With episode #63, Game of Thrones continues to follow the seventh season’s main directions: of reducing the cast down into a smaller, more manageable (and more affordable) size, and of making the factions “in the wars to come” less diverse in terms of their relative powers and sizes. Both of these factors are needed to make Season 8 as “epic” as possible: the fewer loose ends left by the end of the show, the fewer questions that audiences will “need” answers to, and the absence of a clear and obviously superior military force (especially on the side of “good”) makes for more compelling combat-driven drama, because it’s more fun to root for the underdog than for the obvious favourite.
(I assume any audience reading about Game of Thrones has read a lot about A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones and I will not be responsible for any information you may gain as a consequence of reading this. That said, I attempt to avoid directly talking about leaked information.)
Jon and Tyrion reunion 2017
Jon and Davos (and five unnamed Stark bannermen) place their rowboat ashore on Dragonstone as Tyrion, Missandei, and several unnamed Dothraki watch. Jon and Tyrion trade greetings; these two have not seen each other in six years, but Tyrion’s drinking problem doesn’t stop him from remembering where he last saw Jon. Tyrion meets Davos; they last encountered one another as combatants at the Battle of Blackwater Bay. Tyrion introduces Missandei, “the Queen’s most trusted advisor” (…other than Tyrion, the Hand of the Queen). Missandei welcomes them, and then asks for their weapons, to which Jon says “Of course.” Tyrion looks a bit apologetic about that. Jon seems annoyed at the Dothraki who is taller than him. The Dothraki then … take away the rowboat, just to make extra extra sure that the diplomatic team doesn’t suddenly escape. Davos hits on Missandei by asking where her accent is from, she answers, he compliments the place, she just smiles and keeps walking because she is not interested in talking to Davos. As a reminder, Davos has a wife and several kids, uh, the kids who didn’t die in the Battle of Blackwater Bay. I guess he does not want to ever go visit them, I’m sure that they do not mind that Stannis and now Jon have transformed Davos into an absentee father. (edited to add: the show might have erased those other kids, and some dialogue in Game of Thrones #23 mentioned Davos’s wife; he would return to her to help her mourn her son’s death but first he had to kill Melisandre. 4 years later...)
Dragonstone continues to have a really long walkway between the beach and the castle, which allows for characters to have really long conversations. Jon and Tyrion talk about Sansa; Tyrion asks, jokingly, if she misses him terribly and also talks to Jon about how he did not consummate the marriage with Jon’s (believed) half-sister, realizes he shouldn’t mention that, it’s awkward. Tyrion mentions that Sansa is smarter than she lets on, and Jon responds that she’s “starting to let on” in the best Northern accent I have ever heard. Jon and Tyrion claim they will one day tell each other how their fates have changed in the past six years. Jon mentions that his bannermen think that going south was a mistake, and Tyrion … agrees with those bannermen (!?!?!), mentioning that Stark men don’t do well when they go South. “True, but I’m not a Stark,” Jon quips, making Tyrion smile, and then Drogon makes himself known as Jon and Davos hit the floor because they fail their Will save. Missandei, Tyrion, and two Dothraki are chuckling at these two yokels for dropping to the ground when an extremely large and powerful animal just flew over them lol these Northern lads don’t know that Drogon is actually very nice and not at all large or threatening.
And Melisandre will look down and whisper “No.”
Varys noticed that Melisandre was nowhere to be found in the castle, so he found out she was watching Jon’s boat arrival on a hill, and being an information broker, he went to go see what her deal is. She asked for them to invite the King in the North so why is she not down there right now, and she says
Which is a confusing phrase to hear out of Melisandre because (at least in her book form) she generally uses ice as a descriptor for the great evil that her god R’hllor is fighting: “There is ice and there is fire. Hate and love. Bitter and sweet... Winter and summer. Evil and good. Death and life. Everywhere, opposites.” She could be referring to Jon as “Ice” because he has a personality that is very much unlike that of Daenerys, and she’s trying to cast the two of them as opposites. Or maybe, because she is at least 400 years old, she is making a really dated naming reference to the two Great Houses of Westeros: e.g. the Pact of Ice and Fire was an alliance made between Starks and Targaryens back during the Dance of the Dragons, the Targaryen civil war between Aegon II and Rhaenyra that took place ~170 years before the event of Game of Thrones: since Melisandre is a few centuries old, maybe events from almost two full centuries ago aren’t really that far away in time.
Varys kind of mocks her for acting like a bashful girl, Melisandre says that her time whispering in the ears of kings has come to an end, Varys doubts that a lot, because once commoners get the opportunity to be kingmakers, they will never ever voluntarily retreat. So Melisandre opens up a little and admits that she didn’t flee from Winterfell on good terms with Jon and Davos. So she’s leaving, she’s going to Volantis, Varys says good and that he does not advise that she return to Westeros, she says she will return because she, like Varys, has to die in Westeros. (cue Melisandre musical theme) (cue Varys looking creeped out)
Varys looks out in the water at a Stark ship anchored nearby. This is the ship that Jon and Davos sailed in. It’s just one ship. There is no military escort for the King in the North, he just takes one ship to Dragonstone. It is a good thing Euron Greyjoy was not looking to capture the King in the North, because it would have been really embarrassing for Jon and Davos to be captured by Euron’s very immensely large fleet.
Jon and Daenerys meet, take 1
Missandei lists off Daenerys’s many titles. Davos lists off Jon’s one title. Everyone looks around awkwardly because Davos lists off only one title, and it’s not a title that Daenerys wants to hear; you do not tell the wants-to-be-the-only-Queen that this guy is the King in the North. Daenerys calls Jon a Lord (… he’s not a Lord, he was never granted any title by anyone sitting on the Iron Throne), Davos says that Jon is a King, not a Lord, Daenerys is confused who this scrub is, Tyrion introduces Davos, Daenerys “Well actually”s back at Davos saying that the last King in the North was Torrhen Stark, “The King Who Knelt” and surrendered his crown to Aegon I, and that House Stark and its bannermen swore fealty to House Targaryen in perpetuity.
Long story short: Daenerys wants Jon to bend the knee. Jon: “Nah.” Daenerys: “So you’re here to break faith?” Jon: “Your dad killed my granddad.” Daenerys: “My bad. So how about bending the knee?” Jon: “You just apologized for what your family did to mine, but I’m not beholden to my family’s oaths, and I need your help, and you need mine.” Jon goes on a rant about how Daenerys must be better than Cersei (world’s lowest compliment) because Daenerys doesn’t want to just war-crime King’s Landing into surrender. Then Jon goes on a longer rant about how the White Walkers are going to kill everyone. Even Tyrion is a bit flummoxed about this because he has seen no reason to accept that the Army of the Dead is real; Jon might as well be ranting about Martians here.
Daenerys goes on her own rant about all the struggles she has faced, and how the only thing that kept her going was her faith. Not in any supernatural mumbo-jumbo but in herself, in her rightful claim to the Iron Throne. During her rant she mentions dragons which I guess she does not consider to be supernatural mumbo-jumbo for (because the plot needs her to act like she is now a hyper-skeptic). Jon is nonplussed, because if she takes the Iron Throne without defeating the Night King then she will just be ruling over a graveyard. Tyrion is like, listen, we’re already fighting Cersei, we can’t go fight this maybe imaginary force you want us to also fight. Davos is like hey actually Jon has a very good CV he did all these things, like be killed and come back to li-
Jon: (gives hard look at Davos)
Davos: (stops talking)
Daenerys: (looks at Tyrion)
Tyrion: (looks at Daenerys)
Melisandre, outside somewhere: (cackles)
Davos says we all need to stand against the Dead. Tyrion says, okay, sure, uh, how about kneeling? Jon says there’s no time for any of this, Tyrion says bending the knee is not a time-intensive activity, just bend the knee, pledge your sword to Team Daenerys, Jon doesn’t want to because the only thing that Daenerys has to support her claim to the Iron Throne is her birthright, and he doesn’t want to bend the knee. Daenerys is like okay but by calling yourself King you are declaring open rebellion against me, Jon is trying to figure out how to dig his own grave even deeper, Varys shows up to stop Jon from saying something else stupid, Daenerys is like okay actually let’s put a pin in this convo and return to it fresh tomorrow. Jon asks if he’s a prisoner, Daenerys decides “Not yet”, Davos and Jon get led to their rooms. Somewhere else those 5 unnamed Stark bannermen they traveled with are wondering how things are going.
With Jon and Davos gone, Varys drops a bomb: Yara’s fleet was attacked, and mostly either killed or captured. He doesn’t mention who attacked it: the show is at least realistic in deciding that he wouldn’t immediately know.
Theon does not believe in hypothermia or sharks so he survived (unknown amount of time, at least several hours) in (some unknown location between Dragonstone and Sunspear. Maybe Shipbreaker Bay?). The captain of the Ironborn ship which pulls Theon out of the water comes to the conclusion that Theon couldn’t have “tried” to save Yara if he’s still alive, and he walks away. Likewise, everyone else on the ship just leaves Theon to care for himself, Theon, internally, is like “yeah I guess I should have rushed at Euron even though he was going to kill Yara because it’d be better if I had got her stupidly killed in a fight instead of running away.”
Euron has a nice parade
The people of King’s Landing are given yet another opportunity to show that their favourite activity is yelling at people who are being led on walks of shame around King’s Landing. Here Euron is on horseback (pirates are really good at being on horseback) leading Yara, Ellaria, and Tyene around on chains, followed by half a dozen of unnamed Ironborn and a similar number of Gold Cloaks, members of the City Watch of King’s Landing. The crowds of King’s Landing don’t like Yara, Ellaria, and Tyene because those three are traitors to the Iron Throne. Intriguingly, House Lannister banners are placed along this parade route, reiterating that Cersei is making no pretense at being a Baratheon. Those of us in the audience have spent no time with the smallfolk of King’s Landing since before Cersei’s coup; the audience has been given no opportunity to see what the smallfolk of King’s Landing think about the death of King Tommen, the explosion of the Great Sept of Baelor, the death of Queen Margaery, the rise of Queen Cersei (that lady that the people of King’s Landing yelled at during a previous parade). I guess everyone in King’s Landing is on Team Cersei? Euron is amused at all of these people cheering for a Greyjoy.
Euron (still on horse) leads this parade into the Great Hall; Cersei is on the Iron Throne, Jaime is to the camera’s right (he’s her angel!) while Gregor, an unnamed Queensguard, and Qyburn are to the camera’s left (they’re her devils!). Ellaria sees this really big guy and her eyes bug out because she was dang sure Oberyn killed that guy. Euron dismounts and walks Ellaria and Tyene up to the Iron Throne; these two are his gift to Cersei. “I give you what no other man could give” he says, directly at Jaime, who he is really keen on mocking openly. Bringing these two will bring justice for Myrcella’s murder; I guess Cersei told everyone that Ellaria killed Myrcella? Cersei says that this proves Euron is the greatest captain on the fourteen seas (I continue to not know what that is a reference to) and then they have a lower-volume conversation wherein it sounds like Cersei just said she would get it on with Euron after the war is won and Euron is like (well I guess that’s better than nothing). Euron and Jaime gloat at each other; Euron is glad at the adoration of the people, something Jaime has never received, Jaime points out that the mobs of King’s Landing are super fickle, Euron responds yeah they’re bloodthirsty, they don’t care whose head is on the spike, oh also how does your sister like to make the sex. The Ironborn leave, Yara still their prisoner.
Extended poisoning scene, take 1
Cersei, Qyburn, and Gregor have taken Ellaria and Tyene to a prison cell; maybe one of the dungeon cells underneath the Red Keep? Cersei is given a relatively long scene here to relish her revenge; she tells Ellaria that she remembers her scream when Oberyn’s head was crushed, she tells of how Myrcella was her only daughter, she tells of how she never got to have a mother (Cersei is being very metaphorical here, she’s a few years older than Tyrion so she spent a few years with her mother), Cersei is like why did you take away my daughter. Ellaria and Tyene are both gagged so it’s not like they can really give answers here, but if Ellaria could answer, she would give some kind of answer about how the Lannisters killed Oberyn’s sister (Elia), niece (Rhaenys), and nephew (Aegon) ~20 years earlier and that Ellaria was just (many years later) finally getting revenge for them by killing Myrcella. But Cersei doesn’t want to imagine that anyone would have any valid reasons for hating her family so…
Cersei mentions that Tyene is probably Ellaria’s favourite child. This is kind of meta on behalf of the show because Tyene is the only child of Ellaria that the show has named; dialogue from Doran Martell indicated that she has at least three other daughters but none of them have ever been named or seen: for the benefit of the show, Tyene is Ellaria’s favourite child. Cersei talks about how her insomnia gives her time to think about how to kill her enemies, she has figured that the first part of her long destruction of Ellaria will be to poison her daughter with the same poison as Ellaria used to take out Myrcella. Qyburn gets to deliver some lines of dialogue about how the poison will work; Cersei assures Ellaria that she will stay in that cell for so long that she will watch Tyene die and start to rot. So that’s, uh, unnerving.
Jaime and Cersei are back to doin’ it
Torturing someone is such a turn-on for Cersei that she goes to Jaime’s room (or her room? I can’t tell) and has to have some of the Kingslayer. The next morning, she spent the night in his bed (???) and answers the door and the person answering the door sees that Jaime is nude in a bed, and announces that the visitor from Braavos is ready. Cersei says she needs fresh sheets for the bed (WINK). Jaime is chuckling at how bold his sister is, she’s totally overtly just banging her brother, how outrageous! No bad consequences of this could happen because apparently Cersei terribly murdered everyone who might have moral objections to Jaimsei (Cerme?).
The Iron Bank has a really weird scene
So the Iron Bank of Braavos sends their envoy, Tycho Nestoris. This is the most recent communication between the Iron Throne and the Bank; the last we saw of their interactions, the Throne had sent an envoy (Mace Tyrell) to Braavos, begging for yet more time to pay back their debt. Tycho and Cersei both play at double talk, a lot, but in short the Bank wants their money. They do not want to keep investing in a party that will not keep control of Westeros. Cersei claims she’s already winning her war, because she’s decapitated the Dornish snake. … does … does Dorne no longer have an army? Would killing their erstwhile leader, Ellaria, make them less likely to want to invade King’s Landing? Cersei claims that Euron (who’s loyal to her) controls the Narrow Sea, Tycho points out that his loyalty is on a short fuse. Tycho mentions dragons, which are really good at destroying ships, Cersei claims that the dragons are not 100% invulnerable. Tycho never mentions that his bank loaned money to Stannis, nor does Cersei make any light of the bank loaning money to a losing side in the war for the Iron Throne.
Cersei mentions that Daenerys spent time taking apart the slave trade in Essos, and that that must have made a large impact on the Iron Bank’s investments. Tycho does not disagree. This seems very odd because the Iron Bank, like almost every institution or person of Braavos, does not like slavery. That’s one of the founding ideologies of Braavos: that slavery is bad. That’s one of the primary ideologies of the Iron Bank: that it won’t fund slavers. Cersei claims that revolutionaries and former slaves don’t pay back their debts: Braavos is a city founded by former slaves, who chose to be revolutionaries. Unless Tycho is just going along with Cersei’s rant because he really, really, really wants the Iron Throne’s debts repaid, none of this scene makes any sense, because she is massively insulting Braavosi culture right to his face.
Anyway she says she will pay back the Iron Throne’s debt in 2 weeks because she’s out of her mind.
Jon and Tyrion Brood-off 2017
Tyrion finds that Jon has gone to a cliff somewhere on Dragonstone, maybe the same one that Melisandre was watching from earlier. Tyrion says that this is one of the places where he broods, he gets annoyed that Jon is better at brooding. Jon says that he can’t go back to his ship, because “you took my ship”; he means his boat. They took his boat, that’s why he can’t go back to his ship. Tyrion is also confused on this ship v. boat-
OH SORRY JON word games are all I have to play with you. Jon is sick and tired of people not taking his warning about the Army of the Dead seriously, Tyrion says he’d be willing to help Jon if Jon could give him some advice on his problems, Jon is like that’s not a major problem why are not concerned about my problem, because he fails at intersectionality. Jon and Tyrion go into whether or not Jon is trustworthy, Tyrion says he trusts Jon, Jon ponders how he can get people who don’t trust him to believe him.
There’s a long-standing argument that the Army of the Dead can be viewed as a metaphor for a real world struggle that is too big for any one person to stop and this conversation is laying that metaphor on extra-thicc.
Jon mentions that he should go back to his people and help them. Tyrion says it’s unlikely he would give up that easily. Jon reiterates that he has no reason to trust Daenerys, Tyrion says hey she has people on this island who she helped why not talk to them about why they believe in her. Also that she’s already committed herself to fighting one monster (Cersei) and that expecting her to abandon that fight to fight another monster on just Jon’s word alone is unreasonable. Jon maybe actually finally gets that he’s being unreasonable he has that “I think he just told me I’m dumb” look in his eyes, and he starts to leave when Tyrion asks if he has anything reasonable to ask. Jon is like “???” and Tyrion is like “Do you have a smaller objective than getting Daenerys to commit 100% of her military strength to your cause?” and Jon, off-camera, remembers that whole dragonglass thing he mentioned last episode as one of the two things he would ask Daenerys about. “Oh right I said I would ask two things I forgot one of them.”
Daenerys is confused on why anyone would want glass? She didn’t get a formal education (she said this earlier) so I will excuse her for not recognizing that obsidian is not glass. Daenerys (holding the idiot ball, for some reason) is confused on why Tyrion is even bothering on this Jon guy when she might have lost two of her allies, Tyrion is like hey this is one potential ally, Daenerys is like okay so why does he want dragonglass. Tyrion falls into the problem of how to talk about
killing stopping destroying (unsure about the nomenclature) the undead. Daenerys, a woman who survived a funeral pyre without any damage, continues being skeptical about the Army of the Dead, asks if Tyrion thinks that such things are real, Tyrion quotes himself as ancient knowledge, Daenerys calls him out on it…
Tyrion is convinced that Jon is convinced because Jon came all the way to Dragonstone; this is a valid point. Tyrion says to let Jon mine the dragonglass: give him something by giving him nothing. This will do two things: build a possible stronger relationship with a potential ally and keep the North focused on something while Team Daenerys does something productive in the war (iow, invading Casterly Rock). Daenerys brings up the “Davos said Jon got stabbed in the heart” thing, Tyrion wants to move past that claim.
Jon and Daenerys meet, take 2
Jon finds that Daenerys is watching the Narrow Sea, and two of her dragons, from one of Dragonstone’s patented Conversation Walkways; he walks down to where she is to conversate. Daenerys mentions that she named them after two of her brothers who are both dead.
Jon mentions that one of those brothers is his dad. Daenerys, half an hour into the episode, remarks that dragons used to just be legend and so maybe we should all be examining what we think we know. Jon is like “So you’ve been talking to Tyrion.” Daenerys and Jon have an awkward moment … and Daenerys is like, listen, I have to defeat Cersei. Jon is like, sure. Daenerys is like I will be the Queen of all seven kingdoms, including yours, Jon is like I’m still King in the North. Awkward impasse. Daenerys is like okay fine mine the dragonglass, I’ll even provide men and resources if you need them. Jon thanks her, she turns, dismissively. Jon, not wanting to be dismissed yet, needs to know if she believes her and she’s like listen just go do your thing, nephew, I don’t have time for your wights. Jon walks away, Daenerys watches him leave, really confused on if everyone in the North has gotten a bad case of snow madness.
Sansa borrows Petyr’s plot from the books
In Winterfell, Sansa, Petyr, Maester Wolkan, and Yohn Royce are talking grain. Sansa is very sure that a year’s worth of grain is not going to be enough to survive a long Winter, so she wants all of the major settlements of the North to send their grain stores now: if they have to flee later, they won’t have time to flee with their grain in an orderly fashion. She sends Wolkan off to deal with that. They stop at the smithy, wherein breastplates are being hammered out. They’re not being covered in leather even though they’re being made for people who will be fighting in Winter; Royce goes to deal with that.
Now that Petyr has Sansa all to himself, he compliments her on how command suits her. He then, of course, has to mansplain about how Cersei is a danger, and that Winterfell (and Sansa) have to be ready to face the Lannister Army, she, of course, is like yes Petyr I am aware of Cersei being a danger, thank you for your useless advice. He boils down the next season of warfare to two possibilities. One: the Dead win, who cares what happens. Two: the Living win… and what then?
Sansa and/or the audience is confused on what exactly the point of this monologue is and then a Winterfell … worker? comes over and says that someone’s at the gate.
It’s Meera, who doesn’t introduce herself, and Bran, who just says “Hello Sansa.” Sansa goes to hug her brother, who … for some reason was directed in this episode to act like an alien?
Sansa and Bran reunion 2017
Bran and Sansa are in the godswood, next to a weirwood tree. Sansa wishes Jon was there. Bran: “Yes. I need to speak to him.” Just use your magical powers Bran: talk to him in a dream. Sansa, being practical-minded, points out that Bran, by virtue of being Eddard’s oldest living trueborn son, is the heir of Winterfell. I don’t know why Sansa would care, saying as how she has already let Jon take Winterfell even though her claim to that title happens way before Jon’s does. Bran is like I can’t be the lord of anything I’m the Three-Eyed Raven. Sansa: What is that? Bran: I can’t explain because the script decided I should be an alien now. Sansa: You’re sitting right next to a weirwood tree, you could demonstrate what your powers are, right now, by touching that tree. Bran: Nah.
He even looks at the tree after explaining that he needs to get better at greenseeing; this script knows that he could show his sister what in the heck he is talking about but refuses to give him agency because for whatever reason it was decided that the story works better if Sansa and Bran aren’t able to understand one another. To double down on this, the script also has Bran tell Sansa she looked beautiful on her (second) wedding night. She is freaked out; there is no non-magical way he could have seen her. Sansa leaves Bran by the tree. Bran, who cannot walk, says he will stay a bit longer.
It is really interesting watching the Starks get back together because then every single one of them then has to create a plot struggle that makes them not want to start working together immediately.
Jorah got better
Archmaester Ebrose checks on Jorah. Jorah got better! Maybe literally the day after the treatment he received in the previous episode?! Ebrose is suspicious that he just magically got better, but Jorah plays dumb, so Ebrose leaves, telling Samwell that he wants to talk to him later. Jorah is like “how much trouble did I get you in” and Samwell is like “It was worth it I got to save your life, I owed your dad as much.” Jorah decides to leave to go back to Daenerys (… he has not thought about how he will get to Dragonstone), wishes Samwell well, they shake hands, Jorah looks out the window as the sun comes in, he has a new lease on life, blah blah blah metaphors.
Ebrose interrogates Samwell on how he told Samwell not to treat Jorah, and congratulates Samwell on succeeding on a difficult task, and gives Samwell the task of transcribing a whole table of scrolls as his punishment for doing something really dangerous.
I continue to feel a deep, pedantic appreciation for everyone who works at the Citadel.
Team Daenerys now seems aware of Euron’s fleet
“We need to find Euron Greyjoy’s fleet and sink it.” I hit the pause button when I heard Daenerys say this because I continue to be really confused about why Team Daenerys is being written as if it was unaware, until Yara’s fleet was destroyed, that Euron might be trouble. Daenerys, in this scene, now wants to use her dragons to hunt down and destroy the fleet: this suggestion is shot down by Missandei and Tyrion (what if Daenerys gets shot?) and so they just drop the topic altogether. No one offers a counter-suggestion (e.g. Daenerys and her dragons look for Euron’s fleet, but do not engage it), it’s just “if Daenerys can’t fly on her dragons, then, just forget about trying to stop Euron.”
What about Casterly Rock? Well, the Unsullied are almost at it (it is unclear how Team Daenerys know this) and the Lannister guards know that the Unsullied are on their way to it-
Wait wait wait
Wait. Casterly Rock knows that the Unsullied fleet is on its way to Casterly Rock, but no one on Team Daenerys knew that Euron’s fleet was going to be a threat? Or any general idea of where it was? This show is trying to kill me.
This episode needed a combat scene
Tyrion narrates the Battle of Casterly Rock. Apparently he was allowed to build the sewers of Casterly Rock, so he built a secret passage up from the sewers into the guard towers. One boat of Unsullied uses this secret passage to storm Casterly Rock, opening the gates to allow the rest of the Unsullied in, and they butcher the heck out of the Lannister army. I was watching this and I was confused on where all the civilians are at. Like, sure, there would be fewer people living here now that House Lannister is half-extinct and half-living in King’s Landing, but is no one living here? Is it just a small detachment of Lannister troops? Who’s making their food, who’s cleaning their barracks? Grey Worm seems just as confused as me
When he hears sounds of explosions! And he looks out across the Unsullied fleet, and it’s being attacked.
By the Iron Fleet.
Including Euron’s flagship, the Silence.
Grey Worm looks pissed. I am confused on the entire pile of logistical questions that the Iron Fleet’s presence here opens. Grey Worm yells at a dying Lannister soldier (good thing one wasn’t dead yet!) “WHERE ARE THEY? WHERE ARE THE REST OF THE LANNISTERS?”
Wherever Lannisters go
It turns out that the rest of the Lannisters are following Jamie Lannister, with friend (?) Bronn and allies Randyll and Dickon Tarly, into an invasion of Highgarden. Although everyone in the army is flying Lannister colours, this army has to include at least some of the Houses of the Reach (e.g., the Tarlys) who have decided to stop being on good terms with the Tyrells. Although maybe not?
Anyway the Lannister army faces absolutely no resistance from anyone in the Reach, and the Tyrell army (which might be in the dozens????) apparently is inside of Highgarden defending it but (off-screen) they are completely defeated. Lady Olenna went back to Highgarden (twice!) to rally the Reach against Cersei’s invasion and apparently failed miserably both times? I don’t get it.
Extended poisoning scene, take 2
Jaime marches across all of Highgarden to meet Olenna, who is in a room. “It’s done?” “It is.” “Did we fight well?” Not well enough to be worthy of any screentime, sorry. Olenna claims that the Tyrells don’t fight well because she, like everyone writing this episode, now wants the Tyrells to be bad at warfare. Olenna says that Tyrion said the Lannisters would be defending Casterly Rock, Jaime says that it’s not worth much anymore (he means that the gold mines under it have dried up) and that it won’t matter because the Unsullied will have to abandon it. Because Euron’s navy have burnt the Unsullied ships (who told him?) and because the Lannisters left Casterly Rock in terrible shape. So that the Unsullied (who are really good at fighting on land) will have to march across Westeros (I’m unsure how that is a negative?). Jaime indicates that he learned something about misdirection from Robb Stark’s military campaign.
Olenna mentions that Casterly Rock’s gold mines ran dry. Who told her? Olenna and Jaime reminisce about how terrible Joffrey was. Olenna says that while she has done terrible things for her family, Cersei has done things that Olenna would never imagine. Jaime, maybe speaking honestly, justifies Cersei’s actions as okay because of the greater good of peace among the Seven Kingdoms. Olenna tries to … appeal to Jaime’s sense of ethics? Or something? Jaime keeps on appearing as if he has no ethics.
Olenna asks how she will die. Jaime says that Cersei had terrible ideas and that he talked her into accepting poison. He pours something into Olenna’s drink, she asks if there will be pain, he says no, she drinks the glass of wine. For her closing monologue she decides to mention how ghastly Joffrey’s death was and that it was way more ghastly than she had expected, and oh yeah she poisoned Joffrey. Jaime leaves the room. Olenna is not yet dead, she dies off-camera.
With that, the Lannisters’ decision to just really kill every Tyrell they know is complete. They will loot Highgarden and that loot will pay off that debt that the Iron Throne owes to the Iron Bank of Braavos. The episode ends extremely tidy and somehow Cersei is extremely way more competent than anyone expected.