In my opinion war is not great. A lot of people die, it hardly ever solves anyone’s problems, and the post clean up seems like a nightmare! Forget bucketing grotesque blood and splayed internal organs, imagine picking up all of those arrows. We’re talking 100s upon 1000s of arrows just covering the war field like a pack of tooth picks spilled onto the dining room table. Frankly, it’s kind of rude to leave them all there and both sides should team up after the battle is over to clean it all up, not just the home team. Plus, if you live in a medieval fantasy story you might have to wear a bulky helmet. So embarrassing! Game of Thrones featured a virulent battle tonight, featuring everyone’s favorite dragon, Drogon, and I have to say this was in the top ten episodes for me by far. The show did what it does best when portraying different ruling factions at battle: it depicted war like the gruesome, complicated, and straight up baffling thing that it is. Not only that, but the rest of the episode was amazing too! From the continuation of long awaited reunions, to some honestly jaw dropping, beautiful character work, this was PRESTIGE (ugh, I know) television at it’s finest. I cried exactly three times. LET’S GET INTO IT SHALL WE.
“I doubt I’ll be indebted to you any further!”
The episode started with the aftermath of Jaimie and the Lannister army’s siege of High Garden (R.I.P. Lady Olenna). Him and Bronn have this talk about how Bronn isn’t exactly getting his fair share in exchange for his service to the Lannister cause, EVEN THOUGH he’s received a modest amount of gold. It’s kind of boring, but becomes pretty important later down the line. Mainly this scene just reminded me how much I love Bronn. He knows how evil Cersei is, so if he’s gonna fight for the “bad” side he might as well REALLY be getting paid. HON, yes, get that $$.
“Just bein’ smug”
Then I think we see (recapping this from memory) Cersei being super smug at the Red Keep, basically just chilling with one of the bankers from the Big Iron Bank. She has Jaimie coming back from High Garden with solid gold in tow, so she ensures the banker that her debt will be paid. He’s impressed. Everyone say it with me now, “A LANNISTER ALWAYS PAYS THEIR DEBTS!” Okay, great, glad that’s your twitter bio. Also I get that Cersei is fully evil now but is that black, scaled evil queen dress the only one she owns? Like come on, doesn’t she have a blood red gown lying around anywhere? Or even gold! Just wearing pure solid gold is pretty evil, right? The Red Keep’s fashion designer must have been in the The Sept of Baleor when that whole wildfire sitch went down. Oops!
“Whosa whatsa whosa now?”
Okay, so now we get to the good stuff. Bran and Meera arrived at Winterfell last episode, and this episode we got to see them adjusting to their new (but familiar for Bran) surroundings. Bran has a meeting with Littlefinger and he utters something honestly so indecipherable I had to rewind five times and I still couldn’t figure it out (UPDATE: He says “Chaos is a ladder,” referencing Littlefinger’s speech to Ned in season 1). All I know is that it was not something Bran was supposed to know (but of course the Three Eyed Raven does) and that Littlefinger was totally thrown off by it, which is very rare. During the meeting, Littlefinger also gives Bran the dagger made of Valyrian steel that was meant to kill him a couple years back. THIS DAGGER FEELS IMPORTANT THIS DAGGER FEELS IMPORTANT. Start theorizing folks. Anway, it was a tense scene. Then Meera walks in and her conversation with Bran pretty much establishes what we had a feeling about the last couple of episodes: Bran isn’t really Bran anymore. He’s overwhelmed by the pain and suffering of the world and he has no time to give warm sentiments of gratefulness to Meera, who has been traveling with him for YEARS now and decides to make her way somewhere else. This made me frown face guys, but it didn’t make me cry YET. That would start a lil’ later.
*I’m comin’ home, comin’ home, tell the world I’m comin’ home*
The second Stark reunion of the season started with Arya’s arrival to Winterfell. Which, honestly? These reunions have been super lowkey and not that epic, which I feel is the right choice? Seeing your family after a long, long time is great but also pretty awkward, no? ESPECIALLY for these guys, who are now completely different people. Anyway, ignoring that scene with the bumbling comedic relief Winterfell guards, Arya ends up in the crypt under Winterfell to see the memorial of her late father. Sansa meets her there and again, they’re happy to see each other but there is pain here, guys. Neither of them knows for sure what the other has seen or felt, but both of them knows it’s not great. Both gals were great in this scene, and I have to say, Maisie Williams has always been good as Arya but this scene really seemed to flex her muscles more than usual and she kinda blew me away. Believe it or not, I still wasn’t crying yet, but this scene definitely laid the ground work for the tears that were to come.
“I mean sure I’ll take the knife wasn’t gonna ask but ya sure didn’t even want it, it’s Valyrian steel you say?”
There was another “yeah, about Bran” moment that I have a feeling people in Winterfell will be saying a lot from now on, and from there Sansa and Arya went straight to visit him in the gods wood. Arya seems to get a little more out of Bran, seeing as they were so close, but honestly he just emotionlessly gives her the Valyrian dagger, after claiming he’s useless having it. Also, he spills the tea that he knows the contents of Arya’s kill list and that he expected her to be in the Red Keep if anywhere else. Sansa catches the mention of this kill list again, and internally she’s pretty much like: I think my lil’ sis is an assasin? But she seems COOL WITH IT. I am very excited for these three to learn more about each other.
“We did sex are you proud?”
So now we venture south to Dragonstone, to revisit our favorite but slightly #problematic queen, Dany, her dragons, Jon Snow, Tyrion, Davos Seaworth, Missandei, Varys, and others. Next time I’m just going to say “Dany and gang” or “Dany and crew,” cool? Dany is walking with Missandei down the castle stairs, and Missandei lets on that her and Grey Worm GOT IT ON (in a nice, well done scene) last week on our tv screens. Dany wants to continue this convo so bad but Jon is beckoning her at the bottom of the stairs. Jon Snow has gotten to work on venturing into the caverns filled with dragon glass under the castle after his and Dany’s contentious first meeting. He wants her to see everything he’s found, and we see later that it helps his cause a bit. Now, there are going to be lots of jokes and comments that are probably correct about SEXUAL CHEMISTRY and ATTRACTION between these two, and uh, yeah I felt that too, BUT underneath it I feel like there’s potential for a good brother/sister type relationship. Is that a weird thing to say? I don’t know, I’m choosing to IGNORE whatever weird potential shipping we’re picking up from these two (are they just both so hot that we inevitably think they have sexual chemistry?), and looking forward to their realization that they are aunt and nephew. OKAY MOVING ON, phewf.
*John Williams score*
So the cavern scene was amazing. Jon shows Dany the glistening, primordial walls of dragon glass, and the whole thing was enhanced by a magical score in the vein of John Williams’ repertoire. And, so this is pretty embarrassing but THIS is the moment I started getting a little dusty in the good ol’ eye sockets. The scale of it was breathtaking, and when Jon started showing Dany the etchings on the walls from the Children of the Forest, and later the drawings of them uniting with the first men against the white walkers, I couldn’t help but feel the immensity of it all. It felt classic and grand, even though those White Walker drawings were too animated and detailed, lookin’ like a Saturday morning cartoon version of the real thing LOL.
“And this is where they storyboarded Disney’s Frozen.”
So, basically, Dany is enchanted by the whole thing as well (Stop shipping them, damnit!) and she agrees to do everything in her power to help the North stop the white walkers… as long as Jon bends the knee. Oh ho ho, you have to admire Dany; she really sticks to her guns for the most part! Jon is again, hesitant, saying that the northerners would never be ruled by a southerner again. But Dany insists that it’s only his pride in the way that is stopping him from bending the knee, not his people in the North. Which, okaaaaaay can we talk about YOUR pride for a second Dany? Either way, the power dynamic between these two is super interesting and I’m loving it.
“It’s probably time to burn.”
Right after exiting the cavern, Tyrion, Varys and crew are ready to break the news to Dany about the immobile state of the Casterly Rock seige. Tyrion is super nervous and for good reason: Cersei and Jaimie straight up bamboozled team Dani by pretty much letting the Dothraki take Casterly Rock, but first they made sure to take ALL OF THE FOOD and then settle matters in High Garden. So yeah, that leaves Cersei with the Iron Islands and a majority of the Reach (which is the South-West region of the Seven Kingdoms, I googled). Dany is short on allies and she is FRUSTRATED, so we get to see HER pride on display in slightly bad-tempered, yet understandable fashion. She just wants to ride her Dragons, burn some sh*t, and take the Red Keep. She barely has any allies in the Seven Kingdoms, and if anything she’s losing more time. Tyrion advises her against it but she’s not having it so she asks Jon what she should do. He says the same thing Tyrion says but steeped in so much honor and goodwill that you were either disgusted or turned on. I’m not saying which I was. This was another really cool scene that explored the changing dynamic between Dany and her crew.
“We are literally two perfect people.”
Next, we got my favorite scene of the episode not including the forthcoming battle. We’re back at Winterfell in one of the courtyards where Arya confronts Brienne and asks her to train with her. Brienne is feeling grateful that the two girls she swore to protect are alive and healthy, so she says “Of course, hon!”. From here, we get a jaw-dropping scene of Arya showing off her Nameless assassin combat skills and Brienne bascially meeting her match. It’s one of those silent sword fights where all we hear are grunts, prolonged looks of intimidation, and sword clinks. Brienne definitely pulls it together in the end, but she is WINDED and borderline shocked by Arya’s agility and nimble moves. Watching these two women train together, seeing the power dyanmics change, all with the idea of the long journeys and the sh*t they’ve had to deal with along the way in mind, was truly mesmerizing and powerful. It felt like an amazing character moment for both women, even with there being virtually no dialogue! I’m not sure if this was foreshadowing some kind of team up, but either way Sansa and Littlefinger were watching from the second-story, looking either worried or suspicious. As Sansa walks away, Arya makes eye contact with Littlefinger and looks trepidatious as well. Maybe she’s shown TOO MUCH of her skillset. This was all just so good. Brienne and Arya are wonderful characters for many reasons. And yes this was the second time I cried!
“Just leave me alone I’m tragic and I know it.”
We’re getting to the battle I promise. Back at Dragonstone Jon and Davos speak with Missandei about her journey and her homeland’s customs. Where she is from, there is no concept of a “bastard” because there is no marriage, making Jon’s whole hangup about being a bastard and The Seven Kingdom’s conception of it all seem real dumb. When Missandei says she was stolen from home by slavers, Jon says “Oh, I’m sorry,” feebly. She gives him a slightly annoyed look. It was funny. They also question her loyalty to Dany and ask if she is truly free. She insists that she is and believes that her Queen would liberate her if she asked to be. She also reiterates Dany’s resume. Fair enough. Then, a ship with Greyjoy sails pulls into shore, and Jon is reunited with his frenemy Theon Greyjoy. Jon is none too pleased to be seeing Theon again, and he makes that plain saying that if Theon had not protected Sansa, he would kill him. Ugh, poor Theon. He’s had it rough, just like everyone else. Theon says he’s there to ask the Queen to help get Yara back from his uncle’s captivity, but the Queen is gone! Which brings up to….
“My name is Dickon and there is NOTHING funny about that, sir!”
THE LOOT TRAIN ATTACK. Jaimie, Bronn, and the Lannister army are on their way back to King’s Landing with all of the amenities they took from High Garden. They speak with a young Lannister soldier named Dickon and Bronn laughs really hard at his name and so do I. Dickon feigns pride in his first effort at battle, but after knowing looks from Jaimie and Bronn, he tells them he grew up with a lot of the men on the other side. They all mull over the ambiguities and overall sadness of war and then DANY AND HER DORTHRAKI HORDE AND HER DRAGONS MAKE THE MOST POORLY TIMED ENTRANCE EVER! UGH, if only they knew what these three were just talking about! So yeah, it’s pretty much war. Jaimie lines up his men, but they are all sh*tting their pants at the numbers and the overall strength of the Dorthraki headed their way. Bronn thinks they should flee, but Jaimie insists that they can hold them. Uh huh, K. Cue Dany flying in on Drogon ahead of a hazy, sepia-toned desert horizon line and these guys are pretty much screwed. Dany commands her signature, “Dracyrus!” and Drogon lays to waste everyone in his path. It’s brutal, turns the battleground into a kind of dustbowl of ashes and flame, and everyone is forced to battle in a blinding, manic haze.
“Has anyone seen a dragon?”
I’m not even huge on war movies, but even I can admit the way Game of Thonres’ battle scenes are crafted is commendable. The choreography, the intensity of it all, and the pure vulnerability of physicality in the performances is undeniably immersing and just crazy to watch. Jaimie’s and Bronn’s flustered looks throughout are particularly striking; These two have seen a lot but they’ve never seen anything like this. So as Dany is flailing around in the sky with seemingly no qualms about her destruction, Bronn is tasked to shoot Drogon with the giant cross bow Cersei had made a couple episodes back. Bronn loads the device with an iron arrow and shoots, but he misses. And okay, I know Cersei is evil and everything, but the smallest part of me wanted Bronn to hit this d*mn dragon! The way the dragon is showcased in this battle is not quite as triumphant but more… SCARY and just plain domineering. Meanwhile, Jaimie is feeling disoriented by the destruction and carnage and Tyrion is watching in disbelief from a hilltop with some Dothraki. Knowing these two brothers were on opposite ends of the same battlefield GOT ME, and I could feel full fledged tears ready to spill again onto my leftover pizza.
“It looks like a dragon but it could be a seagull or a bat!”
So Bronn loads up the cross bow again, and this time he has Dany’s attention. For some reason she heads straight towards the crossbow hoping to set it ablaze, and as Drogon opens his mouth to unleash his firey hell, Bron releases the arrow and it hits Drogon square in the shoulder! At first I thought he got him right in the throat and I immediately realized I did not want this dragon to die. He’s just too cool, y’know? Also Dany has come too far and I really want her to figure out this whole conquer and rule thing. So anyway, it’s a minor setback and as they reach the ground, Bronn takes cover while Drogon destroys that stupid cross bow. Like really, did we think that was going to kill a dragon? Way to show up to a flamethrower fight with a butter knife, Cersei.
“This feels right.”
As Drogon settles to the ground, Dany dismounts to remove the arrow. Jaimie is just across the bay and he spots a spear of his own he can use to finish this all now. As Dany is tending to Drogon, Jaimie is on the move. It’s a crazy, desperate move, and Tyrion is watching it all go down, calling Jaimie a f*cking idiot. I am too sort of, but I’m mainly just feeling bad for everything that’s going down. Jaimie is almost there, spear mounted, and Dany turns looking worried. Drogon opens his mouth to really finish this and as the fire is ejected Jaimie is saved by Bronn (I think) as he throws themselves into the bay with the fire filling their void. Jaimie sinks into the abyss of the deep blue water as the screen fades to black and the credits role….
“Save me when that battlefield is immaculate!”
What a cool, weird ending to an emotionally charged battle! I honestly loved it so much. Not really a cliff hanger (we know Jaimie’s alive), but just a plain somber ending to a series of people doing desperate things for the sake of things like power, love, and blind loyalty to rulership. This episode really doubled down on letting the relationships between these characters speak for themselves in prolonged, pained looks and through heart-stopping, beautifully crafted action. Turns out 60 previous episodes of us watching the loyalties between these people shift and their ever-changing locales really pays off in an episode like this. Game of Thrones is relevant, guys. It’s well-crafted, the special effects are amazing, and the acting is better than ever. It’s here for 9 more episodes and at this rate, it doesn’t have room to feed us filler. With stakes these high and more importantly, character interaction at an all time high, I think it’s safe to say we’re in for more emotionally satisfying and thrilling television. Okay, I’m gonna go get on my horse and help pick up those arrows now.