Our fearless and Sullied leader Sue is taking the night off to recover from greyscale, so I’m stepping in to lead the charge this week. After all, someone has to defend The Wall while the realm sleeps, and it looks like it’s going to be me. Gods help me…
Spoiler Note: This is our book reader’s recap, intended for those who have read the A Song of Ice and Fire series. The post and the comments section may contain spoilers from the novels, whether or not that material has appeared on the show yet. Because no, we are not all Unsullied now. If you have not read the books yet, we encourage you to check out our non-book-reader recap, by Oz of Thrones!
The night is dark, full of terrors, and grumkins, and snarks, and all of those things that go bump in the night that Old Nan warned us about so many years ago. Would that our biggest concern was a mere snark. But nope – Game of Thrones is one Rick Grimes away from its seemingly impending crossover with The Walking Dead, as the White Walkers ebb ever closer to Southern Westeros, and all hell gets closer to breaking loose. Is the army of the dead keeping pace with the rest of the show? Probably best if you stop thinking about it, at this point. The plot of this episode would have covered roughly 2 seasons in the early goings of the show, so let’s just enjoy our favorite television program while we can, before the long winter comes again, and we all burrow into hibernation, hounding for season 8 to arrive. We’re really flying through season 7 at this point, and with the army of the dead at our doorstep, I hope you’ve remembered your Valyrian Steel Sword or Dagger….or Dragonglass, if that is your preference.
*I want to make it clear that I’m not here to complain about the expedited pace of the story. You can look up thousands of other reviewers if you’d prefer to read about that.*
With that out of the way, let’s dive in!
I always make a point of parsing a theme out of each episode. The theme I followed throughout ‘Eastwatch’ was characters contemplating whether they’ll commit to their goals:
In King’s Landing:
Newly returned (and alive!), Jaime wastes no time in questioning the way forward. He wants to support Cersei and House Lannister, but he feels conflicted because of the recent bombshell Olenna dropped about her hand in Joffrey’s death. Meanwhile, Jaime just wants to survive altogether at this point. Jaime has always been the least stubborn amongst his siblings, and it makes sense that he might try to push Cersei to agree to an armistice with Daenerys if only because it’s the only way forward in which their lineage has a future. No one sells the ‘crushing weight of reality’ better than Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. However, it looks like the gears in his head will continue to spin because…
Cersei is pregnant! I admit – this was something that never crossed my mind once in seven seasons of GOT or five books of ASOIAF. “Gold shall be their crowns and gold their shrouds” said Maggy (the Frog). And I never even thought twice about the possibility of another Lannister-to-be. Regarding Cersei’s perceived goals, the better question for her is what won’t she do to accomplish them? We already know how she treats her enemies, but how does she treat her ‘friends?’ A vague threat at Jaime for ‘betraying’ her? A not-so-vauge threat at Bronn for setting up a (not-so) secret meeting with Jaime? And all so she, too, can get a face-to-face meeting with Daenerys! It seems like Sansa has not been the only character who has undergone Littlefinger training over the years! Speaking of…
With Murder School on Winter break, and lessons with Brienne on hiatus, Arya enters the set of a bone-chilling horror movie and chases Littlefinger around the nooks and crannies of Winterfell, reminiscent of a time when she once chased cats around King’s Landing. This was edited masterfully, and perhaps my favorite sequence of the episode. Having already asked Sansa flatly to murder people who are expressing different opinions, Arya will stop at nothing to prove to Sansa what she believes needs to be done to stay safe. If that means trying to outcreep Captain Creep himself, so be it. Fiercely defensive of her family and all who deign to cross her, Arya breaks into Littlefinger’s locked chambers and Sherlock Holmes’ her way around the room until she stumbles upon a letter.
This is the letter that Sansa sent Robb and Catelyn (even though Cersei basically dictated it), in which Sansa asked her family to swear fealty to Joffrey, telling them that Ned is a traitor. Littlefinger, who betrayed Ned to begin with and started this whole damn mess will stop at nothing to stay alive (his always and forever goal). This begs us to ask the questions – Did he catch on to Arya catching on to him and intentionally leave that note there for her to find? Will he attempt to seize more control over Sansa by turning her against Arya? Will Arya catch on to Littlefinger catching on to her catching on to him and ultimately wear his face? Will Bran play any part in this? Will Littlefinger lurking in the shadows of a dark hallway forever haunt my dreams and cause to me to hallucinate vividly terrifying and horrible things? All of these questions and more will be answered in the coming weeks, I’m sure.
At Maester’s University, Sam just so happens to be in the room when the maesters receive a raven from none other than
Bran Stark some Tree-God-Wizard-Thing. Shocked to hear that Bran is so much as alive at all, Sam knows that he has to remain loyal to Jon, his one true commitment. When the maesters brush off his dire warnings, he sulks in his bedchambers and gives baby Sam a book to…play with. Good thing it was Sam’s book and not Gilly’s, or else we wouldn’t have received the closest thing yet to a confirmation that Rhaegar Targaryen is Jon’s father! Moreover, if Gilly read the an-uhl-mant passage correctly, and if I am reading it correctly, this implies that not only is Jon a Targaryen, but that he is a legitimized heir, and not just a bastard. Sam – did you hear that? Sam?? Where are you going?
Emptying poop basins, cleaning vomit baskets, excavating cadavers, and all-in-all not being of much use to Jon in his current position, Sam decides to take matters into his own hands and leave the Citadel. Ever the bookworm, he has taken Davos lessons, and smuggles out books from the restricted section. But where’s he going? In whose story will he end up? He doesn’t realize what he and Gilly have learned, nor has he been informed that his brother and father are dead.
On the Roseroad, In Dragonstone, and King’s Landing, and Flea Bottom, and Dragonstone, Again, and Eastwatch, and Beyond the Wall (So many of our characters are moving so fast it’s hard to keep track):
The hour had started off with Tyrion playing right into the episode’s theme. He walks through the bloody battlefield that moments earlier could have claimed his brother’s life. He’s come so far, but war is sobering. He’s “in the great game now,” after all, “and the great game is terrifying.” When Dany threatens to slaughter anyone who doesn’t instantly bend the knee, Tyrion continues to counsel that burning people alive is still not the best way to get people to follow you. He’s really questioning at this point how committed to Daenerys he really is – Is this what he signed up for? His council is noted, but his concerns are not met, because Dany has made her intentions clear, and she is the most committed person at this point – something I rather am coming to admire if I’m being honest. She has spent 7 seasons building up to this moment and there’s no going back now.
Heading back to Dragonstone, Jon shares a very intimate moment with Drogon, which certainly seems to hint that he is the famed dragonrider that everyone thinks he will be.
At long last, my favorite character, Ser Jorah Mormont returns to where he belongs, at Daenerys’ side. I bite my thumb at all you Jonaerys shippers, and raise you one Lord Friendzone. #TeamDragonstone reunites and Tyrion proposes a plan to go bring a wight to Cersei in the hopes that she might join forces with them (I chuckle at the thought of her agreeing to this) and stave off their doomsday crisis for just a little longer. After all that time that Ser Jorah spent hoping to return to his queen’s side, he volunteers for a potential suicide mission to continue to prove his love to her, and he will be heading north, a mere 2.6 seconds after returning to Daenerys. Unrequited love stinks, am I right? Anyway, before the gang can head north, everyone’s favorite smuggler must first get Tyrion to King’s Landing.
Davos and Tyrion are the latest users of the teleportation device of formerly Littlefinger fame, and wind up in a secluded passageway to King’s Landing. Davos, the most devoted servant ever, is so committed to his mission that he does what seemingly no one else can do, and lets bygones be bygones; he glazes right over the fact that Tyrion is directly responsible for the death of his son Matthos. You’ll notice it’s not because he doesn’t care, so much as it is because Davos is committed to his current cause. He and Tyrion fight on the same side now, and their common goal of, well, saving humanity, is where his devotions currently lie. Some of you might have thought this was brief, but I thought it was every bit the Davos we know – He can forgive, but he doesn’t forget.
Bronn, it turns out, has been taking Varys lessons (man, everyone’s taking another character’s lessons in this episode), and brokers a secret meeting with Jaime and Tyrion. Their reunion is…oddly off-putting and I’ve been trying to place my finger on it. Was it the writing? Was it too abrupt in its approach? I’ve been waiting for their emotional reunion for several seasons now, and I’m just not sure what went wrong. One of the biggest character departures from book to show was the way that Jaime and Tyrion parted ways. In the books, Tyrion was furious at Jaime when he learns the truth about Tysha, and ultimately lies to Jaime, telling him that he is indeed responsible for Joffrey’s death. However, in the show, they parted on much better terms. I need to think more about this scene but something just didn’t sit right with me when watching it.
Meanwhile, Davos pays a quick trip to Flea Bottom to visit an old friend. He’s back!!! As we reported many months ago, our dearly departed Gendry has returned to our welcoming arms. Serving the ultimate fan service, Davos’ ‘rowing’ line is clearly a nod to the many seasons’ worth of a running (or rowing) joke regarding Gendry’s character:
Meanwhile, Gendry, ever the fan of Up, practically shouts ‘Adventure is out there’ for all of Flea Bottom to hear, before agreeing to immediately leave with Davos – Well that was easy. A hop, and a skip, and two hammerheaded dead Gold Cloaks later (King Robert’s famed weapon of choice), and Tyrion, Davos, and Gendry reemerge at Dragonstone, where the crew reunites for its farewell tour: Wall Edition. Gendry wastes no time in sharing his heritage with Jon and says that since their dads were buds, and that they are both bastards, they should also be buds! I love the new and improved Gendry. He was never my favorite character the way he seemingly was everyone’s (the cheers from my viewing party were strong upon his return), but his newfound determination and instant commitment to aiding Jon and the gang is rather exciting to watch. Joe Dempsie is clearly thrilled that he was finally asked back and has made quite the splash so far.
Before anyone can Google Maps the best route to Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, the A-Team arrives at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. Tormund, ever committed to his new role of heading up Eastwatch Division for the Night’s Watch, shows the gang to the cells where they have some interesting prisoners in tow. Gendry and the brotherhood have some beef, and, well, pretty much the entire cell seemingly have some bad blood, but fortunately they are able to put their past grievances behind them. Every character at this point fits so nicely into the theme, as all (but Davos) set out on a (foolhardy?) mission, committed and devoted to doing what needs to be done. If you had told me 9 years ago when I first picked up the books that Gendry, Jon Snow, Ser Jorah Mormont, Tormund Giantsbane, The Hound, Thoros of Myr, and Beric Dondarrion would all be heading north of the Wall together, I probably wouldn’t believe you. Now? I can’t believe we have so many main characters headed towards what is more than likely to be certain death for at the very least one, if not more of them. It’s a helluva journey and I’m biting my nails waiting to see what happens next.
What else did I think?:
- I was a little bummed out the way the episode began, though I think it was through the fault of the previous episode’s ending rather than this one. Episode 4 should have ended with Jaime and Bronn having swum to safety, and looking at the devastation that befell the army. We all knew Jaime wasn’t dead, and from the looks of it, he basically escaped the battle unscathed. The emotional impact of their resurgence was a bit lost amidst the shuffle.
- Speaking of Bronn, would it have been so difficult to throw in a quick little scene in with Bronn and Tyrion? I get that they’re trying to get to the meaty part of the story ASAP, but the Tronn (Bryrion?) friendship consistently gave birth to some of the best damn dialogue the series has ever had. It was an upsetting casualty of the season’s hurried pace.
- However, what we lacked in Tyrion/Bronn we more than made up for in an excellent Tyrion/Varys scene. Varys has apparently always done his best to suppress the guilt for being an accomplice to the Mad King’s murderous spree, telling himself “I’m not the one doing it” over and over. This was a spectacular, really powerful scene comically bookended with Tyrion seeing right through Varys’ lie about not opening the ‘sealed scroll’ from Winterfell (of course Varys opened it).
- I assume the reason that Qyburn was with Cersei was to check on her pregnancy, or did I miss something?
- Watching Sansa and Arya interact so naturally in their scene together after so many years apart speaks entirely to the master work of their portrayers Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams, who have grown up in front of the camera as much in skill as they have in age.
- Where’s Theon? Last we saw, he asked to see Daenerys so that she could help rescue Yara.
- All the shippers in the world are cheering for Jon and Daenerys to get together while I sit here counting down the days until Ser Jorah Mormont of Bear Island returns to Daenerys’ loving arms and rules the seven kingdoms by her side.
- Randyll Tarly and his brave-to-the-bitter-end son, Dickon, get utterly nuked by Drogon who has seemingly brushed off the Scorpion’s spear as a mere ‘scale wound.’ I’ll miss ’em. I honestly will.
- Watching Tyrion walk down the cliff as he exited King’s Landing is the most visual representation of ‘traveling’ we’ve seen our characters do all season.
“Somehow, a crippled boy survived for years beyond the wall when no one else could – Not the Night’s Watch, not the Wildlings – No one.” – Sam
“It’s a sealed scroll for the King in the North….nothing good.” – Varys, conceding to Tyrion that he did indeed read the letter, and relaying what message was inside
“You asked me to find you a cure so I can serve you. Allow me to serve you.” – Ser Jorah
“You always liked nice things…made you feel better than everyone.” – Arya
“Thought you might still be rowing.” – Davos
“Never betray me again” – Cersei
“As my father used to say, it’s better to be a coward for a minute than dead for the rest of your life.” – Davos
“How many queens are there now? And you need to convince the one with the dragons or the one who fucks her brother?” – Tormund
- Randyll Tarly – Burned to a crisp
- Dickon Tarly – Burned to a crisp
What did you think of the episode?