Varys has a plan to save the world.
His attempts to seduce Tyrion with the idea of a better, more peaceful Westeros counts as one of the few times a character has given a hopeful speech in Game of Thrones, but it works. It's believable, and it's being discussed by two men who are able to help make it happen.
"Westeros needs to be saved from itself," he tells Tyrion, right before Tyrion vomits all over the floor. As beginnings go, this is humble, but the goal of a more peaceful world isn't out of reach. Varys is appealing to Tyrion's own skills and humanity, leaving aside the fact that he no longer has access to the power that comes with the Lannister name.
Would you have re-opened the pits?
This is one of the few times in the show Tyrion is seen in that light, as having intrinsic worth and not just a good name and powerful connections. Tyrion may seem broken right now, but Varys' attention is the sort of flattery that could bring him back from self-destruction.
Varys sees something in Daenerys: a leader who is "stronger than Tommen, but gentler than Stannis. A monarch who can intimidate the high lords and inspire the people." Someone with a powerful army, and the "right family name." All he's asking is for Tyrion to go see Daenerys in action to see "if the world is worth fighting for."
Can you believe this shit? Varys and Tyrion have set the stage for a movement to actually make the world a better place. This is one of the most interesting scenes in the show for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact it points to a better future with characters who seem to be speaking sincerely.
That's a rarity in this world, and Daenerys Targaryen ruling Westeros with Tyrion Lannister and Varys around to help with the more pragmatic aspects of keeping the throne would be a formidable thing indeed.
And Daenerys is not having a good go of things at the moment. Her rule in Mereen seems to be stabilizing, but with Unsullied being murdered in brothels and the seemingly ill-advised decision to keep the fighting pits closed she seems more vulnerable than ever.
Daenerys knows how to intimidate the powerful and gain the love of her people, but that's the first step; once the romance wears off she has a tin ear when it comes to the mechanics and reality of long-term rule. The fighting pits may be barbaric, but even Daario agrees they have a place. The people have their freedom, but they still desire the bread with a side of circus.
I'm actually really curious for your thoughts on this one, so let's discuss it in the comments: Would you have re-opened the pits?
Even more distressing is the fact that the Mother of Dragons has always relied on the dragons themselves as a sort of mandate, but they've grown completely out of her control. Drogon is missing completely. This is going to have to be remedied in some way, but Daenerys doesn't seem to have many strategies for this aspect of things yet.
Meanwhile, back at the wall...
Stannis' plan is much like Stannis himself: Solid, unsurprising and workable, but nothing more. The idea of taking Winterfell back from the Boltons using an army of Wildlings who would have then earned their own "freedom" in Westeros makes plenty of sense, but it's the sort of mutually beneficial arrangement that will of course be unpalatable for anyone with convictions.
Mance Rayder would never have agreed, and Jon Snow's arrow that ends the episode sends a message that will likely take a significant amount of time to figure out. It's a nod to the necessity of Rayder's death while condemning the brutality of how it's been laid out. It's not a wise move if you want the men to stop whispering about your love of the Wildlings, but it's likely more than a few people who witnessed the execution grew in their respect for Snow and his brand of leadership.
The Game of Thrones we knew from the earlier seasons is dead, this feels like the beginning of a more subtle, more interesting arc for the remaining characters. It's strange to say, but in some ways things are looking up. That can't last, can it? The episode's title references future battles, and of course Daenerys isn't the only character that fits Varys' profile.
This and that:
- Poor Lord Arryn. On the other hand, it would kind of be amazing if he re-entered the series in a year or two as an able knight, complete with a powerful name. I'm not holding my breath, though.
- There is something heartbreaking about the Unsullied going into brothels to be held and sung to sleep. It's unknown if that's what they all want, but some version of emotional closeness seems to be the theme, enough that Grey Worm is uncomfortable talking about it.
- The Sparrows are already very unsettling.