With episode #67, Game of Thrones reaches the end of the first of its two planned shorter-run seasons. As each of these seasons is being filmed as one cohesive entity, sometimes plots that are hatched in earlier episodes don’t really make any kind of sense until the season finale airs: that the reason why Character X did Action Y was so that by the finale they could be in a Location A and cause Action B. This finale has a few of those moments, wherein it seemed like the only reason why two characters were in the same location was because they “had” to be for Action B to occur. I mean of course yes (almost) everything on the show is scripted but sometimes these events feel like they’re more-scripted-than-usual? Anyway I should get into the actual episode since it’s a lengthy episode and because I take forever to write these.
(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. Thankfully there are no more leaks for Season 7 events so now it’s just a waiting game until the Season 8 leaks.)
The episode begins with footage of Grey Worm and then the rest of the Unsullied army. Yes, they marched all the way from Casterly Rock to King’s Landing along the Gold Road. They’re soldiers from another continent whose supply lines were broken by Euron’s fleet destroying all their ships and who conquered and then left a barely-supplied Casterly Rock but yes they marched several hundred miles from the west end of Westeros to the east end of Westeros. No you do not get to see that march happen. No one wants to see that march or how they stayed alive with dwindling supplies of water and food and how some of them got dysentery no one wants to see any of that there’s only one named Unsullied anyway the rest are just extras so there’s no audience connection built so the Unsullied March Across Westeros is not worth getting into.
Also no the Dornish army, the one that was incapable of marching to King’s Landing and had to be transported by ship has not been mentioned. The Dornish March Across Westeros didn’t happen, audience, the entirety of Dorne is dead, just, let’s all forget about it.
The Lannister forces arrayed along the walls of King’s Landing are being commanded by Jaime and Bronn. Bronn asks a Lannister troop if they’re making oil, they’re making pitch, 500 barrels of pitch, Bronn suggests making 500 more. I guess the plan there is to drop a flammable substance onto the Unsullied if they choose to attack? Does this mean that there is no more wildfire left in King’s Landing and that Cersei used all of it in GoT #60 to explode the Great Sept of Baelor? Bronn walks over to Jaime and gloats about how much fun it is being addressed as a noble. Jaime warns about taking too much delight in transitory titles, Bronn is of the attitude that they might die soon anyway, and then because they’re staring at the Unsullied Bronn feels a need to address the question of whether he would fight in a war if he had no cock.
Bronn: You wouldn’t find me fightin’ in an army if I had no cock. What’s left to fight for?
Bronn: I spend my life around soldiers, what do you think they spend that gold on?
Bronn: Not without a cock you don’t.
Jaime: Maybe it really is all just cocks in the end.
Jaime and Bronn address how Tyrion is on Team Daenerys and Jaime (ironically) refers to Tyrion as the champion of the downtrodden and I can’t entirely tell how ironic/aware he is being I mean at times Tyrion has tried to make the world a better place for those less fortunate which is not really something that Jaime can say about … say … himself. But anyway a trumpet plays and the Dothraki show up so now there’s two armies at the gates of King’s Landing.
That is correct, Bronn, Team Cersei is not in good shape maybe you should take that as a hint to switch sides or something. A few ships from Team Daenerys are sailing to the docks to unload passengers. One of these ships has Tyrion, Varys, Theon, and some unnamed Dothraki and Unsullied on it. It’s from Tyrion’s eyes that we see that much of the section of Blackwater Bay near the Red Keep is being protected by Euron’s fleet. We follow Tyrion to the forecastle of the ship which is where several other members of Team Daenerys are at: Jon, Davos, Missandei, and Jorah.
That Jon, Davos, and Jorah are on this ship indicates that the survivors of the Great Wight Hunt are primarily here. We saw on GoT #66 that Beric and Tormund were still staying at Eastwatch. Did Gendry stay at Eastwatch? Is Gendry a lost thread again?
This is the first time Jon has been to King’s Landing so he wants to know about the place. He asks Tyrion how many people live there, Tyrion says a ~million, Jon says that’s more than the entire North and that he doesn’t understand why people would want to live at high population density, Tyrion says jorbs and better brothels. Sandor goes belowdecks to check on their cargo. Their cargo is still in angry shape.
In a room in the Red Keep, Cersei wants to know why she (Daenerys) isn’t with them (Team Daenerys). Qyburn says that he doesn’t know. She asks about the rest of them, Qyburn says they’re all on their way to the Dragonpit. Cersei has to ask if that includes Tyrion, Qyburn says yes. Also Jaime is in this room, not saying anything. Also Gregor is in this room, uh, I guess this is the Team Cersei pre-meeting party.
Jaime looks a bit aghast at his sister preparing for bad events if anything bad happens but maybe this is a Jaime from another dimension who doesn’t remember that Cersei sometimes kills people.
The overall topology of King’s Landing, as established in the books of ASoIaF, is that it’s a city with three large hills, and on each of those hills is a large building. Visenya’s Hill is where the Great Sept of Baelor sits, Rhaenys’s Hill is where the Dragonpit (or, more accurately, its ruins) is found, and Aegon’s Hill is where the Red Keep is at. The show couldn’t find a suitable filming location that had both old-style looking buildings and three hills, so on Game of Thrones the Dragonpit is filmed on location in the Italica ruins of Seville, Spain and then copious amounts of CGI magic are added to make those ruins look like they’re part of King’s Landing.
Team Daenerys is on its way to the Dragonpit. This is Missandei’s turn to ask a question to allow someone else to provide exposition so she asks why did they (the Targaryens) build it (the Dragonpit) and Jorah says that dragons don’t like boundaries and they will eat everything (livestock, kids…) they find, so they had to be penned to keep them under control. Tyrion mentions that by the end of the time of dragons in Westeros that it was all a bit silly because the dragons were tiny, but when it housed Balerion the Dread it must have been the most dangerous place in the world.
On their way to the Dragonpit Team Daenerys comes across Lannister forces, led by Bronn, and Davos makes a comment about how maybe this still is the most dangerous place in the world. The Lannister forces are bringing two more contestants to the party: Brienne and Podrick.
Oh Brienne and Podrick arrived via land travel from Winterfell faster than Team Daenerys arrived via ship travel from Dragonstone. Makes. Sense. Question mark. Sandor and Brienne give each other a significant look because the last time they met they did have a slight disagreement. This is the first time in a while that Pod and Tyrion have been in the same location so the two of them share some words, in summary they didn’t expect to see one another and Pod’s glad that Tyrion has survived. Bronn ruins the moment as usual:
Bronn stop ruining moments. Sandor is watching over a box that is being pulled around by a donkey and a Lannister soldier asks “what’s in there” and Sandor says “Fuck off.” Brienne wants to check in on Sandor so she waits up for him and the two of them walk and talk.
Brienne: Thought you were dead.
Sandor: Not yet. You came pretty close.
Brienne: I was only trying to protect her.
Sandor: You and me both.
Brienne: She’s alive. Arya.
Sandor: (after a moment) Where?
Sandor: Who’s protecting her if you’re here?
Brienne: The only one that needs protecting is the one that gets in her way.
Sandor: It won’t be me.
And the two of them smile because kids in Westeros grow up so fast one year they need protecting the next they’re faceless assassins. Podrick, Tyrion, and Bronn get to have a chat as the heroes of Blackwater Bay. Podrick still refers to Tyrion as a lord, Tyrion says he’s pretty sure he’s not a lord anymore, Bronn says that maybe one day Tyrion will get his title back from his new queen, Tyrion makes his offer again that he will double whatever anyone else is paying Bronn, Varys jumps in to ask double what exactly, Bronn says that he’s doing alright looking after himself. Tyrion asks if that’s true saying as how Bronn did arrange to have the earlier Jaime-Tyrion meeting and that might have gone poorly. Bronn explains that it’s Tyrion, not Bronn, who could have fared poorly at that meeting, because Cersei wants Tyrion’s head, not his. He then goes on to say that he is personally bringing two traitors into Cersei’s clutches (Tyrion and Varys) so that’s not a bad play for power if Cersei decides to start chopping off heads. Tyrion seems to have not considered that Bronn might be capable of covering multiple angles, and is quietly appreciative of the cunning levels of Bronn’s plotting.
Tyrion: It’s good to see you again.
Bronn: Yeah, you too.
Sandor parks his donkey and the box the donkey is pulling and quietly requests that no one valet parks the donkey.
And we get to see into the Italica ruins, with some extra CGI dome-supporting structures built up along the rim of the ruins.
This is one of the bigger events of the show because it has the most (in absolute numbers and also relative numbers) main characters in one place in the history of the series. So in short I might spend some time here, sorry in advance.
There are three main seating areas present on a raised platform. I think the point here is to have one for Team Cersei, one for Team Daenerys, and one for Team Jon. Cersei is of course unaware during the meeting preparations that Jon Snow has already declared for Daenerys, she instead made the good assumption that there were three major powers in Westeros. I am unsure who is catering this event. The middle tent is the Lannister tent whereas tent-to-the-right is for Team Daenerys and tent-to-the-left is for Team Jon. Bronn motions to his left for Jon to sit in that section, Jorah, Brienne, and Podrick follow off that way. Most of the group here is Team Daenerys, they go to the other tent. Everyone is looking around, scoping each other out because no one entirely trusts anyone else here. Sandor in particular is really pacing around because he feels like something here is off. Which is a good feeling to have when people who don’t want to share power (iow, Daenerys and Cersei) have a meeting. Bronn suggests to Podrick that they leave and have a drink while the fancy folks talk, Podrick looks to Brienne to see if she will allow it, she nods, so Podrick goes off with Bronn.
Nothing happens for a short time. Cersei wants everyone to be tense and to be there at her convenience, so she takes a while to show up. This does not make people relax, for understandable reasons.
Sandor: I left this shit city because I didn’t want to die in it. Am I going to die in this shit city?
Tyrion: You might.
Sandor: And this is all your idea? Seems every bad idea has some Lannister cunt behind it.
Tyrion: And some Clegane cunt to help them see it through.
I like this short conversation. On one level it is a good comment on how the Lannisters have been using the Cleganes as their wrecking crew for a while. On another level it’s a good introduction for Team Cersei, which has reanimated Gregor at the front of the line, followed shortly after by Cersei, Jaime, Qyburn, and Euron. As Team Cersei arrives, Sandor walks over to hover around Team Jon. Significant glances are shared all over the place here, including between Jaime and Brienne, Cersei and Tyrion, Euron and Theon, and Sandor and Gregor.
Sandor wants to address the pink 600 pound gorilla elephant in the room. He walks towards Team Cersei’s tent and Gregor stands in the way and Sandor builds hype for Cleganebowl.
That’s some good hype-building there, well hyped D&D. Sandor walks away as Cersei watches with a look that says she will buy Cleganebowl tickets when they go on sale. She then asks on the whereabouts of Daenerys. Tyrion says she’ll be here soon, Cersei does not like that answer, everyone has a feeling of unease about this because hey maybe Daenerys will just burn them all, who really knows. After some awkward waiting a dragon’s roar is heard. Jaime reacts the strongest because he’s heard this before and he knows it means death. Everyone else (except Cersei) is getting up to see the sight of Drogon and Rhaegal flying in the air above King’s Landing. Drogon lands on the highest stable-looking section of the Dragonpit and roars because why not. Everyone but Cersei is gawking at this astounding sight: Cersei has no interest in this pageantry. Drogon roars again and descends down the stairs of the Dragonpit, casually breaking parts of it because oddly enough a centuries-old ruin doesn’t take kindly to being walked on by a very heavy creature. The camera goes back to check in on Cersei. Cersei is feeling a lot of feels, but the main thing she might be thinking about is how can she kill that dragon. Daenerys dismounts Drogon as formally as she can, Drogon leaves the Dragonpit to keep circling around the skies of King’s Landing with Rhaegal. Cersei continues to look annoyed that anyone made her wait.
Since there’s only a few chairs at each tent, who gets chairs is some kind of symbolism about who is important here. For Team Cersei the three chairs are occupied by Cersei, Qyburn, and Jaime. For Team Jon there’s Jon, Brienne, and Davos. For the Team Daenerys tent, she, Tyrion, Missandei, Varys, Theon, and Jorah get chairs. The Dothraki have to stand, sorry Dothraki. Cersei’s first words to Daenerys are to express annoyance at having to wait for Daenerys, Daenerys apologizes, everyone waits for Tyrion to start this meeting up because it is his big idea after all, so Tyrion finally gets to it. Tyrion starts his speech-
Oh wait sorry Euron has to interrupt. Euron has to tell Theon that he has his sister and that if Theon doesn’t submit to Euron then Euron will kill Yara. Theon looks at Tyrion, Tyrion looks at Jaime, Jaime makes a shrug, Tyrion says that maybe we should start with larger concerns, Euron makes a short person joke, Tyrion is annoyed and asks if Theon remembers how they discussed dwarf jokes, Theon says Euron’s joke wasn’t even good, Euron lets Tyrion know that the ironborn don’t let dwarves live, Jaime asks Euron to sit down, Euron doesn’t want to, Cersei demands that Euron sit down and Gregor starts to step forward to make his intimidating presence known, Euron backs off, allowing Tyrion to give his speech.
Tyrion: We are a group of people who do not like one another. As this recent demonstration has shown. We have suffered at each other’s hands, we have lost people we love at each other’s hands. If all we wanted was more of the same, there’d be no need for this gathering. We are entirely capable of waging war against each other without meeting face to face.
Cersei: So instead we should settle our differences and live together in harmony for the rest of our days?
Tyrion: We all know that will never happen.
Cersei: Then why are we here?
Jon: This isn’t about living in harmony. It’s just about living.
After which Jon gives one of his patented “I will talk about the army of the dead as if such a thing is not incredulous” speeches. Cersei cracks wise at this speech. Jon says that this is serious and that he wouldn’t be here if it weren’t serious. Cersei thinks it’s a bad joke. She asks Daenerys if all that her team is asking for is a truce, Daenerys says yes, that’s all. Cersei thinks that she’s being asked to pull back her armies and stand down while Team Daenerys solidifies and expands her position. Daenerys repeats the claim that no one will attack King’s Landing until “the Northern threat” is dealt with, and that Cersei has her word. Cersei does not like the word of a would-be usurper. Tyrion realizes that dialogue between Cersei and Daenerys is not going anywhere and that it’s time for the showing.
Apparently the wight was being stored downstairs. Sandor carries up the crate from downstairs. Cersei leans forward on her chair because she is intrigued on what the heck her scheming brother has to show. Sandor places the crate on the floor, starts opening it up. Cersei looks over to Jaime about what the heck is this. Sandor pulls off the lid and moves back from the crate. Nothing happens. Jaime is still looking at this scene, waiting for something to happen. Everyone is waiting for something to happen. Cersei is amused that nothing is happening. So Sandor kicks over the crate, the wight falls out of the crate, shrieks, Cersei reacts, the wight runs towards Cersei until it hits the end of its chain a few feet before it reaches her. Sandor pulls it back down to the ground. Jaime looks concerned. The wight runs at Sandor, Sandor cuts the wight in half. Both halves of the wight are still animated because its hit points are not reduced below zero by a slashing attack anywhere but the noggin. Jon is watching this like it’s no big deal. Qyburn is fascinated. Cersei is aghast. Jaime is also aghast. Cersei gets more aghast. Sandor cuts off the wight’s left forearm, which lands with a thud but is still twitching. Cersei is still transfixed by this scene in front of her. Qyburn walks into the middle of the open area between the three tents because he just has to investigate this, which is why I like Qyburn it’s because he thinks the undead are cool: as the fingers on the amputated arm move he just stares in fascination.
Jon and Davos start to get ready for part 2 of the demonstration. Qyburn hands Jon the arm so that Jon is holding a torch in his right hand and the wight arm in his left hand. Davos uses flint and tinder to light the torch. “We can destroy them by burning them,” he says as he lights the arm on fire and drops it to the ground. “And we can destroy them with dragonglass,” as he takes the dragonglass dagger out. “If we don’t win this fight, then that is the fate of every person in the world.” Jon lifts the wight up by its right arm and stabs it in the chest with the dragonglass, it stops being reanimated, finally.
If the point of this meeting was to make Cersei convinced that wights are real, Cersei looks convinced. She stares at the finally-stopped-moving corpse, calculating what this new information does to all of her plans. Daenerys waits for some kind of reaction. Jon walks towards Cersei and summarizes the presentation:
Daenerys adds that she didn’t believe until she saw, and that she saw them all. Jaime asks how many, Daenerys says 100,000 at least. Jaime is like whaaaaaaaaaa. Euron walks over to the wight and touches its hair lightly, asking “can they swim?” Jon says “No,” and Euron says “Good. I’m taking the Iron Fleet back to the Iron Islands.” Cersei does not sound pleased.
Euron walks over to the Team Daenerys tent to tell Daeneys that he’s going back to his island and that she should go back to hers, because when Winter’s over they’ll be the only two left alive. Daenerys does not like what he’s implying. PS do you remember when Euron showed up last season at the ironborn’s Kingsmoot and said that he would marry the Dragon Queen? This is the only time he’s ever spoken to Daenerys can you see how he’s a real charmer? Anyway anyway uh Euron leaves the Dragonpit and Cersei gives her own short speech stating that the Iron Throne accepts the truce.
Various people look relieved; Varys in particular might be smiling?!?!?!?!? Jon sighs, relieved that Cersei has come to realize the importance of the threat of the Others. But that was just part 1 of Cersei’s speech.
Cersei: In return, the King in the North will extend this truce. He will remain in the North where he belongs, he will not take up arms against the Lannisters, he will not choose sides.
Daenerys: Just the King in the North? Not me?
Cersei: ::laughs:: I would never ask it of you. You would never agree to it and if you did I would trust you even less than I do now. I ask it only of Ned Stark’s son. I know Ned Stark’s son will be true to his word.
I don’t understand Cersei’s … argument here? Isn’t the truce supposed to be between Team Cersei and Team Daenerys? Does Cersei expect that Team Daenerys will keep fighting her? Okay whatever uh apparently Cersei is only trying to make a truce with Team Jon or something, so it’s Jon’s cue to talk. Jon looks at his tent and he looks at Daenerys and he gives his poorly-advised announcement.
I am true to my word. Or I try to be. That is why I cannot give you what you ask. I cannot serve two queens. And I’ve already pledged myself to Queen Daenerys of House Targaryen.
Daenerys has a why did he say that look. Davos has the same look. Tyrion has the same look. Cersei has a well okay then look: “Then there is nothing else to discuss. The Dead will come North first, enjoy dealing with them. We will deal with whatever is left of you.” And Team Cersei leaves the Dragonpit, although Jaime looks like he wants to say something. Brienne even starts walking by him because she wants to talk him into reason. Jaime pulls a “I’m loyal to my sister” card and Brienne says “Oh fuck loyalty” and Jaime is stunned!!!! and Brienne is like listen this is way bigger than Houses, honour, and oaths. “Talk to the queen.” And both Brienne and Jaime look at Cersei who is looking at them but then turns around and Jaime asks “And tell her what?” and he hastily gets away from Brienne to get back in line with Team Cersei. And Brienne just stares in disbelief that Jaime seems unwilling to save the day.
Now that Team Cersei has left the Dragonpit, several of the participants would like to address Jon’s statement. Davos is first out with a comment: “Wish you hadn’t done that.” Jon realizes that he messed up. Daenerys walks over to Jon to tell him that she’s grateful for his loyalty but she wants to stress that Viserion died to make this meeting happen. “If it’s all for nothing, then he died for nothing,” she says. And Jon knows that he made a boo-boo. Tyrion is glad that Jon has bent the knee (he would have advised it, if Jon had asked) but asks if Jon has ever considered lying on occasion? Jon says that he wouldn’t swear an oath he can’t uphold; even though yes being honest cost Ned his head, words lose their meaning if people choose to be dishonest, and lies won’t help in the fight against the Army of the Dead. Tyrion is like, yes, sure, that is a very definite long-term problem, but short-term we’re not in good shape. Davos asks if Tyrion has an idea on how to change that situation, and Tyrion says that yes if he goes and talks with Cersei. Daenerys strongly suggests not doing that, because she doesn’t want Tyrion to be murdered. Tyrion doesn’t want to get murdered either. Jon mentions that he’ll go because it’s his problem to solve.
Daenerys gives her nod of approval, and Tyrion is off to go talk to Cersei.
Tyrion is escorted to Cersei’s map room by Gregor, where they are stopped by Jaime standing around. Jaime was just recently talking at (not to, mind you) Cersei until she sent him out of her office.
Jaime: She thinks I was an idiot to trust you. A lot of people seem to think that, actually.
Tyrion: I’m about to step into a room with the most murderous woman in the world who’s already tried to kill me twice. That I know of. Who’s an idiot?
Jaime: I suppose we should say goodbye. One idiot to another.
And Jaime steps aside, watching Tyrion walk to his maybe demise. Tyrion continues to follow Gregor into Cersei’s office. Cersei of course starts the conversation off as tactfully as possible, although Tyrion is not willing to just take her grief. Cersei says that Daenerys is a foreign whore, Tyrion says she’s a foreign whore that Cersei can’t harm which is why it’s difficult for Cersei to deal with, Cersei says that you also brought a pet Northerner, Tyrion says he didn’t know he had bent the knee, Cersei says that now they’re both working on the same goal, the only goal that Tyrion has ever worked on, the destruction of their family.
Cersei’s response is well you killed dad, Tyrion is like yeah but dad was terrible, Cersei says that’s irrelevant, when you killed him you made our family weak and that’s why Myrcella and Tommen are dead. Tyrion says he’s sorry about those events happening, Cersei is unwilling to hear any apologies from Tyrion. So Tyrion accepts that Cersei is not willing to change her mind on that and he changes gears by acting as if, sure, whatever, he’s a threat to House Lannister.
Tyrion goads Cersei more and more and Gregor looks like he’s ready to and Cersei looks like she might be ready to make the order but then she doesn’t. So Tyrion pours himself a glass of wine and drinks it. Then he pours another for Cersei and one for himself. He goes back to apologizing about the deaths of Myrcella and Tommen, Cersei still doesn’t want to hear it, Tyrion says he doesn’t care he has to say his piece, Cersei says that his feelings don’t matter and that she doesn’t care why he did what he did, she only cares what it cost House Lannister, because it cost their future. Tyrion asks why they’re there if there is no future, why did she allow this meeting to occur, Cersei says it wasn’t to help her enemies collaborate in her destruction, Tyrion says yeah sure but you must have hoped for something, Cersei turns the question around, asking Tyrion what he hoped for, to make Jon Snow submit to your queen? Tyrion says not like this, but Cersei keeps going, saying that Tyrion wants everyone, in time, to bend the knee to her. Tyrion says yes, Cersei asks why, Tyrion says because he thinks she will make the world a better place, Cersei says but didn’t you say she would destroy King’s Landing, Tyrion says yeahhhhhh but she chose an advisor who would check her worst impulses instead of feeding them, which is exactly different than Cersei. Cersei doesn’t care about checking her worst impulses (this is true) and she clutches slightly at her abdomen and Tyrion makes a oh no look. Cersei knows that that thing Tyrion dragged here will devour the world if they’re allowed, and all she thought about as she looked at it was how to protect her family. She starts to say that maybe Euron had the right idea on just hiding in a safe place, Tyrion accuses her of being pregnant, Cersei says nothing, and so now Tyrion knows.
Meanwhile, back at the Dragonpit, most of Team Jon and Team Daenerys are standing around talking on the main stage. Jon is looking at a pile of bones before he picks up a lower jaw to fidget with as he talks to Daenerys. Jon says that no one is less happy about this than him, Daenerys says she knows and that she respects what he did, even though she wishes he hadn’t done it. Jon hands over the jawbone so that Daenerys can fidget with it, and she continues discussing how the Dragonpit was the beginning of the end for her family, because a chained dragon is less powerful than a free dragon, “a dragon is not a slave,” and that without large and powerful dragons House Targaryen became just like everyone else, and she hands the fidget back to Jon. Jon says that you’re not like everyone else, and that her family hasn’t seen its end, because she’s still here. Daenerys says that she can’t have children, Jon asks who said that, Daenerys says the witch who murdered my husband, Jon is like maybe she was not a reliable source of information, Daenerys chuckles and admits that Jon has been right from the beginning (about the real threat) and if Daenerys had trusted him everything would have been different. Jon asks so what now, Daenerys says that she can’t forget what she saw north of the Wall and she can’t ignore that Cersei will take back her military losses as soon as Daenerys marches North, Jon says that Tyrion’s assessment (that they’re fucked) is correct, Daenerys chuckles again, and the two of them gaze deeply into each other’s’ eyes, enjoying their temporary solitude away from everyone else…
Oh wait they hear something. It’s Tyrion returning to the Dragonpit! That’s good news probably because if he didn’t return then that probably means that Cersei killed him dead. Shortly after Tyrion returns, Team Cersei returns, marches to the stage where the other teams are at, and Cersei gives her speech.
And it’s there that the scene ends, immediately. This is a fascinating place to end the scene: the Dragonpit plot, the one that Tyrion came up with in GoT #65 and which most of GoT #66 was spent arranging, was successful! One could let the moment burn for a few moments and let the audience get reactions from Team Jon and Team Daenerys. OR it could stop the scene right here, with Cersei declaring that she will help fight the Others, and cut away to a different location entirely.
Because Cersei just called her banners, this scene starts with a raven flying. But it’s flying to Winterfell. It’s having a hard time flying because the wintry weather is not very agreeable to ravens. The message in question was some kind of summary of what happened in King’s Landing; Sansa does not look happy to have received this message, and Petyr argues that maybe Jon attempted to send an earlier message but it was lost because of bad weather. Sansa is like, nope, this is how Jon is, he never asks for my opinion. Petyr says he can’t believe he would surrender the Northern crown without consulting Sansa, Sansa says this (message) is his writing so Jon has pledged to fight for Daenerys Targaryen, he has bent the knee. Petyr says that gossip says that Daenerys is hot, Sansa is like so?, Petyr is like Jon and Daenerys are both young and unmarried…, Sansa is like you think Jon wants to marry Daenerys, Petyr says an alliance makes sense. He then says that since Jon was named King in the North that he could be unnamed. Sansa says that even if she wanted that that Arya would never go along with it or any action that betrayed her family, Petyr says that Sansa is family too and asks if Arya would really murder her own sister, Sansa asks if Petyr knows about the Faceless Men, Petyr says he knows of them by reputation, Sansa summarizes that they’re killers and Arya was one of them. Sansa asks Petyr what he thinks Arya is after, Petyr turns the question around because Sansa knows Arya better than Petyr does.
And Sansa and Petyr play this little game. Sansa says that Arya could want her dead because she thinks Sansa wronged the Starks, that Arya could have come to Winterfell to kill her for marrying enemies of the Starks and betraying their family, and that Arya unearthed the letter that Cersei made her write to provide proof of Sansa’s betrayals and to provide justification after she murders Sansa. And after Arya murders Sansa, then Arya becomes the Lady of Winterfell. And Petyr is like so there it is and Sansa is like gosh this is unsettling
And okay okay okay I’m so sorry I have to interrupt her but it is ridiculously obvious that Sansa is playing Petyr here so Petyr taking part in this conversation at all is amazingly dense on the behalf of Lord Baelish. Maybe he has too much of a “crush” on Sansa to notice that he’s being played? Is that the excuse? It seems like a lame excuse but oh wait the episode’s already in another scene again no time for thinking.
The scene takes place in the Chamber of the Painted Table inside the castle Dragonstone. A lot of people are standing around the table: Davos, Jon, Missandei, Tyrion, Daenerys, Grey Worm, Jorah, Varys, and Theon. The scene cuts into Jon planning troop movements: suggesting having the Dothraki ride hard (phrasing) along the Kingsroad and getting to Winterfell within a fortnight. Daenerys asks about the Unsullied, Jon says let’s put them on ships (some kind of combined Targaryen and Stark naval fleet, apparently) and take them to White Harbor, then march to the Kingsroad to meet with the Dothraki, and then they both complete the journey to Winterfell. I am hoping that Jon sends a raven to tell Winterfell that two foreign armies will be showing up soon? Jorah suggests that Daenerys just fly to Winterfell because the North has a lot of enemies for a Targaryen and that all it takes is one guy with a crossbow and a grudge to kill her. Jon says that it’s her decision but that if House Targaryen and Stark are allies it will be important for people to see them as allies: that sailing together sends a better message. Daenerys gives some speech about how she’s not trying to conquer the North but save it so she will sail with Team Jon. Jorah looks uncomfortable with this. I think everyone in this room is aware that Jon and Daenerys want to “smash,” to use the 2017 vernacular, which just adds layers of subtext to this planning.
Shortly? after that meeting, Jon and Davos are walking away from the throne at Dragonstone when Theon runs in to interject. Theon wishes to speak with Jon, Davos waits for Jon to order him away, Jon orders Davos away, Theon tells Jon that he could have lied to Cersei but that he risked everything to tell an enemy the truth. Jon says that only people who are honest to each other can fight together. Theon says that Jon has always known what is right, Jon says that that’s not really true it just looks that way from the outside, because Jon has done plenty of things he regrets. Theon plays the I have done more regretful things card, Jon will not disagree because he does continue to think Theon has been a bad man at times. Theon gives a speech on how his moral compass is broken because he had an impossible choice he had to make: Stark or Greyjoy. Jon is like well okay listen Ned was a good father to you and you betrayed him and his memory (Theon will not deny this) but that he’s a part of you. Jon says that it’s not his place to forgive Theon for all of his trespasses, but that he forgives what he can.
Jon are you talking to your future self when you are asked to choose between being a Targaryen and a Stark??????????? Is this that foreshadowing that I have heard about in Scriptwriting 101? Wait sorry this is an emotional moment I don’t mean to harsh either Jon or Theon’s vibe here. Theon says that when he was Ramsay’s prisoner that Yara tried to save him (in GoT #36), and that she was the only one who tried to save him, and that she needs him now.
And Jon turns around because he considers the matter dealt with. Uh. Jon I think Theon was less asking for permission and more asking for some kind of assistance? Like “hey Jon I know you’re busy and all but if you could talk Daenerys into sparing a dragon for a few hours we could find and save Yara.” But Jon didn’t get the hint and/or he read the scene wrong and he leaves Theon to consider how to save his sister.
I’ll be 100% with all of you and say that I hated the sequence of scenes in GoT #36 wherein Yara tried to save Theon. The sequence of events didn’t do much to add to Yara’s Impressiveness Levels or to Theon’s Reek Levels, it primarily just gave Ramsay even more plot armor so that he could continue to be a supporting antagonist for a few seasons. But the show is now trying to salvage something out of the mess and I won’t give them grief for trying to do something with a mess they made earlier. Sometimes you gotta break a few Greyjoys to make an omelette.
Anyway Theon goes out to the ironborn boats and all the ironborn look at him like … oh you’re still alive? Cool I guess.
The lead ironborn who resists Theon is named Harrag. I had to look up that name because I don’t think the show has ever mentioned his name? Anyway his name is Harrag and other than Euron, Theon, and Yara he’s been the only Ironborn given any speaking role this season. Harrag and Theon get into an argument about how Theon already abandoned Yara so like this new moral compass that Theon is pretending to have is already kind of poorly calibrated: that Theon already acted out of cowardice, so why should the ironborn listen to his advice or command? Harrag says that the Yara-loyal ironborn are going to copy Euron’s stated idea of just waiting out Winter on a nice quiet island, after they kill all the men and take the women as saltwives. Theon says that the Ironborn don’t do that anymore. Harrag says who says, Theon says Yara made a pledge, and that he is going to find her and set her free. Harrag spits in his face.
And when Theon doesn’t run away immediately, Harrag punches him. Obviously this situation had to be settled with a fight because the ironborn are all pirate vikings right they never just have a cup of tea and discuss their differences. Anyway uh Theon being tortured I guess means that he has a high tolerance for pain so the fight is primarily that Harrag beats him up and Theon just gets back up again. Then Harrag knees Theon in the crotch and Theon does not react, so Harrag does it again and again and again and it’s then that Theon finally starts fighting back and uhhhhhh punches Harrag in the face quite a few times I hope Harrag is okay he might have a concussion someone take him to hospital please. The ironborn respect strength or whatever so uh the ones who watched the fight cheer when Theon says that he wants them to go for Yara and Theon bends his knee to the sea and washes his face in the saltwater because for the ironborn that’s a valid medical treatment for a punched face.
I made the mistake of commenting on an io9 article
this yesterday morning so I’ve been getting some interesting feedback on this scene and the Arya-Sansa-Bran-Petyr scenes that lead up to it. I have very strong opinions about Sansa Stark’s adaptation on this show; I think that Season 5 onwards have put her (and Petyr) on pathways that don’t make much sense, and that one of the reasons why the fandom got less testy with the show during Season 6 was because it included some quick scenes wherein Petyr and Sansa came to terms tried to deal with the nonsense. Basically, he was apologetic about how he sold her to the Boltons who were worse than even he knew or conjectured, and she said she would be in the right to kill him but that she’d prefer to just not see him again. But then he “saved the day” during the battle for Winterfell and so their alliance of convenience (he gets to be on her good side, she gets the Vale to be at her disposal) was cemented. But in Season 7 he’s been in Winterfell. Doing … sneaky things? Like it’s not 100% obvious what his long-term game plans in Winterfell are other than #1 keep Sansa in power #2 destabilize any possible contenders to goal #1.
So the question during this season is when do Sansa, Arya, and Bran decide to finally eliminate Petyr, and it seems like this is decided multiple times (i.e. by each character individually, and then finally as a group) and that all of those decisions happen off-screen. This has led to much in the way of fan plothole-filling. And just like other seemingly-random coups that occur on the show, there are big questions left open to ponder: why did the Stark kids wait so long to act? What does this death mean for who controls the Vale? Did the Stark kids wait to act because they had to make sure Robin Arryn (last seen in GoT #54) was okay with Petyr getting ganked? Anyway anyway anyway let me talk about these Winterfell scenes as they are portrayed.
So it starts with Sansa in the snowy outdoors of Winterfell. She has come to some kind of tough decision and she is just taking some time to make sure that she is going to do the right thing. She passes by a guard and commands him to bring her sister to the Great Hall.
So we cut to the Great Hall of Winterfell, where Sansa and Bran are seated at the head table with Maester Wolkan standing behind them. The room appears to have quite a few Stark guards in it. From a side door, two Stark guards lead Arya into the room and stand near her in the center of the room before they are dismissed with a nod from Sansa. The one that walks to the audience’s right (Sansa’s left) walks near Lord Royce, because someone from the Vale has to watch what’s about to happen. The door that Arya and the guards came in from is closed. Arya looks around the room, including at Petyr.
Arya: Are you sure you want to do this?
Sansa: It’s not what I want, it’s what honour demands.
Arya: And what does honour demand?
Sansa: That I defend my family from those who would harm us. That I defend the North from those who would betray us.
Arya: Alright then. Get on with it.
Sansa: You stand accused of murder. You stand accused of treason. How do you answer these charges, Lord Baelish?
And everyone in the room looks at Petyr and Petyr is like whaaaaaaaa he did not expect this treachery because he has not been paying attention. And Arya has this great grin on her face, like, yeah that’s right we figured it out you’re actually evil this whole time. And Petyr sees that everyone expects something out of him, Arya even tells him that her sister asked him a question (nice needling there Arya, ah ha ha ha) and Petyr goes into all the stages of grief simultaneously. First, he’s confused, so Sansa makes things simpler by stating what happened to Lysa Arryn (GoT #37), which thankfully Lord Royce does not mention disagrees with the testimony she gave to him and two other leaders of houses in the Vale (GoT #38). Petyr says he did that to protect Sansa, Sansa says that he did it to take power in the Vale, uh I mean they’re both right soooo. Then she accuses him of conspiring to kill Jon Arryn, he says that Lysa was a troubled woman and that nothing she said is trustworthy. Then she accuses him of having Lysa send a letter to Catelyn saying that she suspected the Lannisters had Jon Arryn killed when it was actually him and Lysa, and that this started the conflict between the Starks and the Lannisters, does he deny that? He does deny that. Sansa accuses Petyr of working with Cersei and Joffrey to betray Ned which led to his imprisonment and eventual execution, does he deny that? He denies that.
And then Bran gives a short play-by-play of what happened in the Great Hall, and Petyr is so temporarily confused by Bran’s extensive knowledge (ps: Petyr, Bran already exhibited this skill for you, you cannot be shocked by it). Then Arya says that Petyr said that the Valyrian knife at her side, the one that was once used by a catspaw to almost kill Bran, belonged to Tyrion but that the knife is actually his. Petyr realizes that things do not look good for him so he starts to make a plea directly to Sansa, saying that he’s protected her for years. Sansa is like no guy you sold me to the Boltons. Petyr is like can we talk in private. Sansa quotes some of his “advice” from earlier back at him, saying that he has been trying to turn her against her sister because that’s just plain what he does, that’s what he’s always done. Petyr pleads some more, Sansa says she’s a slow learner but she learns, Petyr asks for a chance to defend himself because he deserves that, Sansa lets him take the floor.
This is where Petyr melts down and I don’t know who enjoys watching this because it’s just a villain trying to escape from justice but there is no escape so … it’s just a guy flailing around. Petyr tries to ask Lord Royce for escort back to the Eyrie, Lord Royce says nope. Petyr gets on his knees and he begins to beg Sansa. He says that he had loved Catelyn since he was a boy, she says yeah but you betrayed her. He says that he loved her more than anyone, she says yeah but you betrayed me.
And Arya opens his throat and he bleeds out on the floor and Sansa watches him as he dies, the second person whose death she ordered and witnessed. The Baelish theme slowly plays in the background.
I mean… within the plot constraints that the show has established, none of it seems entirely out-of-character for Sansa, Arya, or Bran. Or even Petyr, if we accept the odd constraint that he would hang around Winterfell rather than stay in the Eyrie where he is safe. But there are large, unanswered-by-the-scenes-as-shown questions on when the Stark kids decided to work together to cause Petyr’s demise. Because it is a collaboration: Arya is the one who wields the knife, Sansa has a small amount of accusations she wants to make, and Bran apparently helped confirm all of the accusations that are made. But did they have to wait for a certain other event to happen before they finally acted in concert? When did they decide to act together? Fans are already trying to create the narrative of off-screen actions that best explains what happened and I already made the mistake of wading into one of these discussions so I should not wade into this swamp again because it is dark and full of terrors.
In the map room in the Red Keep in King’s Landing, Cersei watches Jaime as he is speaking with other Lannister officers about the upcoming battle plans. Apparently there is now a big rush to send troops North, because Jaime mentions that their troops in King’s Landing will start moving in three days, another officer mentions that they need a fortnight to get their supply train ready, and Jaime is like no they don’t have a fortnight. “If the North falls, we fall. Three days.” He mentions that their troops in the Westerlands will take the River Road east and that the two troop columns will meet somewhere (“Lord Hallerway’s town” is what I think Jaime is saying but looking at the map I have no idea what town he is referencing). Cersei interrupts the meeting after that statement because she needs a moment with her brother. Once the other Lannister officers have left, she asks what Jaime is doing. Jaime is like I’m preparing for the expedition North, and Cersei says he’s the stupidest Lannister and Jaime is like excuse me? Cersei says that the Starks and Targaryens have united against House Lannister and she wants to know why he would want their House to fight alongside those two “rebellious” Houses.
Jaime repeats Cersei’s pledge that their forces would fight their common enemy, Cersei says that she will say whatever is needed to ensure the survival of their House and asks if he expects her to trust Tyrion or if he expects House Lannister troops to fight alongside “foreign scum”, to fight for the Dragon Queen? Jaime is like yeah but you saw that wight with your own eyes, and Cersei is like yeah and I saw it burn, so it’s up to Team Daenerys and Team Jon to stop them and our armies won’t make a difference in this fight. Jaime is shaking his head, he can’t believe (because he hasn’t been paying attention) that Cersei would be more concerned about herself than about the whole world; he says that this isn’t about noble houses, it’s about the living and the dead and she quips that she intends to stay amongst the living.
Jaime says that he made a promise. I am not certain what promise he is referring to but the implication is that he promised (who?) that he would help in the Great War. Cersei says that their child will rule Westeros, Jaime says that their child will never be born if the Dead come south.
Cersei: The monsters are real. The White Walkers, the dragons, the Dothraki screamers, all the frightening stories we heard when we were young. They’re all real, so be it. Let the monsters kill each other. While they battle in the North, we take back the lands that belong to us.
Jaime: And then what?
Cersei: And then we rule.
Jaime: When the fighting in the North is over, someone wins, you understand that, don’t you? If the Dead win, they march south and kill us all. If the living win, and we’ve betrayed them, they march south and kill us all.
Cersei argues that the Starks and Targaryens already want to kill all of House Lannister and that many of them will die in the North, Jaime says that he’s fought the Targaryen forces in the field and got pwned and then of course dragons. Cersei brings up that they only saw two dragons which means that the third is dead or otherwise very injured, which means that they can be defeated. Jaime says that House Lannister, on its own, cannot stop the Dothraki, Cersei says that they’re not on their own because they have the Iron Bank.
Jaime says that the GC is still in Essos so how can it help in Westeros, Cersei mocks Jaime for thinking that Euron actually turned tail and sailed back to the Iron Islands, Jaime has another oh people lied, this is novel to me expression on his face. Cersei goes on asking if Jaime thinks that Euron gave up his chance to marry the Queen.
Cersei provides the exposition saying that Euron is sailing the Iron Fleet to Essos to ferry the Golden Company back to Westeros to help them win the war. Jaime is … upset? that Cersei plotted with Euron Greyjoy without telling him, Cersei is like yeah and you conspired with Tyrion without telling me, Jaime is like I didn’t conspire with him, Cersei says, angrily, that they met in secret without her consent and that he planned to promote her enemies’ interests which is the definition of conspiracy. Jaime says that he pledged to ride North (who did he pledge this to?) and that he intends to honour that pledge (Jaime is now worried about honour?), Cersei says that that will be treason, disobeying his queen’s commands to fight with her enemies, Jaime says that he doesn’t think it’s treason but his thoughts don’t really matter, and he starts to walk away from Cersei.
And Gregor stands in his way.
Cersei: I told you no one walks away from me.
Jaime: Are you going to order him to kill me? I’m the only one you have left: our children are gone, our father is gone, it’s just me and you now.
Cersei: There’s one more yet to come.
Jaime: Give the order, then.
And then there’s this pile of non-spoken acting that happens between Nikolaj and Lena that is fantastic. Cersei and Jaime look at each other, Gregor looks for commands from Cersei, and after a short time Cersei gives a short nod to her undead servant and he unsheaths his sword and Jaime has to face the knowledge that she will kill him while Cersei is doing her best to remain composed and stalwart against this brother giving her grief. For those keeping count at home this is the second brother this episode who she is an order away from killing. Jaime eventually calls her bluff.
And he walks past Gregor, who just watches him go, and Cersei briefly walks quickly after Jaime but she sees that he is booking it out of there and she is not going to throw away what is left of her dignity to chase after Jaime. The next shot is of Jaime on a horse riding north from King’s Landing. He has abandoned his Lannister armor and is instead dressed in a simpler suit of armor. As he puts a leather glove over his golden hand, he sees a snowflake fall onto the glove. He looks up and sees that Winter has arrived in King’s Landing. He rides north.
A montage of exterior scenes occurs showing a few places (the Dragonpit, some street that I don’t immediately recognize, the external walls, much of the city, a city skyline shot looking upwards with the Red Keep in the background, the map room, and another shot of most of the city including the Red Keep) in and around King’s Landing to show that, yep, winter has arrived in the South.
These few minutes of the episode actually accomplish a lot and I think that their importance is somewhat ignored because “bigger” events happen in the scenes bookending this one and this is the last scene that gives any attention to House Lannister/Team Cersei, so I’ll use this space to ramble a bit.
1 Apparently Cersei and Euron planned to get the Golden Company to Westeros regardless of what happened with the Dragonpit Conference, and Euron’s only point of attending that conference was to swagger off, lulling Teams Jon and Daenerys into a sense of false complacency.
2 Team Cersei has absolutely no moral qualms whatsoever about totally and utterly misrepresenting their position to Teams Jon and Daenerys. That’s “unethical” or whatever but it’s also really smart on the part of Cersei: it’s one of those “Cersei is the child of Tywin who took the best notes on how to act like Tywin” moments.
3 BookCersei and ShowCersei have some distinctions but one thing they share in common is that neither is willing to accept any form of responsibility for bad consequences of their actions. Cersei was showing this earlier in the scene with Tyrion wherein she blamed Tommen’s death on Tyrion (because Tyrion had killed Tywin. … No, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but that’s Cersei for you) but in this scene she continues to just forge ahead with her smart-but-very-open-to-terrible-consequences actions. By bailing on Teams Jon and Daenerys she is potentially dooming King’s Landing to its destruction, but she’d rather gamble that the Dead and those two teams all-but-eliminate each other so that her team can just wipe the floor afterwards with whoever remains.
4 Jaime finnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnallllllllllllllllllly bails on Cersei. There’s a few events in the fourth and fifth books of ASoIaF that haven’t appeared in the show because, well, the show is an adaptation of the books, it’s not intending to be “just” the filmed version of the books. One of those events is that Jaime gets a letter from Cersei asking for help and he burns it because, well, she treats him like trash. The show never went down that exact road, and to be 95% honest I had just assumed that the show was going to keep Jaime loyal to Cersei for the long haul. But apparently for the last season the show will truly isolate Cersei from all other Lannisters. This makes Cersei and Jaime much more interesting; Jaime just continually accepting Cersei’s increasingly out-of-control commands was just getting more and more “out-of-character” as the show progressed, so now it feels like both of their characters are more … “in-character”, if that’s the right word, to their source.
5 One of the things that the Season 7 leaks mentioned was that Cersei would lose her unborn child, but this never happened so I guess that was misinformation packaged in with the valid information.
Do you remember when Samwell, Gilly, and Sam in GoT #65 left Oldtown? Well guess what now they are in Winterfell and it looks like they might be on the same wagon they left Oldtown in so the show might be trying to say that they just drove up from Oldtown. Which I mean isn’t impossible but it is one heck of a long drive. But whatever Samwell went to Winterfell because that’s where he thinks Jon is, based on (him learning this off-screen a few episodes ago). Through some sequence of events he ends up knocking on Bran’s door, and Bran invites him in and greets him by name. Samwell says that he wasn’t sure that Bran would remember him, Bran says that he remembers everything, Samwell makes a flustered okay sure whatever expression and scoots himself into the room, closing the door because that’s what polite people do they close the dang door before they talk loudly about Jon’s secret origins. Bran remembers that Samwell helped them (him, Meera, and Jojen) get beyond the Wall and that he’s a good man for doing that, Samwell is like thanks but I’m not sure I am a good man, and Bran is like staring into the fireplace. Samwell asks Bran what happened to him beyond the Wall, Bran says that he became the Three-Eyed Raven, Samwell says “Oh. I don’t know what that means,” Bran says that he can see things that happened in the past and things that are happening right now, all over the world. Bran asks Samwell why he came to Winterfell, Samwell says that Jon is going to lead the fight against the Dead and that he wants to help Jon, Bran says that Jon is on his way back to Winterfell with Daenerys Targaryen, Samwell asks if Bran saw this in a vision, Bran shows a scroll, Samwell says Oh.
Bran says that Jon needs to know the truth. Samwell asks what truth, Bran says the truth about himself, and that no one knows other than himself (Bran are you ignoring Howland Reed?) that Jon is not Ned’s son, he is instead R+L, he was born in a tower in Dorne, which makes him a Sand, not a Snow. Samwell says he’s not, Bran is like no no he was born in Dorne to unmarried parents, that makes him a Sand, Samwell is like I transcribed a diary (by which he means that Gilly told him this and he is for some reason taking credit for her noticing this) from a maester that annulled Rhaegar’s marriage to Elia and wed Rhaegar and Lyanna in a secret ceremony. Bran is like “are you certain”, Samwell is like it’s what the Septon wrote in his private diary, I don’t know why he’d lie. Samwell asks Bran if this is something he can see.
And then suddenly Bran is watching Lyanna and Rhaegar marry. Rhaegar Targaryen is one of the great question marks of ASoIaF; he’s this character who is portrayed by the winning side of Robert’s Rebellion as a Targaryen son-of-a-tyrant who abandoned his Dornish wife (and their kids) to abduct a Stark woman and do very terrible things to her, leading to her death. GoT Season 1 and AGoT don’t help this perception out very much by showing us Viserys Targaryen, Rhaegar’s younger brother, who acts like a total jerkface almost all the time. But there are hints throughout the subsequent books and seasons that Rhaegar and Lyanna’s relationship was consensual (although maybe not entirely well-thought-out) and that the two of them were acting somewhat impulsively because Rhaegar (and maybe Elia and maybe Lyanna) thought he was a figure of prophecy; that his children would save the world. There’s some quibbling to be made over whether or not Rhaegar would annul his first marriage (… how do you annul a marriage that produced children?) but I think the show does a great job with this material, using it to show (as Bran says) that Robert’s Rebellion was built on a lie.
This series of Bran-narrated flashbacks are interspersed with some Targaryen business happening in the show’s present. It’s one of the weirder installments of sexposition in the show; flashback sexposition. The episode is titled “The Dragon and the Wolf” and yes that is a reference to Rhaegar and Lyanna but yes also it is a reference to Daenerys and Jon. Jon and Daenerys are, of course, unaware of who Jon is, so the episode has to spell it all out while having Kit and Emilia act like they’re having sex on a ship. Whether or not the Daenerys-Jon love story works out is entirely up to the individual’s preferences, so this individual will say “kind of.” Both of them are dealing with someone else who is kind of extraordinary; it’s like two mythical beings who want to be together not because they really like each other omg but because they seek greatness in their partner. Both Jon and Daenerys believe in their own epic/mythical/magical destiny; Daenerys has said as much about herself earlier this season and while Jon is, of course, humble-to-a-fault, he is literally one of two people in the world who stopped being dead, that kind of event changes your self-perception.
B u t just like Tyrion who watches Jon sneak his way into his aunt’s room, I can see all kinds of potential issues with their pairing. Like, yes, there’s the “Jon is a Targaryen” issues. I’ll get to those, but Tyrion doesn’t know about that, that’s not why Tyrion looks worried. He knows that Jon is young and single and that people will talk and say that the only reason why Jon/the North allied with the Dragon Queen is because Daenerys is young and single. He’s already had to argue this point with his sister, slightly, and that was before Jon and Daenerys were sharing a bed. Tyrion is not 100% aware of how fragile the North is (unless he’s been reading secret notes about what’s been happening in Winterfell. Who the heck knows) but he knows enough to be wary of anything that weakens Jon’s position: he honestly likes Jon, he wants Jon to continue being a leader, getting it on with a foreign woman (hey, it’s just like Robb! Remember how well Robb’s marriage turned out?) is not something that will help Jon’s strength in the North. And Jon’s strength in the North is important since if the North is too weak then it won’t be able to stop the Dead etc etc etc yadda yadda yadda Tyrion does not want Westeros to become WightWorld.
Does Tyrion like Daenerys, is that the reason why he looks upset? BookTyrion definitely would. ShowTyrion is … not a lawful good character by any means but his libidos are less overt which makes this a more difficult question to answer. It seems like Tyrion would not say no if he was offered but that he knows that he’s Daenerys’s employee, not her lover, and he is okay with that place in the world. So I don’t think the upset look is because of any omg Tyrion loves Daenerys possibilities.
Oh wait I went on a big tangent here. Right, sorry, uh, Bran gives the audience flashback exposition to tell us that Jon’s real name is Aegon. Um. Someone else online has argued that the in-universe explanation for why Rhaegar has two sons named Aegon is that Lyanna knew that that name was important for mythical/destiny/preventing-the-apocalypse reasons and so that’s why she named her child Aegon after she heard, via a raven or whatever, that the other Aegon had died in King’s Landing. I am 100% aware that this is fanspeculation but I am 100% aware that the show offers no actual explanation, and fanspec > lack of official explanation.
Well actually Bran okay fine yes that is probably true, because succession in most of Westeros (including in House Targaryen) is male-preference primogeniture: it passes from father->oldest son->oldest grandson->other grandsons->other sons->other children or grandchildren if necessary. Dorne practices absolute primogeniture which would place Daenerys higher in succession than Jon butttttttttttttttttt the show has maybe already closed the door on Dorne so let’s just ignore Dorne. Sure, Bran, Jon is the heir to the Iron Throne. Expect that to cause conflict in Season 8!
Oh also the episode needs to check in with Arya and Sansa in Winterfell. The two of them are on the castle walls of Winterfell looking outwards. Arya asks if Sansa is alright, Sansa says it’s strange and that Petyr probably did love her in some horrible way. Arya tells her she did the right thing, Sansa says you did it, Arya says that she’s just the executioner and that Sansa passed the sentence.
Arya: You’re the Lady of Winterfell.
Sansa: Does that bother you?
Arya: I was never going to be as good a lady as you, so I had to be something else. I never could have survived what you survived.
Sansa: You would have. You’re the strongest person I know.
Arya: I believe that’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.
Sansa: Well. Don’t get used to it. You’re still very strange and annoying.
Arya: In Winter we must protect ourselves. Look after one another.
Sansa: Father. “When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives.”
Arya: I miss him.
Sansa: Me too.
I like this short scene a lot and it is baffling to me that the same season which included this scene also included one wherein Arya maybe-not-entirely-seriously threatened to cut off Sansa’s face. Which is it, show; are these characters capable of understanding one another through difficult times or are they liable to mistrust one another at the slightest whim? Let’s see if this confusion over who characters are continues in Season 8!
Oh also this scene is not over yet. Bran is using his greenseeing skills to move the episode to its final location.
The show jumps over to the easternmost edge of the Wall, near Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. I continue to be confused on how this castle, which is built next to the Wall and doesn’t look like it has any easy way of walking-up-a-cliff to enter it from the coastline, is a port. But whatever it doesn’t even matter because the point is that the episode wants to show off this gorgeous castle and the flock of ravens that I guess I am supposed to assume Bran has skinchanged into.
The camera shifts from the CGI Wall/ravens to look at not-CGI Tormund and Beric, who are walking along the defensive positions (… does this qualify as a trench if it’s built on a wall?) along the top of the Wall. Is there some kind of intentional irony that two people who are not in the Night’s Watch are now doing the job of the Night’s Watch? Is this about how people have to rise up and assume responsibility when government organizations fall apart due to poor management?!?!?! Anyway uh Beric mentions that it’s a long way down, Tormund says yeah and the Crows keep telling him that he’ll get used to it. As Beric and Tormund are watching, some figures walking and on horseback begin to appear from the woods north of the Wall. At first it’s a few but pretty soon it’s a lot. The horn of Eastwatch begins to sound three blasts. This might be the same army that Bran saw in GoT #61 because it has some wight giants. Are you ready to see the wight giants do something? Well too bad this army just parks itself a respectable distance away from the Wall. Tormund sees that the army stops itself and he’s like whaaaaaaa and then he has to react to a CGI dragon wight that roars in the distance.
Viserion, as a wight, now breathes blue fire. You might ask why and the answer is because now Viserion is a wight. It’s only after the dragon wight flies past a second time (showing that the Night’s King is riding it) that Tormund realizes that maybe this is bad and he screams RUN! RUN! and the assorted people working at Eastwatch begin to run down a very long set of stairs. Viserion, as a wight, continues to breathe blue fire at the Wall. The scene keeps shifting between “people in Eastwatch attempt to get away from the castle” and “Viserion punches a hole in the Wall with fire.” The latter is more successful than the former because it turns out that running away from a wall that is collapsing is very hard. The audience is never shown Tormund and Beric literally dying but it is heavily implied that many of the people at Eastwatch die.
Anyway a stretch of maybe ~2 or 3 hundred meters of the Wall, basically all of it east of some spot roughly equivalent to the western part of Eastwatch, collapses. If you were in the audience and you wondered if some kind of Children of the Forest magic made the Wall impassable terrain to the Others and that was why they hadn’t broken it, you might still be right, maybe. But it kind of looks like the Others couldn’t break through the Wall unless they had a dragon, which … means … that they had to get a dragon to actually be a threat to anywhere south of the Wall, which … means … that Tyrion’s Patented Big Plan of GoT #65 is the reason why the Others could break the Wall, which … means … that Tyrion helped the Others succeed??????? In short, good work Tyrion.
Lots and lots of wights walk through the collapsed Wall to go start productive (un)lives in the North. Hopefully Last Hearth is ready to give thousands and thousands of wights a nice place to bank, shop, etc.
I took too long to write this, sorry.