This weeks episode left me in a very contemplative mood, more so than usual after a new Game of Thrones. Honestly this episode felt more like I was reading a few chapters of A Song of Ice and Fire more than any episode thus far. There was a ton of misdirection that followed the highs and lows of emotion this week. And that's a good thing. Daenerys' campaign is not going how I thought it was going to go, Cersei is acting smarter than she previously led on, and Jon Snow, well, actually Jon Snow's doing about how I thought he would. I was very impressed with the Checkov's Gun and stratagem in the war campaign this episode, if not left feeling somewhat teased. No Sandor or Arya this week, however pretty much everyone else was accounted for in some way, so there is no shortage of things to examine.
So lets begin with Euron arriving back in King's Landing with Ellaria, Tyene, and Yara. He berates Jaime again and jests at Jaimie's relationship with Cersei. The only really interesting things I noticed here was Cersei promising herself to Euron after the war, which at this point I'm not sure if she intends to keep that promise or not (and I'm sure Euron feels the same way), and it never showed what Euron has planned for Yara. Whatever the case with the Greyjoys we are very aware what Cersei has planned for Ellaria. She poisons Tyene the same way Ellaria poisoned Myrcella, and is content to leave Ellaria chained in the dungeon to watch Tyene die firsthand. I imagine that's not the end of that. I have to admit though I never really liked the Sand Snakes. As terrible as what was happening on screen I felt almost zero pity for Ellaria. Tyene maybe but Ellaria has just never been on the losing side before and, like Cersei pointed out, had no problems killing Marcella for purely vindictive reasons.
Jon Snow finally meets Daenerys Targaryen! That meeting, in keeping with the theme for the entire episode, was a most frustrating one. Daenerys acted like everything I've ever criticized her for ever (in case you thought I changed on this stance in the last year, nope, it's still dislike bordering outright hatred for her) and had objectively her most hypocritical fit of entitlement to date. Jon did a good job of trying to be polite about it and not speak out of turn, but I have no problem ripping her to shreds right here so let me explain why I was disgusted with Daenerys this episode. To begin, ignoring her tedious and downright rediculous titles (which was admittedly for humor in the scene) her opening greeting was a demand that Jon bend the knee. To which, of course, Jon says no.
Then it begins. She starts up on this huge rant about fealty and Jon's ancestors and when Jon calls her out on her bullcrap and points out the Mad King burned alive Jon's grandfathers and the like Daenerys walks right into yet another logic fallacy claiming Jon should not judge daughters for the actions of their fathers. Jon looks her dead in the face and is like "how can you tell me that then demand fealty based of the actions of my fathers?" to which Dany has no real answer. Daenerys then goes on to say how she's the rightful queen of the Seven Kingdoms and condemns Robert for being a usurper (again) not realizing the hypocrisy of how both times a Targaryen had any right to claim the Iron Throne in history they needed three dragons to do so in the first place! Most egregious of all I would say however, is not believing Jon on the White Walkers. Jon tells her about an army of undead and, not one minute after mentioning her dragons, she says she doesn't believe in undead. This from the woman who, almost every chance she gets to remind someone, owns actual mythical creatures and has undergone a personal and soul changing journey directly resulting in the resurrection of said mythical creatures. All of a sudden she doesn't believe the King of the North, who's lived in the North his whole life and has no reason, politically or militaristic, to be in her captivity willingly about a subject involving myths coming to life. Good lord.
Not all the blame can be on Daenerys though (just like 90%). I saw no real reason for Jon to not mention about being resurrected from the dead. Did he think she wouldn't believe him if he made too many claims? She already told him she didn't believe him at that point so he might as well get it out in the open. This would've worked out well too, because even though Jon wasn't aware she was there, Daenerys' party could've backed this up with Melisandre. This point has been somewhat of a pit of contention among viewers. I think it was a bad choice. It leaves the audience wondering how this little detail is going to come back to the involved parties in the future, and to me it comes off as more of a liability than a strength to save for later. Whatever the case Jon is quickly made into a political hostage while Daenerys learns about how she's losing the war.
This part really surprises me. I guess I was thinking what all the other council members in Daenerys party were thinking and that is that she would take her Dragons and crush King's Landing then start rebuilding trust with the people from the inside out. This whole waiting because they want to win over the common man isn't really working in anyone's favor so far except Cersei's, and I thought this concept was explored very well throughout the episode. I enjoyed Eurons and Jamie's talk about the people and how they condemned their queen a week ago and now cheer for her, and later Jaimie and Olenna's conversation about how the ends justify the means when it comes to the opinion of the general populace once peace is actually restored.
I immensely enjoyed the Checkov's Gun of Tyrion building the sewers of Casterly Rock and making secret tunnels throughout the city. That actually just about blew me away. The battle sequence was very good as well, although I thought it was short if not well shot, and I would've liked to see two armies really go at it like the Battle of the Bastards. I quickly saw the reason for this feeling however, and that is because Greyworm and his Unsullied were practically given Casterly Rock while the main force of the Lannisters moved on High Garden and defeated the forces there. A very smart move on Jamie's part for all the reasons he mentioned, and now Daenerys is going to be seriously hurting for her main force. I enjoyed Olenna's last moments, revealing that it was she who killed Joffrey and her commentary on how far gone Jaime has become, casting more doubt on his relationship in the future with Cersei. It will be sad to see her go and it seems last weeks speculation of her being an informant was wrong, and it makes me really wonder if the Tarly's are now officially with the Lannisters.
The only other thing that happened this episode is we see what's going on at Winterfell with Sansa and she's killing it like everyone thought she would. She may not know battle or realize the importance of world events, but she knows how to run her own keep and win over the people. Why she lets Littlefinger withn punching distance is beyond me, and I like how his little speech about seeing all available options so your ready for the future was interrupted with the reunion of the guy who can literally see all available options. Bran and Sansa's reunion was touching and I really enjoy seeing the Stark children meet each other after all these years. Sansa seems to have problems getting along with any of her family members however, although this time it's not her it's Bran. Listen, Bran, no one appreciates the Matrix more than me and I get the whole Keanu Reeves "I know it doesn't make sense and I can't explain to you why" detached from humanity shtick, but maybe don't icebreak with mentioning the night of your sister's rape.
This episode was frustrating to say the least. I really wanted to see Daenerys crush Cersei and that doesn't seem to be happening any time soon. In fact in 3 episodes Daenerys has lost every ally she has and the main force of her army. I very much enjoyed the Jon and Tyrion reunion and I'm glad to see that they are able to trust and rely on each other so far. It really goes to show how small acts of kindness go a long way in this world. I'm glad Tyrion is really trying to be the bridge between fire and ice right now and Daenerys gave Jon the Dragonglass, but now she's going to need a lot more from him, so maybe it's time to ease up on the titles and general pretentiousness.
The little quip between Varys and Melisandre has me very interested in the fate of the Spider. Melisandre is still on Arya's list and is, in her own words, fated to die in Westeros, but how does this affect Varys? I wonder if Littlefinger won't get the best of him yet, or if there's an even greater twist coming. Finally I give best acting to Jorah Mormont this episode, and perhaps it is because his scene was so short, but he came off as the most emotionally sincere character this week. The handshake with Sam was perfect. I was glad to see Sam didn't get expelled from Hogwarts so hopefully he keeps his visit to the restricted section of the library under wraps.
That's really about it this week. I'm still left hoping the actual action starts to pick up. I'm not at all looking foward to another episode on Daenerys bitching about how everyone isn't just giving her things so I'm hoping she hops on those dragons and actually has a reason for bringing them in the first place because so far there's been a very big lack of dragons and armies. Now that Bran is in Winterfell I'm going to need him to get his ass in gear (figuratively speaking obviously) and start using his sight to keep and eye on enemy movements and, you know, win the war. Also where was Brienne this week? Great job protecting Sansa from Littlefinger and being a general bodyguard. A parting thought; I think Daenerys needs to start sharing her dragons like her ancestors. There were three people riding those three dragons when the Targaryens first came to Westeros and now we really see why. If she had sent a dragon escort with most of her military units so far none of the plans would've failed. Hopefully she and Jon can start working together before things get too far along. Be sure to check out the preview for next week's episode below!