Monday, July 31, 2017

HBO Game of Thrones Recap: The Queen's Justice

Tonight's episode opened at Dragonstone, where Jon and Davos have arrived with a small honor guard of Northern men. Jon and Tyrion trade memories and ritual insults. Tyrion wonders if Sansa ever talks about him. Tyrion wants to make sure Jon knows that Tyrion didn't consummate the marriage with Sansa. Like most normal brothers, Jon doesn't want to know the details of his sister's private life. And to Tyrion's question, Sansa doesn't mention Tyrion. Davos and Jon are a little worried by the immediate Dothraki confiscation of their boat and their weapons. Tyrion is also curious about what it feels like to be the Stark King in the North. In a not really inside joke, Jon replies that he's not a Stark. Dragons swoop overheard as Jon walks up to meet Daenerys. Melisandre didn't go down to meet Jon and Davos, something that Varys can't help but notice and gloat over. Melisandre admits that she didn't leave on good terms with Jon or Davos and intends to leave for Volantis. But she cautions Varys not to smirk too much about her travel plans or threaten her about returning. She intends to return for she forsees that her fate is to die in Westeros, as is Varys'. She has brought fire and ice together. Her work is complete for now.

Jon and Davos enter the throne room at Dragonstone. Missandei announces Daenerys with a comically long list of titles and accomplishments. Davos responds gruffly that this is Jon Snow and that he is King in the North. Pointedly referring to Jon as a Lord and not a King, Daenerys invites and then orders Jon to bend the knee and accept her as suzerain.

Jon refuses, noting that her claim to rulership died when her father murdered his grandfather and uncle. Anyway, he's not here to fight about that, although he's certainly not bending any knee. He says that they need each other's help. Jon goes into his whole "I have seen the Army of the Dead " speech but as with most people south of the Wall, Daenerys isn't buying it. She responds with her canned speech about the hard times she's seen and experienced. But Davos interrupts and points out that Jon has put in work on his own, not sat around having things given to him because of family name. He even starts to talk about Jon's death before he gets the high sign from Jon not to mention that. Jon again says there's no time to squabble over such frivolities as the Iron Throne. That's the Stark/Northern bluntness that we all know and love. This really rubs Daenerys the wrong way. I mean how friendly would you be to someone you just met who told you that the goal you've been working towards your whole life is a children's bauble and completely pointless. Yeah. Well Daenerys feels the same way towards her (unknown) nephew Jon. She says that with that attitude she has to think that Jon is more or less in open rebellion. She says he's not a prisoner yet but that he can't leave. After Jon and Davos are led to their chambers Varys and Daenerys discuss the setback inflicted upon them by Euron Greyjoy,  of which Varys has just learned.

Theon is pulled from the water by Greyjoys loyal to him. But they have no respect for him when they hear that he watched Euron take his sister. They reason that if Theon had tried to stop it they wouldn't have had to pull him out of the water. Euron is riding thru King's Landing receiving a hero's welcome. He also has Ellaria, her daughter Tyene and his niece Yara chained behind him. He rides into the throne room where he turns over the Dornish women to Cersei. He would like to marry have sex with Cersei and tells her just that. Cersei says they will discuss all that after the war but for now Euron is admiral of all of the loyalist fleets while Jaime is leader of all the loyalist armies. Not happy unless he's hurting someone, under his breath Euron asks Jaime for advice on what Cersei likes in bed. Obviously this alliance won't last for long. And you have to think that Euron is smart enough to know this. I wonder what tricks he has up his sleeve.

In the dungeons, attended by the Undead Mountain and Qyburn, Cersei taunts and gloats over the chained and gagged Ellaria and Tyene. Cersei gives voice to all of her grief over Ellaria's murder of Cersei's daughter Myrcella. She reminds Ellaria of Ellaria's own pain at Oberyn's death, saying that screams like that only happen when there is true love and loss. Cersei has thought long and hard about why Ellaria did what she did and how Cersei should repay the crime. Gagged, Ellaria can only sputter and cry. Cersei is like oh, what's that I can't hear you with the gag in your mouth. Suddenly, in the middle of talking about how precious daughters are to their mothers, Cersei wheels around and gives Tyene a deep kiss on the lips. But this is no precursor to some sort of lesbian rape. Nope, with Qyburn's help Cersei has figured out the exact poison that Ellaria used to kill Myrcella and returned the favor to Tyene. Tyene will slowly die in front of her mother. Ellaria will live out her days looking at her daughter's rotting corpse and thinking about the bad choices she made. 

Apparently quite excited by successful revenge Cersei finds her brother and expresses her intent to do that thing that men and women do. Jaime is not really up for that but Cersei knows what he likes. She overcomes his unspoken objections. Later on there is a knock on the royal bedchamber. Jaime wants to hide in order to keep up appearances but Cersei is way beyond caring about conforming to social conventions like no public confirmation of first degree incest. She answers the door. 

A lady in waiting announces that the representative from the Iron Bank of Braavos has arrived. Later during the meeting Cersei dispenses with the banker's worries about her position by reminding him that (1) the Lannisters always pay their debts and (2) Daenerys, even with dragons, is a poor bet for a businessman. Daenerys has destroyed much of the overseas slave trade in which the Iron Bank invested and sees herself as a revolutionary. Revolutionaries aren't big on keeping the status quo or repaying banks. 

Tyrion and Jon brood and commiserate on a cliff. Those two are champion brooders. Jon says that he's a prisoner and that all of his bannermen were right to consider him a dunce for coming south. He's also peeved that apparently no one believes him about the White Walkers. Tyrion says that while Jon can't leave right this moment he's not really a prisoner. And for what it's worth Tyrion does believe him. But Tyrion cautions Jon that Jon must understand that Daenerys doesn't know him and has no reason to believe such outlandish stories. Tyrion would like to help Jon but won't go against his Queen. He suggests Jon ask for something he can get. Tyrion meets with Daenerys. He advises her to let Jon have the dragonglass. It costs her nothing and could bring her an ally. He believes Jon because against all the political advice he's received, Jon came to Dragonstone. Daenerys has picked up on Davos'  "[Jon] took a knife in the heart for his people" comment but Tyrion can't explain it. Tyrion passes it off as Northern hyperbole. Daenerys and Jon meet again. Danerys will allow Jon to have (and take?) the dragonglass but she still won't say if she believes him.

At Winterfell Sansa is busy overseeing the repair and restocking of her home. She learned a few things from watching her parents. She's comfortable telling everyone what to do and staying on top of details. Littlefinger gives Sansa some typically opaque advice about being able to see everything at once and react to everyone instantaneously as if they are simultaneously friend and foe. But before Littlefinger can discuss quantum physics and his lust for Sansa any further, a courtier lets Sansa know that there's someone at the gate. It's Bran! Hugs and tears from Sansa. In the weirwood Sansa wants to turn over everything to Bran as he is Ned's last living trueborn son and rightful Lord of Winterfell. Sansa is at heart a traditionalist. But Bran isn't having it. Bran is losing contact with his humanity. He tells Sansa that he can't be Lord of Winterfell because he's now the Three Eyed Raven. He can see things although he doesn't always know what they mean. Bran also lets Sansa know that he's sorry about what happened to her at her wedding to Ramsay though she did look very beautiful. Tact is something else Bran is moving past. Understandably weirded out by her creepy little brother, Sansa leaves the weirwood. 

The Archmaester looks over Jorah and pronounces him free of infection. Jorah doesn't rat out Sam. Jorah says he just started feeling better. The Archmaester says that Jorah can leave. The Archmaester wants to talk to Sam later, though. Jorah tells Sam thanks and shakes Sam's hand. Jorah is going back to his old used to be but never was, Daenerys. 

Later the Archmaester tears Sam a new one for disobeying direct orders and putting the whole Citadel at risk for greyscale. He's curious as to how Sam did it. Sam responds that he just read the f****** manual like he was supposed to do. The Archmaester is impressed. People with a lot more experience than Sam wouldn't have had Sam's guts. They would have messed it up. Sam got it right. But even though the Archmaester is impressed, Sam still disobeyed orders. So the Archmaester gives Sam yet another tedious unpleasant task of copying moldy mite infested books and scrolls. On Dragonstone Daenerys had decided that Euron Greyjoy has become more than an irritant. He's an outright threat. She wants to take her dragons and find and destroy Euron's fleet. Everyone points out that neither the dragons nor the Queen are invulnerable. What's more they can't be replaced. Nope they need to stick to the plan. Tyrion narrates the events at Casterly Rock. Casterly Rock is virtually invulnerable. Lots of Unsullied will die trying to scale the walls. 

But Tyrion, having been forced to create sewers as an insult by his father Tywin, knows a back way into Casterly Rock. We see Grey Worm and team take this hidden path inside, open the gates and then lead a rout of the Lannister forces. But something is wrong. It was easy. Way too easy. Grey Worm demands to know from a dying Lannister soldier where is everyone else. Then Grey Worm looks up to see that the Greyjoy fleet is burning his ships. It was a sacrifice play. Now Grey Worm is stranded in hostile territory with no quick way back to his Queen.

Everyone else (the bulk of the Lannister armies, now bolstered by the Tarly forces) have attacked the Tyrells at Highgarden. And they've won. As Olenna Tyrell points out to the triumphant Jaime Lannister entering her room, the Tyrells never were a group with a martial reputation. Jaime says that there are lessons in failures. The Queen of Thorns retorts that Jaime must be very smart by now then. The Queen of Thorns asks if all the battles are over and Jaime nods yes. The Queen of Thorns says that she doesn't apologize. She did what was necessary for her family. But she thinks that Cersei is a monster. Cersei does the unthinkable. That's why she wins. The Queen of Thorns simply can't imagine doing the things Cersei does. The Queen of Thorns casually notes that Cersei will be the death of Jaime. Jaime responds by pouring some poison in the old lady's wine. Cersei had wanted Olenna's death to be more public and more, ahem, dramatic but Jaime convinced her otherwise. 

The Queen of Thorns asks if the poison is painful and when Jaime demurs, drinks it down all at once. But before she goes she wants to make sure that Jaime and Cersei know that she, Olenna Tyrell, killed their son Joffrey. She didn't know that the poison would be so horrible as she hadn't seen it before but she's not sorry about that either. Not one bit. She is very happy to let Jaime know this. Very happy indeed.

What I liked

  • The Queen of Thorns' ending scene. She went out like a Queen. No fear. Snarky to the end.
  • Finally a hint at Jon's resurrection being of interest to someone. Again that would be a HUGE rallying point in the North and likely beyond. The King who defeated Death? Are you kidding me?
  • Bran showing that for good or bad he's not the same person who left Winterfell
  • Jon refusing to back down even as he's recognizing that yup, going south to treat with someone who demands your fealty on pain of death isn't super smart.
  • Dragons flying over Jon, who after all has a better claim to the Iron Throne than Daenerys does.
  • Davos telling it like it is.
  • At this point will Cersei or Jaime care that it wasn't Tyrion who killed Joffrey. Probably not.

What I didn't like

  • Tyrion being 0-2 with clever little plans. He was always smarter than Jaime and Cersei. What happened? I'm not saying that he can't make mistakes but it seems as if he and Cersei have switched personalities.
  • The battles at Highgarden and Casterly Rock felt antiseptic and rushed. I look forward to reading how they happen (if they happen) in the yet to be released books. I didn't feel that there was much at stake.
  • No Ghost
  • Littlefinger just hanging around. We know that Sansa is a weak spot for him. But we also know that he's not overly sentimental. He seems out of place. Maybe we'll see what he's up to next week. 
  • I would have liked to see a Melisandre-Jon-Davos confrontation
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