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