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.”
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.”
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.
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).
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.
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.
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?
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).
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!!!
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.
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.
-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.