The 82nd Airborne scheduled a jump for today. You'd almost imagine they did so on purpose.
It'd make a great book cover.
The 82nd Airborne scheduled a jump for today. You'd almost imagine they did so on purpose.
It'd make a great book cover.
DEATH IS THE ENEMY AND YES I AM DEAD THEY KILLED ME I DIED A THOUSAND TIMES THEN A FEW MORE FOR GOOD MEASURE I AM DEAD VERY DEAD DEAD DEAD
Hey, remember that Loot Train Battle from, I don’t know, two episodes ago? Remember how we were all like, THAT WAS EPIC AND AMAZING AND HOW CAN THEY TOP THAT?
Episode Six just rocked up and said HOLD. MY. BEER.
Magnificent Seven! Male bonding! Panserbjørn! Red shirts! Wight supremacists! Gendry inventing the marathon! Dragonfire! Falcor rescue! Dead dragon! Deus Ex Benjena! ICE DRAGON!
But most of all, my Beloved Throners...
JON SNOW WITH HIS SHIRT OFF! AAAAABBBBBBBSSSSSS!
Oh my sweet precious darling. My tender juicy lamb. My meaty shank of pork. My reanimated bit of rough. You really are too beautiful to die…. again.
It almost looked like his hair was out of its man bun too, spilling over those soft pillows in much the same fashion as I spilled tears throughout that whole viewing experience.
Also Jon was holding Dany’s hand a little too tightly and apparently he’s definitely in love with her now and is bending the knee and she was looking at him all lovey-dovey too and GODS I AM STILL VERY CONFLICTED ABOUT ALL OF THAT.
You see, I wanted to be Jon’s nurse, on call around the clock, dabbing tenderly at his… brow. I already have the uniform. I bought it from an adult store. Let me take your temperature, Jon. The thermometer that came with the uniform is very soothing.
The ice dragon. ARRRRGGGGHHHH. There’s the obvious tragedy of Dany losing one of her precious children and the Night King gaining a terrifying super weapon, but the same icy javelin that took the creature’s life also skewered one of the most popular conspiracy theories about Game of Thrones - that three Targaryens would ride the three dragons. I’m glad, because I never wanted Tyrion to be the other secret Targaryen, along with Jon. No sirree. Now, with only two dragons, can we expect to see Jon one day ride Rhaegal? Can we say that dragon’s name again? RHAEGAL? Named after RHAEGAR, Jon’s true father?!?!?!
Also - Sansa? Arya? YOU GIRLS BEHAVE. I did not like EITHER of you this episode, and you know I have always been in both of your corners. I also will admit to not really understanding why the HELL kind that kind of dick-swinging was going on between two young women WHO SHOULD KNOW BETTER not to ape the fricking patriarchy that they have so far so gloriously defied.
Seriously, it’s like the Taylor Swift/Katy Perry feud. Or the Taylor Swift/Nicky Minaj feud. Or the Taylor Swift/Kim Kardashian feud. I can’t get onboard. It has to end. These two should be singing duets, not throwing shade. They need to SHAKE IT OFF. Also T-Swizzle needs to release some new music pronto because my topical references are getting really dated.
Oh, wait, I referenced The Neverending Story before. Let’s not kid ourselves, it’s going to be all dated pop references from your recappespondent, all the time. So let’s express ourselves, do it Gangnam Style, and bless the rains down in Aaaaaaaaaaafrica with another Raven On recap, rising like Olympus above the Serengeti.
Season 7, Episode 6: “Beyond the Wall” or I WEPT WITH JOY AND FEAR
Because “I WEPT WITH JOY AND FEAR” is not really a cohesive theme, I’ve decided to drop anchor on “Thin Ice” as a metaphor for this episode.
Clearly the literal thin ice north of the Wall was what got the Magnificent Seven into trouble in the first place - trapped on a rock in a hard place.
But figuratively, there was a lot of delicately navigating difficult subjects, from Sansa and Arya’s simmering tension over responsibility for the fortunes of House Stark and Winterfell, to Dany and Tyrion discussing love and the long-term, to Tormund questioning how the Hound got such “sad eyes”. Even the death and subsequent reanimation of Viserion showed how perilous power can be for the mightiest of players in the Great Game.
However let’s confront the thinnest ice of all head on, lest the skating send us mad. I’m speaking of course about the show’s very flexible and doesn’t-stand-up-to-much-pressure interpretation of time in Westeros.
Exactly how far did the Magnificent Seven walk out beyond the Wall before running into trouble? Exactly how fast was Gendry to Chariots of Fire it back in record time? Exactly how quickly can a raven get from Eastwatch to Dragonstone? Exactly what is the flying speed of a large airborne reptile? Exactly how long did Dany take to locate the marooned warriors in mountainous country? And while it’s not time-related, from where did the White Walkers procure a large number of dragon-weight-bearing chains?
These are the questions we must resolve to never have a satisfactory answer. But we must be like the palm tree by the seashore that bends with the cyclonic winds of plot convenience, or we shall all break under the pressure of obsessive-compulsive nerdiness.
Let us therefore take a deep breath together, as deep a breath as Jon Snow drew as he plunged into that ice hole. Oh Gods I wish he’d plunge deep into my ice hole... sorry where was I?
Magnificent Seven. Yes. Let’s start there, with a comprehensive series of male-bonding mini-sitcoms.
Everything about these walk-and-talk sequences was brilliant. Every double act was played out, and every line was a cracker. I have dubbed the group The Fellowship of the ZING.
Poor Gendry, already suffering due to his snow-ginity, was told his near-fatal interaction with Melisandre perhaps wasn’t so bad, and that Beric had actually died six times and wasn’t whinging about it. Thoros told Jorah he didn’t even remember taking part in the famous raid on Pyke because he was too drunk at the time. Tormund told Jon he didn’t like the South, to be corrected that Winterfell was in fact the North. The Hound told Tormund he hated gingers, and had “met” his intended girlfriend, and Beric and Jon had a good catch-up about their own Personal Jesus experience.
Jon is still looking for answers about why his resurrection happened, and what his purpose is, but Beric has come round to the view that Death is the Enemy, and they just have to keep fighting it while they can. And maybe that’s enough. You may not be a follower of the Lord of Light like Beric, Jon, but you can still reach out and touch faith.
Of course, this whole sequence came about because of the BARMY AF plan to seize a wight to take it back to King’s Landing to prove to Cersei there’s a bigger challenge to her rule than Dany and her dragons. The fact they are even out here at all is ridiculously risky, and while I loved every minute of it, I also couldn’t help agreeing with Tormund when he told Jon “Smart men don’t come up here looking for the dead.”
Meanwhile, what did Jon think he was doing in attempting to give Longclaw back to Jorah Mormont? Sure, he’s the son of Jeor, but he is no longer the rightful owner. And Jon, I know you’re being beautiful and brave and noble and brooding and gorgeous and sexual, but you’ve SEEN that sword in action, and you know you need it against the oncoming storm. You have no business giving it up, you’re letting me down. Next you’ll be running around and deserting me.
There was a moment, as Jorah held the Valyrian steel weapon, when betting on the “Ser Jorah is Azor Ahai” conspiracy theory jumped faster than a Neo-Nazi at a sale on polo shirts. But then Jorah handed Longclaw back to Jon, saying he deserved to pass it on to his children, and the bottom fell right back out of the market.
Things got a bit wilder and windier as they approached the Arrowhead Mountain that Sandor Clegane had seen when he looked into the fire back in the Riverlands. Given all the banter and bro talk that had been going on, I would have been quite happy for events to turn more Brokeback Mountain, but the show had something else in mind.
Well, a bear. But not since Lyanna Mormont have we seen such fearsome a bear.
As an aside, the giant bear actually reminded me of Iorek Byrnison, one of the armoured talking Icelandic bears from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. I rarely give literary recommendations, because let’s face it an expired yoghurt has more culture than me, but it is one of the most beautiful stories ever written, and worth your time in the bland, boring months when Game of Thrones isn’t on.
Of course, this bear was not a cool fighting Scandanavian, but a blue-eyed zombie demon, who promptly snatched up a raiding party support staffer - literally a Shakesperean exit, pursued by a bear.
He turned his grizzly attention to our wandering heroes, and they battled the beast bravely; all except the Hound, who whimpered like a bad dog in the face of so much fire.
Of course the confirmation that animals too can be raised from death to fight for the White Walkers was a HUGE PIECE OF FORESHADOWING but I didn’t pick up on it because I was too worried about Thoros of Myr, who was more than gummed by the bear.
Beric cauterised the wound with his flaming sword, truly the handiest of all awesome weapons, and I couldn’t believe Thoros was still going. Obviously all that drinking made him 90 per cent (Bundy bear) proof. But the group...re-grouped, and pushed on, eventually coming across a White Walker leading a small band of wights through a mountain pass.
It seems like the perfect opportunity to fulfil their mission, so the boys lay a fire trap for the White Walker & Gang, then ambush them from behind. The zombies put up a fight, but promptly crumble into pieces when Jon very sexfully slices the White Walker lieutenant in half with Longclaw.
Hope for proof is not lost though, as a sole wight continues to GRRRR, ARRGGH at them. In an display of teamwork worthy of the WWE, Tormund tosses away his axe, clocks the zombie in the face, and the Hound jumps and pins him to the ground. The team manages to rope and cover the wight’s face, although not before the Hound rips off most of its jaw while trying to stop it from screaming.
Then it all goes quiet. Oh no, wait, that’s not quiet, that’s the rumbling sound of thousands of corpsey footsteps coming from behind them. Fearing the worst, Jon directs Gendry to get a message back to Daenarys. He then leads the rest of the party away from the pass with the surging horde of wight supremacists, and out onto a frozen lake. The ice starts to break but the group hurry to the relative safety of a rock in the middle.
Another red shirt is taken by wights, but it prompts a mass fall through the breaking ice, and leaves the rest of the wights standing in a circle on the edge of the lake, completely surrounding the stranded Seven (and diminishing support squad). An uneasy peace settles over the scene as night starts to fall.
Gendry! What are your legs? Steel springs! What are they going to do? HURL YOU BACK TO EASTWATCH!
For a moment during his through-the-night endurance event, I thought Gendry was going to be randomly attacked and murdered by a wight. I would have been royally peeved if he had been brought back after all those years and then killed without even getting his shirt off. So I was very pleased when he miraculously collapsed within dashing distance of the Eastwatch tunnel, to deliver the bad news to Davos.
The Onion Knight obviously got the bird away on a good wind, because it didn’t take long for the tweet notification to arrive @Dragonstone, and for Dany to suit up in her most fabulous figure-hugging couture winter battle coat and prepare to fly north.
We’d earlier seen Daenarys and Tyrion sitting warm and toasty like a couple of foster kittens in front of the fire in the role-playing conference room.
Dany’s giving Tyrion the backhanded compliment about how she’s glad he’s not a hero like Khal Drogo, Jorah, Maario and “even this Jon Snow” because heroes are idiots who just want to swing their… swords around to see which is biggest. Tyrion makes the point that all of the men she’s just named all fell in love with her, although she doesn’t get the Jon Snow thing.
“I suppose he stares at you longingly because he’s hopeful of a successful military alliance,” Tyrion responds drily, to which I respond LET’S NOT DISCOUNT THAT POSSIBILITY, TYRION, OK, I’M TRYING TO KEEP SOME HOPE ALIVE HERE.
How does Dany respond? “He’s too little for me.” WHAT? From my calculations, girly, you’re about five-foot-nothing so let’s not get judgy on a perfectly formed 5-foot-8 or so fella. I’m 5-foot-9, and you wouldn’t see me turning down Jon Snow. Not even if what Tormund said about his, er, icicle is true.
Also, as an Australian, why am I still measuring height in feet and inches? Because somehow, despite being able to visualise centimetres when they’re horizontal, flip them vertical and I am more lost than an ill thought out J.J. Abrams TV series.
Tyrion is more generous than he should be after this awkward exchange, and discussion turns to the differences between Cersei’s style of ruling (Fear, Fear and Fear Again) and Dany’s point of difference. Tyrion is trying to make her see that Cersei will be planning all manner of traps and foils, but Daenarys cannot simply respond in the same way. If she wants a better world, she has to plan for enemy action, but lead by example - and keep her temper in check.
“When have I lost my temper?” she asks through gritted teeth, making me wish Tyrion had a mirror he could just flash back at her. Instead, he cites the Tarly BBQ as an example, trying to impress on Dany that pragmatism and moderation in a leader is just as valuable as conviction.
He then brings up another sensitive subject, and Dany’s icy exterior cracks further. What happens after she breaks the wheel; how does it stay broken? He doesn’t mean her lack of babies is a failing; he points to the Night’s Watch and the Iron Islands systems as other examples of succession planning. He saw her fight in battle; he worried for her safety against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. He wants a plan. But Dany is being classic Elizabeth I in this scenario. Don’t mention the succession!
It’s interesting to see Dany treat Tyrion in this way. She called him brave, said he was the only Lannister whose promises she believed - and then accuses him of taking the Lannister’s side and thinking about her death a little too much. It shows that key vulnerability in Dany’s character, a fear of failure that manifests in not responding well to questions or challenges.
Later, when the rapid raven flies in, Tyrion tries to convince her not to put her personal safety on the line. “Sometimes nothing is the hardest thing to do,” he pleads. But this time, Tyrion, I’m not on your side. That’s sucky advice. Like Elizabeth I at Tilbury, Dany is not scared to don armour (or in her case, dragons) and get amongst the action. But whereas Elizabeth had to settle for watching fire ships in the English Channel (if that), Daenarys is going to go FLAME SOME MOTHERF***ING SPANIARDS I MEAN ZOMBIES.
Back at the rock, night has come and gone, and with it, Thoros of Myr. Beric bades a solemn farewell to his travel companion, drinking buddy, fighting lieutenant and personal Philosopher’s Stone. The Hound says it’s one of the better ways to go, and tries to drink the rest of Thoros’ booze. But Jon grabs it to use as an accelerant, for they must burn his body or risk him becoming a wight.
“We’ll all follow if we don’t have some fire,” says Tormund. In possibly the coolest magic trick ever, Beric pulls out his sword, flicks his hand across the base and it bursts into flame. Eat your heart out, Penn and/or Teller.
Jorah and Jon theorise that the wights’ lives are tied to the White Walkers that “created” them, leading Jorah to think that if they got all the WWs, they’d be fine. Jon insists Daenarys is their only way out, but Beric gets his last-life-fatalism on and reckons they should try to get the Night King, now perched on his skeletal horse high above the lake.
Beric hails the Lord of Light as bringing him back for this moment, to show him the way. Sandor disses all gods as c***s, and why should the Lord of Light be any different? It’s a fine slag off from the Hound, but it seems like the joke backfires.
Some time later, he throws a rock at a wight, knocking half its head off and prompting the Hound to chuckle “Dumb c***”. But who’s the dumb c*** really, when another rock lands safely on the ice, allowing the wights to realise the lake has refrozen and guess what? They all start coming for our heroes.
It’s all f***ed from this point as the wights surge forward in waves, our brave warriors fending them off one again and again. At one point, Tormund is grabbed and dragged towards a hole in the ice, the threat of death VERY present. “Not Giantsbane!” cried the world, preparing to riot should one of the series’ most brilliant characters be killed off at this point. But no, thankfully, the Hound overcomes his ginger-phobia and drags Tormund back to safety. PHEW.
The battling crew are pushed back towards the edge of their rock, and the last of the wildling red shirts falls off and is torn apart by wights. It’s basically the physical manifestation of a Twitter call-out pile on.
It’s all starting to look very grim, and the music changes from pulsating urgency to slow and ominous. There are slow motion shots exactly like during the Battle of the Bastards, when Jon was struggling to breath, and the mound of corpses was crushing him, just before the cavalry turned up…
AND THEN THE GIANT FLAMING DRAGON CAVALRY TURNED UP.
I screamed. I wept. I clapped like a bouncy toddler in front of Peppa Pig. Watching Daenarys and her crack team of fiery lizards scorch those wight supremacists was a dream come true.
RAAAWWWWWWRRRRR I AM WOMAN HEAR ME ROAR ALSO HEAR MY DRAGONS ROAR AS THEY BURN YOU TO A CRISP MOTHERF***ERRRRRRRRS.
Ahem. I have some revenge fantasy issues I’m working through. On an unrelated note, I would be so much more inclined to attend my upcoming high school reunion if I could turn up on a DRAGON.
But, wait. My victorious feelings were….too soon.
Dany lands Drogon on the rock and the miscreant band of soldiers jump onboard. All except Jon, that is, who stays to stave off a few rogue wights, but then INEXPLICABLY keeps fighting them. Everyone is waiting for him, yelling “Jon! Get on the dragon!” (that may have in fact been my voice shouted at the TV) but still he DOESN’T GET ON THE DRAGON.
And then, that horrid, heinous, hideous Night King decides to play his trump card, which is not “fire and fury”, but instead “icy and precise”. For it turns out the Night’s King medalled in Olympic javelin throwing. He ever so calmly draws a sharp, frosty spear from its sheath, and sends it skywards so casually it might as well have been a paper plane.
ALAS AND ALACK, the spear finds its mark, a direct hit on Viserion, who goes crashing to the ground in a one-dragon recreation of the Hindenburg disaster. The howls of Drogon and Rhaegal are heartbreaking, but soon a stunned silence falls as the icy waters of the lake claim Viserion’s body.
Dany’s eyes are black with shock and grief, the rest of the Merry Men, all hardened fighters, look like tiny babies who’ve just had a puppy taken away from them.
Knowing now her life and her sweet baby Drogon’s life are in peril, Dany takes to the sky, leaving Jon behind. She pulls off a classic Maverick from Top Gun move and dodges a second spear from the Night King. The roll nearly sends Jorah plummeting, but his cohorts grab him like Cary Grant grabs Eva Marie Saint on Mt Rushmore at the end of North by Northwest and he’s OK.
But Jon? Jon is most definitely NOT ok. Surrounded by wights, the ice cracks beneath him and he plunges into the water. He returns to the surface, gasping for air, clutching at Longclaw. Somehow the frigid water didn’t shock him into paralysis, somehow exposure to the cold has not ravaged his beautiful features. He returns to solid ground, grasping his sword, holding it aloft, as the pack turns on him.
At this point Jon is dead-diddly-dead. Game over, man, game over. But he’s going to go out fighting. He’ll go down like a champion, because he has form in every sense of that expression.
But out of the darkness comes a light. A holy, golden light, spinning and whirring and knocking wights down like bowling pins. It is the magical mystical saviour that is… DEUS EX BENJENA!
Jon spent years wondering what happened to his uncle, and now here he is, out of the murky blue, riding in Gandalf style at the Battle of Hemsworth. Sorry, Helm’s Deep. I keep making that mistake and I have no abs, I mean no idea, why.
“Get on the horse,” Benjen growls. “You come too!” Jon pleads like a scared child. “There’s no time,” Benjen responds heroically. Instead, he spurs the horse carrying Jon away, and takes his spinning fire mace back into the wights, presumably to die horribly or be fully converted into zombie form.
How did Benjen manage to be there? Had he just turned up, or watched for a while before intervening? The plot convenience ice cracks a little more here, but it doesn’t stop me from loving Benjen for sacrificing his safety for my Beloved’s.
Back at Eastwatch, the dragons circle The Wall, their mournful cries ringing out over the forest. The Hound, Beric and Tormund say their farewell as the Hound prepares to take the zombie wight prize they secured - at SUCH AN EFFING COST - to King’s Landing. And Dany stares out from a parapet, hoping against hope of Jon’s return.
I thought it was going to be another Brienne-and-Sansa-candle-in-the-tower missed moment as the Mother of Dragons turned away to leave. But then, joyfully, the horn sounded, and Jon’s near-frozen body arrived atop Benjen’s horse. I hope the Night’s Watch keep that loyal and clever filly. They should make it take the Black Caviar.
Jon is groggily put to sleep below decks of a Greyjoy ship, with Davos, *gasp* pulling off his clothes *slobber* to reveal - bruised and torn, but still bare - ABS!
Oh, HBO. You’ve delivered me a beautiful, delectable, ice-cream of an episode, and then you add the six-pack of cherries on top. Thank you with all my heart and parts beyond.
Some time later Jon groggily opens his eyes (never has emerging from unconsciousness been sexier) to see Dany sitting closely by his bed, worried in a way we haven’t seen since Jorah revealed his greyscale.
Jon apologises for suggesting the mission in the first place, but Dany says she’s glad she came, because now she knows for sure. She declares they will fight the Night King and the White Walkers and all the wight supremacists together, and they hold hands, a little too long for my liking, and Jon calls her Dany, and she says “Wow, lol, no,” and he says “What about my Queen?” and cracks a joke about not being able to bend the knee, and she cries and says she will do her best to deserve it, and they’re still holding hands, fire and ice steaming up the place, and it’s all very erotically charged and I now need to write a Mills & Boon novel then shred it while crying.
It’s an amazing moment, and shows that Jon had listened to Tormund during their march earlier, when he talked about Mance Raydar being too proud to acknowledge a king, and how many men had to die because he wouldn’t bend the knee?
Jon once again is putting his people first, because he is proud, but capable of learning lessons, an important one being it’s probably for the best to be on the good side of dragons.
Although it’s going to be interesting to see how his northern lords and sisters will react. Hopefully they’ll all fly into Winterfell together and scare Sansa and Arya straight because BY THE OLD GODS THEY NEED IT.
Yes. Now that we’ve recapped the brains out of that epic adventure crazy battle stuff, let’s examine the Winterfell sequences. I wanted to look at them altogether, because they were such a change of pace from the action north of The Wall.
For starters, Arya tells Sansa an old story about how she used to secretly practice archery when she thought no one was looking - but their father was. As they stand on the balcony where Ned Stark used to watch his children, we’re reminded of how far they’ve come, and how Arya’s childhood playfulness and exuberance has been replaced with careful, deliberately chosen words and actions.
She confronts Sansa with the note she found in Littlefinger’s room, the one Sansa was forced to write under duress in the wake of King Robert’s death. Sansa tries to explain, but Arya isn’t having it. “I would have let them kill me before I betrayed my family!” she declares. In a bullish move, she accuses Sansa of being in on the plot, citing her pretty hair and dress on the chopping block.
Realising her sister had been there, Sansa strikes back absolutely rightly by saying Arya didn’t jump out of the crowds to try to save Ned, because she too was a wee bairn at the time and they don’t call it the “survival instinct” for nothing. Sansa also points out that the only reason Arya is standing in Winterfell is because Sansa and the Knights of the Vale saved the day at the Battle of the Bastards and took the castle back.
But then Arya counters by saying Sansa doesn’t want the northern lords to see the letter, in case they get the same wrong idea Arya has. Sansa said once before she’d learned a lot from Cersei, and this political instinct to control the narrative seems to be one of them.
Later Sansa discusses this with Littlefinger, who honestly needs to be roasted by a dragon yesterday. Still sowing the seeds of discord, he very cleverly suggests she get Brienne involved in the dispute with Arya, because she is sworn to protect BOTH Stark girls.
Sansa promptly sends Brienne off to King’s Landing to represent her at a parly with Darth Cersei. Brave, sensible, loyal Brienne tries to object, tries to suggest that Littlefinger may not be truly representing her best interests and her safety could be compromised. But Sansa brushes her concerns away and sends her packing.
This was a BAD MOVE, Sansa. Brienne is one of the truly selfless people on the damn continent, and you send her away? Do you honestly feel like you don’t need her protection - or are you more concerned about the protection she might offer Arya… against you?
Finally, we see Sansa sneak into Arya’s room, and rifle through her bag of faces. The girls had earlier said they would never know what each other survived to get to this point, and Sansa sure as hell is freaked out by the concept of the Faceless Men.
Arya very calmly grabs Catspaw and moves closer to Sansa, saying that all she could use her own face
This idea completely ignores the obvious problem that Arya could wear Sansa’s face, but not her height, and the elder Stark has a good foot or more on the younger. Surely somebody would notice that? But let’s skip over that crack, because Arya’s menacing stare down of Sansa doesn’t end with a knife in the gullet, but rather her flipping the danger over and allowing Sansa to take it. It was almost a dare, a “just try me”. I do not like ANY of this behaviour.
It’s interesting we didn’t see Bran during all this. I know he’s a bit freaky now, and slightly awkward to hang around with, but come on, Branny, this is exactly the kind of family feud situation that you could come in on with your spooky powers. “The survey says… you’re both being idiots, shut up and hug until you mean it!”
North of the Wall, the White Walkers have been to Bunnings and sourced several kilometres’ worth of large link chains and a few hundred sausage sizzles. I’m initially distracted by the wights’ impression of Jean Valjean in the opening scene of Les Miserables and think they must be on their way to pull down The Wall or something.
The chains are in the water, and they’re dragging up the huge body of Viserion. The tender ice holds his weight long enough for the Night King to walk over and touch his poor scaly snout. The camera pans up the great head and...the dead eye opened.
IT WAS BLUE.
The ice that separated the living from the wrath of the dead just cracked wide open.
And with apologies to Robert Van Winkle - or more appropriately, to Queen and David Bowie, I present some OLD SCHOOL TERRIBLE EARLY NINETIES RAP.
Yo, King in North, let’s kick it
(Ice Ice Dragon)
All right stop, annihilate and listen
Night King’s back with my brand new creation
Something grabs a hold of my fancy
Send up my harpoon you shit your pantsies
Will it ever stop? Yo, it’s Jon Snow
Fighting my wights, with gusto
He’s a machine, on the rock he can handle
Suits total rage just like a Trump suits a scandal
Trance, we are the wreakers of doom
I’m freaking them out with stillness in the hushed gloom
Standing, all around, lives in jeopardy
Just like what Beric said “Death is the Enemy”
That one’s a dumb c*** Hound says in jest
He didn’t hit bull’s eye, that was the test
If you have an army, yo, I’ll dissolve it
You got a dragon? Well I can evolve it
Ice Ice Dragon, I’ve got an Ice Ice Dragon
Ice Ice Dragon, I’ve got an Ice Ice Dragon
Now that the battle is pumping
Though the ice is thin, the wights are just thumping
Quick to the rock, the red shirts they’re taking
Humans fight back, like Buffy they’re staking
Burning them, flaming swords are nimble
But I’m a fugitive like Richard Kimble
On the high ground, with my grouped-up posse
Wights on a roll and it’s time to get bossy
Tormund, almost goes below
But the Hound jumps in and says hell no
The ginger is OK, more wights hit the floor
Did we stop? No, we just sent more
Kept on pursuing to the big rock
They’re busting guts and the scene is full of hot schlock
We’ve got ‘em trapped now they’re all gonna die
Moved in for the kill...what’s that in sky?
Fire is hot from the scaly big meanie
It’s a magic trick worthy of Houdini
Dragons, not just one but three
Gone to Hogwarts School of Lizardry
Burning, all my wights aglow
A bump in the road, Dany’s coming for Jon Snow
Bollocks, I’ll show ‘em who’s Night King
I grab my pole for some damn good javelling
Tossing, that spear in the air fast
The dragon was hit, like a real blast
Gazumped to gazumper, the dragon is whacked
It crashes to the ground and the ice is cracked
Dany’s lost her sheen, you know what I mean
She flies away, and my eye’s got a blue glean
If I have a javelin, you bet I’ll involve it
If you’ve got some chains, I’ll resolve it
Ice Ice Dragon I’ve got an Ice Ice Dragon
Ice Ice Dragon I’ve got an Ice Ice Dragon
Yo, wights, let’s get out of here!
Word to your Mother (of Dragons)
Yay! Best Moments
Oh GODS. The arrival of Dany and her dragons as all hope was being lost north of the wall was not unexpected, but BOY was it satisfying. What was unexpected, and HORRIFYING, was the Night King being able to easily throw a spear into the air with enough force to bring down Viserion in full flight - and not even break a sweat. Seriously, the Lannisters needed high-tech equipment while the Night King looked like he was at a pub darts competition.
Jon and Dany’s emotional reunion below decks (phwoar) was also beautifully played, damnit to seven hells.
And ice dragon. Wow.
Zing! Best Lines
Pretty much everything from the Magnificent Seven March, but in particular the Hound and Tormund’s exchange. I LOVED how Tormund picked up on Sandor’s meanness being learned, not innate (“You have sad eyes”), and about them having something in common (“Gingers are kissed by fire… like you.”) And of course, their banter about Brienne.
Tormund: I have a beauty waiting for me back in Winterfell, if I ever get back there. Yellow hair, blue eyes, tallest woman you’ve ever seen. Almost as tall as you.
Hound: Brienne of Tarth.
Tormund: You know her?
Hound: You’re with Brienne of f***ing Tarth?
Tormund: Well I’m not with her yet. But I see the way she looks at me.
Hound: She looks at you… like she wants to carve you up and eat your liver?
Tormund: You DO know her.
Hound: We’ve met.
Tormund: I want to make babies with her. Think of them. Great big monsters. They’d conquer the world.
Hound: How did a mad f***er like you live this long?
Tormund: I’m good at killing people.
Honorable mentions to:
Jorah: I thought you were the bravest man I’d ever seen.
Thoros: Just the drunkest.
The Hound: (throws rock at wight, hits it in the head). Dumb c***. (Wights realise lake has refrozen and start to move in on the Magnificent Seven). Oh, f***.
It’s not really gross, except that he has behaved grossly in the past, but I wanted to ask the question - Where’s Theon? We last saw him steer his little dinghy onto the beach at Dragonstone, get manhandled by Jon (jealous) and told that Dany couldn’t help him rescue Yara because she was otherwise engaged burning the f*** out of the Lannister army.
It would have made sense to have him in last week’s episode, either saying “Bye then, Greyjoys out”, or “Hey Jon, buddy, can I help with that dragonglass?” or something. This week, no sign again. Did he leave Dragonstone? Would he have gone around to the western side of the continent to take on Euron Greyjoy, who we imagine has Yara with him as he blockades Casterly Rock? Or is he just hanging out at Dragonstone somewhere with Varys and Missandei, who were also absent this episode?
The reanimation of Viserion into the Night King’s new pet was horrid, but nothing had me more despondent this episode than rapidly disintegrating relations between Sansa and Arya.
WHAT THE HELL CAN HAPPEN NEXT WEEK?
By the Old Gods and the New, Beloved Throners, that was an almighty episode. I feel as exhausted as Gendry after his punishing run, and I've only sat here and typed. A special thanks to Stu and Brittany for taking the journey with me this episode, and of course to all my Patreon subscribers for actually backing me with your hard-earned cashola. I get through because you are my Deus Ex Benjena, throwing me on the horse and slapping me on my way. Special kudos to Vanessa MacB, Barney J, Kostas S, Rachelle R and Amanda G, and if you'd like to join them, click here. Next week's recap will come to you from New York City - I'll be watching live as it goes out on Sunday night US time, and recapping into the early hours of Monday morning. Send me your best wishes, because I have a feeling it's all going to be a little crazy!
...AND MY HAMMER, MOTHERF***ERS.
THAT, my Beloved Throners, is how you make a reappearance four seasons after we last saw you. Quit your job no questions asked, kill two guys with your mighty f***ing warhammer, ignore Davos’s advice to play it cool and just f**ing bro up with Jon Snow.
Welcome back, Gendry. I don’t even mind that you had your shirt on.
Davos’ recruitment of the last Baratheon bastard turned out to be everything I ever wanted. To misquote Homer Simpson, I’m a white woman, aged 18 to 49, and (finally) everyone listens to me: Jon and Gendry, together at last!
And not just Jon and Gendry either… but Ser Jorah! No sooner back at Dragonstone than off with Jon and Gendry to meet up with Tormund Giantsbane and the Brotherhood Without Banners to create THE MAGNIFICENT F***ING SEVEN IN FURS.
I am honestly so turned on right now I can’t even think straight.
If there’s one thing sexier than a wild-man-goes-yonder adventure, it’s seven wild men bonding over freezing temperatures, a desire for prophetic fulfilment and fighting wight supremacists.
Someone else who’s having quite the bromance is Darth Cersei, who is now UP THE DUFF thanks to her twin. Yes, Jaime may have sunk in that lake, but not before his swimmers hit their target. SPLOOSH.
Why in Westeros does Cersei think pumping out another little Simba for his own inbred Lion King crowning moment is a good idea? Incestuous breeding DOES NOT WORK OUT WELL FOR YOU PEOPLE.
Hey Sam Tarly, do you want to SHUT THE FUDGE UP and start LISTENING TO YOUR GIRLFRIEND for once? You completely missed that golden ticket of a Targaryen truth bomb she laid out for you because you were too busy feeling like you weren’t the toughest Oompa-Loompa in the Chocolate Factory.
You know what happens to “great men”? They get torched, like your little brother. Yes, vale, vale, to Dickon, a hunky young man on the cusp of great heroism and ab-worship. Oh Dickon, cut down in your prime. I guess you’ve been Lorena Bobbitted. Or technically John Bobbitted. I can’t remember, I was very young at the time and my father giggled too much whenever that news story popped up.
With that vague early 90s reference, let’s put on our Girlfriend-style flower hats, watch a Yahoo Serious film (not the good one), laugh at Paul Keating’s parliamentary insults and get cracking on another installment of Raven On, the only Game of Thrones recap series that loves being flogged with a warm lettuce.
Season 7, Episode 5: “Eastwatch” OR “You’re Fired”
Davos’ pro-active recruitment style wasn’t the only management technique on display this episode. The whole hour was like getting stuck in the reference section at Dymock’s with somebody who’s just been on professional development course. After extensive research into this field (ie, I googled “management techniques” because not all heroes wear capes) I can attest to a number of different styles in play.
You’ll have to bear with me of course, because I did an arts degree, not some high-falutin’ business course, so my definitions might not be 100% correct. In my own life, I can’t even manage four foster kittens. One of them refuses to actually poop in the litter tray. Right outside the tray, sure, but not in it. It’s prompted a unique management style I call “eccentric screaming”.
So I often I wish I could be a little bit more like Daenarys Targaryen, who commands her pets easily, and has a “directive” style of management. That’s a nice way of saying “dictatorial”, except I wouldn’t say that because I am not jumping on the “Dany is an unshakeable bully” bandwagon just yet.
But Tyrion, as we know, wields his art of kompromat in deliberate brushstrokes. He’s visibly unsettled by the battlefield of ashes, and attempts to make some sort of amends by trying to convince Daenarys not to burn Randyll and Dickon Tarly alive simply for being faithful to Cersei Lannister. You know, the one they switched their allegiance to after breaking faith with Olenna Tyrell.
But like a rejected Bachelor contestant signing up to be the next Bachelorette, Dany is determined to get as many men as possible on bended knee.
“Join or die,” she offers, in her best Benjamin Franklin impersonation.
“Nuh-uh,” says the elder Tarly. He cites the fact that Cersei was born in Westeros as a chief reason for staying loyal to her. He clearly doesn’t remember Dany was born on Dragonstone, which is an island of Westeros, and she never renounced her citizenship. She is totally eligible to run for parliament and/or Queen.
In a last ditch effort to stay the execution, Tyrion suggests Dany send Tarly Senior to the Night’s Watch, where his military expertise would be invaluable.
It’s at that moment that you remember Randyll Tarly was the asshole who banished his eldest son Samwell to Castle Black because he was too fat and too sensitive to be a “good” heir of Horn Hill. He is not a nice person. So yeah, maybe I don’t mind him being punished.
Randyll wants none of it anyway, given that Dany isn’t his queen. Dany respects his code of honour, and enforces her own, which is a lot more burn-y than Randyll’s.
She doesn’t even relent when Tarly’s son tries to show her his big Dickon and challenges her to burn him too. “No probs,” she replies.
Tyrion grows ever more angsty with this excessive force, but it’s no use. Dany’s near-whispered “Dracarys”, is not as showy as Donald Trump’s “You’re fired!” but the effect is far more literal. Drogon incinerates the Tarly pair, like so many Bond villains with lasers.
Ironically, the conflagration pours cold water on any other notions of honour in the remaining Lannister soldiers. Like Boyz II Men, they’re down on bended knee. They’ll never walk again, oooh.
Later, Tyrion and Varys ponder their mutual concerns about Dany’s lineage and how best to manage her temperament. She’s not her father, totally not, absolutely not, final, full stop, never again, cross my heart and hope to be spanked until my bottom goes purple. But she perhaps needs guidance towards a more “affiliative” management style, creating harmony between queen and subjects, remembering to put people first, and deadly-conquest-by-any-means-necessary second.
The moment inspires some self-reflection about the evil that can flourish when good men - or even morally ambiguous men - do nothing. Varys escaped the Mad King’s wrath by catching traitors for him to kill. He didn’t pull the trigger. He was just following orders. How then can they assuage their consciences and steer Dany away from that point of no return?
It’s telling that this scene is the first in a while that we’ve seen Tyrion have a drink. Just to take the edge off.
Meanwhile, by warging into a murder of crows soaring above and beyond The Wall, Bran is having what you might call a “blue sky” brainstorming session, except Winter is Here so it’s more of a “bleak sky” session.
In a beautiful piece of visual effects magic, you feel almost at one with the birds, cruising at high altitude on cold northern winds. Then they crest a hill and OH FLIPPING HECK THAT’S A LOT OF ZOMBIES.
It only takes a moment for the Night’s King to glance up at them, and they scatter, squawking madly all the while and breaking Bran’s wifi connection.
“Ravens,” he tells his Maester, “We’re going to need to send ravens”. I hope they’ve got big scrolls for lots of writing because given Bran’s tone, HE’S GOING TO NEED A BIGGER QUOTE.
Jon Snow’s been busy digging dragonglass out of the Dragonstone reserves, which I would have thought warranted a slow-motion shirtless shovelling montage, but apparently my Beloved is too busy hanging around windswept cliff tops which I guess is an OK substitute.
That’s where Jon is when Dany flies back in on her chartered dragon, with Drogon landing right in front of him. He takes off his glove (GASP, I’ll take Jon Snow taking off anything) and has a proper How To Train Your Dragon poster moment with the big lizard.
Dany looks upon this with some interest. Nobody has ever touched her dragon before, not even Maario, and he touched everything else. But she doesn’t seem overly concerned and the whole "Could Jon have the Blood of the Dragon?" question never comes up. Instead Dany brags about how beautiful her kids are (yes, parents, all your children are the most beautiful YAWN) and how sometimes you have to show your strength to help people, using the not-quite-the-same example of how Jon defeated Roose Bolton.
There’s an interesting moment when Dany presses Jon further about that whole “knife to the heart” comment Davos made, but the tension is left hanging because they’re interrupted by the return of Ser Jorah, cured of greyscale (now full colour) and ready to kill for his Khaleesi.
Dany is genuinely moved by his reappearance, and their interactions are one of the highlights of this episode. Ser Jorah no doubt still adores the young queen, but seems happy to simply accept her friendship and trust, which she is thrilled to bestow. Jon eyes Jorah off with some trepidation - after all, he’s carrying what should be Jorah’s family sword and there’s obviously a story there. But soon he has bigger fish to fry.
For the scroll that Varys and Tyrion had not-so-secretly intercepted was from Winterfell, which revealed Jon had not one but THREE siblings now waiting for him back home.
At a conference meeting in the Dragonstone boardroom, Jon tells Dany she can bloody well get stuffed if she thinks he’s just going to sit around looking pretty for her (exactly, my love, you only look pretty for me).
He needs to get back home and prepare for an epic battle, and presses Dany once again to join him. She’s still in Operation Defeat Cersei mode, so it’s a no from her until that happens.
But then, despite his last plan going about as well as Napoleon’s circa 1815, Tyrion has got another idea.
What if they could PROVE to Cersei that the whole “We’re about to be consumed by an all-powerful army of the dead” wasn’t just a fantasy? What if they captured a wight supremacist and brought them face to undead face with the Lannister Queen? Would she finally accept they had bigly problems and maybe do something about this alt-threat?
No, of course she won’t, but I guess they don’t know that and they’re holding on to any shaft of hope they can get.
Jorah gallantly volunteers to go beyond the Wall and catch one, and Jon states the Free Folk will help him lead the raiding party. Davos bridles at the idea of the King in the North putting himself in harm’s way, but Jon insists only he has the zombie tracker know-how to bring down a wight.
“I didn’t give you permission to leave,” Dany says, with a catch in her throat.
“Stuff youse all,” he replies. No, of course he doesn’t. Instead he gives a rousing, beautiful speech about how he had come to Dragonstone and trusted a stranger, and now implored Dany to do the same. GOD HE IS SO SERIOUS AND BROODY AND CONSUMED WITH MORAL RESPONSIBILITY. My heart can’t take much more of it.
Tyrion declares that as only Cersei listens to Jaime, he has to try to meet with his brother, which means sneaking in to King’s Landing, which means it’s the Onion Knight’s time to shine!
Davos successfully sails Tyrion in a little boat to a cove near the capital, but warns the Hand of the Queen he can be of no use should there be any trouble.
In the capital, Jaime has the horrible task of informing his sister-lover-queen of their army’s annihilation at the hands of the Dothraki and breath of the dragon.
Still covered in the ashy remainders of his fellow soldiers, Jaime knows their chances of beating Dany’s forces, even with hired mercenaries, is slim. Cersei points out he killed Dany’s father and she sits on his throne, so the chances of a successful peace deal are even slimmer.
Jaime also comes clean about the truth behind Joffrey’s murder - that it was Olenna, not their brother, what done him in. Cersei doesn’t want to believe it, but when Jaime points out how much easier Tommen would be to control, she knows he is right.
She wishes she'd been more forceful about making Olenna's death painful, but Jaime reminds her that their whole house is gone, so no use fantasising about what might have been.
Later, Bronn convinces Jaime he has to undergo more sword training with his non-golden hand. They march deep into the dungeons, Jaime bitching the whole way. But it turns out it’s all a set-up so Tyrion can speak to his brother. AWWWW, bless. Despite turning his back on the Lannisters, Bronn doesn’t see his former road trip buddy as an enemy. Also Tyrion probably paid him to do it.
Jaime is of course angry at his little brother, having previously threatened to cut the half-man, well, in half. Tyrion himself gets rightly righteous when Jaime brings up the whole “you killed our Dad” thing. Tywin was going to have Tyrion executed even though he knew he was innocent of Joffrey’s murder, just because he hated his dwarf son. Both brothers really do have grievances, but right now Tyrion has an message from the Dragon Queen, and it seems the Lannister brothers can still negotiate when it counts.
After his meeting, Jaime returns to Cersei, who seems remarkably upbeat about the revelation her sworn enemy/sibling was in town.
She is, as expected, dismissive of the idea that White Walkers and grumpkins and snarks (oh my!) are marching south with the ferocity of one of my foster kittens devouring a liver treat. But ever the pragmatic completely self-absorbed narcissistic cow, she spies an opportunity.
Sucking up to Daenarys at this point might lure her into a false sense of security, which could play into Cersei’s hands in the future. And besides, Cersei has another consideration - HER UNBORN CHILD.
Do you know, it’s a sign of how infrequently I read women’s magazines that I did not even consider the option of Cersei getting knocked up. Surely if I had read the Westerosi Women’s Weekly, there would have been some article quoting sources or insiders or pals about a tell-tale baby bump.
But of course it was a possibility - she is older but not menopausal, for crying out loud. And she and Jaime have been reunited enough to do the (particularly) nasty on many occasions.
As she embraces a proud (although gods know why) Jaime, Cersei then slips into the managerial guise of Lumbergh from Office Space, with a wine goblet instead of a coffee cup.
“Yeah, I’m going to need you to go ahead and not betray me again. Did you get my memo? If you could just not betray me again, that’d be great.”
It’s lucky Cersei had this change of heart about consorting with Tyrion before stationing a phalanx of goldcloaks on the stairs to Davos’ special cove.
As it was, just two guards turned up to quiz Davos on why he was there. And when they became a problem, they were swiftly dispatched by GENDRY AND HIS AMAZING TECHNICOLOUR WARHAMMER.
Ah, yes, Gendry. When Davos said “I’ve got business in Fleabottom” I shrieked and almost bit my lip. Oh look, it’s the Street of Steel. Oh look, it’s a smithy. Oh look, it’s carefully position shots of newly forged swords being pounded into shape. Oh look, it’s a very shapely back.
OH YES YES YES IT’S GENDRY!
He’s been hiding in plain sight, not rowing (great gag though, Davos). When Seaworth furrows his brow and starts asking if he’s ready to take on a bigger challenge, to place himself in grave danger, to face almost certain death… Gendry interrupts with a simple YEP RIGHT LET’S GO.
It turns out the Baratheon bastard has been biding his time making swords for Lannisters, all the while waiting for his destiny to arrive. He’s right to go straightaway, and he’s bringing his HUGE F***OFF WARHAMMER with him, which is extra special because THAT’S WHAT HIS DADDY FOUGHT WITH. I actually wept tears of joy and horniness.
The scene in which Davos cleverly and cunningly pays off the Gold Cloaks, then offers them fermented crab viagra and shooshes them off to a brothel was a hilarious comic vignette, due in part no doubt to the presence of comedian Kevin Eldon.
We’d seen Gendry’s hammer and thought “Surely those two HAVE to be dead”. But it was only when Tyrion, the dwarf who looms a bit too large, arrived on the scene, did Gendry have to literally swing into action. I may have laughed heartily at that final exchange between Davos and Tyrion: “This is Gendry.” “He’ll do.”
Up in Winterfell, Sansa is attempting what I believe is called “participative” style management, where you “encourage employee input into decision-making”. This is what’s happening as Lord Glover and Lord Royce yap yap yap at Sansa about Jon staying at Winterfell and not taking off on some risky venture north of the Wall.
Arya, who’s been watching her sister play Lady of Winterfell, is much more of a “pacesetting” manager, the kind of boss who’s happy to perform tasks personally and expects workers to follow her example. In this instance, Arya thinks Sansa should have defended Jon more as King, and the feelings of valuable allies be damned.
Sansa encourages Arya to speak her mind, but it’s not a nice declaration: Arya implies Sansa wants Jon’s job, and is just humouring the northern lords so if something happens to Jon, they will back her in. “How can you say such a thing?” Sansa asks. “Because you’re thinking it now,” replies Arya.
At this point I would just like to say to the Stark sisters what my mother would tell me when I fought with my brother and declared him THE MOST HORRIBLEST PERSON EVER.
“Now, come on, you’re each other’s best friend. You love each other really. Stop all this nonsense, or I’ll get the wooden spoon.” She never hit us with the wooden spoon, you understand, she’d just hit the walls as she marched up the corridor, and it was so funny we’d all forget we’d been fighting and just laugh.
My brother doesn’t watch Game of Thrones, so he’s unlikely to read this. But we now get together once a week and he trains me how to box, so maybe there’s a way for Arya and Sansa to get along after all. And if they don’t stop this nonsense, I’ll get the wooden spoon.
Of course Baelish only has one management style and that’s ME ME ME ME ME. Ugh, he’s so skeezy. Luckily Arya is onto him, stalking him like the shadow she is, watching him receive information from a young woman, and converse with Lords Glover and Royce.
She then spies him receiving a scroll from the new Winterfell Maester, who confirms it as “the only copy” in the castle. Baelish thanks him on behalf of Sansa (SCOWL) and briefly enters his room to hide it. Arya, ever resourceful, picks his lock and goes searching for the parchment. She finds it, eventually, hidden in a hole in his mattress, and I don’t even want to think about how many holes Littlefinger has in his mattress and for what reason.
I took a screenshot of the scroll, and it appears to be the one Sansa sent Robb after Baelish betrayed Ned, and Sansa fell under Cersei’s control. There was a mention of Ned Stark attempting to overthrow Joffrey, and a call for Robb to pledge allegiance to the evil boy-king.
Having possession of this scroll is useful to Baelish because it would help keep secret the fact that he was directly responsible for Ned Stark’s capture and death. Robb knew straight away the scroll contained “Cersei’s words”, but will Arya? Will she work out Baelish’s betrayal, or will she take it as evidence Sansa is not to be trusted?
One thing’s for sure - Baelish is onto her. That doesn’t scare me too much, because Arya has skills and Catspaw and Littlefinger has over-confidence and a soft gullet. But I do worry somewhat about him using the fact that Arya is onto him against her with Sansa. And the only way I know how to deal with that is IN PARODY SONG.
(With apologies to R.B. Greaves)
Last week she got home
Reunited with her clan
There was the sister she thought she knew
Playing host to a skeezy man
She kept her cool, she ain’t no fool
She stalked him ‘round all Winterfell
Broke into his hotel room
She’s not the type to yell
So take a letter, Arya
Might get you into strife
But if Baelish tries something
I hope you stab with your knife
She’s been many things but most of all
A good adversary to jerks
And it’s times like this I wish she’d just
Give Baelish the f***ing works
Was she wrong to track him
See the dirt he’s trying to get
Hopefully we’ll get to see
Not just Lannisters pay their debts
So take a letter, Arya
Don’t think it’s Sansa’s fault
That girl’s been through the wringer
Those wounds don’t need salt
Because a girl was No One
It’s hard to understand
Why she’d want to hold back from
Stabbing that creepy man
I want to tell you truthfully
And this will sound quite blunt
He may have a little finger
But he’s simply a massive c***
So take a letter, Arya
But watch out for your back
‘Cause Baelish saw you sneak in
He’s gonna want to attack
Oh take a letter, Arya
A conclusion you can draw
If Baelish gives you trouble
Don’t forget your Catspaw
In Old Town, the Maesters have formed a collaborative sub-committee on how to deal with Bran’s news that Westeros is about to get an ice-cap in its ass. There are more old white guys in robes than at a Klan rally. We may as well dub them the Freemaesters. I bet they have a secret handshake and know who Jack the Ripper was, you just wait and see.
Sam realises they’re talking about Bran and begs the Freemaesters to take his message seriously. Sam’s seen the army of the dead, he knows it’s for realsies. He says given their esteemed role in the workings of Westeros, the Freemaesters should tell everybody to get ready to send their armies north to defend the realm, and to spend every moment finding a permanent cure for the White Walkers in the Citadel’s substantial database.
But Maester Jim Broadbent thinks it could also be a trick played by Daenarys to create a distraction and allow an easier invasion. Another one dismisses it all as “magic birds talking to cripples”. When Sam leaves, we discover all the Freemaesters know Sam’s brother and father just got barbequed, but Maester JB just doesn’t have the heart to tell him. BOO PISH YOU STUPID OLD MEN.
Later that evening, Gilly reads interesting bits of trivia about the Citadel and some of its maesters while Sam continues to study. The Citadel has 15 782 steps, apparently, and one of the maesters used to record his bowel movements. Also, this one particular maester performed - what’s it called - an “annulment” on some chap named Prince Rhaegar and married him to another woman at the same time----
“SHUT UP GILLY I’M HAVING FEELINGS AND I DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR THOUGHTFUL AND INTELLIGENT AND PROBABLY VERY USEFUL FACTOIDS” blasts Sam, in a rare moment of un-Samliness.
Fed up with recording the adventures of greater men and yearning to be something more, Sam raids the Citadel for as many dusty scrolls and ominous tomes as he can, then loads his family into a wagon and takes off for gods know where.
Sam’s gonna realise pretty soon that one way he could be a great man is to recognise the great woman working right beside him. I’m fairly certainly any lady reading who’s experienced male co-workers ignoring or dismiss your ideas would have been urging Gilly to clock Sam in the face.
Back at Dragonstone, Ser Davos tries to introduce Gendry to Jon as “Clovis, A Simple Blacksmith” but is undone when Gendry forges right ahead with “Hey I’m Robert Baratheon’s bastard, and our Dads were friends, so let’s be friends and go fight some zombies.”
It was a gorgeous encounter, particularly when Jon said Gendry was leaner than King Robert, and Gendry replied that Jon was shorter than Ned. Jon looked stunned before cracking his BEAUTIFUL WRY SMILE that once he realises I exist, will surely reserve only for me.
Dany comes to say goodbye, and her embrace of Jorah is so touching. Mostly because they are touching, which is obviously something they couldn’t do back when he had that infectious disease. Jon tells her if he doesn’t make it back, at least she won’t have to deal with the King in the North, and she replies that she’s grown used to him NAWWWWWWW. I loved the sentiment but also they’re related and I’m still working out how I feel about the JDBP (Jon/Dany Boning Potential).
A mere paddle later, and we see Jon’s crew pulling up at Eastwatch, a part of the Wall we’ve never seen before. It’s run down, and heavily exposed to the elements. It’s possibly the most unappealing place we’ve seen in the show, and remember, we also saw Baelish’s bedroom this episode. Shudder.
It’s only been two episodes since we last saw Tormund Giantsbane, but by crikey I’ve missed his bushy red beard and literal nature. “I’m staying behind, I’m a liability,” says Davos, to which Tormund replies “Yes. You are.” Tormund for Earth President.
After accepting Jon’s need to go north of the Wall with minimum questioning, he makes the startling revelation that they’re not the only ones seeking to punish themselves in the glacial conditions. The Brotherhood Without Banners got caught trying to sneak in, and Tormund’s been holding them in the castle cells, without even any booze, much to Thoros’ dismay.
It was such a strange reunion, the odd surroundings belying so many faces familiar to each other. Jon recognised the Hound, Jorah recognised Thoros, and Tormund realised Jorah was the son of the Mormont who’d hunted Free Folk down. Beric attempted a fine speech about the mission the Lord of Light had placed on them, but Gendry warned about trusting the people who had sold him to Melisandre to be sexed upon then murdered.
Eventually it was Jon who declared their past differences held no sway anymore. By reminding everyone that they’re all on the same side against the White Walkers, Jon Snow proved himself a “coaching” style of manager, the sort of person who develops the individual strengths of his employees as a way to improve their performance.
I just want to add, Jon, my Beloved, that I am happy to report you every day for gruelling physical training and an invigorating groin rub. Honestly, you can Arsene my Wenger any day.
And then, it was time for the boys to SUIT UP and become the North’s answer to THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. Play the song, people! There were no horses, to be sure, but the furry snowsuits were animal enough for this Mother of Kittens. MEEEEE-OW.
Yay! Best Moments
The whole final sequence at Eastwatch, with Tormund interrogating Jon as to why he wants to go North, which queen he intends to convince (“The one with dragons, or the one who f***s her brother?), telling Davos he’s a liability and why they didn’t bring “the big woman” along (NAWWWWWWWW), was pure gold.
There was also a charming moment between Tyrion and Jorah, where a coin was exchanged for luck. It was another reminder of how many of these characters have popped in and out of each other's lives over the years - and a hope they will again.
Zing! Best Lines
Tyrion: Who’s that for?
Varys: Jon Snow.
Tyrion: Did you read it?
Varys: It’s a sealed scroll for the King in the North.
Tyrion: (after a long pause) What’s it say?
Varys: Nothing good.
And of course, Davos to Gendry in the forge - “I thought you’d still be rowing”. Honestly, the only way they can outdo that gold medal fan service is MAKE JON SNOW BE SHIRTLESS A LOT MORE.
Cersei’s preggers by her brother. For the fourth time. And she’s not even planning to hide the fact that Jaime is the father. Grossssssssss.
Bronn saving Jaime from the lake in that very first scene simply because “until I get paid, only I’m allowed to kill you” was CLASSIC Bronn. I thought for certain Jaime was going to end up as Dany’s prisoner after the loot train battle, but I’m glad Bronn was there as a hired buddy. I loved every moment he was onscreen, including his deceiving Jaime into meeting with Tyrion under the guise of training in the dungeons. So you can imagine why Cersei’s throwaway line “I’m going to punish him” because he set up that meeting makes me VERY NERVOUS.
After last week’s epic loot train battle, it was amazing to have this almost-recovery episode as a palate cleanser. Not that it was boring by any means - House Tarly literally went up in smoke, Cersei got a bun in the oven, Gendry got hammered, and people were criss-crossing Westeros all over the place.
The final assembly of the Eastwatch Avengers was spine-tinglingly glorious, and sets up the mighty snow battle hinted at in the pre-season trailers. Given the pace at which the show is now running, it seems fitting that this will take place next episode. Will they bring back a wight as proof for Cersei? Will Cersei play her trump card now, her pregnancy? As much as Dany hates Cersei, I cannot see her wanting to murder a pregnant woman, given her own experiences and desire to help women over the years.
Will Sam and Gilly be safe, wherever they go, and will Sam actually listen to Gilly? And what of that nugget of information, which seems to prove that not only was Jon the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, but that they were married? Dany may have grown used to Jon, but will she be as friendly if she finds out he’s a direct rival? And does this place him right back in the centre of thinking as to "Who is Azor Ahai?" - the ultimate song of ice and fire?
Thank you for bearing with me through another exceptionally lengthy recap, beloved Kittens. A special head scratch to my precious Patreon subscribers, including Fiona B, Dylan C, Sean JW, Anne R and Jim K. You are sexier than Gendry in a sweaty forge. Let us now turn our attention to discussing and dissecting in minute detail!
YOU GUYS I CAN’T, I JUST EFFING CAN’T EFFING DEAL WITH THIS PLEASE SEND HELP AND CHOCOLATE AND ABS BECAUSE I DON’T KNOW HOW TO RECAP ANY OF THAT
ALSO JON SNOW WENT INTO A CAVE WITH ANOTHER WOMAN AND WE ALL KNOW HOW THAT ENDS AND I’M QUIETLY DEVASTATED
*Sob*... *gasp*... He… *sob*....went into…*indecipherable noise of suffering*... a…. CAVE. *Weeps tears enough to drown a Lannister*
Daenarys may have a good heart that Davos has spotted you staring at, my Beloved, but it’s nothing compared to mine. I have an EXCEPTIONALLY good heart, Jon, and it’s pumping Double Duty for you. Yes, that’s right, my DD-sized heart is busting right out of my chest, and frankly, I’m amazed you can ignore it bouncing there in a remarkably perky way.
We’ll get back to Jon’s inevitable-love-interest-with-Dany-storyline/shocking betrayal of our not-imaginary relationship, but my initial point stands: How am I supposed to recap THAT?
How is any recappespondent supposed to recap that ferocious scorching specter from the sky, coupled with a ground battle so intense it knocked my socks off (along with a poor horsie’s whole foot)?
The final sequence took the amazing cavalry charge choreography pioneered in Battle of the Bastards and LITERALLY SET IT ON FIRE.
Burn Drogon burn, Dothrak-inferno
Burn Drogon burn, it’s a Bronn beat down
Burn Drogon burn, crossbow Qyburn-oh!
Burn Drogon burn, now will Jaime drown?
Are your disco battle booties strapped on and ready to stomp the (k)night away? Because I may be unsure how I’m going to recap this one, but some gods damn style can only help. Let’s get cracking on another instalment of Raven On, the Game of Thrones recap series that doesn’t quite know how it flames its way into existence every week.
S7E4: The Spoils of War aka SRSL F***ING HELL YOU GUYS
The big takeaway I have from this episode is the sentiment AT WHAT COST?!?!?! We saw it in everything:
Jon can bend the knee and get Dany on his side to fight White Walkers, but at what cost to his pride and newfound place as leader of the North?
Bran can become the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future rolled into one, but at what cost to his human relationships?
Bronn can sell his loyalty to the highest bidder, but what use is gold in the midst and heat of the battle?
Dany can deploy her nuclear weapons, but at what cost to her chances of a safe and prosperous future rule?
And Podrick can receive the best possible fight training from Brienne, but at what cost to his reputation as the King’s Landing Casanova? The Westerosi Don Juan? The Errol Flynn of Fleabottom?
OK, that last one is less critical analysis and more American-style rooting for Pod to get some Australian-style rooting, but you get the gist of it.
My secondary observation about this episode is that in a series that prides itself on MEANINGFUL LOOKS, this episode really outdid itself. There were MEANINGFUL LOOKS all over the place. People couldn’t take their SERIOUS EYES off each other. If you’re a drinking type, take a sip every time we notch up a MEANINGFUL LOOK and get ready to have your stomach pumped.
It’s getting harder and harder to separate out the sections of this recap into distinct areas as the storylines are blending harder than Kim Kardashian’s contour. So forgive me if we bounce around like a dragon in turbulence.
It all starts innocently enough, with the victorious Lannister army marching out of Highgarden bogged down with loot. Commander Jaime stops the Fort Knox gold depository wagon in order to raid it for monies to pay Bronn, the most dedicated of sellswords. Ever perceptive, Bronn probes Jaime’s apparent bad mood, getting close by suggesting the Queen of Thorns gave him one last prick before dying. Jaime’s not keen to let on that said prick was his eldest son, who it turns out Olenna, not Tyrion, bumped off.
Bronn rather fancies himself the new Lord of Highgarden. He’s been easing up on smashed avo breakfasts and reckons he could take on the mortgage. But as much as Jaime enjoys some negative gearing with Cersei, he advises Bronn against property ownership at this point in the war. “Daenarys Targaryen could come and take it all away before you even moved in,” he suggests. I didn’t even SEE the GIANT CLOUD OF FOREBODING, because I am a SWEET SUMMER CHILD.
Back in King’s Landing, Cersei has really given the Iron Bank a golden handshake, repaying their debt in one foul swoop. Mark Gatiss is very impressed with Cersei, who has swapped her swooshy black taffeta dress from last episode to something that can only be described as “Crocodile Goth”.
Rather than celebrate with a rousing rendition of “This Corrosion”, Cersei insteads reels the massive banker into a plot to expand its investments in Westeros. She shows him her GIANT WAR ROOM FLOOR MAP and mentions something about Qyburn making contact with the Golden Company in Essos, who from memory are sellswords like the Second Sons (Maario Noharis’s group. I wonder how Maario is? I can only hope naked and slightly soapy). Her credentials are good, and the Iron Bank, like the scummiest of all deal-makers, is set to move on her like a bitch.
I tell you, bloody banks, moving in on everything. Honestly, forget your Valyrian steel and dragon glass, just send Mark Gatiss and his brown-robed homies up North. They’ll soon wither away the spirits of the White Walkers by yelling at them things like “Have you considered life insurance? You wouldn’t want to leave your wights to fend for themselves should anything happen to you!” and “Did you know the average terrifying zombie creature from beyond your nightmares doesn’t have enough superannuation to retire on?”
Let’s belt up the King’s Road to Winterfell for ANOTHER STARK FAMILY REUNION!
To be honest, they’ve lost a bit of their sheen since Jon and Sansa embraced at Castle Black last season. That was joyous, wonderous, and also had Jon Snow in it. Bran’s return last week was somewhat undermined by his new existentialist angst emo personality change, while Arya had two bozo guards try to stand in her way from getting into the castle.
What was up with that sequence? I get that it showed things have changed at Winterfell, and dropped the exposition bomb that Jon is away and Sansa is in charge. But of course Arya would give them the slip, of course the bumbling guards would go bumbling to Sansa to explain how they bumbled up. They weren’t menacing enough to be a real threat to Arya, but they weren’t funny enough to be comic relief. I kinda wished she’d just gutted them there and then.
While my heart yearned for a big, public hug-a-thon in the courtyard, I was still satisfied by the low-key Arya/Sansa crypt convergence. It fit well with their history of sisterly animosity, last seen played out in King’s Landing waaaay back in Season 1. You might remember the pair’s father, Ned, tried in vain to make his daughters get along. You might also remember that the two girls were the last Starks to see Ned alive. So their reunion in front of his statue was a spiritual nod to their lost Dad. They found their way back to each other, and after all that’s happened, it turns out he did his job of raising them pretty darn well.
Arya bemoans the statue’s lack of resemblance to Ned, which Sansa attributes to everyone who knew it being now inconveniently dead. “We’re not,” Arya flatly states. And it’s true... just. Both are now in the up phase of the Game of Thrones Wheel of Fortune, but both have unhappy stories about how they came to be there. There was a cost to their survival.
It was touching to see these two touching - not one hug, but two, in that sequence. However the most adorable moment was seeing Arya’s face when Sansa told her how happy Jon would be to see her. Now that reunion is going to be grand.
Bran, meanwhile, is busy winning a staring competition against Littlefinger in his brand new wheelchair. Baelish has gifted him the infamous Catspaw dagger, which was last used in an attempt on Bran’s own life. Where the f*** do you come up with these ideas, Baelish? For crying out loud, would you present Jackie Kennedy with Lee Harvey Oswald’s gun “for protection”? Have you no f***ing clue? No, of course you don’t, you irredeemable colonic irrigation.
Bran doesn’t need his spooky powers to know Littlefinger is a bullshitting pile of shitty shit, but he throws them down regardless. The moment in which Baelish is parroting on about how hard it must have been for Bran, ripped from his home, forced into the wilds, seeing things nobody else sees, then coming back to such chaos…
“Chaos is a ladder,” Bran declares in the deadest of pans.
This is of course the famous idiom by which Baelish lives his life, and seeing his reaction made the famous Australian idiom “You’re f***ed, sunshine” pop into my head - just in time for Meera Reed to pop in to say her farewells.
In an episode full of drama, this may have been one of the most tragic scenes of all, its domesticity undermining its gravity.
Meera is leaving - not because she wants to leave Bran, but because she wants to protect her family - and all Bran can say is “OK bye then”.
SRSLY, dude? Her brother and Hodor died to protect you, she nearly died, and all you can muster is an insincere “Kthxbai”? If you’re a philosopher, bro, you’re Soren Jerkegaard.
At that moment, Meera was all of us in high school, hanging around some floppy-haired boy at big lunch, helping him with his history homework because you’re a curly-haired nerd trying to impress him, but he’s too busy making googly eyes at your frenemy….
Um, sorry. I found out my high school reunion is next month and it’s brought up some memories. On an unrelated note if anyone knows how to lose 20 kilos and publish five award-winning novels, that’d be great, because my Facebook profile may not be entirely accurate.
“You died in that cave,” Meera tells Bran, making her peace with the idea that the boy she helped has become a man she doesn’t know. Bran has nothing to say to that, because Bran doesn’t get caught up in petty human emotions anymore.
So you walk out that door Meera Reed, and you never come back, until you inevitably do because your Dad will probably need to back in Bran’s whole “Jon Snow Origin Story” and you will get zero credit for helping him with that French Revolution assignment, I mean, getting him back to Winterfell.
Bran has slightly more luck impressing Arya. “Bran has visions now,” Sansa explains in the kind of voice you reserve for telling your friends your partner has quit their corporate job to become a psychic.
But Bran does more than just horoscopes - he knows Arya has a List of People To Kill. Sansa had thought she was joking, and they’d laughed about it in an awkward “Yeah, funny joke” kinda way. But Bran’s not laughing, probably because Bran will never laugh again, because he knows all the punchlines before you can even utter a set up.
Being a Three-Eyed Raven, and a cripple, Bran has no use for Catspaw, and instead bestows it on Arya, who after all had to chase cats to become quick on her feet. Clearly we all hope she will gut Littlefinger with it, but it’s interesting to wonder who Bran thinks/knows she will use it on.
Brienne watches the reunited Stark siblings with a mixture of pride and fear. Pod tells her she should be proud of keeping her vow to the daughters, but Brienne doesn’t feel like she did anything.
That’s totally not true, of course, but Brienne is the kind of gal who beats herself up, and given her strength, she can give herself quite a bruising. There’s a lovely moment when she stops short of telling off Pod for calling her a lady, and simply says “Thank you”. Damn right, Brienne. You are the lady-est of ladies.
The fight scene between Brienne and Arya was pretty spectacular. Size and strength in Brienne, speed and nimbleness in Arya. Syrio Forel would be proud of his young charge, as she water danced around the Tarth warrior with ease. It ended in a beautiful draw, with both holding blades at the others neck.
The real battle though may be in Sansa’s mind - she seemed awfully concerned watching Arya fight. Is she simply worried about her impetuous sister’s safety? Or does she think Arya's presence could destablise what she's working for at Winterfell?
I’m inclined to give Sansa the benefit of the doubt. I think it’s plain to see that neither Arya nor Bran are interested in governing. But then there’s always Littlefinger, hovering around, that red wine stain you just can’t bicarb away.
Let’s head over to Dragonstone, where Missandei is missing Grey Worm and the “many things” they did together. Missandei’s not above a meaningful glance at Dany when Jon calls her to inspect the mighty dragon glass store tucked away in one of Dragonstone’s many crevices (oh gods). Naturally Dany follows Jon to inspect this crevice (OH GODS).
I don’t know about you but Jon Snow in reflected firelight might be even sexier than Jon Snow in the actual snow. The way the warm glow and shadows simmered on his noble brow… well, let’s just say I’ve bought a beginner’s course in spelunking and a lot of kerosene.
Anyways, it’s all very stirring, especially when Dany slinks up to Jon (what) and says she’ll fight for the North… if he bends the knee. Jon’s not keen, citing his people’s reluctance to be ruled from the South. But Dany points out that they would follow their King, and perhaps it’s Jon’s pride that is standing in the way. As we all know, my Beloved has always been pure of heart, and never wanted glory for himself. But Dany does have a certain way with words. It’s true Jon has used his newfound power to act quickly in defence of his people. But is he liking it a bit too much?
He shows Dany the cache of obsidian, then reveals something even more special - ancient Children of the Forest graffiti. These OG Banksys (Banksies?) left clues as to how and why to use the dragonglass, as well as the revelation that they fought the White Walkers alongside the First Men. Jon uses it to insist that he and Dany work together, clearly not in possession of the small fact that the Children of the Forest apparently created the White Walkers to BEAT the First Men. Whoops.
I’ve got to be honest with you, Beloveds. I’m not sure how I feel about the physics formula known as The JDBP (The Jon/Dany Boning Potential).
I mean sure, anything that gets Jon Snow looking broody and conflicted is good in my book.
But did there have to be sexual tension? Between relatives? And in a cave? FFS, this is the Jon Snow danger zone. I can’t be having them in that cave together too often, or tongues will wag. And that’s exactly what I’m worried about.
Some more unwanted talk comes from Tyrion and Varys, who have finally had news of How The Big Plan Went. There’s a fantastic glance between the pair after they tell Dany the Unsullied took Casterly Rock… but lost Highgarden in the process.
Dany is suitably miffed, and flashes real anger at Tyrion when he talks about their enemies. “Your family, you mean,” she spits at him, a wound just as sharp as any knife could deliver. Then she asks Jon why she shouldn’t just jump on her babies’ backs and fly them into battle.
Jon, being amazing, says her whole schtick has been built on showing people a glimpse of a whole new world, a new fantastic point of view. If she deploys her dragons, well, that’s not unbelievable sights and indescribable feelings. That’s just the same old shit.
People say my Beloved knows nothing, but come on, that was pretty smart.
Jon continues his knowledge quest with Ser Davos, as they question Missandei about just why exactly she and thousands like her are committed to Daenarys’ cause. “She is the Queen we chose,” Missandei replies. Sure, but you’re kind of her slave now, aren’t you? Davos asks. “Nuh-uh,” says Missandei, “I can go anytime I want to. Even though I’m her most trusted adviser. She’d let me go tomorrow. She totally would. It’d be fine. But I don’t want to go, and that’s the important thing here.”
This somewhat weak defence is interrupted by Theon Greyjoy, returning from the failed mission to lay siege to King’s Landing. Jon is in fine brooding form as he stares down the coward who caused Robb Stark’s death.
Theon, for his part, admits to personal failings, then attempts to mask his terror with some awkward small talk about Sansa.
I was waiting for a punch to the face, but instead, Jon merely grabs Theon by the neck, similar to his move on Littlefinger two episodes ago, and says the only reason he’s not dead is because of how he helped Sansa.
But Theon’s hope to get Dany’s help in rescuing Yara is misplaced. For, as Jon intones gravely, “The Queen has gone”. UH-OH.
It’s all quiet in The Reach, which seems to resemble a sort of verdant Monument Valley, as the Lannisters and Tarlys finalise the logistics of moving the gold and grain safely into King’s Landing.
Jaime even attempts some bro talk with the younger Tarly about how he’s dealing with his first battle, and the whole “we broke faith with House Tyrell” thing. Dickon (snort) is putting on a brave face for a big lad, and in a strange way, I see the resemblance to his brother Samwell. He perhaps didn’t inherit total steely discipline from his father after all.
Ever perceptive, it’s Bronn who first notices something has come over the valley. There’s a trembling in the ground, and a literal dark cloud hovering over a nearby ridge. Jaime immediately calls his men to form up, anticipating an attack.
The tension grew, until finally the Dothraki appeared, fierce, multitudinous and ready to get stuck in.
Imagine yourself as a Lannister foot soldier, seeing the approaching Dothraki horde for the first time. You’ve never seen arakhs before, you’ve never heard such wild battle cries. And you sure as heck haven’t seen riders stand atop their horses to launch themselves into the fray. As Bronn had so recently said “Men shit themselves when they die.” I imagine there was a fair bit of that going on at that point before any blood had been spilled.
In the confusion, Bronn urged Jaime to get out and save himself, but the Kingslayer stood firm. His army could handle the Dothraki.
And that’s when the GIANT FLYING BURNING LIZARD appeared.
“Be a dragon” were Olenna Tyrell’s last words of advice to Daenarys, and here she has listened. So I guess, you know nothing, Jon Snow?
Dany rode Drogon into battle fiercely, burning the Lannister lines before her. Even Jaime’s attempt to set his archers onto Drogon’s body came to nought - Dany hit the brakes like she’d been doing circle work in an abandoned car park her whole life, and the arrows simply bounced away.
But. BUT. Jaime urged Bronn to go get Qyburn’s Really Crossbow, the deadly gigantor weapon that could feasibly bring down a dragon. Apparently they called it “Scorpion” which “sting in the tail”, I get it, but wow, a little predictable?
Bronn smashed, slashed and skipped his way to the Scorpion’s wagon, losing both his horse and his precious gold in the process. What does it say of Bronn that he kept fighting after losing his cash? I suggest it’s less “Jaime’s my friend” and more “I like a fight and I like to live”, but maybe I’m wrong.
This was such a brutal but morally ambiguous battle. I cannot describe every hack and slash, but I can attempt to describe my feelings of watching it. Of course, that was mostly gasps, screams and exclamations of NO! And DON’T! And NOT THE CROSSBOW! But there was also deep internal conflict.
Ultimately I wanted Dany to win, to score a victory after successive defeats at the hands of the Lannisters. But I did not want to see Jaime or Bronn killed, even though both came close (and were saved, funnily enough, by Dickon). Jaime has many crimes to answer for, but as I said in a recap many years ago after losing his hand changed him…. I’ve grown accustomed to his face.
Finally, after a test shot to dispatch a Dothraki chief, Bronn wheeled the Scorpion around and took aim at a diving Drogon. PFFFT, the arrow loosed, and fired straight into Drogon’s right shoulder.
Bronn’s satisfaction in his aim was delightful. Dany’s confusion was palpable. She’d never experienced the wracking movements of a dragon falling out of the sky.
Over yonder Tyrion and a small Dothraki rear guard watched their Queen plummet to the ground before Drogon managed to right himself enough to land. Dany dismounted, and attempted to manually pull the spear from her beloved baby’s body.
The tableau at this point was like a Renaissance painting. Fields of fire and ash. Burning men. By the side of a lake, Dany pulling desperately at the spear in Drogon’s body. Tyrion watching from too far away to help. And Jaime Lannister, still astride his white horse, rage building.
“You idiot,” Tyrion grunted, guessing what his brother was about to do before he did it.
Jaime grabbed a lance and kicked his mount into full gallop, racing towards Dany and Drogon.
“You f***ing idiot,” Tyrion grunted again, unable to do anything but bear witness to the impending death of his Queen.
Dany turned to see Death on horseback coming to claim her. She stared at Jaime, not scared, but certainly not defiant, before Drogon’s head rounded in front of her and his mouth opened.
Jaime screamed as the tables turned and he now rushed headlong into Death’s smoking gauntlet.
And then somebody - Bronn? - jumped up, knocked him off his horse, and sent them both tumbling into the lake.
And there was Jaime, still, descending, slowly, deeper, deeper, falling, into space, into the depths, into the womb, into nothing.
I think you’ll agree this should have been the song that rolled over the credits:
Hello darkness my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because with my sister I am sleeping
Honestly there are some doubts creeping
And the thunder, from the dragon, in my brain
It was the sound of violence
In restless dreams I walked alone
Three children gone as per the crone
Wide awake it was Highgarden
We granted traitor Tyrells no pardon
Randyll Tarly led the charge with his son Rickon
Wait, it’s Dickon
That is the sound of nonsense
And in the naked light I saw
Troops marching home with spoils of war
Bronn demanding his big money
Wants the castle too he’s so funny
But there’s something wrong as tremors fill the air
What would dare
Disturb the sound of silence
“Shit” said I, “It’s Dothraki”
Their army finally crossed the sea
See them brandishing their big arakhs
Stand on horses to launch their attacks
We all floundered, as the dragon soared above
In my golden hand I found… my lance.
I belted down the field of fire
Kill the girl my one desire
I got close enough to get stabby
The dragon roared his head he’s real crabby
The end of the line was close but then snatched away
We still live with the sound of tyrants.
Yay! Best Moments
Oh, I don’t know, maybe the bit with the massive f***ing dragon battle?
Zing! Best Lines
Ser Davos keeping the Stannis Baratheon Grammar Olympic Dream alive.
Jon: I saw the Night King, Davos. I looked into his eyes. How many men in the north do we have to fight him? Ten thousand? Less?
It also tickled me when Missandei explained the concept of a “bastard” as unfamiliar to her, and Davos said “Well that sounds… liberating.”
And clearly Bronn laughing at “Dickon” was all of us. “Dickon”. Honestly.
BRONN’S HORSIE HAD ITS LEG DECAPITATED. OK, not decapitated… dehoofitated? Sure, hundreds of men were being brutally slaughtered all around with blood and guts and gore BUT FOR GODS’ SAKE DON’T HURT THE HORSIE.
Also Bronn shooting that Dothraki chief with the Really Crossbow was horrific, but in a very awesome way.
What, no gutter innuendo in your endo from Euron MacGregor this week?
Clearly this episode popped the pimple of pressure that had been building up so far this season, if not for many seasons. We finally saw an EPIC Targaryen/Lannister fight, Jaime and Dany saw each other for the first time, and we endured the horrible experience of a battle in which we weren’t quite sure whom to cheer.
Is Jaime actually dead? Will Tyrion rescue him and take him captive? Can the brothers unite against Cersei, or has her infection spread too far in Jaime?
Was it Bronn who knocked Jaime off the horse, or Dickon, or someone else entirely? Will Bronn be safe? Bronn has to be safe. Bronn is the cheeky, selfish id in all of us. We'd be lost without him.
Will Dany be changed by this encounter? Could this signal the start of a descent into “Mad King” territory? She did just burn them all - but perhaps it was a necessary step in her character's growth. Perhaps she was just walking the talk.
But what of the repercussions of this battle? The Iron Bank's gold appears safe, but what of the crops? Could this cause deprivation in King's Landing and the Crownlands, enough to spark revolt against Cersei?
And what of my Beloved Jon Snow, hacking out dragonglass to prepare for the real calamity from beyond The Wall? With proof of Dany’s superior dragon skills, will he be tempted to bend the knee?
Thank you for your patience, Beloveds - this was the biggest recap so far this season, and it’s been a slog. Of course, a special thank you to my Patreon subscribers, including Trent SJ, Katie D, Emma W, Natasha Le N, and the mysterious Lyds. Also a shout out to the marvellous Steph M for helping me with GIFs! Yes, I finally feel like a proper internet person. I hope you enjoyed the recap, and let us now begin the discussion!
Oh Gods, oh gods, oh gods, Olenna.
If you’ve got to go, what a way to do it.
Cersei may have gotten particularly close with Jaime this episode, but you used your final moments to deliver the most devastating of all blows.
Brava, brava, life will not be the same without you.
That final prick from the Queen of Thorns capped off a fantastic episode in which OH YEAH JON AND DANY FINALLY MET AND IT WAS EVERYTHING I EVER WANTED AND OH GODS PLEASE KISS ACTUALLY NO DON’T AND TYRION CRACKED A JOKE ABOUT JON BEING BROODY AS HE WAS LITERALLY STANDING ON A CLIFF AND I MAY HAVE COLLAPSED IN TEARS AND DEEP SEXUAL LONGING.
My heart is still pounding. This episode was full of inexorable goodness (often in the form of inexorable badness) and if anybody tries to pull any BS line that “meh, nothing happened” then I give you full permission to SASS THEM LIKE SANSA. And we’ll get to her Sassness in due course.
As Hamlet, mad north-north-west, might say – it was words, words, words. I drowned in all those delicious wordy words. At the end of all that verbal outpouring Cersei is up, Dany is down, Jorah is less scabby, Bran is kinda freaky, and even Bronn turns up.
So, my Beloved Throners, get cosy, get sexy, grab a Pepsi Max or your delicious caffeinated beverage of choice, and let’s devour this thinky, meaty, juicy, doughy, tender, fleshy… sorry, what were we talking about again?
Season 7, Episode 3: “The Queen’s Justice” or “I Totally Didn’t Realise Which Queen That Would Refer To”
I don’t know about you, Beloveds, but like 1995 dance wonders Alex Party, this episode just wrapped me up, in your love, your love takes me higher. And you bet I want to need your sweet, sweet touch, to keep this thing alive, ooh ooh.
It was an hour-long embrace of diplomacy, negotiation, statecraft, intrigue, bravado, tactics, counter-tactics, disaster, triumph and suspiciously pink lipstick.
If last week saw our favourites and not-so-favourites make choices, this week saw some of the consequences of those decisions. It was a case study in power dynamics too - how can you exert power over somebody who doesn’t recognise your power? And in the face of losing your power, how do you take it back?
It’s going to be hard to chose Best Moments or Best Lines this week because the entire sequence of events on Dragonstone was one glorious combination of longed-for interaction liberally peppered with dialogue equal parts sparkling and cutting.
A superb tracking shot of the beachside boat arrival. Jon and Ser Davos being greeted by Tyrion, Missandei and a hefty new Dothraki chief. Banter about bastards and dwarves and battle scars. The Northmen’s boat and weapons being taken away. Ser Davos making small talk with Missandei about her homeland. Tyrion saying Sansa is smarter than she lets on, and Jon replying “She’s beginning to let on”. Jon and Davos hitting the deck when the dragons did a fly-by, and Tyrion’s retort that “you never really get used to them”. Kate Bush standing on some very wuthering heights telling Varys she was heading back to Volantis, but would return because - cue foreboding music - they both have to die in this strange land of Westeros.
Missandei’s introduction of Queen Daenarys Stormborn with all associated titles was gloriously answered with the Onion Knight’s succinct “This is Jon Snow. He’s King in the North.” At once we knew that neither Dany nor Jon were going to just roll over and do what they were told, and all of Pavlov’s dogs could not rival the amount of saliva I produced in those moments.
Jon, ever mindful of the big, big picture, isn’t that keen to “bend the knee” as much as I know he’d enjoy it if he just relaxed and maybe had a hot bubble bath with me. Dany quite rightly has gotten through her often miserable existence (her speech about her life experiences was brilliantly delivered) by keeping hard faith in her identity as the last Targaryen and Queen of Westeros. She places importance on removing Darth Cersei from the Iron Throne, and she gets rightly upset by Jon’s seeming dismissal of it as “childish”.
It’s Tyrion and Davos who do all the proper diplomacy here; they are voices of realpolitik amidst the Ice and Fire steaming up the throne room. Even Davos gets a bit carried away talking about Jon’s sacrifices, and Jon has to give him a Look that says “Ix-nay on the esurrection-ray.”
Things come to a head when Jon says he will not forsake the trust of his Northmen by pledging allegiance to Dany’s cause; and Dany returns fire by accusing him of being in open rebellion.
Varys thankfully breaks the tension by running - yes, we actually saw that, Varys, the Spider, running - into the throne room with some late breaking news. Jon and Davos are hurried away (“Am I your prisoner?” “Not yet” is my new “I love you” “I know”), and Varys breaks the news of Euron Greyjoy’s decimation of Yara Greyjoy’s fleet.
It is not the start to her war of conquest that Dany wanted. Just moments before, Jon had said the fact she wasn’t using her dragons to take King’s Landing in order to spare the lives of thousands of innocent people meant that at the very least she was better than Cersei.
And he was right. But that’s not necessarily a good thing. Cersei has no such compunctious visitings of nature; she’ll chart whatever course she needs for brutal victory. The Two Queens have very different definitions of "The Queen's Justice", and for Dany, the chickens have come home to roost.
Speaking of cocks, Euron Greyjoy has a right stiff one as he parades through Fleabottom dragging Yara Greyjoy behind his horse, with Ellaria Sand and her surviving daughter Tyene in tow.
He even stays on his stallion right up to the foot of the Iron Throne, harking back to Tywin Lannister’s entry after the Battle of the Blackwater. He presents his “gift” of Ellaria and Tyene, and again claims Cersei’s hand as his prize. Bitch is clever about her answer - “When the war is won.” That is a nice get-out-of-jail free card, Cersei, props to you.
Meanwhile, it’s been bugging me since he first appeared but I’ve FINALLY cracked the mystery of who Euron Greyjoy reminds me of. I’m sorry to strand a preposition but I’m just excited to share my new nickname for the Bad Beast of the Narrow Sea:
Yes, it’s the fiery Scotsman known for playing strong and strange (stronge?) characters with indeterminable accents (Obi-Wan Kenobi? What the hell was that, anyway?) He’s grittier, grimier and grabbier, certainly, but the resemblance is sound.
Undaunted by Cersei’s clear lack of interest in his proffered ring, Euron turns instead to Jaime and asks for tips on whether a proffered ring might be a sex position she enjoys. Jaime warns Euron about the fickle nature of crowd adoration, but the pirate don’t care. He’s getting off on the power and the glory holes.
“Did he just say ….?!?!” was my reaction to Euron MacGregor’s suggestion that Cersei and Jaime might enjoy in flagrante de-recto. I’m surprised he didn’t follow up with a description of where he’d like to put two other fingers. That really would be a Shocker.
Speaking of “the pink”, that’s exactly what Cersei’s lips were when she confronted Ellaria Sand in a Black Cell (“the stink”?) over the murder of Myrcella Water.
“Funny,” I thought while watching. “Looks like Cersei’s been down to Sephora and picked herself up a fresh glossy fuschia number. Must be Tarte.”
(If you’re not into cosmetics, that was a very funny brand joke, but I swear I don’t spend large swathes of time watching YouTube tutorials on how to make myself less hideous.)
Cersei’s revenge on the woman who murdered her daughter was calculated and perfectly executed. She enjoyed it too, taking her time to remind Ellaria of Oberyn’s death, to highlight just how well The Mountain was doing given the Red Viper had all but killed him during their duel, and goodness, isn’t Tyene a perfect Dornish beauty? How proud she must be… as a mother. She even referenced how powerful Ellaria must have felt in killing Myrcella, pouring salt into the wounds of a woman now bound in chains forever.
Finally, that Chekhov’s lipstick was deployed, revisiting Ellaria’s own crime against her. In between the evil, there was genuine anguish on Cersei’s part - Tyrion always said her one redeeming feature was how she loved her children, and the line “I didn’t have a mother, but Myrcella did” made me almost feel sorrow for Cersei.
Of course she followed it up with a very rigorous and take-charge sexcounter with Jaime, so the fact that killing is kind of getting her hot now is really quite a turn-off. Not for Jaime though, as he doesn’t put up much of a resistance, and doesn’t even seem to mind that much that Cersei is openly bragging to servants (“Yeah, we’re gonna need some new sheets in here. WOW did we WRECK that 500 count Egyptian cotton”).
The ramping up of Cersei’s masculine side (the hair, the clothes - now even icier - and the attitude) seems confirmed when she takes a meeting with Mycroft Holmes, aka, head of the Iron Bank of Braavos.
“Your father’s daughter, indeed,” is his summary after she teases out the real reasons why the bank wants its money back. As she points out, the Lannisters always pay their debts, but dragons do not…. and with a profitable investment in slavery gone sour, is the Iron Bank really willing to risk more on the Dragon Queen? She is, after all, a Marxist revolutionary, not an aggressive capitalist like Cersei. She’s going to make the trains run on time, damnit.
Give me two weeks, Cersei says, and I’ll give you your money. She’s confident, that’s for sure. And hell, things are definitely looking up for Cersei. And yet, and yet… I cannot help but think that her power is that ‘shadow on the wall’ Varys once described. An illusion. Watch your back, Mycroft Holmes.
At this point, Cersei and Dany may be rival Queens of Westeros, but can I get a HOLLER for Sassy Sansa, Queen of the F**king Universe?
She is in charge and in form as the Protector of Winterfell in Jon’s absence: getting food supply logistics for the Long Night sorted and demanding to know why breastplates aren’t being leather-clad to ward off cold.
Sansa is ALL OVER this governing shit, and we know it, and we love it, particularly when she gives Littlefinger another dose of Grade A Sansa Sass:
Baelish: I know Cersei better than anyone here...if you turn your back on her….
Sansa: You don’t know Cersei better than anyone here.
Baelish: I only meant to say...
Sansa: ...that the woman who murdered my mother, father and brother is dangerous? Thank you for your wise counsel.
But the seeping genital wart can’t let it rest, and carries on with his typical wicked whispering, telling her not to fight in real locations but in her mind, and to expect every outcome - including the worst outcomes - from everybody, to avoid surprise. Thing is, it’s NOT the worst advice he’s ever given (That was “Oh hey you’ll be fine here with Ramsay”) but because it’s Littlefinger I cannot even STAND it. Sansa, you know your own mind. Don’t let that stupid little goatee wear you down.
Baelish’s whispering is interrupted by news that SOMEONE is at the gates. Of course, we were all expecting Arya, but it turns out to be Bran, lugged all the way no doubt by poor Meera Reed, who really is the unheralded hero of this piece. But don’t worry, gorgeous girl, I’ve got you covered…with some early 90s Aussie soft pop rock a la Craig McLachlan and Check 1-2:
I said heyyyyy Meera
Tell you Meera what I want to do
Make the Starks all bow to you
Bran was lame, he couldn’t climb
You hauled his ass that whole damn time
You brother popped his clogs but still
You helped Bran in that northern chill
White Walkers blew it all aside
It’s not your fault that Hodor died
Heyyyy Meera (woo-ooh)
I said Heyyyyyy Meera (woo-ooh)
Bran though is chill AF. He’s more Zen than Richard Gere getting a Stilnox massage in a Tibetan monastery.
“Hello Sansa,” he intones, like he’s just been out to the shops for some milk, and not on a wild crazy ride of death and internal sight-seeing. Sansa sensibly bursts into tears and throws herself on her baby bro, her hardass exterior overcome with familial devotion and relief.
Later, in the Godswood, the siblings catch up on all the years they’ve missed together, the events of which Bran seems to be a little bit too familiar with. “I’m sorry all that happened to you on your wedding day, in your nice dress, lookin’ so pretty and all,” he says somewhat stonily. Like, I know you’re an otherworldly supernatural being, dude, but maybe a bit less matter-of-fact?
Sansa says he’s the Lord of Winterfell now, but Bran isn’t interested in lording. He’s the Three-Eyed Raven, according to the Three-Eyed Raven, who trained him to be the Three-Eyed Raven, once he himself moved on, to become another Three-Eyed Raven, back in the past, which is presently the future, and so now can only be the Three-Eyed Raven.
“Huh?” is Sansa’s sensible reply, but her bro just Bransplains it away, saying “It’s too difficult, you wouldn’t understand, I’m an Operating Thetan 458 now, my E-Meter readings are off the charts, I gotta go audit this weirwood.”
Freaked out, Sansa makes her excuses and leaves. What happened to her little baby bro? Why is it so difficult to explain what a “Three-Eyed Raven” does? And wow, did puberty really kick in with the lower voice, or what?
My favourite line in that scene was Bran’s sombre response to Sansa saying “I wish Jon were here”. Bran agrees, saying “I need to talk to him” in a tone so ominous there may as well have been a crack of thunder and a “dum-dum dahhhhhh!” Jon’s been over in Dragonstone bagging out House Targaryen and it’s going to be awkies when he comes home to a prodigal brother with An Inconvenient Truth Bomb.
Over in Oldtown, Ser Jorah Scabmont has made a remarkable recovery from greyscale. I can picture the sponsored Instagram content now: “It’s a miracle! I rested up, ate kale and thought positively, and my greyscale just disappeared! Thanks, Citadel, you’re a wellness wonder. #fitspo #nofilter #tag4likes @dragon_queen”
Maester Jim Broadbent asks about excisions and unguents, but Jorah has no idea what an unguent is, which is a fair enough question because until I just looked it up I thought it meant to not “guent” something.
The knight is sent on his way to go hang around Daenarys and snap up any crumbs of her affection, but Sam’s impression of Jesus healing the lepers does not go unnoticed by his superior.
Because he’s a human being with working eyes, Maester Jim Broadbent can’t be mad at Sam Tarly’s face, and even tells him to be proud of effecting a cure that better and more experienced Maesters could not have done. However, he’s not off the hook for disobeying orders entirely.
Sam’s punishment? Make copies of all these decaying ancient manuscripts, says Maester JB. OH NO, says Sam, please can’t I clean more chamber pots? No, says Maester JB, you must immerse yourself in all this PRECIOUS KNOWLEDGE which absolutely WILL NOT CONTAIN CLUES ON HOW TO HELP SAVE THE WORLD I’M SURE. Remember, Sam - bezoars good, sectumsempra bad.
Back on Dragonstone, Jon Snow is being Jon Snow SO HARD it actually made me feel weak. If you look up the term “Byronic hero” in the Big Book of Character Types there’s a picture of Jon Snow brooding on a cliff. I only got through it because Tyrion made some on par jokes about Jon Snow brooding on a cliff. Bless you Tyrion.
My poor beloved. I objectify him so, but he has some real world problems that aren’t just going to go away because he’s incredibly good-looking. Dany’s removed his means of escape from the island. Nobody believes him about White Walkers. And all that wind is going to mess up his man bun.
Then, in a surprise confession, Tyrion announces that he actually does believe Jon about the White Walkers, because he was stupid enough to ignore all sensible advice about avoiding Dragonstone and actually rocked up. Thanks… I guess?
Furthermore, Tyrion reminded Jon of the whole ruddy purpose of his trip to Dragonstone in the first place - the need to mine dragonglass from the mighty store of it on the island.
Tyrion convinces Dany to let Jon have the resource - after all, it means nothing to her. “Give him something by giving him nothing,” he tells her, making her question whether he is in fact offering wisdom from the ages, or just passing off his own thoughts as great insights.
Either way, it prompts a sweet scene between Dany and Jon on a lookout, watching as Viserion and Rhaegal circle the rocky outcrops. “I named them after my brothers… you lost two brothers as well?” And with that piece of shared sadness, finally, eventually, communication.
Dany doesn’t say that she believes Jon’s story, but does offer him the dragon glass, and the support of her forces to mine it. Jon almost looks happy.
The detente may have come just at the right time, because with the final events of the episode, Dany is going to need allies.
With Yara Greyjoy out of the picture, Dany and Tyrion turn their attention to Casterly Rock, and their surprise sneak attack via the sewers. Turns out Tyrion had spent his time wisely while trying to sneak hookers around without his Dad finding out.
Tyrion’s narration as the action happens is inspiring: “The army only fights for my sister out of fear, but the Unsullied fight for freedom and the woman who gave it to them… Casterly Rock is impregnable, but as a wise man once said, give me ten good men and I’ll impregnate the bitch....” It’s all very uplifting, isn’t it?
Except it’s wrong.
Grey Worm knows something is up when the fight is too easy. “Where are they?” he questions a dying Lannister soldier. “Where are the rest of the Lannister soldiers?”
Turns out Jaime Lannister had pulled a Robb Stark switcheroo, and left only a small reserve of men to guard Casterly Rock, a property that’s not as important as it once was, given Cersei and Jaime’s base in the capital.
The rest of the army - with Jaime at the head, backed up by the oathbreaker Tarlys and Bronn! - marched on Highgarden, seat of the Tyrells, which is quickly overwhelmed. “It’s not our forte,” Olenna admits, after asking how her troops fared.
This final scene with Olenna Tyrell just broke me, in the best possible way. It was honourable, and truthful, and almost kind, with both of them knowing this was her end. Jaime, for his part, took some comfort in the fact he’d talked his sister out of having the matriarch publicly humiliated before her death, or have her head stuck on a spike afterwards.
When he offers her poison, her only question is whether it will hurt, then she downs it immediately. Ye gods, she’s good. She’s already insulted Cersei and Joffrey in classic Olenna style (“He really was a c***), but it’s only after she drinks that she delivers the coup de grace - that she, not Tyrion, arranged Joffrey’s murder. Her declaration, and the affect it had on Jaime, took my breath away.
“Tell Cersei. I want her to know it was me.”
It was a genius, dastardly move worthy of someone with the rat cunning of Olenna Tyrell. In those last moments of powerlessness, she exacted a final victory over the all-conquering Lannisters. She’s gone now, and House Tyrell will be gone, with the Rains of Castamere underscoring the scene. But she did not die a loser like many others, including arguably her children and grandchildren. She went out on her own terms.
That stunning finale aside, it doesn’t stop things looking rather dicey for Dany as we head into the second half of the season (Yes! already! What’s that about?!). She’s lost the Tyrells, she’s lost the Dornish, she’s lost the good Greyjoys (Theon’s on a ship somewhere, he’ll turn up again). She was talked out of going flying on her dragons to do a spot of ship-burning, but her team is rapidly running out of options. A full-scale (hur hur) attack on King’s Landing might still provide a victory, but what would that display of power cost her?
Yay! Best Moments
Gods, so many. Sansa owning Baelish is up there, as it Olenna’s final f*** you to Jaime Lannister. Also, for what it's worth, I adored Sam's interaction with Maester JB, especially when he explained how he cured Jorah's greyscale: "I read the book, and followed the instructions." Godsdamnit, my father was right.
Zing! Best Lines
Everything Tyrion said on Dragonstone, but in particular this answer to Jon’s question on how to make people believe him:
“People’s minds aren’t made for problems that large. White Walkers, the Night King, Army of the Dead. It’s almost a relief to confront a comfortable, familiar monster like my sister.”
And this response to Daenarys pondering Davos’ statement that Jon took a knife to the chest:
“You must forgive them their flights of fancy. It’s dreary in the north.”
A tie between Euron’s wandering fingers and a reminder that Jaime and Cersei do, in fact, do it. Ewwwwwww.
I’m getting a horrible sense that Jaime Lannister’s end may be nigh. As head of the army (the Pongo to Euron’s Matlow, thanks Gran for those WW2 armed forces references), he has more power now than ever, and yet he cuts a tragic figure. Olenna is not wrong when she describes Cersei as a disease she helped spread. The most affected victim is Jaime, and it’s an affliction far worse than Jorah’s greyscale. Jaime’s arc could be one of redemption if he could just overcome his sister’s power over him. But is he strong enough to turn Kingslayer into Queenslayer?
Thank you so much for reading, precious kittens. Gosh I hope it made sense. All that fresh air on Dragonstone went to my head. As always, a huge thank you to my Beloved Patreon subscribers, in particular Brett C, Robert L, Annette R, Sam B and Peta & Mark from Canberra. I love you like I love Jon Snow stroking a foster kitten. If you want to jump onboard the Patreon train, the station is over here. See you next week!
I can’t believe it.
I simply can’t believe it.
After all this time, I didn’t even think. I didn’t even realise it could be so easy.
Send a raven north! SUMMON JON SNOW!
All these years I’ve been grappling with how to get the now-King in the North to notice me, and Dany goes and flips off an interview request like it AIN’T NO THANG and lo and behold my beloved is in the saddle and riding ferociously for White Harbour.
If only I had thought to send a raven and SUMMON JON SNOW! sooner he might be in the saddle and riding my White Harbour ferociously.
I’m sorry, I’m sorry, that’s crass. Unladylike. Beneath me (Gods I wish Jon Snow was beneath me).
But people, people! For the first time ever, in this glorious, suspenseful episode, we heard DAENARYS talking about JON and JON talking about DAENARYS. I don’t know about you but I got goosebumps. The prospect of that pair meeting IN THE FLESH next week… oh Gods, I just slipped off my chair.
Of course, there was much more goodness in this episode. Kate Bush turned up! Missandei got her boobs out! Grey Worm got his ? out! Jorah got his scabs lanced! Cersei got a giant f***-off weapon! Old Mate Euron went barkingly bonkingly batshit! Jon beat up Baelish! NYMERIA! HOT F***ING PIE!!!
So without further ado, let’s get cracking on another installment of Raven On, the Game of Thrones recap series that cannot keep whatever it’s got in its pants in its pants.
S7E2: “Stormborn” aka "Choose Life"
I hate to be a f***ing cliche and cite that “two roads diverged in a yellow wood” poem, but this did seem to be an episode about choosing paths, and the relative risks of those choices.
Of course you could argue that picking “the one less travelled by” is probably just as likely to end up in DEATH MURDER BOAT MURDER MORE DEATH MORE BOAT AND PIE as the other, but that poem was written by Robert Frost, and given the context of the icypocalypse heading south, still seems apt.
Dany and Tyrion are plotting a course for victory by rejecting their allies’ counsel. Jon’s making calls on who the North’s allies have to be. Cersei’s having a proper gander at anti-dragon propaganda. Jaime’s convincing Hard Man Randall Tarly to break his oath to House Tyrell. The Hard Man’s elder son disobeys instructions to save his old Commander’s son. The Hard Man’s younger son realises he has to live with the name “Dickon” (snort). And ARYA F***ING STARK IS HEADING HOME.
Let’s address the events that top this episode - Dany’s plan for the invasion of Westeros - so we can tail it with how one of its key elements goes horribly wrong.
It was a dark and stormy night when Daenarys was born on Dragonstone, and so it is again as she calls her competitive LARP team meeting to order.
Dany starts with a some-might-suggest-long-overdue dressing down of Lord Varys for acting against her on the orders of Robert Baratheon back in the day, before cosying up to her as his preferred saviour of Westeros.
There was a nice moment when Dany just cut Tyrion off mid-sentence as he tried to Lanns-plain that Varys had been the one to convince him to believe in Dany like he used to believe in Santa Claus (or Santa Claws, for the Lannisters?).
But Varys stood his ground, telling Dany that his support will always lie with the guttersnipes and bottomfeeders that he himself grew up with. I never thought the Spider’s intentions were 100% pure, but I’m starting to think maybe they simply are. He was left destitute and de-genitaled after all, so maybe his sympathies do indeed lie with the victims, the innocents. After years of trying to pin down his loyalties, it seems Varys really is doing it for the people.
Certainly Dany seems to recognise that. She makes him pinky swear that if he ever thinks she’s “Doing a Dad” and failing the people that he look her in the eye and detonate a truth bomb. Aaaaaaaand if he f***s her over again, she’ll Mortein his spidery ass with dragon breath.
Then 80s chanteuse Kate Bush turns up.
Tell you what, Dany’s not wrong when she says Dragonstone doesn’t feel like home. She goes to meet Melisandre in the throne room, and boy it’s drab. All cold deep blues and greys, so unlike the warm, sensual colours of the East. Honestly, would it kill someone to throw a few citrus-coloured scatter cushions about the place? I guess this is Game of Thrones, so yes, it probably would kill someone, but I feel like Mary Poppins needs to spoonful of sugar the place up.
The Red Woman pays tribute to the Breaker of Chains and in turn is welcomed as part of the Lord of Light’s expeditionary peacekeeping force.
Varys tries it on by suggesting her previous role of lowercase “b” batman to Stannis’ uppercase “B” Batman didn’t turn out so well, but is roundly smacked down by an on-form Dany who reminds him that today happens to be the day they’re handing out pardons for past mistakes in kingly loyalty. BOOM.
Melisandre brings up “The Prince Who Was Promised”, sparking a delicious linguistic discussion about the non-gendered nature of “prince/princess” in High Valyrian which just made me love Missandei more than ever.
Dany quite fancies this new translation, although Melisandre doesn’t want to confirm that Dany herself is this fabled prophetic figure. But she does have a role to play, along with…. oh yes… oh gods yes… Jon Snow. The King in the North.
You could have knocked Tyrion down with a feather as Kate Bush rhapsodised about Jon’s achievements as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch and King in the North. Yes Tyrion, that moody teenager you met all those years ago is now an EVEN MOODIER grown man with sexual experience and a MAN BUN. He is GLORIOUS and you should all be flocking to his sexy beard and extremely furry cape.
But no, Dany insists on being all Queenly and summoning Jon to Dragonstone on the premise that he will bend the knee. No, Jon, no…. answer my summons instead, and you can bend me over your knee. I promise it’s a much better outcome for everybody and mostly me.
Later, Dany pulls the rest of the recruits into line for a serious D&D session. It’s an impressive turn out: Yara and Theon Greyjoy keen to roll a critical hit against King’s Landing; Ellaria Sand in a mood of prickly revenge; and Olenna Tyrell bringing the cheese.
Dany is grateful for her allies’ advice… but decides not to listen to it. She and Tyrion have devised a Plan to surround King’s Landing from all sides rather than go in all dragons blazing. Dany does NOT want to be Queen of the Ashes. She’ll leave that to Elizabeth II after an England/Australia cricket match, thank you very much (sporting reference! Look at me go!)
This requires the Greyjoys to ship the Dornish up the Narrow Sea (I feel the internet has already been shipping such relationships) to apply pressure from the south; while the Tyrell vines squeeze from the west. The armies have to be Westerosi to avoid accusations of a foreign conquering force, you see, a point Cersei is busily making from atop the Iron Throne. But more on her in a moment.
Tyrion does however have a plan for the Unsullied. They will sail ALL THE WAY AROUND WESTEROS to Casterly Rock where they will take the ancient stronghold of House Lannister. I mean, that’s a hell of a long way to go, but I guess Spanish Inquisition-style, nobody will expect it (note to self: replace lazy Monty Python reference with something funnier).
With the plan in motion, it was left to Missandei to bid farewell to Grey Worm, who would head the Unsullied mission to penetrate the Lannister fortress.
So it was only natural that he should penetrate NOPE NOPE NOPE NATALIE DON’T USE THE WORD PENETRATE OH GODS NOW IT’S THE ONLY WORD I CAN THINK OF.
The couple’s little bedroom tete-a-tete was so sweet and pure and wholesome I just feel seedy attempting to make light of it. In fact, everything about that scene felt oddly… voyeuristic, and not in the saucy way. I felt like I was watching something very personal that wasn’t mine to see.
Grey Worm’s description of Missandei as his weakness was gorgeous, and his subsequent explanation of how Unsullied boys were trained to overcome their weaknesses was possibly the most we’ve ever heard him speak in the entire series. Turns out he’s a poet.
Eventually Missandei dropped her winter robes (chillier than Essos but clearly not cold enough for long johns yet), and persuaded Grey Worm to let her see him. There was a whole lot revealed, but some key items concealed, as they got down to business.
I want to make a JRR Tolkien-inspired “Grey Wormtongue” joke here, but again, crass. I’ve given you the components, you can assemble it yourselves.
Meanwhile over in King’s Landing, Darth Cersei is giving a tongue-lashing to a bunch of lords loyal to House Tyrell that she’s trying to lure over to the Dark Side.
In a Goebbels-inspired move, she manipulates the truth about Dany’s activities in Essos to make it sound like the Mother of Dragons is a veritable war criminal. The lords have an important choice to make - break with a centuries-old oath or risk their castles, their lands, their families and their legacy.
Jaime tries to secure Hard Man Randall Tarly’s support by offering him the position of general in the Lannister forces. Tarly, a hard but proud man, is not wholly convinced, but the Kingslayer makes some salient points about Olenna just being after revenge and Cersei needing a new Warden of the Whatever.
Meanwhile, in the cellars of the Red Keep, Qyburn has a present for Cersei. Amidst the giant f*** off skeletal dragon heads lies his prototype secret weapon against Dany’s dragons - a giant f*** off crossbow.
“If they can be wounded, they can be killed,” Qyburn intones ominously, proving once and for all he really is the Upside Down version of Q from the Bond films.
With a twang, Cersei releases the mechanism and the bolt goes straight through the head of Balerion the Dread, Aegon’s own flying lizard. BOOM. It’s a massive development for Cersei, who doesn’t really deserve breaks like this, and it won’t be the last one this episode. Also we need a name for the weapon. Please vote, or add your own suggestion:
*The Really Crossbow
*The Debt Payer
*The Maester Missile
Over in Old Town, Sam Tarly is being instructed in how to write histories by Archmaester Jim Broadbent, who insists he read examples from the Citadel’s library.
There’s a cute little in-joke there about the Archmaester’s own book about “The Wars Following the Death of King Robert I”. Sam suggests something more poetic, a reference to the book title, “The War of Five Kings”. Har har, take a bow, nicely done all.
Something far less nice is Ser Jorah’s scaly torso, which we see unshirted for the first time ever this series. Well done, Ser Jorah, if it wasn’t for that hideous infectious disease you’d look pretty great for someone who didn’t have Jon Snow’s abs.
Archmaester Broadbent is adamant that Ser Jorah’s condition is too far gone and untreatable. He gives him a day to “take care of things” (ie, send a teary letter to Dany then off himself) but Sam is not willing to give up without a fight. Sam served under Jorah’s father, Jeor Mormont, at Castle Black, and he wants to return the kindness the Old Bear showed him.
“You’re not dying today,” he tells Jorah, before shoving a flagon of rum down his gullet and making him bite down on a stick. Sam then performs some fairly confronting skin removal, to the soft accompaniment of Jorah’s muffled screams of pain.
It’s less pain and more pane (the bread, not the sheet of glass, it’s a sophisticated Italian joke) over at Hot Pie’s Fine Dining Establishment and Stables.
A resplendent Hot Pie is surprised and happy to see the girl he knew as ‘Arry, even if she is somewhat deadpan (deadpane? No, it didn’t work, move along Natalie) about it. He proceeds to feed her with both delicious foodstuffs and important exposition, including the key information that WINTERFELL IS BACK IN STARK HANDS.
As ‘Arry, sorry, Arya, leaves the bistro, we see her contemplate her original plan to continue on to King’s Landing… before nudging her horse to the right and heading north.
BABY BIRD’S GOING HOME.
And then, if that wasn’t enough, she stops to rest in a patch of snowy forest somewhere, only to see her horse spooked by rustlings in the bushes. I once spooked someone by rustling in the bushes, but I stopped when they got scared and also when they filed a restraining order against me.
Slowly, Arya finds herself surrounded by wolves, brandishing her sword. Ye Gods, it’s finally happened - she’s become Liam F***ing Neeson. She does have a very particular set of skills, after all.
Then, the great direwolf appears - Nymeria! Last seen waaaaay back in Season 1, Episode 2 (yes, that far back), Arya had pushed away her direwolf to save her from a Lannister knife. There seems to be a moment of recognition, and Arya begs her old friend to come back with her to Winterfell.
But the great beast turns away, all her wolfy minions following suit.
“That's not you,” Arya says mysteriously. But yes, it was! It must be! We need this reconciliation, it’s the perfect time for it! While one wolf survives, no sheep is safe, Arya said it herself when she killed all the motherf***ing Freys last week! Come back, Nymeria! Pity Arya didn’t have any Schmackos in her pocket.
UPDATE: It's now been pointed out to me via numerous sources that Arya's "that's not you" quote referenced her acknowledgement that Nymeria is wild and untamable, just like her, and was a callback to when she told Ned Stark in Season 1 that she was not destined to be a lady. It makes perfect sense and I am very jealous of all the recappers and obsessives who have the time to work that stuff out.
Still, Arya was super close to reuniting with her puppy, and I’m sure it will happen in some form. It seems only fitting to encourage her onwards a la the Pet Shop Boys:
It’s not peaceful there
There is frigid air
But you can start anew
See your sister too
You might find your dog
Baelish will monologue
Please stab him in the face
Make your home a better place
So let’s head back to Winterfell, which I’ve shamefully neglected until later in the recap in the hope it leads into a suitable concluding loop-back. Oh Gods, I hope you’re still reading, this is long one.
Jon receives Dany’s letter at Winterfell, and while little kiddies practise their archery, discusses its meaning with Sansa and Ser Davos.
My beloved is sure Tyrion is the author; he references that great “dwarves are bastards in their father’s eyes line” he used on J-Snow when they first met. Sansa agrees it’s him, but she and Davos say it’s too dangerous for Jon to go to Dragonstone to meet this Targaryen Queen.
Jon, though, has other motivations. To the assembled court, he reads out Sam Tarly’s raven outlining the large cache of dragonglass buried on Dragonstone. He says they need that stuff to beat the White Walkers - once again, it’s the only end goal he has in sight. Jon stays his path; not even the combined pleas of Lord Royce, Lord Glover and Lady Lyanna Mormont (“The King belongs in the north!”) can change his mind. Sansa half-pleads, half-lectures him about the risk he’s taking - that it could be the same trick the Mad King sprang on Ned Stark’s father and brother all those years ago.
Jon is concerned. Jon is ALWAYS concerned. He hurts so much deep inside it hurts me to admit it really does things to me. But ultimately Jon is unmoved.
I tell you what does move him though, and that’s an appearance by the creep-tacular Petyr Baelish. There Jon is, quietly paying his respects to his father (nope, apparently) in the Winterfell crypts, when Littlefinger sidles up and starts talking shit about how Catelyn didn’t like him, but here he was, the last hope against the oncoming storm, oh and by the way I love Sansa like I loved her mother, and BOOM--
---Jon shoves him against a wall and I think my ovaries exploded.
“Touch my sister and I’ll kill you myself,” he glowers at the rat bastard pinned against the crypt wall. FINISH HIM OFF NOW JON, I’M ALREADY SUPER TURNED-ON.
But he doesn’t, because he’s a good man, I guess? Who knows. He’s got places to be, I suppose.
Jon leaves the crypts and saddles his horse (to be that horse etc), ready to make for Dragonstone. He turns and waves a sombre farewell to Sansa, who returns the gesture. It’s a sad vignette, but not hopeless. I don’t think Sansa intends to fire up the Northern lords against Jon while he’s gone. He did trust her with command in his absence, after all. I remain confident Jon can do his business quickly and return to a positive relationship with Sansa. And shut up if you want to spoil that for me.
Meanwhile can Sansa look forward to another family reunion next week, with Arya coming back? Will Arya regret her choice to return, if her favourite sibling Jon isn't there?
Finally, let’s all aboard the Greyjoy fleet, complete with Sand Snakes and a very flirty Yara.
She and Ellaria enjoy some Dornish wine and corny sexual tension, mocking Theon as they go. “Protect her from the foreign invasion!” laughs Ellaria, as she goes in for what can only be described as an “anchors a-WA-HAY!"
But it’s float-us interruptus for the adventurous pair, as the Greyjoy fleet comes under sudden and fiery attack. It’s like the Armada circa 1588, except the Spanish are winning.
On deck, Yara and Theon look up to see a giant ship loom over theirs, before plowing into it. A drawbridge descends, and out from the darkness, from over their heads, he comes: The Flying Crotchman.
It’s Old Mate Euron and his supercharged fleet of Iron Islanders. Honestly, I cannot even calculate that there are this many Ironborn in existence - the whole kingdom looks like it has a population only marginally bigger than Bear Island. Still, they quickly wreak havoc in a bloody immersive sea-born battle sequence.
Yara has the heart and stomach of a king, but unfortunately she has the body of a weak and feeble woman - at least compared to Old Mate Euron. She puts up a valiant effort against a bunch of salty seadogs and her Unky, but he appears to have snorted a barrel full of anabolic steroids and cocaine before launching his surprise attack.
The guy is a ferocious and insane fighter, that’s for sure. He wields an axe like I wield a karaoke microphone - boldly, without mercy and probably to a bitching 80s soundtrack.
Some of the Sand Snakes, who were gossiping below decks, emerge to help the fight and protect Ellaria Sand. But Obara and Tyene (I think) are murdered, with Tyene suffering a brutal Wolf Creek-style spinal cord adjustment.
Ellaria is captured, as is Yara. No doubt these are the “gifts” Old Mate intends to bribe Cersei with in exchange for a walk down the aisle. Should make for an interesting trip back to King’s Landing next week.
However, in one of the saddest moments possibly ever in this series, we see Theon abandon Yara to her fate. Euron has her tightly in his grip, urging Theon to help her, tears are rolling down Yara’s face, the skies are exploding above them, but all of a sudden Theon disappears and Reek returns in his place - cowardly, snivelling, scared. And Reek chooses to survive.
He jumps overboard, plunges into the water, grabs a piece of driftwood to cling to and re-enacts his own version of the ending of Titanic. Except he totally let go. Sorry Yara.
That's the problem with plans. They don't survive contact with the enemy, and Old Mate Euron is clearly this season's chaotic enemy.
And with Dany and Tyrion's best laid plans ganged agley, big time, it seems like the Mother of Dragons might not be in the best bargaining position against Jon Snow next week...
Yay! Best Moments
Again, so many, but I’d have to say I adored that little chat Olenna Tyrell had with Dany. For someone who never had a mother figure, it must have been refreshing to hear the Queen of Thorns lay the smack down on all the jumped up jerks, knobs and fools she’s outlived over the years. Her wise words are ignore all the men, don’t be a sheep, and instead BE A DRAGON.
Can I get that on a t-shirt?
Zing! Best Lines
Hot Pie: The secret is to brown the butter before making the dough. Most people don’t do that. Arya: I didn’t do that. Hot Pie: You’ve been making pies? Arya: One or two.
I’ve had scabs in my time, but wow, Ser Jorah really is Crust Central. I felt like the director and cinematographer took particular pleasure in close-up shots of Sam’s surgical excisions, with raw infected flesh and pus right up in our faces. The inevitable scene change juxtaposition with a pie in Hot Pie’s pub was enough to put everyone off their dinner.
I guess it’s kind of sad that several Sand Snakes were turned into extremely realistic figureheads for Euron’s fleet. Their limp bodies really put the “flag” into “flagship”.
ALSO THERE WAS NO TORMIENNE. WHAT THE HELL, HBO.
.....Phew, this was a long one. Thanks for sticking with me, Beloveds! I also want to give a massive shout out to all the amazing Patreon subscribers who've jumped onboard this groove train. In particular, holla to Kamal A, Val B, Paul D, Kerrie and Fraser B. You are all as sexy as the fur on Jon Snow's cape. If you want to subscribe, click here! And I'll see you next week.