Welcome to our weekly recap of Game of Thrones, the show that makes you scream obscenities at your television. We’re well beyond the books and no one knows what’s going to happen, although as you might imagine, there are as many theories as there are characters in the series—and that’s not a small number. This season promises to be epic—winter has come, the dragon queen has returned home, and the stage seems set for one last, monumental war…
This was a weird episode, but in a very good way. Characters who haven’t been in the same place in quite a long time are suddenly meeting up and interacting. We even got the reappearance of a long-vanished character whom many had cause to wonder when we would see again. I’m so used to these people being scattered to the four corners of Westeros that seeing them together was strange. But like I said, in a good way.
In the aftermath of the loot train battle, the defeated Lannister soldiers are brought before Dany and Drogon and given a choice: bend the knee or die. Randall and Dickon Tarly refuse, and against Tyrion’s frantic counsel, Dany has Drogon burn them alive. The rest of the soldiers, naturally, decide not to share that fate. While this is going on, Bronn and Jaime pop out of the lake like beached fish, and Jaime realizes that he has to get to Cersei with the news of what happened.
And that talk goes about as well as you’d expect. Jaime is all for trying to talk with Dany, but Cersei rejects that idea flat out. She sarcastically says that maybe Tyrion will intercede for them and atone for killing their father and Joffrey. This is the opening Jaime needs to tell Cersei that Olenna was Joffrey’s killer. At first, Cersei doesn’t believe him, but when Jaime points out that Olenna would have wanted Margery married to Tommen, who was easier to control, she finally believes him.
Back at Dragonstone, Jon sees Dany and Drogon returning, and to his (probably) pants-wetting consternation, Drogon lands in front of him and approaches him. Jon takes off a glove and reaches out to touch the dragon on the muzzle (shades of Toothless and Hiccup), which it seems to not only accept, but like. Dany seems surprised at this, as her dragons don’t usually like anybody but her. (Jon’s Targaryen blood showing through? Scott and I were joking that Drogon was thinking “He smells like Mom!”) The two are interrupted by the return of Jorah, back to serve his queen. I squeed a little when Dany hugged him.
In Winterfell, Bran is using ravens to spy on the Night King’s army, and what he sees causes him to tell Maester Wolkan to send ravens out with the news. The Maesters in the Citadel get the message, but as usual, debate what to do about it and whether to believe it. Most of them are of the opinion that it’s more likely from Dany, trying to lure the Southern armies to the North. Samwell, bringing scrolls and books into the room, breaks in to tell them–AGAIN–that the army of the dead is real. He begs the Maesters to endorse the news, because people trust them and will listen to them. All the Arch Maester can promise, though, is to send a raven to Winterfell to confirm the message. As Samwell leaves, we learn that he doesn’t even know yet that he’s the last of his House. Tired of, as he says, “reading about the achievements of better men”, he leaves the Citadel for good. Good on you for wanting to take some action, Samwell.
At Dragonstone, Tyrion and Varys are sharing a drink. And when Varys drinks, you know shit is going down. They’re worried about Dany’s decision to burn the Tarlys, and Varys tells Tyrion to find a way to convince her to take a different tack. He remembers standing by when the Mad King burned people, telling himself that he only provided the information that led to that moment. The showrunners point out in the behind the scenes video that Dany has felt constrained by the advice to take the high road when Cersei isn’t and is therefore winning. I wonder if Tyrion and Varys have taken into consideration that, in this world, it’s harder for a woman to hold power, and therefore, they can’t back down once they say they’re going to do something. Dany gave the soldiers a choice, and the Tarlys chose to stand on their honor instead of saving their lives. And as the showrunners say, while Dany thinks one thing of her actions, and Tyrion and Varys think something else, it’s up to viewers to decide on her motives for themselves.
But anyway, back to the story. In the map room, Dany and her allies debate what to do next, in the middle of which Jon finds out for the first time that Arya and Bran are alive. So, a bit of a shock for him. But he realizes that he has to go home and fight the Night King. Dany won’t lend him men, because if she leaves, Cersei will take the country. Tyrion, however, comes up with a genius idea: prove to Cersei that the army of the dead is real by bringing a wight to her. That means setting up a meeting between the queens, though, and figuring out how to do that is tricky, to say the least. Tyrion again comes to the rescue on this, offering to go to King’s Landing and talk to Jaime, who will likely listen to him, and Davos will sneak him in.
Upon arriving at King’s Landing, Bronn somehow gets in on this little surprise reunion and lures Jaime to the lower levels where the dragon skulls are so that the brothers can talk. Jaime isn’t inclined to listen at first, not even when Tyrion pleads with him to understand that he only killed their father because he was going to have Tyrion killed, knowing his innocence. But finally, Jaime does listen, and Tyrion tells him that Dany wants to meet about something more important than who’s going to be the eventual ruler.
Davos, meanwhile, has gone into Fleabottom to find someone–Gendry! When Davos finds him, he says what we’re all thinking: “I thought you might still be rowing.” I see what you did there, Game of Thrones. Davos came to get Gendry and take him along, which he eagerly agrees to. Instead of a sword, though, he brings along one of the most badass hammers I’ve ever seen. And pretty soon, we get to see him use it as a pair of King’s Landing soldiers come down to investigate the boat Davos and Tyrion left and nearly run right into the aforementioned dwarf. When the soldiers can’t be deterred from asking questions, Gendry knocks their heads in. Yeah, the boy can take care of himself.
Jaime brings Tyrion’s proposal to Cersei, only to find out that she already knew Tyrion was coming. She allowed the meeting to happen because she thinks a meeting with Dany might be in her best interest at present. She also has news of a more… interesting kind for Jaime. Cersei is pregnant. As she embraces Jaime, she whispers “Don’t ever betray me again.”
Once again at Dragonstone, Davos takes Gendry to meet Jon and advises that he keep his identity a secret. Gendry immediately ignores that advice and introduces himself to Jon and points out that their fathers were good friends and comrades in arms. The two seem to take to each other right away, and Gendry offers to go North with them. Jorah again takes leave of his queen, kissing her hand, and I admit that I squeed a bit here too. Of course, there’s also some chemistry between Jon and Dany–she says that she’s gotten used to having him around–so who knows how this will play out. The small group heads out to sea to return to the Wall.
Up in Winterfell, Sansa is starting to realize that her sister has turned into a scary person. Arya thinks that the Northern lords who were insulting Jon should have been beheaded, but Sansa tells her that Jon needs their support–and their men–to defend the North. Arya is suspicious of Sansa’s motives, and along with that, suspicious of Littlefinger. She follows him around, seeing him maybe bribing a woman, talking to the Northern lords, and receiving a raven message from the Winterfell archives that Littlefinger seems very pleased to have in hand. Arya breaks into his room and finds it hidden in a slit in the mattress. After pausing the video and squinting a bit, you can see that it says the following (brackets where I either guessed what it says or don’t know): “[King] Robert is dead, killed from wounds he took in a boar hunt. Father […] Joffrey and tried to steal his throne. The Lannisters […] to King’s Landing and swear fealty to Kingn Joffrey and […] Your faithful sister, Sansa”. Arya, shocked, pockets the note and leaves the room, not noticing Littlefinger watching her.
The showrunners explain that Littlefinger’s goal is to drive a wedge between Sansa and Arya. If Sansa continues to suspect that Arya is a psychopathic little monster, she’ll turn to Littlefinger for advice and support, which is what he wants. Since Arya is used to being the smart one in the room, she underestimates Littlefinger, who is more clever than any of us are comfortable with.
And finally, Eastwatch. Apparently Thoros, Beric, and the Hound were caught and brought to Eastwatch and are now hanging out in the cells. They want to go north of the wall as well, so they join the intrepid band heading out the gate. It’s worth noting that most of the people in this bunch don’t like some of the others: Tormund doesn’t like Jorah because his father hunted wildlings, and Jorah feels the same about him. Gendry doesn’t like the Brotherhood guys for trying to kill him. And so on. But they all come together (at least for now), marching out the gate and into the blizzard beyond.
Now, there’s one little piece of info that I haven’t mentioned yet, but that astute watchers no doubt picked up on. Gilly is reading from an old Maester’s book and annoying Samwell by constantly interrupting him with trivial facts. He misses one that isn’t trivial, though–the fact that Rhaegar Targaryen got an annulment from his wife and was legally married to someone else in Dorne. This means that Jon isn’t a bastard–he’s the legitimate son of Rhaegar and therefore has a legal claim to the throne. Well, well, well…
And that’s it for this week. Looks like next week will bring the army of the dead into contact with Jon and company, perhaps even making it to the Wall at last. I leave you with this screencap, courtesy of Scott: