All aboard the Hype Train! In preparation of Season 8 of Game of Thrones, Kelly is doing a rewatch for the greater good to refresh our memories, catch the things we might have forgotten, pick up the things we might have missed, and maybe make predictions! Hold onto your fur rugs from Ikea and AWAY WE GO.
Rules of this series: We’re deep diving into these episodes and I’m watching them on a per-episode base because I like digesting the episodes. Spoilers lie ahead. As you can tell, I’ve failed at keeping this episode/season specific. Onwards!
From this episode forward, take a shot every time Dany says Bend the Knee. It will be A GREAT TIME. We are still really pushing these Dany-centric titles because it’s a big deal that she’s in Westeros now. You know how I said I was on Team Dany at the end of the last episode because that scene was just so well done? That’s gone in this one. It was nice knowing you, kind of. On the other hand, let’s welcome Indira Varma to the opening credits! She’s rad, even if this show didn’t do her any justice at all. Also, welcome back to Pyke for whatever reason. Nobody cares.
The episode opens up on Dragonstone, as a thunderstorm rages on. It’s appropriate for Dany’s homecoming, as she was born on a night like this one. Dany’s impatient- she doesn’t feel at all connected to Dragonstone and she wants to get moving on battle plans. Varys assures her that Cersei doesn’t have a lot of support and that there is plenty of time, but Dany doesn’t buy it- it’s exactly what people fed to Viserys and he bought it and he died. Tyrion urges her to be a little more pragmatic and to avoid bbq-ing anyone who gets in her way because what’s the point of being the queen of ashes.
Dany doesn’t quite trust Varys yet, as his track record in serving rulers and monarchs hasn’t been great i.e., he’s played a hand in overturning most of them. Varys declares he serves the realm and isn’t afraid to stand up to incompetence- but… he… still supports Dany… even though… she makes… extremely poor decisions..? Even though she whines people bend the knee, give into her demands, or die..? Oh, he means she has good intentions. Very nice people, I’m sure. They come to some sort of agreement- that Varys won’t conspire against her and will tell her to her face when she’s failing- but we’ve seen how that’s played out before. She ignores them, she demands people’s heads, let’s just not give this a round of applause when she’s show time and time again that she doesn’t change. This is at the fault of the writers, who always give Dany three steps forward to growing and evolving her ruling strategies and then two steps back because there’s nothing else going on with her (cough, Meereen) and they prefer to show her overcoming something in a badass way rather than calmly getting it done.
Anyway, they are interrupted by none other than Melisandre, and Varys immediately points out that she was a staunch supporter of Stannis Baratheon. Mel wants nothing more than to warn Dany of the long night as well as the arrival of the prince who was promised- Jon Snow- and Missandei jumps in with a big declaration of, “IT CAN MEAN PRINCE ORRRR A PRINCESS!” and Dany practically looks to the camera and says she prefers that translation better.
Problems I have with this show- The phrase “strong female characters” doesn’t mean one line of badassness. “Strong female characters” doesn’t mean repeating the same thing over and over again. “Strong female characters” strength doesn’t hinge on declarations claiming they are strong (to quote Tywin- if you have to say it, then it’s probably not true). Strong female characters means development, change, a journey, etc. Sansa is a strong female character. Margaery is a strong female character. Inserting these cheap feminist nods and then undermining them in all of their other actions doesn’t make your character good nor does it make them a feminist.
Mel recommends that Dany reach out to Jon Snow, who has proven himself to be quite the leader and he just happens to be her pick for the Azor Ahai prophecy. Tyrion vouches for Jon and Dany agrees to invite Jon to Dragonstone- to BEND THE KNEE. THIS IS SO ASS BACKWARDS. Dany has just seen and heard all the damage that can be caused by demanding people surrender to her. She’s just been told that Jon would make a great ally- not a liege lord or knight or servant, an ally. She just came from Meereen, where her conquering didn’t go over so well. You don’t just demand that people align themselves with you- and in doing so Dany takes several steps backwards- and all that stuff we just said about strong female characters goes out the window.
Up North, Sansa asks if Jon trusts the raven from Tyrion and Tyrion has signed off with something he said to Jon and Jon alone- “All dwarves are bastards in their father’s eyes.” It evokes Season 1, even though it was a brief meeting, we remember it being quite a nice one. Jon’s grown up a bit and asks Sansa what she learned about Tyrion in her time at King’s Landing and she admits that he was very kind to her. Davos points out that dragons happen to breathe fire which kills wights, which is a hell of a good thing.
For those people who don’t want to follow Jon or Dany, there is a third choice: Cersei. She lists the houses in open rebellion against the crown and also lists their foreign foot soldiers- Dothraki heathens that enjoy burning down villages and mindless Unsullied roaming around. You know how the Night’s Watch hates Wildlings? That’s how the Southerners feel about other foreigners, including Dany, who hasn’t grown up or lived in Westeros nearly long enough to know what kind of flowers grow on its land. The first to sign up is Randyll Tarly but only with Qyburn’s promise that something is being devised to fight off the dragons.
Jaime pulls aside Randyll Tarly and offers him the position of general, as well as the seat of the Reach, in exchange for turning on Olenna, who is technically his liege lord. Say no more!
Meanwhile, Randyll’s favorite son Sam is sitting in on Jorah’s diagnosis and Professor Slughorn tells him he has years before he dies, but his mind will turn in less than six months. Sam thinks there is a chance they can save Jorah- Shireen was cured after all- but Embrose refuses as Jorah is older and it’s much more advanced than Shireen’s little cheek. Upon learning that Jorah is a Mormont, Sam is determined to save Jorah in return for Jeor taking care of him up at the Wall.
In King’s Landing, Cersei walks among the dragon skulls while trashtalking Robert- apparently he would carry on his affairs in the dragon dungeon. Fucking. Robert. It’s such a Robert thing to do, brag about your accomplishments to a woman who’s probably faking it. Qyburn shows her the largest skull of the lot, Balerion the Dread, and unveils his giant crossbow that we already saw in Episode 4.9 Watchers on the Wall. Whatever, Qyburn. It’s able to pierce the skull of Balerion- to be fair, it’s a still target, she’s not aiming that far away- that scorpion looks like a burden to maneuver and reload- they’re better off running.
In Dragonstone, Yara urges Dany to move in on King’s Landing at once, as they have the fleet and three dragons to work with. Tyrion points out all the people in King’s Landing that would die and Ellaria Sand proclaims she doesn’t care- it all boils to the surface as Tyrion raises the issue of poisoning Myrcella and Ellaria brings up how Oberyn died as his champion- you know, in case we forgot why these two don’t like each other. Having listened to Tyrion, Dany says that an attack on King’s Landing with foreign forces is out of the question and Tyrion, having predicted how Cersei will appeal to the other houses, insists that the armies are Westerosi, to show the rest of the country that Dany is legitimately supported. While the Tyrells and ironborn are heading to King’s Landing, Tyrion plans to take the Dothraki and Unsullied over to Casterly Rock to show that the Lannisters aren’t that invincible.
Dany lingers to speak with Olenna and Olenna tells her that peace will never work out. She also warns Dany about Tyrion and tells her not to listen to any of the men that surround her. Meanwhile Missandei visits Grey Worm before he heads off to battle and they’re overcome with their affection for each other, get naked in an oddly formal manner, and Grey Worm has obviously aced the Cavesex 101 class taught by Jon. You know what’s weird- they’re playing a version of Jon and Ygritte’s theme- the one when they kiss on top of the Wall. Friggin’ weird. I guess it’s a reference to going down on ladies? Man, this scene is awkwardly long. Like way too long, mostly because I’m not buying their chemistry for a second. None of it.
Archmaester Ebrose is busy handing off books to Sam, but none of them contain information about White Walkers or greyscale. Ebrose rattles off a very technical title for a book he’s writing about all the wars that happened after Robert was killed and Sam recommends that he pick something with a more poetic vibe. Sam prods Ebrose about curing Jorah but Embrose steamrolls him, saying the guy that sought to cure greyscale actually died of greyscale, so all of its practices have been outlawed. Jorah’s writing a letter to Dany- wait a minute, didn’t Shireen contract greyscale by indirect conduct? Didn’t she hug a doll that had been exposed to it? Why the fuck is Jorah mailing shit?
Sam sneaks into his cell with a bunch of poultices and tools- he’s planning to cure Jorah using the technique he found. He warns Jorah that it’s going to be a painful process and he gets to work peeling off Jorah’s skin.
We cut from Jorah’s skin right into a chicken pot pie, as a bunch of men gossip in the Inn at the Crossroads. Arya is eavesdropping when Hot Pie recognizes her. She’s pretty cold and short with him, which makes sense as she’s changed but it also doesn’t make a lick of sense considering she was warmly joking around with Lannisters and speaking in full sentences in the previous episode. Hot Pie wonders out loud why Arya is heading to Winterfell, when her brother killed all the Boltons and has been named King in the North and- Hot Pie knows all the news. No one needs a newspaper or the internet. Just a barkeep will do. Arya’s overcome with emotion as she debates whether to stick to her plan or to head home- HOME, we all chant. As she gets on her horse, the Winterfell theme plays and calls her back North.
Jon pores over a map of Westeros when he receives Sam’s raven explaining his discovery that dragonglass is under Dragonstone- wow, who’d have thunk? Jon informs the Northmen that he’s accepting Dany’s invitation to ride south and negotiate and immediately, everyone objects- including Sansa who reminds Jon what happened the last time a Stark was invited to a Targaryen’s household. Sansa knows that Dany is there to take the Seven Kingdoms- and the North is one of them. Lord Glover reminds Jon that Robb also rode south and look where that got him. Finally, little Lyanna Mormont pleads that the North needs their King now that Winter has arrived. Jon stresses that the North is important, but they simply don’t have the means or allies to fight back the army of the dead. As an act of good faith, he entrusts Winterfell and the North to Sansa as he steps out and Littlefinger nearly bursts in his pants as he hopes that Sansa will grow to love power as much as he does- enough to overthrow Jon.
Jon visits Ned’s statue, but he’s interrupted by Littlefinger, who laments over his and Ned’s love for Cat- but Cat never loved Jon, did she? Jon immediately distrusts Littlefinger and refuses to talk to him, but Littlefinger pulls out the “My knights saved you” card before proclaiming his love for Sansa just as he loved Cat. The thought of Littlefinger with Sansa sends Jon over the edge and he grabs Littlefinger by the throat (just like Ned!) and threatens to kill him if he goes near Sansa.
Somewhere in the Riverlands, Arya builds herself a fire and she’s surrounded by a pack of wolves, lead by none other than her very own direwolf from Season 1- Nymeria. Arya asks Nymeria to go back home with her but Nymeria shrugs and leaves because “That’s not you” which apparently is supposed to be a reference to Arya’s conversation with Ned about how Arya’s not meant to be a lady and nobody remembers because it was such a small little throwaway line.
Sailing east of Westeros, the Sand Snakes are whining at each other for whatever reason (I guess they have a false sense of security or whatever), while Ellaria and Yara check each other out- what a fantastic ship. Really, it is. They’re perfect for each other. Also, props to the writers for finally referencing SUNSPEAR and not DORNE. I’m taking those away though, because Ellaria’s next line upon feeling Yara up is, “A foreign invasion is underway,” and I throw up all my pens, vomit in the corner, and scream into the abyss.
Thankfully, no more lines are cooed as something crashes into Yara’s ship- her fleet is under attack by Euron. This is a bad scene. It’s at night, it’s poorly lit, poorly choreographed, poorly shot, shakey cam galore, sped up at random parts- all the elements of “we have a lot of bad stuff to cover up.” This is what you get when you save all your money for dragons. This is the messy hangover the night after the big prom that was Battle of the Bastards. You can’t even discern what’s going on above or below water.
In an unintentionally hilarious shot, I shit you not, Euron rides a drawbridge from his ship onto Yara’s as he halfheartedly yells at nothing. Yara commands Tyene to protect Ellaria- and I would have thought Ellaria at least knew how to wield a sword. That’s disappointing. Lady Greyjoy watches her entire fleet get destroyed as the other two Sand Snakes make their way up to deck and are dispatched by Euron in an underwhelming fashion. Euron then finally gets Yara by the neck and Theon is trying to hold it together as the battle ceases just like that and Theon decides to jump overboard instead of facing any more carnage. Yara looks heartbroken as Theon is shattered once again in front of her- just as he was showing signs of his former self and a shred of personality- bless you, Gemma Whalen. You had so very little to work with and you tried your darndest.
Anyway, that’s how the episode ends. Underwhelming doesn’t even begin to describe it. On deck, 7.3 The Queen’s Justice