The table was set with last week’s episode. Now it’s time to eat.
Tyrion doesn’t waste any time before explaining the board to Daenerys, and by extension the viewer. These are the stakes: Cersei doesn’t have the numbers or the emotional support of the people, but Tyrion points out that burning Westeros before ruling it wouldn’t be a winning strategy.
We hear this sort of thing, and it’s hinted at from time to time, but we rarely see the actual damage these battles inflict on the civilians of Westeros. The Hound facing the results of his actions in the season premiere is one of the few times we actually see the fate of the common folk. They pay a different iron price.
Also, hold on, Melisandre is offering counsel to Daenerys? OK. Telling Dany to “summon Jon Snow” is good advice. Shit is heating up, especially when Dany states she expects Jon to bend the knee and honor her right to rule. We’ll see how that goes, but the King in the North sees the wisdom of linking up with a power that includes dragons that breathe fire. There is an army of very cold soldiers on the way, after all. But the show is already hinting that Cersei has a strategy in place to deal with the dragons ... even if it’s just a very large crossbow. This episode is doing a lot of heavy lifting very early.
Jorah is given no hope in terms of a cure for greyscale, and he’s basically told to feed himself a sword before he loses his mind. That’s pleasant.
Olenna Tyrell’s interest in Tyrion’s plan to take both King’s Landing and Casterly Rock is a great character beat, as is Yara’s instant support. Daenerys is already borrowing Tyrion’s words to help her rule, but you gotta admit that this all seems like pretty sound strategy. Daenerys’ main advantage isn’t her dragons right now; it’s getting some of the best advice possible from the smartest people available.
Sam’s preparation for however he’s going to cure Jorah — which includes drinking a lot of rum to dull the pain and biting down hard on a bit of leather to stop the screaming — may have seemed scarier than the procedure itself ... but then we see the procedure. Which leads us into what may be the show’s cruelest smash cut to date with that bite of pie.
Meanwhile, Arya learning the fate of the Boltons, and the fact that Jon Snow is now King in the North, certainly gives her more purpose (as if she needed it at this point). The question is how it’s going to impact the bloody path she’s cutting across this world.
Jon Snow laying out what’s going on with dragonglass (via Sam) and Daenerys (via Tyrion) sounds like he’s announcing the lineup of a really, really good music festival. Every name and bit of news provokes a reaction from the men, and yet another argument from Sansa. Jon’s decision to accept the invitation to meet with Daenerys — and give Sansa control of the North while he’s gone — is more evidence that he’s a good leader, which is better than the show just having characters repeat to us that he’s a good leader. Littlefinger getting a rise out of Jon, just because Jon leaves him alone with Sansa, gives Littlefinger more information than pause. He knows a button to push now, and he’s very good at keeping those kinds of buttons at the ready.
But let’s all pause a moment to give thanks for Nymeria’s return, because oh my seven gods, the tears. That is one big puppy that is both still alive and still in play after that scene.
Maybe this show has spoiled us by often saving its budget for battles with high stakes, but it didn’t feel like the naval battle of the Greyjoys had much impact. We know these ships are important, and Theon noping out of the situation isn’t his finest moment, but it all felt a bit flat.
“Stormborn” spent so much time explaining what was important to whom that this loss felt bloodless, concerning B-level characters who didn’t earn the attempted gravity of that final scene. Euron’s craziness and skill in battle has now been definitively shown, but that was already handled well just by context.
But I guess we know Cersei’s present now?
Odds and ends
- “You’re not here to be queen of the ashes.”
- “And I am an excellent judge of character.”
- Let’s talk about Cersei’s makeup in this episode. Because ... she has sported some more flattering looks in her time.
- “Your mind? Six months. Maybe fewer.”
- “You are my weakness.”
- “You’ve been making pies?” “One or two,” Arya replies. Arya remains the best.
- That sex scene was tender and sad and kind of lovely and I expect we’re going to read more about it soon.
- Hot Pie: Survivor