Four Letter Nerd

Author - Jeff Merrick

Westworld Season 2, Episode 5 Recap: Akane No Mai

Westworld’s second season has now reached the halfway point (I know, it moves too quickly), and the message really hasn’t changed: the two main protagonists of the show, Maeve and Dolores, are bent on some form of host domination.

The former wants to get to her daughter. But in the course of that mission she is gathering an ever growing army of humans and hosts spanning two adult theme parks and likely leaving a real mess behind her. The latter wants to lead a host rebellion at some point, but she’s taking a temporary reprieve to find her father and order a complete override of the man that she loves.

Now, I have personally enjoyed the journey of both Maeve and Dolores so far. But one journey that has frustrated me is the present day timeline involving Bernard and the crew from the outside. Since the premiere, we have moved no closer to any of the big reveals Strand and company are looking for. Instead, we get a two minute clip at the start of the episode asking the same damn questions this crew’s been asking since they first arrived.

Let’s start the recap with that opening scene so we can get it out of the way. Then, we’ll get to the good stuff.

“How does the story turn?”

I’ll mostly be giving reminders of who these characters are. The guy with the shaved head is Paul Strand. He’s leading the outside rescue mission and is looking for answers to how this whole host rebellion thing (as well as all the bodies of the dead hosts) came to pass. Nothing new happens here. He’s simply asking the same questions he’s been asking in every scene he’s been in all season. Except this time, he’s asking it at headquarters where all the bodies (host and human alike) are being collected.

The other guy here is Antoine Costa. He’s the tech expert with the crew. And just like ever other scene his been in, he’s confused with what’s going on. He does drop some info telling us that one-third of the hosts in headquarters have had all their date completely erased.

Also, they are still looking for Abernathy and Bernard is there looking confused. So there you have it. These people still exist, but they have no new information to share with us at this time.

“These past few days, I’ve seen you so clearly.”

Meanwhile, back in the (present/past?), Dolores wants to load her crew on a train and find her father. But they need supplies and a location. So Teddy and Dolores have time to evaluate their relationship the rest of the episode.

The first location is familiar for the two programed lovers: looking out over a beautiful scene of nature. But this time, their conversation is not just dialogue programmed into their narrative. They both have the free will available to them to make their own decisions about the future.

Teddy wants Dolores to run away with him and leave everything else behind. Now, we all know at this point that Dolores will have none of that. Her response is a foreshadowing story about a diseased cattle his father had to kill in order to save the herd. After hearing “the herd marched on,” Teddy should’ve run away. But he’s Teddy, and he’s not that deep a thinker.

Dolores and Teddy discuss their future together….again.

But before she betrays him, Dolores and Teddy finally sleep together. Now that they’ve escaped their narrative arcs, these two can do that. But that act made Dolores’s betrayal even more vicious.

Later that night, Dolores confesses to Teddy that her feelings for him are true, which makes what she’s about to do next even tougher. She orders the tech traveling with her to reset Teddy. Dolores doesn’t think Teddy, in his current form, is vicious enough to carry out the plans she has. Our last scene of Teddy shows the tech hitting override (so maybe that’s how the hosts in that first scene had their data erased), preparing us for drastic changes the next time we see him.

“This all feels a little familiar.”

Our first foray into Shogun world begins with a ninja capturing Maeve and her crew. And for the first time ever, I found Sizemore’s character to be essential (as opposed to infuriating or annoying). First, he informs Maeve that Shogun World is for those who “find Westworld too tame” (so that’s encouraging). Then, he encourages Maeve to look deep in her programming to find “Rosetta Stone: Host Edition” so she can talk to their captives.

Now, the man who captured Maeve’s crew is named Mushasi. And the walk he takes the captives on looks mighty familiar.

Musashi, the ninja who captured Maeve and her crew. Also, the Hector-like character in Shogun World.

It’s the Hector-led safe-robbing scene played out in the streets of Japan. It turns out Mushasi is the Asian version of Hector. There’s a girl with a dragon tattoo that Armistice (the snake-tattooed assassin) takes a special interest in. The safe they are robbing is inside the house of a geisha named Madame Akane (the Maeve like character). And her prized dancer is Sakura (who is like Clementine).

Eventually, Maeve accesses the Japanese language in her programming and defuses the situation, turning Maeve’s crew from prisoners to welcome guests.

Hector, along with the rest of Maeve’s crew, making themselves at home in Madame Akane’s house.

“Shogun’s army never comes into town!”

A representative of the Shogun later comes in requesting Sakura, Madame Akane’s prized dancer. Akane’s response (one of many off script items that drive Sizemore crazy during this episode) was to shove a short sword through the eyes of the messenger.

Now, I don’t know how word made it so quickly to the Shogun that his messenger was killed. But his response was swift. A group of ninjas attack in the middle of the night and capture Sakura. Then, the Shogun’s army (led by a General Tanaka), march through the streets and capture Hector and Musashi (in what is actually a diversion).

Everyone else is able to escape. And Maeve tried a new trick on her way out using mind control to convince one of Shogun’s ninjas to shove his own head into a sharp blade.

“I’m listening to a new voice.”

Now, throughout the episode, Maeve found her control of hosts through spoken word to be out of order. And after her crew arrives at the Shogun’s camp to confront him, we find out why.

The Shogun (who somehow received word of a “witch” approaching Shogun World) cut off the ears of his army. The Shogun agrees to return Sakura to Akane if they both dance for him.

Big surprise here: the Shogun did not live up to his word. Instead, he walked up to Sakura and shoved a sword in her stomach before demanding Akane dance for him on her own.

Now, how does a man who had enough foresight to cut off the ears of hosts so they can’t be tempted by a “witch” coming from another park let his guard down here. Akane dances for him and mesmerizes him so much that she is able to pull a blade out and slice (and when I say slice, I literally mean sliced like a grapefruit) the Shogun’s head in half.

The Shogun’s men are ready to execute both Maeve and Akane, but Maeve shows off that new trick she’s learned. She can speak to hosts telepathically. And she convinces all of Shogun’s men to turn on each other. More troops are on their way as the episode ends. But we can infer pretty strongly what’s about to happen to them.

Maeve, as the show ends, preparing for the arrival of more of the Shogun’s army.

Of Note:

-Maeve develops a deep connection with her Shogun world counterpart, Akane. Watching Akane be a mother to Sakura causes Maeve to have flashbacks to her own time as a mother on several different occasions.

Akane, the woman Maeve feels a real connection to.

-Maeve also tries to give Akane the freedom other hosts are experiencing. But Akane refuses.

-The Shogun had to overcome the leaking of that cortical fluid Bernard’s been leaking everywhere in previous episodes.

-Angela also captured and tortured one of the security staff that ran off with Abernathy a few weeks ago. He was able to give them the location of Dolores’s father.

-Sizemore also picked up a radio he found connected to one of the trees while he was peeing.

-“You try writing 300 stories in 3 weeks.” A good response from Sizemore after Maeve and her crew get upset with him for repeating the Hector story in Shogun world.

-I wonder if/when Sizemore will figure out that the hosts are well off script. Maybe he does realize it and is just a creative mind unhappy to see his work being altered the way it is, but he really does need to get the point that these hosts are now alive and acting on their own.

-Clementine had a bitter sweet moment tonight as she looked on and heard her replacement saying the lines she remembers saying thousands of times.

What we Learned

-Shogun world is more brutal than Westworld is, and it is going through the same host takeover transformation the other parks are enduring.

-Maeve can now use her mind to control hosts.

-Sizemore’s understanding of the park has been invaluable to Maeve on her mission.

-Elements of the stories played out in Westworld are repeated in the other parks.

-Dolores’s feelings for Teddy are still there, but she needs a tougher Teddy for the next steps in her mission.

-Dolores and company are on their way to find and take back Peter Abernathy from the humans trying to access his information.

Next week begins the second half of Westworld’s second season. See you then!!!

Westworld Season 2, Episode 4: The Riddle of the Sphinx

Does anyone out there remember the adult amusement park Westworld was presented to us in its first season? Anybody????

Four episodes into season two, I sure don’t. All that fun the humans had at the expense of the now rebelling hosts has given way to origin stories explaining Delos’s continued involvement with the park and characters (hosts and humans alike) seeking deeper meaning with their existence.

In fact, season 2 has given us the exact of opposite of what season one was for all parties involved. Season 1 was a surface level experience with hosts doing what they were programmed to do and guests only concerned with experiencing all their flesh desired.

Season 2, on the other hand, is not only an awakening for hosts who’ve been reprogrammed by Dr. Ford to seek out their own journey. It’s a returning Elsie learning of the park’s real purpose. It’s the Man In Black moving forward on a journey of atonement (though that may not be exactly what he’s looking for) for the questionable decisions he’s made and the consequences of those decisions (and how about the MIB coming face to face with one of those consequences at the end of the episode!!!).

Another trend of season 2 that “Sphinx” continued was the sheer volume of both questions and answer with every episode. Season 1 spent most of it’s time alluding to the mysteries of the park without providing any clarification for what was really going on. Now, with every answer season 2 provides comes 4 or 5 more questions make us question just how deep the mystery goes.

And let’s hope Westworld can continue to provide the satisfactory answers to those questions because season 2 has set a very high bar in that department.

Now let’s start this recap with a look back into the past/present of Delos founder James Delos and his search for eternal life.

When can I get out of here?”

When we first see James Delos in his own personal solitary confinement, we aren’t sure if it’s an office, an apartment, or some really boring man cave.

But through three separate interactions with William, we learn one of the park’s most important secrets.

We learn during the first interview that Mr. Delos is dying of a disease he defunded research on 15 years ago (oh the irony!!!). We also learn that Delos (the company) headquarters is in Carlsbad, California (because that’s where Delos thinks he is). And most importantly, we learn that Delos must answer a series of questions in order to get out of his state of confinement.

William interviewing Delos to see if he may leave his confinement.

The first interview is cut off while Delos is reading a piece of paper. But we see what the paper said in the 2nd interview. It’s an exact text of the interview William just had with Delos.

Now, I have a theory (though I suspect many of you have the same one) that the interview is meant to prove if Delos, who is in some host like form but is not actually a host, can produce thoughts not programmed in him.

This form of Delos, whatever he is, is smart enough to know that he did die (7 years ago, in fact, between the event and the 2nd interview). But he learns that his wife has also died (died of a stroke), and that induces a significant amount of shaking.

William walks out and tells the assistant (any chance that was a young Charlotte Hale?) to “terminate the experiment.” Delos is frozen, and his solitary man cave is burned.

“I’m beginning to think this whole enterprise was a mistake.”

At first, I thought that might be the final end to the life of James Delos. But “terminate the experiment” actually just means “start over.”

And we get at least one more (of what turns out to be 149) attempt to bring James Delos back to life.

We know a significant amount of time has passed because this time, it’s the Ed Harris/Man in Black version of William who enters to interview Delos.

And the MIB brought all the his “let the world burn” skepticism with him to what turns out to be the final interview. First, he openly insults Delos, calling him a horrible man who wasn’t “meant to live forever (along with people in general)” The MIB also reveals the deaths of both Delos’s daughter (suicide) and son (Logan, who predictably died of a drug overdose). Williams leaves Delos behind angry, but he doesn’t want him terminated, leaving a horrified assistant behind to deal with the fallout.

“Is This Now?”

If you thought Westworld’s multiple timelines was confusing for you, imagine being Bernard, who switches timelines completely unaware of what period of time he is in.

And this timeline has Clementine drop him off in front of a cave: a cave that has none other than Elsie Hughes (the inquisitive tech who disappeared last year while investigating a runaway host in the park).

It was awkward for Hughes here to see Bernard, the man who chocked her unconscious and put her in this cave, now trying and rescue her and claim that Ford made him do it. Hughes doesn’t believe him at first, knocking him unconscious and tying him up. But Bernard begs Elsie to reconsider. She does learn that Bernard is a host and agrees to get him some cortical fluid. And how convenient it is for the very cave Hughes was tied up in and Bernard was dropped off at to have just the thing he needs.

“I’ve been here recently.”

After gaining access to the cave (all it took was a handle hidden behind a rock?), Elsie discovers an operating system she doesn’t recognize. Bernard recognizes it; it’s the same one that’s being shipped out of the park inside Peter Abernathy.

Everyone in the cave except for one random white host has been killed. Bernard and Elsie also recognize one more door. And enclosed inside that door is the resurrected James Delos. He’s destroyed everything inside there, including the poor assistant the MIB left behind. Delos tries to attack Elsie, but Bernard saves her. Then, Elsie “terminates” Delos for the last time.

Now, I’m not really sure of all the technobabble Bernard and Elsie were using here, so I am going to have to give my best guess. It sounds like this lab has been used to create host like bodies for James Delos. But these host units are supposed to be something different. A control unit holding some sort of consciousness for James Delos is put inside each one of them (like a soul transfer). It’s here that Bernard completes the flashback he’s been teasing us with all night.

Lowe entering the lab in his flashback.

Lowe grabbed one of those “control units,” though we never learn who it was for or why he took it. Then, it’s revealed that Bernard was the man who killed the lab techs as well directing the white hosts to kill themselves. It makes me think Ford sent Bernard in there to stop what was going on.

“You think death favors you…You didn’t recognize him sitting across from you this whole time.”

As for the present day Man in Black, well his hectic day starts with a familiar scene: sitting down in a bar in a South Texas/Mexican themed bar waiting to be ambushed.

This time, it’s Major Craddock (the Conferderado Teddy didn’t kill last week) doing the ambushing. Few characters have annoyed me as much as Major Craddock, so the end result here was especially satisfying.

Major Craddock sitting across a table from the MIB.

 

Craddock is holding the town hostage in hopes of finding a stash of weapons for his crew. The MIB tells him where the weapons are. But he also tells Craddock that he knows where he (Craddock) wants to go and can lead him and his men there.

The offer does nothing to quell Craddock’s thirst for plundering the poor host town. He tortures a shaking bartender and Lawrence’s wife before the MIB steps in. The two had been going back and forth about death (the night’s theme, it would seem) before the MIB (using the quote atop this section here) takes out all of Craddock’s men and makes the major drink the lighter fluid he was going to make Lawrence’s wife give to Lawrence.

After drinking down the shot glass, Lawrence takes the MIB’s gun and shoots Craddock, causing him to explode and sending him out of this show (hopefully) forever.

Now, I had a section planned towards the end of this article about my theory that Grace (the woman who escaped a Tiger attack in last week’s opening  and was taken hostage by the Ghost Nation in the final scene) being the Man In Black’s daughter. It seemed like an obvious theory, but it wasn’t going to stop me breaking down the clues (which I will detail, along with Grace’s other scenes in the episode down in the “Of Note” section) that made it clear Grace was the daughter of William, the Man in Black.

But I guess the show didn’t want this reveal being ruined by thousands of internet forums like William being the Man in Black did last year.

So Westworld got out in front of it and revealed that Grace, in just her 2nd episode ever on the show, is the MIB’s daughter and will be joining him on his continuing journey.

Of Note

-While captured with the Ghost Nation, Grace was able to speak their language. Grace also told Stubbs (more on him shortly) she didn’t want to escape Westworld. Speaking the made-up language of a pretend Indian tribe and stating her desire to never leave Westworld were clear signs to me that Grace was the estranged daughter of William, the Man in Black.

-Speaking of Stubbs, he was captured by the Ghost Nation last year. And how did Stubbs escape the clutches of his captors? Well, they just left. That was anti-climatic.

-There was a scene last season where a guest tried thanking the MIB for helping his daughter live. I wonder if the experiments the company’s been running on Delos have been used successfully on others.

-And speaking of this disease Delos had, just how widespread is it? Is there some sort of epidemic going on that Delos has helped cure?

-“I know who you are William. One good deed doesn’t change that.” Ford speaking from the grave through a host AGAIN!!!!

-One more MIB note: The MIB and Lawrence journeyed by what looked like the building of the Transcontinental Railroad (with the exception that people were being used instead of planks to connect the rails). But the MIB said that railroad should have been going North instead of West.

What We Learned

-The Delos Corporation has been trying to bring founder James Delos alive for many years and attempted to do so 149 times.

-Sometime in the course of his experimenting, William became of cynical of the whole enterprise and decided it was all fake.

-Grace is the Man In Black/William’s daughter and is a regular attendee of the park.

-Dr. Ford (we think) programmed Bernard to end all the research being done outside of the room holding James Delos.

-Elsie is alive and assisting Bernard.

Next week marks the halfway point (yes, we are already there, folks!!!) of Westworld’s 2nd season. See you then.

 

 

 

Westworld Season 2, Episode 3: Virtu e Fortuna

Layers. The word that popped into my head Sunday night as “Virtu e Fortuna,” the third episode of Westworld’s second season, aired was layers. Because, in my mind, that is what season 2 is doing for us: peeling back the many layers of this complicated adult amusement park.

Previous episodes have revealed the layered past of the park, how it came under its current ownership, and why they (Delos) had any interest in investing in the park.

And this week peeled back for us parts of the park we had previously not seen. Season 1 and early season 2 dropped hints of the existence of these places. But “Virtu” was the first time we saw guests (or hosts and employees as in the case of “Klondike World”) interacting with these locations.

But with each layer revealed sprouts up fresh questions that appear to be the center of season 2’s narrative. We know why Delos wanted to own the park. But what do they do with all the data they are collecting? We know why Dolores was aware of the MIB’s biggest mistake. But now that she’s in control of it, what does she plan to do with it (oh, and what exactly is that big mistake anyway)? And with hosts from other parks able to cross from park to park now, will they all just team up and fight humans? Will they battle each other? Or a little bit of both?

I personally have enjoyed the many layers the show has peeled for us so far in season 2. But I do worry that if the questions that appear has a result of those peeled layers are not answered satisfactorily, then early season 2’s good work could be all for naught.

Now, let’s recap this week’s layer peeling with a look at a previously unexplored part of the park.

Grace (Indiaworld)

I don’t know if that is the actual name of this part of the park, but we see guests interacting in another area of the island for the first time in “Virtu e Fortuna’s” opening scene.

Grace is sitting at a table when a gentleman (I won’t bother with his name because it really doesn’t matter anymore) walks up and begins flirting. The two are clearly attracted to each other as they head up to her room, but could one of the two of them be a host?

Grace gets right down to finding out as she shoots the gentlemen in the shoulder. When the bullet merely bruises it, she knows he’s real and the “relations” continue as previously.

But the gun shot is the real important part of that scene. It appears these two meet before the host rebellion has taken over. Because later, when the two are out hunting “Bengal Tigers,” a hosts shoots, the bullet is plenty painful, and it kills the gentleman.

Grace and her companion before they are attacked by hosts.

Quick thinking saves Grace’s life. But as she’s fleeing, one of the Bengals she was hunting starts to chase her (so host rebellion was not limited to human hosts). Grace makes it all the way to a cliff and shoots the tiger as it jumps on her and takes her into the water.

It turns out (to no ones surprise), that tiger is the one Stubbs saw in the season premiere. It is laying on the shore as Grace swims her way to safety (or so she thought). There to greet her at the bank of sea(???) are members of the Ghost Nation, and they take her prisoner.

Bernard

After taking a one-week hiatus, we return to the adventures of Bernard and Charlotte Hale as they continue their search for Peter Abernathy (Dolores’s father from early season one who is being used to get data out of the park).

And they find him blending in with a group of guests (which brings up some interesting questions for the end of the recap) who are being held hostage by a group of hosts.

Hale and Bernard are able to trick one of the hosts and knock him out. While he is out, Bernard reprograms him with overwhelming levels of compassion. He uses that compassion to free the guests (and Abernathy) and turn on his riding mates.

But a group of Confederados ride up and take Bernard and Abernathy hostage while Hale escapes on a horse.

Dolores

Now, I am not sure if that group of Confederados were the ones in the fort or the ones Dolores took command of last week. Either way, Abernathy and Ford somehow end up at that fort we saw at the end of last week’s episode.

Before Dolores sets herself and her crew inside the MIB’s “greatest mistake,” she must first convince the general stationed there to let her in. After firing off a modern day assault weapon, he does. (I guess that weapon is a danger and the people who are wielding it are a danger so we should all team up or something like that. This part really got rushed).

In the fort, Dolores becomes reacquainted with Bernard (a man she’s interacted with a lot in one form or another the last 30 years. All those interactions have convinced her Bernard can fix her father, who is still going back and forth between the many characters he’s played in the park like he did in the early part of season 1.

Bernard and Dolores “reuniting.”

While looking over Abernathy’s system, Bernard discovers the large file Hale is sending with him out of the park and is amazed. But before we can get to find out just what information Abernathy is carrying, a battle commences.

“Not All of Us Are Meant to See the Other Side”

Those weapons Dolores warned were coming do arrive. And Hale is directing their charge. The advanced weaponry seems too much for the Confederado troops to deal with. But after a retreat command is given, Dolores has the fort locked up. The Confederado troops on the outside take fire from both the humans and Dolores’s men. Over the course of this battle, Hale is able to get a hold of Abernathy and drive away with him. Things are looking bleak until Angela fires and hits some explosives, ending the human threat.

The explosion ends the threat, but General Craddock is not happy with Dolores after she turned on his men. Dolores’s response is to direct Ted to kill Craddock and his men.

Dolores instructs Teddy to kill General Craddock and the other Confederado leaders.

Now, Teddy has spent the whole season questioning the direction Dolores is taking with all this. So he does not carry out the kill order, allowing Craddock and his men to leave. But Teddy did not know Dolores was watching, and she was majorly disappointed with her man (did we see the first of the reasons why Teddy was left floating in the water in the season premiere?).

Meanwhile, a confused and convulsing (much like the premiere) Bernard tries to escape. But he is knocked out by a gun wielding Clementine and dragged away.

Bernard looking up at Clementine before she drags him away

Maeve

We get more than one token scene with the other major protagonist of season 2 as Maeve’s crew marches through the Westworld parks.

And Sizemore actually gives some genuinely good information this week (more on that in a moment). But his first moment was the typical arrogant creative type shtick he’s been giving us since last season (more on that later).

While fleeing the Ghost Nation, Sizemore leads the crew underground to headquarters where Felix and Sylvester (the pair Maeve manipulated to make her what she is today) are tied up. But before Maeve’s crew meets up with these two, Armistice (the host with the large snake tattoo that played Hector’s partner last season) shows up with a flamethrower!!! I mean, it really doesn’t affect the plot a whole lot at the moment, but Armistice with a flamethrower is just too bad ass not to mention!!!

Maeve and Hector underground doubling the size of their crew.

The now reinforced six person crew heads back above ground to a place where it is snowing. Sizemore informs us they are walking through the Klondike (there’s the helpful information). So that means we know of four parks: Westworld, Indiaworld, Shogunworld, and Klondikeworld (they may be called something different, but that is all I have for now).

Now, remember that tiger crossing over the laser that was supposed to keep him in his park? Well, Tigers aren’t the only thing  crossing park lines right now (unless there is some part of Canadian history involving Samurais in the Klondike region I’m not aware of). The show ends with a Samurai coming out of the woods and attacking Maeve’s crew.

Maeve looking up at snow right before the show ending attack from a Samurai.

Of Note:

-The show also checked in tonight with the reinforcements that arrived in the premiere about two weeks after the initial night of the host rebellion. The scene was short but did include two major tidbits: Charlotte Hale is alive and they still haven’t secured Peter Abernathy’s departure from the island. Hale goes so far as to question Bernard regarding Abernathy’s whereabouts. That is very interesting considering that Hale is the last one we saw with him during this episode.

-And speaking of Abernathy, how many hosts have the ability to tell if they are dealing with another host or a human? Clearly, the group at the start of the episode who didn’t realize Abernathy was one of them fall in the “can’t tell” category.

-So all that was keeping hosts out of different parks was a red laser?

-Is anybody glad Sylvester is back so Maeve now has two obnoxious, overconfident humans? Anybody….

-Speaking of obnoxious humans, has Sizemore not figured out the hosts are off the grid when it comes to previous storylines? He gets very upset regarding Maeve and Hector showing signs of affection for each other because he didn’t program that relationship into them. Hey Sizemore, Maeve and Hector have been running on host fiction for awhile if you haven’t figured that out yet!!!

-I am curious to know what activities happen in the Klondike portion of the park. Searching for gold? Wrestling bears? Ice Hockey?

What we learned:

-The identity of three other parks on the island. And the host rebellion is allowing hosts to crossover to different parks.

-Charlotte Hale is alive and has still been unable to get Peter Abernathy off the island.

-The reinforcements meant to save humans from hosts came despite Abernathy not making it off the island.

-Lowe has seen the data Abernathy is holding and it shocked him.

-Dolores has already started determining which hosts she has no plans of taking with her to the other side.

See you next week.

 

 

Westworld Season 2: Episode 2 Recap: Reunion

Before we start this week’s recap, I have few notes from last week’s premiere that I initially missed.

-Kudos to everybody (and it was a lot of you) who, unlike me, didn’t completely miss the reveal of the physical location of Westworld (which, appears to be an island off the coast of China based on the soldiers who questioned last week’s new arrivals).

-I also got confirmation (and once again, it was from everyone else but me, Mr. Out-of-the-Loop here) that Angela, the girl who greeted William at the beginning of his Westworld journey in episode 2 and made numerous appearances in various timelines last season, was the female helping Dolores round up and kill humans last week.

-And after a second viewing, I can confirm that Teddy’s body was floating in the water in the premiere’s final scene.

Now as for this week, well, I’m a sucker for hours that give us answers. And this hour gave us plenty of answers.

For one, it showed just how deep a role the MIB has played in the current formation of the park. We knew he was a major donor and participated in Westworld’s expert levels. But his influence doesn’t stop there. Delos’s involvement in Westworld is because of the MIB. He even had at least one portion of the park, a creation he regrets (and when everything is done, he may regret even more).

And then there’s Dolores, the webcam everyone left on not realizing she was recording. With all the major conversations she was privy to, can anyone really be shocked she turned revolutionary?

Now, I know some will complain about all the cryptic, mysterious dialogue every single character (even barely one dimensional Teddy got a line in tonight) engaged in this evening. But I personally can forgive the sheer volume of it (which felt like more than usual) because of the equal volume of answers the show provided in “Reunion.”

Now, lets look back and season 2 second episode, starting with all the flashbacks in one convenient section.

The Initial Pitch

Remember when Logan was a cocky asshole and William was a dull simpleton? Let’s revisit those simpler days.

We are taken back to the time Logan first received the pitch about Westworld. Logan Delos (as we learn his last name is the name on the company) is taken to a party by a man named Aketcha and Angela (the host who welcomed Teddy to Westworld the first time).

Angela meeting Logan for the first time

Logan is amazed to discover the party he attends (or “demonstration” as Angela calls it) is entirely comprised of hosts. Now Logan’s first thought is to take them all and have an orgy that will last until the morning. His buddy William, on the other hand, saw something of significantly more value in the park.

“Seeing People For Who They Really Are”

As we all know now, William took Logan’s place as the heir apparent to Delos. And we see William in that role for the first time when he brings Jim Delos (William’s father-in-law, Logan’s father, and founder of Delos) to the park.

Jim Delos, the founder of Delos, the company that owns Westworld

Jim is skeptical. We can assume he’s heard nothing but the “sex, alcohol, violence, future” pitch from his son. But William presents things in a different light.

Numerous characters have hinted that Delos’s stake Westworld had nothing to do with the sins of its guests. And William makes sure to steer clear of that when giving his sales pitch. Westworld is a park where nobody thinks your watching. But Delos could watch and see what people really want when they think no one is paying attention. We don’t know exactly how Delos uses the data it collects to turn a profit. But “Reunion” made clear in two different scenes that they are indeed watching and keeping score.

William in the park explaining to Jim Delos the true value of the park.

“That’s the Sound of Fools Fiddling While the Whole Species Burns.”

We skip ahead in time to a retirement party at William’s rather large mansion. It appears that Jim Delos is sick, and he’s ready to step down, giving control of the company to William. The two embrace as it’s clear son-in-law is closer to dad than Logan (his actual son) is.

And who is that playing piano? Why, that’s Dolores doing a publicity appearance for the park. She’s been a minor part of every one of these flashbacks. And each reveal has shaped the revolutionary Dolores we are seeing in the present.

Dolores looking very modern day as she seeks a breath of fresh air

Later in the evening, Dolores heads outside and runs into Logan, who is noticeably separated from the party.

It also appears that being sent away naked on a horse by the man who will replace him in every significant role in his life as jaded Logan significantly.

But never have wiser words come from Logan’s lips. To Dolores, he says, “That’s (referring to the party) the sound of fools fiddling while the whole species burns.”

Logan was right about the threat Westworld presented to humankind. But I doubt he knew he was speaking to the one who’d be bringing it.

A Reflection

Our final flashback seemed innocent enough to William. Because she wasn’t real, William never thought Dolores would remember this conversation.

William takes his one-time host/love interest out to a construction site. We’ve got two more references to this site coming later.

The Man in Black

As for tonight’s “A Day in a Virtual Reality Themepark with the MIB,” it starts an awful lot like his adventure last season.

First, he saves his old buddy Lawrence from possibly having his insides eaten by ants. Then, he finds some super secret red bag hidden in a bar. Next, he speaks cryptically to Lawrence, confirming that Delos has been keeping track of the activities of Westworld’s guests. Finally, he tells Lawrence they’re all about to die and he(the MIB) needs to burn the whole thing down. And Lawrence is there to help him get the army that could help him do it.

The MIB revealing to Lawrence why Delos is involved with Westworld.

It’s at this point things start to get challenging. Lawrence takes the MIB to his home village to get the army he needs to achieve his end goal (of course, we don’t know what that end goal is, but the MIB just needs a lot of men to help him achieve it).

And these men are lead by Gus Fring, whose plans to open a Los Pollos Hermanos in Westworld have really taken a hit thanks to the host rebellion.

The character’s name is El Lazo. But that really doesn’t mean much as El Lazo and his men (based on programming put in them by Dr. Ford) kill themselves before the MIB can coerce them to follow him.

Ford meant for the MIB to do this alone: a journey to the place he considers his “greatest mistake.”

Dolores (present day)

Last week, Dolores promised she’d be showing Teddy something he had to see. It turns out that something is at headquarters, where there are still employees who somehow don’t know a robot rebellion is going on all around them.

One of the party guests has made it out here. We don’t know his name and have never seen him before, so you know it’s not going to end well for him.

He ends up dead, killed shortly after Dolores, Teddy, and Angela arrive. Dolores convinces one of the techs to show Teddy all the times he’s died. This appears to get Teddy on board.

Later, Angela tortures a different tech so they can get information for where the reinforcements will arrive once they get word of the host rebellion. Did he give them the location the group arrived at last week?

Dolores also needs an army. But she’s more successful, convincing a General Craddock to join his men to her side.

And what does she need this army for? To take down a fort the group of hosts approach as the episode ends. In that fort is the thing William was “foolish enough” to reveal to Dolores many years ago. And Dolores plans to use the MIB’s “greatest mistake” to “destroy them.”

Dolores and Teddy stare at the MIB’s “greatest mistake” as the episode ends.

Of Note:

-“Reunion” did a really great job connection present and past, transitioning better than show ever has between timelines.

-I really didn’t understand the purpose of the opening scene when Arnold shows Dolores the home he’s building. We may refer back to that scene later in season 2, but it just didn’t seem to fit the episode tonight.

-Also, Arnold tells Dolores about his son who is still living at this point.

-A random meeting tonight between the two alpha-females of Westworld: Dolores and Maeve. I was expecting more from this meeting. Instead, we simply got a “You go your way, and I’ll go mine” as their two arcs maintained a different direction for now.

Let’s hope longer interactions are in the future for these two.

-I do approve of Sizemore’s new role holding the donkey for Maeve and Hector. I think that casting should be permanent.

-William’s wife and daughter made their first appearance in “Reunion.” The ironic meeting even had William’s daughter commenting on just how beautiful Dolores (William’s robot mistress) was (awkward!!!).

-And what’s the deal with those dots on the arms of the MIB and Logan?

What We Learned:

-William convinced Jim Delos to invest in Westworld so the company could collect data by observing the behaviors of the guests.

-William oversaw the construction of something in the park he now regrets building.

-Dolores overheard all of that and now has an army ready to use that location to “destroy” humans.

-And finally, Dr. Ford has made sure the MIB will be completing his task on his own.

 

See you next week.

 

Westworld Season 2, Episode 1: Journey Into Night

504 days. More than one full calendar year. That’s the number of days between December 4th, 2016 (the date the finale of Season 1 aired) and April 22nd, 2018 (the date season 2 premiered).

That is a long time for a narrative show like Westworld to resolve the cliffhanger it left us with in 2016.

So how did the show handle its return from its long layoff? My initial reaction is mixed.

In some ways, the show maintained the momentum of the finale, picking up right from the point where Dolores blew a hole in Dr. Ford’s head and a number of other hosts massacred the guests at Ford’s big announcement. The carnage and chaos left behind by the rebelling hosts was laid out very effectively in every part of the park (well, at least on the Westworld side of things, that is). The show also wastes no time with Dolores, moving Dolores right into the awakened form Arnold feared at the beginning of the episode.

But you would think 504 days would grant us at least a one episode reprieve from the art of psycho babble the show perfected in its inaugural season. Instead, we spend half the episode debating what the hell Bernard Lowe/Arnold is doing, what time period he is in, and what undefined struggle is he enduring?

And of all the missing characters we had to revisit, why was Sizemore the one the show brought back?

Now, if it weren’t for the 500 day wait, I would be far less critical of the premiere. And I will be far less critical of the “psycho babble” (after all, it is a central part of the show) the rest of the season if quality payoffs follow.

And since its been so long, I will try to give brief reminders of who characters are as we move forward.

Now let’s start Season 2’s first recap with the man I suspect will be the central character to Season 2: Bernard Lowe.

Lowe: Present Day?

Humans are battling hosts all over Westworld, and the one stuck in the middle is Bernard Lowe: the host Dr. Ford created as a copy of his old partner, Arnold.

We learned Lowe was a host at the end of Season 1. But the great mystery surrounding his character is that, unlike the other hosts in the park, he doesn’t seem to realize it. Or if it does, he’s clearly struggling to come to grips with it.

We see the struggle played out at what appears to be two distinct timelines (and I think the opening scene was a third timeline, but more on that later).

One of those is Bernard hiding out in a barn like a normal human with several actual normal humans as the rebel hosts murder everyone on the outside.

The crew in the barn escapes, but most of the crew are killed after falling for a trap set by another group of hosts. The only two survivors are Lowe and Charlotte Hale: a major executive at Delos, the company that owns Westworld, who showed up last season to force Dr. Ford (Anthony Hopkins from season 1) into retirement.

Lowe and Hale discussing just what is going wrong with the hosts.

The pair makes it to what Hale describes as a “manual override” buried underneath the park. Here, she attempts to contact someone on the outside for help. But whoever she is trying to contact won’t arrive until a package (one of the hosts, from the sounds of it) arrives.

Meanwhile, Lowe locates Peter Abernathy (Dolores father from the premiere last season and the host that was supposed to be sent) and delivers some kind of shot that keeps him from hallucinating (what’s up with that?)

Lowe and Hale discuss just what is going on inside this bizarre room underground in the middle of the park.

We’ll get to the Charlotte Hale-less portion of Lowe’s arc later.

Dolores

Season 1 hinted at a dark Dolores who killed without conscious those who’ve done her wrong. And the premiere of Season 2 gives us Dolores Abernathy: Assassin in full form. Our very first scene of Dolores is of her riding on horseback gunning down runaway humans with Teddy by her side. Of course, Teddy still has the same confused look he’s had in every scene he’s ever done on Westworld.

Later, Dolores has three captives with hands tied behind their backs and nooses around their necks standing on top of gravemakers (not a good time to be in high heels, as one of her captives is realizing in this scene).

Classic, cryptic quotes follow (“Have you ever questioned the nature of reality?” and the classic “These violent delights have violent ends.”). She lectures the humans, discussing how they are all about to pay for the terrible things that have been done to her (and the rest of the hosts) in the park. She leaves them alive, but dangling. As for Teddy, he still has the same confused look he’s had in every scene he’s ever done on Westworld.

Later, Teddy (with the same look…) questions Dolores about what is happening. Dolores seems to profess her love for Teddy, a love that is always at the end of every arc programmed into her. She also makes reference to “their world, the one that belongs to them (so she wants to invade the human’s world?).” A woman who led an assault against several humans earlier tells Dolores “We have him.” To which Dolores tells Teddy, “You need to see this.” I guess he’ll have to see it next week because that’s the last we see of Westworld’s star crossed lovers.

Dolores and Teddy discussing the events of the evening’s episode.

Maeve

As for our favorite brothel owning host, not much has changed since the finale: she’s still looking for her daughter and she’s still a bad ass. And much like last season, she has a human on board to do her bidding.

At the point of the night where we see Maeve for the first time, we’ve only seen the carnage caused by the hosts in the park. But clearly, the message of rebellion made it to headquarters as dead humans are everywhere Maeve walks. Somehow, the hosts didn’t get the message to kill the most annoying of all the humans: Sizemore (the arrogant, British head of creative).

The good news is we will at least get to see Maeve boss him around for awhile. And she will have the help of Hector Escaton, her bank robbing love interest.

Maeve debates with Hector what she plans to do with the annoying human. But Sizemore says he knows the park Maeve’s daughter is located in (remember the note she received as she was trying to leave the park in last season’s finale), so she’s going to keep him around for at least a little while (hopefully, not too long).

Sizemore and Maeve looking over the damage at headquarters.

The Man in Black

Yes, we now know his name is William. But season 1 ingrained in my head The Man in Black, or MIB as the loner persona Ed Harris plays in Westworld. And Season 1 seems to be setting us up for a near repeat of season 2: The MIB seeking out a deeper game. But unlike the first season (remember, the maze was for the hosts, not the MIB), this journey is for him.

The Man in Black assessing the damage as he appears to be the only one to survive the assault of the hosts.

After killing a pair of hosts who try to take him out, the MIB gathers up his things, changes into his familiar garb, and heads out for a journey. a journey he’s introduced to by the “Ford as a child” host.

The host’s voice is muffled, almost a combination of Ford and the child put together. But the host tells the MIB, “Congratulations, William. This game is meant for you.”

And nothing says, “I’m the MIB and I don’t give a f@#* like shooting dead the host who just delivered that message. “Alone Again, Naturally” would have been the perfect song to be playing here as the MIB rides off on an arc that looks an awful lot like his journey in season 1.

The Man in Black and that all too familiar pose.

Bernard Lowe: The future?

The other part of Lowe’s arc appears to be in the future, after armed personnel have arrived to bring peace to Westworld. A couple of observations to consider before we go a little deeper here:

  1. Lowe is no longer with Charlotte Hale in these scenes.
  2. Stubbs (the Hemsworth on the cast) is back. He was missing when last season ended.
  3. Many of the hosts who’ve wrecked havoc in the premiere are seen dead here.

We also get a number of new characters showing up on the beach like they’ve been here all along. One of them is Karl Strand, the tall bald guy who appears to be in charge. The other is Antoine Costa. He’s the one looking into the hosts for clues about what happened. By the time they arrive, it appears the carnage is grown much larger, but it’s hosts who have suffered the most damage.

Stubbs, Strand, and Lowe look out over the horizon at carnage in the water. (I do not know the name of the armed lady soldier yet).

Antoine Costa, the tech expert looking into the technical issues of the hosts at Westworld.

Through Costa’s work, the crew discovers Dolores is the one responsible for the death of these hosts.

Later, the new guys and gals in town assess the damage from Ford’s big announcement. The further rotting of the human bodies is further proof this crew has taken a long time to get here. I am assuming this is the crew Hale was trying to communicate with.

The group also discovers a host Bengal Tiger (one that Stubbs says crossed over from Park 6, the same park Maeve is going to find her daughter).

The last image we see is this crew looking over a body of water and seeing hundreds of dead hosts floating in it. Bernard tears up when asked how this happened. I had a hard time understanding his words here, but he seems to think he’s responsible for it.

Of Note:

-Was Teddy one of those bodies in the water?

-The opening scene seems like Arnold talking to Dolores and expressing fear at what she could become. But he also shares a “dream” with her where he woke up on the ocean (exactly as he would wake up for the future portion of his arc). So is that Arnold from the past or Lowe in the future talking to Dolores?

-Lowe also discovers in the “manual override” chamber that guest DNA is extracted there. Is that part of Delos’s greater use for the park?

-There was also confirmation that Ford was indeed shot and killed by Dolores. Of course, we know that doesn’t mean a host Ford won’t show up. Or could that have been a host giving the speech and that host’s body just rots like a human body? Oh, how I’ve missed the tangled webs Westworld weaves.

-Male nudity outnumbered female nudity in the premiere as Maeve’s request that Sizemore strip all the way down in front of her was shown at full frontal for a moment.

-The Bengal tiger, the samurai’s at headquarters in the season finale, and the shot of Maeve in full Oriental garb leave little doubt that the mysterious park 6 is set in Asia.

So in conclusion:

-Dolores is out for revenge on humans, but she will direct her fury on the hosts later.

-Maeve is out to find her daughter.

-The MIB is out to find a deeper a game actually meant for him.

-Lowe doesn’t know what he’s looking for, and he might be the key to the whole season.

See you next week.

 

 

Game of Thrones Best Episodes

I had the idea for a top 10 episodes list well before the start of season 7. And when I made that determination, I really thought I would base that list on the merit of the individual episodes in their entirety and not on a single, major moment.

Well, I failed. As I put this list together, I could only remember episodes based on the big moments that happened in them. And while I would have loved to have looked back at every episode and done a more accurate ranking, I am an adult with responsibilities that didn’t have time for that.

So here is my attempt at listing the best 10 episodes in the history of the show. If I ever find a time where I can do this again after having viewed all the episodes again, then I will post an update. But until that (if it ever does) happens, here are my subjective rankings of “Game of Thrones” top 10 episodes of all time through seven seasons.

10. The Lion and the Rose

Game of Thrones waited until the second episode of Season 4 to deal out justice to one of it’s most despicable characters.

King Joffrey met his end in the closing moments of “The Lion and the Rose.” But this episode also represented a real shift for many characters. It was the end of episode 2 that attached Sansa to Baelish for the next four seasons. Also, Cersei turned her wrath to Tyrion, sending him down a path that would ultimately lead him to Daenarys.

All the unique character interactions during the wedding reception were a nice bonus.

The last breathe of King Joffrey

9. Battle of the Bastards

The most brutal of all the “Game of Thrones” battle scenes, “Bastards” brought justice to the other (and possibly worst) of “GoT’s” dastardly heels.

If it hadn’t been for the predictable appearance of the Knights of the Vale, “Bastards” would have been higher on the list.

But the brutal battle scenes, gruesome imagery, and fitting conclusion (Ramsey being fed to his dogs) were enough for “Bastards” to make top 10.

8. Baelor

This is the episode that revealed to us just what we were all getting into.

Ned Stark’s beheading in “Baelor” illustrated that no one, not even the most veteran actor who the show used to promote its first season was safe in a series where it’s a bigger surprise (especially in those early seasons) when main characters don’t die.

And the final scene, the first in a series of big episode nine moments, was beautifully shot and edited as we get the reaction from all the major players after Joffrey gave Lord Eddard “a clean death.”

Ned Stark the moment before he lost his head in “Baelor.”

7. The Door

The phrase “Hold the Door” will never be the same again for Game of Thrones’s fans

Through seven seasons, “Game of Thrones” has provided us with many “punch in the gut” moments: moments that just leave us speechless long after the episode ends.

And “The Door” may have produced the toughest of those moments so far. Careless Bran revealed his location to the Night’s King, forcing everyone but Meera to sacrifice themselves so he could get out safely and become the Three-Eyed Raven.

The most heroic of those sacrifices was by Hodor. The almost silent giant held back the Wights while Bran and Meera made their escape. That moment also turned Hodor into the one word wonder he would become most of his life.

Another stellar editing job as the show moved back and forth between past and present Hodor.

Hodor “Holds the Door” and gives the ultimate sacrifice so Bran can escape.

6. The Watchers on the Wall

I raved about this episode when it first aired, and I still think highly of it today. And if this episode had appeared in the context of a stronger season, it might have placed higher.

But the execution of Game of Thrones’s second major battle was near flawless as Jon and Sam’s journeys culminated with their heroic actions, Grenn and Pip made the ultimate sacrifice, a Giant Scythe (or as I called it, “Giant Chain Blade”) obliterated Wildlings, and Ollie’s exceptional archery skills saved John’s life (easy to forget about that moment, isn’t it?)

Remembering when Ollie was still a hero.

5. The Rains of Castamere

Season 3’s 9th episode appears here for one reason:

The Red Wedding.

Nothing else really needs to be said.

Catelyn Stark’s final moment at the end of “The Rains of Castamere.”

4. Blackwater

Season 2’s ninth episode set a high standard for all future Game of Thrones’s battle scenes.

But what “Blackwater” got right that “Watchers on the Wall” did not was the build up.

The Night’s Watch spent all of season 4 hanging out at the wall waiting for the Wildlings to arrive. So while the battle episode itself was fantastic, the build-up to it was sorely lacking.

“Blackwater” was the perfect culmination of all the events of Season 2, leading to the “Halfman” leading the forces of King’s Landing as they held off Stannis until Tywin showed up with his new Tyrell allies to save the day.

3. Winds of Winter

The opening sequence of season six’s finale is the best individual scene “Game of Thrones” has ever done. And that scene alone would be enough to get “Winds” onto this list.

But this episode also put Jon as “King of the North” and (finally!!!) got Daenarys on a boat to Westeros. No finale had me ready for the next season like “Winds” did.

Wildfire took out the Sept of Baelor in the climax to one of GoT’s best scenes.

2. Hardhome

I stated here before that I think the TV show has done a much better job building up the Army of the Dead as the real threat to Westeros than Martin has in his books.

“Hardhome” is the best example of this. The annihilation Jon and the Wildlings experienced on that cold island beyond the Wall has stuck with him (and the audience) ever since.

Jon Snow sails away from the Night King at the end of season 5’s best episode.

1.Spoils of War

It may be a little unfair to put an episode from the most recent season on this list (the whole “fresh on my mind” thing may have influenced its placement). But not only did “Spoils of War” feature an awesome battle scene with Dany, Drogon, and the Dothraki routing the forces in Westeros. It also gave us great character moments with Arya returning to Winterfell and Jon continuing his courting/flirting with the Dragon Queen.

And did I mention a dragon fought in a battle in Westeros?

Drogon makes his presence known in Westeros at the halfway point of season 7.

Game of Thrones Season 7 Obituaries

It’s time to take a look back at the characters we lost this season on Game of Thrones. Though Season 7’s list is much shorter than last season (when I needed a part one and part two), GoT still delivered with semi-major and major characters losing their lives almost every episode.

So lets take a look back at those characters who passed on during Season 7.

 

Obara and Nymeria Sand

When: Episode 2 (Stormborn)

How: Killed with their own weapons by Euron Greyjoy.

The Sand Snakes were the worst adaption of book characters the show has ever done. So the decision to limit the trio to just three scenes for season 6 and 7 combined was applauded by me.

The most valuable thing the first two Sand Snakes did was give Euron Greyjoy his first two kills. Euron used Obara’s own spear to kill her, while Nymeria was choked with her own whip.

Tyene Sand

When: Episode 3 (The Queen’s Justice)

How: Poisoned by Cersei

The Sand Snakes were largely a waste of time and space on Game of Thrones. But at least the show gave the third and final Sand Snake a poetic death (Tyene also was killed with her chosen weapon, poison). Cersei kissed Tyene using the same poison Ellaria used to kill Myrcella at the end of season 5.

And no, we did not see Tyene’s final breath. But I think it’s safe to assume the next time we see the youngest Sand Snake (if we see her at all) she will be a corpse.

Olenna Tyrell

 

When: Episode 3 (The Queen’s Justice)

How: Poison given by Jamie Lannister

The Queen of Thorns is in at least the Top 5 list of most beloved characters. Dianna Rigg stole every scene as the matriarch of House Tyrell and never wasted a single line.

Lady Olenna even found a way to still her final scene: a scene that should have given the victorious Jamie Lannister a chance to gloat.

But instead, it was Jamie who walked away fuming after the Queen of Thorns, in her final words, told him she was the one who had Joffrey poisoned.

“I want her (Cersei) to know it was me.”

Randyl and Dickon Tarly

When: Episode 5 (Eastwatch)

How: Burned to death by Dragonfire after refusing to bend the knee to Daenarys.

The show did very little develop either Sam’s father or brother. But it didn’t seem necessary with Randyll.

He was a tough, loyal, military minded man, and it made sense that he would choose death over serving a foreign invader.

But I felt like more could have been done with Dickon. The show was just introducing us to him when he made the ill-advised choice of not bending the knee to Daenarys. As a result, Dickon joined his father in dying by dragon fire.

Thoros of Myr

When: Episode 6 (Beyond the Wall)

How: Wounds Suffered Fighting an Ice Bear

It was hard to feel much impact for a character that went almost three seasons between appearances. He was the man who kept bringing Beric Dondarion back to life. And has a charter member of the Brotherhood without Banners, the hard drinking priest was the one sacrificed on the mission Jon led to capture a member of the Army of the Dead.

Viserion

When: Episode 6 (Beyond the Wall)

How: Spear from the Night’s King

The show didn’t identify which dragon it was until later, but it’s ironic that the one named after Dany’s awful brother Viserys was the one who will now be fighting for the Night’s King.

We didn’t really get to know Dany’s other two dragons (she rides Drogon, the other two just followed along). But it was sad to see Daeanarys lose one of her children. And even worse, that child will now be fighting for the Night King.

Benjen Stark (Cold Hands)

When: Episode 6 (Beyond the Wall)

How: Fighting Off Wights so Jon Could Escape

It was easy to forget Benjen, Ned Stark’s younger brother. who disappeared on a ranging mission for the Night’s Watch. He vanished early in Season 1 and did not appear again until later into season 6 when he aided Bran and Meera in getting back to the Wall.

That form beyond the Wall, also known as “Cold Hands,” was a half wight, half human who could only live beyond the Wall but had no interest in helping the Night King.

Benjen’s final act was sending Jon away to safety on a horse while “Cold Hands” fought bravely to his death holding off the Army of the Dead.

Petyr Baelish (Lord Littlefinger)

When: Episode 7 (The Dragon and the Wolf)

How: Sentenced to Death by Sansa for Murder and Treason, then Slashed in the throat by Arya Stark

The conniving ways of creepy Uncle Littlefinger finally caught up to him this season. The man who was the secret (at least to the characters of the show they were secrets) mastermind behind Jon Arryn’s death, the War of Five Kings, Joffrey’s murder, and Lysa Arryn’s murder was outdone by his chosen protégé.

What cruel irony it was when Sansa, the girl Littlefinger was using to put himself on the Iron Throne, used her “mentor’s” own tactics to defeat him.

Be on the lookout Friday for a top 10 list of Game of Throne’s greatest episodes through the past seven seasons. See you then.

 

Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 7: “The Dragon and the Wolf” Recap

The “Dragon and the Wolf,” the season 7 finale of Game of Thrones, proved itself a fitting end to GoT’s penultimate season.

No season produced more thrilling moments in such a condensed window. Fans who’ve complained in the past of storylines moving too slowly or characters remaining stagnant for too long should have neither of those complaints this season.

But the same break neck pace that has cost us valuable character moments and story development time reared its ugly head again Sunday night, particularly in the build-up to the meeting in the Dragon Pit.

So many characters with a history reunited in the show’s opening scene. Tyrion, Bronn, and Pod (the “Heroes of Blackwater Bay”) were given an all too short reunion considering how important the three characters used to be to each other in the show’s early seasons. The Hound and Brienne nearly fought to the death at the end of Season 5. But a few seconds is all we got to settle any remaining animosity.

And speaking of the Hound and reunions, Sandor Clegane came face to face for the first time with the undead Mountain (Clegane Bowl preview???), albeit for only 10 seconds.

None of these truncated reunions took anything away from all the incredible moments the finale produced. But not giving these awkward reunions the time they deserved was an unfortunate side effect of Season 7’s shortened length.

That’s enough bellyaching from me. Because when it comes to the answer of the question “Are you entertained?,” “The Dragon and the Wolf” (and the entire season, for that matter) was an emphatic yes!

Let’s start the final recap of the season with that meeting in the Dragon Pit when we all thought an alliance uniting all of Westeros was formed.

King’s Landing

Daenarys sure knows how to make an entrance. First, the Unsullied (who, I guess, didn’t have too difficult a time marching from Casterly Rock) approach and surround the rarely seen land side of King’s Landing. Then, she makes everybody wait for her arrival before Drogon drops her off.

This is the first time Cersei and Dany have met, and the Mother of Dragons wants a truce. As we’d expect, Cersei is skeptical until the Hounds opens that box with the Wight inside.

The zombie runs out charging at Cersei only to have a chain hold it back. The Hound chops it into three pieces so Jon can illustrate the ways in which to defeat it.

Euron Greyjoy (who reappears after being absent the last three episodes) gets up and walks off. He says he’s so terrified that he intends to take his fleet back to the Iron Islands to wait things out (wink, wink).

Cersei, however, wants a truce under one condition: that Jon stays neutral when Dany and Cersei resume their fight for the Iron Thorne.

But Jon, who is just terrible at playing “The Great Game,” says he’s already pledged loyalty to Daeanrys and refuses Cersei’s offer.

Cersei walks away with no deal in place. This forces Tyrion to walk into the most awkward and dangerous of all the reunions in the episode.

Jon and Tyrion watch as Cersei walks away from their meeting.

In the Red Keep

A couple of important observations from this meeting include:

-Tyrion accepting responsibility for all the dead Lannisters,

-Cersei taking blame for none of them (even though Tommen’s death was clearly her fault),

-Cersei will not order her brother killed,

-Tyrion figures out Cersei is pregnant.

The meeting was enough to convince Cersei to join Jon and Dany in defeating the army of the dead (wink, wink).

Winterfell

Meanwhile, back up North, Sansa is confiding in Littlefinger all the frustrations she’s been having with Jon and her sister. Her “brother” just sent a raven with news that he pledged his loyalty to Dany. And there’s also the whole “my sister is an assassin and I’m afraid she might murder me” problem.

Now, I still hated the scene last week where Arya threatens Sansa after the latter discovers Arya’s masks, which existed only to troll us, not Littlefinger. But the resolution of the season’s events in Winterfell was otherwise perfect.

Sansa calls for her sister to appear before her for a trial. But Arya is not the one on trial. Sansa reads the charges of murder and treason and asks Lord Baelish how he responds to them.

Littlefinger is shocked. But considering Bran can now see everything that’s ever happened in history, he really shouldn’t be. I mean, did he not think Bran, who can now see all of history, would tell his sisters all Littlefinger was responsible for?

Also, Bran, please forgive me. I thought you were being a real douche for not telling your sisters all this information you had. But you were doing just that off camera this whole time.

Baelish is found guilty of murdering Lysa Arryn, Jon Arryn, and starting the conflict between the Starks and the Lannisters. It was cruel irony for Littlefinger that all those lessons he taught Sansa were used against him while she and her siblings conned the most conniving man in Westeros.

Arya ending Littlefinger’s trial.

Arya carries out the death sentence, slashing Littlefingers throat. In a great moment between the two characters, Sansa and Arya finally give each other credit for the women they’ve become. The two sisters are finally on the same page. And it appears they’ve been that way for awhile now.

Plans for Battle

After the all Westerosi alliance was made, Jon and Dany agree to sail together to White Harbor (a port city in the North). The decision displeases Jorah, and we all know why.

In King’s Landing, Jamie is preparing his fellow military leaders for battle when Cersei asks to speak with him alone.

Now, I was really glad Cersei didn’t suddenly become a team player because she saw one wight. Cersei has no intention of joining Jon and Dany in the North. She’s keeping her forces in King’s Landing while Euron secretly picks up the Golden Company: a group of 20,000 sell swords Cersei is paying to join her side.

Cersei’s logic is sound. The Lannister force will do little to stop the army of the dead, the Dothraki, the Unsullied, or the dragons (which Cersei noticed only two are now with Dany). So she says “let the monsters fight” it out instead of joining with Jon and Dany only to have the two of them turn against her once the great war is over.

But Jamie made a vow to fight, and he’s clearly had it with his sister/lover’s shit. He’s riding north anyway, but the undead Mountain steps in front of him, preventing him from leaving.

It looked like this would be the end of Jamie Lannister. But Cersei once again showed her weak spot: she can’t bring herself to order the death of either of her brothers.

Cersei and Jamie argue over the Lannister role in the wars to come.

As Jamie rides away, he notices a snowflake falling on his glove. Winter is finally here for all of Westeros.

Back in Winterfell

Sam’s journey from Oldtown finally ends as he and Gilly arrive in Winterfell. And for some reason, Sam goes to talk to Bran. After seeing these two interact, I want them together in every scene they are in next season.

Bran sitting by the fire when Sam shows up.

Sam wants to help Jon in fighting the Whitewalkers, but Bran points out his name is not really Jon Snow.

The two characters take turns trying to one up the other as Bran reveals Jon was born in Dorne and should not be Jon Snow, but Jon Sand. Then Sam (who was apparently paying attention when Gilly read this out loud a couple of weeks ago after all) reveals that Rhaegar and Lyanna were in fact married, so Jon is not a bastard at all.

Bran sees the vision of the two married and makes two key observations:

-Robert’s Rebellion was built on a lie (Rhaegar did not kidnap Lyanna)

-Jon Snow (or should we say Aegon Targaryen) is the true heir to the Iron Throne.

As the revelation is coming out, Jon and Dany are making sweet Aunt/Nephew love on her ship.

Jon enters Dany’s room, an action that seemed to concern Tyrion greatly.

Tyrion sees Jon enter Dany’s room, and he is clearly concerned what the ramifications of those actions could be.

Eastwatch

Now, I thought the major lineage reveals and love making would be the end of the season. But Bran, sitting by his favorite Weirwood tree, has another vision.

We go to Eastwatch, where Tormund and Beric are on lookout when the Army of the Dead comes marching through the trees. And for the first time, the living sees what became of Dany’s dead dragon.

The Ice Dragon blows an icy substance of some sort at the Wall and takes down the part holding up Eastwatch. Tormund and Beric run for the lives. Since we didn’t see them die, I assume they will escape and get word to everybody else.

As for the Army of the Dead, they cross the open section of the Wall and march into Westeros.

The Wall at Eastwatch comes tumbling down.

Of Note:

-With Jamie heading north, a reunion with him and Bran is coming. And if you thought Bran’s reunions with everybody else were awkward, just wait for that one.

-The Dragon Pit was where Targaryens started keeping their dragons as fear of the beasts ran rampant throughout Westeros. Daenarys made reference to how the dragons who lived in the pit were ruined because they never grew to the size of those who flew freely. Also, the Dragon Pit had a roof that was destroyed by dragon fire.

-Dany’s fertility came up again in season 7 in her talk with Jon. I’d be surprised if the black witch’s theory on Dany’s ability to have children doesn’t get tested in season 8.

-We have the setup for a Greyjoy fued in season 8 (yay????). Theon, after some encouraging words from Jon, takes back his crew from the captain. He now intends to go and save his sister from Euron.

-Bronn and Pod went to have a drink before disappearing for the rest of the episode. Will this meeting over “drinks” come up again next season or be forgotten?

-“Have you considered learning how to lie?” One of the lines of the night by Tyrion.

-Cersei once again mentioned the services of the Golden Company, the most prominent sellsword company in all of Essos. The group has been mentioned several times in the show’s history, but we’ve yet to see them make a physical appearance.

-So Jon was really named “Aegon Targaryen,” the same name of the first Targaryen king, Aegon the Conquerer.

Be on the lookout for a couple of items to wrap-up season 7.

On Wednesday, I will have my season obituaries. Then on Friday, I will have a top ten list of the best episodes in show history through seven seasons.

Thank you for checking out my recaps every week. Be on the lookout for updates on shooting, casting, and overall hype pieces as we prepare for the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones.

 

 

Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 6: Beyond the Wall Recap

Much of “Beyond the Wall,” the penultimate episode in Game of Thrones’ Seventh Season, was spent rushing through all the “oh my gosh they’re meeting” encounters the show could fit in its first half hour.

The Hound cusses out Gendry. Jon and Jorah discuss Jorah’s father. Tormund and the Hound talked “girls.” Beric Dondarrion and Jon (the resurrection brothers) talk why the “Lord of Light” or whoever brought them them back from the dead. We even get Gendry, the peasant who’s been south his whole life, seeing snow for the first time.

Then, the Army of the Dead showed up, and things got real real quick.

Making his annual appearance, the Night’s King brought the noise, seizing the opportunity to take down one of Dany’s dragon and bring it to his side.

But it was not all positive for the leader of the Army of the Dead. Jon and crew succeeded (and I’m still not exactly sure how) in their mission to capture a member of the Army of the Dead. And Dany’s rescue mission has her firmly on Jon’s side fighting the Night’s King.

She and Jon will probably have to wait until season 8 to discover just how costly the Night’s King strike on her dragon was (I suspect the Night’s King will return to the sidelines for the finale). But now comes what might be a more difficult task than dealing with an Ice Dragon: convincing Cersei Lannister to be a friend instead of a foe.

We’ll discover how successful those efforts are next week. As for this week, we’ll start in Winterfell, where the Stark sister are back to their Season 1 ways.

Winterfell

The same debate I was having about Arya and Sansa last week continued into this week.

Arya confronts Sansa about the Season 1 note she wrote that was strongly influenced by Cersei. But Arya claims she would have died before sending that note.

Over the course of the their discussion, Arya reveals that she too was there when Joffrey ordered their father executed. But what did Arya do to stop what happened? Sansa turns it quickly on her sister, saying Arya “would never survive what (she) survived.”

Arya and Cersei argue over the note Sansa sent all those seasons ago.

Now, Littlefinger left that note for a reason. And the reason was so Sansa would come to him seeking his advice. She’s been pretty cold to him most of the season. But Sansa is faced with a dilemma (the concern that Arya will reveal the contents of that note to the Northern Lords), so she seeks the advice of her old master.

And Littlefinger suggests using Brienne to deal with Arya. (“She did swear an oath to protect you should you feel in danger”).

Now, in my mind, I started seeing Brienne fighting Arya for real this time with one of the two not surviving (did anybody else play this horrifying scenario out in their heads?).

But instead (almost as if to avoid the temptation of asking Brienne to kill Arya), Sansa sends Brienne to King’s Landing to answer a summons sent by Cersei. The Queen wants “The Lady of Winterfell” to appear herself. But Sansa views any trips south as a trap. So Brienne will go in Sansa’s stead.

Sansa reads the summons from Queen Cersei. Brienne will go representing the North.

As for Arya, Sansa needs more information about her sister. So she breaks into her room (a lot of that happening in Winterfell recently) and discovers Arya’s masks (which surely could’ve been hidden better).

Arya walks in and explains everything to her sister. She says she trained to become a faceless assassin and (in Arya’s creepiest monologue to date. I mean seriously, Maisie William’s delivery here could be a spin off for an Arya led horror movie) could easily use Sansa’s face if she wanted to. She picks up the blade Bran gave her and walks towards Sansa before flipping it over, handing it to her, and walking out of the room.

I have to give the show credit here. I really thought these two would be working towards reconciliation by now. But if there’s a path to that, the show sure is hiding it well.

Dragonstone

Last week, Varys pleaded with Tyrion that he must find a way to get Dany to listen to him.

Well, that sure didn’t happen this week.

The first conversation between the two involves how to handle Cersei and what to do about a potential successor. Tyrion wants Dany to think like Cersei before going to meet her. And since Daenarys says she can’t have children, Tyrion believes a succession plan must be put in place. Dany does neither one of those things.

Tyrion and Dany by the fire discussing the conquering of Westeros.

The second conversation was much quicker and far more one sided. Daenarys received a raven from Eastwatch, and she believes she must respond to it right away. Tyrion pleads with her not to put her life on the line like this. But Dany will have none of it. Dany and her three dragons fly away heading Beyond the Wall.

Dany hurries to her dragons to respond to Jon’s call.

Beyond the Wall

I already mentioned the various conversations that happened before things picked up here. So let’s get straight to the action.

The first peril came in the worst of the snow. A whitewalker bear finds the crew and attacks. He kills a few “red shirts” (I’m going to use the old Star Trek term to describe the nameless guys who were simply put on this mission to die) before sinking his teeth into Thoros of Myr. The bear leaves very deep wounds, but the rest of the crew is able to fight him off before Thoros passes.

Jon and crew circle up as they prepare to fight the Ice Bear.

After arriving at the arrowhead shaped mountain the Hound saw in the season premiere, the crew spots a small group of Wights. Lead by a Whitewalker, the group of zombies notices a fire. But before they can dig too deep into investigating, Jon and his crew attack. The fight proves easier than expected as Jon uses Longclaw to take out the Whitewalker. Once the Whitewalker is defeated, all the zombies with him fall over (so that is “Step 4” in the book “How to Defeat the Army of the Dead”).

Conveniently, there is one wight still standing (not sure how he ended up with this crew), and Jon’s crew pounces to tie him up and capture him.

Well, that just seemed way too easy until a large army can be heard charging. Jon sends Gendry back to Eastwatch to send a Raven to Daenarys. As for Jon and his crew, they run across a frozen pond and make it to the center of the pond just before the ice starts to fall in. So the good news: Jon’s crew is temporarily safe from the Army of the Dead. The bad news: they are completely encircled by the zombies with no means of escape.

Jon and crew surrounded by the Army of the Dead.

I had a feeling at least one of these guys had to die on this mission. That man was Thoros of Myr. The men burn his body and resume their long wait for help.

I’m not exactly sure what the Hound was thinking about here (I guess he was just bored), but he starts throwing rocks at the Wights. Eventually, those rocks end up sliding across the pond which is now frozen over again.

The Army marches forward and Jon’s crew fights them off. A few more red shirts are lost in battle, and Tormund nearly joins them as the Wights almost pull him down into the cold water. But the Hound saves him.

We get more of Jon getting all retrospective (similar to the Bastard Battle when Jon stared down the entire Bolton army) and fighting looks hopeless until Daenarys shows up with all three dragons.

Dany and her dragons arrive and blow dragon fire throughout the army of the dead.

The dragon fire clears many of the wights and gives Jon and his crew the chance to get on Drogon. But Jon keeps fighting, taking out wights that are trying to get on that dragon.

The Night’s King sees a huge opportunity. He picks up an ice spear and fires it into the air. One of Dany’s three dragons is hit. He falls into the water and dies.

Dany must recover quickly as Jon tells her to get out of there now. She flies away without the King of the North as Jon is pulled down into the water by a number of Wights.

Raise your hand if you thought that was the end of Jon? Anybody?

I’m not sure how he survived, but Jon pulls himself up out of the water. However, in his current state, there is little chance Jon would be able to fight his way back to Eastwatch.

Enter Coldhands (or Jon’s Uncle Benjen), who arrives to sacrifice himself in order to save Jon.

Jon arrives back at Eastwatch on his uncle’s horse. The Hound takes the captured Wight’s body and takes it somewhere (????). I guess they didn’t want the body on Dany’s boat with all those important characters.

It’s on Dany’s ship that Jon wakes up, and the two power players have their most touching moment of the series so far. Jon apologizes for the death of one of the dragons. But Daenarys says it’s ok because now she’s seen the Army of the Dead and will help Jon defeat it. Jon returns that favor with a declaration of “My Queen.” The two are just smitten at this point, holding hands and getting all googly eyed before Dany stops herself and pulls her hand away.

Jon declares Daenarys as his queen.

I doubt either Jon or Dany would have been smiling if they’d known what was happening Beyond the Wall. The Wights use giant chains (purchased from ACE Hardware in Hardhome, I guess) to pull the dragon out of the water. The Night’s King touches the dragon, and the dragon’s eyes open up and turn blue. We have an Ice Dragon!!!!!

Of Note

-I am not sure how you take down an Ice Dragon. But it looks like we have two ways to deal with it. The first is the dragon spear Qyburn invented. The second (using the knowledge gained this episode) is killing the Night’s King.

-I really liked the moment between Jon and Jorah. I think it was important for both Jon to offer Longclaw to Jorah and for Jorah to refuse it.

-With Thoros gone, it looks like Beric’s next death will be his last. But that fiery sword sure will make it difficult.

-Before he died, Thoros discussed the battle he and Jorah participated in on Pyke. Thoros lead the charge on Pyke with a fiery sword. The battle was in response to Balon Greyjoy’s rebellion against then King Robert. Balon’s punishment for his rebellion was the loss of all three of his sons (two of them died in the battle and one, Theon, became a ward to the Starks).

-“I was doing what I was meant to be doing and he knew it.” Great quote by Arya that really puts into context just how great a dad Ned was.

-Arya also made a great point about what both her and Sansa wanted to become (Arya a knight, Sansa a queen). What both became was a twisted version of their dream. Instead of being a knight, Ayra became a horrifying assassin. And Sansa, though she is currently ruling the north, went through a series of horrifying ordeals to get here.

-“I don’t want you to be a hero,” Dany tells Tyrion as she goes over a list of everyone she considers a “hero” (Drogo, Daario, Jorah, Jon). So I guess Dany has a thing for heroes then?

I cannot believe the season finale is already upon us. I am sure there will be plenty to unpack, so come back next week as we wrap up season 7.

 

 

 

 

Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 5: Eastwatch Recap

Two weeks ago, I made the observation in this space that, in Season 7, Game of Thrones has brought together all these disparate storyline for a common goal. But getting these characters and their varying experiences to agree on one direction was proving difficult.

Now, the last two episodes have shown us a rather simple solution: seeing is believing.

Everybody knew Daenarys had arrived in Westeros with the Dothraki and three dragons. But that information alone did not keep Jamie from pursuing victory against her on the battlefield. In”Eastwatch,” Jamie declared a war with Dany as unwinnable all because he saw first hand the destructive power of Drogon and the Dothraki.

Sansa dismissed Arya’s plan to kill Cersei as playful rumblings by her silly little sister. But seeing her sister fight Brienne last week showed Sansa just how serious a threat Arya is.

Both action and inaction can be explained now by what individual characters have seen. It was real easy for Cersei to say, “We must keep fighting” when she hasn’t seen the true power of dragon fire. The maesters ignore Sam’s pleading to warn Westeros of the Whitewalker’s coming because they lack his first hand experience dealing with Whitewalkers. And while Sansa’s eyes have been opened to who her sister is now, Arya has yet to notice the change in Sansa. Arya assumes Sansa is still the selfish, idealistic girl she was when Arya last saw her in season 1.

But while “seeing is believing” is what it will take for Westeros to turn their attention to the battle that really matters, is there really enough time to get everyone to see it? Sam and Tyrion both had plans with this goal in mind. But how many episodes do they have to see their plans implemented.

Though Game of Thrones is altogether ignoring the plausibility of time at this point, so I imagine the show editing will find a way.

I’m going to structure this recap a little differently this week. It wouldn’t make a lot of sense placing events strictly in the location they occurred. So let’s start with two different perspectives following last week’s epic battle.

Daenarys

Tyrion continued his horrified expressions this week as he took in all the ash that used to be men on the battlefield. Also continuing for the halfman was Dany’s unwillingness to listen to him.

All the surviving Lannister and Tarly men were brought before Daenarys and told to bend the knee or else (not exactly the choice Missandei said she was given last week). Some of the men kneel, but then many more do after Drogon let’s out a hearty roar.

Dany gives her ultimatum while Tyrion looks on.

Two noticeable hold-outs are Randyl and Dickon Tarly. Randyl refuses because he will not bend the knee to a foreign invader. Dickon refuses as well despite the objections of his father and Tyrion.

The mother of dragons doesn’t hesitate having both men brought before Drogon, who burns them alive.

Dragonstone

Daenarys returns home and is greeted by Jon Snow. And to Dany’s surprise (and delight, I believe), Drogon is very comfortable around Jon (must be able to sniff that Targaryen blood.

The Mother of Dragons does a really good job here of putting her and Jon’s plight into perspective. Dany’s actions the last two weeks have a bit of a “Mad King” feel to them, but they are not necessarily her acting irrationally. She gave the Tarlys a choice before burning them. She also needs Westeros to bend the knee to her, a foreign invader. And what better motivator can a person have than dragon fire?

Tyrion and Varys had this same debate about the Dragon Queen later on, with Varys pleading with Tyrion that he must get her to listen.

Tyrion and Varys discussing what they must do to control Daenarys.

Daenarys says, “We both want to help people. We can only help them from a position of strength. Sometimes strength is terrible.” Before the two “whatever they ares” (relatives?, kingdom builders?, lovers?, all of the above?) can continue their discussion, their conversation is interrupted by the return of a now healed Jorah Mormont.

Jamie

On the other side of the battle (or very conveniently placed body of water that gets Jamie far enough away from Daenarys to not be captured, but is not so long that Bronn can’t save him) is Jamie, who was indeed rescued by Bronn (I’m really glad they didn’t take long to resolve this cliffhanger).

The battle has completely changed Jamie’s perspective on this war. He knows his side cannot win. So he teleports (and I mean literally teleports, because that’s the only way Jamie makes it back to King’s Landing that quickly) back to King’s Landing to give Cersei his assessment. The queen only sees herself surviving by defeating Daenarys, so she means to keep fighting.

Jamie also drops that little bomb he learned two weeks ago that Olenna Tyrell was responsible for Joffrey’s death. Now think about everything that’s happen because Cersei believed all this time that Tyrion was the one responsible for that. If she doesn’t accuse Tyrion, her father is probably still alive, Tommen is likely still king, the Lannisters and Tyrells are likely still aligned, and the Holy Sept would still be standing having never had to deal with the High Sparrow and the Faith Militant. And her brother would still be with the family instead of aiding the Dragon Queen.

I don’t know if that all went through Cersei’s head. She would never admit all that. But learning she had the wrong man all along had to be a punch in the gut at that moment.

Bran

For the first time in Season 7, Bran’s visions are used for good instead of for creeping out his sisters. Bran sees the army of the dead marching towards Eastwatch. So he calls in Maester Walkin to start sending out Ravens.

Oldtown

One of those ravens makes it to Oldtown, and all the top maesters discuss the validity of the message with Professor Slughorn (the Archmaester).

Sam happens to walk in when they are discussing this and pleads with the council to send warnings to all the seven kingdoms. Sam’s logic is if the Citadel takes the threat seriously, then so will everybody else. He also wants a directive for men to be sent North for the fight and manuscripts of the “Long Night” to be sent out so more eyes can look for clues on how to best handle the Night’s King.

But as we have learned, everything in the Citadel moves slowly. The Archmaester says it could be true, or it could not. They will discuss it until they come to a decision.

A frustrated Sam takes this out on Gilly later in the evening (ignoring a huge reveal we’ll be discussing later). A determined Sam decides he’s tired of waiting to hear what should be done. He breaks into the library and takes a number of scrolls. He then packs a wagon with Gilly and little Sam and leaves, saying “I’m tired of reading about the achievements of better men.”

Sam expressing his frustrations to Gilly before heading off to warn the seven kingdoms.

 

Dragonstone

Jon Snow also received the message from Bran. And he knows he must get back to deal with the threat. But Tryion has a plan.

Tyrion recommends capturing a member of the undead army (you know, a really easy task) and bring it to King’s Landing. The proof that the undead army exists would convince Cersei to join the cause instead of taking back all the gains Dany has made should the Dragon Queen decide to help Jon.

Davos and Jon discuss how to handle the threat of the Night’s King with Dany and her advisors.

Jorah volunteers for the mission and Jon means to go with him. But they need to meet and discuss these terms with Cersei somehow.

King’s Landing

The old smuggler Davos gets Tyrion into King’s Landing to meet with his brother Jamie. After some unpleasant “Why did you kill our father?” talk, Tyrion and Jamie get down to business (or at least that’s what Jamie relays to Cersei).

We don’t see what they talk about, but Jamie brings the subject up to Cersei. Qyburn has already told on Jamie, so he doesn’t have to keep his meeting with Tyrion a secret. Dany wants to work out an armistice, and Cersei seems to be in line with it. But it’s not because of some fear of the Whitewalkers. Cersei wants to use it as an opportunity to strike at Dany for her, Jamie, and the child in her belly.

The now pregnant Cersei spent episode 5 mulling over what to do about Dany’s dragons.

Davos had his own mission: to meet with Robert Baratheon’s bastard, Gendry. We haven’t seen the blacksmith since Davos helped him escape in Season 3. But he’s been steaming for awhile waiting for the opportunity to fight.

Davos tells him he must keep his identity secret. He tells him this after Gendry shows off his weapon of choice: a warhammer (the same weapon as King Robert) with a stag on it. So I don’t think this whole “keep it a secret” thing is going to work.

Gendry sporting the Warhammer he made for himself.

Davos and Gendry look good to go after bribing a couple of Lannister guards and giving them some crab meat Viagra. But Tyrion walks up at the wrong time not hiding his identity at all. No bribe can protect the trio now, so Gendry uses that warhammer to smash each guard’s face in.

The trio returns back to Dragonstone, where Jon, Davos, Jorah, and Gendry all board a boat on its way to Eastwatch.

Dany and Tyrion watch as Jon’s boat leaves Dragonstone.

Winterfell

Meanwhile, back in Winterfell, Arya maintained her lone wolf persona as she sat in the back of a meeting Sansa was overseeing.

Arya did not like the way the Northern Lords talked about Jon and confronted her sister about it. But I have to agree with Sansa here. It’s real easy to threaten physical violence on people when you’re a loner asassin. But Arya has never had to maintain alliances so an army of thousands will stay by her side.

Arya lurked on Littlefinger later in the episode. She notices him receiving information from a servant girl. He also talked to Robett Glover and Yohn Royce. But the most important thing she sees is a note Littlefinger received from Maester Walken.

Arya broke into Littlefinger’s room and searched for the note. She eventually finds it in his bed: the note Sansa wrote begging her brother Robb to bend the knee back in Season 1. But it turns out, Littlefinger wanted Arya to find that note. I’ll have more on this note in the “Of Note” section.

Eastwatch

Expedited travel continued in “Eastwatch” as Jon and crew found themselves already at the Wall before the end of the episode. But they weren’t the only ones who had made the journey recently.

The Hound, Thoros of Myr, and Beric Donadarion were all in a cell when Jon arrives. They made the trek after the Hound’s vision in the flames during the season premiere.

Now, let’s run down all the connections we’ve seen between this group of people:

-Jon saw the Hound visit Winterfell back in Season 1.

-The Brotherhood Without Banners (who Thoros and Beric are a part of) sold Gendry to Melisandre back in Season 3.

-Thoros and Jorah fought together for Robert Baratheon when the Greyjoys rebelled against the throne.

-Jorah’s father fought with Wildlings during his time as commander of the Night’s Watch, a fact Tormund doesn’t let Jorah forget.

But in the end, Jon rallies the troops with simple words. They all have different reasons for being there but only have one reason to trust each other: they are all still living.

The episode ends with the brave band heading North to meet the Night’s King and his forces head on.

Of Note:

-That note Arya found was written by Sansa under influence of Cersei, who at the time had Ned Stark imprisoned and facing death should Robb not bend the knee to Joffrey. Unfortunately, I don’t think Arya will take that into account when she confronts her sister about it.

-Perhaps the juiciest nugget of the night came when Gilly accidentally stumbled upon the records of an annulment and wedding ceremony in Dorne involving Prince Rhaeager. So it sounds like Jon may not be a bastard after all.

-Shame on Sam for letting his anger with the Maesters cause him to completely miss that. Though I do wish Gilly would have opened with that instead of all the other boring facts she shared.

-Sam’s arc took the exact same direction as Arya’s with him leaving his training early to serve a different purpose.

-I feel like both Dickon Tarly and Gendry’s characters suffered from a lack of development. What would lead Dickon to make the same decision as his father? I mean, we knew enough of Randall Tarly to know he was a stubborn hard ass. But his son seemed a little more open to new ideas.

And while I loved bad ass Gendry, how the hell did he go from cautious blacksmith to throw caution to the win warhammer man? Could we not have gotten a few scenes the past couple of seasons to show this growth?

-Jon once again avoids the subject of his “death” with Daenarys. When will she find out about it and what will she think of him then?

-“Dragons are where our partnership ends.” Your quote of the night from Bronn.

I did not expect Season 7 to have this much humor in it. But “Eastwatch” gave us plenty of laughs before winter comes next week.