the news that her vaults are empty. If we know Cersei, she’s neither unaware nor unprepared for the situation. As she said, “Lannisters always pay their debts.” With a smirk, she pointed out that her enemies are worth nothing to the Iron Bank. Either she has one hell of a poker face or she has a plan in progress, probably the latter.
Up in the snowy north, Sansa was settling into her role as the leader of the region in her half-brother-but-not-really’s absence. Sansa even did a walk-and-talk that rivals The West Wing; she’s the Josh Lyman of the north. And Littlefinger actually gave her some good advice: think about everything at all times as if it’s happening now, so she’ll never be surprised. We think Sansa should have learned that from someone else currently holding some prisoners and attacking some castles…but we can’t be sure.
Speaking of surprises, I was hoping for the Arya-Sansa reunion this episode, but we don’t see the youngest Stark daughter. Instead, the reunion was with Bran. Sansa cried, but Bran had a blank look that’s a little concerning. Later, he tried to explain the Three Eyed Raven to her and mostly failed. It’s not until he chillingly recalled her brutal wedding night that she maybe sort of gets it, but that’s not a memory she’d like to revisit, for obvious reasons. He told her he can see everything that’s happening as if it’s happening right now at the same time. But, wait, didn’t we just hear Littlefinger saying something about how she needs to do that?
Over at Casterly Rock, many warring worlds collided. There was a rare voiceover direction scene from Tyrion with another shot at his Wizard’s Chess board to show who is where. Things seemed precarious at first, then triumphant, when Tyrion’s genius plan of infiltrating the castle from the inside worked and Dany’s army presided over a castle full of dead men.
But…not so fast: Jaime is in command of his army. When Grey Worm asked the Lannister soldier where the rest of the promised huge army was, we got a confusing back-and-forth between Casterly Rock and the Lannister hordes. Turns out, Cersei did what Littlefinger told Sansa to do: think about everything at all times. Jaime said their home castle isn’t worth much, and they drained the stores. Instead, the Lannisters looked south to Highgarden to take Lady Olenna and the Tyrell holdings. More bad news for Daenerys. We definitely didn’t see this one coming. Lady Olenna seemed very calm to meet her end, after telling Dany last week how she’s outlived all the men in her life. She might have lost this one, but not without going out on a mic drop. Jaime seemed very smug in his victory, that is, until we close this episode with a confirmation that it was Lady Olenna who killed Joffrey with poison, shortly after she drunk hers. The look on Jaime’s face said he wanted to rethink his humane murder. Her tombstone should read: Lady Olenna Tyrell, she lived and died a badass.
And now for a few odds and ends:
-Over in Dragonstone, this exchange took place between Tyrion and Jon: “Stark men don’t fare well when they travel South.” “True, but I’m not a Stark.” Hmmmm.
-Daenerys said, “I am the last Targaryen, Jon Snow.” More hmmmmm.
-Another awww moment from Missandei when we saw her clear concern for the army’s future as they head toward Casterly Rock.
-We also got a now rare love scene between Jaime and Cersei—their relationship can make your head spin.
-Sam got off without punishment for saving Jorah’s life against orders. Maybe his hoped for “reward” will be no more disgusting tasks at the Citadel. I was happy to be spared this week.
-Now Jorah can go “home” to his queen! Get a look at the letter Jorah was writing last week with news he would die here. Let’s hope he never sent it.
-We hope Arya’s doing OK out there in the cold, wherever she is!