***Spoiler Warning: This post discusses Game of Thrones events through Season 7, Episode 5, and A Song of Ice and Fire book events and theories. Spoilers***
The Seven Kingdoms have truly changed. In the season or so since Game of Thrones has gone off book, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have pitched us fast and deep, hurtling into the stratosphere of their own storytelling which, in some ways, has been thrilling and satisfying; in others, simplistic and expositional. From the opening moments of Tyrion surveying the destruction a queen (dragon) has wrought, to the return of a long lost bastard, “Eastwatch” ran the gamut and set us spinning. A blend of the old god and the new ones make for readers cheering and booing as we popcorn our way through these final innings, smiling as favorites make it past another base, simultaneously picking at the kernel shells sticking in our teeth.
Quickly dispensing with any notions of Jaime being gone forever — still so many emotional strings for Cersei to play — our focus is switched to the other brother (valonqar) as he works at trying to reign in the other queen. After Daenerys makes good on an offer (or die) two Tarlys refuse, her clearly shaken advisors commiserate … gather their strength for positive influence.
In the hour’s best — unexpectedly emotional — moments, a secret, NON-BASTARD Targaryen is wholly accepted by the family pet, the wheels in Dany’s head visible as she recalls the Onion Knight’s slip; Jon brushes her off as another fine Ser returns to the fold. I’d be remiss not to mention how far Kit Harington has come from his early days of Snowmopery; as if in open acknowledgment (opposite the sublime Iain Glen), Tyrion quips to Jorah, “No one glowers like you”.
A game of who’s watching whom plays poorly, reducing Littlefinger to Snidely BaeLash, and we’re left hoping these expositorial asides are less simple than they appear. Though Sansa and Arya’s youthful impressions of each other may truthfully remain, the only way this plays out satisfyingly is if the sisters’ individual journeys weave them back together stronger than before. A girl is far too smart to be so easily manipulated; the Lady of Winterfell, wise to the Whiplash-stache.
No longer content with menial drudgery — “I’m tired of reading about the achievements of better men” — his warnings (and Bran’s) dismissed by the maesters — Sam takes his leave, along with his family and some light reading … not quite listening to Gilly’s unknowing revelation. How he’ll get to Jon is anyone’s guess — perhaps after SnowGaryen’s return with a wight (to prove to Cersei the army of the dead truly exists) — but if things somehow miraculously do bring all forces together to fight, we’ll get a wacky laboratory scene with Tarly and Qyburn playing the Doctors Frankenstein.
Brother and brother, brother and sister, sister and sister, all play upon each others’ weaknesses as deftly as George R.R. Martin does ours; would that Weiss and Benioff were less heavy-handed in the translation. It is Peter Dinklage’s broken-hearted delivery in Tyrion’s plea to Jaime that outweighs other exchanges; his conversation doubly relays to one queen as the other acquiesces (“I haven’t given you permission.” “I don’t need your permission; I’m a king.”), and a terrible quest brings together the motliest crew. Jon, Tormund, Thoros, Dondarrion, The Hound, and Gendry (Davos stays behind; “I’m not a fighter”) head beyond the wall to fetch a White Walker the Game of Who Will Survive This Mission has — with proper flourish — now begun.
How is Jaime still so utterly stupid? Cersei’s contempt for him after he gave her the news about Olenna, her disgust with him was on full display. And still, he was putty in her hot hands as she a) obviously lied to him about her condition (nobody truly thinks she’s preggers, right?), and b) outright said “Never betray me again”, which — how much more openly could she have said “You dumb dude, I — who will sacrifice my own children — give not one fuck about you and will use you until you’re dead” right to his face? One of two things is about to happen: She’ll foolishly say something to Qyburn, Jaime will overhear and finally (good gods, dude!) be pushed over the edge, or this was the moment Benioff and Weiss revealed the true valonqar — Tyrion.
One thing does give me pause, opening the slightest possibility that Cersei actually is pregnant. When Jaime walked into the room, Cersei was saying to Qyburn: “No, that won’t be necessary.” Was he offering her something to terminate, or something to help her feel better … (or was it unrelated, something to poison Jaime)?
Welcome back, Gendry! Love the new look.
Regarding Gilly’s reading from the archmaester’s journal, I predict the information was actually stored in Sam’s memory for future regurgitation, like when you say something to another and the person responds “What?”; you’re too lazy to repeat and say “Never mind”, then it turns out the other person actually did hear what you said. Somewhere in the future, Sam (or, I suppose Gilly could have the shining moment) will blurt out that Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark were actually married after his marriage to Elia Martell was annulled, and therefore Jon is the rightful heir to the throne — even though he’d never want it. This, of course, lends credence to the Jon IS ice and fire — the whole Song of is about him.
Since Dany clearly realized something when Jon was petting Drogon, asked about Davos’ comment that Jon had been stabbed in the heart, why doesn’t (when will) she have Tyrion or Missandei digging for clues about Jon?
The Starks and Targaryens (Jon is both) will be the last houses standing. Buh-bye, Lannisters. (Not you, Tyrion; I still think-hope you’re a secret Targaryen.)
Here’s the note Arya discovered in Littlefinger’s room; it’s the one Cersei manipulated Sansa to write (under duress) asking Robb to swear fealty to Joffrey. Arya’s too smart to fall for this, but I’m not certain B & W’s design (their comments during Inside the Episode indicate Littlefinger has manipulated her) won’t win out.
Davos selling fermented crab as Viagra to those dopey soldiers was brilliant, priceless. “Tiny spoon of that — five minutes later, he’s back in the race!”
Couldn’t help that pang in my heart when the archmaester mentioned not having told Sam about his father and brother being burnt alive. Asshole that Randyll Tarly was to his son, I’m certain Sam will still be crushed.
How many times does Bran need the Night King to scare the shit out of him when he looks straight at Bran in a vision? And if Bran can see bits of everything happening at all times, could he hurry up and see the end of this whole mess? Why yes, we are anxious to find out what happens, who lives and dies.
I’m worried for Bronn after Cersei’s comments to Jaime about punishing him. Heck, even Jaime looked worried when she said that.
Ditto poor Jorah. B & W couldn’t have telegraphed his death any harder with those moments he reunited with Daenerys, and then had the long goodbye. I fear our dear Mormont, who has survived so much, will soon join the army of the dead. “We should be better at saying farewell by now.”
Tormund cannot keep his mind off Brienne, even when discussing how many soldiers Jon has brought to go after the Wights: “The big woman?”
Bronn to Jaime: “What the fuck were you doing back there. You saw the dragon between you and her, and … ?”
“Listen to me, cunt. A dragon doesn’t get to kill you, you don’t get to kill you, I get to kill you.”
“Dragons are where our partnership ends.”
Dany to Dickon: “You are the future of your line. Don’t let it happen again. Bend the knee.”
Cersei to Jaime: “So we fight and die or we submit and die. I know my choice.”
Dany to Jon’s query about how things went in the short time she was gone: “And, I have fewer enemies today than I did yesterday.”
Tyrion to Varys: “I am her hand, not her head. I can’t make the decisions for her.”
Varys: “That’s what I used to tell myself. It’s what I told myself when I watched …when their hair caught fire and the smell of their burning flesh … I am not the one doing it.”
Tyrion: “Daenerys is not her father.”
Varys: “And she never will be, with the right counsel. You need to find a way to make her listen.”
Dany to Jon when he discovers Arya and Bran are not dead: “I’m happy for you. You don’t look happy.”
Sansa to Arya: “Winterfell didn’t just fall into our hands. We took it back.”
Tyrion to Jaime when he says he told Bronn if he ever saw Tyrion again, Jaime would cut Tyrion in half: “It’ll take you a while with a sparring sword.”
Tyrion to Jaime about their father: “He was going to execute me, he knew I was innocent …A little monster …Did he think I wanted to be born this way?”
“Daenerys will win this war. You’re a military man, you must know that.”
Davos to Gendry: “Wasn’t sure I’d find you. Thought you might still be rowing.”
“Nothing fucks you harder than time.”
Cersei to Jaime: “Dead men and dragon queens. We will defeat whatever is in our way.”
Jon and Gendry: “Our fathers trusted each other, why shouldn’t we?”
“You’re a lot leaner.”
“You’re a lot shorter.”
Gendry: “I prefer the hammer.”
After Gilly tells Sam how many steps are in the Citadel (15,782) and asks how many are in the Great Sept: “None, anymore.”
Gilly reading to Sam: “He issued an annulment for Prince Raggar [Rhaegar] and remarried him to someone else at the same time in a secret ceremony in Dorne.”
Beric Dondarrion: “”Here we all are, headed in the same direction.”
Jon: “We’re all on the same side. ["How can we be?”] We’re all breathing.”