Season 7, Episode 4: The Spoils of War

spoilers

All seems to be going well for the Lannisters – the grain stores of Highgarden are being emptied and the contents shipped off to King’s Landing, and the gold is on its way to Cersei so she can repay the Iron Bank – but neither of our protaganists in this scene are pleased.

As you’ll recall our last scene of episode 3 was Lady Olenna giving Jaime the middle finger, finally confessing that she murdered Joffrey and subsequently dying herself. Bronn takes offense to Jaime looking so forlorn after such a big success, and badgers him about the castle he was promised 3 or 4 seasons ago. There’s a bit of tension between the two of them, with Jaime thinking his companion ungrateful for the huge bag of gold he just handed him. He sends the sellsword away with the Tarlys to continue collecting the grain. Cersei is eagerly awaiting their return, growing tired of having to put up with the somewhat impatient representative of the Iron Bank.

cersei iron bank
Things are getting awkward whilst waiting for the gold to arrive

Meanwhile in the North, Littlefinger has his eyes set on a new target. He’s drawn his Valyrian steel dagger we last saw a couple of episodes ago in Samwell’s book, and hands it to Bran. He’s replaying an almost exact replica of the conversation he’s had with both Sansa and Jon already – that he loved Cat and that he’s here to protect her children now.
“Do you know who this belonged to?” asks the young Stark. It doesn’t sound like Bran is searching for an answer – it sounds like he knows something, which may be the reason it was in Sam’s book. Expect an answer soon!
Littlefinger feigns sympathy for what he expects Bran has been through in the north. He doesn’t know the half of it.
“To go through all of that and make your way home again, only to find such chaos…” Bran cuts him off, looking up sharply as though he’s just remembered something.
“Chaos is a ladder.”

Bran is directly quoting something Littlefinger said in one of my favourite scenes in Game of Thrones. He privately reveals to Varys that causing chaos creates a means for him to rise to power. There’s a lot going on under the surface too, but the main relevance here is that Bran knows what Littlefinger is and almost certainly has the means to out him. You can almost feel him squirm.

They’re interrupted by Meera arriving at the door, and Littlefinger takes his chance to exit. Meera tells her friend that she’s making her way home to be with her family when the White Walkers come, because Bran doesn’t need her anymore.
“No, I don’t.” he replies. Blunt to say the least. Meera is understandably upset – her brother, Hodor, Summer the direwolf, all dead for Bran. Deadpan, the young man explains to Meera, he’s not Brandon Stark anymore, he’s the three eyed raven. And with that she leaves, heartbroken and knowing that she lost her friend the moment the Night King killed the previous three eyed raven.

To me, this doesn’t feel like much of an ending for Meera. We’ve seen Meera’s father once before in one of Bran’s flashbacks, right before we discover Jon’s true parentage. His name is Howland Reed – he’s the man who saved Ned from a grizzly death by stabbing his attacker in the back, allowing Ned to go and find his sister and her newborn baby, Jon. It’s reasonable to assume that he knows who Jon’s parents were, which may be relevant at some stage. Whatever happens, I’m sure they still have a part to play.

Howland-reed-ned-stark
Howland Reed stands behind a young Ned Stark

As Arya reaches the peak of a hill, she finally lays eyes upon her home once more. She strolls up the gate expecting a warm welcome, but instead is chided by two of the least competent guards in the 7 kingdoms. After being told to fuck off not once, not twice but THRICE, she deftly sidesteps an attempt to shove her to the ground and disappears inside as the guards argue amongst themselves.

The guards confess their mistake to Sansa.
“She was asking for Ser Rodrik and Maester Luwin.” The guards may not have ever known those men, but any Stark would. Following her intuition, Sansa finds her sister in the crypts by the memorial to their father.

arya sansa
Arya jokes, “Do I have to call you Lady Stark now?”

It’s been years since the sisters saw each other. They were always chalk and cheese but it looks like they might get on a little better now they’ve both grown up a bit. Sansa rightly points out that considering how happy Jon was to see her, he’s going to be ecstatic when he sees Arya. We nearly have the whole family back together now, fingers crossed!

It doesn’t take long until Arya starts thinking about killing people, saying that she was angry when she heard that someone else had killed Joffrey before she got the chance, as he was always first on her list. Sansa laughs at the idea; she has a lot to learn about her long lost sister!


They find their brother in the Godswood. He tells Arya that he saw her at the Inn at the Crossroads in a vision, and thought she might go to King’s Landing.
“Why would you go back there?” asks Sansa.
“Cersei is on her list of names.” … aaand the penny drops, we see Sansa think, ah she wasn’t joking about that, and she asks who else is on the list.
“Most of them are dead already.”
As well as Sansa starting to see that her sister has changed, we are also reminded that Bran isn’t very good at being the three eyed raven yet. He saw Arya, but he wasn’t sure what she was going to do. He still sees fragments, so he’s not necessarily as helpful as we might have hoped.

Bran draws the dagger that Littlefinger gave him. Sansa immediately knows that something is up – he doesn’t do things for people unless he gets something in return.
Regardless, Bran hands the dagger to Arya, saying that it’ll be much more useful to her than it is to him. So now we have two battle-capable members of the family wielding Valyrian steel. Take note.

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On Dragonstone, the girls are catching up on their Greyworm gossip before Jon interrupts them.

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“Omg what happened between you two?” “Let’s just say Greyworm is no longer… unsullied

Jon leads them underneath the mountain to where the dragonglass is. It’s enormous – more than enough for their armies to fight with – but the real reason they’re here is further in. Jon takes Dany by the arm, leading her deeper into the cave. Markings made by the Children of the Forest adorn the walls. Some depict familiar patterns, others, stories of the Children and the First Men fighting their common enemy – the White Walkers.

Amazed by this (and without even the slightest thought that Jon did a few quick scribbles on a wall to trick her) Daenerys agrees to join their fight… IF Jon bends the knee. It’s still a tricky subject and nothing is agreed just yet, but the pair are growing closer. Aside from the arm touching and the eye contact, when they leave the cave it’s like they’re coming out united. It almost looks like they’re holding hands!

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Outside, Tyrion and Varys await their Queen with news of Highgarden’s defeat. Furious about Tyrion’s repeated failured plans, she questions her Hand’s loyalty. Perhaps he’s trying to even the odds for his family? Either way, she needs a win badly and she knows how she can defeat Cersei quickest. The dragons call across the seas, drawing nearer as she announces her intention to burn the Red Keep. Seeing that Tyrion won’t back down, she asks Jon what he thinks.

Last week, we heard Davos asking Missandei why she follows Daenerys. Jon draws on what he’s learnt in his time here to formulate his response – Dany’s people follow her because they’ve seen her do the impossible, and have faith in her to create something better. But if she burns the city to the ground, she’s no different to her tyrannical ancestors.

Tyrion looks to Jon with equal parts relief and admiration.

white walker patterns
The symbols in the cave look very similar to those that the White Walkers made out of corpses from the very beginning of the series.

Podrick Payne (or ‘pain’ as he really ought to be known) is taking yet another beating from Brienne. In a bullish display of confidence Arya approaches and demands to fight Brienne herself, and Podrick is told to step aside.

Despite being roughly half her size, Arya quickly shatters any illusions that her sparring partner has of her, avoiding Brienne’s first overhead swing and thrusting Needle to her throat. Taking her more seriously, Brienne has to try pretty hard to keep up with Arya, taking glancing blows to her hand and leg as she draws back her powerful swing. They’re both masters in their respective arts but their fighting styles are at completely opposite ends of the scale. Arya’s blade (Needle) is aptly named compared to Brienne’s broadsword (Oathkeeper) and as it’s knocked from her hands she quickly switches to her new dagger, matching Brienne’s killing blow.

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Both are talented fighters, each with their own Valyrian steel weapon

Watching above with Sansa, Littlefinger squirms a little more. Or is that the look of cogs turning in his head as he acquires a new target for his games? Hard to say.


There’s a lot of gossip going on in this episode, this time it’s Davos trying to coerce Jon into discussing Daenerys & Missendei’s ‘good hearts’. Thankfully, Jon has no time for that and stays focused on the ancient evil that is hunting them day and night. Probably a good idea. He asks his advisor, “How many men do we have in the north to fight him, 10,000? Less?”
“Fewer.” responds Davos, doing his best impression of Stannis.

stannis davos

They meet with Missandei and discuss her allegiance to Daenerys. Much to Missandei’s annoyance, Jon doesn’t quite believe that she could leave any time she wants, leading her to tell Jon that she’s the Queen they chose – they believe in her – they don’t follow her because of who her father was. Thats’s something Jon should understand.

Lets stop for a second and think about why this conversation happened. Given that there’s only 7 episodes this season, EVERYTHING is relevant. There’s no time for benign conversation, and this one feels as though it should have happened BEFORE Jon told Daenerys that he could see the faith that her people have in her. So what else are we being told here? Is Missandei going somewhere?

They’re interrupted as a Greyjoy ship appears on the horizon.


Theon and the Ironborn drag their boat ashore.

“Jon? I didn’t know you were here.” No shit Theon.

 

A brief history of Theon Greyjoy

Jon violently grabs Theon and tells him that what he did for Sansa is the only reason he’s not killing him where he stands. Fair play really.
Eager to change the subject, Theon says he came to ask the Queen to help him save Yara, but Daenerys isn’t there right now.
“Where did she go?”


Cut back to the Lannister army. Randyll Tarly approaches Jaime and Bronn with news.
“All the gold is safely through the gates of King’s Landing.” Now it’s just the last of the wagons carrying food that need to get over the river before nightfall. “If the head of the line is ambushed, the tail will never be able to reinforce it in time.”
“We are stretched a bit thin.” Jaime replies. Tarly suggests whipping the men at the back to speed things up, but Jaime refuses, saying that they fought well at Highgarden and at least deserve a warning first. If anyone hadn’t realised yet, Jaime isn’t the worst kind of person you can find in Westeros as we suspected in season 1. That said, he may not be the most ruthlessly effective either.

Jaime and Bronn approach the general’s son.
“Rickon!” Jaime shouts to him as a greeting.
The Tarly boy corrects him, “Dickon.” As Bronn laughs at the unfortunate name, Jaime shoots him a look as if to say, “Yes we’re taking the piss out of him but play it cool, that’s not my style.”
Highgarden was the young man’s first battle. He knew some of the men they killed and he wasn’t expecting the smell that comes with death. Bronn mocks Dickon’s inexperience, “Men shit themselves when they die, didn’t they teach you that at fancy lad school?” Another look from Jaime.

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Bronn can’t help but laugh at the name ‘Dickon’

The three of them are very different but have such an interesting dynamic – Jaime, the top dog but also a tortured soul with his goals always just out of reach. Bronn, an experienced man with simple desires who is essentially being blackmailed into being dragged deeper and deeper into the game. And Dickon, much more in common with Jaime as a highborn, but still an outsider – the butt of the joke since he’s so young and green.

His jovial attitude quickly disperses as Bronn hears something. The sound of hooves approaching. The three spring into action, calling the men to arms. They’re not in a strong defensive position; scattered in an open field there’s only enough men to form a couple of lines with their shields, their spears protruding through the gaps. The commanders look around for a few long seconds, waiting to see what comes over the hill. Screaming and hollering fills the air as the Dothraki approach.

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“Get back to King’s Landing!” Bronn urges Jaime. “You’re their commander not an infantryman!” Jaime is undeterred, refusing to abandon the men who are literally shaking in their armour as the horde bears down on them.
“We can hold them off!” Just then, a thunderous roar rings out across the battlefield. Jaime looks on in horror as Daenerys calls her order to the beast.
“Dracarys!”

A burst of flame obliterates the Lannister line, instantly incapacitating a group of 20 men or more. Shields are futile, arrows ineffective. Morale crumbles as flesh turns to dust, while others nearby burn inside their armour. The dothraki burst through the hole in the line, carving up their victims as they go.

drogon burning

Daenerys acquires another target, burning the line of Lannister wagons in one fell swoop. Jaime needs to do something fast. “Qyburn’s scorpion is over there” he tells Bronn. “Go get it then!” the sellswords replies defiantly.
“I can’t shoot with one hand!”
Begrudgingly, Bronn does as he’s told.

On his own now, Jaime is locked in battle with a dothraki swinging two of their signature curved swords. Not as strong in combat as he used to be, Jaime struggles to to avoid the blades before Dickon Tarly thrusts his sword through the attacker’s back. Perhaps Jaime will treat him with some respect now.

Crossing the battlefield in this chaos is no easy task for Bronn and he drops his bag of gold as a dothraki knocks him from his mount. Still, there’s more important things to think about right now. Daenerys takes aim at the scorpion as a huge bolt flies past her head.

Jaime stands aghast as everything falls apart around him. The destruction, the screams, the smell of burning flesh as men desperately stagger towards the river. It’s horrific. Tyrion is watching from a distance as well, conflicted. As his Queen reigns down vengeance, the one member of his family he really cares about is suffering.

Bronn loads another bolt, taking aim again at the diving creature. He fires, narrowly missing its open mouth and striking the dragon in the shoulder, sending it spiralling down to earth.

bronn scorpion

Regaining control, Drogon lands, burns the crossbow and splinters the remains with its tail in a show of defiance. Bronn only just manages to jump aside in time. Daenerys dismounts to pull the bolt from her injured child. Jaime sees her vulnerable on the ground and glances toward a spear sticking out from the ground. This could be his chance to end it all. He could help create the great peace that he really wants, with Cersei on the throne. Without Daenerys, there is no war.

Tyrion looks down at his brother. “Flee you idiot!” Jaime spurs his horse on, grabbing the spear and aiming straight for the dragon queen.
“You fucking idiot!” Tyrion mutters in despair.

daenerys drogon
Jaime charges straight for the vulnerable Dragon Queen

The dragon lowers its head and turns to face Jaime, opening its mouth wide to protect its mother. Bronn leaps from his horse and tackles Jaime into the river, both of them narrowly avoiding the huge fireball that engulfs the area and both of their horses.

With only one hand and full plate armour on, Jaime sinks, almost as if resigned to his fate.

jaime sinking

This was an excellent battle scene, particularly exciting because it’s something we haven’t seen the likes of yet. The dragons have burned people before but it was nothing like the destruction we saw in this episode. The dragons are HUGE and this was just one of them, disintegrating dozens of men at a time.

However the battle raises some interesting points on morality. In Westeros, dragons are essentially the nukes of their world. They’ll destroy whole armies or even cities at the drop of a hat, and their use is controversial. Even if you’re an avid Daenerys supporter, having seen the horrors that Jaime does in this scene, you have to be asking questions about whether this is the right thing to be doing.

Let’s also not forget that this probably feels very familiar to Jaime. The Mad King burning people in their armour was the very reason he thrust his sword into his King’s back, forsaking his Kingsguard vows and earning him the eternal nickname Kingslayer. It was probably only his enduring love for his sister that stopped him doing the same to her after she blew up the Sept of Baelor with Wildfire, but now it’s happening again on the opposite side. He really is stuck between a rock and a hard place.

burn them all
We saw Daenerys’ father in Bran’s vision. He was screaming, “Burn them all!”

So what might happen next? Let’s speculate.

  1. Firstly let me allay some fears that some of you may have – this is not the end of Jaime. If he was going to die, they’d have let him be obliterated by Drogon, not be saved and then drown as a direct result. Seriously, imagine what an anticlimax it would be if in episode 5 Bronn pulls his lifeless corpse from the river and that’s that. Plus, he hasn’t fulfilled any long term storyline or character arc yet. More likely, this encounter with the Dragons is building to something else for his character.
  2. Is Drogon going to be ok after getting shot? I’d say so, he recovered enough to continue doing some serious damage. However, I’ve seen some theories flying around that the Scorpion bolts could be more sinister than they first appear. Think about it, the very name implies poison, and we have seen as recently as episode 3 that Qyburn is adept with all sorts of toxins.
  3. Now that the gold has arrived at King’s Landing, their debt to the Iron Bank has been repaid. Now they’re eager to fund Cersei’s future war effort, and she intends to hire the sellswords known as The Golden Company made up of 10,000 mercenaries. Adding this number to the rest of the Lannister forces (assuming that Dany has only destroyed a small section of their army) gives them a notable boost. A Dothraki attack on a prepared army at King’s Landing – without the force of the dragons to back them up – could be a costly mistake for Daenerys.
  4. What’s Daenerys’ next plan of action? Well, she’s shown no hesitation in using her Dragons, she needs Euron’s navy to be destroyed and Theon recently showed up to ask her to save Yara. They have an idea of where Euron might be since he destroyed the ships that ferried the Unsullied to Casterly Rock. It’s gotta happen at some stage!
  5. The next episode is entitled “Eastwatch”. Recap on what the relevance of this is here. It’s been a while since we’ve seen either Tormund or the Hound…

Is Littlefinger going to be undone? What’s next in the Hound’s journey? Where do Cersei and Daenerys go from here? Let me know what you think is going to happen in the remainder of the season!

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Season 7, Episode 3: The Queen’s Justice

“Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armour and it can never be used to hurt you.” Wise words from Tyrion, once spoken to Jon Snow after he took offence to being called a bastard. Jon took that advice on board long ago and responds in kind as the dwarf greets him on the beach of Dragonstone.
“The Bastard of Winterfell”
“The Dwarf of Casterly rock”

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Having last spoken atop the wall many seasons ago whilst Tyrion was “pissing off the edge”, Jon points out that Tyrion has picked up some scars along the road. Oh the irony!

Ser Davos introduces himself to Tyrion who notes that they fought on opposite sides when Stannis attacked King’s Landing. “Unluckily for me” quips Davos. It’s interesting to see that the pair of them bear no grudges over the previous engagement, especially given that Davos’ son died from the wildfire!

Missandei is full of confidence today (I wonder why) and introduces herself fervently, before ‘asking’ Jon and his companions to hand over their weapons. Jon watches nervously as some huge Dothraki carry their boat away.

Tyrion says that he would have advised Jon against coming to meet Daenerys, as the northern lords and ladies did. After all, Stark men don’t tend to do well when they travel south – Ned and Robb both lost their heads when they left the north.
“True,” replies Jon. “but I’m not a Stark.”
Suddenly Drogon swoops a few feet overhead sending Jon & Davos ducking for cover.
“I’d say you get used to them, but you never really do.” quips the Dwarf, now bending to help Jon to his feet.

jon ducking
Drogon whispers in Jon’s ear, “Pssst! You’re a Targaryen!”

Atop the mountain, Varys questions Melisandre as to why she didn’t meet the men at the beach. She explains that they didn’t part on good terms, and admits that it was her own fault. Having done her part in having Daenerys and Jon meet, she doesn’t want to be a distraction and is heading to Volantis.

Varys warns her not to return, for her own safety. Her retort? “Nah, I plan on dying here.” Well, actually she said that she HAS to die here. “Just like you.”
Christ, what a way to scare someone. He already hates gods and magic (a remnant of their part in his castration and torture as a young man) and now there’s a fire worshipper telling him that he’s gonna die here. I guess that’s what happens when you threaten people! Either way, it seems like Melisandre has seen more in the flames than we know…

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I’d be worried too

In the castle, Daenerys sits on the throne wearing a particularly smug grin as Missandei reels off her list of titles. Seriously, I’m liking Dany less and less as this season goes on. Having made it closer to her objective she no longer seems to care for much except seeing people bow down to her. Look at that smug face!

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Bitch better bend the knee

The usually articulate Davos isn’t on form today, leading with a lucklustre introduction. “This is Jon Snow”. Cue awkward looks around the room.
When he steps forward and corrects Daenerys referring to Jon as “my lord” she disputes his claim to the title of King in the North, pointing out that Jon’s grandfather once bent the knee to her own ancestor, swearing allegiance in perpetuity.

Unfortunately, that’s not why Jon is here.
Daenerys accuses him of breaking faith, which is kind of rich when you consider the fact that her father burned Stark men on more than one occasion. I’d call that breaking faith personally. Thankfully, Daenerys recognises these crimes and asks Jon for forgiveness, and not to judge her on the actions of her father. Sounds familiar right?
At one stage she states, “I am the last Targaryen Jon Snow.” Where the hell is Bran? You’ve got some explaining to do boy!

After a long and heated discussion, and even Tyrion casting aspersions on Jon’s story about the army of the dead, Daenerys gives an empassioned speech. Doubtless she has achieved an incredible amount and been through more than most people could imagine and she got through it all because she had faith in herself and her ability to rule. She isn’t here to be Queen of the ashes, but Jon can’t get his head around her unwillingness to join his cause.

jon dragonstone
“You’ll be ruling over a graveyard if we don’t defeat the Night King.”

The advisors of both rulers understand how crazy it sounds to drop everything and go to fight dead people in the north. That’s when Davos finally steps up, pointing out that Daenerys isn’t the only one to have overachieved. A bastard of Winterfell brought wildlings south of the wall, became Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, was elected King in the North not because he necessarily believed in himself, but because others did. Jon stops Davos short when he mentions that he took a dagger in the heart for his cause. They’ve told them enough inconceivable truths for one day. Although I must say, if it were me I’d be whipping out my scar riddled chest screaming “look yo I died once already I’m not crazy alright?!”

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I reckon that’d convince me

Lord Varys brings news and disrupts the tension. Dany promises her guests baths and food in their rooms. “Am I your prisoner?” asks Jon. “Not yet.”


The news that Varys brought of course was of Euron’s attack, and with that we find Theon being dragged aboard an ironborn ship. With most of the fleet destroyed and their plan foiled, they’ll presumably head back to Dragonstone, where it looks like Jon may be staying for a while. Hey, another reunion to look forward to! Jon WILL be pleased to see the man who betrayed his family and murdered his bannermen.


Meanwhile, Euron presents his gifts to Cersei. Ellaria and her daughter in chains for the Queen to do with as she pleases. In return Cersei agrees to marry Euron… when the war is won. Goading Jaime some more, Euron asks for his advice. “Does she like it gentle, rough? A finger in the bum…?” in front of the crowd there’s nothing Jaime can do, but my god this is building to something much bigger. Even in Game of Thrones the antagonists USUALLY get their comeuppance, and Jaime mentioned that if Euron’s allegiance turns out to be false, the same crowd cheering him now will revel in seeing his head on a spike.
Unfazed, Euron makes light of it like he does everything.

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JAM 0-2 EUR

Later, Cersei exacts her revenge for what the Sand Snakes did to Myrcella. She talks of how she doesn’t sleep much anymore. Instead, she lays awake and thinks of ways to murder her enemies. Suddenly it’s evident why Cersei is wearing an uncharacteristic bright red lipstick. She kisses Ellaria’s daughter square on the lips, and wipes away the residue on her own face. “Qyburn is clever enough to learn what poison you used to murder Myrcella.” Qyburn hands Cersei the antidote which she quickly consumes.
Now Ellaria will have to stand and watch for hours, perhaps days, until her daughter succumbs to the poison. And Cersei doesn’t intend to let her suffering end there. They’ll force food down her throat if they have to, so she has to watch her daughter rot.

This is the second person Cersei has taken this sort of sick revenge on. As far as we know Septa Unella is still chained in dungeons of the Red Keep, being occasionally tortured by the Mountain. It’s not a far cry from what she tells Ellaria was Oberyn’s downfall – taunting Ser Gregor instead of finishing him off. It would be some sort of poetic justice if it came back to bite Cersei, especially considering that she confessed to Unella that she murdered Robert and slept with Jaime.

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Seemingly excited by all this, Cersei’s next move is to immediately come on to Jaime. Weird. She enters the room and starts kissing him without a word. (He obviously doesn’t know that her lips were covered in deadly deadly poison just moments ago.) Embarrassed, Jaime goes to reattach his golden hand but she won’t let him. They obviously still care for each other and in a way it’s like Greyworm and Missandei’s scene last week in that they accept each other as they are.

She may be Queen of the Seven Kingdoms but it doesn’t stop Cersei from bending the knee. Both knees, actually. Jaime’s protests quickly fade.
The next morning, after Jaime lovingly stares at his sleeping lover/sister for a while, there’s a knock at the door. Cersei opens it, not caring that Jaime is in plain sight to her messenger, and learns that a visitor has arrived from Braavos.


A representative of the Iron Bank has arrived to talk about the Lannisters’ money situation. Given that Robert threw gold around like it was nothing, they’ve nothing left and yet they have immense amount of debt. The Tyrells have taken their wealth elsewhere so they can’t rely on that anymore. Cersei claims that her armada owns the Narrow Sea, except it’s not her armada and the Iron Bank knows it. It’s the second time in a few minutes that we’ve been reminded how easily things could change should Euron decide he doesn’t want to remain loyal to Cersei. Don’t forget, he did originally intend to propose marriage to Daenerys.

Winning him around, Cersei reminds the Braavosi that Daenerys has significantly weakened their economic prowess by abolishing much of the slave trade which they invest in. Not only that, but former slaves, Dothraki horselords and dragons aren’t particularly wealthy, and a Lannister always pays their debts.
She promises him repayment in a fortnight.

iron bank
He must be wondering what Cersei has up her sleeve

Tyrion meets Jon on the mountainside.
“I came down here to brood over my failure to predict the Greyjoy attack. You’re making it difficult – you look a lot better brooding than I do.”
Jon doesn’t have the same inclination for light hearted chatter and complains that he’s a prisoner on the island while the enemy to the north gets ever closer.
“It’s hard for me to fathom, it really is! If someone told me about the White Walkers and the Night King…” Jon has an “Oh shit” moment when he finally realises how he must sound.

Assuring Jon that Dany is here for good reason and that actually she and Jon have a lot in common, Tyrion points out that it’s not reasonable to think that Dany will drop everything and immediately persue this myth on the strength of a stranger’s word. Feeling belittled by the smallest man on the island, Jon starts off to brood elsewhere before Tyrion hints at his point again.

tyrion dragonstone
“So do you have anything reasonable to ask?”

In the war room, the dwarf convinces Dany to allow Jon to mine the dragonglass. In doing so, they can start to build a relationship (not that sort, she’s his aunt so stop thinking it right now) and can still focus on their own war effort at the same time.

Daenerys didn’t miss what was said earlier, asking her advisor what Davos meant about Jon taking a dagger to the heart.
“You must allow them their flights of fancy. It’s dreary in the North.” While Tyrion still has a lot of doubt about the magic we’ve seen, he’s clearly thought about it. I wonder if he has a inkling of belief but simply knows it wouldn’t help anyone to let Daenerys know that.


Sansa is consulting with Ser Royce, Littlefinger and maester Wolkan, the most recent maester at Winterfell. She wants to check that they have enough food to last out the winter. Wolkan says that he will check the length of the longest winter in the past 100 years so they know what to plan for. How will he find out? Maester Luwin kept a copy of every raven scroll sent and received in Winterfell, what a trooper. Here’s where things get interesting. As Wolkan mentions this, Littlefinger shoots him a swift and unnatural glance.

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Now, time for a theory as to why. It takes us right back to episode 1, wherein Maester Luwin delivered Catelyn Stark a letter from her sister Lysa, saying that the Lannisters had her husband killed. This sets Ned and Cat off to find out why. After an assassination attempt on Bran is foiled, Cat takes the assassin’s dagger which Littlefinger says was once his but was lost to Tyrion. Cat then imprisoned Tyrion leading to the dispute between the two families, and much of the Stark family’s demise.
In series 4, Lysa admits in front of Sansa that she and Littlefinger in fact orchestrated her husband’s death, so if Sansa finds a letter claiming otherwise then she might just put the pieces together.

ANYWAY. Sansa is really coming into her own, thinking ahead about how to get enough food, and calling out the blacksmith for not covering the breastplates in leather – they’ll need it when the weather gets colder. Once the others have gone away to do their duties, Littlefinger once again has a quiet word with Sansa, telling her that he plans for every eventuality and nothing is a surprise. What’s he telling her this for though? Is it really advice? A warning? Or just stroking his own ego? Only time will tell. They’re interrupted by a visitor at the gate.


Before you get too excited, no it isn’t Arya, it’s the gloomiest Stark sibling who nobody is ever really happy to see, Bran.bran

True to form, when Sansa gives him a massive hug, tears in her eyes, he just stares blankly forwards. I get that he’s seen a lot but come on, at least have something positive to say. Instead, in a quick visit to the godswood he chooses his conversation topics poorly. In fact the only good thing he does is refuse to be Lord of Winterfell. He does a terrible job of explaining what it means to be the 3 eyed raven and instead of talking about Jon’s parents, what Littlefinger did to their family or how they might be able to beat the white walkers, what does he say?
“Remember that first time you got brutally raped in your own home? You looked pretty that night.”

Thanks Bran.


Sam is watching nervously as the archmaester prods Jorah’s scarred skin.
“The infection no longer appears to be active. One could almost be forgiven for thinking that the entire upper layer of diseased skin was debrided, and the underlying region treated with some sort of unguent.”
“I don’t know about that.” Jorah claims. (Us neither, those are some fancy words you’re using there archmaester)
Regardless, Ser Jorah is no longer infectious and is released. He shakes Sam’s hand, probably the first human contact he’s had in a long while. We know where he’s going to be headed now!

jorah handshake


The archmaester gives Sam a dressing down for disobeying him. He could have infected the entire Citadel apparently. Nevertheless, as he points out, many experienced maesters have tried and failed to cure greyscale. How did he do it?
“I read the book… and followed the instructions.” Now that’s thinking outside the box.
He gets a rare moment of praise from his superior and is beckoned to the other side of the room.

“All these scrolls are rotting away. I need you to make copies of them.” Sam’s face drops. “You were expecting a reward? Your reward is not being immediately ejected from the Citadel! Watch out for the paper mites, they like flesh as well.” Never mind Sam.


In Dragonstone, after dissuading Daenerys from flying on Drogon to destroy Euron’s ships Tyrion turns his attention to Casterly Rock. The Unsullied will be arriving by now. We see montage of their assault on King’s landing, scaling the walls with ladders and exploiting a weakness Tyrion points out – an underground cavern which leads directly to one of the main guard towers. “Casterly Rock is an impregnable fortress, but as a good friend of mine once said, give me 10 good men and I’ll impregnate the bitch.” After a bit of espionage the gates are opened from the inside and the army pours in.

unsullied 2.jpg

The Lannisters troops are tough, at least 10,000 strong and well fortified. But they fight out of fear of Cersei, whilst the Unsullied fight for freedom and their Queen. “And that is why they will triumph.” Tyrion proclaims. Sure enough the Unsullied do triumph, but as Greyworm picks his way over the bodies on the ramparts, he realises something isn’t right. “There are supposed to be more than this. Many more.” Oh dear.
He looks over the battlements to see the ships that brought them here destroyed, thanks once again to Euron Greyjoy.

Meanwhile much to everyone’s surprise, Jaime is leading the bulk of the Lannister forces South, followed closely by Bronn and the Tarlys who have joined their cause. They make short work of the Tyrells and take Highgarden. It’s a tactic used by Robb Stark against the Lannisters at the end of season 1 – allowing your enemy to think you’ll be fighting them in one location whilst you outmaneuver them. It marked a significant victory for Robb then as it does for Jaime now.


Whilst the Rains of Castamere plays, the lion makes his way to the tower where Lady Olenna has been waiting for him, knowing that her time has come. In an enlightening conversation between the pair, we find out that Casterly Rock isn’t actually worth much anymore as the gold mines are drying up. As the Lannisters take hold of the Tyrell wealth, the Unsullied are stranded with little food and none of the gold they were expecting. And it’s a long march home.

“How will you do it?” Olenna asks, wondering how she’ll be killed. “With that sword? It was Joffrey’s wasn’t it? What did he call it?”
“Widow’s Wail.”
“He really was a cunt wasn’t he.” Olenna is poetic as ever, but it does serve to remind us that Jaime has a valyrian steel sword, which is likely to have significance in the future.

jaime olenna

Not as bloodthirsty as his sister, Jaime pours a vial of poison into some wine and passes it across the table. After checking that her death would be painless, Olenna downs it like a fresher desperate to impress. It’s only then that she makes her confession.

“I’d hate to die like your son, clawing at my neck with foam and bile pouring from my mouth. It must have been horrible for you as a father. Not at all what I intended – you see I’d never seen the poison work before.” A bitter conclusion to Jaime’s victory, finding out that the woman he just gave a merciful death was the one who murdered his own son in such a brutal fashion. Even in death Olenna has the last word.

“Tell Cersei. I want her to know it was me.”


So, some points to take away from episode 3:

  • It probably won’t be long until Jon’s parenthood comes to light, and that will change things.
  • Littlefinger may be in a spot of bother
  • Notably absent – 40,000 Dothraki screamers. If they were to surprise the Lannisters in the field it would be an absolute blood bath.
  • Where the fuck is Gendry?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Season 7, Episode 2: Stormborn

Jaime-Lannister

Welcome back! The long night week is finally over and we’ve been treated to another episode of Game of Thrones. Given that we only have 7 episodes this season, there’s plenty more action and development that we need to look at and we pick up right where we left off – Dragonstone.

There’s a storm battering the castle, and the Targaryen Queen is in no mood for it. Despite being born on a similar stormy night (and hence inheriting the name Daenerys Stormborn) the mother of dragons has lived much of her life in the warmer climes of Essos, most of which is a far more arid environment. You can check out an interactive map of the Seven Kingdoms here.

Dany, Tyrion and Varys are discussing their approach to taking King’s Landing, when the conversation takes an abrupt turn. Dany pounces on Varys’ implication that the people of Westeros support her over Cersei, having heard people say the same to her brother for years. Viserys was foolish enough to believe them, and we know how that ended for him…

a crown for a king
“A crown for a King”

But she doesnt stop there. She grills Varys over his changes of allegiance over the years – first he served her father, then Robert Baratheon, and then supported Viserys’ claim. He even did nothing to stop Robert’s assasination attempts on Dany. How could she trust such a man?
Not intimidated, Varys wastes no time telling Daenerys that her father was hardly a model ruler (burning people alive for no reason doesn’t inspire an awful lot of allegiance) and Robert was only ever interested in banquets and hunting.
The only problem is, he didn’t quite get the memo that Viserys was as mad and cruel as his father was.

In a rare show of emotion, he convinces Daenerys that he only wants what is in the best interest of the people and she lets him continue to serve her on one condition – that if he thinks they’re headed in the wrong moral direction, he’ll let her know instead of plotting to replace her. Sounds fair.
Of course, she just has to make sure he was listening, so she has one last thing to say.
– p.s. betray me and i’ll burn you alive kk?

varys
Varys convinced Olenna Tyrell & The Sand Snakes to join Daenerys back in season 6

The group are interrupted by the arrival of Melisandre, Priestess of The Lord of Light. Daenerys respects the religion since they helped her bring peace to Meereen.
Varys points out that she once served Stannis. Perhaps not the wisest move considering the conversation the two of them just had, but Daenerys is forgiving.

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Melisandre proclaims Stannis as the Prince who was promised, S2:E1

Melisandre references the upcoming winter, calling it “the long night”. We heard Bran being told the legend of the long night in the third ever episode.

Thousands of years ago, there came a night that lasted a generation. Kings froze to death in their castles, same as the shepherds in their huts; and women smothered their babies rather than see them starve, and wept, and felt the tears freeze on their cheeks… In that darkness the White Walkers came for the first time. They swept through cities and kingdoms, riding their dead horses, hunting with their packs of pale spiders big as hounds.

Sounds pretty similar to what we’ve already started to see now that Winter has come! There’s an old Valyrian prophecy that there is one person who will bring the dawn to the long night – the Prince who was promised. Originally Melisandre believed this referred to Stannis, but now Missandei points out a game changer – the proper translation would be “the prince or princess who was promised”. Having lost some confidence in her ability after Stannis was killed, Melisandre makes no concrete predictions to who it might be, but does say that she thinks both Daenerys and Jon Snow have a part to play. We’ll explore more about this prophecy in another post.

Having developed a connection with him in season 1 when they travelled to the Wall together, Tyrion vouches for Jon Snow and asks Daenerys to summon him. They would be natural allies against Cersei, but Tyrion seems to have one eye looking North as well, as he wants Jon to explain to them what he’s seen north of the wall.

Daenerys agrees, and instructs Tyrion to write a letter telling Jon to come and swear allegiance to her.

missandei
Missandei has served as Daenerys’ advisor and translator since she freed her from slavery in season 3

At Winterfell, we find the young lords & ladies practicing their archery. It’s a cool callback to season 1 again, when Bran is practicing in the very same spot, only to have Arya upstage him by hitting the bullseye on her first attempt.

Jon, Sansa & Davos are reading the letter from Tyrion. Jon knows it’s genuine because of how he signs off – “All dwarves are bastards in their father’s eyes.” This was how Tyrion put his point across to Jon that he understands what it’s like to be unappreciated by your family, and they began developing their mutual respect based on this.

In a nice bit of character development, Jon makes a point of asking Sansa what she thinks, and although Tyrion is different to the other Lannisters, she still thinks it’s too risky.

Davos, focused as ever, points out that fire kills the reincarnated Wights. Not only do they need more men, but dragons would be invaluable to fighting the army of the dead.

tyrion and jon
Tyrion meets a young Jon Snow

In King’s Landing, Cersei has gathered the southern lords. In a manipulative speech she tells them that if they don’t fight against Daenerys and her army, the Dothraki will pillage their lands and rape the women. Notably present is Samwell’s father, Randall Tarly, stony faced as ever. He’s the only person who ever defeated Robert Baratheon in battle, and is one of the most respected military commanders in Westeros. He’s sceptical that they could have any success against 3 fully grown dragons – the same number as the first Targaryen who conquered Westeros. Qyburn, having finished his best Dr Frankenstein impression, promises that he has since been working on a solution for taking out the dragons.

qyburn
Qyburn is a disgraced maester who was expelled from the Citadel for his experiments on live patients. This work helped him to heal Jaimie Lannister’s infected stump as well as restore Gregor Clegane to full health.

Seeing that Tarly is unconvinced, Jaime approaches him afterwards.
The problem is, Tarly swore his allegiance to the Tyrells and has known Olenna since their childhood. Jaime appeals again to his sense of nationalism in fighting off the “foreign savages” and also to his ego. If the Lannisters were to come out victorious, Tarly could serve as Warden Of The South.

Whilst it’s not entirely clear whether Tarly has made a decision either way, he’s presented as a coldhearted, villainous character. He’s disowned Samwell and gave him a choice between going to the Wall or dying. It would make storytelling sense for him to side with the Lannisters since Daenerys’ army is (almost) entirely made up of “the good guys”.

randyll tarly
Randyll Tarly

In the Citadel, Samwell Tarly and the archmaester are examining Ser Jorah’s greyscale.
It’s the first time we see the full extent of his affliction, which now covers most of his torso. The archmaester tells him that he should’ve cut off the arm the moment he was touched; it’s spread too far to be treated now, and he has only around 6 months until he loses his mind. Sam mentions to the archmaester something he read about Shireen Baratheon being cured, but as usual his superior is having none of it – he’s read the studies himself, and maintains that Jorah’s condition is too far along.
Normally, people afflicted with greyscale are shipped off to Old Valyria (where Jorah caught the disease from a stone man). As a knight, Jorah gets 24 hours in which to kill himself before he’ll be sent away. Lucky guy!

jorah stoneman
Jorah & Tyrion are attacked by a stoneman – someone whose greyscale has sent them mad

When Sam offers to write a letter to Jorah’s family, he realises that this is the son of his old Lord Commander at The Wall. Before he can finish his next thought, he’s beckoned away by the archmaester.


Not leaving us on too much of a cliffhanger, we’re next escorted to the cellar beneath Cersei’s throne room to find out what Qyburn is being so sneaky about. We’re reintroduced to the skulls of the dragons which Robert Baratheon kept as his trophies.
The crown’s spies have reported that one of Daenerys’ dragons was injured in the fighting pits of Meereen, and that gave the disgraced maester an idea. He unveils his new secret weapon – an enormous crossbow!
Cersei pulls the trigger, firing a spear which pierces deep into the largest skull in the room. She gets some sick satisfaction from this echoing an early scene in which Joffrey killed a prostitute with his own crossbow because he “wanted to try something new… something daring.” Cersei’s situation seems to be pushing her further and further towards the madness that was so abundant in her son.

This is the first time we get a sense that things might not be so easy for Dany. Dragons aren’t invincible so we have to ask some questions to judge how much of a threat this really is.
How many of these artillery weapons do they have?
Are they mobile enough to realistically take aim at a moving target?
Could the dragons burn them to a crisp in one fell swoop?

giant crossbow
Qyburn unveils his new weapon against the dragons

At Dragonstone, Yara is telling Dany that they should hit King’s Landing immediately with everything they have. Tyrion rightly points out that tens of thousands of people will die if they loose the dragons on the city, and that’s not why they’re here.
Ever apathetic about anyone but herself, Ellaria Sand couldn’t care less! “It’s called war!” Tyrion isn’t on good terms with the Dornish woman and calls her out for poisoning his niece Myrcella, an innocent young girl. “There are no innocent Lannisters!” she retorts. There’s massive tension in the room, but Daenerys sees that Ellaria is driven only by hatred and revenge, rather than to make a positive change. She demands respect for Tyrion as Hand of the Queen and forcefully echoes something the dwarf said earlier.

queen of the ashes
Tyrion and Daenerys exchange several glances throughout the scene as she gives her orders, seeming to imply that she’s following a lot of his advice.

Olenna Tyrell, sat at the opposite end of the table, says that people wont obey her unless they fear her. The people loved Margaery but it wasn’t enough. Thanking her for her counsel, Dany tells her categorically that there will be no attack on Kings Landing.
She intends to lay siege to the city, stopping their food supplies from getting through. Since she knows that the Westerosi lords would rally against “foreign invaders”, no Unsullied or Dothraki will take part in the siege. Instead, Yara’s fleet will travel to Dorne and ferry Ellaria and her army back.

Meanwhile the Unsullied will take Casterly Rock, the Lannister home. Aside from being a matter of pride, Casterly Rock is the reason the Lannisters are so rich. It’s a fortress built around gold mines, and with wealth comes power. Not only that, but we know that the Lannisters owe millions to the Iron Bank of Braavos, and if they can’t repay it then it’s just another opponent for Cersei to contend with.
Having gathered the approval of the room, Daenerys asks to speak with Olenna alone.

Olenna is dubious of Dany’s plan to restore peace to Westeros, saying that peace never lasts. The matriarch of house Tyrell has lived through a lot and we’ve seen her political mind and wit take on key players including Varys, Cersei and even Tywin.
She reckons she outlived all the clever men that she’s known because she ignored them and did her own thing. Her advice to Dany is not to be a sheep, but to “be a dragon.”
Although Olenna has long been a quiet hero of our story (don’t forget, she was the one who secretly offed Joff) we ultimately have to remember that she too is here for revenge over anything else since her son and grandchildren, the heirs to Highgarden, were killed in the Great Sept of Baelor that Cersei destroyed with wildfire.

olenna cersei
Cersei tries and fails to utilise a power play that Tywin once used on her

Here’s my issue with her advice:
Firstly, Olenna is alive because she DID listen to a clever person – her own granddaughter. Margaery told Olenna to return to Highgarden instead of staying in Kings Landing. Had she ignored her and stayed, she too would have been blown up in the Sept.
Secondly, the reason there wasn’t peace during the reign of Daenery’s father was BECAUSE HE WAS BEING A DRAGON. Please Dany, keep listening to clever people… Tyrion actually seems to know what he’s doing.


As Greyworm is preparing to go to war, Missandei arrives at his room. She’s hurt by the fact that he wasn’t going to say goodbye to her, but he says that he would have spoken with her when he returned.
We learn that during the Unsullied’s training, the young boys would be forced to confront their greatest fears. Greyworm was always the bravest of all the slave boys, but now he reluctantly explains that he couldn’t bring himself to say goodbye because he feared losing her. It’s a touching moment as the two of them reveal their innermost worries and take their relationship to the next level.
Missandei disrobes but is stopped as she reaches to undress Greyworm. The Unsullied are eunuchs, mutilated as boys by their masters, and he feels ashamed.
But Missandei inspires trust in Greyworm, and eventually he obliges. They share a graphic but genuine and passionate scene.

(No picture for you, use google you pervert!)


We find the archmaester leading Samwell around the Citadel library. He explains that in order for people to read your histories, you need to have both a wealth of research and a strong writing style.
“I’m not writing ‘The chronicles of the wars following the death of King Robert I’ so it can sit on the shelf unread!” he laughs, before seeing Sam’s unimpressed expression.

samwell tarly sam game of thrones season 7
Samwell is less than impressed with the archmaester’s book title

“What would you call it then?” The old man demands.
“I don’t know… possibly something a bit more poetic…?”
Game of Thrones fans across the globe scream, “A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE!” at their TV sets.
“We’re not poets Tarly!” he replies disdainfully.

Sam mentions some research he’s been doing on greyscale, noting that there are actually 2 recorded cases of it being cured. Unfortunately, the archmaester being a know it all points out that the man who once cured it later died from it himself. He forbids Sam to do the procedure on Jorah.

Having seen Sam break into the restricted area (something that would undoubtedly lose him his place in the Citadel) we already know that he doesn’t tend to listen to the archmaester and is willing to take risks…


Jorah is writing a letter to Daenerys explaining his situation and saying goodbye.
Sam lets himself in, pushing a trolley full of medical supplies. He explains that he knew his father Jeor Mormont, and won’t let Jorah die.
He passes the older man a large jug of rum, and makes him drink the lot in order to numb the pain. Reading the study directly from the textbook, he makes Jorah bite down on a piece of wood and tells him not to scream – if they get found out “it’ll be the end of both of us.”
Jorah is reluctant, but will take any chance to reunite with his Queen.

greyscale

Sam has to peel off the entirety of the infected skin before applying a healing ointment. As he digs his scalpel underneath the first scale, thick yellow pus shoots out. The underside is repulsive, stomach -churning infected raw flesh. The writers treat us to a graphic transition from Jorah’s pus filled scales to a crusty pie oozing with cheese sauce. Who would’ve thought they could outdo Sam’s disgusting scene from last week! I won’t inflict the image on you.


As the men behind her chow down on their pie, Arya is sitting at a table when she hears a familiar voice. Hot Pie, her friend from several seasons ago, arrives with food and drink and is surprised to see her. She’s at the Inn At The Crossroads where her friend decided to stay to work in the kitchens. The Inn is a common stop for people travelling between Winterfell and Kings Landing.
It’s clear that her old friend hasn’t changed a bit, while she’s an entirely different person.
Hot Pie does his usual thing and starts rambling on about how to make the best crust to a pie. Arya mentions that she didn’t use the same technique when she baked one.

Frey pie
Arya fed Walder Frey a pie that contained his own sons, a reference to the story the Stark children were told about guest right

Arya continuously avoids Hot Pie’s questions until he tells her that Jon took Winterfell back from the Boltons. Suddenly Arya’s demeanor shifts.
She tells her old friend not to die (uh-oh) and he replies that he won’t, as he’s a survivor like her. (Double uh-oh)
She heads out and mounts her horse, turning back the way she came as the music of Winterfell plays. It’s a big move for Arya, choosing family over her list. Looks like there’s going to be a reunion of all the remaining Starks!


Winterfell’s maester brings Sam’s message about dragonglass to Jon and he calls a meeting of the lords. Tyrion has written to Jon inviting him to Dragonstone and they so desperately need allies and weapons against the White Walkers, so he intends to go. (There goes that reunion…)
Once again, Sansa has something to say about this as she thinks it’s a trap, and the same lords who previously spoke against Jon’s plans now stand again.
Heartbreakingly, the third person to take a stand is Lyanna Mormont – the young girl who up until now has defended Jon’s judgement. They all think that the north needs him and Sansa pleas with him.
“You’re abandoning your people! You’re abandoning your home!”
But Jon believes he’s leaving it in good hands. Sansa’s.
She looks shocked, almost as if she can’t take in what she’s just heard, but then she nods and doesn’t say another word.

sansa then and now
Sansa has come a long way since season 1

As I see it, there’s two ways to look at this scene. Initially I was annoyed with the lords standing against Jon, but the more I think about it the more I see it from their point of view. Not only have the Starks always led the North from Winterfell, but these men are really starting to believe that the White Walkers do exist, and if they do then Jon is the man they need in charge.

Similarly, you might think that Sansa shuts up the moment she hears that she’s going to be in charge because she’s happy she will get to do things her way. It could certainly be the wedge that Littlefinger has been trying to drive between them. On the other hand, Jon’s decision is made, and how would the new leader of the north look to her subjects if she showed any doubt in her own capability? It could be that Sansa is really stepping up.

Still, with both Jon and Davos gone I’m concerned. Despite having the best intentions, Brienne is more of a Ned Stark character – honourable rather than wise – and many of the lords still don’t quite seem to understand how things have to work at the moment.
Sansa is pretty much on her own and Littlefinger is ready to play some more games.

littlefinger sansa
Petyr Baelish (aka Littlefinger) has been manipulating Sansa from the beginning

Jon has made his way into the crypts of Winterfell, where he stands in front of Ned Stark’s memorial. Right on cue, Littlefinger arrives, trying to find favour with the King in the North. He tells Jon that they shouldn’t be enemies, and reminds him that the Knights of the Vale saved them from defeat against Ramsay Bolton.
Littlefinger mentions how he loved Catelyn Stark, and tries to play to Jon’s ego saying that she underestimated him and he’s their best bet at defeating the White Walkers.
But Jon isn’t buying it, and reaches the end of his tether when Littlefinger says that he loves Sansa. Jon slams him against the wall, just as Ned once did.
“Touch my sister and I’ll kill you myself!”

Shortly after this scene in season one, Littlefinger betrayed Ned to Cersei. It could be foreshadowing that something bad is about to happen for Jon, or equally could be to show the differences in how Jon and Ned handle themselves.


Whilst on her way back to Winterfell, Arya has stopped to build a fire and rest for the night. She’s alerted to another presence nearby as her horse is spooked by something. She draws her sword in readiness as a wolf pack suddenly bursts through the trees.
Surrounded by at least 6 wolves, a girl doesn’t stand a chance.
A beast double the size of the other wolves steps forward and Arya wheels around to face it.
“Nymeria…?”

She’d recognise her direwolf anywhere. Her last meeting with her beloved companion was a sad one. After Nymeria savaged Joffrey’s arm to protect Arya, she chased the direwolf away, releasing her back into the wild.

nymeria
A young Arya forces the reluctant direwolf to leave in order to protect her from Joffrey’s revenge

It seems like Nymeria is now leading her own wolf pack. Ecstatic to be reunited, Arya begs the wolf to come with her back to Winterfell, but Nymeria turns tail and leaves, taking the rest of the pack with her.
Initially heartbroken, Arya realises. “That’s not you.” The show’s creators have confirmed that this is a direct reference to something Arya herself said to her father in season 1.

arya gif
We get the impression that it might not be so easy to go back to life the way things were…


Beneath deck in Yara’s fleet, the Sand Snakes are talking about who they want to kill. One of them wants Cersei, another wants the mountain. (Good luck with that, lady!) It’s a reminder of their bravado that we didn’t need.
Meanwhile, Ellaria is discussing fine wines with Yara – the pair obviously have a bit of rapport and flirting turns to something more. Theon is awkwardly providing more wine to the Dornish woman. He’s trying to avoid her advances on him too, but he’s also still a little subservient – not the man he once was.

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Theon used to be an arrogant lothario

Without a moment’s notice something strikes the ship. Scrambling above deck, a flash of lightning illuminates their uncle Euron’s sails approaching. Although on the face of it the episode’s title (Stormborn) refers to Daenerys, may I remind you of one of Euron’s first ever lines.
“I am the storm, brother. The first storm and the last. And you’re in my way.”

A massive boarding ramp slams against the ship’a deck, and Euron leads the charge madly swinging a battleaxe. The youngest of the Dornish girls goes to protect her mother below deck as Yara and Theon battle the attacking hordes.

The two Sandsnakes above deck take Euron on together. He has to abandon his axe in his last victim’s skull as a whip wraps around his neck and drags him away. Using momentum to his advantage he punches the girl square in the face before wrapping the whip around her neck and choking the life from her.
Her sister attacks from the side and strikes a glancing blow, but she’s overpowered. Euron disarms her and skewers her with her own spear, lifting her off the ground triumphantly.

euron sandsnakes

Ellaria and her only remaining daughter can’t hold out for much longer as more and more men swarm them. “Kill us!” Ellaria demands. She’s met with a shaking head as the men take them captive.

Yara is dismayed to see her fleet ablaze but refuses to give in and leaps onto Euron from above. “Give your uncle a kiss!” he wails. Killing three others in the process, Euron overpowers her and grabs her around the neck from behind. He screams at his nephew, “LITTLE THEON!” goading him to come and save his sister.
In that moment everything goes into slow motion for Theon. The man who murdered his father now has a blade to his sister’s throat. He’s watching their fleet burning, seeing soldiers slaughtering the men he was serving with. He’s watching the men being mutilated, their tongues cut from their mouths. It’s all too familiar for him, and all the trauma he went through comes flooding back.

He looks down. His eye twitches. In a moment, Theon is gone and Reek is back.
He’s never been the same since what Ramsay did to him. He drops his sword, and leaps off the side of the boat. Euron cackles maniacally, and Theon watches them sail away amidst the burning fleet.

euron yara
“Come on you cockless coward! I have her, come and get her.”

Now listen. I coped when Ned Stark was beheaded. I took what happened to Jon in my stride. I even got through Shireen’s demise, but watching this scene really hurt. The acting from Alfie Allen (Theon) and Pilou Asbæk (Euron) was incredible. The only solace I can take from it is that Theon probably made the right choice, whether it was calculated or cowardice. There was no way he could’ve overpowered Euron, so he may have just saved his sister’s life as well as his own. Anyway, I really don’t think I can do the scene justice, so you can watch the full 6 and a half minute clip here. I’ll wait for you to come back… just like I’ve been waiting for Gendry for 4 seasons now.

gendry
Gendry is the only known person alive with Baratheon heritage, and was last seen rowing away from Dragonstone after Ser Davos released him from Stannis’ prison cell.

In summary, we have a few things to consider.

1) Euron will deliver his gift to Cersei and they’ll join forces. How will Daenerys take Cersei on if she doesn’t have a fleet and possibly the Dornish army to rely on? Will Dany have to take Olenna’s advice and unleash the dragon, and what might that mean for her as a character? When we consider that Cersei now also has a potential dragon slaying weapon, the tables are really starting to turn!

2) What’s going to happen when Ser Davos finds Melisandre at Dragonstone? After he found out what she did to Shireen, he justified his long-lived mistrust of her and boyyy was he mad!

3) With Greyworm and Missandei having finally had their moment, does that mean bad news for one of them?

4) What kind of state is Arya going to find Winterfell in without Jon running things?

5) Is Sam going to turn out to be our storyteller, in the same way that Frodo finishes writing “There and back again” in The Lord of the Rings? Tell me that what Sam sees in the Citadel doesn’t look incredibly similar to something that appears in the opening credits, I dare you!

6) Where the fuck is Gendry?

I think that’s enough food for thought this week. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section, and I’ll see you after episode 3!

Season 7, Episode 1: Dragonstone

Walder Frey. Most remembered for his role in the so-called Red Wedding – the slaughtering of much of the Stark family under the guise of a wedding feast – he is surely one of the most reprehensible men in the 7 Kingdoms.

He’s gathered the whole of the Frey clan for a feast, and stands in front of them proposing a toast to their bravery. It’s a fine wine, much too fine for him to waste on a woman, he tells his wife, who looks around 15 at most.

Considering that when we last saw Walder he was having his throat cut by Arya Stark you’d be forgiven for thinking that this was a flashback, but as he continues to talk we get the sense that something else is going on here.

walder frey death

“Brave men, all of you. Butchered a woman pregnant with her babe. Cut the throat of a mother of 5. Slaughtered your guests after inviting them into your home.”

catelyn stark death

But they didn’t kill all the Starks.

“Leave one wolf alive and the sheep are never safe.” they are told, as the poisoned wine begins to take effect.
Lady Frey looks on in shock as the dozens of men die before her eyes, and Arya pulls Walder’s face away from her own.

“When people ask what happened here, tell them the North remembers. Tell them winter came for House Frey.”

And opening credits roll! What a badass opening scene!
Arya has exacted her revenge in a way that only she could, and it’s great to finally see some pay off for what is widely considered one of the more boring story arcs in the past couple of seasons.
That said, to me “Winter is coming” has always been a word of warning to prepare not only for the general hardships of the season, but also for the evil that most characters now know is very real. Arya’s statement that Winter came for House Frey draws a concerning parallel between her and the White Walkers, and I worry that she might be losing herself to her new-found skills.

arya as walder.jpg
Arya wipes out House Frey

This scene is reminiscent of something we heard from Bran in series 3, when we are introduced to the tradition of guest right. The idea of guest right is that if someone eats and drinks as a guest under your roof, neither party can harm each other for the duration of their stay. In Bran’s story, a Night’s Watchman who violated guest right was turned into a rat and forced to feed on his own young. When Walder Frey murdered the Starks under his own roof, he thus doomed himself to an all too similar fate.


An icy cloud blows towards us. We’re a long way North judging by the frozen, barren landscape. As the cloud approaches, figures slowly emerge. It’s the Night’s King, followed as always by his reanimated cohorts known as Wights.

This is bad, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before…right? Well no, this is worse than bad.
Remember those giants that we’ve seen with the other wildlings as far back as series 3? Remember how much damage we’ve seen them do, breaching the gates to both Castle Black and Winterfell?
Remember how they have enormous bows and arrows, and ride mammoths into battle?

Well it seems the Night’s King has brought at least 3 of them along for the ride as well, so I’m sure the Night’s Watch will be super pleased about that.

giant wight
Winter is truly here

In Winterfell, Sansa, Jon & his newest advisor Davos are sat at a table hosting a meeting with the Northern Houses who came to their aid to battle Ramsay.

Jon tells them their priority is to find & mine dragonglass, the substance that kills White Walkers. Additionally all men and women aged 10-60 will train daily with spears, pikes, bow & arrow.
Lord Glover (one of the many Lords who turned Jon down when he called his banner-men to fight Ramsay) questions why he should send his granddaughter to fight.

lord glover
Lord Glover refuses to fight against Ramsay Bolton

The dissension in the ranks reminds me of series 1, where Lord Jon Umber (known as Greatjon due to his size) argues with Robb (the King of the North at the time) over who will lead Robb’s army in battle. His anger gets the better of him to the point where he draws a knife on Robb, and it’s only when Robb’s direwolf takes off two of his fingers that the Greatjon stands down and realises that the Stark boy is not to be crossed.

Lord Glover is spared a maiming, but it is put in his place as everyone’s favourite Lady, Lyanna Mormont, steps up and gives him a good talking to. She doesn’t intend to sit knitting by the fire while the men fight.

Boom, girl power.

lyanna mormont 2
“I don’t need your permission to defend the North.”

Jon sends Tormund and the rest of the Wildlings to The Wall, as there’s not nearly enough men to defend it. They’re going to Eastwatch by the sea, (the castle where The Wall meets the ocean) since this is closest to where they last encountered the White Walkers.

tormund nights watch
“Looks like we’re the Night’s Watch now.”

The next 2 castles South of the Wall belong to the Karstarks & the Umbers, two of the largest northern families. The Karstarks abandoned Robb in season 3 after he beheaded their Lord for treason, and after the Greatjon Umber died, his son (inventively named Smalljon Umber) handed the youngest Stark boy over to Ramsay Bolton. Both houses fought for Ramsay in his “Battle of the Bastards” against Jon Snow.
Northern family history is confusing, right?

Sansa thinks that the castles should be handed over to loyal families, saying in no uncertain terms that Jon need to punish treason and reward loyalty.
There’s grunts of agreement from the men around the room, but Jon stands strong and enforces his will. After all, the leaders of the two houses both died in battle, so would it be fair to punish the next in line for the actions of their elders?

He asks the heads of the 2 families to step forward and suddenly the ramifications seem clearer.

ned and alice
Ned Umber and Alys Karstark

A boy, no older than 10 and named Ned after the Stark father, steps forward, followed by a young girl with hair as red as Sansa’s. These are innocent children.

They swear fealty to House Stark, “now and always” and the rest of the men cheer. They’re a fickle bunch aren’t they!
And who is all the while standing silently in the corner watching Sansa repeatedly question Jon’s authority? Who else but Littlefinger. And he’s ready to stir the pot some more.

Littlefinger


Jon & Sansa have a private discussion after the meeting. She says that he ought to listen to her more, but he’s more concerned that she undermined him in front of the men. Both have a point. A raven arrives from King’s Landing. Cersei is demanding that they bend the knee to her, or suffer the consequences.

Sansa, having lived around Cersei and seen how she operates, knows that if you’re her enemy she will find a way to be rid of you. She points out that Ned & Robb both made mistakes and it cost them their lives. “We need to be smarter”.
For the most part she’s right. Apart from a few key characters, Cersei has killed pretty much anyone she wants.
dark wings dark wordsBut Jon points out that the Lannisters are a southern army who have never come this far north, and winter has already come…

The scene shows us they each need to learn from each other, and a degree of unity is needed if they’re going to survive.


In King’s Landing, Jaime finds Cersei examining a map of Westeros that she’s had painted on the floor.
“It’s ours now, we just have to take it.” She says. As a viewer I have to say, she sounds pretty deluded at this stage as she goes on to point out that they are surrounded by enemies.
Jon to the North, the Tyrells in West, Ellaria Sand to the South, and Daenerys preparing to land at Dragonstone to the East.
Word has reached them that Tyrion is advising Daenerys, and Cersei is quick to lay the blame at Jaime’s feet for releasing the dwarf after his harrowing trial by combat. (You remember, the whole skull-crushing incident?)
Of course Tyrion went on to kill their father, so relations between Cersei and Jaime are pretty much at an all time low.

Things seem pretty bleak for the Lannisters, but that’s when Cersei reveals her plan.

jaime cersei map
“You think I’ve listened to father for 40 years and learnt nothing?”

It turns out that Cersei has invited Euron Greyjoy to King’s Landing with the intention of using him and his ships in battle. Euron Greyjoy was a new character is season 6. He’s uncle to Theon Greyjoy and his sister Yara.

Euron murdered the Ironborn leader, so a new one must be elected. Just as the islanders were chanting Yara’s name and were about to proclaim her the new leader, Euron steps up. About 30 seconds later they’ve all changed their minds. (Seriously, SO fickle!)

With Euron not wanting any competition, Theon & Yara were forced to flee. They took as many ships as they could, and allied with Daenerys. With the Dragon Queen promising to support Yara’s claim as leader of the Ironborn, Cersei is Euron’s next best bet to achieve power in Westeros.

It seems that on his way to Kings Landing some of the Ironborn got bored and gave Euron a makeover. Donning a tight leather jacket and smokey eyeliner, he reminds me more of this guy than a King…

But alas, standing at the bottom of the steps to the Iron Throne, he certainly makes a convincing speech.
Both he and Cersei feels they’ve been betrayed by family members who have allied with Daenerys, so the alliance makes sense. And the power of 1000 ships excites Cersei.
Jealous, Jaime tries to belittle Euron, but the Ironborn has the last word when he proposes marriage to Cersei – “here I am with 1000 ships, and 2 good hands.” Ouch.

Still unable to convince Cersei that he’s trustworthy, Euron promises to bring her “a priceless gift” to win her over. Now why does that sound familiar?

i am the gift

In series 5, Jorah Mormont kidnapped Tyrion and presented him to Daenerys to serve as her advisor. Could we see history repeat itself? Or could Euron be intending to capture another of Cersei’s enemies? Olenna Tyrell perhaps, or more likely Ellaria Sand, who poisoned Cersei’s daughter Myrcella.


Leaving King’s landing, we head south-west to the city of Oldtown, and the Citadel – the tower where Samwell Tarly is training to become a maester.

Maesters are the most educated of people and serve as the doctors, historians and scholars of Westeros. Sam is here to try to learn more about how to defeat the White Walkers. He was never much of a fighter anyway…

The first shot pans down, reminding us of the gigantic library that Sam was in awe of when he first arrived.

samwell

But Sam has quickly learnt that this life isn’t as wonderful as he once thought.
Between shadowing the maesters, he also has to do all the menial tasks in the Citadel, and we’re treated to the grossest montage you’ve ever seen. There’s a good 90 seconds of Sam collecting and emptying bed pans from sickly patients, retching, and serving suspicious brown stew at dinner time.

There’s a wonderful nod to the Harry Potter universe in the next scene, as Sam is assisting the archmaester with some of his duties.
Sam asks if he could have access to the restricted section of the library, just like Tom Riddle does in J.K. Rowling’s work. Eagle eyed viewers will also have noticed that the archmaester is played by none other than Jim Broadbent, the very same actor who played Professor Slughorn in the Harry Potter films.

archmaester slughorn

Sam probably won’t end up making horcruxes, but ignoring the archmaester’s rebuttal, one night he steals some keys from a sleeping maester and makes his way through the locked gate to the restricted area, cramming several large tomes into Hermione’s bag of holding a sack before making a hasty getaway.


Back in Winterfell, Brienne is helping an audibly frustrated Podrick practice his swordsmanship. Lessons from Brienne are often learnt the hard way and he takes a hit from her each time he charges. But then we are treated to a rare sight in Westeros. Podrick Payne, a lowly squire, lands a hit on Brienne’s armour as she is distracted by Tormund approaching.

For this great feat Pod is treated to a punch in the gut, and thrown face down in the snow. Hardly a just reward for managing to strike arguably the greatest warrior in Westeros (more on that another time).
The ever charming Tormund remarks that Pod is a lucky man. He’s practically begging for Brienne to slap him around a bit.

brienne tormund
Maybe one day…

As Arya is riding through the forest a familiar voice sings.
“For she was his secret treasure, she was his shame and bliss. And a chain and keep are nothing, compared to a woman’s kiss. For hands of gold are always cold, but a woman’s hands are warm”.

Ed Sheeran’s cameo wasn’t the finest piece of acting and it took me out of the moment a bit, but there’s not really anything else to say about him.
ed sheeran

I’ve been trying to figure out if there’s some deeper meaning to his song.
I’d guess it’s something to do with Jaime and Cersei for obvious reasons, but that’s all I’ve got. If anyone has any more ideas of what it could mean, let me know in the comments.

As the group of Lannister soldiers address Arya, I was initially expecting lechery, as one of them tells her “It’s going to be a cold night”.
As it turns out, there might be some pleasant people left everyone in Westeros. Their offer of food and wine turns out to be genuine, and despite silently noting that none of the soldiers are within reach of their swords, Arya only engages them in conversation.

It echoes Jon’s decision from earlier – why should these young men pay for the crimes of their House? Maybe she hasn’t completely lost herself after all.
Of course, she hasn’t forgotten her list of names, and when they ask where she’s headed, she tells them she’s going to kill the Queen. They laugh.


Speaking of Arya’s list, next we meet the Hound (who formerly featured on the list) travelling with the Brotherhood Without Banners. The two significant members of the Brotherhood are Thoros of Myr (A red priest) and Beric Dondarrion. Remember these guys?

Back in season 3, Beric challenged the Hound to trial by combat after Arya accused him of murder. (He did kill her friend in season 1 after all)
As followers of The Lord of Light, the Brotherhood believed that if he was guilty, the Lord would give Beric the power to beat him in a fight.
Alas, Clegane aced his trial and cut deep through Beric’s shoulder, killing him.
It’s only when Thoros of Myr, empowered by their god, resurrected Beric that we were led to believe the whole group has a part to play in the future of Westeros.

We were reintroduced to the Hound (whose real name is Sandor Clegane) last season where he was trying to live a peaceful life among a religious group. His friend was brutally murdered and when Clegane found the culprits, he discovered that they were disgraced members of the Brotherhood. The Brotherhood promptly hanged the men for their crimes, and Clegane joined them after they convinced him it’s not too late to do some good in the world.

The-Hound-vs-Beric.jpg
The Hound faces Beric Dondarrion in trial by combat

Back to present day, the group come across a cottage and decide to stay the night.
As Thoros lights a fire, Beric notes the blood-soaked remains of a father and daughter in the corner, a knife at their feet. Starving, it seems the father ended it for them both rather than see his child suffer. We realise that this isn’t the first time Clegane has been here.

In series 4, he and Arya met the father and daughter on their farm whilst travelling, and were taken in for food and shelter. The farmer says a prayer to each of the seven gods before they eat. He speaks of the Red Wedding, and guess what? Guest right.

The next morning, Clegane knocks the man to the floor and steals his bag of silver, predicting that they’ll be dead come winter.

the hound steals silver.jpg
“You’re the worst shit in the 7 kingdoms!”

Now though, he feels remorse, and he buries the bodies in the night before attempting to recite the prayer to the seven gods to honour the dead.
“We ask the father to judge us with mercy, we ask the mother to… fuck it, I don’t remember the rest. I’m sorry you’re dead.”
I love the fact that he and Arya have inherited some of each other’s traits.

One of the things we know about Clegane is that as a child, his brother Gregor Clegane (also known as The Mountain) pushed his face into a fire as a punishment for playing with one of his toys. It left him with a disfigurement to his face and a fear of fire, both of which he carries to this day.

Considering this, it’s quite a feat that the Red Priest manages to convince Clegane to look into the flames of the fire he has built. As we know from the Lady Melissandre’s prophesies, this is how servants of the Lord of Light find out his divine will.
Sure enough, despite his cynicism, Clegane sees a vision.

“A wall of ice. The Wall. Where the wall meets the sea. There’s a castle.” This would appear to be in reference to Eastwatch by the Sea where the Wildlings have been sent.
“There’s a mountain, looks like an arrowhead. The dead are marching past. Thousands of them.”

Whilst I can’t say exactly what this is referencing, it doesn’t sound like good news. Considering what we’ve learnt about guest right, expect a big moment, more redemption from Clegane, and then a swift exit from the realm of men. I don’t expect he’ll survive this season.

hound vision
The Hound sees a vision in the flames

Back in Oldtown, we find Sam flicking through his stolen books. He tells Gilly that the Targaryens used Dragonglass to decorate their weapons, without even knowing what it could do. That might be worth knowing…
As he flicks through the pages, keen-eyed viewers will have spotted a familiar dagger. It’s the same dagger that was used by an assassin hired to kill Brandon Stark as he lay in a coma way back in series 1. We’ll talk more about this event and what it meant for the plot of the entire show another time. Right now, the relevance is that the dagger is made of Valyrian Steel, the only substance other than Dragonglass known to kill White Walkers.

Bearing in mind that it’s on the page immediately before a map of Dragonstone, there’s clearly a link between the two that nobody has quite cottoned on to yet, and if the army of the dead is going to be defeated then the living are going to need a whole lot of weapons to fight them with.

catspaw blade.jpg

The book shows a “mountain” of Dragonglass underneath Dragonstone.
Stannis had mentioned this to Sam already back in season 5, but he didn’t think it was important. (You dropped a bollock there mate). He sends a raven to Jon.


Still with Samwell, we see him walking down a long corridor of what look like prison cells, collecting empty food bowls. Coughing and hacking are heard from within, so this looks to be some sort of quarantine for the most contagious of patients treated by the maesters. Suddenly an arm reaches out from one of the cells and tries to grab Sam. He jumps back and a familiar voice asks from the darkness, “has she come yet? The Dragon Queen?”

As we get another look at the protruding arm we see that it’s blackened, and scaled. None other than Lord Friendzone, Ser Jorah Mormont, has come to the Citadel seeking a cure for his Greyscale.
It’s a good job that the health & safety manager in Oldtown runs a tight ship and Sam was wearing gloves…

jorah-greyscale-hand-got
Ser Jorah Mormont’s Greyscale has progressed since we last saw him

Speaking of the Dragon Queen, we cut to her next, landing at her ancestral home of Dragonstone. It’s an epic moment as her three fully grown dragons circle the towers. She’s finally made it, after all this time.

dragonstone

There’s a feeling of power as she reaches down and touches the sand, as if connecting with her Targaryen heritage. Just East of King’s Landing, this is a base from which to plan and mount an attack, much as Stannis did when he rallied here before the battle of Blackwater. Her companions give her space, not saying a word. She pulls down a banner bearing Stannis’ newest sigil, a flaming Stag, and walks up the steps of her family’s Throne room, determined as ever. She pauses by the throne. But she doesn’t sit. She has things to do.

Marching past, she wipes the sand from the abandoned war table where Stannis once planned his attacks.

“Shall we begin?”

Thanks for reading my first blog post! Please let me know what you think in the comments!