Bless you, HBO. Bless your glorious cotton socks. Delivering us a heart-pumping, loin-girding, ab-touching cracker of a trailer right on the Winter Solstice.
Of course it’s the summer solstice up past the equator, but we here in the Antipodes need no imagination to picture the depths of chilly misery they must be now enduring in Westeros. In Brisbane alone the temperature has been dropping to 11 or 12 degrees at night (roughly 54 in that ridiculous Fahrenheit), and that’s so arctic I had to put on slippers.
Not unexpectedly, the payload in this piece is a heck of a lot bigger than in last month’s HUGE WAR ROOM FLOOR MAP trailer.
The war room floor map doesn’t make a reappearance, but I’m not surprised. As I mentioned back then, that trailer focused on the human relationships, threats and alliances, with not much attention paid to the supernatural threat beyond The Wall.
By contrast, this one lets rip with battles and skirmishes and beat-ups galore, and slams the apocalyptic reality of the White Walkers right back into our gaping, drooling faces.
So let’s do a quick breakdown of the voiceover sequences and then hone in on some key flashes of “WHAT” and “WAS THAT JUST” and “HOLY CRAP” from the montages.
We start with a tracking shot of the Lady of Winterfell, walking past a weirwood tree in what we assume is the Godswood. Strong, determined, unblinking, she is taking her cues from 2009-era Beyonce. She Is…. Sansa Fierce.
"Uh oh oh, oh oh oh, oh oh, oh, oh oh oh"
But whispering, always bloody whispering, in his stupid bloody whispering voice, is Petyr Baelish: “Don’t fight in the North, or the South. Fight every battle, everywhere, always in your mind.”
If we assume he says this in person to Sansa, it’s an interesting focus on the internal struggle that must be won before any victory in the field can be had. It’s about removing the physical constructs of each battle and placing strategy, confidence and belief first and foremost. With the greatest match still ahead of Sansa, the Starks, the North and essentially to humanity as a whole, Littlefinger is starting to sound like a sports commentator. I mean, what I call him certainly rhymes with Rex Hunt.
Meanwhile I must find out where to obtain a copy of that introductory cello-with-choir underscore. I want to download it to my iPhone so I can walk around in slow motion with the music playing in my ears, pretending I’m an epic hero about to face danger and battle and stuff when really I’m just about to face feeding the foster kittens.
Other images seen in those opening moments: a long shot of Meera and Bran at The Wall, giving hope they will find some security with the rump of the Night’s Watch; Daenarys and her table top gaming board; Arya on a horse; Baelish in the shadows (maybe a dungeon?); and that weapon being sharpened again like a character on the “Who Shot Mr Burns?” episode of The Simpsons.
There’s also some shots that add weight to the idea we could be going to Casterly Rock this season, with the Lannister banners hanging in a stone keep filled with smallfolk seemingly welcoming somebody in, and Jaime seen from behind in armour striding around a battlement. It could be the King’s Landing, but perhaps not? There’s also a low-key beach landing, and later on, a glimpse of Grey Worm in a helmet approaching a rocky cliff - could it be Unsullied troops looking to take The Rock?
Good luck with that.
The second voice we hear is Jon’s:
“For centuries our families fought together against their common enemy. Despite their differences… together. We need to do the same if we’re going to survive. Because the enemy is real. It’s always been real.”
The first half of this grave declaration runs over shots of Dany walking along the beach at Dragonstone, then pulling down what looks to be like an old Targaryen banner, possible revealing a throne, or maybe some sort of family secret/inheritance. We see those magnificent dragons tearing it up like teenagers on a Contiki tour, and Tyrion looking pensively out over the sea.
Other characters pop up: Theon looking grim as usual; Brienne and Pod look awesome as usual; a flash of a snowbound Hound. There’s a series of shots involving Lannister soldiers, with Jaime and Bronn overseeing a team of archers, in what can only be described as a bromance-turned-bowmance.
There’s also a glimpse of a wheelchair-bound Bran (possibly with Bloodraven, the old dude from the cave, watching on) warging just as a bunch of ravens fly over a battlefield, seemingly sparking the interest of the Night’s King. As Jon’s voice sounds out “The enemy is real. It’s always been real”, there is a pause, fade to black, and then THIS MOTHEREFFING SHOT:
Holy flipping heck, it’s Beric Dondarrion carrying a flaming sword! But as we remember, it was Thoros of Myr who carried a flaming sword. SO WHERE IS THOROS? WHY DOES BERIC HAVE HIS SWORD?
A bit further on, there is another shot of my beloved fighting on a bluff (he can fight on my bluff anytime etc) and LOOK THERE IT IS AGAIN:
So the Brotherhood Without Banners (and possibly now Without Thoros of Myr) will at some point team up with Jon, Tormund and co. for more adventures fighting...wights, I assume? Unless Jon’s foreboding talk about coming together to fight the evil was aimed at other houses who have yet to sign on to the new reality of winter life and the coming icy apocalypse. They all seemed to acknowledge him as the “White Wolf” King in the North at the end of last season. But who knows, there could still be some hold outs.
That final montage before the Sansa voiceover contained a plethora - yes, El Guapo, a plethora! - of frames/shots/glimpses/sightings/moments that had my heart beating against my chest like a Looney Toons character looking at another Looney Toons character in drag. Moments like this:
Jaime Lannister racing on horseback across a field of fire, lance in (remaining) hand. This surely must involve the stampeding Dothraki army, with dragon accompaniment, as seen in other sections of the trailer. But who is he aiming for? A human… or a dragon? And could he fell a dragon? We know historically Jaime was a fine jouster at tournament, and it’s a credit to his thighs that he can still seat his horse so ferociously with the reins in his golden hand, while his left hand grasps his mighty spear OK wow I have totally distracted myself and need a moment.
I loved seeing Jon standing sexily next to Ser Davos almost as much as I fretted seeing him fight off one of the head honcho White Walkers; I did a little dance seeing Missandei plant her linguistically deft lips right on Grey Worm; and of course seeing Tormund Giantsbane lunge at anybody is delightful (and hopefully with Brienne, consensual).
There’s the Greyjoy fleet approaching King’s Landing, Yara and Theon looking at fireworks/fire, and a glimpse of old mate Euron getting ragey as ships burn; and as he accompanies the Dothraki warriors, a close-up of Drogon so severe you can smell his lizard breath.
But there’s also some things that weren’t clear to me. For example, is this Theon looking wrecked on a beach? Or Euron? Or an Unsullied?
Oh gods, it's Gendry, isn't it? He finally got out of the boat.
And this guy. Who is this guy?
WHO ARE YOU MYSTERY MAN
As we see a sole rider hot-hoofing it away from camera, the voiceover concludes with Sansa throwing up some Grade A metaphor and/or allegory.
“When the snows fall, and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies…. but the pack survives.” And we get this breathtaking shot of our King in the North, from one of his greatest angles:
His back hump looks so soft.
Now I must admit, when I first heard that phrase, my immediate response was “LONE WOLF WHAT ARE YOU REFERRING TO JON IS THIS INSINUATING JON COULD DIE NO NO NO”. Please understand I’m a little sensitive when it comes to the mortality of my beloved.
But it’s more likely Sansa’s singing from the same song sheet as Jon - that all petty human squabbles have to be put aside to ensure victory, that the time for individual glory is over. Indeed, Jon has been proof of that over and over again - his early days of wanting to be a kickarse Ranger are long gone, and he has become one of the most well-rounded (and #junkmounded) diplomats in the series. It wouldn’t surprise me if their dialogue here occurs in the same scene.
Can we take a moment to appreciate the sartorial splendour of our King in the North? Decked out in designer whites, he’s practically Fursace. Or Furberry. Or Salvatore Furragamo. He’s also really embraced that man bun. I mean, it makes sense - all of those luscious black curls would get in your face while fighting, not to mention getting wet and sticky in all that snowy weather. Of course I long for the return of the mop top, but for the moment I can live with the “Jon Snowcone”.
Well, kittens, that’s about all I’ve got for now, but if I have any strokes of genius about this trailer I’ll get back to you. We’re closing in on a month out from S7, E1 - will we get a third trailer before it hits? Whatever happens, I will be here for you, my beloved Throners, always your devoted recappespondent and ab connoisseur.
A special shout out this week to all my Patreon subscribers for your generosity and loyalty, including Tarryn K, Jamie E, Cath G, Alison M and Elana M. If you want to find out more about my Patreon campaign, and why I ask people to consider paying $1 per recap, head over here.
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But there was one thing in that 1 minute 35 seconds of glorious GoT bounty that thrilled me more than any other.
“Oh, yes, here she goes again, ranting about Jon Snow like a sad obsessed cat fancier,” I hear you say.
I mean, yes, I am obsessed with Jon Snow in a sad, cat fancier kind of way. And we’ll get to our beloved King in the North later.
But the cutaway in that trailer that gave me the most joy was...
THE LANNISTERS’ HUGE WAR ROOM FLOOR MAP!
Jaime is all at sea.
I have been waiting seven years for this, and it’s everything I ever wanted and more.
I have now placed a call to a home decorator to rip up my large format charcoal grey tiles and install a FANTASY MAP OF WESTEROS in my living room so I can walk over it pointing and plotting tactical army movements and supply routes because I am a FICTIONAL QUEEN OF EVERYTHING.
Oh, it will be grand. Setting up the foster kittens to represent the different warring families, instructing them on when and how to attack each other, STOP RUNNING UNDER THE COUCH MICAH YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE THE TULLYS OF RIVERRUN AND HAZEL GET DOWN FROM THE SCRATCH POLE DOTHRAKIS DON’T LIKE HEIGHTS.
It will be epic times at my place, people.
But back to the trailer. Let’s make like biodegradable shopping bags and BREAK IT DOWN, starting with everybody’s favourite super villain, Darth Cersei. Her voiceover goes as follows:
“Enemies to the east, enemies to the west, enemies to the south, enemies to the north. Whatever stands in our way, we will defeat it. We are the last Lannisters. The last ones who count.”
This is delivered while shots of the Lannisters’ many enemies are spliced in with a tracking shot over a 3D map of Westeros (and the WAR ROOM MAP!). Did anybody else notice that when she said “enemies to the south” it passed over the Vale of Arryn, which is totes NORTH of King’s Landing, but then you don’t want to ruin the momentum of the shot, do you?
The enemies pictured are Grey Worm (not yet nude and at the head of Daenarys’ army), a large sailing ship in the gloomy mist (Iron Islanders, either Euron or the Yara/Theon alliance?), an axe being sharpened (really could be anyone), and ARYA FRICKING STARK.
There’s a brief glimpse of marching Lannisters flying the golden lion, and then a throne room sequence, with Jaime standing by his murderous usurper sister lover lover (mmmm). Cersei has always been scary, but the underlying mismanagement of her grabs for power have always grounded her in some reality. Now that seems to have gone, and she appears utterly terrifying. YOU GO GIRL.
Darth Cersei with some dark side of the force hand moves.
I loved the fact that immediately after we hear Cersei saying “We are the last Lannisters”, it cuts to a shot of Tyrion. “The last ones who count.” ZING. Of course Tyrion has more than a few things that make him count in the great game - there’s his faith in his new Queen, Daenarys, and her reliance on him as her Hand. Then of course there’s those enormous dragons, we which see slicing up through the air beside the cliff Tyrion is seen striding towards (more brilliant advertising for Northern Ireland).
We transition to hearing Dany’s voice, as she gazes on the opening gates of what we assume is Dragonstone, her birthplace, and formerly the seat of Stannis “Fewer” Baratheon.
“I was born to rule the Seven Kingdoms,” she intones. “And I will.” Strong Churchillian language there from Our Dany, Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, Wearer of Less Revealing Clothes This Season, Somewhat Disappointingly. We see her touching the sand (Kevin Costner’s return to Dover in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves remains the gold standard of touching the sand, best movie ever, no arguments please), and sitting on her angular, rocky throne.
It’s sad to think we won’t have the luscious Maario Doharis standing by her, quietly flexing, and as for Ser Jorah, there was no sign of him in this trailer at all. Hopefully he’s finding that cure for Stoneman’s Disease - I would hate to find out halfway through the season that he just turned up dead at the Oldtown docks and nobody noticed because he looked like part of the jetty. For devotees of the “Ser Jorah is Azor Ahai” theory, it would be positively disastrous.
There’s also what looks like a raid on the Red Keep - or at least I assume it’s the Red Keep, given all those archways are giving it much more of an Alhambra vibe than in previous seasons. We see some helmeted heavies fighting in a courtyard and on a balcony. This is about as much analysis as I can do on that one:
Next up it’s time for MY SWEET SWEET BELOVED JON SNOW WHOSE ABS SHOULD BE PRAISED AS GODS IN THEIR OWN RIGHT.
“King in the North!” comes the resounding cry as we flick past Jon’s beautiful, brooding face in the Winterfell Great Hall, Sansa and Brienne watching from behind, and a flash of what looks like a war council of Northern lords. You can just about make out the side of Lyanna Mormont's face. SO keen for more of her, please.
Then it’s time for Mr Snake in the Grass himself, Petyr Baelish, to get all Wormtongue or Wormtail (but not Grey Worm) up in Sansa’s grill. “Your father and brothers are gone, yet here you stand - the last best hope against the coming storm.” I know his control of the Vale knights saved Jon and co in the Battle of the Bastards, but I do wish Littlefinger would go away. Or at least get a clue and realise there’s no point in playing his stupid power games anymore.
Luckily at that point we hear Littlefinger’s total opposite in character chime in, and once again, it’s Davos Freaking Seaworth who brings the true emotional punch to proceedings. “If we don’t put aside our enmities and band together, we will die,” he says. “And then it doesn’t matter whose skeleton sits on the Iron Throne.”
PREACH. Once again Davos represents the everyman, the pragmatist, immune to the trappings of power and much more concerned with basic survival. If you did a poll of most loved characters in the show, the Onion Knight would have to be up there, which means of course they’re probably going to kill him off this season and I WILL CRY ALL THE TEARS AND THREATEN VIOLENCE.
It’s at this point of course that the trailer builds in speed and pace and frequency of shots included. Here are some of the things I noticed:
*Jon Snow outpacking Tormund in a snowbound steeplechase.
*record scratch* Yep, that's me. You're probably wondering how I got into this situation.
*Kate Bush looking quite sad in a castle somewhere, watching soldiers go running up that hill, or rather, ramparts. It looks too nice to be the Iron Islands, and not nice enough to be Dorne, so where could it be?
*Jon Snow grabbing Littlefinger and shoving him up against a wall, in a totally non-sexual but still highly sexy way.
*Ellaria Sand snogging Yara Greyhoy in a totally sexual and highly sexy way.
Just make sure she took her lippy off first, Yara.
*Missandei ripping off Grey Worm’s shirt. Finally, some action in their relationship beyond courtesies and low-level chit chat.
*A burning ship, bodies falling into water and Theon Greyjoy surrounded by licks of flame - an attack on the combined Targaryen/Greyjoy army, or perhaps a dragon fart with follow through?
*Arya all alone and making a fire - come on Nymeria, you come back now, good doggo.
*Cascading packs of rampaging Dothraki.
*Rugged up northerner types running away from something, and forming a circular guard.
*The Mountain, helmeted, but I’m pretty sure it was him.
*Dany and Tyrion checking out Stannis’ old tabletop role-playing board on Dragonstone.
"Has this been disinfected? Anybody?"
People we didn’t see in that trailer include: Sam and Gilly (on SWOTVAC), Ser Jorah (MIA), the Hound and the Brotherhood Without Banners crew (revenging), Bran and Meera (defrosting), White Walkers (ice cold), Olenna Tyrell (cheese, bitch) or any flashbacks to Ye Olde Times Like Twenty Years Ago.
The crescendo of music builds until we see a majestic wide shot of barrelling Dothraki on horseback, with the stupendously huge Drogon carving up the sky above. It’s the greatest fly-by since Top Gun.
After this, a quick game of shirtless volleyball.
But then we fade to black, and my beloved’s sonorous words remind us of the *snort* gravity of the situation.
“The Great War is here.”
Final thoughts? GARRRGHHHHUUUUMMMBBAAARGGGGHHH WHY CAN’T IT BE ON NOW.
For me the focus of this season is Daenarys’ transition from hot weather slavery-busting conqueror to winter homecoming queen. She has never stepped foot on Westeros; is it ready for her? Does it want her? She seems all-powerful, but her father’s rule sparked revolution and there may not be the appetite for the Mad King’s daughter. Cersei is nobody’s favourite, but then she’s proved time and again how resilient she is. Can she consolidate her power in King’s Landing and prove that a Queen Regnant can do what so many King Repugnants couldn’t?
Jon Snow is being heralded as King in the North, but is it a job he really wants? After his whole death-and-reanimation experience, he’d kind of given up on being in charge. But like Monkey, Jon Snow’s nature is irrepressible. He can’t help being a good guy, even if he has the odd sulk along the way (let me comfort you and your abs, beloved).
This trailer definitely seemed more focused on the Great War of families, rather than the Ever Greater Holy Crap War Against Monstrous Armies of the Undead. I kind of want them all to win, in my own special way. But of course there’ll have to be some losers. As long as they don’t KILL anyone, I’ll be fine.
OH GOD I’M DOOMED.
See you on July 16, beloved Throners!
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Hello, Burgers and Throners! It's Natalie here, your Game of Thrones recappespondent and friendly neighbourhood Jon Snow obsessive.
After HBO dropped a teaser trailer for Season 7 of The World's Greatest and Best Ever Show late last week, I wrote up a piece about it to see if I could flex these old creaky recap muscles ahead of the July premiere. I posted it on my Facebook page, but JB very kindly gave me the go-ahead to post it up here. Enjoy!
That breath! That visible, icy breath! What can it mean? Is Cersei in league with the White Walkers now? Is it a metaphor for her new “ice queen” reign over Westeros, or was the heating just broken in the Iron Throne room?
And Jon Snow! Sticking with that ponytail but still BROODY AF. Boy I’m glad he’s still around now that winter finally has arrived. He’s so steamy, like the series’ own personal hot water bottle. I’d like to place him carefully on my belly to ease cramps.
And a question – where the hell was Daenarys?
Yes, with 100 days to go until the Game of Thrones Season 7 premiere, it was only right and natural for HBO to unleash a fan frenzy via a spankingly good promotional trailer.
After all, if this was a normal year, we’d be gearing up for the actual season, which has traditionally begun in early April. So they’ve got to give the thirsting GoT fandom a few drops out of mercy, if nothing else.
Titled “The Long Walk”, it’s the first “new” content since last year, and features three of our favourites striding slowly but determinedly towards…. well, chairs, essentially. It’s also set to a rather menacing yet oddly comforting version of Sit Down by Manchester rock legends James.
In researching the song I discovered that there was an original longer version that was cut down for a radio-friendly release back in 1989. From that, GoT producers have cherry-picked these highly appropriate lyrics:
Those who feel the breath of sadness Sit down next to me Those who find they're touched by madness Sit down next to me
In love, in fear, in hate, in tears In love, in fear, in hate, in tears In love, in fear, in hate, in tears In love, in fear, in hate
Oh sit down Oh sit down Oh sit down Sit down next to me Sit down, down, down, down, down In sympathy
As those words ring out, we see Cersei stalking the halls of the Red Keep, Jon pacing through the recaptured Winterfell, and Dany….. where the hell WAS Dany?
The array of tree trunks positioned behind her throne reminded me a touch of the Eyrie, but having last been seen at the head of an armada, we can’t imagine her turning up anywhere inland. The best I can guess is Dragonstone, her birthplace. We never really saw Stannis Baratheon in a large throne room on the island – he was mostly in his map room, often shagging Kate Bush on the strategy table. So it’s possible there could be a grand hall for her to set up her alternative court while she makes her final attack plans for the mainland. Dany is definitely somewhere colder – for the first time ever we see here rugged up in dark colours as opposed to her usual bright, light, skin-revealing garb. But I’m still not entirely happy with this answer.
I feel there’s also some symbolism in the fact that both Cersei and Dany actually SIT in their thrones; Jon merely stares at the high table at Winterfell, the place where his *cough* father *cough* Ned sat.
Cersei and Dany believe with every ounce of their being in their innate right to be Queen. Their intentions may differ, but their desire to rule is the whole purpose of their existence. Jon Snow was feted as the new King in the North at the end of last season – but nobody would wear a crown more reluctantly (perhaps Viserys back in S1E6).
The weight of leadership sits heavily and uneasily with him. Unlike the others he’s seen the face of the real enemy, the White Walkers, and knows no crown, no throne, no sense of power or entitlement will save anyone from that. He’s had power thrust upon him, as much as I would thrust upon him etc etc you get the drift.
As the song kicks up a gear, and the women take their seats, there are close-ups of their eyes closing as a wind blows out all the candles in the Red Keep. Cersei then breathes out a visible burst of cold air, and the camera pulls back to show us the eye of a White Walker (the Night’s King by the look of it).
t’s not too hard to decode the cold change/winds of change/cold shoulder subtext.
But it’s interesting that the final moment was given to Cersei, an ice queen who’s always made Grace Kelly look warm by comparison. Cersei has never had any interest in the White Walkers – her motivations have always been about preserving her family’s dynasty and elevating herself above the weak men that surround her. The White Walkers were fairytales, mystical creatures far from the realpolitik of the capital.
Could there be some deeper allusion to a potential link between Cersei’s New World Order and the White Walkers? Or is Cersei asserting her own power, and defying you to consider her LESS of a risk than a bunch of undead blue-eyed forever monsters? In the usual Game of Thrones binary, Daenarys has represented fire, and Jon Snow ice. Is Cersei now greater than the sum of both of them?
Is the clue in those last words “Sit down in sympathy” - that all three are facing a crucible and only together, in sympatico, can they defeat the bigger threat?
Or is in face Cersei just cold and doing that thing where you breathe out hot air and pretend to be smoking?
One final point.
In my research of Sit Down, I watched the video clip for the 1989 release. Given that it does contain the phrase “sit down” repeatedly, it’s not that surprising to see a bunch of chairs in the video clip. But one in particularly caught my eye. Tell me, Beloved Throners, does this not look familiar to you?!?!
Coincidence? Almost certainly. But still, it makes you think.
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EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. IT. HITS. NEW. LEVELS. OF. EPIC.
SERIOUSLY. I. WANT. TO. MARRY. THIS. SHOW. AND. ALSO. JON. SNOW.
OK, I feel like I’m going to bust my Capslock key if I keep this up.
Talking about ending the season with a bang.
Leaving aside big battle sequences and their inevitable loss of non-named-ergo-not-quite-as-important-life, I think we just witnessed the greatest body count in the history of Game of Thrones.
We saw the internet’s favourite fan theory confirmed. We saw Jon Snow hailed a King. We saw the Great Targaryen Fleet set sail for conquest, dragons flying overhead. And we saw the triumph of the greatest supervillain we always knew was coming - DARTH CERSEI.
Before we get into the grit of this episode (and by gum there was so much grit it was basically the Gobe Desert), I’d like to take a moment to address all of those hand-wringing commentators who over the years have Mrs Lovejoyed it constantly about “the role of women in Game of Thrones”.
Yeah, for sure, women were treated badly. Yeah, for sure, they were seen as easily disposable pieces of meat. Yeah, for sure, they were marginalised and dehumanised by a patriarchal system of entitlement and abuse.
But you know what else they did?
THEY STOOD. THE F***. UP.
And to be frank, the impending slaying of the patriarchy is all the sweeter because of all the shit the Women of Westeros and beyond have had to put up with over the past six seasons.
The only exclusively men’s only club that remains seems to be Old Town, the home of the Maesters, and you just give Gilly five minutes with those bozos and that will soon be sorted.
Of course, there were casualties along the way. We lost Queen Margaery, one of nature’s foremost schemers and plotters; and we saw Melisandre banished just when we expect she’ll probably come in handy.
But that was nothing compared to the sight of DARTH CERSEI on the Iron Throne, Daenarys Ice Cold standing firm on both hearts and prows, and Lady Mormont lay the smack down on a bunch of old white men who utterly deserved it.
The cynic might read my interpretation of this finale as a feminist fantasy or wish fulfilment on my part? My response is oh HELLS yes. We are post-Brexit now, people. You know it, I know it: FALLOPIAN = UTOPIAN.
Season 6, Episode 10 “The Winds of Winter”
Things are looking a little...combustible in King’s Landing. Slow Lorus and Cersei Lannister are due to face trial in the Sept of Baelor, and things could get… explosive.
The whole montage of characters getting ready for the trial was so beautifully done - especially the music, which was of a type we’d never really experienced before in Game of Thrones. The sombre classical score gave the sequence both an operatic sense of scale and Hitchcockian hint of doom.
The music paused for Slow Lorus to confess his sins in front of the High Sparrow and a bunch of other barefooted old religious hacks in sacks. Poor Slow Lorus - from the shiny Knight of Flowers to begging for forgiveness on the floor like the UK in about a year’s time. When he gives up his claim to Highgarden and renounces the Tyrell name, Mace looks like he’s been, well, maced. Sure, he’s been a buffoon the whole time we’ve known him, but even a buffoon has feelings and a dynasty to protect.
Margaery is more pragmatic. When the Faith Militant start carving the sign of the Seven into Slow Lorus’ forehead, she holds back their angry father, telling him the faith is the way. She’s still playing her game - let them think you’re in their power, it’s more important to just survive.
It’s this same instinct that then warns Margaery that something has gone very wrong. The Queen Mother has not turned up, has not even left the Red Keep, in fact. As that haunting music lures us to the edge of our seats, we see Cersei finish dressing, but rather than make for the exit, languidly pour herself a glass of red wine and head to her window, while Zombie Mountain prevents King Tommen from leaving.
The High Sparrow sends Lancel Lannister to find Cersei, but he is soon distracted by a cheeky imp running away from the Sept and into a nearby door. Lancel follows, heading deeper underground, under the Sept itself. The imp has a torch, but Lancel has none - as usual, he just blindly follows.
Meanwhile Grand Maester Pycelle, running a tad late himself due to a morning quickie with a woman he fully intends to stiff out of (at least) payment, is taken by a small child, whom we assume he assumes is in his employ, to Qyburn’s Bond villain-esque lair.
Qyburn, the dechained former Maester, rather relishes his final words to Pycelle, the toff who had looked down on him since he arrived in King’s Landing. “Sorry to off you like this, old bean, but the future is now and what not,” is the essence of what he said, his apology not really ringing true.
Then a bunch of sweet young kiddies pull flick knives and give Pycelle the old Fleabottom Flensing. It turns out you really can make kids do stuff for candy. I’ll remember that, and really hope the police didn’t just read that sentence.
Lancel is not long for this world either, as the Artful Stabger shivs him in the side just as he realises there’s a big cache of Wildfire sitting right underneath the Sept. Did anybody else notice the fierce organ playing the Game of Thrones theme as a leitmotif as Lancel drags himself away from the fallen torch (which seemed to be to be the clear and present danger) to something green at the other end of the passage.
Kate Middleton meanwhile is pleading with the High Sparrow to stop the trial and GTFO. If Cersei ain’t there, it’s because Cersei don’t want to be there. Which means they’re all in mortal danger.
Of course, being the stubborn old zealot he is, Big Bird refuses to consider that his big trial day might be spoiled by someone he thinks he’s already beaten down with prison and public humiliation. In this sense, Cersei is Robert the Bruce, learning patience from the spider’s web in that Irish cave, while the High Sparrow is King Edward II pre-Bannockburn (I just feel the Scottish historical references are appropriate this week).
I mean, if the High Sparrow just STOPPED for ONE SECOND he would at least hear the Music of Foreboding. Foreboding!
Kate Middleton drops any pretence at respecting the faith, grabs Slow Lorus and makes for the exit. A panic ensues as onlookers try to escape, but are of course held back by idiotic boorish Faith Militant who really make me angry at religion in general. We see Margaery and the High Sparrow exchange looks, and slowly, as if borne by moon gravity, the penny finally fricking drops for Big Bird.
Because’s Lancel’s interpretive take on RuPaul’s Drag Race falls short of the finish line, and he cannot do anything to stop the stub of a candle reaching a puddle of Wildfire on the floor.
Chick chick BOOM.
The cellars fill with licks of green hell, and then the High Sparrow vanishes in a geyser of light and heat. The whole Sept goes up in a millisecond, the windows blown out, the bell sent crashing into a street below.
And safe on the other side of the city is Cersei, watching her efforts with the grin of someone who is really having a good day at the office.
It’s not enough for the Queen Mother to have inflicted pain on a citywide scale; she has to have an intimate moment of it as well. And for that, she uses the Septa, the same one who tortured her and walked her naked through the streets, now shackled in her chambers.
“Confess”, she urges, pouring her wine into the Septa’s face. She wants her to own up to being a harsh disciplinarian not because she was pure and motivated by religion, but because she was a sadist. Cersei can say this because she knows the feeling intensely. Whether it’s boozing up, knocking off Robert Baratheon, or just having sex with a blood relative - Cersei does it all because it feels good.
Another thing she finds good - delayed punishment. When the Septa says she’s ready to meet her gods, Cersei ushers in the Zombie Mountain. “This is your God now,” she says, practically sashaying out of the room to leave the Septa to an awful fate. “Shame… shame.”
It’s a moment of victory for Cersei, complete and unrelenting victory. Finally, finally! One of her plans has actually paid off. Everything has totally worked.
Except of course it hasn’t. Because Cersei’s plans always backfire somehow.
In this case, it’s possibly the most horrifying thing in an episode of horror. Tommen, informed of the loss of his Queen, the High Sparrow and a bunch of others, is left alone in his room. The direction here was flawless, leaving the camera locked off on a shot of the Great Sept burning, while Tommen takes his crown off and walks off screen. What feels like months pass, before he quickly walks back into the shot, steps up onto the window ledge and lets himself fall outwards.
The suicide of a king, a CHILD, is not something we’ve ever seen before, and it was completely unexpected. Given the prophecy that’s haunted Cersei about her children, Tommen was always high on our list of “Who’s Going to Die Next”, but who could have seen it would be by his own hand? And yet, now that it’s happened, it makes sense. He was already guilty about betraying his mother by banning trial by combat. Margaery had been released but their marriage wasn’t the same. Already his young shoulders had been forced to bear so much more than they ever should have. Cersei spent so much time trying to save Tommen from other people, she never even considered that the biggest risk to his safety was her.
When we next see Cersei, she is standing over Tommen’s body, insisting Qyburn show her his face. She is grief-stricken, but not demonstrably so as she was with Joffrey and Myrcella. She doesn’t even give his body the respect of the others; with the Sept gone, there is to be no lying in state, no funeral. Just burn his body and bury the ashes where the Sept was, so he can be with his family. She has work to do.
It’s taken them all season, but Sam and Gilly finally reached Oldtown - just in time to see hundreds of white ravens being released from the tower. Officially, that means winter has arrived. Winter, and Sam Tarly.
We’ve never seen Sam as chipper as he was bouncing into reception and handing over his credentials to the chap on duty. He proceeded to play a passive-aggressive power game, making Sam lean all the way over the desk to place the letter in his hand. Sam insists he’s there for legit reasons, but according to the Maester’s book of records, it is “irregular”. There’s been a lot of developments since the records were updated, Sam insists, and eventually passive-aggressive dude relents. Sam will be allowed to use the library, hurrah! But Gilly and baby Sam have to wait outside. It’s funny that Sam, so intent that they stay together, can only manage a weak grin of apology before racing off to see the big book place.
The big book place turns out to be colossally big, which of course it had to be because they weren’t going to string out this half-season plotline into a whole season then not shove us face first into Hogwarts.
Of course, this will be a cue for hundreds of book lovers to post screenshots of the Maester’s Library on their Facebook walls with statuses like “My dream home!” and “I’d get through this in two weeks!” We get it, you read books, and you have a home library. You know what else you have, I’ll wager? Dust. Bloody dust. I feel sorry for whoever has to clean that flipping Maester’s library.
Meanwhile at The Twins, celebrations are underway to mark the return of Riverrun to the Freys. Edmure Tully is back in a cell, the Blackfish killed by foot soldiers, so all is right with the world, according to Walder Frey. But Jaime is not impressed with the Lord of the Twins’ bullshit. He asks some pertinent questions about Frey’s own battle record, but he’s fobbed off with platitudes about victory and defeating enemies and how he and Jaime are both “Kingslayers”.
“Fear is a marvellous thing,” Frey states, aptly summarising his whole petty little personality. He’s driven only by jealously and small man syndrome, a desire for people to think him lofty. And Jaime, bless him, calls him out on it.
“They don’t fear the Freys, they fear the Lannisters,” he says. “We gave you the Riverlands to hold the Riverlands. If we have to ride north and take them back for you every time you lose them… why do we need you?” Without a microphone handy, Jaime instead drops his napkin and storms off.
Much later, Lord Walder sits alone in his Great Hall, the site of the Red Wedding and so much effusion of blood. A serving girl brings him a hot pie, and puts up with his creepy old man groping.
But things get interesting when Walder Frey calls for his eldest sons. “They’re already here, my Lord”, the serving girl says. “What are they doing, trimming their c*** hairs?” Frey replies, proving once again dung is more charming than he is. “They’re already here my lord,” the girl repeats.
Oooooh boy. This is when we knew things were about to get good.
For the serving girl encourages Lord Walder to examine his hot pie more closely, and he finds a finger. “They weren’t easy to carve up,” the girl explains as the creepy old man retches.
I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who roared when the serving girl removed her face and revealed ARYA FRICKING STARK. Back in Winterfell, no doubt having read Titus Andronicus on the way over, and ready to cook up some sweet, sweet revenge. She sliced open Frey’s throat in an echo of the way her own mother had been murdered in the same place. Arya’s face as Frey’s life ebbed away was just glorious. A little intense and scary, sure, but glorious.
I had so wanted a loving reunion between Arya, Sansa and Jon this episode, but if that couldn’t happen, I will take this long-awaited for piece of frontier justice any day of the week.
Speaking of all things Jon Snow, let’s head to Winterfell, where our beloved is reminiscing to Kate Bush about the pros and cons about being a bastard (con - no head table; pro - still got a feed). But this reverie is interrupted by Ser Davos Seaworth, who finally decides to have it out with Melisandre over Shireen’s death.
The Onion Knight’s grief and anger are absolutely heartbreaking in this scene. Shireen was the one bright light in his former life, which had been shaded by crazy people. She had taught him to read, for crying out loud. She was special, and after his own son had died at the Blackwater, gave Ser Davos something normal to hang onto, and something to fight for. Now he wants answers; and he wants Jon Snow to know who Melisandre really is.
For her part, Melisandre breaks hearts in a different way. We have the knowledge now that she is very old, and has probably committed more than her fair share of abominable crimes. But after Stannis’ loss, she suffered a crisis of faith, a crisis only vaguely ameliorated by that whole bringing Jon back to life business. So she feels the sacrificing of Shireen more keenly now than she did when she encouraged Stannis to burn her. Of course, she still tries to justify it, because the Red God moves in mysterious ways, but it’s a credit to her that her heart doesn’t seem to be in it.
Davos calls on Jon to let him execute Melisandre as a murderer, but Jon insteads opts to banish her. Seaworth backs that up by saying if she ever ventures north again he will kill her himself. Melisandre says nothing, simply accepts her fate and goes. But what will happen now if something happens to our beloved Jon? I was quite into the idea of Melisandre being his Medic On Standby. And with Melisandre heading south, surely she has to meet up with her old friend Thoros of Myr and the Brotherhood Without Banners?
Jon and Sansa had a beautiful scene on the battlements of Winterfell, in which Jon gives credit to Sansa for winning the battle, and Sansa apologises for not telling Jon about Littlefinger and the Knights of the Vale. He replies that they need to trust each other, as they have enough enemies outside the family to deal with. He asks her if she can trust Baelish; Sansa replies quite brilliantly that only a fool would trust him.
Later, we see her put this philosophy into practice when Baelish confronts her in the godswood. Now I was all ready to open Littlefinger back with open arms after last week’s hero effort, but when he confesses to Sansa that his real goal is to sit on the Iron Throne with her by his side I remembered why I HATE him so much. SO. CREEPY. Dude, we get you had the hots for her mother, but seriously, this is gross.
Thankfully Sansa has the right response.
But Littlefinger won’t let it go - people will hear about this victory soon, and know he’s declared for House Stark. He asks her to consider who the people of the North should rally around - a trueborn Stark daughter or a bastard. Godsdamnit, Littlefinger, would you STOP planting dirty rotten seeds in Sansa’s head?
Meanwhile north of the Wall, Benjen Stark has taken Bran and Meera as far as he can. It turns out that because he’s technically not totally alive, he cannot breach the magic cast inside the Wall to keep out White Walkers. That explains why he never came back - although you’d think he could leave a message or something.
Given that Bran can’t walk, it seems like the plan is for Meera to drag him the rest of the way, or wait and hope a Night’s Watch patrol comes by at some point. In the meantime, Bran decides to use the weirwood to finish off that flashback he started way back before Hodor died (oh God, I just reminded myself of Hodor, sob).
BANG! All of a sudden we’re back at the Tower of Joy with young Ned Stark racing up to find his sister Lyanna dying in a bed of blood. She’s scared, but glad to see him, because she needs him to do something for her.
It’s revealed that yes, in fact, Lyanna had given birth to the son of Rhaegar Targaryen, and if Ned didn’t protect him, Robert Baratheon would have him killed. Young Ned is then presented with the baby, whose eyes open to reveal black Stark pupils.
And with that, half of the internet let off a cheer, and the other half snorted and said “Tell me something I DON’T know.” The mathematical formula R + L = J had finally been proven right, QED.
The show rewarded our success with a jump cut from the baby’s face to Jon’s face in the present, facing down a room full of northern lords, each with their own idea of what should happen now Ramsay Bolton has successfully been turned into Schmackos.
Jon insists they need to stay together to prepare for the invasion of the White Walkers, but he’s not having much cut through. And that’s because he’s not a kick arse pre-teen with more wisdom on her shoulders than an Oxford-educated owl.
Lyanna Mormont gets up and tears strips off Lord Manderly, Lord Glover and Lord Kerwin for not turning up to the Battle for Winterfell. “But House Mormont remembers! The North remembers! We know no king but the King in the North whose name is Stark,” she fires at the crowd.
“I don’t care if he’s a bastard, Ned Stark’s blood runs through his veins. He’s my king, from this day until his last day!”
That, my friends, is a lecture. You just got SERVED.
The traitorous lords front up and grovel and swear their swords to their new King in the North. Jon, rising from his seat, looks freaked out by this development, but exchanges a quick smile of disbelief with Sansa, who seems much more relaxed about it. After all, she’d already told him on the battlements that Jon was a Stark to her. Perhaps now he’d finally believe it.
I can see the glance Sansa and Baelish exchange being interpreted by some as raising the possibility Littlefinger might try to poison Sansa against Jon. He’s taking your seat, you should be the Queen in the North, etc etc. All of that is true - Sansa, as we know, is already a Queen - but I think it’s more like Sansa realising Jon is now an obstacle to Baelish’s Iron Throne goal. Given that Jon is not only a Stark, but a Targaryen, that gives him a claim to the South as well (if and when that information comes out, of course). Baelish has declared for House Stark - but how long can that now last?
Let’s flick back to King’s Landing for the massive climactic scene of awesome. It started with Jaime and Bronn returning with the Lannister forces to see the Sept of Baelor still burning. Frantically concerned for his sister, Jaime spurs them forward.
He needn’t have worried. OK, while he’s been gone, his youngest son has died, but Cersei has implemented Backup Plan B: DARTH CERSEI.
Black dominates this sequence, both in tone and physical colour. The Great Hall is darker than we’ve ever seen it, the windows blocked out. And it seems Cersei’s days of wearing Lannister red and gold or the more usual pastels of the court are behind her. That battle dress seems glued on now.
Having said that, I would also like to put in an order for a bespoke copy of Cersei’s incredible armoured black gown. I NEED that outfit to wear on a daily basis, especially when walking the foster kittens on leashes. Sure, my experiments with the harness have yet to yield results, but one day soon you will witness me walking my cats along the street, literally dressed to kill a la Cersei, and you will fall to your knees in respect, my Throners. For we know there is nothing more fearsome than a cat walker in armoured jacquard.
Except perhaps, Cersei, followed by the Zombie Mountain and the rest of the Kingsguard, walking to be crowned as Queen, the First of Her Name (aka DARTH CERSEI).
Qyburn crowns her, and we see on his lapel his reward: he is the new Hand. Get ready for killer kids in the streets and Frankensteins under the sheets, people.
Despite all this, it was AMAZING seeing Cersei crowned Queen. Sure, she’s a villain, always has been, always will be. But she always was a warrior forced into a domestic life - the true heir of Tywin Lannister. She’s been wife of a loser king, mother of a psycho nut job king, and mother to a king-who-might-have-been. Finally it’s her turn to do what she’s always wanted to do, what always felt right, felt good - rule the Seven Kingdoms herself.
The only slight flaw in her plan (and being Cersei, we know there is ALWAYS a flaw) is Jaime, who has returned just in time to see his sister/lover park her arse on the world’s sharpest chair. Cersei’s look was clear: this is how it is now. Jaime’s was more RLY? Once again, that classical music, with Rains of Castamere stitched into it, gave us more of an understanding than words ever could.
And so we come to Meereen, for the final section of our recap. It starts there with a break-up - Dany bidding farewell to Maario, her devoted rent-a-hunk of many seasons now. He is to remain behind in Meereen to keep the peace until new leaders can be elected. But he wants to travel with Dany, and he doesn’t care if he’s just seen as a bit of rumpy-pumpy. However Dany needs to do things like arrange marriage alliances and so forth, and it’s just going to be tough with a bit of fluff hanging around. See, I’d be OK with that, but this is obviously where Dany and I differ philosophically.
Maario reckons Tyrion put her up to this, but he does what she asks and pledges himself and the Second Sons in service to her. Tyrion at least knows something of the matter, as he’s the first person Dany goes to after breaking off the relationship. But she’s not sad about it, and that’s where she adds “Ice Cold” to her list of monikers. Dany knows Maario loves her, and he did make her happy. But he’s not what she wants. And what she wants is now closer than ever before - Westeros.
Tyrion decides to undo a few pieces of the psychological armour he’s had in place his whole life and get real with Dany. He confesses that he had always been a cynic, sceptical of belief, having seen what it does to people. But now he finds himself believing in Daenarys, how embarrassment.
He says he would fight for her, but Dany says his counsel is what she needs. She then pulls out a pin from her robe and names Tyrion the Hand of the Queen. The imp bows, deeply honoured. It’s a redemptive moment for him. There’s also parallel with Cersei and Qyburn here - and the lesson that good leaders have good people behind them.
Eventually, we reach the sequence the series has been building to since the end of season one - Dany and her ships at full sail, finally heading towards Westeros. The picture is perfect - we see Theon and Yara leading the Greyjoy fleet, the Dothraki and their horses dealing well with the poison water, and Grey Worm keeping an eye on the Unsullied.
Finally, as the dragons sail in and around the ships, we see Dany, at the head of the force, surrounded by Tyrion, Varys and Missandei.
The winds of winter are taking her home.
Everything about Olenna’s visit to Dorne was INCREDIBLE. Sure, there’s the old problem of disappearing time what with her getting south very quickly after the death of her family in King’s Landing, but it was worth it for her sass at the young Sand Snakes. “Let the grown women talk!” Then Varys showed up with his jaunty offer of "fire and blood". Oh bring on the Tyrell/Dorne alliance. Smothered in cheese.
Zing! Best Lines
Bronn snarking at Jaime about how all the ladies love him at the Twins was solid gold - particularly since we now know the first chick checking out Jaime was Arya in disguise as the serving girl. He’s changed a bit since she first saw him at Winterfell in season one, so for her it’s more recon than romance. But that doesn’t stop Bronn from needling Jaime, so he does his friend a favour and calls over two other ladies and bigs up Bronn’s hero status.
Bronn: What if I’m not in the mood? Jaime: … Bronn: (looks at ladies) F*** it.
Tommen’s death was the one that made my gut leap into my throat, but a special gross mention to the Zombie being left alone to torture the Septa. Not a pleasant way to go at all.
So many people died this episode but the really boo, sucks one for me was Margaery Tyrell. I really like Margaery and I wish she had escaped the explosion at the Sept of Baelor. It would have been great to see her and Olenna team up once more as their awesome Grandma/Granddaughter combo. Slow Lorus and Mace I could deal with - and of course was delighted by the demise of the High Sparrow - but vale Kate Middleton. You were the David Cameron of this episode - you thought your plan would work, but you were routed by idiots.
Things That Surprised Me
We didn’t see the White Walkers at all. At all!
No Hound, which meant no Hound axing people. But could this mean Clegane Bowl in season seven?
No Brienne, which meant no Tormienne! We will have to wait another year before the chance to see sparks fly between those two again (even if they’re sparks from clashing swords, that’s cool too, maybe it’s just foreplay?)
How in the sam hell did Varys get from Dorne all the way back to Meereen to be on the ship with Daenarys at the end? Sure, it looked cool, but it was the most jarring time shift in a show famous for playing fast and loose with time.
What, Jon Snow couldn’t have gotten a just a little bit nude to send us off with a nice memory?
I have now been recapping this show for five years (since Season 2). I cannot quite believe I’ve stuck to it for so long - I’m generally the lazy type who gives up hobbies after a few weeks/days/seconds. But apart from an obsession-bordering-on-concerning with the show, I keep coming back because of YOU, my beloved Throners. You give me the dragon-level strength I need to write these ridiculously long and juvenile articles, and keep me inspired and firing with your comments and theories.
A special thanks to those of you who supported the Patreon campaign too this year, giving me the incredible privilege of being a paid writer. That stuff is IMPORTANT, never lose sight of that. You done good, kittens.
I hope you will join me again next year, and I remain, from this day until my last day, your humble recappespondent.
69 Responses to ‘Game of Thrones Raven On Recap S6E10: The Winds of Winter’
I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the season, to watch and gasp amongst you all; to lay down for my Red God, and for my seven kingdoms, and my Throners, my honour and my bad puns, even in the dust.
I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman (I really need to get back to the gym), but I have the heart and stomach of a recappespondent, and a recappespondent of Game of Thrones too, and think foul scorn that any prince of Westeros should dare invade the borders of my column; to which rather than dishonour, I myself will take up arms; and with those arms, type.
Of course I’m sure if the great Elizabeth I had been fighting Jon Snow circa 1588 she probably would’ve back-ended her speech to the troops at Tilbury with a jaunty “But Jon Snow can invade my borders anytime, hur hur,” before waggling her eyebrows and making the sexy finger in hole gesture. There’d be no more Virgin Queen after that, I can tell you.
Anyway, beloved Throners, I bastardise the words of Queen Bess for three reasons: one, I feel rather like a warrior leading the charge into this recap; two, because WHO RUN THE WORLD? GIRLS!; and three, because there were no great speeches to the troops in the Battle of the Bastards. There was only a state of not fighting and a state of fighting. And in that, we saw the real truth of war - no heroics, no subtleties, just blood, sweat, adrenaline, death, and occasionally a bloody miracle.
Now normally one of these recaps would start with a whole load of hooting along with phrases like “NO!”, “NOT THE FACE!”, “YES!”, “GOT ‘IM!” “SANSA IS MY QUEEEEEEN” and “LET ME LICK YOU BETTER JON SNOW”.
But I am legit physically and emotionally exhausted after this episode. It hit me like a wrecking ball, Miley-style.
I don’t even know if I can come up with a coherent theme, beyond “GARRRARGHHHARGH GHGHHHHAAAARRRGHH THIS SHOW”.
But perhaps, given the full moon and the Winter Solstice upon us here in the southern hemisphere, it might be time to hand over to the twin faces of war: majesty... and lunacy.
Season 6, Episode 9: The Battle of the Bastards
We only had two locations in this episode, so let’s start over in Meereen and summarise Daenarys’ latest QUEEN SLAY manoeuvre, for it ‘twas magnificent.
Meereen, as we recall, had been under attack by the Masters, freshly returned to betray their deal with Tyrion and reclaim their profitable slave-selling ways.
Tyrion, bless him, intersperses the thudding and smashing noises of enemy projectiles hitting the Great Pyramid by insisting Meereen is on the up and up. Of course, not everybody supports his plan for jobs and growth, but then, you’re never going to please all the voters all the time.
Dany’s combat strategy is straight out of The Children’s Big Book of Brutal Dictators 101: kill them all, raze their cities. It’s Tyrion who reminds her that just because the Mad King was her father, doesn’t mean she has to be his daughter. That particular truth bomb lands just as another flaming missile crashes through the nearest window.
Tyrion suggests an alternative approach, which sees the Meereen Team talking surrender treaties with the Masters somewhere just outside the city.
Tsk-tsk, the Masters say. You could have left when we first offered peace, lady. Now as punishment we’re going to kill your dragons, sell your Unsullied Army and make you take part in The Briefcase on Channel Nine.
“We’re here to discuss YOUR surrender, not mine,” Dany throws back, far too languidly for someone not in total control of the situation. It’s at these moments that Dany most reminds me of a crocodile, and not just because her flawless skin would make an amazing handbag. It’s the uneasy air she creates as she lies in wait, letting her idiot opponents mansplain themselves right up to the water’s edge, before being chomped on like Linda Kowalski in that g-banger.
The keen-eyed among you would have spotted the initial appearance of Drogon as a blurry collection of CGI pixels behind one of the Masters. It was an ironic sight gag worthy of The Simpsons.
Drogon heralds his arrival with an almighty screech, and soon Dany is up and onto his back, flying high across the bay towards the attacking fleet. Along the way she collects Viserion and Rhaegon, who’ve busted their way out of their dungeon prison (one hopes they left papier-mache dragon effigies behind, Escape from Alcatraz-style). Together, the soaring reptilian trio turn their attention to the ship leading the attack - and on Dany’s call of “Dracarys!” let fly with the biggest flaming upchuck since I overdid it on the Hot and Spicy wicked wings last Christmas.
Meanwhile around at the city gates, a bunch of Sons of the Harpy are getting their stab on when all of a sudden they hear a great rumbling approach. It’s not a dragon, rather, it’s every fricking Dothraki warrior currently living headed straight for them. Plus Maario, whose use of an arakh to decapitate a bad guy not only engendered whoops and cheers, but made me feel a little bit disturbingly sexy.
It really is amazing how violence done to your favourites is gut-wrenching and traumatising, but violence done to your enemies can have you punching the sky and laughing like a ticklish hyena on nitrous.
That’s a recurring feature of this episode, and it crops up again when Tyrion, Grey Worm and Missandei insist that one Master will have to be killed for breaking the agreement they had. In a wholly expected move, two of the cowardly Masters push their third compadre to the front, saying he’s low-born and doesn’t speak for them. He also wears a lot of eye make-up, so that could also have been a factor.
Eyeliner Master begs for mercy, but no sooner has he fallen to his knees then Grey Worm whips out his dagger (euphemism not applicable in this situation) and slices the throats of the other two Masters.
It’s left to Tyrion to pass on the key learning from today’s events to the trembling Eyeliner Master. Should any of the other Masters have fanciful ideas of trying again to reintroduce slavery, “tell them what happened when Daenarys Stormborn and her dragons came to Meereen”. To quote those 90s philosophers, Wayne and Garth, if she were President she’d be Babe-raham Lincoln.
And then the Greyjoys show up.
I loved the sudden appearance of Theon and Yara in the Throne Room, with Theon being dressed down by Tyrion for telling dwarf jokes back when they last met at Winterfell.
Theon’s keen to move on from both his youthful and serious adult indiscretions, but Tyrion wants a bit of a gloat. It’s Dany, resplendent in a moss-green toga that would add “Queen of O-Week” to her many titles, who gets negotiations back on track.
The Greyjoys have offered 100 ships from the Iron Fleet, which coupled with the remaining ships from the now-defunct Masters is almost enough to get her entire army over to Westeros.
The biggest threat to this plan is Euron Greyjoy, their mad and murderous uncle who intends to offer Daenarys big wooden ships and, well, big wood.
The recent revelation of Yara’s Sapphic tendencies paid off big time when Daenarys joked that her offer would not come with marriage demands. “I never demand, but I’m up for anything really,” Yara sasses back with extra sassy sass. It really was wonderful to see both Dany and Yara enjoy some cheeky banter about having mad Dads, usurper troubles, and misogyny dramas.
Dany resolves that everyone there has a duty to leave the world in a better state than they found it - unlike their respective fathers. So Yara may claim the Salt Throne once Dany is restored to the Iron one, but on the condition that they respect her rules. No more raiding and reaving for the Ironborn, it’s time to settle down and grow up. “But that’s our way of life!” protests Yara. But she can see the writing is on the wall, and it’s kudos for both women that they can see the potential for a better future. As we’ve said in the past, the Ironborn need to diversify their economy. “Coastal raping” should not be a line item in a country’s budget.
And so on a firm handshake we leave Meereen with the exciting promise that the Mother of Dragons might soon launch her ships and head towards Westeros. It’s only been eleventy million years, but we’re getting there, guys!
It’s time to head to Winterfell, and to the inevitable showdown between Jon Snow, Ramsay Bolton and their respective armies.
The two sides have an initial meet and greet on the prospective battle site outside the castle. It’s the first time we’ve seen Ramsay in a fair few episodes, and he hasn’t improved. Captain Smuggy McEvilSmugface demands the immediate return of his bride Sansa, and for Jon Snow et al to bend the knee and swear allegiance to him as Warden of the North. I’d try to describe my face as I listened to Lord Slimebucket ooze words, but Lyanna Mormont pretty much summed it up.
The Starks, of course, are having none of it. Jon even offers to take Ramsay on mano a mano, an offer Bolton is super quick to turn down on account of knowing Jon would KICK his measly backside. Of course, Ramsay wouldn’t be Ramsay without a creepy trick up his sleeve, and it’s at this point he throws down the head of Shaggy Dog as proof he has their brother Rickon.
It's Sansa, wonderful, badass Sansa, who shuts him down.
“You’re going to die tomorrow, Lord Bolton. Sleep well.” And then she rides off and doesn’t look back, because she is a Queen.
Ramsay laughs and describes her as a cool chick, then tells everyone he looks forward to feeding them to his dogs. Now just keep this bit in mind, as there’s a slight continuity snafu here that I’ll bring up later.
That night, we see Jon, Sansa, Tormund and Davos doing some mind mapping vis-a-vis their battle plans. Tormund is hilariously unaware of the rules and manoeuvres of open warfare, and Davos reinforces the need to make Ramsay charge first.
But after they leave, Sansa lets rip, telling Jon he’s completely overlooked her insights, having actually been subjected to Ramsay's "personality" for more than five minutes. He lays traps, he plays with people, and he will make you make a mistake.
The pair have a right proper argument, and it’s a joy to watch. Here are two siblings, who’ve both gone through so much, trying to solve the same problem but coming at it from different angles. Jon is trying to retain the honour of the Stark house by wanting to save Rickon and use strategy to boost their meagre numbers. Where Sansa is a revelation is when she urges him to cut Rickon, her own brother, loose. He’s the legitimate heir, more valuable that she or Jon. Ramsay won’t allow him to live. It’s the kind of cold insight that only someone who had been at the Bolton bastard’s mercy could know.
Not being battle-hardened, Sansa can’t offer much in the way of advice on what he should do. But she’s clear on one thing - “Don’t do what he expects you to do”. Ramsay plays with people, he knows how to hurt them, how to make them make mistakes. Jon would be wise to heed this advice.
When Sansa makes for the exit, she tells Jon if Ramsay wins she will top herself rather than go back into his custody. Jon promises he won’t let Ramsay hurt her again, but Sansa is resolute. “No one can protect anyone,” she says, almost mournfully. Remember that prissy little girl who believed in knights and honour and being an adored lady? Nope, I don't either.
Jon’s inherited Ned Stark’s honourable streak, and while I adore it like I adore my foster kittens when they’re asleep and not destroying stuff in my house, it’s something that we will see come back to bite him squarely on the backside come battle time (Oh! If only I could bite Jon Snow … you get the drift).
Meanwhile, Davos and Tormund are taking a turn about the campsite. The bushy-bearded wildling has the confidence of someone who doesn’t know what a “pincer movement” is, and the two trade stories about their former kings, Stannis Baratheon and Mance Raydar. Neither turned out to be the Prince they were promised to be - although the Onion Knight does have to explain that Stannis’ demons weren’t actually real demons.
Tormund invites Davos in for a sour goat’s milk libation, but Davos turns him down. I’m not surprised - I had sour mare’s milk in Mongolia once, and seriously, I can still taste it. That stuff burns. Davos instead opts for his pre-battle routine of pacing around the campsite so nobody sees him, well, requiring a change into brown trousers. Tormund farewells him with a cheery “Happy shitting!” and Davos heads off.
Then, in an amazing coincidence, he finds the pyre upon which Shireen Baratheon was sacrificed. He finds her little stag doll, and instantly knows something was very wrong about the manner in which she died. Of course this spells doom for his recently patched up relationship with Melisandre.
Meanwhile Jon has gone to see Kate Bush, who doesn’t even attempt an inspiring version of Don’t Give Up, but just looks bored and majorly bummed out.
Jon wants her to stay out of things if he happens to get deaded again, but the Red Woman is #sorrynotsorry about it.
Melisandre can’t answer Jon’s question about why she was able to bring him back from the dead, only that he may just be needed for this particular battle and then bang, dead again. “What kind of god would do that?” he asks, and Kate Bush answers with possibly the smartest four-word lyric she’s written since Running Up That Hill: “The one we’ve got.”
Yep, it’s a nice reflection on a lot of religions and some of their more… interesting… beliefs.
The morning of the battle dawns, and Jon Snow does a very dishy impersonation of Henry V while inspecting the troops on horseback. But anybody expecting a bit of “Once more into the breach” talk is to be disappointed; Jon, as we know, has always been a man of meaningful, not flowery, words. And given the size of the army they’re up against, it probably is best to stick to the adage that if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
At this point, Ramsay Bolton initiates his most fiendish plan ever.
We see him on horseback walking through his troops, while dragging something on a rope. We know, we just KNOW, that it’s poor Rickon Stark. Once again, he’s a character who’s shot up in height, but he retains enough babyish innocence to remind us he is yet another innocent victim of the Bastard of Winterfell.
The show messes with us here; first by having Ramsay brandish a knife high in the air, and Rickon bow his head waiting for a killing blow, then by having Ramsay cut Rickon’s bonds and send him off running towards Jon.
If you were anything like me, you felt icy fingers slide their way down your throat and snake around your heart. Rickon was doomed, but I didn’t want to accept it. Jon’s solo ride out to save Rickon was too noble to fail, surely?
The pacing here was incredible as we watched Ramsay fire arrows in a seemingly indifferent manner towards the vanishing Rickon, and as Jon galloped his steed towards his brother, hand out and down ready to lift him up onto his back. It would have been a golden moment, a superhero rescue.
But this is Game of Thrones. Superhero rescues are the exception, not the rule.
Jon and Rickon got close, so close, then Ramsay finally aimed to hit his target, and the arrow speared the youngest Stark through the back. It may as well have hit Jon in the heart too, as he goes numb for a moment - the first time he’s seen his littlest brother in years and he’s in his death throes.
Sansa warned Jon about this, but even if he did listen it’s a forgotten memory in this heated moment.
Looking on, Tormund urges him to remember the plan, with the simple utterance “Don’t.”
But it’s too late. Jon has fallen into Ramsay’s trap, and he charges forward. Davos sends the rest of the cavalry after him, but Jon has a bit headstart. Eventually his horse takes too many arrows and collapses underneath him.
Jon, survivor of Hardhome, draws his sword and faces these enemies, such different enemies, but sharing the same intent to kill him.
A beautiful slow motion shot captures Ramsay’s cavalry bearing down on Jon, sword drawn, one man ready to take on an army.
Thankfully the rest of his mounted forces catch up and the two sides begin a brutal, visceral clash that is possibly one of the most extraordinary fight sequences ever committed to film.
The camera places us primarily with Jon in the middle of the quagmire, illustrating how a medieval battle quickly divulged from being two one-dimensional sides clashing to a three dimensional mess of men, horseflesh, blood, mud, and flashing steel. There is no sense to be made of the slaughter, no battle rules, only the biological fight response in full flight.
Ramsay continues to run his military operation so sadistically that the Marquis de Sade would turn in his grave to hear his name so besmirched.
While Ser Davos holds off his archers because there’s a risk they might hit their own men, Ramsay has no such compunction. He has his archers fire on the battlefield, happy enough to kill his own men as long as Stark forces and free folk are copping it too.
Before long the whole landscape of the battlefield has altered, with previously flat ground replaced with piles of bodies, flesh mountains that take your breath away - figuratively and literally. For a while Jon is trampled into one of the death mounds, his senses and movements constricted and his body fighting for air. Despite all the blood sprays, the removal of limbs and the horror unleashed on the horses, this remains one of the most horrifying experiences of the battle, because it leaves Jon so utterly helpless.
Meanwhile Ramsay sends in his foot soldiers to surround the remaining Stark forces in a manoeuvre best described as a giant spiky donut. Every few moments the Flayed Men shields squeeze inwards, followed by a thrust of their pikes.
Tormund, insane with awe-inspiring rage, hurls himself at some of shields, encouraged by the leadership of Stampy the Giant, who just starts sweeping some of them aside.
Unfortunately the spiky donut continues to choke the Stark forces, their clever plan to draw the Boltons to them now a bitter regret. In a bright moment, Tormund bites the neck right out of Smalljon Umber, and Jon manages to push himself upwards, inhale, and keep battling...
...and then the Knights of the Vale show up.
We knew they were going to, of course, as Sansa had sent the letter to Littlefinger two episodes ago. They cut it damn fine, but I can’t tell you how happy I was to cheer “Finally! The Knights of the Vale have FINALLY done something decent in this series!”
In a magnificent aerial shot, we saw the mounted Arryn knights both break the Flayed Man spiky donut, and surround it from the outside. It was like the most violent depiction of a sperm impregnating an egg you’ll ever see.
Best of all, it wiped the smug grin off Ramsay’s face for the first time ever:
Knowing his time was up, Ramsay fled back to Winterfell. But Jon, Tormund, and Stampy the Giant were hot on his tail. Thanks to Stampy’s efforts they crashed through the castle gates and took the fight right up to Ramsay. Wildlings flooded in, killing Bolton forces, although poor Stampy finally gave out from one too many arrows.
Ramsay and Jon finally faced off in one on one combat, and sure, you could be forgiven for wondering why one of the other Wildlings didn’t just fire an arrow or throw a knife at Ramsay. But then we wouldn’t have an awesome sequence in which my bruised, bloodied and beloved Jon Snow walked determinedly towards Ramsay, shielding himself from arrows, then took the bastard down and BEAT THE LIVING SHIT OUT OF HIM.
He stopped, eventually.
In 1815 the great Duke of Wellington said “My my! At Waterloo Napoleon did surrender.” That of course hasn’t been historically corroborated, but he did say “The next worst thing to a battle lost, is a battle won.”
Never has that been more clear than here, with so much bloodshed, so much death. Rickon’s small body is brought in, and Jon sends him to be buried in the crypt next to Ned. We also Ser Davos throw dark looks at Melisandre, while cradling Shireen’s stag.
But there is triumph too - in seeing the Flayed Man sigil ripped from Winterfell’s walls, and the Direwolf of Stark returned to its rightful place.
Finally, Ramsay Bolton.
Sansa demands to see him, and is shown to the cell where the hateful monster is being kept tied to a chair. “Is this where I live now?” he asks, altogether too cheerily.
But Queen Sansa, my amazing hero, absolutely slays when she tells him his words, his house, his name will all disappear. And then we hear the growling.
Ramsay doesn’t believe his loyal hounds would attack him. But as Sansa points out, they’re now starving.
Now if you were playing along earlier I mentioned a small continuity error. Here’s where it comes into play. Sansa tells Ramsay “You haven’t fed them in seven days, you said it yourself.” But she’d actually ridden away from the parley before Ramsay SAID that. So how did she know? Did John or Davos or Tormund mention it? I would have thought they’d be too tired or caught up to do so. But I guess someone had to place Ramsay in the cell, maybe they discussed it then.
One of the doggies starts to lick Ramsay’s face, and then bang, they all attack. Ramsay trained his dogs to do this, he set them on Lady Walda and her newborn baby, and it is only right that he go out like this. It is horrific, utterly deserved and immensely satisfying.
For her part, Sansa walks away from the cells, never looking back. In fact, she leaves with a tiny twist of a smile, a Mona Lisa moment, but one in which we know exactly the reason for the grin.
Jon Snow may be a hero. But Sansa is a Queen.
Also, I've learned a valuable lesson - never let the foster kittens go hungry.
Yay! Best Moments
There are SO many this episode that it’s hard to nail down. But I reckon just Sansa’s face. Whether it was resolution in the face of Ramsay’s threats and Rickon’s potential death, despair at not being listened to by Jon, fear that her brother’s army would be overrun, and intense pleasure at seeing the Bolton forces and Ramsay himself brought down, it was the most captivating thing of the whole shebang.
Zing! Best Lines
Jon: We’re digging trenches all along our flanks. They won’t be able to hit us the way Stannis hit you, in a double envelopment. Tormund: … Jon: A pincer movement. Tormund: ... Jon: He won’t be able to hit us from the sides. Tormund: Good.
Pick a moment from that battle, people. Pick any moment.
While Rickon’s loss was shocking, Stampy the Giant’s was actually heart-breaking. Who among us didn’t love that big guy? Short on words, tough on idiots. His actions during the spiky donut sequence saved so many of the remaining soldiers, and he single-handedly broke the Winterfell gates to let Jon and the wildlings in. He took so many arrows and kept fighting, and the look he gave Jon just as Ramsay shot the coup de grace with a King Harold special made tears come to my eyes. Vale Stampy. We hardly knew ye, but boy did we love the way ye beat tens tons of shit out of everyone.
Also, there have been a few commenters already asking "Where was Ghost?" I think we can all agree the answer is "in his CGI kennel". With SO much to plot, plan and execute with that battle sequence, throwing in a fake wolf would have been too much. Yes, it was sad to not have him bite some faces off, but at least he's alive.
I cannot believe there is one episode left of this season. What on earth am I going to do without you, beloved Throners? Why yes, I probably will sit at home rocking back and forth singing “All by Myself”. But until then, there are a few things we need some resolution on next week:
Will Dany head to Westeros? Will Varys have teed up some friendly faces?
Where is Bran? Will he be reunited with Jon and Sansa at Winterfell? Will we see the end of the Tower of Joy flashback?
Will Davos take revenge on Melisandre for sacrificing Shireen?
Will Arya return, perhaps meeting Nymeria along the way?
Will Cersei face her trial, or will Jaime return in time to rescue her? Will the High Sparrow get his comeuppance?
Will the Hound axe a lot of dudes? Where will he and the Brotherhood end up?
Will Sam and Gilly make it to Old Town?
And perhaps most importantly….Brienne and Tormund. Will they or won’t they?
Thank you all SO much for bearing with me during this incredibly long recap.
I've been running a Patreon campaign this season, and it's been doing amazingly well. Thank you to everyone who's signed up. Check it out via www.patreon.com/girlclumsy if you want to get involved for the final week.
Despite a serious flesh wound, blood loss, exhaustion and severe bruising from a fruit-related fall, it is with great delight that we welcome back Arya Stark, Daughter of Winterfell, Wielder of Needle, Kicker of Arse and The Waif’s Lament.
It was a theme we would see repeated throughout this episode - that in Game of Thrones (and maybe for us too) it is nigh impossible to overcome your nature.
Again, this was a more measured episode, with only a few high stakes moments. But still, it had lots to recommend it. Romance. Tension. Romantic tension. Brutal murder. Returns of the sad and surprising varieties. The Hound’s wang. Of course it didn’t have Jon Snow, and seriously, people I’m getting a bit frustrated by this severe lack of My Beloved and His Abs.
But let’s save that particular argument for another day. It's time to flex my recappespondent muscles (which believe me, are the only ones I have in any kind of condition).
Season 6, Episode 8: No One
They say if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. By that standard, the Hound is one happy freelance lumberjack. Chancing upon some of the Brotherhood Without Banners camping in the woods, he takes his axe to them so enthusiastically you’d think they were birthday pinatas. He decapitated one of the younger fighters in one blow, slammed his axe into the heart of another, sliced the throat of the third, then appeared to carve the genitals away from the bald, finger-sniffing one’s body like your Dad carves the parson’s nose from the Christmas turkey.
The burnt-faced one eventually finds the Brothers He’s Looking For - already strung up and about to meet the Red God in person.
I was supremely grateful to see Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr again after all this time, and I was relieved to have it confirmed that the Brothers who raided the Happy Hillsong Church last episode were in fact a traitorous bunch of greedy bastards. They were not true servants of the Lord of Light; therefore, they were about to be hanged for their crimes.
Sandor Clegane negotiated the killing right to two out of the three of them - but in possibly the most disappointing news he’d had since finding out Ian McShane would only be in one episode with him, Beric and Thoros prevented him from taking to them with Ol’ Faithful. Instead, he was allowed to push the stool out from under them. Pfffft. That’s not justice to a Clegane. That’s basically a mercy killing. On the plus side, it did keep the whole affair bloodless, which meant the Hound could source a nice new pair of boots from the not-yet-dead dangling body. Never let it be said he isn’t resourceful.
Later around the campfire, with some disappointingly non-chicken meat (we remember how the Hound loves his f***ing chicken), Beric and Thoros entreat the Hound to join the Brotherhood, and fight for whatever it is they’re all fighting for. None of them know exactly, they just seem content enough to bumble around the countryside until their purpose becomes clear.
The Hound is initially wary, which is not surprising for a man whose last attempt at friendship ended up looking like Jonestown, and takes a restorative micturation by the nearby lake. Now I thought the camera would cut away at the moment he, well, unleashed The Hound Junior, but they did not. If you missed it, I’ve prepared this helpful and tasteful guide.
Of course it’s not particularly attractive wang, especially since the show seems to delight in showing us a close-up of his stream arcing forcefully into the lake. But apparently unsolicited todger tableaus show up all the time these days, so we should just be happy it wasn’t a close-up followed by a request for nudes.
Despite their previous run-in, the Hound seems ready to be brought around by Beric, Thoros and Co. His nature is to be a big killing machine; at least by joining them he'd be doing at least some of it for the right reason. And that's got to count for something.
Meanwhile the Hound probably doesn’t know that his reanimated corpse of a brother is still kicking on in King’s Landing, protecting Cersei Lannister and picking off Faith Militant like my foster kittens pick off deli meat left unsupervised on the kitchen bench (or indeed, anywhere).
It’s another tribute to the emotionally manipulative power of this show that I have always loathed the Mountain, and yet enjoyed the sight of him totally ripping a dude’s face off a little too much.
The conflict arose from Cersei refusing to leave the Red Keep to go and see the High Sparrow. Cousin Lancel insists, telling Cersei to have the Mountain step aside, or there will be violence. A quiet pause, and then Cersei says what she was always going to say: “I choose violence.”
Qyburn looked incredibly impressed with his creation as he and Cersei watched the Zombie Mountain dispense with a Faith Militant in gruesome fashion. Cersei threw shade - “Tell the High Septon he’s always welcome to visit me - before turning on her heels and flouncing back inside.
Things take a turn for the worse for Cersei though when she finds out at the last minute that there is to be a Royal Announcement.
It turns out throwing shade runs in Lannister genetics as her Uncle Kevan responds to her inquiry about why she wasn’t told about it earlier with “There’s going to be a Royal Announcement. In the throne room. At this very moment.” He even makes her go to the back of the room rather than take her place near Tommen.
Poor Tommen, having to tip a bucket over his own mother as she looks on impassively. King Squeaky tells the crowd that not only will Cersei and Slow Lorus face trial very soon, but trial by combat will be banned. “The tradition is a brutish one,” he says, adding that they’ll stand trial in front of seven septons, just like the good old days.
As the strains of the Rains of Castamere play, Cersei’s face, usually one of the harder ones to read, quite obviously screams “I’m boned.” The Zombie Mountain was her trump card. She’s got nothing left to play…except that Qyburn has some sort of creepy plan. He dangles the information that a “rumour” he’d been investigating is more, much more, than just a rumour. Then the camera cuts away just before both of them break out into a Dr Evil style evil laugh. Good old Cersei. Mistake after mistake, bad move after bad move, but she just keeps trucking.
Two episodes away from Meereen has given the city time to start repairing, with trade picking up and the convincing lectures of the Red Priests giving a sense of purpose to Daenarys’ conquest.
It’s wonderful to see Tyrion and Varys together again, albeit briefly. The Spider is off on another secret mission, this time back to Westeros to do some sneaky recon about the prospect of a resurgent Targaryen dynasty. He must really rack up the Frequent Spy-er points.
With Varys gone, Tyrion loses the one person who truly understands him, and it shows in his hysterical attempts to start an open-mic comedy night with Grey Worm and Missandei.
Tyrion is not capable of being grim and serious and sober - at least, not all of the time. His wit is his sword; he must keep it sharpened lest it lose its edge. And so, he proceeds to get his two main advisers muntered for the first time purely so they’ll laugh at his jokes (apropos of nothing, why not try reading Raven On after a few refreshing ales?)
The Lannister’s best effort is a “walked into a bar” gag totally ripped out of The Great Book of Scottish Racisms, but at least it’s better than Missandei’s translators joke, which Grey Worm confidently proclaims as the worst joke he’s ever heard. Yeah, but has he seen *insert stand-up comedian of choice* here?
Also, I didn’t think Missandei’s joke was that bad. This is just another example of the “women can’t be funny” myth. Seriously, Grey Worm, you’re not doing yourself any favours slamming on your lady’s humour. Girls like it when you laugh at their jokes, and in return, you boys like it when we have nice cars and money and buy you things. That’s how relationships work, bro. Don’t rag on your sugar mommy.
There’s a gorgeous moment when Missandei giggles and Grey Worm looks at her with this gorgeous sweet smile - but then the whole thing blows up like a teenager’s party shared on Facebook when the Masters sail back into town intent on reclaiming their lost property.
Tyrion thought he had changed their minds, but it turns out indentured servitude is an idea with deep, deep roots in Slaver’s Bay. I mean for starters, what would they rename the Bay? Think of all those maps that would have to be changed… I mean, the admin is just not worth it. There was no way Tyrion’s seven-year deal to abolish slavery would hold.
With the Masters petrol bombing the city from their fleet, Tyrion is freaking out like aforementioned Facebook-party teenager realising his parents are going to find out about the destruction from the TV news. “Go to the beach!” he yells at Grey Worm, who’s like “Calm the f*** down, dude, we’re just going to stay right here in the pyramid where we’re safe”, and Tyrion’s like “Omg did you flush the shit down the toilet?” and Grey Worm’s like “Nah, man, I smoked it, I’m good,” and Missandei’s like “You guys, look at this Snapchat I just did of the bomb hitting us, I added the dog face filter, it is SO funny.”
Then something lands on the balcony outside, and everyone falls back in a defensive position. A soldier goes out to investigate, disappears, and then BOOM Daenarys stormborns in. Mommy’s home - and don’t the kids look wide-eyed and overawed.
At the end of the day, Dany is the Mother of Dragons, Mhysa, Saviour of the Day. It’s her job to show up and be there when she needs to be there. She’ll know what to do. Hopefully that will entail setting the dragons on the Masters’ boats.
The reunion of Brienne and Jaime was as deliciously tense and buzzing with sexual frisson as I’d hoped and occasionally fantasised about while showering.
From the moment Brienne sees Jaime, resplendent in red armour atop his white steed, we knew this was going to be epic. “Looks like a siege, my lady,” observes Pod, promptly Brienne to drolly reply that he has a “keen military mind”.
Brienne demands to see Jaime, and is escorted to his tent. Pod, bless his loyal cotton socks, is jumped from behind by Bronn, who proceeds to swear at him in that way only really people who are really happy to see you can. At least, I assume he must be happy. My parents swear at me like that pretty much every time I eventually make it around to their place for dinner, because I’m a great daughter who always answers their calls, is incredibly on top of her life, and they think it’s cute the foster kittens are slowly destroying all of my furniture/clothing/carpets. So it must be good.
Bronn, being the impolite and unashamed sellsword that he is asks Bronn if he thinks Brienne and Jaime are doing it warrior-style in the tent. Pod, being the amazing wonderful young man he is, is respectful and confused. Bronn then delightfully lets us know that not only would he have his way with Brienne, he’s certain Jaime wants to, and is pretty certain she wants to have her way with Jaime. Also - has Pod shown her his wares yet? Why do I get the feeling Bronn would totally be an unsolicited todger tableau sender?
To pass the time as Jaime and Brienne do or do not do it in the tent, Bronn offers to teach Pod “real” fighting. This was very telling as far as nature is concerned. Pod wants to be a honest knight like Brienne: tough, fair and plays by the rules. Bronn wouldn’t know a rule if it smacked him in the gob, which is coincidentally exactly what he does to Pod. “They’re all going to want to hit you, everybody wants to hit the squire!” He’s a lovable rogue, and he’s got a point: he survived. He hadn’t expected Pod to.
Oh Brienne and Jaime. So much said, but so much more unsaid. What is the connection between them? A simple bond of friendship, forged by a terrible shared experience? A platonic love? Or something more?
Whatever it is, Brienne’s presence seems to humanise Jaime, and make him a better person. He is kinder, softer, more rounded. She doesn’t call him Kingslayer anymore, that hated nickname that reduces him to a mere traitor (tellingly, the Blackfish still uses it throughout the episode as a way of keeping Jaime that cardboard cut out hate figure). Brienne seems to understand more of his complex inner-workings, and seems to have an understanding that none of the rest of us do.
The scene also had wonderful romantic hallmarks about it - a change of costume and time period and they could be a pair of vexed lovers in a George Eliot or Elizabeth Gaskell novel. Sigh. When Jaime insisted Brienne keep Oathkeeper, I may have inhaled deeply, or squealed, or both, I was that delighted. Also because that sucker is Valyrian steel and heading back north Brienne is going to need that shiz.
Then, as Brienne told Jaime that if she had to take a side in the fight, it would be for the Tullys, against him, I almost heard the Snow Patrol music of a thousand incoming YouTube mash-ups swell in the background. I must Google “how to put the heart-eyed emoji on a picture”.
Brienne makes it in to see the Blackfish, who steadfastly refuses to give up Riverrun, even to help his grand-niece retake Winterfell. His heart is softened somewhat by Sansa’s letter (“She’s just like her mother”) but he is a man resolved. He plans on dying in his ancestral home, family or no family. Poor Brienne has to inform Sansa by raven that she’s, gulp, failed, and her heart is clearly broken. This is a woman who lives by honour, and she feels dishonoured. We’re all “Hey Brienne, you’re awesome, you did an amazing job, you can’t help it if the old guy has a death wish” but she doesn’t see that. Bless.
Jaime’s tete-a-tete with Edmure Tully is far more dangerous than his charming chat with the Lady of Tarth. Tully is a mostly broken man - and an absent father to boot. Apparently he knocked up his bride on the very night of the Red Wedding. So wow, they must have been going for it when Robb, Catelyn and co were being slaughtered in the next room. What a cheery thought. No wonder he doesn’t really care about his personal hygiene anymore.
But Edmure isn’t totally defeated. In a surprisingly long scene, he lands a few verbal punches on Jaime, asking how he convinces himself he’s a decent person so he can sleep at night. Jaime has the good graces to look a bit introspective and sad at these accusations. But then the old lion comes out, and all of a sudden we are firmly reminded that Jaime is Tywin Lannister’s son.
He compares Catelyn Stark’s fierce love for her children to Cersei’s, and proceeds to tell Edmure that he must take Riverrun for his beloved sister’s sake, calling back that old phrase he last uttered in the very first episode of Game of Thrones: “The things we do for love.”
“I’ll send for your baby boy, and I’ll launch him into Riverrun with a catapult because you don’t matter to me… your son doesn’t matter to me, the people in the castle don’t matter to me, only Cersei. And if I have to slaughter every Tully who ever lived to get back to her, that’s what I’ll do.”
It’s quiet and deadly and leaves you wondering once again what IS the deal with Brienne? Is he just humouring her? Does he feel some affection? Or is his relationship with Cersei - and the violence it engenders - such an inbuilt part of him that he can never escape it, no matter what other options might present themselves? Is this one of the hardest truths to come at in Game of Thrones - “Is Jaime Lannister evil - or he is just really good at playing it?”
Faced with such opposition, Edmure cannot hold out. The Blackfish called him a coward and he was right; Edmure doesn't have Cat's stomach, or even Lysa's craziness, to hang on. He is set free, and demands entry to Riverrun, which is granted despite the Blackfish’s strong Admiral Ackbar-style protests. The rightful heir of the fortress then demands its defenders lay down their arms, and the Lannister/Frey coalition march in.
I’m quite glad I didn’t see the death of the Blackfish. I don’t think I could have handled it. He was such a firm, clever, sassy old bugger. The last we saw of him was sending Brienne and Pod off to safety in a rowboat out a back entrance - then diving headfirst back into the fray (or technically, into the Freys).He ran from the Red Wedding - which in some way he sees as a coward’s move, although we see it as eminently sensible. But he will be coward no longer. I’m glad the last memory I have of him will be one of steely gruffness.
Jaime is told about the Blackfish on the battlements at dawn, where he can just make out Brienne in the rowboat. He raises his golden hand in salute, and Brienne waves back. Is it farewell? Will they meet again? By not drawing attention to them, Jaime kept his promise to Brienne to give her safe passage north. So he can’t be all bad…. Can he?
Finally to Braavos, where everyone’s conspiracy theories about Arya face-swapping with the Waif, or with Jaqen H’ghar, or whomever - all turn out to be bunkum. Arya was Arya, she got stabbed, and she asked for help from the only sympathetic person she knew - Lady Crane, aka Miss Fisher, one of the Mummers.
Lady Crane stitched her up, gave her milk of the poppy to sleep, and let her rest. We could see Arya gaining her strength back as Lady Crane asked her to join the Mummers and tour with them to Pentos. Arya, ever honourable, said it wouldn’t be safe to the group with the Waif still chasing her down. It would be weird too, given that she’d be replacing the girl who played Sansa in the show. Fancy that - real Arya playing fake Sansa in a play.
Sadly Arya’s R&R is disturbed by the Waif, whose nature is finally revealed for what it truly is - that of a T-800 series Terminator. Bitch was relentless tracking down our Stark girl through the streets of Braavos, and Arya did well to keep ahead for as long as she did.
Eventually though, the Waif traps Arya in her hidey hole, the one she fled to after her exit from the House of Black and White. And though the Waif looked as cocky as Donald Trump does every minute of every day, we knew Arya had Needle hidden there.
I thought she was going to pull Needle out and stab the Waif, and so I got mighty worried when the Waif started mocking Arya, telling her the sword wouldn’t help. Perhaps not, but Arya did have an advantage - mad blind fighting skills. That’s right, what the Waif helped her learn would now be her own undoing. Arya took a brief moment to collect herself before slashing out with her Needle, cutting the candlewick and plunging the room into darkness.
Next, we see Jaqen H’ghar following a trail of blood through the Hall of Faces. There is a new face on a column. It is The Waif, her eyes missing, blood pouring from the back of the skin. It was a rough job by Arya clearly, but she doesn’t care. She isn’t no one, she’s never been no one. It’s taken her a journey across the sea, blindess, months of hard training and being pursued by a merciless killing machine to realise she cannot conceal who she is.
Arya is BACK bitches. And she's coming Westeros' way.
Yay! Best Moments
“A girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell, and I am going home.” Just 100% gorgeous in every way.
Zing! Best Lines
Tyrion had some corkers of course, but I couldn’t go past the terrific exchange between the Hound and the fellow he de-testicularised.
“Where’s the other one? The one with the yellow cloak?” “F*** you!” “Those are your last words, f*** you? Come on, you can do better.” “C***!” “You’re shit at dying, you know that?”
Lady Crane’s death was genuinely sad, because she was a genuinely nice human being. Not flawless - see her admission of poor decision-making in romantic relationships - but well-intentioned, caring and kind. It was also an incredibly gruesome way to go - impaled on a chair, her head twisted and lolling backwards. I suspect I will have nightmares about poor Miss Fisher.
There are only two episodes left in the season, and next week is Episode Nine. You know what that means - Shit. Goes. Down. I suspect we’re finally about to see the Battle for Winterfell, so let’s cross all extremities and hope we see BOO HISS Ramsay Bolton’s head on a spike very soon.
Thank you so much for joining me again this week. I can't wait to read your comments and thoughts, either here on the 'Burger, or via my Facebook page:www.facebook.com/nataliesthrone
Please note: Stu and I are doing a LIVE Raven On podcast this Tuesday 14 June at 8pm AEST. Simply log onto Facebook and follow the live feed from that time. We’ll be in costume, and feel free to ask questions, mock us, whatever!
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