Well, there’s an ominous episode title.
We open on rolling waves. Dramatic music plays as a rowboat is pulled ashore. It’s Jon and his crew, here to meet Dany. That was fast. After it took Dany six seasons to make it to Westeros, I kind of expected they’d drag out Jon travelling to meet her a bit more. But nope, he’s here, ready for the introduction of the season, or possibly even the series.
Tyrion stands on the shore, waiting for them. They share a smile and a handshake, and this wasn’t one of the reunions I was considering, but I am HAPPY for it. “You picked up some scars along the road,” Jon comments. “It’s been a long road,” Tyrion replies. Yeah, it’s been six whole seasons. Last time they saw each other, Jon Snow was a lil chibi baby face!
“But we’re both still here,” Tyrion adds. Which is a bit of a miracle in this show.
Missandei insists that the Northerners hand over all their weapons, and they reluctantly do. I’ve been a bit mean about the S7 fashion aesthetic so far, but LOOK AT JON’S COAT.
I am a fan. Very swoopy.
The group take a loooong walk along a winding, defensive wall to the front door of the castle, while Jon and Tyrion chat about light things, like death and danger and Sansa Stark. “Stark men don’t fare well when they travel south,” Tyrion comments, and Jon nods. “True. But I’m not a Stark.”
Drogon chooses that exact moment to swoop over them, roaring, sending Jon and Davos diving to the ground. I commend his comedy timing.
Meanwhile, Melisandre watches them from the cliffs above. Varys approaches her, wondering why she isn’t there to greet their guests.
OK, here’s my confession. There are still parts of Season 5 of Game of Thrones that I haven’t seen, and that I never plan to see. The stuff that happens with Shireen is very much in that category. I know what happens, but since I didn’t watch it, it was really easy for me to forget about it happening until right this moment. So now Melisandre is hiding, and I hope Davos murders her for what she did.
Melisandre says she would just be a distraction, and is leaving for Volantis. Varys basically threatens her not to return to Westeros, but she just says, “I will return, one last time. I have to die in this strange country, just like you.” That shuts Varys up as she sweeps off.
Tyrion leads Jon into the throne room, and Jon is looking around like a slightly overwhelmed tourist, taking it all in. Dany sits on her Not-Iron-Throne, and when Jon sees her, he just stops and stares, like, damn. This bodes well.
Missandei gives her long introductory speech about Dany, and Jon stands there, looking awkward. After Dany’s endless names, Davos just goes: “This is Jon Snow.” It’s amazing. After a long, awkward moment, Davos adds, “He’s King in the North.”
It’s basically this, but in TV form:
Dany thanks him for travelling so far, calling him My Lord. Davos pipes in again: “Apologies, I have a Flea Bottom accent, I know, but Jon Snow is KING in the North, Your Grace. He’s not a lord.”
Diplomatic sassy Davos is best Davos.
So now Dany and Davos begin their “forgive me” sass-off. Forgive me, I never had a formal education, but the last king in the north bent the knee to my ancestor, bitch. “Or do I have my facts wrong?” “I wasn’t there, Your Grace,” Davos replies, and omg, I’m dying. Davos is my new fave. Davos for king.
“An oath is an oath,” Dany replies, “and perpetuity means… what does perpetuity mean, Lord Tyrion?” “Forever,” he replies. “Forever. So I assume, my LORD, you’re here to bend the knee.”
“I am not,” Jon says. Always has a way with words, does Jon. There’s a long pause. “Oh,” Dany says. “Well, that is unfortunate.” She asks if he travelled all this way just to break faith with House Targaryen, and he points out that her father kinda brutally murdered his relatives, so there’s not really much faith there to begin with.
“My father was an evil man,” Dany says. “On behalf of House Targeryen…” She pauses. “I ask your forgiveness for the crimes he committed against your family, and I ask you not to judge a daughter by the sins of her father.” She’s basically invoked Jon Snow’s kryptonite, but she doesn’t realize it, so she continues her speech. Blah blah, peace and prosperity, blah blah Stark as Warden in the North, blah blah bend the knee.
When she finishes, Jon looks at Davos and his other men, shuffling his feet like a kid who wasn’t really paying attention and now has been called on in class. “You’re right,” he says. “You’re not guilty of your ancestor’s crimes. And I’m not beholden to my ancestor’s vows.” AND THAT’S A POINT FOR JON.
Dany’s getting pissed off at this point, and asks him WTF he’s doing here then. He says he needs her help, and she needs his. She just raises her eyebrows, all incredulity. “Did you see three dragons flying overhead when you arrived?”
Dany… stop. Please stop. I’m a Dany fan, but she’s coming off like a spoiled child in this scene, especially when compared to the rough honesty of Jon. She really seems like a brat who wants all the toys to herself, because they’re hers and so she shouldn’t have to share. It’s not a good look, since I assume we’re still supposed to root for her as a character. Unless we’re not, now? Maybe because she’s gotten too successful, the writers have to bring her down a peg by making her unlikeable. Either way, it’s really frustrating to watch.
Jon decides to hell with this BS, he’s going to say what he came here to say. “Your Grace,” he says, “everyone you know will die before winter is over if we don’t defeat the enemy to the north.” “As far as I can see, you are the enemy to the North,” she replies. But he’s not her enemy, he says. “The dead are the enemy.”
Dany raises her eyebrows and looks at Tyrion like, can you fucking believe this guy? “The dead?” she repeats. “Is that another figure of speech?”
Jon gets Tyrion to confirm that he’s not a liar or a madman, and insists that the White Walkers are real. “If they get past the wall, and we are squabbling amongst ourselves…” He takes a step forward in the passion of his speech, and Dany’s guards move instantly to block him. He stops. “We’re finished.”
Finally, Dany stands up. She gives Jon the same speech she gave her advisors last episode, about how many people have tried to kill her, and how much she has suffered. “Do you know what kept me standing through all those years in exile? Faith. Not in any gods, not in myths and legends. In myself. In Daenerys Targaryen.”
I’d like this moment a lot more if her very valid and necessary faith in herself hadn’t crossed over to spoiled arrogance in this scene.
She and Jon face one another, sharing a camera shot for the first time in the show’s history. It’s a big moment, if the whole “ice and fire” thing is any hint. “I was born to rule the seven kingdoms, and I will,” she says. He stares back at her. “You’ll be ruling over a graveyard if we don’t defeat the Night King.”
Now Davos steps in. “If destiny has brought back Daenerys Targaryen,” he says, “it has also made Jon Snow king in the north. He was first to make allies of wildlings and northmen. He was named lord commander of the night’s watch, he was named king of the north… because they believe in him. All those things you don’t believe in, he faced those things. He fought those things for the good of his people.” Davos is gathering steam. “He took a knife in the heart for his people, he gave his own li—” Jon turns to look at him like DUDE THAT’S A SECRET. And Davos stops. “If we don’t put aside our enmities and band together, we will die. And then it doesn’t matter whose skeleton sits on the Iron Throne.”
Tyrion points out that if he doesn’t matter, he might as well just kneel. Jon says there’s no time for that, which is a pretty weak excuse, considering that kneeling would take significantly less time than all of this. “I’m the rightful queen of the seven kingdoms,” Dany says. “By declaring yourself king of the northernmost kingdom, you are in open rebellion.”
Before Jon can reply, Varys comes jogging up and whispers something to Dany. Her eyes go wide, and she calls an end to the meeting. “Am I your prisoner?” Jon asks. “Not yet,” she replies.
Phew. That was a long scene! And a big one! Dany looks absolutely furious, and as soon as Jon and his men are gone, Varys tells her what happened to the ships at the end of the last episode. The Dornish and the Greyjoys, dead or captured.
“All of them?” she asks.
And so we jump to Theon, getting pulled out of the water onto a ship like the catch of the day. His skin is all white and clammy, and he looks seriously messed up. But he’s alive, and he’s free, which is more than we can say for the others.
Because in King’s Landing, Euron is leading Yara and Ellaria through the streets. Amongst the crowd, I swear you can hear a voice shouting, “You’re the worst! The worst!”, which kind of sounds like they asked the extras to shout the meanest things they could think of, and one person couldn’t imagine anything worst than that. I bet they felt really guilty for saying it for the rest of the day.
The group are cheered all the way into the throne room, where Cersei waits on the Iron Throne. Euron yanks Ellaria and her daughter forward, offering them as a gift to Cersei from her loyal subjects in the Iron Islands. “I give you what no other man could give,” he says. “Justice. Justice for your murdered daughter.” Jaime’s face here is really like, “omg, he’s right. I’m not cool at all.”
Ellaria spits at Cersei, and Cersei has tears in her eyes as she considers her. She tells Euron he deserves a proper reward for capturing her, and he’s all “There’s only one reward I want.” She says he can have what his heart desires when the war is won. That definitely means she plans to have him killed at some point during the war so she doesn’t have to marry him, right?
In the dungeons, Cersei gags both Ellaria and her daughter and chains them to opposite walls. “I want you to know I understand,” Cersei tells Ellaria. “I understand the fear that drives you. I was there that day Ser Clegane crushed your lover’s head. When I close my eyes, I can hear the sound of Oberyn’s skull breaking. The sound of your scream.” Cersei is grinning. She’s having so much fun here. Really savoring her victory. “If only he hadn’t taunted him. He could have walked away and left poor Ser Gregor to die… and here’s Ser Gregor stronger than ever. That must be difficult for you.”
I’m amazed Cersei thinks Ellaria can recognise Ser Gregor. He’s basically just a suit of armor with demon eyes at this point. I’m also not sure Ellaria would really want Oberyn back as a creepy zombie guard, but who knows.
Cersei adds that you can’t imagine how losing a daughter feels unless you’ve lost a child. “I never got to have a mother, but Myrcella did. She was mine. And you took her from me. Why did you do that?” There’s genuine emotion in Cersei’s voice here. But Ellaria can’t answer since she’s, you know, gagged.
Cersei goes over to Ellaria’s daughter, and Ellaria starts to freak out. “I’m sorry, I can’t understand you,” Cersei says. “The gag makes it impossible to understand what you’re saying. Must be frustrating.” God, Cersei is having fun. “We all make our choices. You chose to murder my daughter. You must have felt powerful after you made that choice. Do you feel powerful now?”
Cersei kisses Ellaria’s daughter, and Ellaria collapses to the ground, knowing what she’s done. The Long Farewell, the same poison Ellaria used on Myrcella. “Your daughter will die in this cell,” Cersei says, “and you will be here watching when she does. You’ll be here the rest of your days. If you refuse to eat, we’ll force food down your throat. You will live to watch your daughter rot. To watch that beautiful face collapse to bone and dust, all the while contemplating the choices you’ve made.”
Now that’s revenge.
Back in Dragonstone, Tyrion approaches Jon on a windswept cliffside overlooking the sea. Jon says he’s a prisoner on the island, and Tyrion tries to argue semantics with him, but Jon isn’t having it. He’s got more important, undead things to think about.
Tyrion tells him he believes him about the dead, and Jon is surprised. “You didn’t before,” he says. “Grumpkins and snarks you called them. Do you remember?” This is one thing I really love about the show now it’s got to its later seasons. We get to see characters finally reunite and continue conversations from long ago, when they were different people.
Tyrion tells Jon he trusts the eyes of an honest man more than wisdom “everyone” knows. But this doesn’t help Jon much. “How do I convince people who don’t know me that an enemy they don’t believe in is coming to kill us all?” he asks. “Good question,” Tyrion replies. “I know it’s a good question,” Jon snarks. “I’m looking for an answer.” And omg, this episode is funny. I can’t remember the last time Game of Thrones made me laugh out loud, and it keeps managing it this week.
Also, side note, but Jon looks really good here. Being windswept and angry in the sun, rather than the snow, suits him. His Ikea rug coat is a little bit overkill here, though, considering Tyrion is just wearing a light jacket. Tyrion tells him the Dany protects people from monsters, “just like you do.” But Jon’s request of her is totally unreasonable. Jon starts to stride away, and Tyrion shouts after him: “So do you have anything reasonable to ask?” His voice is really heavy with implication, but I can’t tell what he’s implying. Is he saying Jon should ask Dany to marry him?? Because I can’t see that going any better than his other request.
We jump to Dany, looking surprised. “Dragonglass?” she asks. Honestly, Jon should probably have mentioned that before. I thought it was a good 50% of the reason he came here. Tyrion says they can trust Jon because he came to Dragonstone, despite it being insane. Dragonglass is nothing to her, so let him have it, and keep him occupied while they’re fighting at Casterly Rock.
And Dany suddenly, finally clocks about the whole “taking a knife in the heart for his people” thing that Davos mentioned before. She wonders if it’s another figure of speech, and Tyrion is dismissive. “You must allow them their flights of fancy. It’s dreary in the north.” Guys, Dany literally walked onto a flaming pyre and came out with three dragons. Jon surviving getting stabbed in the heart and surviving is not that farfetched.
Outside again, Jon watches Dany watch her dragons. He walks down to her, and she tells him she’s been talking to Tyrion. “He enjoys talking,” Jon notes. “We all enjoy what we’re good at,” Dany replies. “I don’t,” Jon says. She looks at him to elaborate, but he doesn’t. He can’t ruin that whole mysterious brooding thing. Dany tells him she won’t allow Cersei to stay on the Iron Throne, but she will allow him to mine dragonglass and forge weapons from it. He looks grateful, and violins play, like this is a BIG EMOTIONAL MOMENT.
“So you believe me, then, about the Night King and the army of the dead?” She doesn’t answer, because of course she doesn’t. “You’d better get to work, Jon Snow.” He looks a bit disappointed as he nods and walks off. She watches him go. And I guess the great romance of Game of Thrones is born?
And finally, we’re in the North. Littlefinger is standing with Sansa, because of course he is. Where else would he be? She’s inspecting Winterfell and making plans for food over the winter, and she’s damned good at it. “Command suits you,” Littlefinger says, which… shut up, Littlefinger. He tells her he knows Cersei better than anyone here, and she disagrees.
“I only meant to say–” “That the woman who murdered my mother, father and brother is dangerous? Thank you for your wise council.” Sansa is the best, guys. But Littlefinger still wants to be king of team obvious, so he says one of two things will happen. Either the dead will defeat the living, or life will win out, and then what? “Everyone is your enemy. Everyone is your friend.” It’s Littlefinger’s usual tautological nonsense of a speech, dressed up as insight and wisdom. Why is she even talking to him??
They’re saved by someone appearing at the gate. Is it Arya??? Nope. It’s Bran. When Sansa sees him, she stops and gapes. And because Bran is Bran, he doesn’t even look at her at first, and when he does, he’s totally expressionless. “Hello, Sansa,” he says, like a robot. She cries and runs up and hugs him, and the music swells, but while she’s sobbing, Bran has no expression whatsoever. Why is he so creepy???
Later, they sit in the godswood. Sansa wishes Jon was there, and Bran agrees. “Yes,” he says monotonously. “I need to speak with him.” Gahh, Bran, you are the worst. Sansa just looks at him, obviously unsettled but trying her best not to be. She tells him he’s Lord of Winterfell now, but Bran disagrees. “I can never be Lord of Winterfell. I’m the three-eyed raven.” “I don’t know what that means,” Sansa says, speaking for everybody. He tells her that he can see everything that ever happened to everyone, and when Sansa asks him where he learnt all this, he says the three-eyed raven taught him.
“I thought you were the three-eyed raven,” Sansa says, reasonably. “I told you it’s difficult to explain,” Bran replies. Like “he died” is such a difficult explanation to give. But new Bran has to be all superior and distant, and so he won’t explain any further.
And then Bran gets even worse. “I’m sorry for all that happened to you. I’m sorry it had to happen here. In our home.” Why, Bran? Why must you be this way?? “It was so beautiful that night. Snow falling. Just like now. And you were so beautiful, in your white wedding dress.”
Why the hell is he retraumatising his sister?? Just to prove he can see things through time?? What is wrong with him? I swear, Bran has become that Reddit guy who thinks that logic is king and emotion is stupid, and thinks being detached means he’s superior to everyone, when really he’s just a total dick.
God, he’s pissed me off.
Luckily, we’re done with Winterfell and off to Oldtown, where the Grand Maester is inspecting Ser Jorah. He says “hmmm” a lot, before admitting that the greyscale is no longer active. After he leaves, Sam asks Jorah where he’ll go after this, and Jorah says that perhaps their paths will cross again, like the two of them are having a goodbye mid-way through a RomCom. Sam holds out a hand for him to shake, and no-longer-infectious Jorah is amazed as he accepts it.
Meanwhile, the Grand Maester is maaaaad. “You could have infected yourself and others,” he says. “You could have devastated the entire citadel.” But he admits that Sam didn’t. How did he succeed?
Sam says he read the book and followed the instructions, which is the Westerosi version of following a tutorial on Youtube. The Grand Maester tells him he should be proud, but as if he’s going to be rewarded for rebellion. He’s got to copy a whole bunch of old scrolls — so he’d better watch out for the paper mites.
Back with Dany, and she wants to take her three dragons to attack Euron’s fleet, but her advisors say she’s too important to go. Meanwhile, Casterly Rock knows they’re coming. And finally, we see Casterly Rock. Have we ever been here before? The only time I can think it might have been possible was during the Cersei flashback in Season 5. Either way, it’s a cool looking castle.
I’ve been complaining about all the show’s awkward exposition recently, but it really works here. Tyrion talks about all the problems with taking the impenetrable Casterly Rock as a voiceover, while we watch the battle unfold. As someone who gets a bit bored in extended battle scenes, I really appreciate it.
Dany’s army takes the castle, but Grey Worm is suspicious. There aren’t enough men to defend it. Where are the others? They look out into the bay to see Euron Greyjoy burning their ships.
Meanwhile, the Lannister army is miles away, taking Highgarden from the Tyrells. We skip the battle this time, and just see their success, and Olenna Tyrell watching them from a window.
Later, Olenna sits alone at a table in one of her rooms, waiting. Jaime comes in. “It’s done,” she says, all dignified. “It is,” he agrees. She asks if they fought well. “As well as could be expected,” he says. He pours them some wine.
Jaime tells her he learned a lesson from Robb Stark. Casterly Rock wasn’t worth much, so he took his armies to where Dany’s weren’t. “There are always lessons in failures,” he admits, and Olenna agrees. “You must be very wise by now.”
I’m really going to miss her.
She tells Jaime that Cersei is a monster. “To you, I’m sure,” he says. He says no one will care about her methods when they have peace. But Olenna won’t accept that. Since she’s about to die, Jaime can trust her with his secrets. She prompts that things have gone beyond his control now. “Yes,” he says. “It has.” Olenna says Cersei is a disease, and Jaime will regret his role in spreading it.
I swear, this conversation better haunt Jaime. At this point, it feels too little, too late, but some recognition that she’s literally everything he hates and fears would be good at some point.
Jaime says Cersei had several ideas for killing Olenna, but he talked her out of them. It’ll just be painless poison in wine. “Good,” Olenna says, and drinks it all down in one go. “I’d hate to die like your son. Must have been horrible for you, as a kingsguard, as a father. It was horrible enough for me. A shocking scene. Not at all what I intended.” Understanding dawns on Jaime’s face. “You see,” she adds. “I’d never seen the poison work before.” She smiles. “Tell Cersei. It want her to know it was me.” They stare at each other, saying nothing, and Jaime turns and walks out of the room.
And thus Lady Olenna Tyrell wins the Game of Thrones prize for best death.
Next week… I have no idea, actually. I assume Dany and Jon will make eyes at each other, Littlefinger will be creepy, and Cersei will be angry. Maybe Arya will arrive in Winterfell? Arya & Sansa reunion episode?? I can’t wait.