OK, so it’s very possible the massive changes to the figurative board were glossed over a bit in last week’s recap. Euron’s capture of Yara and destruction of Dany’s fleet completely fucked over what would have been a pretty effective plan to take Westeros. And that changes things.
And this episode shows just how much Euron was able to accomplish in a single, bloody battle. Plus he now has Ellaria Sand and one of the Sand Snakes — some very enticing gifts for Cersei. He brings, as he puts it, justice for her murdered daughter. Euron also asks Jaime for sexual advice when it comes to Cersei in some pretty graphic terms, which continues this season’s trend of mocking Jaime without him being able to do anything about it.
But let’s take a step back.
The episode begins with Jon showing up at Dragonstone, because when the show doesn’t want to waste time — and this is rare — it doesn’t waste any time. The time it takes to get somewhere has always been a slightly elastic thing for Game of Thrones, but who is going to complain when we begin with what we’ve been waiting to see for so long? It’s also nice to hear two smart characters admit to each other that all of this is pretty bonkers.
Melisandre knows she has to leave, knows she will return and knows she will die in Westeros. So I guess that story has been neatly mapped out for us, but I’m guessing that how this all happens will be surprising in some way ... or maybe it will happen off-camera and we can all get on with our lives.
Daenerys makes Jon a pretty great pitch for joining up, but he doesn’t mince words when it comes to trying to convince everyone in that room that the White Walkers are on the way. We know that the reality of this army is hard for people in Westeros to accept, but it’s easy to forget how strange and unbelievable it must sound to Daenerys and her forces. Snow’s admission that the fight for power means nothing in the face of an army that will destroy humanity is powerful, but it doesn’t get him anywhere. How could it? It sounds mad.
Davos’ impassioned argument in Jon’s favor helps to bring the balance of power in the argument back to Snow, but Daenerys and Tyrion didn’t miss the fact that it sounded like Jon had ... and this can’t be right ... died?
This episode again reminds us how strange everything has to sound to the characters who weren’t there for each twist and turn, and how much our omniscient point of view allows us to understand the bigger picture. Watching characters trying to convince each other of things we know are true is equal parts amusing and frustrating.
Jaime and Cersei are back to being the kind of siblings who need fresh sheets for the bed, but the Iron Bank doesn’t care about what’s going on behind closed doors. It wants its money back, and it wants to be able to bet on whoever is set to become the next ruler of Westeros. Wall Street never changes, it seems.
But at this point Cersei does actually seem to have shit figured out, which is a nice trait in someone who seems so weak strategically on the surface. She’s cornered, and that makes her dangerous, and that makes for some fun television. This season has been oddly light compared to what came before, and the show’s self-awareness borders on camp.
It’s interesting how things change when Jon says he wants the dragonglass, a substance that means nothing to Daenerys but suddenly becomes a lever she can pull to get something (or at least earn some good faith). Her decision to give him the material is smart, and I’m not just saying that as someone who doesn’t want this show to end with the destruction of all of mankind.
In terms of Littlefinger, I’m not saying that anyone on this show meditates, but his advice is basically the opposite of mindfulness. Forget that for a second, though: There’s another Stark in Winterfell! And he’s stuck trying to explain what it means to be the Three-Eyed Raven, yet another example of characters coming together after a long time apart having to give context to events that sound ridiculous from the outside. Bran’s above hugs at this point, and Sansa doesn’t seemed shocked by much anymore. It’s a pleasant meeting.
So Jorah did what Dany asked and found a cure, and Sam’s ability to read a book and “follow the instructions” seems impressive ... and then he’s given scutwork and the ability to continue his studies. It’s not a reward, but it’s not exactly a punishment.
Tyrion’s need to get women to his chambers and his job of designing the sewers of Casterly Rock may be what causes the fall of Casterly Rock, and Tyrion’s narration laid over the fighting was an efficient way to get a lot of information to the viewer without sacrificing the visuals of the battle itself.
But this fight turns out to have been a sort of strategic retreat, and taking Highgarden will help pay back the Iron Bank while striking more fear into the hearts of the enemies of the Lannisters. It’s a nifty bit of misdirection, and brings two more characters together for an interesting conversation. And some choice words for Joffrey’s memory.
“I want her to know it was me,” Olenna tells Jaime before dying, and now Cersei will have the satisfaction of knowing exactly who killed Joffrey. How comforting that will be for her.
Odds and ends
- “Does she miss me terribly?”
- “I’d say you get used to them, but you never really do.”
- I’m glad it sounds like some other characters find Dany’s list of titles a bit tiresome.
- “Not now. We’ll talk later.”
- Do duck eggs crack in a specific way, or are they just more common in Westeros?
- “You look much better brooding than I do.”
- She never did say she believes him, by the way.
- “You must be very wise by now.”
- Cersei does love her poison at this point, doesn’t she? At least Olenna gets a dignified end. She also gets the last word, and holy shit, what a set of last words.