“I believe we last saw each other atop the Wall.”
“You were pissing off the edge, if I remember right.”
And on that manly note, the reunion episode of this season’s Game of Thrones opens, and we are off to the races.
Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister smile at each other with what almost seems to be fondness. Clearly, these two have been practicing exactly what to say when they meet face to face again for the first time in years? But it’s not just about Flashback Fridays and bromances. In no time, Jon and Ser Davos and a small token posse (really? That’s all the North could spare?Jesus, Snow. Way to make an impact.) are summarily stripped of all defenses and an escape route. Missandei did ask nicely, but it’s a velvet glove over a mailed fist.
As the dragons wheel overhead and both northmen exchange glances of awe, Varys and Melisandre are high above the cliffs, watching the scene unfold before them. Engaging in one last bit of repartee before the Red Witch leaves for Volantis so Jon and Ser Davos don’t see her and tear her a new one, the Spider’s relief at her departure is short-lived. Melisandre announces she’s coming back, because dying in Westeros is her destiny. She wasn’t even naked this season, and HBO has hungry fanboys to feed. Gotta leave that ending open a little.
(When exactly did Tyrion Lannister go to AA and kick the drink? he spent at least four seasons as the God of Tits and Wine, and all of a sudden he’s sober and focused. Will we ever see drunk Tyrion again? This one is so serious.)
The anticipation is high as Jon Snow and his Hand (is Ser Davos his Hand now?) stalk into the intimidating appearance chamber of Dragonstone. Dany is impassive, perched on an obsidian throne and as he approaches, her face is unreadable. And then after six seasons and two episodes, Jon Stark and Daenerys Targaryen are face to face! Neither gives an inch. I’m not sensing sparks. I want sparks, damnit.
By way of introduction, Missandei goes into a long-winded recital of the Dragon Queen’s resume. The Unburnt, Khaleesi of the Great Grass blah blah blah and crap. When she finally runs out of titles, it’s the northmen’s turn. The Onion Knight, blunt as ever, clearly doesn’t give two shits. “He’s King in the North.” That’s it? Jesus, Seaworth, work a little harder.
Dany assumes Jon is there to bend the knee – and Jon disabuses her of the notion, right quick. She interrupts his rolling list of crimes the Targaryens have committed against the Starks with an acknowledgment that her father was a crazy bastard and an apology. Jon is taken aback. Cersei would never! It’s not enough. He refuses to bend, reducing the fight for Westeros to a bunch of “squabbling” houses, and tries to convince Dany of the bigger, more important threat: the Army of the Dead. Dany thinks he’s off his rocker, accuses him of being in open rebellion against her. Things are coming to a head, and the sparks which were missing earlier are flying (the wrong kind of sparks, but I’ll take what I can get) when Varys walks in, breaking the tension. Dany shelves the discussion of a Northern Alliance as she absorbs the news of the Greyjoy vs. Greyjoy rout and realizes Dorne and the Iron Islands may be lost to her.
Euron Greyjoy enters the Red Keep, triumphant, dragging the figureheads of the Sand/Greyjoy alliance behind him, a gift to the queen. Such romance. Le Sigh. I too, would like a gift of bedraggled humans. Cersei isn’t as easily pleased, so Euron doesn’t get the hand in marriage he’s been angling for, but he does at least wrest a promise from the queen, which he gleefully proceeds to wave in Jamie Lannister’s incredulously offended face.
His sister has her mind on revenge, has had for a long time, and without wasting a moment has brought Ellaria Sand and her daughter into the bowels of the Red Keep. She is so often overshadowed by Tyrion’s cleverness, it’s easy to forget that Cersei Lannister is a diabolical genius when it comes to revenge. Chaining her adversaries to the wall, allowing them to see each other at close range, but not close enough to touch, she proceeds to kiss Tyene Sand on the mouth, as Ellaria’s eyes widen with horror and recognition. Her daughter is to share the same fate as Cersei’s, with one terrible twist.
“You’ll be here the rest of your days,” Cersei says, her stare almost blank, her focus not so much focused on Ellaria, but on her memories of having to bury her own daughter. Say what you will about Cersei, her methods of revenge are spectacular. She got her husband drunk enough to get gored by a boar. Left Septa Unella alive and at the mercy of The Mountain. Blew up the Sept of Baelor and all the enemies who made her walk naked through the streets. Forcing Ellaria Sand to watch her poisoned daughter die and her body rot is the piece de resistance. It makes the destruction of the Sept almost merciful by comparison.
At Dragonstone, Tyrion convinces Dany to let Jon mine dragonglass from Dragonstone. “Give him something by giving him nothing,” says the Imp. The two royals are still at odds, but have come to grudgingly respect the other’s convictions. Dany still doesn’t believe Jon’s warning, but she’s savvy enough to listen to her closest advisor.
Meanwhile in Winterfell, Sansa is striding around demonstrating her knack for leadership (whodathunk?) trying to ensure enough food for the coming hardship. Lest we think she’s the only one in Westeros other than Jon who actually cares less for the machinations of those in power, creepy Lord Littlefinger steps into the picture, and proves he’s always been about relativism, of the moral and the literal kind.
“Fight every battle, everywhere, always, in your mind,” he says. “Live that way and nothing will surprise you.” Trust no one, and treat everyone like an enemy. With mentors like Cersei Lannister and Petyr Baelish, Sansa Stark’s training is in its own way as brutal and as effective as Arya’s stint with the Faceless Men.
Just then she gets interrupted by a commotion, a servant coming to tell her someone is at the gate. She rushes to see who’s made an appearance and comes face to face with Bran. “Hello, Sansa,” he says gravely. She bursts into tears and hugs him with all her might and I’m just Troy Barnesing at this point:
But it doesn’t last.
Bran and Sansa, sitting under a tree, not exactly k-i-s-s-i-n-g, but Sansa is begging Bran to help her understand what happened to him, and for someone who knows a lot, he sure doesn’t know how to explain worth shit. Instead he tells her he can’t be Lord of Winterfell because he’s the Three-Eyed Raven who was taught by the Three-Eyed Raven, who turns out to be me, myself and I, that’s all I got in the end, that’s what I found out, and there ain’t no need to cry. Sorry sis, you wouldn’t understand, but I’m sorry you got raped on your wedding night. You looked good, though.
Condescending little shit. Just tell her you’re a warg who can greensee, Bran, you great blithering idiot. Ugh. Emo adolescents are the worst. Sansa evidently agrees, because she quickly leaves him at the foot of the heart tree, to go back to work and, presumably, continue her lessons on moral and literal relativity with Littlefinger.
Oh right, the ballad of Jorah Mormont is still ringing through the halls of the Citadel. Miraculously cured and greyscale-free thanks to Samwell Tarly and his powers of dealing with gross things, he’s all healed up and getting ready to ride for Dragonstone. There’s got to be a reason they’re keeping Ser Jorah alive, because at this point, I’m kind of past caring. With everything that’s going on in Westeros, we still have time for him and his greyscale? The payoff better be good, HBO.
The ArchMaester asks Sam how he cured greyscale, and Sam is all like meh, I just followed instructions from the internet, and instead of giving him a link for his chain, Sam gets to make copies of rotting manuscripts that have flesh eating bugs. Yay! Good job, Sam!
As Ser Jorah heads for home, because that’s where his heart is, Dany is furious and wants to decimate Euron Greyjoy’s fleet with her dragons. It’s the first time she’s ever said their names, although we already know what they are and she reels them off: Drogon, Viserion and Rhaegal. Her council is intent on keeping her grounded and keeping her safe, and, it seems, keeping everyone else safe. I call bullshit on this because why have all the weaponry if you’re not going to use them? Remember what Olenna Tyrell said, Dany!
Still she’s going to have to content herself with news that her Unsullied has reached the shores of impregnable Casterly Rock, and its 10,000 strong army. Thanks to Tyrion and his little sewer love nest, the Unsullied “impregnate the bitch” (Bronn throwback!) and the seat of the Lannisters now belongs to Daenerys.
But it’s a hollow victory. Jamie Lannister has learned from his mistakes at the Whispering Wood, and left only a token force guarding his home. It’s a feint, and the brunt of the Lannister army, their food stores and their manpower, falls on unprotected Highgarden. The Reach – and Lady Olenna, that sassy matriarch, falls to the strains of The Rains of Castamere. But not before taking her final, devastating parting shot. “Tell Cersei,” she says as she waits for death’s sweet embrace. “I want her to know it was me.” The Queen of Thorns dies as she has lived, defiant to the bitter end, and the Kingslayer learns that punishment of the murderer of his unacknowledged son no way fits the crime. To be fair, Joffrey was a horrible piece of crap, and we all wanted him to die; but Jamie Lannister doesn’t have his twin’s capacity for merciless revenge, and so he walks away somehow defeated.
At least Highgarden is in the hands of the Lannisters now and Euron Greyjoy has destroyed an even bigger chunk of the Targaryen fleet. Things aren’t looking good for Dany and her crew. Maybe she should’ve just swooped in and annihilated everyone after all.
Screencap from WinterisComing.Net