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…
A couple of long-absent characters return this week, proving that not everybody in this show lives a life of terror and angst, and they both relate to Arya, our favorite little murderer. We first catch up with her in a tavern, listening to the gossip about Cersei from some nearby patrons. And then who should turn up but Hot Pie! Arya snarfles one of his pies and some ale while deflecting most of Hot Pie’s questions. But when he lets it slip that Jon took back Winterfell and killed the Boltons, she bolts out of there like her tail is on fire. Apparently, the lure of home is stronger than the lure of killing Cersei, because she turns north.
Later, in the woods, Arya finds herself surrounded by a pack of wolves led by none other than… NYMERIA!!! Yes, the direwolf last seen in season one pops in for a brief appearance. Although Arya begs her to come to Winterfell with her, Nymeria has made her own life and turns away. Arya recognizes that it’s not in Nymeria to be a pet anymore (confirmed by the showrunners in the “Inside the Episode” sequence). But it was so nice to see that she’s okay… and there may or may not have been several happy squeals of “PUPPY!!!!” in our house.
Sam and the Arch Maester are examining Sir Jorah to assess how bad his greyscale is, and it’s pretty bad. The Arch Maester says that he can’t do anything for Jorah, and he gives the knight one more night in the Citadel before he needs to clear out one way or the other. Jorah starts contemplating his sword in a disturbing manner when he’s told that while he may live another ten years, his mind will go in no more than six months. Bummer. But never fear!… Samwell Tarly to the rescue with his research powers. He’s found a book with a treatment for greyscale, but the Arch Maester says that the treatment is too dangerous and has been banned. Sam decides to treat Jorah anyway, probably in memory of Jorah’s father (who, if you remember, was the Lord Commander of the Night Watch when Sam got there). Once again, we get to see poor Sam dealing with bodily nastiness, since he basically has to skin Jorah to get the greyscale off of him, arming Jorah with nothing more than rum, a strip of leather to bite, and several admonitions to try not to scream.
Cersei is spending her time whipping up the southern lords to be afraid of Dany and her terrible heathen army so that they’ll support her. In pursuit of that end, Jaime tries to butter up Randyll Tarly (yes, Sam’s jerk of a father) to throw his lot in with them, and he sweetens the deal by offering to recommend him as the Lord Warden of the South. No word yet on what Tarly’s decided, but I presume we’ll get to that later.
Meanwhile, Qyburn takes Cersei to the cellars where the old dragon skulls are kept, including the skull of Valyrian, the dragon ridden by Aemon the Conquerer. He uses it in a rather, shall we say, pointed demonstration of how he intends to defend King’s Landing against Dany’s dragons: a massive crossbow, possibly on loan from Laketown in Middle Earth, that can fire an arrow through a dragon’s head. (Is Smaug’s skull down there too? Inquiring minds want to know.)
Up at Winterfell, the ravens have been busy delivering messages–Jon’s become a popular guy. In addition to the message from Cersei last episode, he gets one from Tyrion requesting him to come to Dragonstone to meet with Dany (more on that in a bit) and the one that Sam sent him about the dragonglass under Dragonstone. Jon conveys all this info to the Northern lords and says that he thinks he should go meet with Dany. He has several good points: they need the dragonglass to fight the White Walkers; they need more allies, and Dany has both an army and dragons; and he thinks that Tyrion can be trusted. None of the lords agree with him, and even Lyanna scolds him, which I’m surprised didn’t make him spontaneously combust. (Seriously, why has no one thought of arming Lyanna with a bunch of soldiers and dragons? This would be over by now!) But Jon is adamant–he and Sir Davos will go to Dragonstone, and he’s leaving Sansa in charge of the North. Cue a stunned look from Sansa, and cue a conniving one from Littlefinger, who is still creepily hovering in the background.
Before leaving, Jon pays a visit to the family crypt and the grave of the only father he ever knew, Ned Stark. While he’s down there, Littlefinger oozes in to try to sweet-talk Jon. He mentions how he brought Ned’s bones home, and how he admired Ned, and how much Ned loved Catelyn… just like he did, and just like he loves Sansa… and that’s too much for Jon. He slams Littlefinger into the wall–accompanied by cheers from viewers–and warns him to stay away from Sansa.
And now for the main event! Dany wants to make sure that those around her are loyal, and she has some tough questions for Varys, whom she knows supported Robert Baratheon over her father, and also supported her brother instead of her. She’s a wee bit miffed that Varys sent assassins after her and wants to know why she should trust him. Varys gives an impassioned speech declaring that he is loyal to the people of Westeros first, making the very timely point that “incompetence should not be rewarded with blind loyalty”. He promises to tell Dany to her face if she’s screwing up, and she promises to burn him alive if he turns on her. Well alrighty then.
We also get the return of Melisandre, the Red Priestess, who thinks that Dany has a part to play in the coming of Azor Ahai, the Prince That Was Promised… and then Missandei jumps in and points out the flaw in Melisandre’s translation. The High Valryian term she references is genderless, so it could be a prince or a princess. That… changes things a bit.
Dany holds a war council, complete with Yara, Ellaria Sand, and Olenna Tyrell. Most of the ladies are in favor of hitting King’s Landing hard before Cersei can get ready for them, but Dany channels some advice she got from Tyrion and declares that she does not want to be a “queen of ashes”. Her plan is to surround King’s Landing in a siege, and the honor of that little chores goes to the armies of Dorne and House Tyrell. While that’s going on, the Unsullied will take a little side trip to capture Casterly Rock, the Lannister stronghold. Olenna still thinks Dany should take advantage of her strength and counsels her to “be a dragon”.
In one of the most adorable “THANK GOD THEY FINALLY DID IT” scenes ever, Greyworm and Missandei admit their feelings for each other and spend a night together. Thank God, because I almost went hoarse yelling “JUST KISS ALREADY!” at the screen. And now let’s leave them alone for some much deserved snuggle time.
Off goes the fleet to lay siege to King’s Landing. But Yara and Ellaria’s flirting session is interrupted when Euron appears with his own fleet and rams their ship. A major battle ensues in which at least two of the Sand Snakes are killed (goodbye ladies, we hardly knew ye) and the Dornish fleet is butchered. Yara and Euron go mano-a-mano, but apparently psychopaths get an extra boost in this series, because he captures Yara, holding an axe to her throat while he taunts Theon to come and get her. No matter how much I yelled “Don’t give in, Theon!” at the screen, though, it didn’t help. Theon has too many emotional and mental scars courtesy of Ramsey’s tender mercies, and he drops his sword and dives overboard. He sees what may be Ellaria and her last daughter dead on the prow of the boat and the fleet ablaze.
And that’s it for this week! Next time, it looks like we’ll finally get to see a meeting between Jon and Dany, which has been on the horizon for a long time.
As a note, all screencaps in this post are done by me.
Another note: Slightly edited to correct the spelling on Ellaria Sand’s first name.