Monday, August 14, 2017

HBO Game of Thrones Recap: Eastwatch

Ok we're back. And in a development that should surprise absolutely no one both Bronn and Jaime are still alive. Bronn pulls Jaime out of the lake. Perhaps because he's a knight now or perhaps because he just has gotten comfortable with Jaime, Bronn has no qualms about calling Jaime's move of trying to charge Daenerys while she was protected by her dragon as the incredibly dumb move that it was. Bronn dismisses Jaime's feeble explanation of trying to end the war in one fell swoop. Bronn states that this is no developing bromance or heterosexual life partnership. He still thinks that Jaime owes him. So therefore until Bronn gets everything that's coming to him, he's not going to let anything or anyone kill Jaime. In what feels like some ham-fisted exposition the two men point out that Daenerys did what she did to their army with just one dragon. And they couldn't do anything to stop her. What happens when she wants to use all three? Jaime says he must warn Cersei.

Tyrion walks the battlefield, which is still smoldering from the dragonfire. For someone who had no qualms using wildfire against Stannis' forces in the Battle of the Blackwater, Tyrion seems both shocked and saddened by the sheer destructive power of dragonfire. Of course it was mostly Lannister troops doing the dying this time so that might add something to his perspective.

Daenerys is on a hill with her dragon, Drogon. She has had the Dothraki round up the surviving Westerosi troops. She tells them that she's not such a bad sort. She's here to free Westeros, break the wheel, give everyone free health care, lower taxes, create working infrastructure, build a functional middle class, yada, yada, yada. But she'll explain her political theories to them at length at a later time. For now they need to get down or lay down. Only a few men bend the knee at first but when Drogon roars most men do.

Randyll Tarly and his son Dickon are still alive. Randyll refuses to bend the knee. He gives full voice to his xenophobic feelings. Tyrion tries to make peace by suggesting that Randyll, a honorable man, be sent to the Wall instead where his leadership and martial capabilities could be a big help but Randyll dismisses THAT idea by saying only his Queen can send him to the wall. And since Daenerys is a foreign leader of eunuchs and savages she has no authority to send him anywhere. She's not his Queen. He can think of a few places she can go, though. So go ahead and do what you gotta do, honey. The Dothraki take away Randyll for execution. Dickon interrupts and says to kill him too. He's not going to bend the knee either. He wants to be like his Daddy. 

And if his Daddy is gonna die then he will die with him. Like a man. Randyll doesn't like this idea at all. Tyrion is disgusted and appeals to the need to keep the family name going but Dickon's mind is made up. Tyrion quietly asks and asks again for Daenerys to show mercy but Daenerys is all out of mercy today. So stop asking her. Dickon and Randyll are both burned alive by dragonfire. Tyrion is scared. Everyone else immediately bends the knee. Jaime makes it back to King's Landing to see Cersei. She wants to know how many soldiers have been lost but Jaime can't give her exact numbers. Almost everyone is a pretty good description though. Cersei dismisses this and says that with the gold they can just hire more mercenaries. Jaime is shook. He says that the Dothraki are all that and a bag of chips. He's never seen anything like them before. And with just one dragon it was game over. There's no way the Lannisters can win. 

Cersei doesn't like this kind of talk. She's not going to give up now after all that she's done. Likely doing a little projection she doesn't see that Daenerys would be merciful. Cersei thinks that she can either submit and die or fight and die. So she'd rather go out fighting. Besides, Danerys has Tyrion as her hand. Tyrion killed Cersei's son. Cersei doesn't let that sort of thing go. Jaime mentions that it was actually Olenna who murdered Joffrey. But this doesn't have the desired moderating effect as Cersei just gets angrier that she let Olenna die relatively peacefully due to Jaime's advice.

Daenerys returns to Dragonstone. As Drogon lands, Jon doesn't back up. Both Drogon and Jon seem intrigued by each other. Drogon sniffs Jon. Jon scratches Drogon's nose. Drogon does the dragon equivalent of purring. It's hard to tell if Daenerys is a little put out that Jon and Drogon are friendly or fascinated by this fact.

Anyway she starts to lecture Jon about how she has fewer enemies than before and that dragons are her children not beasts. She also justifies her actions by saying that she can only do good from a position of power. She wants to know about the whole Jon took a dagger in the heart deal which Davos mentioned. Jon dismisses this as a figure of speech again but Daenerys won't let it go. But the two rulers are interrupted by the return of Ser Friendzone himself, Jorah Mormont. Jorah is trying to play it cool but he does get a hug. We know he wants more.

At Winterfell Bran wargs into a flock of ravens and spies on the Night King and Army of the Dead, getting their location north of the Wall. He leaves the birds, or is forced out, when the Night King notices him. Bran arranges to send out messages to everyone concerning the White Walker Army. The maesters at Oldtown are mostly dismissive of the warning from Bran and request for help. They think that it could be a trick to get the South emptied so that Daenerys could conquer it more easily. And most of the maesters don't believe in White Walkers and reanimated corpses anyway. Sam decides to speak up and say that he believes Bran and that the maesters should as well. The Archmaester briefly appears to be giving Sam's words some weight but the other maesters point out that (1)Sam is not a maester so obviously he doesn't know anything and (2) Sam apparently needs more work to do instead of messing in grown folks' business. Sam leaves in a huff. The maesters know of Sam's father's and brother's deaths but haven't told him yet.

Sometime later during the night, Sam is back at his work of copying books. Have you ever been in a bad mood and a loved one or relative makes it worse by doing something otherwise innocuous? That's what Gilly is doing to Sam as she asks him constant questions about the books she's reading. She's completely ignorant to the fact that she's working Sam's last nerve. Sam is trying to get his work done so he's not paying attention to the substance of what his common law wife is saying just that she's continually asking him what this word means or what that word means or isn't it amazing that Baelor's Sept had so many steps. And even if Sam had been in a more patient mood he has no reason to pay any special attention to Gilly's announcement that someone named Prince Rhaegar received an annulment of his marriage and married someone else in a secret ceremony in Dorne. Hmm.

Sam has had it up to here with Gilly's questions and the Citadel's bs. He's supposed to be finding answers to how to fight White Walkers, not doing make work and emptying bedpans. He won't get rid of Gilly but he's done with the Citadel. Taking a few books and scrolls that look promising, Sam takes Gilly and her child and leaves the Citadel.

Tyrion is drinking with Varys and comparing notes on what to do when you think you are serving a mad Targaryen ruler. Tyrion is trying to justify Daenerys' actions in executing the Tarlys. Varys warns Tyrion that he's been down that road before. It doesn't end well. Varys tells Tyrion that Tyrion must find a way to make Daenerys listen. Nice how Varys put that all on Tyrion. Jon gets the news from the North of Arya and Bran's continued existence and Bran's warning about the Army of the Dead. Jon announces that he's going back North. But without proof of the Army of the Dead Cersei won't believe him. And as Daenerys points out Jon doesn't have the numbers to fight that war. Now you would think that as Cersei's military numbers are also reduced (thanks to Daenerys) and the White Walkers/Wights are vulnerable to fire (and Daenerys has three Dragons) that this might be the perfect time for Daenerys to either offer her assistance in exchange for bending the knee OR like Stannis, go North anyway and attempt to win support by defeating the undead invaders and proving that she is the best ruler. 
Instead the brain trust decides that the proper thing to do is to go North beyond the Wall, capture a wight and then bring it back all the way back south to show Cersei. Easy peasy. Tyrion will attempt to arrange a safe meeting. Jorah will go North with Jon and crew.

At Winterfell, the Northern Lords and Vale Lords (again, why are all of those people still there?) are upset with news of Jon's latest half-baked plan. It's a reasonable expectation from their point of view that if you're elected King in the North, you ought to be spending your time in the North. Perhaps Sansa should be running things. The Lords are talking a little bit more vociferously against Jon than Arya likes. She thinks that a few of them might need to remember that wolves have teeth. And the Starks are the leaders of this wolf pack. She tells as much to her sister Sansa when they meet in private. Sansa dismisses Arya's concerns by pointing out that the Starks no longer have too many direct reports. They need the support of the Northern Lords and Vale. Arya accuses Sansa of being too ready to take over Jon's mantle of leadership. The height difference between the two actresses in this scene was very stark (heh-heh). 

Davos and Tyrion have reached a smuggler's cove near King's Landing. They both depart on their separate missions. Tyrion, apparently working thru who exactly, has contacted Bronn, who has unbeknownst to Jaime, arranged a basement Red Keep meeting between the two Lannister brothers. Jaime is not exactly happy to see his little brother. Even if Tyrion didn't murder Joffrey he certainly did murder Tywin. Tyrion tries to explain himself. Davos has wandered into Flea Bottom where he looks up Gendry. Gendry has been working as a smith. It's who he is. It's what he does. Before Davos can even explain the mission, Gendry volunteers. He's BEEN ready to go. And he's tired of working for Lannisters, even though obviously Cersei has no idea of his location. And just like his Daddy, Gendry prefers to fight with a war hammer.
This weapon comes in handy when two City Guards that Davos bribed won't stay bribed when they notice Tyrion returning to the boat. 

At Dragonstone Davos cautions Gendry not to mention his parentage but when Gendry meets Jon he immediately ignores that advice. As their fathers were good friends, Gendry sees no reason why he and Jon can't be. After all they're both bastards (which we know that the Jon actually isn't but perception is everything). Gendry doesn't want to sit this fight out, no matter what's coming. Jon and company leave for the North.

Jaime interrupts a Cersei meeting with Qyburn. Jaime wants to know what they were doing. Cersei tells him that Qyburn is loyal and her Hand. Jaime explains that he met with Tyrion and that Daenerys is seeking an armistice so that everyone can deal with the Army of the Dead thingie. Perhaps considering a Red Wedding redux Cersei says that yes it might be time to meet with the Dragon Queen. But in the mean time if she were Jaime she would deal with Bronn a little more harshly. The man set up a meeting with Tyrion without Jaime's knowledge or permission. That sounds like betrayal in Cersei's book. Jaime does his "I never mentioned Bronn's name" bit but Cersei responds that Jaime should never ever think that she doesn't have an eye on everything that happens in King's Landing. And that very much includes her twin brother. Now Jaime should never betray her again. And kiss her because she's pregnant. And Cersei sees no reason not to announce Jaime as the father. 
At Winterfell, Arya is secretly following Littlefinger around. Littlefinger has been making inroads not only with the Vale men but with some of the Northern Lords and Winterfell staff. Perhaps it was at Littlefinger's bequest that some said that they should have elected Sansa to lead them? This is another example of why, although it's been downplayed so far this season, Littlefinger is so dangerous. 

He appeals to everyone's worst side and immediately tries to turn every situation to his advantage. Littlefinger receives something from the new Winterfell Maester, which is from Maester Luwin's archives and the only copy at Winterfell. Littlefinger immediately locks this note in his room. Arya picks the lock and searches the room until she finds the note hidden in the mattress. It's the note which Sansa wrote under duress, urging Robb to come to King's Landing to bend the knee to Joffrey. Arya leaves the room, but we see that Littlefinger is watching from the shadows with a smirk on his face.

When Jon and company reach the Night's Watch Eastwatch castle, Tormund wastes no time telling them that the idea of capturing a wight is a really stupid idea. Oh by the way he's picked up three other men who want to go beyond the Wall. It's Beric, Thoros and the Hound. Jon remembers The Hound. And Gendry remembers Beric and Thoros selling him to Melisandre. Old bitter feelings start to flare up but Jon puts those to bed by reminding everyone that if we're still breathing, we're on the same side. Suitably chastened and hopefully well provisioned, the men head beyond the Wall. It's the Wild Bunch, Westeros version.

What I liked
  • Confirmation to the viewer that Jon is legitimate although Sam has no reason to pay any attention to that fact.
  • Return of scheming Littlefinger. Really though the Stark siblings need to compare some notes and/or ask Bran about what he sees of Littlefinger. That courtroom betrayal of Ned by Littlefinger has got to come up.
  • The horror of execution by fire bringing bad memories for both Varys and Tyrion
  • Davos matter of factly reminding Tyrion that Tyrion was responsible for Davos' son's death.
  • Arya's seeming discomfort that Sansa has moved into their parents' bedchambers.
  • Dickon deciding to die with his father.
  • Gendry's choosing to use a war hammer and not a sword.
  • Davos' fermented crab viagra.
  • Drogon recognizing the One True King, Jon Stark Targaryen.
  • The meeting/confrontation between Tyrion and Jaime. In previous seasons this might have taken 10-15 minutes of screen time. Not now. It was good but felt a little rushed.
  • Whether or not Cersei is pregnant or not is almost immaterial. If Jaime thinks that she's pregnant, he will be even less likely to defy her.
  • The Ph.D snobbery of the maesters.

What I didn't like
  • Cersei's son murdered Jon's father. Cersei's father arranged for the murders of Jon's brother and stepmother. Cersei oversaw and tolerated the abuse of Jon's sister. Cersei just blew up the Westeros equivalent of the Vatican and murdered the Pope. So what makes ANYONE think that Cersei is a rational actor who will act on good evidence? Seriously. This is stupid. Cersei has no interest in anything other than sleeping with her brother and maintaining power. Easier to bring Daenerys north to see for herself.
  • Rather than have Arya immediately accuse Sansa of not caring about Jon or wanting him dead why not have Arya tell Sansa about the time Littlefinger was working with Tywin and didn't try to save her? 
  • It would have made sense for Olenna to mention that Littlefinger assisted her. 
  • Where is Ghost?
  • There was a lot of moving around between locations. It gave this episode a bit of a rushed herky jerky feeling.
  • Seriously though, where is Ghost?
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