Sorry for the fact that this is being posted at a time closer to the next episode than the one that just aired. Also, sorry not sorry if you don’t watch Game of Thrones and think we should #sticktosports.
We’re kicking it into high gear this week. We’re bouncing around so much that I had to go back and rewatch the first couple of scenes just to remember where we started.
Oh yes, Dany is taking counsel, but points out how Varys, y’know, served her father, then served Robert Baratheon, then, y’know, tried to have her killed. Granted, the assassin that was hired wasn’t exactly the most competent of killers, but whatever. At any rate, Varys says what he always says here... He serves the realm. That seems good enough to Dany, except she’s gotta get in that “betray me and I’ll burn you alive” thing that’s only fitting for the Mother of Dragons.
Next up, the Mother of Dragons links up with the Mother of Smoke Babies, Melisandre. Varys points out that Melly Mel served Stannis once... Of course, Dany smacks him down by reminding him of the conversation they just had like two and a half seconds ago about all the kings that Varys served. Missandei “well actually”s Dany’s interpretation of the Valyrian word prince. Book readers everywhere either scream that she stole Maester Aemon’s line. Mel, on the other hand, looks somewhat cowed by her time in the north. She’s still the Red Woman, but instead of the Fire Engine Red Woman she’s more like the Almost Maroon Woman. Instead of making bold claims about who the Prince That Was Promised is, she’s hedging a touch. It’s a better look for her. She points out that Jon Snow is now King in the North, which surprises and delights Tyrion. And us, because now the two biggest hopes in the War for the Dawn are mentioning each other in sentences. Dany orders a raven sent to Winterfell with a dinner invite for Jon.
Cut to Winterfell, where the raven’s already arrived. Uh. Okay. I get that Oldtown’s on the south coast and Dragonstone’s kinda centrally located, but dang. I could spend probably 3,000 words on travel times, raven flightpaths, and show continuity, but I’ll spare you all that. Anyway, Jon’s got Tyrion’s letter which has a nice reference to their first meeting. Jon points out that Sansa knows Tyrion better than anyone, and Sansa acknowledges his kindness without ever mentioning THE FACT THAT HE WAS HER HUSBAND. Davos points out that dragons breathe fire and so that might be a good thing to use against the Army of the Dead. Jon’s just excited at the prospect of dinner with another pretty girl.
Meanwhile, in King’s Landing Cersei is courting Randyll Tarly and other lords of the Reach. Mad Queen Cersei invokes Mad King Aerys, trying to convince the Lords of the Reach that Dany is her father’s daughter. There’s quite a bit of fear mongering happening from the PERSON WHO BLEW UP A PLACE OF WORSHIP TO DESTROY ALL OF HER ENEMIES. The Reach Lords are worried about dragons, but Qyburn assures them that they’re working on the solution. After her chat, Jaime interrupts Randyll Tarly conferring with his son Rickon I mean Dickon (CHANGED ACTOR ALERT). Jaime offers Tarly the Wardenship in return for breaking his oath to Olenna Tyrell. Randyll doesn’t want to break his oath because he’s not a Frey but the offer tempts him, so I guess we’ll see.
A bit later, Qyburn reveals his ingenious solution to the problem: a ballista. It proves to be devastatingly effective against the enormous skull of a dragon that’s been dead for nearly 300 years.
Back on Dragonstone, the war council is heating up, with Tyrion revealing that he’s still smarter than his sister by planning to use the Unsullied not against King’s Landing, but his own home castle of Casterly Rock. The Dornish and Reachers will lay siege to King’s Landing instead, so that it doesn’t appear like foreign invaders are taking the capital. Afterwards, Olenna counsels Dany to be a dragon. Apparently Olenna thinks that the dragon does not concern itself with the opinions of lions. Before we leave Dragonstone, we’re treated to a scene between Grey Worm and Missandei that is equal parts emotional and HBO doing its T&A thing.
In Oldtown, Sam and Archmaester Slughorn* meet with Jorah. His greyscale has advanced far enough along that Ebrose says its untreatable, but Sam learns of Jorah’s name and instantly makes the connection. A bit later on, he speaks with Slughorn about a procedure that can save Jorah, but the Archmaester shoots him down. But, because of Sam’s affection for the Old Bear and the fact that he was present when he died, Sam goes ahead with the procedure.
*I realize that last week I called him Archmaester Butterman, after Jim Broadbent’s Constable Butterman, but I realized that his turn as Slughorn was a much more widely known role.
In what may be the grossest transition of all time, we go from closeup shots of Sam cracking at greyscale to Arya cracking at a literal hot pie right before Hot Pie bumps into her. It’s a sweet moment for Arya that mainly is there for her to learn that Jon Snow is King in the North now. Somehow Hot Pie knows this but Arya, who was basically on the North’s doorstep while at the Twins, doesn’t. At any rate, she hops her horse and instead of heading to King’s Landing, she turns around and heads north.
We head back to Winterfell where, once again, Jon is having a council with his Northmen. He tells them about both the raven from Dany and the raven from Sam, which inexplicably arrived a few days after the one from Dany. None of the northerners think it’s a good idea for Jon to go to Dragonstone, but Jon’s doing it anyway. Sansa gets even more indignant, but Jon shuts her down by leaving her in charge while he’s away. HEY GUYS YOU ARE
BROTHER AND SISTER COUSINS YOU THINK YOU COULD MAYBE DISCUSS THESE KINDS OF THINGS IN LIKE A PRE-MEETING OR SOMETHING. Before Jon goes, he heads down to the crypts beneath Winterfell, where they’ve now got a statue of Ned. Littlefinger reveals that he brought Ned’s bones home, which is a lovely gesture considering the fact that Littlefinger’s the reason there’s nothing else left of Ned. Littlefinger is here to remind Jon that he’s still here, and Jon’s having none of it.
We’re back with Arya where she’s about to get attacked by wolves and then oh my holy goodness Nymeria is the size of a freaking tank. Arya recognizes her, she recognizes Arya, but instead of swinging up onto her back and riding off to Winterfell (which I was really hoping for), Nymeria turns around and slinks off. In a callback to her Season 1 conversation with Ned, Arya smiles and says, “That’s not you.” Have we seen the end of Nymeria?
Finally, to the ships! The Sand Snakes are annoying everyone, as per usual. Ellaria flirts with Yara and Theon is uncomfortable. As per usual. Suddenly flaming projectiles are hurled at the Greyjoy fleet because nobody seems to realize that maybe launching fireballs from the deck of a ship is a really bad idea. Evil Jack Sparrow’s ship rams the Team Dany Greyjoy flagship and Euron leaps aboard like the pirate king he is. He proceeds to kill two of the Sand Snakes, while capturing the third along with Ellaria. He fights with Yara amongst the flaming wreckage of her ship; just when you think Theon’s going to come to her rescue, nope it’s Reek and he’s off into the water and that’s where our episode ends.
Kind of a weird mix this week... Many scenes and interactions that I both liked and disliked.
Arya. I’ve heard mixed reactions to her interactions with Hot Pie, but I personally loved it. They’ve spent several seasons morphing Arya into a one-track murder bot, but we’re seeing her humanity emerging. She starts the interactions with Hot Pie matter-of-fact, but once she learns that Jon is King in the North, her countenance immediately changes and she’s faced with a decision. Personally, I am really happy that they gave us this scene onscreen, that we get to see her make her choice to go home.
I also loved the scene with Nymeria after thinking about it for awhile. I was disappointed in the moment because of the brevity of it, and the fact that Nymeria just slinks away, but I also get it. Direwolves are super expensive to render, and the bulk of my disappointment stems from having read the books and what takes place there. But, setting that aside, I thought it was another emotional moment, especially with the callback to season 1 in “That’s not you.” Now, if Arya decides that going back to Winterfell isn’t her either, I’ll be annoyed, because then this scene was just fan service. We’ll see.
Sam. Another one that’s received mixed reactions, but I’m thoroughly enjoying Sam’s storyline this season. He’s making a bid to be the moral center of the show for Season 7, and I’m okay with it. I love that we’re seeing him develop a type of bravery - instead of taking the Archmaester’s word for it and timidly going along, he sees healing Jorah as not just a chance to honor the Old Bear’s memory, but also a chance to do the right thing. It will be interesting to see what the ramifications are of his “rebellion” here.
Melisandre. Only a brief scene, but I really enjoyed her subdued nature. She talks about the Prince That Was Promised, but when Dany asks if that’s her, she hedges with “Prophecies are dangerous things,” a sentiment that’s echoed by many characters throughout the books. It’s nice to see her hedging a bit. Perhaps she still thinks that Jon is TPTWP, but either way, a less brazen Red Woman is nice to see.
Tyrion/Jon. Nice to see Tyrion vouching for Jon. I really hope we get to see a scene between the two of them next week when Jon arrives on Dragonstone.
Grey Worm/Missandei, Part I. I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed the vulnerability demonstrated by Grey Worm in his scene with Missandei. Jacob Anderson has done a fantastic job of playing Grey Worm as a stoic outsider, who doesn’t really understand emotions or what to do with them... I felt like he nailed the vulnerability and his discomfort with that vulnerability in the scene, and the moment between the two of them was incredibly tender. More on it in a bit.
The Battle... but... Okay, so the spectacle of the battle was fantastic. I loved that we got awful dialogue for the Sand Snakes, only to have 2⁄3 of them wiped out by Euron. His wild assault on the Greyjoy flagship was highly entertaining, and there were some details in the background that were pleasing as a book reader. I also found Theon’s abandonment both infuriating and completely understandable. On the one hand, you’d hoped that all the progress he’s made since saving Sansa in S5E10/S6E1 would have prevented this sort of thing, but this is also the first time that he’s been confronted with a traumatic situation. I imagine that we’ll see him come to grips with it and overcome it at some point. At least I hope so.
The Battle. While I enjoyed the surface elements of the battle, the more I started thinking about it, the less it makes sense. For whatever reason, the whole “hurl flaming objects from the deck of a ship” seems like a really, really bad idea. Then you’ve got Euron’s Silence picking out his niece & nephew’s flagship out of an entire fleet... in the dead of night. Then, even after the two fleets have engaged each other, Euron’s fleet continues to hurl the flaming projectiles at opposing ships. At one point during the melee, Euron all but dodges a fireball that crashes into the ship. This doesn’t seem like the soundest strategy to me.
Grey Worm/Missandei, Part II. The second half of the scene was HBO doing HBO things. It was unnecessary. I don’t even say that in a prudish way... I thought the removal of clothing fit the scene, but it just went on way too long and threatened to diminish the power of the earlier moment.
Jon/Sansa. SEVEN HELLS, KIDS, HAVE A PREMEETING. Jon, tell Sansa BEFORE you go into your council. She’ll let you do the reveal, but you’ll have an ally in the room. She’ll understand your thought processes more and you can listen to her counsel. Especially after the scene last week where they talked about this. exact. thing.
King’s Landing. All of the sequences here didn’t land for me, but especially Qyburn’s secret weapon. The finest blacksmiths and armorers in King’s Landing have been working day and night on... a giant crossbow. Wow. It works great on the skull of a dragon that’s been dead almost three centuries. But live dragons have scales, flesh, muscles, etc. Then there’s the fact that they move at speed and breathe fire. While I get that there’s in-universe precedent for this (the Dornish brought down on of Aegon’s dragons with a scorpion/ballista), it was a tremendously lucky shot. I get that there needs to be a threat to the dragons, otherwise Dany just mows over everyone, but if this ends up bringing one down, I’m gonna be pissed.
Dany’s Attitude. A minor thing... While I liked her calling out Varys for his seeming inconsistencies, her line to Tyrion about inviting Jon to Dragonstone... “to bend the knee.” kind of annoyed me. Coupled with the Varys conversation, it gave the impression that she’s trying too hard. Plus, it lends credence to the whole “Dany as her father The Mad King’s daughter” theory, which I don’t subscribe to. There’s only One True Mad Queen of Westeros, and her name is Cersei Lannister.
Despite my nitpicking, I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. It had some emotional moments that really resonated. While the shine of spectacle wears off a bit when you look closer at those scenes, it has me excited for next week to see just how much more they pick up the pace. I have a feeling it’s just going to get crazier.