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!