We are officially past the halfway point of this shortened Game of Thrones season. Tear And what do they do to console us? Well, besides the episode leaking earlier this week (drama!), the GoT showrunners gave us the shortest episode in the history of the show. However, what it lacked in minutes, it made up for in action with arguably the most packed 50 minutes we’ve seen this season. So let’s unpack!
The biggest OMG plot point first…
After six and a half seasons of buildup, we finally see how dragons factor into a true battle, and it ain’t pretty. Rewinding just a little bit, when Daenerys gets the news that the siege of Casterly Rock was successful, but not in all the ways they had hoped—i.e. as Tyrion had promised—she gets understandably angry. Dany, rightfully, begins to question the judgment and “clever plans” of her hand, and even turns to Jon for advice. He gives a very Jon-like inspirational speech about how killing people and being ruthless with dragonfire is just the same as every other reckless leader in Westeros history. If Dany wants to be different, she has to win over her future subjects in another way. Food for thought. Except we get an amazing plot twist when Theon returns to give more bad news from the battlefront and we find out the Mother of Dragons has flown the coop. I wasn’t sure if we’d get an answer this episode, the way they revealed she had left Dragonstone was very ~look off into the distance and wonder~ but boy did we get an answer.
We revisit Jaime who’s wrapping up post Highgarden attack matters (including getting Cersei’s promised gold in line for the Iron Bank and doing as Lannisters do; paying debts) when Jaime and his men hear a faint rumbling from just over the hill. Let’s just say the storm clouds coming weren’t thunder. Jaime hastily gets his men in line with their armor, shields, and spears, which offers a brilliant contrast to the haphazard way the Dothraki army charges at the organized, trained soldiers. This is already unlike any battle we’ve seen on the show, with unarmored men carrying arakhs against the traditionally outfitted Lannister army. The bloodbath begins, and just as we settle in for an epic fight, we catch a glimpse of The Unburnt flying up to burn the hell out of these men who made her angry. In this shot we got two answers: where Dany went, and what decision she made in terms of strategy. She’s boots on the ground now. You know, figuratively.
We’ve seen a lot of brutal deaths on this show, but burning alive from dragon fire seems like it could be one of the worst ways to go. Dany doesn’t waste time with traditional weapons and individual killings, she goes big, unleashing swaths of firebreath over the assembled masses. Jaime looks completely lost. He’s an experienced fighter and commander, but none of his training could have prepared him for this. Even regardless of the dragon, the Dothraki—with their non-Westerosi weapons—charging in no holds barred has him fazed. Man, what a sight.
We also find out that Cersei has wasted no time on her dragon contingency plan. Bronn unleashes the dragon-killing spear and misses, which lets Dany know that maybe in this bizarre game of war rock, paper, scissors, dragon doesn’t always beat man. When he unleashes the second spear, he hits the target and Daenerys looks like she’s going down. And she does, but the spear hasn’t put out the fire, and Jaime’s army still isn’t safe. Neither, however, is Dany. She dismounts to take the spear out of her dragon child and Jaime seizes his chance to kill the rival queen. This is huge. We haven’t seen two main characters at each other’s throats in a battle like this, since, well…at all. Luckily someone (a dragon) has her back.
It seems like both can’t get out of this situation alive, but in a sort of lame save, Jaime gets thrown into the ocean while a bunch of horses get taken out by fire and Dany remains in one piece. The episode left Jaime’s fate up in the air…or down in the sea I should say, and we don’t see Dany after her near death experience. We can’t know for sure, but it seems pretty clear who came out on top of this one. Dany has a new strategy, and it’s called scorched earth.
Fact: Jon Snow does his best work in caves.
When the episode opened, and then quickly cut away from Jaime and his post-Highgarden-battle brooding, it was hard to guess that we’d return there for a last scene unlike any we’ve seen so far in the show (except, of course, the Battle of the Bastards). When it comes to Dany, we saw a big shift in the episode for her, too. We opened on her and Missandei having some really endearing girl talk. We almost get a “tell me everything” type scene about her steamy night with Grey Worm, but clueless Jon had to come in at the most inconvenient time. Damn.
He takes her into a cave to “show her something,” but based on some theories and the last time we saw Jon in a cave, I definitely wondered if this episode was going to stay PG. Jon did keep things honorable; he just wanted to show Dany the dragon glass. But he also stumbled upon some ancient cave drawings from the children of the forest, which showed another time when enemies worked together to defeat the army of the dead. Jon has a semi-flirty “I told you so” moment that involved close-talking with Daenerys, and she seems to warm to him a bit (get it? Fire and ice!!), but not enough to drop the bend the knee requirement for full loyalty. Jon still has some issues with it.
Arya and Sansa, together at last!
Things were a little more lighthearted up in Winterfell this week. Arya, true to form, sneaks her way past guards when they won’t let her into her own home. Missed you last week, girl! Seriously, nothing can come easy for her. When the guards trip over their words trying to explain to Sansa that she got away, the Lady of Winterfell knows her sister well enough to know it is actually her. They have a joyful reunion that begins with some sisterly teasing. The last time Arya saw Sansa—which was way back in season 1, I know—she was preparing to watch her father die, and now they reunite over his grave. It’s so heartwarming to see the sisters back on screen together again, even under the circumstances. They’ve both grown and been through so much hardship, but in such different ways. Things are a little awkward between them, after all, Sansa’s always been a “lady” and Arya a fighter. But it’s not a totally bad awkward.
When they go to see Bran, he gives Arya the same dead-eyed hug he gave Sansa. We find out earlier that he doesn’t consider himself to be Bran, or even a Stark anymore. His body is of service to the Three Eyed Raven and he’s seen it all. He comes off a little creepy, but, eh, nothing out of the norm for this show, right? The three siblings all regard each other kind of hesitantly, not without respect, but they’ve all grown into people who are no longer familiar to one another. All is well on the surface for now at Winterfell, but now that it’s almost a full house and the Night King is on his way down, we’ll see how things pan out.
Now for some moments we don’t want to forget:
-Arya’s weapons list grows as her kill list shortens. This week’s addition: the Valyrian Steel dagger Bran gifts to her. People keep laughing at her for wanting to kill people, including Sansa this episode. But once Bran confirms her plan is real, and Sansa witnesses the epic sword play between her sister and Brienne, she seems to get that Arya is not messing around. One important thing to note: Valyrian Steel kills white walkers. Something to think about…
-Littlefinger is laying it on thick this week. He sucks up to Bran, who isn’t having it. And then he sets his sights on Arya, who stares him down when he bows his head to her. It doesn’t seem to matter whether or not he’s on her kill list, she seems to have plans for him. (Remember: she once served Tywin Lannister and witnessed Littlefinger betraying her father. The North never forgets.) Meanwhile, we’re trying to figure out what he’s cooking up with all his sucking up.
-Davos has some jokez this week when he tells Jon he might switch sides after hearing of Dany’s freedom policy. Also, did you catch that boob joke?
-Jon also got a chuckle out of me when Davos is trying to figure out exactly what to call him, and the humble bastard king truly doesn’t care.
-I thought the Jon/Missandei exchange about his bastard situation might open up some realizations into his true lineage, but it seems like they’re saving that for a later date. We’ll wait.
In case you missed any of our other season 7 recaps, check out:
–Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 3 Recap: Daenerys and Jon Finally Meet
–Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 2 Recap: Melisandre Returns and Arya’s (Maybe) Going Home
–Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 1 Recap: Ed Sheeran Cameos, Dany Goes Home, and More