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Category - 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.

 

Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 4:

Some of the best work “Game of Thrones” does is when it takes its time and lets its stories breathe. I know it is tough for a show with so many moving parts (well, at least it used to have many parts) to give the time every storyline and character deserves. But when it does, GoT rivals any show currently airing on television.

Take the opening of last season’s finale. The drawn out destruction of all of Cersei’s enemies was one of the show’s best scenes. But it wasn’t just the slow build of the moment, the growing intensity of the narrative, or the brilliant score in the background that made it work so effectively. It was also that each character was given the time for their role in the destruction of the great Sept. of Baelor to develop before the climatic moment.

“Spoils of War” was such an episode for “Game of Thrones.” Sam, the Hound, the Brotherhood, Euron, the Unsullied, Jorah, the Wildlings, and the Night’s Watch (who’s been out of it for a while now) were all ignored so Stark reunions and battlefield slaughter could be given the time they needed.

If any attention was given to those other stories, it would have taken valuable time away from the power of the episode’s great moments.

Sansa and Arya needed to have their awkward reunion before Sansa could observe just what Arya has become. The moment where Sansa watches Arya fight Brienne one on one loses some of its effectiveness if it appears without having first had the reunion in front of their father’s grave.

Jon and Dany moved a little closer to an alliance with the Mother of Dragons telling the King of the North she will help him. But she still insists he bend the knee. The thawing of relations between these two epic characters can’t be rushed. It has to be steady to be effective. And tonight’s episode was another step in that direction.

And another in the show’s long line of epic battle scenes, character reactions rightfully received more attention than the battle itself. We get Jamie and Bronn’s horrified reaction to both stampeding Dothraki and Drogon’s roar. As men turn to ashes all around him, Bronn acts out of character as he desperately seeks the Dragon Crossbow in an attempt to save Westeros from further burning. And finally, there’s Tyrion, who’s prospective is one of a man on the winning side of a conflict who is horrified at what he’s seeing.

And that focus on character made “Spoils of War” the best episode of season 7 so far.

We only have three location in tonight’s recap. We’ll start in the North, where another Stark found her way back home.

Winterfell

I was a little surprised Arya actually ended up in Winterfell. I guess I read a little too much into her encounter with Nymeria.

Also, wouldn’t Arya be a more effective assassin if no one knew she was alive? Maybe showing off her skills wasn’t the best tactic for someone who wants to kill the queen?

Oh well. At least Arya’s scenes were fantastically done. Sansa and Arya were not very close when they were last together, and it shows when Sansa embraces Arya but receives no embrace in return (second week in a row that’s happened to Sansa).

But as they talk, Arya seems to realize how much Sansa has grown and returns the affection.

Arya and Sansa meet for the first time since Season 1.

Sansa, on the other hand, only sees her silly little sister at first. The “Lady of the North” laughs when Arya brings up her kill list. But then, Bran reveals that Arya does have a kill list, and she was heading to King’s Landing to take out Cersei, one of the names on it.

And then, Arya more than hold’s her own in single combat with Brienne, a character Sansa knows is a beast in combat. Sansa now knows her sister has become a very dangerous person.

Brienne and Arya spar in Winterfell’s courtyard.

Dragonstone

As expected, round 2 between Jon and Daenarys went a little smoother than round 1. For the first time, we see the dragonglass underneath Dragonstone. Also under the rock are a bunch of cave paintings conveniently located there so Dany can see the history of the original “Long Night.”

Jon points out how the Children of the Forest and the First Men fought together to defeat the Whitewalkers, and Jon wants Dany to do the same. A more compassionate Mother of Dragons says she will help, but Jon must bend the knee. The debate is the same as last week, but both seem to be more understanding of the other’s position.

But the good vibes of that meeting disappear once Dany receives the news that she’s lost the Tyrells and the Unsullied are trapped on Casterly Rock.

The Mother of Dragons scalds Tyrion for his failed strategy so far as she plans to ride her three dragons into the Red Keep and take out Cersei herself. She ignores Tyrion’s rebuttal, but then turns and asks Jon what he thinks.

The King of the North advises against burning down castles to claim Westeros because it would simply make her appear like everyone else who’s come before.

So what does Dany have in mind to turn the tide in the war she’s losing?

Daenarys and team Dragonstone looking out over the waters trying to decide what to do next.

The Reach

Lannister wagons are hitched up and leaving the recently conquered Highgarden with the former Tyrell fortune loaded up and heading to King’s Landing. Cersei told Tycho Nestorsis she would have the crowns debts paid back in full, and the stolen Tyrell coffers are the means in which to do that. We receive word later that this money does indeed reach King’s Landing.

The rest of our time before the big battle is spent as a reminder that Bronn is indeed just in it for the money. He collects a big bag of gold and talks about the castle he should get for all this fighting he continues to do for House Lannister.

Otherwise, things seem peaceful for an army going back home after a big victory until Bronn hears something coming.

First, it’s hoofs of running horses hitting the ground. Then, yelling and shouting leads both Jamie and Randall Tarly to prepare the troops to defend. Bronn wants to flee, head back to King’s Landing, and get behind the capital’s walls. But Jamie will not leave the fight. They seem to be building up the courage to take on the coming challenge when they are suddenly both terrified by Drogon’s roar.

Up to this point, those in the south have mostly heard of all these mysterious things going on in the North and across the Narrow Sea. The rumors were out there that the last Targaryen had three full grown dragons and a Dothraki hoard by her side. But the looks on Jamie and Bronn’s faces tell us they truly did not believe the stories until they saw that Dothraki hoard riding towards them with a dragon flying above it.

Drogon and the Dothraki’s ride towards the Lannister lines.

Daenarys is leading her troops into battle, and Drogon is dousing dragon fire on everything. The battle is a route. The tired Lannister and Tarly men had no shot against fresh Dothraki and a large dragon.

Bronn loses the bag of money and leaves it knowing he has a more important purpose. Bronn desperately searches and finds the Dragon Crossbow Qyburn introduced two weeks ago. He loads up and fires a spear that takes down Drogon, but only hits him in the shoulder.

Drogon regroups and Dany jumps off of him to try and remove the spear from his shoulder. Jamie sees the opportunity to end this war right here as he picks up one of the dragon spears and rides full speed towards Daenarys.

Jamie riding through a burning field looking to take out the Mother of Dragons.

But just a Daenarys notices him coming, Drogon turns his head and sends out more fire. Someone saves Jamie just before the fire can consume him. Jamie lands in water and, in full armor, is sinking to the bottom when the screen turns black.

Of Note:

-Though we left his fate on a bit of a cliffhanger, I imagine Jamie will somehow survive the current plight he’s in. I just don’t see the show saving him from dragonfire only to have him drown in his armor.

-“Your people can’t fight,” said a random Dothraki. To which, Tyrion replied, “What the hell would you do facing off with dragon fire, moron?”

-We know Daenarys can control one dragon. But is she able to get all three to fly and work together in one battle? Or will two more riders be needed? I discussed this very topic in a piece I did previewing Season 5.

-Missandei tells Jon that Daenarys is “the queen we choose.” It does not look like the people in Westeros are going to get that same choice.

-Nothing of note about Jon and Theon’s meeting other than Theon is now back in Dragonstone as he waits for something important to do.

-A couple of the cave drawings were the same pattern as the one’s the Whitewalkers made in the snow all the way back in Season 1.

-I mentioned Cersei’s meeting with Tycho earlier. In that meeting, she mentioned the Golden Company, one of the most successful sell sword groups in all of Essos. We’ve heard the Golden Company mentioned before, but they have yet to appear on the show.

Cersei discusses “investment opportunities” with Tycho.

-The blade that was used in the attempt on Bran’s life back in season 1 was given to Bran, who then gave it to Arya. So Arya now has a Valayrian steel blade.

-And I found it interesting the show would bring up who tried to kill Bran so long ago. In the TV show, the mystery was never solved. So could that answer play a key part in what’s to come? And wouldn’t creepy time vision boy know this answer already?

Bran…I mean the Three Eyed Raven giving the Valayrian Steel Blade to Arya.

-Bran’s emotionless state has never been worse than in his stoic send off to Meera. The girl who dragged him all the way across the land beyond the Wall barely gets a thank you.

-And if Meera is heading home, does that mean we will get to see her father, Howland Reed, at some point?

 

Dany has struck her first big blow in the battle to take the Iron Throne. We’ll see who lands the next punch next week.

 

 

 

 

 

Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 3: The Queen’s Justice

For six seasons (and especially the first five), Game of Thrones told a large story juggling multiple threads spanning thousands of miles. A character could spend their entire time on the show without ever interacting with certain major characters or know the details of the journey those characters in other places were enduring.

Now, in season 7, everybody’s fighting on the same playing field. Though they may not be interacting directly, all are motivated by the ongoing war for the Iron Throne or the looming battle with the Whitewalkers.

But the effect of all these disparate story lines in the past is that now people who need to work together are hesitant to because of their unfamiliarity with the other’s story arc. Dany doesn’t believe or trust Jon because she wasn’t there at Hardhomme to see the Night’s King in all his glory. And all Jon knows of Dany are stories of her “mad” father and how he murdered Jon’s grandfather and uncle. He hasn’t seen her rise up as a leader who freed thousands of slaves on the other side of the world. It would have been real easy for the show to find a way to make the long anticipated first meeting between these two epic characters the birth of some glorious alliance right away (like Dany’s first meeting with Tyrion was). But it wouldn’t have been true to the way the story’s been told so far.

The same thing plagued what should have been a joyous Stark sibling reunion between Sansa and Bran. Well, at least it did for one side. Sansa didn’t even know where to start asking questions to understand what Bran’s been through since they last saw each other early in season 1. But his complete knowledge of her backstory made their encounter even more awkward. At least Jon and Dany were on equal terms, not knowing the best way to respond to the other claiming to be royalty. But for Sansa to know her brother knows all the worst things that have happened to her was way too much to bear.

Will these characters come to an understanding of each other before the Long Night arrives in Westeros? The ten remaining episodes don’t leave a lot of time for them to figure it all out.

We’ll begin our recap with a look back at the first of those awkward meetings: the first meeting between “ice” and “fire.”

Dragonstone

Jon and Davos arrive on Dragonstone and are greeted by Tyrion, who shares several inside jokes with Jon from their previous meetings in season 1. But he follows up the pleasantries by taking their weapons and (more importantly) their boat.

The long walk to the castle is interrupted by dragons flying overhead. Despite all the “unreal” things the pair have seen, Jon and Davos still can’t hide their amazement at seeing the flying beasts.

The pair approach Dany’s throne and have the privilege of hearing all 3,000 of Dany’s titles. I worried the episode would be over before Missandei was finished. Davos, Westeros’s leading expert in dry comedy, responds: “Well, this is Jon Snow…He’s…King of the North.”

Daenarys and Jon meet for the first time.

That’s the first contention between Jon and Dany: Jon’s unwillingness to bend the knee. Jon knows he will lose the North’s loyalty if he bends the knee and renounces a title his people gave him. But Dany wants to be queen of ALL seven kingdoms, including the North.

The second contention is which war needs to be keeping everyone’s attention. Dany’s war with Cersei has already begun. But Jon wants everyone in Westeros to turn their focus North and deal with the Night’s King.

So what we end up with is 20 minutes of impassioned pleas (the kind that has moved every other ear these two have spoken to the last couple of seasons) neither one wants to listen to. Instead, Jon and Davos are sent to their rooms and not allowed to leave.

Enter Tyrion, the mediator and voice of reason on Dragonstone. Tryion was smart enough to realize that Jon and Dany were unlikely to come to an agreement after one meeting (even if they both thought the other would be moved by a few words). He meets with both separately and encourages them to offer something to the other. Jon agrees to not fight his staying on the island, while Daenarys agrees to let Jon search the island for dragonglass with Dany’s help.

Daenarys and Jon come to an agreement, allowing him to look for dragonglass on the island.

Winterfell

Meanwhile, up North, Sansa is doing an admirable job running the north. But that’s not good enough for creepy Uncle Petyr. Baelish encourages Sansa to fight every battle everywhere in her mind so that nothing surprises her (we’ll see where that thinking comes into play in the future).

Baelish advises Sansa in Winterfell

But Sansa’s meeting with Littlefinger is interrupted by a surprise visitor: her brother Bran.

While Sansa is elated to see her brother, Bran seems disinterested. I guess if you can see everything that’s happening everywhere, having conversations with a sister you never thought you’d see again just isn’t that exciting.

And be advised to never take Bran to any kind of party or gathering. Sansa can’t seem to get him to talk about his experiences becoming the three-eyed raven, but she can’t get him to stop talking about the night Ramsey raped her for the first time.

Creepy Bran stays by the tree after an uncomfortable Sansa leaves him.

King’s Landing

Things are looking up for Cersei and her hold on the Iron Throne. Euron Greyjoy delivers her two prisoners: Ellaria and Tyene Sand (Euron keeps Yara for himself).

Cersei is appreciative of the gift and promises Euron all his heart’s desires (cough…sex..cough cough) once her throne is secure. And to that, she places Jamie to lead her armies and Euron in charge of her fleet.

Euron and Jamie, uneasy allies in the war to keep Cersei on the throne.

As for Ellaria and Tyene, Cersei means to make them suffer (especially Ellaria). Of the three sand snakes, only Tyene is Ellaria’s daughter. That’s why the other two were killed last week, but Tyene was captured.

Qyburn (that sneaky resourceful bastard) figured out the poison used to kill Myrcella and provided it to Cersei. She kisses Tyene, then takes the antidote. Cersei instructs the guards to keep Ellaria alive and keep the cell well lit so she can watch as her daughter dies. Is there a more ruthless bitch on television right now than Cersei?

Ellaria (left) and Tyene (right) brought before Queen Cersei.

 

But everything is not all coming up spades for the queen. Tycho Nestoris is visiting from the Iron Bank, and he’s come to collect. The show has mentioned a couple of times that the crown (with the combination of Robert and the depleted state of Casterly Rock) is in massive debt to the Iron Bank of Braavos. Tycho has crossed the Narrow Sea to either collect from Cersei, do business with the side that replaces her, or both. Cersei insists the crown will pay their debts “in full” when the crown is secure (more post war promises from the queen).

Casterly Rock

As for the battle to secure that throne, the end of “Queen’s Justice” can be filed as a big W in the Cersei column.

The first battle takes place in Casterly Rock, the seat of House Lannister. As the Unsullied and preparing their attack, Tyrion explains (from Dragonstone) the weak spot he built into the fortress (the sewer) to sneak girls in so his father wouldn’t know about them. The Unsullied successfully take Casterly Rock. But Grey Worm is confused. He knows there should have been more Lannister troops. He then looks out over the sea and sees Euron’s ships destroying the Unsullied fleet. Cue Admirable Akbar because Grey Worm and his friends are trapped!!!

Highgarden

And where were the rest of those Lannister troops? They were marching on Highgarden with the Tarlys taking out Dany’s last Westerosi ally.

The final scene between Jamie and the Queen of Thrones was the highlight of the night. Lady Olenna, resigned to her defeat, and Jamie Lannister, arriving to give the leader of House Tyrell a peaceful end.

Though if he’d known what she was going to say after taking the poison, he may have given her a more violent death. I feel somewhat responsible for this having asked the show last week to please keep Olenna Tyrell around until the very end. But she sure did go down swinging.

Lady Olenna in her final moments talking with Jamie Lannister.

After swallowing the poison, Lady Olenna tells Jamie that she poisoned Joffrey and asks him to make sure Cersei knows that.

So if you’re keeping score at home:

Jon and Sansa hold the north and the Vale.

Cersei holds King’s Landing, the Reach, Highgarden, the Riverlands, and has the Unsullied trapped at Casterly Rock.

Daenarys has Dragonstone and is down three allies.

Daenarys’s attempt to conquer Westeros is not off to a very strong start.

Of Note:

-Jorah is officially cured of Greyscale. And how did Sam do it? By reading the book and following the instructions. Seriously, that’s how Sam cured the “uncureable” grey scale. It’s like someone who cures cancer saying he did by following how-to instructions on WebMD. And what was Sam’s reward for curing a disease that plagued the people in Westeros and Essos for thousands of year? Copying all the aging books. The Archmaester is a tough one to please.

-Melisandre says she’s on her way to Volantis. But she said she will return. She has apparently seen in the flames that both she and Varys are to die in the wars to come.

-There were two ships that escaped Euron last week. Those two ships rescued Theon “I tried to rescue my sister” Greyjoy this week.

-I asked last week where the Dothraki are staying while Dany figures out how to use them on Westeros. Well, that questioned wasn’t exactly answered. But at least we know from them greeting Jon and Davos that they are hanging around somewhere near the mother of dragons.

-Davos nearly let slip the death and resurrection of Jon Snow to Dany. And it was still on her mind when she was talking to Tyrion later on.

-Last week, the Queen of Thornes (R.I.P) told Daenarys to “be the dragon.” I wonder if we are closer to that becoming a reality in Westeros with all of Tyrion’s plans so far failing.

-Cersei also thinks being queen means not having to hide what she and her brother do at night.

-And do all of the girls who work for Cersei have their hair cut short like she does?

-Braavos was a city built on former slaves. Slavery is banned there. So could the Iron Bank of Braavos support slavery while still being located there?

-Lady Olenna made a reference to “the Reynes of Castamire” in describing her own house’s fate. Also, the song of the same name was played several times in this episode referring to the family Tywin Lannister wiped off the face of Westeros to make his hold on Casterly Rock firmer.

-Despite facing long odds, the Unsullied have fought off large numbers before. A group of 3,000 unsullied saved the city of Qohor from 20,000 Dothraki 4,000 years ago. Grey Worm and crew have a similar situation on their hands now.

It’s been all Cersei so far in her battle with Daenarys for the Iron Throne. Will she and her crew have an answer? And will she grow closer to some form of alliance with Jon Snow? See you next week.

 

 

Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 2: Stormborn Recap

“Stormborn,” the 2nd episode in the penultimate season of Game of Thrones, was act 1 of a large game of risk played out on a large map of Westeros. While last week’s premiere episode gave characters time to breathe and delivered solid character moments, episode 2 was about turning the focus to the battle.

Tyrion laid out the Dragon Queen’s initial plans before all the leaders who have joined her side. Jon Snow made his first major move of the season as he and Davos began their journey to Dragonstone to secure all that Dragonglass. And Cersei tried to build her forces by appealing to the fears of the remaining Lords of Westeros.

But I don’t think anyone expects these initial steps in the game to go as planned. It only took one episode for Arya’s journey to kill Cersei to take a detour. And the first step in conquering Westeros for Daenarys has already been stopped cold by the execution by the first step of Euron’s game.

The bottom line is we’ve got war. And it’s not like the war of previous seasons where everything led up to one ultimate episode 9 battle. Armed conflict of small and large scale will consume the remaining five episodes.

Of course, it’s not like I’m giving you some deep insight here. We all knew (and the trailers confirmed) that battle was going to light the map of Westeros up. But knowing it’s going to happen and seeing the events we’ve been building to the last 6 seasons are two different things. And knowing that the true battle for Westeros is here should be a very exciting moment for all of us.

We’ll start our recap this week with a look in on Daenarys’s war council on Dragonstone.

Dragonstone

The show decided to address a large loose end in the show’s opening scene.

Back in season 1, Varys delivered an order for then King Robert to kill Danearys. Fast forward to present day, where Dany questioned Lord Varys, asking why she should trust him and his ever-changing allegiances.

Varys doesn’t shy away from his duplicity, admitting to his actions and claiming he works for the common people. The mother of dragons seems to accept Varys as a part of her council, encouraging him to be frank with her in the future, but threatening to burn him should he betray her.

Later on, all of Dany’s allies meet to discuss her strategy for conquering Westeros. Tyrion runs the meeting, addressing the need for King’s Landing to be taken by a domestic army instead of an army of foreigners.

Tyroin goes over the war map Daenarys and her allies.

Tyrion wants the Iron Islanders to pick up the Dornish forces in Dorne and meet the Tyrells at the gates of King’s Landing. He will also be sending the Unsullied to take Casterly Rock, the seat of House Lannister.

The best part of this council was the Queen of Thrones and her conversation with Daenarys. With Margaery dead, Olenna appears ready to take the Mother of Dragons under her wing. And her advice: “ignore your advisors” and “be the dragon.” Let’s all petition HBO to make sure Olenna Tyrell is around until the last episode airs.

Winterfell

Meanwhile, in Winterfell, Jon receives a note from Tyrion encouraging him to come meet the Mother of Dragons. It was a smart move having Tyrion be the one who wrote this letter considering the previous relationship he has with Jon. But Jon, Sansa, and Davos all agree this meeting is too risky to attend.

But my, how convenient (a major theme of the evening) it was that the next note Jon receives is the “There’s dragonglass on Dragonstone!!!” note Sam was preparing last week.

So despite the objections of those loyal to Jon, he’s heading to Dragonstone to meet with Queen Daenarys and get her help in the battle against the Night’s King.

Jon and Davos prepare to make their journey to Dragonstone.

While he’s gone, Sansa will rule in his stead, a statement that makes Littlefinger very happy. Now, Littlefinger makes very few mistakes as he calculates every step he takes in hopes of claiming the Iron Throne one day. But telling Jon “I love your sister” was a rather large one. Jon informs Littlefinger that he will kill him if he touches Sansa as he strangles Sansa’s creepy uncle.

Baelish has a very unsuccessful meeting with Jon Snow.

Oldtown

The only place war is not central to the discussion is Oldtown, where it seems every maester but Sam is unaware anybody’s getting ready to fight. And Archmaester Garwyn would have nothing to do with any solutions and revelations Sam makes.

Archmaester Garwyn is giving Jorah a grim medical report, telling him has 6 months before he becomes a Stone Man. But Sam’s been reading, and he thinks he’s found a cure for greyscale, a notion the Archmaester quickly dismisses.

Sam holds books for the Archmaester while the Archmaester kills all of Sam’s ideas.

But Sam has grown more defiant with each passing season. He moves forward with his plan in spite of the warnings and misgivings of Garwyn.

He gives Jorah a bottle of “Stuttering Sam’s Greyscale Gone” and (in what might be the show’s grossest scene ever) begins carving the scabs off Jorah’s skin.

Arya

We switch from Oldtown to the Riverlands (and from pus to soup one of the worst scene transitions any show has ever done), where Arya has stopped at the Inn at the Crossroads to eat and visit with her old friend Hot Pie.

Now, I thought it was interesting the show decided to skip the reunion here. I figured Hot Pie would be very excited to see Arya, and he probably was. But we enter their interaction long after that happened

Arya tells her trusted friend where she’s going, but Hot Pie is shocked she’s not going back to Winterfell. The news of her family retaking her childhood home had not made it to Arya’s ears yet. So she decides, when faced with the choice of which way to go, to head back to Winterfell instead of continuing her journey to King’s Landing.

Arya standing at a crossroads as she considers whether to go King’s Landing or Winterfell.

But a significant moment happens for Arya on her way back home. A pack of wolves surrounds her. And the leader of that pack is none other than Nymeria, the large direwolf she sent away back in season 1.

At first, I thought that pack was going to end Arya’s journey right there. I mean, she was pretty mean when she sent Nymeria off. But the direwolf still had enough affection for Arya to let her live. She didn’t, however care to go back with Arya to Winterfell. When Nymeria leaves, Arya realizes Winterfell is not for Nymeria. And that is the questions we leave Arya contemplating for herself.

King’s Landing

Cersei is meeting with several Lords from the Reach asking for their support. Included among them is Randall Tarly (Sam’s father).

Cersei uses fear to try and bring the lords to her side, using both the presence of the Dothraki and fear of the Targaryen name (another common theme this week) to try and rally their support.

Lord Tarly brings up the matter of dealing with three dragons. Qyburn has a solution down in the dragonpit: a large crossbow meant to fire spears at high speeds at dragons.

Jamie also meets with Lord Tarly, and we see the practical, loyal side of him we didn’t see last season.

Jamie wants Sam’s father to lead the Queen’s army. But Lord Tarly doesn’t want to fight against the Tyrell’s, the Tarly’s bannerman. Jamie leaves Lord Tarly with these chilling words: “Do you fight with us or foreign savages and eunuchs? We’ll have to wait to hear Tarly’s response.

The Narrow Seas

Raise your hand if you though the first step in conquering Westeros was going to go smoothly? Anyone?

On their way to Dorne, Ellaria and Yara’s girl fun play is interrupted by Euron. He promised Cersei a gift last week, and he’s here to claim it (or should I say them).

Now I think at this point, Euron’s character is trying to channel Heath Ledger’s joker. And while I think it’s way overdone, I far prefer it to the lame incarnation of the
“Crow’s Eye” we saw last season.

Euron invading Theon and Yara’s boat.

Euron kills two Sand Snakes (yay!!!!) and has the third Sand Snake and Ellaria captured.

Then, Euron holds an axe blade to Yara’s throat trying to goad Theon into a fight. But cowardly Theon rears his ugly head as he drops the sword and jumps into the water.

A sluggish start to Dany’s plan to conquest Westeros for sure: the head’s of two major allies captured and a new, vile enemy strikes his first blow.

Of Note:

-Dany will have a tall order convincing nobles that she is not her father. At least three different people (Cersei, Bronze Yohn, and Sansa) all spoke against trusting the Dragon Queen this week.

-No Wildlings this week. It appears they are on their way to Eastwatch by the Sea.

-Many online noticed the seas around the Wall turning into ice last week during the opening credits. I watched this week and noticed the changing seas, but they only “froze” for a brief second before returning back to water. Is that foreshadowing or just an unintentional effect?

-Melisandre made her first appearance this week encouraging Daenarys to meet with Jon Snow. I’m sure Davos will be thrilled to see the red priestess when he and Jon arrive on Dragonstone next week.

-A convenient note dropped by Missandei this week. The “prince” in the “prince that was promised” prophesy is actually translated from a gender neutral word (so it could be “prince or princess.” How convenient!!!).

-Speaking of Missandei, she and Greyworm finally hooked up the only way they can. Assuming Grey Worm survives the fighting, that will be a lot of fun for one of them for sure.

-Jamie seemed to treat Sam’s brother, Dickon, as little more than an afterthought.

-While she hangs out on Dragonstone, where is Dany keeping the Dothraki and her dragons? And what does she have planned for them?

-The Inn at the Crossroads has appeared several times in the show. It was where the fight between Arya and Joffrey back in Season 1 took place. The Brotherhood, Arya, and the Hound stopped there in season 3. And Hot Pie mentioned Brienne and Pod’s visit from season 4.

-Qyburn and Cersei looked at the skull of Balerion the Black Dread: the dragon Aegon the Conquerer rode to establish the first Targaryen king in Westeros.

 

Don’t expect things to slow down from this point forward. See you next week.

 

 

 

Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 1 Recap: Dragonstone

Six seasons of war, politicking, and suffering sure can give a character in a fantasy world a lot to think about. So instead of marching on with GoT’s continued exploits in these three areas, the producers of the show decided to give characters time to reflect on what’s brought them all to this point.

Reflection was the theme in “Dragonstone,” the premiere episode in Game of Thrones 7th season. Jon and Sansa recalled the mistakes their father and brother (or in Jon’s case, his “father” and “brother”) made that got them killed. Jamie and Cersei reflect on the death of their children and the loss of all their allies. Even the Hound did a rare bit of reflecting as he recalled the horrible treatment he gave to the father and daughter he correctly predicted would die.

And though she doesn’t speak her reflections out loud, I think there is little doubt Daenarys had to be thinking of all the trials she endured to get to the point where she has now returned to her home land to take back the Iron Throne.

But none of these characters were reminiscing for sake of pure nostalgia. Sansa knows Jon must avoid the fatal mistakes of his “father” and “brother.” The “last of the Lannisters” know they need allies going forward. The Hound recalls because he knows he must atone for the horrible things he’s done. All reflect with the future in mind.

And no line in “Dragonstone” summed this up more than the last line spoken by the “Breaker of Chains” as she looked over that old dusty map:

“Shall we begin?”

So let’s begin our recap with a character we were really hopeful we’d seen the last of.

Arya

The show opens at the Twins, where Walder Frey is addressing all the “important” members of House Frey.

I was confused at first, debating in my mind when this flashback occurred. But then, I remembered Arya’s whole “I become other people” superpower. Then, Lord Frey doesn’t drink after giving the toast. He keeps the now widow of Lord Frey from drinking as well. And Lord Walder’s condemnation of the Red Wedding assured us all that indeed Arya was under that mask. She poisoned all of House Frey and left, telling the former Mrs. Frey to “tell them Winter came for House Frey.” (Bad Ass!!!!)

Arya after she takes out House Frey.

But we weren’t done with Arya yet. She comes across a crew of Lannister soldiers on their way to the Twins to “keep the peace” after what Arya did.

One of the soldiers serenaded Arya, saying he would love her until they were 70. He also talked about some “Castle on a Hill” he grew up on (these, of course, are obvious references to Ed Sheeran’s cameo here).

It was a very human moment for Arya getting to hear about the lives of men who are technically here enemies. When the men ask her the purpose she has for traveling, she tells them she’s going to kill the queen. All the soldiers laugh, thinking it’s a joke. But we all know it’s not and are absolutely thrilled with the direction Arya is headed this season.

Winterfell

While Arya was killing Freys and hanging out with celebrities, her “brother” is handling business as King of the North. First, he wants everyone (men and women) digging for dragon glass. Then, he sends the Wildlings to “Eastwatch by the Sea,” an abandoned Night’s Watch castle, to halt the Whitewalker march.

His decision regarding what to do with the lands of House Karstark and House Umber (the two houses who fought for House Bolton last season) gave us our first of what should be many spats between Jon and Sansa this season.

Sansa wants the Karstark and Umber lands given to houses that stayed loyal to House Stark. Jon however, does not want to punish future generations for the treason of their predecessors, who are both now dead.

Jon allows the lands to stay in the hands of the Karstarks and Umbers after the new young lord and lady of the respective houses bend the knee to House Stark.

Jon and Sansa debate in Winterfell.

Jon later expresses his frustration with Sansa for questioning him in front of all his men. Sansa says she just wants Jon to listen to her. Jon and Sansa’s conversation which ends on a reconciliatory note, is interrupted by a note from King’s Landing. New Queen Cersei wants Jon to bend the knee or else.

King’s Landing

Queen Cersei is standing, looking over a freshly painted map of Westeros while it’s still being painted when Jamie enters. The two debate their current situation, which is pretty dire. The end of the Freys took out the Lannister’s last ally. They stand alone, but Cersie means to rectify this. She’s summoned Euron Greyjoy and his many Iron Born ships to King’s Landing.

Cersei in the Red Keep thinking of her next move.

What happens next was a far more proper introduction to Euron’s character than anything we saw last season. In season six, Euron was a cartoon I never took seriously. But everything about this speech (the wardrobe, the insults, the mannerisms) made me believe Euron could be a holy terror to all in Westeros.

Euron offers marriage in exchange for the Iron Born fleet. Cersei refuses, rightly refusing to trust “the Crow’s Eye” (I know it’s only his book nickname so far. But I don’t care. I’m using it anyway). So Euron promises a “pricelss gift” to prove his loyalty. (more on the horrifying possibilities of this “gift” later).

The Brotherhood Without Banners and The Hound

Meanwhile, Winter has reached the Riverlands as the Brotherhood and the Hound approach a familiar location.

The Hound and Arya stayed here one night back in Season 4. But the Hound ultimately robbed the man (who lived alone with his daughter) and told Arya they would be dead soon anyway.

The Hound and the Brotherhood approach the house he stayed in with Arya many seasons ago.

Well, he was right. Thoros of Myr believes the man killed himself and his daughter so they wouldn’t die of starvation. I think this might be the first time the Hound has expressed guilt. He gives a proper burial to the kind father and daughter and wonders why he’s been spared while they died.

The flames may have given a hint to that purpose. The Hound looks into the flames from the fire started in the house and sees the part of the Wall by the sea (in other words, “Eastwatch by the Sea”). He also sees a mountain shaped like an arrowhead (Hardhomme?) And for the first time, the Hound sees the Army of the Dead marching. I think we know where the Hound and the Brotherhood are heading. And I expect they’ll be meeting Tormund and the Wildlings on their way.

Oldtown

Making its debut in the opening credits Sunday night was Oldtown, the home of the Citadel, where Sam is playing orderly for the Maesters. A very effective montage shows Sam collecting chamber pots and cleaning them out, serving soup, and collecting leftover books in the library. But all Sam can think of while doing all these menial tasks is what books are behind a gate only a Maester can use.

Sam under the stress of his apprenticeship with the Maesters.

Professor Slughorn, following a meeting with Tom Riddle, tells Sam he cannot have access until he becomes a Maester. But Sam sneaks in and grabs a book anyway. That book had a map that showed the existence of dragon glass on Dragonstone. He prepares a note to send to Jon, giving “the White Wolf” a reason to meet the Mother of Dragons.

But Sam in not the only character residing in Oldtown.

Last season, Daenarys sent Jorah Mormont to find healing for his greyscale. We don’t see Friend Zone’s face, but we know from the voice and the arm now completely covered in greyscale that Jorah sought out the Citadel for that healing. After scaring Sam, Jorah asks if the Dragon Queen has arrived.

Dragonstone

Why yes she has, Jorah. Yes she has. Little is said or revealed when Daenarys steps foot on the shores of Dragonstone. She takes in all the dragon images, beholds the chair made of Dragonglass, and pulls down an old Stannis banner still hanging in the halls.

Daenarys and Tyrion walking through the halls of Dragonstone.

Then, Dany approaches an old dusty table with a map of Westeros on it (the one Stannis did all his planning on). With Tyrion close by, Daenarys stares at the table and asks “Shall we begin?”

Of Note

-Tonight’s premiere introduced three new characters:

Alys Karstark-A teenage girl and sister of the Karstark who sided with Ramsey Bolton last season. She’s now head of House Karstark.

Ned Umber- An young boy who was the son of the now deceased Smalljon Umber. He’s now head of House Umber.

Archmaester Marwyn- Yes, that was Jim Broadbent, aka Professor Horace Slughorn from the Harry Potter moveis, talking to Sam over that    dead body. But the name of his character is Archmaester Marwyn, the head of all Maesters. And it appears the archmaester will be a very supportive figure to Sam.

-Ned, Alice, and Lady Lyanna Mormont show one of the effects of all the fighting the north has endured: really young heads of houses.

-The face of feminism in Winterfell is Lyanna Mormont as she dares Robett Glover to keep her and the women of Bear Island from working and fighting.

-Dragonstone was the Island House Targaryen kept their heirs on to keep them safe until it was their time to rule. When Robert took the throne, Stannis was granted Dragonstone and spent of most of the first four seasons there.

-Bran and Meera are finally back south of the Wall as Dolorous Edd and the Night’s Watch opened the gate for them. He tells Edd something about his past, which I’m sure all the people who interact with Bran will never get tired of.

-“Everything before the word but is horse shit.” Great quote from Ned Stark, as told to us by Jon Snow.

-What will Euron’s “priceless gift” be? Unfortunately, I can only think of one thing Cersei would consider priceless: Tyrion’s head.

A really great, character centric premiere should give way to complete chaos in the weeks to come. See you next week.

 

 

 

Seven Things For Season Seven

Game of Thrones begins its seventh season this Sunday. And here’s seven things you need to know before the penultimate season begins.

1. Dany is coming to Westeros

Daenarys standing in the halls of Dragonstone.

For the first time, the Mother of Dragons sets foot on the land her ancestors ruled. Previews indicate she’ll establish herself first on Dragonstone, the island Stannis spent most the first four seasons.

2. Cersei Sits the Iron Throne

Cersei ended Season 6 in that old familiar chair.

All hail Queen Cersei!!! (Though I doubt anyone in King’s Landing is excited about that). Cersei Lannister sits the Iron Throne. And with all her children gone, there’s nothing keeping the Mad Queen of Westeros sane.

3. Jon Rules the North

Jon Snow rules in the North while Sansa looks on.

The “White Wolf” now leads the many great houses of the North. But with continued threats beyond the Wall, Sansa holding a pure Stark claim, and Littlefinger looking to pull the strings in the shadows, Jon’s hold of Westeros’s largest province is anything but secure.

4. What Will Euron’s Role Be?

We last saw Euron Greyjoy, Theon and Yara’s uncle, commanding the Iron Islanders to build ships and take to the seas.

Season 6 gave Euron Greyjoy, ruler of the Iron Islands after he killed his brother Balon, a very underwhelming introduction. But when we last left him, Euron was building a large fleet that will likely wreck havoc all across Westeros this season.

5. What Will Sam Find in OldTown?

Sam prepares to study in Oldtown.

When we last left Sam and Gilly, they had just arrived at the Citadel in Oldtown. Sam will be training to earn a Maester’s chain. But I suspect Sam’s greater purpose in Oldtown will involve a discovery that will greatly impact the wars to come.

6. What About All Those Other Loose Ends?

-What impact will Bran’s visions have on those south of the Wall? And could his mere presence prove costly to the people of Westeros?

-What role will the Brotherhood Without Banners and the Hound play in the larger conflict?

Beric Donadarion returned last season. Him and the rest of the Brotherhood will likely have a prominent role in Season 7.

-Who will Jorah seek to heal him of his greyscale?

-Will Jamie continue defend and fight for his sister in all that she does?

-Will we ever see Gendry again?

7. The Rise of the Whitewalkers

Will the end of season seven see the Whitewalkers make themselves known to the rest of Westeros? And with so many sides battling for the Iron Throne the last seven seasons, what shape will Westeros be in to handle the coming invasion?

The premiere is tomorrow at 8 pm (9 pm eastern) on HBO. I’ll have a recap of every episode this season the following Monday at noon central (1 pm eastern) time.

My Thoughts on the Game of Thrones Season 7 Trailer (Well the 2nd One That Is)

With the new season less than one month away, HBO released a second trailer (yes, I dropped the ball on the first one) for the 7th season of Game of Thrones on Wednesday.

First, take a look at the trailer. Then, read my observations that follow.

(This should go without saying, but if you are a “zero spoiler of any kind at all person,” then stop reading)

1. War is Everywhere

There are at least four battles going on in the trailer:

-King’s Landing, where the unsullied appear to be invading the city.

-The Dothraki (I think) are plowing into Lannister shields. Also, there is another shot of the Dothraki riding with a dragon flying just above them in the same direction.

-Also, Jamie is seen both directing archers in battle and riding a horse full speed on a burning (dragonfire???!!!)   battlefield.

-Fighting on the seas (could be Theon’s uncle Euron?).

-Beyond the wall, where Jon Snow and several wildlings are fighting something (there is an image of a Wildling and a Whitewalker fighting, but we can’t really tell who Jon’s crew is fighting here).

2. Daenerys Establishes Herself on Dragonstone.

Much like the first trailer, Daenerys is seen on Dragonstone, the longtime seat of the heir to the Targaryen throne numerous times.

3. Jon Will Meet with Daenarys.

Several leaked photos have confirmed this, but there are two pieces of evidence in the trailer of this inevitable meeting:

First, there’s a quote from Jon saying “For centuries, our families fought together against a common enemy.”

That’s not the whole quote, but the gist of it seems clear that Jon wants everyone in Westeros to come together and prepare to fight the Whitewalkers. And considering he took the seat of Winterfell without Cersei’s approval, I doubt it’s her.

Second, there’s a shot of Jon Snow and Davos somewhere with the sun shining. Now, when did we last see Jon Snow and the sun in the same shot? Have we ever seen Jon Snow and the sun coexisting in the same scene before? Clearly, he’s not in the north. So I’m guessing he’s on his way or has already spoken with the Mother of Dragons.

Jon and Davos somewhere south.

4. Euron is Heading to King’s Landing.

It can be easy to forget that Euron Greyjoy (known in the books as the Crow’s Eye) had taken over leadership on the Iron islands, was building a fleet of ships, and meant to find Theon and Yara and murder them.

Well, in the trailer, we see a large fleet of ships with the Greyjoy sigil on them. And the Red Keep in the background indicates those ships are heading towards King’s Landing.

A fleet of ships with the Greyjoy sigil on them.

Those same ships floating towards King’s Landing, with the Red Keep in the distance.

5. Jon Snow would be wise to be wary of Sansa.

Quotes involving Sansa both start and end the trailer. The first is Littlefinger (we don’t know for certain who he’s talking to, but come on, who else could it be?) saying to “fight every battle in your mind.”

The second quote is Sansa herself speaking of “the lone wolf” dying.

Now, it’s hard to give any meaning to the 2nd quote without the context of when it was said or who it was said to. But I don’t expect Sansa to stay content playing second fiddle to her brother/cousin. And Littlefinger will be there to make sure she doesn’t.

Sansa, as she appears in the 2nd trailer.

Of Note:

-The 2nd trailer featured very little of Cersei, the prominent figure in the first trailer. She opens that one describing how she means to fight everyone circling around her.

-Not that it’s anything new, but every shot of Arya in both trailers show the young assassin alone.

-There were also brief shots of the Hound, Beric Donadarion handling a flaming sword, and Missandei kissing Greyworm (how does that even work when an Unsullied’s involved?).

The seventh season begins July 16th. And in case you missed it, here’s that first trailer I didn’t review because, well, I’m just horrible.

About Those Game of Thrones Spin Offs…

HBO announced this week that they currently have four “Game of Thrones” spin offs in development for when their golden goose concludes its successful run sometime next year.

Now, “in development” doesn’t mean all four of the shows will happen. HBO may only end up sending one or two to the airwaves. And we don’t know if these projects in development will be full run series, miniseries, or movies.

But let’s pretend that all four projects get the green light to go in production. What will these spin offs be about? What time periods in the history of Westeros will they cover? Here are my four front runners.

1. Robert’s Rebellion

GoT Prequel 1

“BOLD PREDICTION, EINSTEIN,” says all of those who follow “GoT” news on a regular basis. No prequel or spin off has been rumored longer than that the war that put Robert Baratheon on the throne 15 years before the start of Game of Thrones.

No show idea would include more characters from Game of Thrones. And no prequel idea has been referenced more than this one in GoT, making the question more of “When will this show up on the air?” as opposed to “if it will.”

2. The Dance of the Dragons

GoT Prequel 2

Set 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones, this family battle for the throne between dueling Targaryen heirs is loaded with enough political intrigue, battlefield drama, and interesting characters to set itself up for at least a run as a miniseries.

The battle is also set at a time when dragons were commonplace in Westeros and used on both sides of the battle. The dragon vs dragon warfare may prove to be the tipping point that pushes this story into production.

3. Aegon’s Conquest

GoT Prequel 3

Aegon, known as “Aegon the Conqueror,” was the first Targaryen king. And I would love to see the tale of how the first Targaryen king and his two (literal) sister wives flew on dragons and conquered all of Westeros. It would also be great for “GoT” fans to see the ancestors of all the families we see in the hit series and how those families came to be where they are and how they are when “GoT” begins.

4. Nymeria, The Warrior Queen

GoT Prequel 4

 

This one is my long shot. But Nymeria’s story (not Arya’s wolf, but the princess who led her people to Dorne to escape the Valaryians and conquered Dorne with her husband Mars Martell) would be perfect for this age of women being cast in stronger roles in movies and television.

It would also give HBO the chance to try again at their depiction of the land of Dorne, a storyline “Game of Thrones” totally butchered and wisely gave up on in season six.

I left out several great stories that could very well be included among the four (The Dunk and Egg Chronicles, The Arrival of the Andals, The Age of Heroes, and The Blackfrye Rebellions just to name a few). I also didn’t include any future story lines that might take place after the “GoT” timeline because I personally don’t think those would be as good as any of the other stories I’ve mentioned.

What other stories would you like to see included in the four potential scripted series in development for HBO?

 

Game of Thrones Teaser Trailer is Out!

On Thursday, HBO (finally) released a teaser for the 7th season of the hit drama, Game of Thrones. Now, unfortunately, there are no clips or scenes from the upcoming season. But it’s at least enough to remind us that, yes, in an off-season filled with little casting news or official previews, our favorite drama will be returning soon.

Here’s the clip:

 

No new information here. We have Cersei on the Iron Throne, Daenarys sitting on a high seat on Dragonstone (I think. Readers, let me know if it’s actually someplace else), and Jon ruling in the North.

But the White Walker eye preceded by Cersei’s breath is all I need from this clip to get me excited for season 7.

The new season premieres July 16th. And let’s hope this isn’t the only footage we get before premiere night.