If you remember, last year I did Game of Thrones reviews as fanposts, in part because we were under brand new management and some pretty intense stuff was happening, so I didn’t want to upset the apple cart. But, Kendall asked me to do them again this year as main posts, so here we go. After well over a year, Game of Thrones is back. So, let’s take a break from Media Days and talk about it.
Shall we begin?
Arya hosts a dinner party and holy crap is it spectacular. For all of the crap that the show has dumped on Arya over six seasons, this was some satisfying revenge. More on it below.
For the first time, the Credits don’t feature any cities from Essos (because of course they wouldn’t). Then there’s the Night King and his Army of the Dead and omgomgomgomg he has giant wights too we are so screwed.
Bran shows up at the front doorstep of the Wall peddling Trail’s End Popcorn. Dolorous Edd completely forgets that Bran Stark is Jon’s
brother cousin. I guess Bran’s Three-Eyed Ravenness allows him to see that Jon isn’t part of the Night’s Watch anymore, because Edd just lets them in without even an “oh hey you’re Jon’s brother cousin I was like his best friend outside of Sam.” But this is the penultimate season and we don’t have time for it, so off we go. (yes, I’m being tongue-in-cheek here.)
For the first time since making her debut last season, Lyanna Mormont manages to not steal an entire scene but still manages to destroy Robett Glover in the process while Jon and Sansa bicker like
brother and sister cousins who know each other really well. Sansa wants her brother cousin to take her ideas seriously and heed her council while Jon just wants his sister cousin to love him.
Cersei and Jaime hang out on the surface of a giant map of Westeros because Cersei can’t be outdone by Aegon and his painted table. Cersei thinks that the 7 Kingdoms are hers and Jaime’s to take, but Jaime responds with, “Cersei, I don’t think you understand. It’s literally just the two of us against the rest of the kingdoms.” But in true Mad Queen style, she’s making alliances with the most unstable of creatures in Euron Greyjoy (who, apparently found enough wood on the Iron Islands to build his thousand ships). Euron proposes to Cersei, revealing all he’s ever wanted in life was to marry the “most beautiful woman in the world” because he’s really a softie on the inside and not a murderous pirate. Plus, he promises to bring her a priceless gift, and we all breathed a sigh of relief when he didn’t drop his pants to show her his “big c—k.”
Meanwhile, down in Oldtown, SAM GETS A MONTAGE!! Yeah, it’s a montage of serving slop and picking up poop without any music, but hey, a montage is a montage. Then he’s hanging with Jim Broadbent as Archmaester Ebrose (thanks IMDB) and looking to get access to the Restricted Section because Madam Pince won’t let him back there and he’s fresh out of Invisibility Cloaks. While Jim Broadbent believes Sam’s warnings about the White Walkers, he seems unconcerned and won’t let Sam into the Restricted Section, presumably because he doesn’t have one thing:
Tormund still has a thing for Brienne, which is awesome; Littlefinger still has a thing for Sansa, which is creepy. Arya hangs out with a bunch of Lannister soldiers and Ed Sheeran (though I had to google Ed Sheeran because I have no idea who that is). I did appreciate the song, though, which a singer wrote about Tyrion and She in the books, before Tyrion has the singer cooked into a bowl of Flea Bottom Brown. Anyway, Arya has the murder eyes for them but they start talking about their wives, children and dads so she lets them off the hook this time.
Thoros and Sandor Clegane are the next GoT pairing in line for a buddy cop spinoff as they find the house that the Hound and Arya visited in like Season 4 that nobody remembered save that excellent recap at the top of the show. The Hound’s feeling remorse about his actions here, but gazes into the fire and finds R’hllor.
Back to Sam, who finds out that Dragonstone is named quite literally. He also runs into a heavily greyscaled Jorah, setting up Jon and Dany’s inevitable meeting in the next couple of episodes. And finally, FINALLY DANY COMES HOME. She hits the beach like Captain John H. Miller, then wordlessly makes her way into Dragonstone, past the throne and into the Painted Table Room. “Shall we begin?” Yes, Dany. Yes we shall.
1. That Cold Open Though
We’re opening up with an extremely well-cut “last time on” segment, with some solid cuts and is getting me exciteOH MY GOSH SHE TOOK HIS FACE ARYA IS WEARING WALDER FREY’S FACE SHE’S GOING TO KILL THEM ALL AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAaaaaaaaaa yessssss that was so incredibly satisfying. Maybe it’s a bit macabre, but man, screw the Freys. “When people ask what happened here, tell them the North remembers. Tell them winter came for House Frey.” What. An. Opening.
2. Jon’s Kingship and Sansa’s Counsel
After reading reports that they were planning to grow the “discontent” seeds sown in Episodes 9 and 10 of last season between Jon and Sansa, I found myself apprehensive. They left the relationship on the “we have to trust each other” and “You’re a Stark to me” notes, and I worried that it would feel like a step back, that Sansa would fall back under the influence of Littlefinger. As much as I cringed through this sequence, bracing for the “Jon doesn’t listen to Sansa,” I enjoyed how it went. Sansa made an excellent point, and I braced for Jon’s stubborn response... But Jon’s response was well-reasoned also, and very much rooted in Jon’s identity as a bastard.
The follow-up scene was good, too, with them discussing the matter privately. Sansa wants to be heard, to have a voice in the room, and Jon doesn’t want to be undermined. He starts to tell her that she can question his decisions all she wants, but not do it in front of everyone, but gets interrupted when Sansa goes full Internet commenter by jumping to a Joffrey comparison. She immediately regrets the comparison, though, and things seem okay between them. For now. I can only imagine that I’ll be less comfortable with the direction this takes in coming episodes, though.
3. Jim Broadbent is Archmaester Butterman
I appreciated that he heard what Sam had to say and believed him, but there was still a bit of the “grey sheep” (for you book readers) to his response. Maesters have been there since the beginning, recording everything, and they’ll survive the New Long Night because of course they will, that’s what they do. So, while he believes Sam’s reports of what he’s seen north of the Wall, Archmaester Butterman doesn’t quite grasp the gravity of the situation. Nonetheless, I’m excited for future interactions between the two.
4. The Hound and the Fire God
While they had to do a callback in the recap so that viewers would know whose little house the Brotherhood Without Banners was visiting, it was fun to see the Hound grapple with his previous actions. He’s putting up the gruff exterior, but his inner turmoil shines through as the sequence progresses. His vision in the flames unnerves him, and here you see a bit of the brilliance of Rory McCann’s acting, as he demonstrates a subtle horror at seeing something more than just fire in the hearth. I also loved the nod to A Feast for Crows in that Sandor literally becomes The Gravedigger* in his final shots of the episode.
*Book Spoiler: Sandor has not been confirmed to still be alive in A Song of Ice and Fire, but there’s an unnamed character in a sequence at a sept that folks have labeled “The Gravedigger,” who most believe to be The Hound.
5. The Silence
No, I’m not talking about Euron Greyjoy’s flagship; I’m talking about how the director used a lack of dialogue at key points to communicate the power of the particular scene. Specifically, I’m talking about Sam’s montage and Dany’s arrival. Sam’s montage started off funny, but became increasingly uncomfortable as the cuts became faster and faster. It demonstrated that Sam is at this for a long time, but continues at it despite his personal discomfort in the situation. The length of it helps us feel his discomfort, and I thought it was executed quite well.
While Dany’s arrival on Dragonstone wasn’t exactly silent since her theme played throughout the scenes, the lack of dialogue only served to ratchet up the emotion. Dany is finally home. The endgame is truly upon us.
Honorable Mention: Costuming
Costuming is ALWAYS on point in Game of Thrones, but this episode was spectacular. Everybody’s in long sleeves now because Winter Came (for the Freys), but what stood out to me the most was the change in Zombie Mountain and the Queensguard (band name). Instead of the white cloaks with goldish armor (side note: Kingsguard armor is all white in the books, and that would have looked SO cool), they’re clad in all black. Very intimidating. Much darkness. Wow.
Just a couple here, and I’m not entirely sure about them.
I can’t quite decide if Euron is terrifying or just absurd, but my impression of him during his scene with Cersei and Jaime was Evil Jack Sparrow. I was yet again disappointed by the lack of eyepatch and “crow’s eye,” but if they’re going Evil Jack Sparrow, an eyepatch would be just a touch too on the nose, even for this show. That said, GRRM has said that Euron has a major role to play in the coming books (a really, really major role if you believe some of the theories or have read any of poorquentyn’s analysis), and while the show runners seem to be pushing him as one of the villains, book!Euron comes off as slightly less cartoony and way, way more terrifying than show!Euron in the few scenes that he does have in the books.
Plus, I’m not really sold on his motivations here. At the Kingsmoot he secured his crown by promising to woo Daenerys and her dragons... His niece and nephews steal a few ships and suddenly he decides to be on the side that doesn’t have dragons? How does that make sense? At any rate, I can’t decide if my disappointment was genuine or based in my expectations from the books. I’d love to hear y’all’s thoughts on this. I’m going to keep an open mind as he tries to steal a dragon. That’s the only logical explanation for his “priceless gift,” right?
This one is absolutely personal, as I know that many folks are excited to see her continue her kill streak... But I was disappointed by her revelation that she was headed south to King’s Landing. If she hung out at the Twins long enough to summon the entirety of the Frey family to the Murder Party, she likely was present long enough to learn that Jon is now King in the North, with Sansa by his side. Given their closeness, I’m surprised that she doesn’t turn north to be with her family in her recently-retaken home. Instead, she resolves to continue her murder spree. Color me a tad disappointed in her calculus there.
One other note here: Apparently people didn’t like the scene with Ed Sheeran, mainly because they felt like it was contrived and just a way for the show to have the cameo. I didn’t know who he was, and enjoyed the scene. I found that it introduced a bit of humanity to the Lannister armies, and reminded her that maybe not all of those fighting for the Lannisters are bad. Whether it has any sort of payoff going forward, though, remains to be seen.
I was satisfied with this episode personally. It wasn’t chock-full of action and movement, mostly because it’s a season premiere that requires a “reset” and initial placement of the pieces on the board. That might have been disappointing for some, given the promise that each of the episodes in this shortened season would “feel like a movie” or whatever, but it didn’t really bother me. Plus, the bookends of Arya’s Murder Party and Dany’s Landing at Dragonstone were perfect. I’m stoked for what’s to come.
Line of the Week
“It’s my f—ing luck I end up with a band of fire worshipers.” -Sandor Clegane