Hi everyone and welcome to the third of the weekly episode recaps I’m doing for the new season of my favourite television series, „Game of Thrones“. These recaps contain MASSIVE SPOILERS, so please proceed with caution: DO NOT READ if you haven’t seen the episode yet and intend to do so later.
- Episode 1: “Dragonstone”
- Episode 2: “Stormborn”
- Episode 3: “The Queen’s Justice”
- Episode 4: “The Spoils of War”
- Episode 5: “Eastwatch”
- Episode 6: „Beyond the Wall“
- Episode 7: “The Dragon and the Wolf”
Jon and Davos arrive at Dragonstone. At the shore, they are greeted by Tyrion, Missandei and several Dothraki whom they reluctantly hand their weapons upon Missandei’s request. On the long ascent, Tyrion and Jon talk about the former’s sham marriage to Sansa. “She’s much smarter than she lets on”, Tyrion remarks, to which Jon replies: “She’s starting to let on”. The Hand of the Queen also says that he would have advised Jon not to come if he were his Hand because “Stark Men don’t fare well when they travel south”. Right after saying he isn’t a Stark (but of course unaware who he really is), Jon ducks quickly because one of the dragons is flying closely over him. So, just like in the books, there is no automatic “I’m a Targaryen, I like them and they like me” notion.
Meanwhile, Melisandre says goodbye to Varys; she is about to travel to Volantis and will not meet Jon and Davos again, which would be very awkward anyway, given their last parting. She’s also convinced that she has done her part in bringing “ice and fire together”, unaware that Jon himself already is both. She reveals to Varys that she will be back because they both will have to die in the “strange land” of Westeros.
When Jon enters Dany’s throne room, Missandei enumerates the Queen’s various titles, to which Davos rather awkwardly replies: “This is Jon Snow… he’s King in the North”. In the following direct conversation between Jon and Daenerys, both stand their ground — the Queen insists that he bends the knee to become Warden of the North like his ancestors, while he insists that the old order was cancelled by her father, Mad King Aerys, when he burned Jon’s grandfather and uncle alive. From that low point, the conversation does get a little better. Jon isn’t here to play games of thrones but to convince the new Queen to fight the real enemy with him: the Army of the Dead. Even Tyrion has a hard time to believe a word of it, but he must admit that he doesn’t take Jon for a liar or a madman.
Dany descends from her throne to look him in the eye, and she tells him how she survived numerous assassination attempts and all kinds of dishonour: “Faith – not in any gods, or myths, or legends, but in myself”. To which Davos replies that the King in the North is being believed in by those who named him King, just like the men of the Nights Watch chose him as their leader before. He argues that Jon fought the things Dany doesn’t believe in for the good of his people, but he stops at “he took a knife to his heart for his people, he gave his own l…”, realising too late what he said. Dany concludes that by declaring himself King in the North, he’s in open rebellion to her, the “rightful Queen of the Seven Kingdoms”.
Before she can elaborate on a conclusion to that, Varys comes in and whispers something in her ear. We can assume that it’s the bad news of Yara’s sunken fleet and of her uncle Euron capturing her and the Dornish Ladies. The composure Dany shows is royal as always; she will never admit any weakness in front of strangers. Instead, she offers them baths and meals before she excuses herself. “Am I your prisoner?”, Jon asks the leaving Queen, to which she replies: “Not yet.”
Later, Jon and Tyrion meet at the shore, where Tyrion tells the King in the North that he does in fact believe him about the White Walkers: “I trust the eyes of an honest man more than I trust what everybody knows”. Tyrion has no idea how to convince Dany to help Jon fight an enemy she has never seen and probably doesn’t believe in. He’s full of self doubt anyway because he was unable to predict the Greyjoy attack. But being a good advisor, he still wants to make the unlikely deal between his Queen and Jon Snow happen, seeking common ground (“She protects people from monsters, just like you”) and asking Jon whether there’s something he can do, something that’s in his power. Well, there is in fact something: Tyrion is next seen trying to convince Dany of allowing Jon to mine the cache of dragon glass under the castle. This turns out difficult because the Queen seems to question his advice more than she used to. She even sees through his usual “a wise man once said” quotes (in this case: “You should never believe a thing just because you want to believe it”), thinking he’s masking his own words as historic wisdom. His answer is true Tyrion again: “I would never do that… to you”.
In her next scene with Jon, Daenerys behaves a bit more diplomatic than before, seeking common ground with him, like dead brothers. There’s also that little gem of an exchange in which Jon says that Tyrion “enjoys talking”, to which Dany replies: “We all enjoy what we’re good at”. Jon disagrees: “I don’t”. (He said he was done fighting after his resurrection, and yet he has hardly spent a week without continuing to do so.) Daenerys has also decided that she will allow him to mine dragon glass.
In the war council, Dany decides to go after Euron’s fleet with her dragons, but her advisors do not approve it. They talk about the attack on Casterly Rock, which is shown during Tyrion’s speech about it. However, it proves far easier than Tyrion thinks from afar, even though he built a secret entrance while Tywin had made him overseer of the castle’s sewers. The Unsullied take the Rock easily because there aren’t nearly as many men as Tyrion expected. And as soon as the Unsullied have taken the castle, their fleet is burnt down. Grey Worm asks a dying Lannister soldier where the main force is.
Instead of an answer, we see Jaime, Bronn and the traitor Randyll Tarly lead a massive army to Highgarden, which falls and will provide the Queen with the means to pay back the debt to the Iron Bank. Lady Olenna calmly watches the whole affair from her tower chamber. When the Lannister army has won, Jaime enters her chamber alone. They talk about Joffrey (“He really was a cunt, wasn’t he?”, Olenna says) and about his dear mother who is “a monster, you know that”. She even goes as far as concluding: “She’s a disease. I regret my role in spreading it. You will, too”. He is decent enough to allow her to drink poison instead of having Cersei find new and creative ways to torture her. After drinking the whole glass of poisoned wine, she reveals the final, painful truth to Jaime: that it was her who poisoned his son (her words; she knows exactly who Joffrey’s father was). The episode ends with Olenna saying “Tell Cersei. I want her to know it was me”, Jaime blinking away tears and leaving the room, and “The Rains of Castamere” playing.
In the aftermath of Euron’s attack, Theon is fished out of the sea by the crew of a ship, one of the very few of his sister’s ships that survived the sea battle. He tells them that Yara was taken alive. Next we can see Euron parade her, Ellaria and her daughter through the streets of Kings Landing. The people enjoy the show, cheering him on and throwing stuff and insults at the captured women. He rides into the Red Keep’s throne room on horseback, just like Tywin way back in season 3 (his horse doesn’t shit into the aisle like Tywin’s though). So the gift he has for Cersei are Ellaria and the surviving Sand Snake. Cersei is impressed and promises him what his heart desires (her hand in marriage) “when the war is won”. Of course, the crazy pirate can’t miss yet another chance to insult Jaime, asking him for sex advice about his lover and twin sister. At this point, Cersei’s and Jaime’s special relationship must be the worst kept secret of the Seven Kingdoms.
Next up, Cersei is in the dungeons to dish out punishment, or rather revenge, to Ellaria. She has decided to give the temporary ruler of Dorne a taste of her own medicine by poisoning her daughter, just like Ellaria murdered hers. Mother and daughter are tied to opposite walls, just out of reach of each other, and the mother will be forced to watch her daughter’s agonising death.
In the following scene, we can see how much of a Mad Queen in the image of Aerys II Targaryen Cersei has become: it is said about the Mad King that burning people alive used to sexually arouse him. Likewise, Cersei walks straight into Jaime’s chambers after punishing Ellaria and the Sand Snake. In a reversal of roles from the scene in the Sept in season 4, it’s Jaime who says no, which Cersei ignores. Later, she opens the door to her knocking handmaiden because “I’m the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, and I do as I please”. Since said handmaiden has been in her service for years (but adopted the Queen’s new hairstyle), we can assume that she doesn’t gossip too much, but at this point, Cersei doesn’t really care either way.
Tycho Nestorys, everyone’s favourite clerk of the Iron Bank of Braavos (portrayed by Mark Gatiss) is back, reminding Cersei of the crown’s considerable debt to his institution. After some back and forth, she assures him that the debt will be paid off in a fortnight because she is very sure of something that we will learn later in this episode.
At Winterfell, Sansa proves to be a very capable leader, making sure that everyone will remain fed and warm during the upcoming long winter. She has also stopped to listen to Littlefinger, even though not all of his advice is bad. He encourages her to “fight every battle always, everywhere in your mind”, but we can see that she has started to do so some time ago — against him, among other people. He also allows insight into how his own mind works: “Everyone is your enemy, everyone is your friend. Every single possible series of events is happening, all at once. Live that way and nothing will surprise you”.
Bran and Meera arrive at Winterfell. Sansa notices quickly that he is emotionally distant, which makes sense because his mind is overloaded with an endless supply of events, past and present. He truly is the Three-Eyed Raven but he hasn’t fully adapted to it yet. And of course he “can never be Lord of anything”, refusing his rightful place as Lord of Winterfell. He gives her a glimpse into how much he can see by reminding her of the most horrible experience of her life: her wedding to Ramsay Bolton.
The Archmaester examines Jorah and finds out that the greyscale has disappeared. He seemingly plays along with Jorah’s version that it must have been “the rest and the climate” that cured him, but of course he doesn’t believe it for a single moment and asks Sam to come to his study in the evening. Jorah and Samwell bid each other a warm farewell.
Next, the Archmaester scolds Sam for trying to cure Jorah, and at the same time he commends him for achieving it. Then he goes on to assign the equivalent of writing “I must listen to the Archmaester” a hundred times or more often to him, in the form of old, rotting manuscripts that need to be copied. If he resembles any teacher figure from fiction, it would be Minerva McGonagall. (And maybe the manuscripts are even interesting or useful, and the Archmaester is really doing Sam a favour while making it look like punishment.)
- Will Dany and her three children warm up to Jon’s northern charms? So far, their conversations have been a little chilly, but it’s interesting to see how proud they both are and how they have been standing their ground.
- We can look forward to seeing some dragon battle action soon enough — it’s the only way Daenerys can hope to turn the tide in the war. So far she’s looking like the loser; all of the great plans she made in last week’s episode have failed, except for taking Casterly Rock, but the Lannisters managed to turn even that into a pyrrhic victory.
- Where was Arya in this episode? She’s on her way to Winterfell now, so we can hope for an even greater Stark reunion next episode.
- The good people of Kings Landing seem to enjoy whatever show is offered to them. It makes no difference to them whether it’s a naked Cersei walking through the city by the command of religious fanatics, or three women being paraded through the streets by a pirate.
- Jaime must be near the point of snapping — first that impertinent pirate Euron Greyjoy is threatening to take Cersei away from him in the most unsubtle manner imaginable, and then Olenna reveals to him how his son Joffrey really died.
- The final exchange between Jaime and Olenna may be one of the greatest in Thrones history; the incredible Diana Rigg and the equally fantastic Nikolaj Coster-Waldau deliver the performance of their lifetimes.
This was the best episode of the new season so far. Finally, after more than six seasons, Jon and Dany have met, and it’s interesting to see these two we have known individually for such a long time interact. This episode deserves the full 5 out of 5 seven-pointed stars, even though I’m sure that there will be even greater things coming up.