This Review is Dark and full of Spoilers.
It was always going to be a difficult task in topping off last week’s ending. But what this episode lacked in action, it more than made up for it with brilliant character performances and perfectly executed storytelling.
This was a pivotal episode, the importance of which cannot be overlooked. It doesn’t have to have a massive dragon battle to be great. What this episode did was set everything up for the final two episodes but in an exciting way. They managed to set up a dozen different stories and subplots but still kept the pace fast and stories engaging. Not an easy task.
So, on to the episode breakdown.
We start with Daenerys giving a ‘join me or die’ ultimatum to the remaining Lannister soldiers. The shot was beautifully framed with Drogon in the background, as the weary soldiers slowly walked towards him.
Ok, here’s the thing. Historically I’ve never been a Daenerys. But I’ve warmed to her, and by the end of last season, I felt like I could get on board with her. But her continued smugness and over powered character have sent me the other way again.
Daenerys: “I’m not here to murder”…. Gets Drogon to cook Lord Tarley and Dickon alive, dismissing Tyrion when he tried to advise her. You know what lady, get out. *points to the door*
Any annoyance was thankfully saved in this opening act through the power of Bronn. Jaime’s saviour once again, he was brilliant here. Funny, charming and he continues to be one of the best characters on the show.
Due to the faster pacing of the show, Jaime is quickly back at King’s Landing. Jaime enters Cersei’s chambers, to see her in council with Qyburn. He scurries off, but I wonder what they have planned? I’m sure all will be revealed soon.
With Cersei still refusing to believe that Tyrion is innocent, she reveals she is pregnant, and any misgivings Jaime was having disappeared in an instant. Is she really pregnant? Who knows? But either way, this is a clear strategic move by Cersei to keep Jaime in her web.
Davos and Tyrion sneak into King’s Landing with their own missions. Tyrion meets up with Jaime, thanks to Bronn’s intervention. He pleaded with him to see sense and get Cersei to agree to a temporary postponement. This was an amazing scene, it truly was. The acting level was ramped up to the max and we got an outstanding exchange between Peter Dinklage and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.
As for Davos? He went in search of someone so that he could make a joke direct to the audience. Or in other words, he went to find Gendry. Yes, Gendry is finally back on the show. With his bad-ass looking hammer in tow, the trio departs back to Dragonstone.
While not this biggest ‘Jon is a Targaryen’ plot drop in this episode, the fact that Drogon accepted Snow and allowed Jon to touch him was a big moment. They’ve been teasing it all season, and this was no different. Please, just announce it already. Or at least get him flying on the back of a dragon by the end of the season.
Jon has a nice interaction with Gendry, with the pair swapping stories about their fathers. It was a nice little scene, with plenty of Season One references. But the best character exchange at Dragonstone this week was between Varys and Tyrion. I could watch an entire episode of these two just talking.
Clever writing made you feel like something was actually happening at Winterfell this week. When the reality is, there is nothing but fake drama. Arya going up against Sansa is petty sibling rivalry that will be gone by the next episode. And despite Littlefinger’s brilliant deception, this storyline is all for misdirection.
The events of Winterfell are not going to have any lasting impact on the bigger picture. It’s just a way to get these characters involved in some way. Arya will see through it all, she will unite with Sansa and Littlefinger will die.
I fully expect when this happens that Sansa will reveal that she was pulling the strings all along and playing Littlefinger from the beginning. Yes, it doesn’t make plot sense given the events of previous seasons, but I can guarantee that is the way they will go.
Despite there being such a fuss over nothing, it is easy to watch and entertaining enough. But with so much going on, so many characters and stories to fit in, you can forgive them for having to cut corners here.
There was not much time spent at Eastwatch, the namesake of the episode. It was nice to see Tormund again, and when he asked for “the big woman”, it brought a smile to my face. As soon as Tormund mentioned captured prisoners there was a twinge of excitement within me. I knew it had to be the Brotherhood without Banners and The Hound. And there they were.
Seeing Jon and his group was a bitter sweet moment. It brought excitement for next week’s episode. It was an amazing visual to see them together, it was expertly framed. But at the same time, I still believe this is a death sentence for all but Snow. Ser Jorah, The Hound, Davos, Tormund… all of them are going to die. So start preparing yourself now for this almost certain eventuality.
At the Citadel, word has arrived of the impending White Walker army. Despite Sam suggesting that they should all but Professor Slughorn pay any notice. The idea that this a case of misinformation via Daenerys spies puts the breaks on any potential intervention. Growing frustrated at the lack of urgency from the Maesters, Samwell breaks into the restricted section, gathers what he can and then departs with Gilly. We can assume he will be heading to Winterfell, or possible even Dragonstone.
Oh, and in regards to ‘that’ scene? Trust Gilly to be casually reading a book that teases the R + L = J theory. Only for Sam to not be paying attention and then cutting her off. Fans must be pulling their hair out they got that close to revealing it. This was definitely put in for the fans. If they ever pull the trigger on this, it will be someone like Bran telling Jon directly. They will make a much bigger deal out of the situation.
A highly enjoyable episode that made up for its lack of action with outstanding character performances and storytelling. This was the break we needed before the final two frantic episodes. The plot development was necessary and well executed. Some may complain about the lack of action following last week’s episode, but on balance, I would say this was probably the better overall episode. Roll on to next week!