Hi everyone and welcome to the fifth 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”
Bronn emerges from the river at the opposite bank of the battle, and he pulls Jaime out behind him, the latter still wearing his full armour and golden hand. The sellsword makes clear that he won’t let Jaime die until he gets what he wants (a castle). Jaime is quite worried about Dany’s dragons: “That was only one of them. She has two more. If she decides to […] really use them…” – “you’re fucked”, Bronn completes.
Meanwhile, Tyrion sorrowfully walks the charred battlefield while the Dothraki round up the surviving remains of the defeated Lannister army. Daenerys gives them a speech in which she once again expresses her will to destroy “the wheel”, the inevitable cycle of ruling families that “rolls over rich and poor to the benefit of no one but the Cersei Lannisters of this world”. She offers them to either switch sides or to die. Many of them bend the knee, and almost all of them after Drogon roars.
The only prominent ones who do not kneel are Randyll Tarly and his son Dickon. Randyll explains that he did in fact make a hard choice in betraying Olenna for Cersei, but that he will not support a foreign invader, her patricidal advisor and her “army of savages”. He also denies Tyrion’s suggestion to be sent to the Wall, claiming that he doesn’t accept Dany as his Queen. This leaves her no choice but to execute him. When Dickon weighs in that she will have to kill him as well, his father tries to save him by convincing him to bend the knee, but Dickon will have none of it. And so father and son die hand in hand — to Tyrion’s demise not by beheading, but burned alive by Drogon’s fire.
Jaime comes home to talk to Cersei. She informs him about her plan to hire mercenaries in order to make up for their lost army. He’s not convinced because he has seen both the Dothraki and just one of three dragons in battle. Cersei asks him what to do instead: sue for peace or even have Tyrion intervene on their behalf, after he murdered both their father and son? Jaime then brings her the news that their brother had nothing to do with Joffrey’s death, and he is convinced that Olenna told the truth because Tommen was so much easier to influence than his monster brother, so if it all had played out to Olenna’s plans, she would have been the true ruler of the Seven Kingdoms through her granddaughter Margaery and her husband, the King. “So we fight and die or we submit and die. I know my choice. A soldier should know his”, Cersei concludes.
Later, Tyrion and Davos arrive at the shores of the capital so that Tyrion can secretly meet with Jaime. Meanwhile, Davos goes to Flea Bottom on his “own business”. Jaime is taken down to the basement of the Red Keep by Bronn who pretends that he will give him a round of sword training. But instead of some clumsy fighting with the wrong hand, Jaime is surprised to find his brother there. He’s still quite angry that Tyrion murdered their father, but he listens anyway. Tyrion tells him that Daenerys doesn’t even want Cersei to bend the knee for now, but that she has a more important request instead.
Meanwhile, Davos has arrived at a blacksmith’s workshop at Flea Bottom and finds Gendry! The showrunners must have noticed the hundreds of Internet memes because Davos says: “Thought you might still be rowing.” The young blacksmith found out that “the safest place is right under the Queen’s nose”. He immediately agrees to come with the old smuggler — and he will bring his weapon of choice: just like his father, King Robert Baratheon, he will be using a massive war-hammer instead of a sword.
When they’re about to embark onto the boat, Davos advises him not to mention to anyone that he’s Robert’s son. They’re surprised by two guards, and Davos is shocked to learn that the bribery rates have skyrocketed since his smuggling days: they now demand fifteen Gold Dragons per person instead of five in total. Just when they’re about to leave, Tyrion comes back, and so Gendry is forced to swing that hammer twice.
Jaime tells Cersei about his meeting with Tyrion — that Daenerys wants an armistice to fight the army of the dead first. The Queen thinks about agreeing because it might be easier to defeat Dany by plotting than by openly fighting. “Whatever will stand in our way, we will defeat it”, she echoes Jaime’s words from last season — and reveals to him that she’s pregnant. She will even openly acknowledge Jaime as the father because “the Lion does not concern himself with the opinion of the sheep”.
Jon Snow is standing on the rocks in front of the castle when Dany lands, sitting on Drogon’s back. The dragon slowly approaches Jon who takes off his glove to pet the great beast’s snout, and Drogon obviously enjoys it. Daenerys watches in amazement — if Drogon approves of someone that much, he must be a good guy because “they’re not beasts to me […] they’re my children”. She tells him about the battle that she now has fewer enemies than before. She also asks Jon about that “knife in the heart” Davos talked about when they first arrived. “Ser Davos gets carried away”, the King in the North brushes it off. Before they can elaborate on it, Jorah Mormont arrives, cured from greyscale and ready to once again serve his Queen. They greet each other quite affectionately.
Still shocked about the way in which the Tarlys died, Varys is talking to Tyrion who tries to defend Daenerys’s action. He is appalled enough to drink wine, something he usually doesn’t do. It reminds him too much of Dany’s father who used to burn people alive as well, albeit without the help of dragons, making the process much slower and more painful. “I’m not the one doing it”, he used to tell himself when he was forced to watch what the Mad King did to his (alleged) enemies. He agrees that Daenerys is not her father, but that Tyrion has to severely intensify his counselling to make sure she will never be.
Jon receives a message from Bran about the Night King’s army that is slowly marching toward the Wall. He decides that he has to go home to fight them, and use just the few men he has unless Dany joins him. In order to make Cersei believe that the White Walkers are real so that even her armies join the final battle for civilisation (thus allowing Dany’s to do the same), Tyrion suggests to capture a wight and to bring him to Kings Landing. In turn, he needs to talk to Jaime first to make sure that Cersei would even allow them into the city without murdering them at first sight. Davos agrees to smuggle him in so that he can meet his brother. Meanwhile, both Jon and Jorah will lead the raid beyond the Wall. In what looks more like worry than like a command, Dany points out that she hasn’t given Jon permission to leave, which he claims he doesn’t need since he’s a King himself. He trusted her, a stranger, because he felt it would be the best chance they would have, and asks her to do the same — she reluctantly agrees.
Davos and Gendry come back, and they enter the cave in which Jon and his men are mining dragonglass. Davos once again instructs the young smith not to mention his heritage. Gendry soothes him, walks straight towards Jon — and says: “I’m Robert Baratheon’s son; bastard son”. Their meeting almost mirrors Robert’s and Ned’s at Winterfell, in season 1; they’re even teasing each other: “You’re a lot leaner”, Jon says, and Gendry replies: “You’re a lot shorter.” He decides to go to Eastwatch with them, and so he, Jon, Davos and Jorah say goodbye to Dany.
By way of warging, Bran sends a whole flock of ravens from Winterfell beyond the Wall. They cross at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, and soon enough find the massive army of the dead. When the Night King looks at the ravens, he startles Bran and subsequently the birds, too. Snapping out of warging mode, Bran tells Maester Wolkan that they need to send ravens through the realm, telling everyone about the approaching walking dead.
Some of the Northern Lords start to feel unrest about Jon’s prolonged absence, up to the point where some of them think they should have chosen Sansa as their Queen instead. Arya watches in disbelief and anger about what looks like Sansa’s growing sense of entitlement — her sister even moved into their parents’ old chambers. “They were insulting Jon and you sat there and listened”, Arya says. “I sat there and listened to their complaints, which is my responsibility as Lady of Winterfell”, Sansa replies. Arya also accuses her of really wanting to become Queen in the North.
Arya spies on Littlefinger because she is sure that something’s foul with him (and of course that should be the default case with that dangerous man). He thinks that he outsmarts her for the moment: he badly hides a raven message in his room, Arya sneaks into it and finds it (we can be sure that if a man like Baelish doesn’t want you to find something, you won’t be able to). The message is the one Cersei once forced Sansa to write to Robb — that he should come to Kings Landing to bend the knee in order to save his father’s life. Petyr’s intentions are clear enough: he wants Arya to become even more suspicious of her sister.
One of Bran’s messages arrives at the Citadel where the Archmaester and some of his old colleagues talk about it, not too favourably — they put the Three-Eyed Raven and all similar business into the realm of fairy-tales. Samwell comes in with some parchments he just finished copying and weighs in that he knows Bran who survived beyond the Wall for years despite being a cripple, something neither the Nights Watch nor the Wildlings managed to do in recent times. Sam suggests that the Citadel uses all of its authority to advise the Lords of Westeros to send their armies northwards, and that they use all of their own resources to research how to defeat the White Walkers and to end the Long Night. But the Maesters think that it could be a ploy by Daenerys to lure all armies away from the lands that they defend against her, and so they decide to do nothing of what Sam suggests. I also have to revoke my former comparison of the Archmaester to Professor McGonagall — she used to believe Harry, Ron and Hermione what they told her, no matter how strange and unusual it must have seemed to her.
One evening, Sam and Gilly are reading as usual. She reads the journal of High Septon Maynard, who was in office during the reign of King Aerys II. Sam only wants to learn how to defeat the Night King, and so he isn’t particularly interested in how many windows the Great Sept of Baelor used to have or how often the High Septon went to the privy — and so he misses the great moment when the love of his life discovers the most important information in Thrones history: that Rhaegar Targaryen had his marriage to Elia Martell annulled to marry someone else instead, in a secret ceremony in Dorne.
In any case, Sam has had it with sitting around in Oldtown, away from all the action. And so he goes on one final raid into the library, and then he, Gilly and Sam jr. leave the city to go back north.
Jon’s crew arrives at the eastern end of the Wall to go on their suicide mission. They not only meet Tormund who is the commander of the castle, but also the Hound, Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr who have arrived there to help with the war against the White Walkers. Tormund is keeping them in a cell, but after some banter everyone agrees to go on the raid. Jon makes the most important remark: “We’re all on the same side: we’re all breathing.” And so they set out into a raging blizzard, quite a motley crew, the Magnificent Seven, no, Eight, of the Far North.
- Many people have complained that Daenerys’s burning of the Tarlys was just as bad as what her father used to do. But let’s face it: if Alys Karstark or Ned Umber had refused to bend the knee to Jon, he would have been forced to execute them, too. He would have beheaded or hung them for want of a Dragon (who really seems to like him, doesn’t he?), and the method of execution is a mere technicality.
- Speaking of Jon and Dany: they’re growing closer to each other by the hour; at some point, Jon was even shocked when he caught himself staring at her once again.
- So Cersei is pregnant? Until now, the prophecy was right in everything, and it said that she would only have three children. So there are three possibilities: she lied to keep Jaime going, she will have a miscarriage or she won’t survive the next nine months.
- Gilly’s discovery means that Jon Snow is a) not a bastard, but the true born son of Rhaegar and Lyanna Stark, and b) the rightful heir to the Iron Throne in the original Targaryen line of succession. Of course Ned, who must have known that, took the secret to the grave with him because his innocent nephew’s life was of course much more important to him than the defenceless baby’s theoretical claim to the throne. Besides, with the Mad King’s death, the Targaryen reign was over for him — he accepted and supported his old friend Robert as the new King.
- I sincerely hope Littlefinger has underestimated Arya and will meet his end soon. Playing the Stark sisters against each other, he’s a serious threat to the North’s safety.
- Let’s keep our fingers crossed for Jon and his merry men. The other interesting question is: if they really catch a White Walker or a mere wight, will Cersei really listen, or will she think that there’s some trickery at work? Maybe Qyburn can be useful for once and figure out how to defeat those guys more easily by studying a living, pardon, dead specimen.
The season just keeps getting better and more suspenseful. This episode was even better than last week’s, and it once again deserves five out of five Gold Dragons (the new unit since the faith of the seven was denounced as the official religion of the realm when Cersei blew up its central sanctuary).