Wow what an ending. There was a lot that transpired this episode so I was very impressed at how the show wrapped up to have me completely focused on next week with all the huge revelations that happened this week. And there were some huge revelations this week. Before we get into all that, there were some things I wanted to address. These episodes seem to be just pumping along, which some people find good and some people find bad. I can see where complaints are coming from, this season could’ve gone ten episodes to work out some of the better parts of the show, such as the taking of Highgarden and Casterly Rock, emotional scenes between character reunions, and more, however I disagree. It’s been twenty years for this content to come out and by god it looks like it may take another twenty before GRRM finishes the books. If this is how I get a conclusion to the show then so be it. There are valid criticisms about the short episodes, but to have that ruin the show for you or worse in my opinion to call it bad writing, is something I fundamentally disagree with. It’s clear the show writers have an outline that GRRM gave them and are following it, with minimal fat added on by themselves, and the show isn’t as politically interesting as former seasons, but to digress and move on to this week’s review; If you don’t like it then tune out and wait twenty years. This show is entertaining and a great watch any more than that is icing on the cake but not essential to enjoy a great series.
So this week we start out pretty much where we left off last week, and the first scene confirms Jaimie's not dead (surprise, surprise). Daenerys has rounded up the remaining soldiers and asked them to bend the knee, something that’s really been getting her off these days. The Tarly’s don’t, and burn for it, leaving poor Sam the last of his house, but hey, at least he doesn’t have to worry about possessing his father’s sword anymore. Daenerys burning her enemies and assimilating the remainder is frowned upon by the rest of her entourage but truthfully I believe the best point she made was with Jon. Jon has ordered the death of much more people than Daenerys has and in war that’s what happens; soldiers fight and die. They all knew what they signed up for. If Daenerys has dragons then that’s just another tool of war, same as a sword or crossbow, so I wouldn’t jump all over her case for using them like she does, and honestly I can’t really think of what she might’ve done with the Tarly’s in that situation. Political prisoner? Unlikely. Come to our side or die. That was the deal, which was the result of losing the battle. They wouldn’t go to the wall, they wouldn’t listen to her, so yes it was a brutal way to make an example out of them but it was her choice and that reflected well on the overall theme of Game of Thrones; there are no right and wrong choices. Everything is a shade of grey. Good and bad can be entirely subjective.
Now that being said I did agree with Vary’s point to Tyrion that he must find a way to make Daenerys listen. A ruler who does not listen to their councilors has never turned out good for the commonwealth (with very rare exception). It falls on Tyrion to make her listen and propose ideas in a way that she will truly consider as he is her hand. I felt he really did that well with his suggestion to parley with Jaime. Granted, Jon during this time was also having none of it, and I liked that he finally used his title in a way that had some real weight to it. This to me was a fundamental difference in characters between Daenerys and Jon that helped the audience see what I mean. Daenerys is always throwing around her titles everywhere she goes and until she had the military to back it up many people thought it came of as pretentious (it does) and didn’t care. Jon however is reluctant to his title and only acknowledges it when the timing is correct, and he wants the full effect of what his title means to reach his intended target. It was subtly yet flawlessly done and it worked too, so Daenerys agrees to send emissaries (perhaps meet in person?) with Cersei, in an attempt to join forces to fight the White Walkers. Jon however must provide proof and attends to this matter personally.
It falls on Davos to smuggle in some Tyrion to meet with Jaime to propose this idea to Cersei on their behalf and Davos goes off on his own for a bit. Now I believe the best acting of this episode goes to the Jaime-Tyrion reunion with both of them on the brink of tears as they meet for the first time in years and talk about their past transgressions. Peter Dinklage stole the show for me here, and it was a real testament to the shows ability to fit some great heartfelt moments in an admittedly short timeframe. Jaime agrees to propose the parley to Cersei and when he does Cersei reveals to things; one that she is pregnant and the other is that she already wanted this type of situation to arise in order to get politically closer to Daenerys and know her enemy better. The only real thing I have to say here is that this seems exactly like something Cersei would do in regards to the parley, however her being pregnant again is curious. Remember for a moment, about the curse she received as a little girl from the swamp witch (I forget the names). She is only prophecies to have three children and so far as prophesies go in this show I'm inclined to believe this is the case: she is either lying (wouldn’t be surprised) or she will lose the child. I suppose we will see which it is.
Davos business in King’s Landing was to find none other than Gendry, who I’ve been waiting for all season long. Working in a smith shop, Gendry has been biding his time waiting for the opportunity to fight back against the Lannisters rule. He agrees to go with Davos immediately and brings along a war hammer paying great respect (perhaps unknowingly so) to his father Robert. Tyrion, Davos and Gendry then sail back to Dragonstone to meet with Jon to make way to Eastwatch-by-the-sea where Tormund currently resides with the free-folk to form up a raid party and capture a white walker alive and bring him to the Parley in Kings Landing. There was some fantastic banter between Jon and Gendry here that was very reminisce of Ned and Robert and the two seem to become fast friends. Jorah Mormont also returns into the fold and after a heartfelt meeting with Dany and Tyrion volunteers to be her representative in the raid.
Checking in at Winterfell, Arya follows Littlefinger around and discovers that he has uncovered the letter that Sansa wrote to Robb asking him to swear fealty to the Lannisters when she was under duress from Cersei. It turns out that Littlefinger was aware he was being followed and purposely wanted Arya to find it in an attempt to create discord between the sisters. Personally I think that this will backfire on him. We already have seen that Arya’s lie detector training paid off in a previous scene where she calls out Sansa; surely she can see what Robb did and what Littlefinger is trying to do. Elsewhere in the world Sam departs from Barad-dur with a bunch of stolen books, but it was actually Gilly who has the most important revelation not only in the episode but also in the entire show. Rhaegar Targaryen received an annulment to his wife Elia Martell and secretly remarried to Lyanna Stark before Jon was born. This means Jon is not a bastard as well as having a more legitimate claim to the throne than Daenerys. Hopefully they brought that book with them when they left, and we’ll see how Daenerys deals with it should the revelation come to light (who’s bending the knee to whom now?).
Jon, Jorah, Gendry and Davos meet up with Tormund at Eastwatch and determine the final members of the raid, where Davos opts out but three unexpected members come into the fold. The Brotherhood without Banners is has been captures and brought to Eastwatch as they attempted to cross the wall and go into the North. Apparently after Sandor's vision in the fire the Brotherhood elected to face it head on. After a great scene where everybody realizes who everyone is, Gendry and the brotherhood, Jorah and Tormund, Jon and the Hound, Sandor finally asks the important question of “are we going or not?” and the show end with the raid group of Jon, Gendry, Tormund, Beric, Sandor, Jorah, and Thoros exiting the gate on the north side of the wall heading out into the grey artic.
That end scene was one hell of a way to get pumped for next week’s episode. The preview looks like it’s going to be all business north of the wall and it has me as excited as I was for the Battle of the Bastards. I’m a sucker for a good raid group, and this is THE raid group, arguably the best Death Squad the show has ever put together. Everyone’s wondering if someone’s going to be on the chopping block next week and honestly every opinion I’ve heard s just as good as any. Things are about to get real and if you’re a fan of the action in this show then you definitely don’t want to miss the Raid on the Night King next week.