With episode #65, the second half of Season 7 of Game of Thrones begins to lumber forward on a combination of its own initiative and the inertia of the dozens of plots it must continue. A lot of the books of A Song of Ice and Fire and seasons of Game of Thrones follow fairly normal plot development sequences: introductions, rising tensions, climaxes, and denouements. This episode is a mix of introduction and denouement; if Seasons 6, 7, and 8 are based on some kind of rough outline of The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring, this episode feels like it is cobbled together from elements near the end of The Winds of Winter and the beginning of A Dream of Spring. There’s a noticeable amount of table-setting for both the next two episodes and whatever lies in wait in Season 8. The blade on the guillotine is being raised so that it can chop off heads in the next few hours of the show.
(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 article. That said, I attempt to ignore directly talking about leaked information.)
The Wall has nineteen castles or forts that keep watch of the movements of people towards the Wall, but the numbers of Night’s Watch members are so low that only three have any real staff. The one on the extreme west, the Shadow Tower, doesn’t get much attention in the show; we’ve met one character from there, Denys Mallister in GoT#42. Castle Black is the one along the Kingsroad extending north from King’s Landing all the way to the Wall, this has been where most of the show’s focus on “event near the Wall” has been. Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, which the introductory map just labels as Eastwatch, is the easternmost defended position along the Wall. This is the first time the location has appeared on the show or that we have met any characters from Eastwatch. Some of us complainers might have liked the Wall’s storyline in Season 5 more if any indication was made that Eastwatch was where a rescue operation for Hardhome would leave and then return to. Butttttttttt to keep myself off that old rant, let’s talk about Jaime.
Since the previous episode ended on a cliffhanger of Bronn pushing Jaime out of dragonfire and into some water, the episode begins maybe a minute or five afterwards. Thankfully for the two of them they emerge from the water far away from Daenerys and Drogon; there’s an area in the background of this footage that’s still smoking, but Bronn and Jaime look like they’re some distance away from that.
Jaime, probably joking, gives Bronn some attitude for stopping his really-well-calculated charge at a dragon’s mother. Bronn gives him some attitude back for not thinking this charge through. Bronn won’t let Jaime die (unless Bronn gets to do the killing), because Bronn can only get paid if Jaime is alive.
I really liked Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s acting in this part of the episode. Jaime is a guy who has seen a lot of things during his life, and in surviving Drogon’s attack, he has come to realize, deep in his self, that he cannot win any war against a force with dragons. I assume that the director for this episode was told to treat the Loot Train Attack as Westeros’s Hiroshima: a singular massacre by an overwhelming weapon that attacker and defender are both awed by.
Dragons are also Bronn’s breaking point; he considers any mercenary contract he has made with House Lannister to be null and void if it includes any notion of fighting dragons. Jaime tells Bronn that he needs to tell Cersei that dragons are undefeatable, Bronn says good luck with that but she’s gonna not take it well.
Bronn walks away, leaving Jaime there to ponder the fate of his sister’s rule. Possibly as a consequence of the smaller world that the show gets to explore than the books, ShowJaime is strongly committed to Cersei. This causes some fans, mostly of the books, to ponder when Jaime will finally come to the awareness that Cersei is not good news, but the more I watch of the show the more I become convinced that there might never be such an epiphany. Jaime just literally charged a dragon’s mother in order to keep the Cersei New World Order in play. He is a Cersei loyalist, even in the smoky aftermath of a dragon attack. Cue, of course, a slow and mellow rendition of “The Rains of Castamere.”
Tyrion has read about dragons being used as weapons. He has seen, at a distance, dragons reduce the navies attacking Meereen into ash. But just like everyone else in Westeros, he has not seen men in the thousands who have died to dragonfire. He is not keen on what the aftermath of such an attack looks like, and it probably does not help that most of these dead soldiers were fighting for his family. As the Dothraki loot the corpses of the Lannister troops, Tyrion has to separate his wisdom from his feelings: he has to accept that this level of destruction, this amount of death, is what’s needed to defeat the evil that is his sister.
I could comment on how just minutes (?) ago he was watching Jaime charge at a dragon and he probably saw Jaime get pushed into the water and he gives no indication on having checked on his brother’s well-being? Maybe we’re supposed to assume here that he saw his brother get taken out of the water by Bronn? And such a scene was cut from the final script because it was just Tyrion saying “Oh, he’s fine” and letting his brother, the commander of the armies of House Lannister, escape with his life, rather than capturing him and getting incredibly useful military intelligence from Jaime Lannister.
Tyrion sees the Dothraki leading Westerosi prisoners somewhere. Let’s go see where they’re being led to!
The Westerosi prisoners are being led to an area looking up to a rock outcrop where Drogon is perched; downhill from that rock ledge is Daenerys (on a smaller rock ledge so she has a stage to speak from) and some Dothraki. The Westerosi prisoners look defeated, they do not look like they have any fighting spirit left in them. Tyrion takes his place at the right side of Daenerys’s rock stage.
I uh. Uh. I. … like Tyrion I liked parts of this speech and then was maybe not quite so good on the end of the speech. These are surrendered and captured men she is addressing. I know Westeros is not a place of fantastic morals but they have been defeated, utterly, in combat and she’s making them choose between treason against the House and the Queen they swore fealty to or termination.
Some immediately choose treason, but it’s not many, so Drogon (Drogon acts a lot in this episode, the script really called on a lot of performance from Drogon’s 10,000 animators) roars loudly (dragons demand immediate obedience) and a lot more of these soldiers bend the knee. Two of the ones who don’t are Randyll and Dickon Tarly. Daenerys recognizes (?) Randyll as a Lord (maybe he was captured on horseback?) and asks him to step forward, he walks past hundreds of men who have chosen to betray Cersei. He tells Daenerys he already has a Queen. Tyrion attempts to reason with Randyll, like, uh, hey bud Cersei killed House Tyrell recently and you chose to abandon your allegiance to House Tyrell sooooooo you’re probably willing to turn cloaks again so why not here? Randyll says something about no easy choices in war as his odd explanation for why he chose to fight against House Tyrell. Randyll says that given the choice between Cersei (born and lived in Westeros all her life) and Tyrion (who killed his dad, and chose to support a foreign invader, “one with no ties to this land”) that he would choose Cersei.
Daenerys chooses not to Actually Randyll so I’ll do it for her. Actually, Randyll, Tyrion’s kinslaying is bad, sure, but Cersei is working with Euron who has repeatedly told people that he killed his brother, so you do not get to play the “I won’t work with a kinslayer!” card. And Daenerys was born in Westeros, on Dragonstone, but she had to become a refugee because the Baratheons and the Lannisters were working hard at committing Targaryen-based ethnic cleansing, so, once again, not a good card to play. And to claim that the Targaryens have no ties to this land lolwut the Targaryens lived and had kids, legitimate and otherwise, in Westeros for 300 years. I’m pretty sure they have some ties to the land.
Daenerys, instead, says that she understands not trading one’s honour for one’s life, she respects that. Tyrion suggests that Randyll could take the black because the Wall really could use high-quality soldiers. Randyll says that he can’t be sent to the Wall (?) because she’s not his Queen (?!?!?!) and so Daenerys looks over at the Dothraki who go to grab Randyll. Tyrion is … freaking out as he walks onto the stone stage to the right of Daenerys.
Dickon says that he will also have to die, Randyll (who …just, literally, said that he couldn’t bend the knee) tells him to shut it,Daenerys wants to know who this new guy is, he says who he is. Tyrion tries to talk sense into the moron by saying that this war has “already wiped one Great House from the world, don’t let it happen again”. He’s right, technically! House Tyrell is the only Great House (those are the houses that rule the seven kingdoms) to have died in this war, the Boltons and the Martells were killed off in Season 6 and the Baratheons in Season 5. Killing off Dickon and Randyll would be wiping out another Great House.
Dickon seems to consider this advice to bend the knee, he looks at his dad, his dad nods, Dickon is like welllllllll I will not, Randyll looks disappointed (!?!?!?), Tyrion tries to talk some sense into Daenerys “hey let’s just imprison this guy”, Daenerys will not back down from her words because she’s not there to put men in chains (good on her for recognizing that prison labor is a form of slavery! But uhhhh actual imprisonment just in and of itself is not a form of slavery so Daenerys please learn nuance).
Tyrion tries to say that beheading entire famil-
::Tyrion realizes that Daenerys is going to cook people to death::
Dickon and Randyll are ordered to die, and Daenerys tells Drogon to light em up. Every one of the surrendered soldiers who was not already bending the knee is now kneeling because they don’t want to die as the camera watches over the two burning piles of what is left of Dickon and Randyll. Daenerys walks away, leaving Tyrion on top of the stage to ponder whether he has made a Faustian bargain.
Jaime is walking hurriedly through the Red Keep to get to Cersei’s chambers, he enters the room right after Qyburn leaves it, hey keep that in mind okay keep in mind that Qyburn was just in Cersei’s chambers. We see Cersei for about two seconds before Jaime enters the room and Lena Headey here was told to “go through many emotions in a short period of time” and she does, it’s too bad Jaime shows up to change the scene. She goes right to asking about the war business because she wants to know how many soldiers were lost, Jaime admits there’s been no full count yet, Cersei says that they can buy mercenaries to replace the troops lost, Jaime says that the Dothraki, just them alone, will clean up any army that House Lannister can field. And he goes into a full “dragons cannot be beat” rant.
So Cersei is obviously like okay so what’s your great idea bro? How do I sue for peace with someone who wants to destroy us? Cersei mentions that maybe Tyrion would help sweeten the pot as his way of apologizing for killing Tywin and Joff. Jaime says that Tyrion didn’t, Cersei assumes he means Tywin, Jaime says no no Joff, Cersei is like UGH, Jaime says Olenna did it, she confessed, Cersei says that she doesn’t believe that confession, Jaime gives his (actually pretty good) reasoning that Olenna would have preferred Joffrey dead than alive, Cersei sits down to process this. Of course her reaction is that she should have had Olenna murdered in a more brutal manner because Cersei is also completely power mad. Jaime is still pleading for some kind of exit strategy out of this war against Daenerys. Cersei sounds like she’s embracing fatalism and that if she’s going to die she wants to go down swinging and that Jaime should embrace the same attitude.
Jon is perched on a cliff of Dragonstone to get a better view of Drogon flying back to Dragonstone. For some reason (Daenerys tells him to park menacingly by Jon?) Drogon lands near Jon and walks (and starts to run) towards Jon in a potentially-not-friendly manner and he roars at Jon and Jon stands his ground and Drogon obviously respects that in a human so he gets his face closer to Jon. And Daenerys is watching this scene from near Drogon’s shoulders in a like “what’s gonna happen?!?” sense which is a really weird way to watch this scene happening? Anyway Jon takes a glove off his left hand and gives Drogon a nice pet on the snout and Drogon and Jon share a moment of looking at each other and from Daenerys’s viewpoint there’s a few moments where she can’t see Jon and then she sees that Jon is petting her dragon and she is confused by this like why is this Northern guy of unknown parentage able to touch my dragon I wonder why Drogon is cool with this guy, who is obviously not a Targaryen, why is Drogon cool with him petting him? And Jon the entire time is like how is this real and Drogon looks at Daenerys like “hey mom I think your new boyfriend is cool” and Daenerys dismounts Drogon which lets Drogon go away and fly with his bros so he can go tell his bros about how he totally got to burn thousands of people to death.
Says Daenerys about the living weapons that she just used to murder two prisoners of war. Jon is like that’s not the word I would use but oh wait this is your house so yes they are gorgeous beasts and Daenerys has a moment of maternal pride and this is kind of really awkward so Jon wants to change the subject to “hey did you win the battle?”
Jon has moral reservations about warfare because he needs strong armies to counter the more important enemy. Daenerys gives some “need to crack eggs to make an omelette” rhetoric as her justification for why she “had”to do what she did. She also chooses this moment, this moment right here, to ask Jon what Davos meant by that “took a knife in the heart for your people”comment. Jon deflects and maybe Daenerys doesn’t believe him but we don’t find out because five Dothraki have brought a man who says he is friends with Daenerys. And we all know who that must be, it’s Strong Belwas! No wait it’s Daario! No wait it’s Jorah.
Jorah is the longest-enduring (nice) supporter of Daenerys so she’s obviously touched that a) he is alive and well b) he has somehow booked passage to her place of power. It was really windy during the filming of this scene everyone’s costume is just going crazy with the wind. Jon’s kinda like who is this so Daenerys is like Jon this is Jorah and Jon is like I served with your dad he was great to which Jorah does a thankful short nod and Daenerys keeps the scene interesting by saying
Jorah is back to serve Daenerys if Daenerys will have him (nice!) and it would be her honour to have Jorah serve her again and she hugs him in a weird he doesn’t hug her back hug and Jorah looks over at Jon and Jon is like grrrr and let’s get out of here this is all weird
So there’s a bunch of ravens near Winterfell that get warged and Bran flies the entire group of ravens out as a scouting party. Maybe Bran takes a lot of ravens because he couldn’t just take one as a much-less-conspicuous scouting party? Anyway he flies them northeast towards the Wall (Winterfell is more than 500 miles south of the Wall, ravens in this setting fly ~500 miles in a day, so Bran is controlling these birds for at least a whole day just to get there, let along the extra time to get an unknown distance north of the Wall) and this is the first time we see Eastwatch and really briefly the Bay of Seals, the birds fly over the Wall and are northward of the Wall somewhere when they see tens of thousands of wights and there’s still the four horsemen of Others (take a shot all you Book of Revelation fans out there!) including the Night King who looks at the birds and that makes Bran’s concentration over them get dispelled. Maester Wolkan is nearby (was he there the whole time Bran was warging?) as Bran comes out of his trance and Bran says that ravens need to be sent.
There’s eight Maesters, including Archmaester Ebrose, sitting around a table at the Citadel in a room where Samwell delivers a pile of newly transcribed (I guess?) scrolls and books. They are discussing a message that a raven delivered, sent from Maester Wolkan. The message is never shown but its contents sound like they’re a typical message from the Jon and Bran School of How to Communicate Doom: I recently used my warging magical powers to see thousands of undead help help there are thousands of undead oh also the undead are real please send help k thx. The Maesters make a joke about Winterfell having bad weather because honestly if you could live in Oldtown you would it’s got a great climate. One of the dismissive maesters mentions a crippled boy and Samwell is like hey wait I know that crippled boy that’s Brandon Stark I once let him go North of the Wall and that was years ago so if he’s back in Winterfell now then maybe he’s a dependable eyewitness.
Which, I mean, to be fair to the Maesters here, just because someone survives in a hostile environment for years does not mean that they are 100% sane or credible. I really like Archmaester Ebrose in this scene because he is trying to encourage Samwell to just say what he thinks. He knows Samwell is smart and capable of good educated takes on things, so just say what you mean, Tarly. So Samwell lays it on the line: the Maesters should say, with the full bearing of their respectability and authority as purveyors of knowledge, that the threat of the Army of the Dead is real and that the Lords of Westeros should send any troops they can spare to the Wall to defend it and that all the Maesters in the Citadel should devote themselves to figuring out how to stop the Others.
And the Maesters are not immediately dismissive of this. Ebrose is like, yeah, we could do that, and this news from Winterfell could be authentic. BUTTTTT it is also possible that Westeros is being invaded and that this message is counter-intelligence to make the invasion of Westeros happen faster.
Which, I mean, to be fair to the Maesters here again, is also totally valid. This message inviting all of the Southern Lords to send armies north to the Wall just happens to show up in the same general time as Daenerys’s invasion forces? That’s a bit too much. Samwell will not hear it, he insists on his word that the Army of the Dead is real. Ebrose hits on a good compromise; the Citadel will write back to Wolkan for clarification. Samwell wants to keep pushing the point, he is dismissed, as the Maesters start talking about earlier people who were cranks, including one who said the Drowned God (!!!) would destroy Aegon the Conqueror.
After Samwell leaves the room the dismissive Maester asks Ebrose if that’s the guy whose brother and father were just burned alive, Ebrose says yep and I haven’t told him yet. Which as usual raises questions of who sent a message to Oldtown about Randyll and Dickon being burned alive? It’s not really something that sounds good from either the propaganda departments of Cersei (my allies are dying!) or Daenerys (I burn my enemies to death!) soooo who would have sent Oldtown the memo?
Also yes this scene is supposed to be “old guys resist changing their minds when a young person tells them they’re wrong”. Yes. It’s a barrel of tropes.
This scene I love it I love it it’s so great from the start where Varys is tapping a message on the steps near the throne on Dragonstone, sitting next to Tyrion who is self-medicating with his wine of choice. Tyrion and Varys are trying to figure out whether they have made a terrible decision in supporting the Daenerys power grab. Tyrion is playing devil’s advocate because he has probably talked/drank himself into accepting that Daenerys is gonna Daenerys. What else could she do?
Varys has been in the position that Tyrion is now in; he has been the advisor to a Targaryen ruler whose judgments sometimes seem disproportionally violent. He found the traitors to Aerys II but he wasn’t the one burning them alive and that’s the moral calculus he had to make to keep his wits about him. Varys even starts drinking as he remembers the terrible sights and sounds he had to deal with.
This is the consequences of being a Kingmaker. It sounds fun on paper (you get to choose who rules Westeros!) but the reality of the situation is that taking power and keeping in power both require blood and fire. A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones can always fall back on this kind of discussion because there will never be a time in human history wherein people won’t ask themselves if the ends justify the means. Varys and Tyrion’s main conclusion is that Daenerys can be pushed away from being Aerys II if she has good counsel.
Their chat is slightly tangented to discuss whose scroll Varys has in his hand. It’s a scroll for Jon Snow and Tyrion is like so what does it say and Varys acts as if that’d be bad to read a sealed scroll so Tyrion is like so what does it say?
Jon doesn’t like the news from Bran. Well. Okay he likes that Arya and Bran are alive, that’s cool, but he doesn’t like that the Night King has a very large army of wights north of Eastwatch. Jon wants to go back North to rally the troops to stop the Others ASAP. Daenerys points out that Jon said he doesn’t have enough troops, Jon is like sure but we’ll fight with what we have unless you’ll join us?!?!? but Daenerys can’t join because then that would give “the country” (does she mean Westeros?) to Cersei. Tyrion has this look on his face like wait I have a Patented Tyrion Big Plan so he interrupts.
Tyrion’s Patented Big Plan is as such: what if Cersei can be convinced that the Army of the Dead is real? If she could be, then she could stop fighting, even if only temporarily. Jon’s counter is that Cersei is unlikely to go North to see the dead, and Tyrion’s counter is to bring the dead South. Tyrion’s idea is to get one wight, just one wight, and bring it to Cersei so she can see that the dead are real. Davos asks if that’s possible and
And this is where I have to interrupt Tyrion in the middle of his interruption.
No one in this room knows if it is possible. Logistically, it is possible for a single wight to be taken far south of the Wall. That’s possible. But what do these characters know about how wights work? Jon knows that an Other can bring them into animation (he saw that happen, en masse, in GoT #48), he knows that they can temporarily appear to be inanimate and then (by choice or long-distance telepathic command?) reanimate (GoT #8), he knows, from several experiences, that wights are found north of the Wall and not south of the Wall; the only wight seen in centuries south of the Wall was brought south of the Wall, into Castle Black, by men (in GoT #8). So there is no evidence for or against the concept of a wight “working” far south of the Wall. It’s completely untested and Tyrion’s entire Big Plan here can only work if the test’s main assumption (wights can work really far away from the Others) is true.
But the real question is how in the frak do you capture a single wight? Their “army” is thousands strong,and just like a real-world army that is deployed and on a field of battle, in order to capture one soldier you will have to fight hundreds, if not thousands, of other soldiers. Unlike a real-world army, it never sleeps,it never rests, it never goes on R&R; single soldiers never isolate themselves from the rest of the army. This Big Plan is akin to looking at a thousand-strong pride of lions and saying “let’s capture one alive.” This Big Plan, the Great Wight Hunt, is bad and terrible and will probably result in multiple people dying.
Buuuuuttttttttttttt it’s what has to happen so the show has to pretend like it makes some kind of sense. Jon, who has “fought” against the Army of the Dead at Hardhome and knows their “tactics” better than anyone else in this room, has to hold the idiot ball and pretend like Tyrion’s big plan could work. So it’s gonna happen regardless of sense or logic so I’ll stop interrupting.
Jon says well okay we once had a wight in Castle Black… and Tyrion is like yeah just somehow do that again and show Cersei a wight. Varys points out, smartly, that this theoretical meeting with Cersei only can happen if Cersei will allow a meeting. Tyrion says hey don’t worry I know Jaime, I can convince him maybe. This prompts Daenerys to ask okay smart guy how do you get in King’s Landing to talk to Jaime and Tyrion and Jon both look at the Onion Knight and Davos is like yeah I can do that no worries. Daenerys is like this plan only works if we get a dead man, Varys says yep that makes sense. And Jorah, bless his heart, Jorah is like I will just go north of the Wall and get one (?!?!?!) and Daenerys looks at him like he just said he would step onto a grenade and Jon is like well the Free Folk will help and oh hey I also volunteer for this really bad idea of going north of the Wall to get a wight! And Daenerys, internally, asks herself why all the single men she knows in Westeros have a death wish. She tries to pull rank to stop Jon from sending himself on this fool’s quest, and
And she’s like “he’s so dumb and so brave and so related to me” and he says something about how they all need to trust in a stranger (the Stranger can be softly heard, cackling) and she nods so the King in the North is given leave from Dragonstone.
Arya steps into the meeting room inside Winterfell to see that lords there are giving an attitude about Jon not being there. There’s no stated context for why this meeting is happening right now; maybe the meeting is happening because Bran has said that the Others are coming and Jon’s not there to organize the troops? Maybe Winterfell had a party and Jon didn’t even send a card so the Stark bannermen are angry that he’s not there? Lord Glover is saying that Sansa is better than Jon because (I guess?) she is still in Winterfell whereas Jon is somewhere else.
No I’m sorry America you don’t get to complain about the results of an election after you already voted for someone that’s not how it works, but I do commend the episode for going there. Particularly by using Lord Glover in this instance; back in GoT #60 he was the third Northern lord to declare for Jon as King in the North, so it’s now great irony that he is acting as if that declaration was a terrible idea. Lord Royce brings up a similar point; that the Knights of the Vale are therefor Lady Stark. Sansa is like that’s nice? and all but Jon is our King so we have to support him in his efforts and Sansa and Arya give each other an approving look. Later, in some corridors of Winterfell, Arya and Sansa are talking and Sansa drops the episode’s first meme-based joke
Get it audience get it the script is aware that everyone makes fun of the show for never giving Ghost any good scenes. Arya follows Sansa into her room (neither of them shuts the door, ahem) and this apparently is the first time that Arya has followed Sansa into her room, and she remarks that this room used to be Ned and Catelyn’s room and it starts an argument between the two sisters about how Sansa is, even if not intentionally, usurping Jon’s position. Sansa is in Winterfell acting as the Lady of Winterfell in Jon’s absence. Sansa is in Winterfell in Ned and Catelyn’s room; living where the former Lord of Winterfell lived (back in GoT #60 Jon said that the room was hers to have but it’s possible only Sansa and Jon know that). Arya says that the Northern (and Vale) lords were being disrespectful of Jon, Sansa says that they have to be treated nicely because Jon can’t lose their armies, Arya makes a smirking comment about making them lose their heads first, Sansa is like no that’s not how things work, and Arya is like no no I understand you need their support for when you finally make your claim to power when Jon dies. Sansa is mortified that Arya would say such a thing but Arya is like search your feelings you know it to be true and Sansa searches her feelings a bit and then tells Arya she has work to do and Arya leaves. Closing the door. Ahem ahem ahem ahem oh my goodness I’m so sorry I don’t know why I have this sudden not-subtle coughing fit sorry.
Davos and Tyrion land at some smugglers’ cove in King’s Landing. I mean I know what you’re thinking, audience, you’re thinking “there is no way that Cersei, who was recently attacked, would not have guards here.”And of course you’re right but ummmm
Tyrion: The last time I was here I killed my father with a crossbow.
Davos: Last time I was here you killed my son with wildfire.
Well I guess that is an in-episode confirmation that ShowDavos only has one son, thanks show for providing that. Davos tells Tyrion the best way to smuggle himself into King’s Landing; there’s apparently a really easy route to take that is poorly guarded because “too many steps” because ranged weapons don’t exist. Davos is also smuggling himself into King’s Landing which Tyrion seems surprised at but Davos assures him that he has his own smuggling business he has to tend to, in Flea Bottom.
Tyrion: What if someone takes the boat?
Davos: Then we’re fooked! Best hurry!
Bronn leads Jaime through the cellar of the Red Keep that has all the dragon skulls, which we last saw in GoT #62. After five+ years of not visiting this set, the show really wants to get its money out of this set now. Jaime is like we have no time for this, Bronn is like hey you should train. I do like how the show is willing to revisit this “Jaime is not as good at fighting with his offhand”idea that it hasn’t touched since GoT #32. I’m always happy to see the show remember that actions in earlier episodes have consequences, even if it sometimes forgets for a few years. Anyway it’s all just a trick, Bronn brought Jaime to this cellar to meet with Tyrion, not to train.
Jaime seems pissed to be here with Tyrion; way back in GoT #40 Jaime helped get Tyrion out of King’s Landing to escape his death, but Tyrion used that escape to kill Tywin, and Jaime apparently has not forgiven his brother for that act of kinslaying.
(even though Jaime has apparently forgiven Cersei for her part in the killing of Tommen and Kevan. Let’s … not focus on how Jaime is a giant ball of inconsistency, life is too short for that.)
Tyrion starts off by trying to be complimentary towards his brother on Jaime’s good strategic planning of abandoning Casterly Rock to instead invade Highgarden. It’s a strategic move that father would have made-
Okay fine Jaime you’re really angry about Tywin being dead lol okay sure whatever. Tyrion tries to explain that Tywin was settled into letting Tyrion die and Jaime just is not interested in listening to his brother so Tyrion tells Jaime the plan. Daenerys will win this war, and Daenerys will cease fire if Cersei is willing to accept some terms. Jaime says that Cersei won’t bend the knee, and Tyrion knows she won’t, but this meeting isn’t about that, and then off-camera Tyrion explains his Patented Big Plan to Jaime and we in the audience have no way of knowing what happens there.
Davos is in Flea Bottom’s smithing row and he comes to a weaponsmith’s shop and hey guess who it is it’s Gendry! Gendry’s back, but in pog form!
Hahhahaha yes scriptwriters I am glad you have read Joe Dempsie’s well-regarded tweet way to use memes to write your show. Gendry laughs at the joke Davos just quoted and the two catch up a bit. Gendry confirms that he’s been in King’s Landing for several years because it’s been the safest place for him to be in, but Davos says that bad things are coming and that it is no longer safe for him to be there. Gendry understands, Davos is like well you probably need some time to pack and tie up loose-
Gendry grabs his go bag, which he just happens to have in his shop, thank goodness, that is super efficient. Gendry and Davos further discuss Gendry’s frustration about having to work in King’s Landing arming the House that killed his father and tried to kill him. Davos mentions that Gendry might want to bring a sword and Gendry smirks because he doesn’t know much about swinging swords but this (and he grabs a warhammer with a Baratheon sigil on it, that he made, and is in this shop he works in, because he made it, as an homage to his dad’s weapon of choice), this he knows. And Gendry and Davos leave and when they leave they walk past another person who is in this shop, like, maybe 10 meters max from where those two were just talking? And this person doesn’t seem to have any response whatsoever to hearing a guy talk about he hates the Lannisters? Okay whatever uh next scene.
Davos and Gendry get back to the ship in the smuggler’s cove and Davos advises Gendry to not mention how he’s Robert Baratheon’s only living son. Two goldcloaks show up to have a chat with these two smugglers. Davos, being the high Charisma character, uses flattery and bribery to appeal to these guards. Even after Davos bribes the guards, the guards want to see what’s in the boat because they want even more of a bribe, such as wine or hams.
So Davos shows em what he’s got in the boat. It’s fermented crab, which apparently is an aphrodisiac in Westeros, which I don’t think has ever been mentioned in the books or the show before sooooooooo let’s just enjoy Davos’s monologue about crabs.
This probably would have worked but Tyrion has to ruin everything by showing up in the smuggler’s cove. The goldcloaks are looking for a dwarf with a scar, and he’s a dwarf with a scar, so they’re suspicious. Davos attempts to bribe them more and the guards are like you can’t bribe us more than Cersei pays and that’s when Gendry rolls really high on his Move Silently check (and/or the guards roll very poorly on their Perception checks) and because they aren’t paying attention he gets sneak attack damage so he does 1d8+1d6 bludgeoning damage to these goldcloaks, possibly doing critical damage to the second guard whose face he smashes in very, very badly (thanks show for the random gore?). This is how Tyrion and Gendry meet one another.
Jaime enters into Cersei’s room. Qyburn is already in the room, he can be overheard saying “I could give you something” to which Cersei says “That won’t be necessary”: they might be talking about causing a miscarriage. Qyburn acknowledges Jaime before he leaves, closing the door. Jaime is suspicious about Qyburn being there (good suspicion Jaime!) and Cersei is like why are you here? And Jaime is like I met with Tyrion and he expects this to be a big bombshell but Cersei is not shocked, she just wants to know what Tyrion had to say. Jaime says that Daenerys wants to meet to discuss an armistice because Daenerys wants Cersei to temporarily ally to fight the greater evil of the Army of the Dead. Cersei is skeptical. Tyrion claims he will have proof, Cersei is still skeptical.
Cersei tells Jaime that Bronn betrayed him by setting up a meeting without Jaime’s knowledge or consent and Jaime is like whaaaaaa and Cersei is like I see all and Jaime is like why’d you let that happen and Cersei is like actually I have come to accept that we might have to have some kind of temporary ceasefire with the dragon queen because the only way to beat her is to be clever and Cersei is …apparently … still of the impression that Team Cersei will win? Against everything? Especially because she now has a BABBY on the way. And Jaime is like OMG I’m gonna be a dad again and unlike all their other incest babbies this one will apparently be officially his kid
And Cersei is like whatever bro our dad didn’t care what people thought and they embrace over their beautiful incest babby and Cersei gets this serious look on her face and whispers to Jaime
And he looks worried???? … like … I don’t know Jaime, did you just now realize that maybe Cersei is out of control? This is the moment where you are maybe finally worried about Cersei? I’m so sorry that the show has decided to make you have no brain.
Davos and Gendry (and I guess Tyrion too) have returned to Dragonstone. Davos says that the King is leaving today and that he has a lot on his mind so Gendry should just be cool and not mention who his dad is. Davos has a short backstory built up for Gendry: he’s Clovis, who is a smith, who’s going to go to Winterfell and be a smith there. Davos leads Gendry to Jon, who is supervising a dragonglass mining operation that is going on. Jon is supervising some Northern miners. I guess they’re from the Stark ship which is parked near Dragonstone.
Davos is like hey Jon this is Clovis but Gendry is like I’m Gendry, I’m Robert Baratheon’s son. Jon looks at Davos, Davos says yep, Gendry says that their (his and Jon’s) fathers trusted each other so why shouldn’t we, and the audience laughs because actually Ned didn’t trust Robert with a very large secret named (name redacted) Jon, and Jon mentions the onetime he saw Robert, Gendry mentions the one time he met Jon’s father (heheheheh), Jon says that Gendry is leaner than Robert while Gendry says that Jon is shorter than Ned (Sean Bean is two inches taller than Kit Harington FYI data point) and Jon chuckles after a moment and the two of them mention how they both were raised hearing stories about how their fathers fought together and won and how the present is giving them an opportunity to fight together. Gendry apparently wants to go on the Great Wight Hunt and Davos says “don’t be a fool”and Jon is like well can you fight with a sword and Gendry says nah I use a hammer and Jon looks to Davos for confirmation
Davos he attacked two guys with a sneak attack but Davos you can’t sneak attack the undead but Jon is like sure we can use the help. Davos tells Gendry he’s being dumb, Gendry pulls the “this war is so big I have to fight in it” card. Davos is like why do all these young people not like my advice and the unstated answer is that he advised Stannis Baratheon who was killed horribly by Season 5.
Jorah is on the beach with the departing Northern forces. Tyrion walks over to have a quick chat.
Tyrion: Nobody glowers quite like you. Not even Grey Worm.This is the coin the slaver gave me when I suggested he free us and pay us, remember? (GoT #47)
Jorah: It was supposed to last us the rest of our lives.
Tyrion: Take it with you. But bring it back. Our Queen needs you.
Daenerys walks over and has her quick chat with Jorah. He wants to give some last kind words but she just takes his hands. Seeing Jon, Davos, and Gendry approaching, he kisses hers and gets on a boat. Jon tells Daenerys that if he dies she won’t have to deal with any more drama from the King in the North.
And Jon wishes her fortune in the wars to come (everyone who hates that phrase take a shot) and Tyrion and Daenerys watch this boat of lads leave.
Gilly and Samwell are at their home. Gilly is reading books, Samwell is transcribing books. Samwell looks and sounds like he is really really tired of transcribing books. That’s why he doesn’t really pay attention to Gilly when she quotes the book she is reading as saying that a Maester granted an annulment to a Prince “Rahgar” and remarried him to someone else in a secret ceremony in Dorne. The show had to figure out a way to tell the audience this information and they decided they would just have a character say it to another character who didn’t care at the time.
Because Samwell doesn’t care. He’s sick and tired of the Maesters being more interested in collecting information than in acting on the information they already have. He doesn’t make his point very eloquently but he’s frustrated so he has a right to be complaining at home about his job.
How has Gilly adjusted to living in Oldtown? What’s it like being the unmarried mother of a child in Oldtown? She was raised north of the Wall, does she still come off as a member of the Free Folk or has she better assimilated to acting like a Southerner? Do people ever ask why she’s not married to Samwell? Does she have any social circle? Does her son? I guess these are unimportant questions. Samwell leaves his home abruptly, without any words, to go steal some books from the Citadel. He seems to be grabbing particular books and scrolls rather than just randomly grabbing items so I guess these are items he already knows (or suspects?) will help him answer the questions he has. Samwell is in such a rush to get out of Oldtown that he leaves the door to the secret tomes open so that whoever shows up in the morning will know that someone robbed the place which will not look suspicious at all when he doesn’t show up to work tomorrow. Samwell packs himself, his stolen books, Gilly, and Sam on a wagon and the three of them are ready to leave Oldtown.
Gilly come on now this is the later episodes of the show, you’re supposed to encourage Samwell to make random decisions that cause his character to change location suddenly. This is not an episode where Sam can think about his decisions, this is an episode where he must act right now!!!
Oh Samwell it sounds like you need a confidence boost. You killed an Other, that makes you better than all of the men you are reading about. But okay whatever five episodes after Oldtown and the Citadel made their elaborate entrance into the show’s narrative they both make their exit. What storyline is dead may never die.
The next few scenes of the episode are set in Winterfell and it’s primarily a game of cat and mouse between Arya and Petyr to see who is better at gathering information without being noticed. The first time we see Petyr talking to an unknown worker in Winterfell while Arya watches. The camera shows that Arya is watching, then the camera shows that Petyr looks over to where Arya was standing but she has moved so Petyr walks away to a second location. Once again Arya is watching, like, overtly watching from a corner, as Petyr talks to Lords Glover and Royce and then walks away. The camerawork implies that Petyr then walks to his room’s door, unlocking it, while Arya stalks around to watch him. While he’s in front of his door, Maester Wolkan walks up to hand him a raven-delivered scroll. Petyr looks at it and asks if it’s the only copy of the message in Winterfell, the Maester says yes, Petyr says
And Wolkan walks away as Petyr closes the door to his room. A few seconds later he opens the door, emerges, locks it, and walks away. Arya knows this is her chance to sneak in there so she uses her lockpicking abilities (she gained those at Assassin School) to pick the lock and go into Petyr’s room. She is looking for a single scroll, and there’s a brief montage of her looking around different places in the room for a single scroll when she looks at the bed. She pulls up the mattress, there’s a small hole in the bottom of the mattress, that’s where the scroll was placed, she takes it out and unrolls it and reads it. The audience is not given the entire scroll to read, here’s what the portion shown to the audience reads:
[Robert] is dead, killed from wounds he took in a boar hunt.(out of focus: Father?)
Joffrey and tried to steal his throne. The (out of focus: Lannisters?)
to King’s Landing and swear fealty to King Joffrey and (out of focus)
Your faithful sister Sansa
In short it’s a message from Sansa to Robb wherein she calls Ned Stark a traitor and insists to Robb Stark that he should bend the knee to King Joffrey. This is a message wherein Sansa is being disloyal to the North and obedient to the Lannisters; this is exactly the kind of message one would show to Northern lords to make them not trust Sansa. Arya realizes that Petyr is up to something and she rolls up the scroll. I thought she places it back where she found it but then I rewatched this scene and it is uncertain what she does with the scroll. She leaves Petyr’s room and relocks it and when she does so the camera reveals, hilariously, that Petyr is watching her.
Now. It was pretty obviously hinted at in the earlier Sansa and Arya scene that they are aware that Petyr is trying to play them. They have an argument in a room with a door kept open so that people could hear the argument. That was very blatant. So it’s a healthy assumption to assume that Arya was being intentionally bad at sneaking in order to keep Petyr convinced that he is the Master of Trickery. But that assumption only works if Petyr Baelish, a guy who has kept himself alive in spite of causing a massive amount of chaos, is now holding the idiot ball. But the show has already made Petyr hold the idiot ball (see: Season 5), so I think what we see is supposed to be taken literally: that Petyr Baelish thinks that he just let Arya read a document which will fan her own Sansa paranoia, and that Arya will now work against Sansa and force Sansa to exile or kill her (and/or possibly Bran, since Bran and Arya have established themselves as being on the same team). When in reality Arya is actually working with Sansa to figure out what Petyr’s plan is so the Starks, united, can counter it.
I don’t know whether to congratulate the show on having the Stark sisters be good at sneaking or to be confused by the show choosing to make Petyr assume that his supposed protégé is bad at chaos theory. I guess I do both: I confusedly congratulate the show on its work with the Sansa-Petyr plot. It has definitely improved from the very low levels it achieved in Season 5. I’ll just say that and move on because the show has something exciting happening.
Two boats reach the beach near Eastwatch. Which major character is on which boat seems identical to how the boats left Dragonstone; Jorah and Jon are on one boat whereas Gendry and Davos are on another. Why? All four of them had to take boats to a Stark ship and then sail on that from Dragonstone to Eastwatch and then row boats from that ship to the Eastwatch beach. Why not share one boat? Why not switch up who gets to share a boat with Jon? What did Jon and Jorah talk about? “So Daenerys is hot, huh?”
Also: does Eastwatch have no port? Check this out:
In this establishing shot, Eastwatch is in the midground on the left, the rowboats are in the foreground, the Wall is behind Eastwatch extending from left to right, and there’s a ship on the right of the Wall; where the Wall meets the Bay of Seals. I assume we’re supposed to guess that that’s the ship that Team Jon just used to get from Dragonstone to Eastwatch, and it’s not parked in a port. It’s just …over there, in the water. There’s no indication at all that Eastwatch has any naval support infrastructure at all, which is really weird, because the books make the clear point that this is the port that the Night’s Watch uses for a variety of functions. To name two big ones: to get shipments from cities along the Narrow Sea and to host galleys that act as a kind of “Coast Guard” to stop the Free Folk from just taking boats to get past the Wall and raid Northern towns and villages.
But in the show the establishing shot of the castle shows no port sooooo when Stannis Baratheon sailed here and landed tens of thousands of troops and thousands of horses, all of those are implied to have offloaded on rowboats.
ANYWAY I’m not supposed to be thinking about whether the show’s world-building is consistent or sensical I’m supposed to let you know that Team Jon meets with Tormund, who Jon sent to be the person running Eastwatch.
Tormund: Isn’t it your job to talk him out of stupid fukkin ideas like this?
Davos: I’ve been failing at that job of late.
Yes, yes you have Davos. But it’s good you’re admitting it.But wait who is Jon’s Hand? Is Davos the closest thing to Jon’s Hand? Anyway Tormund gets to have a nice chat with Team Jon about the purpose of this upcoming quest and Tormund asks the vital question of how many men is Jon committing to this quest and Jon says “Not enough” and Tormund asks if he brought “the big woman?” and Jon chuckles because doesn’t Tormund know that Brienne is busy at Winterfell guarding Jon’s family and that is much much much more important than the Great Wight Hunt which might single-handedly change the course of Westerosi history if it works? Jorah mentions that they hope that some of the Free Folk help (did Team Jon just sail to Eastwatch in the hope that the Free Folk stationed there would help them?).Davos mentions that he will be staying behind because he’s a liability in a combat situation (he is?). Tormund asks Jon, as seriously as he can, if he really wants to go north of the Wall again, and Jon says yes, and Tormund mentions that they’re not the only ones.
So Tormund, who at least right now appears to be the only person on staff in all of Eastwatch, leads the other four down to the jail cells inside Eastwatch. He mentions that “his scouts” found them, the first sign that other people work at Eastwatch. The three people in this jail cell are the three we have seen earlier (in GoT #61) who were on their way northward: Sandor, Beric, and Thoros. The eight of these characters all being in the same general location at the same time is a lot of reunions and first meetings; some of these characters have no good history together with one another, and the script of interactions organically develops:
Jon: once saw Sandor in Winterfell
Gendry: does not trust Beric or Thoros and, by implication, Sandor
Jorah: recognizes Thoros
Thoros: wants some liquor and is going into alcohol withdrawal
Tormund: hates Mormonts and therefore hates Jorah
This is a really good meta speech Beric, well spoken.
Sandor interrupts the speech to ask what’s the plan, Jon says that they’re all on the same side because they’re all breathing, Thoros hands the jail cell keys to Jon, Jon opens the door, and that visual cuts to a visua lof the gate at the north end of the tunnel leading through the Wall being opened up as The Seven emerge.
And OKAY FINE I don’t want to come off as always negative about the show so I want to admit right here that the show obviously chose seven (note how Davos randomly decided not to go) because they want to show how the Seven Who Are One are giving their blessing to this interfaith group. My guesses on who is who are as follows:
The Father is Jorah, because he provides the strength to seek justice.
The Mother is Tormund because he’s interested in keeping loved ones safe (e.g. he asked about Brienne!)
The Warrior is Jon, because he’s theo nly one of them who has ever watched over soldiers and kept them safe.
The Smith is Gendry, because that’s his actual literal job, he mends broken things.
The Maid is obviously Sandor, because he keeps young women (Sansa and Arya) safe.
The Crone is Thoros, because people look to him for wisdom and guidance.
The Stranger is Beric, because every time he has died he has become less and less knowable.
I could see some arguments about some of those (e.g. Jon and Thoros’s roles could be exchanged) but that’s religion for ya, there’s always arguments to be had.
Anyway the door opens. Jon looks back at his party, which causes his party to look amongst itself, which causes Thoros to drink because he wants to get liquored up, and actually behind Sandor there’s some Free Folk so there actually are people at Eastwatch besides just Tormund! who seem to be hauling something behind them, probably a cage. The music stirs up as the Great Wight Hunt participants start to walk into an incredibly low-visibility snowstorm (too bad Bran can’t provide recon with his warging abilities) and the episode ends there.
No time for coda, this episode took way too long to write about and there’s already another episode accidentally released so it’s time to start writing about that one.