Spoils leaked on the internet should indicate what a highly anticipated episode this was. And spoiled we were with the action that took place.
Shall we begin?
BEWARE: MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW—YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.
The episode kicks off over at the Reach. Jaime and company are collecting their spoils of war from Olenna’s grain stores. Packing them away with the considerable amount of gold in the Highgarden vaults. Needless to say, the broke days are over. The Lannisters always pay their debts, this time with the Tyrell dinero they’ve stolen rightfully acquired through battle. Dickon *cough (lol) cough* and Lord Tarly join the party to escort the new riches back to Kings landing, once allies of the powerful Tyrell house, they too are enjoying the spoils of their former overlords. Just going to show that loyalty is a very loose concept in a world like this.
Speaking of Kings Landing, Cersei and the Iron Bank are still coming up with a payment plan. Braavos’ federal reserve continue to remind the Queen that they’re not philanthropists, they’re a business, and business never sleeps. They don’t want a deposit, not a piece of it or installments. I mean, they respect her Tywin-esque demeanor and all, but still
Fuck you, pay me.
Up where the compass points north, Baelish is up to something. We enter a scene between him and Bran the new Three Eyed Raven. He hands Bran a dagger of Valyrian steel. Curious that it’s the same dagger that took the life of the Stark matriarch, Cat. LF goes on a nostalgic and rather macabre recollection on the origins of the weapon. Saying that if he’d known what the dagger would do he would’ve stopped it with his own heart…
(I smell the aroma of foreshadowing here. It’s not even subtle anymore. Either I’m psychic like captain F-UP or I’m just getting too obsessed with this series.)
First thing’s first, something’s up. Baelish, like Braavos, is not a philanthropist. He does things only for the interest of himself and his ambitions. It can be assumed that that passing of the torch was probably not for the benefit of anyone in the Stark family, unless of course it tied into his plans.
Pan to Bran’s face as Petyr expresses “sympathy” for the chaos he’s gone through. 3ER replies “Chaos is a ladder.” Uttering the very words Little Finger spoke when speaking to Varys in season 3 when describing his calculations in this game to begin with. Old boy is shook when he realizes the young Lord of Winterfell isn’t the same. Hell he might not even be human. The look on his face indicates he realizes how in over his head he might be and I’m loving every single moment of it.
Enter Meera who peeps Bran’s new set of wheels, she realizes with his new apparatus, he doesn’t need her anymore. Bran, dead on the inside does nothing to dissuade her sentiments. Finally explaining to her (as well as the audience) that he’s no longer the same. He’s someone else. He’s something else. It’s a sad parting considering all they’ve been through but true to GoT form, heartbreak comes as naturally as breathing. (Honestly, the girl should feel lucky she even got out alive.)
The spoils keep on coming when another Stark arrives in Winterfell. Arya that is. As an audience I think we were all fist pumping and doing the ugly cry as she looks around the home that’s evaded her for 6 years. Her eyes taking in the courtyard as well as the Direwolf banners hanging from the battlements. It feels full circle. Finally. But to our joy, it doesn’t end there. We see her next in the crypts. After evading the rather dim-witted guards, Lady Stark confirms why she runs the fort, finding her sister in a matter of minutes. This reunion felt fabulously appropriate. I appreciated the realism in the scene. There were no tears, no gratuitous expressions of emotion. The sisters were never close to begin with so this was like two strangers meeting… or two strangers with a couple of mutual friends. But with their newfound maturity, there is hope that they can build a better relationship based on respecting who each other has become now, rather than when they wished for different sisters in season 1.
In front of the Weirwood, another reunion takes place and Arya quickly accepts Bran’s new reality. Basically saying: “Oh you’re magical now? lets chat.” Just as quickly, Sansa accepts Arya’s list – she doesn’t reject her as Arya fears, but re-evaluates it as an asset. Similarly Arya, measures Sansa’s reaction; It’s pleasing to see that the two are adjusting their preconceptions of each other, in order to really see and value they both possess. Politics and Assassination go to together, and if Arya and Sansa work tin tandem, they’d be unstoppable. Also, Sansa finally has an ally in her “Cersei is a big threat” concerns. Arya immediately recognizes the dagger is Valyrian steel and Sansa immediately recognizes no gift from Baelish is free, these two will be the perfect team. Additionally they have identical expressions of “wtf?” when Bran say’s it doesn’t matter. Bran’s like: “It’s wasted on a cripple.” Arya’s like: “You punk ass, you could be crippled, blind and deaf and still kill a bitch with Valyrian steel. Also, it’s nice to see Bran use his powers for good for once, knowing his sister is the best for it.
Arya experiences reunion number 3 in her childhood home, proving how she’s not a kid so much anymore. She challenges Brienne to a one-on-one and I love it. Two of the most bad-ass chicks on this series having a bit of a sparring session. One concern during the whole ordeal is Sansa’s face. Though at first it can be construed as jealousy, I concurred that it’s was probably a touch of wishing she could have defended herself physically the way the other two seem to do so effortlessly. In addition to just dealing with how different Arya is from the little kid she remembers… a nod to how far the series has come since it’s inception.
Enter Jon and the rest of the Dragonstone crew. He takes Khaleesi down to the mines where there is a ridiculously gratuitous amount of dragon glass. This is not the only discovery we make though. KitN take the queen deeper into the caves and shows her hieroglyphs the Children of the Forest left. A bit of a how-to for dummies on figuring out who they were, who they allied with and the common enemy. This is the closest we’ve come to Jon providing proof (beyond his words) that the enemy in the north is actually like, a thing. Dany concedes the wights are indeed a problem, she’ll definitely help him…
But not until he bends the knee, nice try Jon.
*insert potent sexual tension*
Dany holding the torch to the white walkers was a nice tip to the possibility if not probability of dragon fire killing them.
Once they head out of the cave, Dany commands our favorite bastard to stay on the beach when he and Davos try to leave. She’s just gotten more bad news. She’s losing the war. The Unsullied successfully took Casterly Rock, yes but an empty stronghold with no stores and no wealth doesn’t make for a very convincing win. Dany is hella over it. My favorite background moment was watching Varys and Missandei move further and further back as Dany yelled at Tyrion in frustration. She ignores the advice she’s given from not only baby Lannister but broody bastard as well. She’s done. It’s time to do things the hard way now. Pan to Dany looking at flying dragons: the same expression as right before she burned the Kahls and we as an audience understand that shit’s about to hit the proverbial fan.
Next up, a little banter between Davos, Jon and resident polyglot, Missandei. When asked, she expresses that the queen has a good heart, mirroring Jon’s sentiments. Their conversation is stopped short however when a Greyjoy ship arrives. Panic fills the atmosphere for a split second, maybe it’s Euron?
Turns out it’s Reek Theon, coming back from his shameful disgrace. He needs help from the queen to get Yara back from his dastardly uncle. Turns out King Jon (thanks Davos) isn’t pleased at this reunion. He snatches old boy up by the collar, letting him know the only reason he’s not joining the Sand Snakes in their watery grave is because of what he did for Sansa. Not for nothin’, but he got off easy. The way Jon’s been throwing out threats, he’s only likely to follow through on one of them pretty soon.
Back at the reach, maturity’s in rare form while Jaime continues to get Dickon’s name wrong (on purpose) and Bronn only mirrors what we’re thinking at home. The comic relief only lasts about a minute before the sound of hooves stampeding permeates the air around them.
It only takes a moment for them to realize shit’s about to get real. And this is it. The moment we’ve all silently been waiting for since season seven started. Lord Tarly, Bronn and Jaime rush to prep for attack, going on the defensive.
Drogon. Fully grown, with a belly full of fire kill-switch engages the minute mommy whispers:
It’s all downhill from there.
The battle scene was so much more than what I thought it would be, The visuals were done with spectacular attention to detail. Not a second was wasted in terms of cinematography. HBO has proven what a powerhouse they are in terms of television. There is nothing, I repeat, there is nothing like this on T.V.
As much as his character development has been stunted for the past couple of seasons, I have a profound affection for Jaime Lannister in this episode. His whole sequence—the fighting, the emotional turmoil as he watched his army being burnt alive, the realization that this enemy may be too powerful to beat and yet still, the way he rode to what he probably thought was his own death without hesitation, all of it- it was quite emotional and intense.
As for Dany, as much as I admire her take-no-prisoners approach, one can’t help but feel like this should be a lesson in prudence for her. The head-on method she adopted nearly took out her trump card (Drogon). A mistake was made in her fervor to take matters into her own hands; underestimating the enemy just because of your strength lands you in situations like this–pulling a javelin from your baby’s wing.
It’s just not a good look.
My sympathy extends to Tyrion as well. I’m so proud of his come up as the queen’s hand, but it can’t feel good watching your brother so close to death while knowing your sovereign is responsible. And it definitely can’t feel good being told “your people can’t fight”. Damn, a roast in the fields and a roast on the hill. Rough times.
Now that we’re abundantly aware that Qyburn’s weapon can wound dragons, we have to wait until next week to find out just how badly. In addition, I’m curious to find out Jaime’s fate ( his death would definitely change the game in a big way) and just who it was who knocked him out of the way of that jet of fire.
Next Sunday can’t come soon enough.
Be sure to check out a sneak peak of episode 5 below!