This article is part of Quibbl’s coverage of Game of Thrones. For a map of coverage, go here
By Jacob Lieberman
We’re back! Welcome to another week of Game of Thrones recaps, brought to you by the sells swords at Quibbl. This week’s episode was a doozy, with some long awaited meetings and what could turn out to be some major turning points in the various wars plaguing Westeros.
Scientia Potentia Est
“Perhaps we should all be examining what we think we know”- Dany
Fundamentally, this was an episode that officially snapped us, the viewer, out of the complacency we’ve been in since we first saw Dany and her fleet of Dothraki/Unsullied/Martells/Tyrells/dragons set sail at the end of last season. As any frequent Thrones watcher knows, just when things seem to be going well, that’s precisely when they fall apart. And throughout the course of this episode, we see characters suffering the consequences of their misplaced confidence.
The episode opens with a meeting that some fans have literally been waiting to see for two decades, ever since the first book in the Song of Ice and Fire saga dropped in 1996: The King in the North and the Mother of Dragons. Ice and fire. Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen. And the meeting did not disappoint.
Before the Jon/Dany scene we get a fantastic Jon/Tyrion scene, chock full of witty one-liners and reminders of how good this show is, and what the payoff can be, when you’re in it for the long haul. Remember when Jon and Tyrion first met? It was in the courtyard of Winterfell at the lowest point of their respective powers – Jon, the bastard, barred by Catelyn from dinner with the king, and Tyrion, the dwarf, forever a bastard in his father’s eyes. Now, one is a King and the other is Hand of the Queen. What a remarkable journey we’ve been on with these two. And of course, it’s only going to get more interesting when Jon finds out his true parentage. (Note: right at the moment Jon tells Tyrion he’s not a Stark, a dragon comes screaming in over his head. I couldn’t tell which dragon it was, but perhaps that one will be Jon’s…?)
Watching from high above the castle is Melisandre, who is staying out of sight to avoid the wrath of Ser Davos. At least she’s finally owning up to her mistakes. Acceptance is the first step to recovery, even for Red Priestesses. She’s joined shortly by Varys, who we know hates magic (remember what that sorcerer did to his “parts?”), and can’t help giving her a little verbal poke in the eye before suggesting that, for her own safety, she leave and never return. She smiles and falls into prophecy mode: she’s going to Volanis but will be back, because, like Varys, she has to die in Westeros. Perhaps she’ll perish at the hands of Arya Stark, who she met in season 3 and foretold that their paths would cross again.
Inside the castle, Missandei gets the meeting started by prattling off Dany’s many titles. Queen of this, ruler of that, mother of…you get the picture. Jon is not impressed. He sees only a young girl enamored by her birthright, with no worldly knowledge and no experience in battle, consumed by what is essentially a civil war even as an army of dead people marches on the Seven Kingdoms.
When she asks him to bend the knee, he flatly refuses. Ah, yes. That whole “your dad burned my grandfather and uncle alive” thing. But Dany isn’t her father. She asks forgiveness for the crimes of House Targaryen and asks Jon not to judge a daughter by sins of her father, echoing Jon’s own sentiments about the Umber/Karstark situation in the North.
Jon tacitly accepts her apology, and tries to turn the conversation to how they can help each other. Dany reveals her own ignorance: she should be examining the things she thinks she knows – like, for example, her certainty that the white walkers and the Long Night are an urban legend. Instead, she gives a little speech about how she survived the horrors of slavery and persecution by always believing in herself, rather than falling back on fairy tales and myths.
The joyous family reunion is interrupted by Varys, who brings news of the attack on the Martells and the Iron Fleet. Jon is offered a meal and a hot bath, but must remain on Dragonstone, as the Dothraki have confiscated his ship. At this point, that’s looking like it may have been a mistake.
Jon instead decamps to the high cliffs, where he’s eventually joined by Tyrion in what I like to call the Battle of the Brooders. Obviously, Jon wins this one. Nobody – nobody! – beats Jon Snow at brooding.
Jon realizes he’s facing an uphill battle convincing people about the true enemy to the north. He seemed to think that Dany would drop everything and come flying north on her dragons once Jon told her about the Walkers. Tyrion actually believes Jon, but points out that the King in the North is asking an awful lot without offering a shred of evidence. Instead, Tyrion suggests, why not ask for something smaller? Maybe prove yourself trustworthy first? So Jon finally does what he came there to do and tells Tyrion about the cache of dragonglass beneath the island.
Tyrion convinces Dany to give Jon what he wants in the name of building a relationship with a possible ally – after all, he says, you didn’t even know it was there! Perhaps she’s giving this Jon Snow character a second thought, after all…
With Jon on Dragonstone, Sansa is dealing with the realities of governing the North – providing food for people during a long winter, ensuring that armor is covered in leather for warmth. She has another creepy encounter with Littlefinger, who tells her to game out every possible scenario, believe that every person is both her enemy and her friend at the same time, and she’ll never be surprised. Not at all confusing! Sansa certainly has learned a great deal from Cersei and from Littlefinger herself, but she might be starting to buy into her own hype. She might want to examine what she thinks she knows about Cersei, about Littlefinger, and about herself.
But before there’s much time for deep reflection, we get another long-awaited Stark family reunion. Bran is back at Winterfell, and he looks SHOOK. (He also looks like the fifth Beatle, but that’s neither here nor there.) He barely reacts when he sees his sister for the first time in years, and is curiously detached when he recounts the story of her wedding night rape at the hands of Ramsay Bolton. But he’s back, and he’s got knowledge to drop, even mentioning to Sansa that he needs to talk to Jon. So I guess that answers the question of how Jon Snow will find out he’s actually Jon Targaryen.
Bran actually faces a different problem than many of the characters in this week’s episode. He doesn’t have to worry about what he doesn’t know, because he knows everything. And it seems like it’s starting to weigh on him.
Meanwhile in Oldtown, the epicenter of Westerosi knowledge and learning, Sam has managed to cure Jorah. Sam read the book and followed the instructions, something he’s always been good at. And yet, poor Samwell isn’t rewarded with the key to the restricted area he pilfered last week. Instead gets to copy old, deteriorating manuscripts that look like they could be thousands of years old. I wonder what he’ll find…
Finally, we get to the center of this week’s action, King’s Landing. Euron is leading a parade into the city with Yara and Ellaria in tow. Euron deposits his gift at the feet of the Mad Queen and says he brings justice for her murdered daughter. Cersei says that Euron proven himself true friend, but he wants to be more than a friend. To Jamie’s obvious displeasure, she says he can have what he wants – but only when the war is won. That makes me think she’s got something else up her sleeve.
Cersei moves from the throne room to the dungeons of the Red Keep, where she is torturing a chained up Ellaria by recounting how close her lover, Oberyn Martell, was to defeating The Mountain – if only he hadn’t taunted him. Cersei is positively glowing in this scene, and seems to be taking glee in meting out her version of the Queen’s justice. There is, however, a fleeting moment when her humanity pokes through. She’s talking to Ellaria mom to mom about the death of Myrcella, legitimately not understanding how a mother could do something so horrific to another mother. You actually feel bad for Cersei, for just a minute. And then she announces her plan to murder Ellaria’s daughter with the same poison Ellaria used on Myrcella, with the added bonus that she’s going to have to watch her daughter die and then watch her body decompose in front of her.
Killing people really revs Cersei’s engine, so she goes back and has her way with Jamie. It’s good to be queen…I guess?
The next day she meets with Tycho Nestoris, who has returned to King’s Landing to collect on the Crown’s debt to the Iron Bank of Braavos. Tycho points out that Cersei seems to be squeezed on all sides, what with their existing debts, the loss of the Tyrell bankroll, and the depleted gold reserves beneath Casterly Rock.
In typical Cersei fashion, she smirks and promises her debt will be repaid within a fortnight. How, you ask? Well, that brings us to the episode’s climactic scene, and our first look at Casterly Rock. Grey Worm and the Unsullied storm the castle through a secret passage built by Tyrion years ago when his father assigned him the unenviable task of designing the sewer system.
The Unsullied take the castle with little resistance, and it looks like the day is won.
But wait! Shouldn’t there be more Lannister soldiers? Oh that’s right. They’re marching on Highgarden, the seat of House Tyrell, and the lever that controls all the wealth and power of Westeros’s richest kingdom, The Reach.
Jamie Lannister, joined by Randyll Tarly and Bron, takes the castle with ease. The man with one hand heads straight for a one-on-one with the last surviving Tyrell, Lady Olenna, our beloved Queen of Thorns. She quotes the Rains of Castermere and takes a few shots at Jamie, forcing him to confront the monstrosity of Cersei. He already knows, of course. But he’s not a monster like her, and he offers Olenna a painless death. She goes out the way she lived, with a good stiff drink in her hand. And she finally drops her biggest secret, letting Jamie know she killed Joffrey. Had he known, would he have given her that quick and painless death?
Final Thought: There was another leak in Dany’s camp, with Euron’s fleet catching the Unsullied by surprise and the Lannisters moving on an undefended Highgarden. Someone is definitely talking out of school…
Quibbls of the Week
- We didn’t see Arya this week. Next week will Arya reunite with Sansa and Bran in Winterfell? Quibbl here
- Dany’s plans have so far been absolutely disastrous. Given Olenna’s death, will Dany invade King’s Landing next week? Quibbl here
- He was dragged onto a Greyjoy ship this episode. Will Theon shrink back into reek or take charge and reunite with Dany this coming week? Quibbl here
- He’s the three eyed raven in Winterfell. Will Bran warg with a dragon next episode? Quibbl here
This article is part of Quibbl’s coverage of Game of Thrones. For a map of coverage, go here