Game of Thrones Episode Seven: “The Dragon and the Wolf”

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…

I know up above I said that this show makes you curse at the screen, but tonight, at least in parts, I was screaming with excitement.  Lots of things have finally come together, some things are unraveling, and dear God, I’m not sure I can recap this in any coherent fashion.  I’ve been involved with this story since the first book came out, and here we are seeing the culmination of so many storylines.  Help…

Okay, here we go.  The big climate summit at King’s Landing goes off on schedule, with Dany making a dramatic entrance on Drogo.  Once again, just like with the Traveling Therapy Group last episode, there are characters meeting up and chatting–Tyrion and Podrick, Tyrion and Bronn, Brienne and Jaime, and even the Hound and the Mountain do the sibling glare for a couple of minutes.  But nothing tops this tension-filled discussion of the Great War.  Tyrion tries to start everybody out politely, only to be immediately interrupted by Euron, threatening to kill Yara if Theon doesn’t bugger off.  A semblance of order is eventually restored, and the Hound brings in a crate full of WTF.  He kicks it over and the wight goes straight for Cersei, who actually displays a facial expression as the Hound pulls the wight up just short of her face.  Jon demonstrates how to kill the thing with fire and dragonglass, and Qyburn looks like he can think of no better pastime than dissecting one of these freaky things.  Euron does what he wanted Theon to do and buggers off to the Iron Islands, reasoning that if wights can’t swim, he’ll just wait things out.

However, even though Cersei now believes in the wights, she has no intention of helping unless Jon agrees to be neutral.  He could lie at this point, but instead he tells the truth: he’s pledged to Dany.  Cersei flounces off in a huff, with Brienne catching Jaime and begging him to talk to her.  But that’s not the important conversation that we’re about to see.  That honor goes to Tyrion realizing that his only option is to go and talk to Cersei himself.  He walks into the lioness’s den, and the conversation initially goes about as well as you’d think.  Cersei nearly orders the Mountain to kill Tyrion, but can’t bring herself to kill a family member–the thing she is most angry at Tyrion for.  She’s more concerned with saving her family than anything else, and Tyrion clues in to the fact that she’s pregnant.

Back in the dragonpit, Dany and Jon are having a chat about Jon’s inability to lie, when Tyrion comes back, followed by Cersei.  She pledges to send her armies to help fight the army of the dead, and everybody begins to think that maybe the world isn’t screwed after all.  But wait… Jaime finds that Cersei was lying all along.  Euron didn’t abandon them–he’s off to Essos to bring back the Golden Company (including elephants!) and Cersei has no intention of committing her armies to a losing battle.  Jaime’s attempts to reason with her come to nothing, but almost get him killed by the Mountain too.  But in the end, he leaves Cersei behind, leaving King’s Landing as snow begins to fall.  Winter has come to the South.

Back at Dragonstone, plans are moving on apace to get their armies moving North, and Jon and Dany decide to sail North together, to show everyone that they’re united.  Theon, who’s had little to do this season but get his ass kicked, has a heart to heart with Jon, who forgives him for what he can.  Theon races off to save his sister, but runs up against the contempt of the Iron Islands sailors.  He and the leader have a seemingly one-sided fight, with Theon getting his ass handed to him, until the other guy tries to knee him in the balls… and nothing happens.  Theon actually smiles at this, and turns the ass-kicking back on his opponent.  Off they go to save Yara.

Back up at Winterfell, Littlefinger is continuing his quest to drive a wedge between Sansa and Arya.  He tells Sansa about a little game he plays, in which he thinks of the worst reason for someone to do and say what they do, and then see how well their actions and words fit that reason.  Sansa realizes that the worst thing that Arya might want to do is kill her and become Lady of Winterfell.  So now what does Sansa do?  After a lot of thought, she calls Arya to the Great Hall.  Arya faces Sansa calmly, asking her if she really wants to go through with what’s coming, and Sansa does.  She pronounces charges of murder and treason, and then asks “How do you plead… Lord Baelish?”  And I have never screamed so loud at a TV show in my life.  Littlefinger tries desperately to weasel his way out of what’s coming, even dropping to his knees to beg, but all for nothing.  Apparently the Stark siblings have been gathering evidence with Bran’s neat new abilities, and they know all of his secrets, all of the ways he turned the Starks against each other.  Sansa pronounces him guilty, and Arya slits his throat with Catspaw–his own dagger.  He collapses and dies as the siblings watch silently.

Later, Samwell arrives at Winterfell and goes to see Bran.  The conversation that ensues is the biggest bombshell of this series.  Bran knows that Jon wasn’t Ned’s bastard, but instead he’s Lyanna Stark’s son.  But it’s Samwell who provides the crucial piece of information–proving that was listening to Gilly after all!–that Rhaegar and Lyanna were married.  Bran immediately wargs off to check this intel, and sure enough, we see the pair getting married.  And we finally, finally, get Jon Snow’s real name: Aegon Targaryen, the rightfully born ruler of the Iron Throne.  Robert’s Rebellion was founded on a lie.  None of these terrible events need to have happened.

Meanwhile, on a boat, Jon goes to Dany’s cabin and the next thing we know, the two are having a passionate love scene.  Interspersed with this is the aforementioned revelation of Jon’s parentage, which we viewers all know means that Jon is screwing his aunt.  We’re not sure how to feel about this, but we’re still kind of rooting for these two crazy kids.

But none of this may matter in the end, because at Eastwatch, the army of the dead has finally arrived.  The Night King swoops in on Viserion, and the dragon breathes what looks to be cold fire.  The Wall, which has stood for eight thousand years, crumbles.  The army of the dead enters Westeros.

And that’s our season!  At this point, all I can think is that the showrunners better not make us wait two years to finish the story, or all the fans may riot.  But at least this season has been immensely satisfying, bringing many characters together and resolving some long-standing questions.  I’m looking forward to what comes next.  Thanks for reading!



Game of Thrones Episode Five: “Eastwatch”

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:

Game of Thrones Episode Three: “The Queen’s Justice”

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…

Although there were no hugely epic battles scenes this episode, that doesn’t mean the action wasn’t tense.  The showrunners dispensed with the big budget sword-fests for the most part and concentrated on moving pieces around on the big game board of Westeros… and on removing a piece or two altogether.

Let’s start with the night’s big meeting: Fire and Ice!  Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen come to face to face, and a more tense encounter you can’t imagine.  Dany wants Jon to bend the knee to her, citing their houses longstanding alliance in centuries past.  Jon feels that her father’s burning of some of his family merits a mention, and Dany feels that she’s still the rightful heir and that Jon is in open rebellion.  Whatever, says Jon, we have a bigger problem.  Dany is predictably skeptical about the White Walkers and the army of the dead, even though Tyrion indicates that he thinks Jon should be trusted.  While Jon and Davos aren’t prisoners–yet–they’re definitely not getting what they want at this point.

While all this is going on, Melisande prepares to leave Westeros.  Varys tells her that she won’t be welcome back, but the Red Priestess tells him that she’ll be back one more time.  She’s fated to die in Westeros, as is Varys.  She leaves Varys looking somewhat concerned.

Later, Tyrion goes to the cliffs to brood, and he finds himself out-brooded by Jon, who’s already there.  (And in a great bit of dialogue, Tyrion acknowledges Jon’s superior brooding skills.)  Tyrion points out the reasons that Dany isn’t likely to ally with Jon, but he asks for Jon to give him something that it’s reasonable to ask.  Thus, dragonglass.  Dany is still skeptical, but a private conversation with Jon convinces her to let him mine the dragonglass for weapons to kill the White Walkers.  Well, that’s some progress, at least.

At Winterfell, Sansa is settling into the routine of ruling the North, directing everything from the making of armor to the storing of grain.  Littlefinger is oozing along beside her as always, but he does give her some good advice: live as if everyone is your friend and everyone is your enemy.  Basically, he tells her to learn to anticipate everything by wargaming it out in advance; that way, nothing will surprise her.  This pep talk is interrupted by a visitor–it’s Bran!  (Admittedly, I was hoping for Arya, but Bran is good too.)  The two siblings go to the Godswood for a chat, and Bran tries to explain his role as the Three-Eyed Raven.  Sansa doesn’t quite get it until Bran reveals that he saw Sansa’s wedding to Ramsey by using his powers… and by inference, he saw what came after too.  Sansa does not react well.

In Oldtown, Jorah’s greyscale is cured!  He’s off to find Dany, and Sam faces the Arch Maester about his disobeying the order to not treat Jorah.  Although the Arch Maester isn’t pleased, he acknowledges that Sam did something that many full Maesters couldn’t have done.  His reward?  Not getting kicked out of the Citadel.  Also, he’s now on scroll copying duty.  Hey, Sam, at least it’s not bedpans anymore.

In King’s Landing, Euron sashays in with Yara, Ellaria, and Tyene in tow.  Riding his horse right into the throne room, he presents the Dornish ladies to Cersei as his gift to her.  Cersei promises him the reward he wants, but only after the war is won.  Euron’s a little disappointed, but he takes his place next to Jamie and begins quizzing him on how to please Cersei in bed.  Jamie’s expression during this conversation is priceless.

In the dungeon, Ellaria and Tyene are chained in the same cell, just out of reach of each other.  Cersei gives an awesome villain monologue in which she details all the things she thought about doing to them, reminiscing about the sound of Ellaria’s lover Oberyn’s skull cracking with the Mountain crushed it and lamenting the death of her own daughter Myrcella.  Cersei turns to Tyene and kisses her, and it’s obvious she’s just delivered the same poison that killed Myrcella.  Ellaria’s punishment?… to watch as her only remaining daughter dies in agony, and then rots away.  Cersei promises to keep Ellaria alive for a very long time to witness this.  Damn, girl.  She goes from there to Jamie and, well, let’s just say that Jamie better hope she got all of that poison off of her lips.  And in the background, George Takei says “Ohhh myyyyyyyyyy…”

A bit later, Cersei meets with a representative of the Iron Bank of Braavos.  The Lannisters owe them a lot of money, but Cersei reminds the gentleman that Lannisters always pay their debts, unlike former slaves and Unsullied.  By painting Dany as a bad deal, she gets the Iron Bank guy on her side, and then she promises to pay the debt in full in two weeks.

The armies have begun to move–the Unsullied are sailing for Casterly Rock.  Tyrion narrates a scenario in which the troops storm the walls with disastrous results, but then reveals that he knows a weakness in the Rock: a back way in that he himself engineered when he designed the sewer system at his father’s behest.  Have we ever heard about any of this before?  If not, I call deus ex machina.  But it turns out not to make a difference to the plot, as Grey Worm and his men roll over the Lannister forces and realize that they won way too easily.  Only then do they notice that the Greyjoy fleet has shown up and is in the process of destroying their ships.  You can see Grey Worm thinking “Hey, wait, aren’t they on our side?”

The rest of the Lannister army has opted not to defend Casterly Rock, but to instead march on Highgarden, seat of the Tyrells.  One unseen (and presumably one-sided) battle later, Jamie goes in search of Olenna.  A nice touch in this scene is that if you listen carefully, you’ll hear “The Rains of Castamere” playing in the background music.  Jamie and Olenna have their final face-off alone in a high tower room, where the Queen of Thorns has been waiting for him.  Jamie confirms that he’s come to kill her and that he talked Cersei out of some deaths that were… inventive, to say the least.  Olenna frankly tells Jamie that she regrets supporting Cersei, calling her a disease, and predicts that Jamie will have the same regrets one day.  Jamie pours poison into a goblet of wine for Olenna to drink, promising that it will be painless.  Olenna doesn’t even hesitate before slamming it back.  And then, the Queen of Thorns produces one last barb for Jamie–she confesses to killing Joffrey.  Her final words are “Tell Cersei.  I want her to know it was me.”

So, here’s how things stand: in the North are the Wildlings manning the Wall and the Knights of the Vale at Winterfell.  The seas are almost totally taken by Euron Greyjoy’s fleet.  The Unsullied, deprived of their ships, are stuck at Casterly Rock.  The Lannister army is in the West at Highgarden.  Dany is in the East with her dragons and not much else.  And of course, the White Walkers are approaching the Wall.  Bran’s crossing the Wall may not matter–the Hound’s vision of the army of the dead near the sea is ominous when you consider that the opening credits are now showing the ocean as completely frozen over.  Will they just walk around the Wall?  Tune in next week to see what happens next!

Game of Thrones Episode Two: “Stormborn”

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. 

Game of Thrones Episode One: “Dragonstone”

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…

Before the episode starts, we get a beefy “Previously On” segment that reminds us of where everybody is: Cersei on the Iron Throne, Daenerys is on her way to Westeros with a metric shit-ton of ships, Euron Greyjoy has crazy-ed his way to the Salt Throne, and Walder Frey got his throat slit by Arya.

… and then the show opens with Walder giving a speech at a banquet.  What is this, a flashback?  But it only took a few seconds for me to realize what was really going on: Arya had not only killed Walder, but she had peeled his face off and is now wearing it like the world’s creepiest Halloween mask.  I admit without shame that I was cackling with glee when she ordered that wine be served to all of the “most important family members” so that they could drink a toast.  Before you know it, the entire Frey household (but not the women) were puking blood and Arya is ripping off Walder’s face and declaring “Tell them that the North remembers.  Tell them that winter came for House Frey” before striding out like some tiny goddess of death.

And… roll opening credits.  Jesus, what a way to open season 7!  And it raises a question: can we trust anything we see from this point on?  Arya is now prowling around Westeros playing a really messed-up game of hide and seek and could be anybody.  I’m not sure my heart can handle this.  But now that this is out of the way, let’s check in with the rest of the cast.

Continuing with Arya, we see her later riding alone through the forest and she comes across a group of King’s Landing soldiers, including singer Ed Sheeran in a cameo role.  It’s a sad testament to what this show has done to me that I immediately began yelling at the TV screen, telling Arya to keep riding before the soldiers robbed her or raped her or something equally awful.  Surprisingly, none of the above happens!  The men share food and wine with Arya, chatting about their families and generally being nice people.  Well, that’s a change from the usual—this scene humanizes the soldiers, both for us and for Arya.  When they ask Arya why she’s going to King’s Landing, she tells them point blank that she’s going to kill the queen, and they think she’s joking and laugh.

As an aside, why in the world is Ed Sheeran getting so much hate for his cameo?  I honestly don’t get it.  Granted, I recognized him, and that voice is hard to mistake when he’s singing, but really?… there’s no need for the uproar.  The poor guy has deleted his Twitter account after all the nastiness of the past few days.

But he’s going to have to take care of himself, because now we’re going to jump to the Hound and his group.  He’s still palling around with Thoros and Beric Dondarrion, and we find them seeking shelter from a snowstorm in a convenient farmhouse.  It’s even more convenient because, if you paid attention during the “previously on” segment, you were reminded that the Hound robbed the farmer and his young daughter when he was last through.  Alas, the pair apparently were starving to death and the father killed the both of them with a knife.  The Hound, experiencing the unusual sensation of guilt, demands to know why Dondarrion keeps getting resurrected by the Lord of Light when this family is dead.  What’s so special about him?  Dondarrion doesn’t know, but Thoros attempts to explain things by having the Hound look into the flames.  Yeah, ask the man with a fear of fire to put his face close to a blaze.  He does, and he sees a vision of the army of the dead passing the Wall.  Not ominous in the least.

Up at the Wall, Jon and Sansa are having a wee disagreement about how to handle the treason of houses Umber and Karstark.  Sansa wants their estates given to loyal families, but Jon (unsurprisingly) won’t punish the children for their fathers’ sins.  The young heirs pledge to House Stark without a fuss.  Oh, and Lyanna Mormont throws shade at everyone and promises to train every man, woman, boy, and girl on Bear Island to fight.  No knitting by the fire for her!  Seriously, though, can we just give her some dragons and turn her loose on Westeros?  She’d have things cleaned up in no time.

Jon and Sansa later argue a bit about the incident: Jon thinks Sansa is undermining him, and Sansa just wants to be listened to.  When Jon gets a raven message from Cersei demanding he come to King’s Landing and bend the knee to her, Sansa points out that while Jon has military experience, she knows Cersei and what she’s capable of.  Sharp-eyed viewers noticed that Sansa’s hairstyle is mimicking one of Cersei’s early in the series, so again, not ominous at all.

Along with her hair, Sansa is rocking the snark factor.  When she’s approached by Littlefinger, who oozes up to her asking what would make her happy, she shuts him down and finishes with “No need to seize the last word, Lord Baelish.  I’ll assume it was something clever.”  Damn, girl.  Unfortunately, she needs Littlefinger because she and Jon need the Knights of the Vale, so she can’t toss him out on his ear.

Even further north, Bran and Meera arrive at the Wall, where they’re met by Dolorous Ed.  Once Bran demonstrates his creepy three-eyed raven powers and reminds Ed about being at Hardhome and seeing the White Walkers, Ed lets them in.  Theories abound that since Bran was touched by the Night’s King, if he crosses the Wall, it’s protections will fall and the army of the dead can come through.  Given the Hound’s vision, this isn’t at all ominous.

Over in Oldtown, Samwell has his heart’s desire: a spot in the Citadel of the Maesters!  Too bad they’ve got him on bedpan and bookshelving detail.  Viewers are treated to a montage in which shit and stew are almost indistinguishable, and we gag right along with poor Sam.  Over a stimulating round of autopsy, Sam asks the High Maester (played by Jim Broadbent) whether he believes his stories of the White Walkers.  The High Maester does, but he takes the same view that many people take with climate change—nothing bad has ever happened before, so why should it happen now?  In this case, since the Wall has always protected Westeros, it always will.

Thankfully, Sam has a Harry Potter moment and manages to sneak into the restricted section of the library and makes off with some books.  In one of them, he finds reference to Dragonstone having a mountain of dragonglass underneath it.  He quickly send a raven to Jon with that info.  And in the background, baby Sam is adorable.  Later, in a blink-and-you-might-miss-it moment, Sam has a brief encounter with Sir Jorah, still suffering from greyscale and quarantined in the Citadel.

Hopping over to King’s Landing, we find Cersei brooding over a courtyard-sized map of Westeros.  Jaime arrives to point out that they’re short on allies.  To sum up: Jon’s in the North, Dany is coming from the East, the Sand ladies are in the South, and Olenna Tyrell is holed up in the West.  But Cersei has what she thinks is an ace up her sleeve—an alliance with Euron Greyjoy, who arrives in the throne room in bad boy leathers and almost rocking Captain Hook’s guyliner from Once Upon a Time.  He offers Cersei his fleet in return for marrying him, which she refuses.  Euron leaves and promises to return with a courting gift, but not before getting off a few digs at Jaime and swaggering around like a rock star.  (Seriously, he does everything but whip it out to display for Cersei’s approval.)

And the big moment of the night occurs when Dany finally returns to Westeros and her birth home of Dragonstone.  Her dragons circle the citadel as she climbs the steps, enters the throne room, and finds Stannis’s strategy room with his massive war planning table.  The episode ends with her saying to Tyrion, “Shall we begin?”

And that’s it for week one!  If the previews for next week are to be believed, Arya will finally be reunited with her direwolf, Nymeria, who hasn’t been seen since season one!